A fragile fault line

A fragile fault line

The fragility of a political fault line across Southwest Asia to the Mediterranean started to increase with the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of 2011.

The fault line begins in Afghanistan. The parameters of the increased risk are as follows: 1) The new U.S. policy since the Arab Spring, to talk to Islamist groups in order to secure that they no longer wish to pose a direct threat to U.S. presence, not necessarily interests and thus not getting into direct clash with them. Washington talks to the Taliban in that context and allows it to open an office in Qatar. 2) Feeling that he might be left out of talks, the Afghan President complains and show signs that he might abandon the office. 3) Hamid Karzai continues to put the blame on Pakistan for helping the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is the second stop: 1) Since the U.S. strike killing al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden last year
near Pakistani capital Islamabad, the tension between the two countries escalates. 2) The probability that Pakistan’s nuclear warhead missiles would fall into radical Islamist hands, might push Washington to get involved in Pakistan’s political matters. 3) Pakistan’s powerful Army Commander General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani gave an ultimatum to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani yesterday, reminding of a narrowly missed coup d’etat in 2009, with Turkey’s help. 4) But, it is the Pakistan army who is under accusation of harboring al-Qaeda at the first place.

Iran is a boiling pot: 1) Iranian nuclear scientist, Mostafa Ahmedi Roshan had escaped an assassination attempt before he was killed in a bomb attack yesterday in Tehran. 2) Following the U.S. sanctions on Iran in an effort to convince them to give their nuclear program over to full and transparent U.N. control, the European Union is considering a series of actions. 3) Israel, alongside the U.S., Britain, India and Pakistan, sends warships to the Hormuz Strait, where Iran threatens to block more than a third of the world’s oil trade. 4) The U.S. failed to convince the use of sanctions to China, who imports a great deal of its oil from Iran, necessary to sustain its growth.

Iraq is in a mess: 1) Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s telephone call to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maiki on Jan. 10 didn’t soften the stance of the Shiite politician regarding the Sunni origin Deputy President Tariq al-Hasimi, who is hiding in the Kurdish region in the north because of an arrest warrant against him. Al-Maliki asks al-Hasimi back from the Kurdistan Regional Government leader Masoud al-Barzani, who seeks help from U.S. and Turkey to cope with the situation. 2) The squeeze in the north, including the U.S. oil and gas contracts with the Kurdish authority in Erbil, ignoring the central government in Baghdad which pushes Iraq into division day by day, puts pressure on Turkey, which is trying to deal with its own Kurdish problem for the last three decades.

It would be unnecessary to mention the unrest in Syria, which is very much linked with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the future of Lebanon. It is not pessimisim to comment that something worse could happen on this fault line quite soon.