The dilemmas faced by “a mulish military power which doesn’t know Shiite from Shinola” are enormous.
The Yemeni president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, resigned on Jan. 22, “after Houthi rebels seeking greater political power effectively seized control of the capital, Sanaa.” (Foreign Policy)
For years, Yemenis had felt the brunt of “U.S.-trained units of elite Yemeni special forces” combined with CIA drone strikes from above. Now the superpower must decide “whether, and how, to cooperate with the Houthis — who are widely seen as an Iranian proxy force — in the fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemeni-based group that claimed to have orchestrated this month’s attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo.”
The Houthis hate al Qaeda, which is “a Sunni militant group that sees the Houthis and the Iranian as apostates.” So do we, the Americans, hate al Qaeda. But we also hate the Iranians (principally because Israel is threatened by Iran, which is no threat to the US).
Another dynamic is at play besides the Sunni-Shia dynamic. It is that between the forces of centralization, with which the US generally sides (witness Iraq), and the forces of decentralization, with which the Arab people with whom we meddle generally side, given the tribal, familial focus of their societies.
The Houthis are demanding greater regional autonomy (like the Kurds of Iraq); the US is inevitably looking to empower another puppet central power like Hadi’s so as to lord it over its Yemeni client state.
In the words of Sir Walter Scott, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”
Judging from the move today to ramp up the US’s involvement in Iraq, Michael A. Cohen’s advice to Barack Obama to continue what Cohen deems a “relatively low-key effort” in that country is unlikely. The president, at the behest of the Republicans, has ordered 1,500 additional American soldiers to Iraq.
Writing at Foreign Policy magazine, Cohen urges Obama to make haste and to continuing the push for a nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Iran, before the new Senate is sworn in and thwarts such an agreement:
Time, however, is of the essence. With a November 24 deadline fast approaching and the distinct possibility that a GOP-controlled Senate will push for new sanctions on Iran, reaching a deal sooner rather than later — even if it means concessions from the United States, for example, on the number of centrifuges that Iran can maintain — is essential.
Stephen M. Walt is no friend of Israel. He and John Mearsheimer have condemned the “Israel lobby’s” influence on U.S. foreign Policy in an eponymous book. In Foreign Policy, this week, Walt, however, condemned the White Houses’ “chickenshit” comment, vis-a-vis Bibi Netanyahu, for assorted reasons, one of which is that “Netanyahu’s decision not to attack Iran wasn’t a show of cowardice (or being a ‘chickenshit’); it was a sensible strategic choice”:
… the idea that Netanyahu is a coward who lacks the guts to pull the trigger against Iran assumes Israel had a genuine military option vis-à-vis Iran in the first place. In fact, Netanyahu’s saber rattling towards Iran has always been a bluff, because Israel lacked the military capacity to conduct a strategically significant strike on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Sure, the Israeli air force could do some damage to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but it doesn’t have enough aircraft or the bunker-busting capacity to destroy all of its enrichment capacity. This situation with Iran isn’t remotely like Israel’s 1981 Osirak raid against Iraq, or even its 2007 attack on a reactor site in Syria, which involved bombing a single vulnerable location. An Israeli attack might delay Iran’s far more advanced program by a few months or maybe a year, but it would also encourage Iran’s leaders to start an all-out sprint for an actual bomb. And that is why prominent members of Israel’s national security establishment went public with their own concerns about Netanyahu’s hollow threats. A few Israeli Strangeloves might have believed an attack would draw the United States in to finish the job, but the risks were enormous and both Bush and Obama made it clear this gambit wasn’t going to fly. …
On “Fighting in Iraq Until Hell Freezes Over,” courtesy of Peter Van Buren @ The Unz Review:
… The staggering costs of [Iraq] — $25 billion to train the Iraqi Army, $60 billion for the reconstruction-that-wasn’t, $2 trillion for the overall war, almost 4,500 Americans dead and more than 32,000 wounded, and an Iraqi death toll of more than 190,000 (though some estimates go as high as a million) — can now be measured against the results. The nine-year attempt to create an American client state in Iraq failed, tragically and completely. The proof of that is on today’s front pages.
