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Nuclear proliferation is still the greatest threat in the region

Reader comment on item: Assessing the Battle for Tikrit, and Beyond

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Mar 26, 2015 at 20:08

The battle of Tikrit is being fought on one of the mushiest borders in the world. As you pointed out to the Iranian fellow, Daniel, the Turks are providing "eyewash" with their token efforts to appear as being against ISIL; while all along, they are probably the country that supports ISIL the most. For all their duplicity, they are topped by the Qataris: who are flying sorties against, on the one hand, ISIL in Syraqia; and, on the other hand, the al-Houthis i Yemen. ISIL is, of course, fiercely fighting the al-Houthis as well, while the latter are supported by Iran; so Qatar is, in effect, on both sides in those campaigns. As if that weren't duplicitous enough, Qatar and Turkey have also been implicated in supporting the Libya Dawn faction in Tripoli -- which is fighting against the Tobruk faction allied with Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia, all three of which are fighting alongside the Qataris in the conflict against the al-Houthis.

Wikipedia has recently put up a website, which might be of some help to people trying to follow events in the Middle East.. It is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2%80%93Israel_proxy_conflict. The underlying premise of the site, namely, that Israel is somehow acting as a puppeteer that manipulates the US and most of the Arab world against Iran and its clients, is patently false; but the two opposing "alliances" do somewhat show some of the cooperating parties. The Wiki article also ignores Turkey, which is a major player in the area.

The Wiki article also places Sudan in the "Iranian" camp, whereas that countrie's affiliation is much more subtile: They support the Turks and Qataris clandestinely in northern Libya while working with Egyptians in the southeast; they have expelled Iranian diplomats while secretly doing a brisk arms trans-shipment business with them; and lately, they have joined the Saudis, Egyptians, Qataris and others in the anti-(Iran-backed)-al-Houthi coalition, supplying aircraft and the offer of troops. Because of this last contribution, I would place the Sudanese, contrary to the Wiki article, in the Saudi camp -- at least for the moment, while the Sudanese are economically and diplomatically prostrate and dependent on their newly-found "friends" in the Gulf.

It is true, that the conflict in Tikrit involves the three principal powers in the region: (1) Iran, (2) Turkey (and clandestinely, ISIL), and (3) Saudi Arabia. The Saudis, in turn, rely heavily on their 2-way alliances with Pakistan and Egypt. (4) Israel, of course, is a fourth power. It is not a manipulator of Saudi Arabia (with whom it is still technically at war), nor of anyone else; though it has transient convergent interests with the Saudis (because of the common enemy, Iran) and Egypt (sharing the common active enemies Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Jihad Islami).

I will proceed to list the groupings in the area, as I see them at the moment. Before I do, let me note the absolute hilarity of America declaring Iran to be its "enemy", while it has been working in the Iranian interests since January, 1981. As examples, note that the wars against Saddam Hussein both benefitted Iran, as well as the war in Afghanistan. Today, while the proxy war between Saudi Arabia (not Israel) and Iran is in full fury in Yemen, the US has directed airstrikes against ISIL for the sake of the Iranians who are now beleaguered in Tikrit. The US is Iran's ally, and has always been Iran's ally -- except for a brief period, when the Iranians were burning US flags and parading American hostages through the streets in 1979. Our sham diplomatic opposition to Iran, centered on largely ineffective sanctions, has been, to use your word, "eyewash" to please the Saudis, Israelis and others.

The Middle East blocs today, as far as I can see, are:

1. The Turkish Bloc: Turkey, Qatar, Gaza, Libya-Tripoli, the Islamic Caliphate ("ISIL", etc), Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula

2. The Iranian Bloc: Iran, Iraq-Baghdad, Syria-Damascus, Lebanon, Yemen-Sana'a, Oman

3. The Saudi-Egyptian Bloc: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UA Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen-Aden, Jordan, Egypt, (PLO?), Sudan, Morocco.

4. Israel

Closely affiliated to Israel are Azerbaijan and the Kurds; Pakistan is allied with the Saudi group. In the Western Arab world, there is another group,

5. The Maghreb: Tunisia, Algeria and Mauritania.

I've left out Boko Haram (now an ISIL affiliate), Somalia's al-Shabaab and others. Somalia itself is a failed state, kept alive by Ethiopian, Kenyan, Ugandan and other interventionists; and Uganda is backing one of the main players in the South Sudan Civil War.

At first glance the above seems like a petty spat between relatively unimportant players. It should be remembered, however, that while Iran is on the VERGE of getting nuclear weapons, Pakistan already has them; and the Turks have several dozen nuclear warheads "on loan" from NATO. The nuclear proliferation is immediate and existential for Israel and perhaps for the entire world. It makes these other conflicts, even the barbarous wars in Syraqia, pale in importance.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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