“It is my pleasure to meet with you in the new Middle East,” said Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad in a speech to the Syrian Journalists’ Union on August 15, 2006.
 But Bashar’s new Middle East was neither the one hoped for by many since
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s 1991 defeat in Kuwait nor expected when Bashar
himself ascended the throne in 2000. Actually, it was not even new at all but rather
a reversion, often in remarkable detail, to the Middle East of the 1950s through the
1980s. The Arab world, now accompanied by Iran, was re-embracing an era that
was an unmitigated disaster for itself and extolling ideas and strategies which had
repeatedly led it to catastrophe.
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