This is the year of bluster and pomposity among some Republicans. First, Donald Trump says that although he doesn’t know the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah, he’ll know all he needs to in 24 hours. Then, of course, he’ll be the greatest foreign policy President we’ve ever seen. Twenty-four hours, that’s all it will take. Today, Dick Cheney said that by agreeing to the Iran deal the U.S. “agreed to guarantee that the means of its own destruction” will have been given to Iran. “Madness,” he called it…Read More
The Iran and Greek deals. Taking stock. If the Iran deal kept the conventional arms embargo, it should be a Win,
Win deal. Tsipras and Syrza having some intra-party opposition. May require a National Coalition Government.
Are we on a “fools errand” for trying to (successfully) train Shia to fight ISIS and stabilize Iraq?
Last week we introduced the thesis that “peace candidate” Obama embraced Bush era policies in Iraq that have badly backfired. Now we are flailing about in search of a viable strategy to deal with Syria as well. Essentially, ever since we mistakenly failed to keep elements intact from Hussein’s Republican Guard we had become the law and order stabilizer of Iraq. At enormous cost of treasure and lives both among our forces and Iraqis themselves. The hostile sectarian nature of Iraq, primarily between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam, dominates the thinking and fighting on the ground. About six million Kurdish peoples with their own agenda of an independent Kurdistan live in Iraq, mostly in the northwest. Saddam Hussein was an ethnic Sunni as were the Republican Guard soldiers. The Shia, who trace their roots across the eastern border with Iran, number about half of Iraq’s population. They live mostly in an area of eastern Iraq, from Baghdad south. Iraq is the site of the Shiite holy...Read More
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...Read More
In a previous post, I warned against assuming that the Houthis in Yemen were just a terrorist surrogate for Iran a la Hezbollah. True, they .get supplies from Iran, and are Zaidi Shia, as is Iran. But they are not religious fundamentalists. They are not just surrogates for Iran. They are not like Hezbollah. Their identity is Yemeni and have had no difficulty allying with the Sunni former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Houthis also differ from many of the militant Sunni and Shia groups that have dominated the Mideast scene of late. In fact, part of Houthis raison d’etre was to militarily oppose the Al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen. Unlike the Islamic terrorist groups in the region, they reject the jihadist Salafi and Wahhabi philosophies that posit that aggressive and violent terrorist acts against the West and others whom they feel are opposed to their brand of Islamic fundamentalism are justified by Islam. Yemen is an amalgamation of North Yemen and South Yemen created on May...Read More