Iraq: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Ancient War Torn Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Iraq

Introduction Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by Britain during the course of World War I; in 1920, it was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration. In stages over the next dozen years, Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932. A “republic” was proclaimed in 1958, but in actuality a series of military strong men ruled the country until 2003, the last was SADDAM Husayn. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war (1980-88). In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait, but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. Following Kuwait’s liberation, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions over a period of 12 years led to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Hussein regime. Coalition forces remain in Iraq under a UNSC mandate, helping to provide security and to support the freely elected government. The Coalition Provisional Authority, which temporarily administered Iraq after the invasion, transferred full governmental authority on 28 June 2004 to the Iraqi Interim Government, which governed under the Transitional Administrative Law for Iraq (TAL). Under the TAL, elections for a 275-member Transitional National Assembly (TNA) were held in Iraq on 30 January 2005. Following these elections, the Iraqi Transitional Government (ITG) assumed office. The TNA was charged with drafting Iraq’s permanent constitution, which was approved in a 15 October 2005 constitutional referendum. An election under the constitution for a 275-member Council of Representatives (CoR) was held on 15 December 2005. The CoR approval in the selection of most of the cabinet ministers on 20 May 2006 marked the transition from the ITG to Iraq’s first constitutional government in nearly a half-century.
History Ancient Mesopotamia

The region of Iraq was historically known as Mesopotamia (Greek: “between the rivers”). It was home to the world’s first known civilization, the Sumerian culture, followed by the Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian cultures, whose influence extended into neighboring regions as early as 5000 BC. These civilizations produced some of the earliest writing and some of the first sciences, mathematics, laws and philosophies of the world; hence its common epithet, the “Cradle of Civilization”.

In the sixth century BC, Cyrus the Great conquered the Neo-Babylonian Empire, and Mesopotamia was subsumed in the Achaemenid Persian Empire for nearly four centuries. Alexander the Great conquered the region again, putting it under Macedonian rule for nearly two centuries. A Central Asian tribe of ancient Iranian people’s known as the Parthia’s later annexed the region, followed by the Sassanid Persians. The region remained a province of the Persian Empire for nine centuries, until the 7th century.

Islamic Caliphate

Beginning in the seventh century AD, Islam spread to what is now Iraq during the Islamic conquest of Persia, led by the Muslim Arab commander Khalid ibn al-Walid. Under the Rashidun Caliphate, the prophet Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law Ali moved his capital to Kufa “fi al-Iraq” when he became the fourth caliph. The Umayyad Caliphate ruled the province of Iraq from Damascus in the 7th century. (However, eventually there was a separate, independent Caliphate of Cordoba.)

The Abbasid Caliphate built the city of Baghdad in the 8th century as their capital, and it became the leading metropolis of the Arab and Muslim world for five centuries. Baghdad was the largest multicultural city of the Middle Ages, peaking at a population of more than a million, and was the center of learning during the Islamic Golden Age. The Mongols destroyed the city during the sack of Baghdad in the 13th century.

Mongol Conquest

In 1257, Hulagu Khan amassed an unusually large army, a significant portion of the Mongol Empire’s forces, for the purpose of conquering Baghdad. When they arrived at the Islamic capital, Hulagu demanded surrender but the caliph refused. This angered Hulagu, and, consistent with Mongol strategy of discouraging resistance, Baghdad was decimated. Estimates of the number of dead range from 200,000 to a million.

The Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate and The Grand Library of Baghdad (Arabic بيت الحكمة Bayt al-Hikma, lit., House of Wisdom), which contained countless, precious, historical documents. The city would never regain its status as major center of culture and influence.

In 1401, warlord of Turco-Mongol descent Tamerlane (Timur Lenk) invaded Iraq. After the capture of Baghdad, 20,000 of its citizens were massacred. Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at least two severed human heads to show him (many warriors were so scared they killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign just to ensure they had heads to present to Timur).

Ottoman Empire

Later, the Ottoman Turks took Baghdad from the Persians in 1535. The Ottomans lost Baghdad to the Iranian Safavids in 1609, and took it back in 1632. From 1747 to 1831, Iraq was ruled, with short intermissions, by the Mamluk officers of Georgian origin who enjoyed local autonomy from the Sublime Porte.[8] In 1831, the direct Ottoman rule was imposed and lasted until World War I, during which the Ottomans sided with Germany and the Central Powers.

During World War I the Ottomans were driven from much of the area by the United Kingdom during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The British lost 92,000 soldiers in the Mesopotamian campaign. Ottoman losses are unknown but the British captured a total of 45,000 prisoners of war. By the end of 1918 the British had deployed 410,000 men in the area, though only 112,000 were combat troops.

During World War I the British and French divided the Middle East in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The Treaty of Sèvres, which was ratified in the Treaty of Lausanne, led to the advent of the modern Middle East and Republic of Turkey. The League of Nations granted France mandates over Syria and Lebanon and granted the United Kingdom mandates over Iraq and Palestine (which then consisted of two autonomous regions: Palestine and Transjordan). Parts of the Ottoman Empire on the Arabian Peninsula became parts of what are today Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

British Mandate of Mesopotamia

At the end of World War I, the League of Nations granted the area to the United Kingdom as a mandate. It initially formed two former Ottoman vilayets (regions): Baghdad, and Basra into a single country in August 1921. Five years later, in 1926, the northern vilayet of Mosul was added, forming the territorial boundaries of the modern Iraqi state.

For three out of four centuries of Ottoman rule, Baghdad was the seat of administration for the vilayets of Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra. During the mandate, British colonial administrators ruled the country, and through the use of British armed forces, suppressed Arab and Kurdish rebellions against the occupation. They established the Hashemite king, Faisal, who had been forced out of Syria by the French, as their client ruler. Likewise, British authorities selected Sunni Arab elites from the region for appointments to government and ministry offices.[specify][9]

Hashemite monarchy

Britain granted independence to Iraq in 1932, on the urging of King Faisal, though the British retained military bases and transit rights for their forces. King Ghazi of Iraq ruled as a figurehead after King Faisal’s death in 1933, while undermined by attempted military coups, until his death in 1939. The United Kingdom invaded Iraq in 1941, for fear that the government of Rashid Ali al-Gaylani might cut oil supplies to Western nations, and because of his strong ideological leanings to Nazi Germany. A military occupation followed the restoration of the Hashemite monarchy, and the occupation ended on October 26, 1947. The rulers during the occupation and the remainder of the Hashemite monarchy were Nuri al-Said, the autocratic prime minister, who also ruled from 1930–1932, and ‘Abd al-Ilah, an adviser to the king Faisal II.

