Sunday, February 20, 2011

Iranian warships have/haven't transited the Suez Canal [check one]

Arnold/Frimet Roth
This Ongoing War
20 February '11

For those who believe that news reports are, by their nature, objective and things either did or did not happen, consider the state of this morning's reporting on those Iranian warships heading (without any doubt about their plan) for the Mediterranean Sea.

Reuters this morning says the two Iranian warships will sail through the Suez Canal on Monday, attributing the timing to Suez Canal officials. Reuters also says this morning that the Iranian warships have passed through the Suez Canal and are already heading for Syria, quoting Iran's Arabic language state television channel Al Alam.

Either way, it's clear what has happened or (if you prefer) is immediately about to happen: for the first time since the Ayatollahs took control of Iran in 1979 and dragged the country onto its highly aggressive and messianic path backwards into primitivism, Iran's military forces are free to position themselves to the west of Israel (i.e. in the sea) as well as on Israel's northern border (via the Iranian proxy Hizbollah) and on Israel's southern border (via the Iranian proxy Hamas).

Aluf Benn in Haaretz notes this morning that Egypt is allowing the Iranian warships to cross the canal. Israeli public figures are arguing that this is a provocative and dangerous move but in the post-Mubarak reality, the Egyptian military which now rules the company ignored the objections from Israel and granted a free pass to the Iranians.

No one, as far as we can tell, is expecting the changes to the regional balance of power to stop here.

Some of those changes have already arrived, and none of them contributes to a sense of peace breaking out imminently:

- The decision to open the Suez and the Med to the Iranians signals that Egypt has discontinued its strategic alliance with Israel against Iran.

- Cairo is now willing to do business with Tehran as Turkey has done under prime minister Erdogan.

- Since last week's fall of Mubarak, the cold peace between Egypt and Israel has cooled much further.

- Natural gas supplied for years under an Egyptian/Israeli supply contract was cut off after a terrorist attack on a station in northern Sinai a couple of weeks ago. To no one's astonishment, that supply has not yet been renewed.

- The demagogic religious leader al-Qaradawi who was forced into exile by Egypt's government three decades ago returned to Cairo and addressed a million Islamic faithful in Tahrir Square on Friday. His message of "love-and-democracy" includes calling for the "liberation" of Jerusalem's Palestinian-Arab-controlled Al-Aqsa Mosque and for military victory against Israel. Al-Qaradawi is an unabashed supporter of terrorism [See "Yusuf Al-Qaradawi tells BBC Newsnight that Islam justifies suicide bombings"] and especially of suicide attacks, against all Israelis including (explicitly) women, pregnant women and their unborn Jewish babies. Seven years ago, some 2,500 Islamic intellectuals delivered a petition to the UN condemning "the sheikhs of death" and Al-Qaradawi (whom they described as “providing a religious cover for terrorism”) individually and in particular.

Religiously-inspired hatred of Jews and of Israel, as exemplified by the rapturous reception given Friday to Al-Qaradawi, is back, front and center, in the daily life of Egyptian society.

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