In a week where Donald Trump’s Trade war sent global markets tanking, our readers would be entitled to expect us to focus primarily on the Trade War and its consequences.
We have written about it at length and do expect some kind of settlement after this week’s latest show of muscle by both parties, the most interesting of all being North Korea Kim sending a few missiles in the Pacific Ocean.
We are in fact much more concerned about the military developments in the MIDDLE EAST and by the lessons that can be drawn from Donald Trump’s attitude in the US-China Trade War.
On May 5th, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton issued a stark warning to Iran.
The United States, he announced, would deploy the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group along with a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf, “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.
”The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime but is fully prepared to respond to any attack.” He said.
This new and striking show of force is supposedly designed to counter what acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan called “a credible threat” from Iran to attack U.S. forces. Only days later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a planned trip to Germany to make an unscheduled stop in Iraq to discuss the tensions with Tehran.
Now, the United States is reportedly considering sending additional bomber aircraft and moving some Patriot missile batteries back to the region.
The unusual movement of U.S. military forces, which was announced by Iran hawk John Bolton, the national security advisor, reflects a build-up of tension engineered by the USA against Iran in line with a strategy to implement one of Donald Trump’s most ambitious and deeply-rooted objective; to go down in History as :
The US President who brought peace to the Middle East !
Our Readers might think the we are going over the top in analyzing the risks of an all-out war in the Middle East but this is EXACTLY what we are all about; playing chess and assessing all the possibilities based on the state of play and the known information.
Our Readers should also remember that we are based in the Middle East and that we have gone through 58 years of the chaotic history of the Middle East at the personal level as well as at the political level. Our vision of the Middle Eastern developments is backed by hundreds of thousands of personal observations and thousand of in-depth analysis of historical events.
And when one analyzes the current chain of events in the contexts of the vision of the President of the United States of America and of the way he has dealt with his various campaign promises, then the outcome may be more scary than the markets and most analysts believe.
Donald Trump’s Middle East policy represents a significant change from that of Barack Obama and during his Presidential Campaign he made several references to the need and to his will to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East through either a two-nation solution or even a one nation solution.
A little bit of History
Donald Trump’s pledge to produce a “fair” plan to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict sees him join the long line of US Presidents to try to bring peace to the Middle East. He went as far as promising Pace within four months of his Presidency.
Since the founding of Israel on 14 May 1948 and the outbreak of the Arab-Israeli War, US presidents have experienced a complex relationship with the region, balancing their responsibility to promote secure democracy with competing national interests.
Harry Truman was in the Oval Office at the time of Israel’s inception and lobbied for a UN partition plan giving 57 per cent of the territory to Israel and 43 per cent to Palestine. It lost support from key member states as fighting broke out and President Truman moved to recognise the new nation 11 minutes after its birth in the name of pragmatism.
After a testy period under Dwight D Eisenhower in the 1950s, where a CIA-backed coup in Iran, intervention in Lebanon and the Suez Crisis made for strained relations with Middle Eastern nations, John F Kennedy sought to improve matters with friendly overtures and aid to Israel, a key strategic outpost during the Cold War.
In the Lyndon Johnson era, the president had plenty on his plate with civil unrest at home and the Vietnam War raging overseas, but the US was forced to turn its attentions to Israel with the Six-Day War breaking out in 1967. Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza from Jordan and Egypt as well as Syria’s Golan Heights, prompting the Soviet Union to make a diplomatic intervention. President Johnson put the US Navy’s Mediterranean Sixth Fleet on alert and drew Israel into a ceasefire, keen to contain the spread of Soviet influence.
Violence returned when Egypt, Syria and Jordan retaliated for their loss of land by attacking Israel on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur in 1973. Again finding itself squaring off against the USSR for control of the region, Richard Nixon’s administration finally convinced Israel to accept ceasefire terms. Nixon’s secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, duly negotiated a string of “disengagement agreements” between 1974 and 1975, which brought stability to the region but did nothing to resolve the Palestinian question at a moment when Yasser Arafat was working to unite Palestinian nationalists.
In 1978, Jimmy Carter mediated the Camp David Accord, paving the way for a historic peace deal between Israel and Egypt on March 26 1979, a deal that cost the life of Egyptian President Anouar El-Sadate
In 1979, the outbreak of the Iranian Islamic Revolution and the fall of the Shah of Persia sparked new tensions and changed completely the geo-political scene of the Middle East and the Arab World.
Sixty-three Americans were taken hostage at the Tehran embassy, all but 11 of whom were held for 444 days, before being released on the day of Ronald Reagan‘s inauguration, Carter’s presidency being undone by a failed military rescue in which eight American servicemen were killed.
Under Reagan, the US again intervened to commit Israel to a ceasefire after it invaded Lebanon in June 1982 to disarm the military of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Lebanon and send its political arm in exile in Tunisia. Reagan would prove an ally to Israel’s Governement, allowing the construction of Jewish settlements in territories many considered to be illegally occupied.
On the other hand, he was also the first President of the United States of America to recognize the right of the Palestinian People to self-determination on September 1st 1982.
George HW Bush achieved little in relation to Israel and Palestine as it become preoccupied with the Gulf War following Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.
Bill Clinton administration worked hard on the Oslo Peace Accord of 1993. The accord allowed Palestinians to self-govern as the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza but failed to secure answers on such fundamental issues as the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes their families fled in 1948, the future of the settlements and the status of East Jerusalem. Clinton persisted and brought Arafat and Israeli leader Ehud Barak around the table at Camp David in December 2000 but the summit collapsed without resolution.
George W Bush, like his father, went to war in the region, taking the fight against the Taliban after 9/11 to Afghanistan and Iraq. The War on Terror failed to establish peace and democracy, however, with Israel engaged in a summer war against Hezbollah of Lebanon in 2006, Iraq on its knees in civil war and tensions with the Palestinian militants of Hamas rumbling on the Gaza Strip.
Barack Obama was criticized for failing to advance the cause of peace with Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas but did say towards the end of his tenure: “Israel must recognise that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land. We all have to do better as leaders in tamping down, rather than encouraging a notion of identity that leads us to diminish others.”
One the very first acts of the newly elected President Donald Trump in January 2017 was to sign a Presidential decree to ban citizens from 7 Arab and Muslim Nations form coming to the US and to name his son-in-law Jared Kushner as his Special Envoy to the Middle East.
The nomination of the Son-in-Law of the US President to negotiate a Peace Deal in the Middle East rather than a seasoned diplomat of the calibre of his opposite number Russia’ Foreign Affairs Minister Serguei Lavrov testifies, if need there was, of the importance of the matter for Donald Trump.
A Middle East Peace Agreement bringing a final and lasting Peace to the State of Israel is the deepest and most profound ambition of Donald J. Trump and the Jewel in the Crown of his Presidency.
Anyone overlooking this psychological reality of the most powerful man of the planet could be making a grave mistake.
In fact, three powerful and profound undercurrents are at play that could favor the Middle Eastern ambitions of the 45th President of the United States of America.
Indeed, since the creation of the State of Israel 71 years ago, many things have changed in the region, particularly since the turn of the Millennium.
1 – The End of Radical Islam
The End of radical Islam is one of our Four Mega Trends together with the end of America and the end of the Oil era and it may surprise many at a time where the war against ISIS has just ended and its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi released its first video in five years after the deadly attacks on Sri-Lankan churches over Easter.
Nevertheless, it is paramount to understand what Radical Islam is, where it came from, what it has achieved and where it is going to project the future.
Contrary to what the general consensus seems to believe, Radical Islam is a relatively recent phenomenon.
During the Ottoman Empire, Islam as a pure and radical religious practice was declining steadily as the decadent and corrupted “Sick Man of Europe” was itself declining.
The Young Turks revolution led by Ata Turk Mustafa Kemal was a truly secular revolution contesting the power of religion and modeling the new Turkey on the secular model of the Western European Nations.
The Arab Nations of the 1930’s, 1940, 1950s and 1960s were all secular.
Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser would mock the women wearing Islamic veils publicly in Parliament and the Syrian and Iraqi Baath parties that took power after the fall of the local royalties were secular parties that implemented secular Republics in these populated countries. Only the Bedouin Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and of Jordan – keepers of the Islamic Holy Sites – remained attached to religion but with a great distance in the case of Jordan.
Sunni Radical Islam in those days was a small opposition movement mainly located in Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood started its political opposition to the Ottoman and Egyptian Kingdom regimes by promoting a pure practice of religion and the rule of the Sharia in day-to-day life as early as 1913.
In Iran, the largest Shiite country of the Middle East, but Persian and not Arab, was ruled by a centuries-old Empire and the Pahlavi Dynasty which ran a secular country. There again, Shi’a radical Islam was an opposition movement that was led by clerics which capitalized on economic inequalities and the corrupted state of the regime to ultimately bring it down in 1979.
Prior to the 1970s, the Arab world was largely secular and pre-occupied with economic and social bettering with a clear fascination for the West or for – there again secular – communism.
The real spreading of Radical Islam started in 1979 with the Iranian Islamic revolution which, for the first time in the history of Islam, brought to power clerics instead of aristocratic rulers from Dynasties that were all claiming to descend form the Prophet but were not clerics themselves.
The Iranian Revolution was about implementing Islam and Islamic Laws as a purer form of Government and a better Society, rejecting the values of the West – USA the great Satan – and restoring the Rule of God – through his “Wali” – Lieutenant – the “Faqih” – The wise – on the Muslim world. The first Faqih was Ayatollah Khomeini and the current one is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Although Iran is legally an Islamic Republic with an elected Parliament and an elected President, the creation the Pasdaran force – the Guardians of the Revolution – under the direct and unique command of the Faqih vests the real power and the control of the population in his hands with very little countering power form the republican institutions.
Besides the American hostage crisis, the first enemy of the Iranian Islamic Republic was a secular Arab State, Iraq, which invaded Iran on 22nd September 1980 to depose a religious regime they considered to be as a threat to the rule of the secular Baa’th Party. The war lasted 8 full years and took 1’000’000 Iraqi and Iranian lives.
The 1979 Iranian revolution also triggered the second Oil shock which saw oil prices shooting up to US$ 38.5, only 5 years after the first oil shock which sent oil prices sky-rocketing form US$ 3 to 12 in a matter of weeks.
Over a period of five years, oil prices – the energy of the 20th century – went form 3 to 38,5 sending a major inflationary shock to the whole world but also generating MASSIVE FINANCIAL MEANS in the hands of the Sh’ia Islamic Republic of Iran on one hand and the Sunni Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the other.
Shiites represent 20 % of the 1.8 Billion Muslims of the world, the remaining 80 % being Sunnis.
Iran’s religious regime’s ambitions were clearly stated as the will to extend the Shia religious rule to the whole of the Shiite populations and restore a purer practice of the religion.
From 1979 on, and particularly after the failure of Iraq to defeat the Iranian Islamic revolution, Saudi Arabia and its neighboring Emirates started financing Sunni’ Radical Islam to counter the influence of Shi’a radicalism.
It must be kept in mind that the rivalry between Sunni Islam and Shia Islam is similar to the one dividing the Christians between Catholics and Protestants.
As is the case with Protestantism, Shiites consider that they have a better and purer interpretation.of Islam than the orthodox Sunnites and therefore the oil-rich Sunnis Kingdoms guardians of the Holy Site had to compete head-on with the Shiite radical Islam or be de-legitimized as guardians of the common holy sites of Islam.
Their regimes were themselves pressured by internal radical movements fueled by sunni clerics who wanted to emulate the Iranian rule of God and religion in Sunni countries.
Oil-Rich GCC countries such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and to a lesser extent Qatar and the UAE also had sizable Shiite populations and the Kingdom of Bahrein is ruled by a Sunni King but has a majority of Shiite population who were also hearing the sirens of Radical Islam and criticizing the regimes in place for their excesses and vast riches.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar started financing Islamic schools, mosques, and pilgrimages in the entire muslim world as well as in the Muslim populations of the Occidental countries and Radical Islam grew in importance in a massive way between 1990 and 2010.
Social pressure made traditionally secular countries such as Iraq, Syria, the Maghreb or Turkey experiment a widespread radicalization of the practice of Islam and a faction of the muslim immigrant populations of Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Northern Europe, the UK and even the US started refusing to integrate the culture of their country of abode to live according to the rules of their religion.
