For me the real star of the teen dystopia movie The Maze Runner is the shape shifting reconfiguring maze. The labyrinth changes every day. The giant ivy covered stone walls grind slowly into new configurations, trapping the gladers in a complex puzzle. Much like the American misadventure in the Middle East. And unlike the gigantic shape shifting maze in the movie– its a puzzle that the US can’t seem to either solve or escape from.
Its no secret that I think Hassan Hassan is the best ME analyst around– he and Dr. Atran have been my greatest influences over the last two years. Hassan inspired my Embracing Apocalypse series with his comment about how IS is multidimensional– past, present and future. Part1 (past) and Part2(present) are written– im still working onPart3(future) which will incorporate a lot of my boring math/physics stuff like the arrow of time, LaPlace’s daemon and predestination, branes, bulks, AdS space, curvature of spacetime, entropy, complexity, chaos, etc.
But for today lets talk about the Maze. Think about the realignment of factions as the walls of the labyrinth shifting in the Maze. Hassan Hassan has an excellent piece on just that.
Notwithstanding what happens next in Aleppo, JFS has already made its entrance. Inside and outside Syria, support for the group appears to have risen. Many seem to be comfortable with showing support for a group that is supposedly no longer part of Al Qaeda, while others support it for its lead role in the continuing counterattack. This normalisation and show of support are at the heart of the group’s reconfiguration – and the Aleppo offensive was partly designed to achieve that.
In Syria Obama hoped to be the hero of a diplomatic solution– instead, he is once again the goat. Michael Weiss, Hassan’s co-author says:
And now the jihadis are the Heroes of Aleppo.
Another recent realignment of factions just happened in Turkey– here is Hassan again on the new post (failed) coup alignments.
Ankara’s foreign policy will probably be more assertive in the coming weeks and months. Domestically, the episode shows that the mark Mr Erdogan has already made in the Turkish political landscape might be deeper than it is often made out to be. Mr Erdogan leads a ruling party that is increasingly entrenched, not only because of power-grabbing but also because it commands an increasingly committed social and political base, and whose detractors sometimes appear to be detached from reality. Whereas Mr Erdogan’s popularity has been on display after each election, the media portrays him as an insecure and embattled leader. For Mr Erdogan and his supporters, the attempted coup and its failure justified the policies he followed over the past three years to increase his grip on power, which will embolden them to push further.
And the Maze shifts again. These two events demonstrate a remarkable lack of agility in Obama’s foreign policy. Agile applications are a big Silicon Valley buzzword right now. USG has actually hired the Scrum software guy to “agilize” the ponderous antiquated US military. Obama had hoped for a soft coup– gulenism is supported by the RAND Building Moderate Muslim Networks initiative. Most Americans do not realize that gulenism is a moderate, quasi-sufi variant of Islam– a kind of “reform” Islam. The abortive coup smashed years of careful covert work by the US. Gulenists even have a lobbyist group in the US– much like Israel. Now gulenists have been wiped from the judiciary, academe, military, intelligence and police force. And Turkey is free to develop closer ties to Russia while continuing on the path to islamize the country.
My obsessive interest is complex adaptive systems dynamics– as an observer my model of MENA is a landscape of sandpiles weakly or strongly connected by attractor and feed-forward networks– any realignment flows through all the alliances and enmities of the landscape. IS and JF are complex interconnected emergent movements– they cannot be bombed away or droned away. Syria is connected to Turkey is connected to Iraq is connected to Yemen is connected to Bahrain etc etc…
Right on cue– Hassan Hassan:
US is desperately trying to stabilize the sandpiles, but the Second Law (of Thermodynamics) rules. Its simply not possible. So US stays trapped in the Maze.
I once thought Obama was skilled at 11-D chess…it turns out he has been zugzwang all along. For now Incirlik is open– but Erdogan demonstrated that he can close it at will, and that he no longer trusts the US. I just dont think the US will escape the Maze before the sandpiles collapse. And this (from Turkey) is the result of Obama’s sneaky, covert, lead-from-behind gulenist crusade. The signs have been changed from rule by the people to rule by Allah.