MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
It is about time to take stock of our predictions for 2007. What we missed entirely: Kurdish situation; Hamas takeover (should have seen that coming), oil prices. In bold - predictions that were correct.
The Taliban spring offensive for 2007 may be so large as to get the attention of Washington and disturb relations with Pakistan.
Constitutional changes will have no substantive effect.
The government will promote nuclear technology and make more announcements to this effect, and perhaps substantive moves, both as a symbol of its independence and a counterweight to Iran.
There will be further moves against the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the group will not be suppressed entirely.
Uranium Enrichment - Iran will ignore the resolutions and world pressure, and continue its nuclear development program
The US will not attack Iran.
Israel will not attack Iran (Sunday Times to the contrary notwithstanding).
The situation - The additional troops will not make a decisive difference in the security and political situation, which will continue to deteriorate.
Refugees - -Internal displacement of Iraqis and the flight of Iraqi refugees across international borders will draw increasing attention. If present trends continue, large-scale Iraqi refugee populations may eventually become destabilizing factors in Jordan and Syria, although this is not to be expected in 2007.
Allies - Gulf states and other US Middle East allies will gradually distance themselves increasingly from US policies, as the failure in Iraq becomes more certain, and as they are increasingly convinced that the US does not have the will or the competence to back its allies. The recent replacement of the Saudi ambassador, a prince, with a less prestigious individual, might be a move in that direction, as well as the very vocal Egyptian and Saudi complaints about the manner of execution of Saddam Hussein. Comment - Iran was invited to GCC conference; grumblings about de-dollarization...
ISG - Most of the ISG report recommendations will not be implemented:
- The Bush administration will not set a deadline for leaving Iraq.
- Oil industry will not be privatized owing to Iraqi government opposition and a lack of buyers.
Amir Peretz will be replaced as leader of the Labor party in party primaries.
Israel and the Palestinians
Rockets - Rocket fire from Gaza will continue despite the truce.Truce? What truce? over 2,000 rockets fired in 2007.
Criminal Investigations - There will be further news about major criminal investigations into high level officials including PM Olmert and others. The resolution of the case against President Katsav is uncertain.
Israel and Lebanon
Border - The Israel-Lebanon border will remain quiet.
If the international tribunal to try the murderers of Rafiq Hariri ever convenes, results of the trial will not conclusively implicate the Syrian government.
Syria and Israel
The peace overtures, if they occur, will be rejected. The US is more interested in progress on the Palestinian track, and in isolating Syria. The government of Ehud Olmert is not strong enough to contemplate returning the Golan heights.
Guerrilla/Terrorist force- Syria, as it announced, will begin to build a semi-official state-sponsored terrorist group on the model of Hezbollah, whose mission is to provoke Israeli attacks in the north, in order to exert pressure on Israel regarding the Golan. It is not certain that this force will be in place and operating in 2007. The Lebanese Hezbollah may play a prominent role in this campaign, allowing them to circumvent UNIFIL in Lebanon and attack Israel through the Golan. If it happened, we didn't hear about it.
Sleepers and Jokers
Health Issues - President Mubarak of Egypt is of an advanced age. His removal from the scene would create an uncertain situation in Egypt. The rumored death of Ali Khameinei in Iran, if true, will not have immediate political effects. Wrong again. Never believe Middle East rumors.
Hamas Boycott - Look for increasing European and Arab pressure to find an excuse to lift the boycott of the Palestinian Hamas led government, as the US steps up its support for President Abbas. This issue is a useful bargaining chip for creating leverage to influence US policy as well as providing an alternative to it. Didn't happen
Precipitating Incidents - Hamas and other extremist groups may stage large scale terror attacks or kidnappings in to order to help resolve domestic political issues. A Qassam rocket could hit "sensitive" installations near Ashdod and cause major damage and fatalities. These could precipitate an Israeli invasion or large scale attack on Gaza. Didn't happen
Syria - The possibility of a war between Israel and Syria in 2007 cannot be ignored. A war was predicted by some Israeli intelligence sources. It could be precipitated by attacks of the Syrian instigated guerilla force. Didn't happen
Summary and Disclaimer - The situations to watch include: Afghanistan, two prisoner exchanges, Hezbollah confrontation with Lebanese government, Iraq insurgency, Iran nuclear development issue, Israeli-Palestine peace, Hamas-Fateh confrontation, Syria-Israel confrontation, Hamas versus quartet. Resolution of most of these issues is uncertain.
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