One of the crazy things about following the Middle East is trying to keep track of all the bad guys. Remember when Iran was the big bad Islamic wolf? Or al-Qaida? Or Hezbollah? Or the Muslim Brotherhood? Or Hamas?
Now, as if in a flash, along comes ISIS to become the evil flavor of the month. Seriously, how much evil can one region generate?
A screenwriter couldn’t make up such a cocktail of hatred. Just for starters, you have Shias against Sunnis, Persians against Arabs, Arabs against Turks, Turks against Persians, Iraqis against insurgents, Syrians against insurgents, insurgents against insurgents, Lebanese against Syrians, Egyptians against Qataris, Saudis against Iran -- and everyone against the Jews.
I’ll leave it to the scholars to explain how each shade of evil differs from the next. I know that a lot of people these days are into the “Who’s worse? Hamas or ISIS?” game, but from where I sit, whether you chop people’s heads off or hide behind children to murder other children, evil is evil.
Even that old standby, “the enemy of your enemy is my friend,” doesn’t really hold up anymore. Just look at ISIS and Syria.
One of the sworn enemies of ISIS just happens to be … yeah, the biggest murderer of the new century, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, who’s responsible for the deaths of nearly 200,000 of his own people.
I know ISIS is the height of evil, but can I really cheer for that Syrian butcher against anybody?
Same with the Jew-hating Holocaust deniers in Iran – they also hate ISIS. Aside from the fact that we belong to the same species, do I really want to have anything in common with the nuclear mullahs of Persia—even if it’s a common enemy?
It’s hard to fathom that one of the nastiest, Jew-hating threats to Israel – Hezbollah – could now be fighting in Syria against one of the nastiest, Jew-hating threats to Israel—ISIS.
Consider also Saudi Arabia, presumably in the “moderate” camp of the Mideast jungle. We’re now supposed to be buddy-buddies with the Saudi royalty because they’re the enemies of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. But wait. Guess who for years has been funding the most violent strains of Islam in the region? That’s right, the Ferrari-driving House of Saud.
Those turkeys are surely coming home to roost.
The craziness is everywhere. Remember when the Muslim Brotherhood was running the show in Egypt and helping smuggle lethal weaponry to their Hamas brothers in Gaza? Well, the Brotherhood became so hated in Egypt that most of them are now in jail. So, guess who’s now Egypt’s sworn enemy? That’s right, Hamas, the sworn enemy of Israel.
Of course, the Egyptian people are not exactly crowding into Tahrir Square to cheer on the Zionist army as it fights Hamas. But cheering privately? Highly likely.
We saw another example of the new Middle East craziness a few weeks ago when Egypt first tried to negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
On one side you had Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and (yes!) Israel—all sworn enemies of Hamas-- and on the other side you had Turkey, Qatar and (yes!) the United States. Why would the U.S. be on the “wrong” side?
The best analysis I’ve read is that President Obama is obsessed with closing a nuclear deal with Iran, and since the Egyptian-led coalition is strongly opposed to Iran, Obama was reluctant to poke Iran in the eye by empowering the anti-Iran coalition on any issue.
In any event, now that ISIS has crossed the line by beheading an American journalist, Obama is facing some serious cognitive dissonance: Should he align with the evil mullahs of Iran or the butcher of Damascus against the evil killers of ISIS, at least covertly? Good luck with that one.
I knew things were getting hairy when I asked my daughter in Tel Aviv how she was holding up with all the latest Hamas rockets, and she replied: “We’re worried about ISIS now.”
This is what the new Middle East has come down to-- an embarrassment of evils. ISIS may be a new brand of evil, but when I look at longtime murderous entities like Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran or Syria, all I can think is: Pick your poison, folks.
If a sinister game designer wanted to create a new video game to capture what’s going on right now in the Middle East jungle, that’s a good name right there: “Pick your poison.”
There wouldn’t be any good guys in this game-- just an orgy of bad guys. The whole fun would be in deciding who the baddest guy is at any moment, and knocking down as many of these guys as possible.
The ultimate goal would be to take down the baddest “bad guy” of them all, the one the whole world really hates: Israel.