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Ed Webb

Two New Books Spotlight the History and Consequences of the Suez Crisis - The New York ... - 0 views

  • The Eisenhower administration relied on the advice of officials who admired Nasser as a nationalist and anti-Communist: a secular modernizer, the long hoped-for “Arab Ataturk.” The most important and forceful of the Nasser admirers was Kermit Roosevelt, the C.I.A. officer who had done so much in 1953 to restore to power in Iran that other secular modernizer, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
  • To befriend Nasser, the Eisenhower administration suggested a big increase in economic and military aid; pressed Israel to surrender much of the Negev to Egypt and Jordan; supported Nasser’s demand that the British military vacate the canal zone; and clandestinely provided Nasser with much of the equipment — and many of the technical experts — who built his radio station Voice of the Arabs into the most influential propaganda network in the Arab-speaking world.
  • Offers of aid were leveraged by Nasser to extract better terms from the Soviet Union, his preferred military partner. Pressure on Israel did not impress Nasser, who wanted a permanent crisis he could exploit to mobilize Arab opinion behind him. Forcing Britain out of the canal zone in the mid-50s enabled Nasser to grab the canal itself in 1956. Rather than use his radio network to warn Arabs against Communism, Nasser employed it to inflame Arab opinion against the West’s most reliable regional allies, the Hashemite monarchies, helping to topple Iraq’s regime in 1958 and very nearly finishing off Jordan’s.
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  • Eisenhower’s humiliation of Britain and France in the Suez crisis of November 1956 weakened two allies — without gaining an iota of good will from Arab nationalists. Rather than cooperate with the United States against the Soviet Union, the Arab world’s new nationalist strongmen were transfixed by their rivalries with one another
  • the deepest drivers of the Arab and Muslim states, namely their rivalries with each other for power and authority
  • “The Middle East is in the throes of an historical crisis, a prolonged period of instability. American policy can exacerbate or ameliorate the major conflicts, but . . . in the Middle East, it is prudent to assume that the solution to every problem will inevitably generate new problems. Like Sisyphus, the United States has no choice but to push the boulder up a hill whose pinnacle remains forever out of reach.”
  • The grand conspiracy was doomed to fail. The canal was blocked for months, causing a crippling oil shortage in Europe. The Arab-Israeli conflict worsened, and the Muslim world was inflamed against its old overlords in the West with lasting consequences. The botched invasion occurred just as the Soviet Union was crushing a rebellion in Hungary, its Eastern bloc satellite. When the Kremlin, seeing the opportunity to divert international attention from its own outrages, issued a letter widely interpreted as a threat to attack London and Paris with nuclear weapons, the great powers seemed for an instant to be lurching toward World War III.

    The turmoil and danger created by the Suez crisis and the Hungarian rebellion have largely faded from popular memory.

  • he was not well. “His flashes of temper and fragile nerves led some to wonder about his genetic inheritance,” von Tunzelmann writes. “His baronet father had been such an extreme eccentric — complete with episodes of ‘uncontrolled rages,’ falling to the floor, biting carpets and hurling flowerpots through plate-glass windows — that even the Wodehousian society of early-20th-century upper-class England had noticed something was up.”

    As prime minister, Sir Anthony took to calling ministers in the middle of the night to ask if they had read a particular newspaper article. “My nerves are already at breaking point,” he told his civil servants. In October 1956, he collapsed physically for a few days. According to one of his closest aides, he used amphetamines as well as heavy painkillers, and a Whitehall official said he was “practically living on Benzedrine.”

  • About two-thirds of Europe’s oil was transported through the canal; Nasser had his “thumb on our windpipe,” Eden fumed. Eden made Nasser “a scapegoat for all his problems: the sinking empire, the sluggish economy, the collapse of his reputation within his party and his dwindling popularity in the country at large,”
  • Eisenhower was not always well served by the rhetoric of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles or the machinations of his brother, Allen Dulles, the director of central intelligence. And Eisenhower had a temper. “Bombs, by God,” he shouted when the British began striking Egyptian air fields. “What does Anthony think he’s doing? Why is he doing this to me?” But Eisenhower was shrewd and he could be coldly calculating. Understanding that the British would need to buy American oil, he quietly put Britain into a financial squeeze, forcing Eden to back off the invasion.
  • the take-away from von Tunzelmann’s book is obvious: When it comes to national leadership in chaotic times, temperament matters.
Ed Webb

Kushner's Middle East trip could help boost Arab cover for Israeli-Palestinia... - 0 views

  • Jared Kushner's first solo trip to the Middle East ended with no clear progress in the US pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace, although the widening gap between the two parties could be overcome by an intensified push for regional support, according to a former Washington intermediary. 
  • “If the Trump administration can show how it will counter or contain the Iranians in very practical terms,” he said, that “can be used to draw the Arabs into a more active role in  peacemaking”.

    He noted that Arab countries would still require “a move from the Israelis toward the Palestinians that they could point to as a way of justifying any outreach to Israel.”

  • “simply resuming negotiations without no understandings will produce nothing but talks that go nowhere. Given the level of disbelief and cynicism, that is the last thing that is needed.”
Ed Webb

Israel-US spat erupts ahead of Trump visit to region - 1 views

  • A diplomatic spat on Monday erupted between U.S. and Israeli officials, just days before a planned visit by President Donald Trump, after an American representative questioned Israel’s claim to one of the holiest sites in Judaism.
  • The Western Wall is revered as the holiest site where Jews can pray, and according to Channel 2 TV, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked to join Trump. The report said the Americans rebuffed the request, with one official telling the Israelis the site is “not your territory.” It said the comment prompted shouting from the Israeli preparatory team.
  • An official in Netanyahu’s office said the U.S. comment was “received with astonishment” and that Israel had asked the White House for an explanation.
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  • Israeli officials appear to be growing increasingly nervous over Trump’s visit
  • Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a senior member of Netanyahu’s coalition government, voiced concern Monday that “there has been a kind of change in the spirit” of Trump’s statements since he was elected.

    Bennett said he was not sure why Trump has changed his rhetoric.

    Bennett said he welcomed Trump’s arrival next week, but said Israel also has to stick to its positions. He said Israel must oppose attempts to establish a Palestinian state and insist on Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem “forever.”

Ed Webb

Jordan's worst nightmare could be yet to come if US embassy moves to Jerusalem | Middle... - 1 views

  • Trump’s repeated vows to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has disproportionately upset the Jordanian government which, at the moment, has no shortage of crises.
  • Key to understanding Jordan’s anxiety is the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty - sometimes called the Wadi Araba Treaty because of where it was signed – signed in October 1994 which stated that Israel would respect the special role that Jordan had historically played in Jerusalem’s holy places and, further, would give priority to the kingdom’s role during final status negotiations.
  • Israel also agreed at the time to refrain from changing – either geographically or demographically - the status of the holy city before reaching at a final agreement to which Jordan was a party.
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  • When Jordan annexed the West Bank in April 1950, Jerusalem became an integral part of the country whose constitution prohibits relinquishing or ceding any part of its territories.

    And even after Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, Jordan maintained the right to oversee the city’s holy Islamic and Christian places. To this very day, the Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf (Endowments) continues to provide custodianship and services at Al-Aqsa Mosque and other religious places in Jerusalem.

  • Jerusalem’s legal and political status constitutes an important strategic file as far as the Jordanian regime is concerned. If the US changes the city’s status, from a Jordanian perspective, that would mean that the very mediator and guarantor of the Wadi Araba agreement is taking unilateral measures to change the status of a disputed territory over which negotiations have not yet been finalised
  • Jordan is the most anxious party in the region as a result of Trump’s pledges with regard to move the US embassy, a measure which would imply US acknowledgment that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel
  • recognition like this of Jerusalem as the Israel capital would breach the 1994 peace agreement, destroy all peace efforts and fatally end the final status negotiations in which the city is one of the most prominent and most crucial issues
  • the Al-Aqsa intifada in 2000 erupted and raged on for several years because of the holy city. The uprising saw the collapse of the Oslo agreement with the termination of the geographical designation of the West Bank territories into A, B and C as well as the unilateral decision to withdraw Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip without negotiations
  • Jordan is keen to avoid more chaos in the region, but especially because a large proportion of Jordanian citizens have Palestinian roots and are linked, through family and tribal ties, to Palestinians living in the West Bank
  • moving the embassy would breach the Jordanian-Israeli agreement that was signed thanks to US mediation and sponsorship. It would render final status negotiations into absurdity because the most important issue – Jerusalem - would have been settled as a fait accompli by the Israelis and the Americans
Ed Webb

Israel faces world anger over illegal settlement law | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • Israel faced international criticism Tuesday over a new law allowing the appropriation of private Palestinian land for Jewish settler outposts, although the United States remained notably silent.

    Britain, France, the United Nations and Israel's neighbour Jordan were among those coming out against the legislation passed late Monday.

  • Pro-Palestinian Israeli NGOs said they would ask the Supreme Court to strike down the law, while Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog warned the legislation could result in Israeli officials facing the International Criminal Court.

  • Separately to the new law, Israel has approved more than 6,000 settler homes since Trump took office on January 20 having signalled a softer stance on the issue than Obama.
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  • The law could still be challenged, with Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying last week it was likely to be struck down by the Supreme Court.

    International law considers all settlements illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not, which are known as outposts.

  • To some Israelis, the law reflects their God-given right over the territory, regardless of the courts, the Palestinians and the international community.

    "All of the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people," said Science Minister Ofir Akunis of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, using the biblical term that includes the West Bank.

    "This right is eternal and indisputable."

    Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi called for the international community to assume its "moral, human and legal responsibilities and put an end to Israel's lawlessness."

Ed Webb

Saudi-Egypt crisis leaves Israel concerned - 0 views

  • a series of arms deals signed by Egypt that raised quite a few eyebrows in Israel. “They bought four German submarines and two French helicopter carriers for a small fortune,” another Israeli security source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “This comes in addition to huge deals with the Russians and the Chinese to purchase numerous fighter jets.”
  • “We hope that Sisi knows what he's doing,” the latter source said, “because we don’t really understand it.”
  • The Egyptians are hoping to receive “aerial coverage” from Israel, i.e., lobbying assistance on Egypt’s behalf, which has in the recent past come to Cairo’s aid in Washington on more than one occasion.
connelth

Shimon Peres Dies at 93; Built Up Israel's Defense and Sought Peace - 0 views

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    Shimon Peres, one of the last surviving pillars of Israel's founding generation, who did more than anyone to build up his country's formidable military might, then worked as hard to establish a lasting peace with Israel's Arab neighbors, died on Wednesday in a Tel Aviv area hospital. He was 93.
Ed Webb

Why more Israelis are shying away from interaction with Palestinians - Al-Monitor: the ... - 1 views

  • The Peace Index for March 2016, published by the Israel Democracy Institute, shows that a sizable majority of the Jewish public rejects the distinction between global terrorism, nurtured by radical Islam, and Palestinian terrorism, nurtured by the desire to shake off the Israeli occupation. Of those polled, 64% said they agree with the idea espoused by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that global terrorism and Palestinian terrorism are one and the same.
  • Israelis are in no rush to change the status quo
  • Some 78% think Israel should not take into consideration international demands to refrain from “targeted killings” (as the Israel Defense Forces calls the killing of wanted Palestinians), demolitions of family homes of Palestinians involved in attacks on Israelis and other questionable means used by the Israeli defense establishment in the fight against terrorism.
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  • the younger a person's age, the greater his or her resistance to a diplomatic process to end the conflict with the Palestinians. Those younger than 34 tend, more than older adults, to rule out compromise on core issues
  • “The problem is that they are busy chasing an electorate that is running to the right.”
  • The belief in Israeli society that there is no Palestinian partner for peace has taken hold and refuses to let go.
  • On the Israeli side, there is no entity like the one established by the Palestine Liberation Organization to maintain interaction with Israeli society. Abbas appointed his close associate Mohammed al-Madani to head this committee. In a conversation with Al-Monitor in fluent Hebrew, the deputy head of the committee, Elias Zananiri, said that he has no beef with the Israeli public running away from contact with the Palestinians.

    “Of course I’m frustrated with our lack of success in breaching the walls of Israeli fear and loathing, but I’m not completely surprised,” said Zananiri. “What do you expect of Jewish citizens whose leader questions the basic democratic rights of Israel’s Arab citizens?”

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    Ugh - don't read the comments
Ed Webb

Israel shoots the messenger: An open letter to Ban Ki-Moon | Middle East Eye - 0 views

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    Ouch!
Ed Webb

20 years after the assassination, Dalia Rabin ponders what might have been | The Times ... - 1 views

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    Rabin's daughter considers what would have happened if he had lived.
Ed Webb

Clinton questions Jordan's stability, provoking ire in Amman - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of... - 1 views

  • Clinton told an audience Oct. 7 in Mount Vernon, Iowa, that a final peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is unlikely until both sides “know what happens in Syria" and also depends on whether Jordan remains stable.
  • Questioning Jordan’s long-term stability angered many in the country’s political elite
  • “If such statements come from an individual who has no background to the Middle East and has a lack of intelligence about the situation in Jordan, nobody would react to it. But because it comes from Mrs. Clinton, this really has generated very serious and poor reactions in Jordan.”
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  • The local media has extensively covered Clinton’s comments, raising attention to an unwelcome issue for the Jordanian government.
  • While Clinton argued that potential Jordanian instability reduces chances for a peaceful Israeli-Palestinian outcome, many observers in Amman hold the opposite viewpoint: Israeli-Palestinian violence destabilizes the tranquil Hashemite kingdom. A Royal Court official told the International Crisis Group in March 2015, “Instability at Al-Aqsa harms internal Jordanian security and King Abdullah’s standing. We managed the Arab Spring with barely any protests of more than 800 participants. But an escalation at Al-Aqsa could bring out 80,000.” During the recent Jerusalem tensions, thousands of Jordanians protested in Amman and Irbid calling for harsher government policies against Israel. Amman faces a delicate balancing act given the public’s passionate opposition toward the Jewish state while still maintaining the country’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
Ed Webb

Israel and Jordan agree on Al-Aqsa Mosque surveillance - Al Jazeera English - 1 views

  • The United States says that Israel and Jordan have agreed on steps, including 24-hour video surveillance, to try and help end weeks of violence over a Jerusalem site holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians.
Ed Webb

Moscow Relishes Revamped Role in Mideast as Israel Seeks Assurances in Syria | Foreign ... - 1 views

  • Israel fears the Kremlin’s buildup could further escalate the Syrian civil war and embolden Iran and Hezbollah, its two greatest foes in the Middle East, both of which have joined Moscow in supporting Damascus. Amid uncertainty over Russia’s role in Syria, Netanyahu’s visit is meant to prevent a scenario in which the Israeli army and Russian forces accidentally fire at each other. The Israeli prime minister also seeks assurances from Putin that advanced weapons in Syria won’t be used to help arm Hezbollah, with whom Israel fought a devastating war in 2006.
  • Israel and Russia will establish a coordination mechanism to prevent clashes between their forces on the Syrian border
  • In the past, Israel and Russia have managed to agree on security issues through concessions to one another. Israel halted military supplies to Georgia after a war in 2008 with Russia. In exchange, Moscow shelved plans to supply the S-300 air defense system to Iran and Syria.
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  • Russia is Israel’s top oil supplier
  • Israel also has remained neutral in the Ukraine conflict, refusing to support American and European efforts to denounce Russia’s annexation of Crimea or join the Western sanctions regime against Moscow
  • Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, an elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, visited Moscow in July to coordinate Russian and Iranian support for Assad. Moreover, Russian officials now say they expect to agree to terms on the delivery of the S-300s to Iran by the end of the year, though it is unclear when it will go ahead
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