A tense autumn to come in the Middle East
23/08/2012 2 comentarios
Across the Middle East, the Arab Uprisings of the last two years have given way to an atmosphere of a continuous uncertainty and growing tension, in some areas marked by incidents of violence, sometimes prolonged and sometimes sporadic. The outlook in the months ahead is dark. (source: Ian Lucas – New Statesman – 23/08/2012)
The darkest of all is the prolonged conflict in Syria. There are real fears that intensifying battles there may spill over into other countries in the region. Turkey watches, a deeply concerned. Together with Jordan, it is struggling with a huge influx of the refugees from Syria. Protracted violence in Syria can only destabilise the region further and, the longer the factions war in Syria, the less likely it is that a single, unified, strong Government will succeed the morally bankrupt Assad regime. Lakhdar Brahimi has impressed in his first days as UN envoy. But, as Kofi Annan discovered, the task in formulating a coherent international response to a growing crisis is immense. This is especially true within the UN Security Council. But we cannot allow the present position to continue: if we do so, the situation will worsen, not stay the same. Particular danger is conflict will spread beyond Syria’s borders. Increased activity by Iran in emphasising its support for Assad has added to tension and violent incidents, such as which happened in Turkey earlier this week, act as dangerous individual sparks in a flammable environment. In Egypt, similar tense atmosphere prevails. President Morsi’s dismissal of individual members of military establishment form part of a longer stand off between emerging democratic forces and a residually strong, but perhaps weakening, Army. The tide of the Egyptian affairs appears to moving towards more openness but broad suspicion remains about the new Government’s views on women’s rights in the context of a new constitution. The concerns have been intensified by the recent violence in Sinai between Egyptian forces and extremist elements, events which precipitated Morsi’s personnel changes. Israel had expressed concerns previously about extremist elements in the Sinai, warning of the increased instability there. It has added to Israel’s increased anxiety at developments following the Arab Uprisings. Far from making Israel more amenable to dealing with the Arab regimes with a more democratic mandate, events have caused Israel to be more concerned at trends in region posing increased threats to its security. The perception is not helped by contacts between Hamas and the new Egyptian Government and also by intemperate language about Israel which, if stability is to prevail, must be recognised and accepted as a permanent, legitimate state in the region. The next months, in the lead up to the US Presidential Election, are crucial. There has been strong concern expressed by Israel over many months over lack of progress in securing Iran’s compliance with its non-proliferation obligations. The rhetoric is intensifying once more, speculation of pre-emptive military strike against Iran is increasing. Its time for rational assessments, cool analysis. The impact of an attack at the heart of this, most sensitive and unpredictable of regions, is impossible to predict. The international community must take all steps it can to ensure that it does not take place.