Category Archives: General MidEast Matters

"We dare not let ourselves be blindsided again."

So writes author Joel C. Rosenberg toward the end of his new book Israel at War : Inside the Nuclear Showdown with Iran. Rosenberg gives this warning as an American, to his countrymen. We were blindsided on Dec. 7, 1941, by an enemy we did not perceive as a threat. And we were blindsided on Sept. 11, 2001 by a very different enemy, one who still exists and still threatens, and concerning whom the leader of a similarly threatened ally has been warning us, and pleading with us not to be so blind to the danger as we so willingly appear by our actions (or lack thereof) to be.

Rosenberg, a former advisor to Benyamin Netanyahu, uses his experience to offer insights into the decision making processes of the one man in the world who appears to most clearly perceive the threat posed by the Iran regime, and who is most heavily burdened with the need to discern a course of action to take.

ADJ_lvg_Warwick_NYCIt is often said that the U.S. President is the de facto leader of the free world. It is very unfortunate for all of us that our current head of state has cravenly abrogated that duty. It is even more distressing that his own behavior suggests he agrees with the diminutive Madman of Tehran that America is “the Great Satan” and ought indeed to be crushed underfoot.

And so it is amazing that the duty to stand up to Iran falls on the shoulders of the leader of one of the world’s smallest nations and the only free nation in the Middle East. Rosenberg explains how Netanyahu was born into the awareness that Israel must defend itself, with or without the help of other nations, and without regard to how loudly those nations proclaim their own righteousness. He goes on to give us a rundown of the events surrounding Iran’s reach for nuclear weapons, and brings us up to date on the current status, and on what may be going on in Israel’s secret councils.

He ends with a suggestion that we pray for Israel’s leaders out of 1 Chronicles 12:32, that they might be “men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do.” I couldn’t agree more.

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Could recent Iran explosions be an inside job?

In my last post I wondered aloud whether Israel might be behind several recent explosions that appear to have been directed at Iran’s weapons programs. It seemed a rather obvious possibility, barring more precise knowledge.

But then a few days ago someone called my attention to an analysis by columnist Caroline Glick which presents detailed information suggesting the attacks could be internal sabotage by the anti-regime “Green” movement. Now wouldn’t that be something!?

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UN_syrianprotest_RS Meanwhile, it’s hard to keep up with all the shifting alignments in that part of the world occasioned by events blithely referred to as “the Arab Spring.” The biggest sore spot right now appears to be Syria, and it’s not looking like dictator Bashar al-Assad is going to be there much longer. Europe is against him, the US is pretty sure it’s against him, and significantly the Arab League has also turned against him. Even the UN has finally decided the situation there is outright civil war. (Think Libya a few months ago.)

But don’t write him off just yet. Russia has recently given indications via diplomatic statements backed up by military moves that they intend to support the present regime, with muscle if necessary, and Iran (weren’t we just speaking of them?) continues to stick by its old buddy. Russia and Iran are major players, whether we like it or not.

But then there’s also Turkey. You’d think Turkey would look at a map & see it’s not in a good position to simultaneously take on most of its neighbors, but it’s just not that simple in this part of the world. Turkey has been jockeying for prime influence among the Arab states for quite a while now (the Turks knowing full well that they themselves are not Arab) and therefore is acting prudently in seizing an opportunity to squeeze out Iran. I don’t know what it thinks it will do with Russia if push comes to shove, but the two were never buddies in the first place.

Nasrallah_Surfaces_RS And don’t forget Hezbollah. Now there’s an interesting situation. Hezbollah owes its existence to Iran, and its continued well being to Syria, so it can neither afford to buck the trend nor relax in place. And for all its bluster, it still knows it’s the little guy. Simply put, it’s in the hot seat, and can’t do much but talk.

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Now south of the border, down Egypt way, we have another major concern. Last week’s elections have made it clearer than ever that what was not long ago one of the few more-or-less pro-Western states in the Middle East is now heading down hill fast into becoming another Islamist enclave. Kind of like Iran, but Sunni.

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western-asia-topographical_CR So let’s step back and look at the major pieces. In one corner, you have a sort of Russia-Syria-Iran axis (or sickle) going it alone against not only Europe and the US but also against the Arab states in general. But if Syria is taken out of the picture, you have just Russia and Iran. (Forget, for the time being, North Korea and China–I’m trying to keep this simple. And sadly, Lebanon just doesn’t have any say in the matter.) What do they want with each other? Plenty, no doubt, but that has to await another chapter.

You have Turkey all by itself, trying to pretend to be friends with whoever suits its purposes for the moment, but not actually knowing who that is.

