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23 November 2012

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b

If Netanyahoo had opened a ground offense his loss would, in the end, have been bigger.

There are two ways to do a ground offense in a zone like Gaza. Go in very defensively with lots of artillery and air cover and make sure that you lose none of your own. That is what Cast Lead was about. The casualty rate of the Gaza population led to an international outcry and put Israel into a bad corner.

The other way to do a ground offense is a determined infantry driven house to house fight. It will probably lead to less civilian casualties but risks lots of casualties in the attacking force. As the Israeli public usually cries out when a soldier breaks his finger nail such an attack would have killed Netanyahoo's election chances.

The mistake was to attack Gaza at all. The outcome was rather predictable.

As usually the air force claimed all could be done from the air but after three days its target list was empty but the rockets still kept coming all while the mobilized soldiers at the border were camping in open fields. Easy targets even with Qassams. The IOF has again proven that it is not a first class force.

toto

Yes, but Bibi thinks he will win the upcoming elections no matter what. So he doesn't care about the short term.

In the long term, he managed once again to strengthen Hamas and weaken the "Abbassids". This is a major bonus, because anything that makes Hamas stronger and Abbas weaker reduces the likelihood of the international community exerting real pressure on Israel. No western government will impose negotiations with bus-bombers.

It's like the massive prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit. The goal is to show Palestinians that violence (Hamas) brings results, while peace (Abbas) only brings more settlers. A violent Palestinian leadership is vital to fending off international demands for peace negotiation (and de-colonization in the west bank).

The fact that Iron dome works is pretty nice too.

JohnH

Israel is at a strategic dead end. If they can't have success against Hamas, how will they ever prevail against Hezbollah and Iran? If they can't kick Hamas, are there any dogs left to kick?

Bibi has done the world an enormous favor by showing that the emperor has no clothes.

Now the question becomes: in its desperation at having lost its ability to do whatever it damn well pleases, what will Israel do? I expect Israel policy makers to lash out. It could get very violent and very irrational.

Fortunately, there are still elements in the IDF that oppose a unilateral attack on Iran.

Alba Etie

Col Lang
If Mursi wants to further the MB 's agenda -and Netanyahu still wants to bomb Persia - its seems the ceasefire in Gaza was almost a miracle. Bibi's blinking was not the expected outcome ? - now that the Likuds have stood down does this give any opening for constructive change in the dynamics between Israel and the Palestinians ? Will this perhaps be a watershed moment for the peace process?
( Though I must admit if I had been driven out of Spicewood Texas by an invading army and made to relocate indefinately to a third world ghetto in Lubbock , I might not be very open minded about a peace process with the Occupiers of Spicewood.)

Cal

I don't think it's weakened Abbas, he's still on track to put Palestine before the UN GA on Nov 29.
There is no reason Abbas and Hamas can't proceed on their own separate tracks for the time being...one at the UN and the other at lifting the blockade of Gaza. They have come close in the past to agreeing, if not to merge, to acting as two separate political parties within Palestine. The issue of Gaza being Hamas's own separate fiefdom in Palestine can wait till Palestine gains recognition as a state or until the issue of Gaza becomes a sticking point in Palestine gaining that recognition at which point the pragmatic half of Hamas will probably see the benefit of the entire Israel occupation ending. They can fight their fights over which will be the dominate party/gov in Palestine after that.

Cal

Isr still has a strategy left...now that Egypt is in it they will try to push Gaza off on Egypt..Egypt doesn't want Gaza....so there will a lot of trick or treat going on.

Cal

I will say one thing...Netanyahu looked and sounded like he had been kicked on the cojones when he made his cease fire agreement announcement. I read in the Guardian report that when Obama finally called Netanyahu Obama promised him more money for his Iron Dome...but I don't think the money offer is what called him off...Israel always gets the US money it wants anyway....it was something else....I don't know what.

mbrenner

The listing of so-called losers and winners opens room for debate.
Overshadowing each of those assessments is neglect to mention the biggest
loser of all: the United States. This may be an instance of losing sight
of the forest for the trees - although the U.S. tree is a towering
redwood.

First, there is the aggravation of a conflict that is the most enduring
neuralgic issues in the region. It is one that repeatedly exposes the
contradictions in an American strategy that pretends to the role of
mediator but acts as Israel’s shill and bodyguard; that aims at sustaining an improbable Israeli/Sunni/anti-Persian alliance; that pretends to place democracy promotion above all; that pretends to itself that the normal laws of international politics don't apply to the
United States of America.

