Yemen is one of the most influential "unknown" countries in the region.
A dirt poor country brutally controlled by overt agents of larger powers. There has been such a wide gulf between the people and the leadership that there is no real possibility of the current system transitioning into a stable form. When overt revolution comes it will only end in a reactive administration, more extreme than Iran's, whose first objective is independence from past influences, and only then, some more reliable leadership infrastructure (i.e., religion).
Yemen's poverty, and other circumstances, have caused it to become potentially a huge pool of manpower for foreign interests who might share the reactive ideology. It has some similarities to Pakistan and will likely follow vaguely in its steps, providing troops to questionable areas.
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The United States is in a very difficult position right now.
It's economy hit a very rough patch. The government is projecting optimism, but all of the evidence is that the problem has just begun. There is no political will to take innovative steps to rearrange the economy and there is every likelihood that economic weakness will be an influence in future military decisions.
The influence of the pro Israel lobby on American politicians has become an obscenity. There is no longer even a pretense of independence. This ham handed interference in American affairs has already started showing signs of backfiring, overtly from American Jews whose support for Israel is strong but rational, and more subtly from a broad spectrum of American Christians and secularists who are simply offended by the crude interference.
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Turkey is an interesting symbol of the turmoil that centers in the Middle East.
The country has been on a sort of edge in recent years waiting for some kind of decisive showdown between the "newer" (or perhaps "older") Islamist influence and the secular, military, western oriented power. The transition is hinted at in Turkish focus on something they call "The Deep State".
The Deep State.
The so called "Deep State" is a mysterious Turkish entity, an alleged cabal of powerful people who secretly control Turkish society. Some call it a conspiracy theory. Others cite evidence. Both sides have obvious political motivations.
A person could point out that every country has its powerful actors behind the scenes. The Turkish "Deep State" is notable not for its existence but for its psychological importance in the current Turkish transition. The central point being that the "deep state" provides a target that will probably lead to the purging of certain (i.e., U.S.) influences. It is a variation of the same thing happening in many countries.
The drama of the "Deep State" and its political undertones has been developing for years. Now, it may finally be building to its logical conclusion, as a sort of high level aspect of the Arab (in this case "Muslim" or "non Western") Spring.
On a neutral playing field, the results of the conflict would be up in the air. But decades of heavy handed manipulation have tilted the balance strongly against the West. Even in a best case scenario things will not end will for Western influence in Turkey.
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There are a lot of misconceptions about Syria being promoted in the media.
The general impression of most "outsiders" is that we would desperately like to help the Syrian people but our hands are tied by international obligations.
The truth is that we are in a desperately losing position in the region and by letting Syria decay the biggest short term price is paid by our strategic "enemies". Those enemies, however, have developed a long term approach and have made it clear that they have patience.
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The history of relations between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. is interesting.
Cutting to the chase, Saudis have been in a clearly inferior position for many decades. They have been forced to pursue ideological ends that were either not in their interests or in contradiction to their beliefs. Essentially, they were in the position of a small person held in a headlock by a large person, forced to say "this is fun, you are right" etc. This relationship obviously could be expected to lead to an eventual reaction, and that reaction is now developing and visible.
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Russia is different from America in one extremely important regard.
The foundation of America is prosperity. Americans like to say it is ideology ("democracy", "liberty", etc), but America revolves around prosperity, not freedom, not democracy. Our leaders are universally people who can work within the prosperity framework, not the democracy framework.
Russia recently has become famous for its astounding corruption, persecution of rights and similar abuses. The tradition goes back many years but the internet has lit it up. Russian corruption, though, is misleading. If you watch a high ranking Russian, Putin, Medvedev, etc, you see an ideologue, someone whose primary motivator is ideology.
Many people in the West are distracted by Russian corruption, and unable to see the deeper motives of Russian leaders. Russians are aggressive survivors and very clear thinkers.
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Pakistan is the leading military edge of the Muslim world.
In developing nuclear weapons, Pakistan received significant help from both Iran and Saudi Arabia. Pakistani soldiers, individuals hired as mercenaries, make up a significant part of the military in Bahrain, a seeming flashpoint between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan has been directly involved in numerous acts of intrigue, ranging from Bombay to 9/11, but it is also a diverse country with vocal factions, not homogenous at all.
When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, what were Pakistanis expecting?
For the simple reason that Pakistanis are not utter idiots, they expected the invasion to be a catastrophe for the United States. In fact most educated people in the world had that belief. The only exceptions were those people in the American government, unable to think for themselves, who took the Neocon agenda as it was fed to them, without questions, without reflection.
In the years before and after 9/11, Saudi Arabia had made apparently sincere gestures to find a lasting peaceful solution to the issue of Palestinians. Israel was not cooperative with the Saudi plans, a position that high ranking Israeli leaders later said was perhaps a mistake.
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Iran is becoming a focal point for western concern.
This article is meant to provide a factual overview of Iran and its relations with the west. Often one side will leave out certain information and the other side will leave out other certain information. Here is an attempt to provide both sides.
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China at this point seems headed to being the world's primary superpower within about ten years.
Balancing its power is no other single country, but rather the collective interests of a group of also fast rising countries, including Brazil, India, perhaps Russia and some other Asian countries.
There are many distinct ways of approaching the world, different strategies, and it is accurate to say that racial groups that live in isolated cultures develop different approaches. Both race and culture must be listed for a few reasons, including familial influence (which is usually parallel to race) and also the fact that there may well be subtle biological differences that effect the thinking of races. The issue is how members of a group respond to pressures and has nothing to do with superiority. One may act quickly, the other think longer before acting. Each will survive one environment, not another.
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Are we winning the war in Afghanistan?
The president, and a lot of other politicians, talk about the progress made in Afghanistan. In 2001 there was virtually no terrorism against the United States. Today, 2013, there still is almost none. So what has changed?
America's history is full of scattered small acts by so called political groups.
Going back to the 1700s you can find a steady string of acts of "terrorism". The first bombing of the twin towers brought the fear of "global Islamic terror". That event was, at best, suspicious. One informant in the case, Emad Salem, claimed that the FBI knew beforehand about the bombing. The FBI said he was lying, but it turned out he had tape recorded conversations with the FBI agents. For whatever reason, the mainstream media has not followed up on this.
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