Tuesday, March 23, 2010
23 March '10
The writer is deputy director of the Institute for National Security Studies.
David Petraeus is an American general with an impressive record and a great deal of influence in Washington. He can be credited with reducing violence and terror in Iraq, as well as with the blows dealt to Al-Qaida since 2007. He has been the head of U.S. Central Command, responsible for the Middle East, since 2008. People who have met him say he is friendly to Israel.
Last week, testifying before the Senate Armed Forces Committee, Petraeus came up with a significant insight. The hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors, he said, pose a challenge to U.S. interests in the region. This conflict enflames Arab anti-American feelings because the United States is perceived as supporting Israel. Arab rage springing from the Palestinian problem limits the depth of the partnership with governments in the region, weakens the legitimacy of moderate Arab regimes and helps Al-Qaida mobilize support. Therefore, a credible American effort to solve the Arab-Israeli dispute would undermine Iran's militant policies, and progress on the Israeli-Syrian track would disrupt Iranian support for Hezbollah and Hamas.
Petraeus made his remarks during a long presentation on the threats and challenges to the United States in this part of the world. He did not blame Israel for the situation but simply discussed the problem and its repercussions. Petraeus painted a similar picture last year in front of the same panel, without attracting attention. But this time his analysis was seen as part of the pressure that the Obama administration is putting on Israel, as a continuation of the linkage it is trying to create between progress in the peace process and its handling of the Iranian issue.
Basically, it's hard to see how such progress would help block the Iranian nuclear threat. Iran would certainly not give up its goal of achieving a nuclear weapons capability, something that has nothing to do with the Palestinian question.
(Read full article)