On Wednesday, August 3, 2011, The State of Israel’s Vice Premier and Minister of Strategic Affairs, Lt. Gen. Moshe «Bogie» Ya’alon, and the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces’ National Vice President, Rabbi Isaac Jeret, were invited to Paepcke Auditorium at the Aspen Institute by the Coalition For An Enduring Mid-East Peace. Rabbi Jeret offered introductory remarks, Vice Premier Yaalon presented a significant address regarding the Netanyahu Administration’s perspective on the challenges Israel faces in a rapidly changing Middle East. The Vice Premier commented in depth on the peace process with the Palestinians and threats and challenges posed by Iran, Hamas, Turkey, Egypt, Hezbollah, and Syria. Rabbi Jeret then interviewed the Vice Premier, in dialogue, throughout the remainder of the program.
According to face-to-face surveys conducted according to the highest international standards, more Palestinians in east Jerusalem would prefer to become citizens of Israel rather than citizens of a new Palestinian state. In addition, 40 percent said they would probably or definitely move in order to live under Israeli rather than Palestinian rule…
The Iranian political-military leadership has argued that the protest movement in the Arab world draws its inspiration from Iran’s Islamic Revolution. In the Iranian conceptual lexicon, one does not encounter the concept of the «Arab Spring» that is so prevalent in Arab and Western political discourse. Instead, Iran has coined the term «Islamic awakening,» which also reflects Iran’s policy, course of action, and aspirations…
Democracy does not seem to be closer in Tunisia today than it was four months ago, since the beginning of the so-called “Jasmine Revolution.” Instead it seems that Tunisia is in a stalemate, caught in moving sands, unable to stabilize and consolidate the domestic political scene.
Rather than advancing, it looks as if Tunisia has made a great leap backwards: Democracy has not eased the economic situation. The majority of the 350,000 employees in the tourism sector are unemployed, 25% of the main hotels are in a state of bankruptcy, while 80% of them are still closed. TunisAir, whose flights were cancelled, is being paid by the government for the lost seats in order to survive the absence of tourists. Supermarkets are still attacked and looted. Anarchy is such that the transitional government has reinstalled the notorious night curfew in Tunis as if former President Ben-Ali was still in power. Tanks and armored cars are still on the streets of Tunis. Moreover,Tunisia is in an open conflict with Libya, which has tried several times to attack Tunisian units deployed on their common borders. Last but not least,Tunisia has had three transitional governments since the Jasmine revolution and instability still prevails.
The Rafah border crossing connecting Gaza with Egypt was officially opened on May 28, 2011, by the Egyptian authorities and the Hamas government. The Egyptian news agency MENA reported that the crossing will be open six days a week, excluding Fridays and holidays, as part of Egyptian efforts to bring the internal Palestinian split to an end and to promote national reconciliation.
Gaza residents will now enjoy simplified procedures while crossing the border in both directions at Rafah and at all other border crossings in Egypt. Palestinians are no longer required to apply for a visa to enter Egypt, although a visa valid for at least six months is needed if a Palestinian is travelling through Egypt to a third country. According to the Egyptian announcement, the new procedures will apply to men under the age of 18 or above 40, students at Egyptian universities, patients who come for medical treatment, and children joining their parents.
The reality that confronts Lebanon today raises hidden fears of Shi’ite domination and the transformation of Lebanon into a radical factor in the Middle East, aligned with Syria and Iran. That explains why Mikati sought in an interview with AFP to reassure the world and the Lebanese that “the fact that Hizbullah and its allies have 18 seats in the 30-member cabinet does not mean that the country will join the radical camp in terms of its relations with the international community.” Mikati was also quick to reiterate that his government will respect Lebanon’s international commitments, a reference to the International Tribunal investigation over the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, whose conclusions might point at some Syrian-backed Hizbullah operatives who were involved in the assassination plot.
השר משה (בוגי) יעלון
by Ron Ben-Yishai
Part 1 of analysis:
No dramatic changes are expected in our security situation next year. A war will not break out, and a major military confrontation will likely not take place. For the time being, all the main players in the region that may ignite a major flare-up have a strong interest in maintaining restraint and avoiding confrontation.
