The following is not a prediction. I would be the last to make linear extrapolations about the Mideast. It’s just a totally unscientific scenario of the near future that may be developing in the Mideast, making the huge assumption that no surprises occur. A ridiculous assumption for sure, but it is still worth thinking about current trends…
At the moment, Netanyahu appears to be tying Obama in knots, Iran appears to be taking over Iraq, and a crusading military dictatorship appears to be winning total control in Iran. One can easily make arguments about how Obama is really very patient and will not allow Israeli extremists to manipulate him; how Iraqi Shi’ites are patriotic opponents of Iranian control; how a broad moderate coalition is gaining power inside Iran (indeed, I just made the latter argument myself).
That said, appearances at the moment suggest that in five years, Israeli hardliners will have crushed the Palestinian people completely and solidified control of what will be a messianic, racist, apartheid, fundamentalist, and aggressively militant Greater Israel. Similarly, an alliance of superpatriotic military and fundamentalist clerics will have solidified control of Iran.
Israel will have intimidated all its neighbors except possibly a very cautious Hezbollah. Iran will have organized Iraq into a combination cordon sanitaire plus roadway for Iran into the Mideast. There will be no more Iranian arms ships to Palestine. If any Palestinians still exist to accept aid, Iran will be able to drive truck convoys through Iraq and Syria right up to the border of Jordan, assuming it still exists as an independent state.
The U.S. will be thoroughly cowed by the Israeli lobby and the unrestrained violence of crusading Israeli settlers completing ethnic cleansing with no apologies. Vis-a-vis Iran, the U.S. will not know which way to turn because it will be so mired down in Central Asia that it will be too dependent on Iran to fight it. And Iran will not be alone. Iran will have a nice little gas cartel sinecure running with Russia and expanding influence in Pakistan, which will be dependent on its new gas pipeline from Iran.
Bottom line: current trends suggest the ominous possibility that in five years both Iran and Israel may be emerging regional powers controlled by highly confident, militant religious movements run by extremist politicians believing that they talk to God and that God is telling them that war is the road to victory.