Trump blasts Iran for backing Syria, ignores Russia, Praises Saudis

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Trump more or less threatened to wipe out the 25 million people of North Korea in his speech at the UN.

Then he turned to the Middle East, where he again pledged to undermine the Iranian nuclear deal.

In other words, he put forward a plan to turn Iran into North Korea as a geopolitical problem.

The speech was a weird amalgam of white nationalism and Neoconservatism. It abandoned the isolationism of the former and eschewed the idealism of the latter.

Concerning Iran, Trump said:

“The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people.”

I swear, I thought Trump was talking about his own administration there for a second. He’s the one, not Iran, who called Nazis very fine people and blamed Heather Heyer for being run over by one of Trump’s supporters. I have been critical of the Iranian regime’s human rights record, as well, but Trump doesn’t have a leg to stand on here.

“Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors. This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.”

Hizbullah was formed to get Israel back out of Lebanon. Israel committed a naked act of aggression against little Lebanon in 1982, invading and shelling Beirut indiscriminately. The Israeli army then occupied 10% of Lebanese territory, in the south of the country. The far right Likud party has sticky fingers, and it had no intention of ever leaving. Hizbullah fought a low intensity guerrilla war to get the Israelis to withdraw, which they finally did in 1999. Israel still occupies the Shebaa Farms area that belongs to Lebanon.

The Yemen civil war wasn’t fueled by Iran but by a Saudi air campaign against the government of the north of the country. The Houthis were unwise to make their coup in early 2015 against the interim government, but it was the Saudis who bombed targets from 30,000 feet and with little local knowledge. Iran may have facilitate some training for a handful of Zaydi fighters, but it doesn’t give them very much money. The conflict is indigenous and has its origin in Yemen resentment of Saudi attempts to spread money around and convert people out of Zaydism and into the ultra-rigid Wahhabi form of Islam.

As for Hizbullah backing Bashar al-Assad in Syria, so does Trump’s buddy Vladimir Putin, to whom Trump said Syria should be turned over. In other words, Hizbullah’s position on Syria isn’t much different from that of Trump.

It is very odd that you would blame the survival of the al-Assad regime on Iran alone and not bring up Russia. Russia has spent way more in Syria than Iran and has used its Aerospace Forces for intensive bombing over 2 years, a much bigger military impact than Iran’s. And Trump himself keeps saying Arabs need strongmen to rule them.

“We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. (Applause.) The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.”

Let’s see. In the Joint Plan of Collective Action, Iran gave up:

1. –its planned heavy water reactor at Arak, concreting it in and abandoning it. Heavy water reactors can be used to gather enough fissile material over time so that you might be able to make a nuclear bomb. That pathway is gone.

2. –all but 6000 of its centrifuges, which aren’t enough to enrich enough uranium on a short timetable to make a bomb

3. –its stockpile of uranium enriched to 19.5%. It needs to be enriched to 95% for a proper bomb, but that is easier if you start part of the way there. That stockpile has been recast in a form such that it cannot be used to make a bomb.

4 — its objections to being intensively monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. It is now under the most stringent inspection regime in history. (Israel refused inspections and then made several hundred nuclear warheads and so did India and Pakistan and Russia and the US. Trump doesn’t condemn the actual proliferators, only Iran, which does not have a nuke).

Iran basically gave up the deterrent effect of being able to construct a nuclear weapon in time to stop an invasion. The United States has invaded 3 neighbors of Iran, so it isn’t an idle fear.

What did Iran get in return? The GOP Congress tightened sanctions, and has scared off a lot of European investors.

Iran got bupkes.

This deal is not between the US and Iran but between Iran and the UN Security Council plus Germany (representing the EU). The deal has deeply disadvantaged Iran and has not affected the US at all. In fact the US has already reneged on the spirit of it.

If what Trump is saying is that Iran was left with some elements of what is called ‘nuclear latency’– the knowledge of how to make a bomb, then that is correct. But the only way to wipe out Iranian nuclear latency would be to invade it and occupy it and put in a puppet government.

And that is what Israel’s Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia’s Muhammad Bin Salman want Trump to do. We have to see if he is so foolish.

Iran is 2.5 times as populous as Iran and 3 times bigger geographically, and the Iraq War did not go well for the US.

“The Iranian regime’s support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its financing.

In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them. ”

As or Saudi Arabia being the good guy, give me a break. They were backing anti-minority fanatics like Jaysh al-isalm who wanted to ethnically cleanse all Syrian non-Salafis (i.e. almost everyone). They had recognized the Taliban in the 1990s. They spread around an intolerant form of Islam that forbids Muslims to so much as have a friendly meal with Christians and Jews.

Trump’s remarks were apocalyptically stupid.


Related video:

France 24: “Donald Trump at the UN: The Iran Deal is “an embarrassment to the United States”

Those 90 Companies that Caused Climate Crisis? They Should Pay for It

By Sarah van Gelder | Yes! Magazine | – –

The companies responsible for the climate crisis should cover the costs of fighting wildfires and recovering from hurricanes.

Pacific Northwest forests are on fire. Several blazes are out of control, threatening rural towns, jumping rivers and highways, and covering Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and other cities in smoke and falling ash. Temperatures this summer are an average of 3.6 degrees higher than the last half of the 20th century, according to the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group analysis published in The Seattle Times.

Fire crews have been battling fires for months. In spite of all the effort, though, officials expect the fires to continue burning until major rains come sometime this fall. Meanwhile, firefighting coffers are running dry as costs run into the hundreds of millions.

The scale and costs of these disasters pale in comparison to the impacts of hurricanes Harvey and Irma: Accuweather is estimating the combined cost of these unprecedented storms at $290 billion. (Then there is the flooding in India and Bangladesh—less noted in U.S. news media—where 40 million were affected and 1,200 died.)

What these disasters have in common is that they are all exactly the sort predicted by climate models—and they will get terrifyingly worse over coming years.

So who will cover the costs? Who will pay for the first responders, for sheltering and relocating climate refugees, and for rebuilding homes, businesses, and infrastructure?

