Category Archives: Russia

THE RESHUFFLING CONTINUES

BLOG 293 March 7, 2016

Last week we considered how the Middle East situation has gone through a radical reordering that has changed what came out of the geographic shape from the past. One of the countries not considered offers another interesting reflection of change: Turkey.

Most Westerners pay little attention to Turkey. Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the conclusion of World War I, Turkey has not been particularly significant. However, Turkish President Recap Tanya Endogen has been hard at work lately to reverse that standing. In previous blogs, I have detailed some of his efforts to establish a Muslim axis running from Turkey through Syria down to Iran. Turkey became fast friends with President Bashar el-Assad. Erdogan had visions of setting himself up as the Grand Caliphate of that Muslim area . Sorry. The fact is that Erdogan’s efforts have all failed.

Why should a Westerner care about Turkey? Putting its past history aside, the gyrations of Turkey have created significant problems. In an unprecedented ploy and without warning, Turkey exposed Israeli Mossad agents while trying to build his Muslim Axis. In addition, during the spring of 2010, the Mavi Marmara affair was an attempt by Turkey to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza. As a result nine Turks were killed. Erdogan was seriously discredited in Israel and lost footing in his Middle East pursuits as well.

Today, Erdogan sees Assad as Turkey’s worst enemy. With Russia entering the Syrian civil war, Russia is not only on the bad guy list but is now positioned to strike the underbelly of Turkey. Turkey is now confronted by what it sees as “Imperialist” Russia and shot down one of their airplanes . Sanctions followed. As the Russians change the balance of power in the war, Tehran is becoming on the winning side and Turkey on the losing. Erdogan’s aces have turned into deuces.

To make matters even more difficult, the United States appears to have abandoned their efforts and turned civil the war over to Russia while the USA backs the Kurds. Turkey particularly fears a resurgence of the Kurds on their border may result in a new state after the Syrian war. The Kurdish insurgency is another big headache for Erdogan.

In other words, Turkey is in a BIG mess. Who could profit from such a quagmire?

Surprisingly enough, the answer is Israel.

Erdogen’s anti-Israel assaults never brought the result for which he had hoped. A dry run there. Moscow had been Turkey’s supplier of gas but that source is no longer trustworthy. Israel can sell gas to Turkey. Interesting possibility.

As painful as it probably will be, Israel may be Turkey’s only open door.

Watch for a new hand to be dealt. Stay tuned.

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THE RUSSIAN GRAB –AND ISRAEL

BLOG 290 February 13, 2016

A plan to bring food and desperately needed aid to the starving in Syrian towns was agreed on this week by Secretary John Kerry and Russian Secretary Sergev Lavrov. The hope was to bring a cessation of hostilities as the beginning of a pathway to a formal cease-fire. Great idea. Not great possibilities.

The problem is Russia.

President Assad was being pushed out the backdoor when President Vladimir Putin started bombing the countryside. Russian airpower turned the table and now Assad is claiming he will regain the entire country. Hope dies with such words.

The Saudis have already announced they would take a military option if Assad did not step down. Turkey also announced Ankara’s opposition to any political transaction in Syria that included Assad staying in power. Russia is faced with these responses.

However, Russia has its own set of goals for the entire region. When President Obama withdrew American military pressure, the door was thrown wide open for opportunists like Putin to come surging in. He didn’t wait.

After an absence of three decades, Russia is seeking to re-establish itself as a power and influence in the entire Middle East. Inside Syria, Russia continues to attack the moderate pro-Western Rebels while talking out of the other side of its mouth at the conference table. Iran’s significant military build-up couldn’t stop the Syrian opposition and probably called for Russia’s increased involvement. The agreement that brought Russia jets into Syria came with an unpublicized agreement that Russian could maintain permanent military bases inside that country.

Do you hear any squawks from Washington about such a possibility? I didn’t.

The problem? Israel’s air force is no match up against Russia. The S-400 anti-aircraft system Russia has in Syria also covers half of Israel’s territory. The bottom line is that Israel has now lost its regional air superiority.

Every American president from Roosevelt on sought to curb Russian power in the Middle East. President Obama stepped away from this position and has allowed what his predecessors opposed. This shift has produced winners and losers. Winners? Iran and those aligned with the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood. Losers? Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Israel is now placed in an extremely difficult position. Current American policy has left the Israelis pushed into a corner. While serious criticism can be leveled at Prime Minister’s Netanyahu’s rhetoric, political actions (or lack of action), as well as flip-flop gyrations, Israel increasingly must consider how it can best defend itself. Whoever is elected in the current political Campaign, will be faced with a critical decision about whether Russia will be allowed to continue this presence and military pressure left behind during the Obama years.

Americans may not like world leadership – but look what happens when they back off!

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TURKEY – RUSSIA- AND THE MIDDLE EAST

BLOG 281 November 30, 2015

Last Tuesday Turkey shot down a Russian warplane after repeated warnings to stop violating Turkish airspace. Russia screamed, but NATO’s Secretary-General immediately said that the military organization stood firmly behind its ally Turkey and supported its territorial integrity. Turkey didn’t back off on the charge of Russia’s violation of their air space and no apologies were forthcoming.

A visibly angry Putin warned “significant consequences” would follow. Subsequently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced Russia was suspending its visa-fee travel restrictions with Turkey which struck a blow at Turkey’s tourism industry. Around 3.3 million Russian’s visited Turkey last year. Russian tourists were warned not to travel to Turkey. However, the Russian response is measured and would not effect gas exports to Turkey. Russia would again be the big loser there.

What’s going on?

Putin has been trying to muscle his way into the Middle East for sometime, Syria has been an ally and he’s trying to protect Assad. When there were no apologies, Putin had to react and look tough to protect the image he is trying to project. Turkey stood up to him and that diminishes the appearance Putin is trying to promote.

The truth is that the Russian economy remains troubled and the reduction in the price of petroleum has pushed them further into a hole. Putin growls but his roar is actually weak.

And Turkey? What’s happening there?

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also likes to flex his muscles. Intolerant of dissent, his office is known for being heavy-handed. In previous blogs, I’ve described Muslim Erdogan’s desire to create a Sunni Axis running form Turkey through Syria down to Iran that would cut off Saudi Arabia and any other Shia countries. Currently, the president is also concerned that the Kurds might come out of the Syrian civil war with there own country that would border Turkey. In an attempt to elevate Turkey’s status with the Muslim world, Erdogan cut off Israel’s intelligence gathering capacities that ran through Turkey for decades. With a clap of the hands, he turned Turkey’s old ally Israel away.

So, what’s Erdogan up to? He is demonstrating that Russia doesn’t frighten him and he can dish out retaliation with the best of them. When Russia pushes him, Erdogan pushes back maybe even a little harder. The War rumbles on.

The squabble between Russia and Turkey is a side show. The problem with the Syrian civil war is that it has become like the Spanish civil war that preceded World War II. Syrian’s civil war is actually pitting Saudi Arabia against Iran with Russia on Iran’s side and American with the Saudi’s. No one will say this out loud but Russia’s recent involvement in the war is another side show with everyone claiming that ISIS is the problem. No question that ISIS is a big, big issue but the entrenched position of Syria’s current government only sustains ISIS on the battlefield.

The politicians keep jaw-boning and the bombs keep flying. Why won’t it stop? Because all the participants are more concerned for their self-interest and appearance than they are for the well-being of a beleaguered Syria filled with dying people, the war continues..

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BEWARE: THE TROLLS ARE COMING

BLOG 257 June 15, 2015

Today’s blog is slightly off the usual track and broader than the Middle East, but I thought it might help in reading some of the more obscure signs of the times.  Free societies still face challenges in discerning the truth. Of course, this blog’s purpose is to maintain objectivity and sort out what is happening behind the curtains. Today’s blog aims behind the scenes.

Before we get started: If you missed it, Saudi Arabia shot down a missile fired from Yemen by the Houthi rebels. Yemen hasn’t been on the media much lately, but there’s plenty of activity going on. Since late March, the Saudis have exchanged fire across the Yemini border a number of times. The firing of a Scud has raised fears that the Yemini rebels have started an escalating pattern of violence that could lead to an expansion of the war.

While the Saudis claimed to have destroyed the Houthis’ supply of heavy and ballistic weapons, the missile firing undermined those claims. However, immediately after the Scud was knocked out, Saudi warplane located and destroyed the missile launcher. Who knows what comes next. Stay tuned.

