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Saturday, August 19, 2006

The More Things Change....

Germany arrested a Lebanese man in the train suitcase bomb case. They're still looking for the other guy. Merkel said it was great police work, but actually they got lucky. Benign neglect may sometimes be the best policy, and that appears to be the stance Europe is taking on the Lebanese peace-keeping force. Lots of talk, no action.

And maybe that's why Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan are trying to restart their own ME peace plan. They want to take it all the way to the UN:
...Israel has expressed skepticism, saying it doubts any plan the trio put forward will take its security needs into account. But the effort by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan is a clear sign of their worries about tensions and Iran's influence.
Leaders of the three moderate Arab governments, however, want to seize the opportunity in the war's ashes to restart negotiations with Israel for peace on the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese fronts.

They fear letting the situation stagnate could increase the appeal of radical Islamic groups and allow Iran and Syria to keep using Hezbollah in proxy wars, breeding more resentments and more militancy.
In other words, the realization that they are on their own is really sinking in now. They'd have loved it if Israel had hit Iran or Syria. Israel should continue to refuse to do that until it is part of a broader ME alliance. Any bets as to the source of the cash Hezbollah is handing out? Someone should look at transfers from Russia.... See also below about Turkey, which is now the hinge which may shift the balance of power in the region.

MEMRI is a necessary read lately. Try this from a Libyan reformer:
"The word 'resistance' has come to be constantly used in the killing fields known as the Middle East. The old ways resist modernity; barbarity resists civilization; the ideology of suicide resists the desire to live; hatred resists tolerance; totalitarianism and dictatorship resist democracy; poverty and disease resist continuous development. All these [types of] resistance prevail in this paralyzed part of the world.
"Let us now closely examine the [types of] resistance so rampant in the killing fields [of the Middle East].

"1. When Shi'ites kill Sunnis and Sunnis kill Shi'ites in Iraq merely for their [sectarian] identity, it is called 'resistance.'

"2. When Janjaweed gangs murder unarmed civilians in Darfour, it is called 'resistance.'

"3. When year after year, Hamas and Islamic Jihad extinguish any spark of peace which can end the suffering of the Palestinian people, it is called 'resistance.'

"4. When Hizbullah takes an entire people hostage and refuses to obey the elected [authorities], dragging Lebanon into destruction, it is called 'resistance.'

"5. The war which is being waged by the new global terrorism under the command of bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri and Al-Zarqawi is called 'resistance.'

"6. The alliance between the defeated remnants of the pan-Arab nationalist chauvinists and [the defeated remnants] of the Islamists - who are both [willing to] ally themselves with any murderer - is called 'resistance.'

"7. Establishing television channels like Al-Jazeera, which misleads the Arab public and causes [the Arabs] to wager repeatedly on the victory of the losing side - is called 'resistance.'

"8. When distinguished Arab lawyers rally by the thousands to the defense of Saddam Hussein while neglecting his victims and disregarding their cases, it is called 'resistance.'

"9. When people eulogize and mourn terrorists who have murdered thousands of Iraqis in the streets of [Iraqi] cities and villages, presenting them as heroes of the Arab nation, it is called 'resistance.'

"10. When Muslim religious scholars issue fatwas permitting murder, suicide, and slaughtering of brothers and compatriots, and when [these scholars] condemn every rationalist idea as 'stupid'... and show contempt for modernity, it is called 'resistance.'

"11. The murder of more than 130,000 innocent Algerian citizens, and the annihilation of a whole generation of journalists, writers and thinkers in Algeria, is called 'resistance.'

"12. Murdering tourists and bombing hotels in Egypt is called 'resistance.'

