Tag Archives: Military

MORE THAN YOU WANT TO KNOW IN ISRAEL

BLOG 455
January 6, 2020

israel-election

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.

MORE THAN YOU WANT TO KNOW IN ISRAEL

Could any country have more turmoil than is currently happening in the United States?

Yeah. Israel.

Two big stories grab the headlines. Of course, the bombing in Iran is blazing across the headlines because Iran has sworn the destruction of Israel. The other story is the continued struggle to elect a Prime Minister and get the government back on track.

Any progress on the Netanyahu-Gantz struggle? No.

On March 2, the next election will be held. Acrimony is already in the air. Making matters more complicated, Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration Wednesday night that he is seeking parliamentary immunity from prosecution was unprecedented and hugely dramatic. For the first time in Israel’s history, a prime minister now aims to persuade his Knesset colleagues to allow him to avoid being tried for corruption. And until they have made their decision, which could be months from now, he will not be required to stand in the dock at Jerusalem District Court and face the three charges of graft issued against him. But a second drama followed hard on the heels of the first, with Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman immediately announcing that his party “will not be part of the immunity coalition.” Since Liberman has now declared that he and his party will not back Netanyahu’s bid for Knesset immunity, the prime minister’s gambit has instantly become significantly less likely to succeed. And if, as is more than probable, the prime minister anticipated that Liberman would not back his bid for immunity, his move stands as an act of desperation.

And then the pots are boiling in Iran with the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimaniby an American drone. Iran’s most public proclamations declare hate for Israel and the USA. What will they do to retaliate? If I knew, a military airplane would be waiting to swish me off to Washington, D.C..

On one side of Iran is Saudi Arabia with an equally strong hatred of the Iranians. On another side, Iraq is ruled only by uncertainty. The unexpected action of America has left the Iraqis in a real bind. Iran pulls the strings in that country, but American action could change everything overnight.

Recently General Kenneth F. McKenzie noted that more troops in the Mideast might not stop possible attacks by Iran. The world knows they are the number one exporter of terrorism across the Mid-East into Africa. Moreover Iran’s increased activity in their nuclear program remains a monster waiting n the closet.

No one seems to know what President Trump will do next. No one apparently knows what Hassan Rouhani will do in retaliation. The world is looking down a gun barrel.

Is that the way you planned to start the New Year? I don’t think so.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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TWO BIG STORIES!

BLOG 449
October 28, 2019

trumpy

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.

TWO BIG STORIES!

STORY ONE:

If you’re not following what’s happened to the Kurds since President Trump arbitrarily pulled American troops and influence out of Syria, you should be. The Turks have been killing the Kurds in the same manner that ISIS did earlier. The slaughter of a once American Ally while the USA stands on the sidelines and watches will go down in history as not only one of the greatest blunders of recent years, but a betrayer of people who once thought we were their friends. Who would want to be an Ally of America when such arbitrary actions mean that our relationships mean nothing?

(Refer to last week’s blog for a listing of the objectives of Russia.) From the point of view of the Middle East, Trump’s actions have handed Putin his first three major objectives on a silver platter. Putin is now the king maker and controls Syria. America is out.

Who are the Kurds? Between 25 and 35 million Kurds inhabit a mountainous region straddling the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. They make up the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, but they have never obtained a permanent nation state. Currently, they are struggling to exist.

STORY TWO:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening announced he had failed to muster a coalition after almost four weeks of effort, and therefore returned the mandate to form a government to President Reuven Rivlin. Netanyahu’s 28-day deadline for building a government was due to expire on Wednesday.

Rivlin is now expected, probably on Tuesday morning, to charge Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz with the task of mustering a coalition that can win a Knesset majority. Blue and White said it was determined to build the “liberal unity government, led by Benny Gantz, that the people of Israel voted for.”

Gantz now has 28 days to try and do what Netanyahu could not accomplish. If he fails, any MK will have 21 days to obtain the support of a Knesset majority to form a government. If no one succeeds, elections will be initiated automatically — a third round inside a year after April’s and September’s inconclusive votes.

