Showing posts with label Iran. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iran. Show all posts

February 19, 2014

What President Obama should tell the Saudi rulers?

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014   No comments

President Obama
On the same day when Saudi Arabia issued a royal decree criminalizing Saudi citizens’ participation in the war in Syria (or joining Jihadi groups), the White House confirmed that President Obama will be visiting the Kingdom in March. It seems a reasonable assumption that during this v­isit, Obama will attempt to synchronize U.S. and Saudi diplomacy over two key issues: the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1, and the crisis in Syria. 

The agenda of the meeting in Riyadh could in fact be reduced to a single conversation about Iran, since Iran is also a key ally of the Syrian government. Rather than focusing on these issues, however, the President should focus on convincing the Saudi rulers to abandon their reliance on violent sectarian warriors to exert influence in the region and around the world, especially their support of religious zealots attempting to overthrow governments the Saudis don’t like. 

February 15, 2014

Breaking the Cycle: Could Iranian and U.S. officials overcome their mutual distrust?

    Saturday, February 15, 2014   No comments

Breaking the Cycle: Could Iranian and U.S. officials overcome their mutual distrust?

Rafsanjani and Khatami
After inking an interim agreement at the end of 2013, Iran and the P5+1 must now finalize a final nuclear agreement within six months. If they fail, U.S. and Iran will relive the cycle of mutual hostility in which the two countries have been entangled for more than three decades. Both parties seem eager to break that vicious cycle this time around. Iran has its own reasons: no actual interest in building nuclear weapons and strong interest in finding new markets and opportunities for its emerging economy. Western powers claim that the devastating effects of the harsh economic sanctions and the election of moderate Iranian president, Hasan Rouhani, are the main reasons for optimism. Let’s examine both reasons in the context of historical facts.

February 1, 2014

Iran Nuclear Deal: What’s at stake?

    Saturday, February 01, 2014   No comments
by Jacob Havel
As Iran and the United States move closer to the end of a six month agreement, uncertainty remains concerning possible structures of a long term deal. The current agreement, under which Iran has ceased much of its enrichment activity and the U.S. has alleviated a small number of economic sanctions, was initially received as a hopeful demonstration of cooperation and good faith. However, with the looming possibility of new sanctions from the U.S. legislature as well as conservative forces in Iran such as Ayatollah Khamenei restating a firm commitment to nuclear freedom, the deal now appears to be little more than a freeze.  Both sides appear to be using the six month time period to assess which chips they will throw into the pot when talks resume.

November 4, 2013

Why are the rulers of Saudi Arabia losing their cool?

    Monday, November 04, 2013   No comments

The Umayyad Syndrome

For more than seventy years, Saudi Arabia has cultivated the image of a state run by level-headed, moderate, wise, deliberate, and cool-headed leaders. Publicly, its diplomats gave the impression that the Kingdom would chose dialogue over confrontation, moderation over extremism, and reconciliation over antagonism. Wikileaks unveiled the true nature of the regime when it revealed that the rulers of Saudi Arabia were in fact leading two lives: one public and another private.

October 5, 2013

Rouhani and Obama: Diplomacy Amidst Conflict

    Saturday, October 05, 2013   No comments
by Jacob S. Havel
Khamenei and Rouhani
The recent phone call between President Barack Obama and President Hassan Rouhani has historical implications. It was the first direct talk between presidents of the U.S. and Iran in thirty years. Nonetheless, the phone call, which lasted a brief fifteen minutes, represents the start of new diplomatic relations between the two nations. Ties had been weak and rife with contempt during the tenure of the former Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a far right conservative. However, in a political system that has demonstrated its ability to elect across the Iranian political spectrum, Rouhani’s moderate stances have lent him to propose openness to dealings with the West on the issue of uranium enrichment and nuclear energy.

August 2, 2013

A Practical and Timely Decision of US-Iran Relations

    Friday, August 02, 2013   No comments
by Henelito A. Sevilla, Jr.*

In a positive gesture to the recent Iranian presidential election that led to the victory of its moderate president, Hassan Rowhani, more than 130 members of the US Congress and 29 other experts from various sectors in America have called on President Obama to give a fresh start of diplomatic engagement with Iran. This is in spite of a new warning from Senator Lidnsey Graham’s that he will file a resolution authorizing military to prevent Iran from developing nuclear program once no changes will occur in that country in October or November this year. Graham’s statement was heavily criticized by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) as “reckless and seriously undermines U.S. and international efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.”

The dynamism of Iran-US diplomatic tag-of-war revolves around certain claim and counter-claim that Iran has continued to enhance nuclear weapon’s capability and therefore posed threats to the security of the Middle East region and the international community while the United States has been blamed by the Iranian previous administrations as the source of trouble and insecurity of the Middle East region.

July 15, 2013

International leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood meet in Turkey to strategize for the crisis in Egypt and to plan for the future

    Monday, July 15, 2013   No comments

Middle East Politics Reshuffle: The Future of Islam in the public sphere

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Ghannouchi to take a major role in Muslim Brotherhood International
The overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s government in Egypt on July 3rd, 2013 forced the group’s international leaders to rethink the movements options. This weekend, they gathered in Turkey. The meetings were closed to the public. The limited information that leaked out suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood International is not about to change its overall strategy or replace its aging leaders. Instead, they embraced the old guard again, in a sign that they are not about to look to the youth to transition to the new century. They elected Rached Ghannouchi, who presided over the Tunisian Islamist movement for over 32 years, to lead the political bureau. Looking forward, the movement’s leaders seem interested in limiting the damage of their fall in Egypt, not in renewing its thinking. There is no indication that they are looking at the Arab Spring in its proper context.

July 4, 2013

Iran New President: Breaking Hard diplomatic Moves of the Past

    Thursday, July 04, 2013   No comments
by Henelito A. Sevilla, Jr.*

Recent development in Iranian presidential election demonstrate that socio-economic forces in the country were invisibly making serious efforts to make sure that a newly- elected president will address the pressing economic hardship being experienced by Iranian people.

Such an economic hardship was a result of both Iranian previous government misguided economic policy and Western economic sanctions which targeted the Iranian economy. Therefore, the new administration in Iran must not only revisit previous economic policy and institute reform in its economy but also and most importantly should use a more moderate language in its foreign policy.

June 25, 2013

Election of new Iranian President brings new opportunities

    Tuesday, June 25, 2013   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*
 If stability in the Middle East is important for the U.S. national security, and if Iran is a major force in the region, it follows that the U.S. administration ought to diplomatically engage Iran to stabilize the region and decrease the tension that threatens world peace and security. On June 15, a new Iranian president, was elected. Reacting to this news, the White House released a statement saying in part that, “[y]esterday’s election took place against the backdrop of a lack of transparency, censorship of the media, Internet, and text messages, and an intimidating security environment that limited freedom of expression and assembly.  However, despite these government obstacles and limitations, the Iranian people were determined to act to shape their future.” 

May 3, 2013

Delimiting a New World Order: Religion, Globalism, and the Syrian Crisis

    Friday, May 03, 2013   No comments

Sovereignty, Legitimacy and the Responsibility to Protect: 
Who is responsible and who is legitimate in Syria?

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Syria and the New Middle East
Western leaders’ conflicting statements underscore the unease about change in the Arab world. Unless one believes that diplomats speak unscripted, an earlier statement by U.S. secretary of State, John Kerry becomes extremely significant. He contended that the ultimate goal is to “see Assad and the Syrian opposition sitting at the same table to establish a transitional government as laid out in the Geneva Accords.” Perhaps, partly because of such conflicted statements that leaders from UAE, Qatar, Jordan, and Turkey have scheduled one-on-one meetings with President Obama. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is talking about Syria to key world leaders, including the presidents of France, Egypt, Iran, and BRICS countries. Most observers are predicting that the expected Obama-Putin meetings over summer will culminate in a unified stance on Syria. If that is the expectation, it might be too late for world leaders to predetermine the outcome of the Syrian crisis by September. The dynamics on the ground and the entrenched disparate interests of regional and global powers will make it extremely difficult to press the reset button. A simple review of the events of the last 60 days will show the complexity and centrality of the Syrian crisis. Simply put, the management of the war in Syria is no longer in the hands of the Syrians. It is now a global affair.

March 5, 2013

The Iranian key to the Syrian crisis

    Tuesday, March 05, 2013   No comments

by Heiko Wimmen

The deep implications of Iran's strategic and ideological investment in the Assad regime forces international efforts for a 'grand bargain' to face the stark and unpalatable reality of political compromise in Syria.

