Diplomacy in the Middle East
Is it with longing that the world looks back to the Ottoman Empire which, until the First World War, maintained a loose but relatively effective control over much of the tribal Middle East which up until then was without independent nation-states. Their religiously-based Caliphate was benign and when rebellion raised its head, it was quickly put down.
For example, everyone knows that the United States and the European nations are opposed to the jihadist Sunni anti-Western Islamic State. But so is Shia Iran, particularly in Iraq where ISIS is attempting to seize the entire country and in Syria where the ISIS would love to overthrow Bashir al Assad. But hold on, the United States and the West would just as well like to see him go! But Iran supports al Assad’s government. It is inconceivable that we would ally ourselves with the Islamic State in opposing al Assad and Iran, but it is also inconceivable that we would ally ourselves with Iran in opposing the Islamic State so long as Iran is supporting Bashir and its Hezbollah proxies in Syria and Lebanon, not to speak of Tehran's support of Hamas in Gaza.
The same kinds of scenarios can be drawn involving Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Jordan, Yemen, the Al Qaeda group, the Palestinians, Libya, Somalia, Egypt and Turkey. Diplomacy is tough stuff. And war has been defined as what happens when diplomacy fails, and up to now, "failure" has been the default position in regard to diplomacy in the Middle East.
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