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Models Leading to Stability in the Middle East are Fast Disappearing

by Shmuel Rosner

June 13, 2013 | 6:11 am

Demonstrators chant slogans and wave Syrian opposition
flags during a protest against President Bashar Assad
after Friday prayers in Raqqa province, Syria, April 26.
Photo by REUTERS/Nour Kelze

I wrote a long article about Middle East affairs for the print edition. I hope you read it in full (here, or in the paper). Here's an appetizer:

The crisis is bubbling through the region by way of religious osmosis. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on June 9 warned of “a storm passing through the region.” Al-Maliki’s Shiite government is facing a Sunni opposition, so he knows what he is talking about as he warns of “a brutal sectarian storm.”

The rhetoric gives an indication of a wider war among Muslims that was ignited at the high temperatures of the reactor core that is the Syrian conflict. Egyptian cleric Sheik Mohammed el-Zoghbi on June 7 called on “young men in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Kuwait, Jordan, Yemen” to go to Syria to fight. “We must all go to purge Syria of this infidel regime, with its Shiites who came from Iran, southern Lebanon and Iraq,” el-Zoghbi said. Influential Yusuf al-Qaradawi branded Hezbollah — literally, “the party of God” — as the “party of Satan.” The image of Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, not long ago the most popular leader on the Arab street, is waning. But he was right to declare that the war is now entering “a completely new phase.” 

Also waning is any short-term fantasy about a better Middle East. In recent weeks, the war in Syria went viral and spread through the region, while at the same time, the model for a better region — Turkey — is wracked by protests. In fact, any conceivable model leading to stability and calm is fast disappearing from this area of the world. 

And speaking about Syria, here's an update of our What Americans Really Think about Syria table:

 

The Poll/ question

YouGov, April 30

Reuters, May 1

Pew, April 28

NYT-CBS, April 28

CNN-ORC, May 17-18

FoxNews, May 18-20

Gallup, May 28-29

WSJ, May 30, June 2

Aid to rebels

12% (51% no)

 

 

 

 

 

 

11% (42% humanitarian)

Air strikes

16% (49% no)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sending troops

5% (68% no)

 

 

 

 

 

 

15% (24% no action)

Become involved

 

10% (61% no)

 

24% (62%)

 

23% (68% no)

24% (68% no)

 

If chemicals are used

 

27% (44% no)

45% (31% no)

 

66% (30% not justified)

 

 

 

Were chemicals used?

40% (6% no)

 

 

 

83%

 

 

 

 

 

In the WSJ poll we added, a plurality of respondents supported giving humanitarian aid to the rebels, but only a small number supported "providing the rebels with arms". We put the "taking military action" question under the "sending troops" rubric, assuming that this is what most Americans imagine when specifics (such as "air strikes") aren't presented to them in a question about military intervention. As with previous polls it's pretty clear that Americans, at the moment, aren't interested in getting bogged down in the Syrian conflict.

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