The Middle East Will Get Much Worse

Smart policy types like to use the acronym MENA to describe what we in the West generally think of as the Arab world. North African populations in Libya and Algeria would reject the idea that they are in the same bucket as Arabs. Persians in Iran would have a similar complaint, even though they really do not have a basis for it. That is all true to one degree or another, but it is a useful bit of shorthand for discussing the collection of “countries” that are Muslim and mostly Arab.

If you look at the list of countries in the group, nine of the nineteen have been something close to stable over the last twenty years. Five of those are Gulf countries. Countries like Kuwait and Qatar are basically company towns run by a sheikh selling one product – oil. Then there is Israel, which is an exception. Oman and Jordan are also special cases, protected on the sly by Israel and operating as buffer states. Morocco is a special case, since it is mostly just a tourist trap for Europeans.

The stability that does exist in this region is based in Saudi Arabia. At least it has been. The Kingdom has avoided the revolts that were laughably called the Arab Spring by stupid Americans. They keep the GCC out of trouble and limit the mischief Iran is able to spread around the region. They also quietly work with Israel to limit the violence from the Palestinians.

Of course, they work with the US to maintain a strong military presence. There are a lot of US “advisers” in the Kingdom. Companies like Raytheon have been building and maintaining projects for the Saudis for decades. A lot of this booked as civilian use, but it is all military and all about controlling the region. Those listen posts the US runs in the Kingdom serve more than one purpose. That information is shared with Saudi intelligence. That is what has helped the Saudis control the explosion of chaotic violence coming from Yemen.

That last part, however, is where the worry starts. Yemen is a country full of inbred hyper-violent morons, who can barely organize a war-band. Yet, they have fought the Saudi military to a draw. This is a Saudi military equipped and trained by the US. They have the best equipment and the best training available, in addition to logistical and tactical support from the Americans. US military contractors have been with the Saudi military for decades, so there is not a problem with coordination. Yet, the Saudis cannot beat groups of retarded guys armed with old AK’s.

This war in Yemen has been an enormous drain on Saudi finances at a time when oil prices are depressed. The great leaps forward in drilling technology have most likely put a hard cap on oil prices, because wells can be brought back on-line quickly. Even if the Saudis can organize OPEC to hike prices again, they may not be able to enforce it. There is also the fact that the Saudis managed to alienate everyone with their policy of dumping oil to attack the US oil sector. The result is the Kingdom is hemorrhaging cash and will be forced to make deep structural changes.

That brings up another problem. The Saudi domestic setup is unsustainable. There are about thirty million people in the Kingdom, but ten million are foreign workers and many of those are basically slaves. The mean IQ of Saudi Arabia is tough to nail down, but the consensus puts it in the high 80’s at the optimistic end. Some old data suggest the mean is somewhere just north of 80, which is what you see in sub-Saharan Africa and American prisons. Add in the fact that most young Saudis do not work and you have a dearth of human capital. The general rule is you need a mean IQ of 95 to have a modern economy.

This is important because the Saudis recognize that they are running out of cheap oil to sell at huge profits. They are not going to run out of oil in our lifetime, but the cost of getting their crude out of the ground is going up and technology is allowing producers in the US to compete further up the price curve. That’s why they have this ambitious plan to restructure their economy to move away from simply being a giant oil company. They plan to open up the economy, diversify the tax base and shift work from foreign workers to Saudi workers.

Plans are great, but they rarely survive contact with reality. A country full of low-IQ nitwits, as the result of a culture of cousin marriage, is not going to turn into Silicon Valley overnight. Throw in the repressive Saudi religious culture and any attempt to open up the economy is going to run into trouble. Westerners working in the Kingdom live in compounds because the Wahhabi religious authorities demand it. Osama bin Laden was set off on his war with the West because Americans were stationed in the Kingdom during the Gulf War. Imagine what happens when Westerners are given easy access to the country.

That returns us to the central problem and why things will get much worse in the Middle East over the next decade. About 70% of the native Saudi population is under thirty. They do not work and they grew up in Wahhabi schools. The Saudis tended to export the fanatics to places like Afghanistan so they could go on jihad and never return. The more useful ones get pulled into the Saudi security services.

Imagine this process reversing and outside groups like ISIS recruiting these fanatics to make jihad on the House of Saud. Suddenly, ISIS or something similar is operating in Riyadh. There are plenty of signs this is happening now, but information is suppressed by the Kingdom for good reason. Still, smart people think this is a more of a now problem than a future problem.

Current estimates put the point at which the Saudis run low on cash between five and ten years from now. These are all guesses, of course. The only people, who intimately understand Saudi finances, work in the US Federal Reserve. The Saudis have already started a process of belt tightening in order to arrest the cash bleed, but these sorts of structural problems have to be addressed slowly, even in an autocracy.

Maybe the new King can get the country part way to its goal of diversification and that will be enough to stave off collapse. Nothing is ever certain in the Middle East except that there will always be turmoil. All the signs, however, are pointing in the wrong direction at the moment. That means the way to bet right now is on collapse of Saudi Arabia within the next decade. That, of course, will plunge the whole region into chaos.

The other reason to bet this scenario is the West is now led by people with a childlike understanding of the world. The European leadership class, growing up in the hothouse of US protection, resemble infants. There is no Bismarck or Metternich coming out of Germany in our lifetime. In the US, the political class has always been all thumbs in foreign affairs, but now they have succumbed to the madness of multiculturalism, rendering them dangerously incompetent.

This will not end well.

62 thoughts on “The Middle East Will Get Much Worse

  1. uhhhh… those IQ statistics are averages over populations numbering in the millions.
    Which means there are plenty of people clever enough to master modern weaponry, politics, economics, engineering….

    Culture is what leads to the different result.

  2. Thanks, this post did nothing to help my ‘pucker factor’.

    “This will not end well” is an understatement.

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  4. The Saudi’s are essentially a water empire, water empires control everything, because they control everything they eventually become fragile in a way that a single outside influence of some kind can cause them to crumble. It can be any number of things that would appear to be a inconsequential outlier. They have another problem in that they got their dicks in a ringer fighting those Yemenites. Natural and native small unit infantry is what they are, they also are pretty fierce partisan insurgents. The US military has moved so far from true small light infantry, they have forgotten the lessons of Roger’s Rangers of the French Indian war, sure they play lip service to it, but the nuts and bolts, meat and potatoes of true small unit infantry is only possible with a officer cadre willing to stick their political necks out. And obama has purged the .mil of true infantry warriors and the budgetary/political restraints of cultural marxism has bled such funding dry. But my point here is not the US .mil, but the Saudi’s, if they are being trained to standard by the YS .mil, small unit infantry is getting short shrift, the one thing the Saudi’s need to fight the Yemenites with Kalishnikov’s and the tactics and fighting skills to close with a technology/non small unit Saudi army. Small Unit Infantry Tactics, no matter what anyone claims otherwise, is the basis of all land combat.

    • Doug

      The more i talk to military people, the more I understand how effective good NCOs are, and how valuable the infantry soldier is. I know of someone in the British army who was in bayonet charges in Afghanistan. Apparently the art is to stick it in the enemy hard so they don’t get up but in a place where you can get your bayonet out easily ready to give another one of Allah’s favourites a taste of cold steel.

      Yes, technology may be fun to watch on the TV screen but real fighting is down to boots on ground, and boots on throats.

      • The modern bayonet is designed to enlarge the entry wound as it penetrates, thus making withdraw easier. That way they don’t easily get stuck between ribs. The Brits and the US train to use a slightly upward lunge to get the business end of the bayonet under the rib cage. The reality of modern military life is that the bayonet is more important as a multitool for cutting wire, trenching, etc., than as an offensive weapon. The design reflects that reality. It’s another example of how modern Anglo armies see the soldier as a weapons platform, given multiple options to accomplish a mission.

      • Well that is just it. Take for instance, they call guerrilla/insurgency war 4th generation war, but in fact 4th generation war is the style of war humans have used for thousands of years. It is still around, and technological and Westphalla warfare still has a very difficult time of beating the G. Add in mountainous terrain and the G has a very effective force multiplier. The human terrain is always on top, technology is second. Small unit tactics and the battle rifle will always be very very effective in combat. Col. John Boydd brought small unit tactics into the 21st century and beyond with his strategy of the ODDA Loop, and if anything exemplified how small unit infantry, true light infantry, in the technological age of war now, was even more effective. Like you said about Sergeants and NCO leadership, there is no substitute, it’s like the bayonet, all the fancy technology in the world doesn’t replace what the bayonet was originally designed for, to kill, to close with the enemy and kill him.

  5. What we don’t know is whether there are fewer or more people in the Kingdom who want more Jihad and a more devout leadership. That’s the kind of information that really matters.
    I saw a clip on youtube from Saudi tv in which one of their government ministers explained the Arab world has and has had nothing to teach the West and much to learn from the West.
    His interviewer seemed uncomfortable with his thesis but there were no insults.
    Apparently, if Islam itself isn’t criticized, he can get away with it.

  6. This will not end well.

    But it will end, and that’s the part that people have a hard time wrapping their heads around.

  7. In monarchies of old, a foppish, petulant manchild like 0bama’s Ben Rhodes would have been easily recognizable as a type known as a “favorite” of the king. Invariably younger, and often vicious, the favorite was a slavishly devoted sycophant and flatterer of the king’s whims who had been placed in such authority as he enjoyed not due to any great abilities (other than his gift for amusing the monarch), but because he was the king’s bedroom intimate. Such a creature was tolerated on sufferance by the king’s real advisers to the extent that the “duties” of the favorite remained for the most part devoted to being the arbiter of the court’s pecking order, rather than impinging on real matters of policy. This kind of arrangement functioned reasonably well except in those regrettable instances in which the king sacked his real advisers and turned the running of things over to the favorite – disasters were not long in following. Of course, King Barry’s court has always lacked real advisers, and favorites do as they please so long as they acknowledge the real power behind the throne, the deeply weird, Svengali-like Valerie Jarrett.

  8. I haven’t commented in awhile, but I want to thank zman for explaining what “MENA” is supposed to mean. I keep seeing this used and I’ve never understood it up to now.

  9. I’d bet there’s a lot of interest in Chinese “security” services in these regions in the next few decades. While the US military messes around with paratroopers in red high heels and getting Hultgreens into ground combat roles, the Chinese focus on eliminating potential threats with extreme prejudice. I’ve been telling all my dumbass liberal friends in academia for a long time that if you think Western imperialism was so bad, you’re gonna just love the Chinese version. They “Other” people with AK rounds.

  10. I knew a guy who worked in Libya (in engineering, so not troubled by Gaddafi’s mob) and he had to deal with some administrative matter. The local mayor went with my friend to whatever office it was to sort out the papers, and the mayor was — like everyone in his town — Berber. The mayor’s reaction when the paperwork was finally sorted was: “Bloody Arabs”

    • Talk to people who work in places like Saudi Arabia and they will inevitably tell you stories of ordinary idiocy that will blow your mind. I know a guy who was in the Kingdom to train security people. He said that about once a week, someone would off themselves by mishandling explosives, dropping something heavy like a tank on themselves. After a while, the Westerners made up a game to bet on which nitwit would kill himself.

      Not all Arabs are the same. The Lebanese are smart and clever. They also have a vastly different history and far less cousin marriage than Saudis or Iranians. Yemenis are probably the worst of the bunch. Stupid and chaotically violent.

      • Had to set up an underwriting operation in the UAE in the mid 2000s. Ended up putting it in the DIFC (a financial free trade zone) in Dubai. Structuring, licenses, etc…all easy. Staffing? Impossible. Had to have a percentage of local hires by rule and then staffed the rest with expats, mainly from India and Egypt. The only local hires worth a damn were the women. They were actually motivated. The men wanted to wander in a 10 or 11, go to lunch and leave at 3.

      • I’m still a USAF Reservist, a pilot training instructor. We have exchange trainees from various Arab allies that we teach to fly. I suspect we’re getting the smart ones for sure, but I’ve got plenty of gray hairs out of it now.

        • @ Jeb – There’s an old joke about the Egyptian Air Force buying Mirage fighter jets prior to the Six Day war. When describing how it worked, the French salesman explained it like this; “To go up, pull back on the stick. To go left, move it to the left. To go right, move it to the right.” The Egyptian asked “What if I want to go down?” to which the salesman replied, “Don’t worry, the Israelis will get you down.”

    • I know of a German engineer who was hired to get the failed public bus system in Trinidad back on line. In less than a year, he had it up and running perfectly. He returned to Germany the following year. One year after that, as you could guess, it was right back in the same condition as it was before he showed up. With the only exception of India, these types of stories are legend throughout the lands of the dark and dusky fellows. Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East will be no different once they run out of oil, water, agriculture and intelligent ideas.

      • An American pilot, working in Jeddah, saw the chief airplane mechanic “reading” a repair manual.
        The cheif didn’t realize he was holding it upside down.

