June 10, 2010

3 Strikes on US Foreign Policy


You know you have problems when Somalia is the least of them. Three ministers of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) resigned today, exasperated from the political fighting threatening the state.

Addressing journalists in Mogadishu, State Minister for Defense Sheikh Yussuf Mohammed SiadInda'ade said, "From today, I am not part of this government. It has failed on its mission of doing something about the dire situation the country is facing right now.”

Inda'ade, a former Mogadishu warlord, said last month, "This government supports the insurgents by providing them with weapons and money.”

These rumors have been circulating since America upped its arms flow in 2008. If true then it’s helping to arm al-Shabab, not that it needs much help. Weapons didn’t buy a government as planned either; it would seem Washington bet too aggressively on the TFG. What’s scary though isn’t that US strategy verges on death in Somalia.

It’s that we’ve been told this is the best strategy to date - and that more is on the way.


There’s numerous places to start with Amrullah Saleh, ex-National Directorate of Security. US officials have avoided the topic in public like a plague, but are undoubtedly active in private. President Hamid Karzai, according to Saleh, is said to have ignored intelligence of an attack. The Guardian reports how upset US commanders are for Karzai failing to take the lead in the counterinsurgency.

So imagine the White House and Europe.

Worst still, Saleh’s upstanding reputation will be difficult to replace. The Guardian reports his, “resignation on Sunday, along with Atmar, was a huge blow to the government, which is otherwise largely lacking in high-calibre senior officials. He was strongly supported by the CIA and MI6, and had a reputation as hardworking and honest.”

Not surprising then to hear the opposite from US envoy Richard Holbrooke, who told NPR’s Robert Siegel, “They have plenty of bench strength.” Siegel responded, “Well, then we'll go on to other matters.”

Ultimately these paths lead to one conclusion - Karzai, according to Saleh, has lost faith in the US strategy. He claims the last straw came after his re-election, which would explain Karzai’s near constant friction with Washington ever since. It also means the White House’s smile-fest, as if we didn’t already know, was a total farce.

Both sides have lost faith in each other, a dark cloud over Afghanistan.


The theme of lost trust intensifies in Palestine. As America and Britain continue to defend Israel in isolation from the international community, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas met with Obama at the White House. He acted accordingly, extracting $400 million for Gaza (paying up is another story) and hearing what he wanted - Obama reiterated his support of a two-state solution.

Few have been convinced though. While Abbas officials said they were satisfied with Obama’s public remarks, Abbas reportedly told him that Israel isn’t serious about peace.

Ynet News reports, “The officials said that Abbas told Obama that for the time being, proximity talks with Israel are not moving along as hoped. The Palestinians complained that the Israeli side is not serious about the negotiations and aims to stay away from the significant issues.

The Palestinians are infuriated, claiming that while they have been discussing issues such as security and borders during the proximity talks, Israel is mostly dealing with issues such as water and environmental affairs.”

We’re fixated on Israel and America’s irrational demand for speedy direct negotiations for this very reason - they still can’t handle indirect negotiations.

A senior Palestinian official was quoted as saying, "For the time being, there is no progress at all in the proximity talks, which had been going on for several weeks now.”

Having lost Abbas’s negotiating faith in Israel, America must also contend with a minor surge in Hamas in the wake of the Freedom flotilla. According to the most recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, Abbas would take 50% of a presidential vote while Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh would take 40%. And Hamas stands to gain more if America allows Israel off with another warning.

Abbas's doubts and Hamas's strength are drawn from the reality that Obama has failed to win over the Palestinian people.

73% of respondents oppose negotiations, indirect or direct, with Israel in the absence of a settlement freeze in East Jerusalem. The alleged silent freeze aside, Palestinians don’t feel this demand has been met. And what they would like to see is being ignored; 60% support and 37% oppose the Arab Peace Initiative.

The end result is an “overwhelming majority (71%) believes the chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state next to the state of Israel in the next five years are slim or non existent while 28% believe the chances are medium or high. Moreover, the overwhelming majority (81%) believes that Israel’s long term aspiration is to annex Palestinian territories and expel the Palestinian population.”

We’re currently constructing a series of basic policies for key conflicts and intend to release them over summer. Though we’ll continue to analyze world events as they occur, overall our posts may become less frequent as US foreign policy becomes more unstable. Anticipating severe turbulence in the future.

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