Second, the erratic and crude nature of American diplomacy in the Middle
East also is exposed - once again. The President, having 'pivoted' to
Asia, found himself 'containing' China by paying a much heralded visit to
a country which has had no strategic bearing on anyone since the 13th
century (Siam aside). For four days, he White House did little but cheer
on Netanyahu. Then, we matters seemed to being getting out of hand,
Hillary Clinton was pivoted back to the Middle East. The Mursi brokered
cease-fire will now ne declared a triumph for us, and her, that confirms
our indispensability. The fact that we refused even to talk with one of
the parties, Hamas, and there for could not in fact have mediated will be
overlooked by a press corps that too often seems on the payroll of State's
and the White House's public affairs offices.

Third, as a consequence of our fecklessness, our standing in the region
- and beyond - will continue its downward spiral. Hypocrisy is the word
that increasing comes to most minds in the Islamic world.

Fourth, we will continue to flee from these awkward realities by tallying
scores that show how Iran has lost - yet again. By conventional Washington
accounting, Iran has lost so many encounters that it's a wonder the regime
hangs on. This notion of a weakened Iran, along with the companion idea of
a strengthened Israel, will work against a reorientation of American
policy that now is showing the first faint signs of serious engagement
with the IRI.

Measured against this latest display of American ineptitude, the only
other losers of note are the brutalized Palestinians. It is well pasttime that official Washington, and the punditocracy, released itself from
the grip of fantasy and mirage. Within 24 hours of the cease fire, The New York Times already had a blow-by-blow account of Obama’s personal intervention with Mohamed Mursi to achieve what it labeled a sterling success. The story’s authenticity, as well as its source, was confirmed by telling details as to which Presidential calls to Cairo were made with the President in sweats and which when he wore shirt and tie. The unhappy truth is that the press corps these days too often seems more inclined to serve State's and the White House's public affairs offices than the public. The clear reality that the United States is the big loser in this latest display of America’s bankrupt Middle East policies, and of its inept diplomacy, is lost in the celebration.

Within 24 hours of the cease fire, The New York Times already had a blow-by-blow account of Obama’s personal intervention with Mohamed Mursi to achieve what it labeled a sterling success. The story’s authenticity, as well as its source, was confirmed by telling details as to which Presidential calls to Cairo were made with the President in sweats and which when he wore shirt and tie. Today’s headline story is that the Pillar of Clouds was a brilliant Israeli strategy to expose Hamas’ missile capabilities as a step toward neutralizing the Southern Front in a war against Iran The main source: the omnipresent Michael Oren. The unhappy truth is that the press corps these days too often seems more inclined to serve State's and the White House's public affairs offices than the public. Jerusalem’s line also is given precedence. The clear reality that the United States is the big loser in this latest display of America’s bankrupt Middle East policies, and of its inept diplomacy, is lost in the celebration.


r whitman

Several nominally pro Israeli observers have stated that if Israel could not handle a minor rocket attack for a few days, there is no way they would be able to sucessfuly attack Iran and withstand the aftermath.

I wonder how many dual citizenship Israelis will emmigrate
now??

mo

Colonel,
There is a bigger picture here than a simple attack on Gaza that goes all the way back to when Hamas abandoned Syria for Qatar. At the time the move seemed odd at best with a number of questions surrounding it, most of all what did Qatar have to offer? If the liberation of Palestine is Hamas's goal, the move seemed a massive step back in that undertaking.
Since the move did not ellicit screams of anger from either the White House or Israel, and there was no sudden call for sanctions on Qatar for "hosting a terrorist organization" then the only logical conclusion was that the move was planned with or at least sanctioned by the US and Israel.

Knowing what we know now about the level of training and arms the Gazans have recieved from the Resistance Axis, the move seems even more risky in hindsight as they would have had no idea how the Resistance Axis groups would have responded.

So what was promised to Hamas? In hindsight it seems clear now, but at the time a lifting of the Israeli blockade certainly was not entertained and any suggestion of it would have had one laughed out of the room. But considering the position it put them in, further from their border, under the eye of a country with friendly relations with Israel, the risk it put them in, the only reward that seems worth that risk is the end of the blockade. Incidentally, the Israelis, in return for that lifting of the blockade I think would demanded one last shot at Hamas and its leadership.

The real bigger picture though is that it seems that Qatar has realigned the Muslim Brotherhood into a single structure. Whereas the Brotherhood was fractured across nations before, it seems Qatar has taken on a defacto leadership of it and is trying to make a counter weight to the Shia led Resistance Axis. Hamas and Syria were the bits of the puzzle that needed fitting to add to Egypt. (Its also very possible that we may start seeing some more Jordan based stories). The end goal would be to alienate the Resistance groups from the Palestinian issue and try and portray their fight as a Shia one aimed at destroying the Arab world.

But Hamas is now between a bit of a rock and a hard place. It seems they severly understimated the effectiveness of the training and weapons they were given by Iran. Add to that the fact the really effective military work done in Gaza during the 8 days was not done by Hamas but by Islamic Jihad. So one the one hand, if Hamas choose to join this new Brotherhood Axis (and one of the first conditions of this axis will be the normalization and acceptance of Israel) there will very probably be a split in Gaza similar to and probably as violent as the Fatah-Hamas fight. And if they do not, they will have the war on them multiplied.

Amidst all this are the Saudis who have been left out in the cold by Qatar and they must be fuming right now.

If the MB do take over Syria, there is one hell of a war coming and the fractures in the Middle East so far will look like a small warm up.

Babak Makkinejad

I think that from a strategic stand point, US involvement in the Middle East - to the extent that it is so - potentially could prevent US from engaging in other parts of the world.

Basically, an adversary of the United States needs only to pull the right strings in the Middle East (or push the right buttons) and cause US to be sucked back into the Middle East and thus relieving pressure on that adversary elsewhere.

DH

It is jaw-dropping to see the bully Israel exposed with the simple application of rockets that can reach Tel Aviv. So simple.

b

This guy has the most realistic view of this affair:

http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=293220
/quote/
"The first goal was to destroy the Palestinian resistance's leadership. He failed in that. The second goal was to destroy the resistance's missile system. He also failed in that. The third goal was to reinforce Israel's deterrence power. This war rather weakened this power," the Hezbollah chief said.

Commenting on the IAF assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari, Nasrallah said Hamas could still fight efficiently without him because "resistance movements in the region no longer depend on individuals."

The Hezbollah chief also commented on IDF capabilities during the operation, saying the IAF is not capable of "putting an end to the battle with Gaza," and that Israel was "scared of engaging in a ground war," and that it mobilized reserve soldiers merely to wage a psychological war.

Nasrallah also claimed Israel's loss in Gaza will prevent it from waging war on the Strip again.

"If you failed to win a war against Gaza which has been under siege, what would be the case if you engage yourself in a war with someone else?" he said.The Hezbollah chief also commented on IDF capabilities during the operation, saying the IAF is not capable of "putting an end to the battle with Gaza," and that Israel was "scared of engaging in a ground war," and that it mobilized reserve soldiers merely to wage a psychological war.

Nasrallah also claimed Israel's loss in Gaza will prevent it from waging war on the Strip again.

"If you failed to win a war against Gaza which has been under siege, what would be the case if you engage yourself in a war with someone else?" he said.
/endquote/

Avoiding casualties on its own side is the weak point of the IOF as well as other "western" forces.

Clifford Kiracofe

mo,

1. But Hamas, a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, has been a pawn in the Irsaeli game for decades. Sharon helped promote Hamas to cut against other groups in a divide and rule strategy:

"Hamas is considered one of Israel’s greatest threats, but the Islamic terrorist organization found its beginnings in the misguided Israeli effort to encourage the rise of a religious alternative that would undermine the popularity of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Yasir Arafat.

The strategy resulted in the birth of Hamas which rose from these Islamic roots. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was a member of the government when the policy was developed in the late 1970s
..."

http://www.counterpunch.org/2003/01/18/sharon-and-hamas/

Because Hamas is an offshoot of the MB and because it has shown its colors more clearly in its relations with Qatar, then how credible is it to the majority of Palestinians, Muslim and Christian?

2. Jordan, yes there appear to be some rumblings there. It is said the king is more a businessman after money than a king of his people. Lots of big business deals in Jordan in which some say the king and his wife are involved. A Jordanian friend indicated to me that the Bedu were upset with the king's move to grab some of their land. This was reversed but I take it ill feelings abound.
If things get too turbulent there would the King's uncle be in a position to take over and exercise some steady leadership?

3. Mufti of Qatar al-Qaradawi (an Egyptian) is MB, so logical move for Hamas?:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yusuf_al-Qaradawi

4. The MB and Saudis have been in alliance for decades:

"In 1948, Hermann Eilts, one of America’s premier Arabists, was a young diplomat in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. When I interviewed him for my book, he told me that he met Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Jeddah. “He used to come to Saudi Arabia for money, actually. I met him at the home of the then-Saudi deputy minister of finance, who was a man who was himself very pious and who handled Banna. His name was Sheikh Mohammad Sorour…and it was Sorour who handled most of the financial matters with the Muslim Brotherhood.” In fact, Saudi Arabia has funded the Muslim Brotherhood throughout its existence.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Muslim Brotherhood twice tried to assassinate President Nasser of Egypt, Saudi Arabia’s biggest enemy at the time. The Saudis weren’t unhappy about that.

In the 1970s, President Sadat of Egypt re-established the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, with the explicit help of Saudi Arabia’s chief of intelligence, Kamal Adham, who personally led a Muslim Brotherhood delegation from Saudi Arabia back to Egypt, where they quickly took root again, with Saudi financial help and Sadat’s patronage. The Saudis loved that the Brotherhood was anti-communist and anti–Arab nationalist.

