Beware the Mideast’s falling pillars

People marched on a highway near Amman, Jordan, to draw attention to unemployment issues. (photo: Muhammad Hamed / Reuters)
Changes beyond the control of the region’s leaders are spurring a new Middle East.

By Thomas Friedman | The New York Times | Mar 19, 2019

Jordan’s King Abdullah recently told a group of US military visitors that what keeps him up at night is just one thing — and it’s not ISIS or Al Qaeda. It’s the fact that 300,000 Jordanians are unemployed and 87 percent of them are between the ages of 18 and 39, prime working years.

For the last half-century the politics of the Middle East has been shaped by five key pillars, but all five are now crumbling. A new Middle East is aborning — but not necessarily the flourishing one that people imagined in the 1990s.

This one is being shaped more by Twitter memes than by US diplomats, more by unemployment than by terrorism, more by upheavals on the streets than by leaders in palaces, more by women than by men. Can’t say where it will all settle out, but for now, beware falling pillars.

How so? For starters, there was always a deep US involvement in shaping the future of this region. But just look around today: The US doesn’t even have ambassadors in Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan or Saudi Arabia, and the US ambassador to Israel, a former Trump bankruptcy lawyer, is so enthralled with the right-wing Jewish settler movement that he is more a propagandist than a diplomat. Bye-bye American pie.

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