And what was bound to happen when two dogmatisms, be they religious or ideological – Communism, nazism, etc.. – compete with each other, their differences are exacerbated and they end up going to war.
Iran and Saudi Arabia became the champions of their religion and their own radicalism and what was initially a spiritual rivalry became an all-out geo-political confrontation in the Middle East, with Iran calling for the disappearance of the corrupted Saudi and Emirati regimes, financing local Shiite movements in the traditional sunni zone of influence of Yemen and Lebanon, and supporting the minority Alaoui – Shiite – regime of Syria’s Bashar El Assad in a country that is majority populated by sunnis.
In an interesting twist of history, Iran which was originally closer the Israel than to the Arab world positioned itself as the champion of the Palestinian cause, making Israel its main enemy and calling for its destruction.
Saudi Arabia and the GCC countries- with the exception of Qatar – called for the fall of the Iranian regime and started a deadly war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
They also armed and financed rebel Syrian groups – mostly radical sunni groups – and triggered the Syrian conflict with the stated objective of deposing Bashar El Assad and replacing him by a Sunni leadership more friendly to the Gulf countries and cutting off Lebanon’s Hezbollah form its Iranian backers.
In September 2013, Bashar El Assad was in an extremely weak position and was the public enemy of the world for refusing to leave power and using its army and aviation against its population. The Syrian conflict has created a major humanitarian crisis with million of refugees fleeing the country and flooding the mediterranean gates of Europe.
Bashar El Assad used Chemical weapons against his population triggering a general outcry and putting Barack OBAMA in an a extremely difficult position as he had vowed to intervene militarily if chemical weapons were used.
In 24 hours, Russia’s Minister of Foreign affairs Sergueï Lavrov promised that Bashar El Assad would not be allowed to use chemical weapons anymore, giving the guarantee of Russia and Barack OBAMA did not launch his missiles.
Russia always had a strategic interest in Syria with its only naval base in the Mediterranean Sea and outside of Russia in Tartous. From then on, Russia sent massive aerial military forces in Syria and supported active Bashar El Assad’s regime.
The Creation of Daesh – ISIS
Until 2014, Bashar El Assad was the world’s public enemy No 1. Bashar was Shia, he was the ally of Iran, the supporter of Hezbollah who had sent thousands of fighters to defend his regime in Syria and was seen as the worst tyrant of the century with a multitude of documented and verified reports on torture, bombing of civilians and use of terror and arbitrary arrests,
Suddenly, in the first half of 2014 a new public enemy appeared out of nowhere, or almost nowhere, DAESH.
The Islamic State for Iraq and the Levant proclaimed itself as a the new Sunni Caliphate in June 2014 and very quickly made a name for itself with its videos of beheadings and other types of executions of both soldiers and civilians, including journalists and aid workers, its destruction of cultural heritage sites and its capturing and selling of woman as sex slaves and wives. The United Nations holds ISIL responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes. ISIL also committed ethnic cleansing on an historic scale in northern Iraq.
ISIS also started a campaign of terror in Europe and the US, attracting hundreds of radical Muslims from these countries to Syria to train them and sending them back to kill and destroy in the new of Allah.
Suddenly, and only nine months after Barack OBAMA decision NOT to bomb Syria, the world has a NEW PUBLIC ENNEMY No. 1 and that enemy was SUNNI RADICAL ISLAM and no longer Bashar El Assad, the Shia ally of Teheran.
Two interesting and fully documented observations deserve to be made about the sudden appearance of DAESH / ISIS.
. In the first few months of 2014, Bashar El Assad freed thousands of radical Muslim prisoners from its own prisons.”The regime did not just open the door to the prisons and let these extremists out, it facilitated them in their work, in their creation of armed brigades,” said the former member of Syria’s Military Intelligence Directorate, one of more than a dozen of Syria’s secretive intelligence agencies, who has defected.
The same happened in Iraq where radical Sunni prisoners were freed at the same period by Nouri AL Maliki, the Iraqi Ally of the Iranian regime.
The ranks and the officers of Daesh have all come from these Syrian and Iraqi prisons and were freed by decisions of allies of Teheran.
. The second observation is that on June 4th 2014, in only 6 days, 1’500 poorly armed fighters of ISIS defeated 30’000 Iraqi military armed with tanks and rocket launchers and 30’000 Federal Police personnel in MOSUL. The Iraqi Soldiers fled the city leaving their brand new armament and about US$ 1 Billion in cash in the vaults of the local branch of the Iraqi Central Bank.
Regardless of what excuses have been put forward by Nouri AL Maliki’s regime, the crushing defeat of the Iraqi army in Mosul have never gone down with military experts around the world who have regularly casted doubts on the desire or willingness of Iraq’s regime to prevent ISIS form taking Mosul.
A third observation is that the leader of ISIS, Abu Baker Al Baghdadi is know to be a highly educated scholar with PH D degrees in philosophy, theology and education and that any organization pretending to unite the Muslims, and particularly the 1.5 Billion sunnis around the world, in a New Caliphate would probably NOT engage in highly televised beheading, burning, drowning, executions, and sexual slaving of women.
Muslims are for the very vast majority peaceful people who value family, honesty, peace, respect women and are charitable. They condemn violence and would not be attracted by the scary kind of Islam painted by ISIS very early on.
Finally, the first military coalition to attack Daesh as early as the summer of 2014 consisted of the US, UK, Saudi and Jordanian aviations, two sunni countries, and not Syrian, Iranian or Iraqi forces. Why ?
In all likelihood, Daesh was a creation of Iran, Syria and Russia and its purpose was clearly to make Saudi Arabia and Sunni Islam the enemy of the world.
The plan succeeded probably beyond the imagination of the people who had devised it !
With “only” 500 casualties from Daesh terrorism in Europe, the Christian identity of Europe has been restored creating a vast phenomenon of distrust of the local populations vis-a vis their muslim citizens and immigrants.
Between 2014 and 2016, Muslims became the pariahs of the world from Alaska to Kamchatka and anyone called Ali, Mohammad or Ahmad would find it difficult to travel, find a job or even mingle with the rest of the population in non-Arab countries.