Republic of Iraq

The reinstated Hashemite monarchy lasted until 1958, when it was overthrown by a coup d’etat of the Iraqi Army, known as the 14 July Revolution. The coup brought Brigadier General Abdul Karim Qassim to power. He withdrew from the Baghdad Pact and established friendly relations with the Soviet Union, but his government lasted only until 1963, when it was overthrown by Colonel Abdul Salam Arif. Salam Arif died in 1966 and his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, assumed the presidency. In 1968, Rahman Arif was overthrown by the Arab Socialist Bath Party. This movement gradually came under the control of Saddam Hussein ‘Abd al-Majid al Tikriti, who acceded to the presidency and control of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), then Iraq’s supreme executive body, in July 1979, while killing many of his opponents.

Saddam Hussein

In 1979, Saddam Hussein took power as Iraqi President, after killing and arresting his leadership rivals. Shortly after taking power, the political situation in Iraq’s neighbor Iran changed drastically after the success of the Islamic Revolution of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which resulted in a Shi’ite Muslim theocratic state being established. This was a dangerous change in the eyes of the Iraqi government, as Iraq had a Shi’ite majority, but was ruled by Hussein’s Sunni Muslim dominated regime. In 1980, Hussein claimed that Iranian forces were trying to topple his government and declared war on Iran. Saddam Hussein supported the Iranian Islamic socialist organization called the People’s Mujahedin of Iran which opposed the Iranian government. During the Iran-Iraq War Iraqi forces attacked Iranian soldiers and civilians with chemical weapons. Hussein’s regime was notorious for its human rights abuses; for instance, during the Al-Anfal campaign as well as attacks on Kurd civilians inside Iraq, such as the Halabja massacre, as punishment for elements of Kurdish support of Iran. The war ended in stalemate in 1988, largely due to American and Western support for Iraq. This was part of the US policy of “dual containment” of Iraq and Iran.

In 1977, the Iraqi government ordered the construction of Osirak (also spelled Osiraq) at the Al Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, 18 km (11 miles) south-east of Baghdad. It was a 40 MW light-water nuclear materials testing reactor (MTR). In 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed the facility, in order to prevent the country from using the reactor for creation of nuclear weapons.

In 1990, faced with economic disaster following the end of the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam Hussein looked to the oil-rich neighbor of Kuwait as a target to invade to use its resources and money to rebuild Iraq’s economy. The Iraqi government claimed that Kuwait was illegally slant drilling its oil pipelines into Iraqi territory which it demanded be stopped, Kuwait rejected the notion that it was slant drilling and Iraq followed this in August 1990 with the invasion of Kuwait. Upon successfully occupying Kuwait, Hussein declared that Kuwait had ceased to exist and it was to be part of Iraq, against heavy objections from many countries and the United Nations.

The UN agreed to pass sanctions against Iraq and demanded its immediate withdrawal from Kuwait. Iraq refused and the UN Security Council in 1991 unanimously voted for military action against Iraq. The United States, which had enormous vested interests in the oil supplies of the Middle East led an international coalition into Kuwait and Iraq. The coalition forces entered the war with more advanced weaponry than that of Iraq, though Iraq’s army was the largest armed force in the Middle East at the time. Despite a large arsenal of military forces, the Iraqi army stood no match to the advanced weaponry of the coalition forces and the air superiority which the U.S. Air Force provided. Iraq responded to the invasion by launching SCUD missile attacks against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Hussein hoped that by attacking Israel, the Israeli military would be drawn into the war, which he believed would rally anti-Israeli sentiment in neighboring Arab countries to support Iraq. However Hussein’s gamble failed as Israel reluctantly accepted U.S. demand for Israel to remain out of the conflict to avoid inflaming tensions. Iraqi armed forces were quickly destroyed and Hussein eventually accepted the inevitable and ordered a withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, but before they were to do so, he ordered them to sabotage Kuwait’s oil wells, which resulted in hundreds of wells being set ablaze causing an economic and ecological disaster in Kuwait.

The aftermath of the war saw the Iraqi military, especially its air force destroyed. In turn for peace, Iraq was forced to accept “no-fly zones”, the dismantlement of all chemical and biological weapons it possessed, and end any attempt to create or purchase nuclear weapons, to be insured by the allowance of UN weapons inspectors to evaluate the dismantlement of such weapons. And finally, Iraq would face sanctions if it disobeyed any of the demands. Shortly after the war ended in 1991, Shia Muslim Iraqis engaged in protests against Hussein’s regime, but Hussein responded with violent repression against Shia Muslims and the protests came to an end. After the war, Iraq on a number of occasions through the 1990s was accused of breaking its obligations including the discovery in 1993, of a plan to assassinate former President George H. W. Bush, in which sanctions were imposed and military action was taken by U.S. forces against Iraq.

Critics estimate that more than 500,000 Iraqi children died as a result of the sanctions.[13] The U.S. and the UK declared no-fly zones over Kurdish northern and Shiite southern Iraq to oversee the Kurd’s and southern Shiites.[specify]

Invasion by American-led Coalition forces

20 March 2003, a United States-organized coalition invaded Iraq, with the stated reason that Iraq had failed to abandon its nuclear and chemical weapons development program in violation of United Nations resolution 687. When Iraq invaded Kuwait during the first Gulf War, the United Nations Security Council, under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, adopted resolution 678, authorizing U.N. member states to use “all necessary means” to “restore international peace and security in the area.” After Iraq was expelled from Kuwait the United Nations passed a cease-fire resolution 687. The agreement included provisions obligating Iraq to discontinue its nuclear weapons program. The United States asserted that because Iraq was in “material breach” of resolution 687, the armed forces authorization of resolution 678 was revived.

The United States gave further justification for the invasion of Iraq in claims that Iraq had or was developing weapons of mass destruction and the opportunity to remove an oppressive dictator from power and bring democracy to Iraq. In his State of Union Address on 29 January, 2002, the American President George W. Bush declared that Iraq was a member of the “axis of evil”, and that, like North Korea and Iran, Iraq’s attempt to acquire weapons of mass destruction gave credence to the claim that the Iraqi government posed a serious threat to America’s national security. He added, “Iraq continues to flaunt its hostilities toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade… This is a regime that agreed to international inspections—then kicked out inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world… By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes [Iran, Iraq and North Korea] pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred.”[14] However, no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have been found since the invasion.[15]

Post-invasion

Following the invasion, the United States established the Coalition Provisional Authority to govern Iraq.[16] Government authority was transferred to an Iraqi Interim Government in June 2004 and a permanent government was elected in October 2005. More than 140,000 Coalition troops remain in Iraq.

