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Old 04-16-2008   #21
Jedburgh
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Parameters, Spring '08: The Mythical Shia Crescent
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Sometime in late 2006, America awoke to the realization that, by deposing Saddam Hussein and toppling his Ba’athist regime, it had inadvertently removed a major obstacle to Iranian dominance in the Middle East. Assessments of the associated events reached hyperbolic levels. Dire warnings of a growing Iranian hegemony began to surface. Sunni leaders such as Jordan’s King Abdullah II began to warn the West of an emerging “Shia Crescent,” led by Iran and encompassing Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. The idea caught fire in American media and became the dominant narrative in discourse on Middle East policy.

But how realistic is this amalgamation? Is a Shia Crescent really emerging that is capable of challenging more than a millennium of Sunni domination in the Islamic world? Will Iran lead it? On the surface, the idea appears plausible. Yet, a more in-depth examination of the prospective members of this geopolitical realignment raises numerous questions. This intellectual shorthand may be blinding the United States to opportunities that could yield tangible progress on several strategic fronts in the Middle East, while providing a new ally in the global war on terrorism.....

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Old 06-05-2008   #22
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CEIP, 4 Jun 08: Democracy Promotion in the Middle East: Restoring Credibility
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The Bush administration’s effort to foster democratic transformation in the Middle East has not had a significant impact on Arab countries, which remain largely autocratic. After a brief period of ferment in 2004–2005, Middle Eastern politics has become stagnant again. Moreover, the Bush policy—never clearly defined, long on rhetoric, short on strategy, and fitfully implemented—has undermined U.S. credibility and will make it more difficult for the next administration to devise a successful approach to political reform in the region.

The new administration must devise a new policy. While it is imperative that the United States abandon the mixture of simplistic assumptions and missionary fervor of the last few years, ignoring the need for reform and simply supporting friendly regimes are not a viable alternative. Such policy will not maintain stability in a region that is transforming rapidly economically and socially, because stability will depend on the ability of regimes to adapt to change rather than cling to the status quo. Moreover, fewer countries now, and even fewer in the future, are willing to embrace the United States unconditionally: “Friendly to the United States” has become a relative concept at best. Thus, the United States needs a new approach toward regimes that are facing deep political challenges but do not see the United States as either a model to imitate or a reliable ally....
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Old 07-02-2008   #23
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Default 2008 poll of Arab World

2008 Annual Arab Public Opinion Poll Survey of the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland (with Zogby International) Professor Shibley Telhami, Principal Investigator.

Survey conducted March 2008 in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the UAE

Some key findings:

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Iraq: Only 6% of Arabs polled believe that the American surge has worked. A plurality (35% ) do not believe reports that violence has in fact declined. Over 61% believe that if the US were to withdraw from Iraq, Iraqis will find a way to bridge their differences, and only 15% believe the civil war would expand. 81% of Arabs polled (outside Iraq) believe that the Iraqis are worse off than they were before the Iraq war.

Iran: In contrast with the fears of many Arab governments, the Arab public does not appear to see Iran as a major threat. Most believe that Iran has the right to its nuclear program and do not support international pressure to force it to curtail its program. A plurality of Arabs (44%) believes that if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, the outcome would be more positive for the region than negative.

The Arab Israeli conflict: There is an increase in the expressed importance of the Palestinian issue, with 86% of the public identifying it as being at least among the top three issues to them. A majority of Arabs continues to support the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, but an increasing majority is pessimistic about its prospects. If the prospects of a two state solution collapse, 50% believe it would lead to a state of intense conflict for years to come, while only 9% believe it would lead to a one-state solution, and only 7% believe that the Palestinians would eventually surrender.

Palestinian Divisions: In the conflict between Hamas and Fatah, only 8% sympathize with Fatah most, while 18% sympathize with Hamas, and 38% sympathize with both to some extent. In so far as they see Palestinians as somewhat responsible for the state of affairs in Gaza, 15% blame Hamas’s government most, 23% blame the government appointed by President Mahmoud Abbas, and 39% blame both equally.

The Lebanese Crisis: Only 9% express sympathy with the majority governing coalition in the current internal crisis in Lebanon, while 30% sympathize with the opposition led by Hizbollah, 24% sympathize with neither side, and 19% sympathize with both to some extent.

Popular Leaders: Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, increased his popularity as the most admired leader in the Arab world (26%) There was also an increase in the popularity of President Bashar Assad of Syria. Also striking, however, was the emerging popularity of modernizing Sunni Arab leaders, particularly Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai, when respondents identify the two leaders they admire most.

Attitudes toward the US: 83% of the public has an unfavorable view of the US and 70% express no confidence in the US. Still, Arabs continue to rank the US among the top countries with freedom and democracy for their own people. 32% believe that, from the point of view of advancing peace in the Middle East, American policy will remain the same, no matter who wins the US elections. 18% believe that Barack Obama has the best chance of advancing peace, 13% believe Hillary Clinton has the best chance, while 4% identify John McCain as having the best chance for advancing peace.

Global Outlook: France continues to be the most popular country, China continues to make a good showing, and views of Pakistan have declined.

Media: Al-Jazeera continues to command the largest share of the Arabic news market, with 53% of Arabs polled identifying it as their first choice for news, with practically no change from last year. Egyptian Television and Al-Arabiya have made some gains over last year. To a plurality of respondents, the quality OF both Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera has improved over previous years, with only a small minority perceiving a decline.
Full version here (.pdf) and here (.ppt).
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Old 07-17-2008   #24
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CEIP, 17 Jul 08: The New Arab Diplomacy: Not With the U.S. and Not Against the U.S.
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Many Arab countries traditionally aligned with the United States are showing increasing reluctance to follow Washington’s lead in addressing regional problems. This tendency toward an independent foreign policy is particularly evident among the Gulf countries. Even states that host major U.S. military facilities on their soil, such as Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain, consider U.S. policy in the region counterproductive and are forging a new diplomacy.

Gulf countries have refused to enter into an anti-Iranian alliance with the United States, and have chosen instead to pursue close diplomatic contacts with Tehran, although they fear its growing influence. They are trying to bring about reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah in Palestine, while the United States is seeking to isolate Hamas. They have helped negotiate a compromise solution in Lebanon, while the United States has encouraged the government to take a hard-line position. Yet, the new diplomacy of the Arab countries is not directed against the United States, although it contradicts U.S. policies.....

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Old 11-08-2008   #25
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ISN, 15 Oct 08: Conceptualizing the Sunni-Shi'i Encounter in the Modern Period

This study examines the issues of religious authority and legitimacy in Islam. The author compares and contrasts traditions of jurisprudence and juridical authority in Sunni and Shia Islam. The author considers the major related points of discussion among Islamic religious scholars, especially on the issue of interpretation. The study also considers the Islamic Revolution in Iran, its impact on Islamic ideology and the revitalization of the study of Islam.
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Old 11-23-2008   #26
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NPR, 20 Nov 08: Speaking of Faith: The Sunni-Shia Divide and the Future of Islam
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We seek fresh insight into the history and the human and religious dynamics of Islam's Sunni-Shia divide. Our guest says that it is not so different from dynamics in periods of Western Christian history. But he says that by bringing the majority Shia to power in Iraq, the U.S. has changed the religions dynamics of the Middle East......
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Old 06-05-2009   #27
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USIP, Jun 09: Justice Interrupted: Historical Perspectives on Promoting Democracy in the Middle East
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Summary

• Foreign affairs experts routinely use historical analogy to develop and justify policy. However, as professional historians have long noted, attractive analogies often lead to bad policies. Officials regularly choose analogies that neglect or distort the historical case they aim to illuminate. Nonetheless, history can be used effectively in international relations.

• To do so, practitioners must first recognize the difference between historical analogy and precedent. Historical precedent, drawn from the past of the region in question, is a safer guide to policy than historical analogy, which is based on comparisons to events in other regions. Because historical precedent is a self-limiting form of analogy restricted to a certain place, people, and time, it provides a better indication of how a certain society understands and responds to a given situation.

