Coward Old Universe…

by Jeremy G.

Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Nuclear Iran: Plan B?

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on February 18, 2009

The Telegraph ran an interesting story today, indicating that Israel is targeting key Iranian scientists involved in the country’s quest for the nuclear bomb.  Granted, those who have followed this issue and those who know the existential fears that Iran’s nuclear program is causing in Israel will not find this surprising.

That said, Israeli efforts to disrupt the program hint at how difficult plans to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities are to implement.  Such plans are also likely to be highly inefficient.  Contrary to Osirak, Saddam’s single nuclear reactor whose location was not a big secret, it is highly probable that the Israelis and the West have very little information regarding the location of the Iranian facilities.  Launching an air strike against those involve two major and inter-related risks: 1) Failing to destroy all of the facilities and 2) allowing Iran to mobilize the “Arab Street” – if that actually still means anything – further.  The combination of those two factors would have far more disastrous consequences than the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.   Israel’s failure to clearly win the conflict allowed Hezbollah to claim full victory.  But Hezbollah is only a group, not a country with Iran’s resources.

So there is an alternative.  However, in the long run, efforts for a rapprochement with Iran – and not its regime – which shares far more with the West than any other country in the region, will be essential to establishing a solid peace and to addressing the major issues in the Gulf.

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Posted in Israel, Nuclear Iran | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Fuis moi, je te suis…

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on July 21, 2008

Il n’y aura donc pas eu de poignée de mains entre Olmert et Assad.  On croirait observer deux adolescents à une boom qui cherchent à conclure, mais tellement anxieux qu’ils ne savent pas comment s’y prendre.  Vexée, la Syrie s’amuse à féliciter Kuntar, le tueur d’enfants et l’un des terroristes les plus cruels que l’on ait connu dans l’histoire du Proche Orient, libéré en échange de deux dépouilles de soldats israéliens. 

 

 

L’ancienne jurisprudence israélienne ne tient plus: le sort de ceux avec du sang sur les mains redevient négociable.  L’enthousiasme d’hier tient toujours, mais pas sans incertitude ni doute. 

 

 

Posted in Israel, Politique étrangère française, Proche Orient, Syrie | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

La grosse bourde de Guaino

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on July 15, 2008

Dans l’émission d’Europe 1, C’est arrivé demain, le journaliste Fabien Namias a titillé Henri Guaino, plume de Sarkozy et l’architecte de l’Union pour la Méditerranée, à propos de la venue de Bachar el-Assad à Paris.  Guaino, faussement agacé – la question est bien légitime – a cru répondre avec intelligence mais en a cruellement manqué: Certains ont critiqué la France pour avoir invité Israël, d’autres pour avoir invité la Syrie.  Conclusion politicienne: Si tout le monde nous critique, c’est bien parce qu’on a raison.

J’ai défendu l’invitation faite à el-Assad ici.  Les propos de Guaino, en revanche, sont inadmissibles et profondément insupportables.  Ils font penser aux moments les plus absurdes de la diplomatie chiraquienne pour laquelle tout se valait.  Inutile ici d’expliquer pourquoi Israël n’est pas la Syrie, et pourquoi les critiques contre l’invitation faite à un Etat ont bien peu de crédibilité par rapport aux critiques adressées à l’encontre d’une politique consistant à inviter un dictateur.

Mais ce relativisme a quelque chose de choquant, lui qui était la première cible de Sarkozy et qui émane aujourd’hui d’un membre de son équipe – elle qui prétendait rompre avec des habitudes passées.  L’exécutif français ferait mieux de se méfier: à vouloir dépenser son capital politique, il risquerait de se retrouver endetté envers des groupes et des idéologies bien peu fréquentables.

Posted in politique française | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Gaza, prison à deux murs

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on January 30, 2008

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L’article de Micheletti et de Rajablat, publié dans le Monde, n’apporte rien de nouveau au débat actuel sur Gaza.  Il répète les mêmes arguments utilisés depuis longtemps: Gaza est une “prison à ciel ouvert”, le blocus qu’Israël impose est irresponsable, et il est grand temps que l’Europe fasse pression sur l’Etat hébreu et dialogue avec le Hamas.  Les deux auteurs ont néanmoins le bon goût de mentionner le harcèlement permanent dont fait l’objet les Israéliens qui subissent la pluie de roquettes tirées de Gaza – territoire libéré depuis 2005…

Cela n’empêche pourtant pas que:

