The tragedy of Ebola is not just its staggering toll. It’s also the implicit racism that the deadly virus has spawned. The anecdotes are sickening, particularly a Reuters report this week that children of African immigrants in Dallas — little ones with no connection to Thomas Duncan, the Liberian Ebola patient who died Wednesday in a local hospital — have been branded “Ebola kids” simply because of their heritage or skin color.
In both the United States and Europe, Ebola is increasing racial profiling and reviving imagery of the “Dark Continent.” The disease is persistently portrayed as West African, or African, or from countries in a part of the world that is racially black, even though nothing medically differentiates the vulnerability of any race to Ebola.… Seguir leyendo »
Iraq is now peering into the abyss that Lebanon witnessed during the darkest days of its civil war, the first and longest sectarian conflict in the post-colonial Arab world. The conflict dragged on for 15 deadly years. The human costs, in a country smaller than Connecticut, were staggering: 150,000 killed and a million people — one-fourth of the population — displaced. The economy collapsed and destruction totaled $25 billion. Along the way, Lebanon’s militias introduced tactics, most notably the suicide bomb, that have defined asymmetric warfare worldwide ever since.
Over those years, from 1975 to 1990, the entire Middle East shook, as Lebanon’s war ignited a rippling series of other conflicts, big and small, including an Israeli invasion in 1982 that turned into its own messy 18-year occupation.… Seguir leyendo »
The map of the modern Middle East, a political and economic pivot in the international order, is in tatters. Syria’s ruinous war is the turning point. But the centrifugal forces of rival beliefs, tribes and ethnicities — empowered by unintended consequences of the Arab Spring — are also pulling apart a region defined by European colonial powers a century ago and defended by Arab autocrats ever since.
A different map would be a strategic game changer for just about everybody, potentially reconfiguring alliances, security challenges, trade and energy flows for much of the world, too.
Syria’s prime location and muscle make it the strategic center of the Middle East.… Seguir leyendo »
So the U.S. launches a military strike. Then what?
As the Obama administration and the U.S. military plot military action against Syria, they should be spending just as much time — and arguably more — considering what happens next. Once Washington crosses the threshold of action, there’s no retreating from blame for anything that follows, whether through action or inaction. And in the weeks and months to come, dangers will only deepen.
First, quick hits rarely achieve enduring political goals — and often produce more costs or unintended consequences than benefits. I’ve seen it so often before.
I lived in Lebanon in the fall of 1983 when the Reagan administration ordered the Marine peacekeepers deployed in Beirut to open fire on a Muslim militia.… Seguir leyendo »
The most enduring image from my travels across the Middle East this year was a Libyan street lined with bridal boutiques. Mannequins in bouffant white dresses, with beaded bustiers and satin rosettes, evoked Cinderella transformed by her ball gown.
Outside, however, the street was lined with heaping piles of garbage wrapped in tatty plastic bags. Tripoli literally stank.
On the second anniversary of the Arab uprisings, millions across the Middle East still have dreams of makeovers. But revolutionary fairy tales have devolved into the reality of running countries that are still without fully functioning governments or basic laws. Providing fundamental public services, much less addressing economic woes that sparked the uprisings, is still a very long way off.… Seguir leyendo »
This spring, I traveled to the cradle of the Arab uprisings — a forlorn street corner in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, where a street vendor, drenched in paint thinner, struck a match in December 2010 that ignited the entire Middle East. “We have far more freedoms,” one peddler hawking fruit in the same square lamented, “but far fewer jobs.” Another noted that Mohamed Bouazizi, the vendor who set himself on fire, did so not to vote in a democratic election but because harassment by local officials had cost him his livelihood.
As the peddlers vented, prayers ended at the whitewashed mosque across the street.… Seguir leyendo »
How much has changed for Iran in one occasionally breathtaking month. The erratic uprising is becoming as important as the Islamic revoluti on 30 years ago — and not only for Iran. Both redefined political action throughout the Middle East.
The costs are steadily mounting for the regime. Just one day before the June 12 presidential election, the Islamic republic had never been so powerful. Tehran had not only survived three decades of diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions but had emerged a regional superpower, rivaled only by Israel. Its influence shaped conflicts and politics from Afghanistan to Lebanon.
But the day after the election, the Islamic republic had never appeared so vulnerable.… Seguir leyendo »