Author Topic: Middle East Wars  (Read 2962 times)

Solon

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Re: Middle East Wars
« Reply #45 on: December 14, 2017, 12:47:18 AM »
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    The really strange result of Trump's decision to move (sometime) the US embassy to Jerusalem and proclaim the city the capital of Israel was its effect on Christians. This is one of the problems with gutting the State Department of its expertise and relying on your own stupidity and ignorance to make foreign policy. Trump promised AIPAC, the right wing powerful Jewish lobby and his pal Nethanyahu, he would do it, They knew it was not in the US interest to make the announcement, but it definitely advanced their claims to take Palestinian territory as they have been doing consistently with land grabs or "new settlements" in violation of UN resolutions. Trump didn't know and didn't care unless some Middle East country might have a Trump hotel to threaten. This was about sticking it to the Muslims, all Muslims, not just the ones who do terrorism. They are all the same, anyway in Trump's mind.

    So it must have been something of a shock when the Christians in the Middle East--the oldest Christian groups in the world--were outraged by his pronouncement. The immediate fallout is their refusal to meet with VP Pence on his upcoming Middle East visit. But the damage is far more significant than that. Trump, of course, has no clue.

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    Some of the festive cheer was missing this weekend at a public Christmas tree lighting near the site where Christians believe an angel proclaimed Christ’s birth to local shepherds.

    “Our oppressors have decided to deprive us from the joy of Christmas,” Patriarch Michel Sabbah, the former archbishop and Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, told the crowd in the town of Beit Sahour in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. “Mr. Trump told us clearly Jerusalem is not yours.”

    The Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy there has provoked widespread opposition among Christians across the Middle East. When Vice President Pence arrives next week on a trip touted as a chance to check on the region’s persecuted Christians, he will be facing an awkward backlash. 

    The pope of the Egyptian Coptic Church, who leads the largest Christian denomination in the Middle East, has called off a scheduled meeting with Pence in Cairo. The Chaldean Church in Iraq warned this week that the White House move on Jerusalem risks sparking regional violence and extremism and demanded that the Trump administration respect U.N. resolutions on the city.

    In the West Bank city of Bethlehem, which is about 12 percent Christian and is a scheduled stop on Pence’s tour, religious leaders turned off the city’s Christmas tree lights last week to protest the White House announcement.

    In the city, the writing is on the wall: “Mr PENCE you are not welcome,” someone has scrawled in red spray paint on the 26-foot-high concrete Israeli security barrier that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem.
    On Sunday, demonstrators staged a sit-in outside the Church of the Nativity, built on the site thought to be the birthplace of Jesus. “We will not receive Mr. Pence here,” said Saleh Bandak, a Bethlehem-born Christian politician who attended Sunday’s protest.

    While the news has been badly received among Christian communities in the Middle East, the move was in part a political gesture aimed at Christians: white evangelical voters, who backed Trump overwhelmingly in last year’s presidential election. American evangelical Christians — who believe that the right of the Jews to Jerusalem is enshrined in the Bible and that their presence there will usher in Judgment Day — were a powerful lobbying force behind the decision.

    Palestinian Christians complain that Christian evangelicals’ support of Israel doesn’t take into consideration the rights and needs of Christians in the homeland of their religion.

    “This is where it all started,” said the Rev. Mitri Raheb, a Lutheran pastor in Bethlehem. “The Bible originated in Palestine, not in the Bible Belt, but people in the Bible Belt read the Bible in a way that really makes our lives difficult.”

    The White House recognition of Jerusalem went ahead despite warnings from Pope Francis; the archbishop of Canterbury, who heads the Church of England and is a leader for Anglicans worldwide; and the heads and patriarchs of various churches in Jerusalem. Egypt’s Coptic Church said the decision had disregarded the feelings of millions of Arabs.

    “When they talk about Christian minorities in danger, they talk about Iraq and other regions where ISIS is the threat,” Raheb said, referring to Islamic State militants. “They never, ever address the issue of Palestinian Christians under Israeli occupation.”

    Raheb notes that there is no freedom of access to Jerusalem for Christian and Muslim men under 55 and women under 50 living in the West Bank, who both need to obtain a permit to visit.

    “Our mere existence as Christians here is inconvenient as it means this conflict can’t be framed as a religious war between Jews and Muslims,” said Raheb. “It’s not about religion. It’s a political conflict over land and resources.”

