Home Analysis Observations of an Expat: Poor Bibi

Observations of an Expat: Poor Bibi

Observations of an Expat: Poor Bibi
Iran Guards: Palestinians 'not alone' in fight against Israel

Spare a thought for Bibi Netanyahu. He is caught between a rock and several hard places. He is fighting external wars, an internal war against his cabinet colleagues and a diplomatic one against the Biden Administration and others  

By Tom Arms

Spare a thought for Bibi Netanyahu. He is caught between a rock and several hard places. He is fighting external wars against Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran; an internal war against his cabinet colleagues and a diplomatic one against the Biden Administration and most of the rest of the world, if not all of it.

The results of this complex picture could be Armageddon, stalemate or any one of the many in between scenarios.

While pondering the fate of the Israeli prime minister you may also want to consider all the other players who are dragging the world to the brink of a Middle Eastern abyss: President Joe Biden, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini and Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. They are locked in a dangerous escalating tit for tat dance of death.

Within the Israeli cabinet there is a four-way tug-of-war between Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and war cabinet minister and Opposition Leader Benny Gantz. They all appear to hate and distrust each other.

According to sources, Gallant and Gantz have hardly spoken to each other since Benny Gantz beat out Yoav Gallant for the top military job ten years ago. Itamar Ben-Gvir is an ultra-Orthodox Jew who said Netanyahu should “go berserk” after Iran’s missile attack on Israel. He described Israel’s retaliatory attack on Iran’s third most populous city, Isfahan, as “lame.”

Gallant is not as extreme as Ben-Gvir, but not far off. Benny Gantz is the nearest thing to a dove that there is in the Israeli war cabinet. But even he is calling for the “total destruction” of Hamas. If elections were held today, Gantz would be prime minister.

All four men have conflicting views on a post-war Gaza. Netanyahu wants the army to take over. Gallant wants an ill-defined arrangement with the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority. Ben-Gvir is pushing for replacing the 2.2 million Gazan Palestinians with Israeli settlers and Benny Gantz is keeping his cards close to his chest, but hints at a politically slimmed down two-state solution.

Netanyahu, according to sources, deals with his rivals by ignoring them. All the major decisions since October 7 have been made by the prime minister without – or with the minimum—consultation.

This goes for his relations with President Joe Biden as well. Netanyahu has ignored American calls for restraint in his attacks on Gaza. Neither was the US informed of the attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus or the attack on Isfahan until “minutes” before they occurred, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Meanwhile, the left-wing of the Democratic Party is pulling Biden away from Israel and the Republicans are pushing him towards it. The US president also has to deal with Ukraine and the strategic threat of China. All this in an election year when he is trailing arch-foe Donald Trump in the opinion polls.

Biden’s main aim is to prevent the Gaza War and Iranian-Israeli retaliatory strikes from spiraling out of control. His calls for de-escalation, restraint and caution have been echoed around the globe including top adversary China as well as Britain, Japan and all of the EU countries. Biden’s “red line” is the threatened Israeli attack on 1.2 million Gazans holed up in the southern city of Rafah.

Netanyahu for his part, has said, that an attack on Rafah will come, and it will be at a time of his choosing. Furthermore, he, not Joe Biden, will make the decisions about what the Israeli army does and how it does it. At the same time, Netanyahu is banking on continued American military aid and full support if Israel is attacked.

Read: Iran Guards: Palestinians ‘not alone’ in fight against Israel

Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameini, celebrated his 85th birthday on the same day that Israeli missiles landed on Isfahan. Iran is, on the one hand, a force behind Hamas, Hezbollah and the Yemeni Houthis attacking Red Sea shipping. And on the other, it is demonstrating restraint to avoid escalation. Its attack on Israel was telegraphed beforehand and afterwards Tehran said there would be no further retaliation, even though the effect was minimal. And when Israel bombed Isfahan, the Iranians dismissed it as almost an inconvenience.

The fact is that Iran is not ready for a war with an American-defended Israel. It has severe domestic problems, both politically and economically. At the same time, there is an irrational ideological Iranian hard-line to match that of Israel. They are known as the Paydari Front or the Front of the Stability of the Islamic Revolution. Ayatollah Khameini, still retains dictatorial powers, but he is 85 and the Paydari Front now controls many of the key government positions.

Meanwhile, Yahya Sinwar, leader of Hamas and the mastermind with Muhammad Deif of the 7 October attack, is believed to be holed up in a tunnel under Rafah along with a number of the Israeli hostages. Somehow or another, pollsters have managed to infiltrate Gaza, and discovered that Gazans are angry at the death and destruction that Hamas has brought down on their heads. Gazan support for Hamas, according to these brave pollsters, has dwindled to about 35 percent.

But Sinwar’s 7 October appears to have triggered giant strides towards several goals. He has severely strained relations between Israel and its chief backer the United States; turned Israel into a pariah state in the eyes of many; torpedoed the Abraham Accords and Saudi recognition of Israel; and put the two-state solution back on the diplomatic agenda. But that is unlikely to be the end of the matter.

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Self-inflicted cracks are starting to appear in the MAGA edifice. The two Republicans wielding the sledgehammers are Alabama’s conspiracy theorist Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and, of course, Donald Trump himself.

The former president, has time and again, demonstrated a total disregard for the rule of law, or at least its application to his affairs. Next week the judge in his New York trial, Juan Merchan, will decide whether Trump is guilty of contempt of court for repeatedly breaching a gag order against his making comments about witnesses, jurors, the judge, the judge’s family or any court officials.

It is a legal courtesy for opposing legal teams to give a day or two’s advance notice of witnesses to give the lawyers time to prepare. The prosecution has asked the judge that they be allowed to withhold the information on the grounds that Trump is likely to issue intimidatory comments on his Truth Social platform. The judge has agreed.

Marjorie Taylor Greene—who has been dubbed “Vladimir Putin’s Envoy Extradordinaire to the US Congress” by Democrats and moderate Republicans— appears determined to totally destroy Republican credibility. Her main target is the $60 billion aid package for Ukraine which has been held up for months by far-right MAGA Republicans in the House of Representatives.

The package is expected to be approved this weekend. But Ms. Greene is determined to make a last ditch effort to kill the aid bill with a series of outrageous amendments, including: No humanitarian aid for Gaza, withdrawal from NATO, no support for a two-state solution, and—best of all– a demand that any member of Congress who votes in favor of aid for Ukraine be conscripted into the Ukrainian army.

Ms. Greene and the other members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus have managed to alienate moderate Republican congressman who are expected to cross the floor to vote with Democrats to pass the aid bill. Republican Congressman Derrick Van Orden said that he and his colleagues were “sick and tired” of being “bullied” and “blackmailed.”

America’s “cancel culture” came to Europe this week–and then cancelled itself.

Cancel culture, is a term used by mainly US conservatives to decry the efforts of liberals to block (or “cancel”) public appearances by right-wing speakers. The tactic has become especially popular American university campuses where left-wing student demonstrations have forced the cancellation of speeches by right-wingers

Conservatives—quite rightly—see this as an attack on free speech.

This week the Edmund Burke Foundation, a conservative American think tank/pressure group, was hosting a conference of right-wing European luminaries in Brussels. Or at least, it was until it encountered the cancel culture of a series of Brussels mayors.

Trouble started the weekend before the event when one of the mayors of Brussels 19 districts decided that the Euro-sceptic foundation’s National Conservatism Conference would not be welcome in his district which included the EU institutions. He feared that the speakers’ anti-EU, anti-immigration and anti-LGBT views would attract violent counter demonstrations. So the venue was shifted to a building near the European Parliament where another district mayor turfed out the organizers.

The National Conservatism Conference—which included political celebrities such as Britain’s Nigel Farage and Suella Braverman, France’s Eric Zemmour and Hungary’s Viktor Orban—moved to a third location, a former night club called the Claridge which lent new meaning to the word seedy.

This time, a third mayor, sent in the police with orders to shut down the event. The attendees responded by beating off the police. But then the Brussels law enforcers sealed off the venue so that no food or drink could enter and if attendees left they were barred from returning. Emir Kir, Mayor of Brussels District Saint Josse-ten-Nood, said: “The far right is not welcome.”

Nigel Farage said the action of the Brussels mayors was “akin to the Soviet Union” and former British Home Secretary Suella Braverman condemned it as the actions of “the thought police.”

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo did not agree with the basic principles of the National Conservatism Conference. But he did agree with the principle of free speech. He declared that the mayors’ actions was unconstitutional, organized a court hearing to overrule the local authorities and the following day the event re-opened and Viktor Orban appeared to address his fans.

The problems of Europe and America’s White supremacists have just begun. And there is nothing that they can do about it.

According to UN demographers the populations of Europe, America, South Korea, China and Japan are falling because as few as 1.2 children are being born for each woman. In contrast a rising African birth rate and falling mortality rate means that by the end of this century about half of the world’s population will be African. This compares to 1950, when only ten percent of the world’s population lived in Africa.

At the moment about 18 percent of the world is African. But the median age in Africa is 20. This means African women will be at their fertility peak for the next 20 years and they are currently producing 4.6 children each.

The exploding African population coupled with political instability, poverty, climate change and a host of other problems can only mean that the growing number of Africans will be pushing harder on all fronts. By 2050, Nigeria will have a population of 230 million. Ethiopia will be 130 million and the systemically unstable Democratic Republic of the Congo, 110 million.

Climate change means Africans will be fleeing in even greater numbers northwards to Europe and America to escape the creeping sands of the Sahara. Those same sands means that agricultural production will inevitably fail to meet the needs of a growing population.

An ethnic group which comprises nearly half of humanity will also demand greater political representation in relation to other groups.  Economically, Africa will over the next 30 years have the world’s largest work force. This means that it could become a major engine for world growth or a huge pool of unemployed and angry labor. The decision will be made by capital held in the Global North.


Tom Arms Journalist Sindh CourierTom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and author of “The Encyclopedia of the Cold War” and “America Made in Britain.” He is also co-host of the world affairs podcast “TransAtlantic Riff”

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