A year ago I was driving from Jerusalem to the Tel Aviv airport when I noticed a new large expensive mosque that had been built in a small village just beyond  Jerusalem. I inquired how the obviously lavish  mosque had been built in such a small poor village. I discovered the entire structure  was a gift from Vladimir Putin to the Muslims. Putin in Israel? Really? Afraid so – but on the behalf of the Palestinians.

I made a mental note. Don’t underestimate Putin –ever!

President George Bush said he looked into Putin’s soul. Political nonsense. If he had, Bush would have run for the door.

The latest revelation about Putin’s backdoor approach was explored in the Sunday, June 7, magazine section of The New York Times. The writer Adrian Chen had stumbled on to a nondescript office building in Russia’s St. Peterburg that actually housed a full time working Troll force whose job is to invade the world-wide internet and post deceptive and untruthful accounts of imaginary events that discredited the United States and spread misconceptions around the world.

Last September 11, the internet carried a disaster story occurring in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana. Toxic chemicals were reported from a plant called Columbia Chemical. The internet lit up with hundreds of responses decrying the danger. Of course, none of the story was true and the responses bogus. The hoax was not a simple prank but one story from a highly coordinated disinformation campaign in which  “Trolls” spend hours sending out lies, deceit, and deception. A similar story came out about an Ebola outbreak in Atlanta, Georgia. The trolls were coming!

The word “trolls” emerged out of the ‘90’s to describe internet abusers. Russia’s Internet Research Agency has now “industrialized the art of trolling.” By the way, those trolls in St. Petersburg have no idea who runs their company. They just print what is handed to them. Guess who started those anti-American, anti-Israel stories?

Putin, the former KGB agent, should get the Gobbels Nazi award this year for disinformation. Make no mistake about it, Putin is at war with the USA and is walking behind the scenes in Israel.

Don’t stay tuned to what you can’t check out –this junk from Russia will cloud your mind.

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THE WAR GOES ON

BLOG 256 June 8, 2015

Not unlike World War I with its convoluted relationships and back room dealings, the wars in the Middle East have many ramifications that do not always appear on the surface. Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called on Russia to halt a planned delivery of the S-300 air-defense system to Iran. Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s position of the right to defend itself against any attack from Tehran indicating Israel would do whatever was necessary for its own security.

Writing for Reuters, Tovah Lazaroff reported that Netanyahu noted that in military parades every year Iran’s missiles were larger and more enhanced. However, one factor always remained the same. On the missiles was always written, “Death to Israel.” Israel continues to protest that in the West’s search for a halt to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, no one mentions Iranian aggression and involvement in the terrorist battles going on in Iraq and Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin claims the air-defense system does not endanger the Jewish State. (Who is he kidding?) At the same time, Putin warned Israel about any retaliatory action such as selling weapons to Ukraine. Putin had planned to deliver the S-300’s in 2010, but retreated under pressure from the U.S.. President Obama noted the current purposed delivery reflects the deteriorating strain on Russia’s economy because it would provide a substantial income.

Meanwhile, Iraqi struggles with the ISIS victories in Ramadi and Palmyra. Everyone from the U.S. State Department on down is now worried that Iraqi won’t be up to the task. In the battle for Tikrit and the surrounding villages, the Iraqi army presented itself well. However, even when there are such victories, the Iraqi government continues to face the daunting challenge of stabilizing Sunni-dominated areas and repopulating them without once again feeding the sectarian animosity that has been of substantial value to ISIS. The question always remains as to who will control recaptured area taken back from ISIS. Will it be Shiites or Sunnis?

While the West tends to be indifferent about such matters, the problem remains absolutely vital for any possibilities for peace in this area.

The fears of sectarian revenge killings is constant. In addition, the influence of Arab tribes inside Iraq remains a possible divisive element. For example, the Jabour tribe has historically been pro-government and resisted ISIS. They are one of a number of important tribes inside Iraq that have a bearing on how the fighting will go. Unfortunately, these tribes often violently disagree.

When the governor of Salahuddin Province announced that residents of Tikrit could return, he also noted that if even one member of a resident family had supported ISIS, the entire family would be barred from returning. The issue of collective punishment remains on the table.

Obviously, the Middle East situation remains almost hopelessly complex and muddled.

With Russia and Iran working against Saudi Arabia and Sunni-Shiite fighting continuing, any view of a possible solution remains clouded by the dust rising from the battlefield.

What’s next? Stay tuned.

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AND THEN THERE’S EGYPT

BLOG 250 April 27, 2015

This past week’s news reports from the Middle East high-lighted the story of hundreds of refugees fleeing from Libya and drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. Cairo predicted such a fate in February when they accused the West of ignoring Egypt’s plight under attack in the Sinai and from Libya by Islamist terrorism. The United States along with Qatar and Turkey were viewed as hostile toward Egypt. Indeed, the Obama Administration’s policy has been as confused as the rioting in the streets of Cairo.

In the middle of increasing terrorism across the whole area, Egypt has now turned to Russia as a new ally. Discussions are currently underway for an arms deal. Under Gamal Abdel Nasser’s administration, the Soviet Union had a major foothold in Egypt but was run out as their own self-serving intentions became obvious. However, the new emergence of an arms deal is not good for the USA and reflects Obama’s retreat from leadership in the area.

Worried because of Egyptian instability caused by the Muslim Brotherhood and the rampant reaction of their military, the USA has been wary of what might come next and has been cautious. Still, Egypt needs America and America needs Egypt. It’s time to rethink support for Egypt. Their having to go it alone will only lead to bitterness within Egyptian leadership.

The Egyptian military has been moving swiftly through the courts to stabilize the country and make it clear that conflict will not be tolerated. The Muslim Brotherhood has virtually been wiped out except for those who have gone underground. Court dockets are full with President Sisi standing in the backroom making sure all decisions favor the state. A death penalty was recently executed on an Islamist supporter of ousted President Morsi. The man was convicted of murder during the political violence following the military take-over in 2013 when teenagers were thrown from the rooftop of a water tower. The death penalty has been carried out at least nine times since Sisi gained control.

On Saturday, April 12, the Egyptian court sentenced an American to life imprisonment for supporting the Islamist protest against the ouster of Morsi. Mohamed Soltan was sentenced along with 35 other defendants for the same provocation. Another dozen persons were sentenced to death. Even journalists have received prison terms for stories the state claimed to be false but the truth actually put the current administration in a bad light. The world knows that any country that jails journalists is on a slippery slope.

These sweeping penalties have received denunciation from groups within Egypt and milder rebukes from Western diplomats. However, the sentences reflect how seriously the Egyptian power structure views any interruptions of everyday and governmental life.

It appears that the pendulum that swung to the far left with Morsi and then to the far right with Sisi still needs to find balance. In the mean time, a religious war rages across Egypt’s borders and the ISIS mentality has proven deadly.

While foreign aid embargos from the USA have been lifted, Egypt needs more help from the USA.

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A Deeper Look at ISIS

BLOG 217 – September 8, 2014

Like it or not, the American public must take a second and more penetrating look at the crisis that has evolved in Iraq. While it is true President Obama ran on the promise to get America out of Middle Eastern wars and Iraq in particular, he has been dilatory in his slow response to this new crisis. The hastiness of the Bush-Cheney era has caused Obama to be overly cautious in reacting to severe changes in the Syrian crisis. Probably one of his biggest errors was drawing a line in the sand over the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war, retreating, and then calling on Putin to pull him out. Now, Putin’s aggression in the Ukraine is a sign of his reading Obama as a paper tiger.

The West can’t allow such indecision with ISIS.

ISIS is a lineal descendant of al Qaeda and its efforts in Iraq. When Sadaam fell, a vacuum was left and the remaining government proved to be prejudiced and inept. Jordanian Abu Musab al Zarqawi moved in and set up shop in Iraq.  Instead of listening to guidance from  al Qaeda, he exploited the growing sectarian grievance with the Prime Minister Nouri Malaki. Zarqaui was betting Iraq could be overturned in a civil war that would give Sunnis more power in the country. By creating a radical Islamist country, Zarqawi looked toward a superstate that would be able to create the unity that existed in the early days of Islam. Consequently, the current barbaric killings and assassinations reflect his thinking.

An air strike in 2006 killed Zarqawi, but he was close to achieving his goal. However, his vision survived and moved men and equipment to Syria to fight against Assad and the Alawite sect. During the civil war, the army grew as they robbed banks and stole loot on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border. American did nothing.

As time progressed, the original al Qaeda organization distanced itself from this movement because of its violence. What worried Ayman al Zawahiri (Ben Ladin’s successor) was the violence of this group toward other Muslims. There was no middle ground or allowance for a variation of opinion. Their motto was “join, fall on your face, or die!” They proved to be particularly strong in working the “dying” angle.

