Against War with Iran

The start of 2020 witnessed a spike in US aggression towards Iran, followed by  dangerous retaliation and fallout, including the accidental striking of a Ukrainian airliner over Tehran. Below are my comments I delivered to KPRC/NBC, the Houston Chronicle and KHOU.

Screen Shot 2020-01-07 at 10.26.43 PM.png

Screen Shot 2020-01-09 at 9.27.12 PM 1.png

 

 

Sabotaging Energy And Peace: Trump Moves To Undermine Iran Nuclear Deal (Forbes)

My latest article now on Forbes

Sabotaging Energy And Peace: Trump Moves To Undermine Iran Nuclear Deal

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

POST WRITTEN BY

Dr. Emran El-Badawi, Program Director and Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Houston

University of Houston Energy Fellows University of Houston Energy Fellows Contributor

Is sabotaging international agreements the “art of the deal?”

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would not “recertify” the Iran Nuclear Deal — fancy lingo for the U.S. government undercutting an international contract. Trump further designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a “terrorist” group and authorized new sanctionsagainst them. Somewhere in the middle of this, the U.S. Congress is to decide the fate of the now-damaged deal with Iran.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is an Obama era policy limiting Iran’s nuclear program from ever including nuclear weapons, in exchange for much needed sanctions relief. Since the deal first took effect in July 2015, Iran has kept its end of the bargain and complied with the terms. One year into the deal, in 2016, analysts at the Brookings Institution concluded the JCPOA to be a “net positive” among supporters or a “new normal” compromise among detractors.

Even today Iran is “compliant.” Who says so? …CONTINUE READING

Our Return to Perpetual War

The U.S. missile strikes against an airport military facility near Homs, Syria, has opened a new chapter in Syria’s bloody six-year civil war. A key question, even as the political and military fallout is still settling, is how dangerous this escalation will become.

The war already has claimed as many as 500,000 lives, and more than 12 million Syrians have lost their homes. The refugee crisis continues, along with the rise of terrorism and populism worldwide.

President Donald Trump ordered the airstrikes in retaliation for a chemical attack on April 3, an attack which claimed almost 100 lives, many of them children, and in which the Assad government and its Russian allies are implicated. Other reports, including from within the United Nations, claim it is likely opposition fighters in Idlib committed the atrocity, and so the blame game goes on as it has since the start of this conflict.

A number of concerns arise from these new developments. First, after six years of carnage, the Syrian people are increasingly the target of local and foreign governments in their own country. There seems to be no diplomatic or military solution that favors the Syrian people. Public discussion and analysis of the airstrikes and chemical attack are almost exclusively about assessing the merits or faults of Trump’s intervention, what Putin’s response will be, or to what extent the Assad government will be weakened.

At no point has there been substantive discussion or debate on how to throw all our weight behind diplomacy, twisting arms and non-lethal economic retaliation.

Second, how dangerous is this escalation? Will Putin tell Assad to take one for the team and bring down the conflict a couple of notches? Or will Russia come into direct conflict with the United States? The latter looms larger as the Russians have suspended the 2015 agreement “de-conflicting” Russian and Syrian airstrikes in Syria (whose originally stated enemy was ISIS).

Third, how much of this is a distraction from the altogether unstable Trump administration? With the sacking of Michael Flynn and the removal of chief advisor Steve Bannon from a coveted seat on the National Security Council and chief of staff Reince Priebus on apparently shaky ground, Trump can benefit from less attention on his unsteady first months in office. Or is this a distraction from the death toll in Mosul, where U.S. air strikes killed as many as 200 Iraqi civilians on March 24?

missile-strike-syria.jpg

(The Independant)

The GOP are, as expected, eager for war, as they were under George W. Bush and the catastrophic invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Also, much of the media is spending its time juxtaposing the “action” of Trump’s airstrikes, versus the “inaction” of Obama’s attempt to dispose of Syria’s chemical weapons. History teaches that either path – direct military engagement of Assad, or turning a blind eye – has large human and material costs.

The airstrikes come a week after Trump said removing Assad was no longer a priority. Supporters of the Syrian government claim the chemical was an act of sabotage by the opposition to frame Assad. The opposition claims that Assad was emboldened to get away with murder after Trump’s statements.

That doesn’t necessarily hold. Assad has been massacring the civilian population for years, before world’s own eyes. He could have been assassinated numerous times, but he was not. As in the chemical attack of 2013, it seems unclear to me why a brutal dictator already getting away with murder would need to switch from conventional weapons to chemical weapons. However, the fog of war is thick, and the patience of men has worn thin.

A last-ditch effort at diplomacy after the Syrian government and the Russians re-conquered Aleppo from opposition fighters in 2016 (and Homs in 2015) was squandered. This new round of airstrikes pushes the dream of a diplomatic solution even further afield. The U.S. is getting dragged into perpetual war in the Middle East once again, with no military strategy or intent for diplomacy.

My fear is that we as citizens of the most powerful country in the world are becoming inculcated in or addicted to war. Despite most Americans losing any desire for war after Iraq renewed threats of global terrorism and the rise of populism are once again feeding the Narrative of War. In this respect, the Trump Administration is merely following the unofficial handbook of American foreign policy, namely airstrikes and – if the political will permits – ground invasion. The Trump Administration does not appear to possess sophistication or imaginative capability to bring about a diplomatic solution.

Does this mean the only way to effect change on the world stage is through brute force? If we buy into this outmoded narrative – again – then the spread of global warfare and terrorism will become stronger and more inevitable.

Let us not forget one final mantra, perpetual war is good for perpetual business. Raytheon, producer of the Tomahawk missiles used to attack Syria, has seen its stock soar on the market. This is good for Trump, who owns Raytheon stocks, and all the other and other wealthy movers and shakers in the business of making war. This is to say nothing of energy and development contracts–the ‘spoils of war.’

In recent years, instability in the Middle East and deteriorating relations between Putin and Obama have made conflicts around the world a zero sum game. In the end, the U.S. or Russia and their so called allies will need to give up influence, cede territory and stop destroying sovereign nations if Syria is to have a future and the world a chance to stabilize. The sooner we all learn this the better.

What about the Orlando Mass Shooting & Islam? [VIDEO]

In my interview with Fox on June 13, 2016 I discuss the problem of homophobia in general, and the necessity of accepting LGBT within the Abraham faith groups. This is a problem traditional Christians and Muslims wrestle with still in the 21st century. Reports prove the perpetrator of the Orlando shooting was a bigot, mentally ill, abusive, criminal to begin with. To date the criminal investigation demonstrate his ties to Islam as incidental, and that his “allegiance” to ISIS/ISIL was attempt to draw attention and credibility, as in the San Bernardino shooting.

Islam in America is “represented” by the majority of its adherents and its institutions–like all other faith based communities.

Professor analyzes Orlando mass shooting [VIDEO]

EE-Fox-26-2016

Finally, something I forgot to mention for lack of time, those who profit from hate domestically and overseas (ISIS, Trump, etc) want Americans divided and squabbling. We should not let them win. America is (used to be!) the last of diversity and tolerance. If we want to prevent another Orlando, Charleston, San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Columbine, etc then we need to hold accountable the NRA, gun lobby and paid politicians who profit from and fuel the proliferation of machine guns in crowded spaces (including schools and colleges).