    The Rev. Jamal Khader, the parish priest for a Catholic congregation of 500 families in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said he fears that the White House will inflame sectarianism between Christians and Muslims and give extremists an excuse to attack Christians. In making the White House announcement in front of a Christmas tree, Trump framed it as a declaration by the Christian West aimed at the Muslim world, Khader said.

    Trump plan to move U.S. embassy to Jerusalem angers Middle East Christians
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/trumps-move-on-jerusalem-thrilled-evangelicals-but-enraged-mideast-christians/2017/12/13/90841a50-dec7-11e7-89e8-edec16379010_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_christians801pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.b6741227f73d
    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken

    Solon

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    Re: Middle East Wars
    « Reply #46 on: December 14, 2017, 09:16:21 AM »
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  • The fallout from Trump's proclamation on Jerusalem continues to damage the US position in the Middle East. The 57 members of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation met in Istanbul to coordinate a response to Trump's announcement. They unanimously voted to make East Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian State and condemned the US action in harsh terms.

    The Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, rejected any future roll for the US in negotiating peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

    This comes just after Russian president Vladimir Putin toured important Middle Eastern capitals negotiating weapons deals and reestablishing Russia's presence as an important player in the region.

    The longer this hostile response continues the more difficult it will be to clean up Trump's mess...if indeed it can be cleaned up.

    At a time when it appeared that Trump had improved relations with Sunni countries (although in questionable ways) and they were drawing closer to Israel as a check on Iran, he blows even that up on a whim.

    Quote
    he meeting condemned in a communiqué Mr. Trump’s “unilateral” and “dangerous declaration” as an effort to change the status of Jerusalem. It said that it considered the action a violation of United Nations resolutions and legally null and void, and that it would hold the United States liable for all consequences of not retracting its decision.

    It also said it took Mr. Trump’s declaration as an announcement that the United States was withdrawing from its role as a sponsor of peace for the region.

    ...Mr. Abbas on Wednesday told the gathering that Mr. Trump had committed the “greatest crime” with his declaration, and that the Palestinians would no longer accept any role of the United States in peace negotiations with Israel.

    Muslim Leaders Declare East Jerusalem the Palestinian Capital
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/13/world/middleeast/muslims-jerusalem-palestinians.html?emc=edit_mbe_20171214&nl=morning-briefing-europe&nlid=515863&te=1&_r=0
    « Last Edit: December 14, 2017, 06:11:52 PM by Solon »
    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken

    Solon

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    Re: Middle East Wars
    « Reply #47 on: December 18, 2017, 04:10:19 PM »
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  • Trump's Jerusalem decision gave the US another black eye today in the international community. The entire Security Council voted to withdraw his declaration except, of course, the US which vetoed the resolution. Fourteen other members voted for it. It is rare for the US to be so isolated, but that is becoming a common experience with Trump's decision-making. 

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    The United States was further isolated on Monday over President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital when it blocked a United Nations Security Council call for the declaration to be withdrawn.

    U.S. vetoes U.N. call for withdrawal of Trump Jerusalem decision
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-israel-un/u-s-vetoes-u-n-call-for-withdrawal-of-trump-jerusalem-decision-idUSKBN1EC25N?utm_source=34553&utm_medium=partner
    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken

    Solon

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    Re: Middle East Wars
    « Reply #48 on: December 20, 2017, 08:50:48 AM »
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  • With the failure of the Security Council to pass the resolution condemning Trump's Jerusalem statement by virtue of a US veto, the General Assembly is taking up the matter. Trump, having gutted the State Department and lacking any concept of diplomacy, is trying to bully allies and friends over the matter. Nikki Haley, our UN representative, says The Donald is "watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us. We will take note of each and every vote on this issue." This will only inspire contempt and ridicule by allies and enemies alike. If Trump intended to unite friend and foe, he has succeeded. Somehow I don't think that was his intention. Haley's disclaimer (below), while true, rings hollow to countries across the world, not just Muslim majority nations.

    "The president's announcement does not affect final status negotiations in any way, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem," she added. "The president also made sure to support the status quo of Jerusalem's holy sites."

    While there has been some violence and many protests over the president's declaration, the horrors taking place across the Middle East have made Palestinian problems and the Jerusalem issue itself of less concern than in the past. The starvation and epidemic in Yemen on top of the civil war, the devastation and massive refugee problems resulting from the civil war in Syria and the battle against the Islamic State, there and in Iraq, overwhelm almost every other concern. Egypt is a fractured society, riven by economic failure, sectarian violence, and political oppression. Saudi Arabia is asserting its power in a regional struggle with Iran that threatens the shaky balance of power in Lebanon while Iran exploits social divisions across the region with Shiite factions such as Hizbullah and Hamas.
     
    The US has always been a responsible and respectful international player working in the interest of human rights which has brought us respect and a reach that military strength alone cannot provide. This "soft power" is a function of our values and has been exercised with diplomatic skill and understanding by career diplomats of the State Department. Trump has squandered that resource and our values placing us in a new and humiliating circumstance facing international condemnation for a foolish decision by an ignorant man unfit to speak for the American people.

    Quote
    The 193-member UN General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on Thursday at the request of Arab and Muslim states, who condemned Mr Trump's decision to reverse decades of US policy earlier this month.

    The Palestinians called for the meeting after the US vetoed the Security Council resolution, which affirmed that any decisions on the status of Jerusalem were "null and void and must be rescinded", and urged all states to "refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the holy city".

    The other 14 members of the Security Council voted in favour of the draft, but Ms Haley described it as an "insult" and warned that "it won't be forgotten".

    The non-binding resolution put forward by Turkey and Yemen for the General Assembly vote mirrors the vetoed Security Council draft.

    The Palestinian permanent observer at the UN, Riyad Mansour, said he hoped there would be "overwhelming support" for the resolution.

    US 'will be taking names' during UN vote on Jerusalem
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42424666
    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken

    Solon

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    Re: Middle East Wars
    « Reply #49 on: December 20, 2017, 03:44:45 PM »
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  • Today at his Cabinet meeting Trump threatened to cut off aid to countries that voted/vote against his declaration on Jerusalem. The Security Council was unanimous, including close allies like the UK and France, in condemning his action. Only a US veto prevented the first ever vote to condemn the US.

    Now that the General Assembly is holding an emergency meeting to vote its condemnation, Trump is threatening to cut off aid to countries that vote for the resolution.

    Trump gets away with his constant lying and crazy tweets in the US, but at the international level words have consequences. His unforced error has come back to bite him and, unfortunately, the US. Threats to cut off aid will only make the situation worse. Either nations will jeer at his action and he will do nothing, thus showing impotence; or he will cripple US foreign policy by actually cutting aid and severely damaging the US ability to influence foreign governments, secure their assistance on matters of concern to the US, or act collectively to combat international crises. This is what we get for electing an ignorant buffoon as president.
     
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    Trump Threatens to End American Aid: ‘We’re Watching Those Votes’ at the U.N.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/20/world/middleeast/trump-threatens-to-end-american-aid-were-watching-those-votes-at-the-un.html?emc=edit_na_20171220&nl=breaking-news&nlid=515863&ref=cta&_r=0
    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken

    Solon

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    Re: Middle East Wars
    « Reply #50 on: December 21, 2017, 08:32:10 PM »
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  • Now that Trump has his billion dollar tax theft safely tucked away I am sure he could care less that the world has massively condemned his erratic foreign policy decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, thereby threatening Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem.

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    The UN General Assembly has decisively backed a resolution effectively calling on the US to withdraw its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

    The text says that any decisions regarding the status of the city are "null and void" and must be cancelled.

    The non-binding resolution was approved by 128 states, with 35 abstaining and nine others voting against.

    It came after US President Donald Trump threatened to cut financial aid to those who backed the resolution.

    How did UN members vote?

    The nine who voted against the resolution were the US, Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo

    Among the 35 abstaining were Canada and Mexico

    Those voting in favour included the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia and the UK) as well as key US allies in the Muslim world

    There were 21 countries who did not turn up for the vote.
    Jerusalem: UN resolution rejects Trump's declaration
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42446027
    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken

    Solon

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    Re: Middle East Wars
    « Reply #51 on: December 22, 2017, 02:01:50 PM »
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  • Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President, reiterated today his rejection of any Middle East peace plan proposed by the United States. The US has been the prime intermediary in talks between Israel and Palestinians since the Six Day War.

    The Trump administration has been working on a proposal since taking office although details have not been revealed. It is one of the priority items in the portfolio of Jared Kushner. With the US declaration on Jerusalem, Palestinians no longer view the US as an honest broker.

    Thanks to Trump's ignorance, the US has suffered another diminution of its influence in the world.