Studies have placed the number of civilians deaths as high as 655,000 (see The Lancet study), although most studies have put the number much lower; the Iraq Body Count project has a figure of less than 10% of The Lancet Study, though IBC organizers acknowledge that their statistics are an under-count as they base their information off of media-confirmed deaths. The website of the Iraq body count states, “Our maximum therefore refers to reported deaths – which can only be a sample of true deaths unless one assumes that every civilian death has been reported. It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media.”

After the invasion, al-Qaeda took advantage of the insurgency to entrench itself in the country concurrently with an Arab-Sunni led insurgency and sectarian violence.

On December 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein was hanged.[18] Hussein’s half-brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Hassan and former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court Awad Hamed al-Bandar were likewise executed on January 15, 2007;[19] as was Taha Yassin Ramadan, Saddam’s former deputy and former vice-president (originally sentenced to life in prison but later to death by hanging), on March 20, 2007.[20] Ramadan was the fourth and last man in the al-Dujail trial to die by hanging for crimes against humanity.

At the Anfal genocide trial, Saddam’s cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid (aka Chemical Ali), former defense minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed al-Tay, and former deputy Hussein Rashid Mohammed were sentenced to hang for their role in the Al-Anfal Campaign against the Kurd’s on June 24, 2007[citation needed].

Acts of sectarian violence have led to claims of ethnic cleansing in Iraq, and there have been many attacks on Iraqi minorities such as the Yezidis, Mandeans, Assyrians and others.[21]

In 2007 Foreign Policy Magazine named Iraq as the second most unstable nation in the world after Sudan.[22]

Although violence has declined from the summer of 2007,[23] the U.N. reported of a cholera outbreak in Iraq.[24]

Iraqi diaspora

The dispersion of native Iraqis to other countries is known as the Iraqi diaspora. There have been many large-scale waves of emigration from Iraq, beginning early in the regime of Saddam Hussein and continuing through to 2007. The UN High Commission for Refugees has estimated that nearly two million Iraqis have fled the country in recent years, mostly to Jordan and Syria.[25] Although some expatriates returned to Iraq after the 2003 invasion, the flow had virtually stopped by 2006.[26]

In addition to the 2 million Iraqis who fled to neighboring countries, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center estimates the number of people currently displaced within the country at 1.9 million.

Roughly 40% of Iraq’s middle class is believed to have fled, the U.N. said. Most are fleeing systematic persecution and have no desire to return.[28] Refugees are mired in poverty as they are generally barred from working in their host countries.

In recent times the Diaspora seems to be reversing with the increased security of the last few months, and the Iraqi government claims that so far 46,000 refugees have returned to their homes in October of 2007 alone.

Geography Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait
Geographic coordinates: 33 00 N, 44 00 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 437,072 sq km
land: 432,162 sq km
water: 4,910 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Idaho
Land boundaries: total: 3,650 km
border countries: Iran 1,458 km, Jordan 181 km, Kuwait 240 km, Saudi Arabia 814 km, Syria 605 km, Turkey 352 km
Coastline: 58 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: not specified
Climate: mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq
Terrain: mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: unnamed peak; 3,611 m; note – this peak is not Gundah Zhur 3,607 m or Kuh-e Hajji-Ebrahim 3,595 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur
Land use: arable land: 13.12%
permanent crops: 0.61%
other: 86.27% (2005)
Irrigated land: 35,250 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 96.4 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 42.7 cu km/yr (3%/5%/92%)
per capita: 1,482 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: dust storms, sandstorms, floods
Environment – current issues: government water control projects have drained most of the inhabited marsh areas east of An Nasiriyah by drying up or diverting the feeder streams and rivers; a once sizable population of Marsh Arabs, who inhabited these areas for thousands of years, has been displaced; furthermore, the destruction of the natural habitat poses serious threats to the area’s wildlife populations; inadequate supplies of potable water; development of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers system contingent upon agreements with upstream riparian Turkey; air and water pollution; soil degradation (salination) and erosion; desertification
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography – note: strategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf
People Population: 27,499,638 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 39.4% (male 5,509,736/female 5,338,722)
15-64 years: 57.6% (male 8,018,841/female 7,812,611)
65 years and over: 3% (male 386,321/female 433,407) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 20 years
male: 19.9 years
female: 20 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.618% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 31.44 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 5.26 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.032 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.026 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.891 male(s)/female
total population: 1.024 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 47.04 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 52.73 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 41.07 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 69.31 years
male: 68.04 years
female: 70.65 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.07 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Islam And Dictators

Islam And Dictators

As most people know the world experienced an event called “The Arab Spring” just a few years ago. The event started when a man through exasperation of the inequalities that were laid upon his life decided to end his life by setting himself on fire. This tragic event started an uprising of the people who spread across North Africa and the Middle East. The people of these countries raised up together to challenge their countries leaders in unprecedented numbers. The results of these uprisings do vary but it would be lying to say that these countries and their people are now living in peace.

The United States government has been involved in this region of the world since before I was born (I am 61). Their adventures attributes or lack there of can easily be argued long and loud from the Arab people’s point of view, their governments point of view, and the American people’s points of view. Many Americans are sick and tired of our country being the “world’s policeman” but just as cops on the street can be good and/or evil our country has often lacked moral ethics in how they performed their activities. But just as different Arab countries leaders and their people like and dislike things our government has done that has touched their lives, I would just like to share with you that just as you and your countries government’s do not always see eye to eye with each other, that the American people do not always back what our government in doing in regards to events that affect you and your lives.

Most of the American people I believe before 1972-73 knew little about anything that was to do with your countries. I was a teenager during that time and I was in the American military (1977) before I ever heard of the Shah of Iran, I am not sure that I had ever heard of the country of Iran before the events of his departure from your country. The more that I paid attention to the events concerning the Shah and our countries involvement the more it sickened me about things our country had done to the people of Iran. As just about anyone and everyone should know by now the American government was playing a deadly game with Russia during those “cold war” years. Both countries governments used other countries like pawns in a chess game not caring about the collateral damage their actions were putting upon the people of these countries.

The American government installed and supported many evil people, even crazy people (Saddam), giving them many weapons which the tyrants used against their own people. I am going to step back to Iran in the 1978 era when the people of Iran was able to get rid of one Tyrant to unfortunately have an even more evil person step into the leadership of their country. I know that statement will get some people mad but to be honest about things, here in America we have had many evil people in all different levels and departments of our government including some very evil Presidents. The Shah was a very evil person but after his departure, you the people, got locked into a government that is one of the most evil the world has ever known.

