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Fear of Iran and Syrian Bloodletting

It would follow that if a peaceful solution to the Syria crisis is to be found, all sides have to be involved, including Iran. But Iran has been totally excluded from the talks. One has to ask why.

My latest article answers this question.


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Posted on : Jul 09 2012
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Posted under Middle East |

Iraq’s Upcoming Parliamentary Elections – Challenges and Opportunities

By: Meir Javedanfar


The Iraqi parliamentary elections are scheduled for Saturday and the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki has a lot to win and lose from its results.

Some Iraqis see him as a strong leader, whose authority was needed to bring the country together after the civil war.

Others see him as someone who is a milder version of Saddam Hussein; authoritarian and power thirsty.

The results of the elections are also likely to have an impact on Obama’s plans to withdraw troops from Iraq.

The withdrawal is a serious concern for Iraqis, especially for Maliki.

As mentioned in a recent article in NYT:

“If Bush and Obama were to suddenly leave, then Baathist officers would surround the Green Zone and kill all the leaders,” said Mohammed Ridha al-Numani, a Shiite cleric who has known Mr. Maliki since they lived in Iran in exile in the 1980s.

Iran will also be watching to see how the new parliament will represent its interests, and so will the Saudis who also want a slice of the Iraqi pie.

What is very interesting is the entrance of Iraqi tribal leaders into Iraqi politics which the elections will facilitate.

The piece below by Alissa J Rubin of NYT provides a good description and analysis of the challenges ahead in the elections.

To read click here

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Breakthrough in Afghanistan?

By: Meir Javedanfar


This week a flurry of reports have been reaching us from Afghanistan.

First there was the report from the British commander in Afghanistan who said:

the war could not be won and that the goal was to reduce the insurgency to a level where it was no longer a strategic threat and could be dealt with by the Afghan army”.

From this public admission, the UN’s top official in the country went a step further by stating:

success is only possible through political means including dialogue between all relevant parties”.

Notice the words “all relevant parties”. This means Al Qaeda and the Taliban. A taboo subject until now.

Within a day after this report was published, there was another report saying that “several senior Taliban officials have participated in drawing up a Saudi-U.K initiative to end the war in Afghanistan”.

Meanwhile CNN has already popped open the Champagne by stating in a report that

Taliban split with al Qaeda, seeks peace”.

It goes on to say that the talks, which have been hosted by Saudi Arabia were approved by Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban, which has recently decided to break ranks with Al Qaeda.

For now, the Afghani government has denied the talks. But, one can not ignore the flurry of reports from credible US and Canadian press. Therefore we must sit and wait.

Meanwhile the involvement of Saudi Arabia in these important talks can not be ignored. They are the only government who had relations with the Taliban and the US at the same time in the 90s. Since focus is now being shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan, the position of Saudis as go betweens will increase greatly, and so will their regional leverage.

This will come at a cost to Iran, who has aimed to become the region’s play maker. But it could be that this is one game that Iran is happy to lose. The Afghan dilemma is a worrying one for Tehran, and its influence there is not as great as the Saudis. So if there can reign in on Al Qaeda who also threatens Iran, then maybe Tehran can live with that part of the deal.

But this also presents a dilemma: if the Saudis do come through with a peace deal, that will mean that the US and NATO will be relieved from a major burden. In theory, they could refocus their efforts against Iran. So how will Iran feel about that, and more importantly, if and how Ayatollah Khamenei’s government would be willing to prevent such a scenario.

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Posted on : Oct 07 2008
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Posted under Saudi Arabia, Uncategorized |