September 2, 2019
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.
MIDDLE EAST STRUGGLES
If there’s one constant in the Middle East, it is conflict!
Like keeping up with the players at a Wimbledon Tennis Championship, one must watch all the time to know who’s shooting at who. People seem to be constantly agitated. Of course, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is filled with pathos and tragedy.
Terrorist organizations stay in business partly because their leaders have made a profession out of fighting and it keeps them wealthy while they pretend to be poverty stricken. Hamas remains as defiant as ever with no sign of releasing its hold on the Gaza Strip. Five years ago, the Israelis blasted Gaza after a never ending series of rocket attacks on Israeli settlements. The Israelis wrecked Hamas headquarters and Gaza City. Almost nothing has changed in the last five years, including rebuilding Gaza City. While Hamas promised to rebuild the homes of many families, nothing has followed and those Palestinians are holed up in apartments waiting for a better life. Hamas claims to have no money to help them.
The backdrop to this problem is the on-going feud between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). In the past two years, the PA cut salaries of thousands inside the Gaza Strip in what is seen as an attempt by Mahmoud Abbas to undermine Hamas. It’s the old Hatfields versus McCoys struggle.
Many political analysts believe Hamas fears a popular revolt in Gaza more than another war with Israel. At one point Hamas used ruthless force to suppress a widespread Gaza protest against economic hardships. The revolt of several youth movements came under the banner “We Want to Live!”
The situation in Iran is not much better. Suffering under the heavy American sanctions, the price of all goods has skyrocketed. Where a pair of shoes was once $10, it is now $100. Stores are empty and restaurants barren. Iran’s oil exports have been cut in half. The Iranian economy that contracted by 4% last year, is expect to fall 6% percent this year. Fruits are now considered luxury items. Families can’t afford meat. Factories are shutting down. The average Iranian believes they are already in a war.
You think they are wrong?
Iran is paying a price for the role it played by intervening in the Syrian Civil War. The Revolutionary Guard has now been labeled a terrorist organization. They propped up Bashar Assad, but he’s not around to help them. At one time, the Iranians seemed to thrive on conflict. Now conflict is chewing on them.
It’s not a good scene.