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Middle East war closer than ever

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Flag of Egypt. What happened in Egypt is a metaphor for American policy failures in the Middle East.

A Middle East war is closer to breaking out today than it has been since 1982. And Israel arguably has the American government to thank.

The Cairo Embassy Incident

On Friday night (September 9), a lawless mob in Cairo stormed and ransacked the Israeli embassy. They put the ambassador and more than 80 diplomatic employees to flight and trapped six guards inside. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu frantically called Washington for help. The man now holding office as President, Barack H. Obama, said that he would “do what [he could].”

Incredibly, Egyptian Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the temporary military governor of Egypt, did not answer the telephone for two hours. Finally, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta got through to him. According to The Daily Telegraph (London), Panetta used the common threatening diplomatic buzz phrase “serious consequences” with the field marshal over the telephone. After that, an Egyptian commando team got past the mob, got through to the six trapped men, gave them Arab robes to wear, and got them out of the building. The Egyptian military then drove the six to the airport, where an Israeli Air Force plane took them home.

This incident happened after at least two weeks of provocation from the Egyptian media. Lebanese media also provoked this attack; see here, for example.

This embassy should be attacked and destroyed. It should be eradicated so that it does not defile Egyptian soil. It must not remain there. All those heroes, who took to the streets to demonstrate, some of whom are still continuing their revolution, in order to prevent it from being hijacked…

Today, the Muslim Brotherhood defended the attack as “legitimate protest.” The Brotherhood also praised the Turks for expelling Israel’s ambassador to that country.

The Egyptian regime did not adopt this progressive Turkish position, preferring instead to continue the policy of the regime that has passed from the world [i.e., the Mubarak regime], which the invading Jews had regarded as a strategic asset. Moreover, some voices repeated the same old mantra: Do you want us to enter into a war unprepared?… [But] a political confrontation does not mean war. Egypt holds important trump cards that will force the murderous Jewish invaders to cave in and give Egypt what it wants [even] without war.

The Gaza Strip newspaper Falastin gloated that Israel and the Arabs have only a temporary truce. Eventually, it said, the Arabs must sweep Israel off the map and expel its residents to their “countries of origin.”

At least one former Egyptian general specifically blamed the Egyptian government and the media for the embassy incident. But Andrew G. (“The Welshman”) Martin reminds his readers who put that government into place.

Prospects for a Middle East war

Flag of Israel. Ready to fight another Middle East war.

Flag of Israel

Hosni Mubarak, while he held power, kept anti-Israel passions in line. He did this mainly by banning the Muslim Brotherhood from the political process. Recall that Mubarak came to power after the Brotherhood recruited a “fifth column” in the Egyptian Army to “frag” his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, as he sat in his reviewing stand.

The Egyptian regime, quite simply, does not know what to do. It is holding power only until it holds elections at the end of the year for a new parliament. But after the embassy incident, the regime cracked down on the people with a state of emergency. How long that will last is anyone’s guess. As The Telegraph says, Egypt’s generals do not want another Middle East war. But the Egyptian public might. And so might the public of a lot of other Arab lands.

Israel, for its part, is digging in. Says one Israeli to Jewish World Review:

I’m not making light of the situation. But we’ve been through this movie before and we’ll probably go through it again. Israel’s top priority is securing its interests, even if it makes other countries unhappy with us.

In other words: if it’s a Middle East war that the Arabs want, it’s a Middle East war that the Arabs will get.

In their enthusiasm for another Middle East war, the Arabs seem to have forgotten something, or else want to ignore it. They fought four all-out wars with Israel, and lost them all. The only reason that Egypt got the Sinai Peninsula back was that Anwar Sadat negotiated for it. He did this after he started the last big Middle East war and got his brother killed in it. Small thanks had he from his people for getting back the Sinai. Those same people will “try for all the marbles” again. And they will likely lose. They indulge in fevered dreams of

hundreds of planes, warships, and giant sea vessels…stream[ing] out of Palestine like locusts…

with not a thought about where all that matériel will come from. But the last time that an Arab general looked up in the sky and saw a stream of planes flying from the southwest, he took them for Egyptian—and they turned out to be Israeli. That was 44 years ago. The Arabs might be setting themselves up to make the same mistake all over again.

Featured image: the flag of Egypt.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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