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Archive for May, 2013

The Rise of East African Hydrocarbons

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

That sounds like a too-technical article, doesn’t it. But it’s worth sharing because of some of the nuggets, and because it provides one more lens into the economic, social, governance and other phenomena dynamically combining to determine Africa’s present and future situations. One of the themes we’ve kept at through these notes is the tiny wealthy class in most countries in Africa……often they are also the governing class……juxtaposed against the massive poverty in all regions of the continent. The need for development of a middle class is clear, progress toward same less so.

NATO CIVIL-MILITARY FUSION CENTRE
May 2013

By Eray Basar
North Africa Desk Officer
eray.basar@cimicweb.org

Recent on- and offshore oil and gas discoveries in East Africa have made the region a top priority for exploration and development. Large multinational companies are planning – and competing – for the abundant ener-gy resources on the Indian Ocean rim of the continent, Reuters informs. It is hoped that these discoveries will improve the economies and the infrastructure of the East African countries. For instance, impoverished Mozambique, where the average income is a little over USD 400 a year, could potentially surpass Algeria as the world’s six largest natural gas exporter. In the long run, the discoveries are also expected to significantly increase government revenues. The collective tax for all countries is estimated at USD ten billion per year, an amount considerably high when compared to the annual budgets of USD 13 billion in Kenya, USD 8 billion in Tanzania and USD 4 billion in Mozambique, which may achieve annual revenues of USD 30 billion by the middle of the next decade. However, risks and challenges may arise alongside potential benefits.

According to Control Risks consultancy, the infra-structure development and economic activity that ac-companies natural resource discovery may create collateral benefits for previously neglected regions within the different countries. For instance, the planned construction of a new “mega-port” in the Kenyan coastal town of Lamu is expected to benefit the historically marginalised town with new infrastructure developments such as roads and high-speed railway connections to transport extracted hydrocarbons. Such grassroots-level development would be unlikely in poorer locations without the entry of large multinational companies into these areas. However, as discussed later in this report, East African countries currently lack the necessary infrastructure and legal frameworks for oil or gas production. As such, it is difficult to predict the actual benefits for each country. This report provides the status of initial exploration and discovery efforts, and their prospective impact should their potential be realised.

Current Developments
Ethiopia
Tullow Oil Plc, a United Kingdom-based company which discovered the first Kenyan oil a year ago, commenced exploration and drilling at the South Omo block on the Kenyan border in February 2013, reports Bloomberg. Oil revenues would provide a critical engine for the landlocked country’s economic growth. Moreover, the country currently relies on imported gas and oil; the discovery of such a valuable a domestic resource would increase Ethiopia’s self-sufficiency. Although gas has been discovered in the east of the country, to date there has been no oil discovery. However, Tullow Oil considers South Omo to be an extension of the East African Tertiary Rift, on which it discovered oil in Kenya last year and in Uganda in 2006. Consequently, the company believes the South Omo block may contain oil, reports New York Times. Tullow Oil and the Ethiopian government denied media reports in early March regarding the discovery of oil in the South Omo zone and not-ed that the discovery process is in the initial stages. The terms of the agreements for oil exploration allow the Ethiopian state to retain only ten per cent of any discovery, making such endeavours initially fairly attractive for the companies. However, an economic model known as obsolescing bargain sug-gests that a government and a multinational company (MNC) may initially reach a deal that favours the MNC, but as the MNC’s fixed assets to support their operations in the country increase, bargaining power would shift to the country. In other words, Ethiopia’s initially low share may attract companies to establish their oil facilities, and once companies invest in non-movable assets, Ethiopia would have the possibility to seek higher shares.

Kenya
Following the discovery of oil in the Ngamia-1 well by Tullow Oil in spring 2012, and natural gas at the Mbawa-1 off-shore well by Apache Corporation in September 2012, exploration in the country gained momentum. During the first quarter of 2013, the Kenyan government offered nine licences for exploration. These and all future licences will be awarded through competitive bidding. In efforts to garner a larger profit share of the newly booming oil, gas and miner-als sector, the Kenyan government has been eagerly revising its regulatory framework for exploration business over the past few months, reports The East African. The government raised the minimum expenditure requirements and fees to qualify for exploration rights. Companies operating in the coun-try must now commit to spending USD 28.2 million onshore in the initial two years and USD 31.2 million offshore in the first three years. In addition, USD one million (up from USD 300,000) must be paid as a one-time com-mitment fee. If companies intend to sign a production-sharing contract (PSC) which regulates the amounts of oil shares between the company and the country in case of extraction. Other regulatory amendments were also implemented pertaining to taxes, royalties and revocations of exploration licenses if firms fail to meet the minimum work requirements.

