The MIddle East I See

Turkey. Turkey has been sliding away from Western orientation for a decade. Since the election of Prime Minister Erdogan’s party there is little question that Turkey will be dominated by Islamist principals. The role of the Military has been brought under control by Erdogan as have the segments of the body politic insistent on maintaining a Kemalist orientation to secularism. The recent history of secular control will continue to fade away; it’s just a matter of time. Long standing cooperation between Turkey and Israel is no more. Prime Minister Erdogan supported the ‘flotillas’ to Gaza that led to confrontation and violence, our Secretary of State Mr. Kerry convinced Israel to apologize, followed quickly by Mr. Erdogan sticking a red hot political poker up the hind side of the Israeli body politic. Recall the ‘sudden’ decision not to allow American troops to pass into Iraq by way of Turkey? This was one in a long line of ‘nudges’ by Erdogan to push Turkey onto the list of ‘Islamic democracies’. No one in the hard core Islamic world believes in Islamic democracy as a matter of cannon. The West, however, rushed to the willfully blind perception that it was ‘springtime’. Elections are no more than a means to an end and the Western love affair with elections is excellent cover for the true intentions of current and potential Islamic ‘Republics’ of which Turkey is one. Turkey will also vie with Iran for regional hegemony; memories of the last Caliphate based in Turkey have not faded.

Syria. We have seen only the beginning of the violence in Syria. When Assad falls, and he will, it will become a war between the Syrian Free Army and the collection of Salafist influences present in Syria, including al Qaeda. Middle Eastern countries will line up but not all on one side. All of the things that could have been done without direct engagement on the ground have gone begging. Buffer zones for Israel, Iraq and Jordan could have been established but were not. No fly zones under international supervision went the way of the Dodo bird. There is little doubt that the energy of Islamist radicalism will continue to fueling the fighting in Syria. Turkey, Egypt and Iran will all look to Syria as a potential client state. As for us, the support we did provide will be turned against us. We just never learn.

Lebanon. Hiz’bAllah controls Lebanon, the result of ‘elections’. Hiz’bAllah, in concert with Syria assassinated Prime Minister Rafic Hariri removing their main competitor and then, surprise, won the elections. There have been no elections since; another surprise! Hiz’bAllah, however, now has problems. Their support for Assad, (payback for Assad’s support) has rendered them on the political outs throughout much of the Middle East.

Palestine. There is no Palestine! There is only the conflict between Hamas and Fatah. Both committed to Islamist principals, both intent on the physical destruction of Israel and both intent on political ascendency. There will be no stability in any positive sense of the word; recent reports have Iran behind plans for a Hamas take over in the West Bank, especially important to them as they may lose their key ally, Syria. That effort put’s Egypt and the Brotherhood in a tough spot as Hamas is their creature. If Iran has their way, and they usually do, Palestine will be fully ruled by Hamas and the opportunity for any manner of rational peace deal will be dead for a generation. Hamas rule in both Gaza and the West Bank could motivate Israel to solve the problem once and for all. One of the fundamental flaws in ‘peace deal’ negotiations is that there has been no clear winner in the series of conflicts. Israel can crush them militarily but Palestinians have the weight of international opinion on their side; misguided but factual.

Egypt is firmly in the grasp of the Brotherhood and they appear to not have a clue how to govern. It’s the Egyptian version of ObamaCare; sounds good in theory, execution is a nightmare. Repression has begun, Christians are fleeing and random violence against those who are not ‘Muslim enough’ proceeds apace. The same dynamics we saw in post revolutionary Iran are evident in Egypt. The Constitution will be the gateway for Sharia dominance in Egypt. Opposition is being repressed or eliminated, free speech abandoned in favor of ‘correct’ speech by way of Sharia based standards. Gangs of Salafists apply the law as they see fit. The Brotherhood, presented with a variety of opportunities to be inclusive, has shunned each and every opportunity. The opposition, on the other hand, cannot seem to organize under a single political imperative. At the height of the Arab Spring one school of thought had the Brotherhood not moving to take control based on the social and economic collapse that appeared to be on the horizon; ‘let someone else deal with the crisis, then move in.’ Greed for power after all these decades won out and the Brotherhood has exposed itself as inept in the application of that power they so desperately wanted.

Iraq under Shia control moves inexorably closer to Iran. We have apparently removed one dictator to be replaced by another when all is said and done. The failure to negotiate a continued American presence will have a multitude of effects as time goes by, none positive from our point of view. Common cause between Iraq and Iran provides easy access to Israel for Iran. Think about it. The U.S. demand for Iraq to disallow Iranian over flights in support of the Syrian government forces was ignored. Most of what the West wants has been and will continue to be ignored. What are we going to do, invade them again??

Saudi Arabia is hung on its own Islamic petard. Saudi money has funded the spread of Islamic fundamentalist movements and education for decades; it was the price of power for the Saudi Royal Family by way of alliance with the Wahhabists. That global movement envisioned by fundamentalist clerics now has The Saudi’s in its crosshairs. Traditional ties to Egypt cannot be guaranteed, Iranian threats against the Saudis continue by way of the surrogate conflict in Bahrain and Iranian rhetoric against the Saudi Royal Family continues apace. Absent U.S. military support Saudi Arabia would not be able to hold its own against attack by a professional army and yet U.S. support and presence will add to the motivation of anti Saudi forces.

While having no specific evidence in hand, the Gulf States, especially Dubai have, despite the manner in which they have developed, been free of Radicalized terror. Women, Liquor, shopping malls, rampant Capitalism and yet they have avoided standard Islamist punishments for such behavior; clearly contradictory to the tenants of main stream Islam. Someone is likely paying a very high price for protection against Islamist ‘justice’. One wonders who long the protection scheme will hold out.

Finally, we come to Iran. Absent a new more aggressive policy towards the Iranian nuclear program they will cross the nuclear red line, likely this year. We will have allowed a rampantly anti West, anti American, anti Israeli, anti Saudi regime to procure a nuclear weapon armed with a Fatwa justifying its use and a global network capable of delivering it in one form or another. The expected nuclear device does not have to be delivered by intercontinental ballistic missile. It can be delivered in a shipping container, relying less on a devastating explosion than on an EMP pulse that could knock out every electronic device for hundreds of miles. Just imagine everything from Boston to Washington disabled: cars, computers, power stations, and transportation; water and food infrastructure gone for the foreseeable future. The U.N’s top nuclear official announced yesterday that he grows more concerned that weaponization is continuing in secret locations while Iran ties up the IAEA with obtuse negotiations; the same obtuse negotiations with Iran that have been occurring for nearly eight years. Nope, we’ll never learn.

U.S. policy is based on a failure, refusal if you will, to understand the true dynamics at play in the Middle East will insure ongoing policy failures and, eventually, contribute to that region blowing up, yet again, bit by bit. It is all about religious based conflict; internal and external. To waste time focusing on Israeli settlements or Middle East peace deals is chimera. The issue is Islamic radicalization and the long road they have patiently traveled to assume political control. Salafist or nearly Salafist governments now exist in Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Gaza. Soon Syria will come into the mix joining Libya and Tunisia.

Even Tom Friedman now admits that the Arab Spring has been, so far, a disaster.