The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

Gilad Shalit, and Obama uses Israel as attack dog to scare Chinese

with 6 comments

photo credit:

Been a while since I last blogged, exams got the better of me and being in Sydney chilling has been counterproductive to blogging, but I’m back!

Despite discussions stalling somewhat and it now being said that a deal is more likely to take place after Eid al-Adha (Eid Mubarak to Muslims, by the way!) there have been reports of progress on the negotiations over the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap. Ismail Haniyeh even cancelled his Hajj! According to Haaretz, Israel is none too thrilled about certain prisoners that Hamas wants released:

Hamas is demanding, among other the prisoners, the release of Ibrahim Hamad, head of the group’s military wing in the Ramallah area, Abdallah Barghouti, a bomb engineer, and Abbas a-Sayad, the Hamas head in Tul Karm who planned the 2002 massacre during Passover in Netanya’s Park Hotel. These three prisoners are considered responsible for the murder of hundreds of Israelis.

Other names mentioned in the Arab media are Hassan Salame, who was involved in planning the suicide bus bombings in the mid ’90s, and Jamal Abu al-Hijla, head of Hamas in Jenin, who was convicted of taking part in planning and funding several suicide attacks during the second intifada.

Israel’s trepidation at having these prisoners freed is understandable, and the fact is, that political pressure from within Israel to have Shalit freed has been strong but not overwhelming so you can expect Israeli’s to hold out a while longer to get a better deal, politically especially (apparently having key suicide bombing planners freed can be harmful to one’s political standing). Most people are watching the fate of one Marwan Barghouti, considered a key possible successor to the increasingly beleaguered and probably-resigning Abu Mazen. You can expect Barghouti to be freed, Obama has been putting pressure on Netanyahu to make concessions that would bolster Fatah in the lead-up to PA elections and Abbas’ increasingly likely resignation.

The other major news is that during Obama’s visit to China, he put some pressure on the Chinese to do something about the whole Iran nuclear thing, which they have normally stayed clear out of (their policy of political non-involvement in the affairs of trading partners). The scare tactic used was the threat of Israel bombing Iran unilaterally (thus implying tacit US support) and the damage that would do to Iran as an energy source for China. The other scare tactic was the implication that other states could go nuclear, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, implying that Japan was another possibility (something China would not view kindly). [Thanks WashPo] [Check out a condensed report from Political Theatrics here.)

Antony Loewenstein is getting into a bit of a tizzy about it, suggesting that these talks imply Obama will certainly acquiesce to Israel bombing Iran, I disagree. While the jury is still out on how far Israel will go to defend against the ‘existential threat’ and how far the US will go in trying to stop them, I don’t think these statements to the Chinese should all be taken seriously. They are scare tactics and meant as such, Obama needs the Chinese to either support (or at least not veto) resolutions against Iran in the UN and given their mostly self-interested political philosophies, he needs to frighten them into submission. I mean a nuclear Egypt? Never happen. But bringing up a nuclear Japan is pretty damn scary, as is linking bombing Iran with energy security.

So here we have Obama clearly using Israel as an attack dog, or rather hinting at the possibility of it breaking its chains. Remember the Suez War in 56 when the British and French used Israel as an attack dog? Yeah, that didn’t end well for them.


6 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Dear Uppity Armchair Critic:

    Nice to see you post again.

    Apparently our Nobel Laureate also mumbled a few things in into Manmohan’s ears about putting pressure on Iran.

    There is news of an air-strike or two by Israel. Wonder how serious they actually are about this exchange. I have a more conspiratorial view. The exchange will never happen because it will remain an excuse for Israeli aggression in the short-term


    Anand Bala

    November 27, 2009 at 10:33 pm

  2. I agree with your conspirational view, Sir. Even if you are a no-good useless armchair critic. I’ll agree further if you go to Iran and get bombed. That will be all.


    November 28, 2009 at 12:22 am

  3. I don’t see how the Chinese have any reason to be scared of the Israeli.


    November 29, 2009 at 7:23 pm

  4. If Israel attacks Iran that damages and destabilises an important source of energy for China.


    November 29, 2009 at 11:01 pm

  5. china is interested in selling of weapons to this region that is why i think they are kinda interested in the intense relations of Israel and Iran. at the same time they are part of group of countries that are against nuclear weapons in Iran. Their interest in this question i sinserly dont und.


    December 23, 2009 at 11:47 pm

  6. China is against nuclear weapons in Iran because they see other countries having nuclear weapons as a potential security threat. It undermines global security in general, even if it isn’t a direct threat to China. In that sense, they might agree to economic sanctions placed on Iran… but not if they’re too strong, firstly because they want to continue to trade with Iran for benefit (particularly as it is an energy source and a market for Chinese weapons, as you mentioned) and secondly, because they have a policy of not getting involved in the internal politics of other nation-states.

    However, China would probably oppose an Israeli attack on Iran because that may strongly destabilise the country and the region and destabilise the trade I mentioned above.

    Thus, Obama was trying to convince them to support sanctions by emphasising the possibility of Israel bombing Iran which could be considerably worse for China than supporting sanctions.


    December 24, 2009 at 12:33 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: