Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Messy Middle East

According to this, there is a battle going on in the Middle East now:

On one side there is the United States and its strategic ally Israel, with a certain measure of wider Western and Arab support; on the other, Iran, and its strategic ally, Syria.

These powers are engaged in three proxy wars. The civil war in Iraq, the standoff between Hizballah and the government in Lebanon and the mini civil war between Fatah and Hamas.

There are several interesting points in this article too:

Washington's destruction of the Taleban regime in Afghanistan and its toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq served to destroy Tehran's main strategic competitors which means that the American war on terror after 9/11 has unintetionally led to the rise of Iran.

Sunni governments like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are terrified of a new Shia ascendancy. Add in the widespread unease at Iran's nuclear activities and you have a potential new alignment where the moderate Arab states and Israel all share common interests.

If this happens then the current proxy wars could turn into a direct confrontation between the US, Israel, other western powers, Egypt, Jordan Saudi Arabia on one side and Iran Syria Hizballah and Hamas on the other.

The Saudis Egyptians and the Jordanian are trying to difuse the situation in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, but with weak leaderships in the US, Israel and throughout the Middle East, nobody is holding their breath.

If the new American push to bring the situation in Baghdad under control does not work, Iraq may descend into chaos and fragmentation with wider repercussions on the whole region.

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former State Department official thinks that: "We are looking at a messier, a much more complicated, a much more troubled Middle East, where the capacity of the US to shape affairs is much-reduced."

So in the foreseeable future, the US will probably go back to caring less about spreading democracy in the region and more about the stability of it's allies in Cairo Riadh and Amman.


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