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22 December 2006

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Will

Israel get Egyptian Oil, inter alia. That was part of the Camp David Accords.

That was a contributing factor to the start of the modern Sunni-Shii conflagration and the Iran-Iraq war-- the Shah's coziness with Israel. In the Shah-in Shah's latter stages he began to retract and established closer ties with Sadat.

Because the Palestinians are overwhelming Sunni w/ a strong Xtian presence (note PLF Dr. George Habash), the Palestinian cause had been till lately a Sunni project This began the modern enmity and also helped bring down the Persian king.

Matthew

johnf: The United States guarantees Israel's oil supply; Exxon, I know, sells them oil. As you probably remember, part of the deal on giving up the Sinai involved providing Israel with oil.

Col. Lang: I thought the original neo-con plan was to enable the rise of the Shia. Now it seems that we want to prop up all the tottering Sunni kings. Do you think this will succeed, or has the sand permanently shifted?

Eaken

More is going to happen in the M.E. in the next 3 months than has happened in the past 3 years.

And it is going to be ugly.

Got A Watch

"Now it seems that we want to prop up all the tottering Sunni kings."
Why would today be any different? America has a long history of supporting local dictators as long as they are "US YES" men - democracy, human rights and doing the right thing be damned. There are too many to list here. A historian recently released a book draft which listed some 60 instances of this since WWII, and the outcome was the exact oppoite of the intended in 59 out of 60, IIRC. Not sure if the book was actually published yet, but it was discussed in UK newspapers. These policies nearly always backfired, within 10-20 years the nation would overthrow the dictator and become anti-US. Go figure.

There were over 200 total USA interventions in foreign nations listed post WWII, from diplomatic support to assassinations to full on invasion, and final outcomes were not in favor of America in almost every case. The Cold War can be blamed for most, but not all, and certainly none since 1989 fit that category. Of course no MSM in the USA would dare mention these facts - too many illusionary bubbles might be popped. You might think such a sterling success rate would require a serious re-think of existing policies, but apparently rear-view mirrors have been banned in Washington. The American public remains blissfully unaware of all this. Apply these past experiences to Iraq? Of course not - why do you love the terrorists so much?

Got A Watch

On Israel, Oil/Gas and arms:
I read a while back on an energy website that Russia is by far the largest supplier of oil/gas to Israel. The oil may be purchased/re-sold by Exxon or whomever. This is why Russian, Turkish and Israeli interests are pushing for a new undersea gas pipeline from Turkey to Israel, at multi-billion dollar cost. This project will be the world's longest and most expensive underwater pipeline, and would be somewhat vulnerable to attack by interests opposed to Israel IMHO. Also the Russians could conceivably shut off the valves if Israel irritates them enough. Turkey likes it because they get to collect a transfer fee on every unit.

Oil production in the Sinai or Egypt is statistically insignificant in world terms - Egypt is usually considered to be a country with very little resources, and does not show up in petroleum statistics and charts that I have seen. If they do produce oil/gas, their production seems to be lumped in under "Africa, Other" at a very small total amount.

I believe this puts Israel in a precarious position, because their primary (almost sole) energy supplier is also the main arms supplier to Syria, Iran, Egypt, Libya etc. Debkafile (somewhat unreliable) has Syrian Pres. Assad in Moscow this week spending the equivalent of $500M US$ (given him by Iran - nice Christmas present) on Russian arms. Add arms export credits given by Russia to "friendly" nations to increase sales, and sounds like Syria is getting a large upgrade. Items mentioned were Tor anti-aircraft systems and upgrading Syria's existing 4,500 tanks, as well as logistics and communications. Russia is also moving in to a large scale (fleet) naval base on the Med. coast of Syria. The AA zone of that base will cover a large portion of Syria, it has been speculated. I would guess Russia supplies Israel for money and significant intelligience help against Muslim fundamentalists like the Chechens. If it was only a matter of money, Russia could more easily sell the resources elsewhere - there is no shortage of nations looking to import more oil and gas.
The canny Russians are working all sides of the street, as usual.

