In a Changed World, Declining Democratic Support Might Be One of Israel’s Greatest Challenges

Surveying the geopolitical changes that have swept the world, and the Middle East, in the last several decades, Yaakov Amidror takes stock of what they mean for the Jewish state. Among the most important developments he points to are the rise of China, the return of Russia to the Levant, and the evolution of the Internet and cyberwarfare—the last of which poses an array of new threats to any advanced country’s wellbeing. And then there is the collapse of some Arab states, coupled with the retreat of the U.S. from the Middle East:

The two Muslim non-Arab countries—Iran and Turkey, central to the history of the region and to the present power struggle—are now trying to make use of the regional vacuum and to advance their national interests and the ideologies to which their leaders adhere. Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan promotes the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, with an added layer of revived Ottoman pretensions, which had vanished since the aftermath of World War I. . . . As for the Arabs, they detest the Ottoman dream—and the Turks—and while they admire the Persians and their ancient culture, they also fear their power.

In the face of Iran’s efforts to destabilize the region and obtain nuclear weapons, and Turkey’s attempts to extend its authority from the Caucasus to Libya, the Arabs have no good answers. There is no acceptable Sunni Arab leadership and no Arab state leads the pack. All this comes against the background of a gradual American retreat from the region. When the leaders of the Arab states look around, they see no steady anchor to latch onto.

Amidror identifies a single threat to Israel on par with that from the Islamic Republic, namely:

the erosion [in America] of traditional bipartisan support for Israel, which U.S. Jewry had been able to secure in the wake of World War II and up until the presidency of Barack Obama. This may well be the result of an inevitable historical trajectory. . . .

At the end of the day, only a militarily strong Israel, ready to preserve [its historic] national defense doctrine . . . of defending itself by itself against any coalition of enemies—can sustain its regional position and thus retain its attraction as a partner to other significant international players.

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Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Barack Obama, Democrats, Iran, Israeli grand strategy, Israeli Security, Turkey, US-Israel relations

 

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy