November 12, 2015: I'm losing track of the scorecard -- who is on whose side. The map below hardly helps. Iran is on the ground in Syria trying to shore up the Iranian government by fighting ISIS. Today it was reported that ISIS claimed responsibility for two huge suicide bombings in Beirut, in a predominantly Shi'ite neighborhood.
A fiery double suicide bombing terrorized a mostly Shiite residential area of southern Beirut on Thursday, ripping through a busy shopping district at rush hour. The Lebanese Health Ministry said at least 43 people had been killed and more than 200 wounded in the worst attack to strike the city in years.March 30, 2015: Fiscal Times has one of the best updates/explanations on Iran. Much was written but this speaks volumes:
The Saudi actions began in the small Shiite-majority kingdom of Bahrain, which is ruled by a Sunni royal family. The Saudis provided a small contingency force to suppress the Bahrainis who rose up against their government in 2011. In that case, the Saudi motivation to keep a Sunni government in power was combined with the fear that the fall of the Bahraini royal dynasty would open the door to similar uprisings in Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries. Add to that the presence of a suppressed Shiite minority that lives in the oil rich eastern region of the Kingdom and the fear that Iran could control Bahrain — all were factors in the Saudi decision to act in Bahrain.The media's 30-second soundbite suggests Saudi Arabia is homogeneous: Sunni. In fact, the map below certain gives one pause: the Shi-ite presence is not only significant in geographic expanse, the location of the Shi-ite sect in Saudi Arabia has to be concerning for the princes.
Later, 6:41 p.m.: a reader sent me New York Times' Ross Douthat's explanation. Compare Douthat's explanation with mine below -- it's clear which one is more plausible. Douthat's column only explains how things went wrong for President Obama, not his goal and the reason for that goal.
Later, 1:18 p.m.: This is embarrassing to post; everyone knew but me. I've been struggling to find the connection between President Obama and Iran. It's easy to understand why the president will side with Iran when it comes to Israel, but I've been struggling to figure out why Obama sides with Iran (Shi-ite) over Iraq (Sunni). It's well known that President Obama, regardless of where he was born, was raised in a Muslim community through kindergarten and into his elementary school years. But his was a Sunni upbringing (that is also well established). So, the conundrum (not to be confused with corundum, which is a ruby or sapphire) was why Obama was on the side of the Shi-ite Iranians.
I am very, very embarrassed. The answer was obvious. I might have known at one time; if I did, I forgot. The dot to connect: Valerie Jarrett. Ms Jarrett was born in Iran and lived there for five years, through kindergarten (everyone one needs to know in life, one learns in kindergarten). She grew up learning to speak French and ... drum roll ... Farsi (Persian). [Some have said "you are what you eat." Others say your heritage lies in your language.]
The dots are all connected. I can go to bed happy-er tonight.
The only irony: the president and Valerie Jarrett were on a roll to slam-dunk the Iranian deal -- until ISIS screwed up everything. Barack thought ISIS was JV. Another misreading by the president. Now Yemen is involved. Syria is involved. Saudi Arabia is involved. The Egyptians are involved. It's a free fall for the Iraqis and a free-for-all for the Middle East.
[A big "thank you" to the reader who sent me this link -- I read very little of it; but it put me on the path to Valerie.]
And to think, President Obama and Valerie Jarrett were oh, so close. That's why Obama was going to go golfing this weekend -- a celebratory round of golf with a Kerry announcement that the Iranian deal was signed, sealed, and delivered.
It will have to wait.
Sealed with a kiss or return to sender?
Original PostFrom Barron's this week:
... most of Congress may still view Iran as an axis evil, but a few brave analysts are starting to pitch it as something else: the next great emerging market.
"Iran is the largest economy in the world by far that remains cut off from global markets ... it's like Turkey but with 9% of the world's oil reserves."
... any nukes-for-sanction deal will throw open Iran's investment gates whatever the next US administration might do. European and Asian capitalists will not turn back so long as Tehran keeps its end of the bargain [which won't be difficult].
They will capitalize on the country's heretofore hidden advantages -- a population of 81 million with a vigorous median age of 28, wages as low as Vietnam's but much better education, and a diversified economy that has learned to make everything from cars to vodka [an Islamist nation] during decades of isolation.
... "Iran is the only economy we have ever seen that has a positive trade balance in every one of 70 in every one of 70 export categories, including alcohol [an Islamist nation]."When one reads that, one almost gets the feeling that Soros, et al, are advising Kerry and Obama.
By the way, quick: if the population of Iran is 81 million, what's the population of Germany?
Years and years ago, in a different world far away, one of our first friends in a new assignment was Iranian -- he and she were living in northeast North Dakota, most likely Grafton, and if not Grafton, probably Grand Forks. I always got the feeling the Iranians and Americans could have been great allies, then. It will be interesting to see how current events play out.
If sanctions come off, and money flows to Iran, the writing is pretty much on the wall. A unified Iraq is history. Saudi Arabia remains the prize.
Oh, by the way, the answer to the pop quiz: the population of Germany is 81 million. Also.
Quick: How Much Does Jamie Dimon (JP Morgan) Have In Assets?
On more than one occasion I have blogged on Tim's Vermeer (e.g., here). It remains on my top twenty (the second ten) list of DVD movies.
In this week's Wall Street Journal Review, "Through A Glass, Brightly," a book review of Eye of the Beholder, by Laura J. Snyder, c. 2015. The sub-heading: Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and Johannes Vermeer were neighbors in Delft. Still, no one knows if they ever met.
So, did the reviewer (Jonathan Lopez) or the author, Laura Snyder mention Tim's Vermeer? Not that I can tell, unless I missed it. I'm dismayed to say the least. Neither Lopez nor Snyder know as much about the subject as one would expect. A simple google search would have brought Tim's Vermeer to their attention (as well as that of Hockney) on the first page of hits.