A new Middle East arrives, sooner than expected

Whew. Reality is outstripping the media’s ability to deal with it at all, not to mention interpret it accurately. Several major events in the Middle East that will have serious consequences are all happening at once:

First and worst: Hizballah now controls Lebanon. Jonathan Spyer manages to find one positive thing to say:

From an Israeli point of view, Hizbullah’s move into plain view may also bring advantages. For a long period, the non-Hizbullah “government” of Lebanon functioned for the Shi’ite Islamists as part cloak, part human shield.

The emerging situation looks set to have the virtue, by contrast, of clarity. This would raise the possibility of the next clash between Israel and Hizbullah taking on the unfamiliar dimensions of a state to-state conflict. — Jerusalem Post

Well, he may have a point there, but consider that Lebanon, once a democracy, is now a full-fledged client state of Iran, ruled by an extremist Islamist party. Lebanese Sunnis and Christians are disenfranchised. The West loses one (of course, it’s been ‘losing’ Lebanon for a long time, but now it’s final).

Second, and probably-going-to-be-bad: Egypt. Whether the violent protests there will turn into a true revolution is unclear. But if they do, the history of revolutions (viz. 1789, 1917, 1979) indicates that rarely do they bring better government (the American revolution wasn’t really a revolution, it was a secession) — usually the most ruthless party carries the day. In Egypt, that probably means the Muslim Brotherhood, yet another extremist Islamist party.

Even if this blows over, Hosni Mubarak is 82. How long will he continue to control Egypt, a country of 80 million, with the world’s 10th largest military — one which is armed with high-quality American equipment?

Protests have also been occurring in Jordan. The King has announced moves to improve the economy, but of course that will not help insofar as his opponents are Muslim-Brotherhood Islamist types, who don’t care a fig about the economy. There have been demonstrations in Algeria and Yemen as well.

The Tunisian revolution which first inspired the unrest hasn’t run its course. It remains to be seen what kind of regime will replace the corrupt dictatorship of former President Ben Ali. Most commentators think it won’t be Islamist. Don’t bet on it.

Third, consequences still unclear: The Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA has been buffeted by an attack launched by Aljazeera, probably orchestrated by the Iranian bloc. The so-called ‘Palestine papers’ will not have much effect on the image of Israel in the West — partisans on both sides are already interpreting them in accordance with their own positions — but they have wrecked the position of the PA in the Arab world and boosted Hamas.

Here are some interesting facts about the ‘papers’ from Barry Rubin:

1. Most of the routine material comes from actual documents but not the “interesting” parts that everyone is talking about.

2. That still does not mean that these documents accurately reflect what happened since they are the version of PA officials

3. On a number of specific points and on all the points being publicized the claims made are so ridculous that these [documents] must have been altered.  The texts read almost like a satire themselves in which someone set out to write a narrative in which the PA gave everything and got nothing in return. Indeed, the picture is so exaggerated that it should be obvious these claims are phony. But of course that assumes that people were going to use logic and know something about the issues…

4. In addition, the Guardian and al-Jazira often distort what is in the documents to exaggerate it even more. Some of the specifics are really absurd like the legalistic-minded Tsipi Livni saying she is against international law and even saying she planned to expel Palestinians from Israel after an agreement.

5. Yet almost all of the media uncritically quote these distortions.

6. Some even add new items that were neither in the documents nor in the original coverage. The most notorious example is the claim that the PA recognized Israel as a Jewish state.  — Rubin Report

It will be interesting to see if the US will be able to continue supporting the PA. Of course, keep in mind that the ‘papers’ discredit the PA in Arab eyes by purporting to show that they are not an extremist organization, and are willing to compromise!

These three events represent the dawning of a new Middle East — unfortunately one in which both democratic and conservative non-Islamic forces have lost ground to radical Islamism. And one which isolates Israel even more.

