Tarheeltalker

Will Egypt be another Iran?

The ongoing turmoil in Egypt is in its sixth day with no obvious end in sight and it is far too early to know the outcome. Perhaps  even informed speculation is  premature. But speculate we do for many reasons. Egypt is a major American ally and has been for  several years, at least back to the Carter presidency.( More on the  Carter connection a bit later.) Egypt is the most populous and probably most influential Arab country with a very large army and air force and is  a very close neighbor of Israel. And so we  wonder about many things. How did this uprising or revolution begin? Was there a trigger event? What ( not if) outside influences are involved?  Vice-president Biden’s comments to the contrary, Mubarak seems unlikely to survive. If he goes, then what or who? Who do we  favor, the government or those opposing the government?

The UK Daily Telegraph has an article today  stating that we have backed Egyptian dissidents who have worked on regime change for at least three years, ostensibly trying to bring about a democratic government. Of course in its 6,000 year history Egypt has never had such  a government  and is unlikely to have one any time soon.

Much of the above referenced speculation is drawing parallels between this uprising and the Iranian hostage crisis  of 1979. The result of course was an Iran with which we still have issues. Some are calling this a Carter moment for Obama, i.e. Carter”lost” Iran and Obama could be well on his way to “losing” Egypt.

Meanwhile the turmoil, including  rioting, looting, organized prison breaks etc continues. And at least three countries, Israel, Turkey and the United States have begun evacuating their citizens with others preparing to do likewise.

The turmoil will eventually end  and answers to most if not all of our questions  will come. But what kind of outcome will that be?

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January 30, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

About that Iranian Thing…

…..wasn’t it supposed to be over and done by now? Something about December and deadlines and agreements  and how Russia has smoothed it all over  and wasn’t all the Arab world going to fall in love  with us? You remember the speech in Egypt that  was so great, do you not?

And just the other day, Defense Secretary Gates held out hope for the sanctions to work. And now Hilary has given an interview that kinda says Iran is not the real problem since they don’t have a bomb,yet.

Don’t I remember somebody using the phrase “axis of evil” and being roundly  condemned for it. Why that cowboy diplomacy that makes the world hate us,how dare he!

And yet, today I read that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has told his atomic agency to significantly enrich the country’s  stockpile of uranium. And German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg  referred to the farce being played out  just like in the past. “The outstretched hand of the international community has not only been taken but pushed back.”

What did Herr Guttenberg mean do you think? We will agree with the UN plan maybe says Iran. If more sanctions were imposed it would a  4th round, if you’re counting, and neither Russia nor China seems  all that excited about it.

I just feel that I have written all of this before and yet here we are again. Wonder what Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel think about it all? Are they watching closely?” Bet your sweet bippy” they are. In fact he is in Russia as  we write on a “long-planned trip.” Wonder what they will discuss?

February 8, 2010 Posted by | Foreign Policy, International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

They Are Not Going Away Quietly

No matter how  much we might desire it to be so, Iran and its nuclear ambitions are not going anywhere. The United Nations speaks of sanctions, The IAEA wants to inspect, Israel gets worried, Gibbs expresses White House concern. All of these things have occurred over the past few days. But they have also  taken place previously. Seems  to be  the same song, with a higher verse number, maybe#25. I read a comment by David Wilbank  that seems to be the best summation of the entire Iranian nuclear stand-off. Wilbank, the British Foreign Secretary, said that “instead of engaging with us Iran choose to provoke and dissemble.” At least, someone recognizes what is happening.

Meanwhile, the outgoing head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei say the their investigation of Iran’s nuclear facilities is at  a dead-end.  Interesting that as his term ends, he becomes  somewhat more blunt than had previously been the case.

