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After the recent Israeli attacks against Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, the Middle East has found itself in the midst of undeclared war. Almost everyone in Lebanon appears to agree. “This time Israel went too far. In just two days, it bombed three countries,” I am told by a local UN staffer based in Beirut. The... Read More
marandi
The Saker: It is often said that there is an “axis of resistance” which comprises Syrian, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia and China. Sometimes, Venezuela, Cuba or the DPRK are added to this list. Do you believe that there is such an “axis of resistance” and, if yes, how would you characterize the nature of this informal... Read More
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Exploring Geopolitical Trends in the Region
The Western public has been so poorly served, in recent years, by its supposed world-class media organisations that any semblance of a coherent narrative explaining world events and tying together their deeper, underlying, causes to one another, has almost completely disappeared from the programming of the major networks. More often than not, international affairs are... Read More
In October 1950, as U.S. forces were reeling from hordes of Chinese troops who had intervened massively in the Korean War, a 5,000-man Turkish brigade arrived to halt an onslaught by six Chinese divisions. Said supreme commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur: "The Turks are the hero of heroes. There is no impossibility for the Turkish Brigade."... Read More
kbdeal-2
Deal of the Century is a 1983 Hollywood comedy about crooked arms dealers conspiring to peddle new weapons that “allow for localized and conventional wars that will keep (the global arms industry’s) business viable into the next century.” Thirty-five years later, a non-fictional crooked businessman, Jared Kushner, has borrowed the title for his so-called Middle... Read More
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So, according to the corporate media, and to President Literally Hitler, himself, while America was sleeping last Friday morning, the U.S. Air Force was just minutes away from bombing the bejesus out of some desolate outposts somewhere in the Iranian desert and launching another catastrophic military blunder in the Middle East. At approximately 0400 Zulu... Read More
There is “sufficient credible evidence” that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the effective ruler of Saudi Arabia, was responsible for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and that he should be investigated according to a UN special rapporteur. Saudi Arabia first denied government involvement in the murder of Khashoggi after he entered the Saudi... Read More
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JARED KUSHNER couldn’t stare down an uncompromising foe if his wife, Ivanka Trump, held his soft, lily-white hand throughout the ordeal. Yet ridiculously, a May 22, McClatchy article claimed Mr. Kushner was fixing to “stare down uncompromising foes in fights over immigration and Middle East peace.” Let us begin with our debutant’s Middle East peace... Read More
Western governments have been swift to pledge action to strike at Isis, as it becomes clear that the organisation was behind the suicide bombings that killed 253 people in Sri Lanka. A video released by Isis after the attacks shows Zahran Hashim, an Islamic preacher and alleged leader of the bombers, pledging allegiance together with... Read More
Former Obama speechwriter, confidant, and deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes had an all-encompassing label for the wonks, experts, think tankers, cable news talking heads, and former or future officials, always ready to spin through Washington’s infamous revolving door, who make up the capital’s “foreign policy community.” He called them “the Blob,” a crew, as... Read More
Must one talk of Donald Trump? One must and not just because of the power of his position as US president, but because the nature of his foreign policy is misunderstood. I was answering questions about the future of the Middle East at a meeting of Independent subscribers on Tuesday evening when there was a... Read More
mission-accomplished
Is it for real or more bait and switch?
Never before has any presidential administration been as all over the place in terms of national security and foreign policy as is that of Donald J. Trump. Indeed, one might well argue that there is no overriding policy at all in terms of a rational doctrine arrived at through risk versus gain analysis of developing... Read More
bret-stephens2
A New York Times Columnist explains why
American journalism has become in its mainstream exponents a compendium of half-truths and out-and-out lies. The public, though poorly informed on most issues as a result, has generally figured out that it is being hoodwinked and trust in the Fourth Estate has plummeted over the past twenty years. The skepticism about what is being reported... Read More
It’s now more than 17 years later, years in which American commanding generals in Afghanistan repeatedly hailed the U.S. military’s “progress” there and regularly applauded the way we had finally “turned a corner” in the Afghan War -- only to find more Taliban fighters armed with RPGs around that very corner. Finally, in the 18th... Read More
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Abizaid of Arabia
What does President Trump’s recent nomination of retired Army General John Abizaid to become the next U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia signify? Next to nothing -- and arguably quite a lot. Abizaid’s proposed appointment is both a non-event and an opportunity not to be wasted. It means next to nothing in this sense: while once... Read More
The 633-word statement of President Donald Trump on the Saudi royals' role in the grisly murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi is a remarkable document, not only for its ice-cold candor. The president re-raises a question that has roiled the nation since Jimmy Carter: To what degree should we allow idealistic values trump vital... Read More
The report was devastating -- or would have been, if anyone here had noticed it. "Between 2001 and 2017," it concluded, "U.S. government efforts to stabilize insecure and contested areas in Afghanistan mostly failed." I’m thinking of “Stabilization: Lessons From the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan” put out by the office of the special inspector general... Read More
