The ISIS Jihadist war in Iraq – only the Kurds and Israel benefit

The Sunni-Shia divide

The Sunni-Shia divide

With ISIS sweeping across Iraq, capturing major cities and even taking control of an Iraq-Syria border crossing, there is huge concern of an escalating sectarian war exploding in the region.  Here is a selection of some commentary and analysis about the growing crisis:

Caroline Glick: the danger is blowback:

The Obama administration, along with Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham, views Iran’s deployment of forces in Iraq as an opportunity for the US. The US, they argue should work with Iran to defeat ISIS.

The idea is that since the US and Iran both oppose al-Qaida, Iranian gains against it will redound to the US’s benefit.

There are two basic, fundamental problems with this idea.

First, there is a mountain of evidence that Iran has no beef with al-Qaida and is happy to work with it.

The second problem with the idea of subcontracting America’s fight against al-Qaida to Iran is that it assumes that Iranian success in such a war would benefit America. But again, experience tells a different tale.

This brings us to the real threat that the rise of ISIS – and Iran – in Iraq poses to the US. That threat is blowback.

Both Iran and al-Qaida are sworn enemies of the United States, and both have been empowered by events of the past week.

Because they view the US as their mortal foe, their empowerment poses a danger to the US.

…The blowback from Iran’s emergence as a nuclear power is certain to dwarf what the world has seen from North Korea so far.

Yet rather than act in a manner that would reduce the threat of blowback from Iraq’s disintegration and takeover by America’s worst enemies, the Obama administration gives every indication that it is doubling down on the disastrous policies that led the US to this precarious juncture.

The only strategy that the US can safely adopt today is one of double containment. The aim of double containment is to minimize the capacity of Iran and al-Qaida to harm the US and its interests.

But to contain your enemies, you need to understand them. You need to understand their nature, their aims, their support networks and their capabilities.

Unfortunately, in keeping with what has been the general practice of the US government since the September 11 attacks, the US today continues to ignore or misunderstand all of these critical considerations.

As for Iran, according to The New York Times, Iran is signaling that the price of cooperation with the Americans in Iraq is American acquiescence to Iran’s conditions for signing a nuclear deal. In other words, the Iranians will fight al-Qaida in Iraq in exchange for American facilitation of its nuclear weapons program.

The first step the US must take to minimize the Iranian threat is to walk away from the table and renounce the talks. The next step is to take active measures to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration appears prepared to do none of these things. To the contrary, its pursuit of an alliance with Iran in Iraq indicates that it is doubling down on the most dangerous aspects of its policy of empowering America’s worst enemies.

Shoshana Bryen at the Gatestone Institute similarly talks about Guarding American interests in Sunni-Shiite war:

The game-changer in the long religious war now wracking the region is the possible introduction of nuclear weapons by Iran. Conventional wisdom is that Iran wants nuclear weapons either to destroy Israel or to enhance its position as hegemon of the Persian Gulf to discomfit and oust the Americans. If conventional wisdom is right, Iran cannot be permitted to be a nuclear power. If conventional wisdom is wrong and Iran plans to use nuclear weapons, or threatens to, “only” to balance the “religious scales” (Shiites comprise only 11-12% of the world’s Muslim population), Iran still cannot be permitted to be a nuclear power.Either way, irreducible bottom line, no nuclear Iran. The U.S. retains a still-vast ability to meet its national defense priorities. The open questions are: the political skill to define them, and the political will to ensure that the greatest threat to regional and world stability — Iranian nuclear capability — is stopped for good.

In last week’s post I mentioned the danger of ISIS to Jordan . Stratfor sounds a more optimistic note (too optimistic?) when they predict that although Jordan could be the next target of ISIS, it will probably escape:

For starters, the Jordanian regime is far more stable than Syria or Iraq, and its security forces have proved to be quite effective. Furthermore, Jordan has strong backing from the United States and Saudi Arabia, especially since the kingdom became a critical staging ground for support to Syrian rebels.

It is unclear how the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant will proceed. The key thing to bear in mind is that while it can carry out terrorist attacks in Jordan, there are too many constraints for the group to act in Jordan as it has in Syria and Iraq.