Our planet is quickly getting hotter, more volatile, and more dangerous. But Republicans are working to cut nearly $1 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and to give large corporations and the wealthy a big tax break. So who should pay for the climate disasters?

90 companies are responsible for 42 to 50 percent of the increase in the Earth’s surface temperature.

A report published in early September by the journal Climatic Change helps pinpoint a possible answer. According to the report, 90 companies are responsible for 42 to 50 percent of the increase in the Earth’s surface temperature and 26 to 32 percent of sea level rise.

Some say we are all to blame for the climate crisis—at least all of us who get around in cars and planes. But there are reasons these 90 companies owe a major debt to the entire planet.

First, many of them knew what damage they were causing. According to the report, more than half of the carbon emissions produced since the industrial revolution were emitted since 1986, when the dangers of global warming were well-known. But these companies buried their own research findings and doubled down on fossil fuel extraction.

Second, many of these companies spend vast sums promoting climate denial and undermining support for renewable energy, electric vehicles, and other responses to the climate crisis. Industry lobbyists and think tanks, flush with money from fossil fuel companies and their executives, distort our democracy, making government accountable to their interests rather than to We the People.

Third, by doing these things, these companies prevented action during the brief window of time between climate science becoming clear and it becoming too late to avert disaster.

But we can still make choices that would curb catastrophic outcomes.

Now we are very short on time. This year’s fires and floods are just the beginning. But we can still make choices that would curb catastrophic outcomes. To make that difference, we need an all-out effort now on all fronts—in agriculture, transportation, and energy generation, conservation, and efficiency upgrades. That will take a lot of money.

A good place to start would be requiring those who caused the climate catastrophe to pay. The 90 companies could start by helping families and communities recover from the floods, wind damage, and fires, and helping homeowners and cities everywhere build resilience for withstanding the effects of future disasters. But they shouldn’t stop there. The companies that are responsible for the damage should pay their share for the transition to a carbon-free future.

There is a precedent for this. Tobacco companies too had been hiding and dismissing the evidence that their product caused massive damage. Big Tobacco and Big Oil even hired some of the same scientists and public relations firms to obscure the damage their industries were causing, according to ClimateWire. The 1998 tobacco settlement of lawsuits brought by nearly every U.S. state required the major tobacco companies to pay over $200 billion toward the increased cost of health care resulting from smoking and for prevention education.

There are far more victims of the fossil fuel industries’ deception—billions of people today, future generations, and many other species.

Sarah van Gelder wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Sarah is a co-founder and columnist at YES! Her new book, “The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000-Mile Journey Through a New America” is available now from YES! Read more about her road trip and book here and follow her on Twitter @sarahvangelder.

Via Yes! Magazine


Related video added by Juan Cole:

AJ+: “The Biggest Climate Change Offenders”

Are US troops in Afghanistan causing Talibanism?

By Ann Jones | ( | – –

Here we go again! Years after most Americans forgot about the longest war this country ever fought, American soldiers are again being deployed to Afghanistan. For almost 16 years now, at the command of three presidents and a sadly forgettable succession of generals, they have gone round and round like so many motorists trapped on a rotary with no exit. This time their numbers are officially secret, although variously reported to be 3,500 or 4,000, with another 6,000-plus to follow, and unknown numbers after that. But who can trust such figures?  After all, we just found out that the U.S. troops left behind in Afghanistan after President Obama tried to end the war there in 2014, repeatedly reported to number 8,400, actually have been “closer to 12,000” all this time.

The conflict, we’re told, is at present a “stalemate.” We need more American troops to break it, in part by “training” the Afghan National Army so its soldiers can best their Taliban countrymen plus miscellaneous “terrorist” groups.  In that way, the U.S. military — after only a few more years of “the foreseeable future” in the field — can claim victory.

But is any of this necessary? Or smart? Or even true?

A prominent Afghan diplomat doesn’t think so. Shukria Barakzai, a longtime member of the Afghan parliament now serving as Afghanistan’s ambassador to Norway — herself a victim in 2014 of a Taliban suicide bomber — told me only weeks ago, “The Taliban are so over! They just want to go home, but you Americans won’t let them.”  

She reminded me that the Taliban are not some invading army. (That would be us.) They are Afghan citizens, distinguished from their countrymen chiefly by their extreme religious conservatism, misogyny, and punitive approach to governance. Think of them as the Afghan equivalent of our own evangelical right-wing Republicans. You find some in almost every town. And the more you rile them up, the meaner they get and the more followers they gain.  But in times of peace — which Afghanistan has not known for 40 years — many Taliban most likely would return to being farmers, shopkeepers, villagers, like their fathers before them, perhaps imposing local law and order but unlikely to seek control of Kabul and risk bringing the Americans down on them again.

Few Afghans were Taliban sympathizers when the U.S. overthrew the Taliban regime in 2001. Now there are a great many more and they control significant parts of the country, threatening various provincial capitals. They claim to be willing to negotiate with the Afghan government — but only after all American forces have left the country.

For the Trump administration, that’s not an option. (Think what a negotiated peace would mean for our private arms manufacturers for whom America’s endless wars across the Greater Middle East are a bonanza of guaranteed sales.) Instead, the president has put “his” generals in the Oval Office to do what generals do. Those in charge now — James Mattis, H.R. McMaster, and John Kelly — are all veterans of the Afghan or Iraq wars and consequently subject to what Freud labeled the “repetition compulsion”: “the blind impulse to repeat earlier experiences and situations,” often in the expectation that things will turn out differently. You’d think these particular generals, having been through it all before, would remember that very little or nothing ventured in Afghanistan (or Iraq) by “the greatest military the world has ever known” has worked out as advertised. As Freud pointed out, however, “The compulsion to repeat… replaces the impulsion to remember.”

But I was in Afghanistan too and, strangely enough, I remember a lot.

“Where Is the Money You Promised Us?”

