M.E. LEADERS INCREASINGLY COOPERATE WITH ISRAEL, BUT “ARAB STREET” REFUSES TO MAKE PEACE WITH JEWISH STATE Posted on August 7, 2017 Printer Friendly Arabs Marginalize the Palestinian Issue: Amb. (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 6, 2017 — The Al-Aqsa Mosque controversy has exposed, once again, the non-centrality of the Palestinian issue in the overall Arab order of priorities. Israel and the Arab World: Needed by the Rulers, Hated by the People: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2017— This week’s stabbing and shooting incident at Israel’s embassy compound in Amman, the manner in which it was resolved, and the reactions on the street in Jordan say much about Israel’s current situation in the Mideast. Could the Mideast Use Some ‘Trumpification’?: Eli Verschleiser, Algemeiner, July 28, 2017— Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, recently spoke out against what he called the “Trumpification” of the Middle East. As Daesh Is Crushed, Future Of Middle East At Stake: Yaakov Amidror, Breaking Defense, July 28, 2017 — When I first started working as a journalist, a colleague asked me for advice because he was going to interview a chasidic man for a story. On Topic Links Trump, Israel, Jordan and Egypt Can Redress the Obama-PLO Debacle: David Singer, Arutz, Sheva, Aug. 7, 2017 Why the Middle East Hated Obama But Loves Trump: Susan B. Glasser, Politico, July 31, 2017 The Root Cause of the Disasters in the Middle East: David Horowitz, Frontpage, July 31, 2017 What Trump Gets Right About the Middle East: Steven A. Cook, Politico, July 05, 2017 ARABS MARGINALIZE THE PALESTINIAN ISSUE Amb. (ret.) Yoram Ettinger Arutz, Sheva, Aug. 6, 2017 The Al-Aqsa Mosque controversy has exposed, once again, the non-centrality of the Palestinian issue in the overall Arab order of priorities. Contrary to Western media headlines, Arab policy-makers and the Arab Street are not focused on Palestinian rights and Al Aqsa, but on their own chaotic, raging local and regional challenges, which are not related to the Palestinian issue. For example, while the top Palestinian religious leader, Mufti Muhammad Hussein, castigates Arab leaders for their inaction on behalf of the Al Aqsa Mosque, Egyptian President General Sisi, and the Egyptian street, are preoccupied with traumatizing economic and social decay and challenges; the dwindling level of tourism, which is a main source of national income; the lethal, domestic threat of Muslim Brotherhood terrorism; the Libyan chaos and its effective spillover into Egypt; the entrenchment of Islamic terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula, across the Gulf of Suez; the Gaza-based terrorism; the threatening collaboration of Turkey-Qatar-Iran and Turkey’s support of Hamas; the potentially-explosive border with Sudan; etc. General Sisi invests much more time in geo-strategic coordination with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, other Arab Gulf States, the US and Israel – which are perceived as critical allies in combatting terrorism – than with the Palestinian Authority, which is perceived as a destabilizing entity. According to the July 20, 2017 issue of the London-based Middle East Monitor, “Al Aqsa has been abandoned by those who profess the leadership of the Muslim World…. [Egypt’s and Saudi Arabia’s] cold indifference…is unworthy of institutions that profess to be the preeminent leaders of Muslims around the world…. The religious institutions in Makkah, Madinah and Cairo have gone absent without leave despite the dangerous situation at the Noble Sanctuary in occupied Jerusalem…. Both countries are spearheading a regional drive for full normalization of relations with Israel. Their reasoning is that friendship with Israel is the best guarantee of US support for themselves….” The London-based Palestinian newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, published a cartoon, depicting the Arab World as an ostrich burying its head in the sand, while the Al Aqsa Mosque bleeds. Since 1948, and in defiance of Western foreign policy, academia and media establishments, the Arab/Islamic agenda has transcended the Palestinian issue. While showering the Palestinian issue with substantial talk, the Arab/Islamic walk has mostly been directed at other issues: the 1,400-year-old regional, intra-Arab/Islamic unpredictability, fragmentation, instability and intolerant violence; the Islamic Sunni terrorist machete at the throat of all pro-US Arab regimes; the clear and present danger, posed by Iran’s Ayatollahs, to the same regimes; the destructive role played by Qatar in the context of – and in assistance to – the Ayatollahs; the lethal, regional ripple effects of the disintegration of Iraq, Syria and Libya; the inherent, tectonic (disintegration) potential in every Arab regime; the impact of the global energy revolution on the potency of the Arab oil producing