Israel Update

 

Signs of a New Middle East Emerging

by Sarah Ann Haves 

 

During one week in January, Israel’s government became embroiled in a coalition shake-up; Hezbollah quit the Lebanese government and threatened to take over Lebanon; riots broke out in Tunisia causing its president to flee the country; and Jordanians took to the streets to express their anger over their government’s policies.  The beginning of 2011 will be remembered as a time of chaos and change in the Middle East.

The beginning of 2011 will be remembered as a time of chaos and change in the Middle East. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is firming up his government rule to deal with the on-going Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During the next several months, he hopes to advance the peace process, thereby thwarting international recognition of an independent Palestinian State within the United Nations Security Council.

Arab leaders in the region are firming up their government rule, with some providing financial relief to the public in the form of food subsidies. They are hoping to keep their populations quiet as they monitor new develops in Lebanon, Tunisia, and Jordan. They wonder if their regimes are next in line to be challenged, threatened by a discontented public that is intent on being freed from oppression.

REGIONAL INSTABILITY

High unemployment; poverty; corruption and fraud within iron-fist ruling parties; a lack of personal freedoms; and limited free speech are causing Arab societies to rise up in protest.  It could lead to the break-up of dictatorships in this volatile region.  Demonstrations have already caused unrest in Algeria and Yemen and could spread to Egypt, Syria, Libya, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia, resulting in an Islamist surge that challenges these current governments.

Radical Islamic states and non-state players are looking for a greater role in the Middle East, and may try to motivate dissatisfied youth to take up arms with a mission and a purpose. They will look to take advantage of unstable repressive Arab regimes, offering young people an opportunity to join jihadist movements.

The question is:  How much does the Israeli impasse with the Palestinians play into current regional instability, and what role is Iran performing behind the scenes?

AN IRANIAN-ISLAMIST ALLIANCE

According to Israeli analyst and author Jonathan Spyer, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is on a downward trend, while Iran and Islamists are joining forces, hoping to become a new united regional power. Promoting his new book, “The Transforming Fire – the Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict,”  Spyer recently talked to a group of political activists at a meeting in Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue, “This Iranian ambition is immediately beset by two problems:  The Iranians are not Arabs and they are not Sunni Moslems. And, they wish to assert themselves and become the central hegemonic power in a region consisting largely of Arab-speaking Sunni Moslems.” 

Arab governments have privately expressed their distaste for the Persian regime, fearing that a nuclear Iran might threaten their regimes.  Meanwhile, the Iranians have used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to gain popular support on Arab streets. But, that’s changing as interest in the conflict subsides.

The Iranians, observing the current public discontent in the way Arab states are governing, will look to stir up new troubles in order to accomplish their goal of regional hegemony.

Iran is beginning to ignite a new battle in the Middle East, which is undermining Western influence in the region.

Arab leaders have had a difficult time expressing their displeasure, publicly, with Iranian aspirations; but, Iranian leaders have continued to spread radical Islamic ideology, attracting young zealous Arabs who are looking for a cause to fight for.

Joining forces with Islamists and forming new alliances, despite differences in religious ideologies, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds, Iran is beginning to ignite a new battle in the Middle East, which is undermining Western influence in the region.

Spyer says it is this Iranian-Islamist alliance that is the new emerging power which will cause the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to become less prominent in the future. “The emergence of the process I have been speaking about; the efforts of Iran, and the popular Islamic movements...is eroding this conflict, and giving birth to a new conflict.  It’s still placing the existence of Israel as a Jewish state into question.”

AL QAEDA

Another problem is the rise of Al Qaeda in the region, especially in Lebanon and Gaza.  The goal of Al Qaeda, similar to Iran, is to weaken the influence of Western nations in the Middle East. Al Qaeda will attempt to do this by causing further instability within moderate Arab states, resulting in their governments being more vulnerable to overthrow.

In Gaza, Hamas has cracked down on Salafi jihadist groups linked to Al Qaeda. According to former Deputy Director of the Mossad, Ilan Mizrahi, speaking to journalists in a recent conference call arranged by The Israel Project, Hamas has 100% control over Gaza. “If they see a party that is challenging their authority, they will finish it.”

