For decades, but especially following the U.S. overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 and the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. government has tried to promote the establishment of democracies in the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and elsewhere around the globe.
This should come as no surprise. Centers for the Study of Democracy have become an integral feature of universities throughout the United States and Western Europe. They replaced older schools of realpolitik that used to be taught. Professors, politicians, and international organizations aggressively promote the doctrine of democracy. Continue reading
The attempted coup in Turkey sent shockwaves around the world. Here was a Nato ally, thrown into chaos overnight. MARCO GIANNANGELI in Istanbul uncovers how the power struggle has paved the way for a more extreme form of Islam to take hold.
Amid the cacophony of police sirens, low-flying helicopters and rifle fire, there was another sound during the attempt to overthrow president Recep Tayyip Erdogan: The wailing of Turkey’s imams.
From the nations’s 85,000 mosques, their amplified voices were heard calling upon the faithful to take to the streets and defy the plotters. The people listened. Continue reading
In June 28, 2016 remarks at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was asked whether Iran’s influence in Iraq was “more helpful or more harmful.” He replied: “Look, we have challenges with Iran as everybody knows, and we’re working on those challenges. But I can tell you that Iran in Iraq has been, in certain ways, helpful, and they clearly are focused on ISIL-Daesh, and so we have a common interest, actually.”
This statement grants U.S. legitimacy to Iran’s military presence and activity on Iraqi soil, based on the claim that Iran and the U.S. have shared interests in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) and that “Iran is a helpful” element. Additionally, Kerry claims that Iran’s focus in Iraq is the war against ISIS. Continue reading
Is the Middle East still strategically indispensable to the world in general and to the security interests of the United States in particular? Americans no longer think so. They have grown weary of the region after controversial and often inconsequential wars in Afghanistan (2001-2015), Iraq (1990-1991; 2003-2011), Libya (2011), and now again in Iraq against ISIS—and this is to say nothing of the “peace process” that has encouraged much Palestinian violence. Americans in surveys express a general uneasiness with the region. Most do not favor the proposed Iran non-proliferation deal; most do not support the Palestinians over the Israelis; and most do not favor America’s high profile in the Middle East. They oppose both military intervention in and foreign aid to almost all the countries of the region. At the same time, they have grown tired of Muslim jihadists and their barbaric violence.
Washington (CNN) One of America’s top former generals compared the situation in Syria Tuesday to a historic nuclear disaster, implicitly criticizing the U.S. for allowing it to worsen, and accused Russia’s President of trying to re-establish an empire.
Retired Gen. David Petraeus, testifying before the Senate Armed Service Committee, also recommended that the U.S. establish safe zones for Sunnis inside Syria and potentially put American boots on the grounds in Iraq to stop the spread of ISIS.
The former commanding general of U.S. forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan equated the situation in Syria today with one of the most deadly nuclear accidents in history. Continue reading
Violent conflicts are spreading throughout the Middle East. Germany is working with Egypt, supporting Saudi Arabia and delivering weapons to the peshmerga – but the government opposition in Berlin is critical.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has been in office for almost a year. Soon he’s due to visit Germany. In March, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel extended an invitation on behalf of Chancellor Angela Merkel. That marked a departure from the government’s earlier position that parliamentary elections in Egypt were a precondition for an official state visit by the president. Continue reading
How Iran is taking control of the Middle East
Under the magnanimous rule of Cyrus the Great, the Persian Empire extended from the foothills of the Himalayas to the banks of the Nile River. It was a vast conglomeration of peoples, creeds, religions and languages tied together in large part by the governing policies of King Cyrus. Cyrus believed that the empire would remain stable if its subjects were allowed to keep their own customs while still paying homage to Persia.
Today, Iran—the progeny of that dynasty—is once more vying to carve out an empire. But this kingdom is being forged and expanded in ways that bear little similarity to ancient Persia. The rising empire relies on fear, extortion, intimidation and bloodshed—conversion by the sword. The advancement of its banner across the Middle East threatens the permanency of those nations that lie in the warpath, and also threatens to plunge the international community into deeper conflict.
Aiding and abetting terrorists/terrorism in forming a middle eastern Islamic caliphate, or pure ignorance? It’s rather difficult to make hundreds, if not thousands, of mistakes in a row solely out of pure ignorance, however, only time will tell.
ERBIL, Iraq (CBS News/CBSDC/AP) — The Sunni militant group in Iraq is a force roughly 3,000 strong and includes some Americans, a senior intelligence official told CBS News on Tuesday.
The majority of fighters in the group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, are of Iraqi and Syrian origin.
In all, up to 10,000 are fighting with the group, 3,000 in Iraq and another 7,000 in Syria, the intelligence official said. Between 3,000 and 5,000 are foreigners, though how many of those are in Iraq is difficult to assess. Continue reading
The map you see above, and also embedded below, was the main illustration for the piece, which appeared in the January/February 2008 issue. I introduced the conceit of the story this way:
As America approaches the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the list of the war’s unintended consequences is without end (as opposed to the list of intended consequences, which is, so far, vanishingly brief). The list includes, notably, the likelihood that the Kurds will achieve their independence and that Iraq will go the way of Gaul and be divided into three parts—but it also includes much more than that. Across the Middle East, and into south-central Asia, the intrinsically artificial qualities of several states have been brought into focus by the omnivorous American response to the attacks of 9/11; it is not just Iraq and Afghanistan that appear to be incoherent amalgamations of disparate tribes and territories. The precariousness of such states as Lebanon and Pakistan, of course, predates the invasion of Iraq. But the wars against al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and especially Saddam Hussein have made the durability of the modern Middle East state system an open question in ways that it wasn’t a mere seven years ago. Continue reading
Essentially, an American forces reduction in Iraq created a power vacuum which Iran has happily attempted to fill in its quest for capturing the entire Middle East. Not wanting it to go unchecked and taking notice of the USA’s neglect, Saudi Arabia has stepped into the fray. Iran from the beginning has engineered the chaos and has now offered a pre-chosen solution in reaching out to America in ‘restabilizing’ Iraq. Iraq is now taking the bait by accepting Iranian troops and soon we will likely see an Iranian-dominated Middle East — without an American presence. You can also thank Russia (and China) for empowering Iran to begin with and making it what it is today, starting with the Iranian revolution.
Baghdad/ Berlin: While German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned on Sunday that the bloody conflict in Iraq could quickly spin into a regional “proxy war”, former spokesperson for the US defence department J.D. Gordon said that the renewed violence is actually a “proxy war between Saudi Arabia and the Iranians which is now spilled over into Iraq and there will be a lot more violence in the months, years to come.”
“The Islamist radicals are being funded by the Saudis, Gulf states. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki did not include the Sunnis in the power-sharing agreement like he should have, so there a lot of Sunnis who are upset,” Mr Gordon was quoted as saying by Fox News. Continue reading
These days, no one in Iraq is safe.
Last Wednesday, a bridal party was the target. On Thursday, separate attacks brought destruction upon civilians and police officers alike.
According to the UN, in May Iraq suffered its highest rate of violent deaths in five years.
This is a country standing on the edge of an existential precipice. Continue reading