Tag Archives: failing Middle East Strategy

NEW YEAR’S PREDICTIONS

As old man 2013 wanders off into history, we would like to know what t baby 2014 will bring as he arrives New Year’s night. While I judiciously avoid speculation based on scripture, prophets, hear-say evangelists, and sooth-sayers that blow through town like a spring wind storm, these blogs reflect years of personal experience in the Middle East as well as reflections from relatives who taught or lived in the region. My responses are more in the realm of an analyst attempting to make sense out of what is often murky circumstances.

In that vein, here’s some meager prognostications for 2014. The following are my expectations for the year before us that I see in my crystal ball (once used for goldfish).

1. Don’t be surprised if General Sisi doesn’t wind up becoming the president of Egypt. Of course, this would be a return to the days of General Hosni Mubarki which is what most Egypt’s yearn for after years of chaos. The Moslem Brotherhood has been squashed and Sisi is now in the driver’ seat.

By the way, these projections do not necessarily reflect what I like, want, or might desire. They just seem to me to be the way the cards are falling.

2. The war between Sunnis and Shiites has been going on for over 1,500 years and just recently heated up again. Don’t expect it to subside or American foreign policy to figure out that the USA has gotten itself in the middle of their brawl.

For some inexplicable reasons, the State Department never seems to figure these issues out until a decade after the war is over.

3. The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will go nowhere.

For over 50 years the Palestinians have refused Israel’s right to exist. They won’t change. Moreover, Abbas can not make the Gaza strip part of any settlement because it is controlled by Hamas. In turn, Israel will not give up its security.  Israel knows that if an Agreement is reached, terrorists (financed by Iran) may overrun the Palestinian Authority and quash the entire settlement.

The negotiations were forced because Secretary of State John Kerry had the financial leverage to get both sides to the table. Unfortunately, that’s about all he could do.

4. Don’t look for America to develop any comprehensive Middle East foreign policy.

Without a comprehensive strategy, America comes off looking opportunistic, grabbing at the best deal they can get at the moment. The Obama Administration’s piece-meal approach has not been successful and will probably have few successes in the near future. This lack of long range planning has promoted distrust in Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Iran and Syria already hate the U.S. (hate is a mild word for those two countries. Don’t look for much improvement.

Sorry. I’d be delighted to have a better sense of the future, but I don’t see the sun coming up when the blinds stay closed.

The Middle East has been full of surprises and I’m the first to recognize it could happen again. Remember NO ONE saw the Egyptian explosion coming. Keep your powder dry as 2014 comes in the front door.

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Filed under America, Arabs, Egypt, Israel, middle east, Palestinians

OBAMA AT THE CROSSROADS

            American crossroads has come to a significant bump in the road. The division between Republicans and Democrats is turning into a Grand Canyon. Listening to restaurant conversations, one is left with impression that people either like Obama or they hate him. Even a few wild-eyed members of Congress want to impeach him thought their charges are not clear. We are truly living in a difficult time. Even Egyptians recently took exception with his remarks.

            The National Salvation Front, a political party comprised of pro-democratic and secular members, objected to his views of the escalating violence in Egypt. They felt that only one side of the chaos was being presented. This group wanted Obama to recognize that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) had threatened Christians with genocide and raised the black flags of Al-Qaida while marching with pictures of bin Laden and al Zawarhri. Forty-five attacks were made on Christian installations with 19 churches being torched. This group said, “Mr. President, peaceful demonstrators do not have the capacity to kill more than 50 police personnel in just a few hours.” They were stating that President Obama was ignoring the reasons for the strong reaction of the police and military.

The problem within the problem is that the Obama administration’s policy and strategy for the Middle East appears to be failing. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal details 5 fundamental mistakes America is now making in this part of the world.  Besides misreading the political maturity and capacity of the Islamists groups it supported, the USA badly misread the political situation in Egypt. (And continues to do so). Thirdly, America has not appreciated how its policy are effecting Saudi Arabia, and Israel, the two most important allies we have in the region. In addition, the USA has not grasp the dynamics of the terrorist movements across the region, Finally, American failed to understand the cost of inaction in Syria.

It must be noted that the majority of Americans don’t want the USA in a military conflict in Syria. We also must give Obama credit for recognizing the terrible cost when George Bush dragged the United States into with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were far from successful. Obama has been correct to recognize the cost of another war on America.

However, Obama drew a red line with Syria over use of chemical weaponry. The world knows that line was crossed months ago. Now the issue that the president’s statements have created is American credibility. To not act has become as dangerous as being precipitous.

As August does to an end, the American government has declared that it is considering alternatives that include bypassing the United Nations. Prominent government leaders are predicting American will act soon even if Russia is an ally of Syria.

No one wants another military skirmish. Unfortunately, that is no longer the issue. Failure to recognize that Iran is in this war as well as Hezbollah is only to beg a bigger and more dangerous conflict. Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons and American hesitates only to its ultimate disadvantage.

President Obama is at a crossroads that will reveal his legacy as well as theirs.

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Filed under America, Egypt, Syria