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Middle East Press (21 Aug 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Bye Bye Netanyahu! By Hussein Shobokshil: New Age Islam's Selection, 21 August 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

21 August 2017

Bye Bye Netanyahu!

By Hussein Shobokshi

Is The EU Getting Ready To Back General Haftar In Libya?

By Dr. Azeem Ibrahim

Post-ISIL Iraq: Decoding Muqtada Al-Sadr's Gulf Visits

By Zaid Al-Ali

In Memory Of Abdulhussain Abdulredha

By Alaa Shehabi

ISIL In Afghanistan: A Growing Threat

By Massoumeh Torfeh

A Three-Way Power Struggle

By Mohammed Nosseir

Under the Radar, Russia’s Influence in Libya Is Growing

By Maria Dubovikova

At Last, US Leaders Who Know the Truth about Iran

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Barcelona: If Only The World Had Listened To Mubarak

By Abdellatif El-Menawy

The White House Power Struggle That Toppled Bannon

By Gregory Aftandilian

How Qatar Is Looking For Solutions in Kerala

By Jameel Al-Thiyabi

Kissinger’s Analysis of Mideast Is Full of Loopholes

By Amir Taheri

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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Bye Bye Netanyahu!

By Hussein Shobokshi

THE curtain seems to be coming down on the era of the controversial Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Now Israel is actually preparing for a political future soon without Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s end is approaching after his eight-year rule in which there was no political rival and no effective opposition. The period also witnessed relative security in the border areas as Arab region was occupied dealing with terrorist and extremist organizations such as Daesh (the so-called Islamic State), Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.

As the Arab world was reeling from internal fighting, Israel focused on its economy, registering a significant growth exceeding 4 percent. The country also broke the psychological barrier in the development of political and diplomatic relations by forging ties with countries that were outside the scope of its traditional interest. It struck important bilateral agreements with India and some important African countries, which included the security sector, of course, political aspects.

However, Netanyahu did not accomplish anything at the most important level — the Palestinians and the Arabs. He followed an expansionist and provocative settlement policy. Of late, he tried to prevent Muslims to pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque by laying down humiliating and provocative rules for the worshipers. Since the decision to impose new security rules has been rolled back I consider it to be a political and moral victory for the Palestinians and Muslims. Before that, there were huge objections by Diaspora Jews, specifically Jews in the United States of America, to one of the decisions of the Israeli government led by Netanyahu.

The decision here is meant not to allow the mixing of men and women prayer at the Wailing Wall, which the Jewish communities in the Diaspora considered a victory for the ultra-Orthodox extremist movement inside the Israel, which is the prominent voice in the coalition government with Netanyahu, and comes as a blow to the ambitions of the reformist movement in the Jewish community, which consists of liberal ideas and constitutes the most prominent orientation of the basis of thought scholarism.

But since the arrival of the Likud Party under the leadership of Menachem Begin, Israel is growing in its “religious” extremism. This anger by the reformist movement of Jews in the Diaspora means that Netanyahu’s financial support and political connection with the United States of America has been cut off through the Jewish lobby. Now it seems that the last nail is being put in the political coffin of Benjamin Netanyahu with the Israeli investigation opening up into Netanyahu's corruption in two well-known cases.

Investigators are looking into whether Netanyahu has done business in return for gifts from influential friends, including the Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan. The second case involves his relationship with the publisher of a local newspaper in Israel, Yedioth Ahronoth, to agree with him behind closed doors to stop the publication of the free Israel Hayom newspaper. The investigators obtained a “recording” documenting the interview between Netanyahu and the publisher.

He repeated the seriousness of the investigation that Ari Harrow, who was chief of staff in the Netanyahu administration in 2015, agreed to cooperate with investigators and gave full and profound testimony to the charges against Netanyahu in exchange for any mitigating provisions against him. The Netanyahu era gave the world the ugly face of an exploitative politician who has no value to promises or conventions in his dictionary. The world will be a better place without Netanyahu. The question remains who will come as a replacement for him and how he will run a different Israel!

Source: saudigazette.com.sa/article/515493/Opinion/OP-ED/Benjamin-Netanyahu

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Is The EU Getting Ready To Back General Haftar In Libya?

By Dr. Azeem Ibrahim

 20 August 2017

There are two centers of power in Libya: the UN-backed Government of National Accord in the west in Tripoli, which has little power and not much in the way of resources for the long-haul; and the Tobruk-based Libyan National Army led by General Khalifa Haftar in the east. In between them, there are smaller factions, the most notable of which is the ISIS offshoot around Sirte.

Locally, Haftar is in the stronger position. He commands considerable military power, controls the majority of the country’s oil-producing regions and has financial independence, and also has the international backing of Egypt, the UAE and Russia. These international connections have been critical in helping build parallel state institutions in Tobruk such as the Russia-backed Central Bank in the East, establish trade routes for the export of oil and so on. But they are also the fundamental constraint to Haftar’s ability to take over the rest of Libya and rebuild a unitary state.

Haftar is seen as, and not without justification, as a Russian client. Russia thinks of Haftar as the next Libya strong man who will continue the relation with Russia as it was with Qaddafi. This, combined with the fact that he does not have the international legitimacy of the Western-aligned ‘official’ government in Tripoli, means that although his parallel state infrastructure would have the capacity to take over the running of the whole country, whereas the Tripoli-led government does not, political calculations will stand in the way of the West conceding Libya to Haftar. They would, after all, also concede Libya to Russia.

Stalemate

This leaves us to the current stalemate. Tripoli does not have the fundamentals to challenge Haftar, but it can survive for a very long time in its heartlands because it has the backing of the West and of the UN. Haftar does not have the capacity and standing to challenge the Tripoli government while the former maintains the backing of the West. The situation remains fluid, and the inability of either side to assert sovereignty leaves the country as a failed state, and as a fertile ground for ISIS expansion as they are retreating from Syria.

Reconciliation between the two governments remains very unlikely. For it to happen, Haftar would have to accept some dilution of his position, and subservience of the military to the civilian government. After all that has happened in this conflict, Haftar is unlikely to yield. Not to mention that he is under no immediate pressure to do so. He continues to have the upper hand.