The best illustration of the phenomenon being Donald Trump’s first Executive Decree in January 2017 banning muslims coming form 7 Arab and Perisan countries from entering the US.
For the first time in the 200+ years of history of the United States of America a President discriminated people on the basis of their religion or origins.
Moreover, Donald Trump made it clear to its Arab Allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that America would stop providing its military shield unless things changed there and they stopped fueling radicalism in Islam.
Mohammad Bin Salman
In June 2017, 6 month only after the oath of Donald Trump, Mohammad Bin Salman was appointed crown prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following King Salman’s decision to remove Muhammad bin Nayef from all positions.
The extraordinary decision to negate all the succession rules in vigor since the creation of the unified Kingdom in 1932 and to give the reins of powers to a 33 years old son of the third wife of King Salman bears a profound significance that may have escaped commentators :
SOMETHING MAJOR IS HAPPENING IN SAUDI ARABIA,
AND THAT SOMETHING IS THE END OF SUNNI RADICAL ISLAM !
The change has profound implications for Saudi Arabia, for the Middle East and for the World.
The choice of a 33-years old Crown Prince to rule Saudi Arabia is dictated by the need to have a King that will preside over a major transformation of the Saudi Kingdom, its culture and its system and that will therefore need to rule for decades. It also corresponds to the need to appeal to a 29 million population the majority of which is less than 25 years old.
Contrary to what some people may think, in Saudi Arabia, the choice of a Crown Prince is not the decision of a single person, be it the King himself. The choice of Mohammad Bin Salman was approved by a majority of the 6’000 strong royal family and the need to reform Saudi Arabia as well. Mohammad Bin Salman is NOT alone or a lone cowboy as some journalists may chose to paint him.
His resilience and the solidity of his backing was tested with the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, a stupid mistake that would have cost any ruler his job immediately in any country but the importance of the role of Mohammad Bin Salman in the transformation of Saudi Arabia is such that he was not sacrificed.
Saudi Arabia departs from supporting radical Islam
The major changes taking place in Saudi Arabia are visible everywhere and are happening fast.
And there is no doubt that they were part of a package deal between the US and Saudi Arabia whereby Americans support was conditioned to a major change in the country’s approach to Islam.
From allowing women to drive and go to movies, concerts an football matches to restricting the powers of the religious police, the opening the country to international tourists by introducing an e-visa system which can now easily be issued for foreigners from the Internet, the Vision 2030 program to diversify the Saudi economy through investment in non-oil sectors including technology and tourism and the creation of NEOM, a 500 Bln. Economic zone and city at the Northern tip of Saudi Arabia, bordering Egypt, Jordan Israel and the Gaza Strip, Mohamad Bin Salman reforms are taking place and taking place fast.
NEOM is particularly important as Saudi Arabia is doing there what China did with Shenzhen when it wanted to shift the system from a communist economy to a capitalist economy. You create a zone that operates with different rules and when it has proven its success, your replace the old system by the new system.
Saudi Arabia already announced that NEOM would operate according to completely different rules and regulations that the Kingdom and would be modeled on the West.
Two other episodes are telling the fullness of the story when it comes to the end of the Sunni Radical Islam :
. On November 4, 2017, around 500 members of the Royal family, ministers and high level civil servants were rounded and held in custody at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh while Saudi banks froze more than 2,000 domestic accounts as part of the crackdown. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Saudi government targeted cash and assets worth up to $800 billion.
The unusual move was presented as an anti-corruption operation and indeed, the vast majority of the Princes and Civil servants were freed after having agreed to pay back grafts and penalties on top totaling tens of billions of US Dollars.
But the operation also had another purpose which was indirectly revealed in several interviews given by some prominent Princes that were freed; they had to sign a secret agreement with the Government that they could not reveal.
From most analytical accounts, the agreement would have been a commitment to stop financing radical Religious groups in Saudi Arabia and outside of Saudi Arabia.
. in June 2017, immediately after Mohamad Bin Salman took power, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, the Maldives, Mauritania, Senegal, Djibouti, the Comoros, Jordan, the Tobruk-based Libyan government, and the Hadi-led Yemeni government severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and banned Qatari airplanes and ships from utilising their airspace and sea routes along with Saudi Arabia blocking the only land crossing.
The Saudi-led coalition cited Qatar’s alleged support for terrorism as the main reason for their actions, insisting that Qatar has violated a 2014 agreement with the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Saudi Arabia and other countries have criticized Al Jazeera and Qatar’s relations with Iran.
Indeed, for years gaz-rich Qatar and its small population of 200’000 nationals have trued to compete with Saudi Arabia for the leadership of the Sunni world and has admitted to financing the Muslim brotherhood and other radical Islamic groups. Qatar is also pointed at as the main source of funding of the Syrian radical revel groups that have started the civil war there against the regime.
The severity of the crisis within what used to be a tightly knit Gulf Cooperation Council testifies of the importance of the matter and the pressure put on Qatar to yield in and abandon radical Islam and its financing.
The first undercurrent that is changing things in the Middle East is the end of Sunni Radical Islam and the realization by the Arab World that it needs to re-enter the community of Nations and modernize its societies.
THIS LEAVES IRAN AS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD RULED BY CLERICS AND THE ONLY SUPPORTER OF A RADICAL ISLAM.
Todays’ world cannot function on religions, and even religious states such as Israel or the Islamic Republic of Pakistan are in fact democracies that are ruled by secular people.
2 – For the first time in 75 years the interests of the Arabs, Israel and America are aligned
The second powerful undercurrent that favors a final peace plan in the Middle East is the fact that the landscape and the interest of the Arab world have changed considerably in the past 15 years.
. Back in 2000, Israel was facing opposition from several highly populated and/or belligerent Arab Nations.
Iraq, Syria, Lybia and Lebanon were officially at war with Israel and the Gulf rich Arab countries were backing the Palestinian authority of Mahmoud Abbas and the more combative Hamas movement.
Today, Iraq has disappeared, Syria is in shambles, Libya disintegrated and the Palestinian Authority has weakened considerably with the internal infighting between Fatah and Hamas.
There is no one left opposing Israel in the Arab World apart from Lebanon’s Hezbollah backed by Iran, which suddenly became the champion of the Palestinian cause.
. The oil-rich monarchy of the Gulf are tired of the Palestinian cause and no longer interested in pursuing this 75-year old conflict with Israel that has brought nothing but an extension and reinforcing of the State of Israel while most Arab countries were going down the drain economically and socially.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman are much more concerned with making their economies self-sustainable and less dependent on oil than fighting a war that they know will not result in the disappearance of Israel.
The Palestinian cause itself has been weakened by time as most Palestinian refugees have now either been integrated in their country of abode of lost historical, family and cultural touch with their lost homeland.
The Arab countries want a lasting Peace in the Middle East with two conditions, a Two-State solution with the. Creation of a full-bodied Palestinian State and East Jerusalem as its capital as Jerusalem is home to one of the holiest site of Islam.
Israel may not be against a two-state solution and even leaving East Jerusalem as the Capital of a Palestinian State. They want however to have a peaceful and disarmed State as a neighbor and an official recognition by all the Arab countries of its right to existence.
They also want to keep their illegal settlements and that Palestinian Refugees outside of Palestine be integrated in their countries of abode.
When Donald Trump was elected US president in November 2016, he committed to bringing about a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, making it one of his most important personal objective for his Presidency.
He named the plan for bringing peace to Israel and Palestine the “deal of the century” and sent his son-in-Law Jared Kushner brokering it between the Arabs, the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority.
The Deal of the Century
The Deal of the Century is a proposal intended to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. It is a peace plan for the Middle East made ready by United States President Donald Trump. After 18 months of planning, Israel’s officials have developed the proposal by visiting the four Arab capitals of the Gulf.
In September 2017, while at the UN General Assembly, US President Donald Trump and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had a meeting. Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, said that their meeting showed the US administration’s efforts “to achieve the deal of the century in the Middle East during this year or in the coming months.”
Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem
After 76 days, that deal was canceled as Donald Trump announced his decision to move the US embassy to Israel to Jerusalem.
In January 2018, Mahmoud Abbas gave a lecture in Ramallah and said the deal of the century presented by Trump was the peaceful solution, but when the US selected Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it turned into “the slap of century”
In fact, the decision of Donald Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem was part of the global plane and in particular of making East Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian State.
The Palestinian reaction was understandable considering the pressure of the street in the Palestinian Territories but the comments made at the time by Rex Tillerson, then Secretary of State for foreign affairs, and by Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the UN, were extremely clear :
The decision of America to move its embassy to West Jerusalem did NOT imply that the final status of Jerusalem could not change and that its indivisibility was accepted. Quite the contrary !
In other words by moving its embassy to west Jerusalem America was giving Israel guarantees of its good faith while keeping the door opened for East-Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian State.
America and Israel both know full well that there will be no lasting solution with a Palestinian State without Jerusalem as its capital.
The move was also giving Israel a phenomenal bargaining tool in the final negotiations for a two-state solution : East Jerusalem as a Capital against the illegal settlement in the occupied territories, something Israel needs to get its people to accept a Palestinian State.
The details of the “Deal of the Century” have not been published officially but is equipped with the 35-page document from the Saudis.
As Palestinian officials reported, the context of the initial deal is to establish a new Jerusalem for Palestinians and the security of the border would be prepared by Israel forces. The deal would provide the Palestine state with the provisional borders on half of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, without Jerusalem, for the time being.
One key element fo the Jared Kushner Peace Plan is to give the Palestinians economic prosperity against a smaller Palestinian State and the recognition of the State of Israel.
It is more than likely that the Gulf States have committed to invest heavily into the Palestinian economy and that the creation of NEOM, not far away from the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Territories will provide jobs for a population that is today struggling economically.
In fact, with the drastic changes happening in Saudi Arabia and the cutting off of the funding of Hamas and Islamic Groups in Palestine, the Arab world is now more inclined than ever to make a lasting peace with Israel and accept a smaller Palestinian State with East-Jerusalem as its capital.
Even the Palestinian Authority is willing to go down this route and the acute political battle between the Fatah and Hamas is all about these fundamentally different options.
Even the postponing of the Palestinian elections desired by Fatah is to be seen within this context as the latest polls show clearly a landslide victory of Hamas if the elections were to be held now.
3 – The only remaining obstacles to a global peace Process in the Middle East is Iran and its Lebanese Offshoot Hezbollah.
If one looks at the Middle Eastern chess board today, the only obstacle to a Peace plan is Iran.
Palestinians do not to have the military might to oppose a solution and their divide will bring one party to the negotiations table.
But the real issues are the belligerent attitude of Iran and it nuclear ambitions on one hand, and the much more factual and real presence of Hezbollah’s militia and missiles in Lebanon on the Northern border of Israel on the other hand.
According to military reports, confirmed by the declarations of Hassan Nasrallah himself, Hezbollah would have installed several tens of thousand of mid-range missiles in Lebanon capable of reaching any part of the Israeli territory.
The involvement of Hezbollah’s militia in the Syrian conflict to support Bashar El Assad regime testifies of the crucial importance of that link for Iran to continue supporting Hezbollah logistically, militarily and financially. Over the past two years, Israel has conducted almost daily operations against Iranian and Hezbollah’s targets in Syria with its aviation.
Contrary to what happened in 2006, where the conflict took both parties by surprised and caught the Israeli military unprepared, this time round the Israeli army has prepared itself for a major aerial and terrestrial conflict with a view to eradicate Hezbollah from Lebanon.
In documents published by the Israeli military and reproduced by the Command centers of the main Western armies, a comprehensive plan involving 998 jet fighters and several tens of thousands of military personnel has been finalized and implemented through military exercise that took place in 2017 and 2018.
That plan would also entail direct strikes on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic facilities.
It is also likely that in such an event, the Military and finances of the Arab monarchies of the Gulf would support the military action against Iran and Hezbollah.
It is also highly probable that the “Kidnapping” and Resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad El Hariri in December 2018 in Saudi Arabia was linked to this military intervention as the Saudis probably wanted to keep their man out of power and out of the country during a military action, to better bring him back afterwards.
The unexpected intervention of French President Emmanuel Macron probably derailed the plan.
