Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for the Independent of London
In the process and under the pressure of outside military intervention, a vast region of the planet seems to be cracking open. Yet there is very little understanding of these processes in Washington. This was recently well illustrated by the protest of 51 State Department diplomats against President Obama’s Syrian policy and their suggestion that air strikes be launched targeting Syrian regime forces in the belief that President Bashar al-Assad would then abide by a ceasefire. The diplomats’ approach remains typically simpleminded in this most complex of conflicts, assuming as it does that the Syrian government’s barrel-bombing of civilians and other grim acts are the “root cause of the instability that continues to grip Syria and the broader region.”It is as if the minds of these diplomats were still in the Cold War era, as if they were still fighting the Soviet Union and its allies.
Christopher Zambakari (MIS, MBA, LP.D.), Founder & CEO, The Zambakari Advisory, Phoenix, AZ
With its 181 million inhabitants, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, composed of more than 250 ethnic groups. After achieving independence from Great Britain in the 1960s, Nigeria’s politics was characterized by coups and mostly military rule, until 1998, when its last military ruler died and a political transition soon ensued. The general elections of 2007 witnessed the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in the country’s history. Since then, the Nigerian government has struggled to institutionalize democracy, reform its petroleum-based economy, and tackle the various security, societal and economic challenges faced by the country. Along with the myriad of economic woes, Nigeria has been dealing with violent incidents, terrorist attacks, secessionist movement, and rebellion in peripheral states.
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