January 20, 2020
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.
UPDATES ON ISRAEL: PART TWO
With a March 2 election looming on the horizon, several questions are now circulating across Israel. While American media hadn’t addressed these issues, they remain pressing for Israeli citizens. What will happen if Netanyahu is defeated? Where will the Likud party go for leadership? In addition, a worry exists about what military action will follow the assassination of General Qassim Suleimani. Let’s take a look.
There is already a serious challenge to Bibi’s leadership of the Likud party afoot. Gideon Sa’ar has mounted the most serious attack on Netanyahu’s leadership since he became party chairman in 2005. A former education and interior minister, Sa’ar probably has only a slim chance of winning, but Netanyahu is taking him seriously. Sa’ar is strongly backed by a group called the New Likudniks who called for Netanyahu’s resignation after charges were brought against him. They and Sa’ar note that Netanyahu has twice failed to form a new government. Even though he brought victory four times, they believe that the handwriting is now on the wall.
The debate over future leadership continues to rage while the public is inundated with campaign promises. Whatever happens, after the election Gideon Sa’ar will remain the favorite to lead the Likud party in a post-Netanyahu era. Keep that name in mind. He’s one to watch and remember.
Regardless of who wins the March 2 election, the most pressing question remains as to whether President Donald Trump’s arbitrary strike on Suleimani will inhibit further attacks or accelerate them. Since Israel remains the main focal target for Iranian hatred, the issue is considerable.
American officials have justified the strike because the general was behind the killing of thousands of American soldiers and they claimed he was planning attacks on American embassies. (Although this has never been documented) The question is will killing a man who amounted to a combination of vice-president, head of the CIA, and the Joint Chief of Staff result in a similar attack on American and Israeli leaders? Speculation is that Pandora’s box has been opened. Because of the seemingly arbitrariness of the strike, will the killing mandate a military response from Iran sooner or later? The argument is that the American strike is not a deterrent but actually a provocation that Iran will respond to militarily. The answer? Only time will tell.
While these are questions in the background, they have an important bearing on what is ahead in the Middle East. Keep your ear to the ground. Rumblings are ahead.
You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers