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Juan Cole, Informed Comment: Greater Middle East Turns More Dangerous for US

Greater Middle East Turns More Dangerous for US
by Juan Cole, September 25, 2011

Here are some troubling reports suggesting trouble ahead for the United States in the Greater Middle East, and, indeed, trouble for the region internally:

1. The surprise return to Yemen on Friday of President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been followed by a bloody Saturday. Some 40 persons were killed yesterday in Sanaa, as forces loyal to Saleh attacked positions of an officer who had defected from the military and joined the protesters.

2. Military defections in Syria: Clashes continue between protesters and the Baath regime of Bashar al-Asad in Syria, with 18 civilians killed, mostly in the central area of Homs on Saturday. Some 12 were killed in al-Qusair in Homs district. But in news that could be significant, Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that a significant number of military personnel has defected to the protesters in the Homs area, and that the struggle there is starting to take on a para-military character for the first time.

3. The US has accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence organization of actively supporting the Haqqani Network of guerrillas, based in North Waziristan, who have been attacking US and Afghan National Army forces. They may have been behind an attack on the US embassy in Kabul. The charges have caused the most serious rift in US-Pakistan relations in recent decades.

4. In Bahrain, the majority Shiites boycotted the parliamentary by-election held Thursday. Electoral boycotts tend to make things worse because they reduce participation by dissidents in the political process.

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