What sparked this latest. Today, Iran announced that it plans to build 10 industrial strength uranium enrichment facilities. This latest was apparently ordered by Hugo Chavez’ buddy, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Now pay lose attention to the following two statements. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs  says that time is running out for Iran to address the concerns of the international community, that apparently includes their Russian friends. The newly announced uranium enrichment facilities are going to built inside mountains to enable them to withstand attack(read that from Israel as Netanyahu has hinted at) from  abroad.

So, the stalemate lurches along. So far, there has been an unwillingness to impose any type of sanctions.Just have to believe that at some point, the proverbial bullet must be bitten and a negotiated agreement will have to give  way to some type of imposed one. How  that would work would certainly be a sticky wicket indeed. But given Iran’s recent track record, methinks there will come a time that it must be done.

November 29, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Secretary Clinton Overdid It

Want to know what she overdid ? Sure you do. She overdid her praise for Israel, of course and now she is having a bit of  a mea culpa. Madame Secretary was in  Marrakech, Morocco to speak to Arab concerns about the “positive reinforcement” she had provided Israel just 2 days earlier. (And you thought Marrakech was just part of a Crosby, Stills and Nash song).

The uproar relates its seems, primarily, to the  construction of Israeli settlements and their unwillingness to bring that construction to  a halt.  This seems to be a major stumbling block regarding Palestinian- Israeli  negotiations. Obama had earlier talked tough on the matter indicating that the construction would have to stop-period. She in fact repeated this assertion that the administration does not accept the legitimacy of the settlements. Unfortunately, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu seems disinclined to completely stop the construction. So, we have  a conundrum, No wonder, Mrs Clinton was reluctant to make the Middle East trip, anticipating all might not go well. Better watch that thinking or John Kerry might have her job.

Anyway, her new old statements seemed to satisfy a number of the Arab leaders in attendance including individuals from Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.

To more fully reinforce her statements today, she will add a previously unscheduled trip to Egypt. There she will meet with President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday. As of today, there has been no report of what Israel thinks of this” Back to the Future “endeavor . Doubtless, we will hear more.

November 2, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Still the Bear

On one side, we have President Obama and vice-president Biden. On the we have other side we have Prime Minister Putin( a clear case where  the #2 man is really #1) and President Medvedev. Without any  more information than that, which pair outweighs the other? And is it important? Sad to say, and I mean that sincerely, I fear that the Russian duo is the weightier of the two. I remember  Bush  saying that he had looked into Putin’s eyes and  found him trustworthy. This was in June, 2001. It did not necessarily turn out that way in the ensuing years . So, now Bush has moved on and Putin( remember, once KGB , always KGB) is still there.

I suppose that 2, maybe 3  things really started me thinking along these lines, one more so than the other. In recent weeks, both Shimon Peres and Benjamin Neyanyahu have been to Russia  and at the least  met with Medvedev. Did they meet with Putin, doesn’t really matter, now does it? Medvedev made the announcement that Israel  was not planning  a  strike on Iran. Now, examine this  a bit. Israel is our ally, Iran is Russia’s, yet a really important statement was  made by Russia on behalf of Israel.  Perhaps, while there, Netanyahu pushed  for Russia to restrain Iran. Did they agree, hard to say as the bear  seemed  to play his cards close. However, Medvedev reserved the right to sell S-300’s , classified as  defensive weapons by Russia, among other unnaned weapons, to Iran. This particular thing had to be galling to Israel which has tried in vain to prevent such sales.

Then Putin says just few days ago, that he and Medvedev might “switch” places again. In theory then, Putin  could be around for another 10-15 years. Really comforting thought, huh?

Finally, there is the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic that was and now is not. Russia is pleased,  conservatives are up in arms, opinion in Eastern Europe seems mixed , Obama says just chill out guys. It was  never   about Russia anyway. Perhaps, perhaps not. I will admit to a bit of confusion about the  issue. Should we interpret this  as a win for Russia, and a  loss for the United States or maybe a win-win.Do we want better relations with Russia, perhaps want and need is a better way of phrasing it.

