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A Gordian knot in Middle East
by Thanos Kalamidas
2006-11-15 10:01:26
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I presume many people watched the recent Hollywood production of Alexander, so here is a myth from Alexander the Great's life: the Gordian knot.

According to the myth, when Alexander arrived at Telmissus, the ancient capital of Phrygia, he heard about this very complicated knot and the prophecy of the one that could untie the knot would become king of Asia. After spending some time studying the knot, Great Alexander just sliced it in half with a stroke of his sword. When I read Tony Blair's announcement to take a trip to the Middle East, the legend was the first thought that crossed my mind.

For decades now, the Middle East, or Palestine, or whatever else you might call the problem, has become a Gordian knot because too many sides have an opinion and solutions that drive nowhere. Actually, every effect for a solution over the last few years has seemingly led to a totally Greek myth-style tighter knot. It looks as though it is time to use Alexander's solution to solve this ongoing problem. Somebody with the power to draw the sword has to slice the knot and it is natural that the only two who currently have the power is the USA and EU.

Coming to the USA, it is out of question. This is the worst time for them to get involved in anything in the Middle East, and it seems that this is a power with a very unique talent to create Gordian knots where none existed. I mean they have created one so complicated in Iraq that it will probably take decades to understand how they even managed to do that.

The EU is another story altogether. Balancing between the good relations with Israel and the guilt they feel towards the Jewish people, plus good relationship Europe has with the Arab world, they are stood numb in the middle. Instead of talking with the two sides, they prefer to…stand there doing nothing, occasionally confusing everybody with a mixture of reactions from member states and the EU Commission.

And if that was not enough, Tony Blair comes to complete the confusing picture. There is a common joke about English people that the most common subject for a conversation or argument is the weather. Well, Tony Blair is getting there gradually and is preparing to blame the weather for the Middle East problem. However, before he reaches that point, he's going to blame Syria and Iran first.

Please don't misunderstand me. I never thought of Syria as anything other than a violent dictatorship that embarrasses the world. Actually, I consider Syria to be responsible for all the problems that the Lebanese people have had to face over the last four decades. Damascus has been behind political murders, coups and army invasions in Lebanon and it is a wonder how they have survived into the 21st century. While on the topic of the 21st century, it is no small miracle how Iran has survived, well with a system that comes straight out of the Middle Ages.

Both countries have the worst kind of dictatorships and it will serve democracy and world peace as soon as their leaders are imprisoned for life, but to place all the responsible of the Middle East upon their shoulders is too far. In his speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet, Tony Blair talked about the situation in Iraq saying, "Forces outside Iraq…are trying to create mayhem inside Iraq," and while everybody would have included the role of the US and UK he pointed at Syria and Iran.

Is this a warning that something is going to happen or just a lion's roar from a lion that is losing power, but still tries to show that he's the king? Let's hope that the latter is true because if it is a warning of what is to come then this is really bad news. Instead of untying a knot, they are going to create many more and then one sword will not be enough.

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Sand2006-11-15 09:34:47
Undoubtedly the interplay of political factions is involved in the mayhem in the area but intrinsically the millenium long grudges that erupt in violence is also a factor. The totally irrational furies that arise between religious groups who have nothing to lose and a great deal to gain by living in peace with each other is a form of psychopathelogical insanity that requires something for a cure that nobody seems capable of supplying.

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