Tag Archives: Israel

Western Asia in 2020s: risk of major war or opportunity of Regional Integration?


The biggest opportunity in this decade for Western Asia (WA), the crucial area for the stability of the world, is a great bargain between Shia crescent and the Sunni world, for a WA integration based on a Collective Security Community and a Free Trade Integration. The region has homogeneity in religion even if heterogeneity in ethnicity, but also Europe has the same characteristics. The area has also a history of wars, mostly proxy wars recently, and great power influence and invasions (again similarly to Europe). Finally, this part of the world is economically similar with natural resources, first of all oil, and economic stable growth. Therefore is not unthinkable that Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the rest of Arab States in the region (with the presence of Israel as a pivot state) might decide for a gradual regional integration, like Europe, but also Africa, Americas and Southeast Asia decided to do in the past.

There are two issues and two possible inputs for this path. The two issues are:

-In the last two decades the regional powers (first of all Iran, but also Turkey and Saudi Arabia) supported by global ones, competed for influence over the region, creating constant violence and instability, and there seems no to be a new strategic vision for a great bargain at the horizon.

-This great bargain can be possible only with an Iranian regime change (as no Ayatollah regime will accept Israel and a regional system without Israel, even if with a special status, will not be sustainable) and this could take more than one decade to happen.

The possible inputs toward this path are:

-An Israeli-Palestinian settlement (but the recent one proposed by US and Israel has not been accepted and the solution could be postponed for long time, until “facts on the ground” are reached)

-A EU/NATO[1] support after the Iraqi/Syrian proxy wars (but the recent Middle East Strategic Alliance, an “Arab NATO”, didn’t work out and EU and NATO will be busy crafting their new relationship this decade)

The biggest risk, on the opposite, is a great war during this decade between Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon on one side and Israel and the Arab world on the other (Turkey will try to stay out,  because of NATO alliance and Iranian border, but if will enter could probably stay with the Sunni side). This risk is high in this decade, given the increased elements that point towards an escalation, and the acceleration because of three more urgent threats at global level that should be treated soon (nuclear, climate and technological). These are the 4 crucial factors that support this risk:

-End of Iranian Nuclear Deal with the real concrete possibility that Iran gets nuclear power in the next couple of years. The Iran nuclear crisis of the early 2000s will be back, pushing military urgency.

-US Peace Plan for Israel-Palestine (rejected by Palestine, Iran but also Arab league) with consequent Israeli annexation of occupied territories inside West Bank after March elections.

-Recent escalation in violence between Iran and US, with the killing of Suleimani and the prospect of more hybrid[2] warfare against Al-Quds and other Iranian militias.

-West Asia never ending proxy wars (Syria, Iraq, Yemen, may be later also Lebanon) with interventions from Iran and Russia on one side and US and allies on the other, and Turkey moving between the two, with no sign to end soon this decade.

The two possibilities don’t exclude each other, actually a major war could precede the regional integration (as it has been in the past for Europe) and the current trends seem to show a path that points towards this risk. The role of US and Russia will be also determinant to push towards one of these paths, without excluding the Chinese alignments. As a recent Stratfor report argues, the 2020s will be a Multipolar decade, with shifting and fluid alliances. So, we’ll see what happens, as Trump always says.

[1] NATO should close its Mediterranean Dialogue after 26 years and create two new partnerships: North African Dialogue (with Maghreb region) and West Asia dialogue (with Levant region). NATO Istanbul Cooperation Initiative should be expanded to all countries of GCC.

[2] Hybrid warfare blends conventional warfare, irregular warfare (among state and non-state actors with proxies, militias etc.) and cyberwarfare with other methods, at economic level (with embargos) political level (with diplomatic tools, like proposing peace plans take it or leave it) and social level (with informational warfare, lawfare etc.)



Iranian nuclear deal: the clock of ISIS and its root, Wahhabism, have the “minutes counted” (i.e. few hours of life)


The consequences of bringing back Iran to the international community after 35 years cannot be foreseen right now. Israel and Saudi Arabia are not afraid of an Iranian bomb, but of a new leader in the Middle East apart themselves. If the right wing regime of Netanyahu in Israel and the Saudi regime in Saudi Arabia could become in the last decades more and more extreme in their philosophy and actions, it is because they could use the external ‘enemy’ as a factor of social cohesion. And because their possible rivals on the geopolitical chess were weak. It is the divide et impera, ‘divide and rule’ philosophy of the Roman Empire, that made the complexity of the region of the Middle East anarchic, chaotic and never able to integrate itself, since at least one hundred years, since the end of the Ottoman Empire. But these divisions sooner or later will have to give space to some alliances and unions, and the region one day will be united as Europe today. That day people will remember the 2015 as the start of the end of the chaos in the Middle East. It seems a far stretch now but if we deeply think and analyze the history and the politics of that region it doesn’t seem so impossible.

Diplomacy is back in the international relations, after decades of power politics, and this not only with Iran, but with Russia and Cuba too. Also for us, the political scientists, a new paradigm, more European than North American, might start to see the light in the international relations theory: mediations and negotiations as the only solutions to security dilemmas, anarchic system and mistrusting realist views. In particular two non-Arab countries of the Middle East could play a fundamental role for the stabilization and development of the area. In the future regional order of the Middle East Iran could be what Germany has been for Europe, the engine, and Turkey what France has been, the torch. When Iran and Turkey will finally understand that supporting each other is better than competing, that will create the leadership that the Middle East desperately need since one century. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries sooner or later will have to understand that their role is the bridge between Maghreb and Southwest Asia, the region to which they belong historically, geographically and ontologically, is not the Levant but North Africa. It is with their Arab brothers that they have to find a new Renaissance, starting with a renovated Arab League, a new economic integration and a new approach between religion and politics, instead of looking for spheres of influence in the Levant fighting with their competitors, in the Shia crescent.

At the domestic level they need to overcome the fixation in the Shari’atization of civic life and public policy and understand that democracy and emancipation is a natural development of human empowerment. They have good example in the Maghreb to follow, first of all Tunisia, but also Morocco. When the education and the globalization will increase in Gulf countries, together with the end of the oil blessing, on which bases the monarchies maintained their societies backwards, also the Saudis will have to find other ways for their legitimization respect to the Wahhabi sect. And some good Iranian military blow in the next few years (not nuclear fortunately since today) against the Salafist terrorism and may be also the countries backing it, will accelerate the process. But Saudi Arabia will do its process of democratization gradually, as Turkey and Iran already did one century ago. And even if Iranian people have been imprisoned by a religious and military elite that betrayed the ideals of the 1979 revolution (as everyone who hijack the revolutions, since the Bolshevik one in 1917 to the Arab Spring in 2011) also Iran will soon go towards a more modern democracy, as the cold war is ended and the Ayatollah regime finally starts to be out of touch with the contemporary world and with his people. That will be the moment in which also Israel will feel more safe. Today is the starting of this process. As the welcome back of China in 1979 after 30 years contributed to the stability in Asia, the new Iranian rapprochement will be a fundamental element for the stability in the Middle East in the XXI century.

ISIS and the rest of Jihadists will make more blood unfortunately, like yesterday with the poor students of the college in Kenya, but when the need of money, the request of weapons and the thirst of power will not be satisfied anymore, also the Jihadist threat to the world will be erased, as it has been done with the Soviet one. Iran will have its role in this, militarily and culturally, together with Turkey, when both countries will have walked also on their path to empower their democracies, going back to the ideals that at the beginning of XX century inspired their Constitutional revolutions. But for today we need to celebrate and be enthusiast, as the Iranian people on the streets. The prodigal son is back for this Good Friday. I am happy for Iran, for Israel and for the Middle East. I am happy also for China, Russia, the US and Europe, that learned to cooperate and mediate. I am happy that the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy today is an Italian diplomat, Federica Mogherini. Remembering how Berlusconi stupidly refused 10 years ago the Iranian offer to participate to the negotiation. And I am happy that Obama will not be remembered only because of being black. The American Congress will have to learn to be more humble in these last years of his mandate. The Norwegian Noble Committee had been farsighted as usual.

From democracy to tyranny: is Israel, our “Western democratic” product in the Middle East, going downhill the Agamben “state of exception” or the Plato Tyranny regime?


“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” (Nelson Mandela)

There are many conflicts and cases of extreme violence today around the planet, causing suffering and destruction for innocent civilians, many in Middle East and Africa, but also in Asia and Latin America. However the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to cause more resentment and popular uprising in the world, both the European-Atlantic one and the ‘Eastern’ Hemisphere one, respect to the other places. There is a reason among many: Israel is a democracy (actually praising itself to be the only one in the Middle East) that at the beginning of XXI century is becoming more and more radical and extreme in its lawlessness political practice, starting to commit something not far from a genocide, after applying occupation, reduction in imprisonment and apartheid, to a population residing in its land, that has been neglected since 66 years its right of existence.

