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Total number of comments: 60 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:20)

David

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  • Egypt Shocks the World with Plan for Mass Execution of 528 Muslim Brothers
    • Your words condemn you. There was clearly no effort made to determine that these people are, in fact, responsible for anything. That you would kill them without even attempting to determine guilt or innocence is disgraceful, inhuman and wrong.

    • Actually I hear only about 30 are actually MB members. The rest are either non affiliated attackers or just random people they picked up in the same general area. Probably most were in the last category and had nothing to do with either the MB or violence.

      It's also rather rich that Tamerod is now bitching about American aid cuts. Back in the day their next petition was going to be about demanding the government stop taking American aid. I guess that one died off about the same time they became the official brown-shirts of the Egyptian military, haha.

  • Egypt: Military Rule, Arbitrary Jailing of Protesters, and... Public Silence
    • Unprecedented protections for women? They just finger-raped by security again if they try to protest, otherwise I can't think of any particularly significant changes.

  • Brokers of Deceit: Massive US Aid to Israel has Enabled a Colonial Project
    • It's a nitpick but Armenia (or Armenians) already control Nogorno-Karabagh. The people we would have to supply weapons to in order to reconquer it would be the Azeris, not the Armenians.

  • Islamic State of Iraq & Levant too Extreme for al-Qaeda (Not the Onion)
    • So, you do realize this means that the only effective force on the rebel side fighting 'al-Qaeda' is now ISIS. Irony, thou art a heartless bitch.

  • Don't Break up Syria: WW I-Style Imperial Divide & Rule is a Failure
    • If you want to be technical, Sykes Picot wasn't really an attempt to divide and rule, it was simply a division of the spoils of war that paid very little heed to the ethnic and religious geography of the territory. That said the French did try to divide up Syria with ethnic states, particularly the Jabal Druze and the Alawite state. That was anathema to the nationalists in their various configurations.

      However, things have changed and I see only two ways for the Syria conflict to end. One is partition and the other is total victory for one side or other. Partition doesn't have to mean the formal breakup of the country, e.g. the division of Bosnia into Bosnia and the Rpublika Srpska. What it does have to mean is that neither side is in the other's power since both have the probably perfectly accurate impression that they wouldn't be safe if they were ruled by the other side. I really doubt the two can share power in the same government safely at this point. The only other option is is wait until one side wins, if even, and that would probably take years and result in the destruction of even more of Syria. Particularly now that the rebels now mostly openly reject democracy, I don't really think a Taliban style government would be better enough that Assad to destroy what's left in Syria for. That's just me though.

  • The 18th Brumaire of Gen. al-Sisi in Egypt
    • So I guess Egypt's economic plan is a crush any political or social group Saudi Arabia doesn't like in exchange for enough cash to keep a failing, crony capitalist sector alive? That doesn't sound like a very healthy long-term strategy.

  • Why Tunisia's Transition to Democracy is Succeeding while Egypt Falters
    • Ah the Morsi administration. Back when you could get a beer on Friday nights and watch the Bassem Yousef show.

  • On eve of Revolution Anniversary, Cairo Shaken by deadly Bombings
    • Technically true of course, but then Assad also allowed a tame 'opposition'. Is the difference between Assad's tame opposition and Sisi's truly large enough that violence is legitimate in one case but not the other? I don't really see it.

    • I'm curious as to why so many in the West support the FSA's militant campaign in Syria but violence in Egypt is regarded as terrorism. Both are one-party regimes that lead a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy, MB lead protests. Is it just because Sisi is aligned with Israel and Assad is not or do people see an actual difference in the events?

