The Israel Defense Force (IDF) has seized a ship loaded with weapons (including rockets) and bearing a Panamanian flag on the high seas. According to IDF sources, the ship destined for Gaza Strip was intercepted and is being taken to Israeli shores. The weapons are allegedly an Iranian shipment of weapons to Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. It is of dire concern for Israel that no weapons are smuggled to Hamas and on to the rest of Middle East, especially those intended for Shi’ite Syria and Iraq. Iran is supporting both of these unpopular regimes.
The insurgents and rebels in both these countries are aided by Iran through Hamas. The insurgency is mainly by the minority Sunni communities within Iraq and Syria. These Sunni militants, including splinter groups of Al-Qaeda, are supported by Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Block, including Pakistan.
At the moment, the situation in the region is tense. The ongoing war in this part of the region may spill over the border and engulf the rest of the region, including Israel. Hence the seizure by Israel of the Panamanian ship loaded with weapons on the high sea, which is bound to threaten widespread tensions.
Israel views Iran as the catalyst behind the conflicts in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is not happy with Iran’s capability in harnessing nuclear power, which is evident from its stand on the P 5+1 powers and the Joint Action Plan reached at Geneva. Israel also has its own reservations regarding the issue.
The interception of the weapons-loaded ship on the high seas is itself a controversy. International waters are governed by international law and may arouse an anti-Israel hegemonic designs campaign. It is a fact that in order to be a force in the Middle East, Israel often resorts to such acts of single minded high-handedness for its survival. This occurs often, and in instances where decisions are cruel, barbaric, plain blind and illogical.
The creation of a Palestinian state, very much a reality to the rest of the world, is Israel’s Achilles heel. The fear of losing East Jerusalem, with the Wailing Wall, as much as the virtual loss of Gaza Strip to Hamas, is a hard to accept in the face of the theocratic hierarchy in Israel and Netanyahu’s administration. Israel’s building of new forced settlements on Palestinian land is not helping matters much.
At present, the United States wants to end tensions in the region so the unfolding of the sensitive, strategic landscape does not turn out to be as devastating as the situation in neighboring Southeast Asia, specifically the volatile situation in Afghanistan, which turned out to be for national and international American interests. It is a fact that militants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia are fighting the bloody battles in Iraq and Syria.
Russia under Putin, having been able to successfully contain the situation in Chechnya, is flexing its international muscle by supporting Iran. China has deep historic and economic interests in the region, especially with Iran. The French and the English share the colonial ties. Germany is on record as engaging in trading parts of nuclear installations by the tacit consent of Angela Merkel’s government, in spite of the international American-backed sanctions on Iran. Germany, by the way, is the +1 power; the remaining are five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, in P 5+1.
Israel, by seizure of the ship with the Panamanian flag on the high seas, has once again tried to demonstrate its reach in regional politics. To date, the country has been successful in consolidating it, as well.
Commentary by Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada
Kansas City News