Israel: life on the edge

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags , ,

A new book on Israel, “My Promised Land” by Ari Shavit, concludes according to a review in the New York Times for which we thank Caroline Cracraft that “What this nation has to offer is not security or well-being or peace of mind. What it has to offer is the intensity of life on the edge.” …

Russia and the Middle East

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags ,

Since the end of the Soviet Union Russia has not played a major role in the region. But as a permanent member of the Security Council and a close neighbour it cannot avoid involvement in the region's problems even should it wish do so. Examples are the preparations for Geneva II on Syria, and the current …

Israel unsettled

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags , ,

Recent political developments, above all the possibility of a thaw in US/Iranian relations and more generally a feeling of loss of control in Washington, have disconcerted Israeli opinion. One article in the Jerusalem Post of 4 November is headed "It’s time to reassess Israel’s strategic assumptions – All of Obama’s second term foreign policy goals are harmful …

US policy: midcourse correction

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags ,

Reporting that John Kerry is to visit Riyadh on 3 November (as part of a comprehensive tour of the region), the Saudi Arab News comments that the visit “follows a spate of unusually public complaints from Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, which reflects the Gulf’s frustration with the US over its perceived inaction on Syria, its diplomatic engagement with Iran and its coldness toward the military government in Egypt.” An op-ed on the Israeli Ynet website comments that on Iran both Arab and …

The Israel/Palestine peace talks

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags ,

Peace talks which are planned to reach a solution within nine months have been taking place in secret since July. Very little information about them has been made public. Speaking at a meeting of donors on 25 September John Kerry said that the two sides had met seven times since 29 July, although Netanyahu and President …

US/Iran: have a nice day

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags ,

The BBC reported that after the telephone conversation between Presidents Obama and Rouhani on 27 September the social media fizzed with excitement; ‘One of the most extraordinary tweets from the @HassanRouhani twitter account was: "In a phone conversation b/w #Iranian & #US Presidents just now: @hassanRouhani: "Have a Nice Day!" @BarackObama: "Thank you. Khodahafez [Goodbye]." ’ …

Israel and America

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to meet President Obama in Washington today 30 September, three days after Obama's telephone conversation with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran. Netanyahu has increasingly become personally identified with maintaining pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear programme, but has been unable to carry all his own cabinet with him, let …

Spotlight on Iran

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags , ,

It has long been a commonplace that Arabists are said to see the Palestine problem as the magic key which could unlock the other problems of the Middle East region. Temporarily at any rate this central role seems to have passed to Iran. As Martin Chulov writes in the Guardian today 25 September "Hassan Rouhani’s overtures to the …

Syria, Israel, Iran

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags , , ,

A striking feature of recent developments over Syria is that US congressional and public opinion appears not to have been much influenced by an intensive campaign by the Israeli lobby led by AIPAC to make the administration stand by its earlier determination to use force in Syria. This is unprecedented in recent years. Since it appears to reflect …

The Geneva talks

Posted on Categories Arab Digest EmailTags

While fighting continues in Syria the US/Russian talks, about to enter a third day, deal with two related problems. The first is Syria's chemical weapons; President Bashar al-Asad has agreed that they should be disposed of, but the technical, military and political problems are daunting, and disposal while a civil war is in progress is unprecedented. The second …