Monday, September 4, 2017

The house of Salmon has changed the ME forever

If the house of Saud can be described as a set of patient and plodding foreign policies, willing to spend their money and other peoples lives on radical adventures but also willing to spend money,  diplomacy and prestige on creating stability in a tumultuous region then the Salmon monarchy is taking a different direction. During the cold war, the Saudis would side with the US, after the fall of Iran the Saudis stepped up their counterreformation by increasing the export of Sunni radicalism which included helping the US route the Soviets in Afghanistan. Yet, the Saudis also found it necessary and important to support the stability of the primarily Sunni government in Lebanon, to keep Iraq as a protector against Iran and essentially finding ways to keep the overall political order no matter which parts of the Middle East fell apart that year.

The House of Salman hasn't been so patient nor so willing to the throw good money after bad. In Yemen, Saudi Arabia is waging a seemingly fruitless war to the keep the Iranian backed Houthis out of the Arabian peninsula but may effectively have driven Yemen's Shias further into Persian arms. Salman is leading a diplomatic embargo against Qatar and has inadvertently had Turkey, the old colonizer, step up fleshing out a military base in Qatar at time when Turkey is ruled by a Neo Ottoman president who waxes nostalgic for the old Empire. The most most interesting and most cataclysmic yet subtle change was in Lebanon. Saudi Arabia more or less cut off support for the Sunni faction in Lebanon after the Lebanese government shut down for over a year because Hezbollah could veto any government it didn't like. This led to the installation of a Christian President, Michael Aoun who is little more than a quisling to Iran's interests. During this period, Hezbollah invaded another country besides Israel but did so with a new army rather than just terrorist forces. While Hezbollah is an ally of the Syrian government, the Lebanese government is not. Hostile, pro-Iranian and Iranian forces in Syria and Lebanon put Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia in play as potential hot spots. There was a time when Saudi Arabia would have continued to support the Sunnis in Lebanon no matter the problem since it only required colored paper, the Salmon regime seems to question the value of such expenditures and does not seem to be willing to settle for being reactionary.

With an expansionist Iran, the recent memory of the Arab Spring, ISIS and the increasing inability to avoid radical violence by exporting it -- Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salmon is willing the take risks as he sees Saudi Arabia's security being whittled away by new radicalisms and Iran's increasing ability to project force. However, the crown less able to wield peace. They have so far alternatively lukewarm and cold with Egypt, supporting its economy and then reducing funding when it doesn't get what it wants. There's little sense of genuine unity in either OPEC or the GCC council which is taking a stand against Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the Arab Spring and Iran. Behind the scenes contracts with Israel have happened and there are signals that Saudi Arabia could be more flexible and realistic about the Israeli-Palestinian peace as well as accepting Israel diplomatically but not observable progress has been seen either in the region or on the PA government. The Salmon government is more of a Freshman than Senior government and their policies and actions may need time to play out which includes domestic restructuring of their economy. The question remains, how effective will Saudi Arabia be in rallying support against Iran, increasing regional stability, developing long term alliances and waging peace.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

It's been just over a year...

I've personally had an interesting year personally and I had to give up the blog suddenly and for a long time. I am now able to devote time to blogging again so I'll soon be discussing the year's most under discussed story!  While I have not been blogging, Middle East News for the Perplexed on clipboard has been going strong.  I'll announce a resuscitation for the news beta site soon, probably just into the New Year.  happy office parties and holidays!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Turkey-Russia Spat: What goes around....

Erdogan said everyone should respect the right of Turkey to defend its borders while Putin demands an apology and compensation from Turkey because  Turkey exercised its right to defend its borders by shooting down a Russian Fighter crossing into or threatening to cross into Turkish territory as Russian support for the Syrian terror regime. Since this was a clear case of violating the borders of a democracy, in this case Turkey's democracy, in support of terrorism -- President Erdogan has put into place a set of morals and protocols to guide Turkey properly.   It is clear, based on Erdogan's own support of terrorism that Turkey must pay for downed fighter Jet and compensate the family of the Russian pilots because that is what Erdogan’s twisted morality and therefore Turkey’s twisted morality demands.

