Think of the Middle East as a juggling act where religion, terror, and oppression define the act and the family-owned or terror countries represent the jugglers.Â When the balance tips, as the Arab Spring has been able to accomplish, adjustments are made to recalibrate.
Many in the west, however, believe this is unsustainable in the long run because it takes too many western resources, in the form of air bases and foreign aid, to maintain this circus act. It also inflicts too much pain, in the form of corruption and the stifling of personal liberties, upon the local population. The new Arab youth peeked a glimpse at the equal economic and political justice the west enjoys and it wants some the same for its future.Â
Of those believers, there are two groups. One, represented by the policies of Obama, concluded we should just exit sooner than later but not without inserting the better organized political groups, represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, to take the seat at the head of a one-man table to fill an expected vacuum.
The other group, represented by an amalgamation of either experts in Homeland Security or political appointees, imagines the table to be round with seats for all the players represented by a democratic rule.
Both groups agree the juggling act must come to an end but balancing the act must first prevail to buy time before we turn to a round table.
Back in April of this year, the CIA established a 34-person Task Force on the Middle East to deal with the juggling acts, which caused sudden turmoil in the region. Never to know what the CIA thinks, I believe the organization understands the futility of family-owned countries but to help destroy a standing building before planning, drawing, and landing the contract to build a new one is foolish.
The X-factor in the above analysis is the Syrian Rebellion, which remains active and potent. Turkey’s insertion into the juggling act, through a pissing contest with Iran, has provided a stabilizing element the west needs, not only to offset the Iranian aggression, but as a temporary move, I say, with the aim of buying time to establish the foundation for a round table.
The Arab League, smelling a rat, is attempting to circumvent what its people in Washington are telling them. It kept silence over the Syrian street killings for almost 5 months until if felt threatened by another Libya-type operation or a future with round tables in every Arab country. It then convened and decided to dial rent-an-opposition it helped Erdogan form named the Syrian National Council. SNC’s aim is simply to pressure Assad into a corner to make a deal.
This partially explains the visit by Leon Panetta, ex-CIA chief, to Turkey for five days between April 12 and April 17; some 30 days after the Syrian Rebellion gained steam and legitimacy. The last people to wish active Islamists in power are the CIA, which has paid a hefty price because of Islamic terror against its employees. But using the Islamists is never a problem. Using the SNC to buy time, while planning for new buildings, also fits the strategy.
Assad agrees with the Arab League that re-establishing the juggling act is a necessity for all the families to survive (This may explain why Syria was not booted from their club). But he,Â on the other hand, believes he can tame the Syrian street without the Arab League help and with the carelessness of a terrorist. Assad thinks the west will have no choice but to accept the old juggling act if he can show, with Russian help, that neither the one-man table or the round table are viable alternatives.Â
The Syrian street is today the X factor in the strategy. If it halts its rebellion, we are temporarily back to the good old days where juggling terror, religion, and oppression is the only act in town, but if it does not, it will impact what will happen next.
Â I borrowed Michael Ledeen”™s Ouija Board the other day. Since I am an optimist, it told me the things I wanted to hear; mainly, the Middle East is about to dramatically change forever and for good. It also told me not to be concerned with all the negative news around me today; they won”™t last. It said the west discovered that oppression has become a liability for all and that the demands the Arab street is imposing to establish accountability are reasonable. Accountability, the Ouija Board told me, is the only stabilizer for the region.
As far as the Islamists are concerned, it told me that tourism, the main source of income for Tunisia, and Islamism do not mix well. Their failure in Tunisia is our gains.
Hasta la Vista Baby.