Yoram Ettinger: Mid-East Unpredictability and the Peace Process (JEWISH PRESS) By: Yoram Ettinger 04/23/12)
JEWISH PRESS Articles-Index-Top
In order to comprehend the real Mid-East, the root causes of regional
turbulence, the key obstacle to peace and the oversimplification of
Western peace-processors, one should examine the Iraq-Syria
labyrinth, an arena of flaming and chronic unpredictability.
In April 2012, the Iraqi regime – led by Shiites – is supporting the
Assad regime in the battle against Syria’s Sunni majority and the
Muslim Brotherhood, which are perceived as a worse threat than Assad
to the current regime in Baghdad.
However, from 2003 until the eruption of the current civil war in
Syria, Iraq was haunted by Assad-armed and trained pro-Saddam Sunni
terrorists, who terrorized Iraq and undermined the stability of the
current Iraqi regime.
Moreover, from 1966 – when a split occurred between the Damascus and
the Baghdad wings of their ruling Ba’th party – until the 2003 demise
of Saddam Hussein, Syria supported all anti-Saddam Hussein
ideological, ethnic, tribal, and religious elements. In fact, from
1979 until 2003, Damascus and Tehran provided asylum to Iraq’s
current Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, who was then in opposition to
The rivalry between Syria and Iraq has raged – on and off – since the
eighth century, when the Damascus-based Umayyad Caliphate lost the
military battle for intra-Muslim leadership to the Baghdad-based
Welcome to the real Mid-East, the model of violent unpredictability,
where the most predictable factor is unpredictability!
Inherent Mid-East unpredictability has produced a multitude of intra-
Muslim accords concluded, but routinely, brutally, and unpredictably
abrogated. Hence, the frequent intra-Muslim cease fire agreements
recently concluded, yet summarily and mercilessly violated, in Syria.
The higher the unpredictability, the lower the prospect of
compliance. The lower the compliance, the higher the threshold of
security, especially in the unstable, treacherous, fragmented,
violent, and unpredictable Mid-East.
The failure of Mid-East Muslim regimes to adhere to intra-Muslim
agreements attests to the provisional and fragile nature of
agreements signed with “infidel” entities, such as the Jewish State.
The critical issue is when and how – not whether – agreements will be
shattered. For example, in 1994, Jordan’s Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs-of-Staff told his Israeli colleague that “agreements signed
with the Palestinians in the morning are violated by the end of the
However, President Obama, West Europe, and the UN – just like the
Israeli Oslo-ites and New Middle Easterners – are obsessed with the
formalities of concluding Israeli-Arab agreements, failing to grasp
the deeply-rooted fragility of all agreements concluded in the Mid-
East. They pressure the Jewish State to assume irreversible “painful
tangible concessions” – in return for reversible, intangible Arab
declarations. They lean on Israel to retreat to the pre-1967,
defenseless, 9-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean. They prod
Israel to transfer – to unpredictable and violent neighbors – the
cradle of its history, which is also a mountain ridge, dominating the
Mediterranean sliver and constituting an indispensable, protective
high ground for Israel’s survival in the most conflict-ridden region
in the world.
The real Mid-East is currently further traumatized by the tectonic
implosion of the Arab Street, the meltdown of traditional regimes,
and the surge of radical Islamic elements, irrespective of the
Palestinian issue or the Arab-Israeli conflict, which have only had a
secondary impact upon the Mid-East.
Islamists have catapulted to leadership in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt
and are challenging every Arab regime.
Emad el-Din Adeeb, a columnist of the London-based Arab daily, A-
Sharq al-Awsat, wrote on February 4, 2012: “I sorrowfully say, God
bless the days of Saddam Hussein, compared to today’s Iraq!… Iraq has
been dismantled, and is now practically divided into three minor
states: the Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite regions…. The number of Iranian
Revolutionary Guards in Iraq amounts to 200,000 armed troops. This is
in addition to the fact that some government correspondence in
Baghdad is now written in both Persian and Kurdish…. The state has
shifted into a major power center for extremist Islamic currents that
threaten national and regional security, most prominently al-Qaeda….
The Iraqi authorities want to relocate the late President Saddam
Hussein’s corpse from his grave – because of the numerous visits and
crowds gathering nearby– to an unknown or remote place…. Judging by
what happened in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, no one believes change in
Syria will be democratic in the long term. It will bring to power a
sectarian Islamic fundamentalist party. Instability will continue to
be the order of the day.”
But, President Obama, Europe, and the UN persist in ignoring Mid-East
reality. They pressure Israel to be the only country negotiating away
its cradle of history, while lowering its security threshold, as if
the Mid-East were relatively-predictable and compliant. (© 2012
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY