28 February 2010

Africa & SW Asia Updates

Getting ready to drop off the net in a couple of hours but there are a couple of topics I felt needed to be covered before I go incommunicado. My research time and capabilities will be limited in the short-term, so much of the Africa-related information on al Sahwa will drop for a while. Before I break, I wanted to post a couple of observations on recent events.

There was an unprecedented number of Taliban senior leadership detained this week. Unfortunately, as evidenced through Friday’s attack in Kabul, the Taliban won’t be out of the fight for long. We saw a couple of these huge leadership shifts in Mosul previously after key leaders were detained. There was degradation in AQ operations for a couple of weeks and then they were back at it with new methods. I expect the same here; overall I think the Taliban will suffer in the very short-term and then be right back in the mix.

We’re going to be in Iraq a lot longer than anyone wants to admit, whether they are American or Iraqi. Tom Ricks’ op-ed in the NY Times was an excellent piece and extremely thought provoking. You break it, you buy it. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m ok with staying if it means we finish what we started. I hope for the people of Iraq’s sake that the country continues to blossom and does not regress back into chaos.

Liberia is not getting a lot of attention in Western media, but the situation is growing more serious. Ethnic tensions are growing. A buddy from college passed a message that a young girl who accidentally crossed another religion’s prayer line was beaten to death last week. I can’t find it online to confirm the story, but he’s on the ground there now so I think it has credibility.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua recently returned from a 4-month stint in a Saudi hospital but is yet to reassume his Presidential duties. VP Goodluck Jonathan has been serving in his place as Acting President. If something does not change politically, I could see a power grab taking place, particularly by the military. The scenario is unlikely but definitely exists, and should be given additional weight due to Nigeria’s romance with the military coup.

As always, comments are appreciated but my responses may be a bit delayed.


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  2. On Nigeria, the best solution would be for the two parties to work out an arrangement to calm things for the short term*. Given that there wasn't serious violence after the court decision giving the deputy presidential power it doesn't seem as explosive as it was several months earlier. Of course the military is always a wild card in these situations.
    On Liberia I'm not qualified to comment beyond a general pessimism when ethnic/geographic/religious tensions get thrown in.
    As for Iraq, while I prefer staying in Iraq long enough to make sure that the anti-Iranian politicians can provide us some support I actually would be willing to leave things as they are. Iraq isn't currently engulfed in a civil war and even though it probably will get another before long the U.S can say "we established peace, we worked with former insurgents, it's the fault of the political elites in Iraq that this happened". Of course if at all possible I'd like to avoid an Iraq that's too close to Iran and distant to the U.S, but we endured losing Iran thirty years ago, we can manage this.

    Sorry to double post, there was a problem with my first unfortunately.

    *Despite their common use, I have an irritation with power-sharing agreements. They prevent violence but they also create a tradition of bargaining for power.