A new strategic balance in the Middle East: Thoughts from an IWP professor

by Norman A. Bailey  |  August 18, 2013  |  ARTICLES

A new balance
Out of the murk of the Middle East since the so-called "Arab Spring", a new strategic balance may be emerging that is not unfavorable for Israel.

Out of the mist and murk of the Middle East since the inception of the so-called "Arab Spring" more than two years ago, there are signs that a new strategic balance may be emerging in the region. This realignment process is made up of various elements, some of which we have emphasized in previous columns:

  • Withdrawal of the US military presence in Iraq and the pending withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan.
  • European neglect of the region and general withdrawal within itself to try to reverse its long-standing economic and financial decline.
  • Discovery and incipient production of vast reserves of natural gas in Israeli waters.
  • Gradual emergence of an autonomous, if not independent, Kurdistan, marking the formation of a new political entity in the Middle East, covering twenty to forty million people, depending on whether it is limited to Iraqi and Syrian Kurdistan, or whether it will eventually cover also the Kurdish regions of Turkey and perhaps Iran.
  • Increasing military, security and intelligence cooperation between Israel and the new military-controlled government in Egypt. Egyptian closure of the border with Gaza.
  • Replacement of the Emir of Qatar by his son, due to Saudi pressure. The possibility of a visit by a Qatari prince to Israel to discuss economic and technological cooperation. Reports that the reopening of the Israeli trade office in Doha is imminent.
  • Turkish preoccupation with domestic problems, especially growing opposition to the Erdogan government by Kemalist secularists, the Alevis, the Kurds and the Gulenists. End of Erdogan's dream of the creation of a neo- Ottoman overlordship in the region.
  • Realization by Saudi Arabia and the gulf states that they cannot count on the United States to provide protective cover in case Iran succeeds in creating a nuclear arsenal, nor on a distant Russia, but paradoxically, on Israel and only on Israel.

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