You still have a reasonably stable region consisting of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States, who are also for the moment OK with having Turkey for a friend.

Iraq is too busy sorting itself out to have much influence right now, but don’t expect that to last forever.  Yemen is also presently trying to get its bearings, and once it does, it will likely fade back into the recesses of world consciousness.

Lastly (for the sake of this discussion) you have the emerging Islamist states of North Africa—what we’ve been calling Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, and which still go by those names, if only because they themselves don’t yet know who they really are.

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So with all this going on, you’d think that nobody would want to bother with itty-bitty non-Arab, non-Muslim, non-Islamist Israel, wouldn’t you?

You’d think.

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Maybe, maybe not, but it’s a cool idea — or better yet, JUST SHUT THE PA DOWN

An alert reader said to me yesterday, “You need to make a lineman post.” Somebody noticed! I haven’t really been away, just watching. And there’s been a lot to watch; here are just a few snippets.

So what’s the “cool idea” in my title? An item in today’s Israel National News quoted the Palestinian Authority “Communications Minister” as claiming Israel was behind a widespread DoS attack directed against PA computers, coming from “more than 20 countries.” (Don’t ask.)

And what justification might I have for yelling that we should just shut the Palestinian Authority down? Well, aside from the obvious benefits to Israel and to world peace, they negated their own legal basis when they applied for UN membership last September. So if the world (and in particular, the UN) were to adhere to international agreements, the PA would be thereby dissolved. So if Israel is sabotaging their computer networks – so what? Just – shut – the – PA – down. Get it?

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foxnews_unesco While we’re on the subject of the UN, the latest circumvention of its own reason for existing (that’s French for raison d’etre) has been to admit the non-existing state of Palestine to UNESCO. At least in this case the US deserves acknowledgement for withdrawing its funding of that non-august entity. You see, it’s not allowed under US law to give money to any UN agency which admits that particular terrorist organization. So the US is abiding by one of its own laws at the risk of incurring the displeasure of the international mob. It’s a start, anyway.

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And oh by the way, how many of us realize that Israel itself has a solid basis, not only in history, but in international law, predating the UN itself by three decades? I’ve mentioned it before, but look again at the San Remo Agreement.

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WJD_israel-air-force_RS And is Israel getting ready for a pre-emptive strike on Iran? More than usual, I mean. Maybe, maybe not, but there have been a slew of media reports to that effect over the past couple of days. Some reports even fantastically suggest the UK may be planning something. Now wouldn’t that be fantastic!? I don’t mean to disappoint, but Barry Rubin gives several good reasons  to take it all with more than a grain of salt.

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And the ships of fools (“flotillas”) keep trickling out of Turkish ports. As always, they represent more noise than substance. This one says they can disprove the Palmer Commission findings on the 2010 flotilla fiasco. Or something like that.

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Now back to the subject of computer attacks—remember Stuxnet? (Did you think I’d never get back to that?) There has been a new computer virus making the rounds that some folks are speculating may be Son-of-Stuxnet. Maybe, maybe not.

There’s a whole lot more happening than I’ve been able to touch on here, but for the moment I have to stop writing go back to watching. TTYL.

lineman

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Obama is still driving blind, and still thinks he owns the freeway.

US President Barack Obama was blindsided by the “Arab Spring” revolts as much as anyone else was, yet somehow he acts like he is on top of it all, and like he knows how he can use the events to his advantage. Why is that?

Short answer: he’s a megalomaniac, as became horribly apparent even during his election campaign. (Or if that is too wild a term, compare his behavior with the DSM-IV definition of narcissistic personality disorder, aka NPD.)

I don’t know of anyone, world leader or otherwise, who claims to have foreseen the past four months’ tumult in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, or Syria. There are some now who offer ideas as to where it’s all going, and I can’t say I’m in a position to evaluate the various scenarios being set forth, but neither do I for one minute believe that President Obama has any more of a clue than my next door neighbor.

Benjamin-Netanyahu-to-address-joint-session-320x206 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to address the US Congress next week, and there is pretty much nothing that Netanyahu can do that Obama will like. So Obama is doing the best he thinks he can by trying to get in a speech of his own before Bibi can get to the podium. From what I’m reading currently, Obama plans to praise the Arab uprisings (as if they’re one unified movement, which they certainly are not), and perhaps somehow morph that into an admonition to Israel that it had better surrender to its enemies while it still has a chance to do so.

Dear Mr. President, you had nothing to do with the Arab movements, and you certainly don’t control them, so what makes you think you can use them as leverage against Israel? And anyway, haven’t you heard that in a war of words, it’s to one’s strategic advantage to speak last? So why do you want to go first?

