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.
Last week was full of events, on the military front, on the macro-economic front and on the earnings front.
We are exploring their implications below.
Incoherent Western Policies ?
Last Friday’s harmless missile attack on Syria following Bashar El-Assad’s use of Chemical weapons in Douma on April 7th 2018 created a lot of volatility in the financial markets but did not achieve much, apart from demonstrating Russia’s hold of the Middle Eastern Scene and the unwillingness of the West to confront Russia, Iran and Bashar El Assad.
If anything, it has re-inforced the standing of Bashar El-Assad with its own people.
What is striking is that the West’s policies in the Middle East have been truly incoherent !
In 2003, and for no other reasons than an ego trip of G.W.Bush, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was toppled on the basis of fake Weapons of Mass Destructions, leading to the destruction of Iraq and the encroachment of Iran in this Shia majority country.
Granted, Saddam was a dictator and a tyrant, but apart from that common feature of most leaders in the Arab world, he had no international agenda and his country was largely at peace.
In 2011, Moammar Gaddafi was toppled by a French-British coalition justified by the Lockerbie airplane bomb, more than a decade earlier. There again, Gaddafi was a dictator and a tyrant, but he had no international agenda and his people were actually leaving peacefully, if not comfortably.
Today, faced with one of the worst war criminal of the past 60 years, the remaining in power of which has led to a 7-years civil war, 300’000 deaths and the displacement of millions of refugees, the complete destruction of entire cities such as Homs and Hama and of multi-secular historical sites, the freeing of thousands of Islamic radicals who then created DAESCH and attacked the West and the systematic bombing of its own population using his air force and chemical weapons,
the USA, France and the UK just sent a few missiles and warned the Russians and the Syrians of where they were going to land…
We argued several times that the episode was nothing more than China asserting its geo-political leadership over Western Asia and that the US had no choice but to pass the leadership baton on to the Empire of the Middle.
The opening of talks between the two Koreas during the current PyeongChang Olympic games confirm that China has taken the lead and that the Korean crisis will be solved in a peaceful manner through direct talks between the two Koreas.
The agreement of China to the deployment of US THAAD missile defense system in South Korea was nothing more than China giving South Korea the guarantees that its sovereignty and political system would not be harmed, in exchange for a more cooperative handling of the North Korean needed evolution.
The Korean crisis is probably a thing of the past, despite the lip service of the US towards more economic sanctions, and the most likely outcome is a gradual evolution of the North Korean regime and economy in cooperation with South Korea.
But the real issue at hand, and one that could make 2018 a significant milestone in history, is the increasing likelihood of an all-out war in the Middle East.
As our readers know, we are based in Beirut, Lebanon and have been monitoring the dynamics at play in the Middle East for several years now.
The events that have unfolded since last summer, the eradication of DAESH, the probable end to the Syrian conflict, the resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad AL HARIRI from Saudi Arabia in November 2017, the intervention of Turkey’s military in Syria and the direct military confrontation between Syrian-Iranian forces in Syria and Israel’s Air Force only last week paint a picture that reveals very strong dynamics at play, the outcome of which are alarming, to say the least.
But before delving into the analysis of the multiple dynamics at play, we must highlight the heightened state of tension reached in the past few days between Iran and Israel by reproducing extracts of articles published by REUTERS following Sunday’s Munich Security Conference where Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu threatened to act not only against Iran’s allies in the Middle East but against Iran itself.
“Israel will not allow the regime to put a noose of terror around our neck,” he said. “We will act if necessary not just against Iran’s proxies but against Iran itself.”
Netanyahu said that Iran and its allies were surging into Syria, “trying to establish this continuous empire surrounding the Middle East from the south in Yemen but also trying to create a land bridge from Iran to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza.”
Netanyahu described Iran’s aggression as “the greatest threat to our world” and warned that Israel would resist it.
One thing is for sure though, even if no one knows what were the motives behind the Iranian-Syrian forces decision to send drones flying 35 km into Israeli territory; if one of the pilots of the Israeli F-16 that was shot down by Syria’s air defense system has landed in Syria or Lebanon, the war would have already begun.
As a retaliation, Israel’s Air Force destroyed 50 % of Syria’s air defense systems according to military sources.
But Iran and Syria tout the shooting down of an Israeli F-16 as a major victory and the “crumbling” of Israel supposed military invincibility.
“What has happened in the past several days is the so-called invincibility (of Israel) has crumbled,” Iran’s Foreign Affairs minister Zarif, who addressed the conference hours after Netanyahu, said, referring to the downing of the Israeli F-16, which crashed in northern Israel after a strike on Syrian air defenses on February 10th 2018.
What transpires from the various discourses of the Iranian, Syrian, and Hezbollah parts is that the Iranian- Syrian-Hezbollah axis’ claim to have restored an efficient resistance to Zionism is starting to be demonstrated militarily.
Israel was not the only country to denounce Iran’s expansionary views at the Munich conference. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir, addressing the event later Sunday, said Iran needs to pay a price for its “aggressive behavior.” Without mentioning Israel, Al Jubeir accused Iran of regional expansionism and a long history of supporting terrorism. “There has to be a fundamental change in the Iranian regime for Iran to be treated as a normal country.” he said.
It would be foolish and childish to assume that these are only wars of words.
Military action has started and public opinions are being prepared for further confrontation.
But What Are the True Dynamics at Play?
Geopolitics, like physics, are about dynamics, and multi-layered dynamics are always at the heart of confrontations.
Wars are never the result of one event in particular but the consequences of particular events happening within the context of powerful dynamics leaving no choices but to resort to war.
No one wants war, but wars do happen because for both sides there is no other solution….
Dynamic # 1: The End of Radical Islam