Greater Middle East Turns More Dangerous for US

Here are some troubling reports suggesting trouble ahead for the United States in the Greater Middle East, and, indeed, trouble for the region internally:

1. The surprise return to Yemen on Friday of President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been followed by a bloody Saturday. Some 40 persons were killed yesterday in Sanaa, as forces loyal to Saleh attacked positions of an officer who had defected from the military and joined the protesters.

2. Military defections in Syria: Clashes continue between protesters and the Baath regime of Bashar al-Asad in Syria, with 18 civilians killed, mostly in the central area of Homs on Saturday. Some 12 were killed in al-Qusair in Homs district. But in news that could be significant, Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that a significant number of military personnel has defected to the protesters in the Homs area, and that the struggle there is starting to take on a para-military character for the first time.

3. The US has accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence organization of actively supporting the Haqqani Network of guerrillas, based in North Waziristan, who have been attacking US and Afghan National Army forces. They may have been behind an attack on the US embassy in Kabul. The charges have caused the most serious rift in US-Pakistan relations in recent decades.

4. In Bahrain, the majority Shiites boycotted the parliamentary by-election held Thursday. Electoral boycotts tend to make things worse because they reduce participation by dissidents in the political process.

Posted in Syria | 15 Responses | Print |

15 Responses

  1. In the past few days the BBC or Aus ABC, I forget which (sorry I cant find a link), interviewed the US ambassador to Damascus. I was surprised when he volunteered that a number of Syrian security forces have been killed in the preceding weeks, as has been claimed by the Syrian government. He was also quick to point out that far more protesters had been killed. He also said that, apart from routine consular matters none of the embassy staff has had any meetings with the Syrian government in recent weeks.

  2. As Netanyahu had told us before yesterday, “…the Arab Spring could soon become an Iranian winter. That would be a tragedy. Millions of Arabs have taken to the streets to replace tyranny with liberty, and no one would benefit more than Israel if those committed to freedom and peace would prevail.”

    Hypocrisy at its best. Not an Iranian, an American winter. Ahead of schedule.

  3. Dear Professor Cole

    You omit

    a) the possibility of the armed squatters on Palestinian land taking the opportunity to get their retaliation in first.

    b) The Israeli Right decisding that Obama’s obvious weakness offers them the chance to fly a mission to Teheran.

  4. It’s probably even worse than you let on. Pakistan’s military has fired hundreds of mortars and rockets into border provinces in neighbouring Afghanistan, killing at least one civilian, destroying homes and forcing scores of villagers to flee, Afghan officials said on Sunday. The ordinance has rained on Kunar province, with smaller numbers of shells falling in Nuristan. Two mosques have also been destroyed.

    Meanwhile, A spokesman for Hamid Karzai says recent assassinations of prominent Afghans were plotted in Pakistan. And, at a memorial service, “Sebghatullah Mujadidi, former speaker of the Upper House of Parliament, accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of being behind the death of Burhanuddin Rabbani, Karzai’s special envoy who was tasked with brokering peace with the Taliban.”

    While Pakistan is shelling Afghanistan and murdering its political leaders, the U.S. is blowing up buildings and people in Pakistan using robot aircraft based in Afghanistan. Our Pakistani allies, by the way, possess more than 100 nuclear weapons.

    And, although nobody notices any more, the daily carnage continues in Iraq unabated.

    • Israel attacks Palestine at will; Turkey attacks Iraqi Kurdistan at will; Pakistan seems to be exercising the right to attack Afghanistan at will; Saudi Arabia started with Yemen and then Bahrain; the U.S. “reserves” the right to attack as needed and exercises it continuously.

      One could argue about who is winning any particular fight, but I am more worried about the underlying shift in global behavior: a trend toward disregarding international law and international borders is distinctly visible on the horizon. The Israeli right-wing approach to international relations (e.g., Lebanon 1982, Lebanon 2006, Gaza 2009) is rapidly being learned by others. One can only wonder who will be next. Such a trend cannot be good for a (relatively, these days) comfortable society like American society that has a great deal to lose from a return to the rule of the jungle.

  5. Hi Prof Cole. I admire your efforts to inform us in spite of the harassment you receive. I have a couple of ques-tions? I don’t know what to believe. The US has been the financial support & defender of Israel for decades. Israel attacked the USS Liberty saying it was mistaken identity which is a lie. Israelis were seen filming the twin towers before the 1st plane ever hit. So they knew in advance what was going to happen. They were seen atop a van laughing & celebrating. Israel claims to be the only democratic entity in the Middle East which is a lie from everything I’ve read. The US is asking for trouble from all other Middle Eastern countries by supporting Israel. Is the US being black mailed by Israel? Are they just the ones behind the false flag ops of the US? I started reading more about Israel because of the biblical side of things. I don’t understand what’s going on. I’m not Jewish but I’m not against any religion. This is coming from a political/security concern for the US.

    • It may have been discredited and is talked about in “conspiracy” circles but Seymour Hersch wrote years ago about the “Sampson Option”. This would be a perfect type of blackmail yet it seems so outlandish that it defy’s rationality. Perhaps Professor Cole knows the debunking/refuting of this report, I would like to hear it since I respect Prof. Coles opinion on ME studies.

  6. The following is the full text of the Palestinian leadership’s letter to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon requesting that Palestine be admitted as a member state of the United Nations.

    “Excellency,

    I have the profound honor, on behalf of the Palestinian people, to submit this application of the state of Palestine for admission to membership in the United Nations.

    “This application for membership is being submitted on the Palestinian people’s natural, legal and historic rights and based on United Nations General Assembly resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947 as well as the Declaration of Independence of the State of Palestine of 15 November 1988 and the acknowledgement by the General Assembly of this declaration in resolution 43/177 of 15 December 1988.

    “In this connection, the state of Palestine affirms its commitment to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the vision of two states living side by side in peace and security, as endorsed by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly and the international community as a whole and based on international law and all relevant United Nations resolutions.

    “For the purpose of this application for admission, a declaration made pursuant to rule 58 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council and rule 134 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly is appended to this letter.

    “I shall be grateful if you would transmit this letter of application and the declaration to the presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly as soon as possible,

    Mahmoud Abbas
    President of the State of Palestine
    Chairman of the Executive Committee of the
    Palestine Liberation Organization.”

  7. America foreign policy regarding the middle east has always developed by amateurs with their own agendas.

  8. And so much of this was exacerbated by George W Bush invading Iraq for no legitimate reason whatsoever. When a large and powerful nation not only invades s country illegally, but maintains more than 100 permanent military bases around the world to secure “Pax Americana” it is going to be resented. People will find ways to attack the Empire. Since even the Secretary of Defence has stated we are beyond the era of “gunboat diplomacy,” why does the US still insist on such a large footprint.

    And now the neo-con’s are trying, once again, to suggest that the US – or its surrogate, Israel – start a war with Iran. Are people crazy? Have they learned nothing from the past 10 years?

    • I think the way it works is that as an empire grows more beleagured, its loyalists become ever more willing to hold onto what preserves their way of life for a shorter future time frame, and think less and less about the subsequent consequences.

      The ultimate example would be, say, Berlin or Tokyo in 1945. In the world view of the people in those cities, there was no 1946 to imagine.

      Thus, in my childhood Americans used to speculate all the time about life in the year 2000, or 2020, or whatever, usually in a positive light. Not just technological improvements, but a better life for the ordinary and the poor. Now, huge numbers of Americans are expecting God to terminate the world any day now because they can’t lord over it anymore. Shame, just when they finally got the giant flat-panel TVs on our walls after all these years.

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