Tag Archives: Middle East

When it Comes to Russia’s Bombing of Syria, its not What you Think

By Said E. Dawlabani and Elza S. Maalouf

Since Russian President Putin began his military air campaign in Syria, Western media has offered a myriad of half-baked analysis for his motivation. Today’s news agencies are completely detached from the idea of consulting with history. If they were to do so, they will quickly come to the conclusion that all Putin is doing is using the same modus operandi that Russia, Europe and the US have used in the region for decades.

Russian MIG

 

BACKGROUND: THE NEED FOR INSTABILITY

The Arab Oil Embargo of the 1970s taught the West very valuable lessons on the volatility of oil markets: Threaten the supply and the price of crude oil will double if not triple in a short period of time. Since then, it has been in the West’s best interest to keep the region unstable in order to sell the fear that oil supply is under constant threat. This was the lever that many US administrations pulled including Bush/Cheney’s real reasons for invading Iraq. Successive Russian administration went along with this philosophy since it benefited them in both arms sales and as the world’s largest oil producer. As a result of these blood-soaked policies, hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East have died, and the objective of keeping oil prices artificially high was met.

ENTER THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION

In 2008 America voted for hope and change, and with it came the most passive foreign policy in modern US history. The idea that the US will no longer be the RED/Blue global police automatically activated the next Reds in line to fill the vacuum.Putin, intent on reclaiming past glory of mother Russia fired the first shot by invading Ukraine. President Obama countered with a stern speech and several bullet points outlining why in his words “This wasn’t 21st century behavior.”

The US and its allies immediately imposed sanctions on Russia hoping that Vlad will have a sudden attack of conscious and tap into the same delusional Green Kool-Aid the Obama Administration has been drinking from.

Punishing Putin meant crippling the Russian economy, and what a better way to do that than killing Putin’s cash cow; oil. The US and Western Europe flooded oil market with increased shale production in the US. In an unprecedented move, they demanded that Saudi Arabia not reduce its production quota, guaranteeing the complete decimation of Russia’s economy.

obama ME chess

The idea that Putin will be forced to withdraw from Ukraine with his tail between his legs is a clear indicator of the West’s inability to assess emerging Red leaders around the world. Putin, a past KGB operative was all too familiar with the principles of Middle Eastern instability.

Putin-blood-0805e

As the West lifted sanctions on Iran, Russia got the military supplies piece of the spoils. Shortly thereafter, Iran announced that it would partner with Russia to make what Middle Eastern analysts call the “Shi’a Crescent” a reality. For readers who are not familiar with the term, this is Iran’s dream of establishing a Pan-Arabian Shia region that spans from Iran, through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. To Putin, this serves his ego on several fronts: One, he’s providing a new regional military counter balance to the West and two, he’s beating the West in its own game by destabilizing the region to bring up oil prices. The good old strategy has worked yet again. Just since the Russian air strikes began last week, crude oil has reversed a yearlong trend and is up 10% on global markets.

oil graph

One might also ask why is Russia bombing the Syrian opposition, not ISIL. Putin’s immediate goal is to punish Saudi Arabia for siding with the West on economic sanctions. This is not strategic, its RED eye-for-an-eye. The Saudis and other rich Sunni Gulf countries are the primary supporters of the Syrian rebels and that’s whom Putin is bombing.

When it comes to destabilizing the Middle East, Putin is not as diabolical as the West. He doesn’t hide behind the idea that he’s bringing democracy and the one-person one vote system. No, he’s very clear about who his new friends are. They’re the Arab Shi’a that include Assad’s Alawite sect, which is a branch of Shi’a Islam. Trained Shi’a fighters are seasoned killers, unlike any other Arab groups the West trains as fighters. They have a highly regimented (False) Blue organizational structure which gives them a purpose and that is to fight and die for Imam Ali so Shi’a Islam can prevail. Today, they are being trained by the thousands, thanks to the lifting of sanctions on Iran, which are bankrolling their trainers, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

iran grd

In the post American century, this is how you divide and conquer the Middle East. It’s done by giving power to a false purpose that ignites the sectarian need to kill. Not by naively promising democracy. As for the idea of a peaceful Middle East? That paradigm might crystallize a few hundred years after oil disappears.

This image taken in Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 posted on the Twitter account of Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue group, shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria. Russia on Wednesday carried out its first airstrikes in Syria in what President Vladimir Putin called a pre-emptive strike against the militants. Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the U.N. that Russian airstrikes in four areas, including Talbiseh, killed dozens of civilians, with children among the dead. (Syria Civil Defence via AP)
(Syria Civil Defence via AP)

You can file this one under the  “Only Money Matters” file. In a world run by the values of the Orange level system where only money matters, the lives of a few million Arabs are reduced to a simple cost-benefit analysis. That analysis is very likely made by a Harvard MBA, who did an internship with Kissinger and Associates, who every night goes home to his wife and kids and sleeps soundly.

