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Winning v/s Losing the Middle East geo-political/geo-economic War in the making

By : Ziad K. Abdelnour| 4 April 2011
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The recent disturbances in a number of Middle East countries including but not limited to Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Libya, etc…. are separately explained by many conservatives and liberals as evidence of a sudden Muslim thirst for democracy — driven by poverty, political suppression, and cultural deprivation.

Well, maybe. But I suspect that such interpretations trivialize the magnitude and causes of these events. After all, those sadly familiar factors of poverty, political suppression, and cultural deprivation have existed in most Muslim lands for many centuries.

So what really triggered this “democracy tsunami” ? Is it – as many socio-economic pundits claim – the advent of social networking such as Facebook, Twitter and the likes? Is it a true awakening of the youth in the Arab world at large about the miserable and untenable state of affairs in their respective countries? or what exactly?

I personally believe that the main reason behind this “perfect storm” is the convergence today – after the huge US economic debacle of 2008 – of immense oil interests in partnership with the region’s jihadist regimes, obstructing the advance of democracy in the region and pushing the envelope to the limit…first to change the regional balance of power followed by the world’s.

What is most worrisome is that when civil unrest in the “Arab Street” starts spreading like a contagion throughout the entire region, it often open doors of opportunity for nefarious nations or factions— the biggest beneficiary in this case is Iran.

By condemning the West’s intervention in Libya, the Iranians have drawn only diplomatic scorn from nearby Arab nations.

And as the Libyan situation gets messier and protracted then the frustration of Arabs can and will without a doubt present further opportunities to the most notorious opportunist in the region – Iran – to better manipulate Arab opinion. Especially when radical Islamist factions in the Middle East and North Africa can potentially be exploited to further roil the waters.

Yes…. the leaders of the nations under assault in recent weeks and months have been dictators. Should they all go? Of course. But it’s also true that both Moammar Qadhafi of Libya and especially Hosni Mubarak of Egypt have been, on the grand geopolitical stage, stabilizing forces in the region. By design or chance, that has effectively made them allies of the world’s unwilling constabulary nations, most notably America.

The Obama administration showed an inability to decide whether to support America’s traditional ally Mubarak or to get on the side of history and support his ouster. On Qadhafi, the White House looked even more confused until European allies all but forced its hand.

We face one of the gravest shifts in the stability of power among nation-states since the taking of Eastern Europe by the Soviets in the years after World War II.

Yet every administration since former President Jimmy Carter has been absolutely “clueless” as to how to deal with Iran.

I strongly believe we are fighting the wrong war, as we have been for years. With due deference to our new and suffering allies in Libya and beyond, Iran ultimately will prove to play the role of Japan and Germany in the 1940s.

Iran will be the catalyst that thrusts us unwillingly into a scary, new 21st century world.

The reluctance by the Obama administration and other European governments to extend their hand of support to Iran’s civil society can be explained through the pressures applied by interest groups, including oil-producing regimes, not to “meddle” in Iran’s affairs and let go of the democratic movements.

To take it one step further, I believe the real force behind “protecting” the present regime in Iran are those interest groups awaiting impatiently the reopening of business with the Islamic Republic. Since the deal was cut with the elite in power in Tehran, I am afraid we shouldn’t expect a campaign to bring down this elite anytime soon or at least for now.

It is hoped that liberal democracies soon realize that a drastic regime change in Iran would create a positive new era in international relations and give peace a chance in many areas in the Middle East.

It is high time for all of us Americans to muster all efforts possible to seize the historic opportunity, support the democracy movement in Iran and disrupt the biggest powerbroker and trouble maker in the Middle East bar none….the mullahs of Iran and their proxies in Lebanon; Syria and Hizballah before it is too late.

The alternate feasibility of removing ourselves from the Middle East will not happen anytime soon due to our reliance on Middle East oil.

Maybe the first policy imperative that should come from the above alternative is for a “Manhattan Project” sense of urgency to massively and quickly increase our domestic (and other politically safe) oil production, while the humans for which our government should provide humanitarian relief and nation-building services should be limited to American humans.

Short of the two aforementioned scenarios, America is “stuck between a rock and a hard place” and no one will benefit but the oil producing regimes and their respective lobbies.

It is clear that no matter how the multi-nation drama unfolds in the days and weeks to come, the region has been permanently transformed.

The key questions today though that still remain and that need to be dealt with immediately and without any hesitancy as time is running out are:

1. Whether Iran is appeasable….And if not appeasable, whether its threat can be defeated (without totally changing the Middle East map) with acceptable costs.

2. What will America’s role and place be in the new Middle East in the making?

Your feedback as always is greatly appreciated

Thanks much for your consideration.