I first went to Kabul in 2002 to work with women and girls just emerging from five long years of confinement in their homes. I found a shambles, a city in ruins. Whole districts had been reduced to rubble by civil war among factions of the mujahidin, the Afghan fundamentalists who, with U.S., Saudi, and Pakistani support, had driven the Red Army out of their country in 1989, only to be overwhelmed by the onslaught of the Taliban in the 1990s.  By 2001, when Americans made plans to bomb Kabul to unseat that Taliban regime, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld complained that there were “no good targets left to bomb.” When we finished bombing anyway, thousands of Kabulis had been killed, thousands had fled, and thousands more remained, living in makeshift shelters among toppled houses or in the blue U.N. tents that came to encircle much of the fallen city.

I lodged with an aging American woman who had lived in Afghanistan since the 1960s when her husband, a businessman, took part in America’s Cold War competition with the Soviet Union for the allegiance of Afghans.  The first morning, when I awoke chilled to the bone, she thrust some filthy paper bills into my hand, wrapped a woolen scarf around my head, and sent me out into the snow in search of bread. I turned a corner into a field of tumbled walls and there, on what had once been another corner, heat poured from an ancient brick bake-oven. I joined a line of men and waited my turn until long, flat loaves, hot from that oven, were thrust into my arms. Those hard-eyed Afghan men watched as I handed over my shabby bills and wrapped the loaves in the tail of my scarf. Who was I? What was I doing here? By week’s end, they would nod a greeting and make a space in the queue for me.

The Afghans I met were like that then: wary and guarded but curiously open and expectant. The Taliban was finished. Done. Gone. Some of its members, in plain sight, had joined the new American-installed government, but at least they had changed the color of their turbans and, for the time being, their tune. Poor and suffering as most Afghans were, they were prepared to jump at a new beginning, and they were open to anyone who seemed to have come to help.

As the American presence increased, Afghan optimism only expanded. Local leaders attended “informational” meetings called by American officials and never even complained about the aggressive military dogs — unclean by Islamic standards — that searched the premises and sometimes sniffed the Afghan men themselves. They listened to American plans to establish in their country the very best political system imaginable: democracy. There was talk of respect for human rights; there were promises of investment, prosperity, peace, and above all “development.”

Near the end of the second year of such meetings, an Afghan rose — I was there — to ask two embarrassing questions: “Where is the money you promised us? Where is the development?”  The American ambassador had a ready answer.  The promised funds were being used at first to establish American offices (with heating, air conditioning, the Internet, the works) and to pay American experts who would eventually provide the promised development and, in the process, inculcate respect for human rights, and oh, yes, women.

Let us not forget women. In 2005, First Lady Laura Bush flew into the capital (briefly) to dedicate a refurbished American dormitory for women at Kabul University. After all, the Bush administration had “liberated” Afghan women. Military security again sent in the dogs, leaving tearful students to burn their defiled clothing afterward.

By 2011, however, the State Department had dropped women’s rights from its set of designated objectives for the country and somehow human rights disappeared without notice, too.  Still, a succession of American ambassadors advised Afghan leaders to be patient. And so they were for what seems, in retrospect, like a very long time. Until, eventually, they were not.

The Experts Speak

Between then and 2015, I returned to Afghanistan almost every year to lend a hand to organizations of Afghan women and girls. I haven’t been back in two years, though — not since I recognized that, as an American, I am now a hazard to my Afghan colleagues and their families.

The accretion of witless insults, like those dogs, or the pork ribs in the MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) that the U.S. military hands out to Afghan soldiers, or endless fatal U.S. airstrikes (mistakes!) on villages, hospitals, wedding parties, and Afghan National Security Forces have all added up over the years, making Americans unwelcome and their Afghan friends targets.

You undoubtedly noticed some of the headlines at the time, but the Afghanistan story has proven so long, complicated, and repetitive that, at this point, it’s hard to recall the details or, for that matter, the cast of characters, or even why in the world we’re still there doing the same things again and again and again.

The short version of that long history might read like this: the U.S. bombed Afghanistan in 2001 without giving the Taliban government either time to surrender or to negotiate the surrender of their country’s most problematic foreign guest, the Saudi Osama bin Laden. The Bush administration then restored to power the ultra-conservative Islamic mujahidin warlords first engaged by the CIA under William “Bill” Casey, its devout Catholic director, to fight the “godless communists” of the Soviet Union in the long proxy war of the 1980s. Afghans polled in 2001 wanted those warlords — war criminals all — banned forever from public life. Washington, however, established in Kabul a government of sorts, threw vast sums of cash at its selected leaders heading an administrative state that did not yet exist and then, for years to come, alternately ignored or denounced the resulting corruption it had unthinkingly built into its new Afghan “democracy.” Such was the “liberation” of the country.

The story of the last 15 years there is largely a sum of just such contradictory and self-defeating acts.  During that time, American officials regularly humiliated Hamid Karzai, their handpicked president. They set up a centralized government in Kabul and then, through Provincial Reconstruction Teams, controlled by the U.S. military, they also supported a passel of provincial warlords hostile to that government. They sent their military to invade Iraq, while the Taliban who were never allowed to surrender (as Anand Gopal recounts in his riveting book No Good Men Among the Living) regrouped and went back to war.  In 2007, they undermined Afghan efforts to negotiate peace with the Taliban, opting instead to “surge” more American troops into the country, doubling their numbers in 2008, and then to continue to spend a fortune in taxpayer dollars (at least $65 billion of them) training hundreds of thousands of Afghan soldiers and police to do the fighting their elected government had wanted to stop.

In 2006 — ancient history now — I published a book, Kabul in Winter, partly about the scams I’d seen perpetrated by or on the U.S. military, the select crew of private American contractors flooding the country, and the cloistered experts of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Not long after, a prominent filmmaker invited an Afghan woman who was a physician and a member of that country’s parliament, plus Anand Gopal and me, to travel to Washington.  We were to explain our experiences in Afghanistan to influential members of various Washington think tanks who might have an effect on foreign policymaking.

