ANALYSIS: The Real New Middle East
While there are hopeful signs of stability and even peace, many forces continue to threaten the future of the Middle East
After the surprising peace deal between Israel and the Arab Gulf states, one could say that the Middle East is now divided into two large competing blocs.
One bloc consists of mainly Sunni Arab states together with a Jewish state and is led by Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt. The other bloc consists of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and to a lesser degree Turkey, which is increasingly cooperating with Iran despite the fact that Turkey is led by the Sunni Islamist regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran by a Shiite clerical regime.
Both Turkey and Iran have regional aspirations and seek to dominate the Middle East, while Iran is also trying to expand its influence elsewhere in the world as well, such as in Afghanistan and even in South America, where it helps Venezuela to form a force similar to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
All this is meant to counter the ‘great Satan’ of the United States and the ‘little Satan’ of Israel, and to realize the goal of the 1979 Islamic Revolution: turning the world into an Islamic imperium.
Iran is actively working to increase its sway over Iraq and Lebanon and to a lesser degree over Yemen, where it supports the Houthi militia, Ansar Allah, in its battle with the central government. Ansar Allah gets advanced missiles and other weaponry from Iran, and uses these arms to attack Saudi Arabia.
Iran’s battle with Saudi Arabia is, in fact, over control of the holy Muslim sites Mecca and Medina, because the regime of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Al Khamenei sees itself as the true custodian of these holy places and regards the regime of King Salman and his son Mohammed Bin Salman as apostates.
Iranian threat to Israel
Israel must disappear from the Middle East in the eyes of Iran and its many proxies. There simply can’t be a Jewish state on the territory of Dar al Islam, the House of Islam.
Just this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu revealed three sites in neighborhoods in the Lebanese capital Beirut where Hezbollah is storing or manufacturing precision-guided-missiles (PGM) right next to a gas station and a factory abutting gas canisters.
These are, in fact, Iranian weapon depots, since Hezbollah is fully funded and armed by Iran and takes its orders from Tehran. Netanyahu accused the United Nations of passivity in light of these dangerous developments for Israel.
“Israel and states across the Arab world not only stand together in advancing peace. We stand together in confronting the greatest enemy of peace in the Middle East-Iran,” Netanyahu told the General Assembly of the United Nations.
“Iran wantonly and repeatedly attacks its neighbors, and it’s terror proxies are directly involved in violence throughout the Middle East, including in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Gaza and of course, Lebanon,” the Israeli leader added before showing the Assembly a map of the area in the vicinity of the Rafiq Hariri International Airport in Beirut where Hezbollah stores GPM’s underneath civilian buildings.
The American government now wants to slap more sanctions on Hezbollah using the 2018 “sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shield Act’ which was adopted with bi-partisan support.
According to Netanyahu the three missile sites in neighborhoods in Beirut could cause a similar disaster as the explosion in the port of Beirut two months ago.
Two of the civilian buildings in the Laylaki and Chouaifet neighborhoods in Beirut where Hezbollah stores and produces GPM’s house 120 families the Israeli leader revealed.
Just last week another secret weapon depot of Hezbollah in the village of Ain Kana in southern Lebanon exploded, but the international community except for the US government doesn’t lift a finger to stop Hezbollah’s highly dangerous activities in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.
A high-ranking Israeli Defense Ministry official now says that it would take the Israeli army (IDF) months to clear out Hezbollah’s estimated 150,000 rockets and missiles. Former Israeli Air Force Chief and current Defense- Ministry director-general Amir Eshel said in Tel Aviv that it would take “not days or weeks, but months” before the IDF could restore order in core Hezbollah areas.
In a best-case scenario Israel could eliminate only 80 percent of Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal, Eshel said, while the Lebanese terror group would fire an estimated 30,000 rockets on Israel.
According to the Israeli defense official, only destroying Lebanon’s infrastructure would force Hezbollah to beg for a cease-fire.
The terror organization is more afraid of rebuilding again Lebanon’s infrastructure and the terror tunnels it constructed since 2007 than it is of conducting a prolonged war with Israel.
The problem of Iraq
Then there is Iraq where Iran is actively working to drive the US army out of the country via the Shiite militias that it uses to attack American convoys. These attacks have increased significantly over the past period and the preferred method is using roadside bombs.
Iran is, furthermore, using the umbrella organization of predominantly Shiite militias al-Hashd al Sha’abi to constantly launch rockets at the US embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.
These attacks have already led to a withdrawal of American soldiers from Iraq and the US is now contemplating to relocate its embassy in the autonomous Kurdish zone in northern Iraq.
Iran is pushing al-Hashd al-Sha’abi to increase its attacks on the Americans because it senses that this could cause a major change in it the long battle to drive the US army out of Iraq.
This now is the new reality in the Middle East that remains very unstable even after the euphoric joy over Israel’s peace agreements with two minor Arab Gulf States.