Short Takes on the Middle East
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Something fascinating and extremely alarming may be developing in Syria. It appears that so far the Syrians are actively complying with the U.N.’s requests and have permitted the U.N. team rapid entrée to and presumably the capacity to proceed with the destruction of at least some of the gas stockpile; certainly a positive move. The Assad Government is gaining praise from many circles for these steps; however, the question is what is really going on in Syria. It is clear that this tactic has permitted the Syrian Government to continue its efforts to degrade and destroy at least some of the rebel forces, while the international community focuses on gas destruction. The unknown and very scary question, certainly for Israel, is how much of the gas not being destroyed may have been transferred to Syria’s favorite allies—Iran and Hezbollah.
Libya and the U.S
Wednesday's news reported that Libya was shocked at the blatant U.S. invasion of its national sovereignty in pursuit of the major Al Qaeda terrorist leader, Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai (known as Abu Anas al-Libi) as well as Ahmed Abu Khattala, who has been reported to have orchestrated the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on 9/11/12. Few people question the U.S. assertion that it indeed did inform the Libyan authorities at some point prior to U.S. Special Forces’ incursion into Libya and the successful extraction Ahmed Abu Khattala. The question is why the second operation was aborted or needed to be cancelled given the apparent pre-clearance by the U.S. of the moves; except, of course, if U.S. intelligence concluded that this effort had been compromised by Libyan contacts who had undermined the planned operation. (This type of support from the Libyan authorities makes it extremely clear why the U.S. did not give Pakistan prior notice of their intention to extract Osama bin Laden from his hiding place in Abbottabad.)
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s Shiva
When Prime Minister Netanyahu sat shiva for his father 18 months ago, Shaul Mofaz and Bibi were on the verge of making an agreement to join political forces in the Knesset. Out of respect to the death of Netanyahu's father, thery refrained from public discussion of this entire issue during the seven day mourning period being observed by the Netanyahu family after his father’s passing. It now appears that in the course of the Prime Minister’s condolence visit to the family of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, following the passing of one of this leading and most revered Torah scholar, one Rabbi Yosef ‘s sons, Rabbi David Yosef, told the Prime Minister that his Government’s proposal to draft haredi Yeshiva students into the army had been more painful to the late Rabbi Yosef than the death of his son from cancer earlier this year and did more damage as well to his ailing heart.
Politics is always about catching your opponent when he/she least expects it. Score one for the Shas Party exploiting the shiva of their spiritual leader. Even Netanyahu, a secular Jew, had avoided doing so following the passing of his father.