July 20, 2012: Israeli investigators have concluded that the recent terror attack against Israelis in Bulgaria was carried out by the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist organization. Hezbollah is a Shia radical group that is obsessed with destroying Israel and turning Lebanon into a Shia religious dictatorship. Hezbollah is facing hard times because of the rebellion next door in Syria. There, an Iran backed secular dictatorship has been under attack by most Syrians for 16 months and the government is losing. A new government would be hostile to Iran and Hezbollah. Syria has been a supply line (from Iran) for Hezbollah as well as a refuge from Israeli attack. That will all be gone, and Hezbollah's many enemies (mostly in Lebanon but most specifically Israel) will take advantage and try to destroy a weakened Hezbollah.
Hezbollah, with better access to the world (than heavily sanctioned Iran) has long been carrying out terror attacks (mostly against Israel) for Iran. As a result of that, Hezbollah has, over the last two decades, become identified and treated as an international terrorist organization. Israel usually strikes back at the attackers when its citizens are killed by terrorists, so one can expect some action in southern Lebanon. In a case like this Israel will go after senior Hezbollah leaders as well as the people who plan, prepare, and direct the anti-Israel terrorist operations. Israel rarely takes credit for these operations but the hits cannot be missed. Soon, some Hezbollah operatives are going to die.
In the last few years Iran has been desperate to strike back at Israel. That's because Israel has carried out numerous attacks against the Iranian nuclear weapons program. This includes the assassination of at least four Iranian scientists working on that program plus Cyber War attacks on Iranian facilities. There have been other operations outside Iran to foil Iranian smuggling (of military and nuclear weapons components) operations. Iran wants revenge and has not been getting much.
In Egypt the newly (and fairly) elected government is still locked in a power struggle with the armed forces. The Egyptian military, one of the more corrupt institutions in the country, became heroes of the revolution by refusing orders from the dictator (the Mubarak family) to use force to suppress the massive (and largely non-violent) rebellion last year. The grateful revolutionaries agreed to let the army to run the government (via a "military council") until elections could be held and a civilian government established. The military made up the rules as it went along. For example, the generals decided who was eligible to run for office. The military disqualified many prominent Islamic conservatives from running. This resulted in a growing number of anti-military demonstrations. Hundreds were killed or wounded. Parliamentary elections last month gave Islamic conservatives over 60 percent of the seats. Presidential elections resulted in an Islamic conservative politician being elected. The military responded by joining forces with the courts (full of corrupt judges appointed by Mubarak) in an effort to curb the power of a fairly elected government and protect the money and power of the many families that benefitted from decades of corrupt Mubarak rule.
The senior military officers and judges face great danger if they surrender control of the country because many newly elected members of parliament want to go after the numerous corrupt officers, judges, and other officials and replace them with more politically correct men. There would also be prosecutions and confiscations of ill-gotten gains.
July 19, 2012: In northern Sinai masked men shot dead two Egyptian soldiers at a checkpoint. The majority of Egyptian civilians in Sinai want more security and a crackdown on the growing number of Islamic terrorist groups and armed Bedouin gangs.
July 18, 2012: In Bulgaria a Hezbollah suicide bomber got on a bus full of Israeli tourists and killed five Israelis (plus the bomber and Bulgarian bus driver) and wounded 36 other Israelis. Bus bombings are a favorite tactic of Palestinian terrorists but improved Israeli counter-terror tactics have largely shut down successful Palestinian attacks. There has not been a bus bombing killing Israeli civilians in eight years. Despite that, Palestinian media and government officials regularly hold commemorations of successful past bus bombings and urge young Palestinians to emulate the dead suicide bombers. The Hezbollah suicide bomber in Bulgaria will get the same treatment
In Syria a rebel bomb killed three senior members of the government and armed rebels increased their attacks in the capital. The end of the Syrian dictatorship is getting visibly closer.
July 16, 2012: Two American tourists were released by their Bedouin kidnappers after being held for three days in the Sinai desert. The two were kidnapped in an effort to get the uncle of the kidnapper released from jail (where he was being held on drug smuggling charges). Three days of negotiations resulted in a deal satisfactory to the kidnapper. The Bedouins have long used this tactic to deal with police actions they disagree with. It's a common practice throughout the Middle East when Bedouins have disputes with the more numerous non-nomads.
In Gaza, several dozen Palestinian Christians protested Hamas efforts to forcibly convert Christians to Islam. This has been going on for over a thousand years and is one reason why, until the 1960s, most migrants from Moslem countries were non-Moslems. Islamic law and tradition mandates harsh treatment (and special taxes) for non-Moslems living in countries governed by Islamic law. Even without Islamic rule, there are always plenty of Islamic traditionalists who will make life miserable for non-Moslems.
In Egypt, the courts continued to back orders from the military ruling council that, in effect, reduces the powers of the president and elected parliament. The army is trying to change the law to make the military an autonomous branch of the government and immune to prosecution for corruption (past, present, or future). This is all leading to a second revolution, one that will be about who most soldiers back: their corrupt officers or most Egyptians.
July 14, 2012: Egyptian police arrested three Palestinian men in the Sinai desert and found them carrying $37,000 in cash and false passports. The three said they got out of Sinai via tunnels and were headed to Cairo on business. Most of the Gaza border faces Israel, but the frontier with Egypt has many tunnels that facilitate the smuggling of goods and people to and from Egypt. The police are paying more attention to Palestinian smugglers because more Islamic terrorists are leaving Gaza and setting up bases in Sinai, from where they make attacks on Egyptian and Israeli targets.
In two separate incidents, Israeli border police confronted armed Palestinians trying to cross the border fence. One Palestinian was killed in each incident.
July 12, 2012: An Israeli air strike in Gaza killed one Palestinian and wounded two others who were seeking to set up a rocket for launch into Israel.
July 9, 2012: A rocket was fired into Israel from Gaza. Israel retaliated by attacking known terrorist targets in Gaza.
July 7, 2012: Israeli tourism set records in the first six months of the year. There were 1.7 million foreign visitors, up six percent from last year. June was up 11 percent over June 2011.