Dr. Ephraim Kam in Yisrael Hayom warns that in Iraq there is danger in all directions, including for Israel:

The upheaval in Iraq carries with it mixed tidings for Iran. On one hand, the jihadist groups are seen by Iran as a threat, whether in Iraq or in Syria, because they threaten the regimes there susceptible to Iranian influence. The severe instability on the other side of its border is disconcerting for Iran, which is also a country of minorities, and the turmoil could spill into its territory. On the other hand, Iran has become the most influential external player in Iraq, primarily among the Shiite population there, and the present threat on that population could increase its need for and dependence on Iranian aid. Iran has already declared that if it is asked it will help the Iraqi government, and there are reports that this has already begun.

The developments in Iraq are also a significant threat to the United States. The American administration has a moral and practical obligation to help the Iraqi government, following its military intervention there which led to the deterioration. Moreover, this deterioration could infect its allies in the region and export terror toward them and American targets. As of now, the U.S. is unprepared for another intervention of ground forces and will consider air strikes and military aid, while cooperating with countries in the area, such as Turkey. The need for regional support could lead to American-Iranian cooperation, which could, in turn, lead to American concessions in nuclear talks with Iran.

The deterioration in Iraq also entails considerable future risks for Israel — even if these do not materialize in the immediate time frame. The jihadist strongholds in Iraq and Syria could export terror against Israel as well, undermine the Jordanian regime and strengthen the extremist elements among the Palestinians and in the Sinai Peninsula. The increase in Iranian influence in Iraq and American-Iranian cooperation in Iraq, if it develops, has negative consequences for Israel. And if the U.S. again shows weakness in dealing with these jihadist strongholds — it will also be detrimental to Israel’s interests.

From Al-Monitor we learn that the war in Iraq also involves Turkey, whose hostages are held by ISIS:

The Turkish government faces a major dilemma in Iraq after the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) raided its Mosul consulate and took 49 of its personnel hostage, including its consul general, in addition to 31 others. The hostages are just one element of the crisis facing Turkey: The sweep by ISIS that netted it Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city with a population of 1.8 million, as well as Saddam Hussein’s birthplace, Tikrit, threaten to plunge Iraq into a civil war from which the ramifications will be felt in Turkey for years to come. Already, the Syrian civil war has led some 1 million to seek refuge in Turkey.

The crisis may force the Turks to rethink some of their policies in Syria. To date, Ankara’s friendship with the Kurds stopped in Iraq; Erdogan and his government have taken an uncompromising position against Syrian Kurds led by the Democratic Union Party of Kurdistan (PYD), an offshoot of the Turkish Kurdish insurgent group the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PYD has emerged as the strongest Kurdish group in Syria and has put together an impressive fighting force to defend its territory from both ISIS and the regime. The idea of another autonomous Kurdish region on its borders after the KRG has been anathema to Ankara. Paradoxically, the PYD’s armed elements are some of the only ones that have scored blows against the jihadists. In the face of the ISIS sweep, the PYD and the KRG, which have also had antagonistic relations, appear to be cooperating on defensive measures against ISIS. Turkey may have to reconsider its boycott of the Syrian Kurds to enlarge the anti-ISIS coalition.

The gains and losses for Turkey, Iraq and the Kurds are complex if not confusing.

That’s probably the understatement of the year.

Jonathan Spyer brings us another excellent analysis of a Second Front opening in the Sunni-Shia war:

So what will happen now? The pattern of developing events is already clear, and much may be learned from the experience of Syria. ‬

Bashar Assad, when rebellion broke out against him in March 2011, sought to use his huge conscript army to crush it. But the Syrian dictator rapidly found out that his supposedly 295,000-strong army was largely a fiction. Sunni conscripts refused to engage against the rebels, and Bashar was able to make use only of certain units composed largely of members of his own Alawi sect — units such as the Republican Guard and the 4th Armored Division. ‬

How did Assad address this problem? The answer is that he didn’t — Iran did. ‬

Realizing that their Syrian ally was facing defeat because of an absence of reliable manpower, the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps stepped in to effectively create a new, sectarian military for the Assads. In addition, Iran introduced its various regional paramilitary proxies into the Syrian battlefield. ‬

By mid-2013, the new, sectarian infantry force trained by the Quds Force and Hizballah – named the National Defense Force – was beginning to be deployed against the Syrian rebellion. In addition, Hizballah, and Iraqi Shia volunteers of Sadrist and other loyalties began to fill the gaps in manpower for Assad. ‬

These units turned the tide of the Syrian war. But they have brought Assad survival, not victory. The dictator rules over only about 40% of the territory of what was once Syria. The rest is under the control of ISIL, the Kurds, and the Sunni Arab rebels. ‬

It is likely that a similar pattern will now emerge in Iraq. Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani has been in Baghdad since Friday. He is in the process of organizing Iraqi Shia volunteers, who in the months to come are likely to be transformed into a sectarian military force resembling the Syrian National Defense Force. ‬

These hastily assembled forces, along with the reliable elements of Maliki’s military, are likely to prove sufficient to defend the capital and perhaps to prevent further gains by ISIL, which may have over-reached itself. But the new, openly sectarian Shia forces behind Maliki are unlikely to succeed in re-taking the entirety of ISIL’s territorial gains in Anbar and Ninewah provinces. ‬

Iran is a leading world expert in the creation of proxy sectarian military forces. But given the demographic balance in present day Iraq, and in Syria, Iran’s assistance is likely to ensure the survival of the non-Sunni population only in a part of the country in question. That is – ISIL and Iran’s intervention into Iraq may well portend the de facto partition of that country, and its plunging into a prolonged conflict, along the lines of what is currently taking place in Syria. ‬

The Kurds, possessors of a strong, largely secular nationalist tradition and identity, may emerge as major winners from this process of fragmentation, in the context both of Syria and Iraq (as witnessed by the rapid gains made by the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces in recent days). ‬

As for the warring Arab Islamic sects, they are set to continue to battle one another, with ready foreign help, over the ruins of the countries once known as Iraq and Syria. This war is just beginning. Any attempts to portray either of the warring sides as “anti-terrorist” or “pro-western” should be stubbornly resisted. Acceptance of such definitions is the entry hall to new policy failures and wasted lives. ISIL and the Quds Force differ in organizational structure, but are similarly anti-western — and similarly vile. They should be left to bleed one another white.‬

That’s probably the best advice anyone could hear on this subject. For the attention of Washington DC…

Kurdish tanks

Kurdish tanks

Expanding on the issue of the Kurds, who are probably the only people who stand to benefit from the chaos in Iraq,Sirwan Kajjo, an independent Kurdish affairs analyst at the Sada website, explains that the rise of ISIS is a golden opportunity for the Kurds:

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has been more successful in its defense against ISIS than the central government. Kurdish forces, numbering well over 100,000, appear better equipped and trained than the militant groups attempting to confront them. Responding to ISIS’s rapid advances, the Kurdish forces, or Peshmerga, deployed large numbers on June 10, to areas that have been long been contested by the Kurds and the central government in Baghdad, particularly Kirkuk. The status of Kirkuk has put a perpetual strain on the relationship between Baghdad and the KRG. The status quo under which Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen have governed the city—an agreement enforced by the American forces in Iraq since 2003—has remained in place for over a decade.

For the Kurds, seizing Kirkuk from ISIS was a golden opportunity to regain access to significant oil resources, and put an end to years of dispute with the central government over the implementation of Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution that seeks normalization for Kirkuk’s multi-ethnic population. Securing the annexation of this oil-rich region for the already rich Kurdistan would put the KRG in a more powerful position when declaring independence.

