Sunday, June 26, 2016

Fighting Islamic Terrorism In the Wake Of Orlando, Part 2 - Situation Analysis and Long Term Resolution Assumptions

Yesterday we took some time to discuss the terrorist attack at a nightclub in Orlando a few weekends ago. We listed out a number of steps that needed to be taken in the short term, and extending into the long term, that would help prevent similar attacks in the future. These steps require extensive effort on behalf of the government and the Washington political class, something that neither has had the will or ability to do in the past. 

Instead, we get people like Obama and other liberals inside and outside of government that, as always, go to the knee jerk reaction of limiting Americans access to guns. As we pointed out yesterday, the 9-11 attackers did not storm the Twin Towers with AR 15 rifles, they used airplanes to carry their terror plans. The Boston Marathon bombers did not jump into a crowd in Boston and start shooting up the place, they used homemade bombs. Other terrorists here and around the world have used simple knives to kill in the name of terror.

We also pointed out that if a person wanted to carry out a terror attack, any new gun control laws passed by Washington would be nothing more than an inconvenience, if anyone wants a gun in this country, the drug cartels or other organized, and unorganized, criminal entity would be more than willing to make a few bucks by providing such weapons and guns. That is why the many suggestions we provided yesterday to attack the root causes of terrorism are far more important and more likely to be effective than window dressing gun control restrictions.

However, there has to be an overarching strategy to eliminate the terror threat from ISIS long term. While our suggestions from yesterday would go a long way to help protecting us, a long term strategy to settle down the violence and hatred in the Middle East is required at the highest levels of diplomacy. That is where Obama needs to be concentrating as his Presidency winds down, putting together a long term plan, strategy, and way of life that brings all of the diplomatic players together in a grand coalition and effort that finally eliminates the root cause of the ISIS terror reign.

However, since he seems more interested in changing national bathroom policies, hosting Super Bowl teams at the White House, and hiking around a national park out west, let us start the discussion today on what the grand plan might look like, why it would work and how each interested party would have to give a little to get a lot, i.e. the end of the ISIS threat.

In proposing this solution and plan, we realize that we are not trained diplomats. We have never held elected office. But we do realize that to have a final plan in any facet of life, you have to have at least a preliminary plan that is tweaked, negotiated, adjusted over time, etc. And since Obama, John Kerry, et al do not appear to have or have the ability to have a plan, they are more than welcome to start with ours.

1) Part One - Situational Analysis: You cannot resolve any problem without defining where you are today. Same thing with a diplomatic problem and hopefully, a diplomatic solution. As I see it, there are nine major players involved in the mess in Syria with ISIS:

  1. ISIS - the most ruthless, heartless, and well financed Islamic terror group ever, currently dominating large parts of Syria and Iraq, composed of Sunni Muslims.
  2. The United States - because we stick our noses into everything and the rise of ISIS was facilitated by the Obama administration.
  3. Syria - or what is left of it, headed up by Assad, a Shiite Muslim.
  4. Russia - an ally of Assad.
  5. Iran - a Shiite dominated country and ally of Assad.
  6. Iraq - a Shiite dominated country and an ally of Assad and Iran.
  7. Turkey - bordering Syria, anti-Assad, and an ISIS sympathizer.
  8. Saudi Arabia - and other Sunni Muslim Gulf states who are at least ISIS sympathizers if not more.
  9. Kurds - Anti-ISIS fighters with the majority of Kurds living in northern Iraq and who want their own country.
Nine different players that can and have had major impacts on the whole Syrian civil war/ISIS rise debacle. But it gets even more confusing when you try to map out visually on how these nine entities interact, resist, or cooperate with each other. The following crude picture tries to capture the multi layers of relationships between these nine players. The red lines indicate when two of these parties are each others’ enemy and the dotted green lines indicate when two of these parties are each others’ allies:

While I am pretty sure that this graph is not comprehensive, you can see that relationships that are mapped out result in some pretty strange results:

  • The United States is an enemy of Iran but we have a common enemy in ISIS. 
  • The United States is an ally of Turkey who is an ISIS sympathizer
  • The United States is an ally of the Saudis which is at least a sympathizer of ISIS.
  • The United States and Russia do not get along at all recently but we have a common enemy in ISIS with opposing views of Assad and Syria.
You could go on and on but you get the idea, it is certainly a tangled web of enemies, allies, self interest, and the most important factor, oil and oil pipelines. (note: when I refer to oil in this post I also include natural gas.)

I mention oil for the first time because I believe that oil is a major driver of the entire crisis. One could make the case, which is the assumption that we will going under, that the Sunni Saudis and their Sunni allies would like to get rid of Shiite Assad so that they can build a pipeline for their Sunni oil through Syria. 

Such a pipeline would likely cause an economic disadvantage to the Russian oil industry so Russia would like to keep Assad in power to control any pipeline that goes through Syrian territory and work with the likes of Iran so that if any pipeline is built, it is a Shiite controlled pipeline with Russian support. Keeping Assad in place also gives the Russian military more flexibility in using the geography of Syria as a military port.

Of course there are other subplots going on but I believe oil drives the bulk of the conflict. Given all of the interdependencies, oil wealth and potential oil wealth, the whole Shiite vs. Sunni situation, etc., what is a diplomatic solution that allows each of the nine parties above to walk away with something positive from their diplomatic efforts even if it is not everything they would want? Obviously, everyone trying to get everything from this mess has not resolved this mess.

2) Long Term Resolution Assumptions - We need to make a number of assumptions before laying out the plan:

  • ISIS needs to be defeated militarily and dismantled.
  • The United Nations needs to be involved and engaged immediately after the defeat of ISIS to provide food, shelter, and help in reestablishing law and order to the ISIS areas.
  • All countries will provide humanitarian and financial help after the ISIS defeat along the lines of the Marshall Plan after World War II.
  • Refugees will be encouraged to return to their home countries with financial and transportation aid part of the encouragement.
  • A United Nations peacekeeping force will be in place until no longer needed to ensure the reconstruction and terms of any diplomatic agreement are met.
Proposed details on what this grand diplomatic solution might look like, given the situation analysis and assumptions listed above will be laid out tomorrow. Included in the analysis will be a detailed look at what each of the nine parties listed above get and what they do not get as a result of the diplomatic solution. 

Hint: everyone gets something good, no one gets all of the good they would like to get.

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