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Prophet & Loss Statement 2005 - How good was the MEW Crystal Ball?


Last year, editors of MideastWeb and other experts made a series of predictions for 2005. The predictions are listed below (and at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000323.htm ), along with the predictions of "think tanks" that claimed that Israel would invade Iran or that Bashar Assad would resign.

The predictions we obviously missed are marked in italics. We got about 17 out of 21 right. We can't really say if the security situation in Iraq worsened (#12). Moral - don't make predictions you cannot measure. We did not foresee that Amir Peretz would win the Israel Labor party chairmanship and take the party out of the government. Then again, who did?

We predicted:

3. Israel will evacuate the Gaza settlements despite right-wing protests and controversy.

Where are all those people who said it wasn't going to happen?

We predicted:

There will be one or more Al-Qaeda attacks outside Iraq of scope similar to or greater than the attacks in Madrid, but not necessarily connected directly with Osama Bin Laden.

The London subway attacks were a tragic fulfillment of the above.

We got this one wrong:

4. A broader disengagement plan ("Disengagement II") will be floated and will be the subject of much controversy. It will not be carried out in 2005.

Nonetheless, the rumors are strong and something may be in the offing after the Israeli elections. Likewise there were no further terror attacks in Saudi Arabia, though there was a big one at the end of 2004.

Palestinian non-violence didn't happen either, as one editor thought it would.

2006 predictions are coming along real soon now. They won't be so easy.

After writing the above, it occurred to me that it may not be obvious to everyone why we make these predictions, and why they might be important. In addition to providing a guide as to what may be important in the next year, these predictions and our performance give you an important indicator of how good our analysis is. Theories and analyses are not worth much unless they can predict events in the real world. They might make you feel self-righteous and happy or they might alarm you and galvanize you to action, but unless they are pretty close to reality, they aren't giving you any useful understanding of what is happening.

Think of some of the predictions made by "experts" and prestigious think-tanks over the last few years:

  • Iraq would fall apart into three separate states.

  • US would invade Syria.

  • Israel would attack Iran.

  • Palestinians would launch massive terror attacks from Gaza.

  • Ariel Sharon would commit genocide against the Palestinians.

None of the above happened, but the people who made those predictions are still in the pundit business, and some of them are still making the same sorts of predictions. While reality does not oblige them by rearranging itself to suit their fancy, those "experts" still have quite a large following.

Ami Isseroff

MidEastWeb Predictions for 2005

The ones in italics didn't happen.

1. Israeli PM Ariel Sharon will remain in office until the end of the year barring ill health or assassination

2. A Labor-Likud Unity government will be formed and will remain in power until the end of 2005

3. Israel will evacuate the Gaza settlements despite right-wing protests and controversy.

4. A broader disengagement plan ("Disengagement II") will be floated and will be the subject of much controversy. It will not be carried out in 2005.

5. Mahmoud Abbas will be elected Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority and will remain in power during 2005 barring ill health or assassination

6. There will be a continuing power struggle in the PNA and Abbas will not necessarily be an undisputed leader.

7. In Israel and the Palestinian areas, terror attacks will not stop entirely, but will be greatly reduced. There will be a qualitative change for the better in Israeli-Palestinian relations and day to day life, triggered by the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, less stringent security and reduction of violence. One editor believes that non-violent civil disobedience, including actions that cause people to be arrested, may become popular, both among Gaza settlers and later among Palestinians.

8. Final Status negotiations between Israel and Palestinians may begin, but even if they do, everyone agrees they will not lead to any decisive conclusions and no Palestinian state will be declared. One panelist is certain there will be no negotiations at all.

9. Iraqi elections will be held on time, but will not be orderly. They may be accompanied by a great deal of violence. Many parties may boycott the elections and significant numbers of people may not be able to vote.

10. Iraqi elections will be considered a success by US, but the results will not be respected by many or most Iraqis.

11. The new Iraqi government will cooperate with the US, though Iyad Allawi will probably not be the Prime Minister.

12. The security situation in Iraq will worsen; US forces will still be in Iraq at the end of 2005,

13. USA will pressure Syria and will possibly launch limited military raids along the eastern border to discourage infiltration.

14. The US will not invade Syria.

15. Syria may make cosmetic withdrawals from Lebanon, but will continue to control the Lebanese government, regardless of whether or not it maintains an overt military presence.

16. Syria will continue to shelter and aid Iraqi insurgents. and will continue to shelter anti-Israel terror groups.

17. There will be one or more Al-Qaeda attacks outside Iraq of scope similar to or greater than the attacks in Madrid, but not necessarily connected directly with Osama Bin Laden.

18. Iran will continue its nuclear program by fits and starts, and US and Europe will continue to pressure Iran to comply with nonproliferation requirements, though the IAEA may give Iran a clean bill of health.

19. Iran will not acquire nuclear weapons in 2005.

20. Israel will not attack Iranian nuclear facilities directly. The Iranian nuclear program is too distributed and the risks of retaliation are too great. However, Israel will continue to threaten to attack Iran, and may try to sabotage Iranian nuclear facilities.

21. There will be terror attacks in Saudi Arabia, for which Osama Bin Laden may take credit, though his organization may not be directly involved. There also may be more civil unrest, such as the demonstration that was suppressed recently.

Next year this at time, compare our forecasts with those of prestigious think tanks who have predicted that Bashar Assad will resign, that Iran will encourage suicide bombing in Israel and that Israel will attack Iran.

(above was written December 30, 2004).

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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/00000418.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.

by Moderator @ 04:18 PM CST [Link]


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Replies: 4 comments

You should give yourselves more credit than you do. #4-- a broader disengagment-- seems to be in the offing after the elections. #12-- a worsening security situation in Iraq-- is substantially true. And #7-- with Palestinian terror attacks lessening and even a new non-violent resistance movement beginning, is also substantially true, with non-violent resistance occurring every week at Bi'lin against the security barrier and the encroachment of illegal settlement outposts. A counter-caravan "outpost" has recently been launched by Bi'lin villagers and outside supporters.

Posted by Ralph Seliger @ 01/01/2006 01:17 AM CST

An updated crystal ball for 2006, given todays events please....

Posted by Lisa @ 01/05/2006 07:50 AM CST

That's a pretty good track record in my view. Any thoughts on hot stocks for 2006?

Posted by Mike McDermott @ 01/09/2006 05:32 AM CST

Crystal ball 2006 is out at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000420.htm
Stock to watch - TEVA. :-) Don't sue me if I'm wrong.


Posted by Moderator @ 01/11/2006 12:43 AM CST

Please do not leave notes for MidEastWeb editors here. Hyperlinks are not displayed. We may delete or abridge comments that are longer than 250 words, or consist entirely of material copied from other sources, and we shall delete comments with obscene or racist content or commercial advertisements. Comments should adhere to Mideastweb Guidelines . IPs of offenders will be banned.

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