David Schenker and Gilad Wenig report that The Arab League is getting serious about putting together a standing “intervention force” to fight terror — and Iran:
Washington has served reliably as the guarantor of Gulf security for much of the past 25 years. But lately, as the Obama administration has moved closer to a nuclear deal with Iran—and as Tehran has expanded its influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen—Washington’s traditional Sunni allies are increasingly concerned about a diminished U.S. commitment.
The willingness of Arab states to finally sacrifice blood and treasure to defend the region from terrorism and Iranian encroachment is a positive development. But it also represents a growing desperation in the shadow of Washington’s shrinking security role in the Middle East.
The old joke about NATO was that it was supposed to “keep the Americans in, the Soviets out, and the Germans down.” And it did exactly that until recently, due to feckless leadership on both sides of the Atlantic.
Something similar is happening in the Middle East, where our “President who ends wars” doesn’t seem to comprehend what prevents them, or what kind of leadership is required to prevent a small war from becoming a regional one.
What I’m not saying is that there’s any solution, any fix, for what ails the Middle East. That dysfunctional region isn’t a problem to be solved, but rather a problem to be managed. Obama giving free rein to Tehran and promising he won’t “do stupid shit” isn’t exactly sound management — and the result, a region descending into chaos, is there for the whole world to see.
Meanwhile, every time I pull up Bing News or Drudge or Instapundit, I dread the almost inevitable headline: “Washington, Iran Reach Nuclear Deal.” Because when I see what the Administration has given up already, I know what they’re willing to give up to get a deal, any deal.
If you think Iran is bold now, just wait until they’re on the Washington-approved path towards nukes.
It doesn’t seem likely that Tehran has the financial, military, or cultural wherewithal to be the regional hegemon they’re trying to be, but this Administration has given them every incentive to keep on trying. The Arab states are putting together a valiant, if perhaps belated effort to do what Washington won’t. But as we’ve seen in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, once an Arab state is pulled apart, like Humpty Dumpty it doesn’t go back together again.
We — “we” being the sane world — are counting on this new Riyadh/Cairo Axis, this Pan-Arab Army, to hold the line. But if either Riyadh or Cairo falls, then it’s going to be one giant Syria from the Nile to the Euphrates, and from Mosul to Sana’a.