We are going to do something which the average person would believe impossible, discuss conflicts in the Middle East, which includes North Africa and the entirety that goes by the initials MENA, without mentioning Israel other than this once. Yes, that is not only possible but necessary such that people can learn how solving the Palestinian issue would not bring peace to one of the most troubled areas on the planet. There are a number of separate wars going on in Libya alone. In the capital city of Tripoli the government’s forces hold a little more than the offices of the Parliament, the President and the other government buildings and their residences, and only because they reside very close to this central area in Tripoli. There are usually a minimum of two rebel groups at any time fighting the government as well as one another. Often there are more than two as these clans believe that they should be the ones running the country and that Libya is their personal playground. These clans also fight against any terrorists who they believe are trying to take over their areas which they actually do control. The terrorists fight to retain their training grounds. Benghazi is also an open warfare zone with no real governance which controls the entire city but it is the second largest concentration of government military forces. As the government forces do control the port of Tripoli there does exist some trade which is mostly necessities as well as arms and ammunition to keep the government in control. Further, Benghazi, Tobruk, Surt and the other major ports are often changing hands as different groups will exert the necessary force to take the ports when they are expecting shipments from their arms merchants. As some European and many Middle East and Asian arms dealers are making a fair profit, the risks of doing business with the different clans and terror groups operating in Libya is worth the risks involved. Needless to say, the violence in Libya does not always stay in Libya; it often crosses borders into Egypt, Algeria, Chad, Niger and even the Sudan. One of the main arms providers is the Sudanese government and arms dealers taking side action arming the Sudanese neighboring nations including Libya but excluding South Sudan as this is not permitted by the Sudanese government.
There is a very good reason that the Sudanese government has made the providing of arms to South Sudan a capital offence, they are still fighting a war and committing a slow genocide against the Christians and Animists and act as if nobody in the world has recognized South Sudan as a separate nation. As long as the world, including those who have recognized South Sudan as a separate nation, do nothing of consequence to protest the nascent country from its far stronger and well-armed former rulers, the killing will continue. There have been some troops provided by the African Union. The United Nations also has sent troops to South Sudan. The problem is what is really necessary would be an entire army, which is not what has been sent. Back in 2013 the United States took what it claimed was measures to assure the genocide in South Sudan would be relieved by allocating one-hundred-fifty Marines and a few aircraft to the Horn of Africa from where they were to be capable of evacuating people under threat in South Sudan. As is said repeatedly in Bill Cosby’s routine on Noah, “Right!” Our new United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated this week that refugees were fleeing cities and towns and that “The security situation continues to deteriorate in parts of the country and the consequent impact of this ongoing conflict and violence, has reached catastrophic proportions for civilians,” A United Nations report stated, “The rise of militias under the loose command of the SPLA or rebel commanders is spreading the fragmentation and dislocation of its territories, which risk, if this trend continues, remaining out of any government control for years to come.” The United Nations further reports that the numbers of refugees currently seeking relief is beyond one and a half million.
Now we can slide over to Somalia which is only a real country on maps for lack of a better means of describing the area. Like Libya there is no actual ruling government but instead a series of gangs ruling their territories with iron fists and warring with each other trying to increase their domain. The people have to make sure they are aware of which gang is currently ruling their block of homes as that will also define where they are allowed to shop and who they may visit. Crossing from one region to the next carries varying degrees of danger. Some of the gangs along the shoreline engage in pirating for a living seeking pleasure yachts, merchant ships and even passing warships which are traveling without escort. These pirates have varying levels of gall living by the code “no guts, no glory.” They have attacked European, Asian, Australian, Canadian and American shipping and anybody else who comes within their range. Their method is to use a larger ship which remains out of sight but relatively close and smaller craft attack the target vessels and attempt to board and commandeer the ship then demanding ransom for the ship, crew and cargo. They check the cargo for anything they might desire or need to keep for themselves and will take any weapons they find an board the ships they take. There has been some degree of international efforts to bring this to an end but for the most part ships take their own risks coming out of the Red Sea after passing through the Suez Canal.
