Has anybody noticed how the landscape of the Middle East is changing very fast? Can you imagine the suddenness by which a dictatorial regime that has had an iron grip on power for decades can one day turn off the internet and a TV network, and the next day be driven into exile?
When Hamas first took power in Gaza I was worried about the longer term consequences. However, I thought that if there was one positive, it would be that the true colour of the regime would be on display. No more pleasant rhetoric about peace and diplomacy that ignored the reality of the conduct of those very same leaders. Sadly I was wrong. Within hours they burnt down Synagogues, destroyed infrastructure, and within months they were engaging in dialogue with western politicians seeking diplomatic recognition and relationships.
Let’s take a scan of the Islamist rise to power in the Arab world in recent weeks; In Lebanon, the Sunnis of northern Lebanon cannot prevent the Shi’ite Islamists of Hizbollah and their Iranian supporters from taking control of the country. All this occurs under the custodianship of Syria, which is in turn rewarded by Barack Obama with diplomatic exchanges. Yemin is unstable, and susceptible to Islamist influences. In Tunisia, revolution has already seen the Government overthrown. Sudan has recently split itself into two states, but the Islamist North will be a powerful force to reckon with.
The impact of all of this will no doubt flow onto countries such as Iraq, propped up by the US military that is planning their withdrawal, Iran, where revolutionary forces have been brutally crushed, Jordan, which still has a Palestinian majority under the minority Hashemite monarchy, and of course the secular oriented Palestinian Authority which can succumb to the Islamist influences of Hamas.
And now Egypt. As Dick Morris notes; “Egypt, with 80 million people, is the largest country in the Middle East or North Africa. Combined with Iran’s 75 million (the second largest) they have 155 million people. By contrast the entire rest of the region – Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Jordan, UAE, Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar combined- have only 200 million.”
The impact of this on the Western governments of the world will be very grave into the long-term, if the short-term implications are misread by “asleep at the wheel” foreign ministers. The radicalisation of the Arab world is not the fault of Obama or any other Western leader, although some would contend that the inability of the West to act appropriately is a strong contributing factor. For decades the USA has bankrolled Egypt to be its ally, paying billions in aid, and forcing its cold peace with Israel. Suddenly Egypt may not wish to maintain its strategic alliance, and the USA may finally discover it can no longer to afford to buy the requisite influence.
Australia has already been criticised for making the same bland and hollow statements, written by foreign policy bureaucrats who have not comprehended the sudden shift in the political landscape. David Singer cites the communique issued in Sydney on 18 January 2011 at the conclusion of the Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial Consultations as an example of the staleness of Australia’s view of the world.
Australia will, as other western countries have, eventually succumb to the influences of trade. They will turn a blind eye to the regime and its values in order to claim payment for its goods and services. Where that leaves Israel, is a lone beacon of light in an even more hostile and politically volatile world.
Yet in an ironic way, I think Israel will be one of the safest and most desirable places to be. It’s democracy will remain steadfast. It’s moral clarity in making hard defensive decisions will be vindicated. As it has through all of its military conflicts, Israel will unify and prevail.
Egypt will fall again, and whether it is to the north, west, east, or south, Israel will face existential threat. How this plays out is anybody’s guess, but the outcome will be entirely predictable.
Steven Kruger sums it up best, when he writes
Please don’t destroy the pyramids.
We will not be building them again for you.
Good luck in the revolution.
Love, the Jews.”