June 4, 2012:
The Arab Spring of 2011, is turning into a long-term problem for Israel. While the protests quickly overthrew the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt, Mubarak's many allies managed to save themselves by quickly siding with the rebellion. This means that many of the corrupt businessmen and officials that kept Mubarak in power are still operating. This resulted in a successful resistance to meaningful change. An example of this was the recent trial of Hosni Mubarak, who was convicted last week of failing to stop the fatal attacks on demonstrators. Yesterday he (and his son) was cleared of corruption charges and, most alarming to Egyptians, no one was found responsible for ordering police to kill over 800 demonstrators. This led to large anti-government demonstrations, which continue. As long as Mubarak's cronies are still in power, the corrupt misrule is still in play and the revolution is not over. Israel is hoping that the rebels use their majority in parliament to enact reforms and force out the corrupt Mubarak supporters. Success is not assured, as the Mubarak forces are wealthy and threatened with heavy losses (including jail) if the reform politicians succeed in cleaning things up. So the reformers will be subject to bribes and threats. The military is one of the most corrupt institutions and could attempt using violence to stop reformers. This is unlikely because most of the troops are conscripts, who identify more with their civilian family and friends. It's the officers and career soldiers who owe their wealth to corruption. But desperate men will do desperate things.
Syria and Lebanon, both dominated by Iranian backed factions (the Assad family in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon), are slipping out of Iranian control. Iran is desperate to hold on because a loss in Syria would weaken Hezbollah (perhaps fatally) and destroy a vital toehold Iran has obtained in the Arab world. Iran is ruled by a religious dictatorship that has visions of making Shia Islam (about ten percent of Moslems) the dominant form, along with Iran becoming the leader of the Moslem world. Most Moslems (80 percent are Sunni, dominated by Arab countries) see this as mad fantasy. But Iran is powerful, persistent, and developing nuclear weapons. Iran also makes no secret of the fact that another of its goals is to destroy Israel. So far, Israel has not gotten involved in Syria. But there is talk of opening their Syrian border to move humanitarian supplies. Iran responded to this with threats of military retaliation. The Syrian government is slowly losing its grip, but Iranian security and terrorism specialists are assisting the Assads in getting the population back under control. This involves more mass killings of civilians, which Iran blames on Israel. It's not over yet in Syria. Pessimistic Israelis believe Syria will degenerate into chaos, providing a sanctuary for terrorists and a source of more weapons for Hezbollah and other terror groups. Syria has lots of ballistic missiles and chemical weapons.
Israeli firms have discovered another oil and gas field off the cost. This one contains $60 billion worth of oil and $30 billion worth of natural gas. Israel had already discovered $100 billion worth of natural gas off shore, near the Lebanese border, last year. Since Israel and Lebanon do not have diplomatic relations, and the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist organization constantly calls for war with Israel, the negotiations must be made through the UN. Israel is determined to start pumping the natural gas by next year and use these finds to achieve energy independence within three years. A special military force is being established to protect the offshore facilities from attack.
Over the last week American and Israeli officials have confirmed that the industrial grade Cyber War weapons (Stuxnet, Duqu, and Flame) used against Iran in the last few years were indeed joint U.S.-Israel operations. No other details were released.
Israel is building closer relations with China by sharing information and techniques about dealing Islamic terrorism and civil disorder. The two countries will also increase trade and the exchange of technology.
June 3, 2012: Israeli air strikes in Gaza wounded at least six people and destroyed terrorist facilities. This was in retaliation for recent terrorist attacks along the Gaza border. Hamas and other Islamic terror groups in Gaza are openly calling for the kidnapping of Israelis so that captured terrorists could be freed in an exchange.
June 1, 2012: On the Gaza border an armed Palestinian, who had got through the security fence, had an exchange of fire with Israeli troops. One soldier and the Palestinian were killed. Later that day two rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel.
May 31, 2012: In a peace gesture Israel returned the bodies of 91 Palestinian terrorists killed while attacking Israel (and often killing Israeli civilians). The dead had been secretly buried in an Israeli cemetery. The coffins were returned to families in the West Bank and Gaza. This was a gesture to restart peace negotiations, which are stalled because official Palestinian policy is to destroy Israel and use peace negotiations to help make that happen. The negotiations take place mainly to placate foreign aid donors.
May 30, 2012: In Egypt there was no candidate with more than 50 percent of the vote. So the two leading candidates will compete in a runoff election this month. Many Egyptians saw the first round elections as rigged because the electoral commission, still dominated by Mubarak era officials, barred most leading candidates from running. One of the two men in the runoff is a retired general who was a Mubarak loyalist. He got the votes of many Egyptians who feared the Islamic conservatives who now control parliament. But the retired general only got 23.7 percent of the vote. His opponent got 24.8 percent, but most of the other voters selected several Islamic conservative candidates.
May 29, 2012: Iran and a Russian security firm announced that a new stealthy software program, called Flame, has been infecting Iranian government and business computers for years. Iran says it has finally found a way to detect and eliminate Flame from PCs but won't comment on how much secret data has been lost. Flame is similar to Stuxnet and Duqu but has been apparently been secretly doing its espionage work for years.
May 28, 2012: On the Egyptian border soldiers encountered 24 Africans and some armed Arab smugglers. A brief exchange of fire left three of the intruders wounded. So far this year there have been about one of these clashes a week and many other illegal crossings that succeed. The migrants each pay several thousand dollars to the Egyptian smugglers to be led across into Israel. It’s believed that about 500 of these illegals are getting into the country each week now. Israel already has 60,000 inside the country and is trying to deport them. New laws make it possible to jail the illegals until they can be deported. There is also a new fence going up along the Egyptian border. The growing number of crimes committed by these illegals is becoming a major issue in Israeli politics.
May 26, 2012: The majority parties in the new Egyptian parliament promised to keep the peace treaty with Israel, although they may seek some modifications. Most everyone in Egypt understands that a belligerent stance with Israel would not benefit Egypt.