Babak Makkinejad

Got A Watch:

You are misjudging the effectiveness of these policies. The election cycles in US are 2, 4, and 6 years. A policy that can give dividends for 10 to 20 years is considered pretty effective policy. The backlash is considered just cost of the policy. I further think that for policy makers the idea was that even in cases of a backlash – the new governments had no place else to go. In fact, Ambassador Sullivan, the last US Ambassador to Iran, said as much.

I think because of globalization etc. now these states have some place else to go - it will not be as efficient but it works for them.

walrus

I note ominous developments over the last three or four days:

1. Condoleeza Rice's comments about the deaths of American troops and the treasure expended on Iraq as "investments" in "transforming" the middle east.

2. The forthcoming "testing" of the draft Board apparatus, which has got some liberals overly worked up.

3. The LA Times is reporting that Generals Casey and Onieda(?) are now in favor of "surging" 20,000 troops in Baghdad.

4. The passing of Iran sanctions by the UN Security Council.

I know I seem to be a doom and gloom merchant, but it appears to me that Bush and his inner circle are holding with their fantasy of "transforming" the Middle East.

I now believe that Bush's repeated claim to have "superior knowledge" to others that is informing his Middle East strategy does not relate to conventional intelligence sources at all. I have reached the frightening conclusion that this "superior knowledge" is some sort of religious mania.


Bush is going to attempt to destroy the Shia militias and large areas of Baghdad in the process in a deliberately bloody and public manner, killing every Shia male of military age in the process.

The purpose is to either to destroy the militias and/or provoke Iran into an attack - that will justify the bombing of Iran. Israel will probably attack Syria at the same time since Syria has a mutual defence pact with Iran.

The "mission" if one can call it that, is to destroy Israel's enemies for the forseeable future (say 20 years) while securing the oil supplies of Iran and Iraq and make sure they keep flowing south, freezing out China. It would also satisfy the "millenium - ist" armageddon nuts among his supporters by having a gigantic battle between the forces of good and evil - at least that is how Bush sees it.

The draft Board exercise is a test all right - a test of the first stage of a general mobilisation that will be necessary if the Iranians don't cave in so easily.

I also expect the last of American civil rights and excellent blogs such as this will dissappear about the same time.

The "transformation" is going to be a transformation into a wasteland.

Will

just a thought. It doesn't matter how much oil Egypt (Masr) produces. Israel has a right to "Egyptian" oil. It is easy enough to tranship it from Jedda across the Red Sea and relabel for a huge profit.

babak Makkinejad

walrus:

I cannot credit all of that - yoe see - there are not that many smart people in the world.

Matthew

Walrus: read Thucydicles. Empires expand or die. Since we didn't have the natinal will to maintain our manufacturing base, war-making is our ecnomony now. Of course, Bush is fighting a "twilight" struggle. It's called our national economic policy. If he removed the troops from Iraq, America would sink into a recession just in time for the '08 elections.

Mo

The Saudis (the family that is rather than the country) have always got into bed with whomever kept them in power and in oil money. The Wahabis were strong enough to destroy them early on. So they let Wahabism become the de facto religion in return for their support. The Saudis have seen the writing on the wall or been told explicitly what the White House intends for the Middle East. So they have picked the side they think is going to win.

The web being built is becoming more apparent by the day. It is becoming more and more obvious that Israels war on HA this summer was part of the much bigger plan. The push now is to bring civil war to Lebanon and to the Palestinians, play the now century old game of divide and conquer among the easily led Arabs.
It is NOT an attack on the Shia (the bogey Muslims of the 80's) in support of the Sunnis (the bogey Muslims of today).
It is a plan to eliminate or at least emasculate those opposed to Israel. Its really no surprise that Assad is reaching out to Israel. He is (amateurishly) trying to play the game, trying to call some non-existent bluff. But the plan is going ahead non-the-less. In Lebanon, the war failed so they are going to plan b and try and incite some civil discord.
In Palestine, ditto.
In Iraq ensure that a pocket govt. continues to rule.
And the big fly in the ointment, Iran. They have successfuly pushed the nuke myth enough now to get a resolution, a resolution that will down the line probably be used as the basis for justfying an attack (even though there is no mention of military action in it and it isn't chapter 7).

So how will it go?

