March 15, 2013 marked the second anniversary of the start of the uprising against the Assad regime in Syria and on March 20 it will have been a decade since the start of the Iraq war, a conflict that still reverberates around the region and the world. Abigail Fielding-Smith, FT correspondent in Damascus; David Gardner, senior international affairs commentator, and Roula Khalaf, Middle East editor, join Shawn Donnan. (ft.com/podcasts)
FINANCIAL TIMES AUDIO ANALYSIS: A tale of two Middle East anniversaries Mar 13, 2013 – 6:00 pm
In this EA Worldview, Scott Lucas reflects on the kaleidoscopic civil war in Syria – an ever-shifting, complex and unpredictable conflict that defies easy definition and simple resolution. It’s not a straightforward case of good guys versus bad guys, as much many both inside and outside of Syria might want it to be. (Published on March 13, 2013
On the second anniversary of the uprising against the Assad regime, Lucas’ thoughts about the current situation:
1. NOSTALGIA ABOUT THE PAST
«There are still the protests. There are still the signs that make us think that there need not be sectarian violence, that there has to be some way forward beyond the bloodshed, a way forward for all Syrians. But it seems almost Utopian.»
2. THE KALEIDOSCOPE OF A CIVIL WAR
«There is no way to reduce this to a good v. bad scenario, even if you think one should be imposed.»
3. YOU CANNOT CONTROL A KALEIDOSCOPE, AND YOU CANNOT CONTROL THE CONFLICT
4. WHERE NOW?
«There is going to be uncertainty, there is going to be a range of outcomes — not all of them good — whatever you advocate.»
By Fatima Ayub,
Western powers have failed Syria. Between a half-hearted humanitarian strategy and a short-sighted plan to perpetuate a war fought by opposition proxies, Europe, the US and key Gulf states are fuelling the fire of Syria’s destruction. No equivocating: Syria’s tragedy is Assad’s creation.
In fighting the irreversible political transformations in the region, the Assad regime has squarely set Syria on course for collapse. Between a choice to confront the legitimate demand of its long marginalised citizens or to give no quarter to peaceful protest, Assad’s government chose the latter .…read more
Special Reports: France: We’re out of options with Syria
PARIS, March 14, 2013 at 12:22 pm EDT (UPI) — There are few options apart from lifting the arms embargo on Syria to benefit opponents of the Syrian regime, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
Civil war in Syria entered its third year this month. The United Nations estimates that at least 1 million Syrians have been displaced and more than 70,000 people have died as a result of fighting that grew out of anti-government protests... read more
Iraq and Afg war costs
By Daniel Trotta
NEW YORK | Thu Mar 14, 2013 12:53pm EDT
(Reuters) – The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said.
The war has killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number, according to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.
When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war’s death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said.
The report, the work of about 30 academics and experts, was published in advance of the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.
It was also an update of a 2011 report the Watson Institute produced ahead of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks that assessed the cost in dollars and lives from the resulting wars in Afghanistan,Pakistan and Iraq.
The 2011 study said the combined cost of the wars was at least $3.7 trillion, based on actual expenditures from the U.S. Treasury and future commitments, such as the medical and disability claims of U.S. war veterans.
That estimate climbed to nearly $4 trillion in the update....(read more)
As Iraq tries to reassert itself on the international stage, it finds itself pulled in different directions by competing forces, writes the BBC’s Rami Ruhayem in Baghdad.
They were the images that defined the conflict in Iraq: the pain of ordinary Iraqi civilians, the exhaustion of American soldiers. But what became of them? From Fort Polk, Louisiana, USA, to Tal Afar, northern Iraq, Guardian reporters track down the people behind the images and hear their moving stories (Francesca Panetta, Mona Mahmood, Chris McGreal, Martin Chulov, Peter Beaumont, Nina Perry, Guardian Interactive team, Chris Fenn: guardian.co.uk,
In March 2003, the US-led coalition invaded Iraq. The Observer’s foreign affairs editor, Peter Beaumont, was there – and has visited at regular intervals since, reporting and taking photographs. A decade on from the fall of the capital, he returns with his camera to find a changed city post-Saddam. This is the firfst of them.
I don’t remember the number of books on Iraq I’ve read since 2003, but I’ll never forget this one, “Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone.” edited in Spanish in 2008. On March 15, 2013, the Washington Post’s senior correspondent and associate editor signed an interesting analysis of the last ten years in Iraq under the headline Five myths about Iraq.
Ten years ago, on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the assumptions many Americans held about the coming war, fed by rhetoric from the George W. Bush White House, turned out to be wildly inaccurate. Saddam Hussein, as we now know, did not possess weapons of mass destruction. The conflict would not end quickly. And the cost of the war — in lives and dollars — would far eclipse expectations. Today, a new set of beliefs defines many discussions about the war and its aftermath. Are they just as wrong?
1. The troop surge succeeded
2. Iraq today is relatively peaceful
3. Iraq is a democracy
4. Iraq is in Iran’s pocket
5. The Americans have all left
Read more from W. Post’s Outlook: on Iraq:
Iraq, The Biggest Blunder America Ever Made
I was there. And «there» was nowhere. And nowhere was the place to be if you wanted to see the signs of end times for the American Empire up close. It was the place to be if you wanted to see the madness — and oh yes, it was madness — not filtered through a complacent and sleepy media that made Washington’s war policy seem, if not sensible, at least sane and serious enough. I stood at Ground Zero of what was intended to be the new centerpiece for a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the invasion of Iraq turned out to be a joke. Not for the Iraqis, of course, and not for American soldiers, and not the ha-ha sort of joke either. And here’s the saddest truth of all: on March 20th as we mark the 10th anniversary of the invasion from hell, we still don’t get it. In case you want to jump to the punch line, though, it’s this: by invading Iraq, the U.S. did more to destabilize the Middle East than we could possibly have imagined at the time. And we — and so many others — will pay the price for it for a long, long time …read more
March 3, 2013
10 Years On, Case for Invading Iraq Still Valid
Nick Cohen, Observer
A decade after Saddam was overthrown, why are some progressives still loath to celebrate his demise?more ››
March 1, 2013
Iraq’s Old Elites Fighting Old Wars
Amir Taheri, Asharq Al-Awsat
Iraq’s Arab Sunni community has genuine grievances and these must be addressed. The fact that the Ba’ath victimized other communities more than the Arab Sunnis does not justify oppressing them today. more ››
March 3, 2013
Iraq: Patchy Progress and Dysfunctional Politics
Mesopotamia, the ancient name for Iraq, means «land between the rivers.» Today, though, the lines which divide the country, not those which circumscribe it, matter most. In the north and south people are emerging from the deepest… more ››
March 1, 2013
World Will Be Worse Off Without U.S. Influence
Victor Hanson, NRO
We lament the terrible American losses in blood and treasure in tribal Afghanistan and Iraq. But privately, radical Islamists acknowledge that the U.S. military killed thousands of jihadists in both countries — and hope never to… more ››
March 5, 2013
Come Home, America
Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, New York Times
Everyone talks about getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan. But what about Germany and Japan?more