Friday, April 7, 2017

Observations From the Back Row: My Take on the Middle East

By Rich Kozlovich

One of the patterns we're going to see developing is the formation of defense organizations on a similar order of NATO.  That's happening with Pakistan and Saudi-Arabia in something they're calling the Islamic Military Alliance, with participation of 39 countries. Iran is somewhat opposed.  Which is to be expected since all Muslim controlled lands are either Sunni or Shia dominated.  Iran is a Shia dominated country and both Saudia Arabia and Pakistan are Sunni dominated.

These two sects make up somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of all Muslims.  The problem is they hate each other because each considers the other apostates and under Sharia law an apostate or heretic is deserving of death. 

Having said that.  The only reason NATO worked was because the U.S. wanted it to work and Europe wasn't in any postion - nor did it want to - to reject NATO because the cost for defense savings was obvious, and Europe couldn't afford it after the war.  They still can't.  This Islamic Military Alliance isn't going to work. It never has in the past and it won't work now because the same tensions that have existed for hundreds of years between these groups will still be in play.  Pan Muslim harmony is a myth. 

This allegedly has the goal of successfully combating jihadists who have pursued a more strategic project of pan-Muslim unity.  In fact - there are concerns this may actually increase jihadic activity. 

As this goes forward it's clear Pakistan will have to take the leadership role in organization and administration. Saudia Arabia - which can't seem to do anything - will fund it and try influencing this group through that funding.  The rest will be flunkies, and they know it so nothing is really moving on this.  A real witches kettle for discontent, especially since Pakistan has resisted efforts by Saudi Arabia to get into a sectarian struggle against Iran.   Turkey and Egypt are staying out of this. 

Turkey sees Saudi Arabia as competition for leadership - and personally I still think the Turks have a residual Ottoman Empire attitude toward all the rest of the Middle East.  Egypt has it's own problems and are not going to waste their army for the Saudis.  Neither are as concerned about sectarian fights as Saudi Arabia. 

So why is Saudi Arabia so hot about this.  First, the price of oil has dropped and fraking is destroying those economies that only have energy as the foundation for their economy, which is a problem for Russia also.  And secondly, their protector, the U.S. is going to withdraw from international involvment more and more as time goes by.  Bretton Woods concepts are dead, and the Saudi's know it. 

Pan Muslim solidarity is now and has always been a myth, but ISIS is creating their own Pan Muslim solidarity they call it's caliphate - through fear and violence.  "This week a so-called “kill list” was threatened to be released by ISIS, allowing lone wolf operatives around the globe to conduct their Jihad in any way possible,  without the necessity of a structured group of radicals."  8700 are on that list in the U.S. and Europe and ISIS living in Jordar are threatening to attack Jordan.

The Turkey/Syrian/Kurd situation is a mess, all of whom are at odds with ISIS and each other, depending on the faction, and there's no agreement between Turkey and the U.S. over any of this and there will not be any in the near future. I'm thinking that's best, since no one has an answer to this problem in the west because they don't define it properly.  And Syria is using chemical warfare and Russia is supporting their actions through propaganda, but let's get this right.  This war has dispossed millions, and killed hundreds of thousands, why are these few killed in this horrible fashion worse? This is just one more chapter in Islam's murderous history.

Rand Paul tells Trump to stick his guns, no war in Syria and Haley threatens unilateral military action in Syria.  So what will the U.S. do?  Rand Paul lost.  Trump launched a missle strike destroying Syrian aircraft with John McCain and Lyndsay Graham approving.  Approval by those two alone is enough to doubt the value of this effort. But, we might want to remember this was organized and ordered while China's President was here.  Is this an object lesson attack? 

But I keep coming back to what I think is a foundational question.  What is the end goal?  Is Assad any worse than the fanatics who will replace him?  That wasn't the case in Egypt or Lybia.  It's hard for the West to have clarity because they refuse to properly define what's going on in the Middle East.  This is a religious war and the West just refuses to get that. Nothing will change until one faction wipes out the other, which means nothing will change.  So I say keep them impoverished, keep them unarmed as much as possible, restirct their travel and keep them over there. That should be the U.S. foreign policy for the Middle East.




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