29 setembro, 2014
ESTADO ISLÂMICO ≠ AL -QAEDA
Sabemos que o ISIL (Islamic State for Syria and the Levant), a anterior designação do Estado Islâmico, integrava o conglomerado da Al-Qaeda. É sabido que o então ISIL (também chamado ISIS) rompeu com a Al-Qaeda no início deste ano. O que parece que nem todos sabem é que a o Estado Islâmico é bastante diferente da Al-Qaeda.
A Al-Qaeda é (ou era) fundamentalmente uma organização terrorista cuja actividade principal é praticar actos de violência, frequentemente contra soft-targets e preferencialmente alvos ocidentais, fosse no Ocidente (Estados Unidos, Reino Unido, Espanha), ou em países islâmicos (Afeganistão, Paquistão, Arábia Saudita, Iémen, Indonésia).
O objectivo último da Al-Qaeda era a constituição do Califado do Hindu Kush até ao Al Andaluz e a destruição de Israel figurava em lugar de destaque na sua agenda.
Já o Estado Islâmico é hoje mais um grupo insurgente do que simplesmente uma organização terrorista.
Os alvos e a metodologia do Estado Islâmico também diferem dos da Al-Qaeda, embora coincidam no estabelecimento do Califado Islâmico. O Estado Islâmico é uma milícia armada, até mesmo com características de exército, que ataca, conquista, ocupa e administra território, algo que a Al-Qaeda nunca foi e nunca fez.
Um carro de combate do Estado Islâmico. Um símbolo das diferenças entre o Estado Islâmico (que tem este tipo de armamento pesado) e a Al-Qaeda, que nunca o teve.
Enquanto Osama Bin Laden e Aiman Al-Zawahiri se deleitavam com high-profile attacks no Ocidente, com inúmeras vítimas e espectacularidade gráfica (de que os ataques de 11 de Setembro 2001 são o modelo), Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi tem a sua acção claramente focada na Mesopotâmia e no Levante.
Igualmente relevante é o facto de, até agora, o Estado Islâmico não ter demonstrado a mínima vontade, apetência, competência, ou sequer capacidade, para conceber, planear e executar ataques terroristas de alguma dimensão na Europa ou, ainda menos, na América do Norte.
O objectivo do Estado Islâmico é, claramente, estabelecer um domínio territorial no Médio Oriente, consolidando o Califado. Os seus inimigos privilegiados têm sido os Estados pré-estabelecidos (Síria e Iraque), os Xiitas e os não-Muçulmanos. Ou seja, inimigos locais ou regionais.
Esta realidade desmonta a tese da Casa Branca que o Estado Islâmico é uma ameaça fundamental para os Estados Unidos. Isso é conversa para iludir os incautos. O factor despoletador da intervenção armada no Iraque e na Síria é a degola de dois Norte-Americanos (seguida da de um Britânico). Por muito macabras e bárbaras que tenham sido as execuções, ninguém vai para a guerra porque mataram dois compatriotas.
Obama foi para a SUA war of choice (ironia do destino) no Médio Oriente (outra ironia) porque não aguentou as pressões e acusações dos Republicanos e dos intervencionistas liberais do Partido Democrata; aqueles acusavam-no de fraco e indeciso e estes atacavam-no por ele ser indiferente ao sofrimento e à tirania. A sua cedência foi a prova da sua fraqueza.
Resumindo, o Estado Islâmico não é a Al-Qaeda. A war of choice de Obama não é uma guerra, é uma coisa. Com muitos aliados e associados, é claro. A guerra, a sério, no terreno, será um teste à eficácia dos EUA e de seus compagnons de route, será um teste à resiliência e solidez da coligação e será um teste à força e resistência do Estado Islâmico. O resultado destes 3 testes, dir-nos-á, muito provavelmente, o resultado de mais esta guerra.
“AINDA O ESTADO ISLÂMICO”, 20/08/2014 em
“BURACO NEGRO DA 2ª DIVISÃO”, 29/06/2014 em
“GEOPOLÍTICA PASSIVA OU DYNAMIC BALANCE OF POWER”, 20/06/2014 em http://tempos-interessantes.blogspot.pt/2014/06/geopolitica-passiva-ou-dynamic-balance.html
“ESTADO ISLÂMICO DO IRAQUE OCIDENTAL E SÍRIA ORIENTAL”, 13/06/2014 em http://tempos-interessantes.blogspot.pt/2014/06/estado-islamico-do-iraque-ocidental-e.html
22 setembro, 2014
A CLEAR-CUT NO
The victory of the pro-Union vote in Scotland’s referendum was no landslide, but contrary to some grimmer analysis, it was no close-call either. A quick look at the map of Scotland offers a picture of a solid Scotland-wide preference for the Union:
The referendum map of Scotland.
in “BBC NEWS” at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-29255449
“NO” prevailed in no less than 28 out of 32 Scottish councils, including in such important urban areas as Edinburgh and Aberdeen, although the biggest council, Glasgow, voted “YES”.
Even more important than the council-to-council vote, was of course the overall vote, and that was clear: the “NO” camp WON with a 10.6% edge (55.3%-44.7%) over the “YES” vote.
There were 2,001,926 “NO” votes versus 1,617,989 “YES” votes, roughly a 400.000 vote-gap.
in “THE GUARDIAN” at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2014/sep/18/-sp-scottish-independence-referendum-results-in-full
The voter turnout was an impressive exercise in political and civic participation in the democratic process: 85% of the eligible population voted: 3.6 million people. There were 2,001,926 “NO” votes versus 1,617,989 “YES” votes, roughly a 400.000 vote-gap.
Quoting both David Cameron and Alex Salmond this should be “a vote for a lifetime”. Case closed.
“YES! IT’S NO!!!”, 19/09/2014 at
NOTE: Last Friday Tempos Interessantes reached the 200.000 hits mark. Thank you all!
19 setembro, 2014
Those of you who know me are aware that I am an Anglophile, I am a Britphile. Well, a UKphile, too. So, although I was confident that good sense and the “NO” would prevail, yesterday was a bit of a long night. Today is a bright new day!
The Union Jack bounces back!
The Union was saved! Thank God for that, because I regard the United Kingdom as a successful politic, economic, social and cultural country with unique characteristics and a glorious History. Plus, the United Kingdom is the birthplace of modern day Democracy.
Of course, she is far from being perfect (none is) but it is my conviction that the UK plays a significant and mostly positive role in International Relations in the world and, specially, in Europe, where it is the stalwart against the smothering and over-powered European bureaucratic apparatus.
in “THE ECONOMIST” at www.economist.com
Now the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will move forward to a constitutional reform promised by Prime-Minister David Cameron. An Union less-centralised in Westminster, with more power devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and, yes, to England will hopefully prove to be the true legacy of the Scottish referendum: a more politically balanced country, with a stronger role for its four nations, but still an Union!
17 setembro, 2014
Sir Mark Sykes (1879-1919) era um Coronel do Exército Britânico adstrito ao War Cabinet. François Georges-Picot (1870-1951) era um diplomata francês.
Pelo papel que desempenharam nas negociações entre a Grã-Bretanha e a França durante a I Guerra Mundial, o acordo secreto Assinado por Londres e Paris em 16 de Maio de 1916, entrou na História com os seus nomes: the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
O Acordo Sykes-Picot desenhou, directa ou indirectamente, o mapa de boa parte do Médio Oriente após uma eventual derrota do Império Otomano na Grande Guerra, abrangendo os territórios do Iraque, Jordânia, Israel, Palestina, Síria e Líbano (usando as terminologias actuais), que foram repartidos pelos dois impérios europeus.
Em linhas gerais, Israel, Palestina, Jordânia e Iraque ficaram sob a alçada do Reino Unido; Síria, Líbano e Norte do Iraque entregues à França. A divisão administrativa dos territórios ficou a cargo de cada um.
Como sucedeu noutras áreas do globo, as partilhas dos despojos otomanos foi feita à medida dos interesses britânicos e franceses. Assim, por exemplo, a França impôs um país para os Cristãos que viviam no Levante; assim nasceu o Líbano, realidade previamente inexistente, a expensas da Síria. Do mesmo modo, a Jordânia (inicialmente Trans-Jordânia – território para além do rio Jordão) foi criada do nada para satisfazer as promessas que Londres fez durante a Guerra aos Hashemitas.
As áreas de influência do Acordo Sykes-Picot sobrepostas a um mapa actual. O vermelho corresponde à Grã-Bretanha, o azul à França e o verde à Rússia.
A Guerra Civil da Síria desde 2011 e a fulminante ascensão do ISIL/Estado Islâmico desde o fim de 2013, tiveram estas consequências:
1- Destruiram a Síria enquanto país unitário, sólido e solidário.
2- Abalaram o Iraque até às suas (frágeis) fundações, levantando questões sobre a sua viabilidade.
3- Arrasaram a fronteira entre a Síria e o Iraque, colocando um grande ponto de interrogação sobre a viabilidade contemporânea de Sykes-Picot.
