How ironical for the 2013 UNGA which showcased the first thaw between Iran and the US in 34 years, to wind up in New York today with a full on excoriation from Israel. All it did was reveal Israel's anger that diplomacy may yet solve the Iranian nuclear stand-off.   

And so the UN General Assembly drew to a close with the desperate efforts of Israel’s Prime Minister to scare the world away from its cautious but discernible wish to explore a thaw with Iran rather than blowing it up.

While perhaps more a diplomatic charm offensive than a 21st century Nixon-to-China moment, the opening of dialogue between Iran and the US after a 34 year hostile stand off is good. Bloody good. Unless of course you are itching for war to ensure you remain the only nuclear power in the volatile Middle East.

Step up to the podium Netanyahu.

Having just watched Netanyahu’s speech, I suppose we should be grateful he did not bring along another cartoon prop of a Road-Runner like bomb drawn with a fuse ready to explode when a certain red line of enrichment was reached.

But before Netanyahu cut to the chase of personal attacks on Iran’s new leader and the country as a whole, he began with the usual justification of his position by referring to ancient stories from the Bible about the right of the Jews to “reclaim” their state.

Waving the Bible around as evidence would not stand in any court, so why he thinks biblical stories have more weight in a body such as the UNGA than Rouhani’s claims that Islam prevents Iran from developing weapons of mass destruction is a mystery.

But there you are. Much of what was to follow from Netanyahu was also a mystery, particularly when it involved calls to vilify Iran because Iran defies UN resolutions and is secretly building a nuclear industry.

Methinks this is very much a case of one kitchen implement calling another “noir”.

It never ceases to amaze how some politicians can stand and deliver such hypocrisies without so much as a twitch or, as in Netanyahu’s case, a waver in his calculatingly soothing cadence.

His backhanded compliment to former Iranian President Ahmadinejad as a “wolf in wolf’s clothing”, was just a segue into a character assassination of President Rouhani - the “wolf in sheep”s clothing”.

You know what they say about it taking one to know one and all that.

The more important aspect of Netanyahu’s extremely predictable fulmination was however that under no circumstances will he let the facts get in the way of his story. Perhaps its a biblical thing. It certainly has the potential for all sorts of Armageddon.

Some critical facts however include that the newly elected Rouhani went to the UN to begin undoing the damage Ahmadinejad had caused his country.

It is also extremely clear that the sanctions much of the world has imposed on Iran have prodded a certain change in tactic.

Conciliation rather than bombast (pun intended) was in the Iranian air. 

Rouhani wants diplomacy. Obama wants diplomacy - if only to secure at least one foreign policy win in the region.

Neither trust each other and neither should at this stage.

However for rhetoric to reach reality you have to begin somewhere, and that somewhere is now.

Iran calls it heroic flexibility. Obama could call it the unclenching of the Persian fist. Political watchers remind all that peace is made between enemies, not friends. 

Whatever you call it, it might go nowhere but it is essential to at least try.

As always the proof of the new personable, reasoned face of Iran will be his ability to bring the hardliners to the diplomacy table.

There remains good reason to be concerned about Iran’s nuclear programme, if only because the country has long played fast and loose with international inspections.

Iran however remains a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and in order to be compliant it needs to open its programme to the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.

Nuclear-armed Israel says it is threatened by a nuclear-potential Iran, seemingly without so much as a thought for how threatening Israel is to all of its neighbours.

Nuclear-armed Netanyhau unabashedly instructs the world to not trust Rouhani - the Iranian President who called for a nuclear-free Middle East.

Nuclear-armed Israel appears to be panicking that the United States is hankering for diplomacy rather that tactical military strikes on Israel’s behalf.

Nuclear-armed Israel appears to forget that it does not have any right to dictate the domestic or foreign policy of any other sovereign state.

And so the 68th UNGA drew to a close with the first positive step away from the zero sum game that Iran and the West have been playing since the days of President Carter and Ayatollah Khomeini.

While the new Iranian President used his speech to talk peace and, possibly most uncomfortable for Netanyahu, nuclear disarmament across the Middle East, Israel’s old leader used his to personally excoriate and demonize any Iranian attempt at detente.

The next step is the October 15-16 Geneva talks between Iran, Britain, China the US, France, Russia and Germany.

Sanctions have brought Iran to this point.

