ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Islam on the March

Islam on the March

14 November 2006

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Unfortunately the West has a skewered view of events in the Moslem world. Western intellectuals and especially journalists speak of localized conflicts, flashpoints, uprisings and Islamic radicalism but detach the regional troubles from one another. They often believe each conflict can be solved individually. The only time it is believed there could be any connection between the different Islamic movements is in reference to Israel. Here UN Sec. Gen. Kofi Anan is dean of the school which believes that solving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians will lead to an overall rapprochement between Islam and the West. What is not understood is the rising power and intensity of different forms of the Islamic revolution sweeping across Asia and the Middle East. Israel is more an obstacle than a factor because of its geographical location in the Middle East, with the true enemies of Islam lying in Europe and North America. Just today the Hamas foreign minister made it very clear – they will never recognize Israel under any circumstances and will strive for the destruction of the Jewish State, but this is only Stage 1 in the Islamic perspective. There is no basis for “solving the conflict” between Israel and the Hamas.

In the past few weeks radical Islam has made inroads on several fronts:

• Despite apparent zig-zags the Iranians have been consistent in espousing their rights to nuclear technology and the West refuses to use force to halt Tehran’s advance to an atomic bomb. Tehran accepts absolutely no limitations on its nuclear development. President Ahmedinejad remains adamant in demanding the destruction of Israel.

• The extremist Shi’ite Hezbollah and secular counterpart Amal parties just resigned from the Lebanese government in an effort to halt an official investigation into who killed former pro-western PM Rafik Hariri last year. The international community is convinced the Syrians are responsible and a Lebanese probe would most likely turn up the same evidence. Damascus is the staunchest ally of both Shi’ite parties who opposed the forced Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon a year and a half ago. Weapons are freely transferred across the Syrian border to the Hezbollah with full cooperation by the Assad regime. Armed to the teeth, Hezbollah’s posturing is certainly a military threat and there should be no surprises if a militia style coup takes place putting Lebanon firmly back into the Syrian-Iranian orbit.

• On the Palestinian front Hamas is continuing to consolidate its power in Gaza. The Sinai tunnel highways are wide open and never have so many weapons made their way into Gaza. There is talk of a national unity government between the Hamas and Fatah for a year, but nothing has happened. Hamas is firmly committed to opposing any two-state solution (recognizing Israel) and is willing to continue the grinding border war. Every day the PLO, Fatah and President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) are further weakened and it is just a matter of time before Hamas completes its takeover not only of the parliament as it did in the January 2006 elections, but also of the presidency. Abbas is increasingly just a figurehead, but shortly he may not have any head at all.

• Iraq is a disaster with no end in sight. A cantonization process or three state solution between Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds is too late. Civil conflict between Sunnis and Shi’ites is quickly slipping into civil war. As a result of the recent US midterm elections it is clear that further US commitment to Iraq is impossible and sooner, rather that later, Washington will withdraw. The Democratic victory in the House and the Senate was a clear sign that the American public sees Iraq as a total loss. But the withdrawal is not the end but rather a new beginning. The vacuum will be filled within a year or so by the Iranians. Iranian Shi’ites will heavily influence their Iraqi brethren, possibly to the point of showing up in mass as their military defenders. No power anywhere in the world is going to halt an Iranian invasion of eastern Shi’ite Iraq. As for the minority “secular” Sunnis, they may very well undergo a Wahabist – bin Laden style transformation. The two sides could continue to pound each other or decide on a cease-fire to deal with the common Western enemy. And just as a matter of trampling British-American honor, do not expect a “decent interval”.

In conclusion, there is a multi-facetted, multi-front Islamic Revolution in progress. Western influence is rapidly declining as pro-western Arab regimes are under increasing pressure. Despite opposition leader and former prime minister MK Benyamin Netanyahu’s bravado concerning Israel’s ability to handle the Iranians (yesterday’s speech to American Jews at the UJC General Assembly in LA) Israel has a major strategic problem in handling not only Iran, but the regional Islamic onslaught and needs the West as an ally more than ever before.

That help may not be forthcoming in the immediate future as the US and Europe could quite “rationally” decide to negotiate with the Islamic revolutionaries. The other side will certainly see them as “appeasers” and as Netanyahu correctly pointed out – today’s events may very well beg the comparison to those of 1938 when no one faced down Nazi Germany.

The incorrect analysis in the West as pertains to the Middle East is due to a case of wishful thinking as bad as that 70 years ago. Should the trend continue the price will be just as heavy, or possibly worse.