Want to think about the Middle East in a whole new way? Check out The War in Gaza and Southern Israel: Ramifications for Israel, the Palestinians and the Middle East (website, iTunes), a lecture by Tel Aviv University historian Asher Susser, given at UCLA in February 2009 in the wake of the Gaza war.
Susser describes the Middle East as if it were a version of the classic strategy board game Risk, with major and minor players jockeying for position and influence.
Major players in today’s Middle East are Turkey, Iran and Israel, none of them Arab countries. This is a very different strategic world from the Middle East that was once dominated by Arab powers like Egypt and Syria.
The secular Arab nationalism of the mid-20th century is a waning force, and Islamism is on the rise. This long-term trend is a major reason behind the Hamas victory in the 2006 Palestinian Authority elections.
The recent Gaza war helped enhance Israel’s deterrent power in the region, despite the damage to Israel’s public image in the international community.