Coward Old Universe…

by Jeremy G.

Posts Tagged ‘Shia Crescent’

Iran, the True Target at Annapolis

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on November 26, 2007



The upcoming International Peace Conference in Annapolis has raised many questions  and has been a source of significant pessimism.  Those who follow Middle Eastern events may remember the 2000 fiasco  in Camp David.

The scenario I find more likely is a bit different: My expectation is that this summit will result in a common declaration, underscoring progress made and a common willingness to continue.  The 2000 violent outbreak will not occur – not for now at least.  Two major reasons motivate this intuition.  Both are related to the fact that all participants, Israel and Arab countries alike, face the same two threats.

The first threat is represented by Hamas.  The terrorist movement has already made threats against Israel, and has expressed deep disappointment towards a wide Arab participation at this summit, which is thus certainly not contributing to its interests.  Most observers agree that should Annapolis fail miserably and in a clear way, Hamas will likely be the true winner, and emerge even stronger.  A takeover of the West Bank, similar to the takeover of Gaza last June, is not excluded in this context.

The second threat relates to Iran.  The Annapolis Summit is a clear opportunity for America and for Arab countries, including Jordan, Egypt, and, most of all, Saudi Arabia, to isolate Tehran.  As a matter of fact, Iran represents as big of a threat for Israel as it does for the countries of the GCC and other Sunni countries of the region.  The “Shia Crescent” – expression that was coined by King Abdullah of Jordan himself – is headed by Iran, who has found valuable allies in Damascus and in Lebanon – Hezbollah being Tehran most significant resource. 

In this context, Syria’s participation at Annapolis is a huge blow to Tehran.  Syria, headed by an Alawite – a sect of Shiite Islam – family, has been a key component of the “Shia Crescent”.  Nevertheless, the majority of its population is Sunni.  In addition, there has been subsequent evidence of a rapprochement with Jordan, demonstrating, among many other things, the fragility of Syria’s adherence to the Shia axis in the Middle East.  Combined with America’s efforts to empower the Gulf countries in the region – best exemplified by last summer’s $20 billion deal in arm sales – against the threat coming from Tehran, the Annapolis summit constitutes additional evidence that Iran has become a new focal point for America, Israel and Arab countries alike.

Claiming that this will lead to an Entente Cordiale between Israelis and Palestinians, under the pressure of America and Arab countries, is a stretch that I will not make here.  However, the lower likelihood of a miserable and violent ending similar to 2000 should temper pessimistic views repeatedly expressed on this summit.


Posted in Middle East, US Foreign Policy | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »