Monday Headlines

Dysfunction In Washington Complicating US Middle East Policy
David Rohde of The Atlantic contends that dysfunction within Congress is posing a threat to US policy in the Middle East as neither side has developed real, viable solutions to the multiple crises in the region.

“Neither the American left nor the right has offered a serious strategy for how to respond to the emergence of new types of militant groups across the Middle East. President Barack Obama’s approach consisted of trusting unchecked CIA drone strikes and NSA eavesdropping to secure the United States. Republicans used the region’s instability as a cudgel to beat the president with,” Rohde writes.

He adds that any change in the dynamic is unlikely at time soon, particularly when both parties have been distracted by other matters, thus ignoring “the revival of Mideast authoritarianism. And we fashioned no plans for how to respond to Syria becoming a new Afghanistan. The damage that Washington’s partisanship wrought on domestic affairs in 2013 was chronicled daily in the media. Its destructive impact on the Middle East—and our national security—will emerge for years to come.”

Nick Gray of The Commentator says the “farce” that is US Middle East policy reflects a broader foreign policy confusion and a clear sign that the US is stepping away from its leadership role.

“So, America under President Obama has decided to stop poking its finger into unsuccessful and unpopular Middle Eastern pies, build up the piggy bank at home and then look for other pastures for future American intervention (some might say interference). Not that I’m the cynical type, of course.

There are both positive and negative reasons why the mighty US is making this 180 degree foreign policy change. Her recent experiences East of Suez have not been helpful for her international reputation. Iraq is in a worse state than she was before the second Gulf War and we have yet to see what kind of vacuum the withdrawal of US and other troops will leave in Afghanistan,” he writes.

dOnce Concerned About Threats From Within, Saudi Regime Sees Iran As Biggest Danger
At the outset of the Arab Spring, concern spread within Saudi Arabian leadership that the revolution would endanger their standing as well.

Mai Yarmanis says Saudi Arabia was somewhat relieved that the Arab Spring did not result in “functioning democracies” in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, or Syria. The fear of a democratic movement building within its borders, however, has not ended the threats to the Saudi regime. In fact, a greater threat may come from outside, particularly from Iran.

“The Saudi regime is particularly wary of Iran’s decade-long efforts to persuade the small Gulf sheikhdoms to create security and economic arrangements that exclude the US. This is one reason why the Kingdom moved troops into Bahrain when Arab Spring protests by the country’s Shia majority erupted – and why America, having learned its lesson in Iraq, gave its tacit consent.

Complicating Saudi Arabia’s security situation is the reality that as America becomes less dependent upon Saudi energy, it might become less interested in protecting the regime.

“Making matters more bewildering is the declining potency of Saudi Arabia’s trump card – oil. New energy supplies – particularly shale oil in the US and Australia – have diminished America’s need for the Kingdom. The potential return of Iran as a major oil exporter if a nuclear agreement is reached in 2014 would further loosen the Saudi grip on oil prices as “Shia” oil from Iran and Iraq flood the market. In that case, even the Saudi king’s adopted title “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” would not guarantee leadership of the Muslim world.”


The London Telegraph reports that the tale of Kim Jong-un feeding his uncle to the dogs originated from a satirical tweet.

Reason magazine is reporting that Iran has offered Iraq its assistance in fighting al-Qaeda.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies the impact of Uruguay’s decision to legalize marijuana will have on US narcotics policy in the region.

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