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.
President Barack Obama was elected on a platform that emphasized getting out soldiers out of Iraq. Through much controversy he managed to get most of our combat forces back home, but the serious question remains whether by doing so he contributed to the ISIS growth in Iraq. Similar concerns have been voiced over his caution in supporting the hodge-podge of anti-Assad groups in Syria. Some of these are friendly to the United States, some very much problematic, some downright hostile and potentially dangerous to both our interests in the region and to peace in the area in general. Not that those who are hostile to the U.S. are at all shy about asking us for weapons and air support. Whatever moves we make in Iraq or Syria seem to be fraught with traps and incredibly costly tabs. We have spent so much in this war to date that for those monies we could have provided free college tuition and medical care for years to come. Each “grand strategy” that... Read More
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... Read More
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... Read More
In our last post we learned of the dangers of oversimplification when we use highly abstract terms such as Iranian Proxy, Communism, Terrorist, and Free World. This week and next we shall examine the background to the explosive contemporary situation in Yemen. In our next post we shall attempt to clarify the current situation there. (and how the use of such abstract terms has oversimplified its problems and led to our failures there). Yemen has about 24 million souls and occupies both the southwest and southern portions of the Arabian peninsula.. From this locale, Yemen borders the Red Sea to the west, the Arabian Sea, with the Gulf of Aden to the south and it has a shoreline of about 1200 miles. As one would expect, Yemen has a long history as a sea trading nation. The tip of Yemen lies at the closest point to Ethiopia and Somalia of any of the other Red Sea bordered countries. Indeed, most scholars believe Yemen was the biblical Sheba, and... Read More