20-Jan-12 World View: Sectarian Tensions Cause Geopolitical Realignment in the Mideast

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.

  • Sectarian tensions grow among Turkey, Iraq and Iran
  • Sectarian tensions grow in Gaza strip
  • Saudis receive aid from China in developing nuclear weapon
  • Geopolitical realignments are speeding in the Mideast region
  • No deal till Monday between Greece and bond holders
  • Hedge funds threaten to sue Greece in Court of Human Rights
  • IMF seeks to raise its lending capacity to $1 trillion
  • North Korea’s ambassador to Germany caught and released

Sectarian tensions grow among Turkey, Iraq and Iran

Erdogan and al-Maliki
Erdogan and al-Maliki

Just two days after American forces completed their withdrawal from Iraq, prime minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq’s Shia-led government issued an arrest warrant for Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, the highest level Sunni official in the government. Al-Hashemi fled to the northern Iraq region controlled by the Kurdistan regional government. The clampdown on Hashemi and other Sunni ministers triggered a new wave of Sunni attacks against the Shia, raising questions about the sustainability of the government. Though nominally neutral, Turkey, a Sunni state, appears to have taken the side of Hashemi, especially with the remarks by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, where he urged the Iraqi leadership to take swift measures to reduce tensions in Iraq, which were caused by the al-Hashemi arrest warrant. Erdogan also appeared to be criticizing Iran when he warned other countries endeavoring to exert influence in Iraq to act in a prudent and responsible manner. The dispute has drawn a harsh response from al-Maliki, accusing Erdogan of meddling in Iraq’s affairs, providing further ammunition to al-Maliki and his Shia bloc to take a stand against Turkey, to bolster their position in Iraq domestic politics. Jamestown

Sectarian tensions grow in Gaza strip

The alliance between Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, and Iran never made much sense because Hamas is a Sunni society and Iran is a Shia country. The wedge that finally split them apart was the Arab Spring and Iran’s support for Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. Hamas has supported the opposition, as it became clear that al-Assad’s regime was slaughtering and mutilating thousands of innocent Sunni Arab protesters. Hamas’ split with Iran has opened up sectarian splits within Gaza itself, where there is small but growing community of Shia converts, some of them fighters from Hamas’ political opponent, Islamic Jihad. The result is a growing sectarian rift within Gaza, which exploded into the open on Saturday, when Hamas security forces stormed a gathering of Shia Muslims, commemorating the death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson. The National (UAE)

Saudis receive aid from China in developing nuclear weapon

China has been cutting oil purchases from Iran in half, not because of the West’s intended oil embargo against Iran, but because of a dispute between the two countries over payment for past oil purchases. According to Debka’s subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber), when China turned to Saudi Arabia as its replacement supplier, the Saudis proposed a deal on nuclear aid, which has now resulted in a historic accord. As a result, the Saudis will go forward and develop their own nuclear weapons program with China’s assistance. Although the timetable is not yet known, an intrinsic part of their deal is a Saudi guarantee to cover all China’s oil needs if Iranian supplies become unavailable. The Sino-Saudi nuclear deal was a wholly unexpected shock to Washington, and a bitter bombshell to the Iranians, who feel that their Chinese ally is now stabbing them in the back. Debka

Geopolitical realignments are speeding in the Mideast region

The preceding three stories indicate major political realignment trends that are consistent with the expected lineups that I’ve been writing about for years, based on generational trends. As I’ve said, the expectation is that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit the “axis” countries — China, Pakistan, and Sunni countries — against the “allies” — the U.S., India, Russia, Iran and Israel. Iran in particular is in a generational awakening era with a growing pro-Western population of young people, pitted against an aging hardline Muslim bureaucracy of survivors of Iran’s last generational crisis war, the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, followed by the Iran/Iraq war. The “Arab Spring” particularly has sped up these realignment trends.

No deal till Monday between Greece and bond holders

There was supposed to be a deal by Wednesday between Greece and the private investors (mostly banks and hedge funds) that hold Greek bonds, so that it would be available when officials from the “troika” (the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Central Bank (ECB), and the European Union (EU)) visit Greece. But Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told Parliament on Thursday that the technical details will be available on Friday, for a completed deal by the time the Eurogroup council of eurozone finance ministers meets. Kathimerini

Hedge funds threaten to sue Greece in Court of Human Rights

As with so many things I write about, this would be hilarious if the consequences weren’t so serious. Everybody now pretty much agrees that Greece will default on its March 20 payment, so the question now is whether the default will be orderly or disorderly, and how much the private investors will have to lose. The Greeks want to pay as little as possible to the private investors, and the private investors want as much as possible. Since the bonds are subject to Greek law, Greece is able to retroactively change the law so that private bondholders get as little money as Greece wants. Hedge funds are threatening to sue Greece in that event, and the court of choice will be the European Court of Human Rights, since that court considers property rights to be human rights. Kathimerini

IMF seeks to raise its lending capacity to $1 trillion

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is asking countries of the world to give them an additional $500 billion, to increase their total lending capacity to $1 trillion. President Obama’s administration has already said that it won’t provide more cash to the IMF. The IMF is pushing China, Brazil, Russia, India, Japan and oil-exporting nations to be the top contributors. It’s an amazing time in history — whenever there’s any problem, the solution is an explosive increase in public debt. Bloomberg

North Korea’s ambassador to Germany caught and released

Si Hong Ri gone fishin'
Si Hong Ri gone fishin’

Police discovered a man fishing on the Havel River in Berlin’s Spandau neighborhood on Sunday afternoon. When the officials asked to see the man’s fishing license, he responded by saying he was Si Hong Ri, the North Korean ambassador. When this was verified, the officers then told the ambassador to cease his illegal fishing activities. According to the police report “the ambassador politely acknowledged (the request) with a smile and continued with the offense.” The police were unable to do anything, given the man’s diplomatic immunity. Spiegel