We came prepared to talk, but those Washington experts asked us no questions. Instead, they spent our time together telling us what to think about the country we had just left. I remember, in particular, four young Americans, all newly minted Ivy League “experts” we met at a leading “progressive” think tank. They described in great detail their 20-year plan for the economic and political development of Afghanistan, a country, they said, they all hoped to visit one day. The Afghan doctor finally laughed out loud, but she was not amused. “You know nothing about my country,” she said, “but you plan its future into the next generation. This is your job?” It proved to be the job as well of two administrations (and now, it seems, a third).

Time to Kill Terrorists

The election of 2014, though riddled with “irregularities,” brought the first peaceful transfer of presidential power in Afghanistan, from Hamid Karzai to Ashraf Ghani.  With it came renewed hope that the wild dream of an Afghan-style peaceful democracy might work after all.  It was a longing barely diminished by Ghani’s choice for vice president: Abdul Rashid Dostum, an Uzbek warlord notorious for war crimes of surpassing brutality.

2014 was also the year President Obama chose to end the war in Afghanistan once and for all. Only he didn’t. Instead he left behind those under-counted thousands of American soldiers now being joined by thousands more. For what purpose?

American victory certainly hasn’t materialized, but the greatest military the world has ever known (as it’s regularly referred to here) cannot admit defeat. Nor can the failed state of Afghanistan acknowledge that it has failed to become anything other than a failure. Afghan-American Ashraf Ghani, who once co-wrote a scholarly book tellingly entitled Fixing Failed States, surrendered his U.S. citizenship to become Afghan president, but he seems unable to fix the country of his birth.

In May 2017, Ghani welcomed back to Kabul and into public life, after an absence of 20 years, the notorious Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, founder of the party Hezb-i-Islami and most favored among the mujahidin during the 1980s by Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, and the CIA, and most hated by Kabuli civilians for having randomly shelled the city throughout the civil war of the 1990s. In Kabul in 2002, I found it rare to meet a person who had not lost a house or a relative or a whole family to the rockets of “the Butcher of Kabul.” Now, here he is again, his war crimes forgiven by a new “Americanized” president, and an Afghan culture of impunity reconfirmed.

Meanwhile, halfway around the world, Donald J. Trump forgot his denunciation of “Obama’s war,” adopted the “expertise” of his generals, and reignited a fading fire. This time around, he swore, “We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.” 

The American effort is now to be exclusively military.  There will be no limits on troop numbers or time spent there, nor any disclosure of plans to the enemy or the American public.  There is to be no more talk of democracy or women’s rights or human rights or peace negotiations.

Announcing his new militarized “strategy” in a long, vague, typically self-congratulatory speech, Trump lacked even the courtesy to mention the elected leader of Afghanistan by name. Instead, he referred only to assurances given to him by Afghanistan’s “prime minister” — an official who, as it happens, does not exist in the government Washington set up in Kabul so long ago. Trump often makes such gaffes, but he read this particular speech from a teleprompter and so it was surely written or at least vetted by the very military which now is to dictate the future of Afghanistan and U.S. involvement there — and yet, a decade and a half later, seems to know no more about the country and its actual inhabitants than it ever did.

“I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle,” Trump claimed, and yet he staked his case for escalating the war once again on a shopworn, cowardly ploy: we must send more troops to honor the sacrifice of the troops we sent before; we must send more troops because so many of those we sent before got killed or damaged beyond repair.

Lessons Learned (and Unlearned)

We can’t allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorists, Trump insisted, echoing (however unintentionally) Barack Obama and George W. Bush before him.  He seems unaware that the terrorists who acted on 9/11 had found safe haven in San Diego and Oakland, California, Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, Fort Lee and Wayne, New Jersey, Hollywood and Daytona Beach, Florida, and Newton, Massachusetts, among other American towns and cities.  On 9/11, those 19 terrorists possessed 63 valid U.S. driver’s licenses issued by many different states. It was in the United States that all 19 of those terrorists found safety.  It was here, not in Afghanistan, that the prospective pilots for those hijacked planes learned to fly.

Now, as more troops depart for Afghanistan, I can’t help but think of what I learned when, after so many years of living and working among Afghan civilians, I finally embedded with American troops in 2010. My first lesson was this: there is no such thing in the American military as a negative after-action report. Military plans are always brilliant; strikes always occur as expected; our soldiers are (it goes without saying) heroic; and goals are naturally accomplished without fail.  No wonder the policymakers back in Washington remain convinced that we have the greatest military the world has ever seen and that someday we will indeed succeed in Afghanistan, although we haven’t actually won a war of any significance since 1945.

My second lesson: even officers who routinely file such positive reports may be blindsided by the bogus reports of others. Take, for example, a colonel I met in eastern Afghanistan in 2010.  He was newly returned to a forward base he had commanded only a few years earlier. Overwhelmed with surprise and grief, he told me he had been “unprepared” — which is to say uninformed by his superiors — to meet “conditions” so much worse than they had been before. He was dismayed to lose so many men in so short a time, especially when American media attention was focused on the other side of the country where a full-scale battle in Helmand Province was projected to be decisive, but somehow seemed to be repeatedly postponed.

Judging by my own experience on forward bases, I believe we can hazard a guess or two about the future of the American war in Afghanistan as the latest troops arrive. First, it will be little different from the awful past. Second, it will produce a surfeit of Afghan civilian casualties and official American self-congratulation. And finally, a number of our soldiers will return in bad shape, or not at all.

And then, of course, there are the dogs again: this time, a black one — unclean, as always, by Islamic standards — in silhouette with a Taliban flag bearing an Islamic text from the Quran on its side.  That was what the Americans printed on a leaflet dropped from planes over Parwan province, home of America’s enormous Bagram Air Base. That was supposed to win Afghan hearts and minds, to use an indelible phrase from our war in Vietnam.

Afghans, insulted again, are in an uproar. And the U.S. military, all these years after invading Afghanistan, still doesn’t get this thing about dogs. Yes, the dog thing seems a little irrational and odd, but no more so than the Virgin Birth or the Rapture. The obscurity of such a simple fact to the military brass again brings the Vietnam era to mind and, from a great Pete Seeger antiwar song, another indelible line: “Oh, when will they ever learn?” 

