December 05, 2006

The Balance of Power in the Middle East

Simon Tisdall's briefings in the Guardian always seem worth reading. None more so than today's which focuses on Lebanon. Tisdall reports the growing worry not merely in the West but amongst the Sunni powers in the Middle East about the long reach of Iranian power into the Lebanon via its present satallite Syria. As another dimension to what is going on in the Middle East- this is an interesting insight because it demonstrates that not merely the United States but also its traditional Sunni princely allies have lots to lose through the introduction of Shia Iranian theocratic power throughout the region. As the Economist reported Bahrain is facing tensions at the moment between its majority Shia and minority Sunni populations (the article is unfortunately behind a wall here but is available in the print edition where I read it) and the Economist perceives a danger of radicalisation should the Shia be denied democratic rights. At the moment bogged down in Iraq and overawed in Lebanon, Washington looks overwhelmed- but just because its proving difficult if not impossible for the Americans to control the situation- doesn't mean that the adjustment of the Iranians to the reality based community couldn't also prove painful.

An American withdrawel from their Vietnam, Iraq- could prompt an Iranian advance into the same country- an Iranian Afghanistan perhaps. Predictions however are almost always difficult so far from the action- all that will be guessed here is that the profit of the Mullahs is not something welcomed neccessarily in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Djibouti or even within some of the establishment in Damascus.

8 comments:

Political Umpire said...

Many good observations there. According to the blog you posted it at 2:21. I only hope, for your sake, that you weren't staying up to watch the cricket ...

dreadnought said...

Iran won't advance into Iraq. All Iran has to do is nothing. The power they hold is, ironically, way out of proportion for a relatively weak nation. They hold all the chips and can/ do destabilise the region by their proxy armies and terrorists. Imagine what it will be like when they get 'the bomb'.

james higham said...

I agree with dreadnought here when he says it's not necessary for Iran to buy itself trouble by moving in. It's having a good enough time as it is. Hopefully, the natural divisions, which didn't need US exacerbation, will prove to be enough.

Gracchi said...

Great replies guys. No I didn't I went to sleep when I went to bed they were a hundred and some for five then I woke up this morning and they'd collapsed- aargh! Luckily I'm a New Zealander as well as a Brit- so at times like these I retreat into my Kiwi identity.

Dreadnought and James- I don't think they will. Though I wouldn't underestimate their idiocy either- the chances for instance of them talking themselves in even if they don't want to go in or being manoeurvred in by theoretical underlings in Iraq isn't small. I do think that the Shia Iraqi tail could wag the Iranian dog. Personally I don't think their dominance is sustainable and I think it does depend on the US posture of aggressiveness- should the US be about to be less aggressive- the problem of how the Iranians work with other middle Eastern countries will come to the fore again. Which may be good or not.

Political Umpire said...

Gracchi I am also half Kiwi, but that's cheating. Besides, it's not as though the NZ cricket team ever does much better . . .

Gracchi said...

My word two half kiwis in the blogosphere- yes it is cheating sorry depression took over there for a minute.

Political Umpire said...

Yes between us we amount to one Kiwi and one Pom. Shall we flip a coin?

Gracchi said...

That's one alternative- the other is do what I've been doing for years and unite the schizophrenic identities by just supporting whoever is playing Australia!