bruce0

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #20 on: February 29, 2016, 01:11:20 AM »
There is a problem with the "geography" map below.  (in some ways, the problem IS the map below).  These borders were drawn by outsiders, and there are borders, regions and tribes that still mean something that do not appear.

As a single example, the kurdish population of "kurdistan" is an interesting one.  It is not a country (because Churchill didn't  say it was), but there is an awful lot of conflict along it's borders (which are in effect placed inside Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.)

Thus the conflict with the PKK and the Turks, and so on.

The middle east is a complicated place.

And most often the western point of view IS a bit oblivious to the issues.  But two things seem clear.

One, in my travels there I have found the people to be lovely people and genuinely welcoming (if a stranger appears at your door he was sent there by Allah).  They want to explain the issues to an outsider, and frankly, again in my experience, we are not equipped to understand them. Their memory goes back a LONG way.

Two, unfortunately, there will always be conflict in the middle east.
"it was like heaven on earth, all those transformers" - cj


JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2016, 04:08:38 PM »
I think I mentioned this before but a US military adviser just announced that even a unified government in Libya can not push out ISIL without US military assistance.

These guys should have been squashed like a bug a long time ago.

The next administration will have a lot to clean up. Whoever it is.

The old Sgt Shultz "I see nothing"  can't work forever.

JR
Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.

JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2016, 11:45:28 AM »
Credit where credit is due, it seems that ISIL is losing some ground in Iraq and Syria. I suspect Russia stepping in and propping up Assad has given his regime more time and military power to use against ISIL. Iraq is still conflicted with their Sunni, Shia, Kurd split allegiances, but none seem to like ISIL any more. At one time is was considered less bad than the Shia majority Baghdad government, paying little attention to needs of the sunni minority.  Coexistence with the Kurds is slowly getting better but Turkey still has serious problems with strong Kurdish populations on their border. 

ISIL is still trying to mine and amplify these internal differences, but coalition kills of some high level ISIL (whack-a-mole) has them re-writing their organization chart (again).  Unfortunately allowing that cancer to metastasize for a few years now means they have related organizations operating in several countries. Just cutting off the head will not stop all them.

JR
Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.

JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2016, 12:52:30 PM »
In a classic "good news/bad news" scenario, continued success at degrading ISIS/ISIL infrastructure and less freedom to operate from safe places, has driven ISIS to shift back to more asymmetrical warfare, like suicide bomb attacks.

This may get worse before it gets better, something like 100 innocent civilians were killed by suicide attacks in Iraq last week.

I hope they continue to aggressively purge them from the area and thwart other safe operating areas to plan and launch attacks from.

JR
Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.

JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2016, 02:54:03 PM »
More progress, the increased amount of suicide attacks are further evidence of desperation due to losses in ISIS held home territory. The Iraq and coalition forces are currently trying to re-take Fallujah, leaving Mosul as the next major Iraqi city to retake.

Top Taliban guy was reportedly killed by drone attack in Afghanistan (Pakistan?). The Afghanistan govt is dealing with some small splinter branch of the Taliban trying to create discord within the now headless Taliban.

JR
Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.

JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #25 on: July 06, 2016, 12:52:21 PM »
In fairness I think President Obama's decisions to keep troop levels higher (8k?) in Afghanistan past his previously promised pull out date and into the next administration is just common sense, but common sense is not that common from DC in recent years,  so good decision sir.

The last few years there might have gone a lot smoother if the Taiban weren't told that all they had to do was wait for us to leave.

JR   

PS: The massive car bombing in Baghdad that killed 150+ led to a government official resigning and may destabilize that government. I expect more of this kind of attacks as ISIS loses ground at home. 
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JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart.. Turkey
« Reply #26 on: July 15, 2016, 08:45:46 PM »
This is still a developing story but potentially very important.

An attempted coup d etat by turkish military is under way.

This has implications for the semi porous Syrian border and transit from ME to EU

Like occurred in Egypt, a military takeover would suggest a more secular rule than the more conservative (religious)  government.

Interesting times, good luck to our Turkish friends (and all of us).

JR

[edit] looks like failed coup attempt.   Turkey is different than Egypt  (doh) still interesting  [/edit]
« Last Edit: July 15, 2016, 11:14:08 PM by JohnRoberts »
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JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #27 on: August 30, 2016, 05:45:29 PM »
Not surprising our alliance with Turkey (a NATO member) has been strained by our alliance with Iraqi kurdish forces, who have generally been a positive influence in Iraq and an asset in northern Syria. But Turkey has long had problems with their own kurdish citizens who desire an  autonomous region (their own country as do the Iraqi Kurds but less violently).   

As Turkey has recently stepped up attacks against ISIL across the border in Syria, the Kurdish fighting against ISIL already there, being supported by the US are at risk. A recent raid across the border by Turkey was billed as a joint action with the US military, but in fact turkey did not give US warning when they were going, no doubt so the US could not warn our Kurdish allies of what was coming.

The dynamic changing relationship between Russia, Iran, and sundry  others in the region makes it hard to keep everything straight.

Interesting times  don't look for this in the evening news.

JR
Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.

JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #28 on: December 16, 2016, 02:27:01 PM »
Some interesting developments in Syria this week. It looks like the Anti-Assad fighters in Aleppo are about finished, so this may (?) mark the end of heavy ballistic fighting between pro and anti-Assad military forces.

While Assad and Russia were bombing the crap out of Aleppo, ISIS retook Palmyra.  Palmyra was (is) the site of some historical relics that the world was relieved to protect from ISIS so they can't destroy them too, but they are again at risk.  Of course that is not the worst behavior ISIS is known for.

Progress has slowed in recapturing Mosul back from ISIS as they are now in the inner city door to door clearing of buildings that can be so deadly to military and civilians. Reportedly thousands of ISIS fighters are entrenched among about a million civilians that ISIS likes to use as human shields.

 It would be nice to see more focus on ISIS in Syria, and continued progress in clearing them from Mosul. The big question mark was wether Kurdish and Shia militias could be trusted to not abuse the sunni residents of Mosul. So far they are working together well enough but only the Iraq military is trusted by Mosul civilians to fight in the inner city region.

Syria will remain a mess for a while, but hopefully the fall of Aleppo will close an ugly chapter there.

JR

PS Just one week ago President Obama ordered a waiver of military support for foreign fighters in Syria. Presumably to aid in attacks on Raqqa but  I can't be sure who is doing what to whom over there.
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mattiasNYC

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #29 on: December 17, 2016, 03:29:21 PM »
I foresee huge issues not only in Israel and Palestine but spreading from there, if Trump gets what he wants in his pick for ambassador. The stupidity in the reasoning of them is just boggling my mind. Not that I'm 100% surprised.

I'd expect violence to get exported to the US to a higher degree, especially if that idiot Trump continues to skip intelligence briefings.

Americans will get what they deserve.



To explain just why it's idiotic, here's what he said:

Quote
"I think if you look at the Palestinians, they share something in common with the entire Muslim world, which is 90% or so of them are perfectly fine, good people. They've been hijacked by the 10% that observes radical, Islamic jihad. I think if you went to those 90% and said to them, 'Would you rather live under an Israeli regime or under a new Palestinian state,' I would be shocked if the majority of them wouldn't prefer Israeli rule," he said.

"If you're an Arab in the Middle East and you want the best economic opportunity, the best educational opportunity, the best health care, if you happen to be gay, if you happen to be a woman, if you happen to want civil rights and you're an Arab, then you really should live in Israel. That's the only place that's going to provide you with those rights and opportunities."

For those that are uneducated on the topic, the issue is two-fold:

1) The international community with the exception of the US, Israel and whatever tiny insignificant nation the US can coerce, agrees that the settlements and occupation by Israel is violating international law. Any reasonable equal standard any moral person can apply leads to that very same conclusion. The US further supporting this will be problematic.

