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Total number of comments: 11 (since 2015-09-17 04:14:03)

Marc P

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  • Will Trump/Flynn plot to Nuclearize Saudi Arabia spur Mideast Arms Race?
    • Odd. An entire article about Saudi Arabia and nuclear weapons without mentioning that Saudi paid for a large portion of Pakistan's nuclear program.

      Also, it would have been nice if the author had researched whether the Iran JCPOA has any provisions about other mideast countries developing nuclear technology or nuclear weapons.

  • CIA Cache: Bin Laden loved watching 'Resident Evil'
    • Professor Cole, do you have thoughts on the odds of whether these CIA-released documents are authentic?

      We know that bin Laden spent years on the run. Does it seems odd that he would bring tens of thousands of documents with him? Particularly documents that dealt with events so long ago?

  • Why is Saudi Arabia suddenly so paranoid?
    • Dr. Cole posits “three causes for the shift in Saudi Arabia’s security stance: the Arab uprisings of 2010 and 2011, the policies of the Obama administration and the collapse of oil prices.” I agree, and I would add two more reasons.

      The first is that Saudi is strongly opposed to democracy. This has been a theme in the mideast for a long time. When Iran threw out its dictator and became a democracy, Saudi rallied the other Arab dictatorships to form the Gulf Cooperation Counsel as a counterweight to the spread of democracy. When a democratic movement arose in Bahrain, Saudi gave an immediate response with troops and tanks to brutally put it down. Saudi supported the coup in Egypt which converted it from a democracy to an ultra-conservative Muslim dictatorship. Saudi has supported Erdogan in Turkey, who is doing his best to turn that country into an ultra-conservative Muslim dictatorship. Saudi’s complaint with Syria is that it is not an ultra conservative Sunni Muslim dictatorship who will take direction from Riyadh (e.g., the pipelines). Yemen is merely target practice for the Saudi air force, not an ideological fight.

      The second reason seems to be Saudi’s desire to spread ultra-conservative Muslim beliefs throughout the Islamic world. This effort spans 25 years and billions spent to assemble a truly impressive number of schools, universities, and mosques. Saudi has made a huge push into Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh in the past few years. Likewise Saudi’s involvement in east Africa. I don’t know why Saudi desires the spread of Sunni extremism, but it does.

      As a result, I wouldn’t agree with the headline that Saudi Arabia is “paranoid” or that it is “sudden.”

      I would ask, “What does Saudi Arabia’s 25 year campaign to radicalize the world’s Muslims mean for the future of the world order? And why does the US support Saudi’s efforts?”

  • Russia rebuffs Israeli demand for 40 mi. Buffer with Iran in Syria (Haaretz)
    • Dear Vladimir,

      I write to ask you a small favor. As you know, we chose to violate international law and conquer part of Syria a few years ago. My country would like Russia to recognize this conquest and induce Syria to accept it. If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, we would also like you to keep Russian troops at least 40 miles away from the new border, and to use Russian power to prevent Syria and Iran from placing any troops in that buffer zone.

      Yes, I know we’ve criticized Russia’s activities in Syria, Ukraine, Georgia and elsewhere as odious and morally reprehensible. But you know what we say here, what is good for the goose is good for the gander, unless Israel is the goose.

      Your cooperation in this matter is much appreciated.

      Best Regards,
      Bibi

  • In Massive Intel Error, US Kills 80 Syrian Troops, Helps ISIL Advance
    • Put me in the group of skeptics about this attack being an error. Dr. Cole writes "Air strikes from 30,000 feet are always open to being inexact." However, the US Military stated in its press releases that the attack was done with both F-16s and A-10 Warthogs. A Warthog is basically a flying .50 cal machine gun and therefore flies low and slow when it attacks. The recipient of the attack was an army base with twin mile-long runways, in a sparsely-populated area. It's on Google Maps, take a look.

      So long as the pilots' eyes were open there could be no mistaking what they were hitting. I'd like to know how many military planes were on the ground, and how many were shot with those .50 cal gatling guns. Is the US military going to say that the pilots can't distinguish a military plane?

      The US military and politicians have debated for years whether to force a no-fly zone on Sryia. Maybe what we just saw was the beginning of that. Maybe what happened proved that at least part of the US military supports ISIS. Surely what happened proved that the US doesn't think much of the ceasefire.

