Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Obama's second term and the "Arab Spring"

Many non Americans sighed with relief today when they woke up to the news of Obama's reelection; it's because of the 'devil you know' syndrome :P mostly I believe.

My opinion has not really changed. The Arab world also followed the elections because of the foreign policy.

I do hope that Obama will get Israel  to finally commit to something positive and tangible but I believe this will not happen.

However, now that he does not have to worry about elections the testing ground should be Syria. I can't believe no one is being able to twist Russia'a and China's arms at the UNSC. There is something totally wrong about having allowed a proxy war in Syria. At least 40,000 have died since last year and there a senseless destruction going which I have never seen anywhere else in the world not even Iraq or Lebanon.

The country is on its knees and that just smells of a conspiracy theory to me. It just does not make sense.

Why YES for Libya and NO for Syria, Bahrain and Yemen? what's the difference ?

UPDATE 18-11-2012 :  I am always right :P

Obama: 'Israel has right to defend itself' [ref]


joe said...

Hmmm... Let me guess..... OIL??????

Mitchell said...

"now that he does not have to worry about elections the testing ground should be Syria. I can't believe no one is being able to twist Russia's and China's arms at the UNSC."

I don't understand what you want him to do. And what do you want him to get Russia and China to agree to?

Highlander said...

Joe - OIL is my favourite theory

Highlander said...

Mitchell not sure what he can do but is there some behind the scenes pressure that could be exerted on the countries that are keeping the Bashar government alive some kind of deal ? there must be a trade it - these are human lives. Why Kurdistan had a no fly zone installed as well in Sadam's Iraq? I'm not a fan of intervention but since we are intervening and have intervened why the double standards if it's only oil then it's heartbreaking for all those people who died and are dying... I'm sure the audiences outside the middle east are seeing a sanitized view of the carnage in Syria the scale of disaster is enormous to the point where even my Iraqi friends have said that Syria is 'lost'. Lives, heritage, cities that have entered the pages of history but disappeared from the geography maps...

Mitchell said...

Well, on the principle that we need to understand why a situation exists before we can hope to fix it, here is my understanding of how things got so bad in Syria.

America is the hegemonic power in the region. Before the revolutions started up, it had two priorities, getting its army out of Iraq, and pressuring Iran to abandon nuclear enrichment. As part of the "resistance front", Syria is literally in the middle of the cold war between Iran and Israel.

Now suppose we compare the different progress of the uprisings in Egypt, Libya, and Syria. In Egypt, the American attitude has been Mubarak was doomed, maybe we can work with the Brotherhood, let's see what happens. In Libya, I have the feeling it was Sarkozy and the European part of NATO who pushed for intervention. Gaddafi was geopolitically isolated, his new friends in Europe and America turned against him.

But the Syrians are in the middle of Iran vs Israel, and Syria is a Russian ally. So in the big picture, American sponsorship of regime change in Syria would threaten the interests of another superpower. Also, the Syrian uprising has become a tool of the states in the region who want to reduce Iran's power for sectarian reasons.

So we have an impasse. America can accuse Russia of supporting Bashar, Russia can accuse America of supporting the uprising, and because both sides have a backer, there is neither victory for the rebels or the cold peace of Bashar triumphant.

With respect to conspiracy, while this situation may suit some strategists in Israel, who perhaps fear seeing the Brotherhood in power in Syria, it's also the logical outcome of continued regional support for the uprising and continued support for Bashar from his geopolitical allies.

You mention a no-fly zone. It could happen. I think America would prefer to see Turkey do it. But before we talk about even that much military intervention, I think we should bring up Morsi's proposed regional solution, in which EG SA TR IR (I'm using the Internet codes) make a deal. Also remember that there is a Russian-approved civil opposition in Syria, a remnant of how things were before the uprising started. They don't get any press in the west, but they could be important in negotiations.

So there are some initiatives for peace. Against this we have to remember the forces for war: the developing siege of Iran, the external sponsorship of the Syrian uprising from the Gulf, and finally the internal conflict, where it really is Syrians fighting Syrians. If I was trying to do the right thing, I would be keeping in mind all those different forces for peace and for war, while I tried to find the right places to push.

programmer craig said...

I don't think it's about oil, but I don't want to argue about it either. Assuming Iran and Russia cannot be persuaded to drop Assad, what would you like to see happen, H?

Highlander said...

Craig the oil reference was about Libya :)

Highlander said...

Mitchell you are actually spot on with your analysis. I don't trust the Gulf countries to do the right thing they don't care and they are very happy to meddle and fight their war by proxy plus they are no beacons for freedom.

I'm disappointed that the Western world is ok from so called Islamists to take over in Egypt, Tunisia (and Libya) but not in Syria. It's a natural progress and we will beat them unless they keep getting the support of the West like our old dictators did.

The insurgency in Syria atarted against Bashar's government but after all this meddling and mess up and inertia by those who actually can make a positive impact on the scene we now have in Syria a full scale sectarian war. I wish for the sake of humanity we could do the right thing and to hell with going against another superpower. over 40,000 Syrian deaths at least so far is their blood so cheap ?

Now all your wannabe 'jihadists' have joined the action as it's the hottest new front ..... For this we have to thank the Gulf countries who want to stop Iran's supposed hegemony and we have to thank the US who want to stop Iran as well to support Israel.

