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Politics Middle Eastern power shifts

Discussion in 'Tilted Philosophy, Politics, and Economics' started by Remixer, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. Remixer

    Remixer Middle Eastern Doofus

    Frankfurt, Germany
    As you may have noticed, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammad Mursi is Egypt's new president.

    What do you think of him as a person, as a politician, and as a leader? How do you think his leadership will affect Egypt, its population and Egypt's future?

    Do you think Mursi will be a beacon of progress or is implementing a slow implementation of an eventual imposition of Sharia law?

    Personally, I think Mursi is carving himself out quite a strong character. News pieces I read about his decisions and actions as President portray him in a very good light.

    He was in deadlock with the military and the judiciary from the get-go. His first decrees as President effectively circumvented the Supreme Court's ruling and the last bit of legislature ratified by SCAF (where they gave themselves sweeping powers and removed a chunk of the president's authority).

    When the Sinai matter of Egyptian police being killed occured, he acted extremely swiftly to remove many of his opponents and put them on the backburner: firing several generals and security chiefs, replacing the Minister of Defense and announcing SCAF's leader (Tantawi) as retired.

    Against Washington's wishes, he confirmed his attendance to Iran's summit on Syria. Only to proceed to wreak havoc in that same summit by calling out Syria's regime and declaring Egypt's support for the Palestinians (which is a given in the Arab world).
    With Turkey's Erdogan drastically changing his foreign policy stance last year, it's Mursi's turn this year. Qatar's al-Thani has become a much bigger voice as well.

    Iran is an extremely strong force in the Middle East and is politically matched only by Saudi Arabia. However, their economy has taken a huge hit with the banking embargo imposed on them by Europe and the uranium enrichment issue has deeply isolated them.

    As the Arab peoples continue to struggle for freedeom, their likely rise in the forseeable future will be a horrible thing for Israel. It is badly cornered by Iran and Syria's open hate, the Gulf Arabs' diplomatic and trade boycott, and Turkey's decision to cut all ties.

    Should Syria, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia become proper democratic countries and sort their domestic issues out, I would imagine further assertiveness against Israel and an expansion of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet base in the Gulf.

    I feel excited about the power shifts currently going on in the Middle east. How do you see the macro and the multiple micro situations?
  2. what banking embargo? Iran's been doing the shifty with UAE banks for years
    Global banks to be grilled over Middle East operations - The National
    In saying that, i think the arab spring has breathed new life into the apirations of the arab street. But politicians will be politicians. they'll scream change, and will deliver whatever the hell they want.

    Egypt isnt the great example of stability right now, and their internal issues between the Coptics and the Muslims is and always will remain important to its internal stability.

    Libya was never a player in arab politics, mainly due to the fact that everyone ignored the looney that was Gadhafi.

    Lebanon has been mired in internal strife since the 70's, and with the current shift in the Syrian situation, lebanon could light up any minute. It already has in some places in the northern city of Tripoli, only a few km from where my roots lie. they need to rid themselves of Syrian intervention to have any chance of stability.

    The GCC nations wont see much change. they'll please the US with their policies, while their other mask seeths at Israel.

    Saudi and Iran remain at loggerheads, and will remain so. If they could both get over the sunni-shia divide they'd be fucking best buddies.
  3. Remixer

    Remixer Middle Eastern Doofus

    Frankfurt, Germany
    Sorry mate, but gotta disagree with you completely on the Iran matter. SWIFT's expulsion of dozens of Iranian banks has really hit the Iranian economy and the political isolation of Iran is not helping this. Add to that the lsot revenue from the EU not being a customer anymore.

    Sure, the SWIFT expulsion is not the be-all-end-all for the Iranian economy. It's been known for decades that Iran has its fingers in many shady areas in many different places and finds/negotiates ways to keep generating revenue. Given the huge economic influence Iran has within the borders of the UAE, it's also obvious that eventually individuals and companies, who want to profit from the current situation, will be found. As far as I understand, Iran has established trade agreements with India and China, where Iran supplies oil to them and they credit a specially-made account within their own borders with the value of the oil; an account Iran can then use to purchase goods from China/India.

