Meanwhile Back In The Middle East

My area of some little amount of expertise has been ignored because of all the situations that have turned in the Koreas….look for Iran to come into focus soon….they have neutralized North Korea (for now) and the interventionists need a foe to focus on and the most logical one is Iran.

The deal that Trump pulled out of because it was made by Obama will now have his art of the deal to fall back on and get that better deal (or go to war)……

Iran is claiming to be the protector of the world’s Shia population……but is it?

Iran’s contemporary foreign policy approach is shaped by a worldview introduced by the 1979 Islamic revolution.

  • Iran’s hardline Shia regime rode a tidal wave of popular support into power during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Mass demonstrations in February 1979 led to the fall of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the former Iran leader known as the Shah, and the return of exiled cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who claimed the title of Supreme Leader in December 1979 and served in that capacity until his death in June 1989.
  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei succeeded Khomeini as Iran’s Supreme Leader in June 1989 and has since served as the country’s most powerful figure.
  • Other key figures in the Iranian regime include President Hassan Rouhani, who was reelected to a second four-year term in May after campaigning on the success of the Iran nuclear agreement. In addition, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal and Maj. Gen. Qasem Soulemani is the head of the elite Quds Force, which operates as the external wing of Iran’s ideologically driven, preeminent paramilitary force known as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), or the “guardians” of the revolution.

https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/middle-east/irans-hegemonic-quest

Iran is more active in the Iraqi situation, the domestic side, it is backing alliances for the control of the country…..

Iraq may form a government that undermines U.S. interests, tries to eject the U.S. from the region, and supports Iran. Nationalist Iraqi Shi’a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has allied with Hadi al-Ameri, the leader of the coalition of Iranian-backed militias and their political wings. Sadr and Ameri lead the two winningest alliances in Iraq’s federal legislative elections and are nearing the 165-seat threshold necessary to form a government if Shi’a cleric Ammar al-Hakim (19 seats) and secularist Ayad Allawi (21 seats) follow through on their previously announced intention to ally with Sadr.

Sadr and Ameri will likely attempt to woo current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi or former Prime Minister and current Vice President Nouri al-Maliki to gain support of one of their coalitions, or alternatively seek to fragment both leaders’ respective coalitions to form a government. They may also seek to gain support from some or all Kurdish parties and Iran friendly Sunni parties in order to reach the government formation threshold. Both Sadr and Ameri may push for the full expulsion of U.S. forces from Iraq and will further the entrenchment of Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces in the Iraqi security apparatus.

Sadr’s militias fought the US tooth and nail for control…..and now he has it through the vote.

All this and Iran’s influence in OPEC will give the interventionists like John Bolton all the ammo they need to ramp up the rhetoric for war with Iran.

He, Trump, should have left the nuke deal in place but his jealousy of Obama would not allow that to occur…..I do not think his love for dictators will play well when dealing with Iran….but I could be mistaken….even dictators like to have their ego stroked.

 

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Populism And The World

The catch word that was batted around during the 2016 elections was populism and according to the MSM  the win by Trump meant that it was on the rise in the US……and tide that could not be stopped….well according to the d/bag Bannon.

Then there is Europe and the rising tide of populism or of right wing politics…some even see that the rise of it in Hungary and Italy among others could signal the end of the EU…..

The newly-installed US ambassador to Germany, Richard (Ric) Grenell, is at the center of a Trumped-up “controversy,” after having given an interview to Breitbart saying that he’s looking forward to encouraging beleaguered European conservatives. The NeverTrumpers went wild: neocon Anne Applebaum accused him of being part of a conspiracy on the part of the Trump administration to back “nativist, pro-Russia and anti-pluralist” forces – as opposed to the globalist, neo-liberal, cravenly pro-Washington (as opposed to pro-American) sock puppets we’ve been backing previously. Applebaum was joined by German Communist leader Sarah Wagenknecht, a leader of the far-left wing of the far-left “Die Linke” Party, who demanded that Grenell be expelled from Germany.

https://original.antiwar.com/justin/2018/06/06/populism-and-the-end-of-the-european-union/

Okay Europe is not the only region that has seen a rise in populism…..Iraq and its latest election…..the leader that gave the US so much trouble in the early years of the occupation has now been elected as the new Prime Minister of Iraq……

The worldwide populist revolt toppling conventional politicians in the United States, Europe and even the Philippines has now reached Iraq. Most Westerners still following Iraqi politics assumed that incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Dawa Party would handily win the parliamentary election, but nope. Dawa came in third. Firebrand cleric Moqtada al Sadr’s Sairun party came in first.