Reino Unido e França determinaram Estados onde nada existia. Ou melhor, existiam clãs e tribos que ainda existem. Como o Iraque, a Síria, o Líbano, a Jordânia e a Palestina não existiam, as pessoas não criaram uma nova identidade da noite para o dia. Tornaram-se Iraquianos, Jordanos, Sírios e Libaneses porque foram realidades que lhes foram apresentadas como factos consumados, mas o seu sentimento de pertença continuou no grupo e não na inexistente nação.
Essa é uma das razões pelas quais as fronteiras do Médio Oriente são volúveis: frequentemente a identidade tribal sobrepõe-se à nacionalidade. E se o grupo se sente maltratado, discriminado, oprimido pelo poder central (como acontece com os Sunitas no Iraque, com os Al-Houthi no Iémen, com os Curdos em todo o lado e com todos no Líbano), ou se pressente uma oportunidade de melhorar o seu status ou aumentar o seu poder, atropelam as fronteiras sem remorso.
Além disso, existe em sectores mais radicais um forte ressentimento contra Sykes-Picot. Um exemplo disso mesmo é Aiman Al-Zawahiri, na altura nº 2 da Al-Qaeda e actual líder:
Not only was Palestine given to the Zionist enemy, but the rest of the Arab world was carved up between the British and French empires under the terms of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, thereby weakening the ummah and facilitating the capture of Jerusalem and Palestine.
Aiman Al-Zawahiri, “Realities of the Conflict between Islam and Unbelief”,
cit. em Bruce Riedel, “The Search for Al Qaeda”
O Estado Islâmico, apesar de já não pertencer à Al-Qaeda, fez precisamente tábua rasa das fronteiras: ocupa território no Iraque e na Síria, usa a Turquia para trânsito de homens e equipamento e já fez incursões no Líbano. O Estado Islâmico não é simplesmente um grupo de sado-fanáticos que degola e massacra. O Estado Islâmico é o pós-Sykes-Picot, ou pelo menos é a isso que se propõe.
Provavelmente não o conseguirá, mas já provou a fragilidade do Acordo Sykes-Picot entre a Grã-Bretanha e a França. Volvido quase um século, talvez seja o tempo de reconhecer o fim da validade de Sykes-Picot, sob pena de estes ou outros Estados Islâmicos, Hezbollahs, ou PKKs continuarem a surgir e a espalhar o caos.
Sir Mark Sykes.
in “Flatrock” em
in “University of Michigan” em http://www-personal.umich.edu/~sarhaus/MapsAndTimelines/Fall2007/Gryniewicz/Picot.html
in “STRATFOR” em www.stratfor.com
15 setembro, 2014
On 10th September, President Barack Obama of the United States gave a major speech at the White House. The leit motiv was a new American intervention in Iraq to fight the Islamic State.
in “HAARETZ” at http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/west-of-eden/.premium-1.615258
The speech was mostly hailed but also received harsh criticism. Having read the speech, I am going to analyse its highlights. I read it at the “Politico” at http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=D60F1BDE-BBCC-B459-6A0E96330E372A85
There are three different target audiences: the Americans, the Islamic State and the Middle Eastern prospective allies.
The Americans, the Congress and the public, were really the main target-audience, which was expectable given that Obama’s war-theatre decisions tend to be subsumed to his domestic political agenda.
Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. We can’t erase every trace of evil from the world […]. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. And that’s why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL — which calls itself the “Islamic State.”
Obama starts giving the overall context of violence and upheaval in the Middle East, before narrowing down on the target.
Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents. And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.
In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. […] And in acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists — Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.
Here’s the demonisation of the prospective foe. The punch line is the reference to the beheading of two Americans which is mentioned specifically to raise the dramatic effect, causing revulsion and a desire for payback.
However, in the first of these two paragraphs, the US President is concerned with the possibility that the public will have an anti-Islam reaction to his lashing-out at the Islamic State. To avoid this he makes two implausible claims. Actually the first one is outright ridiculous: ISIL IS Islamic. Obviously the vast majority of Muslims do not behave like the Islamic State members, but they claim the Muslim faith, they practice it and fight on its name, so they are Islamic, of the Salafist Jihadist type, but definitely Islamic. The second one is very dubious at best: the Islamic State controls a territory, a population, it has an army, publishes legislation, collects taxes, administers justice (of their own kind), uses force and it even has a flag. So here are all the basics of what constitutes a state. The fact that no other state recognises her statehood does not make it disappear.
Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.
This is the goal the United States will be pursuing in Iraq. Short, concise and clear.
First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense.
