Arnaud de Borchgrave: US Hands ‘Tied’ All Over Volatile Middle East

Wednesday, 29 May 2013 09:33 PM

By Todd Beamon and John Bachman

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The future of the Middle East is totally unpredictable — and the hands of the United States “are tied pretty much everywhere” there, award-winning journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave tells Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.

“With so many conflicts going on, it looks bad on all fronts now,” de Borchgrave, the longtime Newsweek journalist, tells Newsmax.

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He cites, for instance, the possibility of a “regional war” breaking out in Iraq because of the strength of al-Qaida and its affiliates.

“It's become the new headquarters for al-Qaida and its associated movements and it's the jumping-off base for the civil war in Syria,” de Borchgrave says. “It doesn't look good and it hasn't looked good for a long time. It just keeps getting worse.

“What most people have forgotten is that what we did when we intervened in Iraq in effect strengthened Iran's ties with Iraq after a long period of hostility between Iraq and Iran,” he adds.

“When we thought everything had been cleaned up in Iraq, we didn't realize that the government that was installed through free elections was the one that was going to take the country closer to Iran than to the United States.”

There’s also Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s ties to the Taliban in Iran, he notes.

“He has the ability to do something but not very much — and the army doesn't respond automatically to whatever orders he gives,” de Borchgrave tells Newsmax. “The army has become a state within a state, in effect.”

Story continues below the video.

Besides serving Newsweek for 30 years, de Borchgrave is now director and senior adviser of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, editor at large at United Press International, and a frequent Newsmax contributor.

And, then, there’s Syria — and the brutal civil war led by President Bashar al-Assad that has so far killed more than 70,000 people — and Assad’s unwavering support from Russia.

“Russia is standing by its ally,” de Borchgrave tells Newsmax. “It's made several over many years — and they're not about to ditch their man there. It's a very unstable country.”

But with the war in Afghanistan hanging overhead — and the $1 trillion the United States has so far spent in the nation’s longest war — neither American boots nor NATO forces is likely to be put on the ground in Syria, de Borchgrave says.

“The U.S. could conceivably get sucked in on a small scale, which would quickly develop into a larger scale. There's no avoiding it at this stage. But there’s also a little math of how much all these things cost. I don't think that there is much of an appetite for a third conflict.”

Turning his attention to the elections in Iran next month, de Borchgrave tells Newsmax that, regardless of who wins, Iran will continue its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

“They will still have the determination to produce their own nuclear weapon. It gives them some kind of nuclear capability. I don’t think that anything will change that.

“The Israelis, of course, could decide to bomb, which would automatically drag the United States into another conflict,” he says, “Frankly, I don’t see that happening. What I do see happening is an acceptance of Iran as a nuclear power, much the way we did under the shah. We knew that Iran was going to become a nuclear power.”

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It is simply a question of when Iran has nuclear arms, de Borchgrave tells Newsmax.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood continues to create a stronghold in Egypt.

“The Muslim Brotherhood's endgame is, obviously, absolute power,” de Borchgrave says. “Elections at one time but no more. Elections have already been held and gave them a majority. You've got an absolute majority and they're going to consolidate that power.

“The one thing that could lead to their undoing are the loans that they are seeking from international institutions — and the international institutions have set certain conditions and those conditions will be very hard to meet.

“But it's not for that reason that I expect that anything will change,” de Borchgrave tells Newsmax. “The Muslim Brotherhood is in power and will stay in power as far as I can see into the future.”

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