regimes; and the enhanced role of Israel in the battle against the aforementioned threats. The dramatic gap between the Arab walk and talk on behalf of Palestinians was particularly noticeable during the Israel-Palestinian wars of 1982 (in Lebanon), 1987-1991 (the 1st Intifada), 2000-2003 (2nd Intifada) and the Israel-Hamas wars of 2009, 2012 and 2014. Arabs have never shed blood – nor have Arabs dedicated their economic power – on behalf of Palestinians. Moreover, current Iraqi policy-makers and the Iraqi Street are well-aware of the intense Palestinian collaboration with the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein, which caused the Palestinian flight from Iraq following the fall of Saddam. The Syrian Street has not taken kindly to the Palestinian support of the Assad regime, which has produced an expanding Palestinian emigration from Syria since the eruption of the civil war in 2011. Furthermore, most Arab policy-makers consider the well-documented subversive, terroristic Palestinian track record – against fellow Arabs – to be a potential threat to domestic and regional stability. The Arab aim has been to reduce the number of stormy spots in the Middle East, realizing that each eruption of violence resembles a rock thrown into a pool, generating ripple effects throughout the pool, as has been documented by the Arab Tsunami, which is simmering in every Arab country. Thus, violence west of the Jordan River could have an infectious impact east of the river, posing a deadly threat to the pro-US Hashemite regime, which could spread southward to Saudi Arabia and other pro-US Arab Gulf states… [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.] Contents ISRAEL AND THE ARAB WORLD: NEEDED BY THE RULERS, HATED BY THE PEOPLE Herb Keinon Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2017 This week’s stabbing and shooting incident at Israel’s embassy compound in Amman, the manner in which it was resolved, and the reactions on the street in Jordan say much about Israel’s current situation in the Mideast. The neighboring governments – or at least some of them – need Israel, want its security and intelligence cooperation, and even appreciate what the country has to offer in the fight against their greater threats in the region: Iran and fanatical Islamic terrorism. The first part of the above equation explains why Jordan’s King Abdullah II let the embassy security guard go back to Israel after he was stabbed Sunday night, and fired two shots that killed the assailant and another man at the scene. The second part of the equation explains the Jordanian public’s furious reaction to the release of the guard. While the incensed public reaction can be explained in part by the fact that the guard did kill two Jordanians – one, evidently, who had nothing to do with the stabbing – there was more to the anger than just this incident, and it reflects a deep, intense hostility toward Israel felt by many Jordanians. Just witness the praise heard in the Jordanian parliament for the three Israeli Arabs who killed two border policemen on the Temple Mount on July 14. The speaker of the parliament, Atef Tarawneh, offered this prayer for the dead terrorists: “May the mercy of Allah be upon our martyrs who sowed and watered the pure land. We will raise our heads through the sacrifice of the young Palestinians who are still fighting in the name of the nation.” Witness as well the angry marches in Amman following the installation of the metal detectors on the Temple Mount – even before the incident in the embassy compound – where protesters chanted, “How beautiful it is to kill soldiers from Jerusalem.” Abdullah let the security guard return to Israel because he realizes the utility – the importance – of good cooperation with Israel: military cooperation, intelligence cooperation, and cooperation in the form of buying from Israel desperately needed water and gas. Israel plays a critical role in the survival of the Hashemite Kingdom. The king knows it, his inner circle knows it, the people less so. The Hashemite Kingdom’s survival depends on the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel – yes, Israel, though that is obviously not going to be something that Abdullah broadcasts to his people. Jordan, of course, is also of critical strategic importance to Israel – providing a key buffer to the east – but the relationship is not symmetrical. If Abdullah were toppled, Israel would survive, albeit with additional headaches from the east. If Israel were to cease to exist, however, it is not clear whether the Hashemite Kingdom – with over a million refugees who have filtered down from Syria, hostile Shi’a forces on its eastern border with Iraq, and a fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood constituency within – would endure. Abdullah wants and needs this relationship. As a result, he is not going to let a stabbing attack at the Israel Embassy, or even metal detectors at the Temple Mount, destroy it, and indeed will work to find a way to resolve these issues. At the same time, Abdullah is well attuned to the mood of his people. With public opinion furious, he has to flex a muscle toward Israel, which explains his angry outburst at Netanyahu when the king returned from abroad on Thursday. This also explains Jordan’s threat not to let Israel reopen the embassy in Amman until the guard is placed on trial. He, too, has domestic considerations. Despite, these considerations, however, he did work this week to try to resolve both crises. The guard issue was resolved within 30 hours, the Temple Mount issue was trickier, largely because while Jordan had an interest in calming down passions, others – from Hamas to elements inside the Palestinian Authority, to the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – had an interest in fanning them. That Abdullah was so heavily involved in trying to resolve both issues shows the strength of Israel’s relationship with the government of Jordan. With the government, but not with the people. And there is one of Israel’s major problems right now in the Middle East – good relations with select rulers, miserable relations with the masses. Israel has peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan that have stood both the test of time and of crisis. Those governments appreciate the importance of the relations and benefit mightily from them, as does Israel. But none of that has filtered down to the people. And therein lies Israel’s dilemma. After nearly 70 years, Israel has established itself as a presence in the region. But, as former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was quoted as saying in an interview to the German news magazine Der Spiegel in the mid-1990s, Israel is “a knife plunged into the heart of the nations of this region.” It is the difference between recognizing Israel as an existing fact, which Yasser Arafat did in a letter to Yitzhak Rabin in 1993, and PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s continuous refusal to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. The latter type of recognition would signal a recognition not only of Israel the fact, but of its legitimate right to exist. An existing fact you might believe you can eventually move; a legitimate right is something you will have to accommodate yourself to. The governments of Jordan and Egypt have come around to recognizing that Israel is an immovable object in the region. Not only is it an immovable object, but also one that could be helpful to them. So they cooperate. The people, however, are at a different place, nourished for decades on the idea that Israel is an oppressor, a usurper, a tool of the colonialist West, a passing historical episode. Even in countries with which Israel has peace treaties, such as Egypt and Jordan, this narrative has never been abandoned. During the 30 years when Mubarak ruled Egypt with an iron fist, there was a huge anomaly in the relationship with Israel. On the one hand Mubarak carefully kept the peace treaty, yet on the other he let a virulent anti-Israeli, even antisemitic press flourish in the country. Wasn’t that a contradiction? Peace on one hand, yet hatefilled articles and television programs in the state run media on the other? It was a contradiction, but one that served Mubarak’s purpose. The peace with Israel was good for Egypt (just as it was good for Israel). But encouraging the hate of Israel on the street was also good for Mubarak, because it diverted the public’s attention from his abuses of power and the real issues facing the country – issues that came to the fore in the events of 2011 that deposed him. Saudi Arabia and Israel, according to various accounts, currently have close security cooperation because of the common threat of Iran and jihadist fundamentalist terrorism, whether of the Shi’a or Sunni variety. But the Saudis are unable to make any of that cooperation public, unwilling to admit to these ties. Instead, the Saudis remove Israeli-grown fruits from supermarket shelves and block access to websites with stories about Saudi plans to normalize ties with Israel. Why? Because after 70 years of educating the people to believing that Israel is evil incarnate, a passing nightmare for the Muslim world, the country’s rulers can’t just wake up one morning, slap their foreheads with their palms and say, “Our bad, Israel really is not all that terrible, let’s make a deal.”… [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.] Contents COULD THE MIDEAST USE SOME ‘TRUMPIFICATION’? Eli Verschleiser Algemeiner, July 28, 2017 Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, recently spoke out against what he called the “Trumpification” of the Middle East. “The recent massive arms deals President Trump made with the Gulf monarchies exacerbate the risk of a new arms race … I am very concerned by the dramatic escalation of the situation and the consequences for the whole region,” Minister Gabriel said. He was referring to the White House siding with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against Qatar for its evident support of Iran and jihadist terror via the Muslim Brotherhood. This has built into quite the standoff and the resulting blockade has sent ripples throughout the region. The Qatari riyal has taken a beating and they are seeking compensation for the blockade. In addition to the Saudis and UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Maldives and Yemen have all cut ties with Qatar. It’s a mess all right, but with due respect to the Germans and other critics, “Trumpification” may not be such a bad thing. In taking a hard line against Doha, the president is continuing the Bush doctrine, that the US “should make no distinction between terrorists and the nations that harbor them — and hold both to account.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is within his purview to try to negotiate a solution to this standoff, but, despite his evident misgivings and indignation about the key role played by Trump adviser Jared Kushner, he should support his boss on this. Trump reportedly doubled down on his position in a call with Gulf region leaders. According to the White House, as reported by Reuters, “He reiterated the importance of stopping terrorist financing and discrediting extremist ideology. The president also underscored that unity in the region is critical to accomplishing the Riyadh Summit’s goals of defeating terrorism and promoting regional stability…President Trump, nevertheless, believes that the overriding objective of his initiative is the cessation of funding for terrorism,” the White House continued. In addition to its links with the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar has also nurtured ties with Israel’s most fierce enemy, Hamas, under the claim that it is trying to promote more engagement and moderation. Yes, it was disappointing that the president has shelved his campaign promise to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But he certainly made a solid statement about Jerusalem as the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall. And there’s much else to like about the emerging Trump Middle East policy. Unlike his predecessor, he acted quickly when Syria crossed the imaginary “red line” by gassing civilians, launching a quick and punishing airstrike. He also seems to take the more realistic view of the region and what our goals there should be. Writing in Politico, Steven A. Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations noted that Trump’s policy “reflects a sound understanding of what the United States can achieve in the region and, importantly, what it cannot.” Noting that Western efforts to promote democracy that led to the Arab Spring produced more fractured societies but no real change agents, Cook added, “The Trump administration seems to understand this and has pragmatically shifted American policy to achievable goals like rolling back the Islamic State and challenging Iran’s efforts to extend its influence around the region.” Those who believe Trump, a businessman and political amateur, is not a serious president with real policy goals may dismiss his Mideast stance. But it suggests a practical view of the fight against ISIS recognizing that, other than democratic Israel, there are no other perfect allies in the Middle East. The 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia and the country has a troubling history of terror support. However, Iran is worse in that its leaders continue to make threatening statements against Israel and the US, while almost surely planning to resume their nuclear arms quest as soon as they can get away with it. While he’s keeping the John Kerry-brokered nuclear deal in place for now, President Trump is avowedly pessimistic about it. The Saudis on the other hand have growing, low-key ties with Israel based on strategic interests and common enemies. Given the disastrous Middle East policy of Barack Obama, which entailed alienating Israel while cozying up to and placing misguided trust in Iran, and chasing pipe dreams about the spread of democracy if we just talk nicely to people and avoid saying “Islamic terror,” “Trumpification” seems to me to be potentially one of the best processes to come along in years. Contents AS DAESH IS CRUSHED, FUTURE OF MIDDLE EAST AT STAKE Yaakov Amidror Breaking Defense, July 28, 2017 The future of the Middle East is currently being determined, in a process that is almost entirely hidden from view. In recent weeks, the gaze of the world has been fixed on the fight against Daesh (aka ISIL), as the end of its occupation in Mosul, Iraq, and the breaching of its defenses in Raqqa, its Syrian capital, have symbolized the success of operations