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Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Continued Collapse of Islam

David Goldman writes in the Asia Times:
Egypt cannot achieve stability under a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood regime any more than it could under military dictatorship, because 60 years of sham modernization atop a pre-modern substratum have destroyed the country's capacity to function.

Turkey cannot solve its Kurdish problem today because the Kurds know that time is on their side: with a fertility three times that of ethnic Turks, Anatolian Kurds will comprise half the country's military-age population a generation from now.

Syria cannot solve its ethnic and religious civil conflicts because the only mechanism capable of suppressing them - a dictatorship by a religious minority - exhausted its capacity to do so.

Iraq's Shi'ite majority cannot govern in the face of Sunni opposition without leaning on Iran, leaving Iran with the option to destabilize and perhaps, eventually, to dismember the country.

And Iran cannot abandon or even postpone its nuclear ambitions, because the collapse of its currency on the black market during the past two weeks reminds its leaders that a rapidly-aging population and fast-depleting oil reserves will lead to an economic breakdown of a scale that no major country has suffered in the modern era.

When the future irrupts into the present, nations take existential risks. Iran will pursue nuclear ambitions that almost beg for military pre-emption; Egypt will pursue a provocative course of Islamist expansion that cuts off its sources of financial support at a moment of economic desperation; Syria's Alawites, Sunnis, Kurds and Druze will fight to bloody exhaustion; Iraq will veer towards a civil war exacerbated by outside actors; and Turkey will lash out in all directions. And in the West, idealists will be demoralized and realists will be confused, the former by the collapse of interest in deals, the latter by the refusal of all players in those countries to accept reality.
(Underline added). As to Iran, Goldman goes on to note:
Iran's only chance of survival lies in annexing oil-rich regions on its borders: Bahrain, Iraq's Basra province, parts of Azerbaijan, and ultimately Saudi Arabia's Shi'ite-majority Eastern Province. That is why Iran needs nuclear weapons.
 He also describes Turkey's slow collapse and the ascendency of the Kurds.
. . . The map of Anatolia eventually will be redrawn, and probably the adjacent maps of Syria, Iraq and Iran along with it.
Syria's Kurds have become the vanguard of Kurdish hopes for autonomy, raising the Kurdish national flag in Syrian border towns in sight of the Turkish army. Turkey's threat to intervene in Syria's civil war is a bluff. The country's 2 million Kurds are divided among 17 political parties; a minority is cooperating with the Iraq-based Kurdish Workers Party, the main guerilla organization harassing Turkish security forces. Turkish analysts perceive no immediate threat that Syria's Kurds will ally with the independence movement and attempt to establish an independent Kurdistan in the foreseeable future, as Mesut Cevikalp wrote in August. If Turkish troops entered Syria, the Kurds would unite against Turkey.
 Finally, he concludes that:
The bad news is that none of the major countries in the region can be kept from falling, and once fallen, they cannot be put back together again. The good news is that the bad news is not so bad. As long as the calamity is restricted to the region, and prospective malefactors are prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons, the impact on the rest of the world will be surprisingly small.

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