The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has released a comprehensive analysis of the “state of play” a decade after the Arab Spring revolutions and uprisings across the Middle East. It makes sobering reading – and illustrates the vacuum within which terror groups like ISIS and rogue states like Iran are operating, and why they could (and still do) literally get away with murder.
The analysis summarizes its findings in five main points. Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.
- Today, the Middle East is a combination of confused Arab nation-states that have shown their weakness and incapacity to contain the Iranian threat. The instability of Arab regimes allows the formation of sectarian and extremist Islamic militias that threaten the Middle Eastern and world order. The disintegration of the Middle East nation-states has placed the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on hold.
- Turkey, with its Muslim Brotherhood leader, President Erdogan, has adopted an unprecedented activist and aggressive policy. Turkey was deeply involved in facilitating the introduction of ISIS fighters from Europe and Asia into Syria and Iraq. Turkey’s intelligence services were also implicated in the supply and training of jihadists in Egypt and Libya. Turkey’s intelligence agents were caught red-handed in Sinai fighting alongside jihadist organizations against the el-Sisi regime of Egypt.
- This past decade saw the reappearance of Russia as a superpower in the Middle East. Moscow has sought to fill every vacuum and to replace the United States politically with new arms and economic deals. As a result of its massive military presence in Syria, Moscow became the mediator Israel could not circumvent and a force on the ground with whom Israel had to coordinate deconfliction arrangements to prevent unwanted clashes between the militaries of both countries.
- Illustrative of the weakness of the Arab regimes was their inability to deal with existential dangers. Ethiopia is building the biggest hydroelectric power facility in Africa on the Blue Nile, whose inauguration is scheduled for 2022. The Blue Nile provides 85 percent of the water flow to Egypt downstream. Moreover, filling the Ethiopian dam threatens the water level in Egypt’s Aswan Dam, where a severe drop could jeopardize the production of electricity by the dam’s turbines. There is little wonder that Egypt has several times contemplated military action against the Ethiopian dam.
- Iraq has always depended on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In recent years the Iranians have diverted at least 42 rivers and springs of water flowing into Iraq, causing a migration of Iraqis from the water-stricken areas. The Turks have built five big dams on the Tigris. As a result of these projects, Iraq has lost more than 50 percent of its water. Before 2003, Iraq generated power from 12 hydroelectric stations. Reduced water flow because of Turkey and Iran, coupled with drought and the war with the Islamic State, have left Iraq’s major cities with only an intermittent supply of electricity.
There’s a lot more at the link, and it’s worthwhile reading for anyone interested in a part of the world in which US intervention is likely to be necessary – at least in some form – for years, if not decades, to come.