DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is the Editor-at-Large for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine, Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom, Ekurd Daily, a multinational Kurdish news portal and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.






For decades, the Middle East has been an unsolved enigma and a colossal pain in the ass. The reason a peaceful solution for the region's problems has never been achieved is because the place just confuses and disorients, it doesn’t make sense. To dispel the confusion let me help with this Middle East Primer for Dummies teaching you the basics of the place.

The Middle East is a geographical area roughly bordered to the west by the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, the Black Sea to the north, the Persian Gulf to the East and the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea to the south. With that in mind, totally disregard what I have just said and look at geography anew with a jaundiced eye.

You have in domino progression Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco stretching eastwards to the Atlantic Ocean. They are not in the Middle nor in the East but in reality, further west than all of Western Europe. Go and look once again at a Mercator world map. To the east Iran is cheek to jowl with Afghanistan and Pakistan and the Indian subcontinent, almost to the Indian Ocean. The Sudan, the South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia are to the south and certainly not in the middle of the East but smack dab in middle of Africa.

Egypt is the Middle East's most populous state. It is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, but it is neither on the Atlantic nor is it north. Go figure why it’s in NATO and in the Middle East.

Now that you have the geography and the lay of the land firmly in hand go on to lesson number two: History. 

In order to get a perspective on the Middle East you have to know of four historic events. The first is the founding of Israel, a de facto religious racist state. The Holocaust killed 6 million European Jews and left hundreds of thousands homeless. In 1948 so as to provide for these homeless refugees the United Nations decided to establish a new country for them to call home, the State of Israel on the territory what had been the British protectorate of Palestine with a predominantly Arab population.

In order to provide the Jewish homeless with a new home some 800,000 Palestinian Arabs had to be expelled from their homes rendered homeless and stateless. Israel, a solution for some, a bloody problem for others, is a festering sore spewing venom to this day.

The second historical event was the 1951 democratic election in Iran that elected Mohammad Mosaddegh Prime Minister. The United States didn't like that democratic process much, so in 1953, with Great Britain on board, it engineered a coup that assassinated him and installed in his place the hereditary, autocratic Shah Reza Pahlavi. The era of ''he is a son-of-a bitch, but he is our son-of-a bitch'' Arab politicians was born. 

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For the first time in 48 years I violated my self-imposed moratorium on voting, voting in federal, state or local elections. In retrospect, “Shame on me” for violating my oath – I participated in a flawed and rigged electoral process that is fatally un-democratic - mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

The second time around - I last voted in 1968 - I registered on line using the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles website. I was notified by mail that my polling place was at 2 East 90th Street which just happens to be the address of the Church of Heavenly Rest, a noted place for Christian worship. The neighborhood is replete with public spaces, museums and private and public schools. My voting venue was not an auspicious location for a supposedly secular act in selecting a secular leader for a religiously neutral state, notwithstanding our “In God We Trust” motto. It went from bad to worse.

To minimize my sin against righteousness and probity I filled only one oval shaped space on the electronic ballot. I noted my choice for President and Vice President as Hillary Clinton/Tim Kaine and blackened the corresponding oval space next to their names. Please note that I did not vote for - I just noted my preference, a choice of the lesser of two evils. I left all the other choices empty with their oval shaped spaces blank, my sin of commission hopefully made small. I reluctantly scanned the ballot as my public auto-da-fé and left the nave of the church and its religious baggage behind.

I won’t bore you yet again by berating a system that allows two political parties to control the country’s destiny depriving other parties and candidates’ participation; that ignores the popular vote and adheres to an absurd Electoral College method of selection; that delegates voting requirements to corrupt gerrymandering state politicians and allows for votes and influence to be sold to the highest bidder. 

As I write Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States elect. He campaigned on a promise of change and, for that matter, on a lot of other promises – none of which come to pass. You will not see a big beautiful wall on our southern border, one that Mexico will pay for. You will not see 11 million undocumented aliens deported from the United States and immigration police running rampant. You will not see a cheaper “fantastic” replacement for the Affordable Care Act-Obamacare. You will not see more support for our wounded veterans or a more robust military presence. You will not see a repatriation of jobs or untaxed profits to the United States. You will not see America great again. It will be what it will be.

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Buildings in Sana, the capital of Yemen, destroyed in a Saudi airstrike Photo Mohammed Huwais/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images courtesy New York Times


I did not write the headline you have just read. The Editors at the New York Times wrote it on October 15, 2015 to highlight a major news story. But the story, the story that the United States is waging war in Yemen, didn’t appear on the front page, it was buried on page 9. The article started with this blunt, in your face paragraph:

“More than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen’s civil war. This week, the United States became more directly involved in the conflict, which already included Saudi Arabia and insurgents with ties to its sectarian rival, Iran.”

The Times made it clear that we are involved in a war in Yemen siding with our ally Saudi Arabia against Iran and its proxy “insurgents”. Making sure that we got the message the Editors followed up the next day Sunday, the slowest news-day of the week, with a front page headline “Somali Strategy Reveals New Face of US Warfare”. The lead paragraphs of that article reads:

“The Obama administration has intensified a clandestine war in Somalia over the past year, using Special Operations troops, airstrikes, private contractors and African allies in an escalating campaign against Islamist militants in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation.”

“Hundreds of American troops now rotate through makeshift bases in Somalia, the largest military presence since the United States pulled out of the country after “Black Hawk Down” battle in 1993.”

This follows the news that on October 12 that the USS Nitze, a United States Navy destroyer, fired Tomahawk missiles on three coastal radar sites in Yemen destroying them and other “targets associated with missile attacks on US ships” last week. That sure sounds like war to me.

I must have been preoccupied with the Presidential campaign and Donald Trump’s tweets because I missed the news that the United States Congress had declared war on Yemen and Somalia. No one in the Obama Administration, the White House, the Pentagon, and the Central Intelligence Administration or for that matter Congress has stood up to deny that we are at war in Yemen and Somalia, so it must be so. 

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