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4 Responses to “A new Middle East arrives, sooner than expected”

  1. Robman says:

    Oh, I’m not sure this will isolate Israel so much. Could have quite the opposite effect.

    The question is how much responsible governments (?) in the West are going to continue down the demented perceptual path of the BBC, Gaurdian, CNN, and so on, or whether they will actually hit a kind of ‘credibility wall’ in which they really do have to back Israel in the face of open Islamist threats, with whom no one but the most utterly demented can expect her to negotiate with.

    I’m sure at the street level – which is heavily removed from the media at least here in the U.S., and from what I understand, even in Britain – nobody sympathizes with the likes of Hamas, Hezbollah, the Moslem Brotherhood, etc., vis-a-vis Israel.

    How much will the elected leaders of supposedly representative democracies flout the will of their peoples in order to pursue the approval of a fringe media elite?

    I really can’t answer that question. But perhaps….a point of critical mass is being reached.

  2. Shalom Freedman says:

    I am not sure the Lebanese story is over, and the Sunni Muslim population is simply going to play dead before Hizbollah.
    The Egypt question is most serious. The Muslim Brotherhood may not be the major front- line player now but they are the organized opposition force should the present Government fall. It is tremendously worrisome. If Egypt enters the no- peace camp then Israel’s increasing isolation intensifies to a very major degree. And all the story of the thirty odd years of ‘cold peace’ turns into something else. The American-equipped Egyptian Armed forces have capabilities the Iranians do not. When one considers the array of powers already aligned against Israel and then adds Egypt one wonders how we can possibly handle it all.

  3. Robman says:

    Shalom,

    That’s why you’ve got nukes.

    That’s why Iran wants nukes.

    That’s why Osirak on ’81, and Natanz in (?)…..

    Israel is isolated from the friends she ought to have by all rights because of the double-deaing two-faced so-called “moderate” Moslem regimes of SW Asia/NE Africa. I say let the batards get dragged through the streets behind a camel, with their throats cut. What do we or you or anyone owe them?

    Lebanon goes Hezbollah, Egypt goes MB, the pretense is over. They start a fight, the gloves are off. Israel HAS to be allowed to win. The U.S. is going to back MB-ruled Egypt over Israel? Hezbollah-ruled Lebanon? How about Western Europe? They’re going to side with such elements against Israel? The answer is, sadly, perhaps at this moment, “yes”, what with Obama in office. But I don’t think the doo-doo hits the air-conditioning apparatus right away, in terms of an attack on Israel. At least, I hope not.

    Elections have consequences. As long as the Moslem-butt-kisser-in-chief is the “leader of the free world”, all bets are off, and Israel better keep her WMD rifle over the door, at the ready.

    Two years from now, with Obama out (I’m still very sure of this) and some semblance of sanity restored to U.S. foreign policy, the contrast I outline above results in a brighter day for Israel. We just have to get from here to there.

  4. Shalom Freedman says:

    This is a reply to Robman whose posts I find insightful and most often agree with.
    The problem is not our ‘winning’ in the sense of being able to do more damage to our enemies than they can do to us.
    What does it help us if they are destroyed, and we are critically wounded?
    Consider what Israel is facing now. We as I understand it, and I hope I am wrong, have no way to stop the rockets and missiles of Hamas, Hizbollah, Syria and Iran. This means any military confrontation with them means massive domestic destruction. With Egypt the danger magnifies because they have that vast American supplied air- force and a huge ground- force. It is an existensial danger to us in the first sense.
    Our goal is not to win wars, but to create a Jewish society which aims at Justice and makes a meaningful contribution to the ongoing Jewish story and to mankind. For me the religious component in this is vital, but I can understand those who treasure Jewish history and survival and are without the religious dimension.
    So my own belief is that any future War will be bad for us. This does not mean that we will avoid this, or should avoid this at any price. It might be necessary for self- defense. But I believe a better alternative, both for Israel and for all its neighbors, and antagonists is no war.

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