Most pointless “peace talks” ever?

Obama preens for the left, Netanyahu shores up the status quo.

What exactly are John Kerry and Barack Obama trying to accomplish with the new round of “peace talks” between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs – an event that has been put together with chewing gum and baling wire, and that won’t produce squat in terms of agreements, because no one has any incentive to negotiate?

It’s interesting to try to account for the urgent – even unseemly – push for talks, given the absence of realistic objectives for or benefits from them.  I include in the latter any potential benefits for Obama’s political standing at home, and specifically the chances for Democrats in the 2014 election.  No matter what happens between now and November 2014 – and I mean no matter what – the progress of the Israeli-Arab “peace process” will have no effect on the mid-term election. Continue reading “Most pointless “peace talks” ever?”

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)”

Egypt trash talks US; US shows weak on Iran

Interesting times.

This is not your father’s Egypt, under the evolving rule of Mohammed Morsi.  This is a Sinai-militarizing, Jerusalem-coveting, trash-talking Egypt.  (Wait – maybe that is your father’s Egypt.)  And Egyptian officials have quickly turned their trash-talking skills on their one-time partner, the United States.

Sadly, the statements of Suez Canal Authority chairman Mohab Mamish sounded just credible enough to get legs in the US media.  According to Mamish, when Iranian frigate Alvand approached the Suez Canal in February 2012, headed for Syria, Continue reading “Egypt trash talks US; US shows weak on Iran”

The next two weeks in the Middle East: Mahdi Madness, Naksa Day, and the future of Turkey

Cry havoc.

Iran

Many readers will be aware of the reported power struggle in Iran, in which Mahmoud “Israel is a cancerous tumor” Ahmadinejad is perhaps the more brain-fevered, but by no means the only hard-line, combatant.  Pseudonymous blogger “Reza Khalili” reported at Pajamas Media last week that, according to the hard-liners opposed to Ahmadinejad, his faction believes there will be a big development on 5 June relating to the emergence of the long-awaited 12th imam, or Mahdi.

Members of Team Ahmadinejad predict that an “important event,” in the form of Continue reading “The next two weeks in the Middle East: Mahdi Madness, Naksa Day, and the future of Turkey”