The situation has been made much worse since the May 2018 Lebanese Parliamentary elections that gave Hezbollah and its political allies a vast majority in Parliament, and, after several months of paralysis, a majority in the Government as well.
A completely new, even if not unforeseeable, situation is the legitimization of the hold of Hezbollah on Lebanon though its “democratic” process, marking the ultimate success of a long march that started in 1982 to take control of the country.
The next steps in Lebanon are the elimination of the traditional political forces through the fight against corruption, the implementation of a unique constituency assorted with proportional voting to allow political forces with less than 30 % of the votes to take control of the institutions and the official legitimization of the Hezbollah armed militia outside the control of the democratic institution and under the direct command of Hezbollah’s commander Hassan Nasrallah, as is the case in Iran with the Pasdaran.
The key question then becomes :
Can Israel live and a global Peace Process succeed with a Lebanon controlled by Hezbollah and Iran at its Northern Border ?
And the question is in fact doubled by another question : Are Saudi Arabia and the Arab world ready to accept that Arab countries such as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon fall into Iran’s influence in a lasting manner ?
The answer to both questions is NO !
Indeed, neither Iran nor Hezbollah want to engage in a military confrontation with Israel in Lebanon as they know full well that the rapport de force will not be in their favor.
They also know that time is on their side if their want to strengthen their hold on Lebanon, Syria and the region to implement their strategic ambition of cementing the Shiite crescent in the Middle East.
But they also hope that in the case of a military conflict, Israel will pay a hefty price in human lives and destruction and will be weakened significantly.
The three dynamics above create a situation where a military conflagration is unfortunately highly probable.
In Donald Trump’s and the Israeli vision, it may be the one last military conflict of the Middle East, but a confrontation needed to finally unlock once and for all a situation that has disturbed the world for the past 70 years.
For the Arab world, it may be the conflict needed to finally bring down Iran’s Islamic revolution and its destabilizing effect on the Middle East and the Arab World.
For the rest of the world, and that includes China and Russia, it may be the conflict needed to bring down the only religious regime left in the world and get rid of radical Islam.
Is Donald Trump ready for it ?
The interesting part about Donald Trump is that he is highly readable.
His handling of the Trade War with China shows a number of traits of characters that deserve to be highlighted.
- Donald Trump pursues his own objectives and relies very little on the consensus views of his advisors. It is “his way of the Highway” even for his closest advisors as testified by the departure of Rex Tillerson and of Nikki Haley just too mention a couple.
- Donald Trump is a man of convictions. Whether right or wrong, he pushes his own agenda his own way with little consideration for dissenting views or even objective obstacles. Donald Trump’s vision of Iran and of the Middle East has always been clearly articulated during his Presidential campaign and implemented once elected. He nominated Jared Kushner, elaborated a Peace Plan with very little help form his administration, forced the Saudis to change tack and talk to the Israelis, moved his embassy to Jerusalem, recognized the legitimacy of Israel claims over the Golan heights and just a few weeks ago recognized the illegal Israeli settlements in the west bank as legitimate. Donald Trump intends to make Peace in the Middle East with or without the Palestinians.
- Donald Trump goes all-in. When pursuing his objectives nothing stops him, not even the self inflicted damage he can cause. He shut the US Government for more than six weeks just to get the funding of his wall on the border with Mexico and he just implemented new sanctions on Chinese imported product knowing full well that it is the US consumer and US corporations who will ultimately pay the price of the Trade War. He wants to bring the Chinese to accept his terms ad will push his agenda relentlessly regardless of the material consequences or the psychological damage he can cause to America or to the rest of the world.
The determination and conviction-based approach of Donald trump vis a vis Iran is clearly illustrated by the sequence of moves he made in the past two years.
After having pulled out from the Nuclear Accord with Iran unilaterally in May 2018 and imposing a new economic embargo, Donald Trump lifted the exemptions of oil importers last month to choke its exports and financial resources.
Then he deploys an attack force to the Middle East at a time where the Pentagon is doing all it can to pull America out from the Middle East to re-focus on Russia and China.
The continued focus on Iran despite the department’s stated pivot to Russia and China has frustrated many observers and former officials. The Defense Department ranks Iran as a fourth-tier threat in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, the Pentagon’s latest guiding document, but for Donald Trump it is clearly priority number one.
Growing evidence suggests the U.S. president is traveling a path toward war—whether he acknowledges it or not.
At the Pentagon this week, details about the deployment trickled out in fits and starts. Shanahan, who on his second day on the job back in January said China was his top priority, finally issued a statement on the move almost a full day after the White House first announced it.
“We call on the Iranian regime to cease all provocation,” Shanahan said. “We will hold the Iranian regime accountable for any attack on U.S. forces or our interests.”
The decision originated with Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the newly minted commander of U.S. Central Command, but was left to the White House to announce, according to a defense official. McKenzie requested additional forces in the region following “recent and clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack U.S. forces,” according to Centcom spokesperson Capt. Bill Urban.
Smacks of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” ?
The rising tensions with Tehran bear disturbing similarities to the run-up to war in 2003. Chief among them: the presence of John Bolton in both.
The Pentagon received indications of “very, very credible intelligence” on Friday afternoon, Shanahan told lawmakers during a hearing on Wednesday. However, the administration has yet to provide details about that intelligence or where it originated.
General McKenzie had been something of a wild card in the latest escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran. He took the reins of the world’s most volatile region from Gen. Joseph Votel in March, after serving as director of the joint staff at the Pentagon under Mattis since 2017.
But McKenzie made his views clear on Wednesday during a speech in Washington, revealing a hard line on Tehran. He dedicated nearly half of a 30-minute speech to sounding the alarm on Iran on Iran’s “malign” activity and ambition across the globe, noting that Tehran is responsible for the deaths of more than 600 U.S. service members in Iraq and issuing an explicit warning to the regime.
Some expressed skepticism that Bolton’s statement was much more than a symbolic gesture, pointing out that the USS Abraham Lincoln was already embarked on a scheduled deployment to the Mediterranean and had planned to eventually head to Centcom.
But the Pentagon expedited the carrier’s arrival, skipping a planned port visit to Split, Croatia, and ending an unusual “carrier gap,” when the United States had no carrier presence at all in the Persian Gulf.
The deployment of a small bomber task force, too, is a significant move. Although bombers typically rotate seamlessly in and out of the region, the B-1 squadron most recently stationed at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, left in March and has not yet been replaced—an unusual shift that many attributed to the defeat of the Islamic State’s physical territory.
A second defense official confirmed that the deployment, which will consist of four aircraft from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, was not previously planned.
Washington also approved a new deployment of Patriot missiles to the Middle East, a U.S. official said on Friday.
In a recent article for Foreign Policy, Elbridge Colby, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development in 2017 and 2018, stressed that “The United States does not need F-22s to attack terrorist havens nor whole brigade combat teams to advise Middle Eastern militaries; cheaper drones and tailored advise-and-assist units will do.”
By that logic, sending an entire carrier strike group and bomber task force to respond to a yet unnamed threat from Iran—especially when U.S. forces in the region often face provocation from the regime and proxy forces—might have a different meaning.
Is America looking for an excuse to initiate the conflict ?
Iran is preparing for the conflict
In an unprecedented statement President Hassan Rouhani called on Saturday for unity among Iran’s political factions to overcome conditions which he said may be harder than those during the 1980s war with Iraq, state media reported, as the country faces tightening U.S. sanctions.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday urged Iran’s leaders talk with him about giving up their nuclear program and said he could not rule out a military confrontation.
Trump made the offer as he increased economic and military pressure on Iran, moving to cut off all Iranian oil exports this month while beefing up the U.S. Navy and Air Force presence in the Gulf.
“Today, it cannot be said whether conditions are better or worse than the (1980-88) war period, but during the war we did not have a problem with our banks, oil sales or imports and exports, and there were only sanctions on arms purchases,” Rouhani said, according to the state news agency IRNA.
“The pressures by enemies is a war unprecedented in the history of our Islamic revolution… but I do not despair and have great hope for the future and believe that we can move past these difficult conditions provided that we are united,” Rouhani told activists from various factions.
Separately, a media court on Saturday suspended the weekly Seda (Voice), the semi-official news agency ISNA reported, after the reformist magazine published an issue that included articles warning about the possibility of war with the United States. “At the Crossroads of War and Peace, have moderates lost or will they again save Iran from war?” the main headline on the front page read against a photograph of U.S. Navy warships.
On social media, hardliners attacked the magazine as “Trump’s voice”, suggesting its warning about the danger of war amounted to a call for talks with the United States, the Islamic Republic’s arch enemy.
“At the height of America’s political, economic and media war against the Iranian nation, an Iranian publication supplements the enemy’s media operations inside the country,” the hardline-led news agency Fars wrote in a comment.
Israel is preparing too
An Israeli cabinet minister warned on Sunday of possible direct or proxy Iranian attacks on Israel should the stand-off between Tehran and Washington escalate.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, which supports Trump’s hard tack against its arch-foe, has largely been reticent about the spiraling tensions.
However, with his victory in the recent elections despite the corruption suspicion that lays on him, Nethanyahu is in a better position than ever to take the country to war.
Parting with the silence, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that, in the Gulf, “things are heating up”. “If there’s some sort of conflagration between Iran and the United States, between Iran and its neighbors, I’m not ruling out that they will activate Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad from Gaza, or even that they will try to fire missiles from Iran at the State of Israel,” Steinitz, a member of Netanyahu’s security cabinet, told Israel’s Ynet TV.
The Israeli military declined to comment when asked if it was making any preparations for possible threats linked to the Iran-U.S. standoff.
Israel has traded blows with Iranian forces in Syria, as well as with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Palestinian militants. But it has not fought an open war with Iran, a country on the other side of the Middle East.
But Israel’s military problem is Hezbollah in Lebanon and not Iran which is viewed as being more of an Amerian/ Saudi problem.
How will the conflict unfold, if it does
In several papers published by the Israeli army and various pro-Israeli associations, Tsahal has prepared extensively with an all-out conflict in Lebanon the objective of which would be to eradicate Hezbollah.
According to the public documents, Hezbollah can count on about 25’000 active militiamen, 10’000 of which were until recently operating in Syria and probably another 25’000 reserve militiamen it can mobilize.
According to the same sources, Hezbollah has deployed in excess of 100’000 offensive warheads in Lebanon all pointed to Israel and capable of reaching almost every inch of the Israeli territory.
Israel’s military strategy has been to launch immediate preventive air attacks on these missile locations with 998 jet bombers equipped to launch 10 different missiles aimed at ten different targets simultaneously. Every sortie would destroy 9’000 missiles at once and the objective is to destroy as much of the Hezbollah’s missile launching capabilities in the shortest possible time and destroy the communication infrastructure ( roads, bridges, telecommunications, electricity ) of Lebanon immediately so as to prevent coordinates action.
In the same papers, Israel deems necessary to send between 50’000 and 100’00 troops on the ground to clean-up the area and disarm the militia, counting on the fact that once the infrastructure will be destroyed and coordination annihilated, the small groups of militiamen will not resist for long or will flee into Syria to regroup.
In a rare admission of weakness, the Israeli Army estimates that between 5’000 to 10’000 missiles launched by Hezbollah could reach targets in Israel and that the Israeli casualties resulting from this war could reach several thousands between civilians and army personnel.
From a more global perspective, it is highly likely that the conflict will start in the Hormuz straits as confrontation between Iranian forces and US military and that Israel will only get into the conflict once the Hezbollah launches attacks against its territory.
The American war strategy will be focusing almost entirely on Iran at the beginning, letting provocation – real or imaginary – provide the excuse for the conflict and then building up the military offensive against Iran.
This approach was exemplified by the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991. After Iraq seized Kuwait late in the summer of 1990, the United States first deployed forces to protect Saudi Arabia. Over the ensuing six months, Washington assembled a broad coalition and built an iron mountain of aircraft, tanks, warships, ammunition, and every other expression of military might.
Once the United States was good and ready, it launched a withering air campaign that pummeled the Iraqi military and quickly established total dominance of Kuwaiti and Iraqi airspace. The subsequent ground invasion rapidly expelled the Iraqis from Kuwait, after which the United States quickly ended the war on its preferred terms.
