Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Richard Haass on a new Middle East

From Financial Times

*Visions of a new Europe-like Middle East that is peaceful, prosperous and democratic will not be realised. Much more likely is the emergence of a new Middle East that will cause great harm to itself and the world.

*The US will continue to enjoy more influence than any outside power, but its influence will be reduced from what it once was.

*Iran will be one of the two most powerful states in the region. It is a classical imperial power, with ambitions to remake the region in its image and the potential to translate objectives into reality. Israel will be the other powerful local state, but one that is in a weaker position today than it was before this summer’s crisis in Lebanon.

*Iraq at best will remain messy for years to come, with a weak central government, a divided society and sectarian violence.

*Militias, both a product and a cause of weak states, will emerge throughout the region wherever there is a perceived or actual deficit of state authority and capacity. Terrorism will grow in sophistication. Tensions between Sunni and Shia will increase. Islam will fill the political and intellectual vacuum in the Arab world and provide a foundation for the politics of a majority of the region’s people.

*Force is not terribly useful against loosely organised militias and terrorists who are well armed, accepted by the local population and prepared to die for their cause. the region’s people.

*Diplomacy is also called for. One step that could only help would be to establish a regional forum for Iraq’s neighbours to help manage events there akin to that used for Afghanistan. This would require ending US diplomatic isolation of both Iran and Syria, which in any event is not working.

Just a few snips. Read it and weep think.
Tip to Dr. Hadar

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