A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, September 12, 2011

Are We Facing a Gathering "Perfect Storm" in the Region?

A week ago IDF Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg, the Home Front Commander, made headlines for saying that Arab Spring could lead to an increase in the chances of a regional war. Other Israeli officials backpedaled quickly, but in the wake of the deepening crisis between Israel and Turkey and now the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Egypt, there seems to be a growing sense of tightening siege in Israel. (I know, of course, that residents of Gaza would find it ironic that Israel feels besieged when they are far more literally so, but the fact is that when Israel feels threatened — justifiably or not — it has often resorted to military action. Two of Israel's once dependable allies, Turkey and Egypt, are no longer so dependable for quite different reasons. And the United Nations debate on recognizing the Palestinian Authority as an independent state is looming, with many members of the European Union likely to support the Palestinian effort, despite US and Israeli opposition. If Israel feels that it is increasingly isolated, again rightly or wrongly, the dangers of conflict do escalate.

That this is a dangerous time is indisputable. I may be grasping at straws, but I do find it encouraging that there really doesn't seemto be any party that wants a \war, regional or limited. Some Israelis might welcome another round in Gaza or against Hizbullah, but probably not just now. While some in Egypt might welcome a distraction, no one, not even the Islamists, wants a war. The Palestinian Authority wants legitimacy, not war. Whether the UN ploy brings that closer or makes it more remote is certainly debatable, and since it's being discussed so many places I haven't felt eager to get into it here. It is, however, going to be a rough ride, given so many converging uncertainties. One should hope for cool heads and cautious diplomacy, with revolutions still simmering and Israel jittery. 

No comments: