By Gil Elan
If there is one thing that more than 40 years of both participating in and analyzing ongoing events in the Middle East has taught me, it’s that it is impossible and naïve to try to predict the future. Even “legitimate” prophets got it wrong most of the time…those were the “prophesies” that never got into the Bible or history books.
So with that in mind — I’m going to stick my neck out and take an educated guess about what we may expect to see in the coming year in Israel, the Middle East and here in the U.S.
- With opposition to Netanyahu growing within his own party, even if he wins the Likud primaries next week there is no certainty that he will lead the next government after the March 17 general elections.
- Regardless of the election results, Israel will remain strong and capable of dealing with any and all current and foreseeable security challenges over the year. The excellent choice of Gen. Gadi Eizenkot as the new IDF Chief of Staff strengthens that conviction, and also sends a message to Iran that Israel is not making idle threats.
- Deepening divisions between Fatah and Hamas, and within a now split leadership in Fatah itself; will lead to increased terrorist attacks against Israel as well as violent infighting between Palestinian factions as each group positions itself for the “post Abu Mazen” era.
The Peace Talks
- Despite renewed U.S. pressure and a so-far feeble Palestinian attempt at getting a U.N. Security Council resolution to force Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, in 2015 there will probably be no serious continuation of the talks. Of course Israel will be blamed for the failure, despite the fact that the PLO walked away from the table.
- Will continue to grow, expand in numbers and territory of the “Caliphate” and pose a direct threat to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Europe. In an attempt to appease ISIS, more European countries will distance themselves from Israel and the U.S., and even develop diplomatic relations with the Islamic State.
- The Ayatollah and IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp) regime will continue to develop not only nuclear “breakout” capability, but in all probability one or two testable nuclear devices.
- Since no other country seems to have the intent to stop them militarily, Netanyahu — or the next Israeli Prime Minister — may have to make very tough and risky decisions.
Islamist-lead and inspired terrorism
- Under the inspiration of the ISIS highly professional and slick PR and Social Media campaign, and the technical and planning expertise, leadership abilities and blind anti-American obsession of al-Qaida, virtually every terrorism research and analysis think-tank in the world is predicting a major uptick in Islamist terrorism attacks and specifically in the U.S. and against US interests and targets around the world.
- These attacks, or attempted attacks will range from highly sophisticated and well planned 9/11 style mass casualty strikes, already being prepared by al-Qaida and its affiliate organizations, to local radicalized home-grown cells capable of inflicting damage on utilities and infrastructure or attacking schools or entertainment areas, and down to the “lone wolf” terrorist — who is not necessarily affiliated with any group.
So here’s my “guestimate” of 2015 in a nut-shell:
1. A new government in Israel — with or without Bibi.
2. Iran gets closer to nuclear weapons, or actually produces one.
3. Israel gets stronger, prepares for new threats and absorbs more immigrants, mainly from Europe, US and Australia.
4. Israel establishes new partnerships with regional countries.
5. Ongoing and accelerated Islamization of Europe.
6. US led war against ISIS and al-Qaida expands, though the coalition changes.
7. Worldwide anti-Semitism grows. Israel benefits from increased immigration.
8. America’s image as a world leader continues to deteriorate…unless it eliminates Iran’s nuclear program militarily. (Unfortunately taking down North Korea’s Internet for a few hours doesn’t count!).
In summary: Any one, none or all of the above predictions may pan out.
The only thing I am absolutely certain about is that 2015 will be a very interesting year.
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion (for now!). Happy New Year!
Lieutenant Colonel (IDF res) Gil Elan is President and CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress, and a Middle East Analyst. Email: firstname.lastname@example.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.