Stability in the Middle East and North Africa

Cordesman Stability in the Middle East and North Africa: the other Side of Security
As the following sections of this brief show, the MENA region is broadly more developed than other regions, and does not face the same levels of problems in basic nutrition and dealing with dire poverty. At the same time, a number of MENA countries do face serious problems in these areas, and the others do not reflect anything like the progress in rising above food dependence and poverty seen in many Asian states. In far too many cases, development, and the governance that make it possible, have not provided the benefits that can meet expectations and show people the consistent improvement in their lives that is a key to stability.
This raises two key issues that affect all of the trends and metrics in this briefing:

First, the key to popular unrest in most countries is not at the extremes of income and services, but in the failure to meet the expectations and needs of a much wider range of the population – coupled to the broad perception that a narrow elite is benefitting at the expense of other groups. As a result, the econometric and social metrics designed to deal with lower levels of income and development sharply understate the problems MENA state face in terms of popular expectations and stability.

Second, these problems have been driven by a mixture of massive population growth and social change, and a failure to provide the desired rate of development and governance, that has built-up over decades. There are no short-term structural solutions and population growth will pose a critical set of challenges for at least the next decade and probably two.

Put simply, no change in government, or existing patterns of governance, can produce enough major changes in government services and the economy quickly enough to meet popular expectations. At other metrics show, this may be far less true of the ability to make changes in the way governments respond to their peoples, carry out day-day governance, run their justice systems, and deal with internal security. However, the political stability of the MENA region will remain under serious pressure for the indefinite future.
My bold, this Arab spring malarkey isn't likely to be brief. Expect a bumpy couple of decades with regular oil shocks.

The main report is worth reading. It has lots of graphs that are illuminating. Saudi scores very high on repression, as does Libya. Libya actually has a pretty respectable adult literacy rate, comparable with Lebanon. Libya is pretty bad on corruption but not as bad as Iraq. Both Libya and Iraq have terrible scores on government effectiveness. Iraq scores well on democracy, not as well as Lebanon, Libya scores badly but Saudi is worse. Both Iraq and Libya are very poor on rule of law. Libya did score well on political stability, Iraq scores very badly, slightly worse than Yemen, Iran and Lebanon aren't much better. Both Libya and Lebanon score high on inequality, Bahrain is the most equal, Qatar the least. Qatar's score are generally good. Libya spends sod all (1.2% of GDP) on its military which is nice, Oman is spending over 10%.


Book Reviewer
the daft thing is that like saddams early days great leader had actually done some good things, the man made river project was a decent thing even though half of the 35 billion was probably siphoned off somewhere.

he kept islamism at bay by making them read his green book and worship him instead - I wonder if he has heard of scientology?
Earlier tonight tuned into R4 programme, letters from listeners, in this case arabic and israeli, the main theme being the unrest in the regions, most felt that the younger generation of "protesters" have now taken the reins from the old and bold, many of whom have been forced out of their homelands by repression, and have had to mount the anti government/dictatorship struggles from the west, ie: UK and the US.
Armed with the power of modern communications and better educational standards they can and will inflict far greater change than their predecesors were able to.

Now that the UN has finally got off it's collective arse and started to support the people we might be on the road to some sort of stability in the region, mind you a long way to go, Saudi next??
the daft thing is that like saddams early days great leader had actually done some good things, the man made river project was a decent thing even though half of the 35 billion was probably siphoned off somewhere.

he kept islamism at bay by making them read his green book and worship him instead - I wonder if he has heard of scientology?
Yes and Adolph built the Autobahns!!
I can't see stability in the ME without a major population reduction - too many people chasing too few resources.

This is something that was said in 2006 and I don't see that anything has changed to improve it,

Demographics Of Africa And The Middle East Continue To Explode

by Hichem Karoui

UPI Outside View Commentator
Paris (UPI) Apr 12, 2006

Some analysts have been focusing on the economic and demographic pressures that drive the Middle East towards terrorism and extremism. The threat is driven by forces that are generational, rather than limited to a few years:

The Middle East and North Africa are a long-term demographic nightmare. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the Middle East is a region where the population will nearly double between now and 2030. The total population of the Gulf has grown from 30 million in 1950 to 39 million in 1960, 52 million in 1970, 74 million in 1980, 109 million in 1990, and 139 million in 2000. Conservative projections put it at 172 million in 2010, 211 million in 2020, 249 million in 2030, 287 million in 2040, and 321 million in 2050.

The Middle East and North Africa, or MENA, region had a population of 112 million in 1950. The population is well over 415 million today, and approaching a fourfold increase. It will more than double again, to at least 833 million, by 2050.

The need to come firmly to grips with population growth is all too clear. Some of the most important, and sometimes troubled, countries in the region will experience explosive population growth. Algeria is projected to grow from 31 million in 2000 to 53 million in 2050. Egypt has a lower population growth rate than many of its neighbors, but is still projected to grow from 68 million in 2000 to 113 million in 2050.

The Gaza Strip is projected to grow from 1.1 to 4.2 million, and the West Bank from 2.2 to 5.6 million. Iran is estimated to grow from 65 to 100 million, and Iraq from 23 to 57 million. Morocco is projected to grow from 30 to 51 million. Oman will grow from 2.5 to 8.3 million. Saudi Arabia will grow from 22 to 91 million, and Syria from 16 to 34 million. Yemen's population growth rate is so explosive that it is projected to grow from 18 to 71 million.

Population growth is creating a "youth explosion." This growth has already raised the size of the young working age population ages 20 to 24 in the Gulf area from 5.5 million in 1970 to 13 million in 2000. Conservative estimates indicate it will grow to 18 million in 2010 and to 24 million in 2050. If one looks at the MENA region as a whole, age 20-24s have grown steadily from 10 million in 1950 to 36 million today, and will grow steadily to at least 56 million by 2050.

The World Bank estimates that some 36 percent of the total MENA population is less than 15 years of age, versus 21 percent in the United States and 16 percent in the European Union. The ratio of dependents to each working age man and woman is three times that in a developed region like the European Union. The U.S. State Department has produced estimates that more than 45 percent of the population is under 15 years of age.

Population growth presents major problems for infrastructure. Major problems now exist in every aspect of infrastructure from urban services to education. At the same time, population pressure is exhausting natural water supplies in many countries, leading to growing dependence on desalination, and forcing permanent dependence on food imports. Demand for water already exceeds the supply in nearly half the countries in the region, and annual renewable water supplies per capita have fallen by 50 percent since 1960 and are projected to fall from 1,250 square meters today to 650 square meters in 2025 -- about 14 percent of today's global average. Groundwater is being over pumped, and "fossil water" depleted.

Much of the region cannot afford to provide more water for agriculture at market prices, and in the face of human demand, much has become a "permanent" food importer. The resulting social changes are indicated by the fact that the percentage of the work force in agriculture has dropped from around 40 percent to around 10 percent over the last 40 years. At the same time, regional manufacturers and light industry have grown steadily in volume, but not in global competitiveness.

Employment and education will be critical challenges to regional stability. The Gulf already is an area where approximately 70 percent of the population is under 30 years of age and nearly 50 percent is under 20. It is also a region where real and disguised unemployment averages at least 20 percent for young males, where no real statistics exist for women, and where the number of young people entering the work force each year will double between now and 2025.

This creates an immense "bow wave" of future strains on social, educational, political, and economic systems whose effect is compounded by a lack of jobs and job growth, practical work experience, and competitiveness. The failure to achieve global competitiveness, diversify economies, and create jobs, is only partially disguised by the present boom in oil revenues. Direct and disguised unemployment range from 12-20 percent in many countries, and the World Bank projects the labor force as growing by at least 3 percent per year for the next decade.

Hyper-urbanization and a half-century decline in agricultural and traditional trades impose high levels of stress on traditional social safety nets and extended families. The urban population seems to have been under 15 million in 1950. It has since more than doubled from 84 million in 1980 to 173 million today, and some 25 percent of the population will soon live in cities of one million or more.


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Yes and Adolph built the Autobahns!!
and they are still in use, proves my point. even mugabe did good for his country at first
I can't see stability in the ME without a major population reduction - too many people chasing too few resources.
Simple answer, wars and emigration, that's what happens when you see demographics like this. The Arab Spring is liable to turn hot and nasty in places. Already has in Libya, going that way in Yemen. Reforms will be thwarted and disappoint in implementation too often, more radical solutions will be sought, young folk will vote with their AKs or feet. Do not expect this to go smoothly or in any particular ideological direction. The West needs to be very cautious about were it applies its very limited resources.

Libya is a side show and something of an anomaly, that I hope is tamped down quickly. Bahrain has similarities but may be developing into a sectarian flashpoint of use to Qom. Le Pouvoir backed by Paris maintains a tight grip on Algeria so far. Egypt is pivotal, it also looks like the army is intent on minor modifications to the status quo into a Pindi model, which unfortunately is more palatable to DC than the risks of genuine reform the population desires. Iraq is unfortunately not an encouraging example, democracy needs to be more than elections followed by handing out patronage and licenses to steal. Sophisticated Lebanon struggles forward despite engrained sectarianism, the reactionary power of Qom and Riyadh meddling and occasional wars with Israel. The Kingships are our major interest, their populations will watch the Cario streets and may follow by example. The revolution in Egypt and beyond is far from over.
Now that the UN has finally got off it's collective arse and started to support the people we might be on the road to some sort of stability in the region, mind you a long way to go, Saudi next??
i thought the british army had eradicated drug use. let me remind the poster that a month ago libya, the islamic republic of, chaired the united nations human rights commission. its collective will.

stability in the region? you are of course aware that the brother leader has hidden his SA-200's down south (with other toys), near niger and sudan, and might return them one day to theatre. you are aware that egypt has both let iranian ships through the suez canal and stopped controlling hamas. thus we have a salvo of 50+ 120mm mortars into israel, with 6 grad missiles over weekend, plus the terrorism today in jerusalem (the pros this time rather than the zealots). this contributes to stability and it will not kick-off. and saudi next? not only do you show contempt for their self-determination, but you gravely misunderstand iranian ambition vis a vis bahrain, qater and the uae. look at a map of area, historical too, of how and who britain established on the western gulf coast, (bahrain used to be a constituency of the persian imperial parliament for example). saudi next?, you should quake in your boots.

if its not drugs then it must be the planet you come from, full of (unts.
Hmmm CISI... now they have run out of commies they need new enemies I guess...

Anyway, BS, why can't there be stability? Population numbers? Pah, so what? The reason people were restless and are rioting now is not becuase there *aren't* resources, it's becuase some warlord at the top is taking the meat and throwing them the bones. There is easily enough to go around, countries like the UAE and Oman, where the leaders, despite taking a lot, do at least sluice a fair amount to their 'citizens' are pretty stable (might have to eat my hat on this one). Case point, nothing going on in the UAE (don't think they could if they tried, they are quite feckless) and in Oman, there were protests *but* the protesters were appealing to the Sultan, i.e. they believe he would change it and was on their side. Contrast to Egypt and others where protesters pretty much instantly called for the removal of the government, precisely becuase they knew it was a bunch of shite.

End of the day, the ME was messed up pretty bad by certain parties backing the strong man (Egypt, Saudi, Libya etc) or playing them against each other to keep them weak when one looked to break loose (Iran-Iraq, possibly Israel vs the rest). It worked pretty well, it even probably averted nuclear war at one point. For a while it was dandy, then some of the warlords such as Saddam decided they didn't want to play that game any more and questioned why they couldn't just take the lot. Couple a disastrous war that was seen as occupation, people getting more educated and having aspirations, it only took one guy setting himself on fire, one spark, and it goes boom.

Good for them in a way, let's hope they get what they want. That is what will lead to stability, we'd do very well to keep our hands off this as much as possible and letting it sort itself out. Libya is different because Qaddafi is genuinely loony and just doesn't get that it would be best for him to cut and run right now like the rest, fat Saudi fake 'Sheiks' and all, will.
Good for them in a way, let's hope they get what they want. That is what will lead to stability, we'd do very well to keep our hands off this as much as possible and letting it sort itself out. Libya is different because Qaddafi is genuinely loony and just doesn't get that it would be best for him to cut and run right now like the rest, fat Saudi fake 'Sheiks' and all, will.
I'd not underestimate the fat Sheiks. Beneath the blubber they remain a bunch of Bedu pirates just as brutal as Qaddafi, immensely richer, far better armed and unlike the batty Colonel own a good few folk within The Beltway.

It's extremely naive to assume progressive revolutions in this resource rich region would magically lead to stability though this is an article of faith amongst the chattering classes. Wars tend to trail in behind these things like a pack of Hyenas scenting weakness.

All I'd predict with confidence is disruption in supply and volatile oil prices.
On Naked Capitalism Guest Post: Violence, democratisation and civil liberties – The new Arab awakening in light of the experiences from the “third wave” of democratisation
By Matteo Cervellati, Piergiuseppe Fortunato, and Uwe Sunde. Cross posted from VoxEU.

Our research investigates the determinants and consequences of democratic transitions. The results suggest that peaceful transitions to democracy lead to democracies with better average protection of property rights and civil liberties as compared to democracies that emerge after violent conflicts. The evidence from the “third wave” of democratisation also suggests that countries that rely less on natural resources and have lower inequality are more likely to experience nonviolent democratic transitions. Concerning the prospects of the new Arab awakening, it is by now clear that the regime shifts will follow different transition paths in different countries. Taking the experience from the third wave of democratisation seriously, the prospects for the countries currently involved in the most violent conflicts do not look as bright.
On HuffPo an interview with Boutros Boutros-Ghali by Elisabeth Braw
What will the Middle East look like in 20 years?
In 20 years Egypt will have a problem. We'll have more than 100 million people living in 5% of our country's territory. We'll have a problem of lacking water resources. Those two problems need a lot of attention. Should we encourage Egyptians to emigrate? Europe's population is getting older, and Europe will need many foreign workers. Islam as France's second religion is related to the demographic explosion in countries like Egypt. Nobody mentions this problem. They're just interested in what will happen tomorrow in Cairo.

So in 20 years Europe will have millions of Egyptian guest workers?
Oh yes. There are already one million Egyptian workers in Jordan and many more in the Gulf countries.

Would a mass exodus of Egyptians be good or bad news for Egypt and the host countries?
If the government has enough imagination to maintain relations with Egyptians working abroad, it will be a good thing. But if Egyptians working abroad become Brazilian, Canadian or another nationality, and their children don't even know where Egypt is, then it's a loss to Egypt.
That'll scare the pants off Sarko.
On HuffPo an interview with Boutros Boutros-Ghali by Elisabeth Braw
That'll scare the pants off Sarko.
Nah...The Turks will beat them to it. Already in NATO, and been lurking on the fringe of the EU for years.
Accession of Turkey to the European Union - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
If they can get Cyprus sorted out, even the Frogs, who have been blocking them out for years, (becauses of the massive number of MEP seats that they would get) would let them in on the principle of better the devil you know, than let the Egyptians in.
Incidentally, getting the Turks in is key UK Government policy.
PM backs Turkey’s EU bid |

"Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will fight for Turkey to become a member of the European Union as he addressed business leaders in the country’s capital Ankara.

The PM said Turkey’s economic rise was an opportunity for other EU states, not a threat, and also highlighted the nation’s contribution to the NATO effort in Afghanistan.

Mr Cameron said he wanted to establish a new partnership between Britain and Turkey because it was “vital” for the UK economy, security and politics.

The PM said:

“When I think about what Turkey has done to defend Europe as a NATO ally, and what Turkey is doing today in Afghanistan alongside our European allies, it makes me angry that your progress towards EU Membership can be frustrated in the way that it has been. My view is clear. I believe it’s just wrong to say that Turkey can guard the camp but not be allowed to sit in the tent.

“So I will remain your strongest possible advocate for EU membership and for greater influence at the top table of European diplomacy. This is something I feel very strongly, very passionately about. Together, I want us to pave the road from Ankara to Brussels.”

Mr Cameron added that Turkey could be a “unifier” because of its links to both East and West and called on the country’s government to “push forward aggressively” with the EU reforms it is already making to help its bid for membership.

Later, the PM met Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks and signed a new Strategic Partnership document setting out how the two Governments will intensify relations in a range of areas, including trade, defence, and culture.

•Listen to the joint press conference
Earlier, Mr Cameron laid a wreath at the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern secular Turkey.

The visit to Turkey is only Mr Cameron’s fifth bilateral overseas visit since becoming Prime Minister, following trips to France, Germany, Afghanistan and last week’s visit to the US."
On Col Lang's blog #SHIFTING SANDS
“The Middle East never will be the same again” are the words on every observer’s lips. True – but in itself that tells us very little as to consequences and implications for the United States from the political cataclysm shaking the region and reshaping its politics. Restraint in predicting what those implications will be is praiseworthy. Anyone who boldly claims to know the specific and concrete effects is talking through his turban. Yet it is imperative that we begin to think rigorously about what the future holds. So let’s begin with a rough taxonomy.

Those countries that have experienced political turbulence can be placed in three categories. A) Popular action has toppled both the existing autocratic and his regime. B) Popular action has toppled the autocratic but important elements of his regime remain in place - at least for now
C. Popular action has been repressed with no structural political concessions.

