A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
March 1, 2011 Update on the Arab World, Netanyahu See Limits, Israeli Anti Tank Weapon Works in Combat
It has been a few days since I last wrote an update on events in the Middle East. I will begin, by trying to give an overview of where things stand at the moment in this ever changing set of events. The center of most of the world's interest these last few days has, of course, been Libya. Qadaffi is clearly seen as a dead man walking. The world is finally willing to call him what he has been all along; crazy. However, as long as he was the leader of an oil rich nation, the other nations of the world have fawned over him. They allowed Gadaffi to erect tents when he came to visit them and treated him with respect, instead of treating him as the crazy thug he has always been. Now of course it easy. And I have no doubt that we will see some sort of international intervention if it looks like a civil war will truly develop. Libyan oil is too important, and the logistics of intervention with Tripoli being a coastal city are easy. If there is no intervention, we may see a long stalemate, with Qadaffi holding on to Tripoli, while the opposition groups hold on to much of the rest of the country.
In Egypt there is a sense there may be a chance for democracy to develop, and maybe not an Islamic brand at that. The army is making it clear that it is supporting free and open elections, on one hand, while at the same time stating it will not change the basic aspect of today's Constitution (which bars religious parties from running in an election). It will not bar individuals, just parties organized around religion. This policy is similar to what existed until recently in Turkey. That will allow individual members of the Muslim Brotherhood to run, but not as a party. (something that Israel could clearly use).
The middle eastern government that is in the most precarious state, at the moment, is Yemen. It is important to keep in mind that the Yemini government has never been strong. Yemen has had a long history of sectarian violence. The country is evenly divided between Shites and Sunnis and there have been already been a number of civil wars, in which each side has had its outside supporters. That violence has taken over today's protest.
There have been continued protests in Bahrain, with those protests spreading to Oman. There is a belief that the Iranians may be behind much of those Shite protests. However, Iran itself has not been immune, with a new, and possibly significant round of protests breaking out today in Teheran.
Back in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu may have finally woken up to Israel’s deterioriating position in the world. Netanyahu informed the Likud central committee that as prime minister, his first responsibility is the safety of Israel, and not the need to build more settlements. Netanyahu's statements made clear that Israel's position in the world was eroding, due to his decisions to keep building. Yesterday, Israel received a taste of what it will be like to try to uproot any of the West Bank settlers. As settlers of an illegal settlement, where two buildings were demolished, began riots in Jerusalem in protest of the action. Today the settlers fire-bombed some building in a nearby Palestinian Village.
Finally, a major milestone in tank warfare occurred today, when an Israeli tank was fired upon by a Palestinian with an RPG along the Gaza border. The tank's automatic anti-missile system, called "umbrella" engaged the incoming missle and exploded it before it could reach the tank. This is the first time an active anti-missile system has been used in combat. This Israeli developed system is the only one like it in the world
Two very different worthwhile articles to read. The first on Arab Anti-Semitism by Richard Cohen in the Washington Post Can the Arab World Leave Anti-Semitism Behind
The second by Donniel Hartman called The Forgotten Commandement discusses Israeli religious extremism.