Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘West Bank’

Middle East Update – Qatar, Iran and terrorism

Posted by sanityinjection on June 9, 2017

I find that it’s rather difficult for those of us in the US to find quality, up-to-date analysis of what is going on in the Middle East. As it has for thousands of years, what happens in this region disproportionately affects the rest of the world. So I’m going to try to post periodic updates summarizing what you need to know with my own analysis.

SAUDI – QATAR SPAT: Perhaps the biggest story this week was the intra-Arab diplomatic spat between the small but wealthy Persian Gulf state of Qatar and a group of countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt. These countries not only have suspended diplomatic relations with Qatar but have cut off land and air travel access and ordered Qataris to leave their territory. This creates a serious problem for Qatar since they import most of their food from these countries and will now have to rely on Iran and Turkey for help. The seriousness of the Saudi-led group’s intentions can be understood from the fact that the Saudis will also suffer from the diplomatic break: Qatar supplies natural gas for the Saudis and other countries in the region, and the Qataris have been kicked out of the coalition military forces fighting the Houthis in Yemen. That war is not going well for the Saudis, so you can tell they are pretty pissed if they are willing to weaken their forces there over this dispute. So what is really going on?

Basically, Saudi Arabia and the other states believe that Qatar is not only too soft on Iran, but too cozy with Islamist groups like Hamas, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, and Shiite groups in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The Qatari media outlet Al-Jazeera has been a long time thorn in the side of the other Arab monarchies. But the last straw came recently when Qatar paid ransom money to both Iran and al-Qaeda, which of course will be used to fund more terrorism in the region.

Ultimately, the dispute amounts to an inconvenience for the US, whose military Central Command is based in Qatar. But if the Arabs are successful in pressuring Qatar to move away from it support for Iran and other groups, that could be a positive development from the US perspective. There are reports that a minor exodus of Hamas operatives leaving Qatar has already begun.

TERROR ATTACKS IN IRAN: Also this week, the Iranian capital of Tehran became the latest victim of terrorist attacks. The timing is somewhat suspicious, coming in the wake of the Saudi media campaign linking Iran with Islamic terrorism. What better way to prove that Iran is not in bed with Sunni groups like IS and al-Qaeda than for it to be attacked by them? I’m not going so far as to claim that Iran staged the attacks as a false flag operation on their own people, but I wouldn’t put it past the terrorists to have expedited plans to attack Shiite Iran (whom they view as heretics, in many ways worse than infidels) as a way of trying to counter the Saudi propaganda effort. It’s worth noting that these attacks are the first major terrorist attacks in Iran in over 25 years.

BATTLE OF RAQQA: In Syria, US-backed coalition forces have begun their assault on the IS capital of Raqqa, even as progress continues to be made in driving them out of their other stronghold of Mosul in Iraq. Most analysts expect these campaigns to be successful in essentially ending IS as a “caliphate” or territorial power in Syria and Iraq. However, IS-affiliated groups continue to operate freely in places like Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, so the threat of terrorist attacks is far from over.

PALESTINIANS CARE MORE ABOUT JOBS AND DEMOCRACY THAN FIGHTING ISRAEL: A poll conducted last month of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza produced surprising results suggesting that public opinion among Palestinians may be more open to compromises for peace than the Palestinian leadership would like to admit. Basically, the results showed that Palestinians are more interested in being able to find good jobs and having an honest, responsible government than about issues like whether the US moves its embassy to Jerusalem. From Israel, Palestinians most want freedom of movement and more job opportunities from Israeli companies more than they care about Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Perhaps most astonishingly, 62% of Palestinians in Gaza agreed that Hamas should quit calling for Israel’s destruction and accept the idea of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.

These poll results may provide some ammunition for US efforts to broker a new agreement, by calling into serious question the claims of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas that they would face a popular backlash if they compromised with Israel on their positions.

For more info on these and other Middle East developments, I recommend the Washington-based Al Monitor website. You can find there up-to-date reports from each of the regions within the Middle East as well as some of the most insightful and objective analysis to better understand what is really going on underneath the spin.

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Helping to understand why peace in the Middle East is so elusive

Posted by sanityinjection on August 4, 2008

Reuters reports that about 181 members of an influential Palestinian family in the Gaza Strip fled to *Israel*, of all places, in fear for their lives. Why? After all, for the majority of Palestinians, Israel is the enemy, a foreign occupier on their soil. Were these people traitors to the Palestinian cause?

Hardly. The family in question, the Hilles clan, belongs to a Palestinian faction called Fatah, associated with the late Yasir Arafat and the current Palestinian “government” in the West Bank. Gaza, however, has been taken over by a rival faction called Hamas. Both factions want Israel out of the West Bank. Fatah,  a secular group, has, on the surface, accepted the principle of peaceful negotiations, while Hamas, an Islamic group, believes in armed struggle to drive all the Jews into the sea and reclaim all of Israel for the Palestinians. Despite these differences, both groups are essentially on the same side and both view Israel as the enemy.

And yet, the two groups hate each other so much that they continue to fight violently with each other in Gaza. Even the common enemy isn’t enough to unify them. Thus, the Hilles fled to Israel because they knew that Hamas planned to execute them, whereas at the hands of the hated Israelis they could expect to be treated lawfully and even with some rights as refugees.

So what did the “enemy” Israelis do? They decided that the best thing to do with the Hilles would be to provide transportation for them to the West Bank, where they would be safe under the authority of the Fatah-controlled government. But Fatah initially said, “Send ’em back, we don’t want them.” According to Fatah, the Hilles, you see, had not done *enough* to fight the Hamas takeover in Gaza. (These people really can’t win.) An *Israeli* civil rights group had to intervene to keep most of them from being sent back, and the Fatah authorities finally agreed to allow the majority to come to the West Bank.

The point of all this is that there are too many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who are only too happy to hate and kill each other just as well as they hate and kill Israelis. Turning over the occupied territories to such as these is asking for the kind of violence and chaos we have seen in Lebanon and Iraq. When the Israelis sit down to talk peace with Palestinian “President” Abbas, they point to all this and say, “How can we possibly trust a Palestinian state to guarantee the security of Israel when you can’t even keep your own people from killing each other?”

The ultimate losers, of course, are the many Palestinians who want nothing more than to live, work, and raise their children in peace.

Full story: http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=5507812

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