Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Yemen

What the Arab Spring Teaches Us About Armed Rebellion

Horrible things have been happening to Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage site and Syria’s largest city. Large parts of the old city has been destroyed, though not for the first time–the city was sacked as recently as 1440 by Tamerlane, a vicious Mongol conqueror who is estimated to have killed 5% of the world’s people. All told, the Syrian Civil War has killed more than 270,000 people, creating more than 4 million refugees and displacing 7.6 million. These high losses have not resulted in any constructive political change in Syria–Bashar al-Assad’s faction remains the strongest in the country. The conflict has made no one better off aside from the Islamic State, which has used the chaos to carve out a slice of territory for itself:

Syria and Iraq 5 May 2016

The Syrian government is red, the Iraqi government is purple, the rebels are green, Islamic State is black, and the Kurds are orange. When the Syrian Civil War started, a lot of people in the west were excited by the possibility of overthrowing the Assad regime and creating a new democracy in the Middle East. Instead we have a bloody power vacuum filled in which the only winners are terrorist organizations. What’s interesting about this is that Syria is not an isolated case–the Arab Spring revolutions that turned violent all went so badly, while those that remained peaceful sometimes achieved meaningful results.

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The Islamic State is Weak and Pathetic, and I Have the Numbers to Prove It

In my conversations with people around the internet since the Paris terrorist attack, it’s become increasingly clear to me that many people have a dramatically inflated understanding of the military strength and capabilities of the so-called Islamic State. So today I’d like to make it clear just how weak these people are, and how easy it would be for the surrounding Muslim states to destroy this organization even if the United States played only a minor logistical role.

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Ignore the Paris Terrorist Attack

Last night, in a series of horrible attacks, at least 128 people in Paris were killed. The attacks were committed by the Islamic State with internal help from homegrown French terrorists. The best way we can respond is by completely ignoring the attack and paying no attention to it whatsoever. Here’s why.

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Yemen: The American Catastrophe No One is Talking About

Everyone knows about what a mess Iraq and Syria are. Libya is still a disaster, but even that country once had our attention. This is a story about Yemen. Remember Yemen? It’s the box-like country on the southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula:

Yemen is in the grip of a civil war that has now killed over 4,300 people. It’s an omnishambles. Let me tell you the horrible story of how we turned this country into the war-torn dystopia it now most assuredly is.

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The Moral Weakness of Hate Speech Laws

Yesterday, at the United Nations, Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi expressed support for laws banning hate speech, claiming that, while he respects freedom of expression, he restricts this respect to only one that:

is not used to incite hatred against anyone. One that is not directed toward one specific religion or cult

You can listen to the entire speech here; I was unable to locate a transcript.

The President of Yemen, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, was more to the point:

There should be limits for the freedom of expression, especially if such freedom blasphemes the beliefs of nations and defames their figures.

This policy of illegalising what has become known as “hate speech” is held by many leaders in the Middle East, and enshrined in many legal codes not only in the developing world but even in many western countries. Today I would like to put forth an argument that these laws and the beliefs that sustain them display tremendous moral weakness.

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