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Fighting in Syria. Let them 'take care of themselves' rather than 'take care of us' Photo: Reuters
Fighting in Syria. Let them 'take care of themselves' rather than 'take care of us' Photo: Reuters
 
 

Let them kill themselves quietly

Op-ed: We shouldn't give Arabs a reason to unite around their only common denominator– hatred towards Israel

Alex Fishman
Published: 06.12.13, 20:19 / Israel Opinion

Netanyahu's fingers are itching. Whoever saw him this week making threats at the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, saw a leader with his finger on the trigger. And he may be right. Israel has seen, once again, a possibility that sophisticated Russian weapons will spill from Syria into Lebanon – and they must be stopped. He is trying to convey messages, including violent messages, to Assad – but he is not so impressed by that anymore. Netanyahu's direct appeal to Putin didn't help either.

 

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CNN reported this week that Russian warships were carrying military equipment to Syria. The clock is ticking, and officials in Israel's military establishment are warning that if these shipments are not seized on Syrian soil, they will reach Lebanon and disappear. The cabinet in Israel is nearing the point of decision: To strike or not to strike, and what is hanging in the balance. Should Israel throw itself into the burning kettle of the Middle East due to the need to stop the arms shipments the Russians continue to transfer through Syria to Hezbollah? Can any battery of missiles arriving in Lebanon stand in the way of the supreme Israeli interest: To let the Arab world "take care of itself" and not to give it any excuse to divert its efforts to "take care" of us.

 

Every day, some 400-500 people are killed in the countries surrounding us. In Tripoli, Lebanon, daily fighting takes place between the neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab-al-Tabani. Heavy machine guns, anti-tank cannons. Last week, 30 people were killed there and 200 were injured. In Sidon, pro-Syrian Nasseristic militias battle Sunni movements. The Lebanese government is paralyzed and Hezbollah's political status is wearing out.

 

In Syria, 80 people are killed on a weak day of fighting. The Kurds in northeast Syria have broken off from the state. In the an-Nusayriyah Mountains, the Alawites' place of residence, preparations are underway for the establishment of an independent state. In the Mountain of the Druze, a million and a half Druze are arming themselves for fear of a Salafi revenge. The center of the country is in chaos: Several hundred militias of all types are fighting the Syrian army, the regime's militias, against Shiite Iraqi groups and against Hezbollah. By the end of the year, 20% of Jordan's residents will be Syrian refugees, with all economic and social consequences.

 

Weapons not an existential threat

Among the Palestinians there is no solution in sight for the rift between Hamas and the PA. Egypt is in economic-constitutional chaos, and on the streets there is anarchy. The Muslims are attacking Copts, the Muslim Brotherhood is fighting Salafis, and in Sinai the Bedouins are fighting the army. What troubles the Egyptians most of all is the fact that Ethiopia is building a dam on the Blue Nile, which supplies 80% of Egypt's water. As far as Egypt is concerned, this is grounds for war. The crisis with Israel is marginal compared to the water crisis.

 

In Libya, the tribes and militias are slaughtering each other. There, bodies are no longer being counted. Tunisia's big cities enter a state of curfew every evening. Tunisian soldiers are killed while fighting Salafis on the border with Algeria.

 

Iraq is already divided into three, and the civil war is resuming there in full force. In the south there is a Shiite, pro-Iranian government, headed by Maliki, while the center of the country is controlled by the Sunnis, with armed militias fighting the central regime. There are hundreds of casualties, abductions and murders every week. The Kurds in the north are already producing and selling oil independently, without paying royalties to the government.

 

And we have yet to mention what is happening in Somalia, in Chad, in Sudan, in Aden, in Bahrain. For two years now, the Arab world has been burning and destroying itself without any external intervention, and this could continue for many more years.

 

So why should we, because of a few restless generals and a trigger-happy prime minister, give them a reason to unite around the only common denominator they have – hatred towards Israel? Let them kill themselves quietly. The Lebanon-bound weapons are dangerous, but are not an existential threat. It's not the Iranian bomb.

 

 

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