ISIS’s surge in Iraq, speaks to a bigger aspiration to see no border between Syria and Iraq, which is the primary means of the group to achieve an Islamic state. But that would not be viable without sustainable economic resources. Having secured large swaths of oil-rich territories in eastern Syria, ISIS has been inspired to continue the same effort in Iraq—particularly in the north, where oilfields are abundant. Kurds are likely the only group that can preserve the oilfields in Northern Iraq. The international community, Turkey included, recognizes this very well.Nestled between Maliki’s embattled government and ISIS militants, Kurds are best-positioned to keep these areas safe for now, and maybe for the long run, with the Peshmerga as a de facto military force. If the situation drags out longer, the weak Iraqi government might have to accept a permanent presence of Kurdish forces in these areas. However, the Iraqi Kurdish leadership would need to consider the cost of deploying more forces to these areas: it should not come at the expense of securing its porous borders with Syria. With a brutal civil war raging on in the neighboring country and a growing uncontrollable militancy, Iraqi Kurdistan faces a serious spill-over threat.

The silver lining for Kurds is that, suddenly, the establishment of a Kurdish state seems more feasible–especially with Turkey seemingly no longer objecting to the notion.

For the first time since the U.S. invasion the dynamics have shifted in favor of Kurdish independence. Iraqi Kurds are more powerful than ever, and Turkey is more willing to accept the existence of an independent Kurdish nation at its border. Unless Iraqis immediately reach a comprehensive national reconciliation that satisfies the long marginalized Sunnis and the Kurds themselves, which is very unlikely given the unraveling situation, the Kurds will continue pushing forward for their independence. The map of the Middle East is on the verge of changing much to the benefit of the Kurds.

The Kurdish  SCF Altai tanker approaches Ashkelon port

The Kurdish SCF Altai tanker approaches Ashkelon port

A beneficiary of the Kurds burgeoning independence is Israel – who received their first shipment ever of Kurdish oil this week:

The oil delivery is from the KRG’s new independent pipeline which bypasses the central Iraqi government by running directly to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, much to the chagrin of Baghdad’s embattled government. The delivery to Israel comes at a crucial time for the KRG, which is looking to protect itself from the deteriorating situation in Iraq by being more independent economically.

The independent export of oil to Israel comes shortly after Kurdish Peshmerga forces – the KRG’s independent army – seized the oil-rich town of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, along with swathes of territory near the Turkish border, as Iraqi troops abandoned their posts in response to the advance of Sunni Muslim rebels including the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). KRG officials have already openly entertained the option of redirecting the flow of oil from Kirkuk through the Ceyhan pipeline, particularly after the regular Kirkuk pipeline was sabotaged after Kurdish forces took control of the city.

The United States opposes the KRG’s oil pipeline, but Israeli officials told Reuters Jerusalem is keen to build relations with the Kurds, both in order to counter the growing influence of Iran and to generally broaden its options for energy supplies.

Unlike the US and many European countries, Israel does not buy oil from Iraq, and is therefore unruffled by the Iraqi government’s staunch opposition to the Ceyhan pipeline.

As to the US’s objections to the Kurdish sale, the JPost explains:

The United States, Israel’s closest ally, does not support independent oil sales by the Kurdish region and has warned possible buyers against accepting the cargoes.

Israeli leaders have been alarmed in recent months, however, by signs of a possible rapprochement between Washington and Iran.

Officials said Israel was keen to build good ties with the Kurds, hoping to expand its limited diplomatic network in the Middle East and broaden options for energy supplies.

It’s all circles within circles, smoke and mirrors. If you want to educate yourselves further, or maybe confuse yourselves further, read Stratfor’s The Intrigue lying behind Iraq’s Jihadist Uprising. It is yet another thorough analysis of this new front opening up in the Middle East, with background and exposes of each sphere of influence.  It includes paragraphs on Turkey searching for a strategy, Iran on the defensive, Saudi stirring the pot and more.

If it wasn’t so terrifyingly dangerous and volatile, it would make great spy thriller fiction.

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23 Responses to The ISIS Jihadist war in Iraq – only the Kurds and Israel benefit

  1. Reality says:

    I’m just impressed that you can make sense of it all! i’m dizzy trying to keep up with who’s fighting whom ,where and when!!-and what possible outcome it can mean for Israel

    • anneinpt says:

      You’re not the only one who’s dizzy! First of all it all happened so quickly. To the average lay reader who doesn’t follow events in Iraq closely it was a big shock how ISIS swept through. As for making sense of it all – what makes you think I understand? 🙂

      Seriously, from what I can make out, they’re all the same murderous anti-west antisemitic bastards and they should all be allowed to get on with what they do best – killing each other. May they all lose.

      We must stay out of it and protect ourselves well. That is all we can do.

  2. Andrea says:

    Caroline Glick rightly says you have to know the enemy to fight him .Americans have a superficial knowledge of the Middle East, Europeans have a knowledge corrupted by prejudice but the worst thing is that even the Israelis seem completely lost. Let’s say it frankly and with sympathy toward Israel: in recent weeks the security services, government and military policy analysts are groping in the dark.
    The thing that surprises me is that Israel as a nation populated by half by Jewish families from Arab countries does not develop an ability to analyze the Middle East independent from that of the Americans. The pundits on pro Israeli press are American Jews who have never set foot in an Arab country while Moroccan or Iranian Jews seem to be absent. Where’s the once reputed best secret service in the world? Why the Israelis move to the Middle East as if they were aliens? The Jews Iranians had a solid reputation within the security services. Where are they? it is time to return to study the Arabs and Iranians if we want to predict their moves. How many israelis are able to speak some basic Arab for instance ? I hope a 40% at least but I am not so sure.
    There was a period where all Sefardi knew three language at least – now I am afraid they can not read an Arab newspaper . Someone says : who cares ? This is the result if you do not know your opponent ……

    • anneinpt says:

      Andrea, I’m not sure where you get the idea from that Israel doesn’t have an independent ability, apart from the Americans, to analyse the Middle East? In fact I think it’s the other way round. The Americans seem to be the clueless ones who need to rely on Israel for analysis. And if they don’t, they should!

      Just because the pro-Israeli pundits you see on TV are American doesn’t mean they are Israeli or that they are the only ones working in the field. They are the ones who get interviewed because they speak English. I’m pretty sure Israel has lots of Sephardi Jews working on its Arab desk in the various intelligence departments. And I know for a fact that the IDF recruits and trains talented youngsters from all backgrounds, teaches them Arabic, Farsi etc. and teaches them about the Middle east.

      I don’t really agree with you that Israel is “groping in the dark” about ISIS and the Middle East in general. It has actually been the Israelis who have repeatedly been stressing to the Americans and to Europe not to blindly support the anti-Assad rebels just because they oppose him. Israel has been saying loudly for some time now that the rebels are at least as bad as Assad himself. Altogether during the Arab Spring, Israel was mocked and berated for not being enthusiastic about the “revolution”, and no one has thanked Israel or even admitted we were right in being so cautious. In any case, I think a certain amount of confusion is permitted under these extreme circumstances.

      However you are right that the Israeli educational system should invest more time and money teaching about our Arab neighbours, their language etc., but that is a whole other story, involving national priorities, budgets and the other stuff of democracy. Some years Arabic language study is compulsory in school and some years it is dropped.

      As to the many languages once spoken by Sephardi families, these have gone the same way as European languages, Yiddish and Ladino – they are disappearing as Israel has “normalized”, and Hebrew has become the lingua franca of the nation – for better or for worse. I don’t take that as an indictment, it’s simply natural progression.

      In my own family my parents spoke German and English, I only spoke English at home though I learned German and French in school as well as Hebrew. My children (Israeli born) know Hebrew and English. Their children know only Hebrew though they learn English at school. Do you see how the language abilities have changed? That’s evolution for you!

