04 February 2011

The Post-Authoritarian Middle East

It has now been over two months since my last post, I’ve definitely been slacking as of late. Between hunting with my Griffon pup Darby, ski trips, and vacations to Hawaii I have been off my writing and analytical game. My big update recently has been the approval of my ETS packet so I will be out of the Army and into the unemployment line within a month. So if you happen to see a 30-ish guy who looks like he just got out of the Army holding a homeless vet sign, that may be me. It’s been an interesting seven years thus far, mostly a positive set of experiences, but it’s time to move on. I won’t bore everyone reading this with the laundry list of reasons for my departure from the military; suffice it to say the cons started to outweigh the pros so I’m hanging up my proverbial hat. I may or may not write a future post on my perspective of the woeful state of my soon-to-be-former branch after I go on terminal leave, I am yet to fully weigh the merits of such a post.

I am definitely looking forward to my next professional challenge, which hopefully will get finalized in the next couple weeks; otherwise you’ll be able to find me on the saltwater flats outside of Honolulu chasing Bonefish with a fly rod or carting my daughter around to her various sport practices (something that “Major Mommy” has been doing very well on her own far too long).

Onto more serious news.

Every warm blooded American Soldiers’ favorite reporter Lara Logan was detained in Cairo. I was ambivalent on the uprising until I read this; now I want whoever is responsible to pay! But seriously, I am still fairly undecided on whether this is a good thing or not. My humanitarian side fully supports the uprising for the good of the Egyptian people. However, the realist side of me is more than a little worried. Not knowing what the next government will look like is an obvious concern. Whoever comes next will undoubtedly not unabashedly support American interests the way Mubarak has, which isn’t necessarily the end of the world; but I do worry our access into Africa and the Middle East will dwindle even more. And for the Egyptian people, I think they are forgetting the lessons learned by the Iraqi people about coming out from under a dictator after an extended period of time. The Iraqis had (and still have) absolutely no idea how to run a government; so hopefully they will not fully disband and fully replace their civil servants. What will hopefully emerge is a moderate government; and they will need trained and established civil servants to reduce lag time for the improvement of essential services.

Then when we consider that Egypt has been the historical leader of the Middle East, things get even more troubling for us. Counterterror operations against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula throughout Yemen, the last known residence of Anwar al Awlaki, will undoubtedly become more difficult when Ali Abdullah Saleh steps down in 2013, or is forced out earlier. Is Yemen bound to be the next Afghanistan then? Will we continue to have a military presence on the Sinai? Will we be able to continue our CT efforts in Yemen?

The Egyptian uprising leaves us with more questions than answers on what the Middle East of tomorrow will look like; and even more about our position in the region we have expended more time and resources in than any other in the past three decades.

1 comment:

  1. Just came across this article by Adam Kushner, which is fully worth your time: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/02/beyond-our-reach-why-weve-failed-in-the-middle-east/70782/1/