Libya, as most everyone knows is one of the countries that had a horrible lunatic for a leader who you the people, with some outside help from Jihad organizations was able to overthrow. But you the people have now got a living situation that is very dangerous for all of it’s citizens with so many armed groups fighting for more control. I am glad that this was one leader that wasn’t one of the CIA puppets because he was a horrible non-humanitarian leader. Our government propped up dictators from the Philippines to Central America to Africa to the Middle East. It Saddens me as an American and as a loving heart Christian that our government did some of the things to you that they did but it is not like we the people of America condoned our governments actions.

Syria, their President is the only leader that it seems is going to remain in office but only because he was able to get foreign help from nations like Russia and Iran and terrorist groups like Hezbollah. The cost of this failed Civil War is hundreds of thousands of people are dead with probably that many and more wounded. There is also the factor of how to go forward as a nation. There is many trillions of dollars of damage to businesses and homes and the factor of the human cost of getting that country back to a functional condition is going to take several decades.

The United States as you know involved themselves militarily in Afghanistan and Iraq after the 9-11-2001 attacks here in America. I believe that going into Afghanistan was a legitimate action. But when our government went into Iraq in March of 2003 to get Saddam this was an unconstitutional act, thus and illegal action by our President. I try to always be honest and fair in all that I do and say, but in doing this it seems like I get most everyone mad at me. Thus saying, I personally believe that our President at the time, George W Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are all three guilty of War Crimes and should all three be behind bars right now. Now, if you fast forward to today, look at all the sectarian violence in Iraq and in Afghanistan with the government trying to get the Taliban murderers to become part of that government. Besides cutting off the figurehead of Al-Qaeda on May 2nd of 2011 what did all the blood and all the billions of dollars accomplish for the lives of their average countryman?

Egypt is the last country that I am going to focus on tonight because I am not trying to create a manuscript out of this post. The people of Egypt throughout history for the most part are now and have always been a great people even though they have had many Rulers who used and abused them. Ever since your President Anwar Sadat was murdered by Islamist traders, you the people had been saddled with a Dictator/President who you finally overthrew about five years ago. When you, the people of Egypt were doing your rallies there in the Square in Cairo the Western media kept interviewing protesters from the square pointing out to us viewers how it was the educated class of people who were the protesters. They would often say how the side streets and alleys were jammed with people but these reporters did not go into those side streets and alleys because of security issues. I knew even then that the Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood were more than happy to let the School Teachers, Doctors, and Lawyer types be the one’s speaking to the foreign press while they waited in the back streets hoping that the President would be run out of office. When President Mubarak was removed by the Military and elections were set in place I had no doubt who would win and then the people of Egypt who voted in The Brotherhood would see first hand how they now had another tyrant leading their country. To the praise of the majority of the people the people realized how badly they had been lied to and how inept these Islamist leaders were and once again with the help of your Military you brought down yet another Dictator.

There is a common thread that runs throughout the Muslim part of the world and that of course is the Islamic faith. I know that it sounds horrible but the pattern of governments that have come and gone and come again to your countries has been where a Military backed Dictator has ruled your country or you had a Religious Leader rule your country. The debate for your people has been a case of which one is going to be the most cruel toward the population. It has seemed that your only alternatives where the lazy, uneducated, hate-filled Islamist fundamentalists who allow the population no basic human rights or freedom of expression, or when a Military backed Dictator has been your countries ruler who has no choice but to clamp down on the Islamist groups. These actions unfortunately cause the collateral damage of taking away many of the general populations basic rights also.

It is and has been my belief for a long time now that the only way that the people have freedom in their country is if they remove the tyrant themselves. How Egypt has gotten rid of their last two Presidents has worked but it always comes down to where the loyalty of the nation’s Military is. Muslim countries who prefer to have a so-called Religious Leader as their ruler it is up to you to see that He or She is acting toward the populous with caring and love for the people. Proof that these so-called “Clerics” like the real rulers of Iran, have enslaved the people by their hatred against everyone they themselves do not consider to be “holy” enough. This has been proven to the people of Islamic countries time and time again, it seems that either way the people have no freedom or freedom of speech under penalty of death. The people of your countries are to this day wrapped up in constant violence and almost all of this violence is directly to do with the Islamic Faith in how people choose to interpret your Holy Books words. Personally, I believe that God can choose to kill or let live whomever He chooses and that He does not need anyone’s help to kill or harm anyone. If God wants you or I dead, if He really is God, He can just speak it or wish it so and it will be so. Anyone who uses a Religion to kill or harm another person is themselves a Servant of Satan. If you really believe that the One you call God says for you to do these things, you very much need to examine who/what it is that you are worshiping because it sure isn’t a God. God is peace and love, not hate and killing. I from the depths of my heart wish for peace prosperity and love to each and every one of you. I do pray for you everyday because there is so much hate and violence that surrounds you and your families daily, shalom.

Don’t You Know I’m A God—My One Fingered Salute To Saddam

Don’t You Know I’m A God

 

In Baghdad town where everyone was my clown

Me on their strings a pulling

Twas with myself in love I fell

Tis to my name Saddam they are a bowing

I’ve been God here for twenty odd years

Though two Bush’s tried to scare me

Nine palaces are where I call my home

They can kiss my behind for trying

 

When I look to the east, and I look to the west

I can see no eagle a coming

My Republican Guard is the best there could be

The God of Iraq they are a guarding

Georgie o Georgie come take your best swing

Then on your face you’ll be a falling

Georgie you know that all my people love me

You come here in the sand and dust you’ll be dying

 

What’s this, those birds that we could not see

With all those bombs a falling

Don’t you know that I am the God of Iraq

Now into a wormhole I am a crawling

It was here that I hid for a couple of months

My beard growing gray and balding

Georgie o Georgie it’s your name I am cursing

From a God to a man on trial I’ve fallen

I wonder, does a man feel the snap of his neck

When from the gallows he finds himself swinging

China Could Have Shut Down Kim Jong Un Long Ago, It Is Obvious They Are Helping Him Instead

 

On Monday Liu Jieyi, China’s ambassador to the UN, warned of the risk of escalating tensions on the peninsula

This article is obviously only my personal opinion but it is an opinion that has developed over about 40 years of observations. I know that China has been propping up the North Korean Kim family of dictators now for at least the past 65 years. It is understandable that China would prefer an Ally on the peninsula over having another democracy on the peninsula as the Communist leadership in Beijing is scared of letting the people have freedom in their own country. Beijing is not a friend to anyone anywhere, this Communist Party Leadership is now making the biggest power grab on any Nation in my lifetime and I was born in 1956. The China that we see today claims several other countries to be theirs as well as the seas and the air over them. Folks China’s leadership is no ones friend, they play the long game and that game is total domination. China could have shut down North Korea’s missile program any time they chose to do so, it is obvious that they feel that allowing Kim Jong Un to continue his efforts is in their own best interest. The more the U.S. and the other regional democracy’s are spending their time and efforts toward North Korea the more productive they can be flying under the radar as they try to pretend to be friendly. They are like a pet python that is friendly (or so you think) until it decides to eat you. Just about a week ago the U.S. government put sanctions on a Beijing Bank because it was being used to funnel billions of dollars into North Korea which is against current UN sanctions. I know that personally I would much rather see one person be eliminated in North Korea than to see many thousands die because of that one person.