      • Andrea says:


        I have picked up only one of the many from an Israeli newspaper,7340,L-4240532,00.html

        I am glad to be reassured by you about Israeli competencies but many Israelis share my opinion – you/we do not know enough your/our enemy.
        I know an Israeli friend who is really furious on how Iran is superficially represented on international media ( incuding Israel). She has been living in Iran under Khomeini and she knows or she can undersatnd a lot of local dialect and has a political science degree in France. She served Israeli gov. and she is a strong zyonist. She really hates Islamic Republic until the limit of obsession but again she says that Iranian culture and people is misrepresented and caricatured.
        Let me say this aloud : do not understimate your opponent. They do not deserve your/our respect maybe but deserve your/our full attention.. Read their newspapers, listen to their TV and Radio, study their religion. How many Israelis or European know the differences between Sunnis and Shites ? They could be the same bastard we can say but – come on – we know we are not doing our job properly. !
        If my criticsm is exaggerated, well I am happy. I would like to be wrong.::-)
        Do not make me regret Dayan please!
        Bien a toi

        • anneinpt says:

          I take your point Andrea. Certainly it is not all rosy here, especially in our intel services as we have seen even in the recent past. The Hezbollah attack in 2006 which led to the 2nd Lebanon war took us completely by surprise as did certain other attacks.

          You’re right that the average Israeli doesn’t know enough about our enemy – but does that carry through to the security services? I honestly don’t know. I can tell you this. My son served in the military intelligence during his army service a few years ago. His job was to educate the new recruits about the different terror organizations. I asked him what difference did it make. I used those exact words that I used in my blog: “they’re all the same murderous bastards”. He was shocked and horrified. “Of course it makes a difference! They have different methods, different sponsors, different funding” etc. He didn’t tell me the details (I’m just his mother) but the new recruits were certainly being taught. I have no reason to think that this method of teaching the new soldiers has changed.

          So OK, the average Israel civilian might not know the difference between Sunni and Shiite, or Hamas and Islamic Jihad. But those who need to know do so. Is it enough? Probably not. Will it improve? I hope to heaven it does! For all our sakes.

          As to Iran, again the average Israeli certainly doesn’t know enough. But what does the average Iranian know about Israel? There is no way for the civilian societies of both countries to learn about each other in the current climate.

          And if your Iranian friend is furious about how Iran is represented in the int’l media – and believe me, I understand and sympathise with her – imagine how the average Israeli is beyond furious with the way we are represented in the media.

          I just hope that your Iranian friend was made use of by the Israeli authorities for her inside knowledge. As you mentioned, Israel has a huge resource in its Jewish citizens from Arab countries. If the government and army don’t make use of them, that would be criminally negligent.

          Believe me, no one in Israel underestimates our enemies. I think the Yom Kippur War cured us of that.

  3. Brian Goldfarb says:

    To add to Anne’s point concerning Kurdish oil, The Times of Israel has a timely article:

    The meat of the article (after suggesting that the oil delivery has by no means been confirmed and may be a political “urban myth”) is that
    “The world should also know that Erbil isn’t selling oil in order to build a nuclear weapon. It sells oil in order to pay the salaries of doctors who are treating the victims of Iraq’s own civil war in Kurdish hospitals, and the salaries of teachers who educate Kurdish children in remote mountain villages.

    Change is coming to the Middle East and one outcome could be the birth of an independent Kurdish state. Countries in the region should brace themselves for such a day. It is up to them to recognize or reject the Kurdish state, but they should respect the will of the Kurdish people.An independent Kurdish state isn’t only for the Kurds. The whole region will get to see the benefits of it. Kurdistan isn’t interested in the religious wars that have gripped the Middle East for centuries and just as it has proven as an autonomous region to be a the most stable part of Iraq, as a state it can be a genuine factor of stability. Israel may never get a barrel of oil from Kurdistan in the future, but a friendly non-belligerent state in the region is a much bigger prize.”

    There’s not much more to say, is there?Except to use the American phrase “bring it on!”

    • anneinpt says:

      It’s the one big puzzle that’s never received a satisfactory answer: why isn’t there a Kurdish state and why is there such huge objection to one. I agree with you that Kurdistan would be a stabilizing force in the region, and is a much more amenable proposition than the creation of yet another kleptocratic antisemitic state (Palestine).

  4. bluewhale11 says:

    Thank you for your analysis; it has been getting rather overwhelming to make sense of what’s going on, especially with the US, EU, and UN making the inevitable return of the Sunni-Shiite centuries-old rivalry in the M.E. more complicated all the time. I also agree with Andrea’s comment that too many Israelis have also gotten too far away from their knowledge of Arab thinking or they wouldn’t behave so stupidly about Abbas and the PA/PLO as well as speaking about the possibility of bombing Iranian reactors instead of keeping it top secret until and if only it had to be done! Even with Obama refusing to officially acknowledge that Hamas is the terrorist group behind the kidnapping of our boys and offer condolences (!!!), let alone outwardly betraying Israel over and over again, Netanyahu and many other Israelis are STILL referring to the US as Israel’s strongest ally!!

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you for the compliment. I was worried that I was only confusing the issue even further.

      Re Israel’s attitude towards the PLO, it’s not that Israelis have forgotten what the Arabs are like. How could we? The problem is the politicians, specifically Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin and a couple of academics, who introduced the iniquity called Oslo into our lives. Their criminally stupid move obligated Israel internationally into encouraging the creation of a Palestinian state. Don’t get me wrong. I am dead against this. I am also furious at Bibi for not cancelling the accords now that they have been so obviously invalidated and violated by Abbas. But again, it’s not a matter of forgetting. It’s a matter of political will and capability. The result is the same but the motivation is not.

      And as for saying the US is our strongest ally – you’re right. Australia and Canada are our staunchest allies at the moment. The American people, not the Administration, are our strongest allies but they’re not the ones in power. The US Congress too is very pro-Israel, and this is bi-partisan support. I presume it’s a matter of political expedience that Israel still says that the US is our strongest allies. The US is the one with the power of veto at the UN and other int’l bodies. There’s no point in overtly antagonizing them.

      • Brian Goldfarb says:

        Sadly, I must part company with you here, Anne. I do not believe that Israel can survive indefinitely in the hostile climate that surrounds it without in some way neutralising the threat that the West Bank/Judea & Samaria represent. The current non-Israeli population of that space, call it what you will, will eventually outnumber the Israeli population. And the security wall can only be a short-term solution. After all, it cannot stop missiles being fired over it. To reply, every time, with equal or greater force, would reduce Israel to the moral level of its opponents. I exempt groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah from that sentiment – see my last paragraph below.

        As the Bolsheviks found out to their cost, you cannot keep a population “in place” (I’m using euphemisms here) indefinitely using force that is not recognised by that population as legitimate. And “the monopoly of the legitimate (underlined & highlighted) use of force” is the text book definition of a state.

        How is Israel to survive in the long-term without an agreement of some sort with the non-Israelis who live in that space? I don’t count Hamas as part of that agreement: they are terrorists and thugs and “those who live by the sword shall die by the sword”.

        • anneinpt says:

          Brian, I agree with you on some points and not on others (there’s a surprise!)

          Absolutely Israel is going to have to find a way to “neutralize” or accommodate the hostile Palestinian population in the territories. Cancelling the Oslo accords doesn’t mean going back to the status quo ante. But there is no point in continuing upholding an agreement which only one side adheres to.

          I disagree with you about the demographic threat. There have been enough censuses and surveys done to show that the threat is not a threat at all. The Israeli birth-rate is rapidly approaching and overtaking the Arab one, plus their numbers have been over-estimated by double counting and other nefarious methods.

          The remaining question for all of us is – What now? And no one has the answer yet. It is being discussed at the Knesset as we speak. Annexation? Expulsion? Persuasion to leave by monetary rewards? Redrawing the borders? Every solution has its pros and cons financially, morally, militarily and practically.

          Stay tuned and hold tight for a rough ride! Knowing the way Israel works I’m betting it’ll be a solution that grows organically, slowly, with steps backwards and forwards until something workable turns up. And it won’t be easy or quiet or safe until then. That’s the Middle East for you.