Confronting “That Part of the World”
My father and I always had a tacit agreement: “We will never speak of That Part of the World.” He’d grown up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Norfolk, Virginia. His own father, a refugee from early-twentieth-century pogroms in what is now Ukraine, had been the president of his local Zionist organization. A liberal in... Read More
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The US empire spans the globe; it expands and contracts, according to its ability to secure strategic assets, willing and able to further military and economic power to counter emerging adversaries. The map of empire is a shorthand measure of the vectors, reach and durability of global power and wealth. The map of empire is... Read More
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True believer Mike Pence could be a whole lot worse
When President Donald Trump traveled to Davos last week, the second foreign head of government he met with was Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. When the expected groveling before Bibi was concluded the rest of the world learned that Trump is right on board the Netanyahu bandwagon when it comes to making sure that the Palestinians somehow... Read More
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Just a few days shy of the first year since the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States I think that it would be reasonable to say that pretty much everybody, besides the Neocons and a few unconditional supporters, is now feeling quite appalled at what the past year brought to the... Read More
Israeli jets and ground-to-ground missile attacks on targets in the outskirts of Damascus are a mark of Israel’s heightened concern as President Bashar al-Assad comes close to winning the civil war in Syria. Israel’s security cabinet has held meetings several times in recent days to discuss how it should respond to the “day-after” the war... Read More
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It's fact: Neoconservatives are pleased with President Trump’s foreign policy. A couple of months back, Bloomberg’s Eli Lake let it know he was in neoconservative nirvana: "… for Venezuela, [Donald Trump] came very close to calling for regime change. 'The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable,' Trump said. 'We are... Read More
In the run-up to Christmas, President Donald Trump has been the beneficiary of some surprisingly good news and glad tidings. Sunday, Vladimir Putin called to thank him and the CIA for providing Russia critical information that helped abort an ISIS plot to massacre visitors to Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Monday found polls showing Trump... Read More
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Jerusalem is first of all a symbol, and a potent one; the American recognition of Jewish sovereignty over the Holy City is a sign of the final Jewish victory over Christianity, and it is to be deeply regretted. Richard Coeur de Lion and Tancred would not understand this surrender of the city they fought for,... Read More
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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) of Saudi Arabia is the undoubted Middle East man of the year, but his great impact stems more from his failures than his successes. He is accused of being Machiavellian in clearing his way to the throne by the elimination of opponents inside and outside the royal family. But,... Read More
President Trump and the Israeli government will have foreseen and discounted a Palestinian “day of rage” and protests among Muslims everywhere in the wake of the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and plans to move its embassy there. They assume that this will all blow over because US allies such as... Read More
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I am often asked if the US and Russia will go to war with each other. I always reply that they are already at war. Not a war like WWII, but a war nonetheless. This war is, at least for the time being, roughly 80% informational, 15% economic and 5% kinetic. But in political terms... Read More
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Introduction Saudi Arabia has built a powerful network of regional and local political, military and economic relationships incorporating a shared extremist-religious affiliation. As a result, despite its reputation as a backward despotic clerico-monarchy with an extreme dependency on oil sales, it has become a deadly political force in the Middle East and beyond. To understand... Read More
President Trump’s stance on conflict in the Middle East is a mixture of bellicose threats and demonisation of opponents combined with rather more cautious and carefully calculated action or inaction on the ground. Leaders in Baghdad, Damascus, Riyadh and Tehran face the same problem as those in Tokyo and London, uncertain where the rhetoric ends... Read More
"The Kurds have no friends but the mountains," is an old lament. Last week, it must have been very much on Kurdish minds. As their U.S. allies watched, the Kurdish peshmerga fighters were run out of Kirkuk and all the territory they had captured fighting ISIS alongside the Americans. The Iraqi army that ran them... Read More
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Trump fans, that endangered and vanishing species, are going through hard times. Even a devoted admirer of the Orange Man couldn’t swallow his strange battle of words with Kim, his threats to Iran, his UNESCO farce – and keep a straight face. The only comfort is that Hillary would have been even worse. Is he... Read More
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Erdogan’s Turkey and Seven Deadly Sins
Introduction Multiple wars ravage the Middle East. Turkey has inserted itself into the middle of most of these regional conflicts and ended up a loser. Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has intervened and formed alliances with a rogue’s gallery of imperial warlords, terrorists-mercenaries, Zionist expansionists, feudal potentates and obscure tribal chiefs, with disastrous economic,... Read More
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Sixteen Years, But Who’s Counting?
