Connect with us



5 ways the Middle East has been radically changed since 1990

What was once unthinkable has become reality.




The geo-political structure of the Middle East has changed almost diametrically since 1990. It is no coincidence that it was in 1990 when the Gulf War inaugurated decades of direct western Meddling in the region that had been mostly limited to indirect meddling and broad, often thwarted ambitions between 1957 and 1989.

Here are some of the key points of these changes:

1. The Historical Background

A worldly young person of today would find news bulletins about western meddling in the Middle East from the first half of the 20th century, far more familiar than those from the 1960s, 70s or 80s.

During much of the first half of the 20th century, the Middle East became a playground for western countries during the final decades of traditional late-modern Imperialism.

During the Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule, a theatre of  the First World War, Britain and France secretly divided the Levant and historic Mesopotamia in the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement.

This agreement solidified what more or less corresponds to the modern borders of Lebanon, Palestine/Israel, Iraq, Jordan (first called Trans-Jordan) and Syria.

A year later, Britain authored the Balfour Declaration which set the stage for Zionist immigration to British Mandate Palestine.

In the 1920s, Britain turned its back on the Hashemites  of the Hejaz and instead started to back the House of Saud which  conquered the Hejaz in 1925. Ibn Saud eventually united his conquered lands in 1932, forming the Kingdom Saudi Arabia.

Britain and France dug in during the 1930s and the onset of the Second World War delayed any and all decolonisation measures.

By the late 1940s and 1950s, many former mandates, puppet states and colonies in all but name, began to break free of French and British rule.

Most notably, in 1952 Gamal Abdel Nasser led a revolution in Egypt against British domination and he won a resounding victory.

The following year however, Britain asked the United States to remove the democratically elected left wing nationalist Mohammad Mosaddegh from power in Iran. The CIA obliged.

This would be the last hurrah for the western Imperial powers in respect of Middle East meddling, at least in an overt sense.

In 1956, Britain, France and Israel declared war on Egypt over Nasser’s nationalisation of the Anglo-French owned Suez Canal. In a rare moment of unity, both the US and USSR forced the imperialist forces to withdraw. Thus ending decades of direct western meddling in Middle East affairs.

2. The Settled Realities Between 1957 and 1989

By the late 1980s, the most power states in the Middle East were as follows

–Iraq: Led by a powerful President Saddam Hussein, Iraq was a rich oil producing country with a formidable armed forces. Although Iraq engaged Iran in a long war with no meaningful settlement throughout the 1980s, even so, the idea that Iraq would be anything but a force to be reckoned with in the 1990s, was unthinkable.

–Egypt: Although Egypt’s harrowing foreign policies died with Nasser, Egypt remained stable and firmly in the hands of broadly Nasserist leaders. The idea that anything else would be the case in Egypt was of course, summarily unfathomable in the late 1980s.

–Libya: The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya set up by Muammar Gaddafi in 1977, was a firm break with the past. The new state was a country based on Gaddafi’s Third International Theory. Libya’s ferocious independence was not just manifested in the country’s philosophical creed but also its economic might, infrastructural achievements and prowess in foreign affairs.

–Syria: Under President Hafez al-Assad (1970-1990), Syria achieved a level of foreign policy and economic  independence that irked both Israel and the United States. In spite of this, Syria remained untouchable, even throughout the neighbouring Lebanese war. Syria’s total defeat of the Muslims Brotherhood in the early 1980s, was a further sign of Syria’s strength and independence.

–Israel: From its inception as a state in 1948 up to 2006, Israel never technically lost a war. Israel’s military might remained for many, beyond question. We’ll see in the next sections how this too changed.

In spite of three Arab-Israeli wars during this period (1967, 1970 and 1973) as well as the Lebanese Civil War(1975-1990) and Civil War in North Yemen (1962-1970), the leadership of the Arab world remained remarkably stable. Furthermore, the Arab world’s ability to resist western attempts at covert meddling, remained remarkably successful, especially in hindsight.

3. The Awkward 1990s

With the exception of the two Yemeni states which united in 1990, there where no great changes of regime in the Middle East in the 1990s.

What happened was a prelude to the regime change hysteria of the 2000s. Iraq was the testing ground.

