Dean Clough

February 5, 2024

Portico Darwin: The Middle East Cluster F



<3 Minute Read

Happy Monday, but I will say I am a bit unnerved by the prospect of a widening conflict in the Middle East.  Us attacking Iranian proxies in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen over the weekend, while completely justified in the mind of this diplomat, could still send the region into full-tilt war.  With the United States at the center of it.

Today's post is mostly a random laundry list of considerations that make this mess so extraordinarily complicated.  And difficult (some say impossible) to fix - but there's a proposed solution at the end, from The Economist.

  • The 3 most powerful nations in the region are Israel, Iran, and Saudi Arabia; one has the stated goal of eliminating Israel, that being Iran.

  • Saudi Arabia (Arab and predominantly Sunni Muslim) and Iran (Persian and predominantly Shite Muslim) are arch-enemies and have been for a very long time.

  • Iran's proxies include Hezbollah and the Houthis.  They also arm and train several different jihadist groups in Syria.  And there's little doubt Iran is doing a whole bunch of other bad things in many other places.

  • I am not re-litigating the Trump presidency, but his trashing and walking away from "the Iran nuclear deal" was/is a mistake.  

  • Saudi Arabia and Israel have been on the brink of normalizing relations - which would be HUGE - for a long time now.  Indeed, that was almost certainly a motivating factor in Hamas's barbaric attack on October 7.

  • Israel (really, Binyamin Netanyahu) is damaging the country's standing globally with its current actions - no matter how much the country has a right to defend itself after Hamas's attack.

  • Likewise, and particularly under Netanyahu's reign, Israel has repeatedly justified its misguided and/or illegal policies "as guaranteeing our peace and security."  Note to Bibi:  it is not working. 

  • The Persian and Iranian heritage should be cherished; their history is as impressive as any.  

  • Our (and Britain's) mid-20th century history in Iran is awful.  The assassination of a democratically elected leader in order to protect UK and US oil interests was not a good idea; installing and propping up the Shah was worse.

  • Say what you will about the unlawful Israeli occupation in the West Bank and its treatment of Palestinians, but the fact is Israel does not seek to eliminate a race of people (genocide), whereas Hamas's charter calls for it.

  • Relatedly, let's say every Muslim jihadist in Gaza and The West Bank today laid down their weapon, and said, "Israel, we're good and let's join hands in peace."  If that were to occur, Israel would not roll tanks and subjugate and/or kill Muslims in either place.  

  • But if Israel disarmed, and said "Jihadists, we're good and let's join hands in peace," WTF do you think would happen?

  • To my Psycho Woke friends:  Remember that and also this, as you're demanding a free Palestine:  gay people are rightfully embraced and celebrated in Israel.  The Muslim world?  Not so much - they're stoned in the public square.

  • Worse are the true morons that demand a free Palestine "from the River to the Sea," not recognizing that would eliminate Israel. 

  • Religion is at the root of most of this.

  • The Arab Peace Initiative says if Israel were to withdraw completely from the West Bank to the original 1967 borders and support a Palestinian state, all Arab countries would recognize Israel and normalize relations.  Of course, Iran is not an Arab country.

  • Israel is typically held to a standard to which few or no other countries are held.

  • But the amount of aid that has been given to date to the Palestinians by the global community is staggering.  It is evidence of the woeful corruption of these proud peoples' so-called "leaders."

  • Why do Palestinians/other Arab nations get to fuck up negotiations by demanding a "right of return" to land that was (perhaps illegally) taken by the original Jewish settlers in what was then British Palestine?  Why can't Jews do the same concerning Poland or Germany?  Can you say "pogrom?"

  • It is possible to be opposed to current Israeli policy (both its prosecution of the war in Gaza, and its policy of continuing to build illegal settlements in The West Bank), and not be antisemitic.  Very possible.

The Economist's proposed solution?  They say there's a 50% chance of an extended cease-fire between Hamas and Israel; if that were to occur, the magazine believes it's likewise 50-50 Saudi Arabia will carry through on recognizing and establishing formal diplomatic relations with Israel.  Israel, the Arabs, and the world would then (with Netanyahu assumedly gone) actively support a Palestinian state, which would (somehow) be run honestly.

One must dream.  


The response to London Calling was gratifying, in as much that nobody canceled their subscription to this blog.    

In fact, two whole readers - Randy Smee and Lara Mohair - had some great comments.  Sure, both were participants back then, but still.

However, I can't publish Randy's, because he's trying to skip ahead, to when he and his Seaco colleagues came to SF and Genstar HQ to do their own due diligence.  Trust me, it's coming up.

Lara Mohair?  I'm not sure she's getting enough oxygen in her part of SF, at least judging by her first comment.

(This is) going to be among your most popular blog series.

I can picture the indignation of Pleather when you asked her if she was sleeping with Johnny!!  I never believed those rumors - until they had everyone over to their house in Walnut Creek one time. 

Thank you for reading this newsletter.  


This is about right, in terms of the wars and attacks and skirmishes and human rights violations and death in the Middle East.

So it's helpful here at KLUF that rock icon Chrissie Hynde released an album of the same name last fall.  Here are Pretenders and the impressive Relentless.

About Dean Clough