President Trump has managed to gather some sort of consensus, at least within the media and among politicians, around his brief air-war fling with Syria. As usual in the initial phase of a military action, both parties and the media have managed to praise his action, in some cases for fear of looking unpatriotic or “too outlier” (fear of bullying is not confined to school children).
Soon they will be asking: what next? What? No more? Especially cable media will go through severe withdrawal symptoms, being used to some thirty years of covering (ad nauseam) non-stop foreign wars. Some are already beginning to ask the question. Then the absolute rulers of the allied Muslim countries will push him to support a “democratic” Syria (where power can be shared between the Wahhabi Salafists attached to Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood attached to Turkey’s strongman Erdogan). A claustrophobic democratic experience they would never allow their own peoples to enjoy. Apparently Trump has been listening to the potentates lately, and he seems to be impressed.
My guess? My Fatwa: sometime well before the summer of 2018, Democrats will look back and say that Trump did his Syrian fling in order to divert attention from “other” more pressing “America First” issues he could not handle. The quick disenchantment happened with LBJ, Bush (pere et fils), and perhaps others.
A one-week apparent success (meaning no American casualties) while his foes’ knives are being temporarily hidden. Foreign action trumps domestic failure, but only for a while (just ask George H W Bush who presided over the end of the Soviet Union and a swift American victory in the Persian Gulf War).
The infrastructure will still need to be dealt with, and Trump may soon have some Obama-style stonewalling by the Republican Congress on the required spending. Then there is Healthcare, then a mechanism to keep and create jobs inside the USA, then a mechanism to encourage young people to enroll in STEM education (preferably within the excellent traditional mode of a broad American undergraduate college education that we all enjoyed).
The risk is that America First may become America Later. Looks like George Dubya Bush was right: being US president is a hard job……
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
There are now some reports of yet another “RESET” for the Jihadi groups in Syria, post-Aleppo. There are reports on social media of consolidation and reorganization and, more likely, renaming.
These guys keep trying to find a formula that works, so far nothing seems to work for them:
- Renaming Al Qaeda to Al Nusra did not work.
- Renaming Al Nusra to Jaish Al Fath (Army of Islamic Conquest) has not worked.
- A Saudi-sponsored Jaish Al Islam (with reliance on some Western support and training) failed miserably.
- Earlier the Free Syrian Army (who I saw correctly as the Free Syrian Salafi Army) had several iterations, before it faded somewhere into Turkey.
- The Syrian National Council, dominated by Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists and some Tribal types changed its name a few time, to no avail. Eventually it petered out.
No matter how hard some Gulf (Saudi and Qatari) media and the gullible Western media tried to paint these groups as representing the will of the Syrian people, it did not work. Even though the Jihadis and their Arab and Western media allies won the war of disinformation, they have lost the battle on the ground. Because that foreign view did not reflect the reality in Syria. Even in foreign exile, most Syrians oddly voted for Assad a couple of years ago. Not necessarily because they liked Assad and his regime. But most likely because they knew first-hand what the rebel Jihadis represented, what kid of Wahhabi future they had in mind for Syria.
Maybe, nay very likely, it was a preference among repressions: they preferred Assad’s secular political repression to the Islamists all-encompassing theocratic political-social-religious-sectarian repression. Very likely that is why.
Some Earlier posts:
Free Syrian Army, National Syrian Army, Syrian MilitaryCouncil, WTF Army……
Final Iteration of the Free Syrian Army: End of a Wahhabi Shill in Syria………
Free Syrian Salafi Army: Under New Management Again?……
The Sectarian Free Syrian Salafi Army….
M Haider Ghuloum
“Tens of thousands of Assad supporters flocked to the hilltop embassy in a town south-east of the Lebanese capital to cast ballots, snarling traffic outside, keeping schoolchildren trapped in buses for hours and forcing some schools to cancel scheduled exams. Lebanon has more than a million Syrian refugees. “With our souls, with our blood, we will sacrifice for you, Bashar” and “long live Syria!” were some of the chants heard from many in the crowd. Despite the carnage in Syria, the country’s president has retained significant support among large sections of the population, particularly among Christians, Alawites and other religious minorities……………”
Comparing Middle East elections and regional and international reactions to them can be enlightening and educational:
- Remember when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won re-election as president of Iran in 2009? He won with only about 57% of the vote, allegedly with some “irregularities”. There was a huge media and political circus from Riyadh through London and Paris all the way to Washington and New York. Even absolute tribal ruling families from Riyadh through Doha to Manama and Abu Dhabi lamented the sorry state of democracy in Iran. It was about several weeks of “tsk tsk”. Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opined publicly that Iran was now a “military dictatorship” (she was talking about Iran and not about Egypt or China). When Rouhani won his election in 2013 it was a different story.
- Back to Egypt and her perpetually funny non-elections under both Mubarak and Sisi (not under Morsi: he won a close election and fairly, maybe because the Mubarak bureaucracy was still running Egypt and tried to lose him the election). Now Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi apparently unofficially has his 98% victory (Al Ahram early estimates), in true Arab style (not as perfect as North Korean style, but close).
- On to Syria. The cheeky Bashar Al Assad is also running in his own election in Syria, but he has more opponents on the ballot than Al Sisi. The shocking thing may be that percentage voter turnout among Syrians is probably much higher than in Egypt: that is what it looks like now. Even Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, most of them Sunnis, are voting heavily, no doubt most of them for Al Assad whose days are supposedly numbered. The media pictures from refugee camps and from Beirut and Amman and other places show long lines of Syrian exiles voting for the man whose actions supposedly made them refugees. Which is puzzling, given that they are allegedly supposed to be eager for the Al Saud and Al Thani and Al Hollande and Al McCain and a bunch of Al Others to liberate their country for democracy.
- Meanwhile Al Sisi, the newest dictator on the bloc and his henchmen have tried to extend voting time and threaten people to vote in order to avoid embarrassing low turnout.
When it is all over we will have the expected predictable results, with Al Sisi matching or perhaps outdoing Mubarak in his “victory” margin in the upper nineties. Early results claim he won by nearly 98% but still less than Kim Jon Un’s victory margin and less than the Saudi King’s margin.
- The Western powers and others will sigh of relief and welcome the new “democratic” order in Egypt, except that it is an old order, actually older than the old order in Syria. And it is also no more democratic than the one in Syria.
- Then there is divided Iraq, which is beset with Wahhabi terrorist bombings almost every day, yet it manages to complete its elections. They are imperfect and tinged with both sectarian and tribal prejudices, but they don’t seem to need to coerce and threaten people to vote.