    However, don't underestimate how much damage their economy had to take and how this affects wider Iranian society. I know for a fact that discord within Iran's borders is virtually exploding in size. Where a year ago people would shy away from ever speaking in public about their discontent on the Iranian regime, they now do so openly. Ride a public bus and people openly criticize their leaders, even when the feared Pasdaran are around. This is unprecedented behavior, one that is usually met with sticks, beatings and pepper spray. I cannot stress enough just how much of a shift in people's mindsets this public criticism signifies.

    As for Egypt's domestic political and security issues, I'm aware of them. When you look at the pure retardation between the Muslims and the Coptics, the military being very unhappy about Mursi, the worsening situation in the Sinai, and the Salafists/Wahabis doing their thing... it's not hard to see Egypt's near future invested in getting its own act together. However! Mursi has not shied away from confrontation, and has been very effective with his tactical maneuvers. In my opinion, that is exactly the type of leader Egypt needs in this time, as the recent Presidential election is Egypt's prime opportunity to remake itself in the eyes of the international community. I don't know enough about Mursi's political iedology to be able to make any prediction on the domestic front. I can comment, though, that on the international front he has done exceptionally well. Which is why I hope so very much that Egypt's domestic issues can be resolved very soon.

    It's a given that the GCC Arabs aren't going to do anything openly against Israel. But you can't pretend that they're not doing a whole lot of shifty stuff to get foodstuffs, goods and even weapons/ammunition to the Palestinians. Those rockets have to come from somewhere outside of Egypt, too.

    Now how would the Syria situation affect this? Depends on the outcome. I am slightly disappointed at Turkey's relative inactivity so far, but I'm of the belief that they're simply waiting for the international consensus to reach a specific point in favor of interventionism in Syria, which is when they call shotgun and go in with force (Syria is no match for the Turkish armed forces). Heavy Turkish involvement would also deter Iran from going all out in the many ways it's already supporting Syria's miliatry and militias.

    Lebanon, I don't even know what to say about that. Hezbollah used to be revered vigilante group within the Shia community, but I know that Nasrallah's recent declaration of allegiance to Syria's regime has left a very bad taste in many Shi'ite mouths. The fighting in Tripoli is nothing more than a proxy extension of what's happening in Syria.

    All in all, I think the issues will largely be resolved in this decade and I do foresee a deeper, and more dangerous, isolation of Israel in the mid-term... no matter which way these current conflicts work out. The Middle Eastern people will become more organised and compatible in their political goals, given that the public has found a voice. And this voice really really hates Israel. It's a damn shame Israel isn't being much more constructive on the Palestine matter and keeps giving off a very foul image by having the US keep blocking any and all attempts.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Snake Eater

    Snake Eater Vertical

    Ok, obviously my political opinions are very far apart from Morsi's, but I think he is so far doing exactly what he needs to do in order to establish civilian control over the military in Egypt.

    He is in a very precarious position and yet he needs to somehow win over the ruling SCAF, which he seems to have done so with adroitness and cunning. Good for him.

    My concern now is that he has an awful lot of power and will eventually grow drunk on it. He needs to push for the ratification of a constitution and the reestablishment of the Egyptian Parliament (even if another election is necessary) so that he can influence, but not dominate, the domestic politics of his country.

    With regards to his foreign policy I feel he remains somewhat of a wildcard. he appears to be a rational actor, but is nonetheless tied to the muslim brotherhood. There is some risk with regards to the US's interests with the decisions that Morsi is making, but so far there have been no blatant 180 degree turns that matter. Morsi *may* be able to swing the peace process in Israel/Palestine back on track since he seems to be both pragmatic and fundamental muslim.

    Of course it is still a trying time for us since we are losing our greatest ally (the Egyptian Military) and gaining a possibly contentious one in Morsi. However, I do not believe that overall this is a bad thing. Previously the Military held all the cards, now that power is split between the civilian elected head and the military and before Morsi can send Egypt to war he will have to convince the generals it is in their best interest... This provides a buffer that was not previously present.

    With regards to Syria: I think that country is imploding and I do not see how it is in our best interest to become directly involved, though some ancillary support may be in our best interest. There is little strategic value to Syria from the US pespective, however, it's value to Russia makes it a prime candidate for a proxy war. The Russians fear losing their only deep water port into the mediterranian, Tartus, so they can be easily sucked into a conflict that can only cost them. If we step in and physically occupy that country we turn the tables against ourselves and hand the initiative to the Russians.

    Syria is of minor importance to us since they are one of the main conduits through which Iran flexes it's muscle with it's primary proxy force, Hezbollah. If we can quietly (and cheaply) assist the Syrian Rebels, without getting caught in another quagmire, then we can gain influence in the region while minimizing the influence of both Russia and Iran, which would be of some limited value politically.

    Israel is a pawn that we need to use to our advantage. They can wage wars in our favor that we do not wish to fight ourselves, but can also get us involved in wars we do not wish to fight. The political climate is such in the US that it is hard for politicians to tell Israel to 'Sit down and shut up' even when it's completely justified. Likewise, outside influencers such as Iran make it nearly impossible for the Palestinians to come to the table for honest negotiations. I think the easiest solution is to cut off all aid to both until they are willing to negotiate. The problem will sort itself out one way or another. After an agreement is reached we can continue to use Israel towards our own ends without the added hassle of having to support the majority of the Palestinian population even while they rocket our 'ally'
  5. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member

    IMHO, flip a coin.
    Better yet...spin a Roulette wheel...call a specific number.

    There are so many factors that you cannot keep track.
    It is Chaos Theory in action.

    Just keep your eye on your interests in the stabilized countries and hang on for the ride.
  6. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member

    However, I'd like those who're participating in this thread to speak on this.
    The difficulty of the conflicts of interest in Pakistan...with it's not so stable government.
    In relationship to radical tribal leaders which leverage the permissible border with Afghanistan,
    for their own gain...and attacks against a variety of interests. (including American)

    Are they terrorists? Are they thugs? Are they truly tribes? All of the above? Or otherwise?
    I seem to see this scenario repeated throughout the Middle East
    and even moving into the Wild North-East of Africa.

    This is what I think is truly we need to figure out a methodology to resolve.
    Because this is what I believe is destabilizing the regions. Including newly "free" Iraq.

    Not this group specifically all over, mostly they are in the Pakistani area,
    but groups of this type...at times working hand in hand with corrupt government officials in their nations.
    Almost like the Mobsters/Mafia worked the old-school City Bosses of old in the US.
    While they all attacked each other to gain more power & profit.

    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
  7. Snake Eater

    Snake Eater Vertical

    A thing to remember about Pakistan is that the FATA is really like the frontier was during the wild west... The central government struggles to exert any influence over the region.

    The Haqqanni network is hands down actively fighting and killing US soldiers. They are a terrorist organization whether officially recognized or not.
  8. roachboy

    roachboy Very Tilted

    the us supports the egyptian military to the tune of 1.3 billion a year. morsi reduces risk for the military by reducing their exposure in politics. until there's a wholesale purge of the mubarak era command, what you're seeing operates within the same parameters. thing is he came to power while alienating most of the people who supported 25 january. so maybe it's not a real surprise that there's information about a move to shut down the cafes where the organizers of 25 jan tended to meet. but i'm sure that's a coincidence.

    so far as i understand it, ahmadinejad's administration continues to operate from a position of weakness domestically. much of the dick-waving refers to that. you'd think people would know this by now. apparently not. the irony of this is that the kind of position he's tracked would enable him to benefit from the problems caused by the banking embargo. the situation seems to me parallel to hezbollah in gaza--had they been allowed to govern, they would have moderated. it's a self-fulfilling, ridiculous cycle. the nuclear matter is concerning, but apparently the iaea does not think they are building weapons. on the other hand, if nukes in the hands of problematic governments were a problem, you'd think that there would be worries about other places.

