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Posted on Jun 17, 2015 in Anbar, Foreign Policy Issues, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, militia, Ramadi, Shia, Sunni, tribal, Yemen | 0 comments

Attempt to retake Ramadi with Shia militia (and some Sunnis begins). Yemen update: Peace talks in Geneva

    In recent weeks, we have tried to explain the fall of Ramadi in the Anbar Provence of Iraq and the crisis in Yemen where the Outhouse’s had effectively taken over the government and the key cities of Sana’a and Aden. In Ramadi, the government’s army forces, who received training at the hands of the U.S. Army trainers, once again ran from their positions leaving many of their U.S. provided arms behind for the successful ISIS victors. In Yemen, the sobriquets “terrorist” and “Iranian surrogate” were loosely applied to the Houthis. This ignored the fact that the Shia Houthis were formed to fight al Qaeda in Yemen and were supported by the former leader of Yemen, the Sunni Ali Abdullah Saleh. I argued that historically the Houthis were always willing to negotiate, recognizing the minority position that Shia occupy in Yemen. In Ramadi as in the rest of Anbar, the population is overwhelmingly Sunni. The government forces are Shia and not very effective at fighting ISIS. The key...

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Posted on Jun 10, 2015 in Anbar, Foreign Policy Issues, Iran, Iraq, President Obama, Ramadi, Shia, Sunni, tribal | 0 comments

Ramadi disaster awaiting? Why are we still committed to nation-building in Iraq?

  We keep hearing that we are not in the business of “nation-building.” Yet our insistence that all military aid must go through the national government in order to provide a unified, integrated Iraq, clearly is nation-building. And like many such efforts, this one seems elusive to the edge of calling it impossible. We’ve had how many years now, from Bush to Obama, where the Shia dominated government has failed to take the suggested steps towards integrating the Kurds and Sunnis into a national unified Iraq? Simply put, the Shia national forces have no will to fight. And the Shia don’t trust the Sunni Militia after years of Saddam Hussein. Hussein was a Sunni, though he eschewed any religious power in his Baath Party rule of Iraq. Embarrassed by their troops’ helter-skelter retreats in Mosul, and more recently in Ramadi where they left valuable weapons behind in their rush to run from the battles—even when they significantly out numbered their ISIS opponents–Shia governmental leaders have yielded the battlefield to...

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Posted on Jun 3, 2015 in Iran, Middle East, President Obama, Shia, Uncategorized | 0 comments

An Iran nuclear deal could be all “Win” for us.

With June upon us, diplomatic efforts soon will be focused on the so-called June 30 deadline for reaching a nuclear inspection deal with Iran. Compounding the difficulties from our side are Secretary Kerry’s broken femur and Congress’ attempt to place deal-breaker requirements into the review process, such as the requirement that Iran recognize Israel. From the Iranian side, Ayatollah Khamenei has, on the one hand, hardened his stance on the negotiations by opposing access to Iran’s nuclear scientists and demanding the lifting of sanctions from day one of an agreement. On the other hand, Khamenei said: “I neither support nor oppose the deal. Everything is in the details.” Vague though that statement is, it is important to recognize the positives, namely that he wasn’t rejecting the negotiations. His other demands might well be just a negotiating ploy. Remember he is under pressure from his more hawkish wing. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hard-line former President, recently urged Russia not to go along with the Western positions. Although I wouldn’t bet a...

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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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