THE SAUDIS AND IRANIANS NEED TO TALK:
AND WE NEED TO MAKE IT HAPPEN
In recent years I have worked deeply on quiet conflict management interventions from Afghanistan to Iran, but mostly in Syria. I have watched the unnecessary suffering of countless people, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Syrians, the greatest civilian displacement in Middle Eastern history, and I have watched it up close through the lives of my students and friends.
As an analyst my job is to study, inquire and reflect. Everything we conflict analysts, peace builders and trainers–Western, Muslim, Arab, Christian and Jewish–are learning from experience in the field, and from our students and friends all over the Middle East, is that we are caught in a deepening maelstrom of violent disasters due to the perpetual state of war between two states with radical philosophies that have been at loggerheads since 1979, Saudi …
Read every word. This is the dark truth about why the United States is on the wrong side of the Gulf. Why its allies have destroyed the democrats of the Arab Spring, deliberately, turned it into an Islamist and jihadi nightmare, and why we must completely rethink our allies and adversaries. Someday the story will be told of the decline of America at the hands of its despotic and repressive allies who made this country die on the altar of military and oil sales. And I include right-wing led Israel and Pakistan in this disaster of allies. yes, Iran must give up or neutralize Assad, but that is impossible as long it faces an American armed coalition surrounding it on all sides. We have solutions here, and the greatest victims, are Sunni peoples, held hostage by desperately insane Wahhabi regimes.
Graham last week said American air strikes in Iraq will be needed to halt the advance of militants.
His comments about Iran broach an even more sensitive topic – putting the United States in potential collaboration with a country it suspects of developing nuclear weapons and supporting its own militant groups in places like Lebanon.
Iranian officials, closely allied with Maliki and watchful over the Shi’ite population centered in southern Iraq, have also been alarmed at the sudden seizure of territory by the ISIL.
The logic of intending to bomb a country like Iran in one part of the year, and then contemplate an alliance in the next year to defend Baghdad really needs to be defined and exposed. On one level, it is perfectly reasonable. if a year ago, allies Israel and Saudi Arabia were convincing us that Iran is the primary mortal threat, then we decide to …
my recent piece on why the Middle East region continues to resist change following the Arab Spring: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=61723
“The excessive, concentrated wealth that extractions industries created has notoriously depressed the empowerment of millions of people throughout modern history. But considering the unprecedented role of oil as the lifeblood of the global economy, it should come as no surprise that oil politics and rivalries have an especially destructive retardation effect on freedom in the Middle East.
Specifically, the rivalries of Qatar and Saudi Arabia are wreaking havoc on the legitimate rights of the Syrian people to resist the cruelties and tyrannies of the Syrian regime. They do so by allowing their citizens to fund jihadism that has undermined the emergence of a rational Syrian opposition that could be in a position to share power and eventually replace the current regime. The Gulf jihadist proxies know no compromise, no comprehension …
Part I: The Failure of the Military Option
It may seem odd to speak of nonviolence in the same sentence as Syria, one of the bloodiest and most tragic destructions of a state and a culture in contemporary history. But the fact is that we are inching closer to a mainstream and politically realist understanding of nonviolence as a legitimate course of political change. This is very significant, because if in fact the major powers are beginning to acknowledge the futility of armed conflict, at least in places of a geopolitical standoff, such as Syria, then we can expect more Western support may to nonviolent resisters in the future. This in turn may inch the globe a bit closer to a nonviolent system of social change.
Why has the military option become increasingly futile in the Syrian case? Because Russia and Iran will not back down in their support of …
A crisis in Syria’s opposition deepened on Monday when liberals were offered only token representation, undermining international efforts to lend the Islamist-dominated alliance greater support.
To the dismay of envoys of Western and Arab nations monitoring four days of opposition talks in Istanbul, the 60-member Syrian National Coalition thwarted a deal to admit a liberal bloc headed by opposition campaigner Michel Kilo.
The failure to broaden the coalition, in which Qatar and a bloc largely influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood has been playing the driving role, could undermine Saudi Arabian support for the revolt and raise the specter of a rivalry among Gulf powers that could further weaken the opposition. Read more here.
A couple of days ago something moved me to outrage more than all the human rights abuses of the Syrian conflict. I have witnessed helplessly as all my dear friends in Syria have lost everything to
Washington (CNN) — An ancient Persian symbol of freedom, tolerance and coexistence has joined documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Emancipation Proclamation in Washington.
The Cyrus Cylinder represents the spirit and ideals of Cyrus, the leader of the Achaemenid Empire in the sixth century B.C. After peacefully conquering Babylon in 539 B.C.and declaring his principles on the cylinder, Cyrus freed the Jewish population of Babylon from long bondage and rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Cyrus Cylinder inspired many throughout history — in particular 18th century Enlightenment philosophers, historians and politicians in Europe and America — as a source of their thinking on human rights, settling conflicts and leadership.
Thomas Jefferson reportedly owned two copies of the Cyropaedia, Xenophon’s biography of Cyrus, and carried it for inspiration and guidance.
Today — far from ancient Persia and the Enlightenment, in a different, far more …
A senior Iraqi intelligence official says al-Qaida-linked fighters already are flowing from Iraq to Syria.
Human rights, human decency of the Syrian people, assaulted from all sides. But perhaps this has always been the challenge of constructing the good society, and we cannot shrink back from the challenge. It is the same now with the outrageous support of terrorists against Iran, for example, and Iranian regime’s active support for the killing machine in Syria. How to push back all tyrants who unleash forces that always destroy civilians first and last, and let the Syrian people, indeed all peoples of the region, build their own countries together.…
We are facing the beginnings of a Cuban Missile Crisis moment in the Straits of Hormuz, and without the proper communications system to avoid a catastrophe, as David Ignatius has noted. Secret communications between President Obama and Khameini are an excellent idea right now, with the right back channels, but they should not be just about communicating red lines and threats directly and personally. They should also be about opportunities, and those opportunities must be kept the most secret of all, because of those who are breathing down Obama’s political neck, itching for war.
There is an ancient idea that if you want your enemy to make a move other than one that is suicidal that you must not surround him on all four sides, you must offer him a way out. If there is no way out, then the threats and aggressive maneuvers just escalate. There must …
Just a few days ago was the longest night of the year. Another way of looking at is that this was night in which the tide of darkness began to turn back in favor of light. Bunched around this time are so many ancient holidays of lights and candles, of which Hanukah and Christmas are but two. Ancient rabbinic tradition suggests that the purpose of the small light at night is to teach that it takes only the light of one individual candle to illuminate the darkness of an entire room—or the world.
Peering at small lights at night, meditating on them, also has another interesting impact. It makes the blinding light of the morning sun feel almost miraculous. Indeed, many of the pre-monotheistic nighttime celebrations of light at this time of year are actually celebrations of the birth of light, and particularly sunlight. There is an inescapable reality to …