BLOG 256 June 8, 2015
Not unlike World War I with its convoluted relationships and back room dealings, the wars in the Middle East have many ramifications that do not always appear on the surface. Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called on Russia to halt a planned delivery of the S-300 air-defense system to Iran. Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s position of the right to defend itself against any attack from Tehran indicating Israel would do whatever was necessary for its own security.
Writing for Reuters, Tovah Lazaroff reported that Netanyahu noted that in military parades every year Iran’s missiles were larger and more enhanced. However, one factor always remained the same. On the missiles was always written, “Death to Israel.” Israel continues to protest that in the West’s search for a halt to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, no one mentions Iranian aggression and involvement in the terrorist battles going on in Iraq and Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin claims the air-defense system does not endanger the Jewish State. (Who is he kidding?) At the same time, Putin warned Israel about any retaliatory action such as selling weapons to Ukraine. Putin had planned to deliver the S-300’s in 2010, but retreated under pressure from the U.S.. President Obama noted the current purposed delivery reflects the deteriorating strain on Russia’s economy because it would provide a substantial income.
Meanwhile, Iraqi struggles with the ISIS victories in Ramadi and Palmyra. Everyone from the U.S. State Department on down is now worried that Iraqi won’t be up to the task. In the battle for Tikrit and the surrounding villages, the Iraqi army presented itself well. However, even when there are such victories, the Iraqi government continues to face the daunting challenge of stabilizing Sunni-dominated areas and repopulating them without once again feeding the sectarian animosity that has been of substantial value to ISIS. The question always remains as to who will control recaptured area taken back from ISIS. Will it be Shiites or Sunnis?
While the West tends to be indifferent about such matters, the problem remains absolutely vital for any possibilities for peace in this area.
The fears of sectarian revenge killings is constant. In addition, the influence of Arab tribes inside Iraq remains a possible divisive element. For example, the Jabour tribe has historically been pro-government and resisted ISIS. They are one of a number of important tribes inside Iraq that have a bearing on how the fighting will go. Unfortunately, these tribes often violently disagree.
When the governor of Salahuddin Province announced that residents of Tikrit could return, he also noted that if even one member of a resident family had supported ISIS, the entire family would be barred from returning. The issue of collective punishment remains on the table.
Obviously, the Middle East situation remains almost hopelessly complex and muddled.
With Russia and Iran working against Saudi Arabia and Sunni-Shiite fighting continuing, any view of a possible solution remains clouded by the dust rising from the battlefield.
What’s next? Stay tuned.