Bahrain’s ruling Sunnis have invited Saudi troops to assist in quelling the rioting and unrest it faces from a Shiite majority. This action threatens to engulf the Middle East in a holy war between Saudi Sunnis and Iranian Shiites over control of Islam.
The Romans often successfully employed the strategy of divide and conquer to subdue stronger rivals by pitting one group against another and crushing what was left of the winner. They would work to enflame the natural divisions between two enemies until their enmity erupted in a war. Rome would then watch as each side slaughtered the other’s most able warriors and bide its time until it could sweep in to conquer the weakened winner.
The United States has been plagued by fanatical Islamic terrorists since the Beirut Marine Barracks bombing in 1983, with full scale war brought on by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We have lived in fear of and suffered through additional attacks by terrorists bent on destroying America and all it represents. The U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq directed fanatics’ attention to ridding their backyards of the American presence and left them unable to seriously threaten American shores. However, as America withdraws from Iraq and the conflict in Afghanistan has settled into routine, terrorists have renewed their attention to targeting our homeland.
The uprisings in the Middle East that began in Tunisia and spread like wildfire to other countries whose inhabitants are mired in economic stagnation caught the world by surprise and exposed the weakness in foreign affairs possessed by the Obama administration. Obama refused to support Hosni Mubarak, our ally who stood between the radical Muslim Brotherhood and control of Egypt, and refused to not support Muammar Gaddafi, our terrorist-supporting nemesis who ordered the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and secured the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the bombing. Obama has a perfect record of being on the wrong side of every issue, much like his vice president, Joe Biden.
These uprising have spread to the small wealthy island country of Bahrain, headquarters of the United States Naval Forces Central Command and the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, positioned to counter Iran’s influence in the region. Bahrain’s majority Shiite population used the uprisings as an opportunity to riot against the ruling Sunni minority supported by Saudi Arabia. In the wake of these protests, Bahrain has called on the Saudis to assist in putting down the rioters and the Saudis have responded by sending a contingent of troops to support Bahrain’s military. A victory by Shiites would allow Iran to expand its influence deeper into the Middle East; a situation Sunni Saudi Arabia is eager to prevent.
These events have set the stage for a possible proxy war between Sunnis supported by Saudi Arabia and Shiites supported by Iran. These two Islamic factions have a long history of bitter enmity as they have warred over control of Islam since the death of Mohammed with each claiming to be the legitimate representative of Islam. Iran can ill-afford to allow a Saudi intervention to go unanswered as this will be seen as a great sign of weakness by the Arab world and risk an uprising by its restless population.
America stands to benefit from the potential conflict in that attention by both militant factions of Islam would be directed at each other and away from the United States. Fanatical Islamic terrorists would more likely direct their attacks at the more prominent local enemy instead of faraway America as proximity of locale would seize their attention and enflame their passions.
Fears of disruptions to the flow of oil from the region would likely subside as each side would need to sell oil to finance their struggle, and might even lend bargaining power to the United States as the tide of war ebbs and flows. The Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s serves as a useful study of all-out war in the Middle East. This war lasted from 1980 until 1988 with little disruption in the flow of oil.
As each side destroyed the more fanatical elements of the other, America would be left facing a much more subdued Islamic population and have the chance to reengage the Middle East in a more positive manner. Contrary to the politically correct multiculturalist drivel espoused by our current administration, Islam is not a religion of peace as it was founded upon Mohammed’s principles of war against infidels. This fact is plain to all who have bothered to acknowledge the violence in the Middle East and around the world committed in the name of Islam.
It has been wisely stated that those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it. Often, history provides timely lessons applicable to modern political situations. America has a chance to apply the lessons of history to an intractable guerilla war with a tenacious and fanatical foe and circumvent their ability to prolong the engagement to their advantage by pitting Islam’s factions against each other and biding its time to deal with the outcome from a position of strength.