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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Post-Egypt: Hezbollah Throws The Ball To Israel's Court

As the Arab states face popular unrest, Hezbollah chief has asked his militants to be prepared to invade northern Israel if a war breaks out. Clearly, the Lebanon-based guerrilla group is trying to take advantage of the situation in West Asia, but it could also be a sign of extremists in the region feeling threatened by secular democracy activists undermining the role they have held for decades.

"Chaos and confusion in the streets of the Middle-East is what would follow if any of the incumbent regimes of the Arab states were overthrown in a mass uprising". This is what most "middle-east experts and observers" had been warning since decades and especially in the last decade. Ironically, after the Egyptian #Jan25 revolution, it is these experts and diplomats who seem to be panicking now. So I wouldn't hazard a guess on which direction Arab politics would head once the dust has settled down in Tahrir. And of course, the ramifications are going to be huge and far reaching. However,t it wouldn't be difficult to realize that certain entities do face huge threat after the recent turn of events, Israel being the crucial and most visible one.



If Israel feels threatened after losing its key ally in the region, its other allies such as the kings of Saudi Arab and Jordan may not only be at grave risk of being overthrown, but can also be seen as rulers who can longer avoid the demands of the people which undoubtedly runs contrary to Israel's policies.But we shouldn't forget there are other parties too who might feel threatened even if they are on the same side. Islamist militants have been fighting these very regimes and their supporters (read US) since nearly a century now, yet is was largely the secular class that toppled the last Pharaoh of Egypt.

The political maturity,civility and tolerance displayed by Egyptians during the Nile Revolution was exemplary. The self-restrain, and adherence to non-violence displayed even on the face of attack by government sponsored goons, would have made Mahatma Gandhi smile. Despite the Muslim Brotherhood being the largest opposition party in Egypt, the movement was absolutely secular in nature, with Muslim Brotherhood towing the line set by the secular middle class. It would be pertinent here to mention that the Brotherhood did not join the protest initially but was later forced by its younger,moderate leaders to jump in the fray. May be it is too early to say, but Hezbollah's warning could be a sign that Islamist militants are getting apprehensive of losing their standing and political clout in the Arab world.In repressive regimes where dissent is met with execution, the disaffected people are more likely to support or join militant groups as there is no alternative mechanism of expressing dissent or even demanding basic rights and justice. As the secular democratic movement strengthens, the clout of militants is likely to decrease, which may not be acceptable to the latter. As they try to keep themselves relevant, there is a likelihood that they would raise tension in the region by covert or overt means.  


Strangely enough, the key to West-Asia's future lies more with Israel than any other entity. With Iran's getting increasingly closer to possessing nuclear weapon,Hezbollah winning the election in Lebanon and the current unrest in its Arab neighborhood, Israel's security seems to be seriously under threat. What could further tilt the balance in its foes favor is the fact that Hezbollah in particular has the psychological advantage since in the last Israel- Hezbollah contest, the former withdrew without achieving its objective, making the Hezb chief a hero in the Arab streets.  In the recent 11th Annual Herzliya Conference on Israel's National Security Jewish leaders seemed reasonably concerned in the Post-Egypt political situation.


It says volumes about the perceptions of the dangerous changes in the region when the easiest foreign policy win is now perceived to be a peace deal with the Palestinians. To be sure, those who advocated for negotiations to begin immediately had different takes on the difficulties of achieving a final agreement, but all speakers, from Israel and abroad, implored Israel's current leaders to make that deal. This new conventional wisdom, post Egypt, is that peace with the Palestinians is the only way to prevent a return to Israel being surrounded by enemies,.... [ Huffington Post ]
In the din of the Egyptian uprising, Al-Jazeera's publishing of  Palestinian Papers has not gotten the attention it deserves but it could be back in spotlight,as would Wikileaks disclosures, when the focus shifts to Israel. The leaked documents, in the words of President Shimon Peres, "as proof of how willing the Palestinians are, essentially destroying the oft repeated claim or, according to some, excuse, that Israel does not have a viable peace partner." 
[ Huffington Post ]


As I said in the beginning, it would be unwise to try predicting how the situation in the West Asia would unfold but there is a probability of secular-minded democracy activists being able to tame the radical militant groups to some extent but apart from the US, how Israel reacts to developments would determine the future of the region.



 

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