Tag Archives: Middle East conflicts


I religiously track the news. Whether its on TV, in the newspapers, magazines, the where-evers, I attempt to stay in touch with the world. Lately I’ve noticed the strange absence of some of the most important stories reporting events in the Middle East. Egypt is still embroiled in the military repressing all opposition as Sisi runs for president. No sight of that story in the newspapers. The civil war in Syria gets a blip as multitudes continue to be killed but that’s about it. Sometime ago, I reported on the efforts of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayp Erdogan’s attempts to recreate the Ottoman empire and cement relations with Iran. Ever hear about his recent struggles to pull off that coupe? Sorry. Not a peep.

One of the most underreported stories is the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating progress. Months ago, I predicted this was where the road would lead. However, no media outlet is relating that it has happened, much less the details for the collapse. So, here’s the update you need to know.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party signed a unity pact in Gaza City with its previously militant rival Hamas. This action was taken  when the PLO knew full well Israel would not negotiate with any group supported by an Islamist terror organization. In other words, the PLO shut down the talks by going out the back door, knowing this tactic would force the Israelis to back away – then Israel could be blamed for the failure. Just another day’s work in the world of parliamentary maneuvering.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about this failure on Holocaust Remembrance Day noting that Abbas had formed an alliance with an Holocaust-denying terrorist organization that continues to attempt to kill Jews. He underlined the fact that the talks were doomed before they started because the Palestinians have one major objective: to destroy Israel. You can’t reason with a gun barrel.

Perhaps, the only person who really thought negotiations might go somewhere was US Secretary of State John Kerry. It is not clear why he thought so after a century of conflict, 20 years of failed negotiations, and the efforts of countless presidents before him. During the nine months of so-called talks, nothing changed except Kerry’s credibility with the Israeli public continued to drop. No one can say that Kerry’s 30 year history of having a pro-Israel record in the Senate is not genuine. However, he simply ignored the handwriting on the wall.

And what is it like on the PLO side? On April 21, six rockets were fired from Gaza. One missile landed in a street in the city of Sderot, but no one was hurt. The Israeli Air Force responded by attacking targets in Gaza. Will this exchange stop? Sorry. No!

The possibility of a negotiated settlement is nowhere on the horizon. The Arabs will not change their minds and Israeli won’t back off. To get an answer, you may have to wait until the next century comes rolling along.


Filed under Israel, middle east, Palestinians


            When I first went to Israel decades ago, I was surprised that the locals were still talking about how bad the Crusaders were. Even the term “Crusader” implied negative politics. Time has demonstrated that the Holy War concept is the worst and most violent of altercations. When one or both sides believe God has called them in to battle, the fighting becomes savage to the death.

            As I indicated in last week’s New Year’s predictions, the West can not seem to grasp the fact that the Middle East conflicts are fundamentally Sunni-Shiite religious wars. I barely got this projection on paper when the media confirmed just how serious the struggle is becoming.

For example, Lebanon was hit by two car bombs, one killing Mohamad Chatah, a prominent politician allied with the Saudis. The tempo of violence has increased in Syria and the government has now missed the deadline to remove chemical weapons from the country. Currently, the rebel units are fighting each other. In Iraq, the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi were over run by Al Qaeda linked militants, threatening the entire country. Baghdad is running for cover. And the list goes on and on.

What’s happening?

Fundamentally, these conflicts are a sideshow for the undeclared war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Their “Holy War” uses a sectarian agenda to cover religious intent. Any form of accommodation to stop the fighting is viewed as heresy and so the battles grind on and on in somebody else’s backyard. It’s the same Sunni-Shiite story all over again. Using these other countries and situations as a proxy, Iran and the Saudis are  actually at war with each other and the conflicts are fueled by the ancient feud between these two elements of the Moslem faith.

The American equivalent would be the Lutherans blowing up Roman Catholic Churches while the Romans shoot machine guns from the roofs of their churches because of the Protestant Reformation six-hundred years ago. Sound crazy? Not in the Middle East!

The other factor in these conflicts is the withdrawal of the West. The Bush-Cheney wars popped the cork from the bottle. Bush proclaimed America was building democracy in Iraq which now sounds like one of the most bizarre and meaningless political claims since Neville Chamberlain proclaimed an agreement with Hitler for peace in our time – an accord that set the stage for World War II. The continued American presence in Afghanistan will ultimately be the same if America stays long enough. The problem is that Westerners are seen as intruders with no sense of the values of the region. Trying to stop the Muslims from killing each other only advances that conclusion.

Consequently, the West is caught in a “damned if you do – damned if you don’t” position. Secretary of State John Kerry keeps rushing back to the region to prop up the American position. I fear that 2014 will reveal how weak those props actually are.

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Filed under America, Christians, Israel, middle east