Iraqi Lessons and Mideast Change

The situation in Iraq may be poised to teach the rising number of Mideast proponents of change some significant lessons.
What lessons are being learned from the endless Iraqi ferment?
  • First, with Washington confused, self-contradictory, enfeebled, distracted, and completely captive to the Israeli right, the U.S. is not much of an ally.
  • Second, Tehran is a skillful player, dangerous to ignore but possible to work with.
  • Third, Washington does not like patriots.
Widespread demonstrations in Tunisia, Algeria, and Jordan; overthrow of Tunisia’s dictator; Hezbollah’s landmark 2006 effort in resisting Israel and subsequent movement into power-sharing followed by its recent withdrawal from the government; Iran’s ascendancy plus U.S. decline in Iraq; Turkey’s move toward the center; the ability of Hamas to survive Israel’s Dec. 2009 onslaught; public Mossad admission that Iranian nukes no longer constitute an immediate threat; erosion of Washington’s position in Afghanistan; and the triumphant return to Iraq of radical patriot Moqtada al Sadr all combine to give the feeling that the Mideast is entering a period of change.
Indeed, agents of change seem to be everywhere. Jihadis, Shi’a Twelvers, the IRGC, Tunisian workers, al Sadr, Nasrallah, and Erdogan compete to lead the Mideast toward a new dawn. Just when the old men of Saudi Arabia and Egypt seemed closest to the edge of the precipice, the political order in Lebanon evaporates, and then suddenly the oppressed workers of Tunisia grab their country and place it first in line…all of which occurs as Moqtada al Sadr returns from years of “religious studies” in Iran.
Not only Iraq but Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Gaza as well suggest that military resistance is not futile. The experience of those countries plus that of Iran suggest that walking a fine diplomatic line also works. Turkey’s steady process of defining an independent political position for itself while deepening its security and economic ties with its neighbors offers a third model for Mideast change. Suddenly, in the Mideast, the Empire and its clients are rocked back on their heels, while advocates of change, visions of change, and actual changes all simultaneous abound.

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