Mozambique
Four of the five largest oil and gas discoveries of 2012 were in the waters off Mozambique. Eni SpA, an Italian company, made three of those discoveries and say that the total amount of gas discovered is now about 69 trillion cubic feet (tcf). Eni SpA estimate that their discoveries so far are worth USD 15 billion. US Anadarko Petroleum, responsible for the Mozambique gas discovery, and Eni SpA, Anadarko’s fiercest competitor, are currently negotiating a development plan with the government. Should the presence of oil be confirmed, Mozambique would rank fourth in the world, in terms of natural gas reserves, behind Iran, Russia and Qatar, according to Ventures. In addition, Anadarko and Eni SpA agreed to build the world’s second largest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant in Mozambique. LNG fuel exports would commence in2018, reports Bloomberg. Currently, Galp Energia of Portugal, Kogas (Korea Gas Corporation) of South Korea, and Mozambique’s national oil company ENH each hold a 10 per cent share of the discoveries, while the majority shareholder Eni maintains control of May 2013

Tanzania
Tanzania also holds very large amounts of natural gas, informs Financial Times. Exploration and other natural gas related work is carried out by the Norwegian Statoil and UK-based BG Group. The two companies recently announced plans to build an LNG facility worth USD 14 billion in the country. The announce-ment, made by Tim Dodson, Statoil’s head of exploration, followed Statoil’s third major gas discovery in Tanzanian waters. Dodson said “We said last year we would need 8-10 tcf . . . to underpin an LNG project and to date we have found 10-13 tcf”. The two companies plan to build two LNG plants initially, with the option to expand. However, according to energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, the region (Mozambique and Tanzania combined) has a potential gas capacity of 100 million tonnes per annum, which would allow up to 20 LNG plants worth USD 7 billion each. The volume of gas in the region is much great-er than the world’s leading natural gas exporter, Qatar, which has a capacity of 77 million tonnes per annum.

Uganda
Uganda is a rising oil producer in East Africa according to E&P Magazine. The country currently has an estimated capacity of 3.5 billion barrels (Bbbl) of oil and may surpass 10 Bbbl as exploration continues, according to Ernest Rubondo, commissioner of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department in Kampala. Oil prospects and the sector momentum increased in early 2013 when Total announced the discovery of hydrocarbons in Nwoya District of northern Uganda. Total’s exploration licence was due to expire on 03 February 2013, but with the January discovery, the company will retain its exploration license and will seek a production license for the Nwoya discovery site (Block 1A). Total, which works in a trilateral partnership with Tullow Oil and Chinese state-run company CNOOC, aims to begin oil production in Uganda by 2017. Total E&P general manager in Uganda Loic Laurendel said Total is intending to deliver approximately 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the initial phases, which will gradually increase to the range of 200,000 to 230,000 bpd by 2020.

The Ugandan Parliament has so far passed two parts of a three-part oil bill to regulate oil sector development. The first part of the law, the upstream Petroleum Bill, regulates exploration, development, and storage; the second part of the law, the midstream Petroleum Bill, regulates refining, gas processing, conversion, transportation and storage. The government is expected to pass the third bill within the first half of the year, before a licencing round takes place. Uganda also hopes to hold a licencing round for oil companies by mid-2013; however, the government must first lift a licensing ban imposed on 2007 after the initial discoveries.

Although Uganda initially wanted a refinery on its own soil with an output capacity of 200,000 bpd to process oil extracted from the region, it reached an agreement with Total and CNOOC on 15 April 2013 to build a smaller refinery of 30,000 bpd to expedite commercial output, reports Reuters. The two companies favoured a smaller refinery and a pipe-line to Kenya, which will allow the export of Ugandan crude via the Indian Ocean. The companies argued that the local demand in the region was insufficient for the size of refinery sought by Uganda. The government wants a forty per cent share in the new refinery. At the same time, Kenya and Uganda are seeking investment partners for a USD 300 million pipeline project to connect Eldoret, Kenya, to the Ugandan capital Kampala, reports Reuters. The pipeline will transport petroleum products to and from Kampala. Uganda has been importing its oil, primarily through the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa via tankers, a method deemed unreliable and costly.

