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It’s a sad, sad, sad world

31 July 2014 [12:50] - TODAY.AZ
By Claude Salhani - Trend:

They say that no news is good news. Regrettably there is plenty of news at the moment and its all rather negative.

The global political situation is today at its most precarious level since the end of the old Cold War. It is a disastrous state of relations that exists today between Russia and the West and that is about to revive itself as Cold War version 2.0.

The world today is chaotic in a manner not seen since the period leading up to WWI. The current conflicts in the Middle East are unlikely to subside without a major shift in alliances, power and leadership. And where is that likely to come from when the superpowers have lost their clout?

Indeed, the world just doesn't seem chaotic, the world is chaotic. Why? Because as Doyle MacManus of the Los Angeles Times so eloquently points out, "Because rebels are more powerful than before - and superpowers are no longer super."

Much of the blame for the lack of firmness is directed at President Barack Obama and his inability to act decisively on a number of urgent matters. While undoubtedly Obama carries much of this responsibility, equal blame, if not all the more so, should be directed at President George W. Bush for his naiveté in believing the United States could override centuries of history and traditions and impose democracy in the Middle East as though he was administering cough medicine.

Still dealing with the mess he inherited in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention Libya, Egypt, the Maghreb and Central Africa, as well as the escalating drug wars in Latin America, Obama is understandably reluctant to become involved in a geopolitical game that clearly goes beyond his understanding of geopolitics and that of his Secretary of State, John Kerry. Both men seem totally overwhelmed by the rapidly unfolding events in the Middle East.

In the meantime, Iraq is on the verge of falling entirely under the sandals of the Islamists of the new caliphate, along with a large chunk of Syria. That is very, very bad news.

It might be worth reminding the American president and his secretary of State that Iraq is the second most important Arab oil producer after Saudi Arabia. You do not need a PhD in advance war planning to figure out what it would mean to have hard core Islamists controlling the oil and gas taps in a country as important as Iraq and to have access to the revenue it generates.

Meanwhile in Syria the death toll continues to rise with more than 170,000 people killed. Roughly more than 680,000 have been wounded and close to nine million have become refugees; all that in a country with a population of 21 million people.

Israel and the Palestinians of Hamas are engaged in a new killing spree and hardly anyone seems capable of stopping the madness. To date more than 1,211 Palestinians have been killed and Israel lost some 53 soldiers - a huge number for Israel - many were killed in house to house fighting in the tunnels which the Israelis are constantly searching and destroying and which Hamas is constantly rebuilding.

Then there are the nuclear talks with Iran that require a firm stand which understandably many are asking if Obama is the person who could stand up to Iran. Given his track record it appears unlikely and is generating an interesting line of debate among the rightwing conservatives in the United States. Some of the accusations they lob at Obama border on the absurd.

Yet some of the events taking place makes you wonder the efficiency of the intelligence community who should have seen the dangers of the Islamist movement coming.

How is it possible, you may ask, that a ragtag army of mostly volunteers fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are able to defeat a supposedly organized army like Iraq's, armed and trained by the United States when just a few years ago it took the combined armies of the formidable coalition assembled by George Bush Sr. to push the Iraqis out of Kuwait.

The answer is that terrorist groups are today very different from the terrorist groups of the past and conventional warfare needs to be reevaluated. They have better communication systems thanks to the Internet, which has become their best recruiting tool.

The have more funds, more funding and better weapons.

Another first is that unlike terror groups of the 1960, 70s', 80s', for the first time the terrorists are no longer fighting over any single geographic area but rather over an idea. Syria, Iraq and the rest of the countries are interchangeable.

Claude Salhani is a political analyst and senior editor with Trend Agency.

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