Categorized | Middle East Briefing

Won’t be lacking for content while in Israel

Posted on 14 July 2016 by admin

DALLAS — Notice the dateline on this update? A ‘dateline” tells the reader when and where the article was written.
As most of you already know, I’m moving back to Israel in a few weeks. Therefore, this will be my last update datelined “Dallas.” Future articles and updates will be datelined as appropriate.
And I’ll certainly have a lot to report. While in the past few months here in the U.S. we’ve been preoccupied with politics, ongoing violence (including the tragic attack on Dallas and DART police officers), the economy, Brexit (British exit from the European Union), more politics, criminal investigations, terrorism threats, immigration and even more politics … the rest of the world, and especially the Middle East, has generated events and news stories that will have major impacts on the U.S. and Israel.
Here is a taste:

Israel: Netanyahu’s busy week

Affirming the ongoing relations with Cairo, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited Israel this week for a series of meetings. This is the first official visit by a high-ranking Egyptian official in nine years. It’s hoped that this visit may lead to a possibility of restarting the peace process based on a new initiative of President Sisi, together with a more open thawing of Israeli relations with other Sunni Arab countries.
Last week Netanyahu, as prime minister and acting foreign minister ,visited several African countries including Uganda, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Israeli raid on Entebbe (where his brother, Yoni, was killed); Kenya; Rwanda; and Ethiopia.
Israel also signed a new friendship treaty with Turkey that restored relations to the way they were before the Mavi Marmara incident.
Oh … and Israeli media reported that the attorney general was investigating Netanyahu on suspicion of some serious money laundering.

Iran: Complete failure of ‘deal’

One year after the much-heralded, and still unsigned, so-called “Iran Nuclear Deal” (JCPOA — Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action), the U.N. watchdog IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and the intelligence agencies of the P5+1 countries still admit that they have no clue as to what nuclear weapons development Iran did in the past, nor what it still has and what it’s working on today.
Despite getting almost full sanctions relief, Iran has violated the JCPOA (and U.N. Security Council resolutions) several times. Its leaders still demonize the West, vow to destroy Israel within the year and are building and testing long-range nuclear bomb delivery systems with impunity.
Meanwhile the U.S., the “guarantor” of Iranian compliance to the JCPOA, is seen by the Sunni gulf states and many Israelis as being either afraid to confront Iran (which would expose the bluff of the “deal”), or worse, being in bed with the Iranians from the outset.

Syria: Fighting continues — after 5 years, over 400,000 dead

Assad’s Alawite (Shiite) regime is still strongly supported by Russia and Iran.
Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, seeking to counter the influence of its rival Iran, has been a major provider of military and financial assistance to the rebels, including those with extreme Islamist ideologies.
Turkey, another staunch supporter of the rebels, wants to end U.S. support for Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in northern Syria, accusing them of being part of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The U.S., which says President Assad is responsible for widespread atrocities and must step down, has provided only limited military assistance to “moderate” rebels, in addition to limited airstrikes.

Iraq: Military pushes ISIS

The Shiite-led, Iran-affiliated government forces have, with considerable U.S. military assistance (what’s wrong with this picture?), succeeded in retaking the city of Fallujah from ISIS, and are now preparing to try to retake Mosul … but probably not anytime soon.
ISIS: Not “degraded,” not “destroyed.”
Lost territory in Syria and Iraq but remains a formidable and well-equipped fighting force with demonstrated worldwide terrorism capabilities, and a growing esteem among young, alienated Sunnis around the globe.
And I haven’t even touched on the continued growth of al-Qaida, with this week’s threat of revenge against the U.S. by Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza, who declared: “We will continue striking you and targeting you in your country and abroad in response to your oppression of the people of Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and the rest of the Muslim lands that did not survive your oppression.”
With all that, plus other Middle East developments and, of course, the U.S. elections, there will be plenty to write about, talk about, Skype about and podcast about from Dateline: Israel.
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.
Lt. Col. (IDF res) Gil Elan is president and CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress, and a Middle East analyst. Email: gil@swjc.org
Upcoming briefings and SWJC events are listed at: www.swjc.org
DISCLAIMER: Opinions are the writer’s, and do not represent SWJC directors, officers or members.

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