    Quote
    "The United States has proven to be a dishonest mediator in the peace process and we will no longer accept any plan from the United States," Mr Abbas told a news conference in Paris.

    While the details of the US plan are not known, it has been devised for months and there has been an expectation it will be publicly launched in early 2018.

    Jerusalem: Palestinian leader Abbas spurns US peace plan
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42453530
    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken

    Solon

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    Re: Middle East Wars
    « Reply #52 on: December 25, 2017, 08:53:19 AM »
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  • On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken

    Solon

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    Re: Middle East Wars
    « Reply #53 on: December 27, 2017, 03:25:32 PM »
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  • A CORRUPT NETANYAHU FACES INDICTMENT AND THE END OF HIS POLITICAL CAREER

    Benjamin Netanyahu is the second longest-serving Prime Minister in Israel's history after David Ben-Gurion. It seems almost certain he will not catch Ben-Gurion. Corruption charges have been plaguing him for the last year or so and the investigation appears to be almost over. His political cronies are beginning to distance themselves and his conservative coalition appears shaky at best. He has tried to change selected laws to protect himself, but public outcry bolstered by the opposition in the Knesset put a stop to that. He seems to believe the investigators will indict him and, having been interviewed SEVEN times, he clearly knows they have the goods on him.

    His long reign, having won three elections in a row, has resulted in a stale and stagnant peace process. Only Israel's military and economic superiority backed by massive US aid has allowed Israel to live in a suspended political state, neither moving forward toward peace with the Palestinians, nor gaining friends over time. Rather, the rest of the world increasingly is turning against Israel for its brutal suppression in Gaza and its refusal to negotiate in good faith with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority President and leader of Fatah. This is very much the result of an aggressive expansion policy in the occupied West Bank where Israeli settlements have pushed into Palestinian lands with confiscations and illegal seizures on a large scale.

    Obama attempted to bring both sides to the negotiating table as a true honest broker, but Netanyahu managed to derail the attempt just as he did during his first run as PM from 1996 to 1999. It's no wonder he was a Trump partisan whose ignorance was easily exploited by AIPAC and Netanyahu allies during the presidential campaign. 

    Who or what follows Netanyahu remains unclear. He was widely expected to lose the last election but squeaked by. Perhaps the change will bring fresh opportunities for peace in the longest and most protracted conflict in the Middle East. That seems unlikely at this point given the weakness of Arab governments exhausted from internal revolts and war with the Islamic State coupled with divisions among the Palestinians themselves. Hamas has dominated Gaza and Fatah has controlled the West Bank's Palestinian Authority since a brief civil war between them in 2007. That division never seems to heal despite supposed agreements, the most recent in September, 2017.

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    Netanyahu has been questioned by police seven times in the past year in two corruption cases. In one, he’s suspected to have received a steady stream of gifts, including expensive cigars and champagne, from multimillionaires in return for governmental favors. In the other, he allegedly negotiated (but never implemented) a deal to buy favorable coverage from the nation’s No. 2 newspaper in return for reducing the circulation of the No. 1 paper. The chief investigator is retiring, after many postponements, from the police — which means that his team is likely to complete the investigation within a few weeks, at which point it will issue a recommendation to prosecutors on whether there’s enough evidence to indict Netanyahu.

    ...Ex-defense minister Moshe Yaalon, once the gruff alter ego of the prime minister, did take the mic to declare, “Corruption is a bigger threat than Iran, Hezbollah or the Islamic State.” By implication, that made Netanyahu a greater threat than the dangers he constantly warns against.
    Netanyahu has reason to be nervous
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/12/27/netanyahu-has-reason-to-be-nervous/?tid=pm_opinions_pop&utm_term=.6dd7bfd83861

    The Doomed Palestinian Reconciliation Plan
    https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/09/palestine-hamas-fatah-mahmoud-abbas-gaza-west-bank/540090/
    « Last Edit: December 27, 2017, 03:52:39 PM by Solon »
    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken

    Solon

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    Re: Middle East Wars
    « Reply #54 on: December 30, 2017, 08:32:02 PM »
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  • PROTESTS IN IRAN CONTINUE FOR THIRD DAY

    What began as a small protest over falling living standards and rising food prices in the city of Mashad has spread across the nation to other major cities. Even the BBC is having some difficulty in getting a clear picture of what is happening. While the protests do not match the size of those in 2009 when election tampering clearly took place, they have rocked the government. The earliest complaints targeted the Rouhani administration and Ayatollah Khamenei, but the protests have become more strident in calling for an end to clerical rule. Crowds have been especially critical of the Iranian government's involvement in foreign military adventures. Protesters demand to know why money needed at home is being spent so lavishly in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq. Violence has grown on the third night with government and Basiji militia buildings attacked and burned in some locations. So far the government has only issued stern warnings that the crackdown will be severe, but some deaths have already been reported.

    This spontaneous uprising may eventually dissipate since it lacks an organized leadership, but it serves as a warning that the Iranian people are not prepared to tolerate an activist foreign policy while their own well being suffers a severe decline. These events could have a profound effect on the Middle East region. The costs of recovery in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen will be astronomical and Iran will face hostile scrutiny by its people if it seeks to buy more influence in these countries.

    Iraq, despite US efforts, is largely an Iranian client state that claims it will cost $100 billion to repair the damage suffered in the war on the Islamic State. The authorities in Mosul said it would cost that much alone to rebuild the city. Trump has already stated that the US will not help. Iran is the logical source of funds, but the protests suggest that may not be feasible. Syria will cost even more and no one can see an end to the war in Yemen. All of these challenges place a great deal of pressure on the Iranian government. There is potential for a major change in the political dynamics of the Middle East if Iran is forced to back down from its concerted push to dominate a large region from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.   




    Iran protests: Violence on third day of demonstrations
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42524610
     
    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken

    Solon

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    Re: Middle East Wars
    « Reply #55 on: December 31, 2017, 12:37:50 PM »
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  • Axios provides an update on Day 4 of the Iranian protests.

    Quote
    As pro-reform protests grew to tens of thousands and spread across Iran, the repressive, authoritarian government is warning of an "iron fist" response, and threatened access to social media:

        Pavel Durov, the CEO of Telegram, a popular messaging app, tweeted: "Iranian authorities are blocking access to Telegram for the majority of Iranians after our public refusal to
        shut down ... peacefully protesting channels."
        The government said it also would temporarily restrict access Instagram. (Reuters)
        Interior Minister Rahmani Fazli warned that what he called the misuse of social networks was "causing violence and fear," and that "such behavior will be smashed." (CNN)
        Two demonstrators have been killed, and dozens arrested. (AFP)
        The protests "began in the north-east as an outcry against economic hardship and rising prices, but turned political in many places, with slogans chanted against Supreme Leader

    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Iran's interventionist foreign policy in the region." (BBC)

    Why it matters, via CNN: "The largest public display of discontent in Iran since the 2009 Green Movement has brought ... a scene ... unfathomable a decade ago — protesters challenging the rule of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

        Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, and other experts say endemic economic mismanagement and corruption have left Iranians disenchanted.

    The U.S.-backed nuclear deal "is overwhelmingly supported by the Iranian public, but there was an expectation that much more economic development would come out of it."

    https://www.axios.com/trump-tweets-support-for-iran-protestors-the-world-is-watching-2521229471.html

    These protests will not bring down a regime with the firepower and resources of the Basiji militia and the Republican Guard. The situation would resemble Syria before it would copy Egypt (civil war vs the resignation of the dictator and collapse of the regime). Still, the Iranian clerical council is flexible and may be willing to give on some of the major demands once the protests are quelled or fade away.
    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken

    Solon

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    Re: Middle East Wars
    « Reply #56 on: January 01, 2018, 08:42:40 AM »
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  • Ten Dead As Iranian Protests Grow More Violent

    The Revolutionary Guard has not yet taken to the streets to quell the continuing protests, but that would signal serious concern by Iran's clerical leadership that the unrest has reached a dangerous level. The IRGC issued a statement that protesters would face an "iron fist" if the unrest continued.

    Overnight at least 10 protesters were killed signalling an uptick in violence. News reports are spotty because some social media sites are being restricted by the Iranian government to interfere with planning by anti-government demonstrators.

    The protests started and are fueled by economic suffering. It is estimated that many Iranians have suffered a 15% decline in the standard of living over the last ten years. The nuclear deal was expected to result in improved economic conditions, but the results have been disappointing. The protesters blame corruption by government officials and foreign interventions for their continuing economic misery. The economy is growing at 4% but Inflation is running at 9% which leaves most Iranians continuing to lose ground. Like most oil-rich countries, the government controls the economy--an estimated 80% in Iran. Consequently, economic discontent is difficult to separate from political discontent.

