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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Abdullah looking for a strong horse?

This past week, King Abdullah of Jordan gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal. My take on the interview is here.

Caroline Glick has a very different take, and reading her article makes me want even more to read the book upon which it is based: Lee Smith's, The Strong Horse: Power, Politics and the Clash of Arab Civilizations. Caroline writes that insights gained through the book give a different view of King Abdullah's interview.
Smith develops six central insights in his book.

Arab political history is a history of the powerful ruling the weak through violence.

Islamic terror and governmental tyranny are the two sides of the coin of Arab political pathology.

Liberal democratic principles are unattractive to the vast majority of Arabs who believe that politics is and by rights ought to remain a violent enterprise and prefer the narrative of resistance to the narrative of liberty.

Liberal Arab reformers are unwilling to fight for their principles.

The 1,400 year period of Sunni dominance over non-Sunni minorities is now threatened seriously for the first time by the Iranian-controlled Shiite alliance which includes Syria, Lebanon, and Hamas.

And finally, that it is intra-Arab rivalries and the desire to rule and be recognized as the strong horse that motivates jihadists to wage continuous wars against Israel and the West and against regimes in Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia alike.

As Smith explains, today, Arab leaders view Israel as a possible strong horse that could defeat the rising Shiite axis that threatens them. And now, as the US under Obama abdicates its leadership role in world affairs by turning on its allies and attempting to appease its foes while scaling back America's own military strength, Israel is the Sunnis' only hope for beating back the Shiite alliance. If Israel does not prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, then the likes of Kings Abdullah of Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak are going to be forced to accept Iran as the regional hegemon.

When seen against the backdrop of Smith's analysis, it is clear that as his father did when he supported Saddam Hussein against Saudi Arabia in the lead-up to the 1991 Gulf War, Abdullah was hedging his bets in his interview with the Journal. If Israel fails to act, he wants to be on record expressing his animosity towards the Jewish state and blaming it for all the region's problems. On the other hand, he used the interview as an opportunity to again send a message to anyone willing to listen that he wants Israel to assert itself and continue to protect his kingdom.
Read the whole thing. It's an interesting and plausible hypothesis, although I cannot say for certain that it's correct.


At 1:04 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Arabs will never love Israel but they do acknowledge that it keeps the region stable. A weak Israel is not going to be able to do that. It is the fear of what Israel can do - not pieces of papers and summits in Washington, that have kept another war from consuming the region for a generation. And the strategy that Obama is pursuing in the Middle East will make another war there more rather than less likely. Now ask yourself whether weakening America's "strong horse" in the Middle East is truly in the American national interest.

Its crazy! What could go wrong indeed


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