To Save Syria, Work with Russia and Iran

by Aslı Bâli , Aziz Rana | published August 15, 2012

As the violence intensifies in Syria, external powers, including the United States, are embracing increasingly belligerent positions. Indeed, in recent days the United States and Turkey have announced plans to study a no-fly zone after calls by many American commentators for a more direct military role.

Although there is no doubt the government of President Bashar al-Asad carries the overwhelming responsibility for the unfolding tragedy in Syria, the attempt to militarily defeat the regime is the wrong strategy if the goals are reducing violence and protecting innocent civilians.

Plain Old Murder

by Chris Toensing | published July 30, 2012

Drones are President Barack Obama’s weapon of choice in the war on terror.

Since taking office, he has ordered over 280 drone strikes in Pakistan alone. That’s more than eight times as many as George W. Bush authorized and doesn’t even count the scores of other unmanned attacks in Somalia and Yemen. When the mainstream media reports these operations, it claims that almost all the people killed are “militants” -- members of al-Qaeda or affiliated radical groups.

How the Army Won Egypt's Election

by Joshua Stacher | published June 30, 2012

Jubilant chants echoed far beyond Tahrir Square when the Muslim Brothers' candidate, Muhammad Mursi, was confirmed as Egypt’s first civilian president last week. Mursi’s election was lauded across the globe, and many are hailing today’s “transfer” of power as a triumph for democracy.

But there is little reason for celebration. In this latest grand spectacle manufactured by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the generals symbolically respected the people’s choice while using the election to further entrench their unaccountable political autonomy.

Understanding the Prospects and Challenges for Another Popular Intifada in Sudan

by Khalid Mustafa Medani | published June 27, 2012

While the attention of the Western and Arab media has focused on the historic victory of the Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate in Egypt, street protests of a scale not witnessed for two decades continued into their second week in Khartoum and other major Sudanese cities. Anti-government protests, initially led by students from the University of Khartoum, have inspired similar nationwide demonstrations in al-Obeid, Kosti, al-Gadaref, Port Sudan, Wad Medani and Atbara.

Operation Lip Service

by Chris Toensing | published May 14, 2012

The popular uprising in Bahrain shows no signs of going away.

The royal family tried crushing the revolt, importing shock troops from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. It tried jailing important figures in the opposition, such as human rights activist ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Khawaja, who as of early May had been on hunger strike for 90 days. The island’s rulers tried quieting the opposition by promising to investigate the abuses and making minor cessions of power from the king to the parliament.

To Stop the Killing, Deal with Asad

by Aslı Bâli , Aziz Rana | published April 10, 2012

In the wake of the recent Friends of Syria conference, the United States and Middle Eastern powers that include Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are stepping up aid to armed resistance groups in Syria. Under American leadership, the conference pledged $100 million to provide salary payments to rebel fighters.

Whatever the humanitarian intentions, this strategy, along with discussions of “safe zones” and “non-lethal aid,” is misguided at best, and counterproductive at worst. For all the talk about safeguarding civilians, the proposals are far more likely to escalate violence than to reduce civilian casualties.

Libya's Lessons

by Chris Toensing | published March 5, 2012

Libya is commonly counted as a success story among the ongoing Arab uprisings. NATO bombing, the story goes, saved thousands of lives and allowed Libyans to overthrow the absurd and murderous Muammar Qaddafi. The intervention proves that the West has aligned its interests in the Arab world with its values -- and may even be a measure of redemption for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the deeper colonial past.

Not much of this comforting tale rings true.

A Year After Tahrir

by Chris Toensing | published January 30, 2012

Ratcheting Up the Rhetoric on Iran

by Chris Toensing | published December 12, 2011

Nothing is certain except for death and taxes. But in campaign season, it’s awfully predictable that Democratic politicians will do a little chest thumping about foreign policy. As the 2012 presidential contest approaches, the Obama administration is ratcheting up its rhetoric against Iran, right on cue.

First, the Justice Department lodged the allegation -- based on thin evidence -- that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington. “An outrageous act,” said Vice President Joe Biden.