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 mad pursuit for a New Middle East, repeatedly thwarted, keeps resurfacing, hydra-like. The driving force behind the neocon dream has metastasized into all sorts of outlandish and frightful scenarios. Has the strategic community forgotten founder of Blackwater, Eric Prince’s idea of “governing” Afghanistan exactly as the British governed India in early 20th century – under a “Viceroy”.
Eid-ul Zuha is on October 6. Attribute it to their black humour, but Arab diplomats not in the Saudi camp, have been floating a story: Abu Bakr al Baghdadi may like to celebrate Eid in Mecca. I had written three weeks ago that a Caliphate cannot be a Caliphate without Mecca.
It would be useful for Sushma Swaraj to recall the goings on in Atal Behari Vajpayee’s cabinet. L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh had agreed to send Indian troops to govern the Kurdish North of Iraq, exactly the region the Americans have now returned to in military formation.
The expanding Shia-Sunni conflict in the Muslim world is exposing vast gaps in popular understanding of the schism. For example when Zaine El Abedine Ben Ali, the Tunisian strongman was ousted, people thought a Shia dictator had fallen. From this they extrapolated that the Arab Spring was an anti-Shia plot.
On the Muslim world’s centre stage, the Nayef-Brzezinski duet roped in Pakistan’s Zia ul Haq for a mass production of Mujahideen in Afghanistan. These would fight the Soviets and be a bulwark against Shia Iran. Zia would help Arabize Pakistani Islam and wrench it from India’s composite culture.
He must also place West Asia on his radar because this vital part of our near abroad is in rapid change. A new West Asia is emerging. We must engage at the highest level and help shape this change, taking heart from Raees Amrohvi’s optimism many moons ago.