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War in the Middle East

October 14, 2018

Until the disappearance of a Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, presumably murdered in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul, the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate by Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the authoritarian reforms of a young prince in Saudi Arabia, were a sideshow to the boiling waters of politics in Iran and Syria.

With American media calling for reprisals against Saudi Arabia, however, the political interests of the United States and its Saudi ally conflict with American policy toward Iran, Syria and Turkey.  And, as President Trump observed, there is that little matter of $1.2 billion of purchases of American missiles, fighter jets and other munitions by Saudi Arabia.

Given the willingness of Islamic regimes to violate the sanctity of foreign embassies, we should expect Turkey to raid the Saudi Embassy in Turkey. When, not if, that occurs, a war between Turkey and Saudi Arabia may erupt, and the interests of the United States and Russia will be at odds.  Russia may take the side of Turkey (an ally of Russia in WW I) and the U.S. will come to the aid of the Saudis.

These events will reinforce our understanding that political reforms and revolutions in countries where Islam is the state religion are no longer a regional issue. That political turmoil has the potential of involving the U.S. and Russia in a shooting war that will reshape the role of Turkey in NATO, hasten the dissolution of the European Union, and encourage an attempted overthrow of the Islamic regime in Iran by pro-Western Iranians.

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