Around this time of year, analysts, prominent think-tanks, and the Central Intelligence Agency attempt to predict what is going to occur in the Middle East in the upcoming twelve months. Recent events in Iran and Yemen have only added to speculation about the future of the region ( keep in mind that here “future” is narrowly interpreted to mean events and/or circumstances that will directly impact U.S. interests in the region such as wars, the growth of al-Qaeda, or the formation of small subversive, female-led reading groups in Tehran.) I will do no such thing.
Instead, I want to offer a set of anti-predictions: a list of completely implausible events which would only occur under the most unbelievable circumstances.
1. The formation of a Palestinian state
The anti-prospects for peace have already been belabored by those writing on all sides of the Arab- Israeli conflict and personally, I would be willing to bet my first-born child on the impossibility of this particular event. Not only has the Obama administration failed dismally in stopping Israeli settlement activity on the West Bank, administrations officials have shown a uncanny ability to avoid, deflect, and backtrack, especially when it comes to any issue of substance. However, if a Palestinian state were to materialize, Palestine’s chief negotiator Saeb Erakat would celebrate his dual appointment as Angry-aggrieved-Palestinian-in-Chief and Sultan of Self-Righteousness by throwing an all-night Camp David-themed dance party in Nablus (where all attendees must dress up as their favorite member of the Israeli or Palestinian team at Camp David) . In attendance: Jimmy Carter as Yasir Arafat and Bill Clinton as Ehud Barak.
2. Yemen overtakes Saudi Arabia as the region’s largest and most dynamic economy
Rather than sow discord within the ummah by attacking the federal government in Yemen, Al-Qaeda uses its popular support to form small microfinance lending cooperatives modeled on the Grameen Bank. Sanaaa replaces Dubai as the region’s newly ascendant financial center and the desert city soon becomes synonymous with new world decadence.
3. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu writes an open letter to the Palestinians titled “Our bad”
At the urging of Bono and the progressive organization AIPAC, Israel’s Prime Minister decides that apologizing to the Palestinians for the Gaza offensive would be “the right thing to do.” In the letter Netanyahu begrudgingly admits that, contrary to Ehud Olmert’s statement about the IDF, Israel does not have the most moral army in the world but rather, the third-most moral army in the world (after the United States and the People’s Democratic Republic of the Congo). After discussing the existential threat that Omanian cashews pose to the state of Israel, Netanyahu acknowledges the possibility that vague, U.N.-promoted notions such as human rights may sometimes be just as important as Israel’s security.
4. Iran’s President hosts Pride Week
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the embattled President of Iran, realizes that he might be able court the young, Westernized supporters of the Green Movement by embracing the global gay rights movement. Opposition demonstrations are replaced by large, pro-gay rights marches throughout in Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz with the immaculately-dressed Basij marching alongside Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi. Since there is enormous political fall-out among religious and social conservatives, Ahmadinejad is forced to qualify his support for Pride Week by stating that despite their effeminate-sounding language, Iranians are by no means gayer than their Arab co-religionists.
5. The Kevorkian Center at N.Y.U. passes a resolution in support of Israel
After attending a lunchtime lecture by a prominent professor titled “Politics of Polygamy: Towards an Understanding of Agency”, master’s and doctoral students in M.E.S. meet in the library to discuss Israel’s latest offensive in the Palestinian territories. Though it takes them about an hour to hash out the language, forty-nine out of fifty students decide that they unequivocally support Israel’s right to defend itself. However, the students decide that simply passing a resolution is not enough- concrete action must be taken to support the troops. The Kevorkian sends bottles of red and white wine, Portobello sandwiches, and several plates of Hummus from Tanoreen to the IDF as care packages. Meanwhile, the Center announces that Problems and Methods in Middle Eastern Studies will now be taught by visiting professor Daniel Pipes who will use the class as a platform to address the strong bias against Israel in the field.