How do you distinguish “old” in a city that was founded over 1100 years ago? When some of the “newer” areas are older than the United States of America, it’s all old to me, but to the Egyptians there is an old and new Cairo. The old part is called “Islamic Cairo”, which seems like another redundant name in Cairo, one of the largest Islamic cities in the world. To learn more we set off to explore this “old” Islamic Cairo…here’s what we found.
Signs such as this begin to get old, I mean really old, as almost every building was constructed before “Columbus sailed the ocean blue” which marks old for me.
Old Cairo isn’t a dead city or closed off to be a museum, rather it’s as alive today as it ever was, full of homes, stores, restaurants and mosques.
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Erica and Matt Chua: Climbing Above Old Cairo
Click here to download the podcast of December’s “Geopolitics with Granieri”
Russia’s resurgence raises a host of questions. Specifically, what does this mean for the future of democracy in the former Soviet republic? How have recent shifts in Russian-American relations influenced Russian ambitions in the “near abroad?” What role – if any – will China play in Eurasian politics? Join Host Ron Granieri, as he “interrogates” Stephen Blank, one of the nation’s leading experts on Eurasia, to find out the answers to these important questions and much more!
Dr. Stephen J. Blank is a Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council. He has published over 900 articles and monographs on Soviet/Russian, U.S., Asian, and European military and foreign policies, testified frequently before Congress on Russia, China, and Central Asia, consulted for the Central Intelligence Agency, major think tanks and foundations, chaired major international conferences in the U.S. and in Florence; Prague; and London, and has been a commentator on foreign affairs in the media in the U.S. and abroad. He has also advised major corporations on investing in Russia and is a consultant for the Gerson Lehrmann Group. He has published or edited 15 books, most recently Russo-Chinese Energy Relations: Politics in Command (London: Global Markets Briefing, 2006). He has also published Natural Allies? Regional Security in Asia and Prospects for Indo-American Strategic Cooperation (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2005). He is currently completing a book entitled Light From the East: Russia’s Quest for Great Power Status in Asia to be published in 2014 by Ashgate. Dr. Blank is also the author of The Sorcerer as Apprentice: Stalin’s Commissariat of Nationalities (Greenwood, 1994); and the co-editor of The Soviet Military and the Future(Greenwood, 1992).
Reposting from July 2013:
Our world seems on the cusp of losing a genuine hero for the ages, Nelson Mandela.
The word hero gets overused a lot but never when applied Mr Mandela, who looks like Morgan Freeman playing God after God has decided to stick around and live among the mortals.
Muhammad Ali famously dismissed achieving the impossible saying “Impossible is nothing.” Nelson Mandela has exemplified that statement throughout his life and continues to do so.
I first heard of this man when I was 20 years old and had the privilege to spend several days in South Africa in 1983. Apartheid, legalized racial discrimination against blacks, was embedded in the nation’s legal system. Nelson Mandela was incarcerated and in poor health. We were taught at the time that he would almost certainly die in prison.
But he didn’t.
Several years later celebrating his 70th birthday while still in prison, Nelson Mandela rallied his people. He became a symbol of patient and peaceful persistence against injustice and a symbol of inspiration much like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King had become resisting injustices in their own countries just decades earlier.
Shortly after that, even though struggling with tuberculosis, Nelson Mandela emerged from prison a free man who not only lived but lived to become the president of his country (and the first black office holder in South African history). Ironically, his country had imprisoned him years earlier for resisting its laws and committing treason and sedition in defying Apartheid in Mandela’s youth. As president Mandela went on to remove the yoke of Apartheid from his country and for all of South Africa’s people.
And today—nearly 30 years after I first heard Mandela’s name whispered as a ghost in the failed resistance to South Africa’s Apartheid policy, he is a living embodiment of everything that was impossible then ….and that his most ardent supporters had stopped believing could ever happen.
How does that happen?
How does a man physically weak, legally incarcerated, politically written off, sick with a potentially fatal malady and aging into his 70s not give up?
How does that same man emerge in his twilight years and become arguably an even more successful South African version of our nation’s Abraham Lincoln?
I don’t know.
Except that’s the kind of things that real heroes do…..and real heroes are as rare as they are extraordinary. And it’s worth pointing out that one is still alive and in our midst. Although sadly, perhaps not for much longer. But he’s here now.
And we are blessed to be able to acknowledge him, again, while he is still alive. And thank him for teaching us that impossible isn’t always as difficult to overcome as it seems.
If you run a business off your laptop, be sure not to leave the laptop in the seat pocket in front of you after idling on the Tarmac for 45 minutes before take-off.
It is posaible you will get in a conversation with a man from Jordan in the window seat next to you and forget to use the laptop when airborne and above 10,000 feet. (As a sidenote airplanes these days go much higher than 10,000 feet. In fact, about 35,000 –Vanessa Armstrong and Steven Riggs. Not everybody knows this but probably should. Especially of they are going to post about air travel on Facebook.)
Back to the main topic. If you do get engrossed in a conversation with a member of the Jordanian military under these circumstances DO NOT leave your laptop in the seat pocket in front of you. Also, if asked by the Jordanian member of the military seated next to you “What do you know about Jordan?” Don’t say “You mean Michael Jordan? The greatest basketball player of all time?” Because that is not what they are talking about. They are talking about a different Jordan that you probably don’t know much about. (Hint: Try Googling Jordan, the country, when they are not looking so don’t sound like a complete embecile).
And if you do leave your laptop in the seat pocket and it is a US Air flight, call customer service and ask for Roberta. She is great and can help you locate your laptop the next morning. Just don’t try to blame USAir for your memory lapse. That only ticks off Roberta and she won’t try as hard to find it for you.
Hope this helps.
Also, turns out Jordan is a really interesting place to talk about. But probably not worth losing your laptop over.
What I did over the last two hours.
On plane to NYC
Left Louisville, Kentucky this late this afternoon to travel to New York City, New York.
Not walking, of course.
Not taking horse drawn carriage.
Not traveling by boat.
Not traveling by automobile either.
But flying –soaring really–12,000 feet above the ground at over 500 miles per hour.
Over 500 mph!!
Like a giant steel bird flying confidently and safely through outer space high above the clouds and now swooping down to land in a new brightly lit up city with millions and millions of strangers just like you and me but different too.
Wheels touched down and we have arrived in New York City, New York from Louisville, Kentucky in a 2 long hours.
We are not your tired and huddled masses seeking refuge but more like well rested and well fed aliens visiting from a distant planet because we can.
For the weekend.
I suspect that Lady Liberty in her permanently proud and protective pose is trying to defy gravity by grinning to herself and thinking “This is happening!”
After spending nearly three years on the road, we look back on all that we put up with to save a dollar. Were all the long bus rides and sleeping at airports worth it to keep the expenses in check?
You’ll never hear me claim that there is a better way to travel than budget travel. Getting as close to the locals’ spending as possible is the best way to understand how their life is…and isn’t that why to travel? Not only the experiences, but also the differences between experiences in different places are enlightening. Exposing yourself to where the locals eat, stay and play will teach you more about a place than a tour ever would.
If I wanted something easy and comfortable I’d try to have that at home, not in some distant land. Why would I put my money towards temporary comfort instead of investing in permanent comfort? At home I want the most comfortable things possible, but on the road I want the most locally authentic experiences possible.
This does create some problems though. It’s caused us to end up in some places where I was deathly allergic to things. It’s led us to some pretty dirty places. It’s made us terribly sick. The romantic idea of living like a local is much better than it is in reality.
Here is one great example. We thought we had scored a great deal on a place to stay in Seoul, in a student building, on AirBnB. The listing made it clear that it could sleep two, evenings were quiet times, and there was free rice. They had me at the price, but I fell in love with the idea of free rice. See the photo above? That’s how we slept for three nights. On the fourth day I ran into the building manager, the same person who had checked us in, and he asked how we were sleeping. I responded that we were doing fine. Then he asked the key question, “would you like another mattress?” Why yes we would! How had he failed to mention this earlier, such as when the two of us checked in?
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Erica & Matt Chua: Budget Travel Gripes
The Recovering Politician is proud to present the latest project by Friend of RP Mark Nickolas, recovering political blogger and now award-winning documentary filmmaker:
THIS IS NOT GRAFFITI: A Film on Revolutionary Graffiti & Art — a short film exploring use of political graffiti and street art as a catalyst for popular revolutions and uprisings around the world.
Please join me as a backer of Mark’s exciting new project at Kickstarter!
This Is Not Graffiti is a 20-minute short documentary film on the critical role that politically-charged graffiti and street art has played in uprisings and revolutions around the world, particularly the recent popular revolts in the Arab world that began in Tunisia in 2011.
Despite the preferred media narrative that the Arab uprisings were the ‘Facebook Revolution,’ what is often overlooked is the enormous impact that anonymous graffiti and street art played in galvanizing the public (particularly youth) and served as a revolutionary call-to-arms, where the walls became a canvas to speak truth-to-power and proved to be a powerful weapon of resistance.
In fact, the current conflict in Syria began simply with a group of teenage boys who, while watching the events in Libya and Egypt unfold on TV, spray-painted on their school wall the simple phrase “Your Turn Has Come, Doctor” — referring to President Assad, a Western-trained ophthalmologist.
Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, graffiti and street art became the prime communications vehicle for people to vent their anger, express their hopes and dreams, and demand action.
But this phenomenon is hardly new.
Graffiti dates back to walls of prehistoric caves. But its modern use as a political weapon came into plain view in revolutionary pre-war Europe of the mid-1900s, eventually coming into its own during the 1968 French riots where all across Paris, a groundswell of creative street expression came from striking workers and students, who spray-painted walls with poetic and philosophical slogans, speaking to its readers on a much more emotional level.
Since then, revolutionary graffiti and street art can be found all over the world and has played a vital role during times of political transformation and social instability, creating a shared public visual space which symbolically and physically challenges the establishment and the dominant ideologies, and has tremendously influenced the great social and political upheavals of the past century.
This Is Not Graffiti will examine this history and evolution while telling this global story by way of a local one, mixing interviews on the subject here in the New York City area with a week in Cairo talking with those who have made, studied, and been directly impacted by these words and images.
The film will also explore how this effort to demand change from governments has led to other calls, most prominently from women in Egypt — a country that recently ranked last in the Middle East for women’s rights — who have taken to street art to demand change from their own society.
A revolution within a revolution.
Please join me as a backer of Mark’s exciting new project at Kickstarter!
We are seeking the funds in this Kickstarter campaign to fully produce, finish, and submit the film to festivals around the world by the end of Spring 2014. You join us on the ground floor for this endeavor.
We have been in touch with several of the people who we hope to visit with and interview on-camera, and are ready to begin production as soon as this campaign is successfully funded.
We will interview people in the New York City area in early January 2014, and then fly to Cairo in February during the third anniversary of the Egyptian revolution where we will spend a week shooting.
Editing, scoring, and finishing the film will be completed by April when we will begin an aggressive film festival campaign—domestically and internationally—where we fully expect the film will find a home for the next year or two.
Filmmaking is not an inexpensive endeavor and funds for independent documentaries are in short supply. Your donations will allow us to fully fund this film (***there will be no second Kickstarter project to finish this film, we promise!***), permitting us to:
• rent film gear: while we own much of the equipment needed, we will need to rent some lighting accessories, camera gear, and some additional audio components.
• transportation: a week in Cairo, Egypt for our very small crew will account for the vast majority of our travel costs, though there will be several days of production travel locally, as well.
• music: allow us to hire a composer for an original score for the film.
• crew: our very small crew of three will require very modest funds to pay for a cinematographer and sound recordist, and a small fee to direct and produce this project.
• post-production work: while we will handle a large majority of the work for this film ourselves, we will need to outsource some graphic design, audio work, color correction, and film transfers to specialty houses.
• film festival submissions: film festival submissions, even for shorts, run between $35 and $50 a piece, and an aggressive festival campaign will require 75-100 submissions, and the cost for us to attend our theatrical premiere.
• miscellaneous production expenses: production always requires small purchases that add up — from food for the crew and volunteers, to periodic runs to Office Deport or Radio Shack or Home Depot, to unexpected fees for traveling and driving, etc.
• Kickstarter rewards: though we were careful to create great rewards for our donors, we were also cost-conscious in making sure that they accounted for a reasonable portion of the overall budget to create, acquire and ship.
Please join me as a backer of Mark’s exciting new project at Kickstarter!
