Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Burning embers

This morning’s news about the bombing of the Askariya shrine adds to a foreboding situation throughout the middle east. The shrine is one of the holiest to Shiite Muslims and is prophesized as the place where the 12th Imam will return. The bodies of the 10th and 11th Imams are interred at the Mosque. With an increase of violence in Iraq, battles in Gaza spreading between Hamas and Fatah factions and verging on civil war and a tenuous cease fire being declared between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish government, we are heading into a tense summer.

Old tensions are increasing throughout the region and even the cold war between the US and Russia is beginning to pick up steam once again. International tensions such as this are not new but there seems to be a sense of urgency and hair-trigger response that we haven’t seen since the late 60’s and early 70’s at the height of Israeli/Arab tensions. I believe we truly are entering a phase where one event could trigger a cascade of events that sends all of us into a real world war. The idea was floated last summer at the height of the fighting between Israel and Lebanon last summer.

As usual, watch for periphery events to guide you as to what could be in store for the future. The decision to oust General Pace as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and replace him with an Admiral who had a command level role in the Serb bombing campaign, who also has close career ties to the new head of CENTCOM, the US appears to be getting it's own ducks in order for more combat. The placing of Admirals Mullen and Fallon into these positions are a clear indication that a Naval-centric approach to US strategy in the middle east is coming.

My pet theory right now is that yet another "surge" or increase of troops in Iraq will occur within a year while the Navy begins a surface warfare strategy against Iran. Those troops already on the ground will need to dig in before the Navy begins its operations and hell will break loose once they do.

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