Something is wrong with this picture.

 

 

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HUMAN CAPITAL, The Future Economies of the Middle East Part 1: Reforming the Educational Systems

This is part one in a series of posts about Integral planning and design for the future of the Middle East that first appeared in Integral Insights Quarterly Newsletter.

Do you want to be a Doctor or an Engineer?

While growing up in Lebanon, this was the constant question that thousands of middle schoolers including myself were raised to answer. The world has come a long way since, but ironically these two professions remain the most honored careers in the Middle East today. As the Arab Spring continues to unfold all throughout the region one must wonder:  If these young men and women taking to the streets had had gainful employment would they be rebelling against their leaders?  Economic innovation has been the hallmark of peaceful advancement for First World cultures and in order for the Middle East to realize a fully diverse economy that respects all other professions as much as doctors and engineers, it must focus its next efforts on economic and educational reforms.

The development of economic and educational institutions would, for the first time establish Arab Nationalism as a collective movement that looks forward to the future of a diverse Middle East compared to one that reflects on the glory of the ancestral past while repressing the rights of many. In this part of the series, I’ll focus on the educational reforms needed as an integral part of an organic whole that will allow the Middle East to emerge into a sustainable, self reliant future. Much like what a World Bank or an IMF development program calls for, the Middle East should embark on a 10-year development program to build the region’s educational infrastructure.  It should do this with its own sovereign wealth reserves to empower it with its own sense of accountability, while at the same time incorporate best global practices in its design and implementation. This program requires the bravery for taking a great leap forward and must have the visionary leadership of a fully integrated design that plans for 100 years into the future. Exceptionally integrated thought processes have to go into all the following aspects of its design:

1.       INNOVATION AT THE MINISTERIAL LEVEL

a.       An Education Ministry in every country in the region must be directed by an independent Committee of Visionary Leaders who have full authority in setting educational policy. This committee must make Education as the number one NATIONAL PRIORITY and its declaration must be heard in every home and on every street.

b.      This Ministry must be void of any nepotism and corruption and must have an independent funding mechanism.

c.       Specific advancement and performance measures must be set by this Committee of Visionary Leaders to align the educational aspirations of Arab youth with the best educational practices in the world.

d.      A partnership with private educational institutions to offer broad-based scholarships based on merit for underprivileged students would act as an insurance policy against the generational ill effects of poverty.

e.      A newly empowered Education Ministry must work effortlessly with regional economic centers of employment in order to determine future needs of the labor force.

f.        A partnership must be created with the private sector with regional and global reach to expose students to what a work life would be like upon graduation.

2.       ARCHITECTURE OF NEW SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES

a.       Designs that honor the past in some of its elements, but whose focus is on the learning environments that emphasize teachings that embrace the future.  Create labs for the newest advances in math and science that are integrated into the classroom design.

b.       Green technologies that become a part of the learning environment.

c.       Computers with internet connectivity must be available at every desk.

d.      Open space design that is conducive for expanding the mind and harnessing individuality and self-reflection.

e.      Allocating indoor and outdoor space for sports activities and encouraging all student to participate in them.

f.        Emphasis must be placed on much larger and user friendly spaces for libraries that create a continuity of learning environments outside the classroom.

g.       Universities must embrace fully integrated efforts to create the necessary habitats that foster the creation and growth of native innovation. Much like King Abdullah University for Science and Technology where the University’s quest for innovation becomes the catalyst around which a new paradigm for redefining life, culture and industry takes hold.

3.       TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS

a.       Teaching must be redefined as one of the most rewarding careers based on merit,  and appropriate payscales should attract the most qualified teachers for the jobs.

b.      The teaching curriculum should be geared towards establishing solid foundations in modern math and science.

c.        Debate clubs must be fostered to encourage critical thinking and logical, rational and objective thought processes among students as early as possible.

d.      All teachers must be put through a prequalification process to insure their capacities can deliver the outcomes needed to meet the educational goals identified by the Committee of Visionary Leaders.

e.      Administrators must be constantly searching for the newest teaching innovations that are adopted into the learning environment by the most successful schools around the globe.

These are just a few recommendations that will create a starting point for the debate on educational reforms in the Arab world. A more collective view on the future of the Arab child has to be debated in order for an organically designed educational system to emerge. Without addressing the kind of educational system needed to compete in a global economy, no economic reforms of any kind would have a lasting effect. Those reforms will be addressed in the next post.

