Disagreements Contribute to Regional Uncertainty
The High Holy season is officially over in Israel but life is not back to normal. Regional events are casting a shadow over the Middle East causing the Israeli government to feel the tension and stress of trying to defend the nation, militarily, from terrorism and war; while also defending it, diplomatically, from regimes that want to destroy the safety and security of Israeli citizens.
During the past few weeks it has become obvious that the thawing in the personal relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama, which was highlighted in Obama’s visit to Israel in March 2013, has recently frozen over. This is because of differences in opinion regarding key Middle East issues and the way they are being handled.
Netanyahu is currently in the U.S. speaking in Washington, at the U.N., and on major media networks, trying to get Israel’s point-of-view across to Americans as well as the international community.
While disagreements are mainly being discussed in private, it is clear where the U.S. stands and where Israel stands, based on each country’s geo-political interests. Rifts between Obama and Netanyahu are widening the gap between these two allies. This is unfortunate in a volatile Middle East where U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation needs to be robust and strong.
Contributing to uncertainty in the region is Iran’s quest for nuclear capability, masked by a recent Iranian charm offensive meant to fool Western powers. U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic phone call with new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has seemed to shift American interests away from increased sanctions on Iran. Now it is all about direct diplomacy between Obama and Rouhani supposedly meant to sway Tehran away from its quest for nuclear capability. Yet, the centrifuges are spinning faster and more efficiently than before, and Iran is headed towards enough uranium enrichment for a “breakout” within six months. This is the greatest threat to Israel’s survival and alarms Israel’s government.
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s agreement to allow international inspectors into Syria to destroy his massive piles of WMD’s, considered an impossible feat in a country that is embroiled in a 2.5 year old bloody war, is also contributing to uncertainty in the Middle East. Yet, when America and Western powers could have intervened, in the beginning of the Syrian civil war, nothing was done. The isolationist attitude of Americans, who are war-weary and have ignored the crisis in Syria, is even more surprising in their decision not to punish Assad for using chemical weapons against his own citizens. More than 1,400 died from sarin gas this summer. Now the death toll in Syria is 110,000; and, millions of Syrians have been displaced who are hungry and living in poverty.
Obama’s appeasement policies, coupled with America’s reluctance to get involved in another conflict that does not directly affect its shores, has contributed to a major shift in the region’s power and influence. As American diplomacy trumps war in the region, Israel and Arab Gulf States are showing greater concern about the strengthening of the Shiite Crescent — from Iran, to Iraq, to Syria, and to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The weakening of American resolve to get involved in the region has Russia poised to take over as the leading political power in the Middle East. Russia has effectively blocked UN Security Council resolutions concerning Syria and Iran, while beefing up its own military presence in the region. Russian President Vladimir Putin is delighted to take on the new role of “chief security guard”, assuring the world of Assad’s willingness to destroy his chemical stockpiles. Putin has also been very willing to help Iran store its enriched uranium and fuel rods in his country. Russia has hidden its role in assisting Iran’s mullahs in their quest for nuclear military power. In addition, because Russia has continued to supply advanced weapons systems to Iran and Syria, it has aligned itself with the Shiite axis of rogue states, propping up these regional powers.
While war and rumors of war continue to embroil the Middle East, Obama has focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, linking it to regional stability. Leaks from the Palestinians indicate that peace negotiations are at a stalemate and that a third Intifada may be on the horizon. This, linkage is also a major concern for Israel as Obama puts pressure on Netanyahu to offer more concessions to the Palestinians.
These are just some of the indicators of how sensitive a time it is for Israel – especially in its relationship with America. What Bible-believers do not often understand is that Israel’s foreign policy decisions are almost always based on what is good for the security and survival of the Jewish State. As a small island in the midst of a violent aggressive sea of enemies, Israel has to look after its own. The citizens of this nation trust that their prime minister, his security cabinet, and his military advisors are focused on trying to keep Israelis safe and secure. If Israel has to fight wars on its own, without American or Western assistance, it will do so. Netanyahu’s foreign policy is simple: Stay out of the way until attacked or threatened with annihilation. Then, go to war. Israel can no longer rely on others to defend the only Jewish State in the Middle East.
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet..” Matthew 24:6
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.