The long-simmering conflict in the Middle East breaks out, surprising US experts

Summary: In our multi-media flood of news it’s easy to miss important inflection points. One might have just happened; something long predicted by experts in 4GW: the outbreak of complex violent conflicts in the Middle East as the conservative regimes respond to the jihadist ideologies sweeping through region.

Muslims victory



  1. The oligarchs strike back
  2. Watch this story. It’s just starting.
  3. Update
  4. Who will win?
  5. For More Information

(1)  The oligarchs strike back

With the aid of the Western nations, since WW2 corrupt oligarchs have dominated their peoples. Now a competing ideology has arise to oppose the free-market democracy ideologies which have failed those peoples. The oligarchs maintained a delicate balance, upset by the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan by foreign infidels which set the region aflame.

In response these regimes have adopted different strategies, hoping to suppress the coming revolutions.

How will this play out? We can only guess. But we do have a model for a worst-case scenario: the 30 Years War (1618-1648), in which a dozen themes of evolving western society metastasized in a complex war — destroying Germany, creating the modern political regime of nation-states still ruling today.

This conflict has long simmered, and appears to be breaking out into a visible and more violent form. Oligarchs against their peoples. Different ethnic groups against each other (e.g., Kurds against Arabs, Arabs against Persians). Sunni against Shia.  Like the 30 Years War, strange alliances will form and shatter. Reliable predictions are impossible.

Western pseudo-experts will reduce this conflict to fairy tale simplicity to suit their domestic political agendas, involving us in conflicts we don’t understand — only to be mocked by events, leaving us to mourning our wasted money and heroic dead sacrificed in futile causes.

(2)  Watch this story. It’s just starting.

To learn what’s happen today we turn to this excellent reporting, an example of America’s journalism at its best: “Arab Nations Strike in Libya, Surprising U.S.“, New York Times, 25 August 2014 — Opening:

Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly launched airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation of a regional power struggle set off by Arab Spring revolts.

The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied to American diplomats that their military played any role in the operation, the officials said, in what appeared a new blow to already strained relations between Washington and Cairo.

The strikes in Tripoli are another salvo in a power struggle defined by old-style Arab autocrats battling Islamist movements seeking to overturn the old order.

… Egypt’s role, the American officials said, was to provide bases for the launch of the strikes. … The officials said the U.A.E. — which boasts one of the most effective air forces in the Arab world, thanks to American equipment and training — provided the pilots, warplanes and aerial refueling planes necessary for the fighters to bomb Tripoli out of bases in Egypt.

This will be a complex story, as conservative Arab oligarchs take different paths to ride the tsunamis sweeping through their world (which the Western nations prefer not to see):


The Saudi rulers, who draw their own legitimacy from a puritanical understanding of Islam, have long feared the threat of other religious political movements, especially the well-organized and widespread Muslim Brotherhood. But Western diplomats in the region say the U.A.E. is now far more assertive and aggressive than even the Saudis about the need to eradicate Islamist movements around the region, perhaps because the Emirati rulers perceive a greater domestic threat.

The issue has caused a rare schism among the Arab monarchies of the gulf because Qatar has taken the opposite tack. In contrast to its neighbors, it has welcomed Islamist expatriates to its capital, Doha, and supported their factions around the region, including in Libya.

During the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya three years ago, Qatar and the U.A.E. both played active roles, but each favored different clients among the rebels. While Qatar backed certain Islamists, the U.A.E. favored certain tribal or regional militias …

The NYT provides some humor, as if the oligarchs running Arab nations — facing an existential threat — care about our opinion:

Several officials said in recent days that United States diplomats were fuming about the airstrikes, believing the intervention could further inflame the Libyan conflict as the United Nations and Western powers are seeking to broker a peaceful resolution. Officials said the government of Qatar has already provided weapons and support to the Islamist-aligned forces inside Libya, so the new strikes represent a shift from a battle of proxies to direct involvement. It could also set off an arms race. “We don’t see this as constructive at all,” said one senior American official.

Got to love the faux-naivete of US geopolitical experts reciting nursery rhymes for the children in the Homeland:

“In every arena — in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Libya, even what happened in Egypt — this regional polarization, with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, or U.A.E., on one side and Qatar and Turkey on the other, has proved to be a gigantic impediment to international efforts to resolve any of these crisis,” said Michele Dunne, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former Middle East specialist at the State Department.

(3)  Update

Why the Bombing of Tripoli Is a Game-Changer“, Bobby Ghosh, Defense One, 26 August 2014 — Excerpt:

Why is it a game-changer? Because it marks the first time two Arab nations have teamed up to launch military operations against Islamists in a third. (The 2011 involvement of Saudi troops in putting down an Arab Spring uprising in Bahrain doesn’t count, because it wasn’t about Islamist terror, and because the Saudis were invited.) Even more important, it was the first time two Sunni Muslim nations struck radical Sunni groups in a third Sunni country.

That sets the precedent for the same countries—and others, besides—to join the fight against IS, in Iraq and Syria, as well as the campaign against al-Qaeda and its affiliates worldwide.

… If the UAE and Egypt can collaborate to can bomb Islamists in Tripoli, then the Sunni nations can do likewise in IS strongholds in Raqqa and Mosul. … the taboo on intervention has been lifted.

Islamic Jihad

(4)  Who will win?

My guesses:

  1. Handicapping the clash of civilizations: bet on America to win.
  2. The rigid corrupt oligarchs are toast, except for those few that will adapt — as did the most successful of European monarchs.