Second, we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground. In June, I deployed several hundred American service members to Iraq to assess how we can best support Iraqi security forces. […]- we will send an additional 475 service members to Iraq. As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission –- we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment.
Third, we will continue to draw on our substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks. Working with our partners, we will redouble our efforts to cut off its funding; improve our intelligence; strengthen our defenses; counter its warped ideology; and stem the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the Middle East.
Fourth, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced by this terrorist organization.
The four-point strategy is also clearly laid out and there are no surprises: air attacks; intelligence and logistical support and no boots on the ground (although there are already 1500 American troops in Iraq). The message is two-fold:
1- We are providing a strong and firm response to this enemy.
2- We shall do it in a safe way, from the air, so there will be no casualties and no entanglement.
The crux of the problem is, of course, to know if the reality will conform to the American President’s wishes. It is obvious that many of these 1500 Americans will see action to assist and guide the bombing campaign and the Iraqi army. I would also say that the buck will not stop at this 1500 figure. Furthermore, plenty of experts are highly skeptical, to say the least, as to the feasibility of destroying the Islamic State from the air and with the locals fighting on the ground.
Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.[…]
Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. Tonight, I call on Congress again to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters. In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its own people — a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost. Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all.
Herein lies a conundrum for the USA. The Islamic State controls territory in Syria and Iraq. Assuming you can destroy it in Iraq, that still leaves territory, troops and equipment intact in Syria. So, you actually do not destroy it. However, in Syria the environment is even more chaotic and hostile than in Iraq. Obama does not want to cooperate with the Syrian government, so he risks seeing his assets attacked when and if he intervenes in Syria. In Iraq the US can count on the national army (for whatever it is worth), but not so in Syria. Finally, his so-called allies in the fractured civil war Syrian landscape are weak and unreliable. So, going into Syria is risky but ultimately necessary.
So this is our strategy. And […] America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners. Secretary Kerry […] will travel across the Middle East and Europe to enlist more partners in this fight, especially Arab nations who can help mobilize Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria, to drive these terrorists from their lands. This is American leadership at its best: We stand with people who fight for their own freedom, and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.
In this part, Obama tries to portray a glorious endeavour led by the United States, to make Americans feel proud of this project. However, some of these allies and partners will be the ones doing the dirty and risky work. Some may be less competent, others less brave, others still a bit unpalatable, some totally so. We are talking about Iraq’s Army, the Kurdish Peshmerga some of whom are trying to carve a new country out of Iraq, the Shiite militias the US fought hard against last decade, Syria and, last but not least, Iran.
Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL. And any time we take military action, there are risks involved […]. But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.
This may be the trickiest paragraph of the speech. Obama concedes it will take time. Some in the administration talk about as long as 3 years. That sounds awkwardly like Iraq 1.0, like Afghanistan, like entanglement. Maybe that is why the President rushes to add that this one will be different. Maybe that is why he never mentions the W word: WAR.
In order to further underline the differences between George W. Bush’s wars and Barack Obama’s “efforts” and “counterterrorism campaigns”, he cites the same strategy that is being “successfully” used in Yemen and Somalia. Unfortunately, these “efforts” have been going on for years with no end in sight: nor to the campaign, nor to Al-Qaeda in Arabia Peninsula, nor to Al-Shabbab. Unlike what Obama tries to convey, these examples do not bode well for this new “effort”.
It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so that they can’t pose a threat to the Syrian people or the world again.
This is unrelated to the anti-Islamic State “effort”, but I quote it because of the irony of trying to take credit for a Russian initiative on the very same paragraph in which he bashes Russia over the Crisis in Ukraine.
The last part of the speech is just a panegyric of the United States greatness and exceptionalism (a concept to which Obama himself is a late convert), so it is not too relevant. I just picked one last quote:
From Europe to Asia, from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East, we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding.
Well, where do capitals like Beijing, Teheran, Riyadh, Tripoli, Baku, Rangoon, Khartoum, to quote a few, fit in that mantra?
Barack Hussein Obama has spoken. It must have been difficult for him to make this speech since he has made a point of withdrawing from the Middle East and from every and any conflict, regardless of their importance (or lack thereof) to the United States.
I believe Obama took this decision more out of pressure than conviction and so he forwarded a belated and belittled strategy with minimum risk and much ado about allies, partners and international community. For better or worse he crossed his little Rubicon. This war is his to win or loose. No more Bush excuses this time around. Alea jacta est.
NOTE: This is the second post with the same format in which there is an analysis of a major foreign policy speech. To check the first Vladimir Putin on Crimea’s return to Russia:
“READING PUTIN”, 25th March 2014 at