Sunday 8 October 2023

Wars and rumours of wars

The Hamas attack on Israel is quite astonishing - shock, and maybe even awe.  To pull off coordination and surprise like that in a space so confined and - as we are given to believe - so intensively, comprehensively and 'intelligently' monitored, is little short of impressive.  (And on Putin's birthday, too ...)  So much so, that it can easily trigger all manner of speculation - but for now we must wait for more data and developments.

However, some very broad comments can be essayed.  From the start of Putin's war upon Ukraine, it was obvious that the implications for Taiwan would be uppermost in the minds of some important actors.  Several leading commentators assumed that Ukraine would provide a distraction that allowed other 'geo-political initiatives' to kick off, with Taiwan heading the list (by dint of the seriousness of the global implications) but with the middle east also very much in mind, alongside the Balkans, the near east and central Asia.  In point of fact, for many months nothing much really happened.

Maybe the waiting is over.  In the runup to the Hamas offensive we've seen Armenia humiliated, Serbia stirring the pot, Syria being brought to the boil, Putin meeting the Wrong'Un ... and there are no doubt other things I've overlooked.  Players like the latter, Turkey and Iran are always looking to manoeuvre purposefully for advantage, in contexts of expansionist policies.

Coordinated?  Woah!  - down that rabbit-hole, lunacy lies (e.g. "The flywheel of WW3 is spinning faster and faster ...").  For now, let's just say "opportunistic".  Sometimes, though, just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you ...



Footnote:  we don't choose to let this blog be, how shall we put it, a forum for "partisan middle east rants".  Some do, we don't.  All our regular BTL commenters have respected this over the many years, for which our thanks.  Any, errr, newcomers / anons wishing to flout this policy will not be hosted.   


Anonymous said...

Interesting article. I used to be a fairly frequent visitor to Israel, on business, and it is a country where the presence of the armed forces can be seen everywhere. The idea that they were taken by surprise is quite shocking. In a funny way it feels a bit like Pearl Harbour, early success turning into total defeat. I understand the visceral hatred that drives these terrorists but I cannot see what their end game is. They are intelligent so you would think that they have a plan.

Funnily enough I used to visit Armenia which always struck me a peaceful country still nursing its wounds even 100 years after their fate at the hands of the Turks. Putin is despicable because the Armenians are orthodox Christian and always had links with Russia as the only Christian state in a Moslem area. These links remained strong right through the Yeltsin era. When you flew from Armenia to Moscow you land at the domestic airport. I caused chaos by arriving there, the customs men thought it was hysterically funny. So for Putin to turn his back on them for a short term gain was very stupid, he or Russia, might need them in the future.

Never been to the Balkans or Taiwan so I am not the kiss of death.

Keep up the good work


cityunslicker said...

You forgot the push in the Sahel already begun. Russian propoganda is very good. Just because some of us see it and ignore it, it is very effective at pushing narratives. This inspires ne’erdowells across the world. Also I don’t think Iran was very happy about Israel blowing up its drone factories a few months ago. Payback.

jim said...

Lo and behold General Weir pops up in the the Mail to put the wind up the readers. Code = don't even think of cutting the budget.

Seems a bit hot headed of Hamas to go annoying the Israelis. Hamas must know it has no follow-through capability and Israel is very practiced at exacting revenge. Usual three to five times over. The trouble is that Israel has exclusive superpowers - it is written into the contract - and that contract is very visible to Israel's main supporter's politicians. Some might consider the contract to be a fraud - but they don't matter.

I think Taiwan is not yet ready for plucking. Needs to ripen until the new semiconductor factories are built. Then we can let that fruit fall where it may. At least any squabble post-factory buildout will still have some comms kit and the world's car industry will not crash to the ground.

All a bit bored with Ukraine/Russia. As intended I suppose. One feels the main moneybags - USA - is preoccupied with the election runup and the Republicans playing games. A minor power game on Europe's doorstep is nothing compared with the riches at stake in Washington. So Ukraine will have to dangle in the wind until the US decides what it will or won't support. Luckily winter is coming, let us hope no more Semtex and pipeline games. But if I were Mr Putin....

Caeser Hēméra said...

If anyone other than Bibi was in charge, I'd take the intelligence failure purely at face value, as it is I'll take it face value, but with a complete lack of shock if it turns up someone's dog conveniently ate some homework.

Something has been on the boil - it's not Iran's or Hamas' interest for the SA/US/Israel agreement to come to pass, and Israel's abject stupidity in the West Bank with settlers has given Hamas plenty of opportunities to spread its venom - but still a surprise that it happened.

A less senile President (and I'm including *Reagan* in that) might spy an opportunity to keep the tripartite deal alive, Iran neutered, the West Bank as a Palestinian state with Hamas expressly banned, and the inhabitants of Gaza reappraising their view of Hamas from the rubble.

Alas. And the next President, be it Biden or Trump, wouldn't reduce the infirmity of mind.

Unless Iran and its proxies are adequately dealt with, peace in the ME is a futile hope. Of course the irony being the Iranian brand of Islam was traditionally less batshit than the SA flavour, until the extremists got a grip that is.

electro-kevin said...
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electro-kevin said...


Watch Reagan's farewell address

Compare to Biden's inaugural. How is the BBC letting Biden get away with this ? They are part of the reason for the chaos exploding around the world.

Had it all happened under Trump... the most peace bringing President of all time.

electro-kevin said...

This may sound off tangent but it really isn't.

How is Germany getting away with it's part in all this ?

The EU was created to control Germany and now Germany controls the EU.

Bear with.

The State of Israel was created to house displaced Jews from persecution by 'Nazi' Germany. The Nuremberg trials were supposed to have purged Germany of Nazi-fication and the *innocent* everyday German who knew NOTHING of the holocaust was acquitted of all charges.

If they were *innocent* Germans why couldn't the Jews have been repatriated to Germany ?

Now this monumental crisis - likely to be blamed on the British. Obviously there is a legacy to empire.

I expect that the Israelis will show their true mettle and not waver in the face of a hostage situation. Their defence will be a 10:1 kill rate and no quarters given. This is their 9/11 and the estimate given above is an underestimate. Grannies, children and hotties taken off in the back of pick-ups.

Not a good look, Hamas.

electro-kevin said...

I note that the Hamas attack was pretty low down on the BBC Text already this morning.

Now. Had Israeli forces done the same...

Or Trump farted in public....

electro-kevin said...

In acknowledgement of the footnote. Mine isn't a criticism of Hamas (whom I think have pulled off a blinder in military terms but not in PR terms - and quite suicidal in real terms) It is a criticism of the MSM/BBC/Germany/EU and the quite stunning cover for Biden, hatred of Trump, trashing of Reagan, blindness towards Germany and total and utter slander of the British.

Why not allow anti-semitism on this forum ? Moreover anti Zionism which I totally agree with but shares the same problem with ALL superstitious cults (aka religions.)

Boyo has tried to get permission to propose to his Asian/Gohan/Catholic gf to the disapproval of the parents who are now in crisis.

It is his first girlfriend. He her first boyfriend. He now training to be a brain surgeon. It couldn't be purer. FGS ! How suitable does a suitable boy have to be ???

Reverse this situation and we would be called racists.

Religion. Tribalism. Superstition. It has a lot to account for.

Sobers said...

"Reverse this situation and we would be called racists."

Its one of those irregular verbs.

I have traditional values
You have racial prejudice
He is a white supremacist

dearieme said...

"This is their 9/11"

There are people who reckon that 9/11 was their 9/11.

Dunno: intricate place, the Middle East.

P.S. It was called the Near East for some decades. Even that can't be pinned down.

electro-kevin said...

Sobers - I can assure you that there is no white supremacy.

At his Hippocratic Oath white males formed around 5% of graduates, males around 25% of the total and the rest females.

If train drivers are anything to go by you will need x2 of the females recruited to buy x1 males in terms of output.

Sorry, but that's the truth of it.

Maternity, childcare, menopause and general sickness. Despite mass recruitment and training still "Owing to driver shortages..."

hovis said...

I have seen several articles calling this Israel's 'Pear Harbour' moment, funny thing is all meanings of that have been invoked..suprise attack, intelligence failure, to they knew it was coming and let it happen for their own advantage. Given the goings on in the supreme court and the fact that Nethanyahu is as corrupt as they come, not actually impossible.

Not sure if the flattening and massacre of Gazan civilians by the IDF will necessarily great optics. Of course they are militarily superior so will win in the end unless other actors get involved. That said saw some drone footage of Hamas taking out an israeli tankand it seems the balance in warfare isn't now what it was.

The US sending carrier Ford along, has some interesting implications

@Charles 11.27,having worked in Israel 20 or so years ago, personally I witnessed the visceral hated is on both sides, "I to kill " hot headedness, no room for discussion.

Sackerson said...

I thought we'd defeated the Nazis and now they're popping up everywhere. 'From the river to the sea' is a bit Azov, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Already people are using the undoubted outrages to further whatever agendas they have. Yesterday's Guardian live feed:

"Iran helped Hamas plan its surprise attacks against Israel over the weekend, according to senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah who spoke to the Wall Street Journal"

I can just imagine:

"why don’t I pull out my Rolodex and give a couple of senior members of Hezbollah and Hamas a ring? Get them on the horn and ask them, “What’s the deal?”"

And on the other side I see (so far unverified) suggestions that the Hamas weapons came from Ukraine (sold by corrupt Ukrainians).

Oil up again this morning, and on Saturday and Sunday Ben-Gurion airport was a lot busier in departures than arrivals, as the dual-passport crowd jump ship again.

A Hercules flew from Poland to Israel yesterday - evacuating Poles or diverted weapons from Ukraine?

Anonymous said...

I must say it's a pity that the pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demo people here and in the US can't just get on planes out there and sort out their differences.

(I see people will be picketing the Roger Waters concert in London tonight)

Wildgoose said...

I seem to remember that the 1970s oil shock began with some unpleasantness regarding Israel and the Middle East. I suspect that a robust Israeli response with large numbers of Palestinian dead may cause a similar reaction.

Coincidentally of course, the planned oil pipeline from Nigeria to Europe through Niger appears to have hit major snags just recently.

What a shame the Nordstream pipelines were blown up and reliable Russian oil & gas exports were heavily sanctioned!

But further European deindustrialisation is just minor collateral damage in the games being played by the US neocons against other major powers.

Anonymous said...

I'm seeing suggestions that using Huawei kit enabled the organisation of the attack, because every Western-designed router and phone is compromised.

You do have to wonder - Israel can murder Iranian scientists on their way home, can penetrate their nuclear places with viruses... was this whole thing REALLY organised by couriers crossing to and from Egypt?

dearieme said...

Given how divided Israeli politics is at the moment it had crossed my mind too; is a faction of the state involved?

On the other hand incompetence happens.

On the third hand, there are people in the US apparat who are always on the lookout for opportunities to bomb some poor bastards to perdition.

Dunno: intricate place the Middle East.

Anonymous said...

@Hovis 12.33 I agree there are hot heads on both sides but the Israelis are organised and disciplined. They don’t want to fight house to house, I am sure they would rather leave it to the airforce if they could but they know they cannot. If the Israelis behaved like Hamas their support would dry up overnight and they know this, that is why any civilised person has to respect the Israeli point of view. The state of Israel is far from perfect but it is still the only functional democracy in the region.


dearieme said...

"The state of Israel is far from perfect but it is still the only functional democracy in the region."

Once upon a time you could have said that about South Africa. That didn't stop the US pressuring them into surrendering.

It's remarkable how much in the world seems to depend on the views of US political interest groups.

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Vlad the bomber said...
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electro-kevin said...

Vladimir Putin's birthday was on Saturday. Hamas has been to the Kremlin at least twice since the invasion of Ukraine.

Anonymous said...

E-K - maybe THAT's the anniversary that triggered the attack.

Just wondering - so far, are the BBC screens covered with pictures of dead and mangled Gaza children? Has the G-word (Guernica) been seen?

Are the Kinnocks, Andrew Mitchell, Save The Children, calling for a no-fly zone? 2015-6 that was all I heard on the news, and Aleppo was being bombed a damn sight less than Gaza. And it contained head-chopping "moderate Islamists" just as bad as Hamas - perhaps worse.

"Aleppo - is a no-fly zone the answer?"

electro-kevin said...

Ukraine says that Wagner trained Hamas.

Anonymous said...

e-k - they would, wouldn't they, as Mandy Rice Davies might have said.

Comment at Sailer's:

"BLM – which, of course, was part founded by a Palestinian, has come out in full support of Hamas. Expect to see BLM quietly, but surely, wither away and slowly disappear from all public exposure, discourse and notice in the near future. Quite simply, the gatekeepers of the media will drop them like a hot potato and completely ignore them as if they do not exist. Remember, the only power BLM ever had was saturation coverage from a media agreeable with its agenda. Now its agenda is disagreeable, its oxygen will be swiftly cut off."

Anonymous said...

What's that google product that shows a timeline of mentions of a word or phrase in books and publications? One might be able to track "BLM"

Jan said...

There's a house near me which has been proudly flying the Ukranian flag since the start of that conflict. The occupant has a bit of a dilemma......which flag to fly now? Either way he could incur wrath from his neighbours yet if he sticks with what he's got he looks increasingly out of touch; no longer a part of the zeitgeist..........What is a leftie to do?

lilith said...

Hezbollah involvement means Biden gets to bomb Damascus. I expect that is why the US is sending ships. I can't see the US invading/bombing Gaza...

dearieme said...

Let us hope that none of the ships they send is called the USS Liberty.

Complicated place, the Middle East.

Anonymous said...

Can see this blowing up in a number of faces. IDF is a conscript army with a history of shoot first/ask later. Feelings understandably running hot and high. Already signs of discipline breaking down with some indiscriminate shooting / shelling into crowded areas.

Can't see outside politicians being able to calm the situation and the memories of the past week and the next few weeks will be etched on minds for a couple of generations. All anyone outside the region can do is wait and pick up the pieces later.