A situation which could have been resolved back in April 2011 with minimum loss of life has not reached genocidal proportions. The problem is that neither Israel nor Iran nor the Middle East will find peace and Lebanon is on the brink of being dragged back that dark tunnel.

Highlander said...

To answer your question Craig and following from my reply to Mitchell...

The US is still the super power who can call the shots and because of that I would like to see it take the right stand. It think that the positive vibes collected from doing the right thing will still contribute towards serving it's interests with regards to Russia, Iran, Israel etc....

Failing to do so will precipitate the historical Armageddon predicted. Syria is right in the middle of that axis.

In terms of practical steps, a no fly zone over the whole territory - which includes destroying all Bashar's aviation capabilities and giving his government an ultimatum to negotiate then bringing in the blue berets to keep the peace. Failing that you have too many warlords created ( we still have not reached that point) too much arms poured in from all the proxy warring countries and the break up of Syria into 3 distinct countries : Kurdish, Christian, Sunni and a minority Alawite enclave..... 8000 years of history down the drain I can see it from here already. You are looking at the upcoming 20 year conflict in the Middle East....

programmer craig said...

Mitchell and H, that was a great summation. I feel like I understand what's going on a little better now, even though I'd already come to much the same conclusion on my own.

H, the US could do the no-fly zone. I don't think there would be much opposition to it here in the US. I agree with Mitchell that we'd probably prefer somebody else do it. US was required for the no-fly zone in Libya due to the logistics involved, but Turkey is right next to Syria and there are NATO airbases in Anatolia along with a substantial NATO presence already there. Personally, I'd prefer a no-fly zone and a no-drive zone for armor and artillery to all this talk about arming the rebels with weapons they need to down planes and helicopters and destroy tanks. I'm not really comfortable with the latter, myself, considering what's shaping up amongst the resistance in Syria these days.

The UN peacekeepers to promote stability and security in the aftermath is a worthy idea, but I think the UN needs approval from the security council for that. It's possible Russia and China would drop their opposition if things got to the point where it was obvious "their guy" wasn't going to be there, anymore.

Highlander said...

Craig I can't believe I would be proven right so quickly - I hate it when I'm right :(

Israel's military says its tanks have scored "direct hits" on Syrian artillery units after Syrian mortar shells fell near an Israeli army post.

programmer craig said...

Hopefully these little border clashes don't escalate into something more serious. I think all bets would be off if Israel and the Assad regime started going at it.

On the "it's about oil" thing,

CNN story on US energy independence:

LONDON (CNNMoney) -- The United States will overtake Saudi Arabia to become the world's biggest oil producer before 2020, and will be energy independent 10 years later, according to a new forecast by the International Energy Agency.

Same story from Fox News:

Rebounding U.S. oil and gas production is "steadily changing the role of North America in global energy trade," the IEA said. For example, oil exports out of the Mideast will increasingly go to Asia as the U.S. becomes more self-sufficient. That will increase the global focus on the security of strategic routes that bring Middle East oil to Asian markets.

Another reason I don't think Libya was about oil is that the Europeans are much more reliant on Libyan oil than the US is. And Libyan oil does not need to pass through the dread Persian Gulf to reach Europe.

Anyway, I'm no economist but I've never been prone to accept those "it's about the oil" arguments, anyway. Even when it comes to Iraq, the war cost the US far more than any financial gain we might have gotten on Iraqi oil concessions. Which, by the way, we didn't get.

I acknowledge the US is the guarantor of the security of the oil routes, but as I said before Libya does not use those hazardous oil routes. And besides, I never got the vibe that Libya was about oil :)

But I could be wrong, of course.

programmer craig said...

In regards to your update:

Obama: 'Israel has right to defend itself'

My dear, you really need to let go of this idea you have that US Presidents do the bidding of AIPAC. Trust me, even the British do not "get" American politics, and if they don't then nobody else outside the US does either.

PS: Really enjoyed reading through all those comments from your blog post about the McCain/Obama election in 2008. Especially LouLou's.

NOMAD said...

Imad Fawzi Shueibi, a Syrian, says that Syria has a huge gas reserve under its territory, and the unrests aren't gratuitous, Gasprom with its southern stream pipeline , co-managed with Germany, is in concurrence with "Nabucco", the pipe line financed by the US and western allies.

So it's a war on who will influence the Region, it seems that the Russians won the first match. Anyways, they aren't going to let the US and their allies to benefits of the their companies to direct the oil/gas traffic there.

(his article can be found in english in searching with "Imad Fawzi Shueibi, Syria, Gas, war, ME)

Well the article is partisan, thogh still there is some truth on what is at stakes there

I still would have preferred that Assad could stay, we can't repproach him the same behaviour pervertion as Gadhafi, Assad was also the warrant of the different religions freedom.

I guess it's too late now. And sure Syria war will have more geopolitical repercussions than Libya war

Highlander said...

Craig lobby's are powerful they managed to make even Gaddaffi respectful remember :P until he became again persona non grata when the Libyans decided enough is enough he was quickly dropped and the lobbying firm is now bankrupt.

Highlander said...

Nomad thanks for bringing that link I have been looking for it non Arabic and could not find it. Yes at the root of all these burning in the MENA region are resources, resource routes and business :( and a people demanding freedom and dignity are battling it with forces greater then them.