Tag Archives: political turmoil


BLOG 446
September 30, 2019



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.

Part 2

Because the impending Trump Impeachment Inquiry grabbed the headlines, the story in Israel hasn’t even been reported in the national media. Even though it hasn’t been a headline grabber, the situation remains fascinating … and highly muddled.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday proposed a unity government in which power would be equally divided. Likud’s Netanyahu and Blue and White chief Benny Gantz would each serve two years as prime minister. Netanyahu would take an open-ended leave of absence if and when he is indicted in three criminal probes. Under the arrangement Gantz, as “interim prime minister,” would enjoy all prime ministerial authority.

Why not? The two candidates virtually tied in the election. Gantz won 33 seats and Netanyahu’s Likud’s took 32 seats. Neither side had a clear path to a majority coalition. One of the problems in the election was Netanyahu’s forming a government including right-wing and Orthodox religious parties. The public clearly wants the religious groups out of the government. However, Netanyahu knows he can’t function without their support.

Negotiating teams for Likud and Blue and White groups met Friday morning for ongoing talks over a potential unity government between the two parties, but made little headway, with each side appearing chiefly concerned with avoiding any blame for a collapse of negotiations.

For its part, Blue and White said in a statement that it was concerned with “principles and values” as “the foundation of any negotiation” while Likud was chiefly concerned with Netanyahu remaining prime minister. Observers said it was clear Likud’s stance was aimed at dragging the State of Israel into a third round of elections, and that lined up with the interests of the prime minister. Despite the tense mood, the sides agreed to meet again on Sunday morning.

President Rivling stressed Wednesday that Israelis do not want a third round of elections, saying “the public will pay the price” of a failure by Netanyahu and Gantz to find common ground. However, observers currently believe Netanyahu may be stalling, ready to force another election. Why? Only by being able to control the Knesset does Netanyahu have any chance of avoiding facing serious legal charges. He’s not going to throw in the towel easily.

The fact that Netanyahu can’t form a government or win the election is viewed within Israel as somewhat of a rejection of President Trump. Netanyahu had vigorously campaigned with pictures of himself standing with Trump but this didn’t work to win the election.

What’s next? Who knows! Sure beats most of what’s on television.

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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Filed under History, Israel, The Middle East, Trump


The current situation in the Middle East did not appear like a genie popping out of a bottle. The factors that prompted the current turmoil began during the Bush era and were a combination of several elements that came together to create the perfect storm.  Whatever economic and social issues that were churning, the Al-Qaeda attack on 9-11 lit a fuse that eventually blew up in Bin Laden’s face. However, the terrorist attack created a ripple effect that has not stopped. At the same time, from the American side of the table, the Bush era created an Iraq war setting off the bomb that undermined any stability that had been created between Sunni and Shi’ite, Jew and Arab, elite and commoners. Latent unrest blew up like a torment volcano coming to life. The reverberations in Afghanistan and Iran became shock waves that continue to signal instability and hostility. Today, much of that debris is still settling on Egypt.

Another major effect during the Bush administration was the economic disaster that detonated with full force in 2008. The secretary of the treasury thought the world of Wall Street had come to an apocalyptic conclusion. (And it nearly did!) If one can push away the political charges and counter-charges in order to get to the bottom line, I believe we can now see clearly that there were never weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the gross expenditures to support an unpaid for war in Iraq and Afghanistan set up America for a financial disaster.

Obviously, we rolled over Iraq like boys turning over outhouses on Halloween, but Afghanistan turned out to be a genuine mud hole. Bush’s assurances of victory in Iraq only exacerbated the religious and social forces America could not control and the proclamation of victory turned out to be an ironic proclamation of disaster. We now know that we poured millions of dollars into the pockets of Hamid Karzai and it bought almost nothing except a little time.

While many make the charge that Bush was inept, I believe he was a decent man who wanted the best for the country. Unfortunately, his jokes about not going to the library turned out to be a comment on himself. He lacked the breadth and the depth to handle incredibly important issues that have now come back to haunt the world. Certainly, Rumsfeld and Chaney only threw more logs on the fire.

Another commentator could paint a different picture of how these factors came together, but no one can deny the costly effect these decisions had on world order. In the Middle East, we are faced with issues of serious distrust. The Egyptians need our money, but don’t trust us. When Syria falls, we will once again be on the outside looking in on people who despise us. Bush claimed we were bringing democracy to Iraq. Not only has that not been the chase, the real winner may turn out to be Iran.

And so the kettle boils and the fire burns. The American role in the Middle East has been diminished and the consequences are not good for millions of people. Think about it because we need the best thoughts we can find.

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Filed under Iraq, middle east, Syria, Violence