Signs of a New Middle East Emerging
Signs of a New Middle East Emerging
by Sarah Ann Haves
During one week in January, Israel’s government became
embroiled in a coalition shake-up; Hezbollah quit the Lebanese government and threatened
to take over Lebanon; riots broke out in Tunisia causing its president to flee the
country; and Jordanians took to the streets to express their anger over their
government’s policies. The
beginning of 2011 will be remembered as a time of chaos and change in the
The beginning of 2011 will be remembered as a time of chaos and change in the Middle East.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is firming up his
government rule to deal with the on-going Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During
the next several months, he hopes to advance the peace process, thereby
thwarting international recognition of an independent Palestinian State within
the United Nations Security Council.
Arab leaders in
the region are firming up their government rule, with some providing financial
relief to the public in the form of food subsidies. They are hoping to keep
their populations quiet as they monitor new develops in Lebanon, Tunisia, and
Jordan. They wonder if their regimes are next in line to be challenged,
threatened by a discontented public that is intent on being freed from
High unemployment; poverty; corruption and fraud within
iron-fist ruling parties; a lack of personal freedoms; and limited free speech
are causing Arab societies to rise up in protest. It could lead to the break-up of dictatorships in this
volatile region. Demonstrations
have already caused unrest in Algeria and Yemen and could spread to Egypt,
Syria, Libya, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia, resulting in an Islamist surge that
challenges these current governments.
Radical Islamic states and non-state players are looking for
a greater role in the Middle East, and may try to motivate dissatisfied youth
to take up arms with a mission and a purpose. They will look to take advantage
of unstable repressive Arab regimes, offering young people an opportunity to
join jihadist movements.
The question is:
How much does the Israeli impasse with the Palestinians play into
current regional instability, and what role is Iran performing behind the
According to Israeli analyst and author Jonathan Spyer, the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict is on a downward trend, while Iran and Islamists are joining forces, hoping
to become a new united regional power. Promoting his new book, “The
Transforming Fire – the Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict,” Spyer recently talked to a group of
political activists at a meeting in Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue, “This Iranian
ambition is immediately beset by two problems: The Iranians are not Arabs and they are not Sunni Moslems.
And, they wish to assert themselves and become the central hegemonic power in a
region consisting largely of Arab-speaking Sunni Moslems.”
Arab governments have privately expressed their distaste for
the Persian regime, fearing that a nuclear Iran might threaten their regimes. Meanwhile, the Iranians have used the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict to gain popular support on Arab streets. But,
that’s changing as interest in the conflict subsides.
The Iranians, observing the current public discontent in the
way Arab states are governing, will look to stir up new troubles in order to
accomplish their goal of regional hegemony.
Iran is beginning to ignite a new battle in the Middle East, which is undermining Western influence in the region.
have had a difficult time expressing their displeasure, publicly, with Iranian
aspirations; but, Iranian leaders have continued to spread radical Islamic
ideology, attracting young zealous Arabs who are looking for a cause to fight
Joining forces with Islamists and forming new alliances,
despite differences in religious ideologies, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds, Iran
is beginning to ignite a new battle in the Middle East, which is undermining
Western influence in the region.
Spyer says it is this Iranian-Islamist alliance that is the
new emerging power which will cause the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to become
less prominent in the future. “The emergence of the process I have been speaking
about; the efforts of Iran, and the popular Islamic movements…is eroding this
conflict, and giving birth to a new conflict. It’s still placing the existence of Israel as a Jewish state
Another problem is the rise of Al Qaeda in the region,
especially in Lebanon and Gaza. The
goal of Al Qaeda, similar to Iran, is to weaken the influence of Western
nations in the Middle East. Al Qaeda will attempt to do this by causing further
instability within moderate Arab states, resulting in their governments being more
vulnerable to overthrow.
In Gaza, Hamas has cracked down on Salafi jihadist groups
linked to Al Qaeda. According to former Deputy Director of the Mossad, Ilan
Mizrahi, speaking to journalists in a recent conference call arranged by The
Israel Project, Hamas has 100% control over Gaza. “If they see a party that is
challenging their authority, they will finish it.”
