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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Crystal Ball 2008

Uncertainty is even greater this year than in previous years. There are numerous stalled processes waiting to explode or peter out in just about every country as well as in important parts of the Muslim world outside of the Middle East. [more]

by Moderator @ 06:02 PM CST [Link]

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto Assassinated - Hope for democracy mortally wounded

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated during a campaign rally, Thursday, December 27. A Jihadist terrorist shot her in the neck and chest as she was getting into her car to leave a rally in Rawalpindi, and then blew himself up, killing 20 others. Her supporters shouted "Dog Musharraf," blaming the Pakistani leader for the assassination, rather than the Islamists. [more]

by Moderator @ 05:04 PM CST [Link]

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

On priorities

Tarek Heggy's trenchant critique of Egyptian society applies to many countries in the Middle East.

If we contemplate what is written, spoken and broadcast in the political, media and cultural fields we find that many members of our intelligentsia, as well as those concerned with public affairs share the following features: [more]

by Moderator @ 05:38 PM CST [Link]

Friday, December 21, 2007

Prophet and Loss Statement: 2007

It is about time to take stock of our predictions for 2007. What we missed entirely: Kurdish situation; Hamas takeover (should have seen that coming), oil prices. In bold - predictions that were correct. Strikeout - goofed. Gray - no decision.

by Moderator @ 09:00 PM CST [Link]

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Preparing for Israeli-Arab peace

A Meretz* and Israel Labor Party initiative would have funded the evacuation of settlers who wanted to leave from West Bank communities beyond the security fence. This was an excellent idea in many respects. It should have been a model for a number of preparatory steps required as necessary conditions to make peace possible. Instead, it was buried by the Israeli government. [more]

by Moderator @ 05:31 PM CST [Link]

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's the Gaza strip, stupid

As I noted, the situation in the Gaza strip is the elephant in the room of the Annapolis peace process. The silence on this issue before the Annapolis meeting, at the Annapolis meeting and since tells us more about the seriousness of the process than all the declarations and analyses. [more]

by Moderator @ 07:12 PM CST [Link]

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Iraq and the Middle East: Optimism? What Optimism?

Americans, at least, really believed for a while that the war in Iraq was being won. Polls showed Americans were less pessimistic about Iraq, and the focus began to shift from the war itself to the political situation in Iraq. The "surge" of US troops was the medicine recommended by the Bush administration, and mirabile dictu, the surge was supposed to have worked. British PM Brown is touting "progress" in Iraq as well. This surge of optimism appears to be misplaced. If we look closely, we may conclude that the problem is much worse in fact, because it is much wider than Iraq. [more]

by Moderator @ 01:56 PM CST [Link]

Monday, December 10, 2007

After Annapolis - Business as usual?

The Annapolis conference concluded with due fanfare. Those who predicted an utter, complete and immediate disaster were wrong, but it requires a great deal of optimism to see any positive movement or real prospects for peace. [more]

by Moderator @ 06:22 PM CST [Link]

Friday, December 7, 2007

The oracle of Washington DC: Iran is not benign

In the last installment of the Iran intelligence soap opera, we tried to analyze the impact of the US National Intelligence Estimate on the Iranian Nuclear program, which insisted, "with high confidence" that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons development. This conclusion appeared to be at odds with the behavior of Iran, as well as with the public statements of the United States government. It should have caused, and almost has caused, Iran policymakers who were going in the opposite direction, based on opposite information, to slam on the breaks and come to a shuddering halt and try to reverse engines or turn, like a ship captain who is about to run aground on a rocky shoal.

Anyone making such a statement would be expected, in the nature of things, to make doubly sure of the facts, and to deliver unambiguous conclusions, especially after having made the opposite evaluation two years earlier. [more]

by Moderator @ 12:19 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Iran nuclear issue and the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate

The US National Intelligence Estimate on the Iranian Nuclear program threw a hand grenade into the Bush administration policy effort regarding sanctions for Iran. Some claim that it represents an intentional administration change of direction, but that is not necessarily the case. It seems that it represents only noisy signals emitted by a chaotic governmental apparatus. [more]

by Moderator @ 03:28 AM CST [Link]


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