A changing of the seasons in the Middle East

Egyptian army officers arrest a suspected demonstrators attempting to come close to the Israeli embassy at the site of clashes between protesters and riot police in Cairo. (Photo by Reuters)

Egyptian army officers arrest a suspected demonstrators attempting to come close to the Israeli embassy at the site of clashes between protesters and riot police in Cairo. (Photo by Reuters)

Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of the attacks on New York and Washington, but I am not qualified to say anything meaningful about that day or its impact on the decade since.  However, there are plenty of others with a great deal to say on the subject – today and tomorrow will be filled with impressions and analysis; NPR is interrupting all of its regular programing tomorrow morning for a special – this whole week Al-Jazeerah has been running a special on 9/11 and every local media outlet is covering the local angle of the story.  I wish I understood it better, but none of the coverage I have seen has helped me in the slightest.

So, I focus on things that even if I do not understand them, I do understand much of the context of the events.  For Israel and its supporters this has been a disastrous week.  It started with Turkey escalating tension by demanding an apology from Israel over the death of Turkish citizens on a ship headed to Gaza last year in defiance of the Israeli blockade.  When it was not forthcoming, Turkey began taking a series of measures meant to impress and threaten Israel. First, Turkey downgraded diplomatic relations between the two countries and expelled the Israeli ambassador.  Turkey was adamant in declaring Israeli’s actions illegal and angrily rejected the findings of a United Nations probe into the deadly flotilla raid which found that Israel was justified in maintaining the blockade.  Then the prime minister announced a suspension of all trade related to the military and defense industries (but not non-military trade).

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised not to give up, saying he will take his case against Israel to the international court in the Hague.  And finally, in a statement that sounded more like a declaration of war than anything else,  Prime Minister Erdogan said he will send Turkish war ships to escort any future ships leaving Turkey bound for Gaza.  Israel has tried to downplay the seriousness of the situation, but still refuses to apologize, although it did express regret for the deaths.

With Turkey and Israel, once the best of friends, on the bridge of an armed confrontation, Israel’s other friend in the region, Egypt erupted into flames of anti-Israeli sentiment.  A week or so ago, someone scaled the Israeli embassy in Cairo replacing the Israeli flag with an Egyptian flag.   It did not seem terribly serious, the Israelis simply opened the window and replaced the Israeli flag.  The Egyptian police in reaction to a series of demonstrations outside the embassy put a temporary wall around the embassy – seeking to prevent any further incidents.   The wall was more temporary than the police had anticipated – it incited more demonstrations, ending in an all out attack on the embassy yesterday.   The ambassador left Egypt and returned to Israel and the demonstrators continued to destroy the embassy.

And then the situation turned really bad and not just for Israel – in fact the Egyptian government has promised to continue its relationship with Israel.  The real victim of the situation seems to be the Egyptian revolution – after standing back for hours and allowing the demonstrators to ransack the embassy the police took action.  A commando unit stormed the building and rescued the Israelis trapped inside the building.  That was followed by armed riot police moving in to break up the demonstration turned riot.  At this point nine people are dead and a thousand people have been injured.  But that is not the worse news, the Egyptian government has reinstated the emergency laws imposed by the Mubarak regime – the same laws the revolution proudly claimed as one of its victories.  That is not the only step backward for the Egyptian freedom movement, last week the ruling council suspended any new television licenses and threatened to punish any media outlet guilty of seditious reporting.  Within a week, the peaceful Egyptian revolution and the Arab Spring has turned very cold.

It was a disastrous week for Israel – but it may have been worse of Egyptians and their dreams of political freedom – only Colonel Gaddafi may have had a worse week; but we don’t know how he is taking it, no one can find him.   Here, as September moves to its conclusion, the air feels different, the season is changing, fall is in the air and with it the hint that winter indeed will follow.  Spring is quickly becoming a memory and even the memory is beginning to dim.



0 Responses to “A changing of the seasons in the Middle East”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This is a personal blog and the information in articles posted here represents my personal views. It does not necessarily represent the views of people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with, and is not sponsored or endorsed by them unless stated explicitly. Comments and other public postings are the sole responsibility of their authors, and I shall not take any responsibility and liability for any libel or litigation that results from information written in or as a direct result of information written in a comment. All trademarks, copyrights, and registered names used or cited by this website are the property of their respective owners. I am not responsible for the contents or the reliability of any articles excerpted herein or linked websites and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them. I cannot guarantee that these links will work all of the time and have no control over the availability of the linked pages.


September 2011
« Aug   Oct »

%d bloggers like this: