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Will there be a sea change in the Middle East?

It is true that the one thing we know nothing about is the future. It is also true that of all the regions of the world, that which is most unstable and thus unpredictable is the Middle East. What is true today was not true yesterday and will very likely not be true tomorrow.

An illustrative case study is Syria. Trying to make sense of the kaleidoscope of organizations, factions, armies, religions and ideologies is a game for fools. Constant interference and intervention with the already sufficiently complex domestic forces on the part of outside states and organizations, especially Iran, Turkey, Russia, the United States, Israel, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and others turn analysis into necromancy.

In the region as a whole, ranging from Egypt to Iran and from Turkey to Oman, there are very few constants, and the constants that do exist have to do with chaos and conspiracy – they indeed are always present. There must be at least a dozen or so plots on the life of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt at any moment. The Iranian clerical hierarchy is sitting on a seething mass of ethnic, religious, economic and social movements, exacerbated by external sanctions and internal drought and managerial inefficiency. Turkey is little better and its would-be Sultan, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has as little understanding of economic reality as the ayatollahs of Iran.

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