against this evil organization. But the future of the Middle East is not being decided in Mosul or Raqqa, despite the importance of ending Islamic State rule over both. It will be determined by a fight that has attracted far fewer headlines—the struggle for control of the border between Iraq and Syria. The US-led coalition is fulfilling the promise extended by President Obama “to destroy the organization” of Daesh. Obviously, the end of the terrorist group’s control over the territories it captured in Syria and Iraq does not mean the end of the organization itself, as it will continue to hawk its ideas throughout the Sunni world and to carry out terror attacks around the world. But from now on, it will be just another “ordinary” terror organization, like al-Qaida, for example. Daesh will no longer be seen as unique, as a remarkable success, as it was when it managed to hold such large swathes of territory and to rule over so many civilians. Who takes over this territory once held by Daesh will determine the future of the Middle East. The Iranians are conducting an effort with great strategic implications, via their proxy Shia militias that operate in both Iraq and Syria. This effort seeks to change the map of the Middle East. It includes the displacement and extermination of Sunnis in key areas; the settlement of Shias into these areas, such as Mosul; and the creation of Shia ground corridors linking Iraq to Syria, with the aim of attaining a contiguity that has never previously existed, connecting Iran—the leading Shia power—to the Mediterranean Sea. This will accomplish three goals for Iran: It will cut a Shia crescent through the heart of the Sunni world, from Tehran via Baghdad, to Damascus and Beirut. It will provide a territorial link to Iran’s forces in Syria and Lebanon, thus creating a direct strategic threat to Israel, supported by a Shia hinterland. And it will allow Iran to supply every Shia force in the region, posing new threats to the borders of Jordan to the south and Turkey to the north. There is currently no force in this area—between Turkey and Jordan, along the Syrian-Iraqi border—capable of stopping Iran. The bizarre alliance struck between Russia, Iran, and the Shia militias (Hezbollah foremost among them) was only made possible by the nuclear agreement. The agreement made Iran a legitimate ally, by allowing it back into the international community and opening up trade. Russia, of course, has leapt at the opportunity: The two countries are now partners in the Syrian state, nominally headed by Assad, who would be long gone were it not for the Russian presence. Russia provides the air power and the international backing, while Iran provides the ground forces to fight the Alawite regime’s vicious battles. For the region’s Sunni countries, this is nothing less than a strategic earthquake. For Israel, it is a nightmare. Therefore, it is imperative that there be active cooperation between the Sunni countries and Israel, including the use of military force, to stop this in its tracks. The Arab states are too weak to deal with the problem alone, and Israel needs regional legitimacy in order to deploy its military might. While it would make things easier if the United States were to give its blessing to such a collaboration, this is by no means a necessary condition. Such an alliance, if created, would be able to act without American involvement. The United States would be asked only to provide an umbrella of international legitimacy… [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.] Contents On Topic Links Trump, Israel, Jordan and Egypt Can Redress the Obama-PLO Debacle: David Singer, Arutz, Sheva, Aug. 7, 2017—President Trump continues to ponder the way forward to end the 100 years conflict between Arabs and Jews – as negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – stalled since April 2014 – show no sign of being resumed. Why the Middle East Hated Obama But Loves Trump: Susan B. Glasser, Politico, July 31, 2017—Russia won in Syria thanks to President Barack Obama’s inaction. The Middle East unraveling of the past decade is due in no small part to America not listening to her allies in the region. Never mind President Donald Trump’s Muslim-bashing rhetoric, he may just be a better partner. The Root Cause of the Disasters in the Middle East: David Horowitz, Frontpage, July 31, 2017 —During the eight years of the Obama administration, half a million Christians, Yazidis and Muslims were slaughtered in the Middle East by ISIS and other Islamic jihadists, in a genocidal campaign waged in the name of Islam and its God. What Trump Gets Right About the Middle East: Steven A. Cook, Politico, July 05, 2017—When President Donald Trump wanted to jump-start Middle East peace talks, he did something utterly unconventional: He sent his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to bang Israeli and Palestinian heads together.