The Middle Eastern states, divided not by themselves but by the powers that colonised the region, are reorganising themselves according to their own logic. Of course these new alliances are still fragile, but the West will have to deal with them…
That makes the Middle East difficult to understand is that it comprises a multitude of actors with different logics who, depending on the circumstances, make or break alliances. We often think we know the region politically, who our friends and enemies are. But when we return to the same place years later, the landscape has changed dramatically: some of our former friends have become enemies, while some of our former friends want us dead.
This is what is happening now. In a few months, everything will have changed.
1) First of all, we have to understand that some of the protagonists, who lived in desert regions, organised themselves into tribes by force of circumstances. Their survival depended on their obedience to the chief. They are alien to democracy and have communitarian reactions. This is the case, for example, of the Saudi and Yemeni tribes, the Iraqi Sunnis who come from the latter and the Kurds, the Israeli and Lebanese communities or the Libyan tribes. These people (except the Israelis) were the main victims of the US military project: the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy of destroying state structures. They did not understand what was at stake and now find themselves without a solid state to defend them.
2) A second category of actors is driven by self-interest. They are only interested in making money and have no empathy for anyone. They adapt to all political situations and always manage to be on the winning side. It is this category that provides the contingent of die-hard allies of the imperialists of all stripes who have dominated the region (recently the Ottoman Empire, then the British and French Empires, now the United States).
3) Finally, the third category acts to defend its nation. It has the same courage as the tribal populations, but is able to perceive things in a broader way. It is this group that, over the millennia, has created the notions of the city and then the state. Typically, this is the case of the Syrians, who were the first to form states and are now dying to keep one.
Seen from the West, we often think that these people are fighting for ideas: liberalism or communism, Arab unity or Islamic unity, etc. But this is always false in the case of the Syrians. But this is always wrong in practice. For example, the Yemeni communists have now become almost all members of al-Qaeda. Above all, we judge these people as if they were not capable of being on our level. The opposite is true: Westerners, who have lived in peace for three quarters of a century, have lost touch with simple realities. The world is full of dangers and we need alliances to survive. We choose to join a group (tribal or national) or to go it alone among our enemies, abandoning our friends and family. Ideologies exist, of course, but they are only to be considered after we have positioned ourselves against these three categories.
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