Thursday, June 28, 2012

Middle East Overview

In the last week the Egyptian Military announced that the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate has been elected President with 51% of the votes. Not a mandate by any means but a real milestone. Of course the military has rewritten the constitution to weaken the presidential authority, but there are other encouraging signs. The new president has announced he will pick both women and Christians as Vice Presidents, whether this happens or not remains to be seen but the mere announcement of intent is encouraging. It has been feared that if the MB gained power they would immediately turn Egypt into an Islamist state. Of course that still might happen but with only 51% of the votes it seems that perhaps the MB will actually attempt to establish a unity approach. While Egypt is the very foundation of Islam it is not alone in the Middle East and what happens there can signal changes throughout the region. For example during this same period Palestinians fired 55 rockets into Israel from Gaza, a Turkish Military jet was shot down by Syrian air defenses, three Syrian air force officers have defected to Jordan including one with his aircraft, and Syria has finally spun into an outright civil war. All of these things are interesting but they must be viewed in their totality. Within the Middle East Turkey is the only truly secular government with an Islamic majority, but that majority has been moving toward an Islamic government and a less secular one. Turkey would like to be a larger influence in the Middle East because they need more political stability and less violence throughout the region. The current regime in Syria has lost control as it spends out of control and into civil war, Turkey needs to see a new regime there. After all Turkey is bounded by Iran with its radical Islamic government and Syria whose government is heavily influenced by Iran via Hezbollah, so with a new regime in Syria, Turkey could work with the new government to expand its influence throughout the Arab world and counter the influence of the radical Islamist elements on its borders. The Muslim Brotherhood has been struggling to gain a legitimate political presence since the 1920’s. For much of that time it has been an outlaw regime similar to the IRA in Ireland. It was the MB that claimed responsibility for the assassination of Sadat in Egypt. Now for the first time they are recognized as a legitimate political party with control albeit tenuous control, of Egypt. Now that they have control of Egypt the MB must find a way to not just deal with the military but to reduce its power, reduce its power without violence. What happens now remains to be seen but without doubt Hamas sees the MB and Egypt as an ally in its war against Israel. The Israeli’s are holding back for the time being while the new Egyptian government stabilizes. For the moment it seems that Hamas is escalating its war on Israel on the belief that the MB will abandon the Egyptian – Israeli peace treaty and join in the general Arab war on Israel. However, it seems that the Saudi’s along with several other nations have condemned Israel publicly and played along with Hamas and Hezbollah by giving them lip service but without actively working against Israel. Therefore the probability is that Egypt will seek some sort of Modus Vivendi with Israel and lean on Palestine and Hamas to find a political solution and cease their stupid little war that has achieved nothing, not likely to achieve anything, while reducing the credibility of the entire Arab world. Turkey may be the key to the whole area although it seems they are trying to determine what to do next without actively supporting the Syrian rebels. If those rebels can get organized and show they are not dominated by Iran, Hezbollah, or radical Islamic forces, then Turkey and other nations might come to their aid and end the Assad regime.

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