Middle East Comedy, Tragedy and Charade.

Traditionally during the summer months entertainment flourishes with touring theater and circus; and this year is no exception for the Middle East. If it were not for the human suffering that is evident in this years Middle East economic and political Circus then Greek Comedy and Greek Tragedy would surely be relabeled Egyptian Comedy and Syrian Tragedy. As spectators Israel sits with the other sovereign states in various forum such as the United Nations. There is no applause from this audience; only gasps of exasperation; interjected with murmurings of just what can one do even if one could do something which one cannot and so the Circus goes on: Egyptian Comedy, Syrian Tragedy and United Nations Charade.

Egyptian Comedy. The carefully crafted ousting of President Morsi once again shows that successful revolutionaries rarely achieve thriving governance. It took weeks to gather the signatures for the petition of those opposing him while the conspirators considered the best means to transfer power. More people have been killed by the army ousting Morsi that were in ousting Mubarek yet Mubarek and not the new President Monsour has been tried for conspiring in the killing of protesters, and for corruption. In June 2012 Mubarek was sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring in the killing of protestors, but found not guilt of corruption. Morsi may yet face the courts for incitement and incompetence. The people have spoken, the people have been heard, and the Army has acted. However in the aftermath of 30 months of various Presidential Palace squatters there appears to be no dominant social movement, political party, ideological faction or individual who is capable of leading Egypt out of economic and political woes. The Army continues to bombard militant towns in the Sinai.

Syrian Tragedy. With the world focusing on Egypt, President Assad has been granted an opportunity to intensify his summer military campaign without international media coverage. Local Syrian newspapers published in Arabic continue to tell the tale of the world’s worst humanitarian disaster that has left 93,000 dead, displaced 4.25 million and forced 1.6 million to leave the country. Comparatively Egypt has little to be ashamed of with less that 1,000 dead in the ousting of both Mubarrek and Morsi. Yet the Suez Canal is more significant for the West so little action is taken on the alleged use of chemical weapons by more than one side in Syria. The influx of Al-Qaeda and other radical groups has led the US Congress to block Presidents Obama’s plan to arm Syrian rebels without which there is little hope of ousting the Russian armed Assad clan. Diplomatic efforts are unlikely to gain momentum as there appears to be little interest by anyone in attending the Geneva peace talks. The tragedy is that removing Assad is no longer the main objective or cause for concern. Now into the third year of a civil war there appears to be no dominant social movement, political party, ideological faction or individual who is capable of ending the civil war or in leading the whole of Syria after Assad’s rule.

United Nations Charade. Throughout June headlines focused on the United Nations forces on the Syrian border with Israel and their expected demise given the Austrian force withdrawal. On the morning of June 27 the United Nations Security Council met at 11:23 New York time and in less than two minutes concluded the vote on a prepared Resolution that stated “Expressing grave concern at all violations of the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement, the Security Council this morning extended until 31 December 2013 the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which monitors the ceasefire in the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria”. The Grave Concern expressed cannot be translated into actions with only 171 Fiji troops replacing the 350 Austrian and with the cause for concern unresolved; that of Syrian rebels operating in the UNDOF monitored Area of Separation while both Israel and Syria observe their obligations. On the following day the United Nations General Assembly adopted its peacekeeping budget for the period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014 for 14 operations world-wide approaching $8 billion. UNDOF on the Syrian border will get $50.73 million, and UNIFIL in Lebanon will get $520.44 million. The UN representative of Syria, voting in favor, said he had joined the consensus adoption of the UNDOF mandate. However he emphasized that Israel, as the aggressor and occupying authority, should finance both missions. The Charade played out as the new UNTSO head of Mission and Chief of Staff Major General Michael Finn awaited his official entry visa to Israel dependent on the termination of the strike by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Dr Glen Segell, FRGS, is Researcher at The Institute for National Security Studies Tel Aviv, Lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and Senior Researcher for the Ariel Research Center for Defense and Communication



About the Author
Dr Glen Segell is Fellow at the Ezri Center for Iran & Persian Gulf Studies, University of Haifa.