May 27, 2017

Wars Without Winners

File photo -- A Libyan rebel takes position near Gaddafi-controlled area in May 2011. (Photo by mojomogwai, Creative Commons License)

Contrary to the view that extremism thrives when America is absent, empirical facts indicate that the opposite is truer. And each of the countries at the center of global concerns over extremism is in fact one that has seen direct or indirect western intervention, not western absence Read More »

Bombing Peace in Gaza

(Photo by Al Jazeera English, Creative Commons License)

The Israeli Army’s latest campaign in Gaza will not bring an end to the conflict. Both Israel and Hamas will have to strike at each other until they can separately claim victory. Past experience – and Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system – suggest that more Palestinians than Israelis will be killed before that point is reached. Read More »

A New Normal for Iraqi Kurds?

(Photo by jan Sefti, Creative Commons License)

Taking advantage of the power vacuum left by the flight of the Iraqi security forces from Mosul and its environs, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has sent its peshmerga fighters into large swathes of northern Iraq, most notably Kirkuk and its oilfields. These gains have given the KRG new forms of leverage with Baghdad in negotiating Kurdish nationalist demands. They also have triggered expectations of Kurdish statehood among the Kurdish population of Iraq, a long-sought goal that could be bankrolled by large-scale, independent Kurdish oil exports. Read More »

The Geopolitics of the Islamic State

ISIS fighters have captured major Iraqi cities and vast swathes of land in Syria. (Photo via Alhayat.com)

Both the West and the Gulf Arabs suggest that the terrorism that they dislike against themselves is acceptable to others. The history of their policies suggests that Western and Gulf Arab intervention leads inexorably to the creation of police states (as in Egypt) and terrorist emirates. Al-Baghdadi has announced that his vision is much greater than that of the Saudi King or the government in Tehran. He wants to command a religion, not just a region. Of such delusions are great societies and cultures destroyed. Read More »

ISIS: The Spoils of the ‘Great Loot’ in the Middle East

(Photo via Iraqi News)

Military intervention in Iraq by the United States and its allies will accelerate the divisions in the Middle East. If the White House is serious about stemming the chaos, it should stop fueling the Syrian civil war, lean on the Gulf monarchies to end their sectarian jihad against Shiites, pressure the Israelis to settle with the Palestinians, and end the campaign to isolate Iran. Read More »

Egypt’s Contempt for Press Freedom 

(Photo via Al Jazeera video stream)

Sisi has led a crackdown on any political dissent since Mohamad Morsi’s ousting by the military in July 2013. Islamists and Brotherhood supporters, prominent human rights advocates and protestors have all come under attack with an estimated 41,000 arrested since the military takeover. The al Jazeera verdicts surely highlight the reality of the current state of media freedom in Egypt and the grim continuation of the regime’s crackdown. Read More »

Gaddafi’s Long Shadow on Libya

(Photo by Courtney Radsch, Creative Commons License)

Libya's leaders -- and their Western benefactors -- have no choice but to consider and address the effects of Gaddafi's legacy on public attitudes and official behavior. But they must also accept that only modernization of Libya's state and society -- the agenda that Gaddafi pursued, albeit in a perverted form -- will ensure the country's survival. Read More »

Obama Out of Options as ISIS Surges in Iraq?

The US is preparing to send USS George H.W. Bush (front) to the Gulf in order to provide President Obama with military options in case the situation in Iraq worsens. (Official U.S. Navy page, Creative Commons License)

Obama has been forced to chose between courses of action which all seem likely to end badly, and this is the legacy of the American decision to invade and occupy Iraq in 2003. That is the original sin of American strategic miscalculation in the 21st century, and it will continue to define the terms of its engagement with the region for the foreseeable future. Read More »

Why Elections in Egypt, Syria And Algeria Are Undemocratic

map

The repression in Egypt, the war in Syria and the political suffocation in Algeria make conditions for an election impossible, with even nominal campaigning by challengers inconceivable. Besides, the scale of the victory comes with a whiff of the ridiculous. The point was not to secure a victory in these elections — which was inevitable — but to secure a mandate with a high turnout. Read More »

Whither Christianity in the Holy Land?

Dormition Abbey on Mt-Zion in Old City, Jerusalem. (Photo by Benjamin, Creative Commons License)

The failures of the latest John Kerry-led negotiations and Israel's continued annexation of the West Bank undoubtedly make Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew think that, indeed, time is running out for the living Christianity in the Holy Land. Read More »