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Prophet and Loss Statement 2003 - How good was the MEW Crystal Ball?

12/22/2003

Last year about this time I made 10 predictions for 2003. At that time, some "experts" were predicting disaster for the US in Iraq, others predicted there would be no war, and some were even predicting victory for Amram Mitzna over Ariel Sharon. How did I do?

1. Ariel Sharon will be the victor of the Israeli elections and will form a right-wing government initially. Right on the money. What did your favorite pundit say?

2. The US will launch a war on Iraq and will probably topple Saddam Hussein, but Saddam himself may escape. Right on the money. Remember the predictions of no war, long protracted war, etc.?

3. The war will not bring about any fundamental changes in the realities of the Middle East. Right on the money. What happened to the wonderful flowering of democracy or the destablization that would produce disaster?

4. Iraq will remain united but it will not be democratic. Too early to tell. So far, it is correct.

5. Iran will retain its present government and it will become the focus of Muslim aspirations after the fall of Saddam confirms that the era of secular Arab nationalism has finally come to a close. However, Iran will be careful not to challenge the USA directly, unless the war on Iraq is a total fiasco.. Pretty close.

6. Al-Qaeda will attempt one or more spectacular terrorist attacks to regain the "honor" of the Muslim Umma and to contend for leadership of the Muslim world.. Pretty close - Turkey, Saudi Arabia etc. They won't let us forget they are around.

7. Yasser Arafat will be reelected as President of the PNA and leader of the Palestinians, bolstered by Israeli attempts to discredit him.. No elections were held, but Arafat's popularity was bolstered by Israeli attempts to discredit him in the Muqata siege (in 2002) and again and again throughout 2003 - it proved to be the undoing of Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas).

8. The Quartet plan for peace between Israel and Palestine will take shape and will be put into place, as the price of Arab and European support for the USA in the war against Iraq. Partly wishful thinking on my part. It is easy to confuse wishful thinking with prognostication. There was indeed some pressure to implement the roadmap after the Iraq war, resulting in election of Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) and in some Israeli gestures that lessened the impact of the occupation, but the Israelis and the Palestinians both managed to deflect most of the US pressure and nothing fundamental has changed.

9. Pressure on Israel to negotiate with Arafat will cause the government coalition to break up. A unity government will be formed with the participation of Labor that will allow negotiations to begin. It hasn't happened yet, but right-wing parties and ten Likud MKs are threatening to defect if Ariel Sharon implements his unilateral plan or if the illegal settlement of Migron is evacuated.

10. The world economy will begin to recover slowly, stimulated by lower oil prices and technological advances accelerated by the war. Pretty close to what has happened.

About 8 out of 10, which is not too bad. As I noted in the original article, my crystal ball is not very high quality. A reader commented at the time that these predictions are mostly "no brainers" but a great many pundits thought there would be no war in Iraq, or that the US might lose such a war, or that a war in Iraq would bring about major changes (for good or bad) in the Middle East.

The interesting thing about predicting the future of course, is predicting the really unexpected events, and I didn't try to do that last year. Most years have one or more surprises, and this one was no exception. The surprise of the year was "NO WMD IN IRAQ." A year ago almost nobody, of any political persuasion, would've believed that no biological, chemical or nuclear weapons or real evidence of such weapons would be found in Iraq. When you read critiques of US intelligence, go back and check what these people were saying a year ago.
Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000142.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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