Posts Tagged ‘Libya’

What Did the Arab Spring Accomplish?

August 1, 2014

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s July 30, 2014 blog post.

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The root of discontent stemmed from unjust governance, poverty, food insecurity and unemployment issues. Regime change did not build democratic institutions. The political instability opened the door to Islamists bent on creating Islamic states.

The Arab Spring in North Africa began in Tunisia in December 2010, with the self-immolation of a street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi who had his fruit and vegetable cart confiscated by local authorities. Massive protests forced President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia. President Moncef Marzouki his successor failed to unify the country, and under political pressure agreed to hold new elections– which he postponed twice. Islamists have carried out attacks against members of parliament and political leaders, recently killing two moderate candidates. In May 2014 the electoral laws were changed to allow former officials in Ben Ali’s administration to run for office. Twenty former government leaders were recently released from prison, which sparked public outcry. Adding to the chaos last week fourteen soldiers were killed while pursuing AQIM Islamists embedded in the Chaambi Mountain region near the western border with Algeria.

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Regime Change Will Not Diminish Al-Qaeda Attacks

June 2, 2014

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s May 30, 2014 blog post.

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In Syria how will the U.S. clearly define moderate opposition groups? That has become a major difficulty as well in Libya. Rebel groups break down into tribes, clans, and broader religious factions—some with fundamentalist beliefs, while others have a more radical interpretation of Islam which includes armed jihad. In any event we do not know their ultimate goals. A Muslim diplomat once told me it is difficult to know the mission of a person carrying a weapon: “When they come, they also bring their behavior with them. There is one baggage that doesn’t weigh much–it is the behavior that is inside of them–the behavior in their mind–the attitude that they have. We can search their pockets for weapons–and see the one’s on their shoulders–but we cannot search their mind”.

Syria over the last three years has been in a chaotic civil war in which no one has clearly defined the “moderate” opposition that could rule democratically, if we take out President Bashar al-Assad. I have written articles saying, “regime change without an endgame plan is fraught with disaster”, as we witnessed in Libya after the U.S.—NATO incursion in 2011 that led to the downfall of the ruler Col. Muammar Gadhafi. Armed Islamist militias have since taken over large swaths of the country.

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Special Panel on Benghazi Needed for Answers

May 12, 2014

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s May 12, 2014 blog post.

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We could have learned a lesson from the terrorist attacks on the U.S. embassies in Lebanon and Kuwait in 1983. The State Department did not heed these early warnings. In 1998 terrorists again attacked two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The State Department needed to protect Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, but instead turned a blind-eye on that fateful night in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, when brutal Islamists killed the ambassador and three other Americans. This is a serious matter that needs answers, since the credibility of the White House and State Department are on the line.

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Gunboat Diplomacy in China Sea Can Lead to a Red Line

April 18, 2014

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s April 17, 2014 blog post.

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The United States may be heading for another Red Line moment–this time with China. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel making his fourth trip to the China Sea region recently, wanted to reassure Japan and other nations that the U.S. stands with them if China pursues stated territorial annexation.

The “Sleeping Dragon” has arisen, hungry for the small mostly uninhabited islands in the East and South China Sea claimed by Japan, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan. Mr. Hagel’s visit comes on the heels of Russia’s takeover of Crimea which had been part of Ukraine. The fear is that China has been emboldened by Russia’s move, leading to similar action over the long disputed islands.

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Russia’s Takeover of Crimea Needs Careful Action

March 26, 2014

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s March 25, 2014 blog post.

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On Friday March 21 President Vladimir Putin signed the annexation treaty making Ukraine’s autonomous Crimea region a part of Russia. The port city of Sevastopol on the Black Sea, home to Russia’s naval fleet in the region, was included.

Russia flexing its muscle in Crimea was reminiscent of the World War II Stalin era. It was in 1944 that the minority Muslim Tatar’s were deported from Crimea, and shipped off to the Urals. Stalin had accused them of collaborating with the Nazis. Thousands of Tatars died along the way. Ironically male Tatars were serving in the Soviet army at the time. Upon their return home they found their families gone.

 

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Beirut to Benghazi: We Didn’t Learn a Lesson

January 24, 2014

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s January 22, 2014 blog post.

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We could have learned a lesson from the thirty-six terrorist attacks against Americans in Lebanon in the early 1980’s. The U.S. Embassy in Beirut was bombed in April 1983, killing 63 people. In October truck bombs struck two barracks housing a U.S.-led peacekeeping force in which over 200 American soldiers were killed. In December a truck filled with explosives rammed into the three-story wing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait City, killing five people.

As a result of these attacks an Advisory Panel on Overseas Security was formed. The resulting Inman Commission Report (Admiral Bobby Inman) in 1985 recommended a number of security measures at our overseas posts including proper setbacks, structural upgrades, and new construction of at-risk missions. The study further called for the formation of the Diplomatic Security Service (DS) to oversee security protection aspects at all overseas operations.

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Partitioning May Be a Peaceful Solution

November 21, 2013

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s November 20, 2013 blog post.

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The goal of building democratic institutions in North Africa and the Middle East could prove to be futile. The Arab Spring uprisings that brought about regime change in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen did not bring peace to the region. The U.S. push for regime change in Syria, which is in the midst of a civil war and tribal and ethnic clashes, may not bring peace either.

Building democratic institutions and unifying Syria may not be possible, with the pent-up demand for a homeland by the differing ethnic factions. The overthrow of Bashar al-Assad may become the catalyst for the partitioning of Syria. This may also be true for other Middle East and North African countries, where uprisings and demonstrations occur almost daily.

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Obama to Assad: Weapons Cache must be Verifiable, or there will be Consequences

September 18, 2013

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s September 17, 2013 blog post.

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On Friday President Barrack Obama told Kuwait’s Emir Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah that any diplomatic solution in Syria depended on President Bashar al-Assad listing all of the  chemical weapons in his arsenal, and signing on to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Secretary of State John Kerry echoing the president’s remarks said that Assad must turn over the necessary data in less than the sixty day time frame allowed under the accord.  

The U.S. negotiators spent three days in Geneva negotiating with the Russians on how to deal with Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, and how to dispose of the scattered lethal weapons. Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov finally reached an agreement, giving Syria until September 21 to submit “a comprehensive listing, including names, types and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions, and location and form of storage, production, and research and development facilities.”

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Obama’s line in the sand may prove to be a quagmire

September 10, 2013

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s September 9, 2013 blog post.

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President Barrack Obama in making his case for a military strike against Syria stated that Bashar al-Assad had used deadly nerve agents against his people. Politicos around the world however are not convinced that the U.S. and UN inspectors have pinpointed exactly who used the chemical weapons last August in which over one thousand people died.

Congress is debating a resolution for limited strikes against the rogue regime. The Obama administration is “champing at the bit” to go after Assad without an endgame plan, or considering the collateral damage that could cause many people to die by errant missiles.

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Embassy (In)Security — A Diplomatic SOS

August 9, 2013

Marc C. Ginsberg (Ambassador to Morocco, 1994-1998)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Ginsberg’s August 8, 2013 post on The Huffington Post.

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Calling Seal Team 7. al Qaeda’s too-long leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is thought to be still hiding out in another Abbottabad in Pakistan, is up to deadly mischief by issuing three communications last week: two public and the third — a highly lethal secret correspondence directing an attack on U.S. embassies in the Middle East and South Asia.

The leaked intercept from al Qaeda’s chief to his al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Yemeni lieutenant — Nasser al-Wuhayshi — is a grim wake-up call that al-Zawahiri is exerting a modicum of stewardship over al Qaeda’s far flung franchises despite being on the lamb longer than Bin Laden.

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