Middle East turmoil: Israel feels the heat.

I read about Netanyahu’s demand for red lines from the US president when it comes to Iran’s uranium enrichment. As former US ambassador Indyk puts it: ‘issuing an ultimatum is something no president would do’ but Indyk also says that ‘U.S. will go to war with Iran in 2013’.

Israel finds itself in a very difficult position. Key-Middle-East-Player Iran is on the edge of obtaining a nuclear weapon (let’s put it that way…nobody really knows what is happening there but it looks like it); Egypt, another big player and neighbour of Israel, has got the Muslim Brotherhood governing the country and the rest of the Middle East is -as always- furious on the ‘Zionist project’ and keeps on threatening the state of Israel.

Israel, thus, feels the heat from three sides: Hezbollah from the north in Lebanon, Egypt from the south with Morsi as its Muslimbrotherhood president and Iran from the east. Netanyahu can only hope for the Assad-regime to fall as soon as possible. That would, at least on the short term, eliminate at least 1 of the ‘axes of evil’ (Syria). It would also delegitimate and weaken two of its other enemies in the rest of the Middle East. Iran and Hezbollah still support the Assad regime. Hezbollah would see one of its biggest sponsors vanish if the Syrian regime collapses.

The question is. How to respond? For now, Netanyahu only calls for red lines and miltary intervention, something that could end up being an all out war between the two main players in the region: Iran and Israel. Such a war would definitely be lost by Iran, it would have to fight against two of the strongest armies in the world and it would not have the Syrian regime (too many problems of their own) or any other Sunni regime in the Middle East to support its attacks. All the main players, e.g. Saudi Arabia, would be glad to see the big Iranian Shii regime collapse.

From that point of view, an attack on Iran seems to make sense, Iran will almost certainly loose if they are being attacked now. For the future, nobody knows what will happen. For all we know Iran will only get stronger and obtain a nuclear weapon, something that would restructure the power balance in the Middle East (although I believe it would only make the situation more stable, look at the Soviet Union vs. The US during the Cold War…MAD [mutual assured destruction] only provided a safe and stable situation). From the other point of view. What does Israel have to loose? Or to put it differently: what could be won by spending billions and billions more by going to war against Iran. Especially since there is also a lot of internal turmoil regarding the rising food and housing prices inside Israel; since the occupation of the West Bank; the protection of the area around the Gaza-strip is costing so much money. I believe Israel’s (and US) money could and should be spend more logically. It could, for example, start with retrieving some of its troops back from the West Bank and let the Palestinian economy develop itself fastly. It could open up the Gaza strip to create a better situation for the Gazan people…of course, terrorist groups such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have to be watched and monitored closely. Israel’s security is the main consideration here. I don’t know why the Israeli government does not see how the situation in the Gaza strip is actually creating more and new terrorists. Frustrated people in hopeless situations tend to look for other means to let the world hear their voice (other means being: terrorism). If there would be any possibility of improvement of the Gazan situation, people would grab those possibilities with both hands I believe.

It’s clear to me: a war-oriented prime minister Bibi Netanyahu is not the right man for this job.


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