Trompe L'oeil Tactics Conceal the Actual Middle Eastern Strategy in Play

To the southeast, on Jordan’s southern border, lies Saudi Arabia, increasingly alive to the danger which the Ikhwanist regime poses to King Salman’s rule (for which reason a formidable border fence is being erected in the north), as well as the less imminent but no less potent danger posed by the Khomeinist variant of jihadism, centered in Iran. There have been reports of discreet contacts between Israeli and Saudi diplomats in various European venues, and persistent rumors of discussions concerning possible military co-operation between them to deal with Iran.

And then, further to the east, there are the Gulf states, the UAE and Bahrain, also actively engaged in the anti-jihadi fight; the UAE in particular has squadrons of aircraft operating from forward bases in Jordan and Egypt, and is providing much-needed funding to Egypt as as-Sisi fights both a jihadi guerilla insurgency in Sinai and jihadis who have proclaimed the western Libyan city of Darna a province of al-Baghdadi's “Islamic State,” having demonstrated their fealty by beheading Coptic Christians who fell into their hands.

The “strategic kernel” generated by this tacit alliance, which in some ways evokes the forced alliance between the Western powers and the USSR in the Second World War against National Socialist Germany and her allies, is real, though not formally recognized between the parties. Each of the two rival jihadi parties threatens to encircle it and cut it off; careful consideration of a map/of the region and recent events reveals how.

The Khomeinist flavor of jihadism is based upon the Shi’ite denomination of Islam and seeks to play upon the emotions and rivalries of Shi’ite Muslims, who are largely repressed everywhere in the Muslim world but Iran. On the northern periphery of the strategic Jewish-Muslim kernel, the Iranians are trying to dominate what has been called the “Shi’ite Crescent.” They are doing this by extending their power westward across what must now be regarded as the failed colonial state of Iraq.

Never a nation-state in any western sense of the word, Iraq (the word simply means “plain,” in Arabic) was established by the British for their convenience after the Great War of 1914-18, to enable the Royal Navy to exploit the strategic oil reserves around Mosul and Kirkuk. In the wake of Obama’s retreat from the region in fulfillment of his campaign promises, the Mesopotamian region is now effectively divided into three states.

In the south, there is a Shi’ite enclave around Baghdad which has, under the pressure of the Sunni assault, effectively become a Persian “satrapy,” a wholly owned subsidiary of the Iranians. The western and central part of the region is inhabited by Arabic-speaking Sunnis, who have largely been overrun and subsumed in Baghdadi’s “state,” into whose arms they are increasingly driven by Shi’ite excesses in the fighting around Tikrit and Ramadi. And in the north, there is a  de facto ethnic Kurdish Muslim state (yes, the Kurds are as Muslim as any of their opponents) with its capital at Irbil, and which incorporates the other ethno-religious minorities of the region, such as Yazidis, Muslim Turkomans, and Chaldæan and Assyrian Christians.

The “Shi’ite crescent” would be completed by linking the satrapy of the south with the allied Assad regime in Syria and the Hizbullah-dominated parts of Lebanon.

On the southern periphery of the kernel, in recent days Shi’ite Houthi rebels have overthrown the Sunni-dominated government of Yemen, and made common cause with the Iranians, who continue to foment trouble amongst the Shi’ite minorities resident in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia (where they occupy the strategically important eastern province where nearly all the oil is), and the Gulf states.