At the same time in the world population the Jews are beginning to protest to Israeli ‘policy’ since the beginning of last war on Gaza. Even if Likud keeps being supported by majority of Israeli Jews, the Jews around the world are starting to rebel against the way the Israeli government is dealing the conflict with Hamas (also because of the growing planetary sympathy for Palestinian cause). This could represent a sign of healthy and maturity in a democracy, in particular for Israel, that consider itself the state of the Jews, it seems right that all the Jews in the world, not only in Israel, are entitled to comment, criticize and call accountable the Israeli government. Nevertheless Israel keeps its extreme policies without feeling threatened in its legitimacy by the criticisms of Jews population and, on the contrary, believing that the support of its local constituency entitle it to go on with its final goal, that is to chase sooner or later the people from Gaza, and in general the people from Palestine (actually what is remained of it, with Gaza and West Bank) whatever it takes. This is clearly shown by attacking not only the elected representatives in Gaza and its civilian population but also the culture and the identity of Palestinians (from the schools to the recent bombing of mosques and the Islamic University, accused to be sites of fabricating weapons).

From what is coming the radicalization of Israeli right government? Could be just a fear of losing control by the Israeli population with the clear recent possibility of a Palestinian state (like in authoritarian countries such as China and Thailand, where many middle-class people feeling threatened by the rising demands of the poor, support authoritarian governments that protect their class interests). Or there could be other reasons. But whatever reasons are there to which extreme and how far right a government that calls itself democratic can go before to enter in the sphere of autocracy? Israel clearly shows actions of apartheid, imprisonment, mass murdering and expulsion of population from Gaza and West Bank. (1) Is this a legitimate goal and policy for a democracy, even if it claims is for its legitimate defense? Or is it a symptom of a “permanent state of exception”, as my compatriot Giorgio Agamben would say, and so not anymore a real democracy? Is Israel still a democracy or is going downhill on the path to tyranny as Plato would have said? (2)

A “permanent state of exception” is a state in which the government, all powerful, operates outside the laws, and “a modern totalitarianism can be defined as the establishment, by means of the state of exception, of a legal civil war that allows for the physical elimination not only of political adversaries but of entire categories of citizens who for some reason cannot be integrated into the political system” (3). We could speak about crisis in the functioning of modern democracies, and so also Israel, when the so called “national interests” applied by governments are distant from the requests of their constituencies, because they lack real channels to shift government policies apart from during the elections. Or we could say that Israeli people are more and more distant from democratic values because of the immigration from former Soviet Union and the increasing number of national-religious Jews that are waiting for the Messiah and so are on far right and extreme positions. We could also argue that the UN, the only possible representative of international community, is already an institution out of history being a reflection of post WWII, and today is accepting helpless the policies of a state of exception as it is not able to even declare it as a ‘state of exception’, being its schools bombed and his places passing from places of protection to places of risk. Whatever is the reason though the “permanent state of exception” of Israel seems clear with its recent actions, carried out in particular in the last 10 years. And the third Gaza war seems to set forth the death of this already moribund democracy, which is becoming more a dysfunctional democracy and so almost a kind of tyranny (being in a permanent state of exception).

But the worst isn’t even this for the future of Israel democracy. The worst could be represented by the fact that to maintain the support from the population a tyranny has only one way: use the education, the media and the political rhetoric to do a brain washing to its people, making them believe that the things the autocratic government is doing are for its own good and that the others are the evil. Israeli state needed since its foundation for example to rely heavily on the advocacy and lobby to foster his cause around the world, but today the Israeli government is using this tool more and more evidently to retain its legitimacy even inside his state and among the Jews in the world, instead of thinking to shift or change policies towards more moderate ones in order to recuperate support. So finally the newest democracy product of the “West” could become not only a form of tyranny in the future but a form of “marketing product”, a state based on marketing itself with money, media and lobbies (first of all the most powerful of the lobbies in the world probably, AIPAC in the US). And it would base its legitimacy not on constructive and sustainable policies but on “delegitimizing the delegitimisers”, the ones they consider their enemy, as an interesting recent article from The Economist points out (4). It is the so called “logic of the oppressor” at its extreme potential, that allow for example Mr Netanyahu in his last farce, the press conference after the Gaza war, to say for example that every civilian loss in the last war was “a tragedy of Hamas’ making.” (5) This manipulation of reality trough the use of the media is a typical technique borrowed from autocracies by modern democracies (in Italy we are very expert on this with the capsizing of the truth on every issue by the media magnate and long time Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi).

So is this the future of democracy that is waiting for Israel and for us in the “Western” world? Is a polarized world trying to gain public support to its part, selling its product, manipulating reality trough the subjugation of media and stigmatizing the others that oppose us our future? It seems to me that this kind of future would be even more scaring of the Big Brother. Because if everyone will be not only controlled but brainwashed and taught to create divisions and hate, in order to gain support against the opposition, instead to care, in order to gain compromise with it, that would be the biggest loss of our civilization of democracy.  And there are indicators of this kind of polarization also in Europe and in the US, with a strong wall to wall between populist/nationalist and reformist/democrats in Europe or Democrats and Republicans (Tea Party in particular) in the US since the election of Obama. So we need to start to work against this kind of approach now, without any further delay, and we need to build laws, systems and educative paths that will allow democracies to flourish and evolve, and not to go backwards, citizens to be really active and empowered citizens, and political system to step up on democracy and not go back to tyrannies, especially in a world going dangerously towards crony capitalism and private funding of party politics like our ‘Western’ world.



(1) Actually this attitude of Israel is currently facilitating a reunification of the Palestinian parties (Al Fatah, Hamas and Palestinian National Authority) and their visions. In fact in the West Bank there is another civilian disobedience movements and Intifada starting now, like the first Intifada, where Palestinian people seems unifying again in some way, realizing that they will have to struggle for their freedom, as a peace process with Likud, and Israel for that matter, is not going to be possible.
(2) According to Plato the government of humans is made of five type of regimes that progressively degenerate starting from Aristocracy, Timocracy (similar to plutocracy, where wealthy citizens govern), Oligarchy, Democracy and finally Tyranny. As Plato says the tyrannical man is the worst form of man, because he is consumed by lawless desires to do many bad actions, like mass murdering, close to complete lawlessness, as the idea of moderation does not exist in him.
(3) Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception, 2005, pag 2
(4) http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21610312-pummelling-gaza-has-cost-israel-sympathy-not-just-europe-also-among-americans

Israel existence after 66 years: from a legitimate goal badly realized to the need of reconciliation.



“An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind”, said Mahatma Gandhi. And the world has been blind already so many times and for so long periods in its history that it unfortunately got accustomed. Nevertheless, sooner or later, humankind miraculously always recuperates its sight. Is it time for the Middle East to do so? May be, but we need a cultural revolution for that.

The conflicts that we have lived since the beginning of our history until the modern times, from the wars that characterized the Empires of the past (Europe docet) to the wars that have destroyed the Middle East since generations, demonstrated that human beings have still a strong instinct of revenge. The ‘eye for an eye’ vision (stumped in the Bible as a symbol of justice later becoming more a symbol of hatred) creates an escalation that cannot be stop, as the eye that has been taken away cry for revenge in a never ending violent cycle. It is unfortunately a logic and natural law, until we stop this cycle. This vision also creates the belief that we are the only ones to be victimized and that justice is something that can be made only from one side, ours, forgetting about the suffering of the others. So following the ‘eye for an eye’ concept finally our legitimate goals lose their legitimacy, as from being rights become in reality impositions.


The Zionism had its legitimate goal since the beginning of its foundation: to find a place for the Jews and liberate them from the anti-Semitic discrimination and persecutions lived for millennia in their diaspora. We could argue that there are other groups, like Romani people, that have also been discriminated and persecuted during all their history and have never been interested in the ownership of a land. But this is another discourse that has to deal with the identity of every culture and so we are not going to analyze it here. The birth of an Israel state, not only for the Shoa, had its reason and legitimacy. But the way in which Israel put that right in practice made it less defendable. The point is that when you want to defend your right to leave in peace, freedom and justice you have to think that this right ends where the same right starts for the others. You cannot claim the need of a state or a land without respecting the same need of the others, in particular if the others were living on that land before you. If you do that you have only one solution: occupy with force. And when you occupy a land with force you have three possibilities with the local populations: wipe them out (like we did with Indian Americans) put them in reserves (as we did with Australian Aboriginals) or chase them away (as we are doing with Arab Palestinians). All these cases, and many more, happened with the use of force and violence but the difference is that the last one is currently happening under the eyes of the international community. And history will call us all more and more accountable of the things happening around the world nowadays, because the international community is every day more and more informed and cannot say “I didn’t know”.

