A Tale of Two Quagmires


A significant sentence.

On the Al Jazeera Web site, there was a report of Saudi Arabia’s condemnation of Hamas’ and  Hizbullah’s “adventurism.”  The Saudis claimed that “gains” made by Arab leaders were being put in danger.  The Al Jazeera report carried the pithy comment to the effect that the Saudi government did not say what “gains” they had in mind.

For me that sentence says a great deal.  It is the voice of the Arab street making its way though censorship onto the public agenda.

Israeli aggression puts in immediate danger the Arab leaders who to a man collaborate with varying degrees of boldness with the United States and hence with Israel.  It does so because it highlights yet again the failure of the Arab leadership to protect their own people.

The Arab Street desperately wants an end to the humiliation that has been visited on the Arab nation for decades by the US and Israel.  The Street’s heroes are those who resist.  The Western media by and large refuse to acknowledge that truth.  Lies and propaganda are de rigeur.  The public in the West must above all be kept from any understanding of what is going on.

The irony of course is that the real adventurers in the Middle East are the US and Israel.  That is the truth.  Both nations are attempting to use the firepower of their air forces to impose their political will on the Arabs.  Both nations are failing.  It is most important to understand that, since US direct intervention into Iraq, everything has changed.  The far enemy and the near enemy became one.  The physical closeness of the imperialists to the collaborators poses a threat to the latter.

Moreover, Iraq has turned into a quagmire, and the single gain made by the US, the forging of an alliance with the Shia under Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, holds within it the seeds of a much wider regional war involving the Sunni and the Shia.

However, US and Israeli adventurism has called into being an axis opposed to it.  That consists of Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria and Iran.  Crucially this axis crosses the Sunni-Shia divide.  Currently they do not have the firepower to defeat the IDF, but they can and are creating a second quagmire based on the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon.  The IDF has made to date something like 1000 sorties.  But that is not enough.  The loss of one Israeli warship puts all that at nought, because it is living proof of the willingness of the Arabs to continue resisting despite the bombing and moreover it shows that, despite the IDF’s firepower, resistance can be effective.

In addition, continued aggression against Hizbullah and others runs the very real risk of bringing the Iraqi resistance into the fold and thus of the creation of a united front against both US and Israel.  In the case of a direct attack on Syria, it is unlikely that the US-Iraqi Shia alliance could hold.  Then the number of hostages — currently three Israeli soldiers – would have over 100,000 US soldiers in Iraq added to their ranks.

So there are two quagmires being formed in the Middle East, and as long as the current emergency lasts,  the very real risk for the US government is that the quagmires will morph into one huge conflagration which will sweep them and their puppets away.

Gary MacLennan was born in Northern Ireland and has worked internationally as a teacher of English, writing, literature, and film.  He is a senior lecturer at Queensland University of Technology.