Friday, December 06, 2013

The Ground Shifts in the Middle East


Are Sunni Arabs More Afraid of Israel than Iran?
-Barry Rubin, PhD

In an absolutely remarkable historical event, President Shimon Peres delivered a speech to 29 representatives from Arab and Islamic states via satellite.
Do not kid yourself; this would not have happened if the Egyptians, Saudis, and others hadn't thought that the U.S. had sold out the Sunni Arabs.
"Everybody understood that this was something historic: the president of the Jewish state sitting in his office in Jerusalem with an Israeli flag and the foreign ministers sitting in the Persian Gulf discussing security, the war on terror and peace," said one of the Arab organizing officials.

There are three themes to Peres' speech. The threat of Iranian nuclear weapons on all the region's nations, the dangers of radical Islamism, and the usefulness of making peace with Israel.
[A] point that might be missed is the implication that Israel will share nuclear intelligence with other Arab-Muslim nations.
Finally, note that since Egypt is angry with Hamas–and Egypt and Israel are keeping peace in the Sinai–Hamas has more limited wartime capabilities. And Hizballah–because of its participation in the Syrian civil war–wants to avoid armed conflict with Israel. This situation seems to be the best that can be achieved in the region.
- Jim Acosta

The Obama administration is "prepared to negotiate a strictly limited enrichment program" with Iran, national security spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement.
- Eli Bardenstein and Ariel Kahane
The Jordanians are pressing the U.S. to accept Israel's position that the presence of the Israel Defense Forces along the Jordan River is essential for the security of the region. A senior Israeli official said: "There is no technical solution that the Americans have proposed that can replace the presence of the IDF on the Jordan."

A senior political official said that Netanyahu is planning to speed construction of a security fence along the river and that the Jordanians are pressing Washington to accept Israel's security requests since they will also defend Jordan.
(Maariv-5 Dec 2013)
Iran Deal Another Russian Victory over the U.S.
- Shlomo Avineri

While the interim agreement may not be a replay of the Munich Agreement in 1938, it may have set the stage for an even more combustible future. President Obama may not be in office when the fire ignites, but if things do go terribly wrong, he may be remembered as another statesman who was blind to the consequences of his peaceful intentions.

For the Kremlin, Iran's nuclear program is only one chapter in a campaign to reassert Russia's role as a great power. Indeed, the interim agreement should be viewed as another in a string of recent Russian diplomatic victories over the U.S.

These include Ukraine's decision to reject an association agreement with the EU, President Assad remaining in power despite Obama's insistence that he leave, and Western-oriented groups in Egypt turning to Russia as a source of future military supplies.
The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

(Project Syndicate)

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