Thursday, August 26, 2010

Middle East Sandstorms and Tumbleweeds

Yoram Ettinger, "Second Thought"
YnewNews, August 26, 2010,7340,L-3943768,00.html

The US evacuation of Iraq and the 2011 expected evacuation of Afghanistan – and President Obama's preoccupation with the Palestinian issue – remind me of the Texas colloquialism: "When you're smothered by a West Texas sandstorm, don't be preoccupied with the tumbleweeds." In the beginning of 1990, President Bush believed in the New World Order theory, and pursued engagement with – and not defeat of – Saddam Hussein. He considered the Palestinian issue as the root cause of Middle East turbulence, and therefore pressured Prime Minister Shamir for sweeping concessions. However, Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 exposed the fallacy of "The New Middle East" and "The New World Order," sucking the US into a costly, bloody and prolonged quagmire.

In 2010, President Obama believes that the USA should act within international consensus, aspiring to bring rogue regimes to the table rather than bringing them to submission. He defines the Palestinian issue as the crux of Middle East violence, and therefore pressures Prime Minister Netanyahu for further groundbreaking concessions.

However, in 2010, Middle East sandstorms are growing increasingly lethal and put the Palestinian issue in perspective – a secondary priority for Arab regimes. They highlight fundamental features of inter-Muslim/Arab politics, which clarify that US relations with Israel and with Arab countries are not a "Zero Sum Game." Middle East sandstorms accentuate special security requirements, which result from the tempestuous nature of the region and underline the critical role played by the US posture of deterrence in bolstering regional and global sanity and stability. Intensifying Middle East uncertainty and volatility also reaffirm Israel's unique strategic features and highlight the growing potential of the mutually-beneficial US-Israel strategic cooperation.

Irrespective of the Palestinian issue, the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israel's existence, the US is evacuating Iraq and will evacuate Afghanistan, while Iran is going nuclear - a nightmare for Persian Gulf, Middle East and global leaders. Iraq's evacuation will destabilize the country, advance Iran's posture and destabilize Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf States. Furthermore, the Saudi-Yemen border is boiling; inter-Muslim terrorism proliferates; post-Mubarak Egypt could follow the anti-US Turkish or even Iranian path; the Sudan and the Horn of Africa are saturated with conflicts; the Islamization of Turkey's policy fosters regional radicalization and Lebanon remains a target for a Syrian takeover and an arena for violent inter-Arab conflicts. Additional intra-Muslim conflicts hemorrhage the region, facilitating Russian, Chinese and North Korean penetration of the region. None of the above is impacted by the Israeli-Palestinian negotiation!

These conflicts shed light on 1,300 year old fundamental features of inter-Muslim/Arab reality: Islamic supremacy; autocracy/tyranny; violence as a norm to resolve conflicts and secure power; regime-change through the bullet and not through the ballot; sectarian, religious, ethnic, tribal and ideological violent conflicts; corruption; fragmentation; instability of regimes and alignments; volatility in shifts from peace to war and from conclusion to violation of agreements. For instance, in 1969 and 1979, Libya and Iran were transformed via revolution from pro-US to anti-USA regimes. In 1980 and in 1990, Iraq abrogated peace accords, invading Iran and Kuwait. In 1990, pro-USA King Hussein collaborated with Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. In 1993, the Oslo Accords were concluded and summarily violated by an unprecedented wave of Palestinian hate-education and terrorism. In 2002, pro-USA Turkey switched over to the anti-USA, pro-Iran, pro-Syria, pro-Hezbollah and pro-Hamas camp. In 2003, a radical regime was trounced in Baghdad, but in 2011 Baghdad could become an active volcano, spreading lava throughout the region.

The evacuation of Iraq turns attention to the exceptionally high security threshold required by Israel, resulting from the unpredictable, unstable, violent and volatile nature of the region and its regimes. The more thorough the US evacuation, the higher the level of threat and uncertainty, and therefore the deeper the security significance of the Judea & Samaria mountain ridges – the "Golan Heights" protecting Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the 9-15 mile sliver of Israel along the Mediterranean.

The security, stability and sanity of the Middle East depend upon American determination and deterrence. The evacuation of Iraq, without bringing terrorism to submission – along with hesitant USA policy toward Iran and North Korea – are perceived by rivals and enemies of the USA as lack of endurance, which was demonstrated by the US flight from Vietnam (1973), Beirut (1983) and Somalia (1993). It undermines the USA posture of deterrence and pumps adrenalin into the veins of terrorists.

The lower the military profile of the USA and the more volcanic the Middle East, the higher the added-value of the Jewish State as a credible, stable, battle-proven and democratic ally of the USA. Israel is endowed with unique capabilities, which have benefited the US in the areas of intelligence (sharing with the USA more intelligence than all NATO countries combined), defense-industrial Research & Development, manufacturing, refurbishing and exports (promoting US military systems and providing the US with the largest battle-proven laboratory), counter-terrorism (sharing with the US Israel's unique experience) and operations (foiling coups in Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, destroying Iraq's nuclear reactor and Syria's nuclear plant, deterring rogue regimes, upgrading battle tactics, etc.). Such unique Israeli potential becomes doubly pertinent in face of the expected 2011-2012 Middle East sandstorms.

US-Israel mutual interests behoove a dramatically enhanced strategic cooperation, focusing on the larger Middle East and global context – and not on the narrower Palestinian context – which is critical to dire economic and security concerns of the US, Israel and the Free World.

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