What could be simpler than the Middle East?
A well-known Egyptian blogger who writes under the pseudonym The Big Pharaoh put together this chart laying out the regionâ€™s rivalries and alliances. Heâ€™s kindly granted me permission to post it, so that Americans might better understand the region. The joke is that itâ€™s not a joke; this is actually pretty accurate.
There are rivals who share mutual enemies, allies who back opposite sides of the same conflict, conflicting interests and very strange bedfellows. There are two categories of countries: the ones that meddle (the United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Israel) and the ones that are meddled with (Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories). Each of the former is pushing for a different outcome in each of the latter, falling in and out of cooperation and competition. And that long-running interference is an important part of why conflict persists.
Itâ€™s all kind of a scramble. The Big Pharaoh writes: â€œI keep on updating this chart because every time I look at it I discover that Iâ€™ve missed an arrow. Thatâ€™s how complicated it is.â€
The chart is a spin-off of the most amazing letter to the editor ever written, which appeared in Thursdayâ€™s Financial Times. It also explained the entire Middle East, in a few short sentences. Here they are:
Sir, Iran is backing Assad. Gulf states are against Assad!
Assad is against Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood and Obama are against General Sisi.
But Gulf states are pro-Sisi! Which means they are against Muslim Brotherhood!
Iran is pro-Hamas, but Hamas is backing Muslim Brotherhood!
Obama is backing Muslim Brotherhood, yet Hamas is against the U.S.!
Gulf states are pro-U.S. But Turkey is with Gulf states against Assad; yet Turkey is pro-Muslim Brotherhood against General Sisi. And General Sisi is being backed by the Gulf states!
Welcome to the Middle East and have a nice day.