Are we running towards a major crisis in Near East ?
The Israeli Defence Forces have been preparing themselves for the whole summer as they are likely to face demonstrations and riots in the West Bank after a likely UN General Assembly recognition of a Palestinian State.
As Israeli settlements have been (and will be) a major hindrance to the achievement of a Palestinian state, we should also expect an increasing number of violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli Settlers. As a sign of an increasing tension, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on sunday that the French extreme right-wing “Ligue de Défense Juive” is said to have recruited Jews with military experience to “defend” settlements.
But for a more comprehensive view of a crisis to come, let us have some hindsight.
In the northwest, Israel’s relations with Turkey are deteriorating day by day as both countries refuse to take any responsibility in the attack of the Gaza Flotilla in June 2010. In addition to an halt in military and diplomatic relations, this could hinder Israel’s ability to drill ressources in the Levantine Basin (where huge gas ressources are at stake between Israel, Lebanon and Turkish-backed Northern Cyprus) .
In the northeast, the outcome of Syrian revolts is unclear but it is likely that neither a dictatorship nor a fledging democracy will give up on the Golan Heights Israel annexed. And further in the east, Iran still keeps warmongering speechs and military exercices, while waiting to achieve a nuclear capability.
In the south, Israel’s embassy in Cairo was stormed by protesters last week end, and the Negev was hit by several attacks on the 18th of August.
In the meantime, former national security advisor to President Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski told French newspaper Le Monde that US influence is sharply decreasing in the Middle East:
United States’ image has never been so poor. More worrying is America’s influence, that has never been that weak since the United States got involved in the Middle East after World War II, an involvement that Arabs had welcomed because, to them, it replaced the French-Britsih imperialism. And of course, Americans’ constant inability to promote any solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict constitued another factor of our weakening influence in the Region
I do not think Westerners can do anything: the West has not that much credibility in the Middle East. French and British are still perceived as suspicious, the United States have disappointed and the Russians do not count. Arab Coutnries will have to sort this out by themselves, county by country.”
The message is clear: Israel’s first ally is not heard anymore and is giving up…
Israel threatened thePresident of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas it would stop economic assistance if a Palestinian State were recognized by the UN. Without this assistance (customs duty Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority), the Palestinian administration might collaspe, triggering demonstrations and riots. And who know what might happen when the first bullet will be fired or the first rock thrown ?
The situation needs urgent defusing.