Two recent developments in the Middle East are likely to have long-lasting effects on Israel. One is the decision on the part of the United States to extend the discussions with Iran for another four months, until late November, exactly one year after the original agreement between Iran and the six powers. This extension was negotiated directly between Secretary of State Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif.
That there would be no agreement within the originally negotiated period was obvious because Supreme Leader Khamenei said that there wouldn't be. Under the circumstances it is clear what both sides can expect from the delay. In the case of Iran, four more months of preparation for nuclear weapon capacity as well as continued collapse of the sanctions, and in the case of the United States, stretching the negotiations out until after the November Congressional elections, so that the Administration would not have to admit failure prior to the vote.
For everyone else, especially Israel, nothing at all can be expected from this delay; certainly not a meaningful agreement. It now remains to be seen what attitude the US Congress is going to take, since important sectors of both parties have threatened to re-impose and strengthen the original sanctions regime. Even if such a bill were to pass, however, it would certainly be vetoed by President Obama.
As to Gaza and Hamas, so far the prime minister has handled the situation very well indeed. Equally important, Hamas has lost almost all support in the region. At this point its only allies are Iran, which can do little; Turkey, which is trusted neither by Israel nor by Egypt and thus will have no role as a mediator, and Qatar. The Qatari funds that were to be sent to Hamas have been blocked, so that once Hamas' military capacity has been degraded, its state of bankruptcy will continue.
At this point a likely outcome would be a takeover of Gaza by the Palestinian Authority. Given the manifest weakness of the PA that is not a bad result, and who is to say that there won't be a change of leadership of the PA in the not distant future? Rumors are rife.
Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft at The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC, and teaches at the Center for National Security Studies and Geostrategy, University of Haifa.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 21, 2014
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