If further talks prove to be a ruse - and let’s face it the Iranian Mullahs have been pretty adept at ruse so far - then the sanction screws will no doubt tighten.

Rouhani will smother his embryonic international credibility.

Obama will appear to have been played...again.

Netanyahu having declared Israel will stand alone if it has to, will skip happily towards its military arsenal. He will do so making soothing paternal noises at Obama, applauding his oh-so genuine but misguided and childish wish to believe the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Somehow though, I very much doubt Rouhani has the martyr gene required for such a scenario.     


Comments (22)

by Andrew Osborn on October 02, 2013
Andrew Osborn

They will talk and run the centrifuges at the same time.

by Alan Johnstone on October 02, 2013
Alan Johnstone

Israel has been telling the world that Iran is "6 months away" from a nuclear weapon since 1991. This is a matter of public record.

Surely no one is buying the israeli line anymore?

 

by Peggy Klimenko on October 02, 2013
Peggy Klimenko

@ Alan Johnstone: I agree. I'm puzzled that anyone - media included - is still uncritically reporting Israel's stance on Iran.Surely it must by now be clear that these dire predctions about Iran are baseless?

The hostility between Iran and the US dates from the Iranian revolution in 1979. The Shah - overthrown in said revolution - was a US puppet. In 1953, the CIA helped to re-establish him as an absolute monarch, by means of assisting with the deposing of the elected government. US fury at the revolution was exacerbated by the capture of American diplomats by student revolutionaries. As we here ought to know, countries which get up the US nose find that the resulting animosity can last for decades, and through many changes at the White House.

Israel's posturing on Iran is designed to be a distraction from its own development of a nuclear arsenal, and its repeated flouting of UN resolutions.

Iran remains a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has allowed in IAEA inspectors - who have in fact verified time and again that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons - and has repeatedly assured the world that it has no interest in developing them. I'm struggling to understand why we should doubt the word of Iran on this matter. Is it because it's a theocracy? Or because it's a hardline Muslim theocracy?

If it is indeed the theocracy issue, we should be much more sceptical of the pronouncements and actions of that other - also hardline - theocracy in the Middle East: Israel.

And if it's the Muslim issue, I'd like someone to explain exactly what it is about Islam which makes it inherently more dangerous to either the Middle East or the rest of the world than, say, Judaism Israel-style.

by Ian MacKay on October 02, 2013
Ian MacKay

Perhaps Mr Obama is being clever. He can't directly disagree with Israel for political reasons. So instead how about overtures to the demon Iran? Years of watching my wife's clever ploys make me think that Obama is as cunning as my wife.

by Andrew Osborn on October 02, 2013
Andrew Osborn

@Alan Johnstone: Several successful sabotage attacks have been conducted by 'persons unknown' against the Iranian weapons program. Presumably Mossad but who knows? These included the stuxnet attack which forced their centrifuges to overspeed and self-destruct. This alone likely put them back years. There have also been multiple assassinations of Iranian scientists.

This is likely why estimations of Iranian progress have been regularly off.

 

 

by Andrew Osborn on October 02, 2013
Andrew Osborn

@Alan Johnstone: Several successful sabotage attacks have been conducted by 'persons unknown' against the Iranian weapons program. Presumably Mossad but who knows? These included the stuxnet attack which forced their centrifuges to overspeed and self-destruct. This alone likely put them back years. There have also been multiple assassinations of Iranian scientists.

This is likely why estimations of Iranian progress have been regularly off.

 

 

by Alan Johnstone on October 02, 2013
Alan Johnstone

For sure i understand that the Israelis have carried out covert attacks, but to suggest that a wide spread program could have been effectively retarded for two decades defies belief. 

If Iran wanted nuclear weapons it'd already have them, it suits Iran's strategic position to have a viable nuclear inustry but no actual weapons. It provides leverage without risk.

It should go without saying that Iran sees Israel as nothing more than a useful propaganda tool, that it gives a verbal kicking to from time to time. It has no desire for real conflict. Iran's real mortal enemy of course is Saudi Arabia. 

by Andrew P Nichols on October 03, 2013
Andrew P Nichols

There remains good reason to be concerned about Iran’s nuclear programme, if only because the country has long played fast and loose with international inspections.

If further talks prove to be a ruse - and let’s face it the Iranian Mullahs have been pretty adept at ruse so far - then the sanction screws will no doubt tighten.


I just dont get it. This country has been subjected to the most intrusive inspections  in history of its nuclear programme to the point where the IAEA, Mossad and the CIA all sya repeatedly there is no evidence of a weapons programme yet with no challenges from journos like yourself  to their faces, multitudes of yank poliies under the pump from AIPAC money and the Israeli nutter Netanyahoo keep telling us that they are about to get a bomb. To make matters worse the USA has bullied the planet into sanctioning this non existent nuclaer weapons programme. When will it end? Can we afford to wait till the US Empire is totally bakrupt before the travesty is at an end?

by Peggy Klimenko on October 03, 2013
Peggy Klimenko

@ Andrew P Nichols: I agree. It's difficult to understand what drives the US hostility. After all, it's not Iran invading its neighbours, or bombing the bejasus out of unfortunates in various parts of the Middle East. In fact, Iran hasn't invaded a neighbouring country in living memory. And it has been remarkably forbearing in the face of the sabotage campaign waged by Mossad; other polities would be banging on the UN door, were the same level of violence being inflicted on them by neighbouring countries' agents.

In my view, the only way to explain the relentless bullying of Iran by the US and its cheerleaders in Israel is to link it back to the events surrounding the 1979 revolution. This sounds unbelievably petty, but it does seem to be the way the US reacts when its will is thwarted in any way. As I remarked in an earlier comment, we in NZ should be well aware of this, given what happened over the nuclear ships issue. I don't think that it's paranoid to suspect that the Rainbow Warrior bombing and related subsequent events played out as they did because, rather than in spite of, the dispute with the US, which was current at the time.

Several successful sabotage attacks have been conducted by 'persons unknown' against the Iranian weapons program.

Iran doesn't have a weapons programme: at least, not nuclear weapons. This is evidenced by the IAEA inspectors' reports. As Alan Johnstone has pointed out above, if it wanted nukes, it'd already have them.

In any event, why should any of us get all hot and bothered, were it the case that Iran had indeed acquired nuclear weapons? In virtue of what should we be more - or even as - afraid of a nuclear-armed Iran, as opposed to Israel, or the US, or North Korea? Or France, even....

by Andrew Osborn on October 04, 2013
Andrew Osborn

> Allan: "It has no desire for real conflict. Iran's real mortal enemy of course is Saudi Arabia."

You're 100% right in saying the Main Feature is in the Gulf against the Saudis and other oil states. Most folk don't get that.

But to say they have no desire for 'real conflict' is not really the case is it? 

Iran bankrolls, trains and arms both Hezbollah and Hamas. That is real conflict. Without Iranian support the Assad regime would evaporate in a week. It's costing them billions.

I'm not so sure how you know their mind regarding nuclear ambitions. For someone who has no "real desire", they're going to an awful lot of trouble!



by Andrew Osborn on October 04, 2013
Andrew Osborn

> Peggy:  "After all, it's not Iran invading its neighbours, or bombing the bejasus out of unfortunates in various parts of the Middle East"

Incorrect.

As I mentioned above, the Iranians are running large insurgency operations against some of their neighbours.

They chose to do it this way because it reduces the risk of a direct retaliation.

So instead, Israel reacts against Hamas in Gaza which hides amongst a captive civilian population and can thus create marvellous copy for bleeding heart journos.

by Alex Coleman on October 05, 2013
Alex Coleman

<i>

As I mentioned above, the Iranians are running large insurgency operations against some of their neighbours.

 </i> This sort of thing always confuses me. Certainly Iran is backing Hamas and Hezbollah, but that doesn't make either of those groups Iranian puppets. There is this weird idea that if someone we don;t like is supporting someone, then that makes the supported groups pure proxies for the nation we don't like. It's an ignorant and naive belief. Hamas and Hezb have their own agency. They would be less effective without Iranian support, but they would still exist, and would adapt their tactics. These are domestic groups with domestic agendas. Iran supports them for its own reasons. That doesn't make those groups Iranian proxies, any more than Hamas was an Israeli proxy when Israel supported a 'conservative religious alternative' to the (at the time) more militant and secular PLO. They are allainces of convenience that are no different to the west alliances with various unsavoury nations and groups in the region. Nations act in their percieved best interest. Updates at 11. As to Iran's desire for nukes, the consensus at the moment seems to be that Iran is aiming at threshold status. This is legal. I repeat. It is not illegal for Iran to want to move to a position of being able to develop nuclear weapons. The question can't just focus on capabilities. Motives matter. Why does Iran feel the need to make this move? The idea that they want nukes to destroy Israel is pretty fra fetched. it relies on a notion that they are irrational. that their number one goal is the destruction of Israel and that they would pay any cost, inckuding the destruction of Iran via retaliation, to achive this. But nukes are a very expensive and hard to achieve method for achieving this. It seems more likely to me that they want to move to the threshold for thesame reson that every single otgher nation that hsa done so does. Deterrent.  Much is made of the fact that Iran uses bellicose language. And it does. But so too does the west with regard to Iran. we seem to think that they should not believe us when we have use 'regime change' rhetoric, and say that Iran is 'illegitimate' and a  'rogue state'. We use those same terms to decribe other nations which we then invade and overthrow the governments of. What is the rational response to our actions? Much of the finger pointing at Iran's misdeeds completely ignores that fact that Iran will in fact, as any other nation will, react to events that they perceive to be a threat, and take advantages where they can. this is normal. It is not illegal. they have the same rights to do things as other nations do.  Viewing them through a lens that says they are not entitled to defend themselves, only hightens the pressure they feel to be under. The facts are that the west has committed several acts of war against Iran. Clutching at our pearls when they react in perfectly rational ways, doesn't help. If we really want Iran to not go to a nuclear threahold status, we need to reduce their desire to do so. Attempting to reduce their capability, without adressing their fears, will only serve to highten their desire. It's not simple, but it's impossible if you ignore the desire side. 
by Alex Coleman on October 05, 2013
Alex Coleman

ergh, Sorry about the formatting there.

 

I have no idea what happened to all my line breaks

by Peggy Klimenko on October 06, 2013
Peggy Klimenko

@ Alex Coleman: I agree with your comments.

@ Andrew Osborn: "the Iranians are running large insurgency operations against some of their neighbours."

This is what many governments worldwide do, when they perceive it to be in their interests. Iran isn't at all unusual in this regard. This is realpolitik: it can't be the case that it's ok for western governments, but not for non-westerners.

In the 1990s, Israel provided covert support to Hamas, in an attempt to undermine Arafat and the PLO, which was at that time a significant force capable of taking the fight to the Israelis.

Think about what the US has done in Central and South America, as well as in the Middle East, over the last century or so. Al Qaeda was born out of the mujahideen funded, armed and trained by the CIA in Soviet-era Afghanistan. And the US, in providing arms to the rebels in Syria, is now supporting al Qaeda: about as bizarre and clochemerle-ish as it gets, really.

"Without Iranian support the Assad regime would evaporate in a week. It's costing them billions."

Let me just rewrite those sentences thusly:

"Without US support, Israel would evaporate in a week. It's costing them billions - trillions, actually."

See where it gets anyone who tries to characterise Iran as the bad guy in the Middle East?

 

by Andrew Osborn on October 11, 2013
Andrew Osborn

> Peggy  "This is what many governments worldwide do, when they perceive it to be in their interests. Iran isn't at all unusual in this regard."

So it's OK in your book then? Just as long as the cause suits you?

I would also like to remind you that Israel isn't at war with anyone. Conflicts in the region as *exclusively* Muslim against Muslim with the Israelis as bemused bystanders.

Israel is a modern, western, democracy in a sea of hate, envy and ignorance. You could say it is a venture worth supporting...

As for Irans nuclear intentions. Who knows? I wouldn't assume 'peace in our time' just yet





by Alex Coleman on October 12, 2013
Alex Coleman

Andrew, I think you have it backwards. 

 

Peggy, and I, were pointing out that all nations act in their percieved best interests. So criticising Iran for doing so is hypocritical. That doesn't mean we like them, or that they can't be criticised. It does mean that any solution needs to take Iran's interests into account, if we want to affect their behavior.

 

You seem to be saying that Israel, acting in it's percived best interest should be given a free ride, because we should support them because of their democracy. that is an example of what we are atlkning about. The idea that nations act, because of their interests. 

 

It is pointless to just look at it from one side, and ignore the fact that Iran percieves itself as being under very real existential threat. that perception is justified by our actions, and Israels.

 

The stuxnet attack, by the way, was an act of war under any definition. Certainly under the definitions used by the US. It is not Peggy or I who is judging things based on if  "the cause suits" us in this duiscussion.


One question, why do you think Iran wants to go to nuke threshold status, if indeed they do?


Is it because they are irational monsters, or is it because they feel a geopolitical strategic need to do so?

by Alex Coleman on October 12, 2013
Alex Coleman

Andrew, I think you have it backwards. 

 

Peggy, and I, were pointing out that all nations act in their percieved best interests. So criticising Iran for doing so is hypocritical. That doesn't mean we like them, or that they can't be criticised. It does mean that any solution needs to take Iran's interests into account, if we want to affect their behavior.

 

You seem to be saying that Israel, acting in it's percived best interest should be given a free ride, because we should support them because of their democracy. that is an example of what we are atlkning about. The idea that nations act, because of their interests. 

 

It is pointless to just look at it from one side, and ignore the fact that Iran percieves itself as being under very real existential threat. that perception is justified by our actions, and Israels.

 

The stuxnet attack, by the way, was an act of war under any definition. Certainly under the definitions used by the US. It is not Peggy or I who is judging things based on if  "the cause suits" us in this duiscussion.


One question, why do you think Iran wants to go to nuke threshold status, if indeed they do?


Is it because they are irational monsters, or is it because they feel a geopolitical strategic need to do so?

by Andrew Osborn on October 13, 2013
Andrew Osborn

Alex:  One question, why do you think Iran wants to go to nuke threshold status, if indeed they do?

In order to threaten the Sunni states and control the Gulf. That is the opinion of Sunnis I have spoken to.

Take a step back for a moment. Europe experienced the Reformation and the Enlightenment hundreds of years ago but the Ottomans never allowed the printing press nor modernisation. It was only in the 19th century that the Quran was allowed to be printed! An iron rule that held the region back for hundreds of years. So what do we have now?

1/A delayed religious conflict similar in some ways to the Protestant/Catholic wars that plagued Europe for hundreds of years...and maybe still going in Ireland.

2/A proud people who were once the centre of civiliation but who now find themselves shamed and living in an unelightened backwater. Suffering endless cultural invasion via the media (Check out the satellite dishes on the roofs when you next go the Middle East!) and to make matters worse, an accident of WW2 planted 6 million Jews next door. There can be no greater shame - especially when those Jews have beaten them in several wars.

So what have we got here? Lack of education, a retarded culture, endless shame, hate and a whole LOT of unfinished business!

It's not going to be over soon. Best we can do is contain it but the current Syrian conflict is a real *regional* war and GOK where that will go.


by Alex Coleman on October 14, 2013
Alex Coleman

Andrew. 

That all seems to amount to "OMG crazy backward Persians full of hate, that's why!".

No doubt Sunni have opinions about why Iran would be possibly seeking nuke threshold status, and no doubt they are as you report. Some Israelis will tell you Iran wants the bomb because they are on an endless quest to destroy Israel and tell you about the 13th imam. Some US citizens, on the other hand, will tell you that Iran is the anti-christ, and that their getting the bomb will be another step on the path to armageddon.

None of these things however are talking about what Iran might be wanting based on any strategic reasons. They are all based on ideas of 'the other' acting irationally and out of hatred, ignorance, or 'retardation'. 

I'm sure that Iranians could give you similar answerrs about why they think the west, or sunni, do the things we do.

If these accounts of Iran's bevahvoiur are correct, then it is all pointless. There is nothing that can be done, other than exterminiating their leadership. Let's be clear about that. Limited strikes will only fiurther 'shame' them, and encourage the backward reatarded hate fuled 13thimamers to develop something else.

I do not share this view however. I think Iranians are in fact rational. 

There is a lot of evidence for this position, both in terms of what they have done, and in terms of what they have not.  

I think they want to go to nuke threshold status for the same reason that every single other country that has done so, did so. For deterent.

I also think it is clear why they feel the need for that, and it has nothing to do with the lack of an 'islamic reformation', for goodness sake, and more to do with strategic things like the fact that no US President has been able to go through a campaign without explicitly saying that attacking Iran was on the table.

And that sunni states launched a war against them that cost a million lives, not all that long ago.

Iran does, in fact, face existential threats. The way the west behaves, affects other nation's perceptions of threats. Just as they way they behave, affects our perceptions. 

But the blindness the west shows to how our actions will be percieved continues to baffle me.

Can you really not see that Iran would be quite rational to want a deterent, given the way the west has talked to, and about, them for 30 years? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Andrew Osborn on October 14, 2013
Andrew Osborn

Alex: "And that sunni states launched a war against them that cost a million lives, not all that long ago."

Not sure which country you're referring to here. Could it be the previously *Baathist* regime in Iraq??? 

Sounds to me like you're making excuses for the Iranian regime. Hoping for the best but ignoring the war they are actively waging on multiple fronts. 



by Peggy Klimenko on October 14, 2013
Peggy Klimenko

@Alex Coleman: thank you for your responses to Andrew. I agree with everything you say.

@ Andrew Osborn: I want to respond to some if the points you raise.

"I would also like to remind you that Israel isn't at war with anyone. Conflicts in the region as *exclusively* Muslim against Muslim with the Israelis as bemused bystanders."

This will come as news to the Palestinians, Lebanon and Syria - of which latter country, Israel still occupies territory in the shape of the Golan Heights. No peace has yet been concluded with Syria; hostilities continue. Israel regularly threatens to bomb Iranian nuclear installations, even though logistically it cannot do so without US support.

"1/A delayed religious conflict similar in some ways to the Protestant/Catholic wars that plagued Europe for hundreds of years...and maybe still going in Ireland."

The conflict in Northern Ireland has nothing to do with religion, despite appearances. It's a contest between the Nationalists - who happen to be mostly (but not exclusively) Catholic, and want union with the Irish Republic - and the Protestant Loyalists, who want to retain ties to the UK and the monarchy. Religion is a marker only of the opposing sides: much like a gang patch, really.

The origins of much of what you characterise as "Muslim on Muslim" conflict predate the rise of Islam. Such conflicts were about the usual sorts of things groups of humans have always fought over: land, access to resources, trade and the like. As with Northern Ireland, it's very likely that, in many instances of so-called Muslim-Muslim conflict, sect indicates who can be expected to be on which side, rather than being the main purpose of the conflict.

This is also probably the case in what we now think of as "persecution" of religious sects, now and in the past, in Europe and elsewhere. The main drivers of conflict were and are economic.


"Israel is a modern, western, democracy..."  Israel much more closely resembles the theocracies it so despises in surrounding countries. We here would scarcely recognise it as a democracy of the sort we're used to.

Your perspective on Iran comes across as the sort of pro-Israel propaganda we are used to hearing from the US. This is a one-dimensional view, in which, it seems, Israel = good and Iran (and, by extension, all other Muslim countries except those sponsored by the US) = bad.

Alex and I are saying that the real picture in the Middle East is much more nuanced. And, in my view, Iran's strategic approach to its contemporary situation is much more sophisticated than that of either Israel or the US.

My comments aren't an anti-Israel rant; I'm simply trying to point out the subleties and complexities of a region with a deep history and many cultures.

by Andrew Osborn on November 03, 2013
Andrew Osborn

Alex: Thanks for the response.

Don't think I'm reading from the Israeli handbook. There are NO 'good guys' in that region. It's a tough neighbourhood! And the originally liberal project that was Israel has, thanks to religious zealot immigration since the 1980's morphed into something less than good. And as I personally know, when fighting an anti-insurgency war there is always the tendency to stoop to the level of the insurgent.

That said, the culture of a large part of the region appears to be sadly backward. Almost Medieval in fact. I think for the reasons I have given above - they've a lot of catching up to do. From supporting the Kaiser in WW1, the Fascists in WW2 through their multiple attacks on Israel (Israel doesn't start wars but it finishes them) to their modern day treatment of women, they seems to relish backing the 'dark side'. I realise in this PC world we're supposed to praise 'cultural diversity' but personally I prefer not to when for example, it comes to punishing women for being raped.

Once again the main stream media has let us down. For example we've seen thousands of column inches over the years on how the nasty Israelis are building apartments on Arab land (which is true) but the 1982 shelling of Hama by Hafez_al-Assad seemed to pass without comment. Like as if it never happened. So no surprise the media seemed wrong-footed when the Arab Spring started - where DID all that anger come from? And why has it got nothing to do with Israel? ....But for those of us who REALLY get the political nuances in the politics of the region, it was inevitable.

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