Monday, May 11, 2009

Middle East Update: Good news from Iran, bad news from Iraq, potentially good or bad news concerning peace process...

First the good news: Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi is free from her Tehran prison cell today, presumably headed back to the U.S., after an Iranian appeals court suspended her "espionage" sentence.

I am sure hardliners and chickenhawks are absolutely bat-mad about this. It's intuitively obvious that (a) agents respond better to a perception of openness even among adversaries, and (b) the Obama administration, however beholden it is to corporatism, is nevertheless of a far higher degree of intellectual and diplomatic nuance than the Bush misadministration.

Second, the bad news, and by "bad" I mean tragic and disturbing: The Pentagon has confirmed that an American soldier killed four fellow soldiers and then himself in Baghdad today.

Initially, reports merely said five soldiers were killed and the military was investigation what could have caused such a security breach. This suggests a great deal of initial confusion about the event. I hope we can learn more about what caused this. We need to continue to demand full withdrawal now. Whoever these people were, their deaths were NOT worth the neocon-crusaiding-oil-loving imperialism of Bush, or the confused, hubristic cowardice of Obama.

Finally, potentially good or extremely scary news. An attempted peace deal between Israel and the entire Arab world seems to be inevitable--brokered by Obama, who has the skills and the will to do it if doing so won't offend his corporate bosses--and involving many key concessions, at least according to the King of Jordan:
King Abdullah II of Jordan revealed to the Times of London that the Obama administration may attempt a comprehensive peace treaty between Israel and the entire Muslim world. The latter would recognize Israel and grant El Al overflight rights. Israel in return would have to freeze settlement activity and move smartly toward a two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state, with Israeli settlers removed from the West Bank. The status of Jerusalem would be left for later negotiations.

The scary part, according to the same analysis by Juan Cole, is that there will be another war in the region in about a year if the process fails. And the process will definitely fail if the statelessness of the Palestinians is not addressed. Both Obama and the Pope (unsurprising but I guess not a bad touch) have endorsed a Palestinian state. The arrogant Netanyahu has repeatedly balked and will balk some more. We'll see what happens.

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