As old man 2013 wanders off into history, we would like to know what t baby 2014 will bring as he arrives New Year’s night. While I judiciously avoid speculation based on scripture, prophets, hear-say evangelists, and sooth-sayers that blow through town like a spring wind storm, these blogs reflect years of personal experience in the Middle East as well as reflections from relatives who taught or lived in the region. My responses are more in the realm of an analyst attempting to make sense out of what is often murky circumstances.
In that vein, here’s some meager prognostications for 2014. The following are my expectations for the year before us that I see in my crystal ball (once used for goldfish).
1. Don’t be surprised if General Sisi doesn’t wind up becoming the president of Egypt. Of course, this would be a return to the days of General Hosni Mubarki which is what most Egypt’s yearn for after years of chaos. The Moslem Brotherhood has been squashed and Sisi is now in the driver’ seat.
By the way, these projections do not necessarily reflect what I like, want, or might desire. They just seem to me to be the way the cards are falling.
2. The war between Sunnis and Shiites has been going on for over 1,500 years and just recently heated up again. Don’t expect it to subside or American foreign policy to figure out that the USA has gotten itself in the middle of their brawl.
For some inexplicable reasons, the State Department never seems to figure these issues out until a decade after the war is over.
3. The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will go nowhere.
For over 50 years the Palestinians have refused Israel’s right to exist. They won’t change. Moreover, Abbas can not make the Gaza strip part of any settlement because it is controlled by Hamas. In turn, Israel will not give up its security. Israel knows that if an Agreement is reached, terrorists (financed by Iran) may overrun the Palestinian Authority and quash the entire settlement.
The negotiations were forced because Secretary of State John Kerry had the financial leverage to get both sides to the table. Unfortunately, that’s about all he could do.
4. Don’t look for America to develop any comprehensive Middle East foreign policy.
Without a comprehensive strategy, America comes off looking opportunistic, grabbing at the best deal they can get at the moment. The Obama Administration’s piece-meal approach has not been successful and will probably have few successes in the near future. This lack of long range planning has promoted distrust in Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Iran and Syria already hate the U.S. (hate is a mild word for those two countries. Don’t look for much improvement.
Sorry. I’d be delighted to have a better sense of the future, but I don’t see the sun coming up when the blinds stay closed.
The Middle East has been full of surprises and I’m the first to recognize it could happen again. Remember NO ONE saw the Egyptian explosion coming. Keep your powder dry as 2014 comes in the front door.