• The recent U.S. intervention in Iraq highlights the misuses of history: American leaders employed analogies to World War II to justify the invasion and to predict success in establishing a democratic regime after. These analogies proved to be a poor guide to nation building in the short term. In the long term, they have deeply aggravated U.S. relations with Iraqis and the rest of the Arab world.

• A more effective use of history would have been to refer to the precedent of World War I, a crucial moment when American policy could have supported indigenous Arab constitutional democracy—but, fatefully, did not.

• For the new administration, the Arabs’ experience of “justice interrupted” after World War I can still be a useful touchstone for promoting democracy in the region.1 This precedent alerts us that foreign intervention can spark a deep-seated and negative political reaction in the postcolonial Arab world and that reform in Arab politics must begin with respect for national sovereignty. It also reminds us that constitutionalism and the desire to participate in the community of international law are enduring values in Arab politics.
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Old 06-21-2009   #28
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Default Telhami Poll

The Telhami poll is must reading for anyone who is considering American policy in the Middle East. It is also very depressing. Even on an interpersonal level, I found it very difficult to get to any reasonable middle ground when talking to Arabs in the region about politics. Our starting points as to what a reasonable middle ground should be are so different that it is very difficult to get to any common understanding on key issues. For instance, one might think that some shared perception of an Iranian threat could spur cooperation in the Gulf, yet even in that case, the polls show that Gulf Arabs do not share American concerns.
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Old 06-21-2009   #29
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The 2009 Arab public opinion poll is out:

PPT & Key Findings.

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Summary of Key Findings:

1. Attitudes Toward the President of the United States: Overall, 45% of Arabs polled have a favorable view of President Obama (50% outside Egypt), 28% are neutral, 24% have negative views. Remarkably, 79% of Saudis have a favorable view of President Obama and only 14% have negative views. Consistently, in all six countries, the negative views of the President are remarkably low.

2.Attitudes Toward the United States: The most important consequence of their favorable views of President Obama appears to be expressed hope for American foreign policy in the Middle East. After a few weeks of the Obama administration, a majority in all countries, 51% (59% outside Egypt) expressed hopefulness about US Middle East policy, 28% were neutral, while only 14% were discouraged.

3.Attitudes Toward the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Unlike the case of the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese war, when most Arabs believed Israel lost the war and Hezbollah won, most Arabs polled believe that Israel was the biggest winner of the Gaza war in 2008-2009, and that the Palestinian people were the biggest losers.

4.Attitudes on Iraq: 65% of Arabs polled (compared with 61% in 2008) believe that if the US withdraws its forces from Iraq as planned by the end of 2011, Iraqis will find a way to bridge their differences. 72% believe Iraqis are worse off than they were before the Iraq war, but this is a decrease from 82% in 2008.

5.Attitudes Toward Iran: There are indications the criticism of Iran, particularly in Morocco and Egypt, is having some impact. 13% identify Iran as one of their two biggest threats (compared with 7% in 2008), and outside Egypt, 20% see Iran as one of the two biggest threats to them, compared with 11% in 2008.

6.Attitudes on Global Leadership: The attacks on Hezbollah’s leader Hasan Nasrallah, especially in Egypt and Morocco, appear to be having an impact. In an open question to identify the leader they admire most outside their own countries, only 6% identify Nasrallah (in contrast with 2008, when he led with 26%). However, he maintains solid popularity in Jordan (21%). The net winner is Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, who was identified as the most admired leader with 24% of those polled (compared with only 4% in 2008).

7.Media Trends: The use of the internet continued to grow with 36% stating that they use the internet at least several times a week and only 38% stating that they never use the internet (compared with 52% in 2008).

Last edited by Jedburgh; 06-22-2009 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 06-22-2009   #30
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The Berkman Center, 16 Jun 09: Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture and Dissent
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This study explores the structure and content of the Arabic blogosphere using link analysis, term frequency analysis, and human coding of individual blogs. The authors identified a base network of approximately 35,000 active Arabic language blogs (about half as many as we found in a previous study of the Persian blogosphere), discovered several thousand Arabic blogs with mixed use of Arabic, English and French, created a network map of the 6,000 most connected blogs, and with a team of Arabic speakers hand coded over 4,000 blogs. The goal for the study was to produce a baseline assessment of the networked public sphere in the Arab Middle East, and its relationship to a range of emergent issues, including politics, media, religion, culture, and international affairs.
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Old 01-30-2011   #31
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CEIP, 28 Jan 11: Protest Movements and Political Change in the Arab World
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Over the past decade, the Arab world has seen an increase in protests, strikes, demonstrations, and other forms of social protest. The uprising that started in Tunisia in late 2010 was not a completely new development, but rather a more dramatic example of the unrest common across the region, particularly in Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Jordan.

