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Fomenting Sunni-Shia conflict is now Washington's and Israel's preferred method
As Condoleezza Rice gave her first news conference following the flare-up in Lebanon the stench of death pervaded the war-ravaged country and the severed limbs of children, women, and the elderly lay scattered above and beneath the rubble of homes wrecked by Israel's warplanes.
As everyone waited with baited breath for what the US secretary of state had to say, hoping that she would provide clues about when the terrible massacre would end, Condoleezza Rice, a woman said to be among the more moderate members of the most extremist administration in US history, calmly announced that "what we're seeing here, in a sense, is the growing -- the birth pangs of a new Middle East." She then added that it was not yet time to seek a ceasefire. In saying so she made it clear to all that Israel's war on Lebanon is also America's war, and it will not stop until the US achieves its objectives. The international community and the nations of this region have no choice, therefore, but to bear the pain, however severe, of the birth of this wonderful thing the US calls the new Middle East.
This is not the first time the US administration has spoken about the new Middle East. You may recall that the same administration years ago promised a democratic Middle East that is free from despotism and corruption. Considering that Lebanon, the country now being crushed to produce this new Middle East, is one of the most democratic Arab countries, one can only wonder what future it is that Washington envisages. How will the new Middle East differ, for example, from the greater Middle East?
Some people imagine that US policy in the Middle East has taken a new turn. But I fail to see any change in US policy in the region. The new Middle East that the US is trying to achieve amounts to no more than the eradication of all regimes, forces and ideas hostile to US and Israeli designs and their replacement with more malleable regimes, forces and ideas.
For the US the Middle East has been, and still is, a mosaic of rival nationalities and ethnicities, religions and factions, some of which have been coerced into coexistence against their will. This is how the US administration and researchers see the region. Using this model, the current US administration assumed that sectarian, ethnic, and doctrinal diversity and divisions in Iraq offered it a golden opportunity to form a federal state -- one lacking a strong central power and willing to accept US bases in every part of the country. The assumption was reinforced by the cooperation of Kurdish and Shiite factions who hoped to bring down Saddam and cooperated with the Americans during the planning that preceded the war on Iraq. It was not surprising that the US administration, immediately following the toppling of the Iraqi regime, began to talk about democratisation as integral to its idea of the greater Middle East. Elated, the US administration didn't even seem to be bothered by the possibility of Islamist politicians taking power. You may recall Secretary Rice talking about "creative chaos".