(5)  For More Information

(a) About the clash of civilizations:

  1. The Fight for Islamic Hearts and Minds, 20 February 2012
  2. How I learned to stop worrying and love 4GW. We can win at this game., 18 September 2013
  3. We are the attackers in the Clash of Civilizations. We’re winning., 23 September 2013
  4. Handicapping the clash of civilizations: bet on America to win, 24 September 2013
  5. Things we need to know about the Long War, 11 January 2014

(b) Posts about Islam:

  1. Are islamic extremists like the anarchists?, 14 December 2009
  2. Stratfor’s strategic analysis – “Jihadism in 2010: The Threat Continues”, 17 January 2010
  3. Hatred and fear of Islam – of Moslems – is understandable. But are there hidden forces at work?, 3 August 2010
  4. Should we fear that religion whose believers have killed so many people?, 4 August 2010
  5. Hard (and disturbing) information about schools in Pakistan – the madāris, 1 May 2011

(c)  Posts about Egypt:

  1. Important information about the riots in Egypt, 30 January 2011
  2. Why do we fear the rioters in Egypt?, 30 January 2011
  3. Sources of information about the situation in Egypt, 6 February 2011
  4. For Independence Day Egypt shows us how little love for democracy remains in America, 4 July 2013
  5. Our deeds in Egypt show the darkness & folly of our foreign policy, 19 August 2013

(d)  Posts about Libya:

  1. Libya’s people need uninvited infidel foreigners to save them!, 1 March 2011
  2. “You just have not seen enough people bleed to death”, 8 March 2011
  3. About attacking Libya – let’s give this more thought than we did Afghanistan and Iraq, 6 March 2009
  4. Our geopolitical experts see the world with the innocent eyes of children (that’s a bad thing), 14 March 2011
  5. We’re at war, again. Another shovel of dirt on the corpse of the Constitution., 21 March 2011
  6. A war monger review, looking at the articles advocating a US war with Libya, 22 March 2011
  7. What will the world’s tyrants learn from the Libyan War? Get nukes., 25 March 2011
  8. Who are we helping in Libya? Here are some answers., 27 March 2011
  9. In America, both Left and Right love the long war, 30 March 2011
  10. Can the UN give Obama the authority to send US forces in the Libyan War?, 1 April 2011
  11. Tearing the Constitution is a bipartisan sport!, 4 April 2011
  12. Why the Libyan War is important to us – and to our children, 9 April 2011
  13. A status report on our intervention in Libya. Historians will find this farce fascinating., 17 April 2011
  14. A child-like credulity is required to be a US geopolitical expert, 25 April 2011
  15. Important information about Libya hidden behind the veil of the US news media, 1 September 2011
  16. Mission Accomplished, 3 November 2011 — By Chet Richards
  17. The promise: We’re from America and we’re here to help you. The reality: bomb ‘em and leave them., 18 February 2012
  18. What did we learn from our intervention in Libya?, 24 March 2014



5 thoughts on “The long-simmering conflict in the Middle East breaks out, surprising US experts”

  1. How does all this align with the fall/decline of the American empire, will this accelerate it, or it is the last nail in the coffin ?!

  2. Two observations (that actually only confirm the argument in FM’s post):

    1) There is a tendency to view those “allies” in the Near East as lacking initiative, and who will only do as told, i.e. lackeys. As pointed out above, they are autocrats whose paramount objective is survival. If the policies of the USA are not conducive to their survival, or even detrimental to it, then they will act autonomously. The surprise is not that they act on their own, possibly against the wishes of the USA; the surprise is that the USA pundits are so deluded as to be dumbfounded by this turn of events.

    2) It is interesting to note on the rivalry Qatar/Saudi Arabia vs. UAE/Egypt that, during the insurrection against Gaddafi, Qatar had sent hundreds of soldiers to fight on the side of the rebels; Qatar even boasted about it afterwards. Nobody (not the USA, not other NATO countries) frowned upon this outrageous violation of the UNO resolution, for, after all, it served their purpose well. Now that the UAE sends its air force, the USA and the NATO are bewildered and vaguely apprehensive. Once again: do they really things those sheiks and generals are their puppets?

  3. Heck….the anger may be surface posturing only. Someone has to supply the replacement weapons systems lost during the conflicts…and we are the biggest arms dealers in the world!

  4. This is an interesting article on Sisi, the current ruler of Egypt, and ‘our close ally.’ I like this little summary here. He’s a ‘rigid corrupt oligarch’ if there ever was one.

    “He’s insecure, paranoid … his governing coalition is incredibly narrow and weak,” Stacher says. “Everyone remembers Nasser now as all-powerful, but he was hyper-insecure for the first 10 years of his reign … Sisi is weak like Nasser was, but unlike Nasser, he can’t offer much to the people. If I were him, I would be pretty nervous.”

    He’s bombing Libya? I think this about explains it. Really, ISIS is threatening Syria and Iraq — Libya is nearly already gone.

    Also while everyone’s fretting about Isis, just posting this here, in case people don’t know who the ‘good guys’ are. A thousand or so protesters were killed in Egypt. Search this on youtube if you have the stomach for it. There are some pretty amazing videos of this, I think it’s a pivotal moment and had a role in radicalizing those who supported Islamic law, but weren’t quite ready to take it to the next level. This was Sisi, and he’s our ally.

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