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Posts Tagged ‘Mid East’

Yoram Ettinger: Mid-East Unpredictability and the Peace Process

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

In order to comprehend the real Mid-East, the root causes of regional turbulence, the key obstacle to peace and the oversimplification of Western peace-processors, one should examine the Iraq-Syria labyrinth, an arena of flaming and chronic unpredictability.

In April 2012, the Iraqi regime – led by Shiites – is supporting the Assad regime in the battle against Syria’s Sunni majority and the Muslim Brotherhood, which are perceived as a worse threat than Assad to the current regime in Baghdad.

However, from 2003 until the eruption of the current civil war in Syria, Iraq was haunted by Assad-armed and trained pro-Saddam Sunni terrorists, who terrorized Iraq and undermined the stability of the current Iraqi regime.

Moreover, from 1966 – when a split occurred between the Damascus and the Baghdad wings of their ruling Ba’th party – until the 2003 demise of Saddam Hussein, Syria supported all anti-Saddam Hussein ideological, ethnic, tribal, and religious elements. In fact, from 1979 until 2003, Damascus and Tehran provided asylum to Iraq’s current Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, who was then in opposition to Saddam Hussein.

The rivalry between Syria and Iraq has raged – on and off – since the eighth century, when the Damascus-based Umayyad Caliphate lost the military battle for intra-Muslim leadership to the Baghdad-based Abbasid Caliphate.

Welcome to the real Mid-East, the model of violent unpredictability, where the most predictable factor is unpredictability!

Inherent Mid-East unpredictability has produced a multitude of intra-Muslim accords concluded, but routinely, brutally, and unpredictably abrogated. Hence, the frequent intra-Muslim cease fire agreements recently concluded, yet summarily and mercilessly violated, in Syria.

The higher the unpredictability, the lower the prospect of compliance. The lower the compliance, the higher the threshold of security, especially in the unstable, treacherous, fragmented, violent, and unpredictable Mid-East.

The failure of Mid-East Muslim regimes to adhere to intra-Muslim agreements attests to the provisional and fragile nature of agreements signed with “infidel” entities, such as the Jewish State. The critical issue is when and how – not whether – agreements will be shattered. For example, in 1994, Jordan’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff told his Israeli colleague that “agreements signed with the Palestinians in the morning are violated by the end of the day.”

However, President Obama, West Europe, and the UN – just like the Israeli Oslo-ites and New Middle Easterners – are obsessed with the formalities of concluding Israeli-Arab agreements, failing to grasp the deeply-rooted fragility of all agreements concluded in the Mid-East. They pressure the Jewish State to assume irreversible “painful tangible concessions” – in return for reversible, intangible Arab declarations. They lean on Israel to retreat to the pre-1967, defenseless, 9-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean. They prod Israel to transfer – to unpredictable and violent neighbors – the cradle of its history, which is also a mountain ridge, dominating the Mediterranean sliver and constituting an indispensable, protective high ground for Israel’s survival in the most conflict-ridden region in the world.

The real Mid-East is currently further traumatized by the tectonic implosion of the Arab Street, the meltdown of traditional regimes, and the surge of radical Islamic elements, irrespective of the Palestinian issue or the Arab-Israeli conflict, which have only had a secondary impact upon the Mid-East.

Islamists have catapulted to leadership in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt and are challenging every Arab regime.

Emad el-Din Adeeb, a columnist of the London-based Arab daily, A-Sharq al-Awsat, wrote on February 4, 2012: “I sorrowfully say, God bless the days of Saddam Hussein, compared to today’s Iraq!… Iraq has been dismantled, and is now practically divided into three minor states: the Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite regions…. The number of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iraq amounts to 200,000 armed troops. This is in addition to the fact that some government correspondence in Baghdad is now written in both Persian and Kurdish…. The state has shifted into a major power center for extremist Islamic currents that threaten national and regional security, most prominently al-Qaeda…. The Iraqi authorities want to relocate the late President Saddam Hussein’s corpse from his grave – because of the numerous visits and crowds gathering nearby– to an unknown or remote place…. Judging by what happened in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, no one believes change in Syria will be democratic in the long term. It will bring to power a sectarian Islamic fundamentalist party. Instability will continue to be the order of the day.”

But, President Obama, Europe, and the UN persist in ignoring Mid-East reality. They pressure Israel to be the only country negotiating away its cradle of history, while lowering its security threshold, as if the Mid-East were relatively-predictable and compliant.

Originally published at http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=1756

Rubin Reports: Russia Meddles in the Mid East

Thursday, February 16th, 2012
The transition to democracy and capitalism has not been kind to Russia. It sank internationally from superpower to sideshow. The country is hurting and stagnant; it has no sense of purpose or goals; and Russia is in the hands of a ruthless dictator who knows how to use nationalism and demagoguery to ensure his power.
Of course, Russia’s rulers are weaker, less ambitious, far less well armed, and less anti-American than those in the old Soviet Union.  Still, though, the Russian government has a chip on its shoulder. It believes that the West betrayed it, tricked it into dropping Communism but then didn’t deliver prosperity. So the old traditional rivalry with the West and the United States has lost its Marxist element but gained a new factor.
Another new element is the search for money. Russia has two main assets: oil and the ability to export arms along with nuclear facilities that might be turned into weapons. Since the West, with a head start and superior products, has a head start, Russia often has to seek riskier, more marginal (see: more radical) clients. In short, Russia needs allies that don’t have the option of enjoying Western allies and suppliers.
What is most notable about Russia’s Middle East policy is that it tends to side with the extremist forces. These friends include primarily Iran, Syria, Hizbollah, and Hamas. Russia makes money by selling nuclear equipment to Iran, as well as arms to Syria that Iran pays for, knowing full well that arms will be transferred to Hizbollah. An alliance with Tehran also ensures that Iran doesn’t back Islamists within Russia.  Since there is no cost to Russia for engaging in this pro-radical policy it is most attractive.
In the UN, Russia has protected Iran from stronger sanctions and the Syrian regime from calls to back the revolutionary forces there.
Meanwhile, Russia’s regime is involved in a far less visible strategy of rebuilding its influence in Central Asia, the south Caucasus, and Central Europe. Russian enterprises, often strongly backed by the government, are buying up assets in these places, undermining the independence of former Soviet republics and some of the ex-satellites. The countries so menaced get virtually no support from the Obama Administration. Again, Russian policy is all gain, no cost.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/rubin-reports-what-is-russia-doing-in-the-middle-east/2012/02/16/

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