The Realist Prism: Syria Crisis Could Redraw Middle East Map

The Realist Prism: Syria Crisis Could Redraw Middle East Map

U.S. pundits commenting on the wave of protests that have swept across the Middle East this past week have tended to focus on "finger-pointing and partisan sniping," as Greg Scoblete notes, with conservatives vaguely calling for Washington to show more "strength" and liberals advocating more "outreach." Few have wanted to deal with a far more unpleasant reality: The de facto coalition of Turkey, Israel and "moderate" Sunni Arab states that for decades worked to advance U.S. interests in the region is disintegrating.

The aftermath of the Iraq War and the outbreak of the Arab Spring were just the first tremors of this regional reconfiguration. Moving forward, long-established geopolitical landmarks in the region will continue to disappear, especially if the coming year sees the collapse of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus and military action taken against Iran in an effort to halt its nuclear program. Ian Bremmer is right to warn that, whether it is President Barack Obama who returns to the White House or Republican nominee Mitt Romney who takes residence there come January 2013, the next U.S. president will be forced to navigate "undiscovered country" in charting policy toward the Middle East.

The events of the past 20 months are ample reminders that unexpected "black swans" can upend previously expected outcomes. Two years ago, U.S. policymakers correctly assumed that political transitions would be underway in Libya and Egypt, laying the groundwork for evolutionary political and economic reform. However, analysts expected Seif al-Islam Gadhafi and Gamal Mubarak, rather than Mohamed Magariaf and Mohamed Morsi, to be the new chief executives leading those transitions.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review