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Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 05:50 | SYDNEY
Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 05:50 | SYDNEY

Middle East: Just as I predicted

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COMMENTS

4 January 2011 10:25

At the start of 2010 I made some predictions about the year ahead for the Middle East, so in the spirit of retrospection, I'll review my crystal ball. My 2010 predictions are in italics.

Iran:

Iran will continue to concentrate minds in the US in particular, but I can't see much policy headway being made and the situation at the end of the year will be little different from now. A sputtering domestic resistance movement may survive but will gradually lose momentum or split, but either way is not likely to threaten the regime's survival...On the nuclear issue, Iran will continue to obfuscate, earn the ire of the West and of the IAEA, but continue to develop a nuclear capability.

Check.

Middle East peace process:

I really do think I'm on firm ground here when I predict that the MEPP will look the same at the end of 2010 as it did at the start — going nowhere.

Well, what do you know' 

Iraq:

While calls for an election boycott are likely posturing at this stage, such has been the furore over the continued de-Ba'thification program that this election is unlikely to add greatly to Iraqi political stability this year.

In setting a new world record for the time taken between an election and the formation of a new government (8 months) I think my prediction was a bit on the conservative side here.

Lebanon:

Hopes were high following the pro-West coalition's 'victory' in the June 2009 elections that Lebanon would stay in the Western camp and cease to be hostage to external actors, but most realistic observers of Lebanon understand that elections are one thing and influence another.

The only thing that elections do is establish which external powers have the most influence in Lebanon.

Syria:

...things are looking up for Syria in 2010. It is being wooed heavily to distance itself from Iran, it has enjoyed increased influence in Lebanon, a reciprocal visit from Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, and the US announcement of its first ambassador to Damascus for nearly five years. Not bad for doing nothing.

Over the past few years, Syria has had to withdraw its forces from Lebanon, had a secret nuclear facility bombed by the Israelis, hosted Imad Mughniyya (one of the world's top terrorist, before his death) and is an active supporter of Hizbullah. Yet it almost needs to fight off countries wanting to engage with it. Go figure.

Sure, these political forecasts might seem almost Nostradamus-like in their accuracy, but most undergraduate students of the region would have been more than capable of arriving at the same conclusions, given the intractable nature of the major issues bedeviling the region. Over the next week, I will try to make a new set of bold predictions for the region in 2011. 

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