Archive for the ‘Middle East.’ Category
A little while ago, I was asking, Assuming Assad asks asylum . . . will he go to Cuba, Venezuela, or Ecuador? One commenter asked about Bolivia, too.
Assad Is So Out of Vogue that the Russians are distancing themselves,
The Syrian dictator has yet to be pried from power, but with the Kremlin sending war ships for a possible evacuation of Russian citizens, it may not be long before the Assads are passé. That’s good news, isn’t it? In the Middle East, “yes” and “no” are rarely correct answers.
We can say this: Assad’s downfall would be preferable to Assad’s survival. As U.S. Central Command chief General James N. Mattis told Congress last March, regime change in Syria would represent “the biggest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years.”
Hugo Chavez, who had those weekly direct flights from Damascus and Tehran to Caracas, is now in Cuba supposedly recovering from his fourth cancer surgery, but delegating some duties “related to the budget, expropriations and government debt” to Maduro, his VP. With the prospect of a prolonged post-Chavez power struggle, it’s unlikely that Maduro is willing to be welcoming Bashar and Asma anytime soon.
Cuba has much to lose when Hugo’s gone, and, considering that Russia’s turning its back on Assad, what is there for Cuba to gain by taking him in?
Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Bolivia are possibilities, but only if Assad can line a lot of coffers. Enough coffer-lining to justify a lot of unwanted attention?
Asma and Cristina Fernandez are big Louboutin fans, but Argentina’s got enough problems; let’s hope Cristina doesn’t decide to jump that shark. She’s not that crazy, is she?
One thing is clear: any country who welcomes the Assads will be signaling that it welcomes Iran’s meddling in its affairs, too.
Of course, all of this assumes that Assad’s own people are going to allow him to get out of the country. Now that the top general responsible for preventing defections within the military has become a defector himself, it may turn out that the Assads may not be able to reach the airport alive.
Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.
Every human heart does not yearn for freedom. In the Islam of the Middle East, “freedom” means something very nearly the opposite of what the concept connotes to Westerners – it is the freedom that lies in total submission to Allah and His law. That law, sharia, is diametrically opposed to core components of freedom as understood in the West – beginning with the very idea that man is free to make law for himself, irrespective of what Allah has ordained. It is thus delusional to believe, as the West’s Arab Spring fable insists, that the region teems with Jamal al-Madisons holding aloft the lamp of liberty. Do such revolutionary reformers exist? Of course they do . . . but in numbers barely enough to weave a fictional cover story. When push came to shove – and worse – the reformers were overwhelmed, swept away by a tide of Islamic supremacism, the dynamic, consequential mass movement that beckons endless winter.
…foremost, I did not try to write a history of the “Arab Spring.” Spring Fever is, instead, an attempt to give the reader an alternative way to understand what is happening in the Middle East, an antidote to the delirious “Arab Spring” narrative. Mine is based on understanding that Islam, a culture and civilization distinct from and hostile to the West, is the most significant fact about the region; that far from being a fringe ideology, Islamic supremacism is the dominant interpretation of Islam of the Middle East; and that the most salient precedent for the current revolt, Turkey, is a model for Islamization not democratization.
Post re-edited to include omitted paragraph.
Cross-posted in The Green Room.
Black flag of Islam flies over U.S. embassy in Tunisia as America is targeted by angry mobs across the globe in day of chaos
Mob scales the walls of U.S. embassy compound, sets fire to cars and replaces American flag
Chaos across the globe amid anger at American-made anti-Islam film
Kentucky Fried Chicken ransacked in Lebanon
Protesters burn American flag in London
American embassy stormed in Sudan
10,000 Muslims stage a noisy protest in Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, burning and trampling American flags while chanting anti-US slogans
Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak appeals for calm on live television, a day after Barack Obama issued a veiled warning to the region’s leaders to protect US embassies
It follows unrest after September 11 attack on US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing ambassador and three other Americans
Jay Carney is in denial,
This is a fairly volatile situation, and it is in response not to U.S. policy, not to, obviously, the administration, not to the American people. It is in response to a video – a film – that we have judged to be reprehensive and disgusting. That in no way justifies any violent reaction to it. But this is not a case of protests directed at the United States, writ large, or at U.S. policy. This is in response to a video that is offensive and – to Muslims.
Note to Mr. Carney: Radical Islamists really do not care whether “we” have judged some crackpot video “reprehensible and disgusting.” They have more important aims than distinguishing the Obama administration or its policies from the moronic Terry Jones.
Iran: Down, But Not Out
My friend Michael Totten is being interviewed on CSpan2 right now. He’s talking about his excellent book, The Road to Fatima Gate – a must-read:
I’m having a busy day taking care of non-blogging matters, but Gates of Vienna has an excellent article, Remembering the Farhūd, on the Iraqi Arab equivalent of the mass violence on Kristallnacht, which took place 70 years ago yesterday. Definitely a must-read.
Politico says that Netanyahu wowed Congress, and they describe the speech as “muscular”.
The Lid summarizes the speech’s salient points on Israel’s right to exist, territorial concession, Palestinian right of return, and the 1967 borders.
Full text of the speech below the fold,
I was reading the transcript of President Obama’s speech last night (as long-term readers of this blog may recall, I almost never watch televised speeches, preferring instead to read them), and this jumped out,
And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.
Interesting turn of phrase, “after consulting the bipartisan leadership”. It implies that he went to Congress, when in fact he briefed them and then when ahead, when he was abroad.
And then Obama waited a full week to address the nation. James Jay Carafano,
This might have been an okay speech last week, when it was pretty clear that the right way forward was to minimize the commitment of the U.S. military, look after the best interests of Libya’s civilian population, and limit the spread of terrorism and instability throughout the region.
