Monday, August 25, 2014

Trucial Taunt

If events in the Arab World weren't so tragic, they would be funny. New York Times --

CAIRO — Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly teamed up to launch airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation between the supporters and opponents of political Islam. The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington or seeking its consent, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to American diplomats, the officials said ... The officials said that the U.A.E. — believed to have one of the most effective air forces in the region, thanks to American aid and training — provided the pilots, warplanes, and aerial refueling planes necessary for the fighters to bomb Tripoli out of bases in Egypt. The U.A.E. has not commented directly on the strikes. But on Monday an Emirati state newspaper printed a statement from Anwar Gargash, minister of state for foreign affairs, calling questions about an Emirati role “an escape” from the recent election that he suggested showed a desire for “stability” and a rejection of the Islamists. The allegations about the U.A.E. role, he said, came from a group who “wanted to use the cloak of religion to achieve its political objectives,” and “the people discovered its lies and failures.”

Among the striking things about where the world seems headed is that even the safest of conventional wisdom or smug narratives has an ever shorter shelf life. In this case, all the arguing about whether the US should or should intervene somewhere seems beside the point when other parties are not sitting back and waiting for an American decision. If anything, it seems to be the case here, as in Syria, that it's the lack of US intervention that is drawing in new players, who sense a free-for-all.