The Obama Administration may have convinced itself that an Iranian military presence in the Syrian Golan Heights is no big deal and might even represent a positive development, one that might eventually force both Iran and Israel to reconsider the nature of their antagonistic relationship. A simple and rational cost-benefit analysis, or so the thinking seems to go in this regard, should in time encourage both sides to agree on some kind of détente, one that could pave the way for formal recognition, and even, cooperation in the not-so-distant future.
The answer to the extremism prevalent in Muslim communities around the world will not come from any allegedly “enlightened” or “moderate” set of religious scholars, but from the average Muslims’ changing attitude towards religiosity. Historical precedents have indeed shown that the religious establishment has often to play catchup with the people in this matter. In the meantime, however, establishment figures, motivated by a variety of ideological and parochial considerations, will often lead the fight against modernization using the pulpits and whatever social, economic and political institutions under their control.
Iran will never give up its nuclear program. To them, having nuclear capabilities and a few warheads and missiles on the side is meant tom inoculate them against foreign dabbling. Iranian officials believe that, unlike Saudi Arabia whose breakup will come largely due to mismanagement on part of the ruling establishment, the only way the Iranian establishment they could face serious domestic troubles will come as a result of clandestine activities supported by Western governments. Having nuclear weapons will prevent that possibility, so they think, even as American drones and intelligence operations are busy destabilizing Pakistan, which has long been a nuclear power.
Read Part One here.
Through their reactive kneejerk policies over the last few years, policies that conform both to their inherent nature and parochial interests, Russia, Iran, the Assad regime, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and all other Middle Eastern regimes managed to create a situation in Syria where the United States had no choice but to intervene to midwife a process that will eventually secure the interests of most of these regimes, most of which will survive the current mayhem with little or no change.
The Syrians, yes, even those who are now in danger of being harmed as a result of U.S. strikes, would have been much more forgiving, had the strikes come earlier and had Assad being in the visor as well, and not only ISIS and Al-Nusra. But seeing that the strikes came so late in the game and only in response to a potential threat to U.S. security, and that there do not seem to be any plans for targeting Assad and his loyalist militias as well, Syrians in target regions have little reason to be sympathetic to America’s plans. Even the Kurds, and after their initial euphoria, seem skeptical now, because ISIS’ positions around Kobani remain untouched, and its assault on the Kurdish town is still unfolding.