Like Shula, I’m going to be creative today. Here is a little science fiction set in the near future:
June 21, 2013, 6 months into Barack Obama’s second term.
Secretary of State Power has announced that she will be coming to the region to visit the Sunni and Shiite caliphates (in Turkey and Iran respectively). She’ll also visit Palestine and the Islamic Republic of Egypt, with a stopoff in occupied Israel to visit the troops and investigate the humanitarian crisis there.
Flashback to September, 2011:
Lebanon introduces a Security Council resolution calling for Israel to withdraw from all of Judea, Samaria Eastern Jerusalem, and designating that area as the Palestinian Homeland. President Obama offers Israel a deal:
The US will veto the resolution if Israel will agree to an aggressive timetable to vacate most of the territories (he will allow Israel to keep the large settlement blocs and some parts of eastern Jerusalem). Obama offers to set up early-warning stations in the Jordan Valley, manned by US troops. Obama makes it clear that if Israel does not agree, the US will abstain.
Israel agrees. The resolution is withdrawn — Obama would prefer not to have to veto it and Lebanon obliges — and the first withdrawals are scheduled for January 2012. The PA announces that it is declaring a state with provisional borders and announces that any land evacuated by Israel will become part of Palestine.
Right-wing parties criticize Netanyahu but most accept that the alternative would have been worse and the government stays in place.
Egyptian elections are held. The largest single bloc of seats is gained by the Muslim Brotherhood, which easily puts together a coalition of smaller parties.
Bashar al-Assad retains control of Syria, by viciously suppressing his enemies, particularly Sunnis. Turkey warns Assad that it won’t tolerate what it (ironically) calls ‘genocide’.
The Turkish AKP government removes the last vestiges of secularism from its armed forces and judicial system. Although it did not get a 2/3 majority in elections which would allow it to automatically replace the constitution, it prepares to submit a new constitution to a national referendum.
January 10, 2012.
Israel begins to evacuate smaller settlements, while continuing talks with the US about the timetable and exactly what will be included in its withdrawal. The process is destructive to Israeli society, pitting Right against Left and deepening divisions. It is expensive and creates much human misery. The PA claims that it is not moving fast enough, that the US is biased toward Israel and is not holding it to the agreement.
The Egyptian government schedules a referendum on a new constitution, which calls for all legislation to be ‘grounded in’ Shari’ia. It further relaxes restrictions on its border with Gaza. There are several attacks perpetrated by terrorists crossing the Israel-Egypt border.
Israel and the PA make an agreement for a prisoner exchange for Gilad Shalit. Israel releases 1,000 prisoners, including Marwan Barghouti. Shalit goes home at last.
PA elections are held. Hamas wins a small majority of seats. Barghouti is chosen as a compromise President.
May 1, 2012.
Barghouti protests Israeli incursions into what it calls “Sovereign Palestinian territory” in Judea and Samaria. Fatah officials understand that the IDF is keeping them alive. Nevertheless, Obama sharply criticizes Israel, and the IDF’s activities there become reactive rather than pro-active.
Islamic Jihad in Gaza takes credit for a Qassam missile that makes a direct hit on a bus at a kibbutz next to the border, killing 20. IAF bombs PIJ targets in Gaza, warns Hamas that it is responsible. Hamas claims that its people have been hit, and fires rockets. Iron Dome intercepts many, but not all. Thousands of residents of southern Israel in shelters.
Egypt adopts new, Islamist constitution. Obama congratulates Egypt on peaceful process.
May 3, 2012.
Hamas rocket-firing continues. Israel bombs Hamas targets, begins to prepare for major incursion. Obama and the Egyptian President warn Israel not to invade Gaza. Egypt moves tanks and artillery into the Sinai. Barghouti arranges cease-fire with Hamas, then demands acceleration of withdrawals in return.
A seismic event is detected in Iran. US, Israeli and Russian monitors believe it is a nuclear test, but don’t make this public.
November 6, 2012.
Barak Obama is re-elected. He gets 78% of the Jewish vote.
January 20, 2013.
Barack Obama is inaugurated for his second term. Hillary Clinton is replaced by Samantha Power as Secretary of State.
February 4, 2013.
Power meets with Barghouti; they issue joint demand that Israel make more rapid progress in evacuating Judea and Samaria. Security Council resolution calling for immediate withdrawal and declaring Palestinian homeland is re-introduced.
Turkey adopts new, Islamist constitution. Obama congratulates Turkey on peaceful process.