        • Sorry-Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. No Westerners allowed in Mecca, so the royal airport is in Jeddah.
          and chief, not cheif

  11. Civilizations only advance when they have sufficient labor, raw materials and the intelligence to them. Today, Europe and America are excellent examples of what happens when you combine and optimize them. Africa and the Middle East are proof of what happens when you have plenty of labor natural resources but no intelligence.

    • I seem to recall PJ O’Rourke saying that Zimbabwe, which has everything, remains dirt poor and Hong Kong, which has nothing, is successful and makes money. I take this to mean what’s in the head is the key factor, not what’s in the ground.

      By the way, Karl, as one fellow EU serf to another, I will be voting Out on June 23 and while it pains me to sever my links with you (if we are allowed to leave, that is) I can offer you Camerwrong as a gift from a grateful British people. Hopefully after June 23 the man will have no future in the UK. Oh, and we Brexiteers will still love Europe, even if somehow it created the EU.

      • @ UKer – fair point about Hong Kong. But I suspect its initial resource was a successful British colonial rule, which provided the ground work for Hong Kong as it did everywhere else. Many thanks for the offer of Camerwrong but I’m sure if Merkel looses next year, it will be to someone just as outstanding as your current PM the way things are going. 🙂

        I salute your decision to leave as I am no supporter of the EU myself. Their function on this earth is questionable at best and dangerous at the worst.

        My favorite clip of Camerwrong

        • Correct, Karl.

          John Cowperthwaite.

          “……His introduction of free market economic policies are widely credited with turning postwar Hong Kong into a thriving global financial centre.”

          “….He returned to Hong Kong in 1945 and continued to rise through the ranks. He was asked to find ways in which the government could boost post-war economic outlook but found the economy was recovering swiftly without any government intervention. He took the lesson to heart and positive non-interventionism became the focus of his economic policy as Financial Secretary.”

          The West could well use a thousand John Cowperthwaites right about now.

    • “Civilizations only advance when they have sufficient labor, raw materials and the intelligence to them.” Top ten common misperception. Intelligence and custom advance civilization. The Greeks had little of what Tocqueville called “geography” going for them. The great advances in early America were in New England, which is not desirable farmland due to it’s rocky soil, when European inhabitants of a far richer South America tore each other’s entrails out in centuries of violence. Japan is singular for it’s lack of resources. Even intelligence alone is insufficient to advance civilization, although it is necessary.

      Tocqueville-“Customs: practical experience, behavior, opinions–that collection of intellectual and moral characteristics which men bring to the social condition. I am convinced that the luckiest of geographical conditions and the best laws are unable to uphold a constitution in the face of poor customs, whereas the latter can still turn even the most unfavorable conditions and the worst laws to advantage. Physical causes contribute less than legislation and legislation less than customs.”

    • The new comment system does not allow for editing, as far as I can tell. When I have time I plan to revisit the comments system. It can be better.

    • Typos usually drive me batty, because by the time I’ve hit a typo I’ve already found a lot wrong with someone’s facts or reasoning, and the typo just furthers my suspicion of carelessness. The quality of these posts and comments is such, however, that typos just whisk by hardly noticed.

      • Indeed. Not only do I look forward to the Zman’s wise opening words, but the comments as well. Nary a troll in sight. Disagreements are civil.

        And as the topics often include some reference to IQ, I don’t think I am going too far out on a limb to suggest every poster on here possesses an IQ north of 100. (Though admittedly some of us barely squeak by….LOL) I don’t know how Z’s able to maintain such exclusivity, but I hope it never changes.

        Truly an oasis in the internet.

        • Agreed. I came across the blog sort of by accident last summer and have been a near-daily reader since. Used to be a regular reader at NRO, RedState, etc., but the last year has shocked me pretty hard on where many of their writers/editors/commenters true feelings seem to lie. The verbal poo-flinging has been spectacular, and very grating.

  12. The Obama administration has done everything in its power to re-align the power axis in the Middle East. It has, to my mind, obviously sided with Iran against Saudi Arabia. Valarie Jarrett probably had a lot to do with this. On my darkest days I think their goal is to eliminate Israel.

  13. Last week the German Parliament in its unique moral clairvoyance decided to call the Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Turks a genocide – a mere 101 years after the facts. The defence of Europe´s South-eastern flank
    just got some billions of euros more expensive. No Bismarck or Metternich in sight indeed…I d settle for an average 83 IQ-Saudi to be in charge of Germany´s foreign policy…..

    • @ Joe Weiss – The German lawmakers did this as a symbolic resolution to block Turkey from gaining membership in the EU. Evidently if you have a history of genocide, you can’t join the EU. At least not before 1900 it seems. I think we can all read our history books and see where just about every European nation was been involved in genocide in one way or another. But I digress. Whether this will have the effect they’re hoping for will be seen. Frankly, I think it’s a stypid move to create another unenforceable law rather than actually taking responsibility to close the borders. Then again, if 100,000 people stand up and head north, there’s not a force on earth that wills top them. Same in the US; if 100,000 Mexicans organized and were able to mass on your borders, the idea the US military would open fire on them is fantasy.

      • “Evidently if you have a history of genocide, you can’t join the EU. At least not before 1900 it seems”

        This doesn’t make any sense at all. Aside from Germany itself, you also have Belgium, where the EU is headquartered.

        • The Armenian genocide occurred in 1915. My comment was to say the EU only seems to care about potential member nations who committed genocide if they did so after 1900, not before. There were plenty of European-backed genocides going on all over the world prior to 1900, the history books are full of examples. Brussels is specifically responsible for the atrocities in the Belgian Congo under Leopold II.

      • “the idea the US military would open fire on them is fantasy.”

        We may yet about that. Sensibilities change quickly when foreign invasion looms, as Trump has shown.

    • A variation on the Buckley comment that he would rather be governed by the first 200 names in the Boston phone book than the faculty of Harvard.

  14. I don’t if it’s true but I heard no person from Oman joined ISIS/ISIL or whatever,is called, they practice a different type of Islam there.

    The “mischief in the Middle-East” is caused by the Sunnis supported by the Saudis, not the other way around, the focus on Iran and the Shia that you see in Neocon circles is because they can run a country and fight Israel and win like Hezbollah in 2006, the own Israeli Defense Minister said he preferred Syria with ISIS than Assad.

    • This is an underappreciated issue in thinking about the Muslim world. There was a time when Islam had its own regional variations and the further you got from Mecca, the less Orthodox the religion was. The combination of Saudi Arabia funding Islamic schools the world over* and increased literacy coupled with the internet has lead to the spread of more orthodox Islam. For a long time, Muslims just did what was the local tradition, without really fact checking anything, but that is changing as people can go back to the source easily. It’s the Muslim equivalent of the Protestant Reformation, which never would have gotten off the ground without cheap printing enabling people to read the Bible.

      Local, regional Islams that were less nutty are slowly getting wiped out. Time was that you never saw women in Malaysia or Indonesia dressed all in black with their faces covered, because that was an Arab thing, and now I see them all the time.

      *This full time private Muslim school in Upstate New York has annual tuition of under $400/yr. Not per month. Per year. Somebody is paying the bills and it ain’t the parents.

      • Finally someone gets it! I keep hearing people call for a Islamic reformation, but they don’t seem to understand when I say that they are currently going through a reformation and that’s the problem. It’s like the good that is Christianity has warped their mind where religion is concerned.

        • Reformations can come in a variety of ways.
          I think it’s only when Muslims suffer so much from the excesses of Islam that real reform will take place. Necessity is the mother of invention.

          • This “invention” will make table fusion look like a 5th grade science fair demonstration.
            1. The Koran is the literal word of Allah. Out of Mohammed’s mouth but the words of god; not a recitation; Allah speaking. How you going to change a syllable of that?
            2. Mohammed is the last Prophet. Allah said so. Who’s got the authority to change that?
            3. Mohammed is the perfect Man. Allah said so. Who can gain say his example (the sunnah and hadith)?
            4. The last theo/polit/legal question of Islam was adjudicated 800 years ago and the court disbanded. No relief there.

            Mohammedanism is locked. As long as a single copy of the Koran exists, or remembered, sharia, murder and mayhem are inevitable.

          • If the Supreme Court justices could find the Constitution mandates same-sex marriage then creative ‘interpretations’ can be found for Islam. It will not be Islam that reforms, it will be Muslims who reform it. Of course it will be quite different.
            I’m not saying this will happen. Only that it could. 40 years from now. Who knows.
            I saw a clever guy (Algerian, I think) explain to his Muslim interviewer that alcohol isn’t banned in Islam, only drinking to the point of wild intoxication is. That when Islam says women should get half of what a man’s inheritance would be, this is a lower limit, not an upper limit, because in those days, women received even less.
            These are creative interpretations. Of course, he wasn’t a cleric, but these sorts of ideas can take root. “Hating the infidel” might be interpreted as being meaningless now, valid only in Mohammed’s time.

