Wars In The Middle East: Escaping the Frying Pan

Wars in the Middle East: Navigating From the Frying Pan into the Fire

The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again: and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered. Edmund Burke 1729-1797, British Political Writer, Statesman

Wars in the Middle East: A Decade of Unforeseen Consequences

Updated June 2023

Upon revisiting our publication from nearly a decade ago, it becomes evident that nearly all of our predictions have materialized. In some instances, the situation has deteriorated beyond our initial forecasts. What eluded our foresight at that time was Russia’s astonishing ascendancy in the Middle East. In the following article, we expound on our expectations for Russia’s future role in the region.

It is a lamentable circumstance that Israel failed to glean vital lessons from the United States’ missteps in Iraq. Instead, it pursued a parallel policy, reliant on dubious military intelligence at best, and hinged on the hope that extensive bombardment would compel Hezbollah into submission. This scenario calls to mind the colossal aerial assault executed by the U.S. in Iraq known as “shock and awe.” The underlying premise was that this display of overwhelming firepower would instil such fear in insurgents that future troubles would be minimal, yet this tactic proved futile, serving only as an extravagant landscaping service and resulting in the needless loss of countless innocent lives. Insurgent attacks surged nearly a thousandfold. Today, they reluctantly acknowledge that Iraq teeters on the brink of civil war, a declaration we made over 60 days ago. It becomes apparent to anyone with a modicum of insight that all is not well when scores of individuals continue to lose their lives on a weekly basis.

It appears that, regrettably, the world at large persists in neglecting the invaluable lessons history so articulately imparts. Israel’s ill-fated reliance on deeply flawed intelligence led to a tragic bombing incident in Qana, claiming the lives of over 56 women and children. Now, Israeli pilots themselves deliberately veer away from targets due to what they label as unreliable intelligence.


Wars in the Middle East: Unraveling the Consequences

Recent revelations suggest that at least two Israeli fighter pilots intentionally refrained from striking civilian targets in Lebanon due to mounting concerns within the military regarding flawed intelligence. Sources indicate that these pilots harboured reservations about the accuracy of target identifications as Hizbollah facilities. Criticisms of the armed forces’ shortcomings are gaining momentum, with one Israeli cabinet minister questioning the substantial allocation of funds, juxtaposed with the lacklustre outcomes. The past week witnessed Hizbollah’s guerrilla force, previously dismissed by senior Israeli military officials as ‘ragtag,’ inflicting further casualties on one of the world’s most formidable armies in southern Lebanon. The toll includes at least 12 elite troops, equivalent to Britain’s SAS, and as of yesterday afternoon, Israel’s military death toll had risen to 45.

Major-General Dan Halutz, Israel’s chief of staff, had previously pledged to eliminate Hizbollah’s missile threat within a mere ten days. However, these assertions now appear derisive as rocket attacks persistently intensify in northern Israel, despite a relentless and highly destructive aerial onslaught.

As articulated by a prominent Israeli expert with substantial connections: ‘If our intelligence is so reliable in Lebanon, why do we still struggle to pinpoint the whereabouts of missiles and launchers?… If we remain uncertain about the location of their weaponry, what certainty do we have in identifying Hizbollah-affiliated residences?’ The full story unfolds with these considerations.

The aftermath of this indiscriminate bombing campaign has not only forged unity among Muslims worldwide but has also rallied several European nations against Israel. Furthermore, it has significantly bolstered Hezbollah’s popularity, with individuals who were previously hesitant to support them increasingly offering their allegiance.


Wars in the Middle East: Assessing Israel’s Challenge against Hezbollah

In a lesser-acknowledged development, Iran has been meticulously observing Israel’s approach to handling Hezbollah on the battlefield. This valuable intelligence is undergoing thorough analysis and storage for future reference. Undoubtedly, the Iranians must be exceedingly content with Hezbollah’s ability to effectively thwart Israeli forces.

The average Israeli citizen was fed a false narrative, assuring them that this battle would conclude swiftly. This rhetoric closely mirrors the assurances given in the United States, and the consequences there are all too evident. Over three years have elapsed, and the insurgency continues to gather momentum, posing a substantial threat to the existing government. Israel seemingly neglected to gauge Hezbollah’s formidable capabilities adequately, or if they did, this vital information was not communicated to the public. Hezbollah has demonstrated its proficiency in employing advanced anti-tank missiles to neutralize Israel’s robust and imposing armored vehicles, offering resolute resistance to Israeli troops. Remarkably, much of the Arab world was taken aback by Hezbollah’s ability to hold Israel at bay and present such formidable opposition.

 Among Hezbollah’s arsenal, their sophisticated anti-tank missiles stand out as a formidable asset in the ongoing conflict in Lebanon. These missiles have proven their ability to penetrate even Israel’s most advanced tanks, solidifying the perception that Israel is facing a well-equipped adversary in this war, rather than a mere ragtag militia. The confirmation that Hezbollah possesses Russian-made Metis-M anti-tank missiles and European-made Milan missiles serves as compelling evidence of their military prowess, as acknowledged by the Israeli army on Friday.


 Wars in the Middle East: Global Condemnation and the Emergence of New Alliances

It is imperative to recognize the source of these missiles; Russia’s aspirations for formidable global influence appear to be swiftly materializing. Furthermore, it is crucial to bear in mind that China and Russia, despite their mutual antipathy, have aligned forces, driven by their shared animosity towards the United States.

The incursion into Lebanon has ignited an unprecedented level of rage and indignation. Major Muslim nations are unanimously demanding an immediate ceasefire and a thorough investigation into Israel’s actions.

The largest coalition of Islamic countries in the world called on the United Nations to urgently enforce a ceasefire in Lebanon and probe what they deemed blatant human rights violations by Israel. The declaration goes on to insist that the UN Human Rights Council launch a comprehensive investigation into Israel’s criminal acts, encompassing the killing of civilians and the destruction of homes in Lebanon. The leaders unequivocally hold Israel accountable for the loss of lives and suffering and demand compensation for Lebanon and its people as a consequence of Israeli aggression.

Malaysia, as the current chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), rallied the leaders of 17 Muslim-majority nations, including presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers, for a day of discussions to articulate their resolute opposition to Israel’s incursions in Lebanese and Palestinian territories. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who presides over the world’s most populous Muslim nation, emphasized, “This war must cease, or it will radicalize the Muslim world, including those of us who currently embrace moderation. From there, we could be perilously close to the ultimate nightmare: a clash of civilizations.”


 Reflections on the Ongoing Wars in the Middle East

As we contemplate the multifaceted challenges stemming from Israel’s incursion into Lebanon, the complexity of the situation is apparent. One could delve into a ceaseless discourse on the issues at hand, but brevity is essential. It’s imperative to acknowledge that the toll of this war weighs heavily on the average Israeli, many of whom are already bearing a significant burden. Among the most vulnerable are the elderly and impoverished, who find themselves stranded in cities and towns often targeted by Hezbollah’s rockets. Their inability to escape is rooted in financial constraints and a lack of alternatives, leaving them to endure an anxious wait, hoping that their homes remain unscathed.

On both sides of this volatile divide, innocent lives are being sacrificed needlessly. Whether Israeli or Lebanese, if they are innocent, their loss is a tragic addition to an already grievous toll.

Evidently, the most profoundly affected in Israel and Lebanon are the economically disadvantaged, individuals who, in times of peace, grapple with the challenges of a difficult existence. Now, they are being asked to pay the ultimate price for a conflict with no apparent rationale, simply because they lack the means to relocate. Meanwhile, the middle-class residents in Israel who can escape the danger zones find themselves crammed into stifling bomb shelters, enduring unbearable living conditions at best and uninhabitable environments at worst. It’s crucial to bear in mind that this dire situation unfolds during the scorching summer months in Israel and Lebanon. While Israelis have the respite of bomb shelters, their Lebanese neighbours are left exposed, clinging to hope amidst uncertainty.