In 1990s, the western powers along with a foolish Egypt, devious Saudi Arabia and a Syria who still hadn’t come to terms with the Ba’athist split of 1966, invaded Iraq.

In the aftermath of this, the US led the UN to forces economically crippling sanctions on the once rich Republic.

In 1998 Bill Clinton bombed Iraq in what was a war in all but name.

By the end of the 1990s, many still felt that regime change was something which belonged in a bygone era.

All of this of course happened simultaneous to a Civil War in Algeria which begun in 1991. The war ended in 2002  when government forces emerged victorious against an Islamist insurgency.

4. Imperialism Strikes Back 2003-today

The results of the western wars on Iraq (2003), Libya (2011), Egyptian political interference in 2011 and today’s interference in Syria and Yemen, have all resulted in the unthinkable happening; a total inversion of the power structure in the Middle East.

–Iraq: Since 2003 Iraq has been a broken country both physically and due to sectarian political divides which often end in bloodshed. The Ba’athist monolith has been reduced to a sectarian playground for terrorists.

–Libya: The once unshakeable Gaddafi was overthrown by a smiling Hillary Clinton duing a NATO led war and the result has been the emergence of a failed state that cannot even agree on a single legitimate government.

–Egypt: After Barack Obama threw long-time US ally Hosni Mubarak to the dogs, which paved the way for rule by the Muslim Brotherhood between 2012 and 2013, under President Sisi, Egypt is returning to normalcy.

–Iran: After being isolated from much of the Arab world during most of the 20th century, Iran has become not only a regional power to be reckoned with, but a force for peace and stability. Iran’s opposition to Salifist terrorism as demonstrated by its aid of Syria, has put Iran in a position as an important regional power-broker. Iran’s position in the Astana Peace Talks for Syria is one of the manifestations of this.

Iran also now represents a monumental counter-weight to Saudi/Wahhabi ambitions in the wider Sunni Arab world.

–Israel and Hezbollah: In spite of still having a formidable air force and nuclear weapons, in 2006, Israel suffered its first battle-field loss in its war against Hezbollah. The once invincible Israel is invincible no more.

This has had the effect of elevating Hezbollah’s prestige not just in Lebanon but throughout the Arab world and not just the Shi’a Arab world at that.

5. As Things Stand 

The US, UK, France and others have done a remarkably good job of destroying strong, united, independent Arab states that once towered over regional geo-politics. But in spite of this, a new force of anti-imperialist actors has emerged.

Iran and Hezbollah are of course the rising powers in this respect and Syria remains in a position of strength in this alliance. Syria after all is the only Middle Eastern country which has thus far been able to resist western imposed regime change. The others have all fallen, even though as recently as 1989, this would have been difficult for many to imagine.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Notify of


Macron pisses off Merkel as he tries to sabotage Nord Stream 2 pipeline (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 177.

Alex Christoforou



The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss an EU compromise for Nord Stream 2 where EU member states, the EU Parliament, and its Commission will give the bloc more oversight on gas pipelines, with one caveat…the Nord Stream 2 project with Russia will not be threatened by the new regulations in the agreement.

Macron pushed hard to have the new regulations include (and derail) Nord Stream 2, an action which annoyed Angela Merkel, who eventually got her way and delivered another blow to Macron’s failing French presidency.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via The Express UK

Angela Merkel hit back at Emmanuel Macron over Russia and Germany’s pipeline project, declaring it would “not be a one-sided dependency”. The German Chancellor explained that Germany will expand its gas terminals with “liquified gas”. Speaking at a press conference, Ms Merkel declared: “Do we become dependent on Russia because of this second gas pipeline? I say no, if we diversify. Germany will expand its gas terminals with liquefied gas.

“This means that we do not want to depend only on Russia, but Russia was a source of gas in the Cold War and will remain one.

“But it would not be one-sided dependency.”

Via DW

The EU parliament and its Council are set to adopt new regulations on gas pipelines connecting the bloc members with non-EU countries, the EU Commission announced early on Wednesday.

The upcoming directive is based on a compromise between EU member states and EU officials in Brussels. The bloc leaders agreed to tighten Brussels’ oversight of gas delivery and expand its rules to all pipelines plugging into the EU’s gas distribution network.

