It is not easy to be hopeful as I assessed the World over the past week for "outsiders".
The Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan was a violent month in Iraq and Syria. Just on the last day of Eid-Ftr, some 69 people died in car bombs throughout Iraq. I have seen estimates of between 600-1000 people having lost their lives during the Month of July in Iraq. Maliki appears to be totally inept in trying to stem the tide of violence. All he seems to be interested in is power and more power for himself and his cronies in Government.
What I found especially sickening was a story in Al-Monitor that documented the rise of a dysfunctional elite as the ordinary man and woman tries to survive in a Country that has at best 12 Hours of Electricity a Day and simple basic daily supplies are hard to come by. I was shell-shocked by the story of the prostitute in Iraq and how she had turned into an alchoholic with no hope at the age of 23.
As the carnage continues onward in Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan seems to be an oasis of stability. It has its' own share of profound challenges for sure. For all intent and purpose, it has been an independent state onto itself with its' own Army and Police Force and the independent agreements it has made for Oil Exploration. This aggressive stance was underscored when Barzani came out noting that he would intervene to support the Syrian Kurds against the onslaught by Al-Qaeda Affiliated fighters who have been fighting in Syria as Syria continues to burn.
The country formerly known as Syria has been cantonized. Despite the headway made by the forces of Assad, the rebels are not giving up. The Rebels lodged an attack on a section of the capital--Damasacus--where Assad lives and works. Although Syrian State Television showed Assad getting into a car and praying at a mosque, the fact that such an attack was reported was signficant. But, it appears that the war has reached a stalement that has no end in sight and the World seems impotent to force a solution. The "Divide and Conquer" startegy by Assad is clearly working especially with how Hezbollah has gone all in. The Guardian of London recently noted how tragic the situation in Syria had become when it noted, ".With no end to the war in sight, the flight of nearly 2 million people from Syria over the past two years is showing every sign of becoming a permanent population shift, like the Palestinian crises of 1948 and 1967, with grave implications for countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, UN and other humanitarian aid officials say."
As for Iran, a new President has taken office and so far he's been making some very interesting moves starting with the make-up of his Cabinet. He submitted it as he took the oath of office before Parliament. The country's economic challengs continue onward though. I remain hopeful that some transformation may be before us as Rohani's Government takes shape. One very interesting directive was from Rohani's new First Vice President when he put a freeze on new Government hiring. I have to wonder whether the hopeful signs and the right rhetoric will actually translate into concerte action that the people are looking for. Sanctions are hurting ordinary Iranians in major ways. I review reports daily coming out of Iran of people dying because of no medicine and other calamities. But, Israel is continuing of its' Anti-Iran campaign as epitomized by this statement from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a delegation of pro-Israel activists headed by US Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI).
At the start of the meeting the Prime Minister said: "I know that some place their hopes on Iran's new president. He knows how to exploit this and yesterday he called for more talks. Of course he wants more talks. He wants to talk and talk and talk. And while everybody is busy talking to him, he'll be busy enriching uranium. The centrifuges will keep on spinning.
This isn't a secret. The new Iranian president boasts that that is his strategy. He says, 'I talk and I smile and I enrich uranium'. This is unfortunately going on as we speak.
Iran's work and quest towards the achievement of atomic weapons not only continues, it continues unabated - it's actually accelerated. And they're also pursuing, as was recently reported, an alternative route to the enrichment of uranium, which is the plutogenic, the plutonium route, simultaneously. So the situation unhappily is not getting any better; it's actually getting worse. Iran is determined to get the bomb and we must be even more determined to prevent them from getting it."
Egypt and Palestine have also been in the news. I was gratified when John McCain basically called a "Spade" a "Spade" when he noted that what happened in Egypt was a Coup. Juan Cole documented the very concerns about John McCain and Lindsay Graham's Stance on this very fact, though. I also am at a loss to explain why President Obama sent those two anyway. Why he did not choose someone like Keith Ellison is something I don't understand. As a Muslim, Keith Ellison would have been able to talk to Adly Mansour and the rest of the leadership with a crediblity that was clearly lacking with Senator McCain and Senator Graham. The Economist' KAL, though, captured the essence of the Coup that everyone seems to understand except The State Department in Washington:
As Egypt burns, there is also Palestine. Peace Talks have begun again under the auspices of the United States. I have to wonder what is there to negotiate. Area C is exempt and settlements continue with no end in sight.. Although Secretary Kerry's efforts are commendable, there is no viable state and no viable peace process. How will a new nation be created out of the current reality that is out there here and now:
Although I want to be hopeful, what is before us in the Middle East remains ever more challenging as ever.
Also released to http//www.outsiderviews.com 08/11/2013