We may as well write one summary of the different threats to war and actual wars in an all-in-one article. Apparently the Iran negotiations appear to have the most dire predictions of which business as usual is probably the biggest threat of them all. Thus far no final agreement appears to be on the horizon and would have been out of the question and all the sanctions and potentially more would be the current business as usual. It is abundantly obvious that United States President Obama and his Secretary of State Kerry are willing to roll over and accept whatever crumbs the Iranians will permit them and still pronounce the ‘it’s not a treaty it’s a Presidential arms agreement’ treaty, the peace in our time agreement which has Secretary Kerry’s and Iran Foreign Minister Zarif’s signatures on it promising that there will be no unnecessary or over hostile acts by the Iranian government and their work (not that there was any) towards the production of nuclear weapons for ten years, as a momentous diplomatic agreement which will place Iran on the road to international acceptance and into the world of nations. The signs that there will be an agreement, not treaty, completed by the deadline, or a few days, months, years later after more serious negotiations, of the end of June with a potential aligning ceremony in the Oval Office on the Fourth of July which will just be further evidence of the importance of the reaching an accord. Then there are the assurances and uncertainties all depending on your source as to whether or not the deal in progress is an advantageous or detrimental agreement with the numbers of sceptics steadily appearing to increase the closer we all get to an agreement. The only assurances we have is that this agreement will be beneficial to all and that the people telling us this belong to one of two groups, those reporting about the particulars that even the negotiators admit is uncertain if the agreement will encompass said assurance or are part of the providers of information who are attempting to make any agreement a positive no matter how many half-truths and outright-lies they have to shovel to a swarm of ever hungry media swarm all in an effort to further President Obama’s second greatest achievement in office after Obamacare. Such a comparison alone should worry even the greatest supporters of the President and this deal.
So, what can we know for sure? For one, it is that the sanctions will be lifted, all of them, or as many as President Obama can humanly bring to an end. This has been made evident through encouragements given to many leaders of industry, particularly the oil and gas industry. It has been reported that the White House has encouraged the chief executives of the Dutch Shell company, Total of France, Italy’s Eni and Lukoil of Russia to initiate talks to normalize and expand the Iranian energy sector of their economy. There have been signals, mostly in Russia, China and Europe and not-so-much in the United States (quite curious this is) to also put forth feelers and prepare the groundwork and even go so far as to agree on principles of agreements which can be made to go active the very second that any P5+1 and Iranian agreement is signed and in effect. This has been the message over the past two months and has yet to diminish in its optimism despite the negotiations appearing to crumble as Iran pulls back and refuses to agree on what one would think are some of the most vital necessities for an agreement which would be observed and have inspections of such a nature as to make such compliances enforceable. These overtures have been made while the White House continues to make statements purporting normal progress at the talks and a general sense of agreement on some of the most vital issues. President Obama has communicated through channels in the media that there will be an intensive inspection routine including snap without warning inspections while the Iranians continue to believe that the negotiations specifically forbade snap inspections nor allow inspections of what Iran denotes as military infrastructure and bases nor permit any inspection without ample and reasonable, to be determined by Iran on an individual basis, notifications before Iran will permit any single inspection. The White House insists that Iran will come forth on its previous military and nuclear procedures, accomplishments and other vital and necessary information even on particularly touchy questions which within the last week began its metamorphosis into a very different animal where suddenly the Administration claims that there is little to be gained by forcing the point of Iran reporting its previous work as we know where they have gone and what they have achieved and everything has been above board all while the Iranians remain quite intransigent on permitting inspections of military bases or revealing the information on all previous nuclear activities and military progress in related fields. From apparent media reports over the past few days the Administration appears to have become omniscient on all things concerning Iranian past progress, military research and development, military progress on missile technology (which to many observers to be directed on developing a reliable ICBM which will supplement their ballistic missile inventory adding the ability to directly strike the United States which some may find an odd direction for such intense research if one is not developing nuclear weapons to place atop those ICBMs) and possible work on a nuclear trigger mechanism which is vital to the production of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons. This was supposed to settle the arguments that Iran may be hiding vital work which would include some very damning information casting the long shadow of doubt on Iranian denials to be researching the industrial development of nuclear weapons.