However, Al Qaeda has successfully weakened Yemen, threatening Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and Egypt.  “They chose it (Yemen) carefully and cleverly. This is a real strategic threat to the West and to pragmatic Arab states, and strategically towards Israel,” Mizrahi proclaimed.

IRAQ

What about post-Saddam Iraq?  As the U.S. pulls out its military forces, will Iraq become dominated by the Shiites of Iran?  Mizrahi doesn’t rule out that possibility, but he explains that some Shiites in Iraq align themselves with Iran and some don’t. “”There are those who are against Iranian hegemony over Iraq. You have Shiites who are against Iranian rule. Let’s not forget that in the last Iraqi-Iranian war, the Iraqis proved that their loyalty to the state was more than their loyalty to their religious brothers in Iran.”

ADVANCEMENT OF THE SHIITE CRESCENT

There is an increased danger that the Shiite Crescent will advance if Iran gains a stronger foothold in Iraq.  If Hezbollah takes greater control over Lebanon, an Iran-Iraq-Lebanon alliance will strengthen the power of the Shiites.  “I think the future of Iraq will have a huge strategic result in the Middle East,” Mizrahi said. He added, “After the U.S. will pull out from Iraq, the image of the U.S. in the Middle East will be weaker.”

Not all of these alliances forming are going to be permanent. Complications have already risen between various Sunni and Shiite movements, characteristically known as the Sunni-Shiite divide. Ideologies within each movement, clash, causing factional splits between members. For example, Hamas is not a Shiite movement, but a Sunni-Moslem movement, originally backed by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states. Elements within Hamas are hostile to the Shiites and to Iran. According to Spyer, Gaza is maintained as a result of Iranian money, support and guns. “The contradictions in a Sunni Moslem movement finding its backing in a Shiite Islamist state are real.”

The Islamists believe they are winning over Israeli land in stages, especially in the delegitimizing of the Jewish State on an internationational scale. 

CONCERN FOR ISRAEL

How does instability in Arab states, along with the forming of new alliances between Iran and Islamists, affect the nation of Israel?

The Islamists believe that they are winning over Israeli land in stages, especially in the delegitimizing of the Jewish State on an international scale. Whereas Zionists originally had strong aspirations for a Greater Israel, now it seems to these Islamists that Israel may be willing to capitulate to the Palestinians and Arab nations by withdrawing to the pre-1967 borders.  According to Spyer, “Islamists believe that it is their efforts that have brought Israel to abandon its ambitions, and will bring it to this limited level of aspirations.”

The ultimate goal of the Iranian-Islamist movement is to be victorious in their struggle with Israel and the West. They think that continued pressure on the Jewish State politically, diplomatically, militarily and within the media, will eventually undermine Israel’s goals on many battlefields.  Spyer explains what these Islamists believe: “If Israel’s legitimacy can be questioned in the West, Israel will lose its support. A depleted, lessened, isolated, demoralized Israel will eventually be ripe for defeat in the hands of the Islamists.” 

But, Spyer disagrees with this theory, and contends that, inevitably, the Islamists will be defeated. Islam will fail to produce what it promises, and the Islamists will not be able to destroy Israel. He also thinks that Western nations will provide the support needed.

“Israel finds itself not alone in this struggle. It’s between the pro-U.S. dispensation in the region, which Israel is an integral part of -- and a real and determined challenge to that dispensation, led by Iran; consisting of Iran and its allies, and also Islamist movements.”

Today, the internal strength of Western governments to deal, effectively, with this new Iranian-Islamist alliance is being challenged.  Arab societies are being tested, especially regarding the cohesiveness within populations to deal with public dissatisfaction over autocratic governments.  Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel is being questioned, internationally, detracting nations from dealing with the real issues plaguing the region.

In time, this shift in the regional map, with all its perplexities, will prove that there are definitive signs of a new Middle East emerging.

“Then, the seventh angel sounded: And, there were loud voices in heaven saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Messiah, and He shall reign forever and ever!” Revelation 11:15
 

Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting from Israel on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues affecting the nation.

(c) 2010 Messianic Vision all rights reserved. This article is not reproducible except with permisson from Messianic Vision. 

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

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