Mahatma Gandhi also said: “as the means so the end; the means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree”. So if you claim peace waging wars you will never have peace, this is another logic and natural law. We saw that too in our humankind history. Since the beginning of its existence Israel has been seeking to defend itself from the attack of the neighboring Arab states using counter or preventives attacks. It was his right as it was risking its survival, but how Israel actually born? It born with a unilateral imposition because the people living in Palestine and the Arab leaders never accepted the UN Partition Plan Resolution 181 to create from the Mandatory Palestine two independent Arab and Jews states. One million Palestinian were forced out of their homes and every year Palestinians remember the foundation of Israel as the Nakba, the ‘Great Catastrophe’. So when you impose something unilaterally with force, as Ben Gurion did in 1948, the result that you get is a contrary reaction based also on force. Again it is a logic and natural law, and we human beings are natural beings, as we follow the Golden rule that is derived from the third Newton’s law of motion: “when one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body”. This is what is happening in Palestine since almost 66 years (apart that is not exactly ‘equal in magnitude’).

Israel, with the approval of the UN, occupied a land violating the principle of national self-determination of the people 66 years ago and the result was that Israelis had their state but at the expenses of the Arabs and also at their own expenses, as Jews in Israel are leaving since then in fear all their life. Which kind of life is that? Is the life that Zionism legitimate looked for the Jews? It doesn’t seem so to me. It seems more that Israel went far from its original survival need with the wars, the settlements in occupied territories and recently the invasions of Gaza. And also with the construction of walls that made the Palestinians living in prison (besides than in refugee camps). As we know if you want to defend yourself you can build walls, and in the short term they may have a positive effect on your defense, but if you don’t address the root causes at the base of the attacks against you finally news fences are just going to call for more attacks. Also because the Israelis Gaza and West Bank barriers are not like the Great Wall of China or the Berlin wall, that were built to avoid invasions and migrations. The walls build by Israel are there to avoid the attack of people that have been displaced from their land since almost 70 years and are looking for their freedom and rights, having lived their lives for generations without them.  Besides that these walls have the effect to keep those people in a trap and under siege. For example Gaza has only one little exit in the south with Egypt and the government of Egypt today, with General El-Sisi, is not exactly interested in defending or welcoming friends of Muslim Brotherhood as the Palestinians. So what do you expect from people being displaced, killed and put in trap if not fight for their survival with the tools that they have, from the rocks to the rockets?

If Israel wants to have a brighter future instead of keep living in misery and fear needs to have a cultural revolution. A cultural revolution based on humanitarian values and universal justice, stopping to look at his small garden, that is actually very far from the paradisiac promised land they dreamed for millenia, and glance up towards the world, embracing the brothers of others faiths and looking for a pacific cohabitation in the ‘sacred land of all’. And the Arabs have to do the same: Palestinian state has the right to come into existence after so many decades but if Hamas keep defending that rights with rockets and calling for the disappearance of Jews state they are not going far for the settlement of disputes in Middle East. Cultural revolutions needs a long time but they can start as soon as we want, we just need a small gesture, that require however an enormous shift in our and other’s mind, a small gesture that Madiba Mandela was able to do already in his tormented land twenty years ago. It is called ‘reconciliation’.

Reconciliation is based on apologize and forgive, two actions that have the same root, they come from the humanistic principle of “I care” and they can replace the hatred principle of “I don’t mind”, that is at the base of revenge (as Don Milani, a Florentine educator, proposed in his educational revolution). If we care we will be able to apologize for the suffering inflicted on both sizes and so we will be able also to forgive as everybody is guilty in a war. If we want to look for peace instead of eternal war we need this cultural shift, in Middle East as everywhere. We need to emphatically embrace the suffering of the others and put ourselves in their shoes to understand their needs and legitimate goals. Is very difficult to do it in an area in conflict since generations, with total lack of empathy between the two parts, but is the only solution. An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind but a hand shake for a hand shake could make the whole world less afraid and more trustful. It seems impossible but we can do it, it just take a little courage from the people. And a lot of courage from their leaders, who may risk to become martyrs as Rabin or Sadat (like Martin Luther King and Gandhi too). As a matter of fact this is what we miss today in Middle East: great leaders that appeal to the real core principles of the Abrahamic religions, the humanistic principles of love and compassion. But Palestinians and Israelis can push their leaders to do so if they want, instead of voting and supporting radical and extreme parties. That is why the cultural revolution is urgently needed, hopefully trough the education of new generations.

As Mandela when he was in prison felt empowered by the message of self-mastery of the famous Invictus poem also today those people in the prisons of their fears might be empowered repeating this to themselves and to the others: “I am the master of my faith, I am the captain of my soul”. Let’s hope and pray for a free and peaceful Holy Land one day.


PS See here two interesting articles of Haaretz, the Israel’s oldest daily newspaper (since 1918): http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.603451