But the protest movements in the region have severe limitations. The various organizations involved—labor groups, youth organizations, bloggers, political parties, and Islamist movements—have different constituencies, demands, and organizational styles. Indeed, in some countries there has been, until recently, a deliberate decision not to coordinate and particularly to keep socioeconomic and political demands separate. This helps incumbent authoritarian and semi-authoritarian regimes stay in power despite the high levels of discontent in many countries.

Despite the absence of large cohesive movements, Arab regimes are right to worry about the possibility of an uprising in their countries. The underlying conditions of difficult social and economic conditions coupled with political repression, lack of political freedoms, and corruption exist everywhere. Publics in Arab countries are also right in feeling inspired by events in Tunisia and in believing that they can force change. Ultimately, however, change depends not on Tunisia’s example, but on the ability of protesters to coordinate their efforts and link socioeconomic with political demands and on the governments’ response—that, plus the imponderable catalyst.
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Old 02-27-2011   #32
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Default Operation Iraqi Freedom and ME unrest

Has anyone shown a correlation between OIF and recent uprisings against non-democratic governments in the Arab World? Was the former administration right that removing Saddam would be a catalyst for the spread of democracy in the Middle East? I suspect this has been addressed, but I haven't seen any studies, articles or commentaries on this line of thought. Please share if you have seen it.
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Old 02-27-2011   #33
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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Has anyone shown a correlation between OIF and recent uprisings against non-democratic governments in the Arab World? Was the former administration right that removing Saddam would be a catalyst for the spread of democracy in the Middle East? I suspect this has been addressed, but I haven't seen any studies, articles or commentaries on this line of thought. Please share if you have seen it.
I think few, if any, analysts saw this recent wave of uprising coming. I have not seen any article showing a relation between the removal of Saddam and current events. There are some studies that show that as long as a muslim autocratic regime maintains a defiant stance towards the West, it has less to fear from its own population than when it is seen as a lackey of the West (e.g. because it fails to denounce western military operations in the Middle East).

However, I think that - with the benefit of hindsight - studies will be written that show a correlation between OIF and the recent uprisings against non-democratic governments in the Arab World.
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Old 02-27-2011   #34
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Has anyone shown a correlation between OIF and recent uprisings against non-democratic governments in the Arab World?
Brother Bill,

It would seem to stand to reason that after dropping a trillion dollar rock into an oxbow lake waves from that event would travel to every point in the lake; I would argue that it’s still too early to say conclusively that that event has fully reconnected things (when using the Assyrian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, etc. as reference points) to the mighty multi-generational river that is globalization. IMHO Iraq, Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia are just a few of the interesting places to look to for hints.

