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These are the men who are currently holding the headlines, either declaring Isis dead or beaten or Syria “saved” or the Kurds “terrorists” or rescuing Prime Minister Saad Hariri from his hostage home in Saudi Arabia – although now we’ve all got to believe that he wasn’t detained and didn’t really intend to resign or did resign but doesn’t want to resign any more.
And rather oddly, Mohamed bin Salman looks less and less influential, a Gulf Crown Prince whose attempts to destroy Yemen, Assad’s Syria, Qatar and Al Jazeera and even poor Lebanon look more and more like a child in a tantrum, throwing his toys around in an attempt to frighten the neighbours – including the one neighbour he will not fight, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
I have always thought that the day the royal princes started locking each other up might be the beginning of the end of the Kingdom.
But there is precious little reason to find any optimism across the smashed and rubbleised landscape of the Middle East.
Edith Piaf had a famous song about a night of hectic passion with a tattooed recruit, which she compared to (and I translate) ‘a thunderstorm through the sky’.
You could almost wish for the return of the corrupt old PLO.But today, who is calling the shots across the old Ottoman Empire?Well, just take a look at Putin and Assad and Erdogan and Sissi and Macron and Rouhani.Now it is Putin who invites Bashar al-Assad to Sochi, and chats to the presidents of Iran and Turkey, and whose army remains in Syria, and remains a good friend of President-Field Marshal al-Sissi of Egypt Time was when a mere statement from a secretary of state – let alone a US president – would have the phones jangling across the Middle East.The Reagans, Clintons, Bushes or Obamas of this world actually did have an effect on the region, albeit often malign, US leaders being poorly briefed and always in awe of Israel (not to mention its power to destroy political lives in Washington).