It isn’t just changing tides with one regime going out and another coming in. Rather, the action in the Middle East that is triggered by embracing a common fight against radical terrorism is a “sea change” that is a profound transformation. For the transformation to produce desired outcomes, it is going to need intervention by positive forces that is foreign policy.
With all transformation change, organization development specialists might advise that it must begin with what they call “client readiness”. The principal actors are people and their institutions that are sometimes treated as persons because they comprise them.
Middle East populations of citizens are in various states of readiness. In Egypt, we witnessed the Arab Spring and a nation in which vast numbers are seeking sovereign identify over religious governance. They are working now to reform their institutions to effect that outcome.
In Afghanistan, ready or not, U.S. and allied forces imposed change upon Afghanistan because they had become such a menace to the world by harboring terrorists that military and economic intervention was required. The same case happened in Iraq where the national government and dictatorial leadership got so out of control that the nation posed a threat to world security.
In both of those instances, radical Sunni Muslims were at the foundation of the problem.
Sunni’s don’t have a corner on bad behavior. Iran’s Shiite government and Syria’s government represent their own brand of extremist governments that are non-democratic and non pluralistic.
“Sunni Arabs account for 59–60% of the population, most Kurds (9%) and Turkomen (3%) are Sunni, while 13% are Shia (Alawite, Twelvers, and Ismailis combined), 10% Christian (the majority Antiochian Orthodox, the rest including Greek Catholic, Assyrian Church of the East, Armenian Orthodox, Protestants and other denominations), and 3% Druze. Druze number around 500,000, and concentrate mainly in the southern area of Jabal al-Druze.
President Bashar al-Assad’s family is Alawite and Alawites dominate the government of Syria and hold key military positions.
Alawites have historically kept their beliefs secret from outsiders and non-initiated Alawites, so rumours about them have arisen. Alawites and Shi’ites in general were historically persecuted for their beliefs by the Sunni Muslim rulers of the area.”
President Obama is taking the approach to not condemn all Muslims as being radical or extreme any more than condemning all Christians and Jews or other religions that also harbor people and sects with extreme beliefs. It is when people harboring extreme beliefs are seen to discriminate or to impose their will on others in a free society that they become a menacing problem. In short, it would be a mistake to deny people of their cultural history and customs. Such diversity makes life rich and interesting. It is when societies fail to embrace modern and necessary changes that embrace tolerance and mutual respect that invasive action may be required. Obama is cutting people some slack so that they may embrace transformation.
“Wrong Turn on Syria: Helping Assad?
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD SEPT. 23, 2014
It’s fair to assume that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was awed, but not shocked, by the barrage of bombs that American planes dropped early Tuesday over insurgent-held areas in northern Syria. It appears, in fact, that he was quite pleased.
While rubble was still smoldering, Syria’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement embracing the bombing spree and saying Syria was eager to keep fighting terrorists “in cooperation with the countries which are directly or indirectly affected by it.” Among them, the statement said, is the “brotherly country of Iraq.”
Certainly in the short term, Mr. Assad stands to benefit most from America’s military incursion into a bloody civil war that has been raging for more than three years. That may be the most dangerous and morally troubling consequence of President Obama’s decision to cross the Syrian border to fight the Islamic State, the Sunni extremist group also known as ISIS and ISIL.
Continue reading the main story
Editorial: Wrong Turn on Syria: No Convincing PlanSEPT. 23, 2014
Room for Debate: Strikes on ISIS. Now What?SEPT. 23, 2014
Op-Ed Contributor: The Ancestors of ISISSEPT. 23, 2014
Thomas L. FriedmanOp-Ed Columnist: ISIS CrisisSEPT. 23, 2014
From the night Mr. Obama spoke about the possibility of attacking the Islamic State in Syria, it has not been clear how the administration could prevent such action from bolstering the Assad regime, which counts ISIS as its enemy.”