Anger is boiling over in the Middle East over Gaza, and — exactly as I predicted — the result of the war has been to boost radicalism throughout the region, to strengthen the terrorist-inclined fanatics of Hamas, and to enhance the muscle of terrorist-inclined Israelis, including far-right parties such as Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu and, of course, Likud’s bombastic Benjamin Netanyahu.
You probably didn’t know that the reason the Bush administration, in its last days, reversed course on Gaza is because they feared that US embassies in the Middle East might be stormed by angry crowds if they did nothing. You’ll remember that, after weeks of supporting Israel’s invasion of Gaza, the United States suddenly reversed course and allowed the UN Security Council to pass a unanimous resolution demanding a ceasefire. (The United States didn’t vote yes, but it abstained — rather than threatening its oft-used veto.)
Speaking on January 14 at the New America Foundation, the outgoing US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilizad said explicitly that the United States feared a violent explosion in the region, including the seizure of US embassies by angry mobs, if the United States continued to block action by the UN. A central concern, said Khalilzad, is that mosque leaders all over the Middle East would mobilize the anger and direct it against the United States.
Khalilzad, a snake-like and smarmy neoconservative who served as George Bush’s ambassador to both Afghanistan and Iraq, said that the normal procedure at the UN Security Council is for the United States to work patiently, behind the scenes, to neutralize Arab-led efforts to produce a UNSC resolution opposing Israel — and, he told the NAF gathering, this usually works fine. Grinning and joking about it, and touting his own cleverness, Khalilzad added that this time was different:
“What happened with this particular resolution is that there was a judgment made by our government that, after so many days of fighting, that given the pressure that the moderate Arabs were facing, and given that the Arabs were willing to accept a reasonable resolution, … [we needed] a reasonable resolution that emphasized a durable ceasefire …
“Given the Friday prayers that were coming — this was Thursday we are talking about — the fear was that if there was no resolution by the Security Council … by the prayer time, in the broader Middle East, that there would be embassies overrun, there would be a huge amount of violence. There was a lot of Egyptian and French diplomacy going on, and perhaps waiting … might have been a good idea, if the mosque issue was not a factor.”