20 December 2010

In the middle of the Middle East

Key to the geo-political problems of the Middle East is that it sees itself as a unified region 'in the middle.' The Middle East is a 'middle' region, but only for those who wish to link Africa to Asia, and Asia to Africa. For those who are willing to leave Africa for the Africans, and Asia for the Asians, the Middle East ceases to function as a singular region but breaks up instead into the north of Africa, now looking southward, and the west of Asia, now looking eastward. 
What fashions the Middle East a single region is Islam. Islam forces the Asian Middle Easterners to look westward, and the African Middle Easterners to look northward and eastward. Islam makes for a dysfunctional geo-politics that tries, always quixotically and sisypheanly, to bind together an African empire with an Asian empire. 
So long as these two continental empires try to come to terms with each other, Israel will serve as the region’s geo-political pivot, the geographic and demographic wedge between these two geo-political centers of power. Israel will always represent the Arava where the two continental plates crash into each other at the world's lowest point – the Dead Sea with its surrounding wasteland. 
Contiguity is the prime geo-political factor in the Middle East. In those periods when a larger empire defines the region – Alexander, Rome – and binds the continents together at a higher level, Israel loses its strategic importance and relapses back into just another vassal state. 
The domestic geo-political logic of the state of Israel is the outgrowth of the international geo-political logic of the Middle Eastern region.

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