Photo: EPA
Obama and Putin. Established the ‘coalition of skeptics’
Photo: EPA

Ideological coalition of the willing

Op-ed: If the US mainstream right wants to get America back on track, it can rely on Israel, Turkey and Arab states to form a 'Jewish- Protestant-Sunni alliance’ in the face of the ‘Shiite- Orthodox-US leftist alliance.’

At first glance, it seems that what differentiates Sunni majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Israel and America’s Protestant right-wing is much more than what bonds them. But the challenges imposed by the regional and international changes show more than ever up to what extent a sort of "Coalition of the Willing Ideologists" could contribute to adjust the situation in the MENA, in specific, and the world, in general.



In fact, for Gulf states (apart from Oman), Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Israel and the American Protestant right-wing, there are certainly common points of convergence on various issues. Firstly, it is the threat of the Iranian expansion. Iranians and their allies in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria do not hide their enmity to Israel and their desire to destroy it. They hold a similar level of grudge towards Sunni Arabs and Turks, and somewhat Sunni Kurds, especially those in Iraq.


US President-elect Donald Trump. It is crucial that the conservative American right-wing acts swiftly to restore US leverage in the region after Obama left it for the Russians, Iranians and the minorities allied with them (Photo: AP)
US President-elect Donald Trump. It is crucial that the conservative American right-wing acts swiftly to restore US leverage in the region after Obama left it for the Russians, Iranians and the minorities allied with them (Photo: AP)


Tehran acts as if it is the master of the region. Iraq, for example, had a chance to transform into an American sanctuary, but instead Iran exploited the chaos there and managed to pull it into its orbit. What was previously referred to as “the guardian of the Eastern gate” has become the Achilles' heel to the Arab states of the Gulf due to Iran’s dominance, as the Baghdad-backed People's Mobilization Forces are eventually turning into an Iraqi version of the Revolutionary Guard that want to wipe Israel off the map. And even though the current Iraqi government, which shares the same religious background with Hezbollah, does not enjoy warm relations with the Palestinians, this does not mean it would not use them as a tool against Israel if asked to do so by Tehran in future.


The Russians too have warmed up to Baghdad and offered, more than once, to increase their military and intelligence support under the excuse of combating terrorism that would end up displacing Sunnis from their hometowns.


In Yemen, Iran seeks to achieve two goals from spreading turmoil through its support of the armed Houthi movement: Making the country a crossing point to the Horn of Africa, on one side, and causing trouble along the southern and eastern borders of Saudi Arabia, where Shiites and Ismailis live, on the other.


Iran's allies in Yemen, the Houthis, raise the slogan "Death to Jews and America,” in conformity with Iraqi militias' rhetoric. In its turn, Moscow has blocked a UN resolution condemning the Houthis’ policies and did not hesitate in backing the Iranian intervention while opposing the Saudi-led operations there.


As for Syria, Tehran is trying to establish a Syrian version of Hezbollah right next to Golan and became the decision-maker in Damascus, previously called the capital of the Sunni Umayyad Caliphate, while Shiite militia are spread along Israel's borders in the south and Turkey's in the north.


With Russia's support, Iranians are trying to go ahead with what their Shiite faith describes as a "Judgment Day" scenario by accelerating the destruction of Aleppo near Turkish borders where they believe an apocalyptic sacred battle will break out between the armies of Mahdi (forces of good) and the “False Messiah” (forces of evil). In 2012, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that some countries in the region (hitting on the Gulf Arab states and Turkey) want to establish Sunni rule in Syria. It is no secret that the Kremlin, and the Assad family, represent themselves as "protectors of minorities" in the Middle East, especially Eastern Christianity.


Russia’s involvement in Syria is more barefaced; it has established a naval base and intervened militarily with a daily cost of $3 million, not mentioning the four vetoes in favor of the Syrian regime. To emphasize more on the importance of the "holy war" in Syria, Russian media frequently run photos of priests blessing weaponry, including war planes, while Orthodox chaplains are embedded in most military units, at a time when the church’s dominance in Russian politics is increasingly growing.


The formation of a front, or at least mutual cooperation, between Israel, Turkey and Arab states, which includes backing armed Arab and Kurdish groups while taking into consideration the fears of Ankara and Kurdish ambitions, will definitely strike a blow to the Iranian-Russian project which draws its support from the collusion of America's left. This would reflect clearly on politics in Lebanon, where it has become evident that Hezbollah's dominance, powered by 100,000 missiles that can reach central Israel, has crystallized.


The terrorist militia has developed into a state above the state and not just a state within a state. For Sunnis, feelings of marginalization and humiliation prevail due to Hezbollah's influence as the sole weapon-bearer amid an absence of necessary Arab support that is nowhere near that which the Iranians are providing to Lebanon's Shiites. Tehran has succeeded in placing Lebanon in its grip through Iraq and Syria – both ruled by pro-Iran regimes. The Russians were also always reluctant to denounce Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and constantly sent envoys to meet the movement’s leaders, considering it part of the legitimate political spectrum, unlike Arab states and Turkey which have a long history of feud with it.


Israel cannot trust a regime ideologically built on hiding intentions (the Shiite Taqiya). Iranians are seeking to build a regional super power which strongly believes in an "end of the world" ideology that can be achieved through destroying foes. This power will definitely be a rival to Israel, if not an imminent threat, even if the "end of the world" scenario is to be eliminated. Tehran's goal is to expand in the MENA region and to get a hold onto the straits of Hormuz and Bab-el-Mandeb, through which more than quarter of world's oil trade passes, in addition to the Red Sea where Suez Canal exists and through which around 10% of world trade passes. Meanwhile, its ally Moscow will continue to control the Mediterranean Sea from western Syria, stronghold of the Alawites who are a branch of Shia and the Assad family's sect.


Undoubtedly, Amman does not look with ease at Iran's activities in the region. Rabat, in its turn, severed relations with Iran in 2009 accusing it of interfering in its internal affairs despite the fact that the country is long-distance from the potential Iranian sphere of influence. For Cairo, relations cannot be normalized and bare a record of suspicion. Those three countries (Egypt, Jordan and Morocco) enjoy at the same time good relations with Israel that include trade deals, political coordination or diplomatic recognition. They are also the MENA region’s closest to Gulf countries, while their relations with Ankara is not bad, except for an unsubstantial and changeable Turkish-Egyptian tension.


Peace with Palestinians will be more realistic

Ties between Turkey and some Gulf Arab members have significantly improved, and the recent resignation of the Saudi secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Iyad Madani, after angering the Egyptian government proves that relations between Cairo and Riyadh are untouchable. Moreover, the $10 billion gas deal signed between Israel's Leviathan and Jordan's NEPCO can be also seen as a vital step in the context of the alliance-to-be.


Another motive that could prompt such a coalition is the fight against Sunni terrorism and radicalism. Not only does this factor represent a danger to Israel, the United States, Turkey and Sunni Arab states, but it also poses a challenge to their societies, particularly the Sunni ones. It seizes these societies as hostage and contributes to the breakup of their structure and prevents them from liberating their way of thought to proceed with development and interact with the rest of the world.


Furthermore, its contest with Shiite terrorism to accelerate the "Judgment Day" scenario generates more instability factors and direct threats to the security of the region. Sunni terrorism which brands societies as “infidel” still finds some sympathizers among them. And thus, the delay in seriously combating it will lead to the recruitment of more militants. It has spread in many areas, including in the West Bank and Gaza strip, posing as an obstacle to peace and encouraging extremism and rejection of others.


In a simple calculation, the outcomes of the current futile approach by the "coalition of skeptics" established by Barack Obama’s administration and Russia in fighting this

terrorism while ignoring its Shiite counterpart are evidently feeble if compared with the potentialities of a given alliance between a resolute right-wing administration at the White House led by Donald Trump with Israel, Turkey and Arab states.


The third meeting point is one which America’s right-wing should administer. For eight years, Obama's policies resulted in a retreat of the United States’ world prestige. There is a general feeling among Washington's allies in the Middle East that it had abandoned them at a crucial time and that they were left to face their fate alone after it opened the doors for Iran. Israel is no longer the favorite ally it used to be. Differences between leaders of both countries have become roofless. The new defense aid agreement was disappointing in some of its provisions in terms of commitment to Israel's security. For Washington, the MENA region should always remain at the center of its focus, not just for the sake of energy sources and Israel's security, but because it has moral obligations and political duties it must fulfill as a superpower.


Obama has adhered to a barefaced leftist ideology that tends to be allied with a "disciplined and centrally-directed Shiite terrorism,” according to his advisors and to what he personally hinted months ago. Turkey, Israel and Arab states did not hide their discontent from Obama's lenient policy towards Tehran, which has gone as far as transforming the National Iranian American Council into a sort of Iranian lobby in Washington, noting that NIAC endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.


Even Saudi Arabia started to feel targeted by the American left and that Quincy Pact is now part of the past. But today, this pact can be replaced with another one between countries of the region, especially that its, economic and military potentialities and spiritual stature can contribute a lot to achieving peace and prosperity and defend these countries' vital interests, only after trimming Russia and Iran's nails and those of their allies, with the support of a serious American administration determined to restore a bit of stability in MENA. The American mainstream left, which has big influence over the media, seems to be okay with the Obama Doctrine which leaves the region for the Iranians and does not believe in America's values.


Four Arab countries have fallen into Tehran's hands (Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen). This will change if the "Coalition of the Willing Ideologists" is declared, noting that four Gulf states sit on 40% of the world's sovereign wealth. The growing Russian influence in MENA is a threat to US national interests. Some Gulf states, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and even Lebanese politicians had to head towards Moscow asking for help and solutions after feeling disappointed by the outgoing Obama's administration.


Thus, it is crucial that the conservative American right-wing acts swiftly to restore US leverage in the region after Obama left it for the Russians, Iranians and the minorities allied with them, which resulted in the current turmoil. And if the US mainstream right-wing wants to get America back on track, it can rely on Israel, Turkey and Arab states to form a "Jewish- Protestant- Sunni alliance" in the face of the "Shiite- Orthodox- US leftist alliance.” Those countries have many strategic well-rooted common points whether political, economic, historical, security-wise, or even ideological.


This alliance should not necessarily be a catholic marriage, nor a marriage of interests with no feelings. Logically, it bears different points of view and contradictions mingled with decades of distrust; but they are surmountable. Thanks to such a coalition, peace with Palestinians will be more realistic, because the alliance's umbrella will eventually convince them to start negotiations, and lead the Arab states and Turkey to bridle those who reject peace like Hamas. Therefore, the ball is in the Palestinians' court to look at the bigger picture and comprehend the enormous changes in the region, in order to move from the narrow "national concept" into the broader ideological one: Being part of the Sunni population.


Reaching a compromise on Jerusalem will allow Riyadh to broaden its Islamic influence at a time when Iran is seeking to control energy sources and sacred sites in Mecca and Medina and place them under a Shiite protection. Iran has gone as far as openly inciting Shiite communities in Gulf countries to revolt against their rulers, which means that Tehran poses an existential threat to states of the region. With time, it will become a threat to the whole world. And its nuclear ambitions mean that it

did not fold the page of wiping Israel off the map.


Late Israeli president Shimon Peres can rest in peace when the New Middle East project is revived. And as peace hopes during the mid-1990s were the motive for this quest; the interests, security and future of MENA countries require them today, with the support of America's right, to overcome their differences and adjust to the new developments to confront the risks brought by Sunni and Shiite terrorism and the regressive left in US.


Rauf Baker is a journalist and researcher specializing in Middle Eastern and European affairs.


פרסום ראשון: 11.25.16, 23:35
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