A New Map of the Middle East

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Let me first tell you what I am not worried about. I am not worried about a regional confrontation beyond the borders of Lebanon… simply because neither regional nor international actors have an interest in moving the current confrontation beyond the Lebanese borders. I am worried, long-term, about the extreme separation in the Arab world between the two camps [street movements and government policy].

Amr Hamzawy
chess

Bang. [soldeace / Flickr]

The US invasion of Iraq can be seen as a bang of the fist on the chess board, a gamble that when the pieces fell back to the table we’d be looking at a better game. We’ve been covering this aspect of the war in Iraq for a while, discussing the likelihood or even presence of civil war in Iraq and Iran’s improving hand. But with Saddam gone, suddenly a lot of countries — not just the United States — had one less enemy, and we’re all beginning to focus our attentions elsewhere.

Given the last two weeks in the Middle East — client entities like Hezbollah provoking a conflict, the Saudis and Egyptians speaking without power from the sidelines, Western uncertainty about the role of Syria and Iran — is it possible to draw a new map of the Middle East?

Is there real political meaning in the idea of a Shia crescent? Have Iran and Syria replaced Egypt and the Saudis as the powers to be negotiated with? In whose interest is the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah? Who will look stronger when a ceasefire is reached? Who looks stronger already?

This is not your Nasser’s Middle East. Whose is it?

Guest List
Rashid Khalidi
Director, Middle East Institute, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Vali Nasr
Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Contemporary Conflict Author, The Shia Revival
Murhaf Jouejati
Director, Middle East Studies, George Washington University
Amr Hamzawy
Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Reading List
Shaken and Stirred
Josh Manchester
TCS Daily, 7/21/06
Could Tehran emerge as the ultimate winner?
Iason Athanasiadis
Bitterlemons International, 7/20/06
Strange Bedfellows
Daniel Byman
Slate, 7/19/06
For the US, a Newfangled Compass
Robert Worth
New York Times, July 23, 2006 (Be sure to check out Multimedia Graphic of Regional Relations)

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