From the 1970s on, Saudi Arabia poured millions of dollars into Egypt in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, among other things helping them push Al Azhar, the leading center of Islamic scholarship, increasingly into the camp of ultraconservatives, from the Muslim Brotherhood to the Salafis to the Wahhabis."
http://www.thenation.com/blog/168871/saudi-arabia-and-brotherhood-what-new-york-times-missed#

mo

Cliff,
Its undisputed that Israel liked the idea of Hamas challenging Arafat for supremacy (the classic divide and conquer) but it is influence is often overstated. Its credibility with Palestinians will depend far more on the persons politics than religion (much like non-Shia in Lebanon and Hizballah).

In Jordan the Kings uncle is as I understand preffered in many circles outside Jordan. He has his supporters in Jordan but I would think any attempt to replace the current leadership by force would be very dangerous for the nation. The MB is also gaining ground quickly and depending on how Qatar want to play it any ruptures could come from that direction, but there are too many unknowns right now.

The move to Qatar may be logical religiously, but from a politcal pov and more importantly resistance pov, it is a massive step back, hence my belief now that the blockade was the pay off.

As for Saudi, yes their relationship with the MB is long established but waned of late because the various MB groups, as religious as they are, are not as extreme as the Wahabists and Saudi was always pushing them to go further. There was a great falling out a few years ago between Qatar and Saudi as Qatar started to replace Saudi as the main sponsor of the MB. Even Al Azhar was more complaint to the dictats of Mubarak than it was Saudi Arabia. It seems that Qatar has outplayed them but then again that is not hard.

Charles I

Will this perhaps be a watershed moment for the peace process?

No. The peace process is water off a duck's back for the Israelis, Chinese water torture for the rest. The whole point of this operation was to disrupt it further while preparing for more war.

William R. Cumming

Bibi blinked and now will be upset in the election IMO!

DH

re Shia vs. Sunni, I think the battle will ultimately come down to Wahhabi/Salafi vs. everyone else. Here is a sweet little article, pre-Gaza intensity:

"But after the initial welcome, Egypt backed off [from Gaza], swayed both by pressure from western powers negotiating an IMF package and by its security forces’ claims that Gaza was complicit in the August 5 attack. In late September, Prime Minister Haniya arrived in Cairo at the head of a twenty-man Gazan delegation only to find his anticipated audience with Morsi declined and his requests for upgrading ties rebuffed. Egypt, he discovered, remained noncommittal on the Qatari fuel it had blocked after the August 5 attack, on boosting Egypt’s supply of electricity and water to Gaza, and above all, on the launch of a free trade zone on the Gaza-Egypt border that would make Hamas a legitimate trading partner. In a further slight, the foreign ministry described Haniya as a visiting guest, not an official.

Passenger crossings between Gaza and Egypt at the main Rafah terminal, which had reached almost quarter of a million since the start of the year, fell back to levels of a year earlier. And at their common border, Egyptian bulldozers began digging up tunnels with a tenacity Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, had rarely shown. Tunnel traffic dwindled to a third of pre-August 5 levels: had it not been for a significant easing of Israel’s closures on Gaza the impact would have been intense. In a huff, Hamas removed the banner of a smiling Morsi and Haniya holding hands against the backdrop of the pyramids from the walls of its Gaza City parliament, and replaced it with a large portrait of Qatar’s Emir." (my italics)


"Meanwhile, in Gaza itself, after three summers of zealous patrols, the morality police withdrew from the beaches and began to let shopkeepers again garb unveiled mannequins in mini-skirts. Hamas licensed and sometimes invested in upscale beach resorts along the coast; last year Palestine’s most luxurious hotel opened, replete with a cocktail bar that is somewhat hopefully awaiting an alcohol license."

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/oct/26/gaza-isolation-way-out/

Margaret Steinfels

That seems doubtful. But in case you're right, who is the winning candidate/coalition?

William R. Cumming

Margaret! Those who oppose a theocratic sparta as the model for modern Israel! Again IMO!

Clifford Kiracofe

mo,
Thanks for the insights. It is complicated to be sure and a very fluid situation. We will have to "await developments" and I don't doubt there will be many twists and turns. Interesting times.

Patrick D

Unfortunately, the portion of the Israeli Jewish population of which you speak is shrinking due emigration and lower birth rates than those who cherish the idea of a theocratic, spartan Israel.

Andrew

"No western government will impose negotiations with bus-bombers." Oh, but Toto they recognized Israel didn't they, (bus bombing was first used by pre-Israel Jewish terrorists). A small knowledge of history goes a long way.

mo

The way Israel is now, I only see it going to the right of Netanyahu.

Margaret Steinfels

Avigador Lieberman??? It looks like his indictment is being arranged to remove him from contention.

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