 

Back in 2003 when President George W Bush decided to illegally invade Iraq for the purpose of finding and killing Saddam and his two adult sons many thousands of people have died because of his egotistical decision. I said then as I say now about this monster in North Korea that it would have been much better to have killed those three monsters instead of blowing up the Iraqi infrastructure and causing so much damage to the citizens lives. I am rather sure that President Trump and his top Generals are and have been looking at how to do preventive strikes on the Leadership of North Korea and their missile program locations. I am sure that Beijing would be furious if we do such a thing yet if this does end up happening Beijing only have themselves to blame for it. There is no doubt (at least to me) that North Korea’s little crazy boy will make his own preventive strikes as soon as he can manage to get his missiles nuclear tipped and we can not allow this animal to do this. It is just my thoughts/opinion that he is getting his technology help from China and/or Russia as their missile technology is advancing very quickly. I believe that the free world must destroy all of North Korea’s missiles and to cut off the head of this python before he starts eating us instead of us waiting until we are halfway down its gullet.

The enigma of Assad: How a painfully shy eye doctor turned into a murderous tyrant

(I PULLED THIS ARTICLE FROM ‘MAX DE HALDEVANG’S’ QUARTZ WEBSITE AND REUTERS)

A DOCTOR’S DOWNFALL

The enigma of Assad: How a painfully shy eye doctor turned into a murderous tyrant

April 21, 2017

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad never seemed cut out to be a dictator. As a young man, Assad—the second son of strongman president Hafez al-Assad—was so painfully shy that in conversation, “he wouldn’t look in your eye…he covered his mouth with his hands when he talked, and spoke in a low voice,” says Ayman Abdel Nour, a university friend. Indeed, Assad generally avoided gatherings of more than handful of people, and would hunch over to make his tall frame less conspicuous. “He was a totally regular citizen; you wouldn’t guess he was the son of the president unless you knew him personally,” Abdel Nour remembers.

While Bashar’s flashy older brother Bassel quickly rose through the ranks of the military, Bashar chose to study ophthalmology and took a softer posting as an army doctor. “The doctors aren’t considered real army,” Abdel Nour says. “They’re not real fighters—there’s no army in the world where the major general is a doctor.”

But Assad’s relatively quiet life changed dramatically when Bassel died in a car accident in 1993. Studying in London at the time of the crash, Assad was called back to Syria where his father dubbed him the new “hope” of the Syrian people. Seven years later, after his father’s death, he took over as president. In 2013, the urbane, Phil Collins-loving would-be eye doctor reportedly slaughtered around 1,400 people in what the UN called the “most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein” in 1988. On April 4th, Assad used chemical weapons (paywall) on his own people again.

 “There’s an irreconcilable Dr Jekyll-Mr Hyde tension in the person of Assad.” “There’s an irreconcilable Dr Jekyll-Mr Hyde tension in the person of Assad,” says Nadim Houry, who directs Human Rights Watch’s terrorism program and spent 11 years monitoring Assad’s regime. “There’s this clean-cut guy who gets interviewed by outlets, always has an Apple laptop on his desk and speaks very calmly. He’s very far from the image of an Arab dictator like Saddam or Gadaffi with their rifles in the air. Yet when you look at the behavior of the regime, it behaves very much like a typical, brutal Arab dictatorship—massive torture, massive killing of civilians, indiscriminate and deliberate bombing.”

The world has reacted with horror to Assad’s brutality, but while his cruelty is nothing new in the region, his transformation is more perplexing. What could possibly have so changed this soft-spoken man, who promised to reform his late father’s heavy-handed dictatorship, into a tyrant so desperate to hold on to power that he would eventually gas his own people to do so?

Ask 10 different Syrian experts and you’ll get 10 different answers. No one really knows if Assad ever genuinely cared about the reformist ideas he initially championed, but there was at least some early inclination towards economic liberalism. What we do know is that these desires were repeatedly trampled by two factors: the entrenched authoritarianism of the forces around him, and the instincts that shaped him.

“He’s a child of the Cold War on the side of the USSR; of the Arab-Israeli conflict on the side of the Arab states; and, most of all, he’s the child of his father,” says David Lesch, a history professor at Trinity University in Texas, and the author of two books on Assad’s Syria. “These are the influences that shaped his worldview, rather than being a computer nerd and liking Western music.”

The “Damascus Spring” and high early expectations

After 29 years of Hafez al-Assad, a ruthless air force commander who came to power in a coup, Bashar’s sleek suits and British investment-banker wife seemed like a breath of fresh air. His inaugural speech in July 2000 called for “democracy,” “transparency,” and “constructive criticism”—it even contained implicit criticisms of his father. “The speech created a great deal of hope,” says Lesch.

French President Jacques Chirac (R) meets Bachar Assad, son of Syrian President Hafez Assad, prior to their meeting and luncheon at the Elysee Palace to discuss the stalled Arab-Israeli peace talks November 7. MAL//ME - RTRS4ZO
From a quiet life as an ophthalmology student, Assad was plunged into meetings with the likes of French president Jacques Chirac in 1999. (Reuters)

The inauguration was followed by a period of relative openness, known as the “Damascus Spring.” Some opposition parties were allowed, the press got a little bit freer, and hundreds of political prisoners were released. Liberal intellectuals founded discussion salons across the Syrian capital and put together political pamphlets and petitions for reform.

 His inauguration was followed by a period of relative openness. It didnt last long. But this openness didn’t last long. “Of course, it didn’t take more than a few weeks before people were demanding regime change because the regime was so corrupt,” says Joshua Landis, director of the University of Oklahoma’s Middle East Studies Center and author of the Syria Comment blog. “It stunk. The whole thing stunk—so, any kind of critique had to lead to regime change.” Within months, Assad was warning (pdf, p. 5) that civil society groups criticizing the government were, consciously or unconsciously, helping “the country’s enemies” and, ominously, would be “dealt with.” A few months later, 10 opposition leaders were imprisoned.

Even now, there’s little agreement among analysts on whether Assad actually wanted the “Damascus Spring” to last. Dovish voices like Lesch believe his mildly progressive ambitions were thwarted by hardliners from his father’s government. Many others believe the early rhetoric was merely a front to attract international investment to Syria’s backward economy. “It was a PR campaign to normalize the government,” says Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Radwan Ziadeh, a human-rights activist and fellow at the Arab Institute in Washington, DC, agrees. “The Damascus spring was only a cosmetic step to try to get legitimacy,” he says. “Assad actually got this because lot of international leaders praised him early on.”

 “The Damascus spring was only a cosmetic step to try to get legitimacy.” Ziadeh has good reason to be skeptical of Assad’s motives—he was one of the opposition intellectuals Assad targeted in 2001. Never persuaded by Assad’s promises of reform, Ziadeh criticized him in articles published under a pseudonym in Lebanese newspapers. When the crackdown started, the government took his passport away, censored his writing, and had him followed by the security services for almost a year, he says. He eventually fled to the US in 2007 under the pretext of buying medicine for his father, who had cancer, and has never returned to Syria.

The family ties that bind

Even if political reforms were a veneer, Assad did seem committed to economic liberalization. His father had shored up power through what Landis calls an “authoritarian bargain.” In this Soviet-style model, the regime provides the means for basic sustenance for the rural working class, who in exchange give their political allegiance to it. However, during the 29 years of Hafez’s reign, the country’s population had more than doubled, and as the world globalized, the country badly needed to open its economy up to allow non-oil sectors to develop.

Despite resistance from old hands in the security services who worried that any openness would lead to opposition, Bashar did bring about some economic reforms. Banks were privatized, the internet was introduced, and foreign investment was made easier. However, his motivation for such changes was hardly altruistic, argues Abdel Nour, Assad’s university friend, who worked as a voluntary government adviser in the early 2000s. In reality, he says, changing the economy to help ordinary Syrians was far from the top of Assad’s priorities; what was most important was enriching his friends and, especially, his family.

A Lebanese pastes a picture of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad (L) near another one of his son and likely successor, Bashar, in Beirut on June 11. Assad died on Saturday, aged 69, after ruling Syria for 30 years. Syria is the main power broker in Lebanon. ASSADLEBA6.jpg - RTR56A2
A picture of new Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is pasted alongside one of his dead father in 2000. (Reuters)

Abdel Nour says this ulterior motive finally dawned on him in 2003, when Syria’s parliament passed a reform bill he had worked on. Assad’s uncle persuaded him not to sign the bill until it had been changed to include six or seven clauses that would directly benefit his cousin’s businesses.

 “I realized then that I’m not working for a country, I’m working for a family business”—Ayman Abdel Nour, former friend of Assad That was the last time Abdel Nour spoke to his old university friend. “I realized then that I’m not working for a country, I’m working for a family business,” he says. “I discovered that all this about reforms was wrong; it was bullshit and propaganda. So I decided to inform the Syrian people about what has happening so they would push for reforms themselves.” Abdel Nour stopped advising Assad, and set up the opposition news website All4Syria, which he now runs from Los Angeles.

In keeping with another common dictatorial trope, Assad’s cronyism eventually backfired, Landis says, as it undermined the “authoritarian bargain” that kept his father in power. “The class gap suddenly just widened,” he says. “That created tremendous resentment because the elite would get wealthy beyond belief.” This division would set the stage for Syria’s 2011 revolution—an event that would also solidify Assad’s transformation into a cold-blooded mass murderer.

Assad would also learn that even limited change can embolden the opposition. For example, by insisting on bringing the internet to Syria, he made surveillance impossible at the levels his father had maintained. The security services had managed easily when snooping meant tapping phone lines and reading mail— but they just weren’t capable of covering the giant spiderweb of the internet. The web also gave people access to information and enabled debate. Both factors helped spark the 2011 uprising.

The Iraq war and the power of paranoia

Assad’s shift away from reform dovetailed with a change in his personality, as he withdrew into a bubble of authoritarian power. Lesch notes this behavior has been a hallmark of Syrian leaders for decades. “The Syrian leadership since the 1950s has been a very paranoid leadership because of constant coups and counter-coups. There have been enough imperialist shenanigans to make them believe that any opposition is a conspiracy,” he says.

Lesch says he first glimpsed this alternative reality when talking to Assad shortly after his re-election in 2007. The only candidate in what was technically a referendum on his presidency, Assad waltzed to victory with 97.6% of the vote. Lesch had spent hours and hours interviewing the president while writing a book about him in 2004 and 2005, and says he got to know a “self- deprecating, unpretentious, humble guy.”

 “I remember thinking…that he had drunk the Kool-Aid of power and that he would be president for life.” But when Lesch asked him his thoughts on the sham vote that had brought him back to power, he was taken aback by the reply. “I really thought he’d say, ‘You know, it’s not a real election,’” Lesch said. “But he sat back and said, ‘The people love me; this shows they really love me.’ I remember thinking to myself at that moment that he had drunk the Kool-Aid of power and that he would be president for life.”

Assad’s paranoia, too, began to noticeably increase. “He became a psychopath, believing that if you are not with me, you are against me, and you should be killed,” says Abdel Nour. Assad’s fears were only heightened by the Iraq war and US president George W. Bush’s rhetoric of “democracy promotion” and “regime change.” Dictators throughout the region saw their fears of external enemies validated.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) welcomes Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi at the opening of the two-day Arab Summit in Damascus March 29, 2008. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi (SYRIA) - RTR1YVGU
Assad greets Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, a fellow dictator imperiled by Bush’s democracy promotion. (Jamal Saidi/Reuters)

Assad’s tough talk regarding the Anglo-American invasion further soured his relations with the US, which had been fraught ever since Bush widened the “axis of evil” in 2002 to include Syria, Cuba, and Libya. Then came a more direct attack: In December 2003, Bush placed sanctions on Syria over its decades-long occupation of Lebanon and backing of terrorist groups.

Assad initially refused to withdraw his troops from Lebanon. But after being accused of ordering the murder of Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, he bowed to the international pressure and pulled out. The capitulation stung and “fed the feeling that [Assad] is insecure, and that he can’t handle these regional or international crises,” says Ziadeh.

An insecure dictator playing with fire

By the time journalist Reese Erlich interviewed Assad in 2006, he found an insecure dictator, obsessed with the conceit that his people loved him and reforms were not needed. The forces that would shape the 2011 civil war were becoming clearer. And yet, Assad refused to address prominent issues like the possibility of free elections or opposition parties, whether Syria should grant citizenship to its hundreds of thousands of ethnic Kurds, or how to deal with the country’s rampant inequality.

“He basically brushed off all these things as either unimportant or plots from the West,” says Erlich, whose book Inside Syria documents the dynamics that led to the civil war.

 “…when I turned the mic to him he would suddenly jump.” Paranoia marked those interviews too. Assad became jittery at the sight of Erlich’s radio microphone, which ever so slightly resembles a gun. “The security people had checked it so they knew it wasn’t a weapon,” Erlich said. “But he got all nervous… I would point the microphone at my own mouth when I spoke and then when I turned the mic to him he would suddenly jump.”

In public, however, Assad was defiant. In 2010, despite his promises to help constrain the Lebanon-based militant Islamist party Hezbollah, the US received clear intelligence that Assad’s government had given it Scud missiles. When John Kerry, later US secretary of State but then a senior senator, confronted Assad with this discovery, the Syrian president was unflustered, Tabler says: “At first, Assad denied that they are Scud missiles, and then he said, ‘No, no, these are [fake] Israeli films.’”

For Tabler, this episode highlights Assad’s duplicity, his nefarious priorities, and his relationships with nations like Iran and Russia. Iran’s support and strategic backing of Hezbollah enabled Assad to openly lie to Kerry, just as Russia’s political and military assistance continues to give him cover to use chemical weapons.

The other effect of the Iraq war was increasing sectarianism and the spread of radical Islamism across the region. According to Tabler, Assad contributed to this increase by “allowing jihadists into the country through Damascus airport to go and fight US forces in Iraq.”

But like his economic policies, this decision, too, would eventually hurt him. By the end of the Iraq war, large groups of the disenfranchised, radical Sunnis he had let in were based in the east of the country—Syria’s poorest region. They would eventually become recruits for ISIL. Meanwhile, Assad’s power relied in part on the support of Christians and other minorities, along with Sunni urban elites. As a member of the minority Alawite sect in a country with a heavy Sunni majority, Assad’s meddling was playing with fire.

From father of the people to executioner

Syrians attend an anti-Bashar Assad protest after Friday prayers on the outskirts of Idlib, Syria, Friday, June 8, 2012. (AP Photo)
Anti-Assad protestors on the outskirts of Idlib, 2012. (AP Photo)

The 2011 revolution crystallized Assad’s psychological and political decline. When protesters took to the streets—at first calling not for regime change, but for political reforms—his reaction was a telling one.

 “The West looks at this like he’s killing his own countrymen and unfortunately he doesn’t see it this way.” Assad “demonize[d] his opponents as Saudi terrorists who are bringing Islamic fascism to Syria,” Landis said. His narrative was that these were not Syrians, but foreign forces seeking to undermine one of the last bastions of pan-Arab secularism. “He began to see this as an existential struggle and that these people who were fighting against him were foreign terrorists—and he believed his own rhetoric,” Landis said. “The West looks at this like he’s killing his own countrymen and unfortunately he doesn’t see it this way.”

Once you’ve persuaded yourself of this falsehood, Lesch says, fighting an existential threat can justify terrible means. Assad’s forces “don’t have the resources to go town to town to retake them from the opposition,” Lesch says, “so they need to use the asymmetric methods [like chemical weapons] to brutalize them.”

Another view, from dissidents like Ziadeh and Abdel Nour, is that Assad didn’t justify his slaughter by “othering” the rebels. Instead, he was invoking something akin to medieval Western monarchs’ belief in the “divine right of kings.” “Like his father, he always believed that he had the right to do whatever he wants to his own people; to kill them, torture them, disappear them: ‘They are my own people and that’s the sovereignty that I have,’” explains Ziadeh. Assad, he says, sees himself as a father punishing his errant sons. “The father is allowed to do whatever when the sons make mistakes. He doesn’t understand that this is a social contract between the Syrians and elected officials.”

 “The real test comes when your authority is really challenged.” Abdel Nour agrees: “His brain doesn’t keep him up at night telling him not to do these terrible things because he thinks he’s the representative of God; that people who are against him are sinning against God,” he said.

The question of what turns a man into a monster is never an easy one. For Assad, it’s possible the seeds of brutality were planted very early on, lying dormant but ready to emerge when the time was right. Or perhaps he simply succumbed to a system that for decades had existed with the principle goal of keeping hold of power. Certainly, after 2011 there would be no turning back.

As Houry points out, a leader’s true colors come out when their regime is under threat. “Gaddafi did not start out as a crazy man, he ended up that way,” he says. “The real test comes when your authority is really challenged, and Assad’s authority was never challenged before 2011.” When the challenge came, Assad met it, in the eyes of hawks like Tabler, by being “more brutal on his own people than Saddam or Gadaffi ever did.”

The U.S. Just Dropped The ‘Mother Of All Bombs’ In Afghanistan. But What Is That?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

The U.S. Just Dropped the ‘Mother of All Bombs’ in Afghanistan. But What Is That?

Apr 13, 2017

The United States on Thursday dropped “the mother of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat, on an ISIS tunnel and cave complex in eastern Afghanistan.

The bomb, officially called the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), was dropped from a MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said, according to the Associated Press. The target was near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan.

President Donald Trump said Thursday the bombing was a “very successful mission,” according to Reuters, and he touted the mission as evidence of a stronger foreign policy under his administration. It was not immediately clear how much damage the bomb did, how many militants were killed, or whether any civilians were killed.

Here’s what you need to know:

What is the bomb?

The GBU-43 is a GPS-guided weapon that weighs an enormous 21,600 pounds, according to an article from the Eglin Air Force Base. Each one costs $16 million, according to military information website Deagel.

During testing in the early 2000s, it created a mushroom cloud that could be seen from 20 miles away, according to the Air Force story.

Why was it developed?

The MOAB was designed in 2002 as a replacement for the BLU-82 Daisy Cutter, according to the Air Force article. Its purpose was initially to put pressure on former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

“The goal is to have the pressure be so great that Saddam Hussein cooperates,” said then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a 2003 interview, according to the Air Force article. “Short of that — an unwillingness to cooperate — the goal is to have the capabilities of the coalition so clear and so obvious that there is an enormous disincentive for the Iraqi military to fight against the coalition.”

