Monday, December 18, 2006

Mideast Cause And Effect

Baker, Blair and the EU are wrong to claim the Palestine-Israel conflict causes Mideast instability. It's the other way round, and acting on their faulty analysis will cause disaster.

Tim Hames in the London Times diagnoses the three current wars (my ellipsis):
First, what was, atypically, an Israel-Hezbollah-Lebanon crisis has returned to normal — namely, a Syria-Hezbollah-Lebanon crisis with Hezbollah attempting to bring down a legitimate Government in Beirut, helped by Damascus.

...Hezbollah is not attempting to topple the Beirut Cabinet because of Israel but because it does not care for the Lebanese Prime Minister and his comparatively secular and technocratic team, which includes a strong Christian element.

Secondly, the fragile Palestinian Authority has moved ever closer to civil war between Fatah and Hamas....Fatah and Hamas are not at each other’s throats over a diplomatic strategy towards Israel but are engaged in a battle between nationalism and theocracy.

Thirdly, what had been a contest in Iraq between a US-led “occupation” and a so-called “insurgency” has mutated into dire ethnic cleansing between Shia and Sunni Iraqis. And of all the possible explanations for Shia and Sunni Iraqis slaughtering each other, we can discount the possibility that it is a dispute over Israel’s precise boundaries.

What we are witnessing is a profound disagreement about the political role of Islam in the modern world and which version of Islam is the more valid.
He concludes:
It is clear, then, that to expect an Israeli-Palestinian settlement to somehow deliver harmony throughout the Middle East is both wildly optimistic and intellectually ludicrous. The minimum that a “two- state solution” needs for any serious negotiations to start, never mind succeed, is two states — not one state and one fratricidal non-state.
In this situation, the best the West can do to encourage harmony and prosperity to emerge is to nurture and support the Mideast democacies - Israel and Iraq.

Conversely, undermining Israel through forced concessions and abandoning Iraq consigns the entire region to darkness.