"13. Bombing hotels in Amman and killing the bride and groom, and anyone [else] who tries to celebrate in these sad killing fields, is called 'resistance.'"
Nor should Turkey be ignored. Please read this, which lists Erdogan's comments on the Hezbollah war (violently against Israel) and then questions from various nationalist and secularist columnists:
In a column titled "Why Are the Turks More Anti-West than the Arabs?" Turkish columnist Semih Idiz of the centrist, secular Milliyet wrote: "A Syrian friend of mine asked me, '[…] Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has [good] relations only with Turkey and not with the Arabs. This relationship has begun to be of strategic importance. Why do the Turks do what the Arabs don't?' He means, 'Why are the Turks more royalist than the king?' And really, why is it that the Turks dislike Christians more than the Arabs [dislike Christians]? In what direction is Turkey going? […]

"Erdogan's harsh words towards Israel - which surpass those of the Arabs - and his failure to even mention Hizbullah and Hamas, is obviously aimed at a certain [i.e. the Islamist] sector. […] All this hints at the change of direction in Ankara's foreign policy. It is obvious that Turkey is slowly and gradually distancing itself from the West, with its 'strategic interests' overlapping with those of Iran and Syria.[…]"
Columnist Ozdemir Ince of Hurriyet wrote: "Here I write again: Hizbullah is responsible for the Lebanon war. The Israeli-Hizbullah war is not Turkey's war. But the Islamists […] are doing all they can to put our country in the middle of this war.

"[The Islamist] Yeni Safak printed the photograph of PM Erdogan's handshake with [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad (August 4, 2006) with the following words printed between them: 'The real solution is the elimination of Israel.'

"[This is] the same scandalous phrase that is often repeated by Ahmadinejad and his cronies. Ahmadinejad says these words - which could be considered a reason for declaring war - at the OIC [Organization of the Islamic Conference] summit [in Malaysia] in front of presidents, prime ministers and ministers. Nobody protests - who knows, maybe they even applaud. […] Turkey has recognized Israel since 1949. [It] conducts trade [with it and] is a signatory to bilateral military agreements […].

"But there is no reaction from our prime minister to this phrase. What is the meaning of his silence? Does the prime minister of the Republic of Turkey think like the Iranian president? Is 'elimination of Israel the real solution?'

"[…] PM Erdogan, with his speech at the OIC, and Foreign Minister [Abdullah] Gul, with his article [slamming the U.S.] published in The Washington Post, have declared to the world that they stand together with the Iran-Syria-Hizbullah coalition.[…]"

Columnist Ilter Turkmen wrote in Hurriyet: "[...] In PM Erdogan's approach to foreign policy, it is easy to see the signs of his emotional reactions and his maniacal world view. The same thing happened at the OIC summit [in Malaysia]. The prime minister lacks nuance and frequently falls into contradictions. While he completely ignores the massacres in Darfour, in Sudan, he blows fire at Israel for the human drama in Lebanon.

"The prime minister should calculate the effects his statements have on the world and on Turkish public opinion. He must know best how dangerous the rampant antisemitism in Turkey can be."

The AKP party seems to be allying itself with Iran and Syria. Turkey's next election will prove critical, and I believe the AKP may win big. Turkey is extremely vulnerable to inflation, and most particularly energy inflation. We are witnessing a shifting of coalitions which could well lead to a nightmare regional war. Hezbollah is the agent of Iran and Syria, and these two countries are regionalist imperialists. They have been and they will be. Turkey has a good army; if Turkey were to ally with Iran and Syria no Arab coalition could oppose it on the ground, and the region's only salvation would be Israel with its nukes. I hate to be cynical about it, but the 20-year effort Islamicist effort to prevent the Arab countries to make peace with Israel should be properly understood in this light.

The myth of Islamic unity is a myth. It has been. It will be. What is not a myth is that the ME is socially and militarily weak, and if the US can be taken out of the equation, ripe for the taking. China almost certainly meddled in the region, most particularly with Iran, believing it could establish hegemony in the second half of this century. China has troops on the ground in Sudan to guard its oil interests there. However China is now realizing that it has been betrayed by Iran, and Edgy Adji's initiatives in Indonesia are aimed at establishing a blockade of sorts against China. With that in place, and with a negotiated settlement in Pakistan, Turkey, Syria and Iran could easily hold the major oil-producing nations in an undeclared hegemony. Pakistan is singing the Adji anthem on this one. They look south and see fields of oil and money.

Read MEMRI and ignore the US press. Ninety-five percent of our journalists have rocks for brains. Obviously it is critical for the US to bolster up its internal energy resources, yet all real attempts to do so are being blocked by lunatic environmentalists. We need nuclear power now. We need to open our oil fields now. We don't have ten years. We may not have five. Any army runs on power, and we are facing the possibility of being in the Japanese situation - an army and a navy without adequate fuel reserves to run them.

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