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Value Systems Science to Dubai: You Can’t Skip a Stage

In an effort to restore its credibility in global capital markets, the government of Dubai recently issued a 58-page report detailing its austerity plans as it works its way towards responsible, long-term planning. The report is being touted by the media as “unusually transparent” compared to most reports coming out of the Middle East that are heavily influenced by officials trying to paint rosy images of their centrally-planned economies. In the report, the government acknowledges the cancellation of close to a thousand real estate projects valued at tens of billions of dollars. The lack of demand was sighted as the primary reason for the cancellations. This comes at a time when a possible deal is being worked out on the restructuring of debt for Dubai World, the largest sovereign wealth fund to ever default on payments to its creditors at the onset of the financial crisis.

There is a statement in the report that may not stand out to the average reader, but has significant Memetic implications as to where Dubai is in its cultural emergence. The statement says that the government had completed a major reassessment of the “economic development” element of the Dubai Strategic Plan for 2015 (DSP 2015) which resulted in the cancellation of these projects. When DSP2015 was made public it called for the systemic development of Dubai.  In addition to economic development, it called for social development, modernization of the security apparatus (police), development of the judiciary and public safety, and for excellence in government. The report emphasizes that the government will now be focusing on those other aspects of the plan that were ignored during the boom years. So, why is Dubai emphasizing these aspects of their cultural development now? The answer is simple: In their rush to look like the West, government leaders trampled over this very essential developmental stage called the ORDER value system (vMEME), what is known in Spiral Dynamics as the all-important BLUE stage.

Thirty years ago, Dubai, much like the rest of the Middle East was mostly centered in the TRIBAL-EGOCENTRIC vMEME. Historically, cultures lingered in these value systems for centuries before life conditions propelled them to seek higher levels of complexity. But, the Gulf region of the Middle East was different; enter the role of money.  Immense wealth that appeared suddenly was thought of as the needed catalyst to rapidly develop the culture and in a few short years have it have Memetic complexity that rivaled that of the West. So with a charismatic ruler like , Sheik Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who embodied the HEALTHY expression of the EGOCENTRIC vMEME at the helm, the Emirate embarked on one of the most ambitious development plans in modern human history. Like the rest of the Middle East, having Western corporations and personnel in charge of their huge projects was thought of as cultural emergence; if it looked like the West, it must act like the West.  This false belief made the ruler of Dubai fall into the “build it and they will come” illusion that was further reinforced by opportunistic global firms offering “the higher, the bigger the better” sales pitch that built this desert oasis overnight. With most of the focus being on the real estate sector, little attention was paid to who was buying up Dubai. At one point during the boom, as much as 85% of buyers were speculators with value systems that thrived on the smell of money, short-term EGOCENTRIC vMEME that loved instant gratification with no complexity for long-term thinking. There were no laws similar to those in the US or other advanced countries that limited investor purchases to 25% within a project. These Western designed types of restrictions come from a vMEME that’s heavily entrenched in the ORDER value system, on which the ENTERPRISE value system was built. Leaders of Dubai thought they can skip this stage altogether. After all, having a good Judiciary system doesn’t land you on the cover of Fortune Magazine or get you on 60 Minutes. Anyone who warned of the need for this type of order was quickly dismissed. Absence of order needed to meet the growing needs of this city state wasn’t just in the real estate sector, it was felt at systemic levels and the general rule became that anyone sounding the alarm over anything that came in the way of progress was silenced immediately.

The strategy of avoiding the ORDER vMEME was very short lived and came to a halt when global liquidity dried up and Dubai was left with thousands of unfinished projects and no money to complete them. The most iconic humiliation the Ruler of Dubai suffered was having to change the name the tallest building in the world from Burj Dubai to Burj Khalifah after Sheikh Khalifah the Ruler of Abu Dhabi put up the money to finish the Tower. Many other failures continued to expose the short sightedness of an experiment that put one value system before the other. The thinking that money alone can bring on human emergence was proven wrong. If anything, money showed the pathologies and greed that are inherent in human nature. Europeans who’ve been known to belong to the EGALITARIAN/HUMANITARIAN  value system, descended to their past imperial/colonialist selves very quickly and became the pillagers of wealth. Americans running some of the world largest sovereign funds for Dubai embarked on buying worthless companies that were teetering on bankruptcy and collected enormous fees on both ends of the transactions. This was Disney World for Western business people where they saddled every business entity with enormous debt, filling their pocket with outrageous compensation without any of their activity ever being scrutinized by a proficient ORDER system that understood the nature of what was being done.  When all the dust cleared, the Westerners went home and the government of Dubai was left with hundreds of billions in liabilities. The Ruler soon realized you can only imprison so many executives before the practice becomes a public relations disaster. Not building on a solid foundation of an ORDER vMEME  is an open invitation for people and entities with EXPLOITIVE value systems and a great degree of intelligence to manipulate the absence of complexity of a lower vMEME. Even with enormous wealth at your disposal, YOU CAN’T SKIP A STAGE! A very tough lesson indeed in the science of value systems.

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