As the Syrian crisis continues its descent into a protracted civil war, a ‘political solution’ remains the professed preference of all actors, including the warring parties, if for often transparently tactical motivations. One of the major obstacles to acting on this ostensible consensus is the often underrated, or at least under reported fact that, unlike a military solution, a political process would require both parties to the conflict as well as their regional and international supporters and patrons to give up some of their declared and undeclared objectives. It means swallowing concessions that will be hard to stomach, and even harder to sell to the hardliners in each camp.

Given the motley multitude of groups passing for the Syrian Opposition, as well as the divergent interests of its regional and international sponsors, it remains something of a puzzle just what kind of compromise may fly without being shot down at short notice, be it by open veto or by tacitly boosting militant actors on the ground, by one or some of the actors in Washington, Istanbul, Riyadh, Doha and Cairo, currently home to the headquarters of the Syrian National Coalition. Conversely, for the Syrian regime, the matter is clear: the key is in Tehran.

February 28, 2013

Will the Arab Spring Spread to Iran?

    Thursday, February 28, 2013   No comments

 by Jacob Havel

The advent of the so called “Arab Spring” in the Middle East and North Africa has come about with incredible velocity and intensity. The world has seen dictators, who had been in power for decades, fall in the blink of an eye in both Tunisia and Egypt.  Consequently, the possibility of revolution in the region has become a topic of discussion. Vital factors that contribute to the onset of these revolutions are widespread and unique to each country, Several factors, however, including a frustrated youth, economic hardship, poverty, and governmental structure, including Western relations, can be seen as a common thread in both Egypt and Tunisia. Does a regional power such as Iran possess these factors in the same way? The possibility of revolution in Iran can be based on a breakdown of these so called “revolutionary ingredients” as they were present in Egypt and Tunisia and how they compare to the Iranian situation.

It is important to explain why the youth, economic hardship, and governmental makeup are the most important factors in these revolutions. The youth are a driving force simply because of the fact that they are young. They are not as jaded to the issues of their country as older generations, many of whom have endured the regimes for their entire lives. Youth in today’s world are connected, through technology, with the rest of the planet, which recognizes them as a medium to move global information and support into these countries. The youth, however, are not only active, they are frustrated. The causes of these frustrations are largely related to economic hardship in the countries. Economic disparity and poverty strip people of their dignity, which is a vital ingredient if they are to overcome the fear of their current regimes. Finally, the structure of the regimes themselves is important. As it will be discussed later, the leaders in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt have long held power. They act as a clear enemy and allow the efforts of the youth and all who feel oppressed to focus their efforts on the simple act of ousting these governments. These three factors are the most basic pieces and also the most important to the occurrence of the modern day revolutions.

With the emerging governments in Tunisia and Egypt and the distraction of bureaucracy, it is easy to forget how these revolutions began. It was primarily through the action of the frustrated youth.

February 6, 2013

Leaders of the Islamic world are finally talking about minority rights and healthy dissent, kinda!

    Wednesday, February 06, 2013   No comments
 by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Representatives of 57 states, members of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), convened for their regular summit in Cairo this week. Among the notable attendees is the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The latter received a red-carpet welcome as Egypt's new president, Mohammed Morsi, greeted him on the tarmac at Cairo International Airport. The event is historical since this is the first visit by an Iranian president to Egypt since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

February 1, 2013

Revolutions and rebellions and Syria's paths to war and peace

    Friday, February 01, 2013   No comments
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Another massacre in Syria: click  on image to view video

In less than a month, peaceful Tunisian and Egyptian protesters ousted two of the most authoritarian rulers of the Arab world. The human and economic costs: a total of about 1100 people dead (300 in Tunisia and 800 in Egypt) and some decline in economic growth. These were the dignity revolutions. In contrast, the Syrian peaceful uprising quickly turning into armed rebellion is now 22 months old with over 60,000 people (civilians, rebels, security and military officers, women and children) dead, more than 4,000,000 persons displaced from their homes, and destruction estimated at $70 billion. This is now, without doubt, an ideological/sectarian civil war. Short of a genocidal outcome, the only path to peace is that which relies on reconciliation and dialogue. There can be no preconditions because all sides have blood on their hands at this point. This reality, and the staggering numbers cataloging death and destruction might, forces all sides to reassess their previously held positions. Ideologues who wanted to bend the path of a legitimate peaceful revolution to meet their narrow political and sectarian ends can no longer ignore this reality and the state of the country. The fast emerging developments support these hypotheses.

