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Why Israel Will Be More Secure in 2014 than in 2013

Articles in the Israeli media based on analysis of security in 2014 present a surprisingly optimistic assessment, though not from a U.S. perspective and still with some warnings.

Most of the work is by Ron Ben Yishai, and it poses a very different, and, I think, more accurate view than in the rest of the world.

Direct conventional threats to Israel decreased dramatically due to internal conflicts and conflict among hostile states.

Second, while there are a greater number of terror groups, they are more diffuse and divided (especially along Sunni-Shi’a lines). As Ben Yishai points out, “Sinai and Syria have at the moment--and will likely have next year too--good, existential reasons to try not to get entangled in a wide-scale conflict with Israel.”

As for Syria, it isn’t going to make big problems for Israel, as it has enough problems of its own already.

And that’s also true of Lebanon: “Experts estimate [that Hizballah will] think twice before entering a conflict with the IDF. Hassan Nasrallah is maintaining his powers so that he can attack Israel if Iran's nuclear facilities are attacked and in order to continue aiding the Assad regime in Syria. This aid-- at Khamenei's explicit order-- put Nasrallah in a complicated situation against the other factions in Lebanon and weakened him.”

Hizballah “hardly strengthened its military capabilities in the past year… at the cost of hundreds of casualties” and it “has not received a lot of strategic weapons from Syria or Iran.” If Hizballah pushes Israel, it is estimated that it will suffer a very serious defeat.

Gaza and Hamas might pose a more serious problem. There is an effort by Hamas to build tunnels to launch rockets. But remember that here, out of self-interest, Egypt is cooperating to stop this, which takes us to our third point.

Third is Egypt. Israel and Egypt need each other to coordinate fighting Islamist terrorism in Sinai. And as for trust in the U.S. policy, Egypt is like a U.S. client that just got an Obamacare insurance cancellation in the mail. Egypt needs Russia, too.

“Not all of these positive opportunities and others will be realized in the coming year, but even if some of them yield a positive result--it's good enough.” Remember that, again, this is in no way due to U.S. policy.

Fourth, the Sunni bloc has been split by Egyptian anger toward Turkey (Turkey’s support for the overthrown Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt recently kicking out the Turkish ambassador) and Saudis who suspect Turkey may be playing up to Iran (as well as distrust because they are Turks).

Fifth is the set of interests shared between Israel and Saudi Arabia, given Iran's regional status and the threat hanging over them of Iranian hegemony as well as that of radical political Islamism.

Sixth, it will weaken focus on the Palestinian issue and increase the divide between Hamas and Fatah, with Iran becoming Hamas’s main patron.

“In general, Hamas is in a lousy situation and is trying to draw closer to Iran again in order to renew the financial aid.” But this also infuriates Egypt and Saudi Arabia.