How stable is the outcome of countries in each of the categories. For those in Category B, irresolution means that the outlook is cloudy by definition. Interim outcomes in the other two categories still leave relatively wide confidence margins as to what the future will bring.
Foreign policy outlooks and attitudes are liable to change where there is a discrepancy between public opinion and the orientation of government elites. This holds even where the opposition has been suppressed since there will be incentives for leaders to reduce points of friction and grievances among the general populace.

American preoccupations have centered on securing support for its four principal objectives: prosecuting its ‘anti-terrorism’ campaign; avoiding rifts with Israeli; maximizing pressure on Iran; and securing undisrupted access to the region’s all. On all of these, Washington has placed strong emphasis on short-run risks rather than satisfying these objectives over the long-run.
Democracy promotion has been a means to these ends rather than an end in itself.
Contradictions among these objectives have gone unrecognized or dealt with on an expedient basis. That will prove much more difficult to do in the future.

Here are some of the new ‘givens’ in the new context.

American credibility, already low, has hit rock bottom. This holds for government elites (e.g. Saudi Arabia) and for public opinion everywhere. We are widely distrusted; Washington’s words and those of President Obama in particular will be viewed with pronounced skepticism and will nowhere be taken at face value. The U.S. will receive fewer benefits of the doubt.
The United States is no longer a status quo power in the Middle East. It is a reactionary power by objective measures.

The political power of fundamentalist Islam has been greatly exaggerated. In no country has it been the primary force as either ideology or organized movement. Whatever role they may play in the future, it would be a cardinal error to fix on fundamentalist groups as a main point of attention and as a measure of whether things are going in a positive direction.

The dangers posed to the United States by terrorist groups, too, have been greatly exaggerated. This is true not only as regards the assumption as to some link between Islamic fundamentalism in general and al-Qaida in particular. It holds as well for official estimates of the latter’s capability and threat. The terrorist factor should be given less weight than is done currently. The notion, affirmed yesterday be Secretary Gates, that the ‘war on terror’ suffers a serious setback with the weakening (or fall) of Mr. A.A. Saleh in Yemen defies is striking evidence of this obsession. AQAP has very limited ability to attack major

American interests; it has been an enemy of convenience for Mr. Saleh just as the ‘war on Communism’ was years ago; he under no foreseeable circumstances will give priority to doing our bidding; and disorder itself is the danger insofar as AQAP is concerned. Expressed worries about losing the help of Gadaffi’s intelligence services in chasing after al-Qaida in the Sahara is an even clearer demonstration of the extremity of our obsession.

Our ability to maintain the 5 party coalition in support of Israeli’s draconian plans for Palestine is in jeopardy. Egypt (above all), Saudi Arabia and Jordan will come under increasing popular pressure to change their policies, and will be more susceptible to it, than in the past. Brutalization of the Gazans, forcing Fatah into humiliating concessions, and holding hands with the Israeli ultras will be harder for our Arab allies to tolerate. That should be welcomed as occasion to rethink our supine kow-towing to the
Netanyahu government. Id we don’t, our high wire act could end in tragedy.

The Sunni-Shi’ite rivalry has deepened and become more embittered – largely due to events in Bahrain and eastern Saudi Arabia. Doubtless this will solidify already strong backing for our hard line approach toward Tehran. Whatever thoughts there may have been among Sunni governments about negotiating a modus vivendi with Iran are now beyond the pale. In the short run, the Obama administration may see this as desirable given its commitment to coerce Iran into abandoning its nuclear problem and its hopes for reform change. On reflection, though ,a Middle East beset by the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict cannot serve our interest in regional stability. For its strengthens the hands of the ultras in Tehran, complicates the challenge of achieving political reconciliation in Lebanon, lays the basis for more violet and more anti-

American uprisings by Shi’ites in the Gulf, and adds to the already powerful inertial forces moving Iraq further away from the United states.

The gap between American rhetoric and American actions has widened to the point where it no longer is bridgeable. America as the beacon of democracy rings hollows after our string of equivocations, half steps, selectivity and cynical calculation. American diplomacy thereby has lost an asset. A candid reversion to realism has its own liabilities. The American public is deeply attached to the idealistic notion of the U.S. as a principled country that acts in the cause of virtue, enlightenment and morality. If Washington is widely seen as abandoning its native idealism, domestic political support for the inescapable hard policy choices that lie ahead will be unpredictable.

Do not expect President Obama to address frankly any of this tonight.

