Obama is knocking down Mideast taboos, making the resolution of all problems a little easier and the world a little safer. Meanwhile, certain senators play for the Likudnik gallery at the expense of U.S. national security, while the Republicans stand like deer in the electoral headlights.
With the U.S. Congress still tying itself in knots over the Obama Administration recognition that Iran is a real state with which one can actually discuss things and, blush, even do things—regardless of what Netanyahu’s little band of colonialists may think, the U.S.-Iran nuclear accord has already altered the face of the Mideast. Sunni Turkey and Shi’i Iran, on opposite sides regarding Syria for several years, have just cut a nice little ceasefire deal that could become the dress rehearsal for the obvious solution to the whole Syrian civil war, i.e., a “confessional” cutting of the Syrian pie Lebanese-style, so everyone gets a piece.
One very interesting aspect of the little information so far available is the apparent absence from the table of Saudi Arabia. Since when, one might ask, does Turkey represent the regional interests of Sunnis? A second striking absence is of course that of Washington, which seems either to be playing it cool—very astute, if true—or to be out of the loop. No matter, Obama still deserves credit for removing the very damaging taboo against Iran.
The Islamic State, recognizing that any Turkish-Iranian accord will put them right in the crosshairs, tried and failed to derail the accord. We shall see what impact all this has on the fight against the Islamic State, in which Turkey and Iran are officially on the same side already, albeit not very effectively.
The biggest Mideast taboo is the militaristic behavior of Israel; that taboo remains firmly in place…for now. The second biggest taboo was the exclusion of Iran. That has now been removed and in only days is already causing visible aftershocks. As regional diplomacy gains flexibility, the highly discriminatory rules of state behavior will increasingly be challenged. Expect the powerful to express outrage. Encourage Obama to have the courage to stay the course. Pray for a new U.S. president who will think before acting: opportunities will exist.