2) What this idiot is suggesting is actually impossible, period. If all Palestinians were to live under Israeli rule they would by definition not get equal civil rights. It would be 100% incompatible with Israel being a "Jewish" state, simply because there are more Palestinian Arabs than there are Israelis. Get it? So, the only two alternatives to either a two-party state or redefining Israel really is a de facto apartheid state, just more 'official', or expelling Arabs from the areas Israel will occupy and annex (which it is already doing).

This is terrible reasoning, void of humanism, morality, knowledge or intelligence.

Exactly what is to be expected from this coming kakistocracy.


JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #30 on: December 17, 2016, 06:51:32 PM »
The loss of Palmyra to ISIS is worse than first noted.  Apparently ISIS captured some abandoned Russian weapons, a bunch of tanks (20) and APCs, some anti-tank weapons, and perhaps a Russian ground to air missile system. 

The US is reportedly tracking and targeting those armaments, so they can neutralize them before they get used. The reports of what they actually got is a little sketchy.

JR
Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.

JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #31 on: February 26, 2017, 01:04:11 PM »
Progress in the ME is slow but generally in the right direction.

Recently Iraq air force has launched attacks at ISIS targets in Syria a new development. Apparently the center of mass for ISIS is now shifted to Syria away from Mosul.

The Iraqi military and western coalition is slowly grinding out ISIS from their dug in positions in western Mosul.  This is slow going because western Mosul is densely populated and the good guys try not to harm innocent civilians. Despite shutting down their car bomb factory in the old Mosul University, ISIS is making new car bombs, and even attacking with armed drones (that was inevitable).

The pentagon declared that they will only refer to them as "ISIS" . The trailing S and L in the name describe regions in Syria, and ISIS these days just prefers the name IS, telegraphing larger expectations beyond the region.  I am not sure what to make of the ISIS only name use by the pentagon other than that Pres Obama preferred to call them ISIL (but he also called them JV).

Of course there is still a lot more going on in the wider ME, too much to briefly describe. These are just a few recent data points.

JR
Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.

JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #32 on: March 06, 2017, 07:07:45 PM »
A seemingly small change but president Trump has dropped Iraq from the restricted travel ban countries.  I think this is a good move since Iraq is becoming an effective ally in the fight against ISIS, and is slowly making progress with their internal conflicts (sunni, shia, kurds.). 

If Iraq can develop into another viable democracy in the ME , they will become a beacon of hope, and good example for everybody else in the region, especially their neighbors.

JR
Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.

JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #33 on: March 10, 2017, 10:44:55 AM »
Critics of the Trump administration have criticized him as having no plan to deal with ISIS as he promised during his campaign.  While the president elect has repeatedly challenged the wisdom of publicizing future military actions, literally telling the enemy your plans.

There are now reports of US military activity (marines on the ground) in northern Syria, with expectations of being only weeks away from approaching Raqqa (ISIS capital).  One potential complication is that the US is supporting a Kurdish/Syrian force that is unliked, so unsupported by Turkey, who is right there along with Russia supporting the Assad regime. I can imagine a risk of not so friendly fire from Turkey and Russians in the region.
-------
The Iraqi military are still making progress at clearing ISIS from western Mosul, but it is a slow slog with ISIS using human shields and playing dirty (as usual). In recent fighting at the mosul hospital they had a bunch of ISIS fighters dressed up as doctors.  Creating any hesitation to shoot during contact in close fighting can be a deadly advantage.

JR
Visit https://circularscience.com to hear what properly "cleared" drums sound like.

JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #34 on: March 25, 2017, 11:02:25 AM »
While there is progress being made in Mosul Iraq, and Raqqa Syria against ISIS,  ;D the taliban have regained some territory in Helmand province Afghanistan.  :(  I always thought defeating the Taliban was mission creep in Afghanistan, their primary sin was that they  tolerated al qaeda to live among them and operate a training,operations base these.  Of course that is a bad thing, but the taliban do not appear to have world domination on their minds, perhaps dominating southern afghanistan and northern Pakistan.

The west finds the taliban's ultra conservative religious practices abhorrent, but that alone is not justification to wipe them out.

Another positive note from the ME there is discussion of creating a "safe space" in the Syria/Iraq region where people are still motivated to leave fearing for their lives. This could reduce the pressure to migrate from the region. Of course this gets complicated fast. Who will occupy and police the new region? This might be a good task for UN forces, after real military cleans out a space.  Perhaps some joint provisional government partnership between Turkey and representatives of Iraq and Syria.

While it appears the horse has already left the barn on this one with huge migration already, there is still fighting in the region and people fearing for their lives.

JR 
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mattiasNYC

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #35 on: March 26, 2017, 12:21:25 PM »
Curious how your "Middle East Friendship Chart" is completely mum on the issue of Israel's colonial endeavor in the occupied territories.

JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #36 on: March 26, 2017, 12:58:39 PM »
Curious how your "Middle East Friendship Chart" is completely mum on the issue of Israel's colonial endeavor in the occupied territories.
In my judgement both parties do not want reach a settlement quickly so I do not expect anything to change in that regard until that refusal to deal changes. Israel's legislature is not responsive to external desires, but internal.

Angela Merkel recently condemned a new settlement law passed last month, while she is also positioning herself for her re-election vote coming in Sept. Germany clearly has a conflicted history wrt the jewish.

But I'm sure you know all this, but may take a different perspective than I do.

========

A minor historical footnote about the region, I am currently reading a book about the "Tripoli Pirates" and it is interesting how we may think the culture clash between east west is something new it isn't.

In a page right out of Shariah law, the wealthy european countries paid a fealty to the tripoli pirates to allow their ships safe passage (Shariah law allows some non-believers to pay a fine instead of converting to Islam).

In line with another aspect of shariah law, the pirates turned captured American sailors (who didn't convert) into slaves.

The US  was a new country at the time and after losing the protective mantle of flying british colors as a colony, was too poor to pay the required fees, but desperately needed the revenue from trade in the region.

I am pretty sure I know how this conflict ends (I just started reading the book) , but "from the shores of tripoli" line in the official marine corp hymn, marines and fighting were probably involved.

What goes around, comes around, and goes around again.

JR
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mattiasNYC

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #37 on: March 26, 2017, 02:51:06 PM »
In my judgement both parties do not want reach a settlement quickly so I do not expect anything to change in that regard until that refusal to deal changes.

It's probably true that there are forces on both sides that wish to see the destruction of the other, but given the wording I used there really should be zero ambiguity here. The settlements are not located on land that is recognized internationally as being Israel's, so the notion that both parties need to somehow come to an agreement is a bit 'odd'. It'd be like me continuously walking onto your yard and taking stuff, from your garden hose to your lawn furniture, and then when the police show up someone else would just say "Well the issue of theft is complicated; I don't think either party wants to come to a settlement".... rather than just acknowledging that I took something that didn't belong to me.

Wouldn't you agree?

JohnRoberts

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #38 on: March 26, 2017, 03:30:50 PM »
It's probably true that there are forces on both sides that wish to see the destruction of the other, but given the wording I used there really should be zero ambiguity here. The settlements are not located on land that is recognized internationally as being Israel's, so the notion that both parties need to somehow come to an agreement is a bit 'odd'. It'd be like me continuously walking onto your yard and taking stuff, from your garden hose to your lawn furniture, and then when the police show up someone else would just say "Well the issue of theft is complicated; I don't think either party wants to come to a settlement".... rather than just acknowledging that I took something that didn't belong to me.

Wouldn't you agree?
Nothing about that conflict is simple or unambiguous... I'll pass on parsing semantics....

JR
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mattiasNYC

Re: The Middle East Friendship Chart
« Reply #39 on: March 26, 2017, 09:23:14 PM »
Nothing about that conflict is simple or unambiguous... I'll pass on parsing semantics....

JR

"parsing semantics"?

When the entire world is united in condemning something for being illegal, with the exception of two states, it's hardly difficult or ambiguous. Although I suppose it depends on what your moral compass is.