No, not that meltdown, but with the nuclear ambitions of so many Arab nations, not to mention Iran, such a future is not hard to imagine. I'm talking about the epidemic fragmenting of Middle East nations under the weight of sectarian enmity and economic volatility that historian Niall Ferguson writes about in today's LA Times.
Any lingering hopes of a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians evaporated last week as the Islamist extremists of Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the more secular Fatah party, now finds himself president of the West Bank only. The next Middle Eastern peace plan will have to be a three-state solution: Israel, Hamastan and Fatahland.
Did I say three? I meant four. Because no peace could last long if it didn't somehow end the threat to Israel posed by Hezbollahstan — the strip of Lebanon controlled by the Iranian-backed terrorists whom Israel failed to obliterate last summer.
Meanwhile, even as hooded Hamas gunmen and Fatah forces traded bullets in Gaza, and even as another anti-Syrian politician was blown to pieces in Lebanon, Sunni militants in Iraq destroyed the twin minarets of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, finishing the job they began last year, when they demolished its golden dome. Nothing could be better calculated to intensify the sectarian conflict there and push the country another step closer to bloody partition.
And don't forget Kurdistan, the semiautonomous republic in northern Iraq that is set to be the third state in Iraq's three-state (dis)solution. The Turks haven't. They're currently massing troops on its border.
Last week in the Forward, Martin van Creveld, professor of military history at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, suggested that once the Palestinian divorce is over -- leaving Fatah to rule the West Bank while Hamas controls Gaza -- perhaps at least the Levant will be a better place for Israelis and Palestinians.
Today, President Bush and the European Union said they will recognize the Fatah government of Mahmoud Abbas and will resume dialogue and aid. Hamas, written about by David Remnick last winter after they won a majority of parliament, shouldn't expect any western love.