Saturday, December 27, 2008

A war with no end in sight.

Its seems that much worse because its Christmas. No sooner have Christians the world over celebrated the birth of Christ, signalling hope for a better and more peaceful world than full blown hostilities break out in both Israel and the Gaza strip, close to the area where Christ was born. Actually, they broke out in Israel some time ago. There have been a series of rocket attacks on Israel from inside Gaza, which may not have killed many people - but have created so much fear that an Israeli military response became inevitable. I never believe even a half of what I hear reported on the news from conflict zones, but it does appear that hundreds have been killed in the Gaza strip by Israeli assaults. It also appears that many of the dead are non combatants. Its awful news made worse by its inevitability. And the worst aspect is that no-one seems to have any idea how to bring it to an end. No-one that is except President Ahmedinajad of Iran, who would sort the problem out by killing the entire population of Israel - or at least pushing them all into the sea. We knew there was a fair chance of this conflict flaring up before Channel 4 decided to give him a platform to deliver his 'Alternative Christmas Message' on Christmas Day - one of the most offensive actions by a media operator in the history of British TV.

Some responses have been predictable. I wonder at how anyone can take a view on such a complex issue with any certainty. US Secretary of State, Condeleezza Rice has called on Hamas to end the rocket assaults, and UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has called on Israel to stop the 'disproportionate' assaults on Gaza. Some put the blame on Hamas, while others condemn the Israelis. And there's some of us who read of what's happening in a resigned way, not knowing what to think. We just want it to stop. In due course there will be a ceasefire. lets all pray that it is agreed soon. But we know it would only be until the next time, unless there is some long term agreement guaranteeing Israel's secure future. What an irony it would be if a democratic Iraq were able to play some part in bringing it about sometime in the future.


Anonymous said...

Hamas have brought this on themselves. They have fired 50 rockets a day and Israel begged them to stop, but they increased their firing on civil populations in Southern Israel. Can anyone imagine Westminster tolerating 50 rockets a day falling on London and doing nothing about it? The British government has sent thousands of troops to Afghanistan and Iraq without any rockets landing on the UK. Entered WW1 over some assassination of a someone who wasn't even a British citizen, and went to war with Germany without Germany attacking London. Occuppied Northern Ireland with thousands of troops without 50 rockets a day landing on UK cities.

Pigeon-Man said...

This is a game of high-stakes chess. Hamas wanted to provoke Israel into a land incursion. Hamas wants to unite the various factions in the Gaza and one sure way of doing that is through the mechanism of an Israeli land incursion. Israel wants the Palestinian Authority (PA) back in charge of the Gaza strip, but not through a land incursion which would only serve Hamas’s interests and lead to casualties in the Israeli ranks, something that Israel is desperate to avoid. The PA wants to be back in charge of Gaza, the PA wants Hamas toppled even more than Israel. If Israel manages to weaken Hamas by taking out its political and military leadership the PA will certainly be happy to fill the power vacuum.

President Bush has probably already indicated that he will tolerate some flak so long as Israel achieves its aims with minimum civilian casualties while taking out the Hamas leadership. The PA will bark, but not loudly. The Sunni leaders in Saudi Arabia probably secretly wish for Hamas to be gone gone. Egypt is fed up with Hamas. Iran and its progeny Hezbollah will cry the loudest. In short, the countries of the Middle East will not agree on taking harsh steps and will give Israel enough rope to hang Hamas with.

Hamas through its relentless rocket campaign has over played its hand, Israel must act swiftly, accurately and with massive fire power to weaken Hamas to the extent the PA can takeover running of the Gaza strip. Israel will also have to watch its open southern flank – Hamas (possibly with Hezbollah’s hand) will cross into Egypt and then infiltrate suicide bombers into Southern Israel with deadly consequences for Israeli citizens. For this flare up to be successful, it has to be over as soon as possible, with Hamas leadership killed or run out of Gaza and the PA back in play in Gaza city.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - Hamas may well have wanted to bring it on themselves. Hamas are in competition with Fatah to win hearts and minds and votes of Palastinians. Middle East politics does not translate to W Europe.

P-man - From what I've read about this, your comment seems about right, except for the last para which I don't know enough to comment on.

Pigeon-Man said...

Glyn> there’s ‘form’ on Hamas/Jihad working to establish terror agents on the Egyptian side of the Gaza/Egyptian border and then moving one or two suicide bombers through Egyptian Sinai into southern Israel and setting off bombs in shopping malls/civilian ‘targets’. See, e.g.,

Hamas routinely sends its guys to Iran for training (both by Iran and Hezbollah); Iran has without doubt chemical weapons/warheads. I would not be surprised if Hamas doesn’t have some chemical agents (or more likely their precursors which on mixing make VX or Sarin). Oh, and before anyone pipes up that Iran doesn’t have weapons of mass destruction – there was an incident hardly reported in the western media about an accident in Syria – a number of tactical ballistic missile technicians died (along with Iranian chemical weapons specialists) installing a chemical/nerve-agent warhead atop a Scud missile).