And of course Barry did not, evasive, windy and unconvincing.
From Col Lang's blog #Arab Spring - a Tour
WRC asked a while back for a review of the various revolutions, alarums and excursions:

- Yemen. "As I said" (AIS), Salih has been searching for some time for an exit strategy that provides a home for him and his and that does not leave revolutionaries in charge, revolutionaries who might demand his return for trial. His most promising route out lies in something like the deal that the GCC is pushing. The Saudis do not want to see Egyptian style revolution spread to the peninsula. They would be displeased to see that since it might prove contagious. Saud Arabia has a large expatriate Yemeni population. He might be tempted to fight it out, pugnacious as he is, but the times are not right and he will not want to lose a potential hime in SA. South Yemen may well try to secede from the larger body and resume its status as an independent state. North and South Yemen are quite different culturally. In that event AQAP (Awlaki) will try to build a redoubt area somewhere like the Hadramaut with an eye to eventually taking over South Yemen. I doubt if he could. There are too many Communists, Socialists, secular nationalists and Baathists in the place for that to be an easy thing to do.

- Saud Arabia/Bahrain. AIS, the US need for political stability and a stable flow of oil and gas ensure that the US will accomodate Saudi Arabia by not supporting any sort of movements for diminution in Sunni monarchical rule in the Gulf States (SA, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman). Bottom line, whatever the Saudis want to do, they will do. They are not a colonial dependency of the US and are quite self confident in their handling of their relationship with the US. You could see that in Saud al-Faisal's interview with Tom Borkaw. Their motto - "Who's afraid of the big bad Trump, the big bad Trump," etc. If I lived in one of the Gulf States I would be very quiet just now.

- Egypt. AIS, the Egyptian generals now in charge are playing "hardball" with the opposition. They were disturbed but unfrightened by the 3 million person demonstration in Tahrir Square last week. (TAH-REER, syllable break between the aspirated "H" and the "R." Not TACH-REER. Not TAHHHREER. Work on it.) The generals correctly see that the MB/Salafi political combination is dangerous to them and their money in the long run, not in this next election but... eventually. To ward off that menace they are playing the, what? "Revolutionaries" on the left and center against the MB/Salafi crowd. The business men who were at the heart of the old NDP setup, are the business partners of the generals. Many of them are Copts. Are the generals going to let the businessmen and Mubarak be put on trial? We will see. It would be so much easier to hold show trials of a few selected and not so rich people.

-Libya. AIS, The dilly-dallying by the Obama administration is moving the situation toward a de facto partition of the country in spite of Obama having committed the US to a policy of regime change in Libya. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is NEVER politically profitable. Obama foolishly made policy without the cojones to press the issue forward to victory over Qathafi. Not much would have been needed, CAS, the no fly zone, a few trainers and advisers, but the opportunity is nearly gone now. Qathafi's survival will make Obama look like the amateur that he is. AIS, the autocrats will all be strengthened in their resolve by this. Salih will go, but that is the result of Saudi willingness to "shop" him so long as another Zeidi tribesman replaces him, not one of his "henchmen" as some news cretin has said, but just another Zeidi tribesman. Work on it.

- Israel, AIS, Israel's policy is to support the autocrats everywhere because they have only one "issue," themselves. They do the same thing all over the world, supporting foreign leaders on this one issue basis.

- Syria. AIS, Bashar (not Basheer) Assad is a closet liberal (ME context) but he rules Syria as a consensus choice. His close family and the Alawi and Sunni Baathist nomenklatura sense that any step backward in control will lead to a collapse. They are being encouraged in this by the Saudis. Outcome? If Qathafi survives so will the Alawi/Baathis regime.

-Jordan. AIS, the young king would like to move towards a truly constitutional monarchy. The Saudis have strongly advised him not to do that.

What's left? pl
A fair summary.

I think there's now almost no linkage between the outcome in Libya and Syria, if Barry had gone in unilaterally and bounced Qaddafi rapidly from power there might have been. As it stands the Syrian Baathists are perhaps a little safer as even in the event of Hama#2 interventionist powers are occupied elsewhere, the significant regional powers all appear to favor Assad's survival and the Damascus regime is a considerably more brutal customer than clan Qaddafi every was.

All these popular movements do look to Cairo and Cario is in the hands of a Junta set on at best incremental reform. And that is the least worst outcome from this debacle for Israel and DC in realist terms so don't expect Barry to do more than timidly complain. Talking up change you can believe in followed by a very conservative muddling of the status quo is a pattern with Barry.

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