Member Profile

Total number of comments: 94 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:20)


Showing comments 94 - 1

  • Syria's Aleppo Falling: The Government Russia actually Turned
    • It isn't really true to say they will have lost all the urban areas, they still have Duma and some other areas of Damascus. Big, war changing victory anyway though, and hard to see how the opposition wins from here, best case is not loosing.

  • More districts of East Aleppo fall to Regime & Militia Allies
  • Top Five Ways to tell if a Terrorist is still al-Qaeda despite name Change
    • One could criticize the Arabic for being associated with the early Islamic conquests and thus taking on a religious bend if you wanted to adopt a strictly secular/atheist critique. Clearly it harks back to Khalid bin Walid rather than Ghandi or Jefferson. But going on about the English translation conquest isn't quite reasonable, the Arabic word has different connotations and it's clearly that they are thinking of.

    • I agree in general, but if I'm not mistaken the Arabic word فتح is mostly used in the context of the original Islamic conquests and is harking back to that, something I don't think you harping on this English translation really reflects.

  • Let's Fight ISIL, but Without Help of Any Kurds: Turkey to US
    • "Cavusoglu said Syrian Arab opposition forces opposing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad could be backed by special forces from Turkey, the United States as well as France, Britain and Germany."

      Not practically, not with the opposition dominated by al-Qaeda and Taliban clones. US spec ops in Idlib would end up prisoners of JN quickly enough.

  • The Next Libyan Revolution Will Be Led by Women Wielding Words—Not Guns
  • Syrian independent media offers bold challenge to extremism
    • No worries, now that they have abandoned the ceasefire the revolutionaries are back in bed with AQ and I am sure that the good freedom fighters won't have to go back on their word not to criticize al-Qaeda again.

  • The Final Breakup of Iraq? Barzani calls for Kurdistan Referendum
    • Couple of points-

      -I don't think Ankara is actually threatened by Barzani and clan anymore. They KRG has Turkish trainers and troops on its soil, sells oil to and does a lot of business with Turkey. Declaring 'independence' would actually tie them more closely to Ankara, as if they are hostile to Baghdad they would be totally dependent on Ankara to market their oil. This is not a move the AKP will oppose, if anything the contrary. The PKK and Turkey have gone back to war, but if anything Barzani is more hostile to the PKK-YPG than Turkey, he isn't Erdogan's enemy.

      -This is a non-binding referendum, made while demanding cash. The KRG has been hit hard by low oil prices, Peshmerga and teachers are unpaid, services are falling apart. I suspect this is more about trying to squeeze Baghdad for money than a statement of Kurdish nationalism. Even if it fails to raise cash I suspect it is a bluff that will be allowed to quietly fade away.

  • Tahrir 5 Years Later: The Hurdles to Democratization & Arab Youth Revolts
    • Couple of nitpicks about the map-South Sudan should probably be separate from Sudan by now, the grace period on that is running out. :P

      Also, Palestine seems to be marked government overthrown for some reason. Obviously, its government was unchanged so that's really accurate in any sense.

  • Did Daesh/ ISIL's Paris attacks bolster al-Assad? Spain calls him 'lesser of evils'
    • I honestly find it a bit odd you are here saying Assad has to go while in other columns you basically said he can't go until ISIS is destroyed and that France should stop listening to Saudi Arabia. Still can't make up your mind?

  • Is Daesh/ ISIL a modern Raiding Pirate state?
    • I don't think the analogy holds very well in Paris anyway. It isn't like they got a lot of profitable loot from 9/11 or the Paris attacks, in fact from a looting perspective such things are counterproductive as they draw unwanted negative attention.

  • Why ISIL is a Vast Exaggeration: & No, it can't Shoot down Planes
    • It isn't like Syria *now*, obviously. My point is the different courses of the revolts in Syria and Libya vs Egypt and Bahrain have to do with the external supply of weapons. If the US were to flood Egypt with weapons for 'moderates' MB groups to use, Egypt might well look like Syria in 2-3 years.

    • My expat friends (before they left) painted a much less rosy picture of Egypt. ISIS proper is not big outside Sinai, but other groups are escalating attacks, bombs go off regularly in Cairo now. Call them moderate rebels. Society is deeply polarized, sometimes violent and suspicious of Westerners.

