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13 May 2012

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JohnH

My reading is that the Syrian variant of the MB is more akin to Salafists than variants in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. In those countries the MB leaders seem willing to work within the system to get what they can, while the Salafists (in Egypt) are distinct and much more demanding.

Supporting such groups reeks of supporting OBL and his "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan.

The problem IMHO is whether Dennis Ross and his ilk in the foreign policy establishment can distinguish among various Arab groups fighting in Syria.

turcopolier

JohnH

Yet another naif heard from. The MB goal everywhere is to achive a sharia law state. All else is tactics. pl

Walrus

I'm starting to come around to Col. Langs point of view.

What is the correct foreign policy response?

Townie76

Pat, it would seem that once again the USG has failed to anticipate the second and third order effects of change in the Middle East. Just like our belief that the Middle East would be better off without Hussein, we believe that anything is better than Assad. While Hussein and Assad are hardly a model anyone want to emulate; what Hussein and Assad provided were stable police states. I suspect we will soon see open warfare between the Sunni's of Syria and the Sh'ia of Iraq; a war wage by surrogates on behalf of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

PeterHug

You may be right - you certainly know more about this region in a practical sense than I do.

The question I have is, what should be done about it, given the reality as it exists now, and the critical national interests of the United States?

I must say that from my (naive) perspective, we mostly should do nothing. What appears to be going on in Syria is pretty much a civil war between at least two and perhaps more factions; they will do whatever they do to each other and (hopefully) find a relatively stable solution.

I cannot see that any of the factions are so closely aligned with the interests of the United States (or so completely antithetical to them) that we NEED to intervene - no matter what the outcome, the winner is going to need to work with the international community if they want to actually govern, and I think that will cause them to be sufficiently rational within the context of diplomatic relations to be able to work with.

I guess what I'm saying is, we may not LIKE what is going on or where the Syrians end up - but that is mostly their business until and unless they decide to step on anything we see as fundamentally important to us. And I really don't think that is likely to happen at this point.

turcopolier

PeterHug

In my expert opinion we mostly should do nothing. What critical American interests? I don't see any. pl

confusedponderer

Hum ... critical American interest ... stability in the Middle East? Oh wait ...

What I wonder is why the US tolerates the Saudis exporting the Sunni Islamist revolt that is intended to bring to power a sharia law dominated government run by "friends" of the Saudi Wahhabis in Syria? Is US influence really that limited? And will the Saudis stop there?

turcopolier

CP

Yes, the influence of the US is that limited and no, the Saudis desire to spread the power of their version of Islam is unlimited but hedged in by reality. pl

confusedponderer

Sobering.

Babak Makkinejad

I agree, there is no way that you can live other people's histories for them.

And unfortunately, those people, collectively, could wind up in a historical dead-end.

Abu Sinan

Reminds me of the calls in the US for the elections in Palestine that brought Hamas to power. They dont understand the situation and do things based on their ignorance and assumptions. That is why they were surprised when Hamas won the elections and looked so stupid when they had to backtrack and basically say that they support democracy as long as the right people are elected.

Better to do nothing than to do the wrong thing.

stanleyhenning

I have to agree with Pat Lang. And, interestingly enough China And the Russians were probably right in the beginning on the Syrian issue. Essentially, the Middle East appears to be heading in exactly the wrong direction as relates to our so-called interests. It seems to me we need to stand back on this and, as concerns terrorism directed at us, we need to pursue ever dirty trick in the book, including drones and other actions to destroy them if it appears that they are continuing to direct attacks against us. Otherwise, we should stand back and let them rot in their own morass.

PeterHug

Unfortunately, "nothing" is often the most difficult option to convince a client to do - I speak here with some (minimal) authority as one who has had a number of years' experience as a consultant...

Aside from that, I certainly agree with you.

The beaver

Colonel

Have you seen the latest?

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-05-14/gcc-union-needs-common-understanding-to-confront-iran

Guess who is behind this ?
Saud al-Faisal,
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/17/world/middleeast/17faisal.html?ref=saudalfaisal

different clue

I remember reading or hearing somewhere that Syria (Armed Forces/State/whomever) has serious amounts of real chemical weapons in one form or another. If that is really true and not just scare-propaganda, then the question arises: whose control over those weapons would pose the lesser threat to the rest of us?

If Syria really even has such weapons, could the Assad-Baath regime's non-sharing of those weapons with anyone else up to now telegraph their continued unwillingness to share such weapons with anyone else for as long as they retain power? Whereas might a MB regime well disposed to al Qaeda share such weapons with al Qaeda or Hesbollah or other such groups and actors? Would that be a risk we dare take?

In other words, if Syria really has chemical weapons; might we have the same caution-based interest in Assad regime stability that we have in regime stability in Pakistan . . . namely the continued control of Good Hands over Bad Weapons?

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