Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thank you


It has been a while since I last posted on my blog. I missed this little unedited, unfiltered, shrouded in innocence, space in blogosphere. Not only did I write what I thought, but I also grew from this experience, and was able to connect with many of my readers. Thank you to all who followed and read my posts. I will always treasure this experience and treasure the friendships that resulted. I found out the true value in sharing once find out who you are and what you stand for.

The past year has been a wonderful and exciting one on a professional level. Work has consumed most of my time, and my passion for politics found a prominent outlet. My consulting firm i-Strategic, established in 2013, is doing very well, and I feel privileged and committed to providing quality services to our clients. 

I hope you can visit us at, and follow us on Twitter @istrategic1.

Syrian kids from Idlib…. Freedom and Dignity to all Syrians. 


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Syria: Citizenship in the Midst of Chaos

Ongoing discussions about the crisis in Syria are nestled in the ugly confines of sectarianism.  Despite the very human suffering and crimes against humanity committed in Homs, Aleppo, Malula, and Adra, which have not spared any ethnicity or religious domination, yet the default trend in political discussions are the criminal categorizations of citizens by their factional identity. Unintentionally, this trend among intelligent people echoes the practical mentality of the criminals and terrorist who diminish the whole of a person to fit the simplifications of a demented ideology.

When the Islamists entered Adra few days ago, a city housing factory workers initially but has received and is housing refugees from neighboring cities, they targeted and sorted out families, mothers, fathers and children through their religious sects. What these families have suffered for two and a half years did not matter, what mattered was the preconceived ugly notion of eliminating the "other".  The "other" is not only used to justify the slaughter but to establish a political agenda for Jabhat Nusra, ISIS, and newly formed alJabha al Islamia. 

It is a continued travesty that the discussions on Syria echo and reenforce the criminal sectarian mentality, and repackage it to be palatable around dinner tables or at higher level committee meetings.

The criminal oversimplification should not find its way into the discussion among solution-seekers for the Syrian crisis. Syria needs to be aware of the shortsightedness and long term weaknesses imbedded in a sectarian solution. Syrian citizens is what Syrians are, nothing less. Lebanon which tried to emerge from the factional infighting during the Lebanese civil war through a factional constitution is still suffering.

While forming a coalition between the Syrian government and the inside opposition to unite against the terrorist groups could set Syria on the road of deliverance, there is no doubt that factional crimes are rampant. Pushing back against the criminal sectarian categorization of citizens is a political and educational endeavor to be started as soon as possible.

What intellectuals owe themselves is not to muddy their truth-seeking mentality with criminal simplifications, which consistently justify certain solutions on sectarian considerations. This is a slippery slope with no end in Syria, the land of ethnic and religious diversity.

What Syrians owe Syria، after all the lessons have passed، is to anchor the meaning of citizenship in the hearts, and uphold the love of country above any ethnic or religious affiliation.

سوريا حبيبتي...الحرية و الكرامة

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Iran's Political Capital and the Pursuit of Resolutions

Mohammad Javad Zarif's real mission has just begun. Iran's foreign minister who successfully spear headed Iran's team during the Geneva negotiations that resulted in an initial six month deal, has his work cut out for him. 

Iran acquired considerable political capital after the successful nuclear deal was signed by the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany with Iran. Partial sanctions were lifted, corporations are looking to invest in Iran, Iran's auto industry will receive a significant boost, and 5% enrichment will continue.This diplomatic breakthrough shifted Iran's standing from isolated and sanctioned into an emerging state with considerable domestic industry and international clout. 

While Iran's diplomatic and economic relations with Pakistan and Iraq have been in good standing for more than ten years, Iran's relations with Saudi Arabia have not. Both states clashed over and in Syria. A dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia seems to be a prerequisite before a deal can be reached in the Syrian crisis. The Iranians are heading in that direction by smoothing out relations with Turkey and Egypt in the interim.

The question is how can Iran incorporate its new regional and international political capital to resolve regional files? Iran's role in working on expanding its efforts towards a resolution in the Syrian crisis will help  Iran reposition it as cooperative and solution oriented, rather than the conventional Gulf states perception of Iran as a provocateur.

Foreign minister Zarif has many regional diplomatic trips ahead of him, not that the burden of proving good intentions is solely on Iran, but rather it is a mission of a skilled statesman to invest the acquired political capital where it will bear the most fruit in the long run. The long term strategy is to solidify Iran's new standing with a proactive diplomacy that reaches out of its comfort zone to warm up cold relations.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Iran's Nuclear Deal and Political Independance

When Israel's prime minister Netanyahu called Iran's Nuclear deal with western powers a historical mistake, and when U.S., EU, Iran, UAE and others called it a historical success, both would be correct in that the deal is unprecedented and historical.

The way this deal came to fruition is a marker of our new multi-polar international order, and it translated effectively the U.S.'s transitional position from hegemony. 

The transition to a multi-polar system allows disgruntled states, such as Iran, the political opportunity to assert their rights. Iran has been calling its right to have peaceful nuclear capability, according to international law and the NPT convention, as its "Haq". Iran has achieved that Haq, and the international community legitimized Iran's nuclear program. Far from Iran becoming a U.S. partner or ally, this deal paved the way for much needed cooperation between the U.S. and Iran on crucial regional files, such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. In the larger context, expanding U.S.'s partnerships in the region against terrorism, the strategic priority, is of mutual interest to both U.S. and its allies and Iran and its allies.

This deal also signified the success of negotiation, and finding grounds for mutual interests, preceded by accepting the opponent as an equal... A far cry from the archaic and failed carrot and stick mentality.

The nuclear deal signifies the possibility of the long sought after Political Independence in the region. Ever since Pakistan's Zulfikar Ali Bhutto declared in 1978 that the Islamic civilization will also possess nuclear arsenal, in order to not be subject to blackmail, the underlying current to strive for greater political independence and attaining regional power is getting stronger in the Middle East. Iran proved that resisting the subordination of policy to U.S. and western interests is possible. Egypt under al Sissi is taking note and so is Iraq. 

Autonomous policy making and resisting subordination to the west does not translate to becoming an enemy of the U.S. and the west, quiet to the contrary. It is a blunt political stance that implies the need to being treated as an equal, and recognized as having legitimate national interests. For these states coordination and cooperation are the preferred courses of action with great powers. Because only through cooperation and coordination with great powers can these states recognize and legitimize their statues as equals. From a strategic stance; accounting for the U.S.'s proactive management of the historic transition to a multi-polar system, this initial/6 month Nuclear deal qualifies for a win/win statues.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Syria: Rising from the Ashes of the Arab Spring

In the past three years, Tunis, Egypt, Yemen and Libya experienced the Arab Spring triology of uprising, regime change and political stagnation marred with instability and terrorism. The Syrian crisis is closer to one long episode of political and ideological rivalry concerning the future identity of Syria, carried out through a history making carnage. 

What the Syrian crisis has revealed, although not for the first time, is that the Syrian opposition does not understand politics, coalition making, or what negotiations are meant to deliver. The illogical stubbornness of demanding US military intervention, and the failure to come up with plan B other than insisting on depleting every last drop of Syrian lives, treasure and dignity, is a symptom of intellectual and moral deficiency. 

On a practical level, the Syrian opposition, as in the SNC, is still not capable of negotiating a common thread linking all the outside opposition factions, from the leftist to the Islamists. If they are not capable of producing a united group to represent the SNC at Geneva 2, how can we expect them to find common ground with the Syrian Coordination Committee (inside opposition), let alone finding common ground with government representatives?

Well the answer came today from the SNC as they opted against attending Geneva 2. Their insistence on Bashar alAssad ouster before attending Geneva 2 is just a thin veil covering their internal turmoil.

Whether the SNC attends Geneva 2 or not, there are other opposition groups with real on the ground connections to Syria and Syrians; groups committed to putting an end to the crisis, start the rebuilding efforts, and fight the terrorist groups that have spread across Syria.

The international dynamics, after the chemical weapons agreement with the Syrian government, which actively re-legitimized the Syrian government internationally, and the subsequent regional maneuver of Turkey, Iran,Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are reactions to a critical threshold reached by the Syrian government.

1- There is an international consensus that president Bashar al Asad will complete his presidential term until June 2014.
2- The Syrian military is gaining ground, not just in the Damascus suburbs, but also up north near Aleppo. The infighting amongst the Islamists  militia is increasing.  
3-Qatar has played a critical role recently in freeing the nine Lebanese hostages (kidnapped for more than a year) , sending a message of reproachmant to the Syrian government.
4-Turkey has announced that it is actively combating the presence of ISIS and Nusra Front in the north, and no longer allowing the boarder infiltration of weapons and militants.
5- Jordan has sent messages that it is supporting the efforts of fighting terrorism and combating the terrorist groups active in Syria. 
6- Saudi Arabia is slowly adjusting, with some diplomatic fanfare,  to the realities of US-Iranian dialogue and to the increased US support for the Maliki government.   
7-Iran emerged more powerful after the democratic elections which ushered Rohani's presidency that started with a proactive diplomacy towards both US and Saudi Arabia.
8-Egypt, and the counterrevolution of June 30th hastened the departure of the Muslim brotherhood from Arab politics, not just in Egypt. 

The geopolitical developments of the region are not in the SNC's favor, considering that some SNC members still insist that the ISIS and Nusra are fighting for freedom, and that deserting them is deserting the Syrian revolution. 

It is quiet possible that the SNC lacks organizational flexibility to adjust to the facts on the ground. One possibility is that we might see the dissolution of the SNC  and the emergence of individuals from the outside opposition, which later merge with an opposition representative group comprised of the Syrian Coordination Committee and Kurdish representatives. 