One of my biggest pet peeves is setting strategy one tactic at a time. It drives me crazy to be surrounded by people and organizations that think if they just work hard enough and do more things that a strategic direction and destination will emerge. It seems that most of the world works this way. It is terribly inefficient. How many people and organizations do you know that pedal the bicycle like crazy but never seem to arrive anywhere. They just keep pedaling harder hoping that something will eventually stick. It is exhausting watching them. Why not determine a destination and work hard on those things that help you get there. It seems so simple. Setting a strategic direction provides a way to know which tactics are aligned and contribute to reaching the destination. The destination may change along the way requiring different tactics, and that is OK, but not having a destination at all is a ticket to nowhere.
When John F. Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon” in 1961, Americans rallied around the destination. We believed it was possible and the goal of setting foot on the moon rallied a country to advance its global science and technology leadership. It was cool to study math and science and clear that innovation was the economic engine that would drive American prosperity. When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon eight years later and said, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”, we celebrated his achievement as if it was our own and knew at that moment that anything was possible. We have been trying to get that feeling back ever since. Today, we have no clear destination, in space or on earth.
I am still trying to process President Obama’s plan to cancel NASA’s Constellation program for manned space flight back to the moon. OK, I thought, maybe he has a bolder more imaginative space destination in mind or a better way to get back to the moon. It turns out that the announced strategy identifies no new destination at all and has been called a “flexible path” focusing on enabling technologies. The destination will be determined later. Please say it isn’t so. It is impossible to be inspired with out a destination and it is terribly inefficient to develop enabling technologies with out an end in mind.
My second thought upon hearing the new NASA strategy was that maybe President Obama wants to turn our attention and resources toward earth and create an inspiring space mission like focus on fixing health care, education, or climate change. We have no clear destination for any of these huge system challenges. We continue to play around the margins hoping that incremental changes will launch us toward systemic solutions. It isn’t working. We need to transform each of these systems and it will take “moon landing” like clarity and commitment to make it happen. So maybe the president plans to shift attention and resources away from space exploration toward transformation here on earth. No such luck.
It isn’t as if the NASA budget was cut freeing up resources for other priorities. The proposed budget actually increases NASA’s budget by 2% allocating $6B over 5 years to create a commercial taxi to the space station. The budget comes nowhere close to the $3B a year that the recent expert advisory panel suggested was needed to create a robust manned space program. So we appear to be lost in space and on earth. We will continue to invest in space technologies without a clear destination and we will continue to work around the margins of the important system challenges we face here on earth.
It is enough to make you scream. All I can think of is Ralph Kramden in the Honeymooners getting angry and red in the face, proclaiming, “To the moon, Alice”!
All right, I’ll admit it: I’ve always wondered what’s the deal with Wall Drug. Green stickers with old-fashioned white lettering stuck on muddy Subaru wagons and rusty Suburbans in ski area parking lots all across the Rocky Mountains and the Northwest.
Driving from Pierce, S.D., west a few days ago, having been forewarned by hundreds of billboards lining the last hundred miles, just off the freeway, I was greeted by Wall’s 80-foot-long, concrete two-tone giant dinosaur, staring at me with its white light bulb eyes, entering the Wall Drug store vortex. Nickel coffee, touristy stuffed jackalopes and enough key chains and tee shirts to satisfy the most thirsty tchotchke devotee, alas, Wall Drug. The town of Wall, S.D., is the gateway to the Badlands National Park, which I’ve always wanted to see at sunset, and here I was, en route, driving my rent-a-wreck to Mt. Rushmore at the perfect time of day.
Neither disappointed, sunset or the next morning coffee with the presidents. In fact, in person, Mt. Rushmore is so much more touching, emotionally, than that picture in Encyclopedia Britannica I grew up looking at. Patriotism wrapped in the natural environment of a perfectly run National Park. The four grand leaders of our country (George, Tom, Abe and “T.R.,” among friends) are much bigger in person than I expected. Maybe that picture and my childhood View-Master limited my expectations. Even the size of the rubble pile was captivating. That rubble being its own monument to the years of invested lives, determination and dynamite liberating these figures from the mountainside. They loom large in the pages of history and literally tower at Mr. Rushmore.
All 50 states and territories are represented there, with their flags and dates admitted to the U.S. etched in stone. I grinned a little wider finding Oregon’s name in marble, telling myself how much better my state’s placement was than the other 49. Donning my Teddy Roosevelt hat with the pride of a child wearing mouse ears to Disneyland, I had my picture taken and posted it to Facebook, where my little grandmother in Sacramento gushed about me as if I were still a young boy and shared her pleasure in seeing Mt. Rushmore, even though she’s never been there herself. And isn’t that what protected lands provide Americans: the security that public parks and monuments are open, that our forests and rangelands are well-managed, even if you never get a chance to visit?
Driving around Custer State Park looking for buffalo, which is downright exotic to a Northwesterner, I was trying to decipher how this year’s dwindling pheasant population is hurting South Dakota’s economy. I’ve chased wild pheasants all over Oregon, fulfilling the employment act to the retrievers who live with me, and on this trip, I was privileged to hunt with the Governor Daugaard and a smiling, deaf English Springer, aptly named “Hunter.” Sadly, this year in the Great Plains, the Governor had to call state leaders together to grapple with the effects of an unusually low wild bird population, and, therefore, unusually low out-of-state-hunter-tourist population. Well, at least they have one of the crown jewels in the National Park system.
I understand politics. The Legislative shortens a budget; the Executive finds something to scare and make the public feel the pain. For Newt, it was school lunches; for Boehner, it was National Parks a few weeks ago. Closing National Parks was a partisan blunder that instilled even greater fear into western states as to whether or not the federal government can manage federal lands — no small concern, considering that the U.S. government is the largest landowner in the west. In today’s budget environment it’s an easy step to think national parks should be turned over to the states, removing the threat of Congressional politics. In South Dakota, the state runs at a budget surplus, but could you imagine California’s legislators considering selling off parts of Yosemite to balance their budget? National parks, monuments, and the like belong to all of us. T.R. had it right: federal policy can protect places from short-term pressures, whether it is hunting species to near collapse or today’s partisan budget battles, be that state or Congressional.
A recent report, “Protected Lands: A Government-lite Approach,” is trying to reframe the issue and its economics. The policy’s premise is that keeping American’s public lands and National Parks open must be consistent with the long-term health of the parks and public land and be founded on a strong working relationship with local communities, as well. No more winners vs. losers, left vs. right, environmental vs. the communities near that environment. The theory is to create federal policy with sustainable economic benefits in both “gateway” communities and the nation as a whole, while preserving America’s natural heritage.
I’m not too sure Wall Drug is the sort of gateway argued for, but Rapid City certainly is. As an Oregonian playing tourist, I was impressed how vibrant Rapid City is — hotels, restaurants, and full-scale Cabalas stores filled with out-of-state license plates. National parks are wonderful, and for many visitors, the only time they ever experience the natural United States. The concept of “government-lite” extends beyond just parks. I like to apply the concept to areas of our country where the public lands debate is still couched in terms of who has a job and who votes against local police levies.
In Oregon, Forest Service and BLM ground was teased back and forth to the logging industry during the spotted owl wars of the 1980s. As a result, several counties are on the brink of bankruptcy today because their budgets were built on a federal payment for not harvesting trees. Oregonians in those counties know the short shrift of trusting their federal government and the all too familiar pain of living in hurting communities. There is a balance that has not been struck.
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Jason Atkinson: Where the Buffalo, Jackalopes and Presidents Roam
Wine regions rarely disappoint. The combination of the visual, well-tended vines climbing towards the sky, and the experiential, flavors of the wine and food, will excite the most dull among us. Almost universally wine regions are worth the trip, but being situated literally halfway around the world from most people, Argentina’s Mendoza region needed to offer something more than tours and tasting rooms. Mendoza has succeeded in creating a food and wine experience worth the trip.
Mendoza is one the world’s most improbable and unique wine regions. Naturally it is a barren, as precipitation is kept on the Chilean side by the highest part of the Andes range. It should be a productive agriculture region as little as it should be a wine destination. Therein lies why it is successful though, generations had to work to make it happen, never taking for granted natural gifts. The culture of hard work that led to the irrigation and cultivation of the land has since been put into creating an international tourist destination.
Fulfilling it’s duty as Argentina’s largest wine producer by volume, Trapiche offers the gold standard of large-winery tours similar to Mondavi in California. Informative and thorough, the tours walk visitors through the entire process, albeit closer to the process than you can get in many other places.
