Is the ‘Dead’ Arab World Really Waiting to be Led by Iran?

Reading Boualem Sansal’s recent interview in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, was a stimulating experience. In that interview, Sansal, after depicting the Arab world “in terms of history,” as “dead,” thinks that Iran “is well armed intellectually, scientifically and economically, and could one day lead Islam globally.” He is also of the view that “…soon the Sunni Arabs will accept the domination of Shi’ite Iran, because only Iran enjoys recognition from the West, and even instills fear in it.” He regards Iran’s nuclear program as “proof” of Iranian “capabilities.” He also regards “Western Islam” as a “serious rival” of Iran. Western Islam, in Sansal’s estimation, “too could one day compete for the right to lead the Muslim world.” Continue reading “Is the ‘Dead’ Arab World Really Waiting to be Led by Iran?”

Burying the Hatchet is the Precondition for US-Iran Rapprochement

A lot of ink is being spilled analyzing the pros and cons of the recently concluded US-Iran nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+ 1 countries (4 permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany), and there is ample show of emotions about this deal involving different actors. The Arab states are upset because they concluded that its successful implementation would lead to an era of US-Iran rapprochement in which Iran, more than the Arab states, would be the focus of America’s attention. The Israelis are mad because they see the emergence of a nuclear Iran in the distant future as a result of it. More to the point, Israel’s Prime Minister , Benyamin Netanyahu, envisions that deal as the first historical step toward bringing about an end to Israel’s own preeminence, related to its nuclear deterrence in the region. A study prepared for the RAND Corporation addresses precisely that point when it notes, “Nuclear weapons would probably reinforce Iran’s traditional national security objectives, including deterring a U.S. or Israeli military attack.” The American side—mainly the Obama officials and pro-nuclear-deal Democrats in the US Congress—is hoping that it has succeeded, at least in postponing Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons aspirations into the distant future. The American neocons and the Republican legislators, on the contrary, think that Iran has fleeced the Obama administration into lifting the economic sanctions without giving up anything of substance. Continue reading “Burying the Hatchet is the Precondition for US-Iran Rapprochement”

So Long, 2013; Welcome 2014…I Think!

Happy new year to all my global friends and contacts!

2013 has been an okay year for the United States, in terms of its foreign policy in the Middle East and in the Asia-Pacific.  Continue reading “So Long, 2013; Welcome 2014…I Think!”

Is Obama’s Strategic Dilemma in Syria a Symptom of the Arrival of a Post-Superpower Era?

The government of Bishara al-Assad, while predicted to have fallen many months ago, is hanging on, and is causing an agonizing dilemma on the part of the United States and Israel.  Both of them want to see the end of Assad’s regime; however, neither of them wants to see Assad replaced by a nexus of Islamists and pro-AQ Jihadists in that country.  The sustained hesitation of the United States regarding Syria made John Kampfner of the Guardian wonder whether this is the first conflict of “the post-superpower era.”  My sense is that Kampfner is not far off the mark, especially since the PRC is reported to be demonstrating a heightened interest in playing some role in the PLO-Israeli conflict.

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The “Banana Republic” of the United States?: Not Quite

Is the United States is in the process of becoming a banana republic?  It is an absurd question, but that was how Binyamin Netanyahu was treating it last Sunday.  During an interview on CNN, which clearly appeared as an attempt of the Israeli Prime Minister to interfere in the presidential election of the United States, he demanded that the Obama administration establish a clear “red line,” which Iran cannot cross with its nuclear program.

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Bin Laden’s Cherished Dream: Turbulence Between the US and the World of Islam

Before we allow a sense of despair to color our judgment about the future of the Arab Awakening, let me say that it is very much alive and kicking.  In the past few days and weeks, it not only has been trying to kick out Bishara Assad, but it seems to be turning against the United States.  One has to wonder whether the movie, “Innocence of Muslims,” which insults the Prophet of Islam could generate so much hatred toward the United States or whether there are other hidden agendas.  I tend to be inclined to view both factors as resulting in the so-called Muslim “rage.”

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The Deadly Anti-Democratic Games of Egypt’s Army

Watching the daily and weekly developments in Egypt, one wonders how optimistic one has to remain about the prospects of genuine democracy in that country.  The Egyptian military had a good start when it ousted Hosni Mubarak.  Even when his goons were allegedly sent to beat up the civilian demonstrators in Tahrir Square, either by Mubarak or by someone close to him, the Army showed its neutrality by not participating in that violent episode.  That fact also gave ample reason to think that the Army understood the real mood of its citizens regarding regime change. Continue reading “The Deadly Anti-Democratic Games of Egypt’s Army”

Crushing a Social Movement: Maybe in Your Dreams!

China is not the only country that has been apprehensive about a possible eruption of the Arab Awakening-like social movement that could threaten its regime.  Russia and the Central Asian states – especially the latter – are even more afraid of the birth of such a movement.  They think that they can crush a social movement if or when it arises inside their respective borders, and they are taking a number of ostensibly proactive measures.  The Central Asian states are afraid because of the commonality of a number of variables between them and the Arab countries, where the Arab Awakening continues to look inexorable.

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Are Muslims Still Angry at America?

In America, there is a season for everything.  There is a season to be thankful, to be good to your loved ones, to be jolly, or to feel contemplative, and so on.  Now is the season for taking a close look at the Muslims at large, who, in the minds of a majority of Americans, are still linked with the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  That link is more symbolic in nature, but its power is being felt as this country approaches September 11, 2011.  I accentuate the notion of symbolism related to this issue because very few Americans bothered to study its nuances.  Even though writing about Islam and Muslims’ attitudes and feelings has become a cottage industry in the post-9/11-era inside the United States and in other countries, quite a few of those projects contain nonsensical explanations by the authors who have little knowledge of Islam and Muslims, or who have barely travelled to any Muslim country, much less lived in any of those countries for a long period of time.  Steven Kull’s essay, “Why Muslims are still mad at America” and his book, Feeling Betrayed: The Roots of Muslim Anger At America, are exceptions to that rule.  He is an academic from the University of Maryland, and has spent a lot of time interviewing Muslims for his book.

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