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The great unraveling of Middle East nation-states
Jan 6th, 2014 by Warren Swil

National governments

are becoming

increasingly irrelevant

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki effectively governs less and less of his “country’s” territory.

Blog note: Due to recent relevant events, this post has temporarily been rescued from the archives.

RECENT EVENTS in Iraq and its neighbors have once again put the focus on the diminishing role of nation states in the turbulent region.
Sunni rebels said to be supported by Al Qaida have all but taken control of Iraq’s western Anbar province, with sectarian strife now spreading eastwards from Syria across the two countries’ long, porous border.
The same organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (the Levant), keeps appearing in reports of clashes in both countries and in Lebanon, already reeling from a massive influx of Syrian refugees.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad now effectively governs only a tiny sliver of territory. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki seems to be heading in the same direction – with diminishing amounts of territory under his government’s control.
What role – if any – is left for these central governments?


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Obama’s choice of diplomacy over war carries grave risk

PERCEPTION OF US STENGTH AS ALLY IN MIDDLE EAST SUFFERS AGAIN
The deal with Iran over its nuclear ambitions overshadowed, for most part, the Monday announcement that a new attempt would be made to convene peace talks on Syria.
But the two are inextricably intertwined.
President Obama has pivoted away from belligerence and that is admirable. But the cost to America’s ability to influence events in the turbulent Middle East is still unfolding.
With the response in Jerusalem and Riyadh, it has seemingly suffered another decline.


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Syria conflict morphs into proxy war for outsiders

TANGLED WEB ENSNARES FIGHTERS FROM MANY COUNTRIES
It is becoming increasingly clear that the conflict in Syria can no longer be seen purely as a civil war, and its effects are dramatically spilling over into neighboring countries.
What seems to be emerging is an alignment of combatants with either the Shiite regime in Iran or the Sunnis in Saudi Arabia, both of which have deep pockets and the willingness to spend vast sums to further their disparate goals.
The Syrian battlefield is becoming a war-by-proxy between the region’s two most powerful players.


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New developments imperil Iran nuclear talks

ISRAEL, SAUDI COOPERATION COMPLICATES CHANCE OF DEAL
With negotiations set to resume in Geneva on Wednesday over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, ominous developments mostly behind the scenes have enormously complicated any chances of a settlement.
The current compromise has the potential to divide America from some of its staunchest allies in the Middle East, and needs to be approached with extreme caution in case it backfires in ways not yet imagined that could change the balance of terror in the volatile region and actually increase the chance of a nuclear conflict.


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US foreign policy stalled on many fronts

INITIATIVES THREATENED BY DOMESTIC, FOREIGN OPPOSITION
Top of the agenda American foreign policy initiatives are, at best, stalled. At worst, they are threatened by opposition both at home and abroad.`
To anyone following these different threads, it is quite apparent that American foreign policy is embattled on many fronts.
It is emblematic of the problems the US faces in trying to influence events all over the world in the face of its declining willingness to go to the mat over issues of vital national interest.
It remains to be seen if any of these stalled initiatives can be turned around.


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BOMBSHELL: Saudi Arabia could get nukes before Iran

BBC REPORTS ATOMIC WEAPONS READY FOR SHIPPING FROM PAKISTAN
In a stunning development that could change the balance of terror in the Middle East – and the world – it was reported that Saudi Arabia might be able to get atomic weapons before Iran.
While this development has drawn little attention in the U.S., it has received considerable play abroad, especially in Israel.
A Saudi Arabia with immediate access to atomic weapons would enormously complicate the delicate balance of terror in the Middle East and the world. It is a game changer, and deserves far more attention.


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SYRIA CRISIS: As violence spirals, solution seems elusive

COMPLEXITY DEFIES ATTEMPTS TO START PEACE PROCESS
As the violence in Syria continues to spiral out of control, attempts to begin a process to end it are stumbling.
But the complexity cannot be an excuse to not try.
After the disastrous and costly nation-building misadventures of the Bush/Cheney years in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US electorate is weary of war.
But sitting on the sidelines while the Middle East implodes is not an option. The US is the only country with the resources and means to play a leading role in solving this seemingly intractable problem.
Unequivocally, it must do so.


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GENEVA TALKS: More than just about Iran, Syria

‘ARC OF INSTABILITY’ POSES GLOBAL THREAT, HUMANITARIAN CRISES
The two sets of vital international talks under way in Geneva may seem to have little in common, but that is a misperception.
Their commonality is that their model of governance is obsolete.
It is the same story, repeated over and over again in an ARC OF INSTABILITY stretching around the southern and eastern edges of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Geneva conferences are too narrow in their scope. Some imagination is needed to start work on a global solution.
It’s not just about weapons of mass destruction. It’s about massive destruction of modern nation states with global implications for our interconnected societies. The world must wake up.


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IRAN: Historic gambit at start of Geneva talks

BUT MAIN PLAYER – ISRAEL – IS ABSENT AND WORRIED
The Iranian government on Tuesday presented an historic proposal to end the decade-long standoff over its nuclear weapons ambitions.
But as the West engages with the rogue regime in Iran, it cannot ignore the interests of the nation with the most at stake.
The Israelis have to be heard because they have the means – and the will – to do something about it if they perceive the talks are a waste of time.
The question is, how much time will they wait?


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As US clout wanes in Middle East, threats mount (with video)

ISRAEL WEIGHS ATTACK IF IRAN DOESN’T HALT NUKE PROGRAM
For months, Israeli officials and media have been warning that Iran is on the threshold of attaining a nuclear capability.
It is no surprise that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is keeping all his options on the table. The only question remains how long Israeli patience will last. If diplomacy drags on for too long, an Israeli strike against Iran becomes ever more likely.
That would be a development with unknown but serious global repercussions.


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