If one were to ask the European Union, the United States, the United Nations and the world media who is responsible for the unrest throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) the resounding echoes would continue to scream Israel for likely the rest of eternity, but is that an honest assessment or simply a knee jerk automatic programed response spurred by anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic hatreds? The easiest way to tell would be to take a quick whirl around the MENA nations and see what the truth is. Let us start our excursion at the western edge and head to the east and see what we will see.
Coming into the North of Africa from the Atlantic Ocean the first country we would visit would be Western Sahara where we would find Morocco has occupied Western Sahara since 1975 in violation of resolutions by the United Nations Security Council and International Court of Justice ruling. Any efforts to dislodge Morocco from Western Sahara have been blocked directly by the United States whose full support of the Moroccan occupation shows no sign of relenting. The conflict reemerged as the “Independence Intifada” in 2005 which has remained as depicted in map below. Despite numerous efforts to defuse the situation the standoff remains.
Continuing on from the Morocco-Western Sahara conflict we next visit Mauritania which has had a rocky recent history including two military coups, the first was in 2005 followed eventually by elections for a new president in 2007 followed by the second coup in 2008. General Abdul Aziz took power after the coup but found the nation had few supporters amongst them predominantly were Morocco, Libya and Iran while the United States and European nations rejected the legitimacy of the coup continuing to refer to Abdallahi as the legitimate president of Mauritania. After the resignation of Abdallahi there were elections which allowed Abdel Aziz to become the civilian president. In February 2011 there were waves of unrest as the Arab Spring spread to Mauritania demanding President Mohamed Abdel Aziz institute political, economic, and legal reforms. The unrest culminated in April of 2012 as thousands of people in Mauritania attended demonstrations in the capital calling for President Mohamed Abdel Aziz to resign. Currently the nation is under military rule with the legal system based on Islam and Sharia.
Heading across the southern end the picture in Mali, Niger and Chad is the constant internal strife between Christian governments and Islamic uprisings with much of the major horrific attacks conducted by the terrorist group Boko Haram which literally means Western education is forbidden. Boko Haram follows Saudi Wahhabism and has pledged their loyalty to the Islamic State. Along the north there has been steady unrest in Algeria and especially Libya since the NATO backed coup where President Obama declared that the United States was leading from behind in the ouster of and eventual execution (murder) of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. In Libya the nation is in fractious rule of numerous terror groups and tribal armies with some having declared alliance with the Islamic State. In the south east there is the Sudan which bled in the south especially in the Darfur area. Eventually the Sudan was force to divide allowing South Sudan to become independent. In October of 2015, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir issued a decree establishing twenty-eight states in place of the ten constitutionally established states. The decree established the new states largely along ethnic lines. He took it to the parliament for approval as a constitutional amendment in November and the South Sudanese parliament empowered President Kiir to create new states.
This brings us to Egypt where the recent history has played out live and large in the Western media. The Arab Spring riots led to the removal of President and military strongman Mubarak. The elections were held fairly soon after Mubarak was forced to step down largely by the United States backing of the Muslim Brotherhood. These elections overwhelmingly approved Muslim Brotherhood candidate Morsi to the presidency and a large Muslim Brotherhood majority in the parliament. Within the year new rioting broke out protesting the implementation of Sharia despite warnings from Turkish President Erdogan to the Morsi government to slow their radical changes or face resistance. This led to the military removing Morsi and arresting him for election fraud. New election instated former General of the Army Sisi as President though he still had an Islamist and presumed Muslim Brotherhood controlled parliament. The Obama administration refused to recognize Sisi and demanded that Morsi be reinstated; a request which was roundly ignored. Unrest still exists between Egypt and the United States which will be resolved by the Presidential election this November in the United States. As to what either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump might choose to do is a complete mystery at the present time as neither has addressed foreign policy beyond Hillary’s claim to deep knowledge claiming her time as a Senator of New York and a stint as Secretary of State under President Obama which included the Benghazi, Libya fiasco amongst other miscues and Trump claiming to have conducted business deals with numerous foreign governments and met many world leaders though particulars remain largely unconfirmed. Egypt has also faced unrest largely from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State where both are vying for control of the Sinai from where they would presumably unseat Sisi and retake the presidency. Hamas in Gaza was seen as providing assistance to these and some Iranian backed groups in the Sinai thus earning themselves a complete sea and land embargo enforced by Egypt from their waters and land borders with Gaza. The Egyptian blockade is often ignored with the large amount of attention paid to the Israeli “blockade” which is actually an inspection of goods before allowing their delivery to Gaza usually within one or two days done to assure that weapons are not being imported by Hamas and the other terror groups which rule Gaza. Egypt too is a work in progress.
We will return to Israel subsequently but meanwhile on to Lebanon where the terror groups Hezballah runs the government with an opposition often afraid to act to remove the terror group as previous attempts have resulted in untimely deaths. Lebanon cannot be addressed without discussing Syria and the state of war which has more facets than hewn crystals. The main three forces are Syrian dictator Bashir al Assad who has retreated to the Alawite tribal areas along the Mediterranean coast and Lebanese border. Assad is backed by Iran and their proxy, Hezballah, out of Lebanon. These are the Shiite forces which also receive tactical support largely in the form of air strikes by the Russians who are protecting their port area along the Mediterranean coast. Inland there are Sunni groups, oft referred to as terror groups, supported largely by Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Finally there are the forces of the Islamic State which stretch into Iraq where they face the Iraqi Army backed by Iran who uses mostly IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps) placing Iran at either end of the Islamic State. The Islamic State has been largely self-financed though there have been rumored support from Qatar. There is another group in northern Iraq and extending into northeastern Syria which is controlled by Kurdish Militias which are opposed strongly by Turkey. The Kurdish forces were at one time rumored to be receiving training by Israeli trainers on a clandestine mission though many have refuted that this was just a means of explaining the Kurdish forces resilience and holding their own against Islamist forces considered to be better equipped.
This takes us to the Saudi Peninsula and Jordan which we can count as a single unit of the GCC (Gulf Coordination Council) which is a group backed mostly by Saudi Arabia which includes Kuwait and the Gulf States and to a lesser extent, Jordan. Saudi Arabia has a close working relationship with the Egyptian government of President Sisi who are jointly facing terror groups including those supported or aligned with Islamic State as well as Iranian backed terrorists and the Houthi Tribes in the Yemen civil war, a front where Iran backed and Saudi Arabian backed forces are in direct confrontation. The United States has opposed and presumably attempted to prevent, though with little success, arms shipments to the Houthis by Iran and also opposed the bombing sorties from Saudi Arabia with equal lack of success and the belligerents continue to fight on. In the southernmost areas of Yemen, the prized areas which overlook the narrow passage from the Red Sea into the Arabian Sea, called Bab el-Mandeb Strait are a group of fighters originally claiming alliance with al-Qaeda but recently changing their alliance to presumably the Islamic State. These groups have benefited directly from Saudi raids as has the currently recognized Hadi-led government.
Lastly let us finally look at Israel. On the Golan Heights IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) have returned fire when fired upon by intention and otherwise has unofficial drop points for wounded individuals, civilian and combatant though no difference is noted, wounded and in need of treatment. IDF soldiers take these wounded and treat them in their field facility with the more serious cases transferred to Israeli hospitals for treatment. After treatment the individuals once sufficiently recovered are returned from whence they came at same drop points. All sides can view the individual drop points and all points are respected by other fighting factions in an unarranged agreement as all sides use this treatment method and no one side wishes to risk being cut-off from Israeli treatment and have to rely on whatever resources they have available. We have no information as to whether any Iranian forces have received treatment from the Israelis though if placed in civilian clothing they would receive the same treatment as any other individual. The Israeli border with Lebanon is currently quiet as Hezballah has sufficient on their plate with forces in the Syrian conflict and rumored even to have some fighting with IRGC or Houthis in Yemen. Intelligence believed to be accurate estimated that Hezballah has stores of rockets of varying size and capable of striking Tel Aviv, Bathsheva and even Ashkelon as well as guided missiles from Iran capable of striking anywhere in Israel including the southernmost port city of Eilat carrying warhead as large as two kilos and potentially five or ten up to one-hundred kilos warheads on their short and medium ranged rockets of which they possess as many as one-hundred-seventy-five-thousand. On their larger missiles they have warheads of as much as seven-hundred-fifty kilos on modified Zilzal-2 with a four-hundred km range and which they possess an estimated one thousand. Their Fateh-110 missile has a range three-hundred km range striking at Mach 3.5 carrying a four to seven-hundred kg warhead of which Hezballah possess more than twenty-thousand and lastly there is the Shaheen-II two stage missile which has a range of two-thousand km making able to strike anywhere in Israel and into Egypt. Each missile is capable of flight altitude of up to three-hundred km, is GPS guided, and varies a one-thousand plus kg warhead making it potentially capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and retaining it guidance hardware. It is doubtful that Iran has, let alone provided Hezballah with a deliverable nuclear warhead. Such is not far from the horizon for Iran but their providing Hezballah with such a weapon is doubtful.
The remaining fronts for Israel are with Jordan and Egypt which are both peaceful and with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Judea and Samaria as well as with Hamas and ally Islamic Jihad and other terror and criminal groups in Gaza. The front with the PA is largely one where there are terror strikes which can be planned by Abbas and the his PLO terror groups or the less planned but instigated through calls for violence from PA figures, PLO figures or any of a litany of groups most of which are either headed by Mahmoud Abbas or are willful practitioners at his beck and call. The most recent round were stabbings carried out largely by Palestinian Arab and some Israeli Arab youths as well as car rammings along with rock and Molotov cocktail throwing with rioting which are carried out routinely by PA controlled terror groups, the Tamini family instigators who work closely with European Union and other European NGOs whose main aims are to cause any violent response by Israel which is filmed and the instigation causing the defensive act is edited and with careful editing and juxtaposition of stock footage, prerecorded footage or actual footage with any questionable instigations by the Arabs edited over or out completely compiled into the final product which is then transmitted throughout European news agencies within a matter of a couple of hours and they run with it unedited as if it were an actual news story followed by their governments and the European union then condemning Israel for use of disproportional force or the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Gaza front is another area where Iran attempts with some success to smuggle arms mostly containing rocket motors and rocket parts and technology. Funding for Hamas comes from UNRWA as well as from the PA making the European Union, United States, United Nations and individual European nations as well as numerous Arab countries direct or indirect financiers of Hamas terrorism and rocket attacks as well as Arab instigations and propaganda which permeates their entire society from their media to the schools, summer camps soccer leagues and every aspect of childhood and raising the children to hate Jews as well as Israel. The Hamas Charter calls not only for the annihilation of Israel but of Jews worldwide. Similar language is found in Islamic Jihad and Hezballah pamphlets and charters or constitutions. The hatred goes well beyond Israel and includes Jews everywhere as well as Western culture and societies. Hamas and their allies as well as Hezballah desire a world caliphate under Sharia and openly claim so. The main difference is whether the caliphate would be Shiite or Sunni, for the rest of us that is a minor comfort.
Beyond the Cusp