Narcissus_Caravaggio_Crop_Wikipedia The only rational explanation that comes to mind is that the President of the United States is indeed afflicted with NPD. That’s anything but comforting to me as an American, but somehow we’ve survived the first two years of his rule, so maybe we just need to hang on.

(Added note: I’ve expressed a few times privately since the 2008 election the hope that, if push comes to shove, our top military brass will somehow find a way to avoid implementing an order from the Commander-in-Chief which would clearly destroy the nation.  We may have seen something close to that with the recent hit on Osama Bin Laden. An unnamed White House insider reports that Leon Panetta, Robert Gates, and Hillary Clinton were successfully able to overcome Obama’s unwillingness to authorize the hit, by staging what the source has called a “temporary coup.” That’s a pretty fantastic claim, but the beauty of it is that it makes the three look pretty good in the eyes of the American people, and that Obama doesn’t dare punish them, since that exposes his unwillingness to defend this country against its former public enemy #1. Maybe he has a lick of sense after all. Of course, he could use a good deal more than a lick, or even two, but there’s always hope. TTYL – lineman.)

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“The frightening concept of a revolution is…”

“The frightening concept of a revolution is that you know where you start but you don’t know where you’ll be when the revolution ends …Radical Islam does not believe in democracy. It may use democracy to gain power but will not deliver democratic values.”

As a blogger, one of the things I’m beginning to discover is that originality is quite unnecessary when your purpose is just to get the word out. The heavy reader response to my last post was a clear indication to me that it’s the content that matters, not whether or not I wrote it.

Along those lines, my correspondent blogger IsraeliGirl frequently asks me to share her material with my readers. My lead in line here comes from her article “Revolutions in the Middle East.” Below is her post in its entirety. It certainly gives you something to consider.

Revolutions in the Middle East

 

Every beginning has an end. As I witness the millions protesting in Egypt over the last 2 weeks this saying keeps resonating in my head. Where does this revolution lead Egypt and what will be the domino effect on its neighbors in the Middle East?

A revolution – power to the people – democracy, these are the core foundations of the free world. We all hope to make the world a better place – and the people in Egypt are no different.

All revolutions are blissful in the first days and the Egyptian revolution is greeted with euphoria by many in the world. PM Netanyahu acknowledged that saying: "These hopes are understandable. All those who cherish human liberty, including the people of Israel, are inspired by genuine calls for reform and by the possibility that it will take place."

But are all revolutions the same? In the last three decades images of revolution came from a range of autocracies under threat – from the Shah’s Tehran, Deng Xiaoping’s Beijing and Ceausescu’s Bucharest to the uprisings of the last couple of years in Iran, Tunisia, and now Egypt. Some revolutions failed and some succeeded. The frightening concept of a revolution is that you know where you start but you don’t know where you’ll be when the revolution ends.

In Israel and every other democratic country we appreciate the significance of liberty. We enjoy independent courts that protect the rights of individuals and the rule of law, free press, and of a parliamentary system with a coalition and an opposition. One can only hope Egypt will come out of this revolution as a democratic state providing freedom to its people.

Anyone that believes that democracy is the likely option in Egypt, or the only option, has not done his homework on the recent history in the Middle East.

In 1979 the Iranians have rallied against an autocratic regime only to end up with an oppressive radical Islamic one. The West has lost a strong ally in the Gulf region and the Iranian people lost their freedom and human rights. The same radical regime in Iran is looking at the Egyptian revolution with glee. They have embraced the protesters, proclaiming an Islamic awakening is under way.The Mullahs in Iran are not interested in seeing democracy in Egypt that protects the rights of individuals, women, and minorities. They want Egypt to become another Gaza, run by radical forces that oppose everything that the democratic world stands for.

A few years ago, Hamas, a non democratic radical Islamic group, used democratic elections to gain control of Gaza. Hamas became the rulers of Gaza without demonstrating any commitment to democracy, and Palestinian society had no checks in place to prevent the outcome from being one man, one vote, one time.

Let’s look at Lebanon – a fragile unstable democracy in which the terrorist group Hezbollah is now the dominant force in government. Radical Islam does not believe in democracy. It may use democracy to gain power but will not deliver democratic values.

Does Iran enjoy freedom? Is there a real democracy in Gaza? Does Hezbollah promote human rights?

The House of Mubarak is no more. He is 82 and not running for reelection. The only question is who fills the vacuum in Egypt. There are two principal possibilities: a provisional government of opposition forces or an interim government led by the military.

In the chaos created by a revolution all of us in Giyus.org hope peace and democracy will prevail but we must maintain watchful eyes that recognize reality.

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