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NEWNATIONS BULLETIN: 1ST SEPTEMBER 2013

 

Middle East Approaches Boiling Point

IRAQ, LIBYA, EGYPT, SYRIA

This month’s issue is significant because after just a few minutes reading (start with the OVERVIEW), you can see that the region overall, in terms of factional strife, is probably in its worst condition, well, since the break-up of the Roman Empire perhaps.


See IRAQ where for the past 90 days there have been an average of 30 suicide bombs a month- one every day- compared with a ‘modest’ 5 to 10 per month in 2011 and 2012. Think of how that would play where you live!


LIBYA, a failed state, despite/because of, the military intervention of its western friends, is now comparable to Somalia, for some of the same reasons, but today we report Libya is on the brink of actual Civil War!


EGYPT may be spared that, simply because the powerful army is in charge again, but the conditions – their fledgling democracy has been snatched away - are otherwise revolutionary and police-state authorities are in place.


SYRIA whose two and a half year brutal civil war has recently been favouring the government, is now perhaps to experience a remotely controlled weapons onslaught, because certain governments, the USA; France; no longer the UK (lawmakers, with memories re-emerging of the US/UK intelligence failures of Iraq, have now voted against attacking SYRIA); and Turkey (umm, that’s it)! These states have already decided that the fearful use of chemical weapons is to be laid squarely at the door of the Assad government, and deserves their summary punishment, even, we are told, if the United Nations doesn’t accept that the case against them is proven.


Fears of ‘mission creep’ are being brushed aside, but if say, a US submarine involved in the attack mysteriously failed to resurface, Israeli ‘sources’ would probably ‘discover’ that the Iranians had sunk it. What then about mission creep, or would that be WW3?


There is still a danger that the threatened US strike, like IRAQ ten years ago, will pre-empt the UN experts report (although British legislators had earlier insisted that no action will be authorised by them, before the UN experts report), it could be a near exact re-run of the invasion of IRAQ – that time on the spurious story of neutralising non-existent WMD’s. Then the Bush coalition ignored the UN’s experts who had been sent there to verify and found no trace of any such weapons. Again, look and reflect on the resulting misery of IRAQ now, ten years later!


…….making common cause!
Also by default, any attack on the Assad government is to make common cause with the Al Qaeda terrorists and associates, perpetrators of 9/11, who seek to overthrow the Assad government, notable in the region for its religious tolerance. This, in order to enforce the religious will of the strict fundamentalists of the Sunni states that are Syria’s neighbours and paymasters of the rebels.


It is said that a ‘proportionate’ attack will not in itself overthrow the Syrian government, but it surely will damage to some extent, their capability of resisting the jihadis. What an historic outcome that would be, to replace a hitherto stable, religiously tolerant government by mistake.


As to mission-creep, it may well be that the rebels, ‘our side,’ that the US and allies have decided to support, even after the expected punitive action, might well continue to lose, and eventually perhaps be close to defeat. Would western forces ‘need’ to get involved once again, perhaps as they did in Libya, becoming de facto the rebel airforce?


It hasn’t yet been fully recognised in Europe and USA that the fully unleashed forces of militant Islam really are continuing as an existential threat, not just to the Arab state locale, not confined to Pakistan and Afghanistan, nor to Western China, Central Asia and to Russia, but also to the comfortable western world, who are shocked by isolated, almost random now, historic acts of terror, in New York, Washington DC, Madrid, London, Boston. But who on the whole are reassured by the normality of their lives, and trust in efficient intelligence harvesting by their police and security forces, who have already ensured that numerous terror plots were interdicted.


What is happening in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt and elsewhere is that a modern cult of assassins has surfaced, motivated by their perceived duty to their religion. Individuals having relatively easy movement, where they happen to be citizens in many democratic parts of the world, where their organised groups are often led or manned by returned veterans of the hot-war fighting in Afghanistan and the Middle-east. Those that originate in peaceful western states go off to do jihad, then return home, having experience of weaponry, munitions and killing. Some, many even, may still have the sense of purpose that took them off to jihad. As security people know, returned jihadi volunteers will remain suspect as potentially very dangerous.


Surely it is time to consider legislation that strips such people of their citizenship, subject of course to considered exceptions on appeal (like the French Foreign Legion), if they return from having travelled to take up arms within/against any nation, not just friends and allies of their native state. Thus it would become clear that they could become stateless, if they decide to travel abroad as individual jihadis, or mercenaries.


In the 21st C all religions are entitled to exist, but if their proponents seek to interfere by force with members of other faiths, they go outside the protections of statehood and civilisation and become the enemies of all. That doesn’t seem too complicated, but it should be adopted universally amongst the Rights of Man.

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TURKEY has been enduring crises of varying magnitude. So much revolves around the ‘charismatic’ figure of PM Erdogan, that being his effect on the conservative, generally poor, traditionally religious portion of the population. He has over the years of his ministry been rather successful for his nation, their economic growth has outshone most of Europe. Success, unless that is, you are a journalist (Turkey has more imprisoned journo’s than any other nation). Also a lot of locked-up senior military officers, this after he clamped down on the military’s rather bad history of interfering with the elected government, had been brought to trial. As the leader of a ‘soft’ Islamic party often compared with ‘Christian Democrats’ in Europe, he was obviously concerned at the fate of the Moslem Brotherhood government in Egypt. He is a Sunni and has volunteered Turkey as a supporter of armed action against Syria, if the USA decides to go ahead. That, if it happens, will not sit well with a large part of his population who do not sympathise with the Syrian rebels.


IRAN A brand new 18 strong government team is now in place under the new President Rouhani, as his Cabinet. Three of his candidates had been disallowed by for being ‘linked to reformists.’ Seemingly the Ayatollah Khamenei, in his role as Supreme Leader, vetoed others as being too close to reformists, in particular the proposed Intelligence and Culture ministers, both of whom had served under the earlier president Khatami, who is clearly not ‘flavour of the week’.


Rouhani had other candidates available, including moderates and has filled his list. The noteworthy one was the new Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif formerly representing Iran at the UN. Foreign policy is expected to have a shake-up and messages have been emerging that the atmosphere is right for renewed nuclear negotiations, it being understood that the ‘Supreme Leader’ is the one who will need to be convinced.


RUSSIA Putin, whilst being disliked in the West, remains a powerful leader for his people despite his disinterest in western democracy or tolerance for their ‘live and let live’ attitudes. He has continuing problems with Islamic militants, particularly because Islam is now emblematic of the political rejection of the Russian Federation by certain unwilling populations, particularly in the North Caucasus. It is this consciousness and because of his experience of extreme forms of terror carried out in Russia, including its great cities, that he is a strong proponent of the Assad government in Syria. They are fighting a life and death struggle against similar terrorist groups fighting not for democratic freedoms, but for extreme Sunni domination. He is also very aware of the northwards flow of Islamic fighters leaving quietening Afghanistan, making their way to ‘where the action is’ in the North Caucasus where the rebels have even formally taken the group Islamic name of an ‘Emirate’.


Russia has also fallen out with UKRAINE over trade, which is interesting because UKRAINE enjoys its political freedom from its former masters in Moscow, but its behaviour as a government and attitude to democracy has not endeared the former soviet nation to EU states, albeit there is trade to be done with them.


INDIA Border clashes with Pakistani forces continue to plague relations, which both governments seem to seek to improve, but the Pakistan army in particular is not really under government control, being far more popular than its government for a start. Unless this tale of two armies can be resolved, other than by another pointless war, certainly Pakistan’s prospects of economic recovery are going nowhere. An Indian naval tragedy when an INS Submarine sank with all 18 crew, and not the first in recent times. Congress agreed to the formation of a new State in the deep-south, Telangana, which caused a helter-skelter of violent demonstrations by many demanding separate states elsewhere.


PAKISTAN Relations with the US have improved with Pakistan’s softening of attitudes towards the logistical problems of US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The IMF in what may be a related mood, agreed a higher loan than expected which staves off financial disaster for another period, but although the nation’s problems are manifold – almost unbelievably so, the rich don’t pay any tax for example, one of the richest being PM Sharif himself. He does understand however that the key to progress is to make a definite abiding peace with INDIA, which could transform the economy. But Pakistan is plagued with religious fanaticism of the Islamic kind. The leadership of Al Qaeda is believed to have long been based there, but there are other fundamentalists, many of whom are untamed tribals, who pose a direct problem to Pakistan itself, as well using its territory to plan lethal outrages in neighbouring INDIA. Former president and top general Musharraf, freely returned to the country to offer himself democratically in the recent presidential elections. But he was prevented from standing by his enemies in the judiciary, having him slung in jail - and by Sharif himself, whom Musharraf had arrested and exiled, back in his time. What is sad is that Musharraf during his period in control, did better than any of his predecessors or successors, in cutting back government corruption and hitting the domestic terrorists hard. Now various absurd charges have been laid against him, which should be thrown out by a proper judiciary – but this is Pakistan!


AFGHANISTAN Karzai still is in control and very actively involved in the choice of his successor – he has just changed his candidate again to an ‘arch-Islamist.’ It very much appears that the US would like to wash its hands of this country. It is clearly no longer a priority, understandably because of the people they have to deal with, exemplified by Karzai.


PHILIPPINES State of the Nation address delivered by reforming President Aquino was good as far as it went, but did not cover vital areas of national concern. It is still wonderful that there is at last a president who isn’t a crook, but there is a lot to do, particularly in competing within ASEAN where economic integration is only two years away.


TAIWAN KMT leader and national President Ma Yong-jeou has just scored an approval rating (it should be called something else) of a lowly 17%. He is seen in this dynamic place as running an inept government and the facts speak for themselves. He is of course, the champion for returning Taiwan to mainland China but the level of support for this is declining, as our report explains.
 

Clive Lindley - Publisher

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Newnations.com Bulletin, 1st September 2013|New Nations - a not for profit company
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