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Mon Sep 21, 2015, 05:16 PM

Strange Bedfellows in the Middle East: What Are They Afraid Of?

When you initially look at it, it's counter-intuitive: Why would both Israel AND Saudi Arabia be pulling out all the SuperPAC and lobbying stops to monkeywrench a US/Iran detente?

Granted, they have a certain preserve-the-balance-of-terror status quo interest to protect, but it's not like they're BFFs or anything.

And then I remembered something, from my personal experience. Two things, in fact.

The first thing was a Close-Up trip to Washington DC, back in 1973. We were putting up at the old Sheraton, and we happened to be there during the Persian New Year, a major holiday for all the Persian expats in DC. There were a LOT of them around, and they were partying down.

And of course, as High School kids whose chaperons were finding their own entertainment, we snuck in (not much sneaking required, back then-- or maybe the Persians didn't really care) to grab some of the refreshments and listen to the disco and generally party with them.

I talked late into the night with one of the younger attendees who was probably only two sheets to the wind, about the significance of the holiday, the size of the Iranian ("Persian!" he insisted) community in the DC area, and the close economic and cultural ties between America and what was then our biggest, staunchest ally in the Middle East (outside of Israel, of course.) I learned quite a lot, and don't remember too many details, but I came away with an impression that the well-to-do, well-educated segment of Iranian/Persian society were pretty well-entrenched in DC.

And it inspired me to learn a good deal more about the difference between Persians and "Arabs" and other Middle-Eastern cultures. Which resulted in considerable respect for the long history, dense cultural layering and sophistication in that part of the world, as well as more understanding of just how quickly and well they adapted to the Darwinist Capitalism economic model of what we then fondly referred to as "the West."

The other experience was a few years later-- after the fall of the Shah and the institution of the Islamic Republic. I worked as a bartender at a fancy restaurant; one of my waiters was a Persian expat; we had many colloquies about what the "holy mans" were doing to his country, and what the long-term result was likely to be.

And I came away from that believing that a people who count their history in millenia didn't really regard a couple of decades, or even half a century, as more than a blip, in terms of political economy and culture. That they'd find a new center of gravity, no matter what, and reinvent themselves as a center of trade and the arts and culture and influence. And that there were plenty of survivors of the coup laying low, waiting to make that happen, well dug in and strategically placed in America, among other places. Patient. Meticulous. Willing to deal... always willing to deal.

I don't think the rest of the Middle East seriously thinks about Iran as a nuclear threat. I believe the threat, to them, is the notion of a resurgent Persia, hand in capitalist hand with an enabling America, gutting all the trade structures leftover from the Cold War power blocs and the post-Revolutionary isolation period. Building an economic hegemony.

And THAT is the fear that underlies the strangely congruent agendas of the various otherwise-hostile parties trying to submarine the detente.


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Reply Strange Bedfellows in the Middle East: What Are They Afraid Of? (Original post)
TygrBright Sep 2015 OP
Scootaloo Sep 2015 #1
JI7 Sep 2015 #2
TygrBright Sep 2015 #3
ion_theory Sep 2015 #4

Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 05:26 PM

1. You've pretty much got it


The last thing Israel and Saudi Arabia want is for the US and Iran to re-engage. That's what it's all about.

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 05:37 PM

2. completely agree with you and i got the same view from iranians

As the ones you met. Except i met them in more recent decades.

But the spirit of the people seems to be the same. Their view of their own history and and what great things they can do.

They are very proud of their culture and history and think very highly of it. Yet at the same time there is the lack of arrogance and they come off as very kind .

Israel and their Arab allies (on this issue) are afraid of being overshadowed by this country.

There is also more unity of Iranian people unlike the Arab states (see their lack of support for refugees).

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Response to JI7 (Reply #2)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 05:49 PM

3. Yes, very kind. And very curious. While many are observant Shi'ia, I didn't see...

...much of the willful Fundamentalist ignorance of the Revolution among the expats.

I suspect that the fundamentalism went deep with some, especially those damaged by the Shah and his CIA-backed cronies, but that for the rest of the revolutionaries it was purely a means to an end.

And it will peel quickly away if they're afforded a chance to build their own economic structures on their own terms.


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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 05:53 PM

4. K&R...Couldn't agree with you more here.

It all ALWAYS comes back to the almighty capital in the end, and here is no difference. Israel and the Saudis realize that the world is finite and only so much can go around. They know how strong a stable Iran can be financially, and that is what is driving all of this.

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