  • Netanyahu Tells Kerry he will Grab 13% of Palestinian West Bank
  • The Shame and the Danger of Egypt's 98% Vote
    • The fact that the new regime is being so brutal even when it is popular seems very ominous. Presidents in most countries loose popularity over time and Egypt has a lot of deeply rooted problems that a personality cult can't solve. If and when popularity starts to fade it seems quite likely that the new regime will respond to dissent the same way it does now and it could well be a pretty terrifying bloodbath. Imagine June 30 if the military was perfectly willing to lob artillery shells into Tahrir. Under Morsi there was at least something like separation of powers as the army, media and judiciary were all more or less hostile. Now we have single undemocartic regime that has tasted blood and sees itself as perfectly justified in killing, torturing and imprisoning another who it doesn't like. June 30 was worse than a crime, it was clearly a mistake.

  • The Great Urban-Rural Struggle over the Constitution in Egypt
    • One of the this that repulses me most about the new regime in Egypt is that it is going for massive bloody repression even when it really isn't nessesary or useful to retain power. If they make arrests for the hopeless efforts of the Strong Egypt party to encourage people to vote No and the sit-in of the deposed MB with bloody massacre what will they do if they ever are seriously challenged? Violence and repression seem to be in their DNA, they do it for no other reason than that they can get away with it.

    • Sounds about like the US, or most other countries then. I still maintain that taking dubious measures to ram something through committee is a much less serious offense than gunning down your political opponents in the street and arresting anyone who airs public dissent though.

  • 3 Years after Democratic Revolution, Egypt Decides it Prefers North Korean Model
    • Dunno about Amr Moussa but I'm hearing Amr Hamzawy has been banned from traveling and may be arrested soon. Of course rumors are not always true, so we'll see. Wouldn't shock anyone though.

    • Well, according to the new Dear Leader women now have equal opportunity to be executed for leading protests. That's progress, I guess.

    • North Korea's Constitution guarantees, among other things, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to free health care, the right to a 40 hour workday, the right to guaranteed employment and the right to democratically elect leaders. That's a lot more than the US constitution grants. Guess which country I'd rather live in. What the document says means nothing, what matters is how they act. Right now on a comparative basis I'd say Mubarak was better, let alone Morsi.

  • The Politics of War Casualty Counts, from the "GWOT" to Syria
    • I don't see the article saying too much attention is being given to the deaths. I see the article says that the categories of casualties are being manipulated for propaganda purposes, in the West mostly by pro-FSA groups. Nor do I really see anything untrue in the article.

  • Iraq's Sunni Civil War
    • I've read several places that Maliki agreed to withdraw troops from the Sunni areas and that allowed al-Qaeda to seize control. If true it seems like it rather undercuts the arguments that the security unfairly targets Sunnis. Given the toll AL-Qaeda terrorism has taken on Shia I can hardly blame them for wanting to take precautions.

  • Iraqi Troops sent by Shiite PM al-Maliki arrest Sunni Parliamentarian, kill his Brother
    • Probably both, combined with the fact that ISIS is getting lots more weapons, money and recruits due to the Syria crisis. The second I does stand for Iraq and al-Qaeda never did stop its murderous anti-Shiite terrorist campaign.

  • Dozens Killed by Regime Barrel Bombs in Aleppo, half of them Children
    • In all fairness I'd take the numbers from the SOHR with a grain of salt, particularly vis a via military casualties. That more combatants would be killed than civilians is unusual, and that twice as many people from the army with all the firepower would die is also fairly suspicious.

  • Egypt’s crisis is structural
    • Egypt was damaged by decades of dictatorship, so the solution is.... a few more decades of dictatorship? Not sure I follow the logic there.

  • Egyptian Constitution: Army Strengthened, Religious Parties Banned, Freedom of Belief, Speech Enshrined
    • So Sharia is the primary source legislation but religion can't be mentioned by parties? That's a nice trick. I guess they'll just have to pass all those Sharia based laws by mime routine. That's be more interested to watch than the likely role of parliament as lackeys of the military actually. Because let's be honest, if you go by the Constitutions the USSR and Mubarak both had free speech. The actions of the junta are unlikely to be affected since pointing out they are breaking the article on torture is a good way to be tortured oneself.

