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If a war begins in the neighborhood of the Persian Gulf, it will likely have less to do with a slugging match between Israel and Iran, than a simmering Sunni-Shiite war that is about to flare up into regional violence through a combination of factors dating back decades and recent events in the region.
The rise of a fanatically violent Shiite Islamist state has done more to destabilize the region than anything else. As much as Sunni Arabs prattle on about Zionist conspiracies, a few million Jews sandwiched in a narrow strip of land against the Mediterranean are no threat to them. But a rival version of Islam that is spearhead by a non-Arab ethnic group and placed at the service of a powerful military machine and an oil economy is what keeps them up at night.
The fall of Saddam put Iraq up for grabs and raised the prospect of a Shiite superstate with a vast military and massive oil reserves. It also tipped Syria and its leftover Baath Party run by a variant Shiite sect directly into Tehran’s paws. Add nuclear weapons to the Iran-Iraq-Syria trinity and you are looking at the worst nightmare of every Sunni Arab prince living in polished oil mansions near what he still insists on calling the Arabian Gulf.
A Shiite superstate will checkmate the Sunni oil monarchies and leave them no choice but to beg America to garrison them with so many troops, air bases and nuclear missiles that they might as well be the 51′st through 59th states. Using foreign soldiers to protect themselves isn’t all that objectionable to the fat lazy oil monarchies who already use armies of foreigners to do everything for them. But the American troops who saved the Saudis and Kuwaitis from Saddam also gave Bin Laden a pretext for turning the conflict on its axis.
The Gulf Sunni Arab princelings know that a massive infusion of American troops will bring out more Bin Ladens, and even the American military hierarchy which knows to salaam to the princes will lose patience fast when the Khobar Towers bombing repeats itself enough times. Americans fighting their own people will quickly turn their countries into another Afghanistan. On top of that the Americans won’t stay there forever.
The Gulfies could develop competent armies, but no Muslim state trusts its own military. If all those billions and billions in state of the art American military equipment were put into the hands of competent generals, instead of the cousins and nephews of the royal family, then very shortly the generals would be running the country. And even if they could trust the generals, the locals have no reliable military tradition except as caravan raiders and have gotten a little too used to the good life to fight for any other reason than an outburst of Koranic fanaticism by the third son of the family.
The Persians have a long proud military tradition. The Egyptians and the Syrians picked up something from their European colonizers. But the Gulfies are not good for much except beating their Filipino maids and getting high on hashish and blowing themselves up to get to paradise. The Iranian military even in its current state would clean their clocks faster than you could say, Alakazam and they know it.
What the Gulfies lack in military skills, they more than make up for in underhanded cunning. If they can’t import an infidel army and they can’t build their own army, then they will follow the honorable tradition of finding a counterbalance to the enemy. The Gulfies have been nurturing the Muslim Brotherhood and funding Al-Jazeera. Combine the two with an American administration eager to win over the Muslim world by reforming American foreign policy and the Gulfies got their own Arab Spring.
The real purpose of the Arab Spring was to create a Sunni Islamist superstate or regional alliance to counter the threat of a Shiite Islamist superstate. With the Muslim Brotherhood sweeping across North Africa all the way to Egypt, the harvest includes semi-secular states with competent armies and if Syria can be tipped into that camp, then Iran will lose its puppet and the Sunni superstate will have a military tipped with top of the line American and Russian equipment, funded by Gulfie oil money and backed by the lunatic fanaticism of Islamist fighters.
With America in decline, the Gulfies touched off the Arab Spring to create Janissary armies, but this time composed of devout Muslims, to keep the Shiites at bay. Iran pushed back contesting Saudi influenced territory in Bahrain and the Emir of Qatar is demanding that his slaves in Washington get cracking and “liberate” Syria for membership in the Sunni Caliphate.
That just leaves one wild card. Not Libya, which has been swung into the Sunni Islamist camp the hard way with NATO jets and Libyan Islamic Fighting Group terrorists. Not Turkey, which has repressed the last of its secular military, and is now pushing for Sunni regime change in Syria. The regional wild card is the only non-Muslim state in the area. Israel.
The theological relationship of Sunni and Shiite Islamists to Israel is murderous. The ascendance of Mohammed and the triumph of his Caliph successors was supposed to put an end to an independent Jewish existence. The triumph of Islam was directly measured through the subjugation of Christians and Jews. As the more apocalyptic of the duo, the Shiites would like to wipe Israel out to showcase their own private little armageddon. Turning the Jewish state into dust, or at least its inhabitants, would help lock in their case to being the rightful successors of their genocidal prophet who had purged the Jews from his part of the desert.
The Sunnis tend to be more patient. They want Israel gone, but they also recognize it as a valuable pawn in their own games. Rather than being a disruptive influence on the region, like Iran, it’s a unifying force that gives Muslims a common enemy and a common aspiration. Israel is a theological enemy, but useful in practice. And whatever happens they cannot allow the Shiites to wipe it out. Like comic book supervillains, they have to be the one to kill the superhero or their existence is meaningless.
Whoever is blowing up Iranian nuclear scientists and facilities, it isn’t likely to be roving teams of Mossad agents, most likely it’s Iran’s own internal divisions being exploited by some combination of Western intelligence, Israeli intelligence and the intermediaries between the local Iranian opponents of the regime carrying out the attacks and foreign intelligence agencies who are almost certainly Iran’s own neighbors.
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