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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.

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