The map above, showing UAE military bases in and around Yemen, is from The Cradle, an excellent news source on West Asian diplomacy.
I have long had a lot of respect for the work of Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, whom I first came across, briefly, when we both working as journos in Beirut in the early 1980s and whom at a personal level I like. His work is generally pretty smart and well-informed. And though he has long been eager to be close to the centers of power, especially at the highest echelons of the U.S. military and intel agencies, many of the opinion pieces he has written over the years that explicitly or implicitly conveyed the views of those officials did two helpful things: (1) They provided an informative view into the thinking of those officials. (2) They put the snippets of info he provided about those officials’ views into a generally smart and sometimes slightly critical context. (Though never quite critical enough for him to lose his access?)
Today, he had a piece in the WaPo that had neither of those qualities and that instead just seemed to be full of hyper-defensive and deeply misleading analytical blather. Lest anyone be tempted to think he is still a smart analyst and thinker, I thought I should comment on some of what he wrote, point-by-point.
I’ll comment, you decide, folks!
Continue reading “David Ignatius’s wildly misleading take on West Asia diplomacy”
Image: Syrian Arab Red Crescent rescue teams at a collapsed building in Aleppo
We’ve all seen the pictures. On February 6, a 7.8-degree earthquake struck broad swathes of northern Syria, along with neighboring portions of Türkiye…
Türkiye has a functioning government, and since the earthquake it has received and deployed significant amounts of aid from all around the world. But Syria? The delivery of aid to that country’s people is hamstrung by the super-harsh sanctions that Washington and the EU have maintained on the country for many years now. These sanctions inflict their greatest harm on the government-held parts of the country, but they also seriously impede the flow of aid to residents of the rebel-held parts.
In northwestern Syria, the quake destroyed apartment buildings, mosques, and vital bridges in both the government-held and the rebel-held areas.
On February 9 the UN’s Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen stressed that, “We need to do everything to make sure that there are no impediments whatsoever to delay lifesaving support that is needed in Syria.” He added that representatives of the United States and the EU had assured him, “they will do whatever they can to make sure that there are no impediments to assistance coming to Syria to help in this operation”.
Let’s hope that happens. Back on February 6, shortly after the earthquake struck, State Department spokesman Ned Price said glibly that, “It would be quite ironic if not even counterproductive…for us to reach out to a government that has brutalized its people over the course of a dozen years now.”
Continue reading “Syria’s quake response: A window into the grisly (but declining) impact of U.S. sanctions worldwide”