New Maps for a New Middle East

I have long believed that there should be a Kurdistan.

From “Letter from Syria,” Thomas Friedman, NYT:

“Syria is the keystone of the Middle East.  If and how it cracks apart could recast this entire region.  The borders of Syria have been fixed ever since the British and French colonial powers carved up the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire after World War I.  If Assad is toppled and you have state collapse here, Syria’s civil war could go regional and challenge all the old borders — as the Shiites of Lebanon seek to link up more with the Alawite/Shiites of Syria, the Kurds of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey try to link up with one another and create an independent Kurdistan, and the Sunnis of Iraq, Jordan and Syria draw closer to oppose the Shiites of Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.”  Emphasis added.

Certainly a messy and difficult process, but one that’s worth going through to try to get it right a hundred years later.

With One Foot in the Grave, Mubarak Still Shakes an Iron Fist

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may have been overthrown, but he’s still exerting power.  He appointed all the current members of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, and that court has effected a bloodless military coup.

The court dissolved the Parliament that assumed power in January, a Parliament where Islamists had 70% of the seats.  The court also struck down a law prohibiting former Mubarak officials from running for president, so Mubarak’s last Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik, will run this weekend against the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi.

When Mubarak was overthrown, the U. S. concern was that the young people demonstrating in Tahrir Square for a democratic, secular government weren’t organized enough to actually win elections.  It was believed that the only opposition group that was ready to fill a power vacuum was the Muslim Brotherhood, and that has proven to be the case.  They won about 50% of the seats in Parliament and allied with the even more extreme Islamists, the Salafis, who won 20%.

So Egypt is back to military rule.  While the Obama Administration isn’t publicly celebrating, they have to be relieved.  We’d love to see some Jeffersonian types come to power, but that isn’t about to happen.  It’s like Iran in 1979.  Overthrowing the Shah didn’t lead to democracy, it led to the insane Ayatollahs.  The Shah was a torturing, murdering bastard, but he was “our bastard,” as the CIA liked to say.  We’ve got two sets of bastards in Egypt right now, and the military are much more “our bastards” than the Islamists.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has a point when he says that the U. S. is hypocritical when it criticizes Russia for helping Assad in Syria.  We have supported and continue to support our share of bad guys.  Sometimes, as with the Shah of Iran, we even put them in power.  Lavrov referred to our support for the autocratic regime in Bahrain against its protesters seeking more freedom.

For Egyptians who are voting for president this weekend, the only vote against oppression is “none of the above.”