The trouble in Israel’s neighborhood

I try to discount reports of future White House doings, but veteran reporter Neil Munro’s Daily Caller article — Obama will press Israel to mollify furious Arabs” – is sourced to Ben Rhodes, the president’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. Rhodes contributes another chapter in the praise of folly that Obama has brought us over the past four-plus years:

“It is obviously a good thing that the people in the region are seeking to express themselves democratically,” declared Ben Rhodes, the president’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.

“Israel needs to take into account the changing dynamic and the need to reach out to public opinion across the region as it seeks to make progress on issues like Israeli-Palestinian peace and broader Arab-Israeli peace,’ he insisted.

Munro works in a little editorial commentary, extra wry with a twist, and with a slightly more realistic perspective than a wire service reporter would bring to the table:

That task may be very difficult, in part, because a vast majority of Arabs who are living alongside Israel wish to destroy the state.

Thank you, Mr. Munro.

Israel’s chief of military intelligence is Aviv Kochavi. Kochavi cannot indulge in the kind of mindless kibbiting to which Obama is prone. Here is Kochavi’s assessment of Israel’s neighborhood, after a discussion of the Iranian threat:

Kochavi also commented on the Syrian civil war: “In many ways, the country is disintegrating with 60,000 killed so far, among them 50,000 civilians and 13,000 soldiers, 1.4 million refugees, mostly around Jordan who are growing by 800 a day, and thousands of serious attacks.

“Therefore, Syria shouldn’t be treated as a unified state. It should be referred to as Assad’s state and the rebels’ state, as two thirds of Syria’s habitable areas are under rebel control.

“Most of the cities are under complete or partial rebel control. The Golan Heights is a string of enclaves in rebel or army control engaged in daily warfare with each other.”

He added that “Assad is preparing to use chemical weapons.” According to Kochavi, Assad “still shows control of chemical weapons and the air force.”

He pointed out that the Syrian president has started using missiles such as Scud and M600.

“He already fired 70, in addition to 600 rockets with warheads containing 300 kilos of explosives,” Kochavi said.

Referring to the Arab Spring and its regional consequences, the MI chief said: “The upheaval is here to stay and will continue to simmer and affect the entire Middle East.

“The uprising’s main achievement belongs to the public and its right to participate in the social process, but we see no new ideas springing up due to the upheaval.

“The forces which brought the masses in the city squares were not translated into political power. The resulting vacuum was occupied by Islamist parties, with the main movement rising up being the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Kochavi noted that “for the first time in many years the four main powers – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt are controlled by religious leadership.”

According to Kochavi, “The State of Israel is considered by them as unacceptable, so it will be increasingly difficult in the coming years to reach agreements and normalization.”

Obama and Rhodes to the contrary notwithstanding, Israel has little to nothing to do with the upheaval in its neighborhood and there is little to nothing it can do to alleviate it other than going out of business. Kochavi’s assessment represents a more clear-eyed view than that of Obama and his advisers.

NOTE: I’ve opened and closed two or three quotes in the Kochavi article to correct what seem to be punctuation errors.


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