Monday, January 30, 2012

'Arab Spring May Benefit Israel'

"... now, with spreading instability resulting from a contagion of protests, the hydra of anti-Israel populism and Islamism threatens to undo years of Israeli diplomatic efforts to ensure their country's place among the Arab states.
To be sure, the Great Arab Revolt could still produce regimes that threaten Israel. But it hasn't yet.
In Tunisia,... ... If the Israelis can ignore the unsettling Muslim Brotherhood rhetoric coming from the Nahda party, they will recognize that Tunisia may be unfriendly, but it remains a weak Parisian exurb that poses no threat to the Jewish state.
Egypt is a potentially bigger problem...But the chances of war with the new Egypt are currently low. Its economy is in the toilet, with foreign investors spooked and the corrupt patronage network that Mubarak created on the verge of collapse. Even if the Muslim Brotherhood is as powerful as the recent polls suggest, it is increasingly apparent that the real struggle for control of Egypt is between the military and the internal security apparatus.Both actors rely heavily on US assistance, and neither will want to jeopardize it. So, unless the Islamists manage to purge them altogether (unlikely), Israeli interests for the time being appear safe.
Yemen is a basket case.... a hotbed for terrorism, but more for America than for Israel...
In Syria, regime change could pose a challenge to Israel. But could Bashar Assad's successor really be worse? Though Israel's northern border has remained quiet since the October 1973 war, the Syrians have been a strong ally to Iran and spilled plenty of Israeli blood by proxy, through Hezbollah and Hamas. In many ways, the fall of Assad would likely be a good thing.
Of course, Islamists could inherit Syria, but they would have little room to maneuver against Israel. After nearly a year of unrest, Syria is exhausted and impoverished, and Israel has a far superior military. For now, Israel must ensure that, amid the chaos, Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles do not fall into the wrong hands.
Finally, there's Libya.... The greatest Libyan threat to Israel now comes from the many weapons that went missing in the war that raged throughout 2011, which are allegedly pouring into Gaza with the help of Beduin in the Sinai Peninsula. But the means for those weapons to arrive in Gaza have not changed. The Israelis will need to continue to deny these weapons entry via smuggling routes and tunnels.
A better-armed Hamas is worrisome, but Hamas is a train wreck. In addition to the financial hardships owing to international sanctions against Iran (the group's primary patron), the ongoing carnage in Syria has forced its external leaders to flee Damascus. It's unclear that any other Arab state will bear the burden of harboring the group, given the expected fallout with Washington. Notably, Hamas appears to be wooing Jordan. This is obviously cause for concern in Israel, which made peace with the Hashemite Kingdom. In 1999, King Hussein of Jordan threw Hamas out of the country, but his son Abdullah is now mending fences with the group in hopes of wooing the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood into a political partnership.
But, he too, will likely deny Hamas safe haven. He wants to shore up his rule, but cannot threaten his alliance with Washington. If Abdullah fell, that would mean trouble for Israel. But that's an unlikely scenario for the near term.
So far, the greatest question mark of the Arab Spring is the Palestinians.... for the time being, the Palestinians are unlikely to launch another intifada. Indeed, while violent groups may attempt more attacks against Israel on an ad hoc basis, Palestinians leaders in the West Bank quietly cede that they are still regrouping after an exhausting round of fighting with the Israelis during the second intifada (2000-2005)....
Here's the best of the bad news: the Arab protests amount to a much-needed reminder to the Israelis that their region is filled with Islamists, and that paying off dictators cannot solve Israel's problems in the long term.
But here's real bad news: the Arab protests are a distraction from the threat of a nuclear Iran..."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Muslim Brotherhood and Salafite Islamists are Israel's best friends in the region. Don't fool yourselves. Even though Hamas today is a thorn in Israel's side, it was originally created and nurtured by Israel to weaken Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim support for the PLO.