You remember Moqtada al Sadr. He’s the guy who mounted an Iranian-backed Shia insurgency against the United States, the Iraqi government and his Sunni civilian neighbors between 2003 and 2008. He’s a very different person today. He still raises and shakes his fist in the air but today he’s shaking it at crooked elites, and he’s shaking it at his former Iranian patrons.

http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/michael-j-totten/populist-revolt-reaches-iraq

The rest of this story is waiting to be written…..and it is being written in DC as we speak….but what will it be?

The Democracy That Was Iraq

After 15 years of occupation and several elections that no one wanted the Iraqis have had another election…..this is a good thing because that was what we came to Iraq for …..to give them democracy.

Iraq just held their latest election and to the surprise of the US their greatest critic and opponent of the occupation, Sadr, has won the vote for prime minister.

The pundits have called for a recount (simply because their man did not win)……there is lots of opinion on what will happen…..

Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose political bloc won the May 12 election, is rejecting calls by other factions to hold a re-run of the vote, saying certain factions are trying to start a civil war with all the allegations around the elections.

Sadr warned it was “time to stand as one for building and reconstruction instead of burning ballot boxes or repeating election just for one seat or two.” Some of the re-vote advocates, like the parliament speaker, lost their seats in the election.

The election’s votes were initially counted electronically, and parliament has since called for a full recount. The fire in Baghdad, at one of the ballot warehouses, has fueled even more claims of a cover-up of the results.

(antiwar.com)

Now some are calling for a new election……Abadi is doing the whining and the US is listening….all are worried about a Sadr leadership…..

With Iraqi parliament’s ordered recount at least somewhat derailed by a weekend fire at one of the ballot warehouses in Baghdad some officials are calling for a revote. A spokesman for PM Hayder Abadi, however, says only the Supreme Court can make that happen.

“This is a matter for the Federal Court and not for the executive branch,” noted Saad al-Hadithi, when asked for Abadi’s comments on the parliamentary speaker’s demand to repeat the vote. It’s not clear how the mechanism for such a re-run would work.

(antiwar.com)

As usual the US promotes democracy until it bites them in the ass….and a Shia backed PM will bite the hardest, especially considering who the new PM is and his history with the US…..

As parliamentarians in Baghdad work to form a new governing coalition in the wake of this month’s elections, their counterparts in Washington are seeking to sanction more than a dozen of the Iraqi legislators over their links to Iran.

The House of Representatives unanimously voted last week on legislation requiring President Donald Trump to sanction “persons that are officials, agents, affiliates of or owned and controlled by” two prominent Iran-backed militias that operate in Iraq and Syria. The amendment from Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, to a must-pass annual defense authorization bill targets Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, both of which are part of the Shiite-led Popular Mobilization Units battling the Islamic State.

Typical US actions…..if you do not like the election results then try to overturn them….Iraq will be no different than Chile.

Closing Thought–18May18

The war torn nation of Iraq has held their most recent election…..I gave my readers a rundown on the what’s what with this vote…..

https://lobotero.com/2018/05/14/democracy-comes-to-iraq/

Back during the dark days of the 2003 invasion and occupation America’s biggest opponent was an Iraqi cleric, al-Sadr…..and with this election he has risen to the top of Iraqi political process…..

Widespread disillusionment with Iraq’s current political class appears to have helped the political coalition of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr become the early front-runner in national elections marked by record low turnout. Partial returns of the 2018 vote—the first since Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State group—were announced late Sunday by the Iraqi electoral commission and put al-Sadr’s political alliance in the lead in four provinces, including Baghdad. Al-Sadr is a strong Iraqi nationalist—he is critical of any outside influence in the country—and campaigned on a platform that criticized Iraq’s current political leadership as deeply corrupt. He rose to prominence in Iraq after the 2003 US-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein when he commanded a militia that fought American troops. He also commanded paramilitary forces in the war against ISIS.

The election came as the country deals with the disenfranchisement of the country’s Sunni minority. Of more than 2 million Iraqis displaced by the war, the majority are Sunnis. Also at issue is the influence of Iran on the country: Iranian-backed Shiite militias who played a key role in defeating ISIS and were allied with the Shiite-led Baghdad government made significant electoral gains. Al-Sadr did not run for a seat in parliament and therefore cannot become prime minister. However, if his alliance wins the most seats, a member of his bloc will be tasked with forming a majority government and will appoint the country’s next prime minister. Despite not holding an official office, al-Sadr exercises strong organizational control over his followers, per the AP.

It will be interesting to see how he plays with the American forces this time around…..this Iraqi institution is very fragile and will be attacked politically from all sides.

Will his government survive?

Democracy Comes To Iraq?

With ISIS on the run Iraq has held a round of election trying to find a truly workable government….

Iraq’s electoral law is a complex and idiosyncratic method of securing proportional representation in Parliament. The system tends to favor the largest parties and solid voting blocs using a process so arcane that virtually no one outside of professional politicians and statisticians really understands how it works.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-05-11/iraq-elections-are-sure-to-leave-a-mess

Since the fall of Saddam Iraq has been suffering from sectarian divide and its politics are the battlefield…..can they move past this?

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite, has not limited his campaigning for this week’s elections based on traditional sectarian considerations. He has traveled to predominantly Sunni areas such as Salahuddin province about 100 miles north of Baghdad and Anbar province about 70 miles to the west of the capital. He is the most prominent Shiite leader striving to win votes of residents in areas known for strong sectarianism, areas which the Islamic State (IS) invaded in 2014 as the group ultimately settled in about one-third of the country.

In the predominantly Sunni province of Salahuddin, the list of alliances includes diverse ethnic and sectarian names in which 332 candidates from 15 electoral alliances will compete.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/05/iraq-election-sectarianism-shiite-sunni.html

Iraqis head to the polls on May 12 to elect a new parliament, after which legislators will choose a speaker, president, and prime minister. The elections come at the end of four tough years for Iraq, with the Islamic State seizing a third of the country in 2014 and the Kurds making a strong push for independence last September.

Despite the turmoil, Kurdish-Arab violence has been minimal, and the numerous victors of the war against IS are all hoping to turn their battlefield triumph into votes. Chief among them is Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is seeking reelection and a stronger mandate to govern. The numerous Shia militias who fought IS have formed a political coalition that is expected to do well. Yet the electoral prospects are uncertain for the Kurds, whose independence referendum and subsequent military and political setbacks have diluted the goodwill they gained by fighting IS in the north.

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/iraqs-elections-red-flags-and-opportunities-for-inclusion

With all the past fighting and destruction and past political in-fighting there are some green shoots of democracy creeping into the Iraqi political scene….

In March 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq, and in June 2004, it tendered sovereignty of the country back to the Iraqis. Iraq’s first elections took place in January 2005 with images of purple fingertips marking the milestone, but elections alone do not make a democracy. The record of the U.S. in fostering Iraqi democracy has been mixed, but despite the errors and setbacks, the U.S. still has an important opportunity to support something unusual: a stable, Arab democracy.

One of the early U.S. errors was the 2003 decision to order de-Ba’athification. This meant that nearly anyone that was part of the government during the Saddam Hussein regime lost their jobs. Those in favor of de-Ba’athification argued it was the only way to remove the Hussein-tainted operatives from the levers of power. Hindsight shows that critics of this decision had the better argument. With de-Ba’athification, the security situation in Iraq worsened, and since Ba’athists were largely Sunni, ethnic tensions amongst Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds were exacerbated.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/05/11/green_shoots_of_democracy_in_iraq_113433.html

WE will just have to see how the election turns out….personally as long as there is any sectarian divide democracy will always be a dream on unfulfilled.

Iraqi Elections

May of 2018 will see the electoral process put to work in Iraq…..

Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi is presenting himself as a viable Shi’a reformist alternative to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in the upcoming Iraqi legislative elections slated for May 12, 2018. Allawi is setting internal conditions to recreate his strong 2011 bid to secure the premiership. Allawi, a secular Shi’a politician, seeks to reunite the Sunni political leadership under a secular platform akin to the Iraqiyya coalition that won 92 seats in the Iraqi Council of Representatives under his leadership in 2010. Allawi will likely leverage his opposition to the expansion of Iranian influence in Iraq, reformist stance, and support for the Kurdistan Regional Government to draw Shi’a Sadrist and some Kurdish support in the post-election premier selection phase. Allawi can then maximize on his strong ties with Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, to augment his premiership bid.

Allawi maintains friendly ties to the U.S and rejected Iranian influence in Iraqi affairs. Allawi also maintains strong ties to the KRG; he stressed the resolution of the Arbil-Baghdad disagreements must be constitutional and within the framework of a united Iraq. Allawi also maintains strong ties with U.S regional partners in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ayad-allawi-sets-conditions-recreate-2011-premiership-bid

Elections are not necessarily going to be a good thing for Iraqis……so much has happened to Iraq I am not convinced that elections are the answer to the ever mounting problems.

What Is Turkey’s Aspirations?

Now that ISIS has been handed their butts Turkey has expanded their use of force in Syria and Iraq….most of the violence is aimed squarely at the Kurds in the region.

Understandable since Turkey has had a hard on for the Kurds in the region for several decades…..but beneath the obvious I have seen some opinions that Turkey is trying to bring back their glory days of the Ottoman Empire and their attacks on the Kurds is to remove any opposition that might interfere with their plans.

A European think tank, Geopolitical Futures has issued a paper on Turkey’s Middle East aspirations…..

The central question in Turkey’s invasion of Afrin has been whether it is a limited operation that will stop in northwestern Syria, or the first stage of what will become deeper Turkish involvement in the Middle East. Given that Turkey is intent on clearing the threat from its border, and that Kurdish forces extend far beyond the northwestern enclave of Afrin, there’s little reason to think that Turkey will stop after subduing Afrin.

There is, however, another threat that is forcing Turkey to take foreign military action: Iran. One of Turkey’s greatest historical adversaries, Iran has emerged from the Syria conflict in a relatively powerful position. One aspect of its qualified success has been the ability of the Bashar Assad regime, with Iran’s backing, to hold onto power and reconquer much of the territory it had lost in the civil war. Turkey sees a pro-Iran, Assad-led Syria on its border as a direct threat, which is why it looked the other way earlier in the war when Islamic State recruits crossed the border from Turkey to fight Assad.

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/turkeys-middle-east-aspirations-beyond-afrin/

Keep in mind that Turkey is also attacking the Kurds in Iraq…..now this is a NATO country, Turkey, and their violence against another country is a violation that could force the rest of NATO into a conflict they may not want.

All this brings into being a new term….Neo-Ottomanism

Neo-Ottomanism has been used to describe Turkish foreign policy under the Justice and Development Party which took power in 2002 under Erdoğan, who subsequently became Prime Minister. Neo-Ottomanism is a dramatic shift from the traditional Turkish foreign policy of the Kemalist ideology, which emphasized looking westward towards Europe with the goal of avoiding the instability and sectarianism of the Middle East. The shift away from this concept in Turkish foreign policy under Turgut Özal‘s government has been described as the first step towards neo-Ottomanism

The Ottoman Empire was an influential global power which, at its peak, controlled the Balkans, most of the modern-day Middle East, most of coastal North Africa (at least nominally), and the Caucasus. Neo-Ottomanist foreign policy encourages increased engagement in these regions as part of Turkey’s growing regional influence.

(wikipedia)

With some analysis one can see the possibility that Turkey is trying to relive the glory days of the Ottomans……slowly but steady……this will not benefit the world.