Every Soul is captive
Of its own Deeds
– Qur’an 74:38
From late 2007 through 2010, the United States and its Israeli partner ruled the roost in the Middle East. It was the best of all worlds – for them. With that construct now shattered, they are trying desperately to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again. Sadly for them, their only tools are gorilla glue and prayer beads. Moreover, they are laboring without architectural design or engineering blueprints.
Let’s look back at that earlier structure so as to identify its sustaining features. That will serve as a point of reference for understanding why it collapsed with what implications for the hoped-for reconstruction. A main element was the clearing of the site of potential threats to American-Israeli dominance. Saddam Hussein, as leader of the Arab “rejection” bloc, had been violently removed from the scene and his regime uprooted. Al-Qaeda was hanging on by its fingertips in the high ridges of the Hindu Kush unable to strike any serious blows at America or its friends. The Palestinians had been neutered. Abba’s PLO had been coopted through seduction and intimidation to the point where it was little more than a Quisling auxiliary to Israeli occupational rule. Hamas in the Gaza was thoroughly isolated physically and diplomatically while subject to periodic muggings by the IDF which served to remind them who ran the ‘hood. The mullahs’ Iran had been ostracized by the world community thanks to some deft American diplomacy that turned the equivalent of a traffic misdemeanor into a grievous felony which allowed for the infliction of punishing sanctions.
As to Iraq, the chaotic conditions created by the American invasion and occupation that was marked by bloody sectarian violence seemed to have calmed enough to encourage hopes in ever optimistic Washington that the country would gain a measure of stability – under American guidance. Officials looked forward to maintaining a dominant influence via a somewhat pliable al-Maliki, ‘advisers’ placed in key positions of the civilian and military establishments, and a Status of Forces Agreement intended to keep in place a considerable mix of Special Forces, airbases, and trainers.
Meanwhile, the tacit coalition committed to enforcing the status quo across the Middle East was intact. It joined the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf dependents, Egypt and Jordan in a modern day counterpart to the Concert of Europe.