Observations on Obama’s trip to Israel: Apologies (Part 1)

More, and less, than meets the eye.

Obama went to Israel, and, as expected, gave some bland speeches and didn’t suggest putting anything new on the table in the now-defunct-in-all-but-name “peace process.”  To the question, “Why now?” the answer is that he is building a putative pro-Israel narrative for the 2014 congressional election (Jeff Dunetz has a nice piece on that).

The one thing that did come out of Obama’s trip is a pseudo-apology from Israel to Turkey on the Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010.  That leads to the first observation.

The history: Continue reading “Observations on Obama’s trip to Israel: Apologies (Part 1)”


Peace in our time: Militaries, state visits flood the Great Crossroads

When there is no peace.

The Pax Americana now being defunct, regional initiatives are coming alive in and around the Red Sea and Levant.  I refer to the juncture of Europe, Asia, and Africa as the “Great Crossroads,” where sooner or later everyone will make a transit or have an interest.  No one’s national security is untouched by what’s going on there.  America’s trade and alliances depend heavily on whether the maritime precincts of the Great Crossroads are a quiescent “free space,” through which everyone can pass without let or hindrance by a regional power – or if they become a space over which a regional power holds a veto.  Every new development there has implications for US security.

Egypt-Turkey exercise

And the new developments just keep on coming.  Between 7 and 14 October, Continue reading “Peace in our time: Militaries, state visits flood the Great Crossroads”

Last whimper from the Gaza flotilla?

Greece to the rescue.

The US and Canadian Boats to Gaza – M/V Audacity of Hope and M/V Tahrir, respectively – tried to make an unauthorized departure on 1 July from the Greek port they have been detained in.  The Greek coast guard promptly intercepted them (don’t miss Challah Hu Akbar’s coverage at the link).  This may be the final ride of the 2011 flotilla.  Its prospects are certainly dimming:  now that AOH and Tahrir have violated a directive from the Greek authorities, which had ordered them to remain in port pending the investigation of a complaint filed against them, the ships can be held there for as long as the Greeks see fit, and their crews might well be charged in court.

Positive as this outcome would be, Continue reading “Last whimper from the Gaza flotilla?”

The All-American/European anti-Israel flotilla

Useful idiots.

The Turkish Islamist organization IHH has decided not to participate in the upcoming flotilla attempt to break the blockade of Gaza.  As reported last week, IHH was under pressure from the Turkish government to drop out of the flotilla, presumably because the timing doesn’t look right for Turkey to precipitate an armed confrontation with Israel.  (After the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, Turkey warned that it might provoke just such a confrontation by providing a naval escort for future flotillas.)

This will mean no Turkish ships in the flotilla.  Earlier this week, the French ship pulled out of the flotilla when pressure from French Jewish groups prevented it from docking in Marseilles, where it was to load its activists.

The ships left in the flotilla are the US and Canadian “Boats to Gaza,” Continue reading “The All-American/European anti-Israel flotilla”