The Gulf War operation was a stunning success—but the victory was owed in great part to the fact that the nature of the conflict was perfectly suited to the United States’ advantages. Iraq had a formidable military, but it was well behind that of the United States and incapable of striking accurately beyond territory it owned or occupied.
In this instance, it is likely that America will focus on destroying the Iranian military and Revolution guards, destroy its air force and ballistic capabilities and annihilate all its nuclear related facilities across the country.
America has no need to invade Iran and will simply seek the fall of the Islamic Republic regime while Israel takes care of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Once Hezbollah defeated, nothing will oppose the Peace process anymore even if the Iranian regime manages to survive the destruction of its military and revolutionary Guards.
However, something has changed between last year and this year in the global military scenario.
In the initial Israeli plan, Israeli troops would have to go to the ground in Lebanon having to face both the ire of the local population and the criticism of the international community.
After all it was the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and the occupation of a security band of 30 km until 2000 that bred Hezbollah and allowed it to grow in influence in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s entire ideology is based on the “resistance” to Israel and a new occupation could breed similar movements in the future.
A subtle change in the various declaration may indicate that after the initial air strikes by the Israeli air force in Lebanon, the troops deployed on the ground will be American troops and not Israeli troops.
The Lebanese population will be more amenable to welcome American troops that will free them from Hezbollah and American troops are in fact the only military in the world with the British to a certain extent to have extensive knowledge and experience of warfare in Arab countries and the levant with Arabic speaking personnel, knowledge of the mentalities and psychologies, and experienced logistics.
One additional factor is that the US Army has consistently formed and armed the Lebanese armed forces and trained its officers despite its strong infiltration by Hezbollah. The coordination with the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese Intelligence services will be that much more efficient.
How about Russia ?
One key question is whether Russia will intervene militarily to protect Iran or its Syrian Protege Bashar El Assad.
From a global perspective, Russia – and to that extent China – have no particular affinity with Radical islam or the Iranian Islamic Republic. It is quite happy to play the game locally to keep its presence in Tartous, but its US$ 2 Trillion economy does not allow it to rebuild Syria or even build a lasting political presence there.
Moreover, until now, America has refrained from testing Russia’s military capabilities, but I has been a while that the American Military wants to expose the weaknesses of the Russian military in a real conflict.
The general feeling in military circles in that Russia has been playing in a league it does not belong to and does not have the resources to play in, and that the heritage ion the second world war must now be unwound.
The core of Russia’s challenge to the U.S. military lies in what are commonly called anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) systems: in more colloquial terms, a wide variety of missiles, air defenses, and electronic capabilities that could destroy or neutralize U.S. and allied bases, surface vessels, ground forces, satellites, and key logistics nodes within their reach.
Both China and Russia have also developed rapidly deployable and fearsomely armed conventional forces that can exploit the openings that their A2/AD systems could create.
Despite these advances, both China and Russia still know that, for now, they would be defeated if their attacks triggered a full response by the United States.
The key for Russia is to attack and fight in a way that Washington restrains itself enough for it to secure its gains. This means ensuring that the war is fought on limited terms such that the United States will not see fit to bring to bear its full weight.
Focused attacks designed to pick off vulnerable members of Washington’s alliance network are the ideal offensive strategy in the nuclear age, in which no one can countenance the consequences of total war.
The most pointed form of such a limited war strategy is the “fait accompli”. Such an approach involves an attacker seizing territory before the defender and its patron can react sufficiently and then making sure that the counterattack needed to eject it would be so risky, costly, and aggressive that the United States would balk at mounting it—not least because its allies might see it as unjustified and refuse to support it.
This is exactly what Russia did in Ukraine with annexation of Crimea, but it is extremely doubtful that it will engage its forces to defend Iran or Hezbollah in an all-out war between America, Israel, the Arab World and Iran.
Unfortunately, ground campaigns are best done in the spring or the summer in the Middle East as meteorological conditions are optimal for both aerial and ground offensive.
Moreover, operations must be finished by November before cold weather and snow makes the control. Of the terrain more difficult.
Israel invaded Lebanon on June 6th 1982 and the bulk of the military operations were over by August 1982.
The recent increase in tensions comes unilaterally from the USA, meaning that something is in preparation for rather soon.
Donald Trump cannot be guaranteed to be re-elected, meaning that he has only two campaign seasons on his hands, 2019 and 2020.
Starting a military campaign in an election year is not a good idea and the prospects of impeachment proceedings are increasing fast. It is doubtful that the American congress will ever impeach a President if the country is at war.
All this to say that the most likely point of tension will be in the coming two months, in June or July 2019.
The Biggest Casualty : Lebanon
The coming war could be the last war of the Middle East and even maybe the last armed conflict of the world.
Many other commercial and economic wars will probably take place but the only area of the world where military action can finally resolve the problem – albeit at the expense of the Palestinians – is the Middle East.
Lebanon will clearly be the biggest casualty of this war, besides the military losses and collateral civil casualties in Iran, Israel and with the military forces engaged in the war.
The military papers estimate the number of casualties in Lebanon to reach 50’000 and the infrastructure of the country to be completely destroyed.
However, this could be a new beginning for Lebanon if, as a result of the war and the destruction, the country is rebuilt on the basis of a new political, legal and social organization.
For the past 75 years – since its independent in 1943 – Lebanon’s chaotic history was caused by a flawed legal and political system based on sectarianism that divided the people and made Lebanon the weakest nation of the Middle East.
It is its political system that made it allow the armed presence of the Palestine Liberation Organization on is territory which itself led to the bloody civll war of 1975 – 1990, when countries like Jordan fought the Palestinians, Syria parked them in camps with no arms or political activities and Egypt assimilated them immediately.
It is the same flawed system that allowed the development of Hezbollah since 1982, a State in the State again with its own armament and financed by a foreign country – Iran – to finally take control of the country in 2009 and 2018.
It is again the same system that made Lebanon become the third most indebted country of the planet after Japan and Italy in terms of debt to GDP with 85 Billion of public debt and a total inability by the Government to raise taxes, raise VAT, make the citizen pay for electricity or fight corruption.
Lebanon is today a derelict nation by the making of its own people and its own system.
And, by allowing the development of Hezbollah on its soil, it has put itself in a position where it has become the main obstacle to a global peace settlement in the Middle East.