  5. Andrea says:

    Sorry to come in there another time. I admit I am horrible today but in spite of my effort to understand there is till a point missing in my view. Who really are the non – Israelis people living in the area controlled by Israel ? Which kind of society they belong to ? What we know about the inner and not disclosed ties among the Non – israelis community ? How many chances we have to find a decent counterpart ? I have no answer so far but a strong curiosity to understand what is going under the surface of an apparently impenetrable world : the Others but so close to us.
    Since Israel is the closest nation to the Arabs – I should say in a geographical meaning but it can not be only this – who if not you have the opportunity to have the closest strategic perspective ? Keep the wall up since this makes Israel safe but please do not turn your head toward the opposite direction. Your place is Middle East this is your land and you can not stay in without know every inch of that place.

    let me be clear with a real issue : we are suffering because Hamas criminal efficiency has not been properly assessed but it is not the only reason.Hamas takes a huge advantage from Fatah discredit among the Palestinians. Fatah is corrupted, their police disrespected and the if there were elections they would barely win in West bank as well . Hamas also built an effective and efficient social net based on charity and mutual assistance albeit to support criminal actions. Many can laugh at this point but this is really how they are perceived from non Israelis around you. The infamous kidnapping is another blow to Fatah influence. We can forget Abu Abbas now.So who is there other than Hamas behind the wall ? Is there even worse like Jihad or criminal thugs ? It is possible but I would like to be sure to have the answer basing upon reliable analysis. If not you Israel who knows it ?

    • Brian Goldfarb says:

      Andrea, I think that you and I are trying to make much the same point. It is not for us to tell Israel and Israelis what to do. They are a sovereign state and will take those decisions themselves. But to seek to return to the situation pre- the Oslo Accords and pretend that they never happened is to try and pretend that the present unstable equilibrium is in fact stable. What will make it stable only the actors in the Region can determine.

      Perhaps it will take the US turning off the money tap flowing into the Palestinian Authority. But that’s for the loal actors to decie. But they must decide something positive, not negative.

    • anneinpt says:

      As I said in my previous reply to you, the military and intelligence circles certainly know the difference between the various factions, who is responsible for which terrorist act, who covers and/or funds their terrorism with charitable organizations, which organizations are popular amongst the Palestinian civilians etc.

      You are absolutely right that Hamas is taking advantage of Fatah’s inefficiency and corruption. Why do you think Israel was so furious at the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement? As soon as Hamas gets a foothold in the West Bank things are only going to get worse.

      However, just like Fatah has become unpopular in the west Bank, Hamas has become unpopular for the same reasons in Gaza. This has led Islamic Jihad to become stronger. It’s a many-headed snake, but they all hate Israel and want to destroy us.

      You ask who else is behind that Wall? I myself do not know. I’m just a simple blogger and with a very busy personal life. My son is no longer in the army so I can’t get “inside information” even if he wanted to give it to me (which he never did since he was a good soldier). But from other family members in the army I’m pretty sure they do know who’s there. Whether they know how to deal with them effectively is another whole ball game.

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  8. WisenCynical says:

    Intellect is wasted here. The decision has been made to use military force by the US government. And conveniently so by the use of increased executive authority that should not exist. There is no going back now. The bigger problem is that this war will extend beyond the Obama administration, and there are really no good candidates on the Democrat side. It is likely a GOP president will land into a place where they are likely to use less constraint and perpetuate this so they can remain in the Whitehouse for 8 years per their typical model of record. Furthermore, the government and taxpayers of the USA are in deep and will be for a loonnng time. The irony is that the US economy will benefit from this in a big way. So if you have no soul and want to make a lot of money. You can bet on stocks that war benefits and do very well.

    • anneinpt says:

      I agree with you that the war is going to go on for long after the Obama administration. I also agree that there is no good candidate on the Democrat side. I also see no good candidate on the Republican side.

      I disagree with you that the war will benefit the US economy. War typically drains an economy.

      However I am not American so I could well be wrong.

      For me, as an Israeli, I just hope that we don’t suffer the blowback. And I’m will to lay a bet that Israel will be blamed for anything that goes wrong and for anything that backfires. Even 9/11 was blamed on us, so I have no confidence in anyone acting fairly towards us.

  9. Tahir Din Ch says:

    Reblogged this on Republic Day: Nawaz Sharif Asks Barack Obama To Raise Kashmir Issue. and commented:

    Narrated Wathilah ibn al-Asqa: I asked, “Messenger of Allah! What is tribalism?” The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied, “That you help your people in wrongdoing.”

    [Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 5100]

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