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Saudi Arabia shares a similar concern about Iranian ambitions. They have moved troops into the country of Bahrain to help suppress that country’s anti-government protests, where a Shi’ite Muslim majority population is seeking to remove a government run largely by Sunni Muslims. And while there is no direct evidence of Iranian involvement in the uprisings, their state media was highly critical of the move, characterizing it as “an invasion” of a country sometimes referred to by the Iranian government as their “14th province.”
Israeli Vice Premier Silvan Shalom spelled out the concerns shared by both Saudi Arabia and Israel. “Iran is trying again to shake up the regimes in the Middle East and to replace the moderate regimes with those that are ideologically close to them,” he said at the Negev Conference in Eilat. “[Iranians were trying to show who] is in control of the Middle East,” he added. Dan Schueftan, a political science professor at Haifa University and a former adviser to Israel’s foreign ministry went further. “The Iranians are more confident now. The upheavals in the Arab world are very good for them,” he said. “The Iranians are trying every way to arm the region, and except for Israel, nobody is trying to stop them. When Egypt is weakened, even if Egypt wants to help Israel, I don’t think there is anyone in Egypt who can do it.”
The ship was intercepted 200 miles off Israel’s Mediterranean coast where its captain gave Israeli commandos permission to board. There was no resistance from the crew, and the commandos were provided with a manifest documenting the cargo, one which claimed the ship was transporting cotton and lentils. Israeli military analyst Ron Ben Ishai expressed the importance of the seizure. “Had this shipment gone through to Alexandria and then to one of the Palestinian organizations in Gaza, it would have given them the capability that does not exist today, that is, to hit the Israeli navy at a distance of 35 kilometers,” he said.
Israel has been under mounting international pressure to abandon its blockade of Gaza ever since their raid on a ship bound for that region last June resulted the death of nine Turkish activists. The Obama administration, which has yet to publicly comment on the current seizure, waffled with regard to Israel’s attempt to maintain a naval blockade of Gaza back then. “The current arrangements are unsustainable and must be changed. For now, we call on all parties to join us in encouraging responsible decisions by all sides to avoid any unnecessary confrontations,” offered Mike Hammer, spokesman for White House National Security.
No doubt the Obama administration will be equally “even-handed” this time, despite the fact that the so-called “humanitarian” aspect of last June’s attempt to run the blockade was revealed for the unadulterated fraud it truly was. And that’s assuming our terminally distracted president bothers to make any comment at all. Three days after the incident, we still have no idea what Mr. Obama thinks about it. On the other hand, we do know who his Final Four picks are for the NCAA’s March Madness college basketball tournament–even as Muammar Qadaffi exterminates his opposition, Japan is facing an existential threat to its well-being, the Dow is in freefall, food prices have jumped the most since 1974, and housing starts have seen their biggest drop in 27 years. Sadly, the Israelis and their problems would appear to be at the back of a very long line. One for which the Obama administration demonstrates an appalling lack of urgency or prioritization on every item.
Both our allies and our enemies are now witnessing the much-ballyhooed antithesis of George W. Bush’s “cowboy diplomacy.” Our enemies, especially the Islamic thugs who yearn for Israel’s destruction by any means necessary, are undoubtedly the most delighted by this “evolution” in American foreign policy.
Arnold Ahlert is a contributing columnist to the conservative website JewishWorldReview.com.
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