The Syrian developments influenced US, Russian and EU diplomacy, and changed the dynamics between regional states. What is clear by now is that the final straw that broke the Arab Spring was delivered in Syria. The ashes of the Arab Spring are most visible through the daily violence and bombings  of al Qaeda affiliated groups in Libya, Sinai,Tunis, Yemen and Syria.

The fallout of the Syrian crisis is slowly merging past adversaries on mutual interest grounds. US and Iran, Turkey and Iran, Egypt, Syria and the Arab states interests are slowly converging and redirecting the compus of the region towards the most pressing security issue of our time, and that is terrorism. 

سوريا حبيبتي...الحرية و الكرامة

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A U.S. Military Strike on Syria: Dead Wrong

It is quite baffling to hear advocates of a military strike on Syria talk about how it would serve America's national interests.With thousands of al Qaeda militants permeating the northern and eastern parts of Syria, and more militias declaring loyalty to al Baghdadi and al Jolani in the southern districts, escalating the chaos that would lead to state collapse is hardly a reasonable option. 

Reshuffling the cards on the ground with a military strike might have served as a tactical advantage for the Syrian opposition early on in the crisis. But certainly not now after two and a half years of mutual destruction between the armed forces and the rebels, countless acts against humanity, millions of displaced people, and vast lawless regions saturated with weapons and black markets for arms and chemical weapons.

The intention of defending an international norm, that is the ban of use of chemical weapons, can not be served by the proposed military strike. The United States must support the UN investigation into the various incidences of chemical attacks that occurred in Syria, and use its coercive diplomacy and political clout to uphold the perpetrators accountable in International courts. Agreements to send experts to work on controlling and securing the chemical stockpiles in Syria could be worked out with the future Syrian coalition government. This is the only approach that would serve the United States' credibility and interests in that part of the world.

In addition to the political obstacles facing the build up of an international coalition to support such an attack, the Obama administration is risking abandoning its "corrective" stance in US Foreign Policy. After years of promoting a foreign policy approach that differed with the Bush administration's take on international issues, the Obama administration is being influenced by Syrian Chalabies. The neo-Chalabies, who are abusing America's support for human rights  principles for their own political advantage, do not have any control over the various armed militias or al Qadeda fighters on the ground. They will pragmatically adjust and abandon their "pro American" stance, once the reality of the factional infighting in Syria kicks in. By that time however, if the United States chose to strike, it would have been morally implicated in the civil war and its outcome, and entrapped by the hideous dishonor of commitments that plagues Middle East politics. 

The United States military might must not be tainted by the Syrian civil war. The United States has a moral obligation to support efforts to bring both sides to the negotiation table. Years of civil war in Lebanon and the ten year civil war in Algeria did only end through a negotiated settlement, with both sides at the table.

The severe humanitarian and security crisis in Syria calls for an end to armed confrontation, not an escalation.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

أبرياء الحرب العبثية

لم أكن أتصور أن يجتمع هول و بشاعة مجزرتي حلبجة و سربنتشا في مكان واحد . مكان تكسرت فيه الطفولة و ضحكات الجيران. مكان آثر السكون من بشاعة مشاهد الموت.

 شهدت الغوطة على عبثية العنف و الاستهانة بأرواح الناس.شهدت كما مدن  سورية كثيرة كخان العسل، الحولة، ادلب و ريف اللاذقية، على أن ما أمكن تمريره و تبريره من قبل آلة الحرب على أنه "ثمن" التحرير، لهو صادر عن هياكل على شكل إنسان.. هياكل بلا ضمير..هياكل لاتعني لها لغة العمل على إنهاء العنف و حفظ الأرواح شيء.هياكل تفضل الغرق في وحل العمل العسكري كي لا تضطر للتفاوض و تقديم تنازلات لحفظ البلد و أرواح الناس

 عندما كانت القذائف الآثمة تدمر و تدمي و تميت في أنحاء سوريا، كان بعض الناجين قادرا على لملمة ما يمكن إنقاذه .أما في الغوطة فالسكون و الشحوب الذي جلل الضحايا شاهد على ان خيار نفض غبار الهجوم كان مستحيل، أن خيار الإسعاف كان مستحيل...حتى الناجين لم يكن بإمكانهم ممارسة انسانيتهم و التخفيف عن من تخنقه الغازات السامة

اصبع أصغر طفل توفي أو جرح أو تألم في هذا الصراع أشرف و أطهر من أكبر رأس سياسي سوري متعنت من الطرفين

يجب تقديم الجهة المسؤولة عن الهجوم الكيميائي للمحكمة الدولية... يجب تقديم كل من مارس جرائم ضد الإنسانية للعدالة

ترابك يا سوريا حضن كتير من ولادو..بيكفي ...