  • Does Syria Stalemate Benefit Baath Regime?
    • Unless Sherifa has sources not generally available (possible I admit, my information from Syria leaves much to be desired) this seems to be silly talk. All the news I have gotten from around Damasucus lately is about rebel defeats. Raqqa is ruled by ISIS which has purged the FSA from the area and is essentially Talibanizing. In Deir az-Zor Jubat an-Nusra and Ahrar ash Sham rule. Most importantly, Syria is in ruins and will continue to be in ruins for the indefinite future. Argue it is the fault of Assad all you want, for this to continue indefinitely is no 'victory' any right thinking person should cherish.

      And it is funny Joe uses the example of the Taliban and Iraq to stand in for the Syrian rebels. Last time I checked the US backed government in Iraq is still in power and the insurgents are either not fighting it with it or bands of terrorists massacring Shia. The Taliban have hold on some of the rural Pashtun countryside but their prospects of holding anything outside that seem low. They are passionately hated by all the non-Pashtun, much as the Syrian rebels are now loathed by Shia, Alawaites, Christians and Kurds. If that is the sort of 'victory' you foresee the rebels in Syria having, I suspect Assad would take it.

    • The merger is partly aimed at what little is left of FSA and partly at ISIS, so I don't think the regime has to worry about a lack of rebel infighting. And it isn't like Syria was refining the oil for use in its warplanes anyway, you can't just pour crude straight into a jet engine unless you are trying to wreck it. The loss of an oilfield more or less means a small change in the amount of currency the controlling side can get from smuggling, no more.

    • Does the stalemate benefit Baath? Well, I suppose that depends on the alternative. It benefits them more than being totally wiped out by the rebels.

  • Syrian Civil War Spreads to Lebanon: Beirut Shaken by Iran Embassy Blast, kills 23, wounds 150
    • The goal of this particular lie is to reduce sectarian tensions in Lebanon by deflecting blame onto the Zionist other everyone can agree to hate rather than their neighbors. I suppose reducing sectarian tensions right now is a laudable goal but I don't think this is the way to go about it. Frankly I doubt even Shia are going to really buy the party line here. Still, Hezbollah is likely disciplined enough to keep mass retaliations against Sunnis a la the aftermath of the 2005 Samarra mosque bombing from happening. That makes the odds of a civil war somewhat lower.

  • Egypt: Youth Remember Martyrs, Reject both Army and Muslim Brotherhood
    • I don't seem to recall the Stalinists lacking control over the military, jucidicary and press. I also don't recall them allowing opposing political parties like Morsi did. I don't recall multiparty elections being scheduled. Of course he tried to influence the judiciary in his dicretion, so does every US president every time a Supreme Court vacancy opens up. I just don't see how Morsi was making himself a dictator and certainly not half as much as the new management.

    • I have to agree that it would be better if the revolutionaries and MB worked together on this one. What I am hearing from the Sisi regime makes Morsi look like a paragon of democratic virtue by comparison and I think the revolutionaries need all the help they can get. A couple of thousand protestors aren't going to do much and refusing to make tactical alliances to remain ideologically pure is rarely a good way to get results.

  • Take that, France: Iran has Halted Expansion of Nuclear Facilities: IAEA
    • It seems strange to me that information like that would be so secret that even the other negotiating teams would be kept in the dark. How are France and the other countries expected to make reasonable choices if nobody tells them what is actually going on? What damage would having that 'leaked' really do?

  • Will Avigdor Lieberman's return as Israeli Foreign Minister scupper Talks with Palestinians?
    • He was in Kadima, so not as far right as it goes. Though I guess as other comments here indicate, what is 'right' and 'left' in Israel is pretty relative.

    • Well, Olmert was dismissed over a corruption scandal, so I don't know that it is just the right. Though at least they prosecute them, which is more than a lot of countries can say..