Still, the date of the presumed coming out party has been set. The final particulars of the United States surrender are being completed, the promise that after the agreement has been put in place that all sanctions will be removed has been given though not admitted and one of the latest individual pieces has been the apparent agreement that the P5+1 (read United States) will provide Iran with several light water reactors which produce plutonium which is useable for production of nuclear weapons at a far less aggressive rate than the heavy water reactor at Arak. Further, Iran shall be provided with other technologies for civilian uses of nuclear power and enriched uranium and lastly, recently leaked information indicates that the Fordo nuclear enrichment site, which was built into the heart of a mountain and is considered impervious to any bombing attack, shall remain operating with promises that it will not be utilized for enrichment of uranium for nuclear weapons and instead will limit the enrichment cycles to keep them beneath weapons grade of over ninety-percent. Secretary of State John Kerry has affirmed that the United States has already relaxed several sanctions and has stated the sanctions will be lifted immediately after any signing of an agreement without having performed any steps for verifying Iranian compliance with whatever limitations and restrictions that President Obama would request as part of the agreement. This has made Senator Robert Menendez (D- N.J.) sufficiently perturbed and suspicious that he has introduced legislation to extend the soon expiring sanctions over the Iranian missile research and development on Iran for another ten years as Senator Menendez is far from convinced that any progress has been or will be made as part of the current negotiations. Perhaps this should be the position of everybody else as the reassurances from Secretary Kerry and the President and his spokespersons leave much clarification and even initial information on many subjects with missile development is chief amongst them.
Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Iran are juxtaposed Saudi Arabia, Egypt and in a loose and unofficial manner including Israel. The problem is most obvious in Yemen where Iranian backed and armed Houthis are in an open civil war for the control of Yemen now mostly attempting to complete their takeover by solidifying their presence across the south-western third of Yemen, something Saudi Arabia is making particularly difficult. The Saudis are quite wary of permitting Iran from militarily threatening complete control and the ability to cause a severe blockage of trade around much of the world and particularly about European-Asian trade as well as almost one-third of the world’s oil supplies and much of Europe’s lifeline to Arabian oil. The first choke point is the Straits of Hormuz and the second is the straits named Bab-el-Mandeb that controls passage from the Red Sea and Suez Canal to eventually the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean and which can be controlled from the south-western-most point in Yemen which remains just beyond Iranian reach for the time being. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have vested interests in the Bab-el-Mandeb waterway remaining open and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation nations have a vested interest in keeping the Straits of Hormuz clear and freely operating. Israel additionally has a vested interest in keeping Bab-el-Mandeb open as all trade out of Eilat’s ports in this southern-most city in all of Israel and major shipping point to Asia, something many believe is at the heart of the future of Israel, and who would even dare to challenge that. Further, having Yemen under the influence of Iran and with that, the potential of Iran to furtively place some special units from the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps) into Yemen to spearhead an invasion into Saudi Arabia’s underbelly and then once the Saudis had dispatch troops to guard the southern border, then an Iranian led revolt by the Shiites who mostly live in the north-east of Saudi Arabia making that a second front likely tying up most of the Saudi forces making the nation susceptible to a mass Iranian assault timing all of this for during an announced exchange of forces thus allowing for Iran to at least have twice as many troops in southern Iraq than usual and also presenting a potential for turning those troops southward invading Saudi Arabia across the entirety of the border shared with Iraq where IRGC and other Iranian forces deployed to fight ISIS which has invaded much of the Syria and Iraq while making wild claims about being the heart of the next Caliphate. This would satisfy, if successful, one of the boasts Iran has regularly made about the Holy Cities, the most holy in Islam, of Mecca and Medina must be wrest from the hands of the deceivers and apostates, the Iranian Shiite name when referencing any Sunni Muslims. It would also be done in a direct challenge and risk infuriating ISIS which is also interested in the Holy Cities and would consider their being in the hands of Shiites as a moral imperative for ISIS and their Sunni Muslims to liberate them from the apostate hands of Iranian Shiites.
Now let us have a quick discussion of ISIS and their claims of being the next Caliphate. This claim at this early stage is a bit presumptuous though over-the-top bombastic claims such as the ISIS claim of being the new Caliphate are apparently part and parcel of the culture and thus should be read as such. Is ISIS a threat? Of course it is but keep in mind that it had originally served as the al-Qaeda branch in Iraq fighting the United States during the Second Iraq War under President George W. Bush where these al-Qaeda forces had been adequately eradicated that President Obama brought all the troops home declaring in a speech at Fort Bragg on Dec. 14, 2011 where he stated, “It’s harder to end a war than begin one. Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq–all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering–all of it has led to this moment of success. Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations. And we are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making.” ISIS will remain as a problem for as long as the United States continues its little trip down memory lane returning to their isolationist roots but the sooner that there is a new President, hopefully one who realizes the role the United States played in the world as without American leadership who can the world follow? After World War II the United States dictated to its enemies as well as its friends in the world to lay down their arms as the world had to be made such that Europe would find some manner of non-belligerence and thus unable to start yet another conflagration which envelops the rest of the world endangering all. The United States was not going to allow Europe drag her into another conflict, especially when the toll for World War II was figured. Japan even went so far as to insist that they be deprived of a military force capable of attacking her neighbors be put into their new constitution. The United States also made sure to have a prolonged military presence in all of the western nations as are the Soviets in theirs behind the, Winston Churchill‘s coined phrase, ‘Iron Curtain.’ With what ISIS has claimed is their aim, perhaps a similar deal should have been placed on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) thus completely covering the lands which were affected by the war. Instead, the Middle East actually faced a difficulty forced upon them by the European powers of France, Britain, Russia and Italy after World War I named Sykes-Picot Agreement where states were carved out of the colonial areas which the European powers had controlled for over two centuries. These states looked, for all intents and purposes, as randomly drawn but further delving into the agreement it becomes obvious that where the lines were less important than was repaying certain promises and not others and leaving states which could never function as normal nations as their citizenry were from different factions which would require a strong and somewhat viscous dictator more than a caring leader. Iran was fortunate enough to remain unchanged as she had remained Persia and beyond the colonial disciplines of the European overlords. This is one area where ISIS has gotten things correct, Sykes-Picot was a disaster needing remedial action, though combining all into one homogenous Caliphate where the people, more likely subjects, would all need to meet a purity test or face death or reeducation. ISIS has risen to prominence largely due to the entirety of the MENA regions being unstable, surprise-surprise, which had come partially from the mess put in place after World War I. In many ways, by not arranging to have the nations covering individual areas such as an area for the Kurds even named Kurdistan, and unifying Sunni Areas separate from Shia areas, and place borders respecting tribal areas and allowing the people to make suggestions and using them wisely, not nearly random large nations which would be so consumed by inner strife that they would be unable to mount external troubles, which also did not work as we saw with the decade of war between Iraq and Iran. This entire false drawing of nations was doomed to fail and produce an even stronger order which would eventually reunite many of the Islamic Arabs into a larger and ready to conquer group, it is just ISIS will not be that group as it currently operates. There will eventually be a leader who will find the chord which will bring people to their cause far more willingly and not by force and threat of arms. First, the MENA must find their way through this current crisis and possibly agree to redraw the lines across the Middle East divided by natural lines which will produce a more homogeneous populace for each state so that it can function as an economic unit more than a military unit as the Middle East itself has for centuries been an area which thrived through trading between Asia and Europe which it could again find their niche as well as trading their own goods, especially petroleum which unfortunately will be a major factor in the redrawing should such take place.
The problem will arise due to there being vested interests and moneyed interests in controlling valuable assets, especially oil. A very large example would be Saudi Arabia which will never permit the taking of their oil fields just because the majority living there are Shiites nor would they ever release their ownership holding of Mecca and Medina even to an international Islamic trust. Iran would never allow its oil fields to be given to another group made up of Arab descendants because the major population is not Persian. Any future settlement in the MENA area is going to take some serious and strong Islamic leadership who are more interested in helping the people than they are in glorifying themselves in this life which will always have some basis in control of resources. As things stand right now there is no real nation of Syria nor is there any nation of Iraq, both are consumed in internal and external conflicts tearing them apart. There were those who called for dividing Iraq into three nations, one Sunni, one Shia, and one Kurdish. This still would not have been advantageous for the Christians and the Yazidi and other tribes with either minority Islamic sects or older religions such as those following a version of Zoroastrianism. Still, any plan was bound to hit some snags but such a division might have produced a better system that would have been better able to resist ISIS and their onslaught which currently has Sunni areas of Iraq either facing Shia vengeance or Sunni purist vengeance without any government in place of their own and no trained military as the Iraqi Army was currently majority Shia and has retreated to protect Baghdad and the Shiite south with large amounts of Iranian assistance and now apparently United States assistance in supporting the Shiite operations as the Iranian and United States troops are quartered together, have joint planning sessions and the United States arming and close air support is coordinated through the Iraqi government which is under the strict influence of the Iranian government which has left the Sunni and the Kurds out in the cold and on their own. This has produced much more serious consequences for the Sunni who had depended on the Iraqi government and military for their protection which has left them at the mercies of whichever force has control of their lives each hour while the Kurds far back even during the United States military occupation after removing Saddam Hussein from power had become a semi-autonomous region with their own militias and governance allowing them to survive without any assistance from the Iraqi government, military or otherwise. The Kurds have become a safe haven for the minorities and have provided better and more varied protection for minorities than the United States and their supported Shiite government in the south leaving the Sunni completely out in the cold. What can be done to settle the problems in the MENA regions will take somebody with a plan which answers the many difficulties such would involve and the means of enforcing such against vested interests that would be less than advantageous for the population. The people need to be the primary concern and their needs must be the overriding priority forcing the drawing of any future borders. There must not be any restrictions as to the number of states, their interactive cooperation and other concerns. It is likely that a loose federation will prove the best solution, I am just glad that I do not have to find the best solution though if I find the magical resolution, I will be pushing it here where unfortunately few of the really powerful people will find it, at least not as things stand or maybe I am mistaken. This will need to wait for a different time. The one other area we have yet to address will not make it into this article, but I have written much already on the difficulties within Israel and the need for another brilliant solution here where none can exist that both sides would agree upon as both sides believe they have the unassailable right to all of Jerusalem if not also all of the lands themselves.
Beyond the Cusp