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Erica & Matt Chua: Why Wine Taste in Mendoza
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with President Barack Obamain Washington on November 1st, and leading up to his visit, White House press Secretary Jay Carney put his best diplomatic smiley-face on it by noting “the visit will highlight the importance of the U.S.-Iraq relationship under the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA),” and that Obama “looks forward to discussing with Prime Minister Maliki efforts to enhance cooperation in the fields covered under the SFA, and to coordinating on a range of regional issues.”
Of course, after the two-hour meeting, President Obama remarked, “The United States wants to be a strong and effective partner with Iraq.” No doubt. Maliki came seeking more weapons and the president sought a “strong and effective partner.” While this face-to-face meeting may have served to raise Maliki’s diplomatic profile, in the eyes of many it diminished the profile of the United States and its professed commitment to justice, human rights, and international law. The president should have refused this meeting.
No one should doubt, least of all Prime Minister Maliki, that he owes his position to the United States, which sacrificed its blood and spent billions of its treasure to pave his way to power. But Maliki’s failure to be a true partner with the U.S. and his cozy relationship with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, as well as his recent actions, have created more problems than solutions for the United States.
On September 1, 2103, at the apparent request of the Iranian Mullahs and on the orders of Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi security forces attacked and killed 52 Iranian refugees (and kidnapped seven, including six women) at Camp Ashraf in eastern Iraq.
Camp Ashraf was settled more than 25 years ago by 3,400 members and sympathizers of the principal Iranian opposition known as the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The U.S. military disarmed Ashraf City in 2003, and in 2009 turned over control of the camp to the Maliki government in Baghdad. At that time, the United States assured residents of Ashraf City that the Iraqi government would treat them humanely in accordance with international law. As refugees, members of the opposition and their families are protected persons according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and should not be subject to harassment, much less kidnapping and murder by the military forces of Iraq.
Last year, some 3,000 residents of Camp Ashraf were forcibly transferred to Camp Liberty, near Baghdad. 52 of those remaining at Camp Ashraf would meet a different fate.
In the attack, most of the murder victims were handcuffed, identified, and then executed with a bullet to the head, according to a statement by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq. Some were slaughtered in Ashraf clinic where they had been taken for medical treatment. All of these individuals had signed an agreement in cooperation with the United States, which had guaranteed their safety and protection until their final relocation. The U.S. failed to keep its word.
While the United States, the UN, the European Parliament, and Amnesty International all condemned the massacre and kidnapping, world leaders have been hesitant to affix responsibility, particularly in the face of reports of “coordination” between the Maliki and the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khameini.
As Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats noted in a statement, “The Iraqi military is murdering unarmed refugees, and there is every reason to believe Prime Minister Maliki, at the behest of the Iranian Mullahs, ordered these criminal acts. Come what may, Maliki will be held responsible for this reprehensible slaughter of civilians in his own country.” Likewise, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made clear “I hold the Iraqi government directly responsible to protect the community, to investigate this matter thoroughly, and to prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous act.”
Which makes Maliki’s visit to the White House that much more problematic.
For Maliki, the man whose cooperation with the Iranian clerics was crucial to carrying out this atrocity, to enjoy the prestige of a personal meeting with President Obama is totally unacceptable. For many Americans, let alone Iranians, Maliki has clearly betrayed the trust that the United States displayed in him; and has undermined the very safety and security the United States had promised to those refugees.
No political consideration or calculus to compel Maliki to release the hostages is immoral, misguided, or unacceptable. The lack of meaningful action by the U.S. in support of the hostages and the failure to hold accountable those who slaughtered 52 men and women is inexcusable.
Maliki’s visit presented the perfect occasion for President Obama to honor the commitment made to protect the refugees now at Camp Liberty; a commitment that can only be ensured by moving the refugees out of harm’s way and returning them to their homes.
Moreover, the visit afforded the president the opportunity to make it clear to Maliki that there will be no more U.S. aid, no more arms sales and no further political support unless the 7 refugees taken hostage at Camp Ashraf are released and full protection is provided for the 3000 refugees at Camp Liberty. At least that’s what a “strong and effective partner” would have done last Friday.
(Cross-posted, with permission of the author, from TheGrio.com)