What is interesting is that Senator Lindsay Graham, R, SC and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have different views, significantly different, of the President’s views. Realizing that this has been a bit of a ramble, let me just say that a somewhat significant shift on our part would go down better if there had beena  reciprocal  token, albeit small, from the bear. One will note that there was none, for Israel or the United States.

Growll !!

September 20, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem

So said Jesus in Matthew 23:37-39 in the days just before his crucifixion. it was the center of Israel in the days when He was on earth as it had been for many hundreds of years before. Located about 40 miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea, it has often been described as the center of the world. Today, there are about 800,000 inhabitants or  about 10% of Israel’s population.

Those are some facts about the city. But, there seems to be much more to disagree about than to agree with when it comes to a city considered holy by so many. Jewish people claim it as their own, some dating their claim to the Biblical patriarch, Abraham. In 1967, after 20 years of division, Israeli military forces reunited the city, tearing down many physical boundaries. Today, over 40 years later, the furor has really not subsided. What to do about Jerusalem seems to lie dead center in any ” peace”  negotiations between Arab and Jew. It’s mine, no mine and on it goes.

American presidents from Eisenhower on to Obama have had to focus on Israel and Jerusalem in varying degrees in an attempt to be a mediator. Now Mr Obama has his opportunity to reverse what many(particularly Arabs) seem as a blatant United States bias towards Israel. Some Palestinian leaders even say that the President has promised a new Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Further , a senior adviser ( Nimer Hamad)to the Palestinian president says that the Obama administration says that this is in the American national and security interest. To add fuel to the debate, if such were necessary, Mr Obama is due to make a major speech aimed at the Arab world on June 4. It will given at  Cairo University  amid speculation as to what he will or will not say and what are the implications of his speech, its locale etc. Many  will applaud the effort and say it is high time reverse the excessively pro-Israel tilt under Bush. Geo politically, they are probably correct. But if Joel Rosenberg is correct( and he has been numerous times before )  the coming train wreck of United States-Israeli relations will resound far beyond the political.

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

The peace of Jerusalem- Psalms 122:6

Shalom!

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Bible study, International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Netanyahu and Obama

A very important first meeting is coming up nest week between the leaders of the United States and Israel. The stakes are high, aren’t they always in  the Middle East or the Epicenter as Joel Rosenberg puts it so well. How will they get along, what will one propose to the other, what about Iran, what about the two state solution( see Pope Benedict) and on it goes.

Mr Netanyahu is aptly described as  a rightist and unlike Obama is not in favor of a two state solution. He is doubtless more concerned about Iran and what they might do or whether they will get an atomic bomb or not  than is the United States.

Just ahead of his trip here, CIA Director Panetta went to Israel and basically said, don’t preemptively  attack Iran without U S knowledge( read as approval). In other words, don’t repeat the attacks of 1967.

Given the fact that Obama has already met  with some Arab leaders and will meet with President Hosni Mubarak of  Egypt and Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas within a week or so, you  could say he tilts more Arab than Israeli.  A more definitive answer could very likely come in Obama’s speech in Egypt next month to the Muslim world. I , as others, would expect more substance in that speech than in their  meeting tomorrow.

One comment on the Obama/ Netanyahu meeting that I really liked came from  Daniel Levy, an adviser to former Israeli PM Ehud Barak.

“Short of the two men coming out of the White House bearing physical scars on their faces, the meeting will be judged a success.”

Now, Joel Rosenberg( a one time Netanyahu adviser) is not so sanguine. He fears a”train wreck”  in U S -Israeli Relations due to the aforementioned issues of Iran and the two state solution. Netanyahu has himself met with Mubarak, Pope Benedict and  Jordan’s King Abdullah II. No doubt those meetings will be a factor as well in what happens here.

One closing item, Obama received 75% of the Jewish vote in the 2008 election. Don’t you wonder why?

Shalom!

( Psalm 122:6)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
President Barack Obama

May 17, 2009 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments