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Posted on May 27, 2015 in Anbar, Foreign Policy Issues, Iraq, Israel, Kobani, Middle East, militia, Ramadi, Shia, Sunni, tribal, Uncategorized | 0 comments

McCain’s rantings against Obama lack of Middle East strategy. Understanding his urgings in context

  This past week, Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain took advantage of the fall of Ramadi to attack, once again, President Obama’s foreign policies in the Middle East. He was especially critical of the ad hoc nature of our responses to instability in that region. He called for increased U.S. military presence in Iraq. Three points should be understood: 1) McCain rarely passes up an opportunity to attack President Obama, often with quite personal attacks, 2) He has called for more military involvement in every Middle Eastern crisis since the Arab Spring–and generally elsewhere as well, 3) Criticisms of American Foreign Policy as reactive, and not embracing some grand strategy, have been made throughout the past century, encompassing administrations of both parties. Let’s take a look at each of these three points. The first one involves some personal vendetta, perhaps a carry over from the 2008 Presidential campaign in which he was defeated by Obama. To understand fully the personal nature of his attacks on the President would...

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Posted on May 19, 2015 in Foreign Policy Issues, Iraq, Israel, Kobani, Middle East, militia, President Obama, Shia, Sunni, tribal, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Ramadi falls amid counter claims. Continuing to look like a sectarian fight. 5-24 update added.

The news from Iraq is contradictory. The first and perhaps most significant bit of news is that Ramadi, the Capital of Anbar Governorate, has fallen to ISIS. At the same time we are assured by Secretary of State John Kerry that he is “absolutely confident in the days ahead that will be reversed.” We are also told that the U.S. is “expediting weapons shipments to the Iraqis because of Ramadi. The national government, meanwhile , claims that forces are already on the way to retake Ramadi. The president of Anbar Provincial Council reportedly claims that the national forces still control thirty percent of Ramadi. Despite U.S. claims to the contrary, Peter Mansoor, military analyst of CNN, stated that: “This is a huge setback to Iraqi forces and to the U.S. strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIS.” CNN notes: “Soon, a predominantly Shiite militia dispatched by Iraq’s Prime Minister is expected to join the fight, further swelling the ranks of anti-ISIS ground forces but also threatening to inflame sectarian...

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Posted on May 12, 2015 in Elections-Non-U.S., Foreign Policy Issues, Israel, Middle East, President Obama, Yemen | 0 comments

Cease fire in Yemen: false alarm or the beginning of a choppy road to peace (for a while)

  Yemen III In our April13 post, we noted that the Houthis were considerably more than just an Iranian surrogate in Yemen. Indeed, we pointed out, the Houthis, as part of the minority Shia were basically concerned with fairness for their people in a Sunni dominated country. About forty percent of Yemen’s population is Shia. In fact, since their formation in 2004, they had been fighting the al Qaeda Sunni militant jihadists in the North (practically they were behind the group Believing Youth, formed in Sana’a in the early to mid 90’s). And, recall, the Yemen version of Al Qaeda had just seen their numbers and power increased due to a merger with Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia forming Al Qaeda for the entire Arabian Peninsula, but based in Yemen. Most of this activity took place in North Yemen. Under an Arab League sponsored armistice, and with more forceful pressure from Saudi Arabia, the two non-Houthi key figures contending for power were named head of the new government, namely...

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Posted on Apr 21, 2015 in Foreign Policy Issues, Israel, Middle East, President Obama | 1 comment

Is the fall of Ramadi as unimportant as the U.S. claims? Facing ISIS-the Iraqi conundrum.

    As I write this post, Ramadi, the largest city and capital of al Anbar Governate, is about to fall to ISIS. Part of the Sunni Triangle, Ramadi is strategically located on the Euphrates River, only 70 miles from Baghdad. And yet Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey said its loss was “not symbolic in any way.” Perhaps his politically ignorant comment was made to downplay probable fall-out from if Ramadi is lost. If Dempsey truly believes that this city, which is the largest Dulaimi tribal populated one in the Triangle, isn’t symbolically important in the fight against ISIS, then it is no surprise that ISIS has found such fertile ground in the Sunni dominated parts of Iraq. Let’s hope that General Dempsey will be overruled. In order to grasp the symbolic, if not strategic, role that Ramadi and the rest of the Sunni Triangle plays in the fight against ISIS, it may be worthwhile to recollect the conundrum that we face in Iraq. Our Allies...

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Posted on Mar 23, 2015 in Congress, Elections-Non-U.S., Elections-U.S., Foreign Policy Issues, Israel, Middle East, President Obama, Public Opinion Polls | 0 comments

Republican “temper-tantrum” coordinated attack on Democrats and President Obama a dirty tricks political ploy for 2016

The partisanship-izing of the Israel-U. S. relationship continues unabated. This time, even as Netanyahu tries to soften his attacks on U.S. policy, the Republicans are continuing to throw fuel on the flames on an ongoing basis. Recall that Republicans Speaker of the House, John Boehner, broke with a long standing tradition by inviting Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of Congress—WITHOUT first notifying either President Obama OR the Democratic leadership in Congress. This in the final days of the Israeli election. Interfering with an Israeli (or U.S.) election was yet another historical N0- No! Netanyahu cemented the alliance of the Israeli right-wing to the U.S. right-wing by both accepting the invitation–a slap in the face to President Obama–and then by refusing Jewish Senator Dianne Feinstein and others’ invitation to meet face-to-face with congressional Democrats. Now, Speaker Boehner announces a post-election visit to Israel, and Republican Spokesmen are sounding a unified insulting attack on the Democratic President Obama, urging him, as National Review (a Conservative magazine) long-time...

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Posted on Mar 19, 2015 in Congress, Elections-Non-U.S., Elections-U.S., Foreign Policy Issues, Israel, Middle East | 0 comments

Israeli elections. More reactions. Don’t give up on peace process just yet.

CNN Reports that “The Obama administration’s frustration with Benjamin Netanyahu is turning into outright hostility after the Israeli prime minister’s commanding victory this week.” Senior officials in President Obama’s administration, including White House spokesman John Earnest, are reported as saying that Netanyahu’s final pre-election push, in which he said that there will be no Palestinian State and no Palestinian capitol in Jerusalem, present “very significant substantive concerns,” and that, “we will have to reassess our options going forward.” Yet another official asserted that if Netanyahu’s change of position reflects a new Israeli policy, that we are in a “different situation than we have been in years,” and that, in effect scuttling the multi-administration peace talks, could change the U.S. relationship towards Israel. Others focused on the democratic nature of Israeli elections as if to suggest that Netanyahu’s hawkish posture to reclaim the far right vote might well  be softened once the coalition is formed. President Obama is giving Netanyahu space to back down on his desperate last minute campaigning...

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