World must aid Syria's rebels
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin cast a veto against a resolution on Syria in the U.N. Security Council on Saturday.
February 6th, 2012
03:11 PM ET

World must aid Syria's rebels

Editor's note: Shadi Hamid is director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. The views expressed in this article are his own.

By Shadi Hamid - Special to CNN

A last-ditch effort to put an end to the bloodshed in Syria failed on Saturday, with Russia and China exercising their veto at the United Nations. With that fateful decision, the conflict moved to another, more dangerous stage. Those who warn that Syria will descend into civil war are a bit behind: It is already in civil war. Now it will only intensify.

In the months leading up to the U.N. vote, Syria's opposition has grown more militarized. Rebel forces, under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, gained considerable traction after a shaky start. The U.N.'s failure to act may have been the best recruiting tool the FSA could have hoped for, and its ascendancy is now a nearly foregone conclusion.

Meanwhile, after first opposing any resort to armed resistance, the Syrian National Council, the country's most representative opposition body, has made an important shift. It has now "pledged to support" the FSA, and the two groups are attempting to increase coordination. FULL POST

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Topics: Syria
Libya may be in America's vital interest after all
Suha El Darat, 19, from Misrata, Libya gestures in celebration outside the Libyan Embassy on August 22, 2011 in London, England. (Getty Images)
August 26th, 2011
04:42 PM ET

Libya may be in America's vital interest after all

Editor’s Note: Shadi Hamid is director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He can be followed on Twitter at @shadihamid.

By Shadi Hamid – Special to CNN’s Global Public Square

America’s intervention in Libya is not quite the success some are making out to be, as I point out here. Thus far, there is little empirical evidence to suggest that President Obama’s preference for “leading from behind” helped guarantee rebel victory (if anything, it prolonged the inevitable).

That said, the U.S. decision, however belated, to intervene in Libya – a country of tenuous importance to U.S. national security interests – was almost certainly the right thing to do. For this, credit is due. In a fit of isolationist pique, many on both the American left and right opposed the intervention. Iraq, understandably, loomed large. It is possible, however, to over-learn the lessons of the last war. It is true that America has a troubled, even tragic, history of interference in the Middle East. But just as there are bad interventions, there can also be good interventions. FULL POST

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Topics: Libya • Middle East • United States
Obama squandered a big opportunity
A Libyan rebel fighter listens to U.S. President Barack Obama's speech on TV while guarding the main entrance of an oil terminal in the Libyan eastern town of Zuwaytinah on May 19, 2011.
May 19th, 2011
04:27 PM ET

Obama squandered a big opportunity

Editor’s Note: Shadi Hamid is director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

By Shadi Hamid, Special to CNN

It was frustrating to watch President Obama give a speech that proved underwhelming and relatively pedestrian. There is something to be said for grasping the gravity of a historic moment.

By this standard, and many others, Obama fell short. To be sure, President Obama said many of the right things, but no one ever doubted that he could say them. What was in doubt was his administration’s ability (and willingness) to translate those pledges and promises into real policy changes on the ground. FULL POST

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Topics: Middle East • President Obama
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