Some excerpts from “Intelligence Guidance: Week of 27 July 2008”, Stratfor, 25 July 2008 — This is one of the things Stratfor does best, so attention should be paid.
(1) U.S.-Iranian talks: The United States has given Iran until August 2 to respond to the latest – and most serious – offer of cooperation. Iran is holding out for something more, but also cannot ignore the risks it would be taking in dragging these talks out and missing the opportunity to reach a deal over Iraq with the current U.S. administration. It has never been about nuclear weapons, much less enrichment. Both sides are preparing their publics for a deal, and time is running short. … The next few weeks should be lively.
(2) Israel-Syrian peace talks: There is no must-solve issue or deadline to worry about, but that does not mean that those wanting to tank the process don’t need to act quickly. The player with the most to lose remains Hezbollah, and all involved with the talks are working to shatter the organization’s organizational coherence. We are close to the point where Hezbollah will either strike out or break down.
(3) Turkey’s domestic politics: Turkey is nearing a balance point. The secularists are about to use the courts to break the Islamic-flavored Justice and Development (AK) Party government. There is only as much room for compromise as there is willingness on the AK Party’s behalf to cave – the secularists hold most of the cards. How far is the AK Party leadership willing to let itself be knocked back?
The situation in the the Middle East is unusually fluid. However, I am skeptical about all of these, esp. the first and third.
- Is time Iran’s friend or enemy? Friend, I suspect — their position seems likely to only grows strong with time.
- Is time President Bush’s friend or enemy? Enemy. If he wants some positive resolution to his Middle East adventures, this is the last opportunity. Otherwise the laurels might be gathered by his successor.
- is time a friend or enemy for Syria? Israel? Enemy for both regimes, I suspect. But the pressure of vital competitors both inside and around them, growing stronger each year, might make bold action necessary — and difficult.
- Is time America’s friend or enemy with respect to Iran? Enemy. As the pressure to exit Iraq grows — and it is growing, both domestically and in Iraq — than our leverage vs. Iran is fading.
- Is time the friend or enemy of Turkey’s secularists? Enemy. I suspect not only that they do not “hold all the cards”, but time has and will continue to weaken their position.
For a very different view of Turkey see “Turkey in the throes of Islamic revolution?“, Spengler, Asia Times, 22 July 2008 — “Turkey is half pregnant with political Islam, if one believes Western foreign ministries and the mainstream press.”
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For more information about these things
- Iran – will the US or Israel attack Iran?
- Iraq & Afghanistan Wars – my articles
- Iraq War – Goals and Benchmarks