    The irony of the current protests is that they appear to have been instigated as a right-wing attack on Rouhani, a moderate who is seen as a challenge to the rule of the Ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guard. The hard-liners quickly lost control of the situation and now the government is the target of hate slogans, flag burning, and demands for the end of clerical rule. 

    Potential leaders of a revolutionary movement have been purged long ago. The clerical council exercises a tight control over who is eligible to run for office. Mr. Rouhani is himself a cleric and, although considered a moderate, far from the radical reformer sought by the protesters.

    Iranians are exceptionally well-educated by Middle Eastern standards and are kept informed through social media about conditions in the rest of the world.

    Quote
    There is widespread and seething discontent in Iran where repression is pervasive and economic hardship is getting worse - one BBC Persian investigation has found that on average Iranians have become 15% poorer in the past 10 years.

    Protests have remained confined to relatively small pockets of mostly young male demonstrators who are demanding the overthrow of the clerical regime.

    They have spread to small towns throughout the country and have the potential to grow in size.

    ...State TV said armed protesters had tried to take over some police stations and military bases, but faced serious resistance from security forces.

    Iran unrest: 'Ten dead' in further protests overnight
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42532784

    Are Iran’s protests Economic or Political?
    https://www.juancole.com/2018/01/protests-economic-political.html
    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken

    Solon

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    Re: Middle East Wars
    « Reply #57 on: January 11, 2018, 10:49:45 AM »
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  • Whatever the rhetoric about the US withdrawing from the world--and that may be true diplomatically--the military reality is very different as the map below demonstrates.

    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken

    Solon

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    Re: Middle East Wars
    « Reply #58 on: January 15, 2018, 03:17:22 PM »
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  • The US and The Kurds In Syria Face A Growing Conflict With Turkey

    After the US appeared to abandoned the Kurds in Iraq to their fate, the reverse appears to be true in Syria. There is a certain conundrum to the contrary actions that bears a brief exploration.

    In Iraq, the Shiite-dominated government of al Abadi sought US assistance against the Islamic State, but that did not alter its strong pro-Iranian sympathies. After the defeat of the Islamic State, Shiite militias largely funded and trained by Iran were major players in rolling up Kurdish occupation of Kirkuk province and taking control of much of the Syrian border. While it is true that the US joined all of the neighboring countries in opposing the KRG vote for independence, acceptance of the collapse of the once powerful regional government was somewhat surprising in view of its long and successful collaboration with the US against Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda in Iraq, and the Islamic State.

    In Syria it was assumed that the US had completely acquiesced in Russian and Iranian hegemony as a gradual reunification took place under the brutal al Assad regime.  Suddenly, that perspective has changed dramatically. On Saturday, the US announced that it would create a border force  from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) composed of Sunni and Kurdish elements to prevent the remaining Islamic State militants from escaping Syria or reconstituting its forces. Russia, Iran and al Assad were obviously taken by surprise that the US was not winding down its commitments in Syria. More importantly, US NATO partner and ally, Turkey, was outraged that an avowed enemy, the Kurdish Protective Force (YPG)--considered an affiliate of the PKK--would be strengthened along its border with US assistance. The irony that the US would coddle an Iranian-backed regime, but alienate a US NATO ally is not lost on foreign policy experts. Yet, that is where the logic of the war on ISIS has led US policy, at least for the Trump administration.

    The antagonism between the US and Turkey has been growing for some time. It originated during the Obama administration when the democratically-elected Erdogan began to exhibit dictatorial pretensions. It was his initiative that restarted the war with the Kurds. Until his plan to alter the constitution to enhance his power and the termination of peace negotiations and the cease fire with the Kurds of the PKK, he was a close friend and ally of the US. The changing relationship took a major turn for the worse as a result of the failed coup attempt that Erdogan blamed on a former ally who lives in Pennsylvania, imam Fethullah Gulen. As a former ally of Erdogan, he created a far-reaching movement that has deep roots in Turkish society. Erdogan blamed the US for collusion with Gulen in the coup attempt and has grown more hostile as a result of the US refusal to extradite him. Erdogan views the Kurdish-dominated border force as yet another provocation. 

    The US action will get mixed reviews by American foreign policy experts. Those who want the US to remain a major player in the Middle East will be very pleased with this action. Ironically, the policy contradicts much of Trump's promises on the campaign trail to curtail US involvement in foreign military adventures. The claim that this will deter ISIS is only part of the equation, although that may be enough to satisfy Trump's political base.