          • Unfortunately this is premised on the idea that the Koran can be “interpreted”. That door is shut. Supreme Court Justices do not hand down the Judgement of God. Mohammed did. That an anecdotal odd view here or there will “take root” simultaneously in 1.6 billion Muslims and overturn the core premise of Islam(Mohammedanism is really not about inheritance laws) I think is a rather large leap of faith (maybe that e-mail I didn’t open really was from a Nigerian prince); it hasn’t in 70 generations and experience would say that it won’t in another 70. The clever guy could , more likely, find himself defending against a heresy charge, and, unlike the Supreme Court, the penalty will not include being forced to bake a wedding cake.
            Islam is, by its founding document, closed and locked to fundamental change. To change it you have to do at least one of three things.
            1. Remove the founding premise that the Koran is the direct will of Allah converted to language, but rather a collection of stories, anecdotes, and admonishments delivered by Mohammed – and convince 1.6 billion Muslims of that. OR
            2. Fabricate a repudiation of Allah’s direct statement that Mohammed is the Last Prophet – and convince 1.6 billion Muslims of that. OR
            3. Remove the cloak of infallibility, once again in direct opposition to Allah, of Mohammed. This would invalidate the Sunnah and Hadith as the foundation of Sharia – and convince 1.6 billion Muslims of that.
            If you do even one of them then the religion is open to questioning. As long as all three remain in place it is unassailable because there is no chink in the armour that incases the validity of the faith as delivered 1400 years ago. It is perfectly sealed against interpretation. In this respect Mohammedanism is unlike Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism or any of the older faiths, being created after writing had come into widespread use. It basically sprang-forth whole, as a complete theological, political, and legal system; there was no feeling its way for centuries and having to fit or accommodate other systems. It didn’t have to convince anyone by argumentation or miracles; the sword was its proof, by direction. None of the Gospels were committed to the page for at least 20 years after the Crucifixion and there would be no “Bible” for 300; the Koran was, ostensibly, completely written by Mohammed’s death and the Ummah would stretch from Baghdad to the Pyrenees in less than a century.
            Islam, from its origin, was specifically designed to overcome and destroy any theological, political, or legal system it encountered. It was designed to conquer. That’s what it does, that’s all it does; and it absolutely will not stop until all others are dead.

          • The Koran is crystal-clear regarding the relative status between the Infidel and the Muslim, and a huge portion of the book is dedicated to elaborating the many aspects of the relationship. There really isn’t much room for misinterpretation.

    • Turkey is not just sitting on its thumbs either. Turkey is allowing ISIS oil and fighters to freely cross its border. ISIS can also be construed as a mercenary army fighting the real enemy of the Turkish and Arab Sunnis; that would be the Persian/Shia.
      And ISIS is also fighting the Kurds, which suits the Turks just fine.
      Erdogan has Ottoman Empire dreams and his biggest stumbling block is Iran. Sooner or later the Turks (and these guys can fight, unlike the Arabs) and Iran will either come to direct blows or sign off on a Hitler-Stalin-like pact to divvy up the spoils (which will be very short lived; they hate each other too much).
      The Turks realize that Europe will never accept them into the EU (the Euros prefer to accept Syrian/Afghan/Arab young single males to rape their women, engage in mass murder of Euro citizens and receive welfare checks) and Erdogan is moving full speed to reverse the secularization policies of Ataturk.
      The demise of Saudi Arabia – already in progress – will grease the skids for the Turks to step into the void.

      • Turkey is still very eager to join the EU and Britain’s Cameron has promised to help speed it up, even while telling the British that it will take a thousand years. To the extent that the EU allows Turkey to feel it can extort any concession, Turkey will feel optimistic about joining.
        America and the EU seem to view Turkey and Iran as untouchable. As ‘leading moderate Muslim countries’.

  15. Agree with nearly all you said (as usual), but in what sense is Oman a buffer state?

    • In the sense that I was thinking about Amman while writing that part. I had a friend from Amman and that was stuck in my head.

      • Oman and Jordan are the survivors of what had been a whole chain of British-constructed Arab kingdoms, where the elites continued to maintain close links to Britain. This used to include Egypt and Iraq. The Gulf statelets are sort of like this, but as zman said these are more analogous to company towns and their elites never had the cultural link. By the way, the region would be in much better shape if the structure the British had set up as they left had held together.

        Oman does have a sort of buffer role in terms of keeping Iran off the peninsula, and its become something of a logistics hub for various US military operations.

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