Monday, September 09, 2013

Powder kegs

Three situations are developing in the Arab world that have consequences for Israel and the rest of the world.

Above and beyond the question of the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria, the vicious civil war there continues. Both sides are commiting atrocities, but the overriding facts are that ca. 500 people are killed per day, a total of over 100,000 have been killed, there are 2 million refugees in the surrounding countries, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq, and it has been revealed by the UN refugee organization, the UNHCR, that there are an estimated 5 million internal refugees (Diplaced persons) within Syria, making a total of 7 million refugees out of 22 million Syrians or nearly a third!

What is in Israel's interest in the Syrian civil war situation? The simplest answer is for Pres. Bashar Assad and his regime to be defeated. Syria is already a destroyed country and therefore no longer a serious military threat to Israel, but the removal of the Assad regime would be a significant defeat for its sponsor, the Islamic Republic of Iran. They would no longer be able to transfer arms and ammunition, not only to Syria, but also to Hizbollah in Lebanon via Syria. Hopefully, an attack against the regime's infrastructure by the US over the chemical gas attack on civlians in Damascus would be the first nail in Assad's coffin. What will happen subsequently remains to be seen, but even if anti-Assad Sunni extremists (al Qaeda or al Nusrah) occupy the Syrian Golan, it would be less dangerous for Israel than the alternative of having Iranian Revolutionary Guards on our northern border.

In Egypt, the Interior Minister, who recently gave orders to remove the Moslem Brotherhood encampments in Cairo by force, survived an assassination attempt when his convoy was bombed. This is fortunate, since he also supports the interim government's military campaign to rid the Sinai of terrorists. This is in both Egypt's and Israel's interests, as well as the concerted operation to close all the tunnels under the Egyptian-Gaza border and stop the traffic in arms and terrorists. This action by the Egyptian Army, that appears to have been highly successful, would have been impossible under a Muslim Brotherhood Government, that was allied with Hamas in Gaza. So this is a blow to Hamas, it strengthens Pres. Assad of the PA and also saves Israel from having to take any action to interdict the tunnel traffic.

Iraq is still in thrall to a sectarian conflict, during which ca. 100 people are killed per day, in bombings and shootings. The Shia extremists are being supported by Iran and the so-called moderate Shia Government under PM Maliki is either unable or unwilling to control them. In western Iraq, the Sunni-controlled area of Anbar province, there are terrorist groups from Syria, both training and carrying out attacks against Shia Muslims. It is a low intensity civil war in a failed state. Just as well the western forces have all but withdrawn.

Meanwhile an American warship docked in Haifa and a Russian intelligence ship transited the Bosphorus into the Mediterranean. Also, the secret Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations continue, overlooked because of these other intense situations. In summary, the situations in Syria, Sinai and Iraq are developing basically in Israel's interests, but with such powder kegs surrounding us, one can never be sure of the consequences.


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