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Monday, October 17, 2011

Obama's Mid East Moments of Truth

By Barry Rubin

1. Syria: A Tragedy

By far the best source of news on the Syrian revolution is Syria Revolution Digest by the heroically tireless Ammar Abdulhamid. Every day he puts in a little summary of the situation. Here is what he wrote for October 11:

“As [the dictatorship of the] Assads take back Syria, one neighborhood and one town at a time, opposition groups continue to wrangle over seats in a stillborn [leadership] council, as the world considers options that have no bearing on reality.”

Several thousand people have been murdered yet despite all the fine words, there has been little serious international action as the violence has continued for months.

“As [the] Assads take back Syria, one neighborhood and one town at a time, opposition groups continue to wrangle over seats in a stillborn council, as the world considers options that have no bearing on reality.”

And on October 13 he wrote that there are two opposition movements now, one dedicated to non-violence and the other to armed struggle:

“Despite the fact that pro-Assad troops are busy taking back Syria one rebellious community at a time, battling defectors and suppressing protests through targeted and mass detentions and killings, advocates of nonviolence seem to labor under the belief that an Assad victory…will pave the way for a return to nonviolent struggle. What they fail to see is that a defeat will more likely crush the spirit of the re-conquered communities, and could empower the Assads to snuff out the spirit of rebellion.”

“So many observers and opposition figures have been saying that Syria cannot go back to the way things were, but they are wrong. As things stand at this stage, this is the most likely outcome.”

2. Obama Administration Seeks Political Arrangement with Anti-American Terrorists

Meanwhile, the indispensible AfPak Channel newsletter reports that the Obama Administration is now ready to negotiate with Taliban and even al-Qaida linked terrorist groups (the Haqqani network) to participate in governing the country. According to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, anyone who wants to participate in talks can do so. The Afghan government is not thrilled with this policy, being carried out against its will since these are the people trying to kill it. The Haqqani network murdered the president’s brother last month. And NATO officials continue to produce misleadingly optimistic reports about how the war is going, including claims that the Taliban is on the run. This is patently untrue.

3. The Iran-Mexico Affair

Vice-President Joe Biden threatens that Iran would be held accountable and the U.S. government is seeking to mobilize “world opinion” (oh, brother! headline showing how effective that is: “Despite sanctions, German exports to Tehran have increased“) for its response. The administration should be given time to act but will it do something serious or not? If not, it should be held accountable. And if it has made a potentially huge international crisis out of a misreading of evidence it should also be held accountable.

But we live in bizarre times. I never expected to see a headline like–I made this up but it reflects the situation–”President and Vice-President Endorse Demonstrations Demanding Destruction of Capitalism.”

4. Remember the Iranian Opposition?

Here’s an excellent discussion on the Iranian opposition by Genevieve Abdo. She points out the startling fact that the two main leaders of the Green Movement–Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi–have been under arrest held in small apartments since February, that’s eight months ago! The world has said nothing; the Western media little. This is shocking and disgusting. In general, only anti-American, anti-Western and anti-Israel forces get honored by the West, taught about in Western universities, have demonstrations in their support by students, and are lionized by Western intellectuals.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, will be published by Yale University Press in January. Latest books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org and of his blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com  
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