The Elephant Named "Broader Middle East"

Posted in Broader Middle East | 11-Oct-04 | Author: Dieter Farwick

Question: How do you eat an elephant? The answer : Piece by piece. This anecdote could serve as an approach to the "broader Middle East", which we have covered several times. On many occasions we have offered background information concerning "the arc of instability from Marrakech to Bangladesh". We are convinced that the future of this region is decisive for the whole world – especially for Europe.

As if they were in a nutshell, political, ethnic, religious and social problems and challenges are interrelated and interwoven. Therefore, there is a need for a "grand strategy" and a "great solution" for the entire region. However, this elephant is too big to be digested all at once. Politicians must try to deal with one digestible set of problems without losing sight of the complete picture. The situation calls for intelligent cooperation between the global players.

Syria in the middle of an interesting neighbourhood.

With this newsletter, we want to draw your attention to a small area often neglected by the public and the media : Syria and Lebanon, with the United States acting as the dominant player.

Geography plays a big role when dealing with Syria. Syria is a direct neighbor to Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon, where it still has 10,000 soldiers stationed. Furthermore, Syria is not far away from Iran. Syria and Lebanon are safe havens for terrorist groups like Hezbollah. The 600km border with Iraq allows infiltration in and out Iraq.

The vital question for the US is how to deal with Syria ? More carrots or more sticks ? What incentives would encourage Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to cooperate with the US and with the Iraqi government under Prime Minister Ayad Allawi ?

Our young author from Romania, Manuela Paraipan, did a great amount of research on this complex topic. She clearly grasps the requirements of the players in the region as well as of the US.