Najmaldin Karim, the governor of the Kirkuk governorate, was at his official residence on October 16 when American special forces showed up. They warned him that the Popular Mobilization Forces, an Iraqi Shiite militia controlled by Iran, was on its way to the building. Karim, an ethnic Kurd who had twice been elected governor of this ethnically mixed province, understood that they were not coming to oust him or even to arrest him. They were coming to kill him.
The Americans knew there would be an attack on Kirkuk because their special forces were embedded with the Iraqi army outside the city of Kirkuk and with Kurdish troops, known as peshmerga, within the city.… Seguir leyendo »
Jalal Talabani, the former Iraqi president who died on Tuesday, was an outsize figure in Middle East politics. A fierce Kurdish nationalist, he was the first democratically elected head of state in a land with a history going back to the dawn of civilization. Kurds will remember him as a giant of their national struggle.
Mr. Talabani, elected president in the aftermath of the downfall of Saddam Hussein, became America’s favorite Iraqi. With little use for official protocol, he greeted American visitors with hugs and kisses, even in the most formal of settings. His easygoing style and wry sense of humor helped him establish a rapport with President George W.… Seguir leyendo »
The civil war in Syria is over. Now it is time to stop the fighting.
Aided by Russia, Iran, Shiite militias and Hezbollah, the government of President Bashar al-Assad is on the verge of taking Aleppo, once Syria’s largest city. Supported by its powerful allies, the Syrian Army will then move to eliminate the remaining pockets of resistance, notably around the northern city of Idlib. While Iran has been Mr. Assad’s most important military ally, the Syrian regime would still want to have Russian airpower to finish its reconquest of the country’s populous west.
The Assad regime has prevailed through tactics of unspeakable brutality — barrel bombs, starvation, the targeting of hospitals and rescue workers and the suspected use of chemical weapons — but it has prevailed.… Seguir leyendo »
The Obama administration — with the backing of key Republicans in Congress — is poised to embark on a strategy that entails punitive airstrikes on Syrian government positions and stepped-up lethal aid to moderate elements of the Syrian opposition.
So far, however, the Syrian opposition has been unable to win significant support from the country’s ethnic and religious minorities. Without such support, the opposition is unlikely to prevail even with stepped-up U.S. assistance. Moreover, the inability of the Syrian rebels, who are almost all Sunni Muslim Arabs, to win over the country’s Kurds, Alawites and Christians raises the question of whether their victory is even desirable.… Seguir leyendo »
Afghanistan’s presidential election is over, and it was a fiasco. The decision by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to cancel the second round and declare the incumbent, Hamid Karzai, the victor concludes a process that undermined Afghanistan’s nascent democracy. In the US and Europe, the fraud-tainted elections halted the momentum for President Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy and undercut support for sending more troops.
The election was effectively over on Sunday when Karzai’s remaining rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, announced he would not run. Abdullah Abdullah did not withdraw because he calculated he could not win, as some have uncharitably implied, but because he knew the election would not be honest.… Seguir leyendo »
If the second round of Afghanistan’s presidential elections, now scheduled for Nov. 7, is a rerun of the fraud-stained first round, it will be catastrophic for that country and the allied military mission battling the Taliban and Al Qaeda. In the next week and a half, the United States and the United Nations, which has a mandate to support Afghanistan’s electoral bodies, must do everything possible to ensure that the election is, in the words of that mandate, “free, fair and transparent.”
In spite of the clear connection between successful elections and stability in Afghanistan, the rest of the world largely chose to ignore the obvious risks of fraud before the Aug.… Seguir leyendo »