On some days, the news is so disturbing that you want to take a broader view of what is going on in a region, or the world.
The Middle East appears to be convulsed by civil war and situations that could lead to further civil and international conflict. At times it seems that everyone has forgotten about international law. States don’t bother to offer legal justifications for their actions, or sometimes even admit they are responsible for them.
Chaos in the Middle East
Shiite Houthis backed by Iran are taking over Yemen, provoking military responses from Sunni Arab states.
Did anyone offer a legal justification for the actions of the Sunni military coalition?
Barack Obama’s statements several years ago that we should pursue a “Yemen-like” solution to the Syrian civil war don’t look so good today.
Libya has become a failed state, ruled now by violence and near anarchy.
U.S. bombers join in Iraqi government attacks on ISIS in Tikrit, as Iranian-led Shiite militias engaged in the battle for the city stand down or adopt ambiguous postures. The United States is now participating directly in the confict with ISIS in Iraq, in what seems to be an open-ended commitment.
This may be required in order to counter Iranian influence in Iraq, but has not yet been the subject of much public debate in the United Stares.
Israeli-Palestinian relations are at their lowest point since the Second Intifada, following Banjamin Netanyahu’s scurrilous playing of the race card in the last days before the recent elections to the Knesset. After warning right-wing voters that the Israeli Arabs were turning out in droves for the elections, Netanyahu has lost all respect as a leader of Israel.
In the days before the elections, Netanyahu also promised right-wing voters that there would never be a Palestinian state so long as he remained in office. That sounded the death knell for the two-state solution, at least for now.
There are no negotiations underway, and it is hard to see how they can be restarted so long as Netanyahu remains prime minister.
Relations with the Obama administration are at an all-time low, putting the U.S. automatic veto against any U.N. Security Council resolution adverse to Israel into play.
Charlie Rose interviews Bashar al-Assad, giving a megaphone–once again–to a mass murderer guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria on a massive scale, where over 220,000 have been killed. With blood dripping from his hands, al-Assad wants to make a deal with the West to fight the Islamic State group or ISIS, leaving his regime and him in power.
In his diffidence to al-Assad, Rose refers to dropping barrel bombs and other war crimes and crimes against humanity as “actions that others look down on” or words to that effect.
Regarding Rose’s shameful interview with al-Assad in September, 2013, on the eve on an expected vote in Congress authorizing Obama to use military force against Syria–following the use of chemical weapons by Syria at Ghouta on August 21, 2013–see
See “CBS News and PBS: Network of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, and PBS, give al-Assad megaphone for propaganda to oppose Obama—ON MONDAY!,” The Trenchant Observer, September 8, 2013.
The Islamic State group, the al-Nusra front, the Syrian army, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia, Western-backed so-called “moderate” rebels, and who knows who else mix it up in the meat grinder of Syria.
Threats Beyond the Middle East
An unsteady truce holds in the eastern Ukraine. Putin sits poised like a leopard, waiting for the West to be distracted and/or show disunity before he strikes at Mariupol and continues building his strategic land bridge to the Crimea.
The Greek prime minister suggests, on the eve of his trip to Moscow, that Greece may veto the renewal of EU sanctions against Russia when they come up for renewal later this year.
Putin is driven by a need to continually engage the West in conflict, in order to distract his population from their sinking economy and worsening living conditions. He also seems to be on the path of delusions of grandeur, as he would be the leader who restored the Russian Empire and its sphere of influence.
See John Simpson, “Vladimir Putin is fighting for political survival – by provoking unrest in Ukraine, New Statesman, March 30, 2015 (9:44 a.m)
Writing from Sevastapol, the BBC World Affairs editor John Simpson explains how Russia’s premiere is stalling. His Crimean coup is an attempt to distract the west.
No one refers to international law.
Endless war, including war between Sunni states and Iran, is highly possible.
Once the genie of a broad Sunni-Shiite war in the Middle East is out of the bottle, who could contain it again?
In Washington, as in Europe and the Middle East, leaders are needed to deal with these situations effectively, pursuant to a coherent strategy. Yet such leaders are hard to find.
Into the Vortex we all go.
The Trenchant Observer