Like a predictable politician, Netanyahu blamed Gantz for his failure. The truth is that the criminal charges hanging over Netanyahu’s head have sunk his attempts to unite with other political groups needed to form the government.

Keep your eyes open for Story Three — yet to come.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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PUTIN? PUNT!

BLOG 440
August 18, 2019

putins eyes

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.

PUTIN? PUNT!

When asked why he trusted Vladimir Putin, George Bush said that he looked into his eyes and saw his soul. Probably the worst political statement ever made. If he’d looked again, he would have seen KGB beaming up from the depths of a cold soul. That’s the opinion of author Douglas E. Schoen in his just published book, Putin On the March, The Russian President’s Global Advance. (That’s my opinion also.)

Schoen advances insight into how Russia involved itself in Syria during the Civil War and is now aligned with Iran. Anyone interested in the future of the Middle East will do well to pay attention to Douglas Schoen’s insights.

Putin is different from ideological Communist rulers like a Lenin, Khrushchev, and Gorbachev. Rather, he is far more like Russian nationalists like Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. Schoen calls Putin a neo-Czarist. Having just completed a sixteen-session study of Russian history, I appreciate Schoen’s distinction. Putin typically functions like those Czarists of the past. He is a Russian opportunist down to his toenails.

An example of ignoring this mentality is one of President Obama’s worst mistakes. After threatening Syria for use of chemical weapons on its own people, when they did it again, Obama did nothing. He turned to Putin for assistance like talking to a friend. Putin promptly took Crimea, attacked the Ukraine and surged ahead in Syria. Putin saw an opportunity and seized the moment. Obama was left scratching his head.

Schoen strongly disagrees with President Trump’s approach to Putin, seeing the same naivete. When Trump joked with Putin about “not interfering” in our next election, the joke was on Trump.  Schoen believes America and its European allies must wage counter-cyber warfare against Putin. He will not retreat from Russia’s aggressive moves in the Middle East unless confronted with consequences. Left unchecked,  Schoen believes there is no limit to what Putin will attempt.

In recent blogs, I have detailed how Russian intervention increased the chaos and fighting in Syria. Assad would have fallen long ago if Putin hadn’t propped him up. The current conflict in Iran may well become another showcase.

What hope is there? Schoen believes it could come from the “better soul” of the Russian people themselves. Such was expressed in the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. Solzhenitsyn displayed the same in The Gulag Archipelago. The West should support and encourage these impulses in the days ahead. Needless to say, treating Putting like a “buddy” only opens the door to more serious consequences.

Anyone concerned for peace in the Middle East needs to listen and read Douglas Schoen.

You might find my book on near-death experiences important for you:
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF ETERNITY
Revell books

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WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH IRAN?

BLOG 438
July 29, 2019

middle east

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.

WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH IRAN?

And by the way, after my last week’s blog on racism in Israel, an important statement appeared in The Jerusalem Post on the subject. Columnist Yaakov Katz wrote, “Another urgent step pertains to the racist culture within Israeli society. This must end through education.” We’ve been following an important story.

And now on to Iran and the current crisis. No one disputes that President Trump’s pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal precipitated the current situation. Of course, that’s old news. Now where are we?

America has rushed in thousands of troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, an aircraft carrier capable of launching nuclear carrying B-52 bombers. On the other side Iran has stood behind attacks on oil freighters sailing through the Straits of Hurmuz as well as shooting down an American drone.

In response, Bibi Netanyahu noted that World War II emerged because Germany got away with taking similar “small steps” that no nation stopped. One step led to another step as the issues became progressively more serious. When Iran started enriching plutonium to a 3.67% level it was a change the world could live with. However, Netanyahu’s point was small steps were what eventually got the entire world in war.

What does the 3.67% level mean? That level of fissile material is well below the 20% level Iran was reaching when the treaty was signed. However, 20% is way lower than the 90% level required to make a nuclear weapon. Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said that if Iran was really serious about a bomb, they would have to return to raising enrichment to a 20% level for technical reasons.

So, what’s going on?

Everyone is posturing, flexing their muscles. American sanctions have put Iran in a horrific bind. The man on the street is struggling to survive. After Iran boarded a British ship, Britain joined the discussion about imposing sanctions. The Iranians also have the Saudis next door who would love to whack them big time. Consequently, Iranian current actions are saying, “you don’t frighten us.”

But they do.

I would suggest Iran is struggling for a better place at the table when discussions start again. Probably more provocations will follow. However, no one really wants a war which Iran knows they will lose.

Keep watching. More to come.

You might find my book on near-death experiences important for you:
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF ETERNITY
Revell books

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Filed under America, The Middle East, Trump, War

A WAR WITH IRAN?

BLOG 433
June 24, 2019

war iran

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.

A WAR WITH IRAN?

Last week I began with the question, “Is the United States getting ready to go to war with Iran?” My, my, what a difference a week can make!

Here we are again with battleships steaming around the Straits of Hormuz and threats being shouted across the bough from Washington to Tehran. The shooting down of an American drone airplane has dramatically upped the ante in this high stakes poker game. Last week, I concluded Iran would be seriously diluted to go to war with the U.S. and that remains the same. However, American sanctions are pushing Iran to a point of desperation and that is no small issue for their side.

What does the situation look like from both sides of the globe?

American political candidate Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren put it squarely on the table. She said, “Trump provoked this crisis. He has no strategy to contain it, he’s burned through our friends and allies, and now he’s doubling down on military force.” While her view is that of a political candidate, Warren is expressing the view that many hold in the Middle East.

Iran is reeling from increased sanctions and U.S. pressure. Their dangerous moves are out of desperation. Of course, that is the reason for this pressure. Iran has been the foremost exporter of terrorism in the Middle East and the U.S. is pressing for a halt. The Revolutionary Guard has now been declared a terrorist organization. As a matter of fact, they have for some time been financing Hezbollah and Hamas at the expense of Israel.

However, President Trump’s sudden retreat a few days ago from military response to the downing of the highly expensive Drone has muddied the waters. Ten minutes before a military strike, Trump backed off. Now the Administration is talking about a cyber-attack. What’s going on? In the Middle East how one reads the mixed signals depends on whether one is a hard-liner or seeking reconciliation. Trump’s vacillation is being read by the hard-liners as the roar of a paper tiger. On the other hand, increased sanctions and computer problems are not inconsequential. Probably the answer lies in whether cyber warfare will make a difference. This is not a good situation and could embolden Iran.

So, the chess game goes on. In the Middle East, President Trump is seen as a real estate manipulator with no long-term strategies or particular insight. They view him as a big-time supporter of Israel. Netanyahu loves it. The problem is that the US has lost the possibility of being a power broker with the Palestinians and now is seen completely on Israel’s side with little regard for the Palestinians and certainly none for Iran.

What’s next? A war is still not off the table, but the manipulations will certainly go back and forth. Iran’s goal is to curtail sanctions. No one’s sure what the American objective is.

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Filed under Iran, middle east, War

THE SITUATION IN GAZA

BLOG 431
June 10, 2019

gaza

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.

THE SITUATION IN GAZA

I’m sure you are aware of the recent intense three-day exchange of fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Four Israelis were killed as well as 25 Palestinians. Through the assistance of an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire, the encounter came to a halt. However, the pause is only momentary. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Auhri said, “Our message is that this round is over, but the conflict will not end until we regain our rights.” Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah predicted the fight could begin again as early as this summer.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Benjamin, Netanyahu said Israel was already preparing for the next encounter. The Iron Dome system for rocket intervention proved 85% successful in intercepting Hamas rockets. Almost 700 rockets were fired during a 48-hour period, sending many residents to bomb shelters. In turn, Israel knocked out six high-rise Gaza head-quarters for intelligence gathering as well as five apartment buildings where military commanders lived. Israel also killed a money-changer involved in the transfer of funds from Iran.

Abba Ebon once said, “the Arabs never miss the chance to miss the chance.” Why can’t Hamas give up on firing rockets when it is always so costly for them? Missing the change is only part of the problem. There’s more to the story than the West usually recognizes. For the past 12-years, Israel and Egypt have enforced a land and maritime siege on Gaza. From the point of view of Israel, the embargo is necessary to keep armaments and weapons out of terrorist hands. However, Gaza sees this as a violation of their rights and a serious clamp on their economy. While they consistently lose, they despair enough to feel they have nothing to lose. Desperate opponents make for frightening enemies!

So Gaza remains a political problem Israel must face. Until the two million residents can see a better economic future, they will not stop shooting.

Hang on! There’s more to come!

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Filed under Bible Lands, Gaza, middle east, War

OBAMA: UNCERTAIN OR INSECURE?

            Obama has once again back tracked and even his Security Council left with consternation. What’s the next step backward that’s coming?

The president said, “A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.” It didn’t happen once, but a number of times. Even aften that clear statement, the US did nothing when Assad used chemicals. Final after more than a 1,000 were killed at one time, including scores of children and women, Obama said we’re going to strike.

And now he’s still walking around in circles waiting for Congress to come strolling in 10 days from now and start debating. By then, Syria will be able to move their airplanes to Iran, hide their heavy artillery, dig in at the all the places the USA has already said they’ll hit, and hit their army in the places we already said we won’t shoot at.  Who knows what they’ll do during the ten days and all those that follow as the Congress barks and bites each other.

From a military point of view, Obama’s statements about what he will and won’t do is a disaster. Anyone knows that a surprise attack is basic. At this point, the president’s statement appear to be only symbolic warnings to get him off the hook for making a statement he couldn’t back up. Can there be any value in shooting rockets at targets you’ve already defined weeks earlier?

Should the president have drawn the “red line?” Absolutely.

Should the president have brought aircraft carriers, ships, and submarines close to Syria?

Absolutely.

Should the ground work already been done so a strike could be immediate? Of course.

It didn’t happen.

No can dispute that all the alternatives in Syria are from difficult to bad. When Britain backed out of the collision, the president was left in a hard position for sure. But why weren’t all of these details worked out well before Obama declared himself? From where I sit, this oversight now appears serious.

Trying to obtain congressional support at the eleventh hour is another step into more potential chaos. Yes, a united front would be positive, but the congress has not been able to agree on anything including the time of day.  Already we are hearing a multitude of options raised about every aspect of the struggle from a larger and more lengthy attack to an even more limited response to doing nothing. By the time Boehner, Cantor and company chew this struggle to the bone, it will be Christmas. The point is that the President and his staff have stumbled into a dilemma and continued stumbling only makes it worse.

On the sidelines, Israel and Saudi Arabia watch, wondering if Obama has any resolve. Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other enemies observe and hope we prove to be a paper tiger. After Obama’s threats, Syria already responded with a huge gas attack that signaled  Obama doesn’t intimate them.

A week ago, I blogged that what happens in Syria can determine Obama’s legacy. So far, the bequest isn’t looking good.

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THE POWER OF NEGATIVE THINKING IN EGYPT

Retired basketball coach Bobby Knight recently came out with a book entitled The Power of Negative Thinking. In Sunday’s New York Times, Knight confirmed he is not one of those eternally positive thinkers. He said, “the worst word in the English language is ‘hope’.” Well, most of us don’t remember Bobby for getting any nice guy awards, but he certainly would be right for an analysis of the situation in Egyptian.

Hope is fading fast along the Nile.

As reported in an earlier blog, the latest crisis erupted over a soccer game when the ultras (Cairo’s hard-core violent soccer fans) got into brawls with Alexandria’s fans and people were killed. The court ruled 21 people should be executed for the deaths. Riots followed across the country and still continue.