On the other hand, if the Tripoli based government were to accept the power of the military in general, and of Haftar in particular, and try to work the civilian government structure around it, they would find themselves taken over by a military coup sooner rather than later. To concede to Haftar’s current status and demands, would be to forfeit the ideal of civilian government.

And yet, the situation may be heading towards resolution. The fundamental pillar of power for the Tripoli government is the backing of the West. And while the US and the UK will continue to back them, there are signs that the Europeans are shifting on the issue. The EU is desperate to resolve the Libyan Civil War so it can stem the flow of migrants coming into Europe through the country. In a world where the Atlantic alliance is suffering from the constant indiscretions of Britain and President Trump, the Europeans have fewer and fewer reasons to tie themselves to the mast of Tripoli. If Haftar can help solve their migration concerns, shifting their backing may well be worth the political costs for the Europeans.

Now, this is not a done deal. The problem is that if Europe were to move to Haftar’s side and Haftar were to prevail and unite Libya, Haftar would still remain a Russian, rather than a European client. And Russia has no reason to want the tide of migration towards Europe stemmed. Quite the contrary: much of the reason the Syrian conflict is still alive is because Russia can prolong it at relatively little cost to itself, and a huge cost to European unity, as migrants continue to pour westwards and strain Europe’s political and administrative infrastructure. This may well be the reason why Europe has not already switched sides. But with the proper assurances, Haftar could see the civil war going his way sooner than we might all be expecting.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/08/20/Is-the-EU-getting-ready-to-back-General-Haftar-in-Libya-.html

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Post-ISIL Iraq: Decoding Muqtada Al-Sadr's Gulf Visits

By Zaid al-Ali

 20 August 2017

Muqtada al-Sadr is the scion of one of Iraq's most important families of Shia clerics, which has traditionally been associated with the country's poor underclass. Following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Sadrist movement took up arms against the occupation and quickly spiralled out of control. Members of his Mehdi Army were widely accused of engaging in extortion, kidnappings, and murder. Most famously perhaps, Sadr followers are said to have killed Sayed Abdul Majid al-Khoei, the son of another of Iraq's most prominent Shia scholar, just as he returned to Iraq following more than a decade in exile.

But since then, Sadr is a changed man. He formally dissolved his Mahdi Army in 2008, has moderated his discourse and has focused much of his attention on government corruption and on failing public services. He has grown extremely critical of Iraq's former prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who he has (rightly) held responsible for the Iraqi army's rout against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in 2014. In the war against ISIL, his paramilitary group Saraya al-Salam has mainly kept away from the front lines and has not been accused of any major abuses (contrary to many other regular and irregular military units).

He has also called on a number of occasions for all paramilitary groups that were recognised by the Iraqi state to be dissolved after ISIL is completely defeated. His public statements have called for all foreign forces (including Iran) to leave Iraqi territory as soon as ISIL is defeated, and his followers have in their many protests lead chants calling for Iran to stop interfering in Iraqi public affairs.

Most recently and perhaps most surprisingly, Sadr has visited the crown princes of both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which many commentators have interpreted as an attempt to counterbalance Iran's influence in Iraq. This has provoked a flurry of speculation by commentators and actors alike, as well as significant criticism from some Iranian circles.

It is impossible to tell whether Muqtada Sadr's about-turn in favour of moderation and political negotiation rather than confrontation and violence is the result of a genuine change of heart, or whether he is merely trying to survive in a challenging environment. Regardless, he has been consistent in his approach over the past few years and it would be safe to assume that he is unlikely to waver in the near future.

Reaching out to Saudi Arabia and the UAE

What is Sadr hoping to achieve through these openings to Saudi Arabia and the UAE? Some have speculated that he is trying to secure funding before the 2018 parliamentary elections (reference has been made to a Saudi commitment to provide $10 million in funding), but that is an unlikely proposition. Sadr's is one of the country's only genuine grassroots movements, which attracts a very solid amount of support in each round of elections. He requires very little funding, and whatever funding he does need, he can easily secure from within Iraq.

Others have argued that the trips burnish Sadr's credentials as a national and regional leader, but that is equally unconvincing. Sadr has been an international figure since 2003, and his followers hold him in great esteem. While the overtures are unlikely to affect his position within Iraq, if anything they are more likely to damage his standing with some of the more hardline elements within his community, particularly those who accuse Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries of supporting terrorism in Iraq since 2003.

Some have even reported that Sadr's actions are part of an effort to mediate and lessen tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. While some attempt may be made in that direction, in current circumstances, very little progress can be achieved. Iranian institutions are not in agreement on Saudi, and many of its more hardline elements operate outside civilian oversight or control. Saudi Arabia also appears to be drifting in favour of a more erratic and aggressive foreign policy. Considering the regional context, which has been worsening steadily over the past few decades, the most any mediation effort can hope to achieve is to moderate some of the worst consequences of an already deteriorating relationship.

Another possibility is that al-Sadr is aiming to influence shifting grounds within Iraq's political circles. A rift has opened between Shia parties and movements who aim to establish a more independent Iraqi state and those who aim to bring Iraq more firmly within Iran's resistance camp. By reaching out to Iraq's Gulf neighbours, Sadr is providing explicit support to the Iraqi government's own policies, which are to maintain good relations with all neighbouring countries, including Saudi Arabia.

Sadr's visit may have been far more high profile, but the Iraqi government has been reaching out to Saudi for some time. Most recently, a decision to establish a joint trade commission and to reopen a border crossing that had been closed back in 1990 was taken. Other efforts are also in the pipeline.

Sadr's actions may not have been coordinated with the Iraqi government, but their net effect is to push Iraqi policy and state institutions more firmly in favour of the independence camp. The next elections and the government formation process that will follow will play a determinant role in Iraq's future, and Sadr's actions will play a larger role in shaping developments than most observers appear to appreciate.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/08/post-isil-iraq-decoding-muqtada-al-sadr-gulf-visits-170820062418256.html

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In memory of Abdulhussain Abdulredha

By Alaa Shehabi

 20 August 2017

Abdulhussain Abdulredha, a hugely popular actor, director, playwright and producer passed away in London on August 11, aged 78, after going into a coma.

His body arrived in his native Kuwait on Wednesday, on a private plane charted by the Emir of Kuwait Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. Thousands of mourners gathered in the scorching heat to say farewell, with several of them fainting as his casket was carried to his final resting place.

Mourners from across the Gulf, from Jeddah to my Bahraini village of Diraz, travelled to Kuwait to pay their respects. It was a scene of collective grief on a scale not witnessed in decades, demonstrating the power of art to transcend the divisions and discord that ravage the region. It also shows how the vestiges of free expression accorded in Kuwait, during a particular period at least, harnessed both criticism and good will, and most important of all inclusivity. Abdulredha touched the rich and poor, the bidoon, the Shia and the Sunni, the regime loyalists and the opposition, and in fact, royal family members themselves - even as they were caricatured.

Throughout his life, Abdulredha was seen as legendary in his political courage, wit, powerful charisma and unique characterisations through defiant cultural productions. I am only one of the millions of fans who grew up on a staple of VHS tapes of Abdulredha's performances.

Abdulredha's art influenced people all over the world, but his timeless works are even more relevant where political progress has stalled and much of the same issues he tackled are as pertinent today as they ever were. In their grief over the loss of such an insurmountable figure, GCC citizens also mourn the loss of authentic artistic expression in an age of innocence, before the depoliticisation and corporatisation of the entertainment industry.

After his death, social media saw over two million tweets about the artist and hashtags such as #Kuwait_mourns_Abdulhussain_Abdulredha (in Arabic) has been trending. His former colleagues, heads of states and activists took to social media to express their sorrow. Some Wahhabi and Salafi figures tried to sectarianise his death, but these attempts met swift rebuttals and in some cases, punitive action, even though such toxic discourse is normally permitted on these platforms.

Abdulredha, born in 1939, performed and produced over 30 plays and television series over the course of his a half-century-long career. His huge personality, witty scripts and powerful charisma captured the public conscience on stage and screen, cementing his position as the founder of a political and social genre. One of the founding members of a theatre movement led by Zaki Talaimat in the sixties, Abdulredha eventually established his own entertainment television channel, and also gained state recognition. One cannot but also mention his other talents as he also sang and composed most of his on stage songs.

Today, Abdulredha's plays serve as historical records, addressing everything from life in the pre-oil era, the democratic transition in Kuwait, the impact of sudden oil wealth on individuals in the 70s, to Kuwait's political fragility especially after the Iraqi invasion, and wider themes of identity, corruption, and pan-Arabism.

As censors grew more aware, and media conglomerates started to dominate the entertainment landscape, the space for political critique was gradually removed. This made Abdulredha's earlier work even more endearing, as political issues he addressed during those times stayed relevant and even got progressively worse. This memorialisation is, therefore, deeply intertwined with the nostalgia for a time when political and religious debate was more free and open, and society more inclusive and liberal.

One of Abdulredha's memorable works called "Bye Bye London" satirised the 1970s stereotype of a Gulf tourist to London, in his neon yellow tie, he referred strongly to themes of the oil era ("we drink it and swim in it", he gesticulated) and colonialisation, ("Oh hello, you English, oh hello our [overlords] of the past, all your goddamn lives you've played around with us, if only I could fool around with you for one night only" he said as he chatted up an English woman over a whisky drink).

In another favourite play, entitled "Sword of the Arabs", Abdulredha played Saddam Hussain during the invasion of Kuwait. It was a tragi-comedy par excellence that served as a nationalist revival of pride and goodness in the face of the brutal dictator. He survived an assassination attempt on his way to one of the performances by suspected Iraqi Mukhabarat.

During these major turning points in Kuwait's history, Abdulredha cleverly wove the moral, religious and political contradictions and ironies afflicting the Gulf from the viewpoint of ordinary people, "bringing the dreams of the small people to the big people", as one of his obituaries described him.

Because of the high-comedy value, popularity and pride embued in his work, the ruling families of the Gulf, including the emir of Kuwait, tolerated him. But the emir did, at times, find his work went too far politically, and his play "Hatha Saifooh" (1987), was a turning point. The play, which was never televised, addressed the dynamics of the pre-oil era (the 1950s), and the relationship between merchants and a British agent. The play was stopped and along with the cast, Abdulredha was put on trial. He was given a three-month suspended sentence. The red lines were drawn.

In his last physical appearance on stage in October 2016, at the opening ceremony of a newly constructed state opera/theatre and in the presence of the emir, Abdulredha picked up one of his most popular roles "Hussainooh", a failed entrepreneur from one of his earliest plays "Darb Alzalag" (The slippery path) (1977). Hussainooh had ambitious businesses plans including selling same-sided shoes, selling shares in the pyramids and importing canned dog food in the original tv series. In this resurrection, nearly 40 years later, Hussaino lost none of his mischievousness, and in the interregnum between the two plays, he says "he was the last person to be reprimanded by the shuyuukh and everyone else has been let off ever since".

Abdulredha's death inevitably leaves one question, would it be possible for someone like him to emerge and thrive in today's environment? His legacy is a testimony to Kuwaiti relative freedom and coexistence and how an ordinary common person was able to make it to the top purely due to his talent and not family connections or wealth.

An artist needs an ecosystem and an infrastructure that can sow the seeds for talent to emerge or for natural talent to thrive. The popular response to his passing is evidence of the desire of the people in the region for figures, narratives and the freedom to imagine and to express their hopes and dreams, and their fears and nightmares, without repercussion.

According to friends and family and pictures that circulated online, in his last few days, Abdulredha insisted on paying visits to other Kuwaitis in the hospital. He reportedly bid his close friend Souad Abdullah farewell before he left Kuwait, and he frequently joked about his death. This was a man at peace with his legacy. A legacy of laughter, unity and defiance is a hard act to follow.

Ala'a Shehabi is a Bahraini independent writer, researcher and economist. She currently works for a think-tank in London and is cofounder of Bahrain Watch, an investigative platform.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/08/memory-abdulhussain-abdulredha-170818140031788.html

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ISIL In Afghanistan: A Growing Threat

By Massoumeh Torfeh

 20 August 2017

After losing Mosul and vast territories in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is probably hoping to move to Afghanistan.

