Archives for posts with tag: Russia
It’s a strange and dangerous time we’re living in. The article indicates that those killed  in this missile attack in Iraq were members of the MEK, an Iranian opposition group welcomed into Iraq by Saddam Hussein in the early 80s. No source in the article blames Iran, save for a member of the same group based in Paris. She’s adamant that all concerned know  it was Iran who made the strike.
Now that there’s a power vacuum in Iraq, those opposed to the government of Iran there are sitting ducks. (Much like the Kurds in Turkey and Syria now that Russia has joined the fighting there.) With the Revolutionary Iranian government a welcome party at talks about the future of Syria, and with a newly negotiated agreement between Iran and the US a done deal, it seems they have taken a free hand with regards their opponents. And as the MEK are right next door, they were an easy target. The situation reminds me of how Stalin got rid of Trotsky, but while Trotsky was easy to find and relatively easy to off, his murder was committed at close range with a small tool. The MEK was hit with missiles – they weren’t even given the benefit of looking their attackers in the eye. 

While I’ve been a reluctant supporter of the agreement to bring Iran in from the cold, I have a friend who has recently moved from Los Angeles to Jerusalem and she’s been adamant that this agreement is bad for the region and gives tacit support to the mullahs who have spent the 35 years since the revolution calling for the annihilation of Israel. This seems to be the first strike against foes outside Iran’s borders in a very long time. 

And, yeah, as noted above, the Russians are providing air support for Assad in his war against his own people. Dan Carlin recently noted that Putin is at least being forthright about wading in. (If you don’t listen yet to Dan Carlin’s Common Sense, I can’t recommend it highly enough.) He’s making a case for Russian legitimacy as a player in the region and in the current conflict. The US hasn’t been able to train a dozen fighters in the battle against Assad. We don’t even know what that means. Assad’s foes include long time opponents of the regime and new players like ISIS. The West doesn’t know how to distinguish these and hasn’t really made an effort to do so. Carlin makes the case that this is what accounts for the power vacuum in most of the places associated with the Arab Spring including Libya, Egypt, and, yeah, Syria.

And, as I’ve noted, none of this is new. Some of the issues date back to before World War I, others are closely related to other civil wars in the region – Lebanon’s for example. This is gonna sound like a hard left turn into one of my music posts, but bear with me for a minute. In 1984 (when Lebanon fell into chaos), The Human League released a single called The Lebanon. It was the first US single off Hysteria, and their first US flop in about 3 years. Part of the problem was the guitars, and part was the title. In England, that country nestled between Syria, Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea has an article. In the US, it’s simply called Lebanon. The lyrics are fairly simplistic, offering a verse each to a man who joins the army and a woman who simply recalls when life was easier, and a chorus that asked ‘Who will have won when the soldiers have gone / From the Lebanon’. I was in high school at the time working at an independent record store.  My boss asked me if I thought it would be a hit. I thought perhaps it would be top 30, as it didn’t have the bounce of Mirror Man or Don’t You Want Me. It peaked at 62.  Looking as deeply as Wikipedia offers into the history of Lebanon’s civil war (which lasted 15 years), it’s a surprise Syria didn’t sink into chaos a long time ago, but the factions in Lebanon were far more diverse and featured only a supporting cast from Syria.

I think brinigng Lebanon into my discussion is simply a way of saying the madness of Iran striking opponents in Iraq, and Russia taking out Syria’s opponents in Syria (not to mention of few of Turkey’s in Turkey who just happen also to be opponents of ISIS as well) is merely an extension of hte madness that region has experienced for decades.

(Title nicked from a 70s-era compilation of Beatles covers.)

Last year the band Einsturzende Neubauten released Lament, an album commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I. In interviews, frontman Blixa Bargeld advanced the argument that the first world war never actually ended – the parties that marched across Belgium and France in 1914 continued to battle in other forms in other locations. All the results of the Sykes-Picot Agreement could be said to be further battles in that war. (My favourite track on that album is The Willy-Nicky Telegrams, in which Bargeld and Alexander Hacke recite the texts of communiques between Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas that led up to the war. The two were cousins.)

Side note: This week marks the 100th anniversary of the first recorded chemical weapon attack on soldiers in Ypres and seems a good place to share the Green Fields of France.

Disclosure: I am neither a political scientist nor an historian.

That said, I have recently stated to whomever will listen; and possibly here, that I’ll be quite surprised if we get out of this decade without a world war. I think now that it’s too late for that if. I’m pretty certain it’s already begun; we just haven’t declared it yet. Peace has been on life support since we took down the World Trade Centre and I think it’s time, as they say on the hospital dramas, to call it.

KMFDM: World War III

On Rachel Maddow’s 20 April 2015 show, she discussed a variety of the conflicts in the middle east including Yemen and Libya. Iran is currently supporting Yemen against the Saudi forces there. (Note: The BBC now reportbattleships that the Saudis have concluded their air campaign in Yemen.) On that front, the US supported Saudi. In the fight against ISIL, a Sunni force, the US supports Shiite Iran.

ETA: NYT now reports that Saudi air strikes in Yemen have resumed.

Moving east, we have the smoldering war in Ukraine. Between that (admittedly large) country and the very hot war in Syria, there’s only Turkey, another front in ISIL’s advance.

In addition, recent reports of Russian ships cruising near Britain add credence to arguments that Putin’s hostility isn’t limited to former Soviet republics.

And trade wars – the sanctions against Russia over its recent hostile actions may be yet be enough to push us all into a much hotter war.

I’m not without hope in these matters, but the decisions lie with very wealthy corporations that don’t look kindly on efforts to slow the continued accumulation of wealth. This is why we defend oil fields to the death, but care little for those who try to live their lives farther from those natural resources or who fight the conglomerates whose extraction efforts also make such places unliveable.

I don’t have numbers but the worldwide refugee crisis is only getting worse. Syria is one hotspot. (Israel could have taken the moral high ground at the start of the civil war, but unsurprisingly, Bibi didn’t.) Libya currently has the headlines because of the horrific tragedies occurring almost daily in the waters between Libya and Italy. These aren’t new, but Berlusconi had an agreement with the Gaddafi regime to keep a lid on those trying to escape. With Gaddafi dead (and Libya on the verge of being a failed state) and Berlusconi no longer Italy’s autocrat, it’s no longer in force.