Arab Spring

Arabs, Russia Pat Themselves on Back over Syria

March 13, 2012 by

Russia has again demonstrated its diplomatic ability to gloss over differences even when none of the sides are prepared to make concessions. Although the positions of Russia and Arab countries on Syria are very different and the crisis in Syria is growing worse, it seemed after the weekend that peace is just around the corner – after all, everybody is actively pursuing peace.

Grasping the Syrian Quagmire

March 7, 2012 by

One of the most significant and enduring consequences of the Arab Spring has been the bloody uprising in Syria. For almost a year cities across the Levant have been defying the iron grip of the Assad regime and challenging the police state of the Ba’ath party. Of all the countries engulfed by the revolutionary fever encompassing the Arab World, Syria, a country of 23 million, epitomizes the toughest case.

Video: President Obama’s Address to the Annual AIPAC Conference

March 4, 2012 by

On the Sunday before he is scheduled to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister at the White House, President Obama addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual conference, gathered in Washington. Obama addressed situations in the Middle East, with a significant portion of his speech focused on Iran.

Syria: A Way Out

March 3, 2012 by

There are two tales about the crisis in Syria. In one, the vast majority of Syrians have risen up against the brutality of a criminal dictatorship. The government of Bashar al Assad is on the ropes, isolated regionally and internationally, and only holding on because Russia and China vetoed United Nations intervention. U.S. Secretary to State Hillary Clinton describes Assad as “a war criminal,” and President Barak Obama called him a “dead man walking.”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar Ratchet Up Pressure on Assad

March 3, 2012 by

Running counter to the wishes of the United States and other western nations, Saudi Arabia and Qatar recently announced that they are taking steps to arm the Free Syria Army (FSA). Despite the significance of this step, it is unlikely to shift the civil war in favor of the rebels. The FSA, armed with light weapons, suffered a number of strategic setbacks. Their tactical retreat from the Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs paints a picture of a rebel group that lacks the operational capacity to challenge the Assad regime directly.

No Winners in a War in Iran

March 2, 2012 by

At a meeting with editors of leading Western newspapers Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia will do all it can to prevent war in Iran. But is this war already inevitable? This is the question on the minds of many in Russia and abroad. A fresh outbreak of violence in the Middle East could destabilize the South Caucasus and other post-Soviet regions. There is no such thing as a foreign war.

A Chinese vision begins to emerge

February 24, 2012 by

China is surprisingly getting out in front on Syria, instead of letting Russia, Damascus’ long-time ally and arms supplier, carry the ball. It appears Beijing has decided to stake out its position in the Middle East as a great power with its own significant and legitimate interests, instead of trying to shoehorn itself into whatever diplomatic coalition the United States or Russia invokes to deal with the crisis.

Iran, Israel and the U.S.: The Slide To War

February 23, 2012 by

Wars are fought because some people decide it is in their interests to fight them. World War I was not started over the Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination, nor was it triggered by the alliance system. An “incident” may set the stage for war, but no one keeps shooting unless they think it’s a good idea. The Great War started because the countries involved decided they would profit by it, delusional as that conclusion was.

The Syrian Crisis: A View from Damascus

February 23, 2012 by

It would be no exaggeration to say that the Syrian crisis has become the most important international issue of the day. Dramatic changes are sweeping a huge region where the interests of many countries, including Russia, the United States, China and EU nations intersect. Temperatures are rising in the Middle East, and may soon reach the boiling point. It was interesting, therefore, amid the blizzard of global media reporting based sometimes on less than direct sourcing, to hear about events in Syria directly from officials in Damascus with whom the author of this article recently met.

Geopolitics of Technology and the Hydrocarbon Status Quo

February 21, 2012 by

The unrest in the Arab world, which has continued for over a year now, implies one important conclusion beyond any ongoing regional struggle for democracy. It is a reflection about globally important technologies, and even more about a crucial geopolitical breakthrough – an escape from the logic of a hydrocarbon status quo, which – after Copenhagen 2009 – failed again in Durban 2011.

Now Is Not the Time for Intervention In Syria

February 20, 2012 by

As pressure mounts on foreign powers to consider intervening militarily in Syria, analogies are being drawn between what NATO accomplished in Libya and whether something comparable may be possible in Syria. Military intervention would perhaps make the West feel better — knowing that it attempted to do something concrete to end the bloodshed — but it is unlikely to be successful for several reasons.

When is an ‘NGO’ not an NGO? Twists and Turns Beneath the Cairo Skies

February 15, 2012 by

A confusing controversy between the United States and Egypt is unfolding. It has already raised tensions in the relationship between the two countries to a level that has not existed for decades. It results from moves by the military government in Cairo to go forward with the criminal prosecution of 43 foreigners, including 19 Americans, for unlawfully carrying on the work of unlicensed public interest organizations that improperly, according to Egyptian law, depend for their budget on foreign funding.

Revealing the Obvious

February 12, 2012 by

The conflict in Syria continues to take lives on both sides in what increasingly looks like a civil war. The bloodshed in Homs has captured most attention in recent days, but we should not forget violence in the capital Damascus and other Syrian towns, under government control, where lives have been lost and a climate of fear prevails. Twenty-four hour news coverage means unlimited hunger for detail, factual, exaggerated or invented.

Is Russia’s game in Syria worth playing?

February 9, 2012 by

On February 7, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Foreign Intelligence Service Director Mikhail Fradkov traveled to Damascus to help stabilize the situation in Syria by encouraging democratic reforms. The substance of President Dmitry Medvedev’s letter, which they delivered to Bashar al-Assad, was not disclosed, but experts point to the highly delicate nature of the Russian officials’ mission.

Turkey’s Foreign Policy: Zero Problems with Neighbors Revisited

February 8, 2012 by

Pundits in Europe and North America in recent months have delighted in citing with a literary smirk ‘zero problems with neighbors,’ which has been the centerpiece of Ahmet Davutoglu’s foreign policy agenda since he became Foreign Minister on May 1, 2009. Mr. Davutoglu had previously served as Chief Advisor to both the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister ever since the AKP came to power in 2002, and was known in those years as the ‘architect’ behind the scenes.

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