When the Only Winners are the Benchwarmers
The battle of Mohammed’s heirs is being fought anew in the Middle East. Tired of jostling for isonomy in Iraq and dismayed at the malversation of that country’s Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, armed Sunnis are readily en route to a showdown with Moqtada al-Sadr’s irregular Mahdi Army and the national Iraqi Army.
In its accelerated growth from minutiae to magnitude, Sunni ISIS terrorists have turned northern and central Iraq into a sea of banners, headbands, and bloodshed. The scene is somewhat reminiscent of The Battle of the Camel (656 C.E.), the First Fitna when Islam was first riven over its founder’s divisive cousin and son-in-law, caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib (r. 656-661).
In this Latest Fitna, as ISIS obtrudes deep into southern Iraq toward balmy Baghdad, Sunni and Shia are again at each other’s throats, with Israel keeping a wary eye on events and Iran threatening to intercede on al-Maliki’s behalf, as it continues to do in Syria on al-Assad’s behalf.
Notably, the current ISIS leader, al-Bagdadi, has threatened to take the Iraqi capital as a preliminary to Jerusalem, and to reach New York. But if the Ayatollahs of Iran prop up Iraq’s teetering Shia government, the Fertile Crescent remains solidly dominated by the Shia Iranians, Iraqis, Alawite (Shia) Syrians, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. This axis is fundamentally detrimental to Israel, America, and Europe in particular, and to civilization and democracy worldwide.
So what is the West to do? Nothing…yet.
As a 4,000 year-old people, Jews have always been intimate with the scope and scale of history, and so have learned the art of how to remember the future and forecast the past. That means preparing for the worst (in this case, the triumph of ISIS in Iraq and the collapse of neighboring Jordan) while hoping for the best (that in Syria and Iraq ISIS and Al-Qaeda keep Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah occupied indefinitely). If rival evils are willing to wipe each other out while distracting dictators from actions against Israel, then nonintervention is the order of the day.
There are times when the polestar of impartiality must prevail, even if only for a fleeting time. For now, the sidelines never looked so good.