“The new rules ensure that… everyone interested in selling gas to Europe must respect European energy law,” EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said in a statement.

For example, owners of pipelines linking EU and non-EU countries would also be required to allow access for their competitors. Brussels would also have more power regarding transparency and tariff regulations.

Russian ambassador slams US

Brussels has repeatedly expressed concern over the controversial Nord Stream 2 project which would deliver Russian gas directly to Germany through a pipeline under the Baltic Sea. Many EU states oppose the mammoth project, and the US claims it would allow Moscow to tighten its grip on the EU’s energy policy.

Berlin has insisted that the pipeline is a “purely economic” issue.

Speaking to Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung daily, Russian ambassador to Berlin, Sergey Nechayev, slammed the US’ opposition as an attempt to “push its competition aside” and clear the way for American suppliers of liquefied gas.

“It’s hard to believe that a country that is destroying the rules of free and fair trade, that is imposing import tariffs on its competition, that is flying slogans like ‘America First’ on its flags and often threatens biggest European concerns with illegal sanctions, is now really concerned about European interests,” the Russian envoy said in remarks published in German on Wednesday.

Last week, France unexpectedly rebelled against the project, but Berlin and Paris soon reached a compromise. Thanks to their agreement, the latest deal is not expected to impede the ongoing construction of Nord Stream 2.

Citing sources from negotiators’ circles, German public broadcaster ARD reported that the deal left room for Germany to approve exceptions from the EU-wide rules.

According to the EU Commission, however, exceptions are “only possible under strict procedures in which the Commission plays a decisive role.”

The Gazprom-backed pipeline is set to be completed by the end of the year.


Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading


UK Defence Secretary looking for a fight with both China and Russia (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 87.

Alex Christoforou



The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson’s idea to deploy hard power against China and Russia, starting with plans to send Britain’s new aircraft carrier to the tense sea routes in the South China Sea.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

“Britain’s Gavin Williamson places Russia & China on notice, I’m not joking,” authored by John Wight, via RT

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is itching for conflict with Russia and China. He’s not mad. Not even slightly. But he is stupid. Very.

Unlike former fireplace salesman Gavin Williamson, I am no military expert. But then you do not need to be one to understand that while Britain going to war with Russia and China might work as a video game, the real thing would be an exceedingly bad idea.

So why then in a speech delivered to the Royal United Services Institute in London, did Mr Williamson’s argument on the feasibility of the real thing elicit applause rather than the shrieks of horror and demands he be sacked forthwith it should have? This is a serious question, by the way. It is one that cuts through British establishment verbiage to reveal a country ruled not by the sober and doughty political heavyweights of years gone by, but by foaming fanatics in expensive suits

Placing to one side for a moment the insanity of the very concept of Britain deploying hard power against Russia and/or China, the prospect of fighting a war against two designated enemies at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Not satisfied with that, though, Mr Williamson is actually contemplating a conflict with three different enemies at the same time – i.e. against Russia, China, and the millions of people in Britain his government is currently waging war against under the rubric of austerity.

“Today, Russia is resurgent,” Mr Williamson said, “rebuilding its military arsenal and seeking to bring the independent countries of the former Soviet Union, like Georgia and Ukraine, back into its orbit.”

For Mr Williamson and his ilk a resurgent Russia is a bad thing. Much better in their eyes if Russia, after the Soviet era in the 1990s, had remained on its knees as a free market desert; its state institutions in a state of near collapse and tens of millions of its citizens in the grip of immiseration. Yes, because in that scenario Western ideologues like him would have had free rein to rampage around the world as they saw fit, setting fire to country after country on the perverse grounds of ‘saving them’ for democracy.

As it is, he and his still managed to squeeze in a considerable amount of carnage and chaos in the years it did take Russia to recover. The indictment reads as follows: Yugoslavia destroyed; Afghanistan turned upside down; Iraq pushed into the abyss; Libya sent to hell.

By the time they turned their attention to Syria, intent on exploiting an Arab Spring that NATO in Libya transformed into an Arab Winter, Russia had recovered and was able to intervene. It did so in concert with the Syrian Arab Army, Iran and Hezbollah to save the day – much to the evident chagrin of those who, like Gavin Williamson, prefer to see countries in ashes rather than independent of Western hegemony.

As to the facile nonsense about Russia trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine back into its orbit, both countries happen to share a border with Russia and both countries, in recent years, have been used by the UK and its allies as cat’s paws with the eastward expansion of NATO in mind.

It gets worse though: “The Alliance must develop its ability to handle the kind of provocations that Russia is throwing at us. Such action from Russia must come at a cost.”

“Provocations,” the man said. Since British troops have been taking part in exercises on Russia’s doorstep, not the other way round, one wonders if Gavin Williamson wrote this speech while inebriated.

It is Russia that has been on the receiving end of repeated provocations from NATO member states such as the UK in recent times, and it is Russia that has been forced to respond to protect its own security and that of its people where necessary. Furthermore, not only in Russia but everywhere, including the UK, people understand that when you have political leaders intoxicated by their own national myths and propaganda to such an extent as Britain’s Defence Secretary, danger ensues.

The most enduring of those national myths where London is concerned is that the British Empire was a force for good rather than a vast criminal enterprise, that Britain and America won the Second World War together alone, that Iraq had WMDs, and that international law and international brigandage really are one and the same thing.

Perhaps the most preposterous section of the speech came when Mr Williamson tried to fashion a connection between Brexit and Britain’s military strength: “Brexit has brought us to a moment. A great moment in our history. A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality, and increase our mass.”

Reading this, you can almost hear Churchill turning in his grave. Britain’s wartime prime minister had such as Gavin Williamson in mind when he famously said, “He has all the virtues I dislike, and none of the vices I admire.”

Mr Williamson obviously misread the memo talking up not the opportunity for increased conflict with China after Brexit but trade.

This was not a speech it was a linguistic car crash, one that will forever command an honoured place in compendiums of the worst political speeches ever made. As for Gavin Williamson, just as no responsible parent would ever dream of putting an 10-year old behind the wheel of car to drive unsupervised, no responsible British government would ever appoint a man like him as its Defence Secretary.

In years past, he would have struggled to find employment polishing the brass plate outside the building.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading


The Birth Of A Monster

The banking establishment welcomed the Fed with open arms. What gives?

The Duran



Authored by David Howden via The Mises Institute:

The Federal Reserve’s doors have been open for “business” for one hundred years. In explaining the creation of this money-making machine (pun intended – the Fed remits nearly $100 bn. in profits each year to Congress) most people fall into one of two camps.

Those inclined to view the Fed as a helpful institution, fostering financial stability in a world of error-prone capitalists, explain the creation of the Fed as a natural and healthy outgrowth of the troubled National Banking System. How helpful the Fed has been is questionable at best, and in a recent book edited by Joe Salerno and me — The Fed at One Hundred — various contributors outline many (though by no means all) of the Fed’s shortcomings over the past century.

Others, mostly those with a skeptical view of the Fed, treat its creation as an exercise in secretive government meddling (as in G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island) or crony capitalism run amok (as in Murray Rothbard’s The Case Against the Fed).

In my own chapter in The Fed at One Hundred I find sympathies with both groups (you can download the chapter pdf here). The actual creation of the Fed is a tragically beautiful case study in closed-door Congressional deals and big banking’s ultimate victory over the American public. Neither of these facts emerged from nowhere, however. The fateful events that transpired in 1910 on Jekyll Island were the evolutionary outcome of over fifty years of government meddling in money. As such, the Fed is a natural (though terribly unfortunate) outgrowth of an ever more flawed and repressive monetary system.

Before the Fed

Allow me to give a brief reverse biographical sketch of the events leading up to the creation of a monster in 1914.

Unlike many controversial laws and policies of the American government — such as the Affordable Care Act, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or the War on Terror — the Federal Reserve Act passed with very little public outcry. Also strange for an industry effectively cartelized, the banking establishment welcomed the Fed with open arms. What gives?

By the early twentieth century, America’s banking system was in a shambles. Fractional-reserve banks faced with “runs” (which didn’t have to be runs with the pandemonium that usually accompanies them, but rather just banks having insufficient cash to meet daily withdrawal requests) frequently suspended cash redemptions or issued claims to “clearinghouse certificates.” These certificates were a money substitute making use of the whole banking system’s reserves held by large clearinghouses.

