Category Archives: Syrian Politics

Of Geopolitics & Communal Identity

Conflict in the Middle East will have consequences far beyond its borders, especially in Europe.

This is a very important article by Nicholas Blanford and can help us predict the future patterns of conflict in the region. The key quote in it for me, the one that explains how “geopolitical concerns” are understood by Iran’s leaders at this stage and, consequently, how other players are bound to understand them as swell, is this:

In February 2014, Mehdi Taeb, a senior Iranian cleric, underlined the importance of Syria to Iran in stark terms, saying it is a “strategic province for us.”  “If the enemy attacks us and wants to take either Syria or [the Iranian province of] Khuzestan, the priority is to keep Syria,” he said. “If we keep Syria, we can get Khuzestan back too, but if we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran.”

"Syria is our strategic province," said Mehdi Taeb, the cleric in charge of the Revolutionary Guards' Cyber Warfare Unit in February 2014.
"Syria is our strategic province," said Mehdi Taeb, the cleric in charge of the Revolutionary Guards' Cyber Warfare Unit in February 2014.

Continue reading Of Geopolitics & Communal Identity

Killers, Cowards and Charlatans

At the beginning of the Syrian revolution there were many millions who wanted to oust Assad, and many who wanted him to stay. Each group motivated by their own concerns, most of which were pretty legitimate. The systematic violence unleashed by Assad and his supporters, and the lies they perpetrated to get support for this policy from their sympathizers paved the path to where we are today. Nonviolence could not continue to work in the face of such mass and systematic violence, coupled with international indifference and opposition ineptitude.

On March 15, 2011, the Syrian street was divided between those who wanted freedom and those who kept opting for security at all costs. This cartoon shows why liberty is a much better idea, for all the risks it brings.
On March 15, 2011, the Syrian street was divided between those who wanted freedom and those who kept opting for security at all costs. This cartoon shows why liberty is a much better idea, for all the risks it brings.

Continue reading Killers, Cowards and Charlatans

The story of an old joke – a clarification

When I referred in my post yesterday to Hady Al-Bahra’s appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart,  I was not suggesting that he was wrong in doing so, I was merely explaining that, because it happened now and not two years ago, the impact of such an appearance will be minimal, and that we should not raise our hopes too much. After all, American officials are talking about a multi-year plan, even in connection with the upcoming training of the FSA.

General John Allen, Special Presidential Envoy for the Coalition to Counter ISIL
General John Allen, Special Presidential Envoy for the Coalition to Counter ISIL

Continue reading The story of an old joke – a clarification

Collateral Damage

The Syrians, yes, even those who are now in danger of being harmed as a result of U.S. strikes, would have been much more forgiving, had the strikes come earlier and had Assad being in the visor as well, and not only ISIS and Al-Nusra. But seeing that the strikes came so late in the game and only in response to a potential threat to U.S. security, and that there do not seem to be any plans for targeting Assad and his loyalist militias as well, Syrians in target regions have little reason to be sympathetic to America’s plans. Even the Kurds, and after their initial euphoria, seem skeptical now, because ISIS’ positions around Kobani remain untouched, and its assault on the Kurdish town is still unfolding.

It pays to do this little comparison to see why the rebels are so focused on Assad, despite the world's obsession with ISIS.
It pays to do this little comparison to see why the rebels are so focused on Assad, despite the world's obsession with ISIS.

Continue reading Collateral Damage

Obama has ignored Syria for too long: it's the rise of Isis, stupid – now help

Comment is free | theguardian.com.

This column was ranked one of the five best columns for Monday August 25 by thewire.com. 

It’s time for him to do the right thing by arming moderate rebels, imposing a no-fly zone and expanding military action beyond Iraq

Barack Obama is embarking on a global course correction, if not an outright reversal: the policy of “don’t do stupid stuff” – the non-interventionism so praised by the Farid Zakarias and Tom Friedmans of the world – is getting forced out, albeit in the typical Obama fashion of admitting nothing and never going fast or far enough.

Blanket, cold-hearted realism doesn’t work when networked, cold-hearted terrorism does. Photo ilustration: DonkeyHotey / Flickr via Creative Commons
Blanket, cold-hearted realism doesn’t work when networked, cold-hearted terrorism does. Photo ilustration: DonkeyHotey / Flickr via Creative Commons

Continue reading Obama has ignored Syria for too long: it's the rise of Isis, stupid – now help