Archive: Middle East

Zarqawi Is Out, But Will It Make a Difference?

I should point out that I heard the report about Bush addressing gay marriage on BBC World News, generally immune from the hype. It's about the only place (other than NPR) where you can get decent reporting on Timor. They also do brilliant Iraq reporting, most recently on the skyrocketing sectarian violence. Did you know the number of bodies going through the Baghdad morgue has increased each month since January? Debaters, do you think Zarqawi's death will tame the insurgency?...

By Emily Messner | June 9, 2006; 11:50 AM ET | Comments (150) | TrackBack (0)

How Will We Know if It's Civil War?

After a week of debating, the question remains unanswered: How will we know when the line has been crossed between "sectarian violence" and "civil war"? I hoped the Pentagon could shed some light on the subject for us. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Iraq "is not in civil war at the present time, by most experts' calculations," the Post reported. Experts who follow the traditional definition of civil war, however, disagree. It is therefore reasonable to ask how the U.S. military judges what constitutes a civil war. Number of casualties? Duration of the conflict? Lt. Col. Barry Venable took my phone call, and answered that "greatly increased levels of violence" would be one indicator of civil war. But a big jump in sectarian violence has already happened, sparked by the bombing of the Askariya mosque last month. Venable responded that such an assessment was arguable. Yet Gen. John Abizaid...

By Emily Messner | March 10, 2006; 03:41 PM ET | Comments (146)

Iraqi Bloggers Blame Their Leaders

A survey of Iraqi bloggers reveals considerable frustration with their elected leaders. Mohammed of Iraq the Model shares the thought-provoking dialogue he had with his father after a morning of intense mortar fire left its mark on a nearby house. Mohammed asks his dad whether the violence in Iraq will escalate. Dad responds, "Most likely yes, we are a state still run by sentiments rather than reason which means it's a brittle state and any sentimental overreaction can turn the tide in either direction." Over at Hammorabi, the blame for this instability falls squarely on the shoulders of the politicians who support terrorism "directly or indirectly," by delaying the formation of a permanent government. Treasure of Baghdad states that those running Iraq today are the same bunch who led the uprising against the Baathists in 1991 -- an uprising that failed, he writes, because the "Badrists" started killing indiscriminately. The...

By Emily Messner | March 8, 2006; 06:16 AM ET | Comments (93)

This Week's Debate: A Civil War in Iraq?

As sectarian violence continues -- with three mosques attacked over the weekend -- The Debate turns once again to the situation in Iraq. Following the Feb. 22 bombing in Samarra of the Askariya mosque, which is of particular significance to Shiite Muslims, violence between Sunnis and Shiites spiked, prompting cliché-filled speculation that the country is "spiraling into civil war." The Baghdad Burning blog offers readers a portrait of the beginnings of the crisis. Within a week, the violence had claimed the lives of more than 1,300 Iraqis. Just two days after the Samarra attack, the New York Times (subscription required for articles more than a week old) reported in the second sentence of a page one story that the "threat of full-scale civil war loomed over the country." Two days after that, in the Sunday Times's Week in Review section, Steven R. Weisman was already imagining what a civil war...

By Emily Messner | March 6, 2006; 06:47 AM ET | Comments (160)

Alienating Our Arab Allies

"The nativist opposition to the port deal ... [throws] a wrench into the workings of globalisation while declaring that people's background matters more than anything else," writes Gideon Rose in a subscription-only piece in the Financial Times. As we've discussed here quite a bit in recent days, plenty of other foreign-owned and foreign government-owned companies operate in the United States, in industries considered intertwined with our national security -- aviation, cargo transport and even defense. Up until a couple weeks ago, objections to these arrangements were few and far between. The furor of animosity to foreign ownership arose only when a Middle Eastern company tried to get in the game, and that glaring contradiction worsens America's image in the rest of the world. An FT news story supports that conclusion, reporting that "among top Arab businessmen, many of whom are U.S.-educated, there is a strong sense that the backlash...

By Emily Messner | March 3, 2006; 04:57 PM ET | Comments (161)

* Ever Visited Dubai, Senator?

Kristof's statement led me to wonder just how many of the Dubai Ports World deal's vocal opponents have actually visited Dubai .......

By Emily Messner | March 3, 2006; 04:56 PM ET | Comments (22)

Finding Facts Amid the Ports Controversy

With something like 90 percent of the world's goods transported by sea, the shipping business wields immense power. It can bring longstanding foes together -- as in this joint venture between China's Communist Party-controlled COSCO and Taiwan's Evergreen Marine. Conversely, conflicts over shipping could potentially tear newfound friendships apart. The divide between the United States and the emirate of Dubai grows wider by the day; perhaps a bit of truthsquad-ing might help reduce the rift. Former Congresswoman Helen Bentley of Baltimore, who was a champion of port security before it was cool, tried to set the record straight on the Dubai deal in a letter to the Baltimore Sun. She pointed out that the Maryland Ports Administration will continue to "run" the port of Baltimore. If the controversial Dubai Ports World deal goes forward, the firm will only operate one of Baltimore's port terminals, and part of another, while bidding...

By Emily Messner | March 2, 2006; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (155)

Ports Deal Pros and Cons

So far, the strongest argument I've seen against the ports deal comes from Charles Krauthammer: ....as soon as the Dubai company takes over operations, it will necessarily become privy to information about security provisions at crucial U.S. ports. That would mean a transfer of information about our security operations -- and perhaps even worse, about the holes in our security operations -- to a company in an Arab state in which there might be employees who, for reasons of corruption or ideology, would pass this invaluable knowledge on to al Qaeda types. Certainly, we don't want anyone finding out about the holes in our security systems. But is blocking foreign investment the way to address that problem? Shouldn't we be fixing the holes? If your roof is leaking, you don't just stop letting people into your house -- you get the roof fixed. Besides, there might be employees in a...

By Emily Messner | February 24, 2006; 11:48 AM ET | Comments (278)

 

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