Risks and Challenges
As the region’s natural resource potential evolves, challenges to its development also become apparent. Although the region is considered more stable than the Middle East and other parts of Africa, oil and gas companies may face challenges in their dealings with these countries as they lack the hydrocarbons production experience, relevant infrastructure, adequate legal framework and bureaucratic efficiency. Moreover, corruption and insecurity offer additional challenges for the oil and gas companies operating in the region.

East African countries lack the operational experience of their North and West African counterparts. Given their lack of experience, these countries approach oil companies with suspicion, reports Control Risks Consultancy. Even in cases where a stable structure is established with model agreements, governments and non-governmental organisations (NGO) remain wary of companies. Contracts are often carefully scrutinised by civil society and NGOs, which are anxious to track revenue flows. In addition, companies may face the problems of poor infrastructure, “archaic or non-existent” regulations and competing political interests of various groups. Moreover, vested political interests are likely to affect corrupt behaviours.

As the use of local content1 requirement is not included in most of the current contracts, large corporations are likely to bring workers and equipment from abroad to facilitate more efficient construction, reports Reuters. This situation would leave domestic firms side-lined, excluding them from the immediate benefits of the development of oil and gas sectors.

Companies may have difficulties in their dealings with states due to corruption and undeveloped business environments. All five of the countries covered in this report hold a low rank in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2012. Tanzania was 102nd, Ethiopia 113rd, Mozambique 123rd, Uganda 130th and Kenya 139th out of 174 countries in the list. In addition to corruption, these countries also score poorly on the World Bank’s Doing Business 2013 report; Uganda ranks 120th, Kenya121st, Ethiopia 127th, Tanzania 134th and Mozambique 146th out of 185 coun-tries.

The location of the oil discoveries in Uganda may lead to some political and security related challenges for the country. Oil was discovered beneath Lake Albert, which is shared by Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to the think-tank Think Security Africa. According to oil and gas production experts, the resources beneath the Ugandan side of the lake can be extracted on the other side, thus creating concerns about probable disputes between the two countries. DRC and Uganda have historically tense relations, although the insurgency in DRC, which involves two groups originating from Uganda, brought the two countries closer for security cooperation in the recent years.

Tanzania and Kenya both have outdated legislation (passed in 1980 and 1986 respectively) governing the petroleum sector, according to Control Risks Consultancy. Drafted in an era when these countries were inexperienced in dealings with multinational corporations, these laws cannot provide a satisfactory framework for revenue management. Moreover, despite the fact that officials in both countries acknowledge the need to renew the legislation, both governments lack the institutional capacity and political will. On the other hand, in terms of petroleum legislation, Mozambique ap-pears to be a step ahead, as its petroleum legislation passed in 2001.

Bureaucratic capacity of countries in this region remains a major concern; bureaucratic processes are cumbersome in countries such as Tanzania and Mozambique. Slow bureaucratic processes in these countries may raise questions of integrity, risking the relations between governments and companies, says Control Risks Consultancy. Distinguishing between bureaucratic delays due to incompetence or understaffing and those due to deliberate attempts by officials to solicit bribes may be difficult.

In Tanzania, although the government appears to be operating according to the principals of a free market economy, many key officials still carry the statist ideology of the old socialist regime; the government is very cautious in its dealings with companies.

Security concerns may arise in certain parts of countries such as Kenya; tribes within the pastoral communities in the Turkana region (the location of the new gas discoveries) clash regularly with each other over access to resources such as land, water and cattle, according to Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). The government remains unable to curb banditry and exert authority in the region.

Compared to Kenya, Tanzania appears behind in terms of investment environment, as its infrastructure is not yet at an adequate level to meet the demands of the extractive industries. In addition, the electricity service is unreliable and facilities at the port of Dar es Salaam are not operating on par with others in the continent. Mozambique also lacks the infrastructure; current estimates indicate that a functional infrastructure for the gas flow will only be available in 2018. Although the current infrastructure is wholly inadequate for extractive services, foreign investors took the lead on de-velopment after the gas discoveries in the past year.

Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia face the risk of demands for greater autonomy or even separation by some regions. The Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), a group from the Coast province of Kenya, demands the review of the agreement of 1963 binding the coastal region to the central government. The group was declared illegal in 2010, but a court over-turned the ruling in 2012 upon opposition and violent protests. Similarly, disputes in Tanzania over the sovereignty of the island of Zanzibar have been reignited by Uamsho, an Islamist separatist group, calling for the secession of the is-land, according to Control Risks Consultancy. The group has been linked to violent protests in May 2012. Zanzibaris are seeking greater autonomy and control over the revenues of natural gas sources located in their waters, while the Un-ion government (which has members from both mainland and Zanzibar) is seeking to evenly distribute revenue shares. The situation continues to create political uncertainty for companies and the license-awarding for the blocks around Zanzibar has subsequently been put on hold.

In Ethiopia, security challenges are posed by the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), according to Think Security Africa. Active in the oil-rich region of the country, both groups allegedly re-ferred to violence in the past and both seek separation from Ethiopia. ONLF, an ethnic Somali separatist movement, carried out three major attacks against the oil sector in the country: The first incident, perpetrated in 2007, was against an exploration project of Sinopec and resulted in the deaths of 74 people of Ethiopian and Chinese origin. The second incident occurred in August 2010 when ONLF targeted the activities of Malaysian exploration firm Petronas, which later departed the country. Finally in 2011, ONLF attacked the members of the Ethiopian military and employees of the Chinese firm Petrotrans. Most recently, ONLF accused the Canadian-owned Africa Oil Corporation (AOC) of “conspiring with the government to exploit the region’s oil resources” and urged them to refrain from oil explorations, reports Sudan Tribune. The situation raises concerns that increasing oil exploration activity in the country may provide further targets for such groups in the future, and that better knowledge of Ethiopia’s energy capacity may strengthen the resolve of such insurgent groups.

The Resource Curse
Although the discoveries of valuable natural resources in East Africa generated great excitement in the region, they risk leading to an economic paradox called the resource curse, according to CNN. Countries which depend on a valuable natural resource such as oil, gas or diamonds may have higher poverty levels, slower human development and internal instability among many other problems compared to countries with diversified economies. Nigeria, an economy dominated by oil, is among the examples of countries affected by the resource curse. Nigeria’s major oil wealth has not led to an economic growth, rather instead poverty increased following the oil boom.

Well-known political economist Moisés Naím details the notion of oil curse and lists its common traits in developing countries as follows:
• The exchange rates of countries with oil as the dominant resource are often high, stimulating imports and limit-ing the exports of almost all other commodities except the dominant one. Such exchange rates do not allow other sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing or tourism to grow, making it very hard for the country to di-versify its economy.
• The volatility in the market price of the dominant export commodity (oil or gas) may have devastating effects on countries’ economies. Ample fluctuations in the oil prices (boom-and-bust cycles) may lead to problems such as “overinvestment, reckless risk taking, and too much debt” during booms and “banking crises and dra-conian budget cuts that hurt the poor who depend on government programs” during busts. Moreover, export prices have a direct relationship with government revenues.
• According to Naim, since oil industries are “highly concentrated and capital intensive”, oil-based economic growth does not create jobs in the same ratio as the oil’s large share of the economy. While oil accounts for the major part of government revenue, it only employs a small fraction of the workforce, leading to high income equality in countries.
• Oil curse may also lead to bad politics and corruption; high oil revenues give governments the ability to “allo-cate immense financial resources pretty much at will” thus, allowing the leaders to be unresponsive and unac-countable to taxpayers.

Another risk that comes with large natural resource discoveries is referred to as Dutch disease. In relation to the re-source curse problem set, Dutch disease refers to a situation where a sudden increase in the inward foreign currencies increases domestic currency value thereby driving up domestic manufacturing product costs, resulting in products too expensive for other countries to buy. Dutch disease eventually weakens the traditional export sector. Examples of the Dutch disease can be seen in oil domestic markets such as place Angola, Gabon and Nigeria. Moreover, the drop in fuel prices or the depletion of natural resources in producer countries may cause a larger problem for them as the traditional sectors such as manufacturing or agriculture, which may lose their competitiveness due to countries’ oil reliance, are unable to support the economy.

