Map of Muslim unrest using Google maps. I think this is updated in real time but I’m not 100% sure.
Update: now embedded:
View Muslim Protests in a larger map
I think those parallels between the Carter and Obama Administrations are getting a bit too close for comfort. It’s gone from homage to plagiarism.
Radical Islamists storm American embassy in unstable Middle East country. I’m sure that’s not a headline anyone in the Obama Administration wanted to see less than two months before election day.
Hey, didn’t Obama make a speech in Cairo a few years back? Remember how liberal commentators hailed it as “masterful” and “inspiring”?
Remember all that talk of smart diplomacy?
Now? Not so much.
Hey the Middle East is hard. It’s very, very easy to get things wrong. But it wasn’t any easier when Bush was President, and I don’t remember his liberal critics cutting him any slack.
I also don’t remember Islamsists storming an American embassy while he was President.
I’m seeing Twitter reports (including one from what appears to be the Egyptian Minister of the Interior) that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has died. Waiting for confirmation.
Mubarak was right around the 50-yard line for brutality and corruption for Arab dictators, more a symptom of the sickness in Arab politics than a cause. He actually observed the treaties his country signed. He was notably worse than Anwar Sadat, but almost certainly better than whoever ends up following him.
Updated to add: That Twitter account is pretty new, so this could well be a hoax. Also, why would the official Twitter feed for the Interior Minister of Egypt be following 320 accounts less than a day of starting up?
I would try to find confirmation on the official Egyptian Interior Ministry webpage, but their server doesn’t feel like working right now…
Update 2: NBC reporter Richard Engel says the interior ministry has denied that Mubarak has died. So I think we can update his status to “I’m getting better.”
What the headlines says, although they were repulsed.
If President Hamlet was thinking about helping topple Assad, now would be a Real Good Time to jump off the fence.
Plus, unlike Libya and Egypt, not only would it be very hard for the next government to be worse than the current one. Plus it would be a blow to Iran and Hezbollah, and thus would dramatically improve the possibility of real peace and a stable government in Lebanon.
(Hat tip: Michael Totten)
“In a direct echo of previous events in Libya, France has formally recoginsed the opposition Syrian National Council and proposed that international troops should protect civilians.”
Meanwhile, those rebels are calling for international air strikes against the Assad regime.
It’s quite possible that the Assad regime could unravel much faster than Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya did, since whole army units have already defected, and Assad is much more isolated from his country’s Sunni majority that Gadhafi was (at least ethnically) from his.
The rebels in Syria seem newly emboldened, as they just attacked the ruling Baath Party building in Damascus.
One estimate of the death toll since mid-March of 4,500 Syrains killed, which strikes me as much too low.
Barry Rubin says that Syria is no longer a revolution, it’s a civil war. He also says that the newly formed Syrian National Council is dominated by Islamists. Lovely. Guess who the U.S. is backing?
It is hard to overestimate how disastrous Obama Administration policy has been. Not only has it promoted an Islamist-dominated leadership (which might be pushed into power by monopolizing Western aid) but this mistake has fractured the opposition, ensuring there would be several anti-SNC groups. This strategy has also angered the Kurds and Turkmen minorities who view the SNC as antagonistic to their hopes for some autonomy. As a result, these two groups have reduced their revolutionary activities.
How bad has it gotten for Assad? A pro-Syrian demonstration in Beruit only drew dozens of supporters, where previously Assad count count on his (and Iran’s) puppets in Hezbollah to throng the streets with tens of thousands. Of course, Hezbollah and Amal are still in Assad’s corner. I do wonder if Assad could start importing Hezbollah fighters wholesale, since his own army seems unable to contain the rebellion. I also wouldn’t put it past Iran to send combat troops on to prop him up, though that seems less likely.
In the Weekly Standard, Lee Smith goes so far as to state: “Bashar al-Assad is finished.”
Maybe. News that the Arab league has suspended Syria indicates Bashar Assad may be on even shakier ground than previously thought. Getting suspended by the Arab League for oppressing your own people is only a couple of steps above getting kicked out of the Klu Klux Klan for being too racist.
And unlike Libya, even a hardline Islamist government would be a slight improvement on Assad, especially in Lebanon, if only because the Sunnis would break with Iran and cut off funding for the Shia Hezbollah.
But it’s hard to tell. When Syrian generals defected at the end of July, that looked like it might have been the final push, but wasn’t. never underestimate a cornered dictator willing to do anything to stay in power.
Will Obama decide to roll out drone strikes in Syria? Maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it, as Obama hasn’t seemed terribly interested in Syria, even by the lax standards of his foreign policy engagement. Also, the geography is more daunting than in Libya; to be effective, they’d have to come in over Lebanon or Israel to hit targets in Damascus, each of which presents (different) political problems.
Before I hit the hay:
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood…
As a much more closed society, news is harder to come by, but depending on who you believe, there are conflicting reports that:
As usual, the BBC has live updates.
A popular uprising that toppled Ghaddafi would be great news, but I’m not sure I’m willing to believe he would be that easy to topple. Ghaddafi seems like the sort of dictator who would happily slaughter tens of thousands of his citizens if he thought he needed to to stay in power.
Of course, one big difference was between Egypt and Libya is that Egypt’s military is (by Arab standards) professional and pretty competent, and even though they lost the Yom Kipur war, Egyptian troops in Sinai bloodied the Israelis enough that Egyptians felt they had sufficiently restored the nation’s honor that Anwar Sadat was able to sign to Camp David accords. (The previous three Arab-Israeli wars had resulted in Israel delivering a complete ass-kicking to all the Arab armies, so only receiving a partial ass-kicking was indeed a vast improvement.)
By contrast, Libya’s army seems pretty incompetent: they got their asses kicked by Chad in the Toyota War, in which Chadian forces armed with Toyota-pickup-mounted anti-tank guns left a billion dollars worth of Soviet equipment burning in the Aouzou Strip. It would not surprise me at all to find that the Libyan army is too poorly trained to suppress a real popular uprising.
Whether they want to or not, it looks like people all across the Middle East are fated to live in interesting times…