A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
February 20, 2011 Protest Turn Deadly in Libya- US Uses Veto On Behalf of Israel
The march of protests in the Middle East have continued and strengthened. The question of whether firing on your own people can end an uprising is being determined in the streets of Libya and Iran. While it's too soon to know the outcome, Qadaffi's attempt to maintain power in Libya by killing the protestors does not seem to be working. Qadaffi has brought in outside mercenaries from Africa. Hundreds of Libyans seem to have been killed. Yet the demonstrations continue and seem to be growing. There is a sense by some observers the situation may have reached the point of no return. The next few days will be critical.
However, there are reports Qadaffi may already be losing control of parts of the army. Demonstrations continue from Morrocco to Iran, with the largest demonstrations at the moment seeming to be taking place in Baharain and Yemen. Back in Egypt, the army is trying to convince the people to return to their jobs. There are some who believe that nothing has really happened in Cairo, other than Mubarak's son losing his job. How firmly the army maintains its control will determine the answer as to what happens next.
The US vetoed the UN Security Council Resolution condemning Israeli settlement in the West Bank. The US failed to get the Palestinian Authority to agree to a Presidential statement representing all the members of the UN Security Council, instead of insisting on the vote. President Obama personally tried hard, albeit unsuccessfully, to convince the Palestinians to change their position. He was caught with a Hobbesian choice. President Obama could cast a veto on a resolution, with whose substance his administration and all prior administrations largely agreed. If he did not veto the resolution, he would open a new political front with a Republican controlled Congress and parts of Jewish community. Obama chose to cast the veto.
There has been no sense of reflection in the Israeli government on the changes taking place in the Middle East or international community, other than a lone statement by Netanyahu to say that we need to spend more on Defense since we live in a dangerous neighborhood. The Israeli government is needlessly making a big deal on the expected transit of an Iranian frigate through the Suez Canal. The ship left Iran for Syria during the last week of January, long before the change of power in Egypt. Egypt also has no legal standing, even if it wanted to to deny transit to any vessel from any nation with whom they are not at war. In any case, the Iranian navy is not large enough to allow the ship to stay in the Mediteranean for more than a short time. Finally, as one Israeli military commentator stated, militarily, the ship presents no challenge. It would take the pressing of the button from 50 kilometers away for the ship to cease existing.