Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The Mysterious Middle East
By Alan Caruba
I don’t think anyone knows what’s going to happen in the Middle East and that includes the people who live there as well as those who have ruled them despotically for decades, if not centuries.
The bad news about the Middle East is that all this rioting, insurrection, et cetera, has very little to do with “freedom” and everything to do with its peoples wanting Sharia law and mullah control. In that area of the world that is what Islam preaches and what Muslims want. When you have to pray five times a day, there's not a lot of time left over for an objective understanding of the world.
Muammar al-Gadhafi is doing what one would expect him to do. He’s trying to stay alive and to keep his hold on the oil riches of Libya. To accomplish this, he will kill as many Libyans as necessary. We tend to forget that despots in Syria and Iraq, the late masseurs Hafez al Assad and Saddam Hussein, slaughtered thousands of their own people to gain and retain power. One can only guess at the death toll in Iran.
Egypt gave the impression of being a not too horrible place to live, so long as you lived in America or somewhere else. The military essentially owned Egypt and everyone else there resents it. What do we want in Egypt? Stability. Therefore we want the military to stay in power since most of its officers were trained by U.S. military and we give them over a billion a year not to attack Israel. Again. And get whipped. Again.
Only at this point there is no stability in Egypt and typically everyone at the bargaining table wants a piece of whatever wealth there is to be had. The Muslim Brotherhood wants a return to the seventh century as soon as possible.
The real action will be in Saudi Arabia where the wealth really exists and has been carefully tended by the “royal” family of Saud. They have worked closely with America because, oddly enough, we are the only major power they trust. We need their oil. If it takes every carrier, destroyer and cruiser we have in that part of the world, plus a lot of Marines, Army, and Air Force, you can bet we will ensure they stay in power and in the oil business.
The other Gulf States are strategic U.S. assets. We park our Navy in Bahrain. We do a lot of business in Abu Dubai. We want the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait to keep pumping oil and sending it to us. They want to avoid being taken over by Iran.
Nobody, but nobody knows how Iran will end up. A lot depends on whether a whole generation of young Iranians can stage a successful revolution, drag the ayatollahs into the streets, and hang them from telephone poles. So long as the nut jobs remain in power they will get nuclear weapons and force everyone to bomb the crap out of them.
Not mentioned at this point is Pakistan, a failed state beset by the Taliban with whom it has tried to maintain good relations despite the threat they present. Pakistan remains insanely afraid India will sneak in one night and reclaim their territory. It has nuclear weapons that the U.S. and all other nations want to ensure do not become the property of either al Qaeda or Iran. Islam is killing Pakistan.
There are three wild cards at this point, Lebanon, Jordan, and Yemen. The first two have large Palestinian populations. Lebanon is now controlled by Iran and Syria via Hezbollah. Jordan’s fallback position is the Bedouin tribes that support its king, but there is increased clamoring in the streets because that’s what Palestinians do.Yemen like other Arab states is in turmoil and only military analysts pay it much attention. Then there is Somalia, pretty much "Apache country" because no one who goes there comes back alive.
Lastly, there’s Afghanistan, a nation that has been unsuccessfully invaded by great powers who never learn one of the first lessons of history, never invade Afghanistan.
If you harbor the illusion that the White House, Department of State or the Pentagon has the slightest idea what is happening in the Middle East or what will happen in the Middle East, you are mistaken. And they are currently led by the most pro-Islam President in the history of the nation.
No one knows. Everyone wishes they did.
© Alan Caruba, 2011