A week ago, too, the laundry list of what needed to be done was pretty clear: (1) Keep Qaddafi isolated until he is brought to justice; (2) establish a military presence to keep his forces from driving the opposition into the sea; (3) identify, support, and sustain a legitimate opposition that brings democracy to the country, rather than letting it become the next terrorist haven, and that looks after the humanitarian needs and the human rights of the people under its control.
If what needed to be done was common sense a week ago, hearing the president say it now hardly instills confidence.
All we really learned in last night’s speech is how that’s going to get done. The “international community” is going to do it.
it was yet another well-delivered, split-the-difference, mellifluous Obama speech that said essentially nothing of substance.
That’s not to say the president won’t talk about Libya over the next few days, aides say, but he’s not likely to succumb to pressure to deliver a long, explanatory address to outline his elusive endgame to the nation until the path ahead becomes clearer.
Clearer, you say?
This is rather extraordinary, from the New York Times this morning:
From the start, the administration insisted that it was acting to avert the imminent slaughter of civilians in Benghazi and other rebel-held cities, and that the goal of the military operations was clearly spelled out in the United Nations Security Council resolution.
Mr. Obama’s administration, however, has clearly tried to avoid the debate over a strategy beyond that by shifting the burden of enforcing the United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing force on to France, Britain and other allies, including Arab nations like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which on Thursday said that it would contribute warplanes to the effort. In other words, the American exit strategy is not necessarily the coalition’s exit strategy.
“We didn’t want to get sucked into an operation with uncertainty at the end,” the senior administration official said. “In some ways, how it turns out is not on our shoulders.”
Not too extraordinary, to those who think things are OK if they look good on paper,
In any case, for Obama, military objectives take a back seat to diplomatic appearances. The president is obsessed with pretending that we are not running the operation — a dismaying expression of Obama’s view that his country is so tainted by its various sins that it lacks the moral legitimacy to … what? Save Third World people from massacre?
Obama seems equally obsessed with handing off the lead role. Hand off to whom? NATO? Quarrelling amid Turkish resistance (see above), NATO still can’t agree on taking over command of the airstrike campaign, which is what has kept the Libyan rebels alive.
This confusion is purely the result of Obama’s decision to get America into the war and then immediately relinquish American command. Never modest about himself, Obama is supremely modest about his country. America should be merely “one of the partners among many,” he said Monday. No primus inter pares for him. Even the Clinton administration spoke of America as the indispensable nation. And it remains so. Yet at a time when the world is hungry for America to lead — no one has anything near our capabilities, experience and resources — America is led by a man determined that it should not.
A man who dithers over parchment. Who starts a war from which he wants out right away. Good God. If you go to take Vienna, take Vienna. If you’re not prepared to do so, better then to stay home and do nothing.
Civilian planes will likely start failing out the sky, as did the one over Lockerbie; assassination attempts will multiply, like the attempted Libyan-backed murder of the Saudi king in 2003; al-Qaeda and affiliates might be aided and abetted to do Lord-knows-what to the Italians, the French, the British and, of course, to us. With nothing to lose, and way beyond the threshold of worrying about sanctions and such, Qaddafi could well become more dangerous than ever. If I were Silvio Berlusconi, in particular, I’d pick my future whorehouses with extreme care.
The Hard Truths on Libya amount to this:
A ruler like Qaddafi is part Milosevic, part Saddam, part Noriega, and part Kim Jong Il. They stay in power for years through killing and more killing (to paraphrase Dirty Harry, “They like it”), and they do not leave, ever, unless the U.S. military either bombs them to smithereens or physically goes into their countries and yanks them out of their palaces. Period. They most certainly do not care much for the concern of the Arab League, the U.N., or a contingent from Europe, or a grand verbal televised threat from a U.S. president — again, even if his name is Barack Hussein Obama and he is not George Bush.
Sorry, but that is where we are and where we’ve always been, so we can either quit, as in Lebanon and Somalia; send in the Marines to take charge of postwar stabilization, as in Afghanistan and Iraq; target Qaddafi and bomb him incessantly until he is broken, as in Clinton’s Balkan air campaign; or schedule a multiyear, Iraq-style no-fly zone, with ample latitude to bomb now and then to carve out sanctuaries within Libya. Those are the options, and one will be chosen one way or another, even if the president thinks he can once again vote present on all of them.
In the meantime, the Libya farce goes to 11.
A what? A ‘kinetic military action’
In a briefing on board Air Force One Wednesday, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes took a crack at an answer. “I think what we are doing is enforcing a resolution that has a very clear set of goals, which is protecting the Libyan people, averting a humanitarian crisis, and setting up a no-fly zone,” Rhodes said. “Obviously that involves kinetic military action, particularly on the front end.”
You could have fooled me.
Why am I against the Libya “kinetic military action”? Let us count the ways. A sample,
Aims and Objectives: Fact: We are now and then bombing Libyan ground targets in order to enhance the chances of rebel success in removing or killing Qaddafi. Fiction: We are not offering ground support but only establishing a no-fly zone, and have no desire to force by military means Qaddafi to leave. Questions: Is our aim, then, a reformed Qaddafi? A permanently revolutionary landscape? A partitioned, bisected nation? What is the model? Afghanistan? Mogadishu? The 12-year no-fly-zone in Iraq? A Mubarak-like forced exile? Who are the rebels? Westernized reformers? Muslim Brotherhood types? A mix? Who knows? Who cares?
As of 3:05PM Eastern, Kinetic Military Action No More
“Kinetic military action” is out and “a time-limited, scope-limited military action” is in.
Well, that ought to ease everybody’s mind!