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Old 01-31-2011   #101
Ken White
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Its pretty crazy how much sway a handful COIN experts have based on 1-2 tours to Iraq coupled with a little PhD work on the topic of western colonial COIN experience.
I could have a lot of fun with the phrase "COIN experts" but that would be penny ante...

Agree. As I do with this:
Quote:
My only caveat to this is that most experts on cultures know very little about insurgency, which leads to equally flawed assessments of how things might play out.
Absolutely. On this next one, though, I have a comment:
Quote:
Too much of our current flawed approach to the war on terrorism is that we have relied too much on "cultural experts" who have made it far too much about religion; and on CT and COIN experts who have made far too much about a couple different families of tactics for addressing particular aspects of a problem, but not very good at addressing the larger drivers of the real problem.
I agree with the statement but would add that our (the Army's) ineptitude due to lack of doctrine and, more importantly, lack of training and acts of indiscipline in early days in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan were partly due to the two factors you cite but were mostly simply the result of inadequate training and education on the part of most element -- of all components, branches and commands; everyone involved in decision making capacities. The cultural and the COIN mavens did not help, indeed, they possibly in some cases did more harm than good.
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It is not a pursuit for "the answer" is the pursuit for a more effective context. Counter culture, counter terror, and colonial intervention models dressed up as COIN just are not working. What amazes me is how many assume that they should.
True. It is worrisome that too many in high places fail to understand that. Really worrisome.
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As I have stated elsewhere, I believe these are the factors that contributed most to the enduring stability of that nation and are what are missing in so many Middle Eastern nations that are flaring up today.)
Also agree.

It does seem the Administration is finally starting to find its feet with respect to Egypt, I note multiple and synchronized calls for 'an orderly transition.'
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Old 01-31-2011   #102
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Default Military support is different...

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Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
The specific methods were for example delivery of arms (Saudi-Arabia's army is not hesitant at all to proclaim that its primary purpose is to keep the royal family in power), money aid and political backing.

What the U.S. could do:
Support the opposition instead of dictatorships or at least drop the support for dictators.
Do not supply arms. The point here is not so much that this will deprive them off arms (others will sell them), but it'll make the army less happy and thus more inclined to not support the dictator in a critical moment.
I would argue that the a big part of why the Egyptian Military hasn't overtly attacked the people is because they have had 30 years of association, education, and training with the US. This has built personal relationships that can be used to influence the military. OBTW we can leverage spare parts and technical help to provide material pressure. The Saudi military

Cutting off military ties is one of the dumbest things you can do in most of these countries IMHO. The police forces or gendarmes as well as the intel agencies tend to be the main sources of repression - not the military.

I'm not saying we should blindly support those who commit atrocities - but at the same time, I wouldn't conflate military support (which tends to be stabilizing) with support for repression.

V/R,

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Old 01-31-2011   #103
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Police are typically lifers. The average soldier is a two-year draftee with no professional lifer NCO corps over him. He was a university student last year, and will likely be one again next year. He associates far more with the people around him in the street than he does with the officers over him.

But yes, I am sure the officer corps has profited from long association with the U.S. as well. I have fond memories of my time spent with the Egyptian Ranger BDE and their 6th Mech Division during the Gulf War.

But bad things can happen, take our own Kent State example. One group of Americans with student deferments square off with another group with National Guard deferments (most likely primarily those who's student deferments had expired but who had the political clout to get a coveted billet in the Guard and avoid going into the draft). Two groups of elites with deferments from going to Vietnam square off and a tragedy ensues.

We need to keep this in mind if at some point a similar event occurs in Egypt, if some scared kid in uniform inadvertently opens fires on some some group of emboldened civilians who see him as a convenient symbol of the government they rally to oppose.

Kent State was not "the military" firing at students, it was two groups of like-minded Americans trying to stay out Vietnam but suddenly pushed together in a tragic exchange. Similarly, if there is an exchange in Egypt it will likely be misinterpreted by the media as something that it probably really is not.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 02-03-2011   #104
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Default Lot of catching up to do on this one, but one point first

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Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
Do not supply arms. The point here is not so much that this will deprive them off arms (others will sell them), but it'll make the army less happy and thus more inclined to not support the dictator in a critical moment.
Not supplying arms is a tough one at the moment, especially to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. We're not giving the stuff away to them. They are paying, and paying plenty: the Saudis alone are in for $60 billion. I've read that this amounts to some 75k US jobs, no doubt strategically distributed among key legislative districts... that total is probably massaged a bit, but any way you slice it the number will be large. The other Gulf states have another $60 billion on order, with similar implications for US employment figures.

Withdrawing these sales would leave much of the US defense industry is a position of doubtful viability and would generate a significant domestic backlash. I don't think any US politician is going to propose blocking $120 billion in orders from US factories in this economic climate... to put it simply, it ain't gonna happen.

People who think the US has leverage over these regimes badly need to recalibrate their assumptions. If anything the leverage is running in the other direction.
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Old 02-03-2011   #105
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamG View Post
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4a18b4d6-1...#ixzz1ArQ5nVJC

In this latest update, The Tech Herald will address the newest developments in Tunisia. The original story will start on page three. The first update can be found on page two.

http://www.thetechherald.com/article...stors-Update-2
we (As Tunisians) will ensure that won't happen. Yesterday new mayors were appointed and some of them are from RCD. Everything should be done for their withdrawall. It is far from being an easy task. We will stay awake and eradicate them because they dont even have an ideology. They are only "power"
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Old 03-18-2012   #106
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Default Testing Islamists

The actual NYT article by the late Anthony Shadid (who died in Syria) was entitled 'Islamists’ Ideas on Democracy and Faith Face Test in Tunisia' and was recommended to me by Londonstani:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/18/wo...y&st=cse&scp=1

The setting of the test is Tunisia, which has largely slipped out of focus here in the UK.

Citing Said Ferjani, who the BBC summed up as:
Quote:
who is a key figure in the Ennahda Movement - the moderate Islamist political party which dominates the democratically elected Tunisian government.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode...party_Tunisia/

Quote:
I can tell you one thing, we now have a golden opportunity and in this golden opportunity, I’m not interested in control. I’m interested in delivering the best charismatic system, a charismatic, democratic system. This is my dream.
The author writes:
Quote:
Through Mr. Ferjani’s years in exile, the dominant image of political Islam was the bloody record of Egypt’s insurgency in the 1990s, the Algerian civil war and the ascent of Bin Laden, whose Manichaean view of the world mirrored the most vitriolic statements of the Bush administration.
Not to overlook the roots of those cited and their party are in the Muslim Brotherhood, which has a separate thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...read.php?t=891
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Old 08-28-2013   #107
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Default Where the 'Spring' started

Much has happened in Tunisia since the last post, thirty months ago! So for updates try the BBC country profile:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14107241

Today, AST was designated as a terrorist organization. AST being the salafi-jihadi organization Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia:http://thewasat.wordpress.com/2013/0...ia-in-tunisia/
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Old 01-30-2014   #108
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Tunisia often slips out of sight, but last week a national assembly agreed on a constitution:
Quote:
Surrounded by the pressure of Islamists and civil activists, Tunisia’s deputies have managed to achieve something unique in the Arab world: making the parliament the centrepiece of political discourse and power. The failure of Egypt – as perverse as it might sound – was another factor that strongly contributed to Tunisian success.
Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-aw...ian-parliament
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Old 04-24-2014   #109
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Default Almost a miracle

A short Australian comment on the Tunisian success. Here is one passage:
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What's more, the higher Islamic values of justice, equality and freedom are adopted in the constitution.


For instance, the state guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of conscience, an unprecedented principle in the Arab world. This is a profound break with tradition which makes religion a private matter; the crime of apostasy has no place. Also, several points of the constitution reinforce equality between men and women.
Link:http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/...LCC=567588596&
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Old 05-22-2014   #110
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Default Unhappy miners

A short NYT report by Carlotta Gall (author of a recent book on Pakistan), which starts with:
Quote:
Tunisians often say the first uprising of the Arab Spring began not in 2010 after the self-immolation of a fruit vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, but in 2008, when protests over corrupt hiring practices at the mines of Gafsa ran on for six months. It is a measure of the lingering challenges of Tunisia’s revolution that people here are still in revolt.

In the towns of Moulares and Redeyef, protests have idled the phosphate mines — a cornerstone of the economy — for much of the last three years.
Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/14/wo...ines.html?_r=0

A comment by Prof. Paul Rogers, from a broader review of his:
Quote:
One of the best journalists covering the region for a United States outlet, Carlotta Gall of the New York Times, writes a thoughtful analysis of the current mood in Tunisia where progress towards democratic governance is underway but those in power have little chance of meeting expectations. Tunisia has perhaps 30% of its young people unemployed, and they have virtually no prospect of getting work any time soon.
See:http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-ro...-global-revolt

A short commentary that the security forces have learnt nothing:http://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-aw...ion-in-tunisia
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Old 07-19-2014   #111
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Default The curious case of the Tunisian 3,000

A short academic article on Tunisian foreign fighters, which after all come from the birthplace of the 'Arab Spring':
Quote:
A surge of Tunisian jihadists into Syria tells much about the wider story of violence and politics after the Arab Spring.
Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensec...-tunisian-3000

In a conversation this week about North Africa it was noted that Tunisia is being used as a refuge for those Libyans who can afford to leave and as a R&R place too for those who fight. There was speculation that for the jihadists Libya was a better prize than Tunisia, so violence there would be restrained. Mmmm.
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Old 11-14-2014   #112
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Default Triumph and challenges ahead

A usaeful commentary via Kings College's Strife blog:http://strifeblog.org/2014/11/13/the...llenges-ahead/

How Tunisia fares is important, not only for its citizens and with my emphasis:
Quote:
A waning economy combined with high unemployment rates amongst college graduates is ripping apart the hopes of the Tunisian youth and creating the perfect audience for jihadist propaganda. So far, more than 3,000 Tunisians have allegedly travelled to Iraq and Syria to join the fight of the Islamic State (IS), making Tunisia the world’s biggest exporter of jihadist fighters.[6] In the radical alternative preached by groups like IS, Tunisia’s disillusioned and marginalised youth find the economic security and the political recognition they are denied back home.
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Old 12-16-2014   #113
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Default From Arab Awakening to Islamic State

Professor Paul Rogers reviews the "shifting sands" of the MENA region by examining Tunisia:http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.u..._islamic_state
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Old 02-04-2015   #114
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Default Tunisia stands out as an exception

A short explanation from Australia's Lowy Institute; better than a long WaPo piece today:http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/...CC=3218904964&

Quote:
How can we explain such an outcome? A number of characteristics make this small country, with modest natural resources, a special case in the Arab world:
  • The role played by civil society in highly urbanised areas.
  • A modernised society thanks to the abolition of tribal structures after independence in 1956. Tunisia is today a country unified by its municipal organisation.
  • Tunisia is relatively homogeneous and unified, with no strong ethnic or religious minorities. This is the why the country is open to modernity (female emancipation, social reform, multi-lingualism, some religious tolerance) without risk to its national unity.
  • A republican army with no political ambition.
  • A relatively advanced political and social life (eg. political parties have existed since the 1920s, and Tunisia has the oldest trade union in Africa).
  • Modern education and high literacy.
What's more, Islamist fundamentalists played no role in the revolution, the army did not intervene against the popular revolt, and Tunisian women played a key role in defending civil liberties during the uprising.
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Old 03-19-2015   #115
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Default Tunisia set to lose income after murders?

Amidst all the reporting on the murderous attack yesterday in Tunis, this commentary deserves a read:https://theconversation.com/tunisia-...emocracy-39026

Personally I cannot see the West providing much, including President Obama's promise of US$1b aid.

Already one cruise line, Italian MSC, has announced no more port visits and just as bookings start for the sumemr holidays, will European governments warn against travel there?
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Old 03-24-2015   #116
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Default Tunisia, bridging the gulf

A short commentary via Open Democracy by a British SME (a Barcelona resident Frances Ghiles), which gives the context for what happened last week:https://www.opendemocracy.net/franci...-bridging-gulf

I noted this sentence and wondered who had helped:
Quote:
It needs help in training its rapid intervention (or SWAT) forces, which - in contrast to the police - did a good job during the Bardo outrage.
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Old 05-11-2015   #117
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Default Between The Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Tunisia

A short commentary on Tunisia via ICSR:http://cache.nebula.phx3.secureserve...cyZTM0ZGQ6Ojo6
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Old 06-30-2015   #118
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Default We opened our breasts against the bullets

A photo has been given prominence here, I don't know if it has in the USA:
Quote:
Tourist staff describe how they formed human shield against gunman during attack on western tourists in Sousse
Others confronted him, one dropped roof tiles on the gunman.
Link:http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...rkers-witness?

Moncef Myel, builder who threw roof tiles atgunman, flooring him, allowing police to catch up. "It was my duty as a Muslim"

Sorry, the photo refuses to copy here; please check the cited article.

Early comments here asked why the men did not tackle the lone gunman.

Some of the news reports here have referred to ordinary citizen action, as Muslims and Tunisians:
Quote:
Hotel staff formed a line of protection around the hotel. They were prepared to take the bullets for us. You can't thank them enough
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33313022

These actions are not unknown. They happened in Paris and long ago @ Luxor.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #119
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Default The Tunisian-Libyan Jihadi Connection

A short ICSR Insight by a SME. The opening passage:
Quote:
It should have come as no surprise that Seifeddine Rezgui, the individual that attacked tourists in Sousse, Tunisia more than a week ago, had trained at a camp in Libya. The attack represented the continuation of a relationship between Tunisian and Libyan militants that, having intensified since 2011, goes back to the 1980s. The events in Sousse are a stark reminder of this relationship: a connection that is set to continue should The Islamic State (IS) choose to repeat attacks in Tunisia in the coming months.

(Near the end)
What we have seen already did not come out of nowhere; it has a history that stretches back decades and represents a problem too often ignored, taken lightly, or blamed on others by Tunisian officials prior to and after the 2011 revolution.
Link:http://icsr.info/2015/07/icsr-insigh...di-connection/
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