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ethan's Musing on the Near East

post #1 of 2698
Thread Starter 

Since the Iraq thread has run its course this will be the new thread for discussion about the conflict(s) in the Near East. Everything from Istanbul to Bilad al-Sham to al-Quds and the Greater Levant to Iraq to the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf to Persia and Khorasan. Also, the Caucusus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia where appropriate. Maybe Boko Haram and Nigeria if anybody accepts bay'a from them. 

 

 

First up, 

 

I agree with this author that Lars Klevberg made a grievous error and has harmed the cause of millions of Syrians by calling into question the true brutality of the regime. Many people who have no real interest in the conflict are unaware of the brutality of the Asads going back to the days of Hafiz. For those people who saw this video it was the first time they had been exposed to what was made to be a regime sniper taking shots at children. Now the authenticity of all videos showing regime brutality will be questioned. 

 

http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/11/15/dispatches-hoax-harms-children-war 

post #2 of 2698
I am no expert, but it seems the Middle East has devolved into two warring camps of retrograde evil organized around Saudi Arabia and Iran, respectively. We tell ourselves a story in which if we only balanced these camps against each other exactly right, we could create a pH neutral world where democracy and development could take off. In one year we find the mix too acidic and we tip the scales in one direction, then we find it too alkaline and we reverse course. We just never quite find the right mix.


Of course, this is insane, but hope springs eternal.

Outsiders, think we are ourselves evil, cynical monsters who arm one side, then the other hoping both sides kill as many of the other as possible. I, myself, prefer our story. Still, its not clear what objective facts, would make you think one story is truer than the other.
post #3 of 2698
Quote:
Originally Posted by AldenPyle View Post

I am no expert, .

We'll just stick with that.
post #4 of 2698
Thread Starter 

I don't know if I would say the region has devolved into evil. IS's brutality has been made very public but the secular regimes were bad too. The international appeal of IS has certainly drawn more attention to it but it wasn't really until this year when they pushed into Iraq that people took notice. When they split from Nusra it was pretty clear that they intended to hijack that revolution.

 

Western interests, at their core, are about stability. A stable ME is a contained ME and one that can trade reliably. I think right now the tentative US strategy is to push IS out of Iraq and contain it within Syria who doesn't have much to offer the global economy. The way it's shaping up right now, the FSA is getting eaten away by the superior Islamist forces in the Islamic Front and Nusra. This civil war is going to last for a very long time and without a Western ground invasion, which is sure to fail anyway, there's no solution in sight. The strength of these groups is too great and the idealogical differences too entrenched for their to be any real peaceful movement. 

post #5 of 2698
Quote:
Originally Posted by ethanm View Post

I don't know if I would say the region has devolved into evil. IS's brutality has been made very public but the secular regimes were bad too. The international appeal of IS has certainly drawn more attention to it but it wasn't really until this year when they pushed into Iraq that people took notice. When they split from Nusra it was pretty clear that they intended to hijack that revolution.

Western interests, at their core, are about stability. A stable ME is a contained ME and one that can trade reliably. I think right now the tentative US strategy is to push IS out of Iraq and contain it within Syria who doesn't have much to offer the global economy. The way it's shaping up right now, the FSA is getting eaten away by the superior Islamist forces in the Islamic Front and Nusra. This civil war is going to last for a very long time and without a Western ground invasion, which is sure to fail anyway, there's no solution in sight. The strength of these groups is too great and the idealogical differences too entrenched for their to be any real peaceful movement. 

I think I basically agree with this except for quibbling. I don't think I meant to focus on the devolution into evil, but more on the development of the two poles (Saudi and Iran) which seems to be new. Of course, both have been around for a long time as major players, but the ME had been a region where there were many different camps all balanced against each other. I agree that our strategic goal is stability, but I think our actual strategy has worked out to be balancing and rebalancing against different camps in turn hoping to find a formula that would lead to economic and political development. The results have been disappointing and ultimately helped to create these two relatively strongly aligned camps, which can neither triumph nor reconcile nor find a strategic balance. I dont really see much of a solution to this situation either, but I cant really blame people in the region for being angry at our actions nor for choosing a side.
post #6 of 2698
Thread Starter 

To reduce the conflict to one between Saudi, Iran, and their respective proxies is inaccurate and too small. You can't untangle this web that easily, unfortunately. In certain ways Saudi and Iran are on the same side when it comes to IS because IS views the Saudi establishment as apostates. 

post #7 of 2698
Thread Starter 

The stage is being set for further sectarian violence though. Iran and its shia proxies have quietly (by that I mean to the Western media and even Arab media) been committing atrocities in Iraq in the name of combating IS. 

post #8 of 2698
Thread Starter 

In more humorous but potentially frightening news...

 

Erdogan has ordered Turkey's educational institutions to teach that Muslims discovered America. http://t.co/FKiBoLy3rh

 

That guy is a crazy bastard.

post #9 of 2698
Thread Starter 

And if you want to get straight to the heart of Syrian resentment for the US...

 

Q But just to put a fine point on it -- are you actively discussing ways to remove him [Assad] as a part of that political transition?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:No.

post #10 of 2698
Quote:
Originally Posted by ethanm View Post

In more humorous but potentially frightening news...

DavidKenner ‏@DavidKenner 
 1m1 minute ago


Erdogan has ordered Turkey's educational institutions to teach that Muslims discovered America. http://t.co/FKiBoLy3rh

That guy is a crazy bastard.

If you had actually discovered America and you were too short-sighted or too ineffectual to take advantage of it, wouldn't it be less embarrassing to just pretend you had never seen it in the first place.
post #11 of 2698
Quote:
Originally Posted by AldenPyle View Post

If you had actually discovered America and you were too short-sighted or too ineffectual to take advantage of it, wouldn't it be less embarrassing to just pretend you had never seen it in the first place.

Some good stuff today in the CE!
post #12 of 2698
Thread Starter 

Centcom says a US airstrike targeted the Khorasan Group near the northern Syrian city of Harem, destroying on of their storage facilities.

 

 

Khorasan, for those keeping score, is actually Jabhat an-Nusra lilahli ash-Sham, the Support Front for the People of Sham, usually referred to as Nusra or Nusra front. Anyway, they are al-Qaeda but they are anti-IS and mostly made up of Syrians. They have been using strikes against them to sow anti-Coalition sentiment and it's quite effective.

post #13 of 2698
Thread Starter 

Also this from a beleaguered IS fighter in Kobani:

 

"You will not understand the feeling when the sky is torn up from drones, and the earth is bursting from what is falling on it.
"You do not understand the feeling when you lie, hoping to sleep an hour before your next turn guarding the front, and there are bombs falling and fragments of the ceiling drop on you, when you do not know which of the walls will fall on you in the next few minutes, or even worse, the roof

post #14 of 2698
Quote:
Originally Posted by ethanm View Post

In more humorous but potentially frightening news...

DavidKenner ‏@DavidKenner 
 1m1 minute ago


Erdogan has ordered Turkey's educational institutions to teach that Muslims discovered America. http://t.co/FKiBoLy3rh

That guy is a crazy bastard.


Doesn't he know that the Pilgrims discovered America, and that we named his country after our favorite Thanksgiving protein?
post #15 of 2698
Thread Starter 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/government-military-send-mixed-messages-on-canadians-joining-kurds-in-isis-fight-1.2846120

 

I've noticed an increase in foreign fighters joining the PYD/YPG lately. I think that it's clear that Kobane isn't going to fall and the coalition strikes are at least a tacit approval of the PYD. The problem here is that the PYD is really just an offshoot of the PKK and they share the same idealogies. That is that they are very far left and what you might call militant atheists. In a scenario where the war is over and Syrian Kurdistan has some kind of autonomy, it will not be a place where anybody except ultra-secular leftist Kurds will be comfortable living.

 

In addition to their politics, the Kurds have been at eachother's throats as much as they have been fighting their oppressors. A lot of that has to do with Syria, Iran, Turkey, and Iraq using eachother's Kurdish populations to pressure eachother but that's not the only explanation. The PKK's first order of business in the 70s was to wipe out any opposition Kurdish groups in Turkey who would paint the PKK as extreme and counterproductive for Kurdish interests. Ocalan particularly targeted Kurds with any thread of religion in their platform. So again when the dust settles you may see a situation where the PYD starts fighting with the KRG in Iraq, religious Kurds in their territory, and religious Syrians.

 

They may be on the right side of the fence in regards to IS but so are Nusra, Ahrar, Suquor, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, and the equally sectarian and violent Shia militias operating in Iraq.

 

 

Cliffs: don't go and join the PYD, kids. 

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