Lessons to Learn: The Case of Angola
On the western coast of the continent, Angola is among the richest countries in terms of oil wealth. 2002 marked the end of a long-lasting civil war and he beginning of an economic boom. The country became the second largest oil producer (after Nigeria) and the third largest economy (after South Africa and Nigeria) in sub-Saharan Africa, according to CNN. The country observed as high as 17 per cent annual GDP growth rate between 2002 and 2008 and a 5-8 per cent growth rate after 2009 due to the financial crisis and the oil price development. However, Angola’s economic growth is vulner-able as it is the most concentrated economy in sub-Saharan Africa with 99 per cent of export revenue gener-ated from oil. Moreover, such high profitability in the oil sector makes economic diversification difficult, exempli-fying the conditions listed in the above section for the resource curse.

Arne Wiig and Ivar Kolstad, senior researchers at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), argue that high growth rates in countries emerging from civil wars are common. However, Wiig and Kolstad also say: “Experience shows that growth reduces poverty less in countries with high initial inequality. And oil-driven growth in a country with low political accountability is susceptible to wealth con-centration rather than redistribution. Employment in the oil sector is typically also too limited to produce widespread economic opportunities.” Indeed, Angola is ranked 42nd among 157 countries with 40.5 per cent of the population living below the poverty line as of 01 January 2012. Moreover, it is 148th among 185 countries in the 2013 Human Development Index (HDI) and 157th among 174 countries in the 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

In line with the aforementioned rankings and statistics, Angola’s high economic growth rate is not reflected in the socio-economic life and development of Angolans, according to CNN. Income inequality is reportedly widespread; many peo-ple live under USD 2 a day and lack basic needs such as water and electricity. In addition, despite the government’s denial of any corruption in the oil sector, activists argue that the oil wealth “bypasses” the ordinary people. Isaac Elias, Angola programme manager of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, highlights the lack of transparency in the oil sector governance and the dealings of Sonangol, the state oil company, in the country and argues that oil reve-nues are funnelled to the country’s elite.

In his article appearing on the Journal of Science & Society, John L. Hammond states for Angola “[t]he hallmarks of the resource curse have followed: a corrupt, rent-seeking government which made secret deals with foreign oil companies and completely disregarded the well-being of the population”. Among the typical examples of the resource curse scenario, Angola represents a recent and relevant case for the emerging East African oil and gas sector. Therefore, it is cru-cial for the East African countries to increase their political account-ability and transparency, diversify their economy and build their infrastructure in order to avoid the resource curse threat that may accompany their newly discovered resources.

Conclusion
Continental Africa in general and countries of East Africa in particular, have enjoyed rapid economic growth and development in recent years. As the aforementioned developments in the hydrocarbons sectors gain momentum, the region could undergo significant socio-economic development. However, East African nations are restricted due to country specific infrastructural and socio-political issues. Each country faces specific challenges that must be addressed in order to advance hydrocarbon development. Furthermore, economic development through the rise of oil and/or gas sectors does not necessarily ensure long-term prosperity unless effective governance is in place, says Foreign Policy. Failure of government authorities to effectively manage national economies and ensuring diversification may result in the resource curse, effectively negating the resource benefits for its citizenry.

I’d like to share your reactions and ideas with our readers. Send me a note at john@lsi-llc.com, and I’ll publish as many as possible.

Thanks,
John

How Do Africa and the Middle East Sort Themselves Out?

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

I spent a bit of time trying to learn more about the underlying issues……aside from weak governance, poverty and lack of food and water…….that are among the phenomenon causing the unrest and enabling the threats our country sees as concerns for our national security.

It seems evident that the borders that resulted in 50+ countries in Africa alone are a piece of the puzzle. It’s no surprise that tribes, cultures, religions with little in common find themselves unable to produce central governments that can and do equitably provide structure, security and services to all. Almost regardless of which faction leads and what alliances may be formed, someone is unhappy. Keeping this in perspective, many countries face these challenges at this early stage in their existence. But, a continent of them, where differences cross borders and span regions, with not much of a middle class to provide stability……that’s a very complex, dynamic, dangerous, hard to understand circumstance. Try developing an Africa policy with all these phenomena and affects to consider.