As to the Palestinian Authority seeking to take the reins from Hamas in the event of a power-vacuum – newspapers are picking up on this, but at a slow rate because most of the media is anti-Israel and hence does not want to report the PA (i.e., Fatah) wanting Hamas toppled in Gaza. As you have noted Glyn, Hamas and the PA/Fatah are somewhat at loggerheads. This is the one part of the dynamic that Israel could exploit, putting the Fatah/PA back in charge of Gaza. There are a LOT of scores that Fatah want to inflict on Hamas given the way Fatah was ousted from Gaza by Hamas a wee while back.

C-Man said...

Glyn> I might point out that I hear "back-chatter" and the like from living/working in the DC metro area. I mix with a lot of Jewish Americans, and Israeli born Jews now living in the USA and sometimes they talk about "back home in Israel" and stuff. You would be surprised at what they say - most hate their current PM (Olmert), think he is indecisive idiot who has cost lives (re: recent Lebanon fiasco) where Hezbollah came out on top (in Hezbollah's eyes), that the Israeli government allowed its army to loose heart and fighting ability; they like the current Minister of Defense (Ehud Barak who they think will rebuild the moral of their military forces), are not too sure about Tzipi Livni, but strongly admire her.

Once or twice I have picked up on some really 'out there' chatter (what I would call 'twilight chatter').

Anyways/Milliways, it's easy to put it all together into a fluid dynamic pattern from which any pigeon brain could easily extrapolate from in terms of likely future events/outcomes.

If you recall Glyn, I yapped on about an upcoming financial mega-size economic storm going to hit "CoL" (City of London), that workers there might want to switch careers, take teaching courses to become teachers, etc. The mega-storm hit the CoL and we all now see its effects - banks reeling from shockingly large blows, major job losses, uncertainty, real estate issues and now retail industry issues. The prediction also spoke of opportunities for Wales, but only if the WAG made the right moves - which of course it hasn't (no surprises there then).

There is a second wave of economic woes in the pipeline, but the prediction spoke of the USA coming out of it not so bad as some economies, and Wales could still come out of it with opportunities going begging - in fact to the extent that Wales could get independence from London if it played its cards right, but this will mean common sense moves to boost its economic outlook, but what chance is there of that?

Tip forward: be very VERY mindful of Iran - they have chemical weapons technology and know-how, and might well give the go-ahead to Hezbollah to use it against Israel, and there's Hamas sending its guys to Iran for training by Hezbollah and Iran/Quds.

It's not exactly a secret that Israel has at least 3 nuclear armed conventionally powered subs of which one is always in the sea ready to fire its nuclear tipped missiles directly into Iran. Israel has pilots heavily trained in the art of dropping nuclear free fall bombs (an art that our RAF has lost - incidentally other European air forces, even the Belgian air force have some of their pilots doing training on dropping nuke freefall bombs even though they don't have them in their arsenal, but the US has them stored on European soil).

The hands are near midnight (re: CHICAGO CLOCK OF DOOM, "Nuclear 'Doomsday Clock'"), but not due to the so-called 'cold war', but more to do with the likes of Iran/Hezbollah/Hamas. We really are looking into the abyss, and the way we toy with Israel's right to exist is not helping any. We either support Israel's right to exist to the absolute hilt, or we give in to nuclear war on an awful scale. Iran (particularly its oil fields, and oil/refined oil storage/distribution/export/import (re: petrol/gasoline) facilities) will be blown to pieces; parts of Israel may be at serious risk, and Gaza/Lebanon/West Bank because of their proximity to Israel.

Glyn Davies said...

Pigeon man - unfortunately, it isn't possible to dismiss what you say as fantasy. Iran is a big and potentially powerful country, and it will sponsor its agents to behave in an extreme way. This is allgoing to be a huge challenge for Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton in three weeks time.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this stuff would be happening if McCain was the President-elect - Iran would be very wary of McCain and would likely have told Hamas to stop the rocket fire - as it is, President-Elect Obama has no military background, has never experienced what war is like, has never lost friens in the heat of battle, and has never faced up to a military enemy. I hope the American people made a wise choice - Obama is deliberately facing a challenge c/o Iran's proxy, Hamas, and possibly Hezbollah if it allows rockets to rain down on Israel from Lebanon. Everyone should reflect on the fact that Israel relies on the west to control the political dynamics in the Middle East - if the west fails Israel, if Obama takes sides agains Israel or if Obama offers ambiguity in the context of Israel, or doesn't stop Iran building nukes, then we will be staring a nuclear abyss in the face. Sometimes it is better to have a no-nonsense strongman (from the Mid-East perspective) in office. But the people made their decision on Nov 4, 2008 - so every American should fall behind their new leader - I just hope that our new leader doesn't look weak or take sides or take an ambigous position or fails to stop Iran building nukes - we are facing nuclear war.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - Lets judge Obama on his record. He's impressed many doubters by the team he's chosen. This issue is going to be a real test for him, as it was for Bush and Clinton, and before.

Anonymous said...

... and Kennedy failed the test (re: Bay of Pigs fiasco) and allowed thousands to die on beaches for lack of air cover, and generations of Cubans have paid a heavy price ever since. Kennedy's perceived weakness brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Russia thought it could bully the wet behind the ears US President. The world got through that, but only just. Now Obama is facing Iran's calculations - if Obama gives ambiguous signals we will have nuclear war in the Middle East. If Israel can't rely on western powers to stop Iran building nukes ...