Both of these “solutions” to the common bank run were illegal as they allowed a bank to redefine the terms of the original deposit contract. This fact notwithstanding, the US government turned a blind eye as the alternative (widespread bank failures) was perceived to be far worse.

The creation of the Fed, the ensuing centralization of reserves, and the creation of a more elastic money supply was welcomed by the government as a way to eliminate those pesky and illegal (yet permitted) banking activities of redemption suspensions and the issuance of clearinghouse certificates. The Fed returned legitimacy to the laws of the land. That is, it addressed the government’s fear that non-enforcement of a law would raise broader questions about the general rule of law.

The Fed provided a quick fix to depositors by reducing cases of suspensions of their accounts. And the banking industry saw the Fed as a way to serve clients better without incurring a cost (fewer bank runs) and at the same time coordinate their activities to expand credit in unison and maximize their own profits.

In short, the Federal Reserve Act had a solution for everyone.

Taking a central role in this story are the private clearinghouses which provided for many of the Fed’s roles before 1914. Indeed, America’s private clearinghouses were viewed as having as many powers as European central banks of the day, and the creation of the Fed was really just an effort to make the illegal practices of the clearinghouses legal by government institutionalization.

Why Did Clearinghouses Have So Much Power?

Throughout the late nineteenth century, clearinghouses used each new banking crisis to introduce a new type of policy, bringing them ever closer in appearance to a central bank. I wouldn’t go so far as to say these are examples of power grabs by the clearinghouses, but rather rational responses to fundamental problems in a troubled American banking system.

When bank runs occurred, the clearinghouse certificate came into use, first in 1857, but confined to the interbank market to economize on reserves. Transactions could be cleared in specie, but lacking sufficient reserves, a troubled bank could make use of the certificates. These certificates were jointly guaranteed by all banks in the clearinghouse system through their pooled reserves. This joint guarantee was welcomed by unstable banks with poor reserve positions, and imposed a cost on more prudently managed banks (as is the case today with deposit insurance). A prudent bank could complain, but if it wanted to use a clearinghouse’s services and reap the cost advantages it had to comply with the reserve-pooling policy.

As the magnitude of the banking crisis intensified, clearinghouses started permitting banks to issue the certificates directly to the public (starting with the Panic of 1873) to further stymie reserve drains. (These issues to the general public amounted to illegal money substitutes, though they were tolerated, as noted above.)

Fractional-Reserve Free Banking and Bust

The year 1857 is a somewhat strange one for these clearinghouse certificates to make their first appearance. It was, after all, a full twenty years into America’s experiment with fractional-reserve free banking. This banking system was able to function stably, especially compared to more regulated periods or central banking regimes. However, the dislocation between deposit and lending activities set in motion a credit-fueled boom that culminated in the Panic of 1857.

This boom and panic has all the makings of an Austrian business cycle. Banks overextended themselves to finance the booming industries during America’s westward advance, primarily the railways. Land speculation was rampant. As realized profits came in under expectations, investors got skittish and withdrew money from banks. Troubled banks turned to the recently established New York Clearing House to promote stability. Certain rights were voluntarily abrogated in return for a guarantee on their solvency.

The original sin of the free-banking period was its fractional-reserve foundation. Without the ability to fund lending activity with their deposit base, banks never would have financed the boom to the extent that it became a destabilizing factor. Westward expansion and investment would still have occurred, though it would have occurred in a sustainable way funded through equity investments and loans. (These types of financing were used, though as is the case today, this occurred less than would be the case given the fractional-reserve banking system’s essentially cost-free funding source: the deposit base.)

In conclusion, the Fed was not birthed from nothing in 1913. The monster was the natural outgrowth of an increasingly troubled banking system. In searching for the original problem that set in motion the events culminating in the creation of the Fed, one must draw attention to the Panic of 1857 as the spark that set in motion ever more destabilizing policies. The Panic itself is a textbook example of an Austrian business cycle, caused by the lending activities of fractional-reserve banks. This original sin of the banking system concluded with the birth of a monster in 1914: The Federal Reserve.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading


Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...


Quick Donate

The Duran
Donate a quick 10 spot!


The Duran Newsletter