Saturday, November 16, 2013

Persian Gulf Monarchs and the Syrian Tragedy

Below is an erudite and unsatisfactory article on Syria.

It's main focus is on Turkey's felt need for US War on Syria which strikes me as exceedingly odd.  Turkey and Russia are the greatest military forces in Central Asia and each has a much greater interest in the outcome of the Syrian rebellion than does the US; and yet they, and the Gulf Dictators and the Israeli incipient dictator angrily demand that the US undertake Syrian War for them, while they sit on the sidelines.

There are three reasons for a rampant belief that the US has an  oblivion to War on Syria:

••  Bushco's War on Iraq is a president, no matter how badly the War turned out;

••  the US spends more on War and preparation for War than all other countries combined, so we have an unparalleled capacity for War;

•• finally, by proclaiming ourselves as The Preeminent Superpower of the World Beside Which All Others Pale, we invite angry demands when we don't act as our allies' surrogate everywhere.

Relying on the Bushco Iraq Fiasco is misplaced.  And it is high time that the US abandon it "exceptionalist" fantasy,  reduce military spending, and focus on home needs.  The military members who would be put out of work will need goodie it-paying jobs with benefits as generous as the military provides, and we can provide those jobs with a variety of public works initiates  from a Civilian Conservation Corps to executive positions in construction companies.  Close oil company tax loopholes to pay for rebuilding America.

The article below is is well written by Morton Abramowitz,my age, whom you can google, as you can google the publisher, The National Interest, an interesting bunch of mostly nemonic folks who seem to be coming around to a Centrist point of view.   Welcomed indeed.

A note on the refugees:

The US has spent $800,000 on humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees, and has accepted 2,000 immigrants.

The European Union has sent aid worth nearly €1,800 million ($2,430 million) in relief and recovery aid for Syrian refugees from both the Commission and Member States. Making it the largest international contributor to Syrian refugees both internally and externally displaced.  Quoted from Wikipedia.

Many other countries have provide money or asylum.  For a list, see here.

The Villains in the Syria tragedy are these:

Kuwait, so far as is known, has contributed nothing toward refugee relief, and according to reports funnels the largest private donations, totaling billions, to the Sunni Salafi who are determined to turn Syria into a Sunni Salafi state, against the overwhelming wishes of most people who live in Syria.

Qatar's total response to the refugee crisis is sponsoring 42 Syrian refugees as "guests of  the Emir", while it spends more than 2 Billion Dollars supporting Salafi and other rebels.

The Saudi have pledges but not paid $10 Million as aid to refugees in Jordan, and spends an unspecified amount, estimated in Billions, to support Salafi rebels in Syria.
The National Interest
U.S., Turkey Still Split on Syria 

Morton AbramowitzOmer Zarpli November 6, 2013 

Syria has become Turkish prime minister Erdogan’s albatross. It also continues to undermine American-Turkish relations. 
After sitting on the fence for two years, President Obama has crossed off military options, and focuses on pushing the various sides to the negotiating table. Erdogan, on the other hand, believes that won’t work and persists that Assad must be destroyed no matter the costs if there is to be peace. Closing this gap will not be easy. Nor is it the only gap in Turkish-American relations. 
The costs of the Syrian war and Erdogan’s policies continue to be enormous for Turkey: six hundred thousand refugees and counting, billions of dollars to support them and Syrian resistance elements, increasing sectarian differences in his own country, a trouble-ridden border exploited by jihadists, the apparent emergence of a Kurdish autonomous entity in Syria complicating Turkey’s own Kurdish problem, and the erosion of his favored Muslim Brotherhood parties. Continuing failure in Syria has damaged Erdogan’s decade-long political omnipotence and can affect three important Turkish elections over the next eighteen months and thus his political future. 
Washington and Ankara agreed early on that Assad must go, but that’s about as far as it went. In coming out against his once bosom friend and throwing his weight behind the opposition, Erdogan miscalculated both Assad’s staying power and US readiness to intervene. It gradually became clear that Washington had no military strategy to hasten Assad’s exit or any intent to get seriously involved in another Middle Eastern conflict. Calls by Erdogan and Arab allies to actively support the rebels and create no-fly zones or humanitarian corridors fell on deaf ears. Lack of American initiative coupled with Turkey’s sectarian approach to the conflict put the two allies at further loggerheads. Worse, Erdogan’s effort to hasten Assad’s departure as well as prevent a Kurdish autonomous area by supporting radical jihadists angered the United States and justified its determination not to get deeply involved in militarily supporting the resistance. The split could recently be graphically seen in recent attacks in major American newspapers on senior Turkish officials providing support to jihadist [sic] groups. The Turkish government now declares it is not supporting such groups, but for now that must be taken with a grain of salt. 
The September chemical weapons deal and renewed focus on diplomatic talks hit Erdogan hard. He expected that Assad’s crossing of Obama’s “red line” would lead to a decisive Western action, and he was prepared to hold America’s coat. 
But Assad’s August chemical attack produced diplomacy, not the expected military intervention or greater military support to opposition forces. The US-Russian agreement virtually assured that Assad would remain in power to implement the deal for at least another six months. While the accord significantly reduced the threat of terrorists getting hold of chemical weapons, it also helped boost the regime by averting direct American military intervention and preserving Assad’s conventional capabilities. 
Nor, apparently, did Obama consult with Erdogan before making the agreement. 
Washington’s U-turn and the renewed focus on diplomacy has left Erdogan even more solitary and with little influence to turn the tide. In public, the Turkish government supports the agreement and the planned talks in Geneva, but they and most everyone else have little faith that diplomacy in present circumstances will accelerate Assad’s departure. Erdogan, of course, remains a skilled politician who can change course if events and politics require—he has recently begun to do so in Iraq and made nice (if meaningless) noises with Iran—but Syria offers enormous difficulty. 
Aligning the U.S and Turkish positions on resolving the war will require both partners to review their current policies. Turks may have to accept a political settlement in which the regime will play some role, and Washington will need to recognize that it needs to be more involved militarily to bring both opposition and the government to the table and to make Geneva II a success.  [Emphasis added.]

Images from the Web:

Two million Syrian refugees in Turkey:

A hundred thousand Syrian refugees in Lebanon

200,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan

Could be Raymondville, Texas, 1945, during cotton season
Excpt we were free.

Syrian refugees in Kurdistan in Iraq

Peshmerga helping out

Some Sunni Muslim fundamentalists -- Wahhabis or Salafists -- would like to advance their world view everywhere, just as some Christian fundamentalists would like to do the same.  Christians have finally given up advancing their cause by the Sword; Sunni Muslims have not.  They need to learn how to live in the 21st Century.  We need to teach them, as gently as possible.  Their urgency hurts lot of people.

It is not for the dead that I cry on these spendrift pages, but for those left behind, to mourn and thirst for revenge.

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