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Our maxim: “understanding before action”
Our purpose is to encourage the knowledge and the debate of issues connected with art and military science. Selection of articles attempts to reflect different opinions. Beyond any ideological ascription. In order to impulse critical thought amongst our readers.

viernes, 24 de julio de 2015

El nuevo orden en Medio Oriente.

Why Americans Won’t Like the New Middle East Order.

Steven Metz |Friday, July 24, 2015 

For decades U.S. policy in the Middle East focused on two things: Israel and oil. Helping to keep Israel secure was not hard since the Israelis themselves had it well under control. Making sure that oil flowed was more challenging since most of it was owned by brittle monarchies or dictators, but the United States and its allies found a way. This emphasis on Israel and oil led to an American strategy that was remarkably consistent even when the White House changed hands. Its goal was stability built on partnerships with local states when possible and direct action if necessary.

A militiaman allied with the Iraqi security forces dismantles a weapon
 from a destroyed vehicle belonging to the Islamic State group,
southern Ramadi, Anbar province, Iraq, July 20, 2015 

Then things began to unravel. The George W. Bush administration abandoned America’s longstanding emphasis on stability and attempted to transform the region without committing the strategic resources that a task of that magnitude demanded, instead simply toppling the old order in Iraq and hoping a better one emerged. Discontent with the region’s authoritarian regimes, whether monarchies or old-fashioned dictatorships, exploded, driven by global connectivity and information technology. New violent, transnational, religious-based revolutionary movements proliferated and put down roots. And Iran continued to undercut the old order where it remained, often by playing the sectarian card and exploiting hostility toward Israel.

Today, as a result of all these forces, the Middle East is undergoing a radical transformation well beyond American control. Judah Grunstein believes that the near-to-medium term will see “a region where ad hoc and stove-piped coalitions form to address common interests in particular settings, even as the same countries might find themselves on opposite sides of a conflict elsewhere.” Eventually this is likely to evolve into a triangular system with three blocs competing for power. One will include the legacy systems such as the monarchies and traditional national dictators. It will be led by a newly assertive, economically powerful and heavily armed Saudi Arabia. The second bloc will be led by Iran and include Teheran’s motley crew of clients and proxies, including the Assad regime in Syria, if it survives; Hezbollah in Lebanon; the Houthis in Yemen and, most importantly, the Shiite militias and government in Iraq. Iran’s reintegration into the global economic system as sanctions are lifted may or may not increase its use of proxies to destabilize the region, but it will strengthen Tehran and may draw Russia and China into a more active role in the Middle East.

The third bloc will be centered on the so-called Islamic State (IS) in western Iraq and eastern Syria. Until recently, outsiders assumed that the group would be short-lived. Its brutality, this line of thinking went, would alienate the people it ruled; the Iraqi security forces, backed by the United States and the rest of the multinational coalition, would regain their footing and push the extremists back or defeat them outright; and the rest of the world would find a way to staunch the flow of recruits and resources that fueled the movement. Now it’s looking more and more like the Islamic State could survive for some time. Rather than a brief spasm of barbarity, it could become an integral and very dangerous part of the new Middle East order.

Americans aren’t going to like this new, triangular system. For starters, it will bring endemic proxy conflict and humanitarian disasters. The ongoing violence in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya will fester and spread. As it does, pressure will mount on whoever occupies the White House to do something. Most of the time, though, “doing something” will mean bombing rather than intervening. This will not stop the violence but only drive it to new corners of the region.

Second, Americans are not going to like the fact that all of the three blocs will be hostile to Israel and the United States, largely to establish bona fides with their own citizens. They may not do much to turn this into action, but Americans don’t like to be criticized even if their interests overlap with those doing the criticizing.

Third, the new Middle East may see the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It may be that all Iran wanted all along was to prevent U.S. military intervention and thus will feel that having some sort of nuclear breakout capability is deterrent enough. But it is also possible that Tehran believes that obtaining nuclear weapons will allow it to impose its will on the region in a way it could not before, despite the fact that the entire history of the nuclear age shows otherwise. If so, the Saudis are likely to seek a nuclear weapon as well. Perhaps the two will then deter each other, but the Middle East will certainly be a more dangerous place where miscalculation can lead to catastrophe.

Fourth, additional nations may fall to extremists affiliated with or modeled on IS. Yemen and Libya are already close. Egypt, Jordan and potentially the Gulf monarchies are at risk if the group’s ideology can evolve into one that portrays civilian governments and traditional monarchies, rather than non-Sunnis, as the principal enemy. Currently the IS ideology is both sectarian and revolutionary. If the sectarian dimension dominates, there are inherent limits to how far it can spread. But if the revolutionary dimension dominates, the limits expand.

Fifth, Americans will not like this new Middle Eastern order because the United States will not control it. Despite all the talk we are likely to hear during the upcoming presidential campaign about reasserting American “leadership” in the region, the changes that have taken place are not simply a matter of presidential will, but a reflection of deep and permanent structural factors.

All of this suggests that whoever wins the 2016 presidential election in the United States will be frustrated enough to consider, and perhaps undertake, disengagement from the Middle East. As long as Israel remains secure—and there is little likelihood of a regional threat that the Israelis can’t handle with modest assistance—the U.S. role in the new Middle East will continue to recede.

Steven Metz is the author of “Iraq and the Evolution of American Strategy.” His weekly WPR column, Strategic Horizons, appears every Friday. You can follow him on Twitter @steven_metz.

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