It has substantially increased its attacks in the past two years and recruited hundreds of additional supporters. It is targeting mainly the Shias and the Hazara minority and in parts joining forces with the Taliban thereby changing the dynamics of the war in Afghanistan. By doing so, it is provoking Iran and possibly Russia to get involved. The Persian-speaking Shia Hazara, estimated to make up about nine percent of Afghanistan's population, have close ties to Iran.

ISIL (also known as ISIS) could take advantage of another "lost" American war and another failing state, as it did in Iraq. Afghanistan's complex set of security and political problems are providing the armed group the chaos conditions that it needs to prosper.

In its latest attack on a village in the northern province of Sar-e Pul, described as a war crime by the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, government officials said ISIL joined forces with the Taliban in the brutal killing of more than 50 civilians, mainly Shia Hazaras.

Only one week earlier the twin attacks claimed by ISIL on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul and the Shia mosque in the western city of Herat, with over 120 casualties, appeared carefully chosen to take revenge against both Iraqi and Iranian forces for the loss of its stronghold, Mosul.

These were the tail end of six attacks this year targeting Shia mosques. Four of the attacks occurred in Herat and ISIL claimed responsibility for two. In 2016, there were four separate attacks against Shia mosques and ISIL claimed responsibility for two. In July last year, ISIL's twin explosions tore through a demonstration by the Shia Hazara minority in Kabul killing at least 80 people and wounding more than 230.

ISIL seems intentionally to target Iran's interests in Afghanistan: Shia mosques, the Hazara minority, and the city of Herat -with a large population of Tajiks- have all received the bulk of Iran's financial and political support. Iran has spent millions of dollars in aid and reconstruction projects building a 400km highway and a major railway linking Herat to Iran's Khorasan province. Most of the work has been carried out by Khatam ul Anbya Construction which is the economic arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC). These transport links have greatly enhanced trade, especially for Iran.

Herat is located at the heart of the 1,000km border between the two countries, which share a rich historical and literary heritage. Iran values this heritage beyond its push to influence politics in Afghanistan. Moreover, Iran regards itself as the custodian of Shia rights around the world, and would not take ISIL attacks lightly especially since they follow the twin attacks in Iran two months ago after which Iran arrested several suspected ISIL operatives. Last week, Iran announced that it arrested further 27 suspected ISIL members.

Iran's strong condemnation of ISIL attacks in Afghanistan came with an offer of "collective security guarantee". The national security chief, Ali Shamkhani, said Tehran would "expand regional cooperation especially with the Afghan government to jointly confront this dangerous threat".

In April, when Shamkhani met the Afghan national security adviser, Hanif Atmar, he condemned "the attempts by certain regional states" to upset security in Afghanistan "as part of a broader scheme to dispatch the defeated terrorists from Iraq and Syria to Afghanistan". His reference can only be to Saudi Arabia, which as a staunch ally of Pakistan, has reportedly been funding Taliban through "private or covert channels".

So, Iran regards these advances in the context of the Iran-Saudi regional rivalries and Sunni advances against Shias, while rejecting reports that it is funding the Taliban.

Equally concerned is Russia about the 2,000km border Central Asian republics have with Afghanistan. Russia is aware that since its military operations in Syria, thousands of ISIL fighters are regrouping in Afghanistan to take revenge. According to intelligence by the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), ISIL's activity in Afghanistan has grown by one-third this year compared with 2016, with around 1,000 Central Asian operatives working along the border areas.

In February, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed the necessity of strengthening "military-technical cooperation with Kabul". Zamir Kabulov, the Russian president's special envoy to Afghanistan warned that if the situation on the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan deteriorates "capabilities of the CSTO may be used under a due appeal of the Tajik side".

In April, Russia proposed an international conference on Afghanistan inviting all neighbours including Iran, Pakistan and India but US government did not attend citing Russian military assistance to Taliban. Russia rejected the claim.

The meeting in mid-April between the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, for improving mutual military understanding also came to nothing after the US imposed sanctions on Russia.

Given his strong partnership with the US, President Ghani would never willingly invite Russia or Iran for military cooperation as, for example, Iraq and Syria did. Yet, he is aware that the US administration is paralysed by its own internal squabbles over Afghanistan.

Moreover, President Ghani is himself facing arguably the most difficult time of his leadership with internal challenges from three former strongmen demanding security reforms, his own National Unity Government in disarray, and civil society accusing him of inaction. That is to say nothing of the ongoing corruption, unemployment, war fatigue, and a nation traumatised by the highest ever number of civilian casualties.

President Ghani's legitimacy has not as yet been eroded. Nevertheless, the danger signs are there of a failing or fragile state that would provide suitable ground for the regrouping of ISIL and Taliban.

The argument that Taliban would not allow ISIL to gain ground in Afghanistan is increasingly invalidated by facts on the ground. The more likely scenario is that more Taliban commanders would follow the example of Sher Mohammad Ghazanfar in Sar-e Pul, and pledge allegiance to ISIL. "There are no strict ideological distinctions between them so they build bridges when it helps them both," said one Afghan security source who cited three other joint operations.

The US and NATO chief command, General John W Nicholson warned Pentagon in December that political instability in Afghanistan would have two outcomes: the convergence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan, and the malign influence of Pakistan, Iran and Russia.

The first outcome is already unfolding: Taliban controls more than one-third of Afghanistan and is seriously challenging another third. ISIL seems increasingly unstoppable. There are no plausible indications that either the Afghan or the international forces in their present state can stop their convergence in Afghanistan.

That leaves the second Nicholson outcome; an outcome that may complicate matters in Afghanistan to the point of no return.

That is why Afghanistan must choose a third option and that is the option of leaving open the channels of diplomatic and military consultations with Russia and Iran to avoid their retaliatory covert action.

Time is running out.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/08/isil-afghanistan-growing-threat-170813133122968.html

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A Three-Way Power Struggle

By Mohammed Nosseir

20 August 2017

The polarization of political issues and the daily heated arguments with relatives, friends and colleagues that every Egyptian engages in have turned us into a divided society; disliking one another because of our different political perspectives, struggling more by having to live together under one roof.

This polarization is driven mainly by emotions; people become attached to a proposition based more on their individual preferences and less on substance.

We are in a frightening era in which emerging political events are deepening this polarization. The overconfidence individual citizens have in their knowledge, their belief that they know the whole truth and the accusations of ignorance and national disloyalty leveled against opponents are further aggravating our polarization. This division poses a greater threat to society than our poor economic conditions.

Egyptians are politically divided into three clear groups. The first is strongly affiliated to the ruling regime, happy with progress and always finding excuses for the government’s errors. The second is constituted of political Islamist entities for whom religion is the single common dominator and who perceive the entire world from the Islamist perspective. Finally, the third cluster comprises revolutionary citizens; many dynamic people with genuine intentions to change our country for the better, but lacking in political experience and extremely fragmented.

The first two groups have clear leadership and good organizational structures, and know how to mobilize citizens during elections, but their governing cadres and their policies are obsolete and they decline to waste any effort on modernizing them. These groups probably derive their strength from being old-fashioned and corrupt, which keeps them united. Partisans of the third group are political pioneers with revolutionary attitudes who want to modernize Egypt drastically, but who lack leadership and have no organizational structure.

Events of the past few years were based on two of the three groups teaming up to kick the third group out of power.

At present, Egypt is steadily moving toward another wave of instability. The current polarization of society, accompanied by the state’s failure to make sound decisions in a timely manner, are once again strengthening the revolutionary group, fueling its frustration with the traditional ruling regime.

The government’s inability to stabilize society is reinforcing the dynamic revolutionary group that, by default, knows nothing better than revolt; a revolt that the opportunistic political Islamists will eventually back, recreating my proposed equation: two-thirds will always prevail over one-third.

Egyptians are strong believers in exclusive rule, which has worked perfectly over the past decades, but is not good enough for today. The political stability that the state is always aiming to achieve will never happen, until it receives the true blessing of our youth, who account for two-thirds of society.

The mock gatherings of Egyptian youth with the president are weakening the regime, not strengthening it. Egypt is a young, dynamic society that has been suppressed by various old-fashioned governments; genuine stability will only occur when the state engages youngsters in politics and responds positively to their demands. The only alternative is a repeat of our most recent political history.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1148101

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Under the Radar, Russia’s Influence in Libya Is Growing

By Maria Dubovikova

20 August 2017

Russia’s interests in the Middle East are not confined to specific countries. Moscow seeks to build a strong network of connections with many players in the region, and to have a strong say in regional affairs. Russia has been strengthening its presence in the Middle East to fortify its position as a pivotal international player. Among these countries is Libya, and the involvement of Russia in North Africa has increased since 2015 in reaction to the Syrian and Ukrainian issues.

After the so-called Arab Spring, Russia’s interests in the region, already severely damaged by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the years of oblivion that followed, were further harmed with the fall of Qaddafi. Russia has historically warm ties with Libya, and cooperation has never ceased, even in the most difficult times for Moscow.

The collapse of the Qaddafi regime took place without the involvement of Russia, which abstained on the issue in the UN Security Council. This had a strong impact on Russia’s stance on Syria, and on further developments in its general approach and policy in the region. The fall of Qaddafi brought years of severe disruption to Libya, and the spread of terrorism, harming and menacing the stability not only of regional neighbours, but also of the European continent. Russia was involved in attempts to restabilise Libya from the beginning, although most of its activities in this area were under the radar of international media because Syria was the focus of the headlines. Now that the Syrian conflict is winding down, global attention will be shifted to Libya. And it seems that Russia already has a strong hand there.

The Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar met the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and defence minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow last week. Russia supports both Haftar and the prime minister of Libya, Fayez Al-Sarraj, whose government is recognized by the UN but who has a fraught relationship with the military leader. The visit to Moscow was aimed at reaching a peace agreement in Libya to end a conflict that has become a source of high risk to many countries in northern Africa and southern Europe. The war has brought waves of migrants from African countries to Europe through Italy.

Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army, has now visited Moscow twice, and was hosted on a Russian aircraft carrier off the coast of Libya in January, fueling speculation that Moscow is attempting to expand its influence in Libya even further. Haftar’s troops have seized control of Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city and a former stronghold of extremist groups. Benghazi is near a number of key oil fields and is a hub for vital oil infrastructure. It is now a center of attention for both Washington and Moscow. Any country that controls North Africa will be in full control of oil and gas supplies to Europe. After his meetings in Moscow, Haftar said: “We expect to continue this struggle until the Libyan National Army takes control of Libya’s entire territory in order to ensure stability and security.” In this regard, Russia views Haftar as a possible ally and potential stabilizing force in Libya, which has turned into a hotbed for scores of militias and religious extremists, including Daesh.

Moscow’s growing relations with Haftar signal its interest in establishing a more solid regional foothold, supported by an increasing naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean, including Syria, and off the coast of North Africa. Alarmed by the burden placed on its security forces by the flow of migrants, many of them through Libya, Italy asked for Russian naval assistance to patrol the maritime refugee routes.

The West has tried to exclude Moscow from the international arena because of its role in the Syrian and Ukrainian issues. With its growing involvement in Libya, Russia is conveying to Europe and the US that it is not affected by issues in Syria, Ukraine or anywhere else, and it will act in support of its international strategies.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1148091

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At Last, US Leaders Who Know the Truth about Iran

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

20 August 2017

There is a need for a more firm approach toward the Iranian government and its increasingly aggressive foreign policy.

Tehran is ratcheting up its interference and interventions in Arab countries. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its affiliates are increasing domestic repression as well, according to the latest reports by human rights organizations.

Support for a firm approach against the Iranian political establishment is increasing in the United States. About 30 prominent American luminaries and former officials issued a joint statement expressing bipartisan support for underscoring the need for countering Tehran regime. Among the signatories were former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

It is crucial to point out that the Iranian government has been causing regional instability, engaging in egregious human rights violations and exporting terrorism and extremism abroad. The letter scolds the Iranian regime for committing these acts.

The view that the regime can be reformed has been proved to be inaccurate, simplistic and unsophisticated. Former US presidents made efforts to moderate Iran’s foreign policy through engagement, diplomacy or concessions. Nevertheless, as history reveals, these efforts have failed.

Any astute observer can see that the core revolutionary pillars of Iran’s foreign policy have not altered since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979. In fact, Tehran has become more revolutionary, belligerent and aggressive. The high-profile US personalities and former officials also rejected the idea that the regime can be moderated. As they wrote: “The hope of some Western governments was that time would lead to moderation by the Mullahs or to the emergence of a reformist faction that could challenge the dominance of the clerical regime. The reality has been far different. We agree with the apparent new US policy of ending the previous US overture toward the Iranian regime.”

Iranian leaders are increasingly implementing a sectarian agenda in the region to achieve their hegemonic ambitions. As the signatories pointed out concerning Tehran’s malign regional role: “The Iran-fueled sectarian division of Iraq laid the foundation for the creation of Daesh. Iran today commands and funds upwards of 150,000 IRGC, Shia militia and mercenary armed fighters in Iraq and Syria.”

Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the ruling clerics of Iran are facing popular domestic discontent. In order to pressure Tehran, the disaffected population and opposition can be robust tool to capitalize on. The signatories accurately referred to this issue by stating that the “Tehran regime is uniquely vulnerable,” citing chronic economic mismanagement and a fierce power struggle within the regime. “Mounting popular discontent has increasingly become visible in public,” they said, citing growing social calls for accountability for the “mass executions of political opponents, including the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners with a majority of them from the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).”

Altering Iran’s foreign policy can be accomplished through peaceful methods. From the perspective of the prominent American figures a “viable organization” exists to change the clerical regime. Among other prominent signatories who believe such a mission can be accomplished are former Senator Joseph Lieberman, former National Security Adviser James Jones, former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, former UN Ambassador John Bolton, former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former DNC Chairman Edward Rendell, former US Marine Corps Commandant James Conway, and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy.

 As they said: “The National Council of Resistance of Iran … has the vision, leadership and courage to lead the way to the creation of a new Iran. Under the leadership of Maryam Rajavi, a Muslim woman standing for gender equality, which is an antidote to Islamist fundamentalism and extremism, it is working every day to bring about a tolerant, non-nuclear Iranian republic based on separation of religion and state, that will uphold the rights of all.”

Nevertheless, pressure from the US is not adequate to alter the Iranian government’s belligerent behavior and interventions in other countries including Arab nations. More governments and organizations should join the cause. It is the moral responsibility of the international community to embrace the Iranian people’s aspiration for freedom and democracy, and to stand against the Iranian government’s suppression and repressions.

In a nutshell, as recognition of the need to counter the Iranian government is mounting in Washington, it is incumbent on world governments and the international community to provide moral support to the Iranian people’s quest for freedom as well.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1148096

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Barcelona: If Only the World Had Listened To Mubarak

By Abdellatif El-Menawy

20 August 2017

In the past two years there have been at least 17 major terrorist attacks in Europe, killing nearly 400 people, injuring hundreds more and leaving countless families mourning the loss of their loved ones.

For too long, Europeans thought the waters of the Mediterranean would be sufficient to isolate them from the terrorism coming from the south and east, even though they received innumerable warnings throughout the last three decades of the 20th century. They did not realize the danger until the barbarism was upon them, and now it is too late: there were many reactions to the most recent terrorist attack in Barcelona, in which 14 people died, but surprise was not among them.

After every terrorist attack in Europe, the world is appalled. The streets are filled with rescue teams, emergency responders and security forces. After each attack, eyewitnesses give their accounts about what they have seen and some talk of their narrow escape from death. Others campaign to help victims, to try to find the missing and to comfort their loved ones.

After every such incident, I wonder why the world, especially Europe, has taken so long to see what was coming. Egypt’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, certainly did.

Not long after the September 11 attack on the US in 2001, Charles Lambroskin, editor-in-chief of the French newspaper Le Figaro, asked Mubarak for his thoughts on combating terrorism. Mubarak replied: “The solution is to convene an international conference under the auspices of the United Nations to draft a convention criminalizing terrorism, in which the signatory states pledge not to receive terrorists on their territory and not to allow them to open training camps on their national soil and to prevent them from passing from one country to another.

“There would be an international boycott of governments that refuse to implement this agreement. I first presented this draft to the Strasbourg Parliament in 1986, how much time we have wasted since then.”

Mubarak also predicted the American response to the attack on its soil, and advised the US not to play the same game as its enemies: “They are waiting for your repressive measures to start, and from the blood and the debris will come a new generation of them demanding revenge on America.” His opinion, in other words, was that the medication should not be the same as the disease.

“When the fundamentalists tried to assassinate me in 1995 in Addis Ababa, my first reaction was anger,” Mubarak recalled. “The reaction expected from me as a military man was to respond with force, but I soon realized that killing innocent people was the worst solution. Instead I preferred to conduct an investigation led by the Egyptian intelligence services, which ultimately resulted in the identification of the perpetrators.”

On the right to asylum, he said: “The right to asylum is guaranteed by democratic principles, but it is unacceptable for a democratic state to grant political asylum to criminals. The murderer has no right to claim human rights. If someone commits a crime in France, don’t think he will be able to go to Egypt. I will hand him over to France immediately.”

For a long time, the Egyptian vision of the threat of terrorism and the way to fight it was clear, but many countries in the world, especially the West, could not understand it until they were faced with terrorism themselves. Only then did this lead to the start of talks about the “war on terror.”

The concept of war needs to be redefined. In its traditional sense it has become an outdated and obsolete concept, and the danger of terrorism is far more sophisticated. The world must realize that it is about to embark on a long battle on several fronts. Many networks must be penetrated before we can stop all terrorists. “We have to use intelligence before we put our hands on the organizers, monitor the remittances across the world and follow up on the Internet,” Mubarak said. “All that is required is patience and the use of police and intelligence. If a plane fires a rocket at a mountain in Afghanistan, this will not help anything. With intelligence, however, you can hit the right mountain containing a cave hiding a terrorist leader.”

Where would the world be now if it had listened to him?

Source: arabnews.com/node/1148136

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The White House Power Struggle That Toppled Bannon

By Gregory Aftandilian

 20 August 2017

Although White House intrigues and infighting are nothing new, the Trump White House has taken these brawls to a new level. After several weeks of very public feuds, Trump on August 18, under the influence of his new chief of staff, John Kelly, fired the White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who was rumoured to have been behind right-wing attacks on National Security Adviser HR McMaster.

Trump's advisers are a mix of "alt-right" ideologues who believe that Trump should completely shake up Washington and pursue an "America-centered" policy, and pragmatists who believe the United States should lead the international community and maintain traditional alliances.

