Headlines have been flying out the Middle East in recent weeks – from the Israel-Hamas fighting and cease-fire, Mohammed Morsi's attempted power grab in Egypt and special elections being called in Israel to the Palestinians trying to move toward statehood through a key vote at the United Nations.
But much of what we're hearing on these stories barely scratches the surface and almost always misses the heart of the story, according to Mike Evans, founder of the Evans Institute for Middle East Studies and a longtime personal friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Many observers, for example, were stunned to see a key Muslim Brotherhood figure like Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi play a pivotal role in the cease-fire that ended several days of fighting between Israel and Hamas. While the conventional wisdom suggests Morsi could not possibly be an objective broker, given his stated hatred for Israel, Evans said there's something that concerns Morsi even more.
"What's happened here is a Sunni caliphate coming out of Egypt, coming out of Turkey, coming out of Qatar is challenging a Shia caliphate," Evans told WND's Greg Corombos. "The support that Gaza has got through missiles was Shia. Now the Sunnis have moved in to try to take control of Gaza. So these are two different crosswinds for caliphates that are very important to understand. You have a president in Turkey who wants to become the head of the caliphate for the whole Middle East. You have (Iranian) President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who wants to be the head of the caliphate for the Middle East for the Shia. These are apocalyptic winds that are blowing."
Why are the two branches of Islam at such odds when it comes to their efforts to control the region?
"The Sunnis are afraid of an atomic Persia, a non-Arab state," Evans said. "The Shia are terrified of the Sunnis because they hate each other more than they hate the Jews."
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The recent attempt by President Morsi to accumulate almost unlimited power is not a major concern to Evans. He said Morsi is simply frustrated that people loyal to ousted President Hosni Mubarak still hold key positions in the legislative and judicial branches of government. Evans said there are too many hurdles in the way for Morsi to actually succeed in amassing as much power as he would like.
The recent fighting in Gaza was a rousing success for Israel, according to Evans. He said, in addition to retaliation for the incessant rocket strikes, Israel accomplished a larger goal.
"What has happened just recently with the Gaza short war was in preparation for the Iran attack," he said. "In order for Israel to prepare themselves for the attack, they needed to shut down Iran's infrastructure in Gaza. They did."
About three months ago, Dr. Evans said he had word from very high levels in the Israeli government that an attack on Iran's nuclear program would most likely take place between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15 of this year. So why didn't those strikes take place?
"Israel was forced to call new elections," Evans said. "You can't go to war against Iran without a government, and Israel's government was coming apart. A lot of this was because of the U.S. The U.S. was meeting with the opposition parties, trying to take the government down."
Evans believes Netanyahu will win re-election in January despite the best efforts of the Obama administration to defeat him. If Netanyahu prevails, Evans expects an attack on Iran by the end of the spring.
Another issue Evans said is being wrongly reported is Thursday's vote in the United Nations on whether to grant observer status to the Palestinians – which most see as a key step to statehood. Evans sees this as something far less noble.
"Lawsuits. This entire move is to try to legitimize their ability to sue Israel for war crimes," Evans said. "They've already tried it in the past, and it didn't stick. With this new recognition status, it would give them the ability to file thousands of lawsuits against Israelis, including foreign ministers. That's more fundamentally what it's about than anything else. It's not good."