Comments

  1. GISCARD MAATOUKGISCARD MAATOUK

    I ALWAYS ASKED MYSELF DID REALLY THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT UNDERSTAND THE MIDDLE EAST DYNAMICS? IF NO WHAT FOR ALL THE BUDGETS FOR RESEARCH CENTERS SCHOLARS STUDYING MIDDLEEASTERN AND ISLAMILC SOCIETIRS AND CUKTURE HUGE BUDGET FOR CIA AND NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY AND THE ADMINISTRATION IS CLUELESS THERE IS A GAP IN THIS DID THE USA WANT REALLY A TRUE DEMOCRATIC REGIMES IN MIDDLEEAST

  2. JehadJehad

    Great article Z, events are moving at the speed of lights in the region. All the previous talk about the Arab Street have been mild. Truly we are living in the midst of historical events, and in my opinion on a larger scale to the Eastern European revolt against communism. Looking at the greater ME picture one see the role of Iran and its ever expanding influence. The defensive stand of the remaining despots in the region is evident of the reaction of their governments. Though the Iranian are in deep trouble themselves, but are happily distracted by the event in the Arab world, they will try hard to take advantage of the situation, but if you see the events in Syria and to a greater extend in Lebanon the Iranian are on the verge of losing their two closest clients in Assad and Hizbullah, it will be clearer in the next 6 months when we will see Assad regime collapsing, Hizbullah on the run. Iranian Mullahs will have no choice but look internally and deal with their troubles. The future belong to the youth of the Middle East to run their countries and improve their lives, despots, Mullahs and other relics will be buried under the sand of the region. We need to continue helping freedom loving people everywhere, through every mean necessary.. God Bless JAF

  3. Roger AklRoger Akl

    Dera Ziad, First, I agree with you and Steve Davis about looking for other sources of energy. Second, we have to proceed for a complete change of policies in the Middle East that are strengthening not only Iran, which is by the way very far from being Germany or Japan, but our main rivals, China and Russia. How? By being fair in our relations with the Middle Eastern countries. For example, in Lebanon, we were responsible for the creation of Hezbollah, because we never ac-cepted to let the Lebanese army have the armaments to protect its country against Israeli aggressions. We let Israeli ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians go unpunished in 1948 and we approved of the Israeli attacks over Lebanon, especially the 1982 Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon inhabited by the Shiites. This opened the door to Iran and to the creation of the Hezbollah. Third, because of our thirst for oil and our fight with the Soviet Union, we approved of the Saudi Wahhabi fanatic expansion all over the world, including Europe, and accepted, even asked for the creation of Al Qaeda. These days, in Lebanon, we are supporting and protecting the Hariri ambition to govern Lebanon as Saudi governor for Lebanon (We know that he is a Saudi subject who has to answer “yes sir”, to any Saudi demand, as ambassador Feltman said in 2007, according to Wikileaks cited by tayyar.org). If really we wanted to weaken Iran’s influence, in Lebanon, we would give the Lebanese army the armaments to defend the country and especially the Shiite in South Lebanon against Israeli aggres-sions. If we do that, Hezbollah will have no more reasons to exist. But now, having no other way to defend their country, all Lebanese defense specialists, me including, find no other possibility to protect Lebanon and its population. As for the Middle East, in general, the Arab populations will LOVE America if it would accept a fair deal in Palestine and they will forget about Iran. Even, in Iran, the mood will change towards the US. Moreover, America will have a free hand in promoting democracy and partnership with all Arab and Moslem peoples, including Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and even Iran. Roger

  4. Leo MattheosLeo Mattheos

    I had the opportunity to live in Indonesia the period of time the general suharto stepped from power in 1998 after 32 years in power .His family were accused of accumulation of large assets/wealth .Of course his departure followed the financial crisis affected the SEAsia region since 1997. It brought changes in thailand and later on in malaysia .I think in times of financial crisis the vast majority of the population in those countries were governed from what is called dictarors are getting deprived of basic goods and their societes find the opportunity to pursue the long waited political change. It is probably the new generation who travelled overseas and is better educated and exposed but still do not have access to the country,s opportunities and they look for the right time to express their resentmement and need for change. In other words what I believe for all those nations in the middlle east and North africa is that the time matured for political change and yes the internet helped those communities to develop a unified voice and come together. I think USA should not step in to affect the choice of leadership and let those countries place their own leaders. It is an opportunity for USA not to play the old role for the sake of regional stablilization and i think those countries have now the maturity to elect their own leaders who can implement democratic reforms.The old regimes are not anymore welcomed and can not easily remain in power and their founding members can not convince their countrymen that they can bring the change their people desperately need.Thanks for the attention.

  5. Steve DavisSteve Davis

    You said:Maybe the first policy imperative that should come from the above alternative is for a “Manhattan Project” sense of urgency to massively and quickly increase our domestic (and other politically safe) oil production, while the humans for which our government should provide humanitarian relief and nation-building services should be limited to American humans. Absolutely on the Money BRAVO, BRAVO BRAVO American foreign policy has been ignorant and misguided in the middle east since the end of WWII… we must fire OBAMA and emulate what china has been doing acquiring critical mineral assets around the globe and developing all domestic resources we can in secure areas ..(north/ south America) in stead of letting china get foot holds here which we will sooon regret… own the assets.. quit buying junk.. rebuild domestic production before its too late

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