Lebanon: HA will not allow a civil war, much to the frustration of the March 14th group, who are busy using every secterian sneaky trick in the book. The March 14th group is made up mostly of those who were involved in the civil war. They are also part of the ruling elite that have borrowed $44 billion dollars in the last decade but can only account for $4 billion. Therefore losing power isn't profitable so going back to the days of war were they made their fortunes in drugs and arms is prefferable to standing in court on charges of embezzelement.
Nasrallah however has made it clear. You can kill 1000 of us and we will not fight back with weapons he has said.

So in Lebanon, we will see what plan c is.


In Palestine: The plan is going much better here, for 2 main reasons:
Hamas and those opposed to it are matched in numbers but while Hamas are the legitimate govt. Fatah are better armed.
Secondly, both groups have poor disciplne, esp. in comparison to the Lebanese militias.

My prediction for the Palestinians and the Israelis?

If Abbas gets his elections and Hamas stand, they wil win again and all hell will break loose. If they don't stand, they will withdraw to the shadows and any chance the world had at politicizing them will be gone.

In Iraq, it is becoming clear that administration has to ensure that they protect the Sunnis, the very people most vehemently against the occupation, to keep the Saudis happy. You got to love the irony. So now they are busy trying to prove to the Sunnis how much they love them by taking on the Shia. This of course has the added benefit of reducing Irans influence in the country. Its all too painfully obvious to all of us but the close minded dumb asses sitting in the White House that this is a very short sighted plan that will inevitabley go wrong. The Shia haven't begun any kind of insurgency or ressistance to the US presence. If they do they will do so with better equipment then their Sunni compatriats and better training thanks to Iran. The trickle of losses the US is suffering will increase and if the British losses increase massively expect them to cut their losses quickly. The only relief will be that since the Sunni insurgency is now almost entirely Al Qaida funded and run, there is no chance of the two working together.


And Iran. Attacking Iran is most obviously the dumbest, most foolhardy thing Bush could do. Which is probably why he is going to do it. The consequences of such an attack are so unpredictable that the wildest prediction today could seem like small fry when the brown stuff hits the whirling blades.

Who is going to stop all this? Not the Europeans. Not the UN. Not Russia or China. In fact the only people that can stop this are the Arab people themselves. Only if they wake up to the threat hanging over their heads, only if they rise to the challenge and tell their leaders that if the region is engulfed in Bush's campaign to make Israel feel secure they will take them down.

Will this happen? Well we go back to Lebanon. If people power brings he govt. down, it may, possibly, just strengthen the resolve of other nations.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you. Forever the optimist, heres to a new year that sees the world a happier and safer place where our respective peoples can discuss issues like this and not be forced to resolve them on the battlefield.

zanzibar

This NY Times story and this WaPo story add credence to PL's scoop on this thread.

If Bandar bin Sultan and Elliot Abrams and the Israelis are concocting another covert operation to combat Iranian influence in the ME isn't it likely the Iran-Syria-HA alliance would try to destabilize Saudi Arabia?

This all seems quite dangerous as each side tries to destabilize the other. The situation may not turn out the way these "strategists" expect as we saw in the case of Iraq and now also Afghanistan. A major concern ought to be that the Decider and his "Rasputin" have demonstrated consistent poor judgment and execution ability. So the probability is higher that whatever scheme they come up with is likely to fail in further catastrophe for the people in the ME and for America. These ill-conceived actions could unleash the same sectarian forces regionally making the whole ME Iraq on steroids. Is the destiny of the ME to become fragmented warlord controlled territories that become havens for those that despise the US?

Now that we have some inkling what the Saudi-Israel-Neo-Con axis are up to anyone have ideas what the Iran-Syria-HA-Hamas axis are planning to do in return? Are all sides arming themselves in preparation for a massive new conflict with US and Israeli firepower arrayed towards regime change in Tehran and Damascus and a new occupation of Southern Lebanon? Will not these covert operations create situations where the American people and Congress get bamboozled once again into an adventure that will be even worse in terms of outcomes? This speculative note adds to the conspiracy theories that may have nuggets of truth in them.

VietnamVet

There is no doubt that George W Bush and his advisors view Hamas, Hezbollah, the Mahdi Militia, and Iranian Mullahs as evil and want them all dead. George W proved it when the US refused to stop Israeli bombing of Lebanon last summer. The only question is if the military has told the President that the Middle East War is lost and the horrendous costs of prolonging it.

For counterinsurgency [the oil spot theory] to work in Baghdad, the Sunni have to be ethnically cleansed, the slums flattened to kill the Shiite Mahdi Militia, and the survivors placed in concentration camps. If the US does not undertake these proven methods of pacification, it will all be for nothing.

If Baghdad is ever pacified, America will deserved the world’s contempt for participating in these horrors. If Iraq is ever pacified, many millions of American Boys and Girls will have had their tour of Iraq.

rowdy

nothing would suprise me anymore - but there is definately movement within saudi circles - ex: Saudi Prince Bandar leaving his post suddenly and is selling his Aspen,Co property, with >56,000 square feet on a 95-acre site. It even has its own gas pumps.

http://www.christiesgreatestates.com/featured/view_13243/

all you need is a cool $135 million....

Got A Watch

Babak: Yes, I agree - as the historian found, these policies often work for 10-20 years before being reversed. However, my point is that when you look at the cumulative effect globally of such, it is not so beneficial for the USA. Ref. the recent Pew polling which found around 2/3 of all citizens of the globe (varies by region) regard America as the greatest threat to world peace. Thus, USA election schedules, as you mentioned, will tend to undermine the long term good of the nation for a short term gain which does not last. American voters may forget such matters after the next election, but the populations of countries so affected will not for probably 2 generations at least.

In the modern multi-polar world with the BRIC nations holding the economic and energy cards, there is indeed "somwehere else to go", and re-calling negative past experience with America, there is little reason for those nations to "come back". See excellent posts from Lightflyer, Mike, Arbogast,Zanzibar, Mo, Walrus,Vietnam Vet etc. above - all point out other facets of this problem.

Over 60 years of practising such policies leads America to the place where it is now - widely distrusted, disliked by most and hated by many. Remember the USA never ceases to preach the benefits of democracy and human rights in public speeches - but the actions belie the words, so a perception of utter hypocrisy is widely held. This leads to other nations not supporting America when that support is called for in a time of real crisis, not the phony Bush style manufactured ones. See the "No. 1 Ally", UK where politicians and commmentators now vow to not rush to war with Bush again - and a government which would do so will quickly face electoral defeat. The same situation exists in Australia, and Canada and most other NATO countries.

Which leaves America with a rump of a few loyal allies who will always fight no matter what: Israel, ummmm, running out of names here. Thus, Israel is the only American ally with significant military capability who would support America in almost every case. Regional factors may bring others in for specific one-off actions, maybe - do you see Saudi Arabia actively warring with Iran at the side of America, for example? Seems unlikely to me. The proof will be when Bush attempts to form a coalition to attack Iran, and the rest of the world fails to show up.

Credibility and positive perception are like virginity - once gone it won't be repaired anytime soon. Ask any young person outside of Israel about their perception of America today, and reflect they will be in government in their respective countries in a few more years. Being seen to be "too close" to America is a political liability almost everywhere.

Babak Makkinejad

Got A Watch:

I was only trying to point out that in the Western representative republics the election cycles mitigates against long range planning - "long range" would mean 5 years.
I agree that US activities over the last 60 years have been less than sterling - both in motivation and in the actual results. And many US activities were rather capricious - like bombing of a former ally called Yugoslavia in support of (Muslim) terrorists supporting Saddam Hussein in using of chemical weapons etc. Moreover, US influence has not always been benign – I agree with you. One can certainly make a case that the reason that Manila is not city like Singapore or Hong Kong has had a lot to do with the greed & stupidity that US exercised her influence there.

I do however think that many countries still welcome US either as an ally or a counter-weight for security purpose: countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines among others. And some of these countries have no place else to go either except US. (In fact, I would venture to say that even Iranians probably prefer US to be engaged in Persian Gulf – not against Iran – but against any outside powers that might one to move in; such as Pakistan, India, China. Its cheaper for Iran to have US carry the burden there than for Iran to spend tens of billions of dollars to build its armed forces to the level required to carry that burden herself.)

