Middle East At A Crossroads: What Comes Next?

The modern Middle East can be divided into four eras, according to Eugene Rogen, author of “The Arabs.”

  • Ottoman Empire Era. Arab countries dominated by Turks (1516-1878).
  • Colonial Era. British and French dominate — they carve up countries and create artificial borders (1878-1948).
  • Independence movements (1878-1967).  “Al-Nahda” renaissance movement in North Africa, Egypt and Syria/Lebanon. With crucial US support, Israel is founded in 1948. Arab countries face ignominous defeats in efforts to drive Zionists into the sea.  Attempt to create “Arab Nationalist” movement fails.
  • Cold War Era (1948-1990), in which Soviets and Americans compete for regional dominance, quashing independence movements. Egypt invites the Soviets in, then kicks them out in the 1970s, turning towards Americans. US engineers Israeli peace with Egypt and Jordan. Declaring a national security interest in Middle East oil, US installs or supports dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Syria. US is demonized by Iranians for thwarting democracy and installing brutal Shah for 25 years. Iranians break international law by invading US embassy and holding hostages, seek to export Islamic revolution to the region. In eight-year Iran-Iraq war, US supports Saddam in Iraq against Shiite revolutionaries in Iran.  US supports anti-Soviet rebels in Afghanistan who defeat Russia but eventually merge with Islamic radical groups Al Qaeda and the Taliban, which are virilantly anti-American.
  • American dominance, 1991-2011/14. With collapse of Soviet superpower, America, the only superpower, fears Saddam Hussein, when he invades oil-rich Kuwait, will fill power vaccum in Middle East. US launches Gulf War to free Kuwait, sets up brutal Iraqi sanctions to force regime change, installs “infidel” military bases in holy Saudi Arabia, which inflames Al Qaeda. In 2003, US topples Saddam and engages in eight-year war in Iraq. US backs Israel against Palestinians; US backs authoritarian Mubarak in Egypt until his domestic support evaporates. US supports the seemingly successful Kurdish Independence Movement in Iraq. Exhausted from resource drain, America withdraws from Iraq, 2011, and Afghanistan, 2014, and shows reluctance to back rebels in Syrian civil war against dictator Assad.

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