A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
December 21, 2008--Qassams on the South, Russia Delivers Missiles to Iran, ElBardei Give Interesting Interview to Arab Press
All eyes in Israel are turned to the south. Qassams continue to rain down in constant numbers on southern Israel. Today 15 Qassams and mortar shells landed. Hamas has left the Qassam firing to the Islamic Jihad while it has been shelling Israeli army positions with mortars. The call for action has come from both within the government and from the opposition. No one is calling for a full invasion of Gaza, but almost everyone is calling for strong retaliations. That includes resumption of targeted assassination. The Hamas is expecting that and its leaders have gone underground. The problem is once Israel begins vigorous retaliations events are more than likely to spiral out of control with Hamas, and Israel will end up having to retake the Gaza. Unfortunately, there may be no real alternative. Hamas would like to renegotiate the ceasefire agreement on better terms. Hamas is in deep trouble. It has lost influence in the West Bank due to the successful efforts of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Economically, Gaza is a disaster, and Hamas' relations with Egypt are tattered.
The Palestinian Authority is publicly claiming Hamas is working for Iran and not for the good of the Palestinian people. That certainly sells well politically in the Arab/Palestinian world, but it also seems to track with what a number of intelligence agencies are saying as well. Iran wants the confrontation in Gaza for its own reasons. With oil prices plummeting, a small little war where it can be on the side of the "poor Palestinians" would be good to divert public attention from the quickly worsening economic situation in Iran. Some in Hamas also believe confrontation with Israel might be good for Hamas to divert attention from the internal problems, and unite the Arab world around them. If however, Israel plays it right and the IDF is both ready and nimble enough to take proper measured action, it could also present a unique opportunity to fully undermine Hamas rule.
Israeli diplomatic attempts to dissuade Russia from delivering its newest anti-aircraft missile to Iran seem to have failed. According to both Iranian and Russian reports the new missiles have begun to be delivered. Of course, while the specs of the Russian missiles are impressive, their actual abilities in real combat with active countermeasures enabled may be another matter all together.
Dr. Mohaed Al ElBardei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency gave an interview with El Hyaat newspaper in Lebanon. Al ElBardei is retiring from his position as the head of the Atomic Authority. He is Egyptian citizen.
In the interview Al ElBardei said: "They have no future at all, if they are honest. I say this after forty years of service within the Arab world and beyond. When comparing the Arab world today to other parts of the world, I say we have no future unless we are frank with ourselves first, and we recognize that we have reached the bottom in all areas and must begin again. We must focus first and foremost on the rights and needs of our people to education, freedom and hope. Give him these things and they will start and be set as another human being. The Arab intelligence is not less from others and we can compete if placed in an appropriate framework. The place of the Arab educational system, if developed, gives a choice and we will see how competencies will be Arabic." The quote is a Google translation of the article- to see the full interview go here- you will need to click to on the article about his interview on Syria and then at the bottom select related articles