Has it been used before?

The bomb was sent to the Middle East in 2003, but it had never been used before this week.

How many does the U.S. have?

The U.S. military says it has 20 MOAB bombs and has spent about $314 million producing them, according to CNBC.

What kind of destruction does it cause?

While not all details from Thursday’s blast have been made public, the bomb is very powerful. “What it does is basically suck out all of the oxygen and lights the air on fire,” Bill Roggio, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Air Force Times. “It’s a way to get into areas where conventional bombs can’t reach.”

While it was initially intended to deter U.S. opponents, this week’s strike marks a change to using the weapon as an active tool in fighting ISIS. The use of the MOAB in the Nangarhar province indicates the U.S. still considers ISIS a threat in the area.

U.S. Missile Attack On Syrian Shayrat Airfield Was Significant But Insufficient

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Opinion

Shayrat Attack… Significant but Insufficient

Last week’s morning was a turning point in the US dealing with the Syrian crisis. When 59 missiles Tomahawk were launched towards Shayrat airport, this was the first direct attack by the |United States on Bashar Al-Assad regime since the beginning of the revolution six years ago.

The attack has stopped a US clinical sleep towards complications of a war that has resulted in the worst humanitarian crisis in recent history. Surely, speaking about whether the US has started practically correcting its stance is early. This might be a sole step and reaction for a massacre that was one among many committed by Assad’s regime – but it is at least a sign that the world is facing a new US administration that has done in less than four months what has not been done by the former administration in eight years.

The attack on Shayrat airbase, although it was surprising and important, is a small step in changing the field condition and ending the Syrian tragedy. Maybe, if the attack happened when Barack Obama threatened with the “red line” in 2013 and before the Russian military intervention then its influence might have been bigger – it might have contributed to supporting the opposition and putting huge pressure on Assad’s regime.

One strike will not change the horrible way Assad treats civilians and will not affect his power, even if it prevents him from using chemical weapons soon. Nonetheless, Washington believes that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapon in Khan Sheikhoun massacre and, thus, it should be punished.

During the Iranian-Iraqi war, the US supported Iraq against Iran, but soon after that it turned against Saddam Hussein regime after it used chemical weapons in Kurdistan. Also, Shayrat attack might be viewed as a warning to Moscow that their might be consequences for the acts of its ally, Assad.

Russians deceived the international community in 2013 agreement that admitted Assad has submitted his ammunition of chemical weapons, although Moscow knew that Assad kept some storage that was used later on without facing any real consequences by the international community.

Throughout the past years, the regime has carried out airstrikes that killed hundred thousands of innocent Syrians – it used the tactics of starving and bombing hospitals as well as chemical attacks. Despite that, Assad did not face any real consequences, not even once, for his barbarism. However, this time, the Trump administration saw that it has to destroy one of Assad’s airbases to prevent warplanes from striking innocent people and dropping Sarin gas on them.

It is true that the US attack is a huge symbolic step but it will be considered a limited tactic if compared to the facts on ground. If Trump’s slogan was “America first” then this does not necessarily mean acting indifferently towards the world matters but means that America stays strong and leads the world.

The US is not Switzerland to act impartially towards international conflicts and 50 Tomahawk missiles alone will not trigger a huge change. If the US chooses the relatively low-cost option represented in limited military response such as Cruise missiles, then it can also take an international efficient step against Assad’s regime through exerting pressure to implement the international resolutions – establishing safe zones.

As much as striking Shayrat airbase has achieved several goals, its influence will be limited with time if it remained a sole step and not a new strategy. Six years of war have proven that only Russia, Iran and “Hezbollah” are messing in the Syrian territories to support a practically collapsed regime.

The military strike at Assad’s regime might be a first step towards regaining respect to the international resolutions and pushing the international community, US in the lead, to play its role in putting an end to the Syrian tragedy.

Salman Al-dossary

Salman Al-dossary

Salman Aldosary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

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CIA: Saddam Hussein Should Have Been Left In Power In Iraq

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Saddam Hussein should have been left to run Iraq, says CIA officer who interrogated him

December 16 at 12:44 PM

Both President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump believe the United States never should have invaded Iraq in 2o03 (or, at least, Trump claims he now does). The war in Iraq and its chaotic aftermath in many ways prefigure the present moment in the Middle East; it triggered a sectarian unraveling that now haunts both Iraq and Syria and looms large in the minds of an Obama administration wary of further intervention in the region’s conflicts.

In a new book coming out this month, John Nixon, a former CIA officer who interrogated Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein after he was captured by coalition forces in December 2003, details his encounter with the toppled despot and the varied discussions that followed. Early on, Hussein warned that the occupation of Iraq wouldn’t be as much of a “cakewalk” as Washington’s neoconservatives assumed at the time. From an excerpt published on Time magazine’s website:

When I interrogated Saddam, he told me: “You are going to fail. You are going to find that it is not so easy to govern Iraq.” When I told him I was curious why he felt that way, he replied: “You are going to fail in Iraq because you do not know the language, the history, and you do not understand the Arab mind.”

Nixon now reckons Hussein had a point and that a ruthless strongman like him was necessary to “maintain Iraq’s multi-ethnic state” and keep both Sunni extremism and the power of Shiite-led Iran, a Hussein foe, at bay.

“Saddam’s leadership style and penchant for brutality were among the many faults of his regime, but he could be ruthlessly decisive when he felt his power base was threatened, and it is far from certain that his regime would have been overthrown by a movement of popular discontent,” he wrote. “Likewise, it is improbable that a group like ISIS would have been able to enjoy the kind of success under his repressive regime that they have had under the Shia-led Baghdad government.” (ISIS is another name for the Islamic State.)

This may all be rather true. Trump himself insists that regime change should no longer be in Washington’s interest and has embraced dictatorial leaders such as Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi.

“Although I found Saddam to be thoroughly unlikeable, I came away with a grudging respect for how he was able to maintain the Iraqi nation as a whole for as long as he did,” wrote Nixon. “He told me once, ‘Before me, there was only bickering and arguing. I ended all that and made people agree!'”

Many Arab commentators, though, reject the simplicity of the assumptions here — that if not ruled by tyrants, their nations would automatically turn into breeding grounds for militancy. That’s a logic, after all, that serves the autocrats. Moreover, there’s a direct connection between the heavy-handed policies of the region’s autocrats and the conditions that spawn extremism and deepen sectarian animosities. Pluralistic, multi-ethnic societies have been the norm, not the exception, for centuries.

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