Sunday, April 26, 2015

  • Sunday, April 26, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon




cairo egyptThe primary political fault-line in the Muslim Middle East today is the Iran coalition versus what Jonathan Spyer, writing in the Middle East Forum, calls the Riyadh-Cairo axis.

Spyer argues that the United States left a power vacuum in the region that is being filled by Shia Iran and thereby threatening the Sunni Arab states.  This is not an original idea, but I am beginning to suspect that it is an exceedingly important one.

The absence of United States leadership is forcing an emergency alliance among the main Sunni states for the purpose of countering the Iranian coalition advancement, where it can.

Where it can, maybe, is Yemen and it is in Yemen that we are seeing Saudi push-back against the Iranian Houthi proxies.

Spyer writes:
Iran appears to be rebuilding its links to Hamas and, therefore, to the Islamist half of the Palestinian national movement. But the Ramallah Palestinian Authority is backed by Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf Arabs and the West.
It is this latter coalition that Spyer refers to as the "Riyadh-Cairo axis."

So, consider this:

We are in a situation where the EU, the US, and the UN demand of Israel that it ethnically-cleanse Jews from Judea - or, at least, force them to stop building housing for themselves and their children - allegedly in order to facilitate a negotiated conclusion of hostilities with the local Arabs.

They have also insisted upon "linkage," which is the idea that stability throughout the region depends on the willingness of the Jews in Israel to make peace with the Palestinian-Arabs... but not the other way around.  According to this notion, the other conflicts are related - ideologically or otherwise - to the Arab-Israel conflict and until that conflict is resolved these other related conflicts will fester in violent ways all around the world.

For example, Secretary of State John Kerry, at a reception in honor of Eid al-Adha, had this to say:
As I went around and met with people in the course of our discussions about the ISIL [also referred to as ISIS or the Islamic State] coalition, the truth is we — there wasn’t a leader I met within the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt – and I see a lot of heads nodding – they had to respond to,” Kerry said. “And people need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity, and Eid celebrates the opposite of all of that.
Needless to say, when Jewish Israelis are thought to send Jihadis into spasms of psychotic, genocidal violence elsewhere in the world - for daring to defend themselves - it is emphatically not in the strategic interests of the Western nations, who prefer their Arabs calm and their Jews quiet.

What this suggests is that unless Israel does what it is told by the EU and the US, they can blame Israel not just for failing to bring peace to themselves and their own children, but for stubbornly refusing to help bring peace to the rest of the Middle East.  Furthermore, given that Islamists in Europe have taken increasingly to the harassment and killing of Jewish people and non-Muslims, we are finding Israeli Jews sometimes blamed for the murderous behavior of Jihadis in Europe.

However, if what Spyer says is true - and it is - what we are also witnessing, among the Palestinian-Arabs, is not merely a split between a vicious Islamist dictatorship in Hamas contending with a vicious semi-secular dictatorship in the Palestinian Authority.

It is also a brutal contest between Iran's proxy in Gaza and the Riyadh-Cairo proxy in Judea and Samaria.

As above, so below.

The larger contest wrecking the Middle East is reflected in the smaller contest wrecking the Palestinian-Arab polity... and, needless to say, they all blame it on the Jews.

Saudi Arabia is fighting the Houthis in Yemen who are aligned with Iran.  The Yemen conflict is, therefore, a proxy fight between segments of the Saudi coalition and the Iranian coalition on land largely belonging to neither.

The Islamic State, a Sunni faction not aligned with the Riyadh-Cairo axis, is fighting Shia militias in Iraq that are directed by Iran.  In Iraq we are seeing what looks to be Iran's bid to take over as much of the country as possible, which is why they are fighting the Islamic State for control.

What this means is that things are considerably more complex than we may have realized when we thought of the split among Palestinian-Arabs as being just that, a split among Palestinian-Arabs.

More and more it is looking like that split is a reflection of the larger dominant divisions throughout the Muslim Middle East and if that is the case the likelihood for reconciliation between the factions is considerably less than we may have realized.

Of course, from an Israeli perspective, they cannot make peace with a unity government that contains Hamas, nor can they make peace with a divided Palestinian-Arab polity if the other half is still seeking to murder Jews.

And what all of this means is that the notion of "linkage" is upside-down and backwards.

Peace throughout the region will not come from a resolution of the conflict between the Jewish-Israelis and the Palestinian-Arabs.  So long as the Muslim world is ripping itself to pieces along religious and sectarian lines, Israel will be used as a scapegoat by all sides, including the western-left.

It is only when Muslims make peace with themselves that they will ever allow peace with the Jews.


Michael Lumish is a blogger at the Israel Thrives blog as well as a regular contributor/blogger at Times of Israel and Jews Down Under.

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