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Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's Raining Shoes

In the old expression, we always waited for the other shoe to drop.  At the moment, in the Middle East, so much is happening that it seems to be raining shoes.  Just look at recent events:

1.  The Saudis have begun air strikes against the positions of the Shiite rebel Houthi group in Yemen.  The Saudis will not allow the Iranian backed Houthis to take control of Yemen (which has a Sunni majority.)

2.  Today we learned that there will be a joint Egyptian and Saudi ground force sent to Yemen to fight the Houthis.  Both the Saudi and Egyptian armed forces ought to be more than a match for the Houthis.

3.  Iran has yet to respond to the Egyptian and Saudi moves.  Basically, Teheran is facing the choice of abandoning the Houthis to a loss to the Egyptian/Saudi forces, getting involved directly by attacking the Saudis, or getting involved indirectly by sending proxy forces to fight in Yemen.  There really are no meaningful proxy forces available to the Iranians, so their choice boils down to one of the first two above.

4.  Meanwhile, AP is reporting that part of the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran will permit the Iranians to have up to 6000 centrifuges operating in their underground bunker at Fordow.  This is a major defeat for president Obama.  Originally, the US position was the Fordow had to be closed.  Then the Iranians proposed that Fordow could be kept open but it would only be a research facility.  Now, at the last minute, that concession by Iran has been withdrawn and the US is going along with the move in order to get an agreement.  Fordow is a huge underground facility, much like NORAD headquarters built under a mountain.  If Iran has all its centrifuges in Fordow, they will be immune from air attack.  Any move to take out the facility (should Iran try to build a bomb and some country decide to respond) would require large scale ground forces in addition to air support.  Obama is agreeing to let Iran have an impregnable fortress for its nuclear program. 

5.  In Iraq, American planes are attacking ISIS in Tikrit.  In a laughable move, the US insisted that the Shiite militias under Iranian control move out of the city before American forces would get involved.  The Shiites are just outside the city now with Iraqi army forces facing the ISIS forces inside Tikrit.  If American planes drive ISIS back, there is no doubt that the Shiite militias will immediately rejoin the battle and take control of much of Tikrit.

There are more things, but these five should be enough to demonstrate that we are watching a major sea change in the Middle East.  Amazingly, the USA under Obama is now appearing to take sides in a Shiite - Sunni fight by aligning American interests with those of the Shiite Iran.  Obama has managed to ally the USA with its most serious enemy in the region.  Of course, as Obama says "let's be friends," the Iranians say "Death to America!"

There has long been a "realism" school of thought in international relations.  What we are witnessing with Obama, however, is the birth of a new doctrine called "national delusional thinking."


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