In the final analysis, there is a prevailing concern that this protracted conflict will inadvertently bolster the strength of entities like Hezbollah or potentially give rise to radical groups such as Al Qaeda, each possibly growing tenfold in influence. Additionally, it is becoming increasingly evident that Iran is poised to emerge as a preeminent power broker in the region, capitalizing on the chaos that currently engulfs Iraq and Lebanon. In the span of 6 to 9 years, individuals may reflect and lament, wondering how they allowed such a predicament to unfold. It becomes increasingly apparent that the prospects for enduring peace in the Middle East have grown exceedingly dim. What appears more likely on the horizon are a series of peace agreements, each destined to be ultimately breached, paving the way for future conflicts.


Peering into the Near Future

The ongoing assault on Lebanon has inflicted such profound damage on the Lebanese government that, without a proactive intervention by the United Nations, the country could teeter on the brink of a civil war once Israel withdraws. Should this grim scenario materialize, it would further bolster Iran’s influence in the region. Moreover, unless substantial truce agreements are forged among the factions in Iraq in the near term, the prospect of descending into chaos and anarchy looms large. Such a deterioration would likely result in the division of Iraq into three distinct zones: one for the Sunnis, one for the Shiites, and one for the Kurds.

In the aftermath of such a division, Turkey is poised to launch a full-scale offensive in the north to prevent Kurdish dominance, and there may be little resistance to this action. Consequently, Iraq’s oil production would plummet to a quarter of its current output, which has already dwindled to less than half of its capacity from three years ago. This unfolding scenario plays into Iran’s hands, as it stands to benefit from the increased value of its own oil reserves. Furthermore, Iran’s control over the strategically vital Straits of Hormuz, through which over 21 million barrels of oil traverse daily, grants it significant leverage.

It’s conceivable that Iran views recent events with a degree of satisfaction, as they have unfolded more rapidly and dramatically than anyone could have anticipated even a few years ago.

Notably, Hezbollah possesses long-range missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv and beyond. Their restraint in not deploying these missiles thus far may be attributed to awaiting orders from the top Ayatollah in Iran. However, if the civilian casualties in Lebanon continue to mount, the issuance of such an order could be imminent.

We are currently compiling the results of the Religious Provocation Index, and it appears that it may experience another significant surge, approaching the critical threshold of 900. Should this level be reached before the year’s end, we anticipate a turbulent and chaotic period. However, there remains the possibility of brokering a major peace deal, which could prompt a sharp correction in the Religious Provocation Index. It is clear which outcome we at TI are hoping for; in case there is any doubt, we ardently wish for a substantial correction in this index.

Yesterday, Mr. Rashed, aged 40, lay in a hospital bed, surrounded by a throng of relatives. Just two weeks earlier, he had taken his family on a brief respite from the rocket attacks, hoping to find solace. “But how many times can you leave? You have to come back eventually, and then this happened,” he lamented. “I don’t want this war, none of us wants it. Conflict can’t resolve anything; we need negotiations.”Full Story

Additional Footnotes on Wars in the Middle East

This article was penned several days before the fragile cease-fire agreement was enacted and dispatched to our subscribers. Since then, this truce has been put to the test and, regrettably, has already faced violations, most notably the failed commando raid.

The prospects for the longevity of this cease-fire appear tenuous, primarily due to the reluctance of European nations to commit significant troop numbers. France, contributing only a modest 200 troops, leaves a substantial shortfall of 14,800 troops, which we doubt any nation will be eager to fill unless influential nations like France take a more earnest approach. The United Nations’ apparent lethargy in addressing this matter underscores the lack of genuine commitment to resolving the issue. Our Religious Provocation Index, a unique and singular measure, has consistently forewarned of a surge in violence and terrorism in the Middle East and on a global scale. We will publish the details of this index in a forthcoming article.

