Genuine leadership doesn’t seek out headlines – in fact, it sometimes deliberately avoids them in order to get things done. The best example of this comes from a close contender for the Leader of the Free World now that the United States has largely abandoned the role in practical terms.
The leader in question is not Angela Merkel, although she is indeed the most important leader of a democracy today. This comes from the more junior Theresa May, Prime Minister of the UK, who has taken to solving the most important conflict left over from a by-gone era – Cyprus. Stepping into the British role as sometime creator of order she pushed a lot of heft behind the re-started talks which may, just yet, create a bridge between Europe and the Middle East.
The critical point is Turkey, as always, and the relative isolation this critical nation has been saddled with.
The attempted coup in Turkey ended quickly, but it is far from over. Exactly what happened remains a bit foggy for the simple reason that no one believes it was ever a serious coup. In a region wracked by conspiracy theories one simple fact stands out – complex machinations are often real.
Recep Erdogan has used the coup as an excuse to launch a massive purge which continues to reach beyond the power structure and into Turkish culture and daily life. The most recent victims include teachers – hardly part of the coup but clearly standing in the way of a complete makeover of Turkey in Erdogan’s image.
All of this is happening in a member of NATO which stands at the bridge between the West and the Middle East – our last reliable and powerful ally in the region.
Welcome to 2016 – when the actual election starts. It would be easy to say it will be the news story of the year. But as important as it will be a bigger story is developing, as it did in 2015.
The conflict between Sunni and Shia Islam is more than a millenium old. It resonates today because the region is emerging, as so many other developing nations are, away from the thumb of Western influences.
It’s not our fight – and we can probably only make it worse. But it will be hard to stay out of.
The Middle East is dangerous, complicated, and generally just plain messed up. You may respond to that statement by saying, “Yeah, and the sun rose this morning,” or something less polite. But for all the turmoil that the region has been through in recent years it’s actually much worse right now.
A combination of shifting alliances, horrific blow-back from past adventures, and an ancient rivalry blowing up fast are converging rapidly into one regional conflict. Who is on whose side? Who might or might not be winning? It’s nearly impossible to tell, and that makes everything far more dangerous than ever.
Netanyahu’s tone was measured and direct, fitting the prestige of the chamber he was addressing. “That deal would not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons — it would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them,” he told Congress last Tuesday. It was classic Netanyahu in many ways – bold, dire, and ultimately a load of cowpuckey.
Netanyahu can’t claim to know what is happening in the “P5+1” talks to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment program, and if he does know he can’t prove it publicly. These talks have been going on for nine years now and have always hinged on one sticking point – Iran cannot obtain nuclear weapons. Any other result would have made the talks much easier and they would have been over by now. But these are important talks for reasons even larger than weapons of mass destruction.