Conflict in the Middle East will have consequences far beyond its borders, especially in Europe.
This is a very important article by Nicholas Blanford and can help us predict the future patterns of conflict in the region. The key quote in it for me, the one that explains how “geopolitical concerns” are understood by Iran’s leaders at this stage and, consequently, how other players are bound to understand them as swell, is this:
In February 2014, Mehdi Taeb, a senior Iranian cleric, underlined the importance of Syria to Iran in stark terms, saying it is a “strategic province for us.” “If the enemy attacks us and wants to take either Syria or [the Iranian province of] Khuzestan, the priority is to keep Syria,” he said. “If we keep Syria, we can get Khuzestan back too, but if we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran.”
A rare point of agreement between the critics and advocates of a deal with Iran starkly captures the nature of my own disaffection with it and with the current state of affairs in our world. The point simply put is this: the deal is being inked with Syrian, Iraqi and Yemeni blood.
The answer to the extremism prevalent in Muslim communities around the world will not come from any allegedly “enlightened” or “moderate” set of religious scholars, but from the average Muslims’ changing attitude towards religiosity. Historical precedents have indeed shown that the religious establishment has often to play catchup with the people in this matter. In the meantime, however, establishment figures, motivated by a variety of ideological and parochial considerations, will often lead the fight against modernization using the pulpits and whatever social, economic and political institutions under their control.
The author of this op-ed, Mr. Rich Ghazal, an ordained deacon in the Syriac Orthodox Church, makes some excellent points about the plight of the Middle East’s Christian communities, that is, until he gets to those two paragraphs that capture the real message that he and the IDC conference organizers wanted to deliver to President Obama and the American people at large: preserve the Assad regime.