Wed 12 Oct 2011
The Saudi ambassador to the US Adel al-Jubeir speaks during Middle East peace conference in Maryland in 2007
The news dominating coverage of the Middle East today catapults Iran and the Palestinians over the ongoing Arab Spring. Even the fact that tens of thousands of Syrians turned out in Damascus to support the Asad regime pales in relation to the James Bond scenario of Iranians, drinking tequila with Mexican drug runners in order to set up the assassination of the Saudi ambassador in Washington. It sounds like a movie plot, but then so does the whole Arab spring since February. American officials are acting as though they have slam-dunk proof, which is a dangerous sign when no one has seen even an iota of that proof apart from the allegations given by Attorney General Holder. And it seems the culprit has confessed, so what more needs to be said? The plot is plausible to most Americans, I suspect, because one expects Iran to engage in terrorism and the government officials in Iran despise the Saudis as much as they do the United States. It sure makes Eric Holder, who has come under blistering attack by Republican hawks, smell like a rose.
Also headlining the news today is the agreement between Israel and Hamas in which some 1,027 Palestinians being held in Israel jails will be exchanged for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, captured some five years ago. And the plot thickens, because the exchange of 1000/1 is taken as a victory by both sides. The dark side is that such a deal reinforces the notion that Israel lives are more valuable than Palestinian lives at the same time as individuals are being freed rather than blown up. Given previous hard-line rhetoric of Netanyahu, the idea of such a trade also seems something dreamed up in a novel.
There are serious plots in which people die every day, such as more bombs in Iraq. And there are, in biblical terms, rumors of plots. These two events today would be earth-shaking on any day, but are especially ripe for punditry at this juncture in the region. What will the impact of this release mean on the Palestinian quest for statehood in the U.N.? What new sanctions can be brought out against Iran? And if the Saudi ambassador had been killed, along with a number of Americans, what would have been the response of the Obama administration? I can only imagine the re-election landslide if Obama and the Israelis were to successfully launch an attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear plant. He would be drinking tea all the way to a second term in the White House.
Let’s see what new plot unfolds tomorrow…
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