The Coming War

…in the Middle East:

We can envision, then, a sectarian war raging across the whole of the Fertile Crescent, drawing in all the former territories of Turkish Arabia. The prospect will be a frightening one for the region’s major powers. Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia could one day find chaos rather than functioning states on their permeable borders. If Al Qaeda/Nusrah can establish a base in Jordan, Saudi Arabia will find itself threatened by Al Qaeda franchises on both north and south that will be well-positioned to resume the pursuit of Al Qaeda’s core goal of toppling the Saudi monarchy and “liberating” the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

The Saudis showed great resiliency in defeating a serious Al Qaeda insurrection in 2004-2008, but that was a strictly internal threat that lacked a real foreign base. Simultaneous Al Qaeda bases in Jordan and Yemen would pose a more serious, if not an existential, threat to Saudi rule. If watching the fall or near-fall of half a dozen regimes in the Arab Spring has taught us anything, it should be that the Arab states that appeared serenely stable to outsiders for the past half century were more brittle than we have understood. The implosion of Turkish Arabia would test those regimes to the limit, and we cannot assume that the rulers of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait would be any better equipped to defeat the potential challenge than Muammar Qaddhafi and Bashar al-Assad were.

The rulers of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran are surely not blind to this nightmare scenario. As the situation in Turkish Arabia continues to unravel, those regional powers will be compelled to become ever deeper involved in an attempt to keep the tide of war from breaking on their own lands. This conflict could very well touch us all, perhaps becoming an engine of jihad that spews forth attackers bent on bombing western embassies and cities or disrupting Persian Gulf oil markets long before the fire burns out.

Arabia has always had bloody borders. At some point, it will become logically impossible for even the most virulent anti-semite to blame this on Israel. Not that it will stop them, of course.

3 thoughts on “The Coming War”

  1. This should be obvious to anyone paying close enough attention. The old regimes are falling. And in their place there is cementing a kind of pan-arab / pan-Islamic supra-nationalism. Not quite secular, not quite fully Islamist (although sometimes it is), not quite nationalist, but very much a new sort of zeitgeist that is heavily influenced by expansionist militant Islamic fundamentalism. And the more that soldiers supporting such a movement win battles against brutal tyrants the more prestige and mind share they gather in the region. In Egypt they are already running the government. A government with Abrahms tanks and F-16s. Iran is already an expansionist theocratic empire with foot holds in Lebanon and Syria. If Syria, Iraq, and Turkey fall under the spell then how long until a pan-Islamic state is formed? And how long until such a state decides it’s necessary to knock over the neighboring governments, for their own good?

    The best case scenario would be if these guys are heavily influenced by al qaeda, because it means the people will grow tired of their bullshit and eventually turn on them, as they did in anbar province in Iraq. The worst case scenario is if they achieve a semblance of moderation and treat their citizens reasonably well, because then they’ll be perceived as saviors (which in a sense they will be) and it might take generations for the region to recover.

    If only there were examples from history that we could draw from to see how this sort of thing might turn out…

    1. Robin,

      I am thinking of China, from 1916 to about 1950, the period when the nation was divided and local Warlords fought each other until a new “emperor” Chairman Mao, took over and crushed everyone. But given the differences in cultures in the Mideast it will last much, much longer.

      The basic problem is we keep pushing western style democracy on “nations” that have neither the institutions or cultural history to make it work. Which is why they will fight in the Mideast until someone is strong enough, mean enough and tough enough to unite everyone emerges, just as the Romans did, then Muhammad, then the Ottomans…

      Pity we don’t have history savvy commanders like MacArthur who knew Japanese history well enough to know that without the Emperor as symbolic leader the Japanese would have fallen apart and so used him as a figurehead for the reforms needed. Many of the problems we see in Afghanistan could have been prevented if we just restored the King and had the tribal chiefs give him their loyalty. But no, were trying to make it into a democracy with the result being that it will be chaotic until some group emerges as dominate like the Taliban did. In short we are repeating the same mistakes the British and French made in the Middle East of trying to impose our institutions on them without the cultural history behind them that enables the to work in the West.

  2. That is why the Turks ruled it with an iron hand, it was the only way to keep it peaceful. Pity the English and French weren’t able to learn from them.

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