Obviously, there’s more going on here that sport enthusiasm gone awry. The real issue is the ability of the new president and the Muslim Brotherhood to control the country. Barely winning in the first democratic election in the vast history of Egypt, a short passage of time has revealed they do not seem to have the power to control the country which continues to slide toward economic ruin and more demonstrations in the streets. To date four policemen has been killed and 40 civilians died in the rioting.  President Mudhammed Morsi appears to be falling in a tail-spin with no idea how to stop the mobs short of calling out the military.

And that’s the BIG ISSUE.

The police have completely lost control and many are now reported hiding in their stations. People are now discussing the possibility of a military coup as the best answer to restore order. While there is no threat of an immediate coup, many are still saying that military intervention might be the only way to prevent a collapse of public security. In Port Said, a form of local military control has already taken place. Banners around the city read, “Port Said is in the protection of the military.” People don’t like the military, but it was better than what they currently have.

While there is in incongruity in calling for a return of the military only months after the general’s were pushed out, the situation reflects how seriously control has deteriorated.

The bottom line is that the results of the first election have not produced the result that many had hoped for. Egypt is caught in a vice between contemporary modern people and primitive Muslim fundamentalists who want to impose religious law on the entire nation. Murbarak held the nation together with the army and the exercise of a big stick policy. Dictators function with such cruel means. Now that those tactics have been exposed, the country is at loose ends to stop disruptive turmoil.

Americans often forget that centuries of political debate and reaction stood behind the emergence of democracy in this country. It did not happen overnight and it isn’t happening in the daylight in Egypt.

Hope is indeed fading fast.

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Filed under Egypt, middle east, Muslims

EGYPT: FIRING THE FIRST SHOT

EGYPT: FIRING THE FIRST SHOT

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi enters office.
His first act? Challenge the military.
Sorry. That’s not the way to kick-off the football game!
The new Egyptian President appears to be dead set on a confrontation with the military. Even thought the Supreme Court had ruled to the contrary, Morsi reconvened the parliament that had been dissolved by the generals. His actions were a direct confrontation with the military establishment which in fact rules the country. So, what is going on in Egypt?
The military has the tanks, guns, ammo, and equipment. The truth is that they control the country and aren’t about to relinquish that role. Morsi only won the election by the slightest margin, but knows that he has the complete backing of the more radical Moslem Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has the ability to fill the streets with protestors screaming and carrying signs. They can pack out Tahrir Square in the snap of a finger. Who do you think is going to win that confrontation? Not Morsi.
Possibly, Mohammed Morsi has chosen a confrontational road in hopes of forcing the military to back down and make way for the rise of an Islamic state. At first blush, it would appear Morsi envisons a state something like Iran. Islamic law rules and everyone is on their knees with their faces on the ground. Will that fly with the military? Obviously not.
There are a number of varieties of Islamic faith. What we hear most about these days is the more extreme right-wing variety. Leaders like Anwar Sadat were not of this stripe, and remained wary of such extreme expressions. Since the Iranian revolution, what has emerged in recent years in that country is an aggressive expression of belief like what the West experienced with Osama Ben Laden. Morsi seems to be heading in this direction of such a fundamentalist government. The recent close vote suggests that at least half of the country are not sympathetic with this confrontational expression of their Moslem faith. However, fundamentalist don’t have a history of paying attention to such factions. Because they believe they are absolutely right, they plow ahead regardless of the struggle and assume their ideas will prevail no matter how formidable the enemy. Some of history’s most tragic battles have resulted from this form of reasoning.
Is Mohammed Morsi going down this rocky road? Let’s hope not. Possibly, he is only trying a political ploy to draw the military out and see if adjustments can be made. On the other hand, with the Moslem Brotherhood’s record, he probably isn’t. If he prevails, get ready for another Iran to emerge. If he fails, the headlines will tell another sad story. Not a good scene no matter which way you throw the dice.

Question: Can the West trust Mohammed Morse? Your opinion.

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