Ahmadinejad Resignation Coming? Speculation Over Internal Rift Intensifies

Read the quite-amusing article on the HuffPost here

“On Thursday, the battle took a strange turn as allies of Ahmadineja¬≠d found themselves slapped with charges of sorcery.”

Comedic gold right there.

Iran Shuts Down Nuclear Talks, Again

Read the HuffPost report here

It somewhat seems like Iran was toying with the U.N and the major world powers this time around, calling for a meeting and then disbanding it before the seats were even warmed. By the looks of things, it doesn’t seem like the major powers could do much to curtail Iran’s uranium enrichment capabiliti¬≠es; they’ll just have to hope that the sanctions cripple Iran to the point where they are no longer able to afford to run such a costly program.

Lebanon Might Collapse, Again.


Hezbollah has forced the collapse of the Lebanese government. Eleven out of the cabinet’s 30 ministers resigned, dissolving the government after the cabinet refused to convene an emergency session to oppose a U.N.-backed tribunal to investigate the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, of which members of Hezbollah have been speculated to be indicted.

Read more about it on the New York Times and the Huffington Post

This is not good.

For centuries, Lebanonhas been the centre of numerous significant Middle Eastern conflicts. The country was doomed from the beginning, with the region under the rule of the Ottoman Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries. This period marked a time when European influences first emerged, with land reforms known as capitulations and certificates of protection (berats) being introduced to the local community. This caused a competition between the Ottoman Sultan and the European merchants to gain the the loyalties of the Christian subjects, mostly consisted of Maronites, living in the region.

Fast foward to the 20th Century, Lebanon once again took center stage in Middle Eastern politics when in 1982 it declared war against the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), led at the time by Yasser Arafat. The militant wing of the Maronites moved to expel the PLO and conducted massacres. Many scholars believe that the war was not one of necessity, but one of opportunity, especially when seen from the point of view of the Israelis.

In addition, Lebanon in the 20th century played prominent roles for several important political ideologies and other military conflicts, including Arab Nationalism, the Arab-Israeli War (in 1967), and the Jordanian Civil War.

Ethnically, Lebanon is inhabited by a nearly equal three-way split between Christians (over half of which are Maronite), Shia Muslims, and Sunni Muslims. As a means to seek a balance of power, the President is required to be a Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni, and the Speaker of the Parliament a Shi’a. But even with a political infrastructure like this in place, one can see the potential for perpetual conflicts within government.

The point that I want to make in light of this grossly-simplified historical overview is that Lebanon has been plagued by conflict for a very long time. The problems facing the country are entrenched and incredibly difficult to remedy, but this also means that achieving (substantially) lasting peace in the region would be that much more significant for peace in the Middle East region as a whole.

In the past decade or so, with the emergence of Iran as a potential nuclear threat and Saudi Arabia and Iraq continuing to assert their influences because of their oil reserves, countries such as Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt have taken somewhat of a backseat with regards to seeking peace within the context of a grand scheme of international politics. But perhaps more importantly, these three countries have assumed vital roles within a regional (even local) context of seeking peace in the Middle East. None of the regions’ leaders would want to see Lebanon descend into another civil war:

Prime Minister Netanyahu has his hands full in dealing with the Palestinian issue; President Ahmedinejad is always busy spewing nonsensical and often hateful rhetoric while maybe secretly seeking to make a nuclear bomb; President Mubarak worries about his throne (as he has been for the last 29 years) while also looking after a struggling Egypt. Surely President Al-Assad and King Abudullah have their own issues to deal with.

The last thing they want is war breaking out in Lebanon, to which they’ll sigh and think “again?”

This presents a difficult situation for the Netherlands-based tribunal as to whether or not to go ahead and indict (as speculated) members of Hezbollah, and risk plunging Lebanon into a national crisis. If the tribunal is impartial in its findings and indicts members of Hezbollah, then the group has to face the consequences assassinating the President.

This government collapse might also act as a ‘pause’ button for other pressing Middle East issues, because peace in the Middle East cannot be achieved if Lebanon isn’t fixed.

[To read more about the modern history of Lebanon, I highly recommend the works of Albert Hourani and George Antonius, both very well-regarded scholars with highly insightful literature.]

Iran Resumes Nuclear Talks… Again.

Iran and six world powers met for a meeting in Geneva to discuss mainly the issue of Iran’s new nuclear capabilities, such as domestically mining and enriching uranium.

Read the HuffPost Article here:
Iran Resumes Nuclear Talks

Everyone generally knows that Israel has a large ‘undeclared / unofficial’ nuclear arsenal and pretty much dares the international community to really call them out on it. Countries can ask Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but they can’t exactly do much when Israel says ‘no’.

I tend to think that Israel is living in the past, militarily-speaking. Yes, the country has continued to experience major military conflicts, but the acquisition of nuclear weapons is the reflection of a Cold War-induced ‘mutually-assured-destruction’ nostalgia, by which I mean the notion that the so-called ‘nuclear deterrent’ has become obsolete. I mean, does anyone today seriously think a country will drop an nuclear bomb on another country? The negative consequences easily outweigh the positive, hence the chances of it happening are slim to none.

The only thing we need to watch out for are states with leaders whom are potentially volatile and unpredictable, but we only have a handful of those. Even they would know what would happen to them if they nuked another country.

I’m not sure how hard Iran has been suffering from the sanctions, or whether if this is the major reason for this meeting. But with Ahmedinejad leading the country, best to expect the unexpected, and not get our hopes too high.

Iran Offers To Return To Nuclear Talks

Read the article here

Here we go again.

Maybe Iran finally is feeling some sting from the sanctions, so how it reluctant is suggesting new talks. But must likely it’ll just be talks in the short run.

U.S. and China talk sanctions

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

The US-China political problem is much more complicated than many make it out to be. Yes, China has America’s number because holds so much bonds and exports so much of its goods to the U.S., but on the other hand, China cannot afford to see the U.S. economy collapse because the value of the money that they hold will plunge and demand for Chinese-made goods will fall.

Having said that, the U.S. can’t exactly do much when big Chinese business stick their middle fingers up to sanctions and continue doing business with the Iranians (especially the energy companies). The entire Chinese government is part of China’s business juggernaut, and they’re not about to let money-making stop because America wants to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

Tony Blair is Wrong

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/05/tony-blair-attack-iran-cheney-iraq_n_706116.html

Why is Tony Blair saying nice things of any kind about Dick Cheney? Even if you stand by your claim that the Iraqi invasion was absolutely necessary, you don’t have to agree with Cheney about his ideological worldview.

Dick Cheney believes in a hard-line approach because he is out of touch with the reality that hard-line approaches always results in lots of casualties, military and civilian alike. Look no further than what the hard-line Israelis have done over the past few years.

With regards to Iran, perhaps I am in no position to harshly criticize Blair’s views, because I am unfamiliar with the circumstances that he was under that has prompted him to possess those views. But speaking from my education and what I’ve learned (my History BA Degree is a concentration in Middle Eastern history), the Middle East is an immensely complex region that cannot, and must not, be simplified into ‘who’s good’, ‘who’s evil’, ‘who ought to be contained’, etc. Countries such as Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey, while somewhat volatile in their own right, act as a natural barrier in containing the more ‘dangerous’ countries such as Iran, and to lesser degrees, Yemen and Afghanistan.

Why is Iran a threat? Not because of its people, but because the government is currently headed up a selected group of unique nut jobs (radicals with extreme views, being the better term). President Ahmedinejad has the backing of Ayatollah Khamenei. The country itself, in terms of political / social progress and human rights, is miles ahead of its neighbors in the Persian Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia, infamous for its suppression of human rights.

So why has Tony Blair, and the rest of the Western World, been doing next to nothing to help rid the dictatorships of these countries? The obvious reason is of course business interests. The oil-addicted Western World dare not mess with its main source of supply.

I, along with a lot of political commentators in Canada and the US, have been under the impression that Tony Blair is a very smart and savvy politician. And I’m trying to make sense of Blair’s believe to leave military action against Iran on the table. I can’t, because it doesn’t make sense.

Maybe David Cameron will bring something new for Britain’s foreign policy agenda. Then again, maybe not.