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Mission Leap: 5 Signs the Limited Iraq Intervention is Spiraling Out of Control

in Opinion

Win McNamee/Getty Images // President Barack ObamaMicah Zenko (Foreign Policy) — On Feb. 12, 1993, journalist Christopher Burns filed a story from Somalia containing a term that had never before appeared in English language press: "The U.S.-led military mission to halt clan warfare and get aid to the needy has unofficially widened its role to include such tasks as rebuilding houses, digging wells and creating police forces. Officials call it 'mission creep.'"

As America's recent intervention in Iraq gathers steam, the phrase and its implicit warnings have reemerged among policymakers and public commentators. Worryingly, though, it seems some top officials don't get it.

As President Barack Obama noted on Tuesday: "Typically, what happens with mission creep is when we start deciding that we're the ones who have to do it all ourselves. And because of the excellence of our military that can work for a time. We learned that in Iraq." This is a puzzling lesson to take away from Iraq: rather than preferring unilateralism, the Bush administration begged every country with deployable military forces to participate in the invasion and occupation.

Opinion: The Worst Case Scenario In The Middle East

in Opinion

Reuters/Ahmad Mousa // Shi'ite volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), take part in field training in Najaf, August 20, 2014.Michael B Kelley (Business Insider) — Ali Khedery, the longest continuously serving American official in Iraq (2003-09), recently sat down with Reza Akhlaghi of the Foreign Policy Association to discuss American policy in the Middle East.

The candid discussion highlights several mistakes the U.S. made in the 21st century and lays out some troubling potential scenarios for the future if circumstances continue to worsen.

"As the Middle East unravels, the U.S. and its allies will be the real losers because we won’t be able to contain these cancers of sectarian war and transnational jihad," Khedery, who is now chairman and chief executive of the Dubai-based Dragoman Partners, told Akhlaghi. "Radicals will grow in strength on both sides, namely the Salafist ISIS and the Shia militias, eventually driving the entire region towards destabilization, inevitably threatening global energy supplies and the global economy."

Opinion: The ISIS Problem Cannot be Solved by Arming the PKK

in Opinion

Twitter/Radikal/File // PKK soldiersCeylan Ozbudak (Al Arabiya) — The ISIS menace has been spreading beyond the borders of Middle East. Both the EU countries and the U.S. are rightly alarmed by the situation. We are all watching the discussions about combatting the radical group very closely and I have to remind my readers that the popular notion “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” is the most unsound method ever offered.

With its fanatical interpretation of Islam, military victories, terrible methods of executions and mass murders, ISIS has understandably been the center of attention lately. Trying to come up with a solution, which will not put the lives of their citizens in danger, some countries in the EU and the U.S. have started discussing arming the militia of the PKK, designated by Turkey and the U.S. as a terrorist organization.

As the trend of trying to whitewash the PKK ideology and its current situation continues in the Western media, many Middle Eastern pundits are also being lured into the populist tide. Turkey on the other hand, has been remarkably quiet about this situation despite the obvious unrest among the citizens of Turkey. While our diplomats are choosing the way of patience, I want to speak out about the frustrations of Turkey and the reality of the PKK.

Opinion: The Terrible Idea of Partnering With Syria’s Assad

in Opinion

SANA/AP // Syria's President Bashar Assad, reviews an honor guard upon his arrival at the presidential palace to take the oath of office for his new term of office, on July 16, 2014.Bobby Ghosh (Quartz) — Serious people are beginning to talk up the idea of an alliance between the US and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad against the seemingly unstoppable forces of the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS).

Ryan Crocker, former US ambassador to both Baghdad and Damascus, and a man whose opinion I value, argues that Assad is “the least worst option” in Syria.

Richard Haass, who heads the Council on Foreign Relations, and is a foreign-policy realist, has written an opinion piece in the Financial Times  suggesting such an alliance may be the only way to defeat the terrorist group. (Haass and I briefly debated the point on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.)

Opinion: Why Russia Loves a ‘Frozen Conflict’

in Opinion

Mstislav Chernov/AP // A Pro-Russian rebel walks in a passage at the local market damaged by shelling in Petrovskiy district in the town of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 26, 2014.Brian Whitmore (The Atlantic) — We've been here before. Most of the world just wasn't paying attention.

When Russian-backed separatists seized control of Georgia's Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions in the early 1990s, it didn't make international headlines. Likewise, when separatist fighters in Moldova's Transdniester region took control of that strip of territory with Moscow's implicit blessing, it was largely met with a collective yawn in the international community.

The script and the playbook have been the same as has the result: exploiting a local ethnic conflict, the Kremlin has repeatedly used local proxies, and then its own troops to seize de facto control of a breakaway region in a former Soviet state. And all the while Moscow has maintained a semblance of plausible deniability that it was the conflicts' principal instigator.

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