June 26, 2012 Arlington VA
Egypt has a new president, but can he really rule? Will the generals give up enough power that the 'democracy' there becomes more than a sham? it is possible, it will take a great deal of finesse on the part of Mohammed Morsi to convince the generals to actually let him run the country. He has officially renounced his membership in the Muslim Brotherhood, but those resignations seldom are meaningful. He has also both questioned and said he will support the previous treaty with Israel, while call them vultures for their treatment of the Palestinians. Only time will tell, but this 'change' has all the earmarks of an emerging, new Islamic law-based state.
Syria is still in the midst of a semi-civil war, and it shows no signs of abating, and no signs of any real assistance by the Western nations, who are effectively being prevented by Russia and China from intervening. In the meanwhile, Iran is supporting the Syrian government of Assad with weapons and 'volunteers', as they massacre section after section of towns in the area. The latest effort, the downing of a Turkish jet fighter, is causing significant alarm across that border, and involving NATO.
Iran continues to resist nuclear facility inspection, calling for meeting after meeting, and dragging most of the European and US Community with it as it delays while it builds its first bomb. Again, China and Russia support their efforts, and wield veto power in the UN to prevent more significant sanctions than those already in place.
Jordan continues to remain under the horizon, while continuing to serve as the largest focal point of Palestinian people who want to return to their ancestral homes. If the border security provided by Egypt across the Sinai is dropped, look for many of the Palestinians in Jordan to try to return to their prior homes, a move that will be almost certainly be resisted by Israel.
Lebanon remains a powder keg as well. Hizbollah has been quiet lately, but is supported by Syria, and simply, in my view, waiting for its moment to move across the border to Israel.
Then there is Israel.They just can't seem to make peace with the Palestinians, or anyone else for that matter. The country whose constitution provides for immigration for mistreated and abused people, is in the midst of expelling Africans who fit that description, but are somehow 'unacceptable' to some Israelis, who consider them inferior, and who would dilute the majority of Jews in Israel. Israeli relations with Turkey, its former key ally in the region, is going from bad to even worse, and Israeli Knesset debates on Armenian massacres early in the 20th century don't help any more than a debate on the Israeli massacre of innocents in Gaza. All it does is inflame sentiment.
The US, in all this mess, still seems to feel that it can be an honest broker for peace, which is, of course, ridiculous. Multiple US administrations have supported Israel in any situation, right or wrong, and there seems to be no change in that sentiment, particularly in an election year., and also with PLO President Abbas, with whom he visited Bethlehem yesterday. Putin provided encouraging statments of support for the Palestinian Authority and its need for a State of Palestine, while also cautioning Israel against taking unilateral actions, such as increased settelements, that may deter negitiations for a permanent peace. The real questions is how this is perceived in the region, especially since the US is firmly allied with israel. Only time wil ltell what influence Russia has in future negotiations.
Russia is cthe newest entrant into diplomatic approaches in the region. Russian president Putin is currently visitng the area, has met with Prime Minister Netanyahu
What we continue to have in the Middle East is stalemate -- stalemate that can go nowhere until multiple parties decide to make significant change within their own countries, and then across the region.
[Updated 06-26-12 2:210PM EDT]