Lots of outside influences make the continent and the Middle East even more difficult a situation. I’ve seen several articles recently describing how the South American drug cartels are moving into Africa, both for sourcing and distribution routes to Europe.

Here are some data points, and an approach from Mike O’Hanlon. Don’t have the answers, but will look forward to your comments and ideas.
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“Islamists In Egypt Strengthen Their Grip”
Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2013
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“Ban of Gadhafi Officials Raises Fears of a Broad Purge in Libya”
Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2013
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“Bosnia Lends Clue To Syria Strategy”
By: Michael E. O’Hanlon
USA Today Opinion | May 3, 2013

“The recent hullabaloo over Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons is appropriate at one level but surreal at another. When a dictator such as Syrian President Bashar Assad has already killed tens of thousands of his own people with the most brutal and indiscriminate of tactics, the fact that he might have harmed a few dozen more with sarin gas, while horrible, does not radically change the complexion of the conflict.

That President Obama has said Syria’s use of chemical weapons would constitute crossing a “red line,” means he will have to act. If U.S. intelligence eliminates any remaining doubts about the use of chemical weapons, the United States will probably have to retaliate — perhaps with cruise missile strikes against whatever Syrian army unit did the deed.

But what about the broader problem? Is the United States, already weary of wars, burdened by debt, and chastised by the Iraq and Afghanistan experiences, going to stand aside indefinitely in this war?

Obama’s critics want him to “do something.” They refer to the Rwanda genocide of 1994, or the more successful Libya intervention of 2011, and demand that the U.S., along with other NATO states and the Arab League, find a way to end the carnage. Arm the rebels, establish a no-fly zone, set up safe areas for internally displaced persons and refugees.

Indeed, I tend to support these kinds of ideas myself, and the president is reportedly considering providing some arms to some of the insurgents more seriously than he did before.

Before entering war
Even so, Obama is right to be wary of putting U.S. credibility on the line when there is no clear exit strategy. The Syrian insurgency is a motley bunch that includes al-Qaeda-linked extremists. The overthrow of Assad would no more end Syria’s war than the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 brought peaceful bliss to Iraq.

We need a debate about the right exit strategy in Syria before we enter into the war. The right model is neither Iraq, nor Afghanistan nor Libya, but the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Two decades ago, we watched similar killings for a couple years in the nation that had broken away from Yugoslavia, until international outrage and battlefield dynamics converged to make a solution possible. We bombed Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbian militias, then forced him into a deal that created a “soft partition” of Bosnia.

It wasn’t perfect, but 18 years later, Serbs, Muslims and Croats have not gone back to war.

Syria could be harder because the insurgents are so fractured. But by offering the various factions help — not only now on the battlefield, but also later as they try to rebuild Syria once Assad is gone — we can establish influence and leverage. This will not be easy and will hardly guarantee a great outcome. But it is far more promising than the trajectory we are on.

With a Bosnia-type approach, Assad’s Alawite minority would keep a section of the country, most likely along the coast, where local police would be the main security forces. Assad himself would have to step down and ideally would go into exile. Kurds would keep similar sections of the country in the north. The main central cities would be shared.

Establish basic rights
And, of course, minority rights would be enshrined in the deal. In other words, having different parts of the country run primarily by one group or another would not be an invitation to further ethnic cleansing or killing.

Yes, this plan does imply a number of U.S. peacekeepers on the ground, perhaps comparable in number to the 20,000 who began the job in Bosnia in 1995. The United States should, however, commit to such a deployment only if other countries, including Arab states and Turkey, provide the majority of peacekeepers. In fact, we should seek pledges of international participation before moving to any direct U.S. involvement in the conflict.

With international participation, combined with a fair-minded idea for a peace accord later, Washington and other key capitals might also finally convince Moscow that there is no hope for putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. We need Russia’s help to push Assad out and get this kind of settlement.

It is time to get realistic about our options in Syria and to get beyond the impulse just to “do something.” We need a comprehensive approach that includes a viable exit strategy. The Bosnia model provides the best first draft for such a plan.”

We’d love to share your comments with our readers. Comment on the Roundtable at www.lsi-llc.com, or send me a note at john@lsi-llc.com, and I’ll share them.

Thanks,
John