Unrest in Syria, Jordan Poses New Test for U.S. Policy
Even as the Obama administration defends the NATO-led air war in Libya, the latest violent clashes in Syria and Jordan are raising new alarm among senior officials who view those countries, in the heartland of the Arab world, as far more vital to American interests.
Deepening chaos in Syria, in particular, could dash any remaining hopes for a Middle East peace agreement, several analysts said. It could also alter the American rivalry with Iran for influence in the region and pose challenges to the United States’ greatest ally in the region, Israel
Officials fear the unrest there and in Jordan could leave Israel further isolated. The Israeli government was already rattled by the overthrow of Egypt’s leader, Hosni Mubarak, worrying that a new government might not be as committed to Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
While Israel has largely managed to avoid being drawn into the region’s turmoil, last week’s bombing of a bus in Jerusalem, which killed one person and wounded 30, and a rain of rocket attacks from Gaza, have fanned fears that the militant group Hamas is trying to exploit the uncertainty.
The unrest in Jordan, which has its own peace treaty with Israel, is also extremely worrying, a senior administration official said. The United States does not believe Jordan is close to a tipping point, this official said. But the clashes, which left one person dead and more than a hundred wounded, pose the gravest challenge yet to King Abdullah II, a close American ally.
Interestingly, below we see agreement between the Israeli papers and the NYTimes:
Mr. Assad has said that he wants to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel. But with his population up in arms, analysts said, he might actually have an incentive to pick a fight with its neighbor, if only to deflect attention from the festering problems at home.
Again, we see speculation that Assad could "pick a fight" with Israel in order to deflect attention from his internal problems.
But officials also concede that Mr. Assad has been an endless source of frustration — deepening ties with Iran and the Islamic militant group Hezbollah; undermining the government of Saad Hariri in Lebanon; pursuing a nuclear program; and failing to deliver on promises of reform.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
Things are happening fast in the Middle East right now with so many uprisings in so many different countries. It is hard to imagine that the situation in Lebanon has been rendered to "page 4" of the news, if that. It is hard to imagine that Egypt isn't talked about much anymore (even with elections looming), since this has been replaced in the news by what? An epic earthquake in Japan and its aftermath, which replaced (in the news) the quake in Chile, which replaced the news about the quake in Haiti.
And it was just a few weeks ago that we saw the news about the EU's new military group (EAS) who has the capability to perform border control in contested regions (confirming a covenant?). All of the above have replaced the news about the worldwide financial situation and the need for international control of a single currency. The list goes on and on.
But for now, the hot news is the turmoil in the Middle East and how radical Islam seems to be getting more access to power in a growing number of regions. In other words, those who are sword to destroy Israel are gaining strength both politically and militarily and doing so very rapidly right now. Even in those countries whose leaders are still in power - but who are now experiencing internal revolt with riots and violence beginning to increase (Syria and Jordan to name two) - they may have to prove themselves by taking action against Israel.
Israel seems to be caught in a "lose-lose" scenario right now.