February 15, 2013.
Security Council votes. US abstains, and the resolution passes. Power makes a speech in which she says that we gave Israel every chance to comply, but the Palestinian people have waited long enough. Obama says nothing. US Jewish leaders are shocked, shocked.
Terrorism against Israeli settlements increases. When the IDF goes after perpetrators, Power warns Israel to desist from ‘aggression’ in the territories.
February 28, 2013.
A security council resolution calling for economic sanctions against Israel and an arms embargo in order to “protect the Palestinian people” is introduced.
March 15, 2013.
The US votes for the resolution and it passes. Pro-Israel forces in US Congress are furious, but US is embroiled in the Venezuelan missile crisis as well as trying to get the remainder of its troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq alive, and there just isn’t room to worry about Israel.
April 4, 2013.
Another mysterious seismic event in Iran. Definite confirmation of a test of an operational nuclear weapon.
Israel sends its Foreign Minister to the US to beg for action against the Iranian bomb. But the administration had long since decided that the world would have to accept a nuclear Iran. FM argues that Iran is expected to attack Israel in the immediate future. FM is told not to worry.
April 5, 2013.
Israeli commandos attack the US X-band radar facility in the Negev, putting it out of commission (the X-Band radar is manned by US personnel — it is off-limits to Israelis — and it can detect a plane or missile taking off anywhere in the country).
Israel bombs nuclear installations in Iran. At the same time it attacks missile launchers in Lebanon.
Hizballah launches a massive missile barrage at Israel. Many of the missiles are intercepted, but there is a huge amount of damage and thousands die. After 3 days, 90% of Hizballah’s missile capability is destroyed. Hassan Nasrallah and most of Hizballah’s high officials and commanders are dead, buried in a slagheap that was their bunker. Hizballah is out of the war.
Palestinian Arabs in Gaza and Judea/Samaria fire rockets and infiltrate into Israel to carry out terror attacks.
Iran attempts to fire intermediate-range ballistic missiles at Israel. Most are destroyed at launch. None hit their targets. They keep trying.
April 6, 2013.
A furious Obama demands an immediate cease-fire. He calls the attack on the X-band radar ‘an act of war’, and recalls the USS Liberty incident. The security council meets in emergency session.
Israel activates non-nuclear focused EMP (electromagnetic pulse) weapons over major Iranian cities and military installations, frying almost every electrical and electronic device in the country. Automobiles stop running, radios and telephones go silent, even streetlights go out. Oil and water pumps stop turning. Nobody is directly injured, but Iran has been set back 150 years in a few milliseconds.
April 9, 2013.
The dramatic part of the war is over, but the IDF fights bands of terrorists all over the country, while still trying to evaluate the massive damage to life and infrastructure suffered from the missile attacks. Stunned Iranians are trying to figure out how they will get food and water with most of the means of communications and transport non-functional.
April 15, 2013.
The Israeli PM explains that he had no other choice to save his nation short of full-scale nuclear war, but world reaction against Israel is furious. The Lebanese and Palestinians are claiming huge casualty numbers, and most people believe that Israel used a nuclear weapon against Iran. Egyptians are demonstrating in the streets, calling for an immediate invasion of Israel. Many Egyptian volunteers go to join Hamas forces, until the government, afraid of retaliation, shuts the border.
Public opinion in Europe, especially the UK, is massively anti-Israel. People are prepared to believe any story, no matter how horrible or how irrational, and there is no shortage of those prepared to tell such stories. The Guardian has huge headlines accusing Israeli and IDF leaders of mass murder.
The Security Council accuses Israel of aggression. Secretary of State Power makes an impassioned speech in which she calls Israel a rogue state, and says that the Palestinians are in danger of genocide. The Council decides to send troops to protect the Palestinians.
April 25, 2013.
Troops from the US, France, Turkey and the UK arrive in Israel. They set up a caretaker government under a High Commissioner to administer the country. Members of the Israeli cabinet and General Staff are arrested on suspicion of war crimes.
This is just one possible universe of many. My creative imagination is not much better than Shula’s — who knows if what will really happen will be better or worse? It will certainly be more complicated — I left out the actions likely to be taken by Syria, Turkey, etc.
I learned two things from the exercise above: one is the importance of the US administration. If you think it’s hostile now, wait until its second term, if it gets one.
The other is that the information war is critical to the overall outcome. In my scenario, Israel fought a defensive — if preemptive — war, and in military terms, was victorious. But the political outcome was just the reverse.
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