As Israel carries out war drills, the noose is tightening
As the aftershocks of the "Arab Spring" continue, the noose is steadily tightening around the only beacon of democracy, tolerance, and technological advance in the Middle East
Israel has carried out its biggest earthquake disaster drill, which coincidentally is also good practice for wartime casualty handling. At the same time, some 3,500 US troops are carrying out war drills on Israel's anti-missile defences. Hopefully, she is not about to have to do these things for real, but the noose is surely tightening around the Middle East's only democratic state.
Starting North, not only is Lebanon facing a possible resurgence of internal troubles but Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, offers periodic reminders that it is not backward in the technology of war. Sending a remotely controlled drone over Israel may seem a fruitless action, but sends the message that Hezbollah’s masters are keeping them up to date with handy modern implements of war for the next tussle with Israel.
Moving East, Syria's desperate troubles don't exempt Israel from possible trouble over the other side of the Golan. The last resort of many dictators in history has been to start a war with an external enemy, "the other", and divert attention from internal issues. Most would say that Bashar al-Assad's position has deteriorated too far for this to be an option, but who knows what measures a lost cause with chemical warheads will stoop to? Further, the next Syrian regime could be even more hostile to Israel than two Alawite dictators have been if the Jihadists have their way.
And what about that long Jordan River border? King Abdullah is facing increasing pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood and tribal forces within his borders to make constitutional changes that would weaken or destroy his position as absolute monarch. A Brotherhood takeover in Jordan would bring an end to two generations of a monarchy that has proved to be one of the least unfriendly in the region towards Israel, besides which it would leave Israel threatened by the Brotherhood on her two longest borders. Which brings us to Egypt.
Ah, Egypt! President Morsi caused domestic outrage recently by sending his new ambassador to Israel with a pleasant letter of greeting to President Peres. At the same time, he has made moves against the wild jihadists roaming the Sinai. However, can the leopard change its spots? (As it says somewhere in the Bible.) Mr Morsi has the Muslim Brotherhood running through his veins – a Brotherhood that would like nothing more than to see the end of Israel as the world's only Jewish state. And this Brotherhood president controls the armed forces as well as his civilian administration.
Lastly, of course, we have Gaza and Hamas. Hamas that continues to threaten Jewish civilians every day while keeping its own people under extremist Islamic oppression. Were war to take place between Israel and Iran, no doubt Hamas would join in the fun.
We haven't even brought Iran into the equation, but it is no exaggeration to say that Israel is probably more under threat now from her neighbours than she has been since 1973, notwithstanding that war has not so far been formally declared.
As the aftershocks of the "Arab Spring" continue to threaten regimes in the region, the noose is steadily tightening around the only beacon of democracy, tolerance, and technological advance in the whole Middle East.
Nick Gray is Director of Christian Middle East Watch (cmew.org.uk). He blogs at cmewonline.com and tweets at @cmew2
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