Ann Jones, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of Kabul in Winter: Life without Peace in Afghanistan and most recently of They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars — the Untold Story, a Dispatch Books original.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, as well as John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2017 Ann Jones


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Democracy Now! “State Dept. Official Who Quit in 2009 over U.S. War in Afghanistan Speaks Out on Trump’s Troop Surge”

Iraq Supreme Court strikes down Kurdistan referendum, Clashes in Kirkuk

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The Iraqi Supreme Court has ordered that the referendum on independence planned for September 25 be halted.

The problem is that the Iraqi supreme Court’s decision will not be recognized or honored by the elites in the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Kurdish super-province. The Kurds say that no Iraqi government troops from Baghdad can ever set foot on Kurdistan soil.

KRG president Massoud Barzani has said that he will power through the referendum despite vehement protests from Baghdad, Iran, Turkey and even the Trump administration.

Barzani’s commitment to holding the referendum has thus caused a constitutional crisis in Iraq. He says, however, that even a yes vote on secession would not necessarily entail a headlong rush to declare independence on the part of his provincial government.

H/t Aljazeera)

Kurds were mistreated by the Arab nationalist regimes of Iraq (Kurds are not Arabs) and were gassed by Saddam Hussein, and almost all of them want their own country now.

One question about Kurdish Iraqi secession is the exact borders of Kurdistan. The Kurdistan national guard or Peshmerga (“those who stand before death”) has a presence beyond the three Kurdish-majority provinces of Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniya, which are recognized by Iraq and other countries as constituting the Kurdistan super-province of Iraq.

In summer of 2014 after the Sunni Arab provinces acceded to the ISIL (Daesh) “caliphate,” the Peshmerga militarily occupied Kirkuk, and seem reluctant to relinquish that province. It is ethnically mixed, with Arabs and Turkmen, though Kurds are by now likely a majority. The Iraqi constitution calls for a referendum on Kirkuk’s future, but none has ever been held.

On Monday, a clash broke out between Peshmerga troops celebrating the prospect of secession, and Turkmen, who consider Kirkuk to have been theirs by longstanding right. (Maybe Kirkuk used to be largely Turkmen, but that by now hasn’t been true for a while; Kurds are now the majority).

The Kirkuk violence is a question mark, asking whether the KRG plans to annex Kirkuk by fiat and take it with the seceders.

In the meantime, Both prime minister Haydar al-Abadi from the government side and Shiite militias say that they will confront Kurdistan directly if it seems to be moving toward independence.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

France 24: “Kareem, governor of Iraq’s Kirkuk region: ‘We’re not afraid of threats'”

Muslim Rohingya Refugees from Burma: “The Army… burned down my house.”

TeleSur | – –

“The army came and burned down my house. I was inside the house at that time,” one survivor said.

Rohingya refugees arriving at treatment centers in Bangladesh covered in burns have told of an increased wave of violence against Muslims by the government’s military offensive.

“The army came and they burned our homes, they killed our people. There was a mob of Rakhine people too,” Usman Goni, who managed to escape with his wife and seven children, told Reuters.

Families continue to arrive at Sadar Hospital in Bangladesh, fleeing the military forces attacking their villages in what the U.N. has referred to as an “ethnic cleansing.”

“My family was attacked on the 29th of August. The army came and fired indiscriminately,” Dildar Begum, a refugee told Al Jazeera. Begum managed to escape the flames of her home with her daughter but lost her husband, infant son and mother-in-law to the fire.

“My daughter and I somehow survived the attack, but the two monks accompanying the army men tried to kill us with a big knife. They thought we were dead and left us. We hid in the house for three days and then escaped,” she explained.

Shahida Begum, a 30-year-old survivor, who suffered severe burns across her body, mourns the death of her three sons who were killed just days before her home and her whole village were set on fire.

“The army came and burned down my house. I was inside the house at that time,” she said. “With no route to escape, I was also engulfed in the fire and my whole body sustained burns.

“The pain is unbearable,” she said. “It was better to die than suffer like this … Life will never be the same again.”

Refugee centers said they have enough supplies to treat burn victims for the moment, but reports from the United Nations Refugee Agency warn Bangladesh’s shelters are already “bursting at the seams” and have called for a humanitarian response from the international community.

“I’m particularly worried that the demand for food, shelter, water and basic hygiene support is not being met due to the sheer number of people in need,” said Save the Children Director Mark Pierce. “If families can’t meet their basic needs, the suffering will get even worse and lives could be lost.”

Save the Children estimates more than a million Rohingya refugees will seek safety in Bangladesh by January, saying that this figure includes at least 600,000 children who will be orphaned and consequently at risk of exploitation and trafficking.

Myanmar government leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has faced a barrage of criticism for not stopping the violence, including a petition calling for the revocation of her peace prize.

Suu Kyi is due to speak to the nation on Tuesday about a crisis as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Murphy is due in Myanmar this week.

He will travel to Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, to meet government officials and representatives of different communities, including Rohingya, but he is not expected to travel to the conflict zone in northern Rakhine state.

Bangladesh has said all refugees must go home while Myanmar has said it will take back those who can verify their citizenship.

Almost 370,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees are now known to have fled to Bangladesh from the ongoing violence in Myanmar since August according to Vivian Tan from the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Rohingya people have suffered systematic persecution over many decades by the Myanmar government, who consider them illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

The minority community has restricted rights and access to government services in the country. Since the 1970s, nearly a million Rohingya have fled persecution in the South Asian country.

Via . TeleSur


Related video added by Juan Cole:

France 24: “Rohingyas crowd into makeshift camps in Bangladesh after fleeing Burma”

China to buy $300 mn. in Lab-Grown Meat from Israel

TeleSur | – –

China currently imports approximately £10 billion worth of meat annually to help feed its 1.4 billion people.

China has signed a multimillion-dollar deal to purchase lab-grown meat from Israel.