  • "Pigs! Crusaders!": US-Backed Fundamentalist Militias drive US Commandos out of al-Ray, Syria
    • @William: you say "to state that the resulting government would likely “export radical terrorism throughout the region” but “would generally do what America wants” is so self-contradictory it does not require comment."

      Huh? That is only contradictory if you assume that the US does not accept the spread of radical Sunni dictatorships in the region. You apparently see it that way.

      I don't. The US supported the coup in Egypt which installed a Sunni dictatorship. The US supported the brutal oppression of the Arab Spring in Bahrain by a Sunni dictatorship. The US created a vacuum in Libya and knows it will be filled by a Sunni dictatorship. Likewise in Syria.

      The US Secretary of State said in a secret memorandum that donors in Saudi Arabia still "constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide" and that "it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority".

      Yet...the US considers Saudi Arabia to be America's closest ally in the region; approved the largest arm sales in history to Saudi Arabia; and stands by while Saudi and the GCC fund radicals throughout the Mideast, Central Asia and beyond. The President hasn't so much as made a speech against the funding of radical schools and mosques around the world.

      William, I think you need to examine your premises.

    • William, America does have interests in Syria.

      - Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Qatar want pipelines from the Persian Gulf across Iraq and Syria to Europe. This makes more money for them, and helps reduce the EU's reliance on Russian natural gas.

      - Plus it allows the GCC dictatorships to undercut gas prices by Iran and extract more, more quickly from the Persian Gulf fields that the GCC shares with Iran. Anything anti-Iran is good for the neocons who run America's foreign policy.

      - It's striking how the pipelines never get mentioned by the press.

      - I'll agree that based upon the US proclamations it doesn't seem like the US has any interests in Syria. The US never talks about its goals, or who would run Syria if Assad left tomorrow. Any astute observer knows that there are no moderates who are in a position to take over. The result most likely would be a Wahhabi dictatorship that will export radical terrorism throughout the region (I predict Lebanon is next), but one that would allow the pipelines, oppose Iran, and generally do what America wants.

  • Out of Gas in Iranian Waters
    • @rabbit: Every sailor does have a GPS unit. It's called a phone.

      If the boat's GPS doesn't work, they are equipped with a VHS radio locator.

      Each boat also has radar. You'd think that if this was a mistake in navigation as the Navy claims, two helmsmen and two skippers might wonder how an island floated in front of their path.

      Each boat has a compass. It's right in front of the wheel. In a five-hour cruise you'd think that two helmsman and two skippers might notice that heading E is not the same as the SE direction of Bahrain.

  • What is Russia's Strategy in Syria & Why does Egypt Approve?
    • Professor, I'm curious about the last paragraph:

      "Ultimately Syria can only be healed by democracy and the separation of religion and state. Neither the regime nor the rebels get this, and there is no guarantee they ever will."

      It seems that the rebels (read: mercenary terrorists) get that, but healing is not their goal. Their goals appear to be, in no particular order:

      1. Establish a radical Sunni theocracy. Oppress all who disagree, by any means handy or capricious.

      2. Whoever wins among the many fighting groups will become dictator and a trillionaire. This is war as entrepreneurship.

      3. The funders of the mercenaries are equivalent to venture capitalists. They expect a return on investment.

      4. Removing Assad will permit the completion of the planned Sunni-run pipelines from the Persian Gulf to the Med, in opposition to Iranian interests and Russian interests.

      It seems to me that national healing has nothing to do with it, just as death, destruction and diaspora are of no concern to the mercenaries and their funders.

  • 14 Years after 9/11, US, Israel Tempted to ally with Al-Qaeda in Syria
    • Agreed. These groups aren't different ideologically. They differ only in their competing interests. Whichever Salafist radical leader gains control of Syria will become a multibillionaire. To think that any of them would trust the US to be a reliable ally is simply nuts. The US has proven to be untrustworthy in dealing with mideast players (go ask the Taliban, or Gaddafi, or Assad for that matter). To think that the US could trust any of them is simply nuts.

      The Saudi/GCC funders of these mercenary fighting groups are like venture capitalists sprinkling funds among various startups in a particular sector. They win no matter which Salafist leader wins the war. Any Islamic radical will be fine, so long as he is (a) Sunni, (b) Salafist, and (c) a loyal member of the GCC.

    • Starting with that pipeline project across Syria, from Iraq to the Med, that the American press doesn't seem interested in writing about.

      The idea of getting Russia, US/UK, and Assad together to broker a settlement is unrealistic. Any settlement must first address the competing interests of the GCC and Russia about that pipeline.

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