Of course that means they need to make their way through the Bab el-Mandeb Straights without being struck by Houthis shelling out of Yemen. The Houthi rebels in Yemen are Iranian backed and attempting to conquer all of Yemen to give Iran a base from which to attack Saudi Arabia from the south. This will come in very handy should Iran decide to attack Saudi Arabia from Iraq and the north mainly the northeast of Saudi Arabia which has the majority of Shiite Muslims as well as most of the oil fields. Additionally, Iran has made friends with Qatar and has made overtures claiming than Oman and Bahrain are actually breakaway Iranian provinces. Much like China keeps threatening that they will one day rejoin Taiwan to the mainland as it is simply a breakaway province, Iran makes the same claims on Oman and Bahrain. Bahrain has a Sunni monarch and a predominantly Shiite population. During the Arab Spring (boy was that a joke and a complete disaster from the word go thanks in part to President Obama who had a hand in these failed revolts with great assistance from Hillary Clinton and the European Union) the Shiites in Bahrain revolted and things appeared to be heading for real troubles, that was until Saudi Arabia used the multi-lane causeway highway to send troops to quell the revolt. The Shiites left their Mosques on Friday all revved up to overthrow the monarch when they found tanks, armored personnel carriers and heavily armed Saudi Arabian troops at both ends of the block so everybody calmed down and went home. Sure there were a few short outbursts of violence which were immediately quelled. The entire Arab Spring in Bahrain ended that Friday with barely a whimper. Similarly, the Shiites in the northeast of Saudi Arabia thought about staging an uprising but were quickly persuaded to remain calm. That thought of rising up was so short it did not even make a single news cycle.
Egypt is next on out little tour and is currently largely complacent. They had their Arab Spring and threw out military rule and President Mubarak and replaced him with the predicted Muslim Brotherhood candidate, President Morsi. President Morsi was advised by Turkish President Erdogan to take a slow and steady approach to Islamizing Egypt but paid that no heed. He took off on a radical program of change trying almost overnight to make Egypt a Muslim Brotherhood run totalitarian hellhole. This was met with a public already in revolt mode and they rose up again and demanded Morsi’s head. General of the Army Sisi took the hint and removed the Muslim Brotherhood from power and held new elections. Having the most recognized name in Egypt and having just saved the day, surprisingly Sisi who had stepped down from General of the Army ran and won the Presidency of Egypt. So Egypt is now safely back under military rule for intents and purposes and appears happy to be so. The one problem is the Sinai Peninsula. The Sinai Peninsula is filled with terrorists from al-Qaeda and Islamic State to Hamas and even Iranian backed groups. They attack Egyptian military outposts with varying degrees of success. They often attack the border outposts between Egypt and Gaza in order to allow the flow of terrorists, arms, and contraband into and out of Gaza where Hamas and Islamic Jihad share control. What is interesting about Gaza is that Islamic Jihad is supplied by Iran amongst others and Hamas is Muslim Brotherhood thus provisioned by them and also on occasion they are given rocket engine technologies and even rudimentary guidance systems from Iran as Iran will even arm Sunnis if they are attacking Iran’s favorite target. Egypt has yet to put down the menaces in the Sinai Peninsula and they have even been cleared to use whatever troops and equipment they need and they are apparently fighting a losing battle, or at least not completely reaching a totally peaceful situation. Perhaps they never should have accepted the Sinai Peninsula back when they made peace between President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin.