    My own view is that the US has a strategic interest in the Middle East. This is a way of keeping Iran and Russia on the backfoot, while preserving pressure on Turkey, al Assad, and Iraq. Erdogan has been moving closer to Russia and Iran, while oscillating between criticism and agreement with them. If the US abandoned Syria altogether, there would be nothing restraining him from a full-scale shift. The US holds the whip-hand in dealing with the Syrian Kurds and can deter them from attacking Turkey. Erdogan will need to add that to his calculations despite his bluster. Russia and Iran have been attempting to create a settlement in Syria without involving the US. That is no longer possible. Al Assad's complete victory in the civil war is now in doubt. I view this decision, if fully implemented, to be as significant as the Russian intervention in the Syrian conflict.

    Quote
    News of the coalition's plan to work with the SDF to train a new Syrian Border Security Force (BSF) was first reported on Saturday by The Defense Post, which quoted a spokesman as saying that 230 individuals were currently participating in the "inaugural class".

    The coalition said on Monday that its goal was to create a force with about 30,000 personnel "over the next several years". About half will be Kurdish and Arab SDF fighters and the other half new recruits.

    The BSF will be tasked with securing the long sections of Syria's northern border with Turkey and eastern border with Iraq that are under SDF control, as well as parts of the Euphrates river valley, which effectively serves as the dividing line between the SDF and Syrian pro-government forces.

    "A strong border security force will prohibit Daesh's freedom of movement and deny the transportation of illicit materials," the coalition said, using a different term for IS. "This will enable the Syrian people to establish effective local, representative governance and reclaim their land."

    ...Turkey's president vowed to "suffocate" efforts to begin training members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and create what he called a "terror army".

    ...Syria's government decried the "blatant attack" on its sovereignty, and Russia warned it could lead to partition.
    Syria war: Turkey denounces US 'terror army' plan for border
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42687958


    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken

    Solon

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    Re: Middle East Wars
    « Reply #59 on: January 17, 2018, 03:15:14 PM »
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  • Did US Give Turkey A Green Light To Attack Allied Syrian Kurds?

    Turkey has massed soldiers on the border with Syria and is threatening to wipe out Kurds in Afrin and Manbij according to a speech by Erdogan on Monday. If you look at the map in the previous post you can see that Afrin is an isolated enclave at the western corner of the border and contains about 1/4 of the Kurds in Syria. The US announced at a NATO meeting yesterday that the enclave lies outside of the anti-ISIL protective region. How the US expects to work with Kurds in the eastern region while allowing their families to be massacred in Afrin is a mystery. Of course, the US commander called on both sides to exercise moderation. As everyone knows who has followed this war from even the most remote location, moderation died years ago. It's guerre a outrance and the savagery will not abate with the retreat of the Islamic State.

    Erdogan is determined to use the Kurds as an enemy of the state to unify his fractious country. The purges, executions, and reorganizations suffered by civil society and the military since the failed coup have reinforced the need to find a unifying mission. Attacking the Kurds has always served that purpose. In the past it has been focused on Kurds in Turkey and inside the Iraqi border. The rise of the YPG in the Syrian civil war and the anti-ISIL campaign have offered another target. Erdogan has consistently maintained that the Kurdish PKK, the principal Kurdish resistance organization in Turkey, is allied with the YPG in Syria,

    Juan Cole writes that the US purpose in creating the protective force is to interdict Iranian transport of weapons and material through Iraq into Syria and Lebanon, a key goal of US allies Saudi Arabia and Israel. That doesn't preclude its mission to prevent the return of ISIL.

    The US declaration is an open invitation to the Turks reminiscent of a similar statement before the outbreak of the Korean War. Then, the US announced a zone of protection that excluded South Korea. That was a mistake that led North Korea to invade the South. It is unlikely the US has made a similar error. One can only hope that behind the scenes the US and Turkey can reach an accommodation that allows Erdogan to preserve his image without destroying the Kurds of Afrin and part of that arrangement is the US declaration. Otherwise we will be complicit in a horrific event of ethnic cleansing against our loyal Kurdish allies.

    As US throws Kurds under the Bus, Is Turkey preparing to invade Syria?
    https://www.juancole.com/2018/01/throws-turkey-preparing.html
    On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.
    ...H. L. Mencken