The New Middle East's New Problems

(Project Syndicate) Joschka Fischer - The political epicenter of the Middle East has shifted from the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians toward the Persian Gulf and the struggle for regional mastery between Iran on one side and Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and now Egypt on the other. In the emerging struggle between the region's Shia and Sunni powers, the old Middle East conflict has become a sideshow. Syria is where the battle for regional hegemony will largely be decided. When the Assad regime does fall, it will be a major defeat for Iran, not only entailing the loss of its main Arab ally, but also jeopardizing the position of its client, Hizbullah, in Lebanon. While the weakening and rollback of Iran serves Israeli strategic interests, Israel will have to reckon with Sunni Islamist power everywhere in its vicinity, leading directly to a strengthening of Hamas. Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood reject territorial compromise because, for them, a Palestinian state means a Palestine that incorporates all of Israel. The territorial question has morphed into a religious one, and has thus fundamentally redefined the conflict. The writer was German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor during 1998-2005.

2012-12-04 00:00:00

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