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Total number of comments: 13 (since 2013-11-28 16:32:54)

Jürgen Wiesmann

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  • 3 Years War? Obama to Bomb Syria in fight against ISIL
    • I am intrigued by the three-year time horizon. This plants the idea that the US will be engaged in combat in Iraq by the time that Obama leaves office. They are already kicking the responsbility for actually finishing this task to the next President.

  • Second Libyan Upheaval, this Time Against Political Islam, Extremist Militias
    • Dear Prof. Cole,
      you continue to describe the Libyan situation as a popular revolution. Clearly the suffering, courage and determination of Libyan revolutionaries evokes sympathy. However, Western powers acted as a decisive third party, and they need to be held responsible for the results of their actions. It is clear that the revolution could only succeed because Western powers chose to back one side in a civil war and used a military bombing campaign to cause the defeat of the Ghaddafi government. Thereafter the same Western governments left the country to the regional militias they brought to power. Many of them are extremists, which have continued to dominate and exploit the country, which is more and more looking like a failed state. In 2013 the economy was approx. 20-25% smaller than in 2010, and in 2014 it is on a path towards further decline. The behavior of the intervening Western governments can therefore only be characterized as irresponsible, is hard to justify and clearly not an answer to the problems facing the world today.

      It will be telling to see whether France and the US condemn or back Hafter's actions in an attempt to fix some of the problems they helped create and whether the result is a reactionary counterrevolution as in Egypt.

    • Dear Professor Cole,

      not long ago your assessment of Ansar al-Sharia and Al-Qaeda was as follows. May I ask what has changed your assessment?

      "7. Al-Qaeda is not for the most part even a “thing” in Libya. The only formal al-Qaeda affiliate in the region is al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which is not a Libyan but an Algerian organization. [...] The main al-Qaeda connection in Benghazi is to Abu Yahya al-Libi, who was killed in northern Pakistan by a US drone strike in June. [...] 8. Ansar al-Sharia (Helpers of Islamic Law) is just an informal grouping of a few hundred hard line fundamentalists in Benghazi, and may be a code word to refer to several small organizations. There are no known operational links between Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda. It is a local thing in Benghazi."

  • Militant Secularism in the Middle East?
    • Dear Prof. Cole,

      I understand that there were parliamentary elections scheduled for the summer of 2013 in Egypt. What were the expectations for how the Muslim Brotherhood would do in those elections? Were the Tamarrud expected to challenge in these elections or would the Brotherhood have won again? Of course we will never know, as the coup preempted this outcome.

      DJ

  • Kerry signals US Intervention in Syria, but to What End?
    • Dear Prof. Cole,

      would it not make sense to let the UN inspectors complete their work to at least identify which chemical agent was used, whether it was weapons-grade and how it may have been delivered before drawing conclusions on who did it. Your scenario is not implausible but it is clearly just guessing at this point. Militarily attacking a country based on guesswork, without UN authorization, without any clearly defined goals and against the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans is not only a violation of international law but a recipe for disaster.

      DJ

  • Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Defiant as Government Mulls Dispersing Crowds in Cairo, Giza
    • Dear Prof. Cole,
      is it not high time to put the responsibility for the great deal of bloodshed and heartbreak that you are forecasting where it belongs, i.e. squarely with the Egyptian Army and its international backers?

      In the past you have been a proponent of non-violent public protest in the Arab Spring countries. Should this not equally apply to the Muslim Brotherhood? Pointing out potential illegality under whatever martial law is now in place in Egypt seems out of place. Is the highly-touted "Rebellion" movement aware that the tactics they used for their revolution are now illegal? Are we not on the way to the restoration of the Mubarak system (without the man himself) rather than the secular constitutional democracy that was heralded in 2011 and again a month ago? Whatever fault Morsi and the new constitution may have had, once you get tear the constitution up via a coup there is no protection left for the democratic process and civil liberties. If the "Rebellion" thought they had all the people behind them could they not just have waited for parliamentary elections later this year?

  • Egypt: 8 Wounded in Clashes as Salafi Fundamentalists Object to Elbaradei as PM
    • Dear Prof. Cole,

      would it be fair to say that the US Government bears partial responsibility for the coup? The coup was carried out by the Egyptian Army, the recipient of billions in annual US military aid. One would assume that objections by the US government would have stopped the Egyptian military from carrying out the coup. The Army had well publicized their deadline for intervention, so the coup cannot have come as a surprise to the US government. Moreover Obama had direct contact with Morsi during his final days as President. If the US government had tried to stop this they certainly had the means to do so.

      DJ

  • Republicans Tip world off to covert CIA Role in Libya
    • Dear Professor Cole,

      it is very interesting that the continuing pressure on the Benghazi story has now led to the revelation that there is a concerted effort by the US government to funnel arms from Libya to Syria to support the rebels there. The large CIA presence in Benghazi and Ambassador Stevens' meetings with Turkish representatives that night are both linked to the secret arms smuggling operations. I think US citizens are better off knowing what is being done in their name. You have eloquently written yourself about the dangers from flooding Syria with weapons. Do you apprecaite that this story is coming out now?

      Best regards,

      DJ

  • Air Massacre in Maaret al-Numan, Syria as Fighting Intensifies
    • Dear Juan,

      do you have any further information on who the "opposition sources" are and how credible their information on the targets of the bombings and the death toll is? In Libya a great many of the claims made by the rebels turned out to be false, even though they were highly effective in rallying international support to their side. At a time when the drums of war are being beaten, one has to be extra cautious on what information to rely on.

      The other point I would like to make is how similar the description of "bombs striking residential units" is to similar reports about Nato bombs hitting civilian areas in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, ... and Libya. I gues there is always the question whether it's war crimes or collateral damage, but the question has to be asked regardless on who is doing the bombing.

      Best regards,

      DJ

  • 10,000 Syrian Refugees Trapped on Iraq & Turkish Borders
    • Dear Juan,

      why is it that the Syrian rebels can continuously get away with rejecting negotiations or ceasefires, even if they are temporary. It appears that Western governments and media will not criticize them for this refusal no matter what. Given the continued military strength of the Assad government, there are only two outcomes that this will lead to. The first one is continuing long-time civil war which will effectively destroy the country. The second one is military intervention by NATO powers, with or without UN Security Council approval. Given these options, it is short-sighted and anti-humanitarian that political negotiations are not given any chance to work.

      Some may say that military intervention is necessary because Assad is butchering peaceful demonstrators. However, according to news reports about 25% (approx 8500 of 30,000) of the dead are Syrian military and police, which clearly indicates that this is a civil war, and not a slaughter of unarmed civilians by a military machine.

      Best regards,

      DJ

  • On Libya, Biden Let Ryan Get Away with Murder (Smith)
    • Dear Chris,

      thank you for exposing some of the extreme misinformation from conservative sources about the attack in Benghazi. Perhaps you can also shed some light on the following two issues:

      (1) What was the status of the building where the attack happened? I have seen it be referred to as embassy or as consulate, but according to the Stae Department website, there are no consular services in Libya except in Tripoli. Could it be that the building was just a minor mission, it has been suggested that it was mostly for CIA activities tracking the flow of weapons.

      (2) You note the following abot the recent elections for Prime Minister: "Similarly extraordinary are the two American-educated technocrats who faced off in Libya’s largely-overlooked runoff election for prime minister the day after the consulate attack. The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate didn’t even qualify, having in the general election placed a distant third."
      Despite being an "American-educated technocrat", the winner of the run-off election then proceeded to stack his cabinet with Islamists and was subsequently dismissed by the General National Congress. Can you shed some light on why the Prime Minister felt compelled to give so much power to the Islamists, whether this indicates a stalemate between secularist and Islamist forces and how this jives with your description of the real Libya.

      Best regards,

      DJ

  • Acting Like a Democracy, Libyan National Congress dismisses Prime Minister
    • Dear Professor Cole,

      when Mr. Abushagur was selected as Prime Minister you hailed the event as "a little-noted major event" and "a remarkable achievement". In your words, "Libyans again showed themselves nationalist and non-fundamentalist", as Mr. Abushagur defeated the Muslim Brotherhood candidate.

      His prompt dismissal after only one month in office appears to indicate the profound regional/ethnic/clan differences separating Libyan society. Almost one year after Gaddafi's death there is still no functioning government in place. This does remind me of Iraq where forming a government often took many months, even after a successful (purple fingers) election.

      You now say that "The National Congress now needs to move quickly to install a more decisive prime minister, one who can put together a government with popular support and who can rapidly address the country’s security problems." THis is however exactly the task they failed to accomplish the first time around. What makes you confident that they will be more successful in the second go-around?

      Best regards,

      DJ

  • Did Bashar al-Assad Betray Qaddafi?
    • Dear Mr. Cole,

      this is very interesting story. It clearly reflects poorly on Mr. Sarkozy and the French government. However, it is difficult to see why it would reflect poorly on Bashar Assad at all. First, if anything giving up information leading to Gaddafi's capture at that point helped to end the civil war that Gaddafi had clearly already lost. It does not mean that Bashar Assad bears responsibility for the launching or the outcomes of the civil war, which you helped cheerlead. Second, he gave the information to the French and not the Lybian Revolutionaries. If this resulted in the lynching of Gaddafi, this falls much more heavily on the French, who actually had influence with the Lybian revolutionaries. Third, it reinforces again that the promises of Western governments cannot be trusted. The fact that open intervention in Syria has not happenend, yet, is due to reluctance on the part of the Russians and Chinese, certainly not the French. Finally, if it is now conventional wisdom that Sarkozy only bombed Lybia for electoral reasons, why is this not heavily criticized and examined as a war crime.

      Best regards,

      Jürgen

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