  1. Pendant la nuit, un père de famille a soixante-dix secondes pour réunir sa femme et ses enfants, et atteindre l’abri le plus proche, lors d’une attaque de roquettes.  Quand celles-ci tomberont sur une école, espérera-t-on éviter une guerre véritable?  L’enjeu mériterait plus que deux lignes.
  2. Selon les auteurs, ces tirs permettent à Israël de “justifier sa stratégie actuelle”.  Lapsus ou véritable argument?  Israël souhaitait vraiment trouver un prétexte pour intervenir à Gaza?  Mais pourquoi avoir évacué le territoire?
  3.  Qui dit “prison”, à part si l’on parle du Lesotho, du Vatican ou de Saint Marin, dit des frontières multiples.  Or, où est passé l’Egypte, dans tout ce débat?  L’autre voisin de la Palestine a disparu.  Les pays arabes, Egypte en tête, auraient pourtant tout à gagner à participer à la construction d’un Etat viable, quitte à moins crier à l’injustice lorsque Washington se mêle des affaires de la région.
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Les Israéliens et les Américains ne sont pas dénués de toute responsabilité dans cette situation.  Mais ils semblent rester les meilleurs amis des Palestiniens, à l’heure actuelle, étant donné cet immobilisme arabe.

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Posted in Le Monde, Proche Orient | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Iran, the True Target at Annapolis

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on November 26, 2007

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The upcoming International Peace Conference in Annapolis has raised many questions  and has been a source of significant pessimism.  Those who follow Middle Eastern events may remember the 2000 fiasco  in Camp David.

The scenario I find more likely is a bit different: My expectation is that this summit will result in a common declaration, underscoring progress made and a common willingness to continue.  The 2000 violent outbreak will not occur – not for now at least.  Two major reasons motivate this intuition.  Both are related to the fact that all participants, Israel and Arab countries alike, face the same two threats.

The first threat is represented by Hamas.  The terrorist movement has already made threats against Israel, and has expressed deep disappointment towards a wide Arab participation at this summit, which is thus certainly not contributing to its interests.  Most observers agree that should Annapolis fail miserably and in a clear way, Hamas will likely be the true winner, and emerge even stronger.  A takeover of the West Bank, similar to the takeover of Gaza last June, is not excluded in this context.

The second threat relates to Iran.  The Annapolis Summit is a clear opportunity for America and for Arab countries, including Jordan, Egypt, and, most of all, Saudi Arabia, to isolate Tehran.  As a matter of fact, Iran represents as big of a threat for Israel as it does for the countries of the GCC and other Sunni countries of the region.  The “Shia Crescent” – expression that was coined by King Abdullah of Jordan himself – is headed by Iran, who has found valuable allies in Damascus and in Lebanon – Hezbollah being Tehran most significant resource. 

In this context, Syria’s participation at Annapolis is a huge blow to Tehran.  Syria, headed by an Alawite – a sect of Shiite Islam – family, has been a key component of the “Shia Crescent”.  Nevertheless, the majority of its population is Sunni.  In addition, there has been subsequent evidence of a rapprochement with Jordan, demonstrating, among many other things, the fragility of Syria’s adherence to the Shia axis in the Middle East.  Combined with America’s efforts to empower the Gulf countries in the region – best exemplified by last summer’s $20 billion deal in arm sales – against the threat coming from Tehran, the Annapolis summit constitutes additional evidence that Iran has become a new focal point for America, Israel and Arab countries alike.

Claiming that this will lead to an Entente Cordiale between Israelis and Palestinians, under the pressure of America and Arab countries, is a stretch that I will not make here.  However, the lower likelihood of a miserable and violent ending similar to 2000 should temper pessimistic views repeatedly expressed on this summit.

Posted in Middle East, US Foreign Policy | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Négociation, Négociation, Négociation. Certes.

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on October 18, 2007

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 La conférence internationale à venir sur le Proche-Orient fait l’objet d’énormément de scepticisme, tant les positions des Palestiniens et des Israéliens semblent loin les unes des autres.  Le quotidien libanais L’Orient Le Jour nous fait part du souhait des Palestiniens que les Américains fassent pression sur les Israéliens.  Jeu politique somme toute logique, qui a lieu dans n’importe quelle négociation internationale.

Reste cependant que les alternatives sont rares et les chances de succès sont minces, que les idées font défaut aux acteurs et commentateurs.  En témoigne l’ “analyse” dans le quotidien français le Monde d’aujourd’hui, de Michel Bôle-Richard qui croit constater:

Peut-on encore parler d’un Etat palestinien viable et continu, alors que les réalités démontrent qu’il risque prochainement de devenir une fiction, à moins que les Israéliens soient prêts à d’immenses sacrifices. Ce qui semble loin d’être le cas.

L’opinion de Bôle-Richard n’a rien de déshonorant, à part qu’il s’agit bien d’une opinion et non d’une analyse; mais Le Monde n’en n’est pas à son coup d’essai.  Les propos de Bôle-Richard reflètent cependant un manque de réalisme assez ahurrissant au regard des événéments récents: assaut du Hamas à Gaza qui ne laisse rien présager de bon quant aux intentions du groupe de négocier, tirs de mortiers répétés – plus de 1000 depuis la prise de pouvoir du Hamas à Gaza – sans compter les provocations ridicules et stériles des cadres du Fatah – qui ne sont pas sans rappeler les propos de Arafat à Camp David II: aux dires du Raïs, le Temple de Salomon n’aurait jamais existé à Jérusalem…  Rien, dans l’ “analyse” du Monde, ne fait état de cela.

Il va de soi qu’Israël va devoir payer le prix cher pour obtenir une paix durable.  Il n’y a cependant rien de “logique” dans ces négociations ni dans ce que l’Etat hébreu “doit” faire, contrairement à ce que semble considérer Bôle-Richard, et encore moins quand on endure la pression des mortiers, de manière continue, sur son propre territoire.   Il y d’ailleurs de quoi se réjouir qu’un tel engin n’est pas encore atteint une école maternelle, car il y aurait fort à parier que Olmert n’aurait pas besoin de grand chose pour déclencher une opération d’envergure et mettre durablement fin à toute perspective de dialogue.  Il est grand temps que l’on s’en rende compte en Europe, pour qu’enfin le Vieux Continent puisse jouer le rôle qu’il mérite.

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Posted in Politique étrangère américaine, Proche Orient | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The end of Palestine?

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on June 27, 2007

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Who’s fault is it? That’s an issue that has come up repeatedly. Bret Stephens probably provides the best answer in the Wall Street Journal today, but says little about the future. He only points out a fact that scares a whole lot of people: The very notion of Palestine might have died with Hamas’s coup two weeks ago.

If little is said about the future, it is most certainly because the West finds itself in a very unpleasant situation. First, the U.S., and George W. Bush, who advocated a profound change in Palestinian politics back in 2003, actively participated in Arafat’s estrangement, and was the first – and rightfully so – to denounce Hamas’s win in January 2006. So, back to square one and support for the PA? Strange situation, as Robert Satloff points out.

Next in line in this unpleasant situation is the European Union, who accepted the U.S.’s condemnation – and rightfully so – of Hamas, but must now face the monstrous dilemma it created: Choose between corruption and terrorism, knowing that the first nourishes the second. Voices are speaking out, including this one in France – although with a taint of distasteful moral relativism, as Israel, Iran and Hamas are treated on the very same level, but then again, this is the Quai d’Orsay talking… Now, Europe must deal with decades of inaction in the region. Lebanon, under Syrian rule, was the first issue to blow up in our faces. Palestine is second.

So… Where do we go from now? Historical irony let this period coincide with Blair’s departure from Downing Street. My intuition is that Blair‘s legacy will be openness to act on the international stage, and not accept historical fatalism – although some time will need to fly by before he is actually granted such legacy. It’s almost a shame that his departure coincides with Sarkozy’s arrival, as one would have liked to see how the two men’s international willingness – on the issues of Darfur and the European Construction for instance – would have been combined in practice.

But, in all likelihood, Blair will not disappear, and be named the Quartet‘s Ambassador in the Middle East. Perhaps this will be a way for the West to intervene directly in Palestine, and not let “fate” decide what occurs. And perhaps this will avoid today’s dilemma, because it is reasonable to believe that we – Palestinians included – do not need to choose between corruption and terrorism.

Posted in International Willingness, Middle East, World Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

War in Gaza

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on June 19, 2007

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Two schools of thoughts compete to explain Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip last week. On the one hand, many commentators and militants of the Palestinian cause indicate that the recent events were inevitable, given the state of the asphixiation – the recurrent “Gaza is an open-sky prison” argument. On the other, many more commentators in the West point out that given the nature of terrorist movement Hamas, it’s almost surprising that this military coup did not occur earlier.

Beyond this – yet again – classic split, there are two observations that must be made. 

Fouad Ajami sums up best the first observations:

The political maxim that people get the leaders they deserve must be reckoned too cruel to apply to the Palestinians. Before Hamas, for four decades, the vainglorious Yasir Arafat refused to tell his people the basic truths of their political life. Amid the debacles, he remained eerily joyous; he circled the globe, offering his people the false sense that they could be spared the consequences of terrible decisions.

In fact, there is a disturbing gap with regards to the way the Palestinian élite has been treated by the international community and the effective benefits the Palestinian population has drawn from international support.  The outbreak of violence between Fatah and Hamas last week was the result of a decade-long practice of corruption and disregard for fellow citizens on the part of the Palestinian Authority.  As resentment grew stronger, it became increasingly harder for the Palestinian authority to check the discontent.  The longer one prevents an abscess from bursting, the more painful it is when this actually occurs.  Hamas‘ victory in the January 2006 elections was just a first step.

The second lesson is fairly obvious one, but seems to be systematically forgotten throughout the Middle East and in Europe: Violent groups are a threat to everyone in the long run, even to those who harbor them.  Like Lebanon with Hezbollah, Palestine is paying the hard price for composing with Hamas and following the oldest – yet faulty – maxim in the book that the “enemy of my enemy is my friend”.  Leaving such groups as Hezbollah and Hamas develop just weakened the states that habored them, as well as the neighboring countries that allowed for this to happen – Egypt being first in line. 

By the way, from this perspective, the  “Gaza is an open-sky prison” argument is a fairly interesting one: Doesn’t it entail an equal responsability for both Israel and Egypt?  Such a reality has been poorly relayed recently, as no emphasis has been put on the very low level of help provided in general by Arab states to the Palestinians.  It is really hard in this context to believe that the Palestinian people has what it deserves.

Posted in Israel, Palestine, World Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Israel Lobby: You Wanna Talk?

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on November 3, 2006

… so let’s talk…  but you’re not going to like it.

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The Council for National Interest , in an attempt to influence the outcome of next week’s American elections, published an ad in the New York Times claiming that the Israeli lobby is trying  to sell “another” war to the US government, that is the one that Israel would be currently leading in Gaza and in Lebanon.  This claim should be closely related to the idea, shared among many political analysts today, that the war in Iraq will play a decisive role in the outcome of the election.  The claim should also be linked to an idea that the CNI is trying to impose: The war in Iraq was heavily influenced by Israel’s stakes in the region.  An idea that is largely disputed and that does not hold when confronted with the facts.  French paper Marianne for instance published in March 2004 an investigation on the subject emphasizing on Sharon’s apprehensions regarding the intervention in Iraq as well as Israeli fears with regards to Teheran, not Baghdad. 

The Council is known for its anti-Israeli stance on every single issue the Middle East could possibly raise – and that’s perfectly fine in a democracy – and for its praise and numerous references to Mershaiemer and Walt’s recent article on the role Israel has played in the shaping of the US Foreign policy since 1948.  The article argued that while Israeli interests have bent American Foreign policy, the influence has been highly negative and in opposition with American interests.  The criticism and analysis was coming from two credible and very respected academic personalities, and CNI was not about to miss the opportunity to refer to it whenever it could…  But that certainly does not mean that the article was not full of flaws, inaccuracies and absurd thinking.

In my opinion, the best response to that article was brought  French historian Justin Vaïsse, in LibérationWhy this obsession with Israel and why should this country always be considered through a different lens than any other?  Vaisse expresses his surprise because there is very little about the Cold War which was crucial in US Foreign Policy, and because Saudi Arabia is only mentioned once in the article.  He emphasizes the role the Cuban lobby plays on US Foreign Policy without causing so much debate. He also mentions other personalities such as Zbigniew Brzezinski, Anatol Lieven, Juan Cole, Robert Malley, Stanley Hoffmann or Henry Siegman and other researchers (Flynt Leverett, Shibley Telhami ou Muqtedar Khan) to argue that the debate in the US over the alliance with Israel is much more complex than the picture that the two authors give.  I would personnally add that Sorosexpressed intention to create a new Jewish lobby, but on the left wing, in order to compete with AIPAC, is just another instance of how lively the debate over American support to Israel is.

All of those questions were raised by numerous other analysts, in the US as well as in Europe.  Nobody cared to comment.

Debate in democracies are healthy.  Obsessions are not.  That is true in the US as well as in Europe, especially on the matter of the Israeli question.  So if CNI wants to launch this debate, it will have to accept the fact that it may just not appreciate the conclusions that will come out of it.  Unlike what Mershaiemer and Walt claim, the convergence of interests between the US and Israel might just be quite real.  One may certainly criticize the way the Israelis handled the crisis with Lebanon, but I do not know of many countries that would have preferred giving Hizbullah the impression that its actions were not totally inappropriate or acceptable.  In general, in spite of the founded or very wild criticism that we can hear on both sides of the Atlantic and directed towards Israel, I don’t know of many countries that would be ready to totally sacrifice that convergence to a short run collaboration with radical regimes and other groups. 

To CNI:  You have most probably selected an interesting issue, but you do not have any clue with regards to how to tackle it.  Deal with it the right way, just for the sake of the cause you are defending.  

Posted in Lobbies, World Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »