S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Middle East News Mix

Recent headlines indicate the U.S. military is "stretched thin." Would we actually lock up and leave any of our current strongholds in the Middle East? If so, it could be confirmed by this news story. Read this very recent Guardian article laying out the U.S. government's plans. Future military strategy:
A senior US officer admitted yesterday that the presence of more than 300,000 foreign troops in the Middle East, most of them American, was a "contributory factor" to instability in the region. The admission was made by Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt - a key strategist in the US central command covering the Middle East - as he spelled out the American military's plan to "reposture" its forces . . . The US would "not maintain any long-term bases in Iraq" he said in a major speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. "Our position is when we leave we will not have any bases there."
The current military budget proposes a big spending increase. Reading from a BBC story on the proposed U.S. military budget, as well as the Aljazeera piece on the new military budget, paints this picture of proposed spending hikes. To quote,
US President George Bush has submitted a $439.3 billion defence budget to Congress, seeking a 7% boost in military spending without taking into account the full cost of a protracted war in Iraq. The White House said the proposed 2007 defence budget includes increased funding for more Predator surveillance drones, special operations forces and investments in nuclear systems upgrades and enhanced missile defences.
Iraq remains an extremely dangerous country. But the people living there, according to this BBC survey in Iraq are surprisingly optimistic about their country's future. The key is going to be getting their independent militias under control. Sunni's are very worried about the future, however.
Iraq Civil war? This Yahoo story reports a very real danger of civil war in Iraq. To quote,
Sunni politicians warned of civil war Saturday after the bullet-riddled bodies of 14 Sunni Arab men were found in Baghdad — apparently the latest victims of sectarian death squads. Khalaf al-Ilyan, head of the National Dialogue Council, said the men were arrested by Interior Ministry troops at a Sunni mosque in Baghdad and killed in an unknown location. "The government is pushing hard toward a civil war," al-Ilyan told reporters.
Dr. Salman al-Jumaili, a senior member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, part of the largest Sunni bloc in the new parliament, threatened to carry through with a threat by his party's leader Wednesday to launch a "civil disobedience" campaign if attacks against Sunnis do not stop.
Afghanistan is a still work in progress. Fortunately, the United States has more international support for their efforts. Included in the news mix are these two similar stories about how volatile the southern Taliban region remains. Here is the BBC story. And following is a quote from a Yahoo article on the fighting in Afghanistan:
Kandahar, where the hardline Taliban movement was born in the early 199Os, has borne the brunt of an insurgency launched after the Taliban regime was removed from power in late 2001 in a US-led attack. Violence linked to the insurgency and other attacks killed about 1,700 people last year, the highest annual toll since the Taliban were toppled.
Results of the Palestinian parliamentary election reverberate. Reuters reports that Hamas expects to name the next Prime Minister. Quote, "A leader of the Islamist Hamas group said on Tuesday it was very likely that one of its members would become Palestinian prime minister after winning parliamentary elections last month."
Egypt helps out. This is an excellent story from Aljazeera on planning efforts for a new government in Palestine:
Leaders of Hamas, which swept Palestinian elections last month, have held talks in Cairo with Egyptian officials on the possible inclusion of the defeated Fatah party in a new Palestinian government. A Hamas leader had earlier said the group had asked Fatah to join a government, but it had yet to respond. A top Hamas official at the talks said on Monday the movement will not recognise Israel but will abide by, for now, agreements Palestinian leaders already made with Israel. The talks in Cairo are expected to last several days.

Many wild cards remain, particularly Iran. What will Israel do to the Palestinians, and vice versa? When will the furor over the Danish cartoons of The Prophet Mohammad die down, if at all? And most crucial, is the current administration escalating towards an attack on Iran? More to come.

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