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Showing posts from October 21, 2013

It Took Decades for Truth to be Revealed in Algeria. How Long Will it Take Syria?

Algeria’s ‘timid’ historians shy away from revealing the ugly truths about war

By Robert Fisk

October 20, 2013 - Major General Jamaa Jamaa was not a popular man in Beirut. One of Syria’s most senior intelligence officers in Lebanon until the withdrawal of Bashar al-Assad’s troops in 2005, he was headquartered in the run-down Beau Rivage Hotel in west Beirut and also in the Bekaa town of Anjaar, where Lebanese men would be taken for interrogation and later emerge – or not emerge at all – sans teeth or nails. He was a loyal, ruthless apparatchik for Bashar’s father Hafez, and his mysterious killing last week in the Syrian war provoked no tears in Beirut. The UN had interviewed Jamaa about the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri whose 2005 assassination brought about the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. But how did Jamaa die? Syrian state television would say only that he was “martyred while carrying out his national duties to defend Syria and its people and pursuing terro…

U.S. Defense Deals Preserve Key Relationships in the Persian Gulf


Despite significant differences that have emerged recently between the United States and its Gulf Cooperation Council allies over Middle East policy, significant military and overall defense cooperation continues. The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Oct. 15 that it had notified Congress of a possible military equipment deal with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Under the agreement, various munitions and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support would be provided to Riyadh for an estimated $6.8 billion and to Abu Dhabi for $4 billion. The sale, consisting of state-of-the-art weaponry and equipment in the U.S. arsenal, further deepens the already strong military and industrial relationship between the United States and its allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Recent events in the Middle East have diminished the overall political relationship between the two sides. U.S. attempts at a negotiated solution with Iran as well as the U…

What is a Dictator?

By Robert D. Kaplan

What is a dictator, or an authoritarian? I'll bet you think you know. But perhaps you don't. Sure, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong were dictators. So were Saddam Hussein and both Hafez and Bashar al Assad. But in many cases the situation is not that simple and stark. In many cases the reality -- and the morality -- of the situation is far more complex.

Deng Xiaoping was a dictator, right? After all, he was the Communist Party boss of China from 1978 to 1992. He was not elected. He ruled through fear. He approved the massacre of protesters at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989. But he also led China in the direction of a market economy that raised the standard of living and the degree of personal freedoms for more people in a shorter period of time than perhaps ever before in recorded economic history. For that achievement, one could arguably rate Deng as one of the greatest men of the 20th century, on par with Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Ro…

An Angolan Incursion into the Congo

Angolan troops stationed in Cabinda, an Angolan exclave that is separated from the rest of country by a strip of territory belonging to Congo, crossed the border into Congo on Oct. 13. A rebel group called the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda has been sporadically active in the region since 1963, fighting for Cabinda's independence. Because of this rebel activity, Angola has around 4,000 troops deployed in Cabinda. Some 500 of these troops, a mechanized infantry battalion, participated in the incursion, taking up positions in the towns of Kimongo, Pangui, Iloupaya, Yandza and Gandabina -- all roughly 5 kilometers (3 miles) across the border -- as they pursued the Cabinda rebels. The rebels frequently use the border to escape the Angolan military, and although Brazzaville does not support the rebels, the inability of its security forces to impede their movement in Congolese territory enables the rebels to continue to elude Angolan security operations.

However, once…

U.S. Looks to Romania for Afghan Transit


The United States and Romania appear to be on the brink of securing a key transit agreement as the United States draws down military operations in Afghanistan. Romanian Defense Minister Mircea Dusa is in Washington on Oct. 18 for talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on using Romania's Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base to facilitate the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The deal offers the United States a practical logistical alternative to its soon-to-expire lease on a transit hub in Kyrgyzstan and would also expand Romanian security ties with the United States, which Bucharest has been seeking for some time.


The United States has been searching for logistical and transit options for its ongoing drawdown from Afghanistan since the Kyrgyz government decided to let the U.S. lease of the Manas Air Base expire in July 2014. Manas has been a key hub for U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan since the initial invasion of the country in 2001. However, with the United State…