[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

Middle Eastern Upheaval
by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2007


Photo Courtesy: Julie Zitin
[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com] When I was doing research for my novel, Enemy of my Enemy, a diplomat from a Middle Eastern country told me that in his part of the world, “always bear in mind the doctrine of unintended consequences.” We are seeing clear manifestations of his admonition right now. The United States toppled the cruel and sadistic Saddam Hussein in Iraq and reverberations are still being felt in many places in the region in ways that no one foresaw. Some good; some not so good.

First, there is Lebanon. The Shiite led regime in Iran, freed from the threat of attack from the west by their mortal enemy, Saddam, has been funneling arms via Syria to Shiites in Lebanon. Iran has trained and organized these Shiites under the Hezbollah banner not only to attack Israel last July, but to wreck the Lebanese government. A year ago the flowers of democracy were in full bloom in Lebanon. Now there is only despair.

Second, there is Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah has been watching the Sunni versus Shiite sectarian violence in Iraq and the formation of a Shiite government in Baghdad with increasing concern. Ten percent of the Saudi population is Shiite. The Saudi Shiites haven’t shared in the riches of the Saudi economy fueled by petro dollars and have no say in the Sunni controlled monarchy. However, these Shiites happen to be the main population group in the eastern part of the kingdom which is where the oil is. If King Abdullah, head of the Arab Sunni world, isn’t sleeping soundly these days, there’s a reason. He has to be worried about a scenario in which the Shiites in his country, inspired by the example of the Iraqi Shiites, rise up and say “goodbye Abdullah,” and start their own oil rich state. The Saudi King and his entourage will be back riding camels.

Even if that doesn’t occur, Abdullah has to worry about sabotage by Shiites aimed at his oil infrastructure. The Saudis may be able to defend against attacks on the ground, but missiles from Tehran are another matter.

Then there’s Israel. Since Israel’s creation in 1948, the Saudis have been bitterly opposed to the existence of the Jewish state in the Middle East. Prior to Saddam’s overthrow, no Saudi ruler ever uttered the “I” word in public. But all that changed recently. Last week, King Abdullah publicly declared that the Arabs are willing to have normal relations with Israel once it makes peace with its neighbors.

The reason for this astounding change is simple. Since Saddam’s fall, Shiite Iran has been exploiting the Israeli Palestinian dispute by arming Hamas. Abdullah is so anxious to blunt Iran’s influence that he’s even willing to broker a peace agreement which recognizes Israel’s existence. The terms that Abdullah has proposed are unacceptable to Israel, but they are only a starting position. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has given a positive response to the Saudi initiative.

In Iraq itself, as the weeks pass, the dismemberment of this country, which was held together by Saddam’s reign of terror, into a loose federation of Shiites, Sunni and Kurdish states, ala the former Yugoslavia, seems more likely. The Kurds love the idea. For generations they have yearned for autonomy. Now they may have it, but that may lead to unrest for Turkey’s Kurdish minority and perhaps a civil war in parts of Turkey. A cruel response by the Turkish government will end any chance that country has of joining the EU.

Most recently there is the standoff between Britain and Iran over the British sailors and marines taken hostage. By being our closest ally in the Iraqi war, Prime Minister Blair has set his nation on a course that has led to the risk of conflict with Iran. As this conflict plays out, the price of oil rises higher on a daily basis. The Iranians are threatening to block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf chokepoint, though which twenty percent of the world’s oil supply passes. If that occurs, oil is likely to spike in excess of $100 a barrel and gasoline prices above $5 a gallon. The economic repercussions will be dire. The American economy could be plunged into recession.

The unintended consequences from the United States’ toppling of Saddam Hussein go on and on.