Consider, if you will, these two indisputable facts. First, the United States is today more or less permanently engaged in hostilities in not one faraway place, but at least seven. Second, the vast majority of the American people could not care less. Nor can it be said that we don’t care because we don’t know.... Read More
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When It Comes to the War in the Greater Middle East, Maybe We’re the Bad Guys
I used to command soldiers. Over the years, lots of them actually. In Iraq, Colorado, Afghanistan, and Kansas. And I’m still fixated on a few of them like this one private first class (PFC) in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2011. All of 18, he was short, scrawny, and popular. Nine months after graduating from high school,... Read More
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With the Neocon coup against Trump now completed (at least in its main objective, that is the neutralization of Trump, the subsidiary objective, impeaching Trump and removing him from office remains something for the future) the world has to deal, yet again, with a very dangerous situation: the AngloZionist Empire is on a rapid decline,... Read More
Newt Gingrich, Credit: Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.
"Iran must be free. The dictatorship must be destroyed. Containment is appeasement and appeasement is surrender." Thus does our Churchill, Newt Gingrich, dismiss, in dealing with Iran, the policy of containment crafted by George Kennan and pursued by nine U.S. presidents to bloodless victory in the Cold War. Why is containment surrender? "Because freedom is... Read More
Precision Warfare? Don’t Make Me Laugh
You remember. It was supposed to be twenty-first-century war, American-style: precise beyond imagining; smart bombs; drones capable of taking out a carefully identified and tracked human being just about anywhere on Earth; special operations raids so pinpoint-accurate that they would represent a triumph of modern military science. Everything “networked.” It was to be a glorious... Read More
Photo by Debra Sweet | CC BY 2.0
Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency in 2008 as a peace candidate. He signaled that he would fundamentally change America’s course after the reckless carnage unleashed by the George W. Bush administration. However, by the end of Obama’s presidency, the United States was bombing seven different foreign nations. But Obama’s warring rarely evoked the protests... Read More
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Donald Trump’s Road to Debacle in the Greater Middle East
The superhighway to disaster is already being paved. From Donald Trump’s first days in office, news of the damage to America’s international stature has come hard and fast. As if guided by some malign design, the new president seemed to identify the key pillars that have supported U.S. global power for the past 70 years... Read More
The Saudi-American-Iranian-Russian-Qatari-Syrian Conundrum
The Middle East. Could there be a more perilous place on Earth, including North Korea? Not likely. The planet’s two leading nuclear armed powers backing battling proxies amply supplied with conventional weapons; terror groups splitting and spreading; religious-sectarian wars threatening amid a plethora of ongoing armed hostilities stretching from Syria to Iraq to Yemen. And... Read More
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The first date is a decisive one, as we learned in college, while courting Nancy or Alice. The coming first date of two Presidents, the two superheroes of our generation is likely to set the trend for coming years. How will it go? What will they say? The consequences can be joyous – or fatal.... Read More
What a scary week in the Mideast. The epicenter of the world’s energy resources and the land-bridge between Asia and Africa is spinning out of control as the danger of a shooting war between the US and Russia grows daily. A US F-18 warplane shot down a Syrian Air Force SU-22 ground attack aircraft over... Read More
The Saudi Regime Is Playing Donald Trump With Potentially Disastrous Consequences
At this point, it’s no great surprise when Donald Trump walks away from past statements in service to some impulse of the moment. Nowhere, however, has such a shift been more extreme or its potential consequences more dangerous than in his sudden love affair with the Saudi royal family. It could in the end destabilize... Read More
Not that anyone in a position of power seems to notice, but there’s a simple rule for American military involvement in the Greater Middle East: once the U.S. gets in, no matter the country, it never truly gets out again. Let’s start with Afghanistan. The U.S. first entered the fray there in 1979 via a... Read More
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov in 2015
Connecting the Dots and Discerning the Future
Russia has often been in the news over the past years, mostly as the demonized “Empire of Mordor” responsible for all the bad things on the planet, especially Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton, the Russian intervention in Syria and, of course, the “imminent” Russian invasion of the Baltics, Poland or even all of Western Europe.... Read More
The Age of Grief
“This is a war against normal life.” So said CNN correspondent Clarissa Ward, describing the situation at this moment in Syria, as well as in other parts of the Middle East. It was one of those remarks that should wake you up to the fact that the regions the United States has, since September 2001,... Read More
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Introduction US policy in the Middle East and South Asia is shaped by several basic considerations: 1) US Imperialism is the force of global domination 2) US imperial policy in the Middle East focuses on encircling, destroying and dismantling Iran’s allies (Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah), Iraq (Shi’a Militia), Qatar and Yemen with the intent of overthrowing... Read More
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The Irrationality of Iran Vilification
“Everywhere you look, if there is trouble in the region,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters on a mid-April visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, “you find Iran.” I must admit that when I stumbled across that quote it brought up uncomfortable personal memories. East Baghdad, January 25, 2007: my patrol had missed a turn... Read More
When we think about terrorism we most often think about the horrors of a Manchester-like attack, where a radicalized suicide bomber went into a concert hall and killed dozens of innocent civilians. It was an inexcusable act of savagery and it certainly did terrorize the population.What is less considered are attacks that leave far more... Read More
Category Classics
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
Which superpower is more threatened by its “extractive elites”?
While other top brass played press agents for the administration’s war, William Odom told the truth about...