The $300-million agreement has elicited positive feedback from environmental and animal rights groups because the meat — though grown using some animal cells — is produced in a laboratory, significantly reducing the practice of slaughtering animals.

The Asian superpower is not regarded as a world leader in environmental issues, so the deal with the three Israeli companies – SuperMeat, Future Meat Technologies and Meat the Future – is viewed by some groups as a sign that China is committed to reducing its carbon footprint.

Head of the Good Food Institute, Bruce Friedrich, said the deal was a “colossal market opportunity.”

He believes the deal “could put (clean) meat onto the radar of Chinese officials who have the capacity to steer billions of dollars into this technology”.

Just last year, the Chinese government issued an advisory, telling citizens to reduce their consumption of meat by 50 percent.

China currently imports approximately £10 billion worth of meat annually to help feed its 1.4 billion people.

UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while Worldwatch Institute has estimated it could be as much as 51 percent.

The world’s water freshwater supply is also significantly impacted by traditional farming.

Additionally, about one billion people currently suffer from hunger globally and the population will reportedly reach 9.8 billion by 2050, making a high-animal diet unsustainable.

Via TeleSur


Related video added by Juan Cole:

BuzzFeed Video: “Would You Eat Lab-Grown Meat?”

Hamas pledges to dissolve Gaza administration, hold elections

Ma’an News Agency | – –

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas, the de facto ruling party of the Gaza Strip, has pledged to dissolve its administrative committee that runs the besieged coastal enclave and expressed readiness to hold general elections, in a bid for reconciliation with the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA).

A statement from Hamas movement said the decision came in response to recent diplomatic efforts by Egypt to reconcile the rival factions, while PA President Mahmoud Abbas has been calling on Hamas to end the administrative committee, relinquish control of the small territory to the PA, and hold presidential and legislative elections.

Hamas and the Fatah-led PA have been embroiled in a more than a decade-long conflict since 2006, when Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections and a bloody conflict between the two groups broke out.

Despite numerous attempts at reconciling the groups, Palestinian leadership has repeatedly failed to follow through on promises of reconciliation and holding of long-overdue elections, as both movements have frequently blamed each other for numerous political failures.

The Hamas movement said Sunday it has dissolved its administrative committee — formed earlier this year to the outrage of the PA, agrees to hold general elections for the first time since 2006, enter talks with Fatah, and allow the national reconciliation government to operate in Gaza.

Hamas signed the reconciliation agreement with the PLO in April 2014, which was to pave the way for a general election by the end of 2014. However, a devastating 50-day Israeli attack on Gaza that year, as well as a dispute over payment of the salaries of tens of thousands of Hamas security forces, first blocked progress on the deal towards reconciliation.

The Palestinian political crisis has since only continued to worsen, and Hamas said it formed the committee after the consensus government failed to take responsibility for Gaza’s administration. The PA alleges that Hamas is attempting to form a “shadow government” to run Gaza independent of the West Bank.

In recent months, the PA has been also been accused of deliberately sending the impoverished Gaza Strip further into a humanitarian catastrophe — by slashing funding for Israeli fuel, medicine, and salaries for civil servants and former prisoners — in order to wrest control of the territory from Hamas.

Last month, Abbas threatened to undertake further repressive measures against the impoverished territory should Hamas not unconditionally abide by the PA’s demands to end the administrative committee, relinquish control of the enclave to the PA, and hold presidential and legislative elections.

Following Hamas’ acceptance of these key conditions on Sunday, senior Fatah official Mahmoud Aloul told Reuters news agency that he welcomed cautiously Hamas’s position. “If this is Hamas statement, then this is a positive sign,” he reportedly said. “We in Fatah movement are ready to implement reconciliation.”

Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmed also welcomed Hamas’ decision to dissolve the administrative committee, he told PA-owned Wafa news agency.

Al-Ahmed, who is currently in Cairo for Egyptian-led reconciliation talks with Hamas, told Wafa that a lengthy meeting was held between the Fatah delegation in Cairo with the head of the Egyptian intelligence service, Minister Khaled Fawzi, in which they reviewed the continuous efforts exerted by Egypt to end the Palestinian internal split.

Al-Hamad confirmed reports that the Fatah delegation met with the Hamas leadership, and “hailed Hamas’s call for the unity government to resume its normal work in Gaza as well as its approval to hold presidential and legislative elections,” according to Wafa’s report.

The Fatah official also said that there will be a bilateral meeting between Fatah and Hamas officials followed by a meeting of all the Palestinian factions that signed the May 2011 reconciliation agreement “in order to begin practical steps to implement the deal,” and expressed hope that the coming days would “witness tangible practical steps,” Wafa said.

Nickolay Mladenov, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, also released a statement welcoming Hamas’ announcement. “I welcome the recent statement by Hamas announcing the dissolving of the Administrative Committee in Gaza and agreement to allow the Government of National Consensus to assume its responsibilities in Gaza,” he said.

“I commend the Egyptian authorities for their tireless efforts in creating this positive momentum. All parties must seize this opportunity to restore unity and open a new page for the Palestinian people,” the UN envoy continued. “The United Nations stands ready to assist all efforts in this respect. It is critical that the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza, most notably the crippling electricity crisis, be addressed as a priority.”

The development also came after head of the Hamas movement’s politburo Ismail Haniyeh and other high-ranking Hamas members met with Egyptian intelligence officials in Cairo last week, with talks focusing on a readiness to work toward national unity.

Hamas leadership told the Egyptians they would allow the Palestinian national reconciliation government to take charge of Gaza and carry out elections, so long as all Palestinian factions hold a conference in Cairo afterwards to elect a national government responsible for the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.

An Egyptian source close to the intelligence services told Israeli news daily Haaretz that Hamas is trying to prove to Egypt that it is not obstructing reconciliation and is responding to demands, hoping to reap the benefits if and when the talks falter on the PA’s part.

Hamas has sought to improve relations with Cairo in recent months by increasing cross border security, including the construction of the military buffer zone, in hopes that Egypt will ease its enforcement of Israel’s brutal, decade-long siege of the territory and open up the Rafah border crossing.

A Fatah delegation sent by Abbas to Cairo also discussed Egypt’s efforts to reconcile the Palestinians on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Abbas arrived in New York on Sunday to take part in the proceedings of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly. He is to meet US President Donald Trump there on Wednesday, ahead of the Palestinian president’s speech at the UN Thursday.

Via Ma’an News Agency | – –


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Euronews: “Hamas ‘ready’ to work with Palestinian authority in Gaza”

Trump as Stephen King’s ‘It’: Lashing out at Clinton, N. Korea

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The Beltway Bandits who are always opining about Trump transitioning from campaign mode to presidential stature, and pronouncing after he does something petulant, “Today Donald Trump became president,” are domed to be wrong for at least 3.5 years.

Trump’s politics are those of a pulp novel horror villain. He is Stephen King’s ‘It.’ Remember that ‘It’ takes the form that particularly horrifies you. It isn’t always necessarily Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Are you worried about a relative with a pre-existing condition losing healthcare if the ACA is repealed? There is Trump as “It,” trying to repeal it. Are you worried about America’s forever wars? There is Trump extending them and announcing a troop escalation. Are you haunted by the specter of nuclear war? There is Trump trying to release Iran from its inspection regime, and menacing nuclear-armed North Korea with fire and fury. He is Pennywise the Dancing Clown. But he is so much more. He is your every nightmare.

What non-villain non-monster would retweet juvenile horse manure like Trump’s golf ball hitting Hillary Clinton and knocking her down? She is a grandmother and a private citizen.

We knew he hates women. We knew he is petty. And we will never forgive the benighted voters who put this shambling horror in charge of the nuclear codes.

What non-monster non-villain responds to nuclear blackmail by the unhinged North Korean regime with taunts and threats? I mean, this attempt to tag people with nicknames may be all right for certain of his voters (“I love,” Trump once said, “the poorly educated!”) But I just don’t think it plays well in international diplomacy.

This is like “It” meets Kim Jong Un:

Rocket man?

And it seems pretty obvious that Trump’s talk of fire and fury like you’ve never seen was always pie in the sky as even his Rasputin, Steve Bannon, admitted. It is just like the Hollywood techniques used to keep “It” scary– loud, eery music and sudden close-ups. And then the crew packs up the cameras and goes home after getting the adrenalin going.

This creeping horror-movie It-ism has now infected US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who has started talking about “General Mattis” dealing with North Korea.

She insisted that the fire and fury thing is not an empty threat. You could have fooled me.

She actually said,

“If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behavior, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed. And we all know that. And none of us want that. None of us want war.”

Yeah, you can’t actually destroy a nuclear state. If you were to try (no one ever has), it would sort of be like trying to strangle a rattle snake with one arm tied behind your back.

Now Nikki Haley is playing ‘It,’ treating Kim Jong Un like the little boy who lost his ball in the gutter.

People who talk like this should not be in public office. We had them in the 1960s and they killed a couple million Vietnamese and 58,000 American troops. Then they were Democrats. It doesn’t really matter. It is the arrogance that gets you.

And you will note that Gen. Mattis himself hasn’t strutted around shouting fire and fury into the gloaming. What with knowing about military affairs and all.

This all comes after Trump sent the British political elite into panic by jumping the gun on assigning blame in the tube terrorist attack. For one thing, the police are trying to make sure the perpetrator (at that time still not arrested) did not know what the government knew– that he had been caught on closed circuit tv. If he didn’t know, he might not urge his network of co-conspirators to go underground, and the police might be able to round them up. But Trump made it look as though he had knowledge he did not have (no one in London would ever again share intelligence with him!), and may have stampeded the terrorist gang so that they can live to strike again.

Trump is enabling terrorism by his grandstanding and his It-ism.

Trump as president is actually in a small, tight room– the room of super-power responsibility. And if you’re shut up in such a room and you swing at a golf ball, it doesn’t hit someone else.

It is called karma.


Related video:

Warner Brothers: “IT – Official Teaser Trailer”

Iraqi PM to Secessionist Kurds: “You’re Playing with Fire!”

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Iraqi prime minister Haydar al-Abadi threatened on Saturday to deploy military force against Iraqi Kurdistan if it goes through with the referendum on independence authorized Friday by its regional parliament. The Kurds, he said, are “playing with fire.” The referendum is set to be held on September 25.

h/t BBC

Iraq is about 60% Shiite Arab, 22% Kurdish, and the rest is mostly Sunni Arabs with some small sects and a few Chaldean Christians.

Turkey is 20% Kurdish and is determined to stay that way.

Iran, a country of 78 million, has about 4 million Kurds in its northwest northeast, but has repeatedly showed its willingness to deploy force.

See Ali Abootalibi on the Kurdistan crisis at Informed Comment

In the meantime, the United Nations suggested to the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that he mothball plans for a referendum and instead embark on a 3-year-long process of negotiations with Baghdad with the aim of reaching a compromise acceptable to both sides, under UN auspices.

Barzani declined the offer.

The British government expressed concern that Barzani’s plans will roil the region at a time when resources must be pooled to defeat ISIL.

Turkey and Iran, both with large Kurdish minorities. expressed anxiety about the referendum.

Iran pointed out that its Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) saved the Kurds from ISIL in summer of 2014.

Given that the Iraqi army collapsed in June of 2014 and has only slowly been
rebuilt, I don’t think Iraq has the military resources to invade Kurdistan. The Kurdish peshmerga militia is quite good, but I was surprised how poorly they did against ISIL three years ago. Neither side may have the high-powered military they think they do.

Moreover, Turkey and Iran are neighbors and won’t let the KRG secede if they can help it.

ISIL will certainly take advantage of this turmoil.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Newsy: “US won’t support Kurdistan’s independence vote”

Posted in Featured | 11 Responses | Print |

Can Turkey’s Erdogan ride Rohingya Crisis to global Muslim Leadership?

