Thursday, December 29, 2011

Shenanigans in the Middle East

The year's closing out with a rumble over in that part of western and southwestern Asia we like to call 'the Middle East.'

Cases in point:

If it's late December, you know you're going to see a brouhaha at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. As usual, it was the Greek Orthodox versus the Armenian Catholics, and brooms were involved. Riot police wielding batons were called out, but no arrests - these are, after all, men of the cloth and servants of the Prince of Peace, you know.

In the waters off the Red Sea coast of Yemen earlier this month an underwater volcano erupted, creating a new island. Neat, eh?

Israel saw protests against the ultra-ultra-orthodox Haredis, who are what you might want to call Jews on Steroids. They're advocating strict segregation of the sexes and what they call "proper" dress for women - sort of like the hijab or burqa, I should imagine. A ten-year-old girl was highlighted by one story; she's been harassed and called a slut and prostitute for dressing, you know, normally.

Iran, as you might have heard, may be trying to develop a nuclear weapon. In order to coerce them into not fiddling about with fissiles, Europe and the United States are threatening to set up an oil embargo, preventing Iran from selling oil. The Islamic Republic retaliated by staging naval maneuvers and stating quite baldly that they could close the vital Straits of Hormuz, which supplies about a third of the world's oil.

We take such things seriously, and the Pentagon said that we won't tolerate a closure of the Straits. We might move the Fifth Fleet in that direction, but I think they should step carefully - a US war game several years ago resulted in the opposing force sinking one of our aircraft carriers.

Shit got real for Arab League observers in Syria. They were there to monitor and investigate allegations that the Assad regime was slaughtering thousands of its own citizens in an attempt to stifle a reform movement. One team member said he saw "nothing frightening," which made me wonder if Sergeant Schultz hadn't married a nice Syrian girl after the War.

Riots are still going on in Egypt, where the people who ran out the Mubarak regime are still there, and the people would very much like them to leave, please, so they can rebuild a democratic government.

Iraq? What amazes me is they waited four whole days after we left to start things going.

We're selling F-15 air superiority fighters to Saudi Arabia. Merry Christmas, King Abdullah.

Going to be a fun year ...



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