The Middle East 2016
Martin Kramer’s “Middle East Circa 2016” is a 1200 word extract of remarks given at a May 2011 conference. ( It deserves a full reading from the conference material at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC04.php?CID=348).
Essentially, however, Kramer counseled presciently that the “Arab Spring” was unlikely to end in the tranquil democracies for which we hoped when 2011 began. Instead, he divides the region into a now broken “circle” of “Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Gulf states” and a “crescent” starting “in Iran and stretching westward through Iraq, Syria, and into Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamists.” The circle was always “unnatural,” kept together by U.S. power and willingness to use it. The crescent, despite fraying at the Syria end, is more natural (mainly Shiite), and Iran has adroitly reached out to previous circle members such as Turkey and Egypt.
Kramer identified four “middle powers” (Turkey, Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia) now projecting power beyond their borders. By 2016, he sees still more vigorous action by these powers. He does not envision Egypt as a “middle power;” it needs much more time to transition the Mubarak dictatorship era. But Egypt must “raise the rent” for its good will—and we will have to pay for it.