Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Friday, November 23.
1) The ceasefire
Armin Rosen writes in An alternative timeline of the Gaza escalation:
Since the Israeli operation began, Hamas has hardly been shy about
admitting to its use of Iranian weapons--the Al Qassam Brigade's Twitter
has announced its use of Fajr-5s on several occasions, including in an
attack on "homes" in the Beersheva area (an Israeli tweeted pictures of
Fajr-5 components at the site of a direct hit on an apartment complex
Rison L'Tziyon, a suburb of Tel Aviv). And after the ceasefire was
announced on Wedensday, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal went so far as to
"[praise] Iran for financing and arming Gazans," according to Sky News.
Meanwhile, the Israelis have made a point of explaining that the Fajr-5s
were one of the targets of their ongoing operation in the Gaza Strip.
Both Avital Leibovitch, the oft-quoted IDF spokesperson, and Israeli
ambassador to the US Michael Oren, assured conference calls of
journalists that much of Hamas's long-range capacity has been destroyed.
Rosen quoted "Michael Ross," whose thoughts were fleshed out in Egypt has some explaining to do:
But it's worth wondering how long it will take for Hamas to recover its
supply of long-range rockets. In a conventional military environment,
Fajr-5s are fired from bulky truck-mounted rocket launchers. As Herzog
explains, the rockets that Hamas uses are modified so that they can be
fired using improvised delivery systems. "They don't' need trucks for
launching them," he says. "They just need a tube, and it can be located
anywhere." Even underground, he added.
The Gaza escalation might have been an attempt to forestall a reality
where militant groups on Israel's northern and southern border possess
missiles capable of hitting the country's largest civilian areas. But
even if many of them have been destroyed, these missiles are
replaceable, easily-hidden, and easily fired. That reality has already
Under Mubarak, Israel and Egypt traditionally enjoyed maintaining a
very substantive and cordial bilateral intelligence sharing relationship
geared at mutually foiling radical elements posing a threat to regional
security. The current state of affairs under Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood
rule of President Morsi is probably seeing a very diminished version of
that former relationship and this is to the detriment of all concerned –
including Egypt. In good faith, Israel’s secret intelligence service,
the Mossad, has shared a significant amount of intelligence on arms
transfers with Egypt and that will soon come to an end if this
intelligence is not used as intended.
Charles Krauthammer's Why was there a war in Gaza? is similar to Rosen:
True to form, there’s a lot of media scrutiny on this conflict including
the various commentary on HAMAS’ use of indiscriminate rockets versus
Israel’s attempts to respond while minimizing civilian casualties.
There’s plenty of criticism available to both sides to go around but
what is really lacking in the discussion are questions about what
precipitated this conflict and how measures could have been taken to
stem the arms flow to Gaza.
When the smoke clears, Egypt has some explaining to do.
Hamas’s objective was to guarantee no further attacks on its leaders
or on its weaponry, launch sites and other terror and rocket
infrastructure. And the lifting of Israel’s military blockade, which
would allow a flood of new and even more deadly weapons. In other words,
immunity and inviolability during which time Hamas could build
unmolested its arsenal of missiles — until it is ready to restart the
war on more favorable terms.
Eyal Zisser observes that Hamas chose survival:
Yet another hudna, this one brokered and guaranteed by Egypt and Turkey,
regional powers Israel has to be careful not to offend. A respite for
rebuilding, until Hamas’s Gaza becomes Hezbollah South, counterpart to
the terror group to Israel’s north, with 50,000 Iranian- and
Syrian-supplied rockets that effectively deter any Israeli preemptive
With the declaration of a cease-fire Wednesday, Israel seems to have
successfully resisted these demands, although there may be some cosmetic
changes to the embargo. Which means that in any future fighting, Israel
will retain the upper hand.
One cannot manage the Hamas state from a bunker, or while constantly
looking to find cover from Israel's air force. The Hamas state cannot be
managed while its military commanders need to be replaced on a daily
basis. These commanders are needed by Hamas to provide stability and
protect it, first and foremost from the more radical Islamist groups,
and even from Fatah.
Similarly, Barry Rubin writes:
At the moment of truth, when Hamas had to choose between preserving and
establishing its rule over the Gaza Strip or forfeiting the banner of
struggle against Israel, Hamas made the pragmatic choice. This choice
allows it to survive and to benefit in the political, as opposed to the
The methodical targeting of Hamas' military infrastructure over the past
week is difficult for Israel to translate into one image of victory,
similar to the complete destruction of Hezbollah's Dahiyeh neighborhood
in southern Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, or even the
destruction suffered by Hamas in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in
On Hamas’s side, the decision to reach a ceasefire was motivated by
the damage the organization was suffering and fear of a massive Israeli
ground attack. Perhaps most important, however, was that Hamas found it
was not receiving strong support from Egypt and other states, especially
because Cairo is now ruled by a Muslim Brotherhood government. Hamas is
an independent branch of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Apparently,
Hamas did not consult with Egypt before escalating attacks against
Israel, the factor that set off large-scale Israeli retaliation. In
turn, Egypt, along with Qatar, the Hamas regime’s main Arab funder,
pressured the regime to stop the fighting.
David Sanger and Thom Shanker write in Gaza conflict as Trial Run:
But in the Israeli and American contingency planning, Israel would
face three tiers of threat in a conflict with Iran: the short-range
missiles that have been lobbed in this campaign, medium-range rockets
fielded by Hezbollah in Lebanon and long-range missiles from Iran.
2) More, more, Morsi
The last of those three could include the Shahab-3, the missile Israeli
and American intelligence believe could someday be fitted with a nuclear
weapon if Iran ever succeeded in developing one and — the harder task —
shrinking it to fit a warhead.
A United States Army air defense officer said that the American and
Israeli militaries were “absolutely learning a lot” from this campaign
that may contribute to a more effective “integration of all those tiered
systems into a layered approach.”
A day after the New York Times ran an uncritical account of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi's importance in arranging a ceasefire and praising his pragmatism, the paper reports Citing Deadlock, Egypt’s Leader Seizes New Power and Plans Mubarak Retrial:
Mr. Morsi, an Islamist and Egypt’s first elected president, portrayed
his decree as an attempt to fulfill popular demands for justice and
protect the transition to a constitutional democracy. But the unexpected
breadth of the powers he seized raised immediate fears that he might
become a new strongman. Seldom in history has a postrevolutionary leader
amassed so much personal power only to relinquish it swiftly.
Morsi's been engaged in power grabs for months now. He's remade the
Egyptian military and cracked down on the press. Still it's curious that
he'd take another step in consolidating his power so soon after being
praised for his pragmatism. Maybe all that praise emboldened him.
“An absolute presidential tyranny,” Amr Hamzawy, a liberal member of the
dissolved Parliament and prominent political scientist, wrote in an
online commentary. “Egypt is facing a horrifying coup against legitimacy
and the rule of law and a complete assassination of the democratic
Mr. Morsi issued the decree at a high point in his five-month-old
presidency, when he was basking in praise from the White House and
around the world for his central role in negotiating a cease-fire that
the previous night had stopped the fighting in the Gaza Strip between
Israel and Hamas.
Shabbat Shalom everyone.
Labels: Egypt, Gaza, Hamas, Iran, Middle East Media Sampler, Mohammed Morsy, Soccer Dad