Random Observations on Some Recent Developments

A Scene from Dr. Strangelove.
A Scene from Dr. Strangelove.

Iran

Iran will never give up its nuclear program. To them, having nuclear capabilities and a few warheads and missiles on the side is meant tom inoculate them against foreign dabbling. Iranian officials believe that, unlike Saudi Arabia whose breakup will come largely due to mismanagement on part of the ruling establishment, the only way the Iranian establishment they could face serious domestic troubles will come as a result of clandestine activities supported by Western governments. Having nuclear weapons will prevent that possibility, so they think, even as American drones and intelligence operations are busy destabilizing Pakistan, which has long been a nuclear power.

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Fight extremism, not just ISIS

Spect_Sunni-Vs-Shia_cover
The mayhem in the Middle East is not about sectarianism, but sectarian divides and prejudices do play a major role.

Ready, Aim, Fire. Not Fire, Ready, Aim. – NYTimes.com.

The current drive by the Obama administration to unite Sunni and Shia powers in the region against ISIS, the group that everyone supposedly hate in equal terms, will not succeed, because by ignoring the atrocities that Assad and Hezbollah have been perpetrating in Syria before ISIS showed up on the scene, and because both are pillars of the Shia axis in the region, the administration, with its suborn refusal to act against Assad coupled with its current single-minded focus on ISIS, will be perceived as supporting the Shia Axis. The ongoing negotiations with Iran and the reconciliatory tone that many administration officials have assumed in her regard will strengthen that impression.

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What ISIS is really thinking!

Steven Joel Sotloff
Steven Joel Sotloff (RIP)

What is ISIS thinking? Five possible explanations for why the group is beheading Americans.

Personally, I think that mass atrocities and beheadings is ISIS’ way of negotiating with the Americans over the issue of recognition of their de facto state. Because without recognition, even if unofficial, the state that ISIS is creating means little. With unofficial recognition, ISIS can make billions rather than millions of dollars from the sales of oil under their control, even if they have to sell it on the down-and-low. Recognition also allows ISIS the time it needs to consolidate its hold on the territories currently under its control, and to govern.

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The Iranian Connection

ISIS fighter in Mosul
ISIS fighter in Mosul

ISIS: The New Taliban by Ahmed Rashid | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books.

The condemnation of Saudi Arabia on account of her funding of extremist movements around the world is more than warranted. But the persistent failure to condemn Iran on account of her similar efforts since the Islamic Revolution, in support of certain Shia groups like Hezbollah, and the occasional extremist Sunni group as well, including some units currently affiliated with ISIS in Syria, and the extremist factions in Hamas, is really baffling. This phenomenon is as well documented as its Saudi equivalent, is fueled by similar mixture of cynical and strategic calculations, and it poses no less a danger to global security and regional stability than Saudi involvement. So, why do researchers keep neglecting to highlight Iran’s role, even as some pushes for the kind of an engagement with Iran that, in practical terms, amounts to an appeasement? Is there an agenda involved here? What is it? Or how else could we explain this phenomenon?