The former was represented by Bannon, who was executive chairman of the alt-right Breitbart News organisation, along with some allies that were put on the staff of the National Security Council by Trump's discredited former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and now John Kelly, the new White House chief of staff, represent the latter.

Bannon vs McMaster

McMaster has been the subject of vitriolic attacks by Breitbart News and other right-wing media because he has kept on some staffers from the Obama administration and fired other staffers that his predecessor, Flynn, had brought on. McMaster also favoured allowing former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice to maintain her security clearance as a courtesy. Another episode that earned the wrath of the right wing was that McMaster joined Mattis and Tillerson in recommending to Trump to certify to Congress that Iran was upholding the nuclear deal.

In the ideological mishmash of the right wing in America, McMaster has been depicted as a pawn of a worldwide "Jewish conspiracy" because of alleged connections to George Soros, a billionaire who supports liberal causes and is of Jewish background, as well as a critic of a strong US-Israeli relationship because McMaster reportedly supports the nuclear deal with Iran and has disagreed on occasion with Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, over Israeli-Palestinian issues.

McMaster's relationship with Trump has sometimes been problematic because of disagreements over Afghanistan and Iran. On the former, McMaster has been reflecting the views of the US military that sees a need for more US troops in Afghanistan to continue its training mission of the Afghan army and prevent the Taliban from taking any more territory in the country. Trump, on the other hand, has questioned the efficacy of this Afghanistan strategy.

On Iran, McMaster was simply reflecting the reality that Iran was implementing the nuclear deal and, for the US to pull out of it, would strain ties with European allies. Despite these differences, Trump gave McMaster a public show of support on August 4 by stating, in response to right-wing attacks, that McMaster was "very pro-Israel".

The recent advent of John Kelly to the White House chief of staff position has been a plus for McMaster, as the two are friends from their days in uniform (Kelly was a Marine Corps general and McMaster is still an Army general). Both also share an antipathy to Bannon.

The Influence of Charlottesville

The recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, led by a group of white supremacists, including neo-Nazis, which resulted in widespread revulsion in the US, also may have boosted McMaster's standing vis-a-vis Bannon. Although Bannon was not linked directly to this incident and has denied that the alt-right is inherently racist or anti-Semitic, there have been enough articles in Breitbart (during and after Bannon's stewardship there) that tend to follow the white supremacist agenda to make a connection.

Although some reports have suggested that Bannon was sacked by Trump because he gave an unauthorised interview where he seemed to disagree with Trump's hawkish stance on North Korea, Trump may have wanted to sack Bannon as a way to deflect US public anger over his own comments about the Charlottesville incident in which he seemed to put anti-fascists on the same level as neo-Nazis and claimed there were "some good people" in a neo-Nazi led march the night before the violence broke out in that city.

That Trump has given Kelly significant leeway to run the White House staff also sealed Bannon's fate.

In terms of the administration's foreign and security policy, this essentially means that the pragmatists now have the upper hand over the ideologues. Although Trump is the ultimate decision-maker and can be erratic at times, the advice he will be receiving will come more and more from people with significant experience in foreign and security matters, like McMaster.

As for the Middle East, this means that Trump will likely maintain commitments to allies and will not retreat into a kind of "fortress America". On the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Trump will still listen to Kushner because of family ties, but if Kushner decides to throw in the towel, McMaster and his NSC staff might reclaim that portfolio.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/08/white-house-power-struggle-toppled-bannon-170819094854258.html

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How Qatar Is Looking For Solutions In Kerala

By Jameel Al-Thiyabi

20 August 2017

It has been three months since the Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar. There is no immediate settlement in sight, and the four countries will not back down on the conditions and demands they have set. After all, their patience has worn thin due to Qatar’s policies, which are against all international norms and conventions.

The situation has been complicated because of the malicious policies of Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, former Emir of Qatar, and Hamad Bin Jassim, former Prime Minister of Qatar, and because of Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad’s refusal to address the demands which he pledged to do, and his refusal to abide by the six principles announced by the states which call for combating terrorism.

Qatar’s government has been seeking support in several world capitals and from global organizations but its efforts have proved futile. It has left no stone unturned searching for support and sympathy everywhere to the extent that it has even paid money for advertisements posted on London buses and taxicabs and broadcast on American TV channels. All this is meant to promote the idea of Qatar being oppressed and downtrodden and of being the victim. Again, this mendacious propaganda has proved to be futile, as the governments of other countries have not fallen for it.

Laughable

The laughable thing is the Qatari government’s decision to resort to the Indian state of Kerala. The government hired some mercenaries there and paid them millions of rupees to improve its tarnished image. This clearly shows that Qatar has a bad reputation and a weak image, an image that has changed since 5 June 2017. Today, the international community views Qatar with suspicion.

The Qatari leadership should realize that going to Washington, London, Paris or even Kerala will not resolve its dispute with its neighboring sisterly countries nor will it end this boycott. It also will not cancel the demands calling upon it to change its negative behavior. Qatar should realize that the only solution lies in addressing the demands of the four countries.

The desired solution lies in the Riyadh agreement. Egypt and the three Gulf countries are not the only ones that have cut ties with Qatar because of its policies; there is also Kuwait. Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad has already refused Qatar’s malicious policies and warned against their repercussion on the solid Gulf Council.

The Emir of Kuwait, who plays the role of mediator in this unprecedented crisis, will not remain neutral on this forever. He knows very well that Qatar has worked for the fragmentation and division of the Kingdom as well as the militarization of some of its regions. Qatar continues to work to sow sedition and destabilize the security situation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

It continues to fuel revolutions and uprisings, gives bribes to corrupt persons and undermines the security of other countries in order to achieve the objectives of the Muslim Brotherhood’s vision in which the Qatari government believes. Let us not forget that Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad played the mediator’s role in the Riyadh agreement in 2013 and complementary addenda in 2014.

Bogged Down

The Qatar government is now bogged down in a deep quagmire, even if it tries to pretend otherwise. It has complicated the crisis and internationalized it when it should have contained it with sisterly countries. It continued to maneuver and lie until the crisis got out of control. Neither Iran nor Turkey can help Qatar at this stage. No matter how smart Qatar pretends to be and no matter how many billions it pays, it will not succeed in this. It continues to lose and will suffer from more losses and this will cause the Qatari people to suffer as well from consequences from which they could have been spared.

Using Al Jazeera TV channel and other media channels, which it runs secretly, will not help Qatar in promoting misleading propaganda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah. Everyone can now see through these flagrant lies. The Qatari government has betrayed its sisterly Gulf countries but this betrayal will not undermine the strength and unity of the sisterly countries and will not achieve the Qatari government’s malicious desires.

It is high time that the Qatari leadership listens to the voice of reason and wisdom or else it will have to face more dire and severe consequences in the near future.

Source: /english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/08/20/How-Qatar-is-looking-for-solutions-in-Kerala-.html

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Kissinger’s Analysis of Mideast Is Full of Loopholes

By Amir Taheri

20 August 2017

Whatever one might think of Henry Kissinger’s view of the world, not to mention his contribution to international debate during the past six decades, one thing is certain: He has his own matrix for measuring right and wrong in policy terms.

That matrix is balance of power, a European concept developed during the medieval times that reached cannon status with the so-called Westphalian treaties to organize relations among emerging nations in Europe. Call him a ”one trick pony” if you like but you will also have to admire Kissinger’s consistency in promoting foreign policy as a means of stabilizing the status quo regardless of moral let alone ideological considerations. In his version of Realpolitik the aim should be to freeze rather than try to change the world, something fraught with dangerous risks.

Kissinger’s neo-Westphalian view of international relations produced détente which, in turn, arguably prolonged the Soviet Union’s existence by a couple of decades. His shuttle diplomacy froze the post-1967 status quo in the Israel-Palestine conflict, postponing a genuine settlement for God knows how many more decades. The same approach put the seal of approval on the annexation of South Vietnam by the Communist North despite the latter’s defeat on the battleground.

The good Doctor’s latest contribution concerns the campaign against ISIS. Kissinger warns that destroying ISIS could lead to an “Iranian radical empire”.

Kissinger’s Errors

In other words, we must leave ISIS, which is a clear and active threat to large chunks of the Middle East and Europe, intact for fear of seeing it replaced by an arguably bigger threat represented by a “radical Iranian empire.”

As usual there are many problems with Kissinger’s attempt at using medieval European concepts to analyze situations in other parts of the world.

To start with, he seems to think that the Khomeinist regime in Tehran and the so-called ISIS “caliphate” in Raqqa belong to two different categories. The truth, however, is that they are two versions of the same ugly reality, peddling the same ideology, using the same methods, and helping bestow legitimacy on one another.

What is the difference between Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claiming “supreme leadership of all Muslims throughout the world” as “Imam” and Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi’s similar claim as Caliph? And aren’t both regimes claiming to have the only true version of Islam with a mission to conquer the entire world in its name? One may even argue that without Khomeinism in Iran there would not have been ISIS and ISIS-like groups, not to mention the Taliban, in our part of the world at least at this time.

That ISIS and the Khomeinist regime feed on each other is also illustrated by Tehran’s current line of propaganda which is telling the Iranians they must tolerate brutal oppression as the price for protection against ISIS.

Kissinger’s second error is to think that it’s not possible to fight against two versions of evil without favoring one.

In fighting two evils one may have to operate in separate time sequels. In 1939, it was imperative to defeat Nazi Germany despite the fact that such an outcome might have strengthened the USSR which at the time was an ally of Hitler. But once the first evil was eliminated the fight to defeat the second one could start in the shape of the Cold War.

Kissinger’s third error is him forgetting the contribution of the Obama administration to strengthening the Khomeinist regime, not to say allowing it to survive. Obama looked the other way as the mullahs crushed a popular uprising in Iran in 2009. He then rushed to give them legitimacy by engaging them in a diplomatic charade one effect of which was to save the cash-starved regime escape the worst consequences of its own failed economic policies.

After almost four decades, the Khomeinists have failed to build the institutions of state, something without which no credible empire-building could be launched.

Contrary to what Kissinger seems to think, the choice is not between helping the Khomeinist regime and going to full-scale war against it. The least that Western democracies could do is not to help the Khomeinists out of the holes they constantly dig for themselves.

Kissinger’s next error, sadly shared by several pundits and analysts across the globe, is to vastly overestimate the solidity and power of the present regime in Tehran. True, the Khomeinist regime has enough power to cause a great deal of trouble in the region and is doing so. But this doesn’t mean it is capable of building an empire, something that requires a strong home base which the present Iranian regime no longer has, if it ever did. The Khomeinists have difficulty recruiting Iranians to become martyrs in foreign wars, and are forced to hire Lebanese, Afghan Pakistani, and, more recently, European passport-holding mercenaries. Without cash-injection by the US and allies, the Khomeinists will also be hard put to pay salaries let alone finance empire building projects.

To be sure, the weakest of troublemakers can still do some harm as we saw with Muammar Qaddafi’s Operetta-size empire-building and now witness with North Korea’s quixotic comedy adding color to this year’s silly season.

Finally, Kissinger’s biggest error, perhaps, is the assumption that the only choice the Middle East has, at least in Syria and Iraq, is between the “caliphate” in Raqqa and the “Imamate” in Tehran.

Twin Causes

Anyone familiar with the situation on the ground would know that this is certainly not the case. An overwhelming majority of Syrians, including even followers of Bashar al-Assad, do cherish the prospect of a future under tutelage from Tehran. Given a choice, they would certainly look at other options. In Iraq, too, even such figures as Nuri al-Maliki, have realized the difficulty of marketing Iranian domination as a recipe for the future; this is why the former premier is now trying to get at least a nod and a wink from Moscow.

Neither the Raqqa “caliphate” not the Tehran “imamate” are capable of providing the stability which the region needs and which Kissinger sees as the ultimate goal of foreign policy. Since both are the twin causes of the current tragedy in the region, bequeathing both to oblivion is the only Realpolitik worthy of consideration. The order in which that happens is a matter for another debate.

The creative chaos marketed by the George W Bush administration gave birth to dangers which, in turn; have produced new opportunities which Kissinger’s quest for an elusive balance of power would miss.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/08/20/Kissinger-s-analysis-of-Mideast-is-full-of-loopholes-.html

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