Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Politics of Greed in the Middle East

Slowly making cautious forays into the international arena, Britain's new prime minister David Cameron has recently stated he feels 'anger' at the slow pace of Turkey's admittance into the EU. I'll bet he does. The strategy of keeping Europe as an exclusive Western club and keeping out the West's traditional and long time enemies, especially Muslim ones, has meant that Turkey, long the crown jewel of European powers in the Middle East, has forged new ties with unfashionable countries like Syria and Iran. Good.

Cameron is a wily one, and I think we should watch him closely in the coming years. He's recognised that the Bush-era ideological fervor will have to die down or be put away now that Europe and the United States are in a far weaker position than they were in ten or fifteen years ago. I'm sure he'd love to entice the Turks back to Europe, it will do no good at all to have a stable Middle East with two major countries like Turkey and Iran working together to establish free trade zones, diplomacy and economic ties at a time when the whole EU project is looking quite shaky.

Why shouldn't the Middle East be stable and create its own economic network? We have potentially enormous markets if a way of generating enough jobs and disposable income for workers can be found. It was like that once before and there is certainly no real reason why it shouldn't be so today. Unlike Europe the region shares a common cultural, religious or linguistic background. If one bond is not enough between two groups, then you can take your pick between religious, national or cultural ties. When all else fails, money for those who prize it above all else. It makes sense literally for these ties to be strengthened and for each local despot to draw from the well. To each according to his ability, to each according to his greed...to bastardise Marx's words.

So let's have that pup Cameron making his speeches (he is an excellent speaker by the way), it makes no difference. The real issue for the region has always been Israel and it is here where the likes of Cameron can hit where it hurts. It is simply not possible to create this project with a nuclear armed pitbull terrier killing all the chickens. But perhaps greed will succeed in moving the Arabs where religion and nationalism have failed. If Mr Cameron thinks it is a good idea to let Turkey "pave a road from Ankara to Brussels", somebody should remind the good prime minister that the road doesn't stop at Ankara, but carries on all the way to Tehran. And the traffic goes both ways...

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