Ill Winds From The East

Things are getting very, very nervous around the Muslim world. And that should have any sane person worried.

In Egypt, the people are rioting against the government, headed by the “democratically-elected” President Mubarak. Mubarak, who’s consistently won re-election with the high side of 80% of the vote over the past 30 years — which is pretty much a guaranteed indicator of rigged elections. Mubarak, make no mistake, is a dictator (sorry, Vice President Biden) — but he’s one of the less offensive ones, not really causing troubles for his neighbors. Well, after 30 years, things are getting a bit warm for him (reports are that he’s sent his family out of the country for their safety), and he could be in serious trouble.

In Tunisia, riots drove the sitting government from power, and the opposition is trying to pull things together.

In Lebanon, the terrorist group Hezbollah has tightened its grip on the government. They just appointed the new Prime Minister. Najib Mikati isn’t a Hezbollah member, and doesn’t have much history as an ally of theirs, but he still owes his job to them. Further, he only hold that job (and his life) at their sufferance. So he isn’t likely to stand up to them.

Sudan is on the verge of splitting in two.

There are riots in Jordan against their king and his government.

How any or all of these will play out, it’s hard to tell. An independent southern Sudan could serve as a refuge for the victims of Muslim persecution — as long as it’s supported by other nations. Should Mubarak fall, the most powerful force is the militant, terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is now far better armed than at any time in its past, and is gearing up to start yet another war with Israel. And Tunisia? Who the hell knows?

I’m not a great expert on the region, but I don’t recall any time when a Muslim/Arab government has been toppled from within and has not been replaced with a more militant, hard-line, aggressive, anti-Western regime. And the standard outside enemies used to keep the masses in line are the United States and Israel.

Israel, which just happens to sit between Lebanon and Egypt.

As noted, Hezbollah is getting ready to attack Israel again. And the Muslim Brotherhood — which is the best positioned to gain from the turmoil in Egypt — has very strong ties with Hezbollah and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

I have to say that I really can’t put much of this blame on President Obama. Yeah, he hasn’t been the most effective in dealing with the Middle East, and there are a lot of things he could have done differently (meaning better), but there isn’t a hell of a lot he could have done. No one was overly interested in enforcing the UN Security Resolutions that called for bolstering the legitimate government of Lebanon and disarming Hezbollah.

On the other hand, he’s certainly avoided trying to curtail the aggressions of Syria and Iran, who have had pretty much a free hand in Lebanon. And I can’t think of anything that anyone could have done to help avoid the current turmoil in Egypt.

About the only thing I think we can do is to quietly inform the powers that emerge in each nation that they better play nice with their neighbors, and not get frisky outside their own borders. Sadly, President Bush had a hell of a lot more credibility when making such warnings than does President Obama.

Twenty five years ago this morning ...
An act of God?