Thinking about Israel’s Unthinkable Image in Palestine

A London Times

dispatch reads:  “Tony Blair makes his first trip to the Gaza Strip.”  In the growing global economic meltdown, the world has forgotten the suffering of the Palestinians who became victims of Israel’s “war” against Hamas.  How can there be a war between the most well equipped military of the Middle East and a state which does not even have an armed force of any credibility.  But this is the era of asymmetric war, and Hamas did launch rockets or missiles on Israel.  Those terror weapons did not cause much damage, but they provided a “justification” for Israel to let loose its military wrath on the civilian Palestinians.

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The Dubious Hillary Choice

The reported choice of Hillary Clinton as President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State does not make much sense. All presidents come to office with a definite worldview and a vision of America’s foreign policy during their term. Assuming that Obama shares these characteristics with his predecessors, his worldview was not quite similar to that which Hillary conveyed during her campaign to defeat Obama for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

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A War Looking for A Winning Strategy

Assuming that General David Petraeus, the new Combat Commander of CENTO, was victorious over al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), the question of the hour is whether he can replicate that success in Afghanistan.  However, before answering that question, it should be clearly understood that, despite a marked reduction in violence in the  Sunni-dominated region of Iraq, no one can state with any amount of certainty that the United States has really won its campaign against AQI-dominated terror. 


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Will the Levant Experience a New Power Realignment?

Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated on February 12, 2008.  He was the alleged mastermind of the massive attacks on the U.S. and French Marines in Lebanon in 1983.  His cohorts were allegedly involved in bombing Jewish targets in Argentina and for terrorist attacks in France in the early 1990s, resulting in more than 100 deaths.  Borzou Daragahi and Sebastian Rotella of the Los Angeles Times wrote an intriguing piece on August 31, 2008, several months after Mughniyah’s assassination. 


The most interesting part of Mughniyah’s assassination question–which will never be answered–is who killed him.  He was one of the most sought-after persons by American as well as Israeli intelligence.  However, since he successfully defied both of those countries, one possibility is that he was murdered by Syrian intelligence–with whom he was working closely–as a favor to the Americans.  The United States has been determined to push for the indictment of Syria’s President Bishara Assad by the U.N.  He is suspected to have been involved in the assassination of Lebanon’s former Premier Rafiq Hariri of Lebanon in 2005.  As a quid pro quo for Mughniyah’s life, according to this speculation, Assad will be given a respite on the Hariri murder inquiry.


Another possibility is that Israel demanded Mughniyah’s head as a price for continuing the indirect negotiations with the Syrians involving a potential withdrawal from the Golan Heights. 


The most interesting aspect of Mughniyah’s assassination is how Syria is being pulled between Israel and Iran.  Israel is getting desperate to take military and diplomatic action against Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons ambitions.  However, it must ensure a diplomatic isolation between Iran and Syria.  That would also weaken the Iran-Hezbollah nexus.  If true, we might be witnessing a new power alignment in the Levant whereby Syria–for explicit promises of the return of the Golan Heights from Israel–might create a diplomatic distance with Iran.  At the same time, it will be persuaded by Israel to tighten control on Hezbollah.  Needless to say, Iran is not going to remain idle in this alleged diplomatic cat-and-mouse game between Israel and Syria.