Thursday, November 03, 2011

A million apologies to Pirouz

And to anyone else whose comment is caught in this site's spam filter.

I haven't been posting much recently or coming by here. Just writers block, or more a situation where the Middle East hinges in every important way on what happens in Egypt, specifically Egypt's elections, but those have been postponed and Egypt, certainly at the US' urging, has adopted an innovative three stage election process.

Mubarak is gone. Mubarakism is gone. I also don't want to judge Egypt harshly before there is something tangible to judge. But the shape of the Middle East depends on how the Egyptians vote, how the US' allies in Egypt respond to the elections, and the responses and counter-responses from there.

Nothing else in the Middle East is really important comparatively.

Assad will be in power at least until we've seen the first set of results in Egypt and what happens in Syria after that will be strongly influenced by what happens in Egypt in ways that I can't predict until Egypt is in sharper focus.

Hurray for Iraq for, contrary to US efforts, apparently choosing to fully remove US troops.

US influence has been on the decline for a long time now.

Iran loses its threat to attack the US in Iraq, but gains decreased US capabilities to thwart Iraqi cooperation with Iran with regard to Syria now and Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in future years.

For Iran to inflict pain on the US after a strike - which means US killed in action, which is the only thing that does have a political impact on US decision-making - Iran's option at this point is targets in US ships and in Afghanistan.

Iran is capable of working this out. I am not concerned that there might be a US or Israeli attack in 2012, or that if there had been an attack it would not leave Iran in a stronger position after all of the dust settles.

So really, nothing has changed in the region since I was last posting regularly, and nothing is going to change until we see elections. Because of that it has been hard for me to find motivation to post anything.

I'd love to comment on any articles anyone finds so please leave links in the comments section. I'm turning off the spam filter to the degree that I can. Again, sorry for the comments that were blocked.


Arnold Evans said...

About the spam block. I can't disable it and I don't post enough that it is worth it to stay at blogger if this issue is not resolved. If any regular poster is blocked as spam in November or December 2011, I'm migrating to another platform.

Wordpress springs to mind, but I'm open to suggestions.

Lysander said...

Hi Arnold. I was just in Egypt in the second week of October. Here is what I can say. First the bad news:

The military seems to want to stay in power, either overtly or through a malleable puppet. They seem to encourage sectarian divisions between Muslims and Christians and social divisions between labor and management, etc. There is a degree of revolutin fatigue and people are very worried about the economy and want a sense of "getting back to normal." They set up election rules in a way that seems intended to preserve the status quo. There are thousands of people arrested and in prison for political activities during and since the revolution.

The good news. There is a lot more open criticism of the government than there ever was before. Instances of police/military abuse invite immediate push back. People are far more politically active than before. The internal security apparatus and domestic intelligence collection system of the Mubarak era has been smashed. It will be hard for the Army to reconstruct it again. People are starting to understand that the Army is the problem rather than the solution. This is an important barrier that is breaking since the military depends on the reflexive respect it gets from the public. In the earlier stages, it seemed that the Muslim Brotherhood was seeking to ally itself with the Army and against the rest of the public. It hoped to use the military for its own purposes, but I think they are realizing that it will be the military that uses them.

In short, the Army's strategy is to wait until enough revolution fatigue sets in for the public to accept a crackdown. In return, revolutionaries are hoping that the Army will miscalculate and cause the masses to return in force to the streets.

lidia said...

"social divisions between labor and management" - sorry, what does it mean? That without SCAF labor would be happy to work for almost nothing?

My understanding that SCAF are supporting capitalists and managers against labor, for ex, by banning strikes.

On the other hand, the strikes are not something new - at least from 2009 they were more and more prominent, and played a big part in the revolution itself. On the other hand, some better-to-do revolutionaries are content with revolution only for themselves, not to working class.

The real question is - would the revolution go on, to some real change, including nationalization, for ex, against the will of USA/Saudis/ Israel, or would it be a wasted chance?

Lysander said...

Hi Lidia,

That was shorthand for all the different interests and parties in Egypt (old and new) Meaning Labor party vs Wafd vs Muslim Brothers vs Secularists vs Copts vs wealthy vs poor vs the small middle class.

Certainly the SCAF represents people with money and not everyone else. At the same time, it is trying to portray the mostly middle class revolutionaries as being responsible for the economic downturn and therefore yet another cause for the poverty of most Egyptians. So while SCAF may be on the side of the rich, they are happy to use the poor against the middle classes.

That is, if they can, which is not a given.

Arnold Evans said...

Lysander, can I elevate this comment to a blog post?

lysander said...

Of course you can post any of my comments but I'm afraid it's too thread bare. Give me till sunday night to resubmit a better and more detailed comment. If I haven't gotten around to it by then, then you can post this one.