And to answer your question – no I do not see Saudi Arabia going to war against Iran unless Iran attacks them first. And I do not see US attacking Iran since I do not see any strategic gains in it for US. I also suspect US has had to make promises in this regard to other states to get this latest SC resolution passed. I do, however, believe that US has been trying to create a Cold War like anti-Iran alliance in the Levant and the Persian Gulf. I cannot judge the success of these efforts but I suspect that it has not been very successful to date. But I might be wrong.

I agree with your point about credibility and perception. But it only applies to ordinary states and not such hyper powers as US. I think the best case that you can make is that because of Iraq, US has received a black-eye and will need to put some stake meat on that eye. But I do not believe that other international actors will permanently mistrust US credibility (but perhaps not GWB’s).

blowback

Weapons have been landed from Israeli ships on the Lebanese coast for the purpose of arming the enemies of Hizbullah.

Unless this is being done with the consent of the Lebanese government, this is in direct contravention of UNSC 1701. I hope that the US will immediately demand that the UNSC impose sanctions on Israel. Since the Germans are monitoring the Lebanese coast for illegal weapon imports, I am sure they will be happy to provide the necessary evidence.

BTW, this story in the New York Times seems like a crock of manufactured shit to me.

The US arrested a couple of accredited Iranian diplomats and their armed Iranian bodyguards. The bodyguards are probably the two members of the IRG mentioned elsewhere in the article. If I was an Iranian diplomat operating in Baghdad, I would want some one protecting me who was prepared to die to do so, not some mercenary. Big deal.

confusedponderer

I think Babak has a good point here. I doubt Bush will attack Iran, at least not now.

The determination to deny evil international recognition by insisting on not-talking with them is the hallmark of the Bush men. I find it actually quite striking that Bush hasn't moved an inch from his declared goal of regime change in Iran and Syria. He not only stays the course in Iraq.
I tell that everyone who states with relief that, luckily, the neo-cons are in full retreat. I don't think so. Some are, but those at the core still wield power and do have unitary executive presidential and vice-presidential support.

I found that interview with Ms. Wurmser remarkable where she said that the Bush men expected Israel to attack Syria and would have given it backing and are now angry about Israel 'not getting it'. Probably they're now pressuring Olmert's motley crew not to 'screw up again'. Israel serves a function in the neo-con schemes to re-shape the region.

What I expect is that Bush tries to 'regime change' (nice verb) Syria. I think what the Bushies are up to in Syria will resemble another color coded revolution. If Bashar al-Assad falls, the next step would then be increased heat on Lebanon, in an attempt to roll back Hezbollah, maybe, but not neccessarily, in form another Israeli attack (which is IMO inevitable considering that they seem to believe to have to 'restore the effect of Israeli deterrence').
If it fails, or better, is crushed on the street, it will paint Syria as an evidoer wich is good also, and they will dig out an expatriate crew labeled as 'Syrian Opposition (tm)'. I wonder how many of them will be Muslim Brotherhood types. My best bet: Zero.

With these two steps, and the expected effect of the surge - eliminating the threat from Shia militias in Baghdad (read as: Iranian proxies) - the Bush men will probably conclude that Iran is isolated and has been denied allies, and is ripe for the taking. I don't think it will work, but it is as close as a strategy gets under Bush. It has several steps, and looks great on power point.

What happens then is an open question. It is entirely possible that Bush orders the air attack on Iran anyway, only to ensure delivering his 'heritage'.

Everything is part of a larger struggle. Hezbollah and Sadr and Iran and Syria can't just happen to co-exist individually. They are all against the US and Israel! Now that can't be an accident! Sure there is a deeper, more sinister purpose behind it! There is no such thing as coincidence, unless, say, shit happens, and you go to war with the army you have and not the army you want, or things surprisingly take a very different direction than originally imagined (as in: no rose petals).
Someone has burned the idea that all wars are proxy wars in a wider struggle in their brains. In Bush's case it's the divine struggle against evil. In the neo-con's case it is the 'stare long, hard and stark enough you'll ultimately see things' vision, which is an intellectual disguise for paranoia, and making it up as you go along.
The idea of a deeper meaning behind things can even lend the hallucinations of a village idiot a degree of sophistication. Ironically paranoia gives you security. You know where the enemy is - everywhere. Best part: In case of doubt, just say you're suspicious, or refer to secret-intel-that-I-can't-tell-you-without-killing-you.

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