Day By Day

Monday, February 21, 2005

Mideast Maneuvering

Jan Haugland over at Secular Blasphemy has recently written about an emerging contest, reminiscent of the old Cold War, between the US and Russia for influence in the Middle East. See his latest post "Reviving the Cold War" here. K Gajendra Singh, writing for Al Jazzerah, sees, [and I fear many in Russia do too] this emerging struggle as a template for understanding much of what is happening in the region. He writes:

The US attempt to organize a franchised ‘Cedar’ revolution in Lebanon, like the Orange revolution in Ukraine and the Rose revolution in Georgia, is to counter Moscow’s return into Middle East. Russia would be soon delivering short range missiles to Damascus , to ease US pressure in Ukraine , Georgia and elsewhere. The sale of missiles to Syria was finalized during Syrian President Basher Assad’s recent visit to Moscow. But it could ignite the most inflammable tinderbox in the region, Lebanon ,which saw its polity and economy stabilised and rebuilt over the last 15 years following a 15 years of civil war from 1976.The consequences would be horrendous. The mayhem of the civil war had added ‘Lebanonisation’ to the lexicon Following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Shafiq Hariri in Beirut on 14 February , almost spontaneous demonstrations , outcries followed by quick US actions like recall of its Ambassador from Damascus , which has been blamed for the bomb blasts killing Harari , by innuendo , implication and even directly by some US lawmakers, as usual cheer led by US led corporate media , looks too familiar, coming as it does when Russia is to transfer low range missiles to Damascus.

The organized spontaneity and the cacophony of opposition noises in Lebanon
look like other recent franchised revolutions, in Georgia and in Ukraine, apart from overthrow of Milosevic in Serbia. While Europe Union openly sided with USA in the orange revolution in Ukraine, which will adversely affect its relations with Russia, this time France, a former colonial power in Syria and Lebanon joined Washington,

How easily we fall into old patterns of thought. Faced with a revolutionary situation, we try to fit it into familiar templates. For many in Europe and its former colonies the US actions look like neo-imperialism. For Islamist radicals it looks like an attempt to use US power in the service of Israel. For many in Russia [and in the US] it looks like a revival of the old Cold War. None of these templates is adequate and sometimes, as in the above example, their applications are dangerous. The "New Cold War" template, if indiscriminately applied can come to resemble the paranoid delusions of the Islamists.

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