January 23, 2012 | 5:19 am
Joshua Mitnik of Christian Science Monitor ponders what’s next for Hamas, following the resignation of its political leader Khaled Meshal.
“Recent upheaval in the Middle East has been a mixed bag for Hamas. On the one hand, it has empowered groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which controls nearly half of the new parliament, prompting Hamas leaders to boast about an “Islamic Spring” and emboldening backers in the West Bank. But the very same regional changes have cast it adrift from its headquarters in Syria and prompted Meshal to suggest non-militarized confrontation with Israel, to the chagrin of some in the movement.”
In a piece in Lebanon’s Daily Star, Bruce Riedel argues that Israel’s superior military and strong international support, coupled with Iran’s meager situation, will not significantly tip the balance of power in the region.
”…even if Iran wants to try to improve its conventional military capability in the next few years and has the money to do so, the U.N. arms ban will make that close to impossible. Iran does not have the capability to produce state-of-the-art weapons on its own, despite its occasional claims of self-sufficiency. It certainly cannot build a modern air force to compete with that of Israel on its own.”
In an article on arabnews.com, veteran Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery offers his own take on why Israel has been unable to reach an agreement with its Arab neighbors.
“Israel is now a kind of federation of several major demographic-cultural blocs which dominate our social and political life. Who are they? There are (1) the old Ashkenazim (Jews of European origin); (2) the Oriental (or “Sephardi”) Jews; (3) the religious (partly Ashkenazi, partly Oriental); (4) the “Russians”, immigrants from all the countries of the former Soviet union; and (5) the Palestinian-Arab citizens, who did not come from anywhere. The political scene almost exactly mirrors these divisions.”
Ashis Ray of the Times of India suggests that Washington’s decision to cancel its planned military exercise with Israel stemmed from reasons other than a desire to placate Iran.
“While the Israeli leadership has signaled support for US president Barack Obama in his re-election bid by urging Jewish voters in America to vote for him, Israel’s defence minister Ehud Barak is said to have told general Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, that Israel will give the US no more than 12 hours notice before it ventures to demolish Iran’s nuclear installations.”
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