  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Kerry in Cairo
    • I have to admit as a student of Arab language and culture the coup as been pretty demoralizing. Seeing Arabs so quickly turn their backs on democracy and go groveling back to the old order while actively cheering on massacres, curfews and the abolition of their rights makes everything Netenyahu says about how Arabs just aren't democracy material seem almost reasonable. How can you argue against Israeli violations of Arab rights when at home they actively seek out curfews, torture and suppression of human rights?

  • Is the Arab World turning back to Russia? Egyptian Delegation heads for Moscow
    • I don't think Russia or China are interested in giving Egypt that much free stuff and there is no way Egypt can pay for a total conversation of its weapons platforms, so I'd say this is mostly symbolic. Saudi Arabia has the money to buy whatever weapons systems it wants, but can they really count on the Chinese to keep them safe the way they could the US? I can't really see China being able or willing to intervene in the Middle East the way the US did in 1991.

  • Saudi Arabia in Unprecedented Withdrawal from UN Security Council over Syria, Palestine
    • I can't think of any. The most common theory is that it will probably go to some other Gulf state and they don't have that sort of leverage. But in any case, if a deal of that sort were to be made then the logical time for it to have been struck is before the election, not after. It's probably just a failed publicity stunt or maybe just a fit of pique.

    • They may not be playing politics as usual, but I'm rather at a loss as to what this was supposed to accomplish. Do they seriously think the US is going to invade Syria for them now? Or stop negotiations with Iran? Even in terms of publicity it seems to be generating more confusion about erratic Saudi behavior than outrage against Assad.

  • Top 10 Ways Ted Cruz & the Tea Party Weakened America with Shutdown
    • As somebody who was home-schooled I have to say I take some offense at that. I and most of the people I knew were quite well prepared for college and I do not feel I am any more lacking common sense than the admittedly sorry baseline for our species.

  • Top Ten Ways the US and Iran could avoid a Catastrophic War
    • I'm not sure what Obama wants matters. He can't do much without Congress and as long as Netanyahu controls that I don't think his personal feelings are relevant.

  • Iran's President Rouhani and the New Hopes for Diplomacy (Sternfeld)
    • Given that the drone program is generally unpopular globally but popular in the US, I would say support for it is the more 'isolated' position.

    • I could be wrong, but I think the Lobby may be able to pull this one off. It failed on Syria and it has failed to get a war with Iran, as Joe pointed out in another post and I couldn't reply to since replies were closed *glares*, because Americans actually care about wars. Particularly after Iraq, they very much don't like them. Lobbies in general can't really beat the public on areas the public cares about and is paying attention to.

      I'm not sure this is such an area. I personally doubt there would be much popular backlash if Congress were to pass a sanctions bill against Iran when Obama is trying to negotiate. As a result, it is much more likely to win here. We saw the President vs. the Lobby back when Obama was pushing a settlement freeze after all, and the Lobby won. Issues the Lobby can and can't win on aren't divided into Israel issues and Iran issues, they are divided into issues where there is significant public opposition and areas where the public is either supportive or indifferent.

      Maybe I underestimate the American public. It would be a pleasant surprise, believe me. But I don't think it is the most likely outcome here.

  • Iran's Rouhani: Not Seeking the Bomb, Willing to show Flexibility
    • Given Netanyahu's power in Congress, he can probably set the terms whatever Obama thinks. After all it would be pretty hard for Obama to compromise with Iran while Congress is passing more sanctions with a veto-proof majority! US policy towards Iran is determined by Tel Aviv, not the White House.

  • Has Military Suppression of Political Islam ever Worked?
    • I'd say the actions of the NSF and other parties attached to the coup have pretty well abolished most of the democratic process, a lot more thoroughly than the MB. Maybe they should disband too.

  • On Eve of "Peace Talks," Israelis Subsidize their West Bank Colonies, build new Units
    • In Israel's defense, or rather, not at all, I read this is mostly about rewarding Jewish Home and the settler wing of Likud for allowing the talks to go forward at all. After all the only way to get Bennet and co. on board with talks is to promise them that it will increase rather than decrease settlements.

      This does seem to be fairly inauspicious for the talk's future though. After all, if Netanyahu were somehow to sign an agreement that did allow for the removal of settlements, I doubt he could get his own government to agree. Jewish Home and the like would be furious at his betrayal.

      I don't think the way these are being made 'secret' seems like a good idea either. You ultimately need to get both communities to agree, not just their leaders. If a secret deal is signed between leaders and then just sprung on a community that finds it unacceptable, the results are likely to be unpleasant.

  • Tens of Thousands Rally to support Fundamentalist Government in Tunisia
    • I'm not sure the precedent that seems to be building for overthrowing a government by bringing crowds into the street is really a good thing. Call me old fashioned, but I'd rather see elections than large groups of screaming people used to settle what the 'will of the people' is. It seems so much less likely to collapse into mutual-ill will, recriminations and chaos, to say nothing of fights between rival crowds.

  • Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Defiant as Government Mulls Dispersing Crowds in Cairo, Giza
    • Hey, why bother reviving the old police state apparatus and army's power to arrest if you aren't going to use it? In any case, I don't think they have a choice but to keep the Muslim Brotherhood and anyone sympathetic to it out of power now that they have a few massacres on their hands already.

      The main question in my mind is whether the '3rd Square's as they are calling themselves now will get big enough to be worth repressing.

  • Bahrain Cracks Down in Bid to Stop its Tamarod Movement (a la Egypt)
    • Given that the armed forces in Bahrain are undoubtedly loyal to the government, I can't see this having much success. If they are lucky they might push the government into an embarrassing situation where its repression is on prime-time news again, but I doubt the embarrassment with be enough to force any real changes.

      The whole course of political events in Turkey, Syria, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi and Tunisia is reinforcing my mind the fact that power comes from barrel of gun. Protests are all very well but they don't beat loyal security forces. If the protestors can get the army on their side, they can get whatever they want, including the suppression of other protestors. Ironic isn't it?

  • Egyptian Backlash against Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi's Call for foreign Intervention in Egypt
    • I guess pro-Sisi media need something besides the protests and bloodbath to focus on, and the other sides foreign allies are as good as anything. It's funny how everyone always condemns foreign 'support' for the other side from Egypt to Syria while ignoring their own. As other commenters have observed, it isn't like Sisi and co. don't have probably more substantial foreign ties, especially to Saudi Arabia.

  • Egypt: Elbaradei, al-Azhar, Leftist Youth Condemn Excessive Force
    • After what has happened, I am not sure if the military has a choice but to make sure the MB stays out of the government totally. If they came back even as an influential minority party they could and likely would make noise about these killings and demand inquests, prosecutions and so on. The military needs to make sure it stays in a position where only its political enemies can be guilty of crimes.

  • Egypt's Revocouption Part Deux: Dueling Crowds leave 30 Dead
  • Tunisia: Demos, Parliament Resignations and the Republic of Sidi Bouzid Secedes
    • Dunno what your opinion on this is Dr. Cole, but if the government falls and the Salafists/Ennadha types are angered to the point where armed insurgency looks reasonable, mightn't it actually have a chance? Libya is right next door after all with a lot of weapons and the Tunisian army is weak, only 4000 personnel and if wikipedia is to be believe their air force consists of a few Italian trainers and their MBT is the M60. It doesn't exactly sound like the Egyptian or Algerian armies and it might not be a very useful instrument of repression.

  • Egypt's pro, anti-Morsi Demonstrators Settle in for the Long Game
    • Call me a cynic but I disagree. Saudi and the GCC have money and can buy their way out of dissent of a revolutionary kind for the foreseeable future. The GCC's rhetoric has been inconsistent and hypocritical for decades, just like any other political rhetoric, but nobody cares. The Rebel movement did not challenge a real autocracy, it challenged the weak, democratically elected ruler of a bankrupt state with the army on its side. Saudi isn't bankrupt, the masses aren't starving and the military is not on the side of a secular protest movement. It will be going nowhere.

  • Top Ten Ways Egypt Actually Does deeply Matter to the United States
    • At the risk of being rude, 1-3 are pretty much all the same (Suez Canal) and 4-8 are also not really different, so this is more like 2 or 3 reasons. I can't argue with the importance of the Suez Canal, but truthfully there seems small likelihood of it being disrupted atm, though I suppose if the Sinai militant groups pick up steam it is possible they could try to hit a ship going through.

      @KevinMC
      Turkey is more isolated, but I'm not sure that's Davutoglu's fault so much as events. Syria in particular has made a lot of new enemies for a lot of people and not too sure there is a way Turkey could have handled it without offending anyone. Supporting the rebels has offended Iran and Co., but refusing to aid them would have offended Saudi and Co., so sometimes you just have to pick.

  • Egypt: Prosecutor Comes after Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood, as Divided Mass Protests Continue
    • If "damaging the economy" is a criminal offense that justifies a purge, I suspect most rulers and parties would be guilty of that somewhere along the line. Not a particularly encouraging development at all.

  • The Rebellion Movement Denounces Mansour's Constitutional Principles as Dictatorial
    • Well, it didn't take long for the anti-Morsi coalition to start breaking apart. But my gut says that if the Tamaroud thought they could use the military against the state and then have the military just do exactly what they want and go away, it was the Rebels who miscalculated, not the military.

  • Egypt: A People’s Revolution, Not a Crisis or Coup (Nawal El Saadawi)
    • It might be worth pointing out that the Salafists rather than the MB were the drivers behind the Sharia clauses in the Constitution and both the Salafiyya and those clauses are still around, so if it was a revolt against Islamic law (and I don't think that was the primary motivation of most of the protestors) it is already looking like a failure.

  • Brotherhood, Army risk Civil War: 30 Dead, Hundreds Wounded
    • I can't help but think that the rebel movement went too far and that it would have been better in every way to exact large concessions from Morsi rather than overthrow him, particularly like this, using the military. It is deeply polarizing and it creates a narrative where both sides view the other as illegitimate, not just wrong-headed or opposed. The one side seems to be trying to destroy the MB as a counter-revolutionary dictatorship while the other views its foes as supporting an illegal putsch. In either case, violence seems justified and will seems moreso as the dead pile up and martyrs are created on both sides.

      Whichever one is 'true' both are internally consistent and plausible enough that people who want to believe them can and will. That's enough for conflict.

  • Egypt: One Soldier Dead, 3 Wounded, as Muslim Brotherhood Clashes with Army, Secularists in Provinces
    • I have to say I think it would have been way better if the protest movement had limited its demands to a new parliament and revising the Constitution or somesuch. This military coup and blatant suppression of the MB by military force goes too far for me, Morsi made mistakes but I don't think he or the MB did anything that make this sort of thing acceptable. This is going too far against an elected president and legal political party, and by the wrong people.

  • Palestinians Alarmed at Obama's New Christian Zionism, Failure to Push for Settlement Freeze
    • Honestly, I'd say they are about spot on, particularly the second one. I don't think the first one is an exact quote but the spirit is true enough, and the second one is without any real doubt accurate. Obama condemns settlement expansion with his mouth but uses every tool at his disposal to prevent Israel from being held to account over it. Thus, when he says they are bad, what he means is that they are no real problem.

  • Obama slights Palestinians, who stage Tent Protests
    • All this parsing of words means nothing. At the end of the day you are only as good as your actions in these affaris, and the only important message Obama is sending is that he intends to spend exactly zero effort or political capital in furthering any sort of resolution to this issue. Everything else, quite frankly, just doesn't matter.

  • Uh, Segregated Buses aren't the Issue on the West Bank, Folks
    • I'd say it is an example of different national cultures in action. As brutality in the modern middle east goes forcing Palestinians to use a couple of separate bus lines hardly signifies. Israel and other countries have of course done much worse But it resonates in the US due to how big of a deal the whole civil rights movement was and integrated public transit was a big part of that.

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