Winds of War, Part II

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Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D,

from Money & Markets,

Last summer, I made it absolutely clear that peace in the Middle East was a pipedream.

I wrote:

“If our leaders and allies still think they have the power to impose their brand of peace and freedom on the Middle East, they need to check into an insane asylum.”

Indeed, with the benefit of hindsight, we can now look back at a decade in which foreign intervention did little more than foment chaos, revolution and more wars.

For the evidence, just compare the two maps below.

The first map shows what the region looked like about five years ago when the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan were still in full swing; the U.S. was still debating withdrawal; and nearly all American citizens voted for the presidential candidate they thought could do the best job of ending the conflicts.

* Libya, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and the entire Arabian peninsula were stable (green areas in map) …

* Iraq and Afghanistan were the only theatres of war (red), and …

* Iran was the only other country where long-term stability could be seriously questioned (yellow).

In short, we had two, maybe three, conflicts to seriously worry about …

Now, fast-forward to January 11, 2014, and look how dramatically the picture has changed:

This second map, updated through January 2014, shows how the litany of woes in the region is unprecedented in modern history …

until recently, most of the conflicts were primarily domestic. The threads of cross-cutting alliances were often tangled. Direct support by regional and world powers was either limited or hidden. So the danger of a great Middle East war was not an immediate concern.

Now it is.

And overlaid onto the geopolitical and economic rivalries is the most powerful mobilizing force of all in Muslim world — the millennial split between Shia and Sunni, dating back to the death of Muhammad in the year 632:

But anyone who still thinks there’s a wall surrounding the region which can contain such a broad regional conflict needs to check into the same institution as those who think they can fix it.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are more than just regional powers — they control massive resources that help power the global economy. All five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the U.S., the U.K., France, China and Russia — are heavily involved in the region.

But unlike the conflicts of five years ago, the major world powers have drawn a line in the sand — U.S. and its NATO allies vs. Russia and China.

Unlike any time in the past, we’ve seen U.S. and Russian battleships move into the area.

And unlike any time in the past, the ECONOMIC consequences of the NEXT phase of this regional war are boundless, raising urgent questions.

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