Sunday, August 25, 2013

Twitter Links -- August 25

Gloomy way to start a Sunday morning, but this assessment of the Syrian civil war is as realpolitik as it gets. The headline says it all. It doesn't take long to spell out why. I'm trying to come up with compelling arguments against it, but nothing comes to mind. 
In Syria, America Loses if Either Side Wins
By Edward N. Luttwak, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the author of “Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace.”
Published: August 24, 2013

At this point, a prolonged stalemate is the only outcome that would not be damaging to American interests 
Indeed, it would be disastrous if President Bashar al-Assad’s regime were to emerge victorious after fully suppressing the rebellion and restoring its control over the entire country. Iranian money, weapons and operatives and Hezbollah troops have become key factors in the fighting, and Mr. Assad’s triumph would dramatically affirm the power and prestige of Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, its Lebanon-based proxy — posing a direct threat both to the Sunni Arab states and to Israel. 
But a rebel victory would also be extremely dangerous for the United States and for many of its allies in Europe and the Middle East. That’s because extremist groups, some identified with Al Qaeda, have become the most effective fighting force in Syria. If those rebel groups manage to win, they would almost certainly try to form a government hostile to the United States. Moreover, Israel could not expect tranquillity on its northern border if the jihadis were to triumph in Syria. 
[...]    The war is now being waged by petty warlords and dangerous extremists of every sort: Taliban-style Salafist fanatics who beat and kill even devout Sunnis because they fail to ape their alien ways; Sunni extremists who have been murdering innocent Alawites and Christians merely because of their religion; and jihadis from Iraq and all over the world who have advertised their intention to turn Syria into a base for global jihad aimed at Europe and the United States. 
Given this depressing state of affairs, a decisive outcome for either side would be unacceptable for the United States. An Iranian-backed restoration of the Assad regime would increase Iran’s power and status across the entire Middle East, while a victory by the extremist-dominated rebels would inaugurate another wave of Al Qaeda terrorism. 
There is only one outcome that the United States can possibly favor: an indefinite draw.
Assorted links here. Few or no snips. 
Follow them as you wish. 

Very smart observations here.
Recommended reading. 
Other Nations Offer a Lesson to Egypt’s Military Leaders
By Declan Walsh
August 24, 2013

How the militaries exercised that influence has varied. While Turkish and Egyptian generals ruthlessly marginalized political Islamists, Pakistan’s men in uniform co-opted them. During the 1980s, Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan used them to both fight and to Islamize Pakistan’s national identity, a source of tension with Egypt at the time. 
In all three countries, Islam is often seen as the boogeyman of democracy, Dr. Nasr said. “But that is wrong. The real struggle in the Middle East is between civilian rule and the military.” 
That struggle is further complicated by the debate over how to integrate Islam into politics. For years, Turkey was the model of progress for many Muslim countries. But the military’s retreat has been driven, in part, by the country’s desire to join the European Union. And the gloss of civilian rule vanished in June when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan violently suppressed a protest movement in central Istanbul, suggesting that one authoritarianism was being replaced with another. This month’s treason trial brought out sharp divisions between secularists and Islamists, underscoring how Turkey’s nation-building model remains a work in progress. 
Yet the Turkish model may still offer the best hope: the protests in Istanbul appeared aimed more at Mr. Erdogan’s hard-nosed policies than at the system of civilian rule itself.
For some Egyptians pondering their future, the dreaded outcome is to become like Pakistan. Yet there are lessons to be learned. For decades, Pakistani generals could intervene in politics at will, a fact that the current prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, appreciates better than most: his last stint in power ended in 1999 with an army coup. 
But since General Musharraf was ousted as president in 2008, Pakistan’s notoriously fractious politicians joined hands to give the military little room for maneuver, culminating in the recent, relatively clean election, which Mr. Sharif won with a handsome mandate. The courts have also grown bolder, highlighting military-driven vote rigging and human rights abuses (even if nobody has yet faced charges) and daring to indict General Musharraf, who also faces possible treason charges. 
Pakistanis now view themselves as exemplars of transition politics. After Mr. Morsi’s ouster, which many Egyptian liberals supported, their Pakistani counterparts were quick to offer advice on the perils of military intervention. “Been there, done that — and it was definitely the wrong choice,” said the journalist Omar R. Quraishi on Twitter.

Some Iraqi security officials suggest that the wave of bombings in the south may have been the work of another group, a Baathist outfit called the Army of Men of the Naqshbandia Order, led by Saddam Hussein’s elderly former right-hand man, Izzat al-Douri.

Moreover, the increase in violence has also partly been caused by sectarian fighting in neighbouring Syria spilling over the border. The route al-Qaeda fighters took from Syria to fight the Americans in Iraq is the same as one used by Sunni and Shia fighters coming in both directions to help their co-religionists.

Al-Qaeda has long sought to rekindle civil war in Iraq and bring down the government by attacking Shias. But the group has broadened the range of its targets to include mosques in mixed districts, attacking even tea-houses and football pitches, presumably in hopes of enraging the aggrieved Sunni minority against the newly dominant Shia majority.

Christians are left to choose between those who incited against them and murdered them two years ago and those who are doing the same this month. They are expected to silently and uncritically support the state that incited against them before as it fights those who incite against them now. All this while that very state fails in its most basic obligation to protect them like any other citizens, and then uses their suffering for the state’s own political gain.

Silence has never been a successful strategy for ensuring justice and no one should be asked to be party to such a failure again. The state is failing in its responsibilities, and it should take those responsibilities seriously.

This next message deserves special mention. 
Jenan Moussa is a journalist with a TV station in Dubai.
She points to a Twitter hashtag in Arabic illustrating her point. 
Those using Chrome may be able to see the Arabic messages  more or less translated.

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