Raising the Stakes in Asia

October 26, 2012 by

Depending on one’s ideological bent, America’s so-called “pivot to Asia” could be interpreted in varying ways. However, one thing that is increasingly clear is that the Obama administration is intent on re-asserting America’s strategic centrality in the Asia-Pacific. This was very explicit in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2011 piece for Foreign Policy, entitled “America’s Pacific Century.” The U.S. pivot to Asia is motivated and shaped by both economic and military-strategic factors. Essentially, it is still an ongoing process that will depend on the cooperation of regional allies as well as the evolving patterns of Sino-American relations.

A Muscular Policy in Syria Will Fail

October 5, 2012 by

The greatest failure of the Obama Doctrine may lie not in its great success but its perceived easy exportability to any other conflict in the Middle East. The “lead from behind” approach and the targeted bombing campaign that worked so admirably in Libya was clearly on the minds of Doran and Boot as they put together their argument for intervention in Syria.

Syria and the Dogs of War

September 28, 2012 by

While the regime of Bashar al-Assad ignited the explosion by its brutal response to political protests, much of the blame for the current situation lies with those countries, seeing an opportunity to eliminate an enemy, that fanned the flames with weapons and aid: the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, plus a host of minor cast members ranging from Jordan to Libya.

Left Behind: Re-Evaluating American Hegemony

August 27, 2012 by

Over the past decade, amidst appalling civilian casualties in one war of questionable legality and another of dubious wisdom, American foreign policy became the great bogey-man of the political left the world over. For liberal Americans, the bullish behavior of the Bush Administration induced the pretension of Canadian citizenship abroad and a previously unimaginable mainstream audience for leftist favorites Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky at home. Polled Europeans named the United States as the greatest threat to world peace.

Post-Assad Syria: A Region in Turmoil

August 21, 2012 by

Syria is in dire straits. The once regal and prosperous cities of Damascus and Aleppo have now become the primary battlefields of the Syrian Army against opposition forces. Since the start of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, the calm and serenity of both Damascus and Aleppo were often touted by the Syrian regime to the world as indicators of Syrian stability. The swift change from peace to turmoil however, has happened almost overnight, with President Assad describing the current battle in Aleppo as decisive of Syria’s fate.

Barack Obama’s ‘Intelligence Finding’ and the Syrian Civil War

August 12, 2012 by

The revelation about President Barack Obama’s decision to provide secret American aid to Syria’s rebel forces is a game changer. The presidential order, known as an “intelligence finding” in the world of espionage, authorizes the CIA to support armed groups fighting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s government. But it threatens far more than the regime in Damascus. The disclosure took its first casualty immediately. Kofi Annan, the special envoy to Syria, promptly announced his resignation, bitterly protesting that the UN Security Council had become a forum for “finger-pointing and name-calling.”

Arab’s “Spring” or Turkey’s “Rise”?

August 10, 2012 by

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement that Turkey is changing the rules of engagement regarding Syria is more than a simple escalation of rhetoric: it reveals the extent to which the Turkish foreign policy has radically changed. From Turkey’s famous “zero problems” policy and “transformative diplomacy”, Turkey under the Justice and Development Party is resorting to active engagement. With the sharp deterioration of Turkish-Syrian relations, Ankara is trying to seize the opportunity of the strategic vacuum and the weakness of its Arab rival, Syria, not only to take part in shaping the future of a “new” Middle East, but also to enhance Ankara’s influence in its historical Ottoman territory and impose itself as a regional power with global ambitions.

Syria: Has the United States Abandoned the Rebels?

August 10, 2012 by

At the start of the Syrian uprising the Obama administration had lauded the uprising as a positive step and emphasized the need for Assad to step down. While still insisting that Assad must go, there is every indication that the United States is weary of throwing its full weight behind the rebel movement to unseat Assad and the administration is now being accused of throwing the Free Syrian Army and the rebels under a bus. Since the onset of the Arab Spring, with Syrians clamouring for democracy and democratic institutions in the region, and eventually taking up arms against the Assad regime, the nearly 17-month-old uprising against the Assad government has turned into an all-out conflict with no end in sight.

