Some Fair Questions About Breaking of Aug. 1 Israel-Palestine Ceasefire

As the Palestinian death toll quickly closes in on 2,000, it would seem the responsibility for which side broke the August 1st ceasefire is still a bit murky.  07ISRAEL1-videoSixteenByNine540-v2

It was initially reported by Israel that Palestinian militants had emerged and opened fire and captured an Israeli soldier when IDF was destroying a tunnel around Rafah.  Two points should be noted here.

First, the Israeli military’s version of events is always taken as gospel by American media while the Palestinian version is typically brushed off by being given a sentence or two most of the time.  Any perusing of articles about the breaking of the ceasefire on Friday would certainly prove that.  But hey, Israel has no interest in giving a biased version of events, do they?

Second, one might ask why it is okay for the Israeli military to continue operations, possibly inside Gaza (most stories took the IDF’s word that the event occurred “around Rafah” but did not further specify), during the ceasefire and destroying the tunnels.  It should be noted the tunnels were largely created because of the illegal blockade of Gaza by Israel (an act of war, of course) and were used to transport “building materials, foods, medicines, drugs, and people, accounting for an estimated $700 million per year“.  If Palestinian militants were on Israeli territory blowing up important roads used for transporting weapons and ammunition being resupplied by the U.S., what would the reaction be?

Then there are the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping and killing of the IDF soldier.  It would seem exactly how the young man died should be heavily questioned and examined.  Israel claims they recovered evidence to suggest he had died but not a body.  Very little detail is given.  While on the other hand, Hamas claims it lost contact with the militants in the area possibly involved in the battle and suggest they were killed by the Israeli attack on the area after the ceasefire was declared off.

This would beg a couple of important questions: was the Israeli soldier killed by friendly-fire and is this the reason Israel knows he is dead and can’t recover the body?  Was the soldier buried under the rubble of a building Israel destroyed that day?

There doesn’t seem to be much interest in investigating this possibility.  If it were true he was killed by his own military, it would put even more pressure on Israel to explain why it is using such ferocious attacks on a civilian population it has illegally oppressed for so many years.

Syria, Iraq, and America’s Maturation

As what once looked like an inevitable march to war in Syria stays on hold longer, it seems the United States’ public has put to use the lessons learned from the debacle in Iraq.  And one of the most important lessons was the reality that we can’t predict what the future will bring no matter how sure we think we are about it.22syria-cnd-articleInline

One of the biggest reasons for this unpredictability is the various groups found in these countries and the infighting that occurs after changes in power, a residual effect of their borders being created by colonialism.  Iraq is no exception and the violence there continues as we saw over the weekend.

And it’s possible the outcome of a power switch in Syria might be even more unpredictable than Iraq.  The CSM illustrated this in a recent article that attempted to estimate the number of fighters in various groups fighting against the Assad regime:

Jihadists – 10-12,000

Hardline Islamists – 30,000

Ikhwani Islamists – 30-40,000

Genuine moderates – 20-25,000

Kurds – 10,000

…statements that so-called “moderates” dominate the fight against Mr. Assad, as both US Secretary of State John Kerry and influential politicians like Senator John McCain have asserted, are not accurate.

The path ahead is very murky in Syria and that could very well be one of the reasons Americans are so reluctant to support military action against Assad, a clear change from the lead-up to the Iraq War as most polls illustrate.  A look at old data from Pew show 72% believed Iraq was the “right decision” in March of 2003 when the war began. A look at their data on Syria show 63% of Americans oppose airstrikes.

Obviously, we can’t say this is the only reason for the change as many factors will play a role in each situation.  But the reality that one of these groups would eventually take power and then be tasked with holding onto it peacefully in a post-Assad Syria should be a concern when judging this issue.  It would be foolish to think a magic wand could be waved and things would work out just perfectly, particularly when you consider the groups are already fighting each other at times instead of the Assad regime.

The situation in Syria is messy but Western intervention will likely only make matters worse in the long run.

Iran will press on with enrichment: nuclear chief | Reuters

Iran will press on with enrichment: nuclear chief | Reuters.

The situation with the West’s concern over Iran’s plans to enrich uranium continues and the head of Iran’s nuclear energy program stated they are moving forward.  A few important points should be made regarding this article.  The first is the fact Iran, at least on the surface, is trying to be rather open about their nuclear plans to the rest of the world.  If they were trying to build a nuclear weapon in the shadows of what they are doing, they are the worst hiders of their actions in the history of the world.  Just compare Iran’s actions to North Korea on this issue, for example.

The other important factor from this article has to do with a declaration the nuclear chief is making:

But he (Iran’s nuclear chief) also said Iran would continue and possibly raise its output of reactor fuel using 20 percent enriched uranium – which suggests that less of it might be available for use in what the West suspects is an attempt to develop atom bombs.

In other words, Iran is using their material, at the moment, for non-weaponized purposes and they want to increase that usage.  Iran has a finite amount of nuclear materials so the fact they are looking to use up more of it for energy purposes only should be encouraged by the West.  The faster they use their material up, the better for peace in the long run.

At this point, Iran has done nothing to show they are wanting to use their nuclear material for a nuclear bomb and there is seemingly no reason to begin a war over their actions.  This could change in the future, no doubt, but the fact remains there is still no evidence Iran is a true threat to the world and the guns and missiles currently aimed at them should be holstered for now.