Let’s consider three ‘substantive’ viewpoints from Iraq

Iraq’s last patriot, by Anthony Shadid, NYT, 4 February 2011

Quote:
“We came in naïve about what the problems were in Iraq,” Gen.Raymond Odierno, the American military commander in Iraq, told me last August, a few days before he was to end his third tour. He had spent four years in Iraq. “I don’t think we understood what I call the societal devastation that occurred, we didn’t realize how damaged Iraq had been from 1980, in the Iran-Iraq war.” The list went on: Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the 1991 gulf war, international sanctions that crippled Iraq’s middle class. “And then,” Odierno added, “we attacked to overthrow the government.” The same naïveté affected American efforts to mold Iraqi politics, with its ethnic and sectarian divisions. “We just didn’t understand it,” Odierno said.
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Maliki’s victory ended eight months of utter political dysfunction, and what have become Iraq’s key players were all represented in some fashion. “A big step for Iraq” is how an American briefing paper described the result. “A government that is made in Iraq.” Former American diplomats were less encouraged. Before it had all finished, Crocker offered a typically insightful prediction. “There will be a little for everybody, probably,” he said. “It’s going to be fairly inclusive among the elite. But the promises that are made, the deals that are dealt, are really not going to involve any promises or commitments to make life better for people in Iraq. That’s just not what the transaction is in Iraqi politics.”
Quote:
In my first interview with Allawi, back in May, he offered a suggestion, with a laugh. “This is my advice to you — go and ask President Bush how Iraq is going to get out of this mess. Bush, Bush, your Bush, Bush Jr., you ask him. He’ll probably have the right answer. I think so. He introduced the de-Baathification, he introduced the dismantling of the army, he introduced the sectarian quotas in the Governing Council. He should know what he did — the process, how this process is going to move forward.”
Quote:
I asked which was better — the Iraq of Saddam Hussein or the Iraq of today. He shook his head with the disdain of an expatriate. “The only difference is that we have this democracy.” He uttered the word with contempt.
I would argue that the OIF experience, good and bad, has raised the expectations of the hoi polloi, and as a result many of the changes resulting in some level of transparency & accountability (Al Jazeera style) at the Nahiya, Qada, Province, and National levels in Iraq are unstoppable, and will indeed continue.

Al-Maliki gives Iraqi officials 100 days to improve — or else, By Rebecca Santana, in the Washington Times on 9:53 a.m., Sunday, February 27, 2011

Quote:
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq‘s prime minister, following a string of deadly anti-government protests, gave his ministers on Sunday 100 days to improve their performance or risk being fired.

The warning from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki came two days after thousands of protesters took to the streets across the country to demand better public services. It demonstrates the worries Iraqi officials have that protests here inspired by the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt could spiral out of control.
If we accept that Egypt is indeed the cultural vanguard of the Arab World, it’s interesting to think about the demographics of the country and who might be representative of the different viewpoints associated with a market segmentation analysis. Yusuf al Qaradawi (25 to 30 percent of the Egyptian populace is said to favor a Muslim Brotherhood derived vision), General Ismail Etmaan(Egyptian Army, Higher Military Council), Al Jazeera (New Media), and ‘Arab Youth’ (60 percent of the Arab region is said to be under 25 years of age) are part of the topology.

After Long Exile, Sunni Cleric Takes Role in Egypt By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, Published: February 18, 2011 in the New York Times

Quote:
Sheik Qaradawi, a popular television cleric whose program reaches an audience of tens of millions worldwide, addressed a rapt audience of more than a million Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square to celebrate the uprising and honor those who died.

“Don’t fight history,” he urged his listeners in Egypt and across the Arab world, where his remarks were televised. “You can’t delay the day when it starts. The Arab world has changed.”
Person in the News: the Arab youth, By Rould Khalaf, Published: February 25 2011 22:33, Financial Times

Quote:
He is the young Egyptian who occupied Tahrir Square, and awakened a sleepy population. She is the young Libyan defying the madness and brutality of Muammer Gaddafi. He is the empowered Bahraini and Yemeni youth raising his voice in a resolute call on governments to listen to their people instead of oppressing them. Each revolt has drawn in swaths of its own society, but it is the young Arab who is the driving force; the unassuming leader. Whether in Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen or Libya, the more established forces in society, including political parties, tribes and the military, have been followers, forced to jump on the bandwagon lest they too are left behind.
Middle East: Uncertain horizons, By Tobias Buck in Jerusalem, Published: February 23 2011 21:51, Financial Times

Quote:
The real problem for the IDF, however, lies not so much in the human fallibility of senior officers but in their inability to formulate a coherent response to a changing security environment. That, at least, is the thesis advanced by Ron Tira, an Israeli military analyst and a former air force pilot. “We are now facing a new warfare paradigm by the enemy. The old approaches are not very useful, we need to come up with something new – and we are not there yet,” he says.

The threat today is not invasion or battlefield defeat. Instead, argues Mr Tira, Israel’s enemies in Iran, Syria, southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip have launched a war of attrition aimed at the “long-term erosion of the Israeli will and the long-term erosion of Israeli legitimacy”. The approach cleverly combines political and military elements, conventional and non-conventional warfare, and draws on the international community’s increasing frustration with Israel.
Citizens not serfs can save Saudi Arabia, By David Gardner, Published: February 27 2011 19:06, Financial Times

Quote:
On his return from months of hospitalisation and recuperation in the US and Morocco, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was characteristically unstinting in his generosity. He lavished $36bn on his subjects, in pay rises and debt forgiveness, and to help them buy houses and start businesses. As munificence goes, this was princely. Whether it was politic is another question.

It might buy off whatever unrest is brewing underneath the kingdom’s thick layers of political, military and religious control. Or it may be perceived as the panicky response of an absolute monarchy to the wave of revolution unfolding across the Arab world; the rulers of neighbouring Bahrain offered their people a similar bribe but they took to the streets anyway. Yet King Abdullah’s decision to hose Saudis with money to pre-empt any revolt is certainly old politics in a new era – and unless it is followed by political reforms the king himself has timidly championed, the future of the kingdom must be in question.
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Old 02-27-2011   #35
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Marc and Steve,

I agree it is too early to tell. While we successfully removed Saddam's regime, our attempt to transform Iraq is still largely a failed experiment in forcing Western values and political processes upon a people who didn't embrace them. I don't think any of the popular uprisings desire to follow the model we established there, BUT on the other hand, our occupation of Iraq probably motivated some interesting political discussions among the youth in several Arab nations and they decided they wanted change so much, that it broke the bonds of fear that the government had over the people.

Unfortunately in my view, we see people throughout the Middle East demonstrating against their corrupt and inefficient governments and seeking a greater say in governance, yet because these corrupt governments are our allies in the war on terror we don't have a policy for responding to these events. We seem to be paralyzed and letting a potential opportunity to let the Arab people reform the Middle East (something we can't do) slip through our fingers. It seems by our actions, or lack of action, that we would have preferred the status quo to remain, because the bastard you know may be better than the bastard you don't, but on the other hand we claim our policies are at least partially based on human rights, freedom and democracy. Once again we're losing credibility in the Middle East.

From my very bias seat, I see this as the a great opportunity for Special Forces to support the oppressed rise up against their corrupt governments, but, and maybe with good reason, we're too nervous about the morning after to engage.

Marc, I agree that the anti-western rhetoric in the Middle East had legs, but that seems to be waning a little. If we don't always support Israel, if we get past our desire to re-make the Middle East in our image, and we support legimate change that is desired by the Arab people, etc., then there will be less reason for the anti-western rhetoric to resonate. Saddam didn't have any answers, and I don't recall any other leaders in the Middle East who played the anti-western theme to their advantage that were effective in providing for their people. Iran isn't in the Arab world, but their anti-western rhetoric isn't winning them the support of their people. Saddam's anti-western rhetoric didn't win support from his people, but it did generate support from various anti-Israeli extremists, much like Qadaffi's anti-western rhetoric (before he allegedly became our friend) won more support from radicals outside Libya than his own people.

I think we'll be learning and relearning lessons for a long time based on these current upraisings. I only fear we'll discover the truth too late to act in ways that would benefit our interests and the Arab people.
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Old 02-27-2011   #36
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Elliot Abrams had an opinion piece to that effect in the Washington Post about a month ago.
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Old 02-27-2011   #37
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I would argue that in many regards the current rise of democratically minded protest is in spite of, rather than because of OIF and our GWOT efforts. I do believe that in the long run Iraq has the potential to provide a powerful example of how to evolve toward a form of effective democracy appropriate to this region, but that is a future benefit.

Consider that the countries where the populaces are rising up now, emboldened by the success of Tunisia and the US response, are also the countries that were:

1. The greatest source of foreign fighters to travel to Iraq and fight against the US under the AQ banner;

2. All (Libya new to that first list) U.S. Allies and all topping the charts of the "least free" nations on earth;

3. All countries where the US has focused CT efforts and capacity building efforts to help these regimes more effectively deal with the "terrorists" within their borders. One man's freedom marcher is another man's terrorist; and our GWOT focus has been decidedly in support of the perspective of these despotic leaders in that regard. Even Libya became an ally in our war on terror, and leveraged that to gain greater license in the suppression of her own people.