Out of this cauldron of intolerance and pain came the ISIS movement that swept across Iraq and immediately captured Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq. Of course, the ISIS movement has a visceral hatred for America and Israel –their ultimate objectives for attack. Should they be able to attack an American target, they would recruit a new army of extremist overnight. One of the greatest dangers of this organization at this point is their persistent ability to sweep through Iraq and appear invincible. The ISIS organization knows well how to make propaganda out of such an endeavor. The two recent be-headings were aimed for recruiting purposes.

Unfortunately for ISIS, their barbarism has back-fired as recent American missile strikes have demonstrated. Rather than creating fear, they have raised the ire of Western nations that are now coming for them. The time is long passed getting serious. If America doesn’t stop them today, the US will face a more terrible threat tomorrow.

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Reminiscing on Labor Day

BLOG 216 September 1, 2014

September’s here and you get this day off to have time to sit back and reflect on the summer and the Fall ahead. Sip a nice cool glass of ice tea, put your feet up, and reflect on where we are on this day in 2014.

Do you realize that 100 years ago and four thousand miles away we entered the Great War in France? World War I took 40 million lives with 116,000 Americans dying in only 19 months. While the British attempted to minimize the American role, the USA contributed mightily to the successful outcome of the Allies. My question? After 100 years, has military conflict improved?

Last February, I was in Israel and visited the Dead Sea Scrolls monument that remembers the ancient Jews that lived by the Dead Sea and wrote of the conflict between the Sons of Darkness and the Sons of Light. They had an important insight into conflict because the war with the Sons of Darkness has never stopped. Two thousand years later, we are still fighting the creatures of the night. World War I is both a long time ago and yesterday morning.

A week ago, an Israeli missile flattened a 11-story apartment building where Hamas military leaders lived. The sudden strike followed more rocket attacks aimed at Israel and signaled that Israel would not hesitate to make more audacious military forays into Gaza. As I predicted in a recent blog, Hamas held a victory rally after they accepted a cease fire proposal they had earlier rejected. What they were celebrating remains a mystery as they have been flattened like the 11-story apartment building.

That war probably goes on.

Twenty-one Egyptian soldiers were killed near the isolated Farafara oasis in western Egypt not far from the Libyan border. An attacking gunmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade into an ammunition cache that killed the soldiers and left four other wounded. Jihadist groups from Libyan continue to run wild. The struggle continues in Egypt.

We could wander off and ponder the lying Prime Minister of Russia who is currently attacking and fomenting strife in the Ukraine. But Putin is too far from the Middle East to ponder in this biog  –though the most ridiculous political statement of the last two centuries was George Bush’s asserted he looked into Putin’s soul and saw brotherhood. If he had really seen into Putin’s soul, Bush would have run for the door.

Another sign of the times was this weeks about-face by Syrian President Hassan Rouhani. Reversing himself, Rouhani stated the USA can never be trusted. He acknowledged Iran’s attempts to by-pass sanctions that they consider crimes against humanity. It is not clear exactly what Rouhani is expressing. Because the Obama administration has just imposed new sanctions intended to affect Iran’s nuclear arms program, Rouhani may be reacting in order to improve their position at forth-coming negotiations with the West. On the other hand, the hard-liners pelted him with eggs for talking with Obama and negotiating with the West. Rouhani may be trying to protect his backsides from violence against himself in Iran. Hard to say.

And I haven’t even mention ISIS in Iraq –

Well, on this Labor Day you might want to think about these conflicts. The Sons of Darkness still seem to be at it. Perhaps more than rest, we ought to pray.

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WHAT THE MIDDLE EAST HAS AT STAKE IN CRIMEA

How the current conflict over the aggressive actions of Russia in the Ukrainian crisis affect the Middle East remains a serious issue. While Israel has maintained a cordial relationship with Russia, it has also stayed out of the fray over the situation in the Crimean Peninsula. However, the entire Middle East might not be able to escape the conflict. The jury is still out.

The Obama administration and much of Europe are back peddling fast from any relationship with Putin and Russia. Currently, President Obama is focused on isolating Putin and cutting off his economic ties through the imposition of harsh sanctions. While pundits have been critical of Obama’s response as weak, many forget that these very actions brought Iran to the negotiating table. Sanctions are slow, but anything but ineffective. They certainly keep American soldiers off the battlefield while the screws are tightened.

