March 19, 2012 | 5:42 am
Iran may have a far more cynical approach to an Israeli assault than one would imagine, writes Marvin G. Weinbaum in the National Interest.
Iran’s leaders well understand that certain governing elites, especially among the Gulf countries, would be pleased to see a preemptive attack that dealt Iran’s nuclear ambitions a setback. Yet an Israeli attack offers an opportunity to put Iran’s regional rivals on the defense. Were these Arab leaders, some with restive populations, to fail to join the chorus decrying the strike on Iran, they would risk alienating their own citizens. After an attack, the continued presence of American military bases in the Gulf could become untenable.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Melik Kaylan explores the real reasons behind Moscow’s stubborn support for the regimes in Tehran and Damascus.
At stake here is not merely the liberation of a vast landmass from the Kremlin’s yoke. The damage to Russian leverage would amount to a seismic shift in the global balance of power equal to the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. Russia’s gas and oil leverage over Turkey, Ukraine and much of Europe would evaporate. The Silk Road countries would finally reclaim their history since it was diverted forcibly toward Moscow in the 19th century. Their nominal post-Soviet independence would become a reality.
The Islamists who have risen to power post-Arab Spring have become changed by the process of political engagement, writes Khalil El-Anani in Al-Ahram.
Another sign of this relativism is the Islamists’ shift from the language of religion to the language of politics in the public sphere. Therefore, it is not strange to find that such terms as consensus, dialogue, interests, participation and elections have taken the place of halal/haram, the calling, the religious community, religious duty, etc. Some observers maintain that the word substitutions are not indicative of a real change in the Islamists’ ideological positions. Even so, that such modernist terms are being repeated so frequently in Islamist and particularly the Salafist spheres is a qualitative shift, especially in light of what some describe as the insularism of Salafist discourse.
Mark Heller of the Institute for National Security Services presents his conclusions from the latest round of fighting across the Israel-Gaza border.
Even if Israeli actions prompt those Palestinian elements involved in rocket attacks to conclude that the time has come to call a halt to hostilities, some kind of communication is needed to achieve an understanding on the timing and terms of the ceasefire. On this occasion, as in the past, the only functioning intermediary was the Egyptian security establishment, which acted as it did because it understood that Egypt’s own interests were not served by a continuation and possible escalation of the fighting. However, political volatility in Egypt means that the Egyptian security establishment may not be able to go on playing this role in the future, even if its world-view remains unchanged.
Unlike Muammar Gadhafi, writes Vivienne Walt in Time, Syria’s embattled president Bashar Assad has powerful friends and powerful weaponry.
Assad has hugely upgraded his air- and sea-attack capabilities since the revolt against him erupted a year ago, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which tracks the opaque defense industry. In its yearly report on global arms transfers, also to be published on Monday, SIPRI lists billions spent by Assad on state-of-the-art Russian systems, much of which has been delivered during the past year.
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