Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Alarm Bells - Vox Popoli

 The great Martin van Creveld doesn’t like some of the historical patterns he has noticed are starting to play out:

In the Middle East, the alarms bells are ringing. There are several reasons for this, all of them important and all well-able to combine with each other and give birth to the largest conflagration the region has witnessed in decades. The first is the imminent demise of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, alias Abu Maazen. Now 88 years old, his rule started in 2005 when he took over from Yasser Arafat. Unlike Arafat, who began his career as the leader of a terrorist organization, Abu Mazen was and remains primarily a politician and a diplomat. In this capacity he helped negotiate the 1995 Oslo Agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Movement. Partly for that reason, partly because he opposed his people’s armed uprising (the so-called Second Intifada of 2000-2003) some Israelis saw him as a more pliant partner than his predecessor had been.

It did not work that way. Whether through his own fault, or that of Israel, or both, during all his eighteen years in office Abu Mazen has failed to move a single step closer to a peace settlement. Israel on its part has never stopped building new settlements and is doing so again right now. As a result, Palestinian terrorism and Israeli retaliatory measures in the West Bank in particular are once again picking up, claiming dead and injured almost every day.

Nor is the West Bank the only region where Israelis and Palestinians keep clashing. Just a few weeks have passed since the death, in an Israeli jail and as a result of a hunger strike, of a prominent Palestinian terrorist. His demise made the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization in Gaza launch no fewer than a thousand rockets at Israel, leading to Israeli air strikes, leading to more rockets, and so on in the kind of cycle that, over the last twenty years or so, has become all too familiar. Fortunately Hezbollah, another Islamic terrorist organization whose base is Lebanon, did not intervene. It is, however, not at all certain that, should hostilities in and around Gaza resume, it won’t follow up on its leader’s threats to do just that. Certainly it has the capability and the plans; all that is needed is a decision.

To his concerns about Jordan and Iran, I would add the following. First, Syria is looking for revenge for the frequent air attacks of the last few years in support of the anti-Assad rebels. Second, and much more importantly, both China and Russia are more closely allied with the Arabs than they have been since the 1950s and the USA has never looked more impotent and less able to impose any sort of peace on the region.

While Israel has wisely held itself apart from the Kiev regime despite its many close connections to it, it is still part of the NATO bloc and therefore an enemy to both Russia and China. It’s not necessarily the best time to be the self-styled “greatest ally” of the United States.