Just five years ago, Turkey in support of Hamas’ terrorism against Israeli civilians sent the Mavi Mamara as part of a fleet of ships with the mission to violate Israeli territorial waters and the legal blockage of Gaza, this ship had IHH terrorists embedded with civilians who planned and committed violence against Israel. While Israel’s handing of the Mavi Mamara was by all accounts a disaster, then Prime Minister Erdogan’s pro-terrorist attitude took a disaster and turned into a sign that NATO would not be able to fight terrorism, a problem if Turkey could not decide terrorism is a bad thing, a problem NATO continues not to face to this day. The government of Turkey supports the violation of borders in support of terrorism, it demands that terror supporters be paid for any injury, thus the government of Turkey should not now do anything less pay Putin his blood money and offer a sincere apology. Russia supports the terrorist regimes of Iran and Syria just as Turkey supports Hamas but Russia unlike Turkey did not endanger civilians in its support of terrorism or pretend they were not involved in their support at a governmental level. In fact, I recommend that Turkey use the compensation that Israel paid to Turkey to pay off Russia. Once day, the Russian can give it to the Chechen rebels. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dead ISIS Girls

Samra Kesinovic, 16, and  Sabina Selimovic, 15 were picked up by a whirlwind and deposited in the Islamic State by following a road they may have thought was paved with good intentions.  In war, the primary sacrifice is of one’s body and these two teenagers, as potential breeders, were married off to “fighters” and likely to suicide bombers as those fighter’s personal wife-whores and sometimes as fighters. According to the NY Daily News, “Girls are increasingly being used in the fighting because of a belief that anybody killed by a female would never go to heaven.” According to an unidentified Tunisian women who claims to have lived with both girls, Samra Kesinovic was beaten to death trying to escape ISIS while Sabina was killed in fighting -- which presumes Sabina wasn’t a great breeder.  These girls were manipulated by ISIS propaganda, they were young, to some extent disaffected by Austrian society and did not think enough of themselves to protect themselves from the phalluses and fallacies of evil men.  I can’t help but assign most of the blame to them. Yeats wrote in Easter 1919 of a mourning over an Irish uprising that would presage modern terrorism:

"Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.”

And such was the transformation of these two girls, there was apparently a Yugoslavian recruiter to blame, the ISIS propaganda machine which they would eventually work for as well but ultimately these two girls chose to join the fight in a terror organization which actively engaged in ethnic cleansing, rape and genocide.  I feel sorry for them but their parents more because I understand how a sixteen or seventeen year old could be misguided, might be interested in G-d approved sexed with the bad boys of war and desire to outdo their parents in their ethnocentrism and religiosity, to take an easy way out to feeling  important -- these can be attractive siren calls  but the girls were no idiots. They planned their escape from Austria to Turkey, made propaganda, directly helped murder people at least in the case of Sabina and ultimately paid the price for their brutal ideals by their lives ending brutally. It’s tragic for kids to die at 17 and 16, a mere year later after running away from their homes but I also think of them as newly minted Nazis from Austria who lived two years too long. How many other children and innocent civilians might live if these girls died on their way to Turkey or before could have left? I would wish some other intervention, something that could rescue their minds from supporting intolerance and genocide but they could choose and they chose, Yeats' words are far darker now than they were a century ago as we now see what terrorism really is,“We know their dream; Enough to know they dreamed and are dead” and their dreams bewilder in their mixture and teen angst and murderousness. I am glad that ISIS eats its own, these cute little girls earned their ignoble and savage deaths but they could have been more, they had every chance to have better dreams and there is tragedy for their loss of potential. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

We can get this Syrian refugee situation right

Gov. Bruce Rauner made a reasonable decision in attempting to temporarily halt Syrian refugees’ entrance. Illinois, in cooperation with the federal government, should review how refugees are selected. Refugees who come to America have been referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees before coming here and are far less likely to be terrorists.

What Illinois and the U.S. need to do is review our screening procedures and be able to reasonably increase scrutiny of those refugees we might decide we have concerns about. America is no Europe, where Muslims often live in suburban “ghettos,” but we would be naive to think the extreme radicalization we see in other parts of the world could not happen here. Illinois should do everything in its collective power to avoid xenophobia. Let us make certain we are adequately processing refugees from Iraq and Syria, screening out the likely terrorists and, just as important, taking advantage of any clandestine intelligence opportunities that may arise.

The reason why there are so many refugees is due to the barbarity and evil of our enemies. Let’s make sure we are fighting them and not innocent civilians. President Barack Obama was correct when he said, “slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values.” Let’s make certain we are neither prejudiced nor too credulous in how we choose which refugees to accept.

Originally published in print on 11/18/2015 Chicago Tribune as "Being Reasonable."

Sunday, November 15, 2015

What terrorists mean when they condemn terror

Bashar Assad, Ayatollah Khamenei, Khaled Mashal, Hassan Nasrallah and the dread Dormamu, the leaders of Syria, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Dark Dimension all agree that they should condemn the attack on Paris and there are some very good reasons for this. All of these leaders have cults of personality that can get away with treating their followers as mindless ones who murder innocents on command but that magic requires their hordes of dolts to believe they are exclusively on the side of “good.”  Condemning the obvious but very similar evil of others simply makes it easier for these hoary hordes of haggoth to enjoy the truthiness of their comparative moral superiority through the magical joys and wonders of hypocrisy. These wizards of woe cannot turn lead into gold but they carefully turn cold blooded murder into saintliness all the time. Cynical condemnations such as the the condemnations of the Paris attacks simply provide rhetorical cover. These people just want to kill Jews and politicla opponents, so condemning the deaths of non Jews suggests they have such a sophisticated moral point of view that we ought not to question it. 

Nasrallah, who fires and supplies rockets to be fired on Israeli civilians said, "People of the region of Arab and Islamic countries who are living under the brutality of ISIS, including Lebanon which suffered a few days ago from it, are the most aware and sympathetic of what hit the French nation last night,"

With a flawless Jazz-like performance, President Assad riffed on Netanyahu's statements to CNN when Saddam Hussein was reigning missiles down on Israel and said, "France experienced what Syrians live" which is so ironic since Syria has turned its entire terror arsenal on its civilian population. If the government of France and ISIS simultaneously attacked civilian population, only then would the French know what it is to be Syrian.   Assad then got to his real point, the point that has kept retaliation against Syrian terrorism out of Syria proper, for decades. "The flawed policies pursued by Western countries and especially France as regards what is happening in our region ... contributed to the spread of terrorism..." The world will be worse without the Assad terror regime, you need us to kill civilians in the Middle East so that innocent civilians do not die in Europe.  

Eventually, if it has not already happened the Orb Agamotto tells me  Jews and Israelis will be accused of a false flag operation by these same leaders. Underneath their cynicism and manipulations lies an important and sincere message which should not be overlooked; Please don’t fight all the terrorists, just the other guys! 

Paris & the ISIS Razzle Dazzle

The latest attacks in Paris took place in a trendy part of town near the offices of Charlie Hebdo where Al Qaeda had attacked and while the “soft targets” were more in the style of ISIS but the multiple attacks and locations suggest the attackers had logistical support of some kind from Al Qaeda. ISIS needs all the help it can get.  This assist might have been simply personal that switched organizations or somehow work for both or higher levels of agreement could have been reached between the increasingly marginalized Al Qaeda organization the increasingly bruised Caliphate -- perhaps they cooperated because they both needed to make a big kill to impress their world. Al Qaeda needs breathing room and it believes attacking the West at home will make us pull out of the Middle East where they can fester freely despite the opposite that terror draws an attack always being true and a more logical expectation. ISIS is chopping off the heads of defectors rather than gaining camaraderie and more importantly the so called caliphate itself is shrinking and slowly being bisected by Kurdish forces and the American air force while also facing a Russian, Iranian and Syrian terror alliance.

The attack on Paris strikes is a desperate play, no matter how much planning went into it. ISIS is losing yards so it tries to kick a field goal. The West has known for decades that we needed to get rid of the Assad regime and anything that replaced it would be worse and we are seeing even worse consequences than we had imagined because we did nothing but wait for the region to become unstable. Additionally, NATO is the wrong alliance to deal with these problems, we need a new series partnerships to take the lead that include regional actors. ISIS attacked France not because it had anything to gain but because it is losing. Despite all of our mess-ups, ISIS is losing the war. They attacked soft targets in France to fool themselves into thinking they could find victory and to con us into being intimidated, into believing they are winning. While ISIS tactics were surprisingly effective, they are in trouble, all that has been accomplished by ISIS is the West is now only more determined to make them lose faster.