However, Al Qaeda has successfully weakened Yemen,
threatening Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and Egypt. “They chose it (Yemen) carefully and
cleverly. This is a real strategic threat to the West and to pragmatic Arab
states, and strategically towards Israel,” Mizrahi proclaimed.
What about post-Saddam Iraq? As the U.S. pulls out its military forces, will Iraq become dominated
by the Shiites of Iran? Mizrahi
doesn’t rule out that possibility, but he explains that some Shiites in Iraq
align themselves with Iran and some don’t. “”There are those who are against
Iranian hegemony over Iraq. You have Shiites who are against Iranian rule.
Let’s not forget that in the last Iraqi-Iranian war, the Iraqis proved that
their loyalty to the state was more than their loyalty to their religious
brothers in Iran.”
ADVANCEMENT OF THE
There is an increased danger that the Shiite Crescent will
advance if Iran gains a stronger foothold in Iraq. If Hezbollah takes greater control over Lebanon, an Iran-Iraq-Lebanon
alliance will strengthen the power of the Shiites. “I think the future of Iraq will have a huge strategic
result in the Middle East,” Mizrahi said. He added, “After the U.S. will pull
out from Iraq, the image of the U.S. in the Middle East will be weaker.”
Not all of these alliances forming are going to be
permanent. Complications have already risen between various Sunni and Shiite
movements, characteristically known as the Sunni-Shiite divide. Ideologies
within each movement, clash, causing factional splits between members. For
example, Hamas is not a Shiite movement, but a Sunni-Moslem movement,
originally backed by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states. Elements within
Hamas are hostile to the Shiites and to Iran. According to Spyer, Gaza is
maintained as a result of Iranian money, support and guns. “The contradictions
in a Sunni Moslem movement finding its backing in a Shiite Islamist state are
The Islamists believe they are winning over Israeli land in stages, especially in the delegitimizing of the Jewish State on an internationational scale.
CONCERN FOR ISRAEL
How does instability in Arab states, along with the forming
of new alliances between Iran and Islamists, affect the nation of Israel?
The Islamists believe that they are winning over Israeli
land in stages, especially in the delegitimizing of the Jewish State on an
international scale. Whereas Zionists originally had strong aspirations for a
Greater Israel, now it seems to these Islamists that Israel may be willing to capitulate
to the Palestinians and Arab nations by withdrawing to the pre-1967
borders. According to Spyer,
“Islamists believe that it is their efforts that have brought Israel to abandon
its ambitions, and will bring it to this limited level of aspirations.”
The ultimate goal of the Iranian-Islamist movement is to be
victorious in their struggle with Israel and the West. They think that
continued pressure on the Jewish State politically, diplomatically, militarily
and within the media, will eventually undermine Israel’s goals on many
battlefields. Spyer explains what
these Islamists believe: “If Israel’s legitimacy can be questioned in the West,
Israel will lose its support. A depleted, lessened, isolated, demoralized
Israel will eventually be ripe for defeat in the hands of the Islamists.”
But, Spyer disagrees with this theory, and contends that,
inevitably, the Islamists will be defeated. Islam will fail to produce what it
promises, and the Islamists will not be able to destroy Israel. He also thinks that
Western nations will provide the support needed.
“Israel finds itself not alone in this struggle. It’s
between the pro-U.S. dispensation in the region, which Israel is an integral
part of — and a real and determined challenge to that dispensation, led by
Iran; consisting of Iran and its allies, and also Islamist movements.”
Today, the internal strength of Western governments to deal,
effectively, with this new Iranian-Islamist alliance is being challenged. Arab societies are being tested, especially
regarding the cohesiveness within populations to deal with public
dissatisfaction over autocratic governments. Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel is being questioned,
internationally, detracting nations from dealing with the real issues plaguing
In time, this shift in the regional map, with all its perplexities,
will prove that there are definitive signs of a new Middle East emerging.
“Then, the seventh angel sounded: And, there were loud voices in heaven
saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and
of His Messiah, and He shall reign forever and ever!” Revelation 11:15
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting from Israel on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues affecting the nation.
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.