TLR 151 – Tension, Turmoil and Trouble

The relentless rush of events in Israel and across the region has caused this issue to change its format and content several times over the course of its writing. It is now focused solely on Section A: Regional Developments, because geo-politics has come to overshadow everything else on the agenda. Even within the regional cauldron, there is so much happening that the material has been repeatedly updated, to take account of further twists and additional developments. Above all, the Iranian issue has assumed new urgency and the rhetoric surrounding it has climbed to new levels of stridency, allowing both local and global media to break the summer doldrums by providing intense coverage to the question of whether Israel intends to attack the Iranian nuclear installations in the coming weeks or months.

Fortunately, I have been able to relate to this specific topic directly and in a fairly timely manner, by talking to subscribers on the phone – whether individually or on a conference-call basis. This is much the best way of addressing ‘hot topics’, although here, too, the pace of events – real or media-generated – creates the perception of falling behind the developing ‘story’. The only practical solution to this problem is to identify ‘alarms’ or ‘tripwires’ that can alert observers to the fact that ‘something is going on’. I have suggested that the domestic foreign exchange market – in practice, the price of the shekel versus the dollar and euro – is the most easily observed and tracked alarm mechanism, although by no means the only one.

Since I take the view that there will be no strike in the near-term (defined as prior to the US presidential election), I have confined the Iranian situation to one section of this issue. This allows me to pursue my original intention of using this issue as an opportunity to look at Israeli foreign policy from a broader and longer-term perspective—and I venture to suggest that this discussion may be more enlightening to readers than more churning of the Iran story. The trigger for this discussion was the visit to Israel by Russian President Putin in late June; typically, this event has already been forgotten, but I think it merits revisiting. That is the launching point for a wider review of foreign policy, a subject usually dominated by relations with the US but which actually boasts a much wider agenda.

But the pressing regional developments are not limited to Iran. They obviously include the situation in Syria, which continues to deteriorate relentlessly – to the chagrin of all outside players, including Israel. However, the country which I believe has seen the most significant recent developments, from a regional and global perspective, is Egypt. The discussion on this topic starts from the Israeli perspective of relations with the new Egyptian regime and the allied issues of Gaza and Sinai, but includes the wider implications of what is effectively the second stage of the Egyptian revolution – and the huge challenges facing that country, whomever governs it.

A slew of other topics demand attention in upcoming issues. The first, which should follow by the end of the month, is as different as can be from the foregoing discussion: what has gone wrong with the Israeli equity market and why is volume on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange shriveling up so dramatically? Above all – can anything be done about it?

Contents:

A: Regional Developments

  1. The Tsar comes calling

  1. Israeli foreign policy in the new era

  1. Jaw, jaw about war, war

  1. Syrian woes: the Iranian context and the fallout on Lebanon

  1. Egypt: a second revolution – now what? 

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