Earlier this week, the president of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (the National Coalition), Mouaz al-Khatib, announced that he is ready to talk directly with representatives of the Syrian regime. He insisted however, that the regime releases 160,000 detainees and renew or extend expired passports for Syrians living outside the country. Meeting on Wednesday in Cairo, some members of the National Coalition slammed al-Khatib, accusing him of straying from the Doha agreement, a document on the basis of which the National Coalition was formed.

In the light of the disagreements, one must ask: why did al-Khatib offer to hold direct talks with representatives of the regime? For answers, we must look at the recent events related to the Syrian crisis. I will highlight some of these events that could reconstitute the National Coalition or force the resignation of its current president.

January 27, 2013

Another international conference on Syria and the crisis goes on

    Sunday, January 27, 2013   No comments
Nearly 300 opposition leaders from inside and outside Syria will be attending the Syrian Conference for Democratic and Civilian State to be held Monday and Tuesday, 28th and 29th January, 2013 in the Starling Hotel Geneva. Organizers of the conference complained that many activists and opposition leaders from inside Syria were denied visas. They accused France of working to undermine the efforts of many opposition groups who are not represented in the so-called Syrian Coalition, which France recognized as the “sole and legitimate representative of the Syrian people.”

According to organizers, the “Conference aims to promote and encourage a real dialogue between the Syrian democratic opposition structures in an open dialogue about the violence consequences, the sectarian risks and the future of the democratic project. It will encourage cooperation, coordination and synergies between political parties, civil society and social movement inside Syria, and advance work towards a realistic transitional program, for a civil and democratic State in Syria.”

January 5, 2013

News Analysis: A political solution of the Syrian crisis might be in the making

    Saturday, January 05, 2013   No comments

Since the last disappointing meeting of the so-called Friends of Syria in Morocco, which was not attended by Secretary Clinton, diplomats have been active trying to find common ground for solving the Syrian crisis. Most notably, there has been a change of tone in the statements by the supporters of the opposition forces represented in the National Coalition, also known as the Doha group.

On Sunday, the Saudi foreign minister agreed with his Egyptian counterpart that a “peaceful” transition in Syria is needed to end the bloodshed. Both ministers agreed that the inclusion or exclusion of Assad in any political solution ought to be left to the Syrian people.

Last month, Turkey softened its criticism of Assad and proposed that Assad remains in power for three months, before resigning and be replaced by a government led by a figure from the National Coalition. Reacting to the proposal, Russia announced that it will never support a proposal that would oust Assad from power. Russian diplomats emphasized that Assad’s political future can only be determined by the Syrian people. 

Assad, too, refused to meet with the UN envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, until the latter clarified what he meant by a “transitional government.” He insisted that the sovereignty of the state with all its current institutions, including the military and security forces, is not up for negotiations.  Assad then sent his deputy foreign minister to Russia and Iran to emphasize this point.

In the light of the stalemate on the military front and the unwavering support of Assad from Russia and China in the UN, some countries started to take Brahimi’s warnings seriously. The sponsors of the Doha opposition groups are now looking for other options.

Turkey for instance, is sending a senior diplomat, Feridun Sinirlioğlu, to Moscow to hold talks with Russian officials. Turkish officials hinted that the diplomat will carry “new proposals for solving the Syrian crisis.” Sinirlioğlu, the Foreign Ministry undersecretary, will visit the Kremlin, where he will meet with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

This development comes after the Turkish president Abdullah Gül acknowledged that sidestepping Russia was a mistake and that Russia and Iran must be included in formulating a solution for the Syrian crisis. Speaking to journalists recently, Gül declared:

"From the very onset of the crisis, we have always opted for a controlled and orderly change in Syria. As a result of the escalation of events, we made it clear to everyone that Turkey, in unity with the free world, will support the Syrian people in their demands. But from the very beginning, I have argued that both Russia and Iran should be invited to engage with the transition in Syria to prevent further bloodshed. I believe that Russia in particular should be treated properly."

Iran, too, is taking a more active role. Today, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mikdad arrived in Tehran to hold talks with Iranian officials. Mikdad is scheduled to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

Salehi, who is on his way to tour Africa, will make a stop in Egypt before returning home. He is scheduled to meet Egyptian officials including the president and the foreign minister as well as Brahimi.

All these developments suggest that the world community is now determined to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis before the second anniversary of the Syrian uprising that turned violent three months later. This is a crucial year since Assad’s term in office will end up in 2014. If no solution is found now, the country may continue to live in a perpetual state of civil war.

Tomorrow, Assad will deliver a speech. He might provide a clear vision for the way forward. All indications show that he is open to the formation of a transitional government that would include figures from the internal and external oppositions, though he is opposed to having members of the Muslim Brotherhood included. Given the mishap by the president of the National Coalition, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, who demanded an apology from Russia, it is more likely that Haytham Manna will play a big role in any transitional government.

The complexity of the Syrian problem and the miscalculations by regional and international players will cause transition to peace to be slow. Nonetheless, an end to the cycle of violence will not be possible without an agreement between the major regional and world powers. Specifically, the United States, Russia, Iran, and Turkey must find common ground. The other countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, will eventually follow the lead of the U.S. But the U.S. is unlikely to make a commitment before the confirmation of a new secretary of state.

 If John Kerry is confirmed, and there is no reason to believe he won’t be, he is likely to change the direction of U.S. foreign policy on Syria. He met with Assad at least five times in the two years before the start of the protests in Syria. He understands Assad better than any other U.S. diplomat and his foreign affairs expertise derived from chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee could serve him well.


December 4, 2012

News analysis: The Arab Spring, contradictions, and state sovereignty

    Tuesday, December 04, 2012   No comments

Late last month, the leader of Ennahdha movement of Tunisia, Rached Ghannouchi started a world tour. He delivered several lectures and was interviewed by western media. In one of these interviews, he declared  that "the Arab world is going through a transition phase which needs coalitions to govern, which brings together Islamist and secular trends… but… There's a true way that Islam represents the common ground for everyone ... Eventually Islam becomes a reference point for everyone," he said. He went on to say that he expects “the victory of the Syrian revolution, reforms in more than one Arab country, particularly in the Gulf region." When Reuters’ journalists pressed him for more specifics, he cited Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.

These statements angered the Gulf Region leaders. On December 4, the secretary general of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of The Gulf (GCC) issued a terse rebuke of Ghannouchi accusing him of “unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of members’ states of the GCC.”  Ghannounchi’s office issued a statement claiming that the Islamist’s comments were taken out of context and that Ghannounchi did not mean to interfere.

At the same time this was going on, the Saudi foreign minister held another news conference about Syria accusing the world of indifference towards the Syrian people's plight and insisting that his country will continue to support the opposition until Assad and his regime are ousted from power. Saudi Arabia has insisted on many occasions that it will do whatever is necessary, including supplying opposition groups with arms, to overthrow Assad.

These contradictions and double standard (Gulf states interfering but not allowing others to do the same) are some of the byproducts of the Arab Awakening which exposed the weakness and fears of Arab rulers. It also exposes the weakness of the emerging regimes of the changed countries like Tunisia. On the one hand, Tunisia finds itself morally inclined to support popular uprisings that are demanding change. On the other hand, Ennahdha leaders are eager to keep good relations with dictatorial rulers in the Gulf region to secure much needed investments to rebuild ailing economies. In the case of Tunisia, the contradiction is even more pronounced given the fact that Saudi Arabia offered refuge to the former Tunisian dictator, Zine Elabidine Ben Ali, and continues to refuse to hand him over despite the fact that he was charged and convicted of several crimes.


November 25, 2012

Analysis: Recognizing the new Syrian National Coalition alone will not end the war in Syria

    Sunday, November 25, 2012   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Those who doubt Lakhdar Brahimi’s assessment of the crisis in Syria ought to rethink their position. His ostensibly naïve initiative for a ceasefire over the Eid holidays might have been a brilliant maneuver that ended the existence of the Syrian National Council, the previously prominent face of the Syrian opposition. Before proposing an ambitious plan of six or one hundred points like his predecessor, Brahimi wanted to make sure that there are reliable representatives of both sides who can exert influence and control over their subordinates. After visiting Russia and China, he proposed, from Tehran, that both the opposition forces and the government stop fighting for four days.

Apparently, he wanted to test the influence of the Syrian regime backers and the political leaders of the opposition (Syrian National Council, or SNC) who accepted the ceasefire. Even the military leaders of the FSA accepted the Eid ceasefire. He was aware that for the ceasefire to hold, the opposition groups must stop fighting. It is one thing to claim control over armed groups by simply supporting their actions, but it is a different level of credible control to actually order these groups to stop fighting and see compliance on the ground. Brahimi wanted actual proof of command and control over armed groups in the form of four days of quiet.

The result was embarrassing for the so-called opposition leaders. During the four-day holidays, more car bombs exploded in crowded cities and more attacks on military checkpoints. Worse, some of the FSA groups used the quiet time to attack Kurdish neighborhoods in Aleppo and other Kurdish majority areas to bring more territory under their control. Deadly fights erupted between FSA fighters and Kurdish neighborhood protection militias, forcing the FSA groups to retreat.

November 23, 2012

Top News Story: Turkey’s troubles are directly linked to the trouble of its neighbors

    Friday, November 23, 2012   No comments
Kurdish Fighters

Turkey found a formula for success, and then it lost it. When the Justice and Development Party took power in 2001, they promised economic growth at home founded on zero problems abroad. They were right in linking peace and stability in the region to economic development. That formula worked and it nearly brought them to ending the crisis with the Kurdish people.

All that promise of economic development and peace are now threatened. They are threatened because Turkey abandoned that formula and embraced war making instead of building peace. It is becoming clear that Turkey cannot go on labeling its Kurdish subjects terrorists and killing them while criticizing its neighbors for fighting what they call terrorists. This week, the contradiction was apparent.

Violence in the Turkish eastern region is on the rise. In addition to soldiers and Kurdish fighters clashes, on Thursday, a group (believed to be associated with Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)), broke into a school in the eastern province of Van and set fire to classrooms.

On the legal front, a Turkish court sentenced three members of the PKK to life in prison for their involvement in a 2007 attack on a military outpost in Dağlıca, Hakkari province.

On same day, speaking to journalists aboard his plane as he was returning from a visit to Pakistan, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that his government might take steps to make it possible for “terrorist” Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members to take shelter in other countries on condition that they lay down their weapons. He stressed that “as long as weapons remain in the hands of the terrorists, they may be shot at… The moment the terrorists lay down weapons… [they] go to other countries.”

Kurdish Population Areas
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Syrian opposition fighters associated with the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood attacked the Syrian Kurdish city of Raas Al-Ayn. When Kurdish Neighborhood Protection committees resisted, Turkey inserted its tanks and Special Forces to support fighters from Jabhat Alnusrah and Ghurabaa Alshaam. In response, Kurdish fighters from inside Turkey sent fighters to help their Kurdish brethren on the Syrian side.

In Iraq, the Iraqi army is threatening Kurdish militia and putting the Kurdish regional government under pressure for entering into oil export deals with Turkey. The Iraqi central government insists that border control and national resources management such as oil expert, fall under the jurisdiction of the central government alone, not the regional ones. Turkey is siding with the Kurdish regional government and that is adding fuel to sectarian tension in the region.

The deployment of Patriot missile systems along the Turkish-Syrian border brought Russian condemnation and military reaction. It was reported Friday that Russia is sending several battle ships to the Mediterranean Sea. All these developments are adding to tension in the region and creating a heavy social and economic cost to Turkey and its neighbors. In the end, the Syrian conflict and Turkey losing sight of the foundation for success might enable the Kurdish people to gain some of the rights.


October 24, 2012

U.S. Middle East foreign policy needs upgrade

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012   No comments
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Map: Syria and Iran
The third presidential debate in the United States’ race focused on foreign policy. In reality, there was no real debate. It was an argument between two candidates about which one of them would apply policies that are already in place better than the other. Granted that a sitting president would not want to challenge his own policy, it was Mitt Romney’s responsibility to offer a fresh paradigm.

However, Governor Romney was clearly out of his comfort zone when talking about foreign policy. Considering that two-thirds of the entire debate was devoted to the Middle East and the Islamic world, I expected an exciting and informative debate. However, I lost hope in hearing a substantive discussion of the Middle East policy when I heard Governor Romney say that, “Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the sea.” Even after years of teaching courses about the Middle East to young men and women who had just graduated high school, I cannot recall seeing so many errors in so short of a statement.

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