Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

20
Dec

Why America was bound to fail in Syria

Written on December 20, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Foreign Policy, Middle East, Op Ed

The fall of Aleppo is a human catastrophe. It’s also a demonstration of the perils of choosing the middle course in a military conflict. Sometimes it’s possible to talk and fight at the same time. But in Syria, the U.S. decision to pursue a dual-track, halfway approach made the mayhem worse.

A battered Secretary of State John F. Kerry made one more plea Thursday for a peaceful evacuation of what’s left of Aleppo. At a State Department briefing, he used the strongest language to describe the situation: “Another Srebrenica . . . nothing short of a massacre . . . indiscriminate slaughter . . . a cynical policy of terrorizing civilians.”

But for five years, the United States’ actions haven’t matched its rhetoric. Kerry’s only real weapon now is the gruesome suffering of the Syrian people and the shame it engenders in everyone who watches. That shame hangs over this administration, too.

Kerry’s critics argue that his efforts to negotiate a settlement were always doomed to failure. Maybe so, but after the Russian military intervention in September 2015, the administration concluded that diplomacy was the only viable strategy in Aleppo. Having made that decision, officials needed to make it work. Instead, they continued to toy with an armed opposition they weren’t prepared to fully support. Read more…

 Opinion writer December 15

www.washingtonpost.com

26
Oct

A thundercloud, heavy and dark gray. That is what it looks like from a distance. But the closer you get to Mosul from the south, the bigger and darker this cloud becomes. Instead of floating in the sky, it grows out of the ground, ultimately becoming a towering, opaque wall that swallowing entire villages, making them disappear into the darkness.

 Driving to Mosul is a drive into the apocalypse. Or at least that’s what it feels like, with the gigantic clouds of smoke coming from burning oil wells, reservoirs and ditches — laid out by Islamic State over the last two years and now set alight one after the other. Although it would normally be a sunny midday in fall, the military jeeps coming from the other direction have their lights on.

The dark curtain is meant to keep the attackers’ jets and helicopters at bay; the smoke irritates the throat and causes headaches. An armada of over 30,000 soldiers and fighters from at least a half-dozen countries began a major offensive against the de-facto capital of the “caliphate” in northern Iraq last Monday. It is not only the biggest coalition to have assembled in the fight against Islamic State (IS), it is also the least predictable. Read more…

 

http://www.spiegel.de/; By Christopher Reuter; Oct. 22nd

18
Oct

In Washington’s ongoing debate about the cause of the continuing chaos in the Middle East, President George W. Bush stands condemned for the 2003 intervention that pushed Iraq into civil war, while President Obama stands condemned for the nonintervention that worsened Syria’s civil war. In Libya, meanwhile, Washington’s partial intervention also failed to bring peace, while too few Americans are even aware of their country’s role in the conflict afflicting Yemen.

Without trying to defend or absolve U.S. policy, then, it is worth stepping back to ask what shared historical experiences might have left these four countries — Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen — particularly at risk of violent collapse. The following maps help highlight how, at various points over the past century, historical circumstances conspired, in an often self-reinforcing way, to bolster the stability of some states in the region while undermining that of others.

1. Century-old states are more stable today

Countries whose political or geographic precedents stretch back over a century are more stable today. Turkey, Egypt, Iran, and, to some extent, the ruling dynasties of what are now Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, all, in one form or another, trace their current political structures to the late 19th century, before European colonialism took root in the region. Consequently, they were more likely to have the resources to maintain some independence in the face of European imperialism, or at least negotiate a less disruptive form of colonial rule.

 

Read more…

27
Sep

Trkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s extra-legal roundup of scores of presumed supporters of the failed July 15 coup against his government is quickly taking its place in modern history alongside Stalin’s purges and China’s Cultural Revolution.

This — and Turkey’s demands that the U.S. turn over the cleric-in-exile Fethullah Gülen for trial on charges that include terrorism — further strains U.S.-Turkey relations. U.S. officials publicly stated that the spiral of repression weakens Erdoğan’s long-term security.

The arrest and detention of judges, mayors, teachers, military personnel, civil servants, journalists and political opponents deepens not only Turkey’s societal fault lines, but also global fault lines, separating Turkey from the West and bedeviling Western security policy for years to come. Turkey is one of just two Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East with a semblance of pro-Western democracy, making it pivotal to resolving the general crisis in the Middle East. Read more…

Hilton Root teaches public policy at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, is an affiliated senior scholar at the Mercatus Center, and authored “Dynamics Among Nations: The Evolution of Legitimacy and Development in Modern States” (MIT Press).

Sept. 25, 2016

16
Sep

Russia Re-Emerges as a Great Power in the Middle East

Written on September 16, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Foreign Policy, Middle East

For the leader of an ex-global power whose economy is in disarray, Vladimir Putin is having a pretty good 2016. His ships sail the South China Sea, supporting China’s defiance of international law. The Japanese Prime Minister brushes Washington’s protests aside to meet with him. Putin’s Russia digs itself more thoroughly into Crimea each week, a Permanent Member of the Security Council in open and glaring violation of the UN Charter and its own pledged word. He’s watching the European Union grow weaker and less cohesive each day. And in Syria he forced the Obama administration to grovel for a ceasefire deal that leaves him, Putin, more in control than ever, and tacitly accepts his long term presence as a major player in the Middle East. Watching the State Department pursue its Syria negotiation with Russia was surreal: as if Robert E. Lee had to chase Ulysses Grant around Northern Virginia, waving a surrender document in his hands and begging Grant to sign it.

Putin may not have an economy, and his power projection capability may be held together with chicken wire and spit, but the delusions of his opponents have always been his chief tools. European and American leadership since the end of the Cold War has been operating on the false belief that geopolitics had come to an end; they have doubled down on that delusion as geopolitics came roaring back in the Obama years. In the past, Europe was able to take “holidays from history” because the United States was keeping an eye on the big picture. But that hasn’t been true in the Obama administration, and the juddering shocks of a destabilizing world order are the consequence of a foreign policy that isn’t grounded in the hard facts of power. Read more…

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD, Published on: September 12, 2016

 

 

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