According to the crudest possible calculation, … America’s war of terror resulted in the dissolution of a Middle Eastern post-Cold War stasis that, curiously enough, had been held together by Iraq’s previous autocratic ruler Saddam Hussein. We released a hornet’s nest of Islamic fervor, sectarianism, fundamentalism, and pan-nationalism. Islamic terror groups grew stronger and more diffuse by the year. That horrible lightning over the Middle East that’s left American foreign policy in such an ugly glare will last into our grandchildren’s days. There should have been so many futures. Now, there will be so few as the dead accumulate in the ruins of our hubris. That is all that we won.
… And then came the Islamic State (IS) and the new “caliphate,” the child born of a neglectful occupation and an autocratic Shia government out to put the Sunnis in their place once and for all. And suddenly we were heading back into Iraq. …
… The truth on the ground these days is tragically familiar: an Iraq even more divided into feuding state-lets; a Baghdad government kleptocracy about to be reinvigorated by free-flowing American money; and a new Shia prime minister being issued the same 2003-2011 to-do list by Washington: mollify the Sunnis, unify Iraq, and make it snappy. The State Department still stays hidden behind the walls of that billion-dollar embassy. More money will be spent to train the collapsed Iraqi military. Iran remains the foreign power with the most influence over events.
One odd difference should be noted, however: in the last Iraq war, the Iranians sponsored and directed attacks by Shia militias against American occupation forces (and me); now, its special operatives and combat advisors fight side-by-side with those same Shia militias under the cover of American air power. You want real boots on the ground? Iranian forces are already there. It’s certainly an example of how politics makes strange bedfellows, but also of what happens when you assemble your “strategy” on the run.
Obama hardly can be blamed for all of this, but he’s done his part to make it worse — and worse it will surely get as his administration once again assumes ownership of the Sunni-Shia fight. The “new” unity plan that will fail follows the pattern of the one that did fail in 2007: use American military force to create a political space for “reconciliation” between once-burned, twice-shy Sunnis and a compromise Shia government that American money tries to nudge into an agreement against Iran’s wishes. …
Here we go again.
What would happen in the miasma that is the Middle East if a silly, if well-intentioned, superpower—profoundly ignorant of history, in general, and the region, in particular—quit enabling one side or the other; stopped lurching maniacally (a la “McMussolini”) from supporting one bloodletting entity or another?
What would transpire if, as I wrote in “Leave ISIS To The Homies,” the US left “ISIS to Syria, Tehran and Tel Aviv”; “let the locals take out their trash”?
Today I heard one of the interchangeable bimbos on CNN pondering—oh the sacrilege!—whether the US should talk to Iran.
However, were we to leave things be, the feuding parties might cease vying for American money and materiel and begin hammering out a strategy among themselves that would ensure longevity—an uneasy balance of power, if you will—in the region.
The Israeli government, as was noted, is already endeavoring to “radically change its tack on Syria, reversing a policy and military strategy that were long geared to opposing Syrian President Bashar Assad.”
By the way, how stupid is the American state? Look no further than that Marie Barf, that sibilant tart at State. Go Foggy Bottom …
“Leave ISIS To The Homies” is the current column, now on WND. An excerpt:
… Despotism and populism finally coalesced. Driven by polls and craving plaudits from the pundits, the president cobbled together a strategy. Within hours, love was in the air again. Members of a lovelorn liberal media scurried about like teens on prom night. It had been a long time since they felt the same rush about Obama. In his televised address to the nation, the president committed to increasing the ongoing airstrikes in Iraq; said he would take the fight to ISIL in Syria, too. The hormonal monitors at CNN spiked with each paternal promise of protection. “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven,” roared Big Daddy. …
… Easily the most ludicrous aspect of Dr. Feelgood’s “plan” is the promise of “military assistance to the Syrian opposition”: “I again call on Congress, again, to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters.”
There is no telling the good Syrian opposition from the bad. If anything, there is a “growing preponderance of radical Islamists in the Syrian rebel force fighting Assad’s army,” seconds the outstanding intelligence provider DEBKAfile. Currently fighting ISIS is Bashar Hafez al-Assad, Syria’s embattled leader, whom Hussein, McCain and Clinton wanted to unseat.
The unseating of yet another extremely effective law-and-order leader, Saddam Hussein, is what unleashed ISIS. Despite what Delphic Oracle Dana Perino says in praise of her “prescient” boss’s “strategizing”; Bush 43 owns ISIS. Fidelity to historical fact demands that Bush get Brownie points for turning Iraq from a rogue state to a failed state, where mad dogs thrive. …
Read the complete column. “Leave ISIS To The Homies” is now on WND.