The situation below provides a glimpse of the potential consequences in Lebanon if peace efforts falter.

Last month, over 3,500 Iraqis lost their lives, surpassing the total number of military personnel killed in Iraq over the past three years. If this isn’t indicative of a civil war, it challenges the very definition of one. This is a nation that was supposedly liberated and on the path to democracy.

Now in its fourth year, the war has exacted a toll, with more than 2,600 American casualties and a much higher number of Iraqi fatalities. Last month alone, approximately 3,500 Iraqis perished violently, marking the highest monthly civilian toll to date. President Bush’s approval rating has plummeted to the nadir of his presidency, causing concern among Republicans regarding the potential loss of control in Congress due to voter discontent.

In Israel, there is mounting anger among the populace who feel deceived by their government, and this sentiment is entirely justified. This situation has transpired due to leadership with limited military experience. It’s highly likely that if Sharon were still in power, he would have approached matters differently. Olmert and his close associates continue to make impulsive decisions, and the consequences may become evident in the upcoming elections when Israelis decide it’s time for a change.

Israel’s repeated violations of the recently brokered peace deal have not only irked the international community but also the United Nations. If Israel was taken aback by Hamas’ victory, they may be astounded by the outcomes of the upcoming elections in Lebanon. We predict that Hezbollah will likely secure the majority of seats, effectively solidifying their control over Lebanon. A Hezbollah victory translates to Iran’s increased influence, potentially by a factor of six or more.

Some astute Israelis in the government are proposing negotiations with Syria. The Syria-Iran alliance appears fragile, and if the U.S. and Israel offer Syria a sufficiently enticing proposal, they might sever ties with Iran. Israel could, for instance, offer the return of the Golan Heights in exchange for peace, with the U.S. contributing economic incentives. Such a move could constitute a significant strategic triumph. However, the question remains whether they will pursue this avenue.

Long-term prospects for a lasting peace deal appear grim, and violence and conflict are poised to afflict this region for years to come. Additionally, we anticipate Iran will continue its military buildup, likely with support from Russia and China, both of which harbour significant animosity toward the United States.

Finally, it’s essential to remember that every crisis presents new opportunities. Given the slim likelihood of lasting peace in the Middle East, well-positioned investors stand to gain substantially from a range of investments beyond precious metals. Nevertheless, if given the choice between these investments and peace, peace remains the preferred option. Unfortunately, our preference holds little sway; violence appears destined to prevail for the foreseeable future.

Our stance is one of impartial observation; we maintain objectivity and do not generalize or cast blame on entire religious or ethnic groups for the actions of a few. In our view, there are no inherently “bad” groups, only individuals who exploit their religions as cover for malevolent deeds.


New Notes – September 2016

Putin has unequivocally demonstrated that Russia is fed up with America and has chosen to take a firm stance. In less than a year, Russia successfully restored some semblance of stability in Syria, seemingly highlighting that American airstrikes were often targeting barren terrain rather than thwarting ISIS. Time and time again, it appears that the United States is more inclined to inadvertently support terrorists and rogue states than to actively promote peace in the region.

Consider the global landscape: in just a month, China has shown a disregard for the United States, the Saudi King has seemingly disregarded the U.S., and the President of the Philippines has publicly disparaged Obama with derogatory language. These events underscore a shifting dynamic where America’s days of unilateral influence are waning. Russia and China are emerging as prominent leaders in the Middle East, gradually displacing the U.S., with a foreseeable future where they collaborate to diminish American influence across Asia and the Middle East. Following that, it’s plausible that they may collectively work to reduce American presence in many parts of Europe.


The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem; it is employed only by small children and large nations. David Friedman


Originally published in August 2006, this content has been periodically updated over the years, with the latest update being completed in June 2023.

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