    speaking of israel....the likud coalition government is a real fucking problem. bibi remains the idiot he's always been. governing with a hard-right coalition is not awesome for human rights. ahmadinejad's dick-waving is a gift from heaven for them. there's rumors that israel might be planning on doing something against iran after the us elections, on the order of their lovely massacre in gaza. but hey, we all know that the only real war crime is losing. meanwhile settlements continue to go up in the west bank. and the fucking republicans are falling all over themselves to demonstrate their utter servility to the israeli far right. way to go.

    to be clear, i take israel as a fact in the way i take rocks to be facts. what's obvious is that the israelis have no intention of allowing a viable palestine and nothing will change that until they start acting to take down settlements and dismantle the colonial regime in the west bank.
    at the same time, the colonial regime in the west bank and the barbarism inflicted on gaza is becoming a problem within the states as a function of the gradual dismantling of top-down media streams. electronic intifada is becoming something of a player, for example. so maybe things are changing. i say this because it seems to me that unless us policy toward israeli changes there's little chance of real movement.

    syria....this i can't really speak to. i don't think anyone really can yet.

    it's a very interesting time. and like the old proverb goes: may you not live in interesting times...
    i think there's reason to be somewhat optimistic. but there remain structural limitations on what can happen. the worst possible turn of events would be a romney administration, not least because he would bring most of the gang of neo-con fucktards from the bush regime back into power. that would be bad. bad bad bad.
  9. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member

    Well, here's the real question...should the US and other nations keep their finger in the pie?
    In terms of both diplomatic and financial support and manipulation??

    Part of me feels like Ron Paul...where I want to get the fuck out and stop spending our money outside the nation.

    But the cold realpolick side of me doesn't trust fate...and the winds of change.
    and that's kind of arrogant on my part that I think I/we can actually make things happen or presume to convince/tell others what to do...

    But damn...we've got interests there...investiment, resources...and their friggin' antics have cascading effects on world events and commodities.
    It's like having a neighbor down the street with crazy kids and a melodramatic family...WTF is going to happen next...and how does it affect MY home?
    What??? You're setting up a fireworks display in your front yard!! Your kids have busted my car's tail-light AGAIN!
    How can it NOT be my business in a way?

    So my pragmatic middle-of-the-road sense says...pull back funding...re-review whether it's actually necessary.
    Then give a bit less...here & there. Like pulling back on a monthly bill...because you have other burning bills.
    Keep the intelligencia going strong...Ignorance is not bliss. I hate it, but it's necessary.
    And leverage what ever diplomatic ties to negotiate out beneficial terms...and paths...as best you can.
    You don't want to burn your bridges.

    Now...in the US context...the new natural gas and oil resources just discovered in the Upper Rockies will help out our nation.
    Sure the oil industry will want to have it's cake and to eat it too...having both...and selling off the excess for their own profit,
    but at least that allow the US leaders to not feel the pressure to involve themselves for needed resources.
    (actually the next two areas of increased US interest are South America & Africa...and China is already gunnin' for Africa.)

    Europe is another thing though, they are starving for fuels...so both Russia and the Middle East are items of attention
    So they will end up being the group that's sticking their own two cents in.
    God knows how that will go down, hopefully they've learned from Africa.

    So you're going to get some tangent cooks sticking their fingers into the soup.
    But I think we're starting to see a chaotic dynamic transition where the Middle-Eastern population is going to further take names and give notes
    their established and entrenched leadership are not going to be happy with the change.

    Syria is just the most recent building burning in the fire-line.
    But even more interesting beyond that smoldering smoke ...just a spark away are two buildings.
    The large but unstable house of Iran
    And the mansion of Saudi Arabia...great facade...some structural issues...
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
  10. Remixer

    Remixer Middle Eastern Doofus

    Frankfurt, Germany
    Time for another round of thoughts.

    Clearly, much has happened in the past 3-4 weeks.

    Mursi and the internal power struggle in Egypt have become a background issue. The anti-Islam video debacle has, however, shed a bright light on one of the side-effect of the Arab Spring. The Arab people have become wholly more capable and "people power" is now a much bigger political element than it has been only 2 years ago. It appears as well that the Muslim Brotherhood is becoming quite an establishment in Egypt now, with even secular factions acting in acceptance and support of it.

    There has been a clear improvement in Libya's state of affairs. Obviously, the deaths of the American ambassador and his colleagues is not a good thing, but one has to admit that it has had an incredible domestic effect on Libya. The enormous public backlash of their killings has done an incredible amount to discredit the armed militias and the Government has finally received the ability to dismantle these groupings. This step has been the by-far-biggest stumbling block for progress of the Libyan nation. We can expect much good to happen there, while Libya finds and rebuilds itself in the next 2-3 years.

    Syria seems to be progressing nicely, with the Syrian regime not only failing at breaking the rebelion, but instead there seems to be a progress of establishing rebel strongholds in great many locations where the government can't effectively touch them. A friend of mine went to Syria not too long ago to report from the inside, and the situation has drastically improved from 6 months ago. It seems the GCC countries and Turkey have increased their arms supplies to the FSA by a good amount. The next 6 months of NATO impotence will be interesting to see. It should tell us very much in which direction Syria's conflict is going. I wonder whether Syria (or roachboy 's favorite: a Western conspiracy) will end up using a chemical WMD in order to slide the political stalemate between East and West in the Security Council towards UN military involvement.

    And again, all these developments bolster up the regional opposition against Israel. I strongly believe that the current situation's progress over the coming 5 years will culminate in a much more hostile regional environment for Israel. It will be interesting to see how Israel's political elite will adapt to the changing regional dynamics. Here's hoping Netanyahu loses the next election and a much more moderate Israeli government comes about. Otherwise, I can only see dark times ahead.

    A line on the ruckus in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the anti-Islam video, and a summation of the past 5 years: The people from both countries slowly appear to me as a bunch of monkeys. Give them mango tree, they happy. Take away mango tree, they go berserk and fling poop at your face. Ridiculous, the amount of idiocy concentrated there.
  11. roachboy

    roachboy Very Tilted

    i don't see things as being so clear.

    in egypt, morsi is navigating an interesting period. the egyptians had signed a deal with the imf and were looking for private investment capital from a group of us folk just before the mb called for the demonstrations on the 11th, a couple hundred ultras showed up and security melted away. then that strange exchange occurred on twitter between the mb in english and the us embassy. the mb is trying to balance salafi opposition to its right with managing--often in a hamfisted way---relations with the secular population that supported 25 january. relations with the military are not clear. nothing has happened insofar as purging the interior ministry. there's some making up happening diplomatically with the united states over the past week. it isn't obvious how this will play out. there's some disturbing information about things being discussed for a constitution. i don't think the revolution is exactly over---it only requires some stupid moves by morsi to find things in motion again. so it's not obvious yet.

    libya is turning into quite the embarrassment for the state department. there's considerable ass-covering happening domestically, while in libya there are some moves on the part of the central government to consolidate power. but the main event so far has been something of a popular uprising in benghazi to drive out the militia responsible for the consulate attack. but their weapons disappeared with them. i'd like to think that remixer is right about the longer-term perspectives there. but i am not sure yet. it's hard to know.

    syria is ugly. i don't know where remixer gets the idea that i have some notion of western conspiracy in mind in anything i say about the region. what's obvious is that the complexity of libya has made the west unwilling or unable to act in syria. i am not sure what i think about that. asad is obviously a dickhead. but i don't know...it's a tough situation. obviously there isn't oil there so the "need" to do something isn't the same. i don't think the western powers have any clear idea of how to act. then there's russian and chinese opposition to any action. iran is a complicated player in this game as well.

    israel...netanyahu is a fucking idiot. his televised posturing around the 11th demanding some kind of official "red line" with respect to iran and the de facto endorsement of romney that turned up in the new yorker has forced bibi to declare himself neutral insofar as the us elections are concerned. he just veers from less than awesome thing to less than awesome thing. the situation with palestine has reached such a pass that the p.a. has threatened to abandon oslo---which may not be a bad thing insofar as putting the settlements back on the table is concerned---but which would finish the quartet's dance. but i agree that getting netanyahu out of power would be the best possible short-term scenario.

