“At the launch of the latest annual strategic survey published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), experts criticised the west for not doing more to gather support either from other Arab countries or Syrian rebels not attached to Isis. “Since the beginning, western powers have run away from hard choices in Syria,” said Emile Hokayem, IISS senior fellow for Middle East security. He said western policy was “fundamentally flawed” by not realising the extent of the threat posed by the Assad regime. “That makes the threat of Isis bigger,” he said. “The west is still running away from the hard truth … Assad is a much greater threat [than Isis],”………….”
We have heard (or read) this one before. Will the Western powers and their think-tankers ever learn? Will they ever learn not to repeat the same mistakes across the shattered and repressed Arab world, the “sick man of the Middle East“? Will they never learn from the experiences in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, etc? Yet another “expert” from another think-tank is here advising a repeat of the old mistakes.
In Libya, Colonel Gaddafi was correctly seen as a corrupt repressive dictator. But one big mistake was in the apparent assumption that the Libyan rebels were like the American Founding Fathers: that they would lead the country to democracy. The same was allegedly expected in Yemen: Western powers assumed the repressive feudal kings and princes of the Persian Gulf states would turn their southern poorest neighbor into a prosperous democracy (or did they?). In Syria they apparently assumed the repressive Wahhabi princes and potentates of the Gulf (Saudi, Qatar, UAE) would help overthrow the Assad regime and create a quasi-Wahhabi state that can be tolerated by the West. All with the help of oil money, Wahhabi volunteers, and Turkish logistical cooperation.
Instead, now a large swath of the region, from Iraq through Syria and Yemen and Egypt and Libya can be correctly called Cutthroat Alley.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
Egyptian official daily Al Ahram quotes a Kuwait newspaper that Generalisimo Field Marshal El Presidente Al Sisi met in Cairo with a delegation of businessmen and “thinkers” from Kuwait.
Now I know we have some “thinkers” back home, but I never knew we had dedicated full-time, 24/7 thinkers who did nothing but think. And what better topic to think of than the greatness of Generalisimo Field Marshal El Presidente Al Sisi?
Mr. A. Al Babtain, a big businessman and president of Al Babtain Institute for “Creativity”, of course led the delegation of businessmen and, er, full-time “thinkers” who like to tag along with businessmen on travels to visit Al Sisi in Egypt.
He, Al the businessman, reportedly did not surprise Generalisimo Field Marshal El Presidente Al Sisi by telling him that the great trust the Egyptian people have shown Generalisimo Field Marshal El Presidente Al Sisi extends to the whole wide wonderful Arab world (although it may not sell in Peoria). That he is universally admired and loved, even if he can’t sing worth a lick. No opinion polls needed, no free and fair elections necessary.
In the spirit of meeting these “thinkers”, Al Sisi must also be thinking something like: “Wow, being president is neat. How else could I get to meet full-time 24/7 Gulf ‘thinkers’ and oligarchs in one meeting“.
Odd, though this Insitute of Creativity. I had thought “thinkers” only thought and never created anything besides thoughts (and maybe a couple of mundane regular everyday things that I should not mention here).
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“Money is increasingly transforming the once-staid think-tank world into a muscular arm of foreign governments’ lobbying in Washington. Most of the money comes from Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere in Asia, particularly the oil-producing nations of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Norway, and takes many forms. The United Arab Emirates, a major supporter of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, quietly provided a donation of more than $1 million to help build the Center’s gleaming new glass and steel headquarters not far from the White House. Qatar, the small but wealthy Middle East nation, agreed last year to make $14.8 million, four-year donation to Brookings, which has helped finance a Brookings affiliate in Qatar and a project on United States relations with the Islamic world. Some scholars say the donations have led to implicit agreements that the research groups would refrain from criticizing the donor governments……….”
There is nothing implicit or subtle about it: tis the season now to exchange objectivity for some oil money. Did you ever believe that the princes and potentates of the Persian Gulf states would finance and host Western think-tanks because they love objective unbiased analysis?
When was the last time a Brookings paper publicly criticized the government of Qatar? Don’t we read Brookings-Doha ‘analysts’ peddling Qatari and Muslim Brotherhood policies every day in American and other Western media? Don’t we read almost every day Western ‘analysts’ attached to “think-tanks” in Abu Dhabi and Dubai peddle Saudi and UAE interests and regional policies and positions?
Petroleum money has been making deep inroads not only into the Western political classes, but also in some aspects and activities of academic and research institutions. The trend extends beyond think-tanks and opinion-makers.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
“In a bid to lend a patina of “bipartisanship” to its ideas, the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has made former Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) the co-chair of its newest foreign policy initiative. The move has been met with raised eyebrows, as progressives have not considered Joe Lieberman an authentic representative of their foreign policy positions for quite some time, if they ever did in the first place. Lieberman will co-chair the new “American Internationalism Project” with former Senator John Kyl (R-AZ). As the project is intended to “rebuild and reshape a bipartisan consensus around American global leadership and engagement,” Lieberman’s participation is aimed at blunting the perception that anything coming out of AEI is a dogmatically Republican plan. AEI generally hews to a hardline neoconservative standard on foreign policy; its staff in the area includes former Bush Administration officials John Bolton, Richard Perle, and Marc Thiessen………………..”
Joe Lieberman is a one-issue guy as far as foreign policy is concerned. His focus is on that one issue and other peripheral issues that touch on it. Yet he has picked to join a different special interest institute than the house that AIPAC built (Washington Institute for Near East Policy). But he fits in right with that other one-issue guy, John Bolton. Mr. Bolton is so extreme that even a Republican U.S. Senate refused to confirm him as Bush’s ambassador to the UN. He had to be appointed for only one year during a recess. Bolton has one other issue, besides cultivating his mustache: pushing for a new war of choice in the Middle East, a war that even Bush-Cheney were not stupid enough to start. In this issue, Lieberman and Bolton are in complete agreement.
Lieberman spent the past few years in the US Senate trying to subvert its resolutions toward another war in our region. Until his very last month. Not that he needed much hard work to do it.
With Jon Kyl as part of the team, we might as well call it :Wars R Us.