osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,
osewalrus
osewalrus

Bad Vibe on Mideast

The worst war is the one no one really wants, because it is so hard to stop. If someone wants a war, there are ways to convince them that war is too expensive and there are other ways to get to a more cost-effective end. But when war happens by accident, it is damn difficult to stop.

We have a situation emerging where missteps are extremely easy to make. Turkey is flush with cash and eager to demonstrate its power to the region. Egypt and Jordan are disorganized. Syria needs a distraction. The Palestinians are frustrated and preparing to declare themselves sovereign.

I do not believe any government (including Hamas or PA) actually wants an all out war. It would be incredibly costly and destructive no matter who won. Hamas and PA saw that they lose too many people and lose too much economic ground in a real war. Neighboring governments worry about spill over and impact on their own restive populations if they win or lose. Turkey does not want to upset its current economic success by frightening off regional investment.

But each government believes it can dance close to war to achieve its ends. It was this sort of miscalculation in 2002, 2006 and 2008 that triggered massive Israeli response. Because no one outside of Israel really understands just how deep fear in Israel runs. Certainly not the relevant players in the Middle East, because they perceive Israel as strong.

It is not hard to imagine a scenario in which the PA declares sovereignty, Syria moves to support PA militarily, and Egypt and Turkey (followed eventually by the rest of the Arab League) find themselves jumping in for their own reasons. The expectation would be to attempt to force concessions, possibly even recognition. It is hard to imagine, however, what prevents such a scenario from rapidly spinning out of control.

Hopefully, the relevant governments back down before the flashpoint.
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