Thursday, November 24, 2011

Egyptian Military Must Step Aside

The peaceful demonstrations in Tahrir Square have been turned into riots by Egyptian Military by their use of tear gas, live bullets and more. Clearly, the Egyptian Military no longer has the confidence of its people. It must step aside and let an interim Civilian Government conduct free and fair general elections.

Military's job is to defend the country from foreign aggression, not subdue and conquer its own people. It was one thing to refuse ongoing support to Hosni Mubarak's regime, it is another to keep a hold on power. It has been nine months since Mubarak was ousted and the military has not held elections. No wonder Egyptians are impatient. If the vast majority of people do not want the military to be involved in conducting elections, then Mr. Tantawi and his generals must return to the barracks and hand over power to a civilian interim Government preferably headed by a Supreme Court judge to conduct elections within three months.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

US Support for the Military could push Egypt into Brotherhood's Lap

The Arab Spring in Egypt came so that the people can rid themselves of the old guard and elect a democratic Government. Getting rid of Hosni Mubarak was a major achievement, but the Government falling in the hands of the military and Field Marshall Tantawi was a bad idea.

Tantawi is an agent of status quo, not change. He was Mubarak's man, he used brutal force then and he is using brutal force now. Tantawi and the Military are supported by the US. The tear gas canisters being fired at protesters and bullets flying around Tahrir Square are all US supplied. US must immediately suspend all military shipments to Egypt and withdraw support from the military until they step aside.

Months have passed since Mubarak's overthrow and neither a new constitution is in place nor have general elections taken place. The Egyptian public has no confidence in this set up to hold fair elections. If this situation continues, the net beneficiary will be the Brotherhood, which thrive on chaos.

If military does not step aside and violence continues, Egypt could become ungovernable. Tantawi must step down immediately. A new interim Government headed by a Supreme Court judge should hold free and fair elections to elect true representatives of the people.

The White House, State and Defense Departments should recognize that their support to military has backfired. It is time use pressure on military to step aside and let free election take place.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Afghanistan - The End Game

President Hamid Karzai has a mammoth task ahead of him. It is extremely unlikely that he will be able to convince the 'Loya Jirga' (Grand Council of Elders) to keep US troops in Afghanistan after 2014. The Afghans are fiercely independent people, they never like any foreign troops on their soil and no foreign troops have left Afghanistan victorious of late.

Many members of the Jirga are those who fought to remove Soviet troops from Afghanistan. So, it will be a hard pill for them to swallow to allow American troops to stay on for any length of time.

On the other hand Karzai has laid out conditions for the Americans that for them to stay on, they must end the deadly night raids, which result in the arbitrary killing of Afghans thought to be Taliban. The intelligence flow is so poor and erratic in Afghanistan that quite often the victims turn out to be innocent civilians - Karzai's cousin included. US may agree to this condition, but the bigger obstacle will be US demand for exemption from prosecution. Trigger happy as some of US troops are (including disgraceful conduct of soldiers in killing innocent Afghans and chopping their fingers), Iraqis did not agree to such an exemption, nor are the Afghans likely to.

The better course for US and Karzai would be to stop distinguishing between Taliban factions and bring all Taliban groups as well as regional leaders to the negotiating table, work out a formula for peaceful transition, preserving women's right to education, work etc. followed by fresh elections to elect a truly representative Government, so that foreign troops can leave Afghanistan in peace and for good.

Keeping troops back for training purposes is nonsensical. Afghan don't need any training to use weapons, they are born with it. The fact that Taliban have given way better equipped foreign troop a run for their money, shows they don't need training by foreign troops.

What Afghanistan desperately needs is the civilian administration structures. There is a need to develop an Administration System, Education, Legal and judicial system etc. This is where foreign countries can help, preferably those that did not taken part in Afghan war, so there is no ill will towards them.

Karzai lays out conditions for US partnership - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

Monday, November 7, 2011

Attacking Iran could be Isreal's undoing

What the Arabs have not been able to accomplish in 63 years, Israel may do it for them by its own actions - destroy itself.

If Israel attacks Iran, it may destroy some or all of Iran's nuclear facilities, but one thing is certain, Iran will throw everything at Israel that it has in its arsenal and it will have a good reason to do so and possibly also have the backing of majority nations.

Such an Israeli action will unite the entire Iranian nation behind Mullahs (whom they despise and detest) thus strengthening their hands. Those mad Mullahs would love to wreak havoc on Israel. Imagine 500 pound bombs landing on Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities demolishing everything in their way.

If Iran is attacked, the Iranian backed Hezbollah in Lebanon will also not sit idly by. They have even bigger and better rockets now compared to the ones that created havoc in Israeli skies in last Israel-Lebanon war.

I hope the Israelis will be sensible enough to think through the consequences of such an action and calculate cost of starting a mindless and destructive war. There may be a small group of extremists in Israel and some idiotic politicians and rabid Evangelical preachers in the US, who want them to do this, but is this really what the majority of Israelis want? I think not.

Instead of starting a suicidal war, Israel will be well advised to urgently start negotiations with Palestinians for a permanent peace, so that Israelis and Palestinians can exist side by side as two friendly and equal neighbors.