Sadly, the many populaces standing up to oppression are in large part doing it is spite of the US support to their governments, rather than because of the US support to concepts of liberty and democracy. Our words have been of the latter, but our actions have been firmly toward the former.

The key is how we move forward from here. How does the U.S. recover and refocus to lend stability to what could easily become a violent and chaotic process that is not in our best interest, or the best interest of the people involved. Dark forces will absolutely step up and seek to exploit these tumultuous conditions for their own purposes and we will need to be alert. Hopefully the CT guys are dialed up, because there is a good chance some of the real terrorists may break cover or get careless as they seek to grab this advantage. We need to scrub those target lists hard though, because I suspect there are many on the list that are nationalist patriots rather than international terrorists, and we do not want to fall back into the business of being manipulated by our allies to take care of their problems for them.

We live in dynamic times.
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Old 02-27-2011   #38
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Sadly, the many populaces standing up to oppression are in large part doing it is spite of the US support to their governments, rather than because of the US support to concepts of liberty and democracy. Our words have been of the latter, but our actions have been firmly toward the former.
Couldn't be helped. Americans were damned lucky to tear those governments away of the Soviet sphere in the first place.
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Old 02-27-2011   #39
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Originally Posted by Marc View Post
I think few, if any, analysts saw this recent wave of uprising coming. I have not seen any article showing a relation between the removal of Saddam and current events
The least indirect link is probably the rise of Al Jazeera (pushed by the Iraq War) and AJ's influence (it's rather more liberal than state media outlets were).
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Old 02-28-2011   #40
Surferbeetle
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Unfortunately in my view, we see people throughout the Middle East demonstrating against their corrupt and inefficient governments and seeking a greater say in governance, yet because these corrupt governments are our allies in the war on terror we don't have a policy for responding to these events. We seem to be paralyzed and letting a potential opportunity to let the Arab people reform the Middle East (something we can't do) slip through our fingers. It seems by our actions, or lack of action, that we would have preferred the status quo to remain, because the bastard you know may be better than the bastard you don't, but on the other hand we claim our policies are at least partially based on human rights, freedom and democracy. Once again we're losing credibility in the Middle East.
Bill,

If you can be both soft and tough enough you can simultaneously be friends with Venus and fight alongside of Mars. Our friend Sun Zu knew how, unlike much of our old guard who are slaves to CvC in all things. In short we lack balance in our approach.

So much for the past; what is a possible solution to help us move forward?

Pragmatism = DIIME+PPP = whole of government approach + public private partnerships = inputs< outputs

What if we were to have a five person strong government working group regularly sitting at our President’s table providing him with sound whole of government advice regarding DIIME issues outside our nation’s borders? We, fortunately, see synergies with the Team Clinton-Gates (DoS and DoD – the D and M of DIIME) just as we did with Team Crocker-Odierno in Iraq. As for I (Intelligence ) once upon a time the Central Intelligence Agency was just that, however it now falls under some administrative fiefdom or another, while our 16 member strong intelligence community appears to happily drift along while burning through 50 billion USD or so a year. Horrible things have happened to the USIA and it appears that we have no one at the table who can represent or speak to our nations governmental Information needs. Similarly who would represent governmental Economics issues for our nation; USAID (external), Department of Commerce (Internal), the Export-Import Bank, etc?

What if we had a five person strong private partnership working group regularly sitting down with our President providing him with sound private partnership advice regarding DIIME issues outside our nation’s borders? What if membership was limited to a single representative from the top US Company in each of the DIIME arenas and membership was transparently reviewed and competed for every two years?

What if these two working groups had to develop quarterly combined work break down structures, schedules, cost estimates, and workplans for their proposals that would be subjected to our Executive, Legislative, and Judicial systems? What if working group members were held accountable for their successes and failures and concepts such as Return on Investment were used as benchmarks? What if the process was transparent and accountable to the population of the US?

Either it’s the beer or I must have bumped my head….

Steve
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