Neocons vs. the ‘Arab Spring’

August 8, 2012 by

Neoconservatives are back with a vengeance. While popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and other Arab countries had briefly rendered them irrelevant in the region, Western intervention in Libya signaled a new opportunity. Now Syria promises to usher a full return of neoconservatives into the Middle East fray. “Washington must stop subcontracting Syria policy to the Turks, Saudis and Qataris. They are clearly part of the anti-Assad effort, but the United States cannot tolerate Syria becoming a proxy state for yet another regional power,” wrote Danielle Pletka, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

America’s Broken Political Process: Russian Bills Fail in Congress

August 6, 2012 by

In spite of the fact that the U.S. economy continues to suffer and Europe is imploding, the U.S. Congress has left Washington for its traditional five-week summer recess. Among the plethora of legislation that Congress failed to address prior to its departure were two bills concerning Russia — the establishment of permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) and the ‘Magnitsky Act.’ This failure means that the review of these bills will not take place until next month at the earliest — when Congress has only eight working days — or perhaps even during its ‘lame duck’ session following the November elections.

Syria’s Descent Raises Disturbing Questions

August 2, 2012 by

While roundly condemned by human rights groups including Human Rights Watch, the apparent extra-judicial shooting of four Assad loyalists in Aleppo places the international community in a bind. For months, several Middle Eastern states, the United States and others have funneled weapons, money and equipment to the rebels without knowing the full details of who exactly they dealing with. As the recipient of the aid, the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) members straddle the ideological spectrum, and include former Al Qaeda (AQ) fighters from Iraq. Not wanting to repeat its mistake in Libya last year, the US had been careful not to commit lethal assistance until it had a better idea who the FSA actually was.

Palestinian Refugees in Syria face a Bleak Future

July 25, 2012 by

“The flames are quickly approaching Yarmouk (as) someone is trying to drag the Palestinians into the fire,” reported Palestinian commentator Rashad Abu Shawar. Yarmouk is the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. Its inhabitants make up nearly a quarter of Syria’s entire refugee population of nearly 500,000. Despite the persistence of memory and the insistence on their right of return to Palestine, the Palestinian community in Syria is, on the whole, like any other ordinary community. Of course, ‘ordinariness’ is not always a term that suits misfortunate Palestinian refugees in Arab countries.

The West is Playing with Fire in Syria

July 23, 2012 by

While the UN remains paralyzed on whether to extend its observer mission, or impose sanctions, Syria is drifting quickly towards what the International Committee of the Red Cross calls “a state of civil war”, a declaration, with cataclysmic consequences, and which might radically change the rules of the game. Finian Cunningham, Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa Correspondent, notes to the extent to which the Syrian uprising has been exploited, “the irony is that leading NATO members, the United States, Britain and France, as well as their Turkish and Arab allies, are the very parties that have deliberately created the precipice for all-out war in the Middle East.”

T. E. Lawrence and Foreign Intervention in Syria

July 19, 2012 by

“They were discontented always with what government they had; such being their intellectual pride; but few of them honestly, thought out a working, alternative and fewer still agreed upon one.” Thus noted T.E. Lawrence, presumptuously, in his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which recounts his exploits as part of the Arab uprising against the Turks during the First World War. “They” are the Syrians, and Lawrence provides a vivid description of the land and its people, which he and a Hashemite led Arab Army where about to wrestle from Ottoman control.

Backing Horses: The Syrian Civil War

July 18, 2012 by

While the Russians are being painted as international law’s bogeymen, indifferent to choosing sides in a conflict when the only side to pick can only ever be that of peace, the Syrian opposition forces are nibbling, if not slaughtering their way, into view with their recent killings in Damascus. President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle has received a series of lethal blows in the National Security Building – four of them, according to rumour mill of press reports. On Wednesday, Assad found himself one minister of defence and brother-in-law short. The latter was the infamous intelligence chief Assef Shawkat, though that itself has been disputed.

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