Saturday, February 04, 2006

Jerusalem to Jalalabad

It's not only the Danish flags burning - as a matter of fact it looks like there is a grave risk that a number of things in the vast region between Jerusalem and Jalalabad might be about to catch fire.

The situation in Palestine and Gaza is obviously flammable. One should note that no measures have been taken to in any way end the isolation of Gaza. It remains a virtual prison, with emotions running increasingly high.

And what happens in Syria is less than clear. The regime is already under pressure after the UN report on its possible role in the Hariri assassination in Lebanon. It's seen as weak - and it very obviously failed to take action to prevent the burning down of a European Union embassy in Damascus today.

Then there is Iraq. The risks of fragmentation are obvious. It's highly uncertain whether there will be any further constitutional moves to try to integrate the Sunnis and moderate the insurgency.

And the Iran situation is now in all probability turning worse. Teheran has announced that they are ceasing all cooperation with the IAEA - including unscheduled inspections - and that they are forging ahead with their enrichment programs. The risk of war has increased again.

And while Afghanistan might look stable in relative terms, that's hardly the case in absolute terms. NATO is facing significant problems taking over a certain stability role in the country, and hardly seems to have the staying power required.

Every little crisis in isolation is serious. Together they might produce a burning belt of confrontation from Jerusalem to Jalalabad.

The world suddenly looks somewhat less safe.

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