3649340_Re: Notes from Khashan dinner

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Re: Notes from Khashan dinner
Date 2011-12-07 17:09:24
From [email protected]
To [email protected]
Others MessageId: <[email protected]>
InReplyTo: [email protected]
On 12/7/11 9:55 AM, Ashley Harrison wrote:

added input in burnt orange.


From: "scott stewart"
To: "Siree Allers"
Cc: "Sean Noonan" , "Ashley Harrison"
, "Nate Hughes"
Sent: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 8:53:56 AM
Subject: Re: Notes from Khashan dinner

Please take his name out (just say Lebanese visitor) and send to Alpha
when you have Ashley's input.

From: Siree Allers
Date: Wed, 07 Dec 2011 08:38:50 -0600
To: scott stewart
Cc: Sean Noonan , Ashley Harrison
, Nate Hughes
Subject: Notes from Khashan dinner
what list should I send this to? Also, Ashley add anything you

Notes on some stuff Khashan said at dinner because I got to hear more
about his thoughts than than I think I even did during the meeting.
Background: he is Sunni, Palestinian origin, grew up in Beirut. Academic
who reads and networks at conferences primarily in Cairo, Istanbul,
Dubai, Beirut. Even though he mentioned Morocco a few times in the
meeting he admitted that he has much less familiarity with North Africa
(with exception to Egypt). I'm still not 100% sure what his background
is with s4 and I'm under the impression we're familiar with his views
from previous instances, but here are my notes anyway (Ashley, add
anything else significant esp with Syria, this is all that I have off
* Hilal thinks that this is a critical juncture in the progression of
MENA history and will lead to more instability than before because
it had previously been contained and the recent unrest peeled open
the lid. This counters George's perception that this is just part of
a long continuing course of history and demonstrations are merely
symptoms of an underlying process. He also believes that the
dictators, leaders and governments in the MENA will no longer be
able to blindly oppress and suppress their people, and that now that
the people have come out and demonstrated. He feels that it will
take minimum 10 years for the political systems to sort themselves
out in MENA and in order for the political parties to reach a
* however, HK did not say what types of instability would
persist/escalate and if the instability has the potential to
transform, which IMO is just as important because you shake the
chess board it'll mess with the chess pieces. The instability I
think he was referring to was the instability of the political
sphere, saying that even if a new government is elected it will
take a while for the political party to agree and for the
populous to fully support the government. I was getting from
him that the instability will be more like a long period of
political transition. well yes political, but he didn't say for
example coups v. demonstrations which is what i was getting at.
* HK thinks that political Islam is the natural state of the Middle
East/North Africa "forever" and that there will only be variations
on the spectrum of just how liberal/conservative they are. Points to
examples of when the military has suppressed them and they've sprung
back up, so it is the natural order of things.
* I agree with G, rather, and think this form of political Islam
that the people are voting for now is actually just a reaction
to the supression of before and is but a small reaction in a
process that is largely secularizing, at least politically.
* HK thinks Iran is a paper tiger and their power is hugely
overestimated -> Israel will never let them get nukes, Iraq Shia are
still Arab, (I don't remember if he addressed Hezbollah)
* thinks it is the natural order that Iraqi Shia have closer
sympathies with other Iraqis than they do with Iranians because
they are still Arab and not Persian. Mentioned some interesting
examples about Iraqi Shia fighting in the Iraq-Iran War and how
recent Shia pissy-ness is just a response to having been
oppressed under the Sunnis but in the end it is their natural
order to be Iraqi Arabs before they are Persian-loving Shia.
* Egypt
* Islamists want this seat of false power because it gives them
legitimacy; they do not want real power to the level that SCAF
has it because it would be suicide and put a big target on
their head
* Salafists have small rural towns and shantytowns; MB is
urban-based. I asked if this means that because the
cosmopolitan centers of Alex and Cairo are done polling if
numbers were going to start looking more Salafist, he said he
thinks it would be counter-balanced by medium-sized
towns/cities so that may not be the case.
* Persian Gulf (Saudi and Bahrain
* He thinks that the Khalifa regime in Bahrain will make cosmetic
concessions that will appease the Shia and stop them from
protesting, but the thing is that the Khalifas have been trying
that for several months and even tried the national dialogue
which yielded some superficial reform, but nothing at all
significant and the protests and rallies have only continued.
I don't think cosmetic reforms will keep the Shia from going
into the street and if the Khalifa regime were to make real
concessions (which they probably won't because KSA wouldn't let
that fly) then the Khalifa regime would have to release the PM
who is very anti-reform, but there have been no signs of that
* He also thinks that Bahrain will just bribe the Shia, like the
Saudis do, but the Khalifas have also tried this several times
to no avail, and furthermore don't have the same level of
capital as KSA. Even so the attempts of the Saudis to buy off
Shia to prevent unrest has not worked and the protests in the
Eastern province have continued.
* Syria
* HK: "Assad will fall by March" In his opinion Assad must fall
because of the 'blood letting' he has caused on his own people,
but he hasn't even come close to doing anything his daddy did
when Hafez bombed Hama. (It's rumored that 3,000-4,000 have
died during the last 10 months)
* He believes the entire regime, not just Assad himself, will
fall and that there will then be a political void. He feels
that the military will eventually turn against him. He also
alluded that Assad will fall due to foreign intervention, but
then contradicted himself in saying that foreign intervention
would not come because the opposition are not united (which is
what we've also been saying about the non-unified opposition).
* Kuwait
The Kuwaiti Emir has just dissolved the parliament and he the PM who
resigned for the 8th time has gotten reappointed by the PM the last
7 times that he has resigned. However, this time the Emir has
appointed someone different to PM. The opposition has been calling
for the PM and the majority of the MPs to resign, and just got their
demands. In HK's opinion this will not quell the larger opposition
who wants the entire ruling family to step down.
* Lebanon
* we should read newspapers Safir, an-Nahar, and al-akhbaar in
order to be familiar with the full spectrum of Lebanese
perspectives toward their own situation and the rest of the
Kendra talked to him a bit about Nagorno-Karabakh, Rodger geeked out
about China which made Hilal retreat into deep thought for a while, and
Ashley talked about Syria/Kuwait and ordered chocolate-covered
strawberries. =o)

Siree Allers
Tactical Analyst
221 W. 6th Street, Suite 400
Austin, TX 78701
T: +1 512 744 4300 | F: +1 512 744 4105


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