At the same time, worsening relations between Washington and Moscow could have a negative impact on the Middle East. The hope of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians could be negative affected if Putin throws his weight behind the Palestinian Authority (PA). Moreover, the nuclear disarmament dialogue with Iran could also be harmed if Russia makes a radical move.

Is this possible? Sure.

America has completely backed away from any concern not to offend the Kremlin. The quest for an international consensus against Russia is now also reaching toward China’s participation. The Europeans are skittish about possible damage to their still fragile economic situation. At the same time, the United States maintains considerable stature and forcible situation in the region. Unless Putin backs away from his expansionist tastes, Washington has written him off as a partner in future agreements. Putin may be arrogant, but he is not stupid. Ultimately, he must recognize the price he is paying for returning to Cold War propaganda and maneuvers.

The new sanctions imposed this week hit at the pocketbook of Putin’s inner circle. Next in line is Mr. Putin’s billfold. While his global investments have not been easy to uncover, the government is feverishly pursuing them. The international rumor is that Putin has stockpiled investments that make him on of the richest world leaders. Recent media investigations suggest Putin has significant investment in Guvnor, the fourth-largest oil trader. Moreover, Putin has been tied to Sturgutneftegaz, another large oil company. You can bet the USA is running down all of these leads.

Is this worthwhile? Don’t forget Hitler’s grab of Europe began with a parallel situation in the controversial Sudetenland region after the end of World War I. Such expansionism cannot be tolerated. Let’s hope it doesn’t backfire in the Middle East.

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WHEN WASHINGTON CAN’T MAKE UP ITS MIND

            When you take a trip to Egypt don’t expect much beauty. Antiquity, yes; style, no. The country is old, old, old, and dusty, dusty, dusty. I can never forget the sight of driving into Cairo while ancient wooden carts with worn rubber tires rolled along beside me and beggars walked by with their wares balanced on top of their heads. Fascinating to see; not inviting to live with.

            Egypt has been one of Americans foremost partners in the Middle East. Whatever you think about Hosni Mubarak, he was a cornerstone for American foreign policy in the region. Americans knew what Egypt was about and Egyptians trusted the United States.

Sorry. That agreement and mutuality has come to an end. Egypt has even begun talking to Russia about new relationships. Now exactly what Americans were expecting for Christmas.

The problem is the Obama administration’s lack of a coherent strategy for the Egypt and the entire Middle East. Nobody knows for sure what comes next and the administration keeps shifting up and down worse than the American House of Representatives who now have 90% of the American republic giving them a thumbs down.

Whether the person behind this incoherent lack of planning is Secretary of State John Kerry or President Barack Obama or both is not clear. What seems to be apparent in these last few years is that the Obama style is one of delegating decisions to staff personnel while he remains distant at the top. If so, Kerry is the one who needs the guide dog, but Obama gets the fallout just as he has done on the profoundly troubled healthcare system. If the United States is to regain any footing, a new clear-up plan of action is badly needed.

For example, Washington tied itself in knots trying to avoid calling the Morsi ouster a coup (which it was). The threat of cutting off aid to Egypt because of the turmoil only lowered American standing as both Saudi Arabia and Russia offered to fill the gap. American Ambassador Anne Patterson spanked Egypt for the mass demonstrations that led to Morsi’s downfall. This left the impression America favored the Islamist regime.  Recently, the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram ran a front-page story accusing Patterson of conspiring with the now defunct Muslim Brotherhood.  Not a good sign! The list of errors goes on and on.

While many in Egypt were angered by Russia’s support of Syrian President Assad, that issues disappeared when Russia immediately blessed the military takeover of Egypt. In late October, Egyptian delegates completed a three day session of talks in Moscow. In turn, Russia dispatched the head of their military intelligence to Cairo. Putin wastes no time in bidding in this high stakes game of poker.

The American political system has been locked in turmoil until this past week’s final budget agreement. Republicans hell-bent on destroying Obama’s health care legislation ignored every other consideration under the sun. Democrats have not been singularly bent, but have not given any broader oversight to the Middle East. The time has come for American leadership to wake up and pay attention to the Kerry-Obama leadership.

There are hard questions to be answered.

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