    most of the demonstrations against the "film" have been screens for protests against us policy. there's no way around that. whatever questionable things one might say about pakistan (monkeys? really? that's a little..um...not ok) the fact is that the us has not been awesome with respect to the place (look at the living under drones report that came out today for an idea)...yemen obviously the same. sudan the same. tunisia has its own political complexity which--for some reason---gets little reporting in the english press, but which one can follow in the french press pretty easily.

    what seems clear is that there is a decline in us hegemony that's becoming increasingly evident, and the consequences of supporting repressive regimes and then bombing the fuck out of places in the name of liberating them has made things quite complicated.

    i've been quite interested in the de facto revolt that seems to be brewing in spain against the usual neo-liberal idiocy on austerity. but that's a mediterranean thing. old skool region-thinking.
  12. Remixer

    Remixer Middle Eastern Doofus

    Frankfurt, Germany
    Seems like Iran's economy is starting freefall-mode.

    Ahmadinejad is called to account after rial falls to record low - Middle East - World - The Independent

    Depreciation of the Rial and its value falling faster and faster; huge decrease in consumer and business confidence with this piece of news; political destabilisation is following.

    Obviously the Iranian economy is tough as nails, but I really think that a moderate increase in economic/financial pressure would make it crumble, with social unrest following not far behind.

    They need to find a way to improve their situation and get confidence back up. Soon.
  13. Remixer

    Remixer Middle Eastern Doofus

    Frankfurt, Germany
  14. Ozmanitis

    Ozmanitis Trust in your will and Hope will burn bright!

    Texas USA
    Not sure if that's a good thing
  15. roachboy

    roachboy Very Tilted

    nato met last night under article 4, which is the provision that activates the alliance when a member state feels its territorial integrity under threat:

    Turkey approves military operations in Syria - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

    it's an interesting situation. turkey is saying at this point that they've no interest in a war with syria.
    i cannot imagine anyone in the region thinking "yay" when it comes to turkey acting militarily.
    the united states will find itself in an awkward spot quickly, however, given the deterioration in relations between turkey and israel.
    personally, i don't see this as leading directly to a nato intervention--massacres are obviously not enough to motivate action unless there's oil in the mix as well....i can see this dragging on for some months.
  16. Remixer

    Remixer Middle Eastern Doofus

    Frankfurt, Germany
    Agreed. This instance will most likely not start anything. I see the rethoric over the past 18 months, the current few weeks and next couple months as build-up for the inevitable.

    I think there is more than enough incentive for the West to get rid of Syria's government. An overthrow would shift the power balance even more in the Sunni coalition. The US would love to punch Ahmadinejad's mouth and screw with the Ayatollahs with this, and the political backlash against Russia and China in the region will be a giant cherry on top.

    What's limited military involvement and a few billion dollars next to that? Virtually nothing. Especially when Turkey has been licking its lips for a while to go in, bolstering its domestic popular support and advancing its new ambition to place itself in the elite of Middle Eastern politics.
  17. roachboy

    roachboy Very Tilted

  18. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member

    Funny, everyone says they want the U.S. and western nations to mind their own business.
    Then they turn around and say what are you going to do about it??

    Syria is not going to be addressed by your typical players...not because they don't care or don't have interests,
    it's just that they have their own problems...US has got an election and bills...Europe's got bills & debt.

    Only those nearby are going to take interest...Turkey, Russia, Israel, Saudis...but Nooo...no one wants them making "decisions".
    That...or it's let Syria just fight itself...buildings & bodies will burn...on both sides.

    Same with Libya, etc...

    The only thing they'll get involved with is Iran...due to its nuclear program
    and Egypt, because of the Suez canal.

    In all reality...the only thing that would make them move is Oil.
    And that's not a big a factor as it was in the decades past.

    And China is already moving to take the place of the US in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    And I think the US is fine with that...as long as the terrorists and nukes are stable.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012
  19. roachboy

    roachboy Very Tilted

    um...you might remember that it was france---not the us---that drove action on libya.
  20. roachboy

    roachboy Very Tilted