The current uncertainty is profound, but presents opportunities as well as threats.


Most of the attention is on Iran, widely assumed to be moving toward nuclear weapons, against the background of its leaders'' obsession with the destruction of Israel, raising the possibility of an Israel attack meant to avoid that threat to its existence.


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We are inundated with contrary commentary, all of which is built on speculation on top of the uncertainty about Israel''s intentions and capabilities, as well as the uncertainty about the intentions of the United States, Britain and France, with equally unsettling questions about the intentions of Russia.


The range of the commotion goes from those seeing a split between Israel and the United States, due to differences in assessments about the effectiveness of sanctions and the likely success of a military attack, and to the weight of the American election. Involved in this is the elevation of support for Israel in the campaign of Republican contenders for the nomination, raising the possibility that Israel will be an issue in the November election. There is also the scenario that the United States does not want Israel to start anything that will drag Americans into yet another Middle Eastern morass.


In the confusion are competing assessments that it is Netanyahu who is restraining his Defense Minister (Ehud Barak) who is pushing for an attack, and that it is Barak who is restraining Netanyahu.


There is also the view that the Netanyahu and Obama regimes are on the same page, reading from a script meant to fool the Iranians by the appearance of conflict.


Iran''s nuclear program is not the only commotion in the Middle East. There is also Syria, currently at the top of page one, with unsettled issues about Egypt not far behind although much less bloody. In the inner pages are Bahrain and Yemen, with Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan competing for space.


Among the opportunities is widespread antipathy to Iran from the vast majority of Sunnis and their governments, which raises the prospect of subtle or not so subtle support for whatever Israel and/or the United States and others are willing to risk in order to lessen the might of the Shi''ite fanatics running Iran. There is also widespread opposition to the Assad regime in Syria. The words speak about violence against his people, but one suspects that violence is really an opportunity for people who think of themselves as real Muslims to beat up the Alawite regime of doubtful Islamic pedigree. One should not exaggerate the concern of Muslim authorities anywhere for human rights.


In the confusion one can see indications of a split in the upper levels of Hamas between those still adhering to Iran and others (Sunnis all) adhering to the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which is sounding more responsible as it gets closer to government. Hezbollah''s leadership has not only been living underground since the 2006 dust up with Israel, but is likely to be nervous with much of the world pointing sanctions or more against Iran, and Hizbollah''s bridge to Iran via Syria in serious trouble.


The big however is that Russia and to some extent China, not on the same page as powerful westerners about Iran or Syria.


The multiple uncertainties should keep us of modest wisdom and even less information away from conjuring the infinite number of scenarios that begin with "what if . . . ."


Excitement is the greatest likelihood. As well as opportunities that can be found in the uncertainties racking Syria and Egypt, and how other Muslim regimes may adjust themselves in response to whatever is happening in those places.


And for us, excitement will come not only on issues concerned with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Egypt.


The Supreme Court put its foot into one of the most complex of issues by ruling that the existing arrangement to excuse ultra-Orthodox men from military service is unacceptable. What that will do to the government coalition is now taking much more of the media babble than anything else.


There is also a crisis in the Prime Minister''s Office. A key aid of Benyamin and Sara Netanyahu was forced to resign on account of paying too much attention to a younger female employee of the Prime Minister''s Office. Details remain sealed. The spillover has begun to produce further resignations at the pinnacle of government, after the Prime Minister declared his "lack of confidence" in aides who moved against their colleague without keeping him in their loop.


Those who share my view that politics is a spectator extravaganza to compete with anything athletic, with implications far greater than anything athletic, should stay tuned.

 



 


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