At this moment of transition, what construct does one place on the outgoing Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s participation in the cloak-and-dagger meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu in the mega city of Neom being built on the Red Sea?
Who knows an oil and gas rich Israel may in the future be nice to a people it has been particularly nasty with: the Palestinians. The credit for affecting a change of heart will go to a GCC country which will, to that extent, have helped weaken the Iran-Nasrallah ticket in the region.
Tayyip Erdogan who restarted “Namaz” at Hagia Sophia, has come out, all guns blazing as an unabashed Brother. His clash with Sisi, the oppressor or Brothers in Egypt, will cut the ground from under Sisi’s feet. That clash has to be avoided by forces which, alas, are these days preoccupied with issues of their own survival.
The consequence is that the assassination-in-a-hurry has united even disparate forces in Iran, Iraq and the larger West Asia. It left Europe dazed, Britain embarrassed and the rest of the world wondering as to what would happens next.
The assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani by US airstrikes in Iraq brings West Asia nearer the precipice. By this action, President Trump, who cannot get out of Afghanistan, has got himself deeper into the West Asian Quagmire.
The leaked cables offer an extraordinary glimpse inside the secretive Iranian regime. They also detail the extent to which Iraq has fallen under Iranian influence since the American invasion in 2003, which transformed Iraq into a gateway for Iranian power, connecting the Islamic Republic’s geography of dominance from the shores of the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.
What Erdogan has been offered is a poisoned chalice. This is clear as daylight in Trump’s own words. The tone is of malicious glee: “Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out.”
Yellow vests in Paris, Brexit in Britain, Trump in the US, George Soros and Steve Bannon vying for the soul of Europe, Turkey embroiled in the Kurdish enclaves in Syria, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in post Khashoggi free fall, corruption allegations enveloping Netanyahu: In the midst of these global wind storms, cyclones, tornadoes is the calm centre which I visited last week. It is four hours flight away from New Delhi – indeed most major Indian cities – Qatar or, to be more precise, Doha, the capital, where 80 percent of the population lives.
The ghoulish murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi has set into motion a new dynamic in the Syrian, Yemeni, Palestinian and other incipient conflicts in West Asia. Popular perception globally has traced the macabre plot to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, even though the Saudi propaganda machine is deflecting guilt.