Yet this doesn’t mean there is no cause for concern. Fuel vapors are still in the air, as well as enough sparks that may ignite them. The constant tensions in the Lebanon and Gaza theaters may cause occasional flare-ups, despite the desire on both sides to avoid them. This was the case this past year, and this will likely be the case in the coming year…
Part 2 of analysis:
In addition to the military buildup, preparations, and intelligence-gathering ahead of a defensive and offensive effort in the face of the Iranian threat, the IDF will focus on boosting its readiness and capabilities vis-à-vis the missile and rocket threat in closer theaters.
On the intelligence front, three issues will be emphasized: Identifying targets in Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza for the benefit of the Air Force, as well as ground and naval forces; monitoring the military buildup of Hezbollah, Hamas, and Syria – to ensure they are not receiving and deploying “balance-breaking” weapon systems such as advanced anti-aircraft missiles, surface-to-surface missiles, and advanced rockets (made by Russia or Iran,) and so on; and identifying Hezbollah and Hamas tunnels, arms depots, and fortifications in the heart of civilian areas (information that will also be used in the diplomatic-PR campaign.)
Israel has been closely monitoring Iran’s long-range cruise missile program.
Officials said the intelligence community has been examining Iran’s efforts to develop and produce a long-range cruise missile. They said the missile could fly under the radar of most regional states and change the balance of power in the Middle East.
«This is an extremely serious danger,» Israel Aerospace Industries chairman Yair Shamir said.
Shamir, head of Israel’s largest defense contractor, identified the Iranian program as the KH-55 cruise missile. The missile, supplied to Teheran by Ukraine around 2006, was being enhanced by Iran’s Defense Ministry.
In an address to Israel’s first multi-national ballistic missile defense conference on May 5, Shamir said Iran sought to extend the range of the missile beyond 2,500 kilometers. He said Iran also was developing an air-launched version of KH-55.
«The pace of missile development is much faster than those of solutions,» Shamir said. «The new element is that Iran is already in space.»
Tal Inbar, a director at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, said Iran received at least 12 K-55s from Ukraine. Inbar, who works closely with the Israel Air Force, said Iran has already displayed a cruise missile that resembled that of the U.S.-origin Tomahawk.
«It’s purpose remains unclear,» Inbar said.
Officials said KH-55 represents a growing Iranian capability to significantly enhance foreign missile systems. They cited Teheran’s success in extending the range of the North Korean No Dong missile from 1,300 kilometers to that of at least 2,100 kilometers under the Shihab-3ER program.
«There have been significant developments on the part of Iran,» said Arieh Herzog, director of the Defense Ministry’s Israel Missile Defense Organization.
Former IDF chief says technology has improved range, aerial refuelling, accuracy, and intelligence
«As far as I’m concerned, attack remains the best form of defense,» he said.
Israel sees itself at a de facto war with Iran due to its sponsorship of Hezbollah and Hamas, Yaalon said. «There is no doubt, looking at the overall situation, that we are already in a military confrontation with Iran,» he said. «Iran is the main motivator of those attacking us.»
התבטאויות חריגות מפיו של השר לעניינים אסטרטגיים בעניין האופציה הצבאית נגד איראן. הוא דיבר בכנס על יכולות חיל האוויר: «ניתן להשתמש ביכולת הזו למלחמה במדינה רחוקה כמו איראן». לדבריו, «אין ספק שאנחנו כבר בעימות צבאי עם איראן»
השר גם קשר את האיום האיראני למאבק נגד חמאס ברצועת עזה וחיזבאללה בלבנון. «כשמסתכלים על כל המכלול אין לי שום ספק שאנחנו כבר נמצאים בעימות צבאי עם איראן».
Israel is an independent country, not a satellite province ruled by imperial viceroy Rahm Emanuel. It is free to make its own decisions, some of which might upset the current occupants of the White House. Israel has survived for over 60 years in the face of insurmountable odds and an array of hostile regimes and bloodthirsty terrorist organizations backed by Iran and Syria. Like the United States and Great Britain, Israel possesses a tremendous warrior spirit that should be widely admired. It is under constant threat and has to literally fight for its survival on a daily basis. Israel deserves the Obama administration’s full support, not its contempt.