      Sort of like Syria 2011 I guess, except since Sisi is US allied the MB type rebels won't be getting US and Saudi arms, since Russia isn't in the business of destabilizing governments these days. Egypt's lucky day I guess.

  • Iran helping build "New Syrian Army;" ISIL fighters Fleeing to Iraq from Russian Airstrikes
    • I'm not sure why so many people admit the genocidal goals of the rebels and condemn Iran's support of its coreligionists. I guess if a 'revolution' calls for your extermination it's just tough luck, survival is counter-revolutionary.

  • Iraqi Government halts al-Anbar Campaign over Sectarian Fears, US Pressure
    • Wonder how much shia backlash there is going to be if the US insists on keeping Daesh around until a Saudi-loyal Sunni militia group can be assembled? It hardly seems in their best interest.

  • How Lindsey Graham & GOP lost the Chance to be Presidential over Charleston
    • Actually what surprised me is that only 61% of blacks disagreed with flying the confederate flag. That's 39% if blacks, over one in three, who either support or don't oppose it. I'd have thought that number would be a lot higher. With 75% white support that's a majority by my count.

  • Young Arabs' Faith in Democracy Shaken by return to Authoritarianism
    • I don't see the toppling of too many regimes, not if things are like they are in Morocco. Syria is the only on where that is even a possibility, and only if Ankara-Riyadh-Tel Aviv are able to push it that far. Not much democracy likely there I am afraid.

      With revolutions having failed to make like better anywhere but maybe Tunisia and even there not dramatically people are just not that interested. The news broadcasts show that it can indeed get worse and is fairly likely to if the current regime goes, so why risk it?

  • The Battered People of Gaza: "We're not Abandoning the Resistance & No Peace until the Blockade is Lifted"
  • Did Israel go too Far? The Massacre at the UN School/ Refugee Center
  • Could States Rights & Decentralization Save Iraq?
    • Doubt it. The war is between IS and the government, and it will be settled with blood and iron. IS is not interested in mucking about with the relationship between the provincial and central government. If and when the central government wins, it will be in a position to dictate how it wants to run things. Until then it is irrelevant.

  • Middle East Crisis: Juan's "Ask Me Anything" at Reddit Discussion
    • For some reason I can't use the reply button on you last comment?

      Also, cynical is my middle name, I think anyone who knows me will tell you. Yemen has of course seen some changes, mostly increased tribal conflict between the supporters of Hadi and Saleh and more control by Houthis. Still effectively a presidential dictatorship ruling ineffectively over tribes.

      Because I'm cynical, I'll point out plenty of Egyptians also support military dictatorship and are more than willing to participate in a charade. Are you seriously contending that parliamentary elections in Egypt will be competitive and offer credible opposition to Sisi? Time will tell, but that sounds quite unlikely. This parliament is far more likely to be a repeat of the 2005 one. The difference is this time a lot of Egyptians support that.

    • Tunisia I'll grant you, but it is one out of 20-odd Arab countries. Call it the exception that proves the rule In the rest it is never started or is failing. Yemen is about the same as ever, in Bahrain the uprising was crushed, Syria will take a generation to get back to where it was in 2010, in Morocco, Jordan and Algeria the government is rolling back the concessions they made. Libya doesn't look particularly promising. Frankly, with the partial exception of Tunisia there isn't a single country I'd rather live in now than in 2010.

      Anything can happen in principle, but I have a number of contacts in Egypt and read a lot of analysis and you are the first person to even hint the parliamentary elections will produce anything more meaningful than the parliaments under Mubarak or Assad. Sure, it can take a while for a democratic transition to happen, but this doesn't look like a "transition" to me. This is just dictatorship, full stop.

    • Couple of random nitpicks:

      Surely Modern Standard Arabic is more like Latin than Esparento? It has a long cultural history as a literary language, even if not as a spoken vernacular.

      Second and rather more meaningful, your plaint that the Arab spring didn't fail because it stopped transitions from father to son seems more than a bit desperate to me. Ok, it might technically be true, but the goal wasn't to replace a military autocrat with another military autocrat not related to the first one! Measured by its own goals rather than the vastly lower ones being retrospectively set, the Arab Spring has mostly failed.

  • Syrian Opposition: Baghdadi "Caliphate" lame attempt to take Spotlight off his Crime Spree
    • While I agree that it isn't going to attract hordes from Indonesia or Nigeria or anywhere really, I wouldn't underestimate it. al-Baghdadi has clearly set up the most successful jihadi project to date and that is likely to attract more volunteers and defections from the likes of Jebhat al-Nusra. They have a similar ideology anyway and ISIS is looking more successful. I'm told a number of leaders and units, particularly in the Deir al-Zor area have already gone over. It may be a joke it you, but to literally millions of people living under it, it is a deadly serious matter.

  • What the Arab Youth Movements have Wrought: Don't Count them Out Yet
    • When the best strategy for political reform is to wait for the current regime to literally die of old age, you know you have basically lost.

  • Iraq's PM al-Maliki Rejects Gov't of Nat'l Unity as Sunnis Demand he step Down
    • The one proposed would basically give 1/3 of the power to each ethnic group, even though shia religious parties won 2/3 of the vote. Why would any political party agree to throw away its own electoral victory like that?

      So far, but that won't last. The shia have every advantage and there is nothing like a crisis to get people serious about reforming the military, starting with a purge of all the sunnis added for 'power-sharing' reasons.

    • Since the government of 'national unity' would essentially ignore election results and give most power to the Sunnis and Kurds, if is not particularly surprising that it would be rejected. No shia PM would consider it.

      But in general, all this talk about replacing Malili seems overblown. Even if he were replaced, all the main issues would still be there and the Sunni would quickly hate the new Shia PM just as much as the old. Now it's a war of attrition, and one the Sunnis are poorly positioned for. The best they can hope for is independence in destroyed, impoverished version of the Gaza strip.

  • Neo-Zangid State erases Syria-Iraq Border, cuts Hizbullah off from Iran
    • Not to be pedantic, but T-55s aren't of US manufacture.

    • The idea that Hezb would collapse without a land bridge all the way from Tehran to Lebanon seems exaggerated to me. They did most of the their fighting when Saddam was still in power, it didn't seem to stop them then. Also rockets aren't that hard to make and I have little doubt they could be fabricated in Lebanon.

  • Inside Mosul: ISIS fears Popular Uprising; Baathists cry Foul
    • It seems like a Sunni Iraq will quickly be reduced to Gaza-level standards of living. Over 90% of the provincial budgets were from Baghdad's oil reserves, Baghdad obviously isn't going to be paying for hospitals in ISIS territory. ISIS doesn't have the money to pay for all that for long, nor is it likely they would even try, they need that to run their war machine. Without a port, oil or other notable industry or natural resources Sunni Iraq isolated from its neighbors doesn't look like an economically viable unit. Even if ISIS retains political control of some part of the territory, it will be an economic catastrophe for Iraq's Sunnis

  • Iraq: Radical Shiite Militia fights Sunni Extremists as US Carrier reaches Gulf
    • While shia militia are probably quite capable of a much brutality towards their enemies, they don't have plans to attack anyone outside Iraq. ISIS and the al-Qaeda strand of Sunni thinking do. That's important to remember when considering the international response.

  • Enter the Ayatollah: Sistani calls on Iraqis to enlist in Fight against "Terrorists"
    • Whatever Sistani's intentions, the effect will certainly be to increase recruitment in Shia militias. The Iraqi government will certainly rely on them more in future, as it the regular army has proved so unreliable. Likely opening for Iran.

  • The Second Iran-Iraq War and the American Switch
    • It seems a little exaggerated to call it an "Iran-Iraq" war when 60% of Iraq's population is on the side of 'Iran' and another 20% is sitting it out totally. Iran is certainly backing the Shia in Iraq but a 99% of the fighting is still between Iraqi citizens, this is a civil war, not an international one.

  • In Egypt, Industrial Scale Death Decrees
    • Yeah, these sorts of things make Morsi's attempts to put himself over the judiciary look pretty prescient. Even if he had appointed political hacks they could hardly be doing worse than these psycos.

  • 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.

      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.

Showing comments 94 - 1