As the dust settles from another bitterly divisive presidential election, tomorrow Americans will come together in unity and remembrance. Each year, on November 11, we set aside partisan differences and join in parades, service projects, and displays of gratitude in support of veterans. However, over a decade of war has widened the gap between the majority of Americans and the small minority who swear to defend and protect them from danger. Instead of sharing the burden of war, we have become accustomed to yellow ribbons, American flag bumper stickers, and “I Support the Troops” signs. In reality, the community of America’s veterans, especially those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, face crippling unemployment, an epidemic of suicide, and heart-breaking numbers of homeless. Continue reading
Oil has played a significant role in creating and sustaining states in the Middle East. Since the Qajar Shah of Iran signed the first oil deal with William D’Arcy in 1901, oil money has been used to centralize power, fund an era of modernity, and build elaborate welfare states across the Middle East. Could Iraqi Kurdistan be the next state to buy its independence with oil? Unfortunately, the cards still seem to be stacked against Kurdish independence. Continue reading
Do individuals matter in international relations? What a loaded question, right? Immediately, one is compelled to say yes, of course they do. What about the standard list of international bad guys and good guys? Saddam, Khomeini, and Hitler or Truman, Churchill, and Bush (ok, I’ll that last one for you to decide). However, there is a true argument hidden in this question. To extract it we must first qualify the question and then look at some examples. Continue reading
The leader of the Iraqi parliament’s Christian Rafidain bloc, Yonadim Kana, refused the formation of special sectarian security force units to protect Iraq’s minorities. Al-Monitor reported that Kana announced his dissent and revealed the creation of a special
committee formed to draft a law that would guarantee administrative and cultural rights for minorities. Continue reading
Reuters reported this morning that Iraq has signed a deal to purchase 24 combat and training jets worth $1 billion from the Czech Republic. Interestingly, Maliki’s spokesman in Baghdad stated that four of the jets will come free of cost and be delivered within 7 months.
This announcement comes on the heels of a $4.2 billion deal for jets, helicopters, radar, and anti-aircraft missiles from Russia. U.S. hesitancy to deliver 36 F-16s worth $12 billion over Israeli security concerns pushed Maliki back to Iraq’s historic Soviet block suppliers.
As I speculated in my last post, I think the Czech deal reflects Maliki’s immediate need for jets to enforce his recent expulsion of Turkish troops from Iraq’s northern Kurdish region. This explains the importance of having four jets delivered on such a short time table.
It has not been an easy month for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Domestically, the Basra Provincial Council announced a lawsuit against the national Ministry of Oil and the central government in Baghdad is still locked in arguments with the Kurdistan
Regional Government (KRG) over the issuance of exploration permits and oil payments. More significantly, the worsening crisis in Syria, continuing talks over an attack on Iran’s nuclear program, and Turkish attacks on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq are testing Maliki’s foreign policy and domestic sovereignty credentials. This week, facing a menage-a-trois of American, Iranian, and Turkish interests in Iraq, Maliki decided to send some powerful messages. Continue reading
In light of this week’s readings on the proliferation of weapons in the Middle East and Iran’s nuclear program, I am posting an opinion piece I wrote in December of 2011. Many of the points I raised were mentioned in this weeks readings and I still stand behind my thoughts. Please comment below and continue the discussion. Continue reading