This coming weekend we will say goodbye to the Jewish year 5775 and welcome 5776 with our traditional prayer: “Let a year and its curses end, let a year and its blessings begin.”
Unfortunately, events in the Middle East over 5775 portend that the “curses” of this year — masses of refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq, political instability, ISIS, al-Qaida, terrorism and Iranian nukes — will not only spill over into 5776, but will grow, strengthen and expand in ways that, according to many experts and analysts, will change the so called “world order” as we know it (or think we know it) today.
I want to make it clear at the outset that when I use the phrase “New World Order” I’m not referring to Illuminati conspiracy theories, biblical prophecies, Woodrow Wilson’s post-World War I “Fourteen Points” or H.G. Wells’ 1940 book of the same name.
I’m referring to the geopolitical changes that are happening right now in the Middle East and Europe, their causes and ramifications.
What is happening? Why is it happening? Can anything be done?
Mass waves of Syrian and Iraqi refugees entering Europe
Wholesale destruction of entire Sunni, Yazidi and Christian communities by Syrian government forces and anti-government rebels, particularly ISIS and al-Nusra.
Total absence of security. Streets ruled by armed thugs.
Lack of U.S. credibility to oust Bashar al-Assad, especially after “red line” debacle.
Growth and strengthening of ISIS despite President Obama’s Sept. 3, 2014 vow to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS.”
Destruction of Syria’s economic infrastructure.
Influx of over a million Muslims will exacerbate the already tense relations between Muslims and Christians.
Already fragile economically, most EU countries are at risk of collapse, and are calling to suspend the “open borders” (Schengen Agreement) between member EU countries, a pillar of the EU unity.
Right-wing nationalistic politicians, especially in the stronger states are already calling to scuttle the EU and go back to Individual state sovereignty.
So this potential European “new world order” is more like “back to the old days.”
New Middle East arms race
The Iran Nuke Deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — JCPOA).
The yet unsigned “verbal understandings” (as Iranian negotiators still call the JCPOA) not only do not prevent Iran from acquiring nukes, but also virtually guarantee that they will have them within 10 years, unless they cheat.
If they cheat, the time frame is reduced to 2-3 months if they build them … or less than two days if they decide to buy one or two from North Korea with all the money they’ll have now.
No one in the Middle East (including Israel) believes that the U.S. can “defend” them “if Iran attacks with nuclear weapons,” as was promised by senior U.S. officials both in Washington and the region. One Arab commentator pointed out that by definition, the “defense” would come after the attack…!
The U.S., Russia, China, Germany, France and other countries are falling over themselves in a rush to sell Israel and the Sunni Arab countries lots of sophisticated high-tech weapons, igniting an arms race in a region that is currently hosting two bloody Sunni-Shiite wars (Syria and Yemen), and that thanks to the so-called Arab Spring has lost most of the secular dictators that kept the region stable and persecuted Islamists and Jihadists.
So here is the “new order” I believe that we will see materializing, one way or another, starting in 5776:
As American credibility, influence and power declines in the Middle East, we will have more Russian intervention, led by Putin. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since right now it seems to be the only chance to achieve some sort of stability in the region. Putin and the Russian leadership have good relations with Israel, Egypt, Syria (Assad and the Alawites), Turkey the Gulf States and … Iran.
Europe will continue to be stretched to the breaking point by more and more refugees from Syria, Iraq, North and Central Africa, Sudan and even Turkey. The EU may not survive.
ISIS will continue to grow and expand the Islamic State, possibly re-emerging with al-Qaida.
Both extreme Islamist terror organizations will continue to attempt bigger and more devastating 9/11-style attacks in the U.S. and Europe.
Iran will make every attempt to cheat on the JCPOA, while continuing its nefarious activities to expand its hegemony in the Middle East and Africa, while supporting terrorist activities worldwide — even if they are Sunni, like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida. It may also try to start a war with Israel before Israel destroys the over 100,000 Iranian rockets deployed in Lebanon. Bad mistake…
In all this Israel will continue to develop, invent, absorb immigrants (and maybe a few refugees…), grow its economy, solve problems, win sports tournaments, export miracle medical inventions and, as always, be a shining light to all the nations of the world.
5776 will come in this weekend like a bride: Some things will be old; some things will be new, some things will be borrowed…and a lot of good things will be “Blue and White.”
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.
Shanah tovah, Happy 5776!
Lt. Col. (IDF res) Gil Elan is president and CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress, and a Middle East analyst. Email: email@example.com
Upcoming briefings and SWJC events are listed at: www.swjc.org
DISCLAIMER: Opinions are the writer’s, and do not represent SWJC directors, officers or members.