BLOG 269 September 7, 2015
Shin Bet, Israel’s Security Agency, recently hit the jackpot. A Hamas fighter and tunnel digger was captured at the Erez crossing into northern Gaza. Interrogation by the security agency revealed a significant amount of information about what Hamas is currently doing and planning in attacks on Israel as well as their involvement with Iran.
The latest disclosures by twenty-one-year-old Sha’ar gave Israel important insights into what Hamas has been working on in Gaza and Rafah. The Hamas operative also revealed plans about tunnels developed to cross the border and attack Israel. Hamas had previously used this tactic in their assaults on Israel.
Israel now knows inside details on potential battlefield perspectives and the capabilities of their so-called “elite infantry” units. In addition, Shin Bet learned about anti-aircraft surveillance. Once again, the terrorist organization Hamas received a major set back.
Most important, the captive disclosed details on how Iran funds the Hamas operation. Tehran transfers money to many Islamists organizations as well as supplying firearms and electronics. In particular, Iran supplied electronic jamming devices to effect radio frequencies. The used of this equipment was meant to shoot down Israeli Air Force drones. The captured young man also described Iran training Hamas fighters for hang glider attacks on Israel.
Score One for Shin Bet!
Obviously, Israel has a security problem that demands constant attention. The signing of the nuclear arms treaty with Iran doesn’t stop Tehran from continuing to creating the problem discovered from this interrogation. It now appears that Obama will be able to keep Congress from stifling this agreement. Obama wins: Netanyahu losses. But the threat to Israel continues. However, Iran has a larger goal. They are attempting to export the Shi’ite position into the Arab world that is largely Sunni. They have made significant inroads in Lebanon through the Hezbollah militia and in Syria by supporting Assad’s Alawite regime (though things aren’t going well for Assad). They struck in Yemen with the Houthis. The Arab Sunni states are keenly aware of this effort and what is coming their way if it isn’t stopped. Saudi ground troops are now in Yemen leading a coalition against Houthis troops. Ten Saudi soldiers were killed this week.
Both Israel and America make a distinction between the current Iranian regime and the Iranian people who for the most part want freedom from religious coercion. Israel is more concerned that the releasing of huge sums of money accrued through sanctions that will possibly be used by Iran to further this reign of terror.
To stop this continued erosion of stability, Sunni Arab states must cooperate and the US should lead in consolidating their support. The Obama Administration has been far too slow in responding to this need. The Western world and the and the Sunni Arab nations can forge a joint plan of action that will contain Iranian aggression. However, they must act soon.
Such an approach would be good for the entire world.
Blog 259 June 29, 2015
Keeping up with the Middle East requires one to pay constant attention because change never stops. For example, Egypt seems to be softening in its relationship with the Gaza strip. For the first time, cement and building materials have been allowed to go through. The behind the scenes sources report that Hamas has begun quiet negotiations with Israel through an intermediary to attempt to ease the tight restrictions on the territory. The truth is that Hamas is in bad shape financial. Matters are not good with the terrorist organization so they may be open to a few genuine changes. We will see.
Matters are changing in Syria big time. The Assad regime had to absorb a number of serious losses. They now control less that half of what was formerly Syria.
A number of years ago, I traveled across Syria and stayed in Damascus. The ancient city with the street called Straight still runs like an arrow from one end to the other. At the far end, one can descend steps and come to the room where by tradition blind Saul was healed and became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. Of course, the entire country is Muslim and what was once a great church in the center of old Damascus is now a mosque.
My most memorable experience was the constant viewing of the ubiquitous pictures of Hafez Assad (already dead) and his son Bashar ( the then ruler) Everywhere from Taxis to bathrooms, there were the portraits of the two men placed side by side. If you hadn’t picked up the fact that you were in a dictatorship before you arrived, you certainly would soon know! The heritage that Hafez left to Bashar is now in shambles and probably can never be put back together. We have to give Bashar Assad credit for staying in power for 15 years, He’s been at the top longer than Churchill, Ben-Guriom, or Charles de Gaulle, but the question is how much longer can he hang on. Unfortunately, both the United States and Europe have refused to recognize the Syrian situation for what it is. A minority (the Alawites) have maintained a brutal occupation over a majority that is ten times their size (the rests of Syria). All of this was kept in place by generals who supported Hafez Assad when he seized control and began a 30-year rule. When he died, Bashar Assad promised change. The start of the current civil war was actually a clash of different tribes as well as an internal resistance to any significant change. The failure of Bashar Assad to deal with issues like a growing water problem, a struggling labor market, and a defunct economy led to the current civil war and crisis.
The result is that at least 200,000 Syrian civilians have been killed to date along with 10,000 children. Half of the nation has been displaced. Assad is now completely dependent on Iran and Hezbollah for assistance. If Assad rejected an Iranian demand and they pulled back, he would be gone.
Can the Assad regime survive? The best calculation is probably only as long as Iran props them up. Assad has had plenty of losses and survived. The end is not in sight but the deterioration continues.
A sad, sad mess. Anybody for change?