Saturday, June 29, 2013

Turmoil in the Middle East | Reporting on the Middle East, Science ...


Reprinted from Daily Alert, Thursday June 27, 2013?

  • What?s Really Wrong with the Middle East? ? Aaron David Miller
    I know it comes as a shocker, but the Middle East really isn?t the center of the world any more. Many in the Middle East still believe that the world sits on the edge of its collective seat 24/7 wondering what?s going to happen next in their region and devising new ways to rescue them. I?m really tired of hammering the United States for not rescuing the peace process and of Arabs waiting for us to punish Israel, which too many ridiculously dismiss as either America?s master or its unruly child. The writer is a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (Foreign Policy)
  • Hate, Not Time, Is the Enemy of Peace ? Jonathan S. Tobin
    With his decision to try to rush the parties into a negotiation with no evidence of common ground for an agreement, Secretary of State Kerry is setting the region up for a blowup that could have been avoided. Instead of listening to the parties and seeing that the Palestinians are not ready to make the sort of sacrifices needed for peace, Kerry is blind to the fact that the real enemy of peace is the hate that fuels the conflict.
    ??? A failure to negotiate is bad enough, but negotiations that are doomed to failure are even worse. American diplomats should remember the last time they tried to muscle Israel and the Palestinians into an agreement at Camp David in the summer of 2000. That led to the second intifada and over a thousand slaughtered Jews and even more dead Palestinians. (Commentary)
  • How Qatar Seized Control of the Syrian Revolution ? Roula Khalaf and Abigail Fielding-Smith
    Two months ago a new embassy for the Syrian Arab Republic was inaugurated in Qatar, run by the Syrian opposition. Whether in terms of armaments or financial support for dissidents, diplomatic maneuvering or lobbying, Qatar has been in the lead, readily disgorging its gas-generated wealth in the pursuit of the downfall of the House of Assad. People close to the Qatar government estimate that Qatar has contributed as much as $3 billion to the rebel cause. (Financial Times-UK)
  • The Myth of the Inevitable Jewish Minority in Israel ? Jeff Jacoby
    It?s an old refrain, erroneous but popular: Israel must make peace with the Palestinians before high Arab birthrates turn the Jews into a minority in their own land. This ominous ?demographic argument? rests on an obsolete stereotype of Arab women as baby mills, outbreeding their Jewish sisters. In the 1960s, the fertility rate for Israeli Arabs (9.2 births per woman) soared far above that of Israeli Jews (3.4 births per woman). Within Israel, the birth rate among Muslims is now at 3.5 children per woman. It is even lower for Palestinians in the West Bank ? just 2.9, according to the CIA Factbook.
    ??? The bottom line is that the 6.3 million Jews living in Israel and the West Bank represent 66% of the area?s population (not including Gaza). (Boston Globe)


The Bane of Palestinian Infighting ? Kimberly Marten (New York Times)

  • The resignation of two Palestinian prime ministers in quick succession has left the PA leadership in limbo. But naming a new prime minister will accomplish little unless the Palestinians can also overcome the patronage, corruption and infighting in their security forces.
  • As PA prime minister from 2007 until earlier this month, Salam Fayyad made security-sector reform a priority. Fayyad strove to replace the corrupt and intimidating militias of the Arafat era with professional security forces who earned the respect of the population.
  • But old patronage networks ultimately proved stronger. Fayyad never managed to control the rat?s nest of overlapping Palestinian security agencies, whose constant infighting was encouraged by struggles within President Mahmoud Abbas? Fatah party.
  • Much of the training supported by the U.S. and EU was conducted in Jordan, away from traditional Palestinian bases. Yet old neighborhood and clan ties continued to be used in recruitment and some of the most powerful Palestinian security organizations remained outside the reform regimen.
  • Jenin had been a showpiece of security-sector reform. U.S.-funded and Jordanian-trained PA forces swept through in 2008, arresting militias which had long spread terror and extortion among residents. But in May 2012 the home of Jenin?s reformist governor was attacked by gunmen.
  • When the dust settled, it became clear that factions inside the supposedly reformed security forces had been fighting one another for control over territory and patronage. At least two of the senior officers who were arrested had undergone U.S.-funded training in Jordan.
    The writer is a professor of political science at Barnard College and acting director of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University.


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