By Simon P. Watmough | The Conversation | – –

The emerging humanitarian crisis that has been rocking Myanmar – where an estimated 370,000 Rohingya have been forced out of the country – has prompted broad international condemnation. But so far it has translated into little concrete action.

United Nations (UN) human rights chief Zeid Raad Al Hussein has called the Rohingya’s plight a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” following a similar statement from UN Secretary General António Guterres. While Western countries have been slow and hesitant to respond, leaders of Muslim-majority countries – particularly Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan – have sought to place as much international pressure as possible on the Myanmar government.

The strongest and most vocal response of all has come from Turkey. Indeed the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, appears to have appointed himself as the international voice of the Rohingya Muslims.

Turkey’s aid response

According to a Turkish government statement, Erdoğan is the first one that managed to get permission for humanitarian aid to enter Myanmar. The Burmese government had, at the peak of the violence, blocked all UN aid towards the Rohingyas.

And so, on September 7, Turkey’s foreign aid agency, TIKA, became the first foreign outfit to deliver an initial shipment of 1000 tons of basic foodstuffs and medicine to the conflict zone in Rakhine state, where the majority of Rohingyas live.

Turkey simultaneously announced plans to distribute humanitarian aid to the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh. The move was widely publicised as Emine Erdoğan, the Turkish president’s wife visited the camps at the same time.

Public denunciation

Meanwhile, during a meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, Erdoğan as the current chief of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) formally condemned Myanmar’s attitude towards Rohingyas, taking the lead on the topic on behalf of the organisation. He had previously called the ongoing violence a genocide.

Since the crisis broke on August 25, the Turkish president has taken several actions to gather Muslim leaders across the world to put pressure on the Myanmar government. On August 31, he spoke with the leaders of Mauritania, Pakistan, Iran and Qatar urging them to join forces to find a way to stop the violence against the Rohingyas.

Alongside Erdoğan, other Turkish politicians have addressed the issue. Remarks by Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the foreign minister, garnered global attention. Mehmet Şimşek, deputy prime minister, even tweeted unrelated images to raise the point, creating a bit of an embarassment.

So how are we to explain Turkey’s ambition to take the lead in this current crisis?

Global ambitions

The political vacuum prompted by the Trump administration’s retreat from global leadership has surely played a part. But, more evidently, Turkey’s longstanding pro-Western approach has shifted. Turkey is a NATO member and aspired to join the EU for years, but under President Erdoğan’s lead and the current AKP government, the country’s foreign policy has shifted towards the global south, seeking new opportunities.

Turkey’s foreign policy doctrine now promotes what Bilkent University academics Pinar Bilgen and Ali Bilgiç label “civilisational geopolitics”, “an understanding of culture and civilisation as preordained determinants of international behaviour”.

As Bilgin and Bilgiç argue, this new doctrine aims at placing Turkey at the core of geopolitical issues between the West and the rest of Asia, justifying this global engagement by its political heritage – mainly based on its Central Asian and Ottoman history.

The shift became most obvious at the end of the 2000s. It has been identified most closely with Ahmet Davutoğlu, a scholar of geopolitics and Turkey’s foreign minister from 2009–14. In 2010 Foreign Policy called him “the brains of Turkey’s global reawakening”.

Under Davutoğlu’s watch, Turkey’s global diplomatic footprint expanded dramatically, especially in Asia and Africa. He opened Turkey’s first embassy in Myanmar in 2012 both to take advantage of the potential trade opportunities from the country’s post-2008 liberalisation and because of the Rohingya issue.

A subsequent trip in 2013 saw him tour refugee camps and call on the Burmese government to extend citizenship rights to the Rohingya people. This new foreign policy coincides with Turkey’s decade-long ambition to become a global humanitarian power or what Turkish scholars E. Fuat Keyman and Onur Zakak call a “humanitarian state”.

The Turkish humanitarian approach has been cast by journalist and former Somali Minister of Planning, Abdirahman Ali, as a middle way between the Western aid model and its Chinese counterpart. Whereas the former is highly conditional, bureaucratic and often security-focused and the latter tends to bolster corrupt ,authoritarian regimes, the Turkish approach – Ali claims – typically bypasses bureaucracy and emphasises “a ‘moral’ standard anchored in protecting human rights and helping the weak”.

Turkey has backed this ambition with increased funding for humanitarian assistance over the last five years. Development Initiatives – a UK based NGO – recently reported that now Turkey ranks second in the world for humanitarian aid, having spent around US$6 billion in 2016 (the top-ranked US spent $6.3 billion).

The champion of Muslims’ rights

One of the other factors is domestic politics. Indeed, much of Erdoğan’s public posturing on the Rohingya issue is entirely self-serving. The image of a strong Turkey reaching out to Muslim’s everywhere in the world– plays very well at home. During his 15-year tenure as Turkey’s leader, the country’s once-marginalised pious Muslim citizens have become increasingly prominent in media, business and politics.

Ardent supporters in Turkey – not to mention large segments of public opinion across the Muslim world – thus see him as a champion of Muslim rights everywhere.

Erdoğan has studiously crafted this image throughout other crisis, such as in Egypt’s during the 2011-12 Morsi regime or in Palestine.
His very public spats with Israel and the West have led some pro-Palestinian columnists in Arabic newspapers to call him the “new Nasser”.

Competition ahead

Nevertheless, in recent days there has been a modest push back from Saudi Arabia, which appears to be chaffing at Turkey’s leadership on the crisis. Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Turkey released a statement emphasising the Kingdom’s strong, decades-long support for the Rohingyas. Iran has followed too, promising shipments to reach Myanmar soon.

Erdoğan has promised to raise the Rohingya issue on September 19, at the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly – which Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi is avoiding.

The ConversationHis calls to protect Muslims worldwide could be a key moment for Turkey’s diplomatic leadership but whether other Muslim countries would follow or not will tell the limits of Turkey’s so-called “humanitarian politics”.

Simon P. Watmough, Postdoctoral research associate, European University Institute

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Aljazeera English: “UN: Rohingya facing ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Myanmar”