Friday, August 21, 2009

Middle East Mondo Bizarro: A Day in the Life of the World’s Most Turbulent Region

By Barry Rubin

Here are some developments worth noting (and even more important, understanding). Although this is written in a light-hearted style--since otherwise such news would send one into a deep depression--these are most serious issues and the analysis given is accurate.

And most amazing of all, this is all news from a single day.

And even more amazing than most amazing of all, this isn’t even a complete list.

Item 1

Decision: UN resolves to send force to stop Hizballah from having army in the south and to help stop arms smuggling.

Immediate Result: Hizballah returns to the south and smuggles in arms

What should happen: Strong international support for Lebanese moderates; condemnation of Hizballah; support for Israel defending itself; UNIFIL ordered to expel Hizballah forces from south.

What does happen?: Nothing. But, good news, the UN might renew the mandate of the UNIFIL force which has been totally ineffective.

Long-term Result: Hizballah emboldened; moderate Lebanese know they can’t expect Western support so give up or make more concessions; Iran bloc shown to be stronger than Western bloc, making Tehran and Damascus more aggressive

Fairness alert: The presence of the UN forces helps ensure Hizballah doesn’t attack Israel. But Hizballah doesn’t want to attack Israel now but to be shielded by the UNIFIL forces so it can build up for a future attack. What will happen when Hizballah changes its mind? Probably press the Lebanese government to ask UNIFIL to leave?

Item 2

Appointment: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chooses for defense minister a man wanted—with good reason—for involvement in the bloody terrorist 1994 attack on Buenos Aires’ Jewish center.

Immediate Result: He will be confirmed unless parliament rejects him for reasons having nothing to do with his involvement in terrorism.

What should happen: Iran declared terrorist state; treated like pariah; total sanctions; consciousness that Tehran’s regime is the biggest threat to world peace and stability since Joe Stalin went to that great Kremlin in the sky.

What does happen?: Business as usual. Growing number of Western intelligentsia describes Israel as terrorist state and treats it like a pariah. I guess the War on Terrorism is really over.

Long-term result: The man who organized the blowing up of hundreds of Jews in Argentina will get the chance to try the same thing to millions of Jews in Israel.

Fairness alert: He hasn’t been convicted in a court of law.

Update: Since Iran will reportedly have long-range missiles capable of hitting Europe in three or four years plus nuclear weapons, perhaps Europeans might consider how they feel about having an (alleged) terrorist in control of Iran’s military and Ahmadinjad as president

Item 3

Repression: Iran is holding show trials of peaceful dissidents (tortured?) whose sole crime was to support candidates in the recent election and protest the theft of that balloting.

What should happen: See Item 2, above.

What will happen?: See Item 2, above

Item 4

Denouncing: Hamas claims that recently wiped out al-Qaida supporting forces in the Gaza Strip, many of them former Hamas men, are actually Israeli agents.

Immediate result: One more glimpse into the paranoid, crazed world of would-be genocidal radical Islamists.

What should happen: Western determination to overthrow the Hamas regime in order to promote Israel-Palestinian peace, avoid a radical Islamist takeover of the region, and really help the Palestinian people.

What is happening: More media, intelligentsia, and even parts of European governments declaring Hamas is rational, getting more moderate, and would make a damn fine diplomatic partner.

Long-term result: Hamas becomes entrenched in the Gaza Strip, turns it into a Taliban-style state, represses the local people, periodically goes to war with Israel, blocks Middle East peace, and helps promote Iran-Syria subversion of the Arabic-speaking world and regional influence.

Possible outcome: Several Western newspapers may soon be reporting that Israel and the Jews created al-Qaida.

Item 5

Homecoming: A terrorist who murdered 240 people on the Lockerbie bombing is released by Scotland (isn’t that supposed to be part of the United Kingdom?) on compassionate grounds because he’s dying after serving only eight years in prison.

Additional factors: He didn't cooperate in exposing Libyan state involvement in the terrorist attack. Remember he was an agent working for Muammar Qadhafi so one must assume that Qadhafi gave the order. Nor did he repent of his deed. Cooperation with investigations and repentance are usually two factors associated with early release.
Immediate result: He is received as a hero in Libya, not because they think he’s innocent but because they think he’s guilty.

Long-term result: Anyone considering terrorism as a career knows that he can probably escape full punishment. Terrorists are viewed as heroes in much of the Arabic-speaking, Muslim majority regions (presuming they kill the “right” people).

Lucky break: Lucky for him he didn’t rob a bank instead or he’d probably still be in prison.

Item 6

Publication: Sweden’s largest newspaper which is close to the Social Democratic party publishes an article prominently featured which accuses Israel’s army of murdering Palestinians to sell their body parts. The article is written by a far left-wing anti-Israel activist (who is called a journalist in the newspaper) and published by a far left-wing anti-Israel editor.

Short-term result: A relatively few Swedes--including at least one other  newspaper and three or four bloggers--protest. Other anti-Israel falsifiers and irresponsible journalists are encouraged to do more of the same.

Response: The newspaper’s chief editor and the government defy critics—at times in insulting and even antisemitic terminology—and passionately defend Sweden’s freedom of the press.

Memory hole alert: These are the same people who did everything possible to stop publication of the Muhammad cartoons.

Deception alert: The issue is not that the government should censor articles like these but that the media should adhere to proper journalistic and ethical practices.

Long-term result: Well, this same week the Guardian, Britain’s intellectual newspaper, published an article saying that Israel was a Nazi state. Holland’s largest-circulation newspaper published an article saying the swine flu is a Jewish conspiracy to kill people. Then there are the phony (two or three years from now they will remain unproven) war crimes' accusations.

Fairness alert: The Guardian publishes articles like this every day, sometimes more than one a day.

Lucky break 1: The new Iranian defense minister and the Lockerbie terrorist are fortunate that he isn’t Jewish or European media might denounce him.

Lucky break 2: The West Bank and Gaza Strip now have a successful export item, anti-Israel propaganda.

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