By Barry Rubin
It makes sense that the Israel-Palestinian agreement is being made with Obama and Kerry in charge. The deal offers a kind of neo-mandate, with an American presence entrenched in the Jordan Valley for the next 10 years. That’s no joke.
Let’s look at a different but parallel “pacification” effort and see what happened there. The Afghanistan peace talks with Taliban have gone absolutely dreadfully, and President Karzai is very dissatisfied. The results are–not surprisingly–unsatisfactory.
Let’s consider casualties in that case and a couple of others.
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As of the end of 2013, roughly 3,000 Western troops have been killed in Afghanistan. Western forces will retreat with their tails between their legs and will probably abandon the government to horrible massacres and long wars following a Taliban victory.
Since the start of the ongoing civil war in Syria, there have been about 200,000 casualties–mostly civilians. A truly staggering number.
The population of the West Bank is about 3.1 million; if losses will be proportional to those in neighboring nations, the cost of American soldier’s lives would be high.
So, if the Obama/Kerry peace deal does go through, what would the risks be?
- Dozens of Israeli civilians would be at risk of being killed by cross-border Palestinian-Arab and Islamist terrorist attacks, even if the settlements did not exist.
- And of course, how fast would U.S. troops respond to such attacks?
- Might there be an intifada in Jordan, a neighboring country with a Palestinian majority and a very strong Muslim Brotherhood opposition?
- Remember too that the peace treaty would be incomplete, unable to involve the Hamas-led Gaza Strip. And incomplete peace treaties cannot stand.
In the Gaza Strip, there are more than 1.6 million people under the rule of Hamas. This government will do everything it can to sabotage the peace process. And U.S. help to the PA will be presented as collaboration with the infidels. There is no possibility of their participation in this agreement. That means that even in the best of circumstances, even if the PA is at peace with Israel, Hamas will be in an ongoing war with Israel.
So what great advantage is peace with the West Bank and war with Gaza?
It is predictable that Hamas will attempt to carry out cross-border raids and fire missiles at Israel. What is the U.S. position on that? Is the United States at war with Hamas? CIA director John Brennan, the architect of Obama ideology, publically–but not officially–has said that he wants to make peace with Hamas.
Is the PA going to cooperate with Hamas or at least radical segments of the PA? Remember during the Second Intifada, from 2000 to 2005, Fatah did cooperate with Hamas.
Moreover, if Fatah were to change its policy, it might get support from countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and so on. Turkey, for example–which is now a conduit for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists, and al-Qa’ida obtaining arms–knows that most of its policy with the Arabs will be dependent on its degree of support to the Palestinians, including cooperation if there is a Palestinian state. The fact is that Turkey has pinned its hopes on Turkish influence in the Arab world, and to associate with aggressive support of Palestine would be key to its popularity. What if aid from Turkey and these other countries prepares Palestine to fight?
What is the United States, an ally with Israel, going to do if Palestine is created by its own agreement but wages a war of terrorism against Israel?
By the way, let’s remember that Mahmoud Abbas will probably be replaced in the next few years. It is very hard to predict whom he will be replaced by, but the most popular candidate is a serious hardliner.
Shaykh Abd al-Muhsin al-Mutairi stated, “Oh servants of Allah, how saddening and very painful it is to see many Muslim youths glued to TV screens at cafes or at home, passionately watching entertainment shows, like the Football World Cup, in despicable subjugation to the abominations of the other nations–as if we were not a nation with a brilliant history and a lofty civilization.”
And guess who they blame?
“The Jews were successful in preoccupying the Muslim youth–except those protected by Allah–with the most inane matters, distracting them from important things…”
It is important to understand that millions of people believe this–thoroughly and completely–and can be motivated by these kinds of arguments to the point of killing or supporting terrorism. This is reality; even if it is not unanimous, it is a major motive. If you don’t understand that a majority of people in the Arab-Islamic world believe this, you cannot understand this is the majority view. Certainly Obama and Kerry do not understand this.
So, what are the potential issues that stem from this mindset?
- Any Muslim killed by a Christian American soldier will be a reason for revenge. This is to engage in a blood feud. Even if a terrorist band has captured a kindergarten and shot children, there will be sympathy in the streets among Arabs and Muslims. If Palestinians are killed by Americans, there will be retaliation.
- A terrorist attack at a Kansas airport, Boston, or Fort Hood would be viewed as justification for causalities in Palestine.
- Remember that the prospects for Arab terrorist movements are much better than Afghan ones, because they have many weapon suppliers–including Libya, Lebanon, al-Qa’ida, Syria, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
- Also, in comparison with populated Afghan villages, Palestinians are concentrated in villages and small towns. Let us consider the American patrol knocking down doors in Jordan Valley towns.
In short, an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is not going to be a picnic. Hamas and likely Fatah as well will attempt to kill Americans and commit terrorism. Forget Iranian nuclear weapons; this will be a war of AK-47s and rockets from Gaza. Does Obama Care?
This is definitely a war in which America will get bogged down, or the United States may stay a few years and leave. Just look at the situation in Afghanistan–either this agreement will never be implemented or it will be a disaster.
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Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International
Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of
International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press.
Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition),
The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle
East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.