Middle East experts Dr. Mordechai Kedar and Prof. Eyal Zisser recently sat down with Arutz Sheva ahead of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), and recapped the tumultuous and bloody events of the Arab world over the past year.
Kedar, a senior lecturer at Bar Ilan University, began by noting the current warfare is the continuation of a trend of disorder since the “Arab spring” revolutions began in 2011, leading to the “deterioration of states like Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen.”
“On the ruins of these countries we see already enclaves of Islamic states,” said Kedar, noting the Islamic State (aka ISIS) that has brutally seized power and declared statehood in parts of Iraq and Syria, as well as the Al Qaeda-linked Boko Haram terror group that similarly declared statehood in Nigeria.
Zisser, an expert on Syria and Lebanon and Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities at Tel Aviv University, concurred with Kedar’s appraisal, saying “the Arab spring turned out to be an Islamic winter, and now it’s not a spring, it’s not a winter – it’s simply chaos and anarchy.”
The western world has exhibited “hypocrisy” towards the developing bloodshed in the Middle East according to Kedar, who remarked the world only wakes up when Westerners are beheaded.
For over three years over 200,000 Syrians have been killed by brutal internecine violence without the world intervening, but “when three of four western journalists and aid workers are beheaded all of a sudden the world starts to act,” said Kedar, noting the airstrikes following several very publicized and gruesome murders.
However, despite the recent US-led coalition conducting airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against ISIS, Kedar commented that he doesn’t see any real force ready to deal with the threat. It is worth noting US President Barack Obama has emphasized repeatedly he will not commit US troops to fight ISIS on the ground.
What should Israel’s role be in terms of the chaos engulfing the region?
According to Zisser, “we should follow the events very carefully with no illusions about a different Middle East. It’s the same and maybe even worse than the one we used to know before.”
In terms of coalitions with Arab states, such as Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s (Yesh Atid) talk of an alliance with Egypt and Jordan against the jihadist threat, Kedar urged caution.
“Definitely we should find our friends in the Arab world if there are any, however we cannot give up on assets like (land) in Judea and Samaria in order to maintain such a coalition,” warned Kedar. He added that “today we have an equation of interests” with states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but that won’t necessarily be true tomorrow.
Kedar also warned that Iran might be granted a moratorium on its nuclear program so that the world can deal with ISIS, but this will “come at a cost” for Israel and the world, in a short-sighted exchange of one danger for another.