There are two trends in the Middle East that are very disturbing. First and always, the pot continues to boil under the Israel-Palestine standoff. And as the Economist points out the balance of power has shifted to Hezbollah in Lebanon with some estimates of rockets on the Lebanon border reaching 50,000 and their range and firepower increased such that nearly any Israeli city can be reached. That is why Israeli intransigence on continued expansion of settlements on the West Bank is so debilitating and self-defeating. That is why the withdrawal of Hezbollah from Lebanon’s unity government which it to collapse is so ominous. Hezbollah’s Iranian and Syrian sponsors have a world of problems – and what better way to relieve the pressure than to light the conflict flames in somewhere on Israel’s border.
The second troubling trend in the Mideast emanates from the first. Both Iran and Syria have mounting pressures on their governments. For Iran the source is the fact that the economic and financial embargoes/sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program are starting to bite. But even more dangerous and unsettling is the popular revolution in Tunisia. This article in the Washington Post shows how many regimes from Morocco through to Pakistan have low legitimacy governments. Despotism cuts a swath across these predominately Islamic countries.Iran and Syria have particularly repressive regimes [but so too Egypt, Libya, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia. Only when you reach India does the stretch of despotic and low legitimacy governments stop . But with the revolt in Tunisia, the swath of this tinder boxes could erupt into widespread revolt and many actively failed states. Can you imagine the mischief making this will allow Al-qaeda. And they are well organized for inspired mischief making of the highest order. This in turn makes Israel’s squandering of the opportunity for forging some active steps toward peace with Palestinians within and Arabs surrounding the Jewish state all that more incredibly foolhardy. Because the Arabs they have good relationships with – Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait plusstand-offs with Saudi Arabia and Libya – anyone or several of these could have new , fragile or hostile leadership in the next 6-12 months And the recent reveal of Wikileaks plus the American+Israeli cyberwarfare against the Iranians sends the clear message of Americans+Israelis plotting against Muslims yet again. Have a 5th handy when you contemplate this.