The New, New Middle East

[Weekly Standard] Duncan Currie - Israel now has more "friends among [its] enemies than ever before," says Tel Aviv University historian Paul Liptz. The region's most salient fissure, he believes, divides the "status quo" forces (such as Egypt and Jordan) from those of radicalism and revolution (such as Iran and Hizbullah). An Israeli security source carves the Middle East into two groups: a "radical" camp (Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, and Hamas) and a "moderate" camp (including Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia). Notice that the "moderates" are all Sunni Arab autocracies, who fear not only a nuclear-armed Persian Iran but also an Iranian-led "Shiite crescent" that might dominate the region. Today, the Bush administration distinguishes less between "democrats" and "dictators" and more between "moderates" and "extremists" - as do the Israelis. Both see Iran as the overriding menace to world peace, whether through its patronage of Hizbullah and Hamas, its meddling in Iraq, or its pursuit of nukes, the last of which presents an existential threat to the Jewish state. Preventing a nuclear Iran seems to be the order of the day.

2007-02-02 01:00:00

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