Turkey is also involved in a war which few appear to care to mention. They are claiming to fight against Bashir al-Assad in Syria as well as against Islamic State but somehow the majority of their efforts appear to be barely across the border. They seem preoccupied, or at least President Erdogan is preoccupied, with the Kurds. Turkey could actually make a great agreement and win an ally for life if they would simply allow the Kurds to form their own nation out of northeastern Syria, northern Iraq and at the worst a few tens or hundreds of square miles of southeastern Turkey where the population is majority Kurdish. The United States or other groups would probably handsomely reward Turkey for the lost lands, give a relocation allowance to any Turkish non-Kurdish citizens desiring to leave the Kurdish nation and return to Turkey and all could be settled. Even if Turkey refused to sacrifice a small portion of land, the Kurds in Turkey would likely relocate if they were granted recognition as a nation as was promised them by the British (we all know how good the British are on their promises when oil is involved). Turkey has been bombing and using ground assaults backed by heavy armor against the Kurds who have largely been fighting the Islamic State. Apparently Turkey would prefer the Islamic State on their border than the Kurds, there is no accounting for taste.
Then there are the wars outside of Yemen and Gaza where Iran is a major player. We are referring to Iraq and Syria where Iran is attempting to rule Iraq through proxy and reestablish Bashir al-Assad as the ruler of Syria. Bashir al-Assad has lost almost the entirety of his nation to the Islamic State, a number of other rebels, a Kurdish section which is simply attempting to protect their own people as well as the Yazidi refugees they took in after rescuing them when the rest of the world twiddled their thumbs, President Obama leading the thumb twiddlers. Iran has a friend in Russia who are actually fighting simply to retain their Mediterranean Sea port privileges such that they retain a warm water port capable of allowing ships to enter the Atlantic Ocean year round without having to pass through the Dardanelles in Turkey, an iffy situation at times. That is why the majority of the Russian operations center around Latakia and the port facilities located in that Mediterranean coastal city. Latakia is also in the central region where the Alawite Tribe resides which also happens to be Bashir al-Assad’s allies and tribal alliance and they along with some of the Druze except they have largely withdrawn and are simply, as are the Kurds, defending their own people and lands from the Islamic State and any other threats. They are safe from the Russians, Iranians and Syrian Army and even most likely the Hezballah forces from Lebanon who are supporting Bashir al-Assad as if Syria was their own country and not Lebanon. Hezballah is there because Iran insisted they fight or else Iran would have cut them off and they would then be facing the rest of Lebanon ready to dispose of the Hezballah terrorists who have been ruling Lebanon through their military threat. The one benefit of Hezballah fighting in Syria and taking the casualties in numbers far higher than are admitted is they are unable to attack any others including but not limited to the Christians and other minorities in Lebanon.
Our final stop is at the Afghanistan and Pakistan end of MENA. We left out some of the nations at the far end of northern Africa where one of the major problems is Boko Haram who are bloodthirsty Islamist terrorists who often kidnap Christians and even other Muslims and sell them into slavery. They specialize in selling to the sex slave industry and thus most often target young women and boys. Their other main effort is to murder Christians and Animists, something which sounds familiar from the South Sudan. Boko Haram operated largely centered on northern and central Nigeria and the neighboring areas even south to Mali. Meanwhile, Afghanistan and Pakistan consist of large areas which are considered tribal and the government rarely enters these zones as the tribes are well armed and do not recognize the governmental right to their areas. Too often these tribal areas will war with one another and then they make their money off of allowing terrorists to train and make a lucrative business from poppies. The heroin trade is something the government does not fight as they too benefit from the trafficking in illicit drugs. Until there is introduced another cash crop the farmers will grow and sell the easiest and most profitable crop they can raise, poppies. The flowers are almost as pretty as the profits. Needless to point out but where you have such profits there will always be violence as the tribes desire to expand their fields and taking the tribe next door’s fields is the quickest way to making more profit. Additionally, there is the constant state of conflict between Pakistan and India over Kashmir, a nation which appears on older maps and had the distinction of having to be colored white because it had so many neighboring nations on its border that it needed it own color and white was the best one not in use anywhere else. That concludes our Middle East conflict roundup leaving one nation obviously ignored, imagine all this without mentioning the nation always considered the source of the Middle East conflict chart. Perhaps the rest of it is not so peaceful after all.
Beyond the Cusp