Gainesville Ramblings

This is a blog, and thus it barely qualifies as writing, let alone formal writing, so I'd not let it bother you.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Once again, the Middle East falls apart

I never claimed to be an expert on Middle East affairs, so if what I'm about to say is either factually incorrect or just plain stupid, let me know what’s wrong and I'll change it.

Unless something major happens, we could be looking at another Arab-Israeli War. Things had been looking up too. Ok, kind of up. Fine, slightly better than they had been before. Israel had withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and had at least acknowledged that a Palestinian state was inevitable. The Palestinians held an election, which is always a good step. And while the fact that Hamas won the election sent the world into a panic, it wasn't quite as bad as it seemed. There are a few different divisions within Hamas, some are more moderate than others. It was too early to tell which of these sects would come out on top, and there were a few clues pointing towards the moderates.

Then it all goes to hell. Palestinian terrorists attack Israel and capture a solider. Yesterday, two more Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers are captured and taken into Lebanon. Israel responded like they always do: With way too much force. They blow up the runways at the Beirut airport, impose a naval blockade on the country, attack suburbs and highways.

There are a few problems with this. First off, Hezbollah, the Iranian funded Shi'ite terrorist organization, took these soldiers. Israel says that it is holding the Lebanese government responsible for an act by a group that they don't and aren't able to control. The Lebanese government is weak after the Syrians withdrew earlier in the year and has next to no control over the Southern areas of the country. Attacking a city far to the north of the place of the crime isn't going to solve anything.

It may acutally make things worse. Syria's still pissed about being forced out of Lebanon by the Cypress Revolution. When and if Israel leaves, Syria's ready to come right back in and fill the power vacuum. And that may be the best case scenario.

If Israel doesn't get their soldiers back, it may mean a reoccupation of the Gaza Strip, the dropping of the plan to leave parts of the West Bank, and a reoccupation of parts of Lebanon. It's possible but unlikely that Syria becomes involved directly, though that's never gone well for the country. It’s very unlikely that Jordan or Egypt would get involved, but in this area of the world, who the hell knows.

Now the question that’s always important to me: What can the US do to calm things down? Honestly, not that much. If we really wanted to be bold, we could threaten to cut off military aid to Israel unless they calm down a little. But that won't happen. The pro-Israel leanings in the US are too strong, and to be fair, Israel is just trying to get its soldiers back.

What's more likely is that Bush and Rice will say a few words on exercising restraint on both sides, and then pray for the best. Unfortunately, prayers tend not to get answered in this part of the world. At least, not anymore.


At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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