Qatar, cold shoulders for Kerry, and a mysterious offer

Dr. Norman Bailey

Recent developments in the region hold out both promise and threats for Israel.

A trio of new developments is worthy of notice. All of them affect Israel directly or indirectly.

As a first result of the Saudi crackdown on Qatar, a dozen major Muslim Brotherhood (MB) officials were "invited" to leave the emirate (read "expelled"). They will not be homeless, of course. Turkey among others will be happy to receive them, but the development is significant as a first step towards removing Qatar from the shrinking support group behind Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorists. The content of the Arabic broadcasts on Al-Jazeera should be carefully monitored to see if it changes significantly from its former anti-West, anti-Israel and pro-terrorist stance, which was another Saudi demand. This is good news for Israel, and potentially even better.

Secretary of State John Kerry is now on another quixotic quest in the mysterious Middle East, this time to try to convince countries of the region to provide the "boots on the ground" in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) that the Western countries are not willing to commit. So far, not much luck. Turkey is opting out completely, which is not surprising, given its original and continuing support for the IS. Egypt's al-Sisi will not soon forget or forgive Obama and Kerry's support for the MB Morsi government and its opposition to the Egyptian army's overthrow of that government. No support there. The Saudis and Emiratis will contribute funds but no troops. It should not be forgotten that they offered to pay the entire cost of a rocket attack on Syria's chemical facilities before Obama's erasure of his own "red line". Looks like it will be up to a reconstituted Iraqi army and associated Shiite militias, the Kurds, and perhaps various assorted tribal or political groups to provide the ground forces, backed up by US, French and British air power. Will that be enough? Much depends on the degree to which IS has been able to obtain air defense systems, since it has no air force. For Israel, the most serious threat is the possibility that IS may be pushed westward and end up attacking Jordan, or even Lebanon and/or the Golan.

Finally the mysterious Egyptian proposal which may or may not have been made to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, and which he may or may not have rejected, to provide an area in the Sinai five times larger than the Gaza Strip, to be a homeland for the Palestinian people, welcoming all the scattered refugees as well as any West Bank inhabitants who wish to relocate. A brilliant solution to an intractable problem. Added elements were apparently that the new "Palestine" would be demilitarized and administered by the Palestinian Authority (PA) minus Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which would be banned. Egypt and the PA subsequently denied that any such offer had been made. Almost certainly it was made, and certainly it was rejected by Abbas, who has no interest whatsoever in actually resolving the refugee situation, which would completely eliminate his reason for being. Conclusion, it is a brilliant idea and will not happen as long as the present PA leadership is in place. Which may suggest a way of encouraging the fulfillment of the project.

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 - - on September 16, 2014

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2014

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