Published by The Freeman Center
The Maccabean Online
Political Analysis and Commentary
SELLING OLMERT AS A GENERAL
by Emanuel A. Winston,
Middle East Analyst & Commentator
A slightly fishy smell emanates from the action by the Israeli troops surrounding the prison in Jericho, 20 minutes after British guards/monitors abandoned their posts. Since the Brits are sticklers for keeping certain agreements –– as guarding a prison –– and do not casually get into their cars and drive away as they did from Jericho on March 14th.
As reported in The New York Times and CNN, Israeli troops and tanks arrived within 20 minutes of the Brits\' precipitous departure. Israeli spokesmen declared it wasn’t "coordinated, just coincidental". CNN’s Tom Clancy and Zain Verze interviewed Mark Regev at the Israeli Embassy of the Foreign Ministry and asked him if this was a pre-election action. Regev denied any connection. Clancy and Verze were hostile in their questions and it was not the first time they displayed their overt hostility. What does this theatrical performance really look like? The Americans and British are anxious to make Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appear decisive and militarily capable just before the elections which he hopes gives him the royal stamp of legitimacy as a Real Prime Minister.
The Brits, at the request of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, or whoever arranges such back door communications, have the British leave under the false threat that "they feel endangered". The only problem with this is that no one is really threatening them. Abu Mazen failed in controlling this prison and spoke of the possibility of releasing the killers of Minister Ze’evi in an announcement that was clearly meant to curry favor with the new Hamas government. Other than that, there had never been any information about threats to the US/British monitors who had been charged with watching these six convicted terrorists.
Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) President of the Palestinian Authority plays along by dropping the hint that he would release the Palestinian leader who ordered the assassination against Knesset leader Rachavam Ze’evi (Gandhi). When political manipulation is mixed with some facts, the truth is usually obscured.
With the arrangement for the British monitors to bolt and the instant availability of Israeli troops and tanks, Olmert looks like he is alert and ‘on the job’ . This is particularly important as the elections are only a few weeks off and the Kadima Party (created by Ariel Sharon before his massive stroke) is dropping rapidly in the polls. Olmert is needed to carry out the last and failing Bush policy of the "Road Map".
The importance of Olmert being there after the elections is as follows: A strike against Iran’s nuclear capability is likely. After this strike, Bush and Rice need something to gift to and pacify the Muslim Arabs. That ‘gift’ would be the evacuation of Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley, Golan Heights, and those areas of Jerusalem controlled by the King of Jordan for 19 years.
Bush and Tony Blair have Olmert in their pocket and can depend upon his giving up these areas. The "Gift" has become even more important since the American Congress slapped down the Dubai Ports deal Bush so desperately wanted to prove U.S. allegiance to Arab Muslims in the region.
The Jericho farce is merely one effort, prior to elections on March 28th, to pump up Olmert’’s image as a military leader –– so, therefore, look for more to come soon. Keep in mind the failed efforts of Katherine Hughes to make the U.S. acceptable to the Muslim Arabs. The last coin the Bush Administration has to put into the Arab one-armed bandit slot machine is Israel. As the Bush ratings spiral lower and lower, he and his crew are growing desperate.
He knows that, despite the fallout, he has to hit Iran’s nuclear capability or go down in history as the man who allowed a Muslim Hitler to gain dominance in the region. He needs something, anything, to give to the Arab Muslim nations after Iran is brought to its knees. Remember, Iran is a Muslim but not an Arab country.) Israel is that ‘‘something’’. But, Bush needs a compliant Olmert as Prime Minister to do his bidding, regardless of the risk to Israel’s survival. The capture of the six assassins of Minister Ze’evi elevates the clerk-like image of Olmert into one of a ‘‘man of action’’ in the arena of military bravado. Bush needs Olmert for a brief moment in time in order to facilitate the abandonment of large swathes of Israel. The goal of this ‘arrangement’ is to dampen down the ever-ready street rage of the Muslim world, which has become so familiar to us all.
Emanuel A. Winston is a member of the Advisory Board and a research associate of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.