24 September 2006

Nasrallah View: from the Jordan to the Mediterranean

According to reports, in his recent speech, which was aimed at shoring up his position, Hassan Nasrallah made many grandiose claims but one in particular will find some resonance amongst the historical illiterates:

“Mr Nasrallah said that the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon showed that if Arab states had the will, they could destroy Israel. "The Arab armies and Arab peoples are able not only to liberate Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In all simplicity, with decision and will they can restore Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] sea," he said.”

Nasrallah is playing to his audience’s ignorance, “just one last push and the Jews will be thrown in the sea” is his sub-text, conveniently forgetting that generations of Arab rulers, dictators, military has-beens have tried such tactics since 1948, without any success.

Since 1948 Israel has defeated the combined armies of all neighbouring states and it is barely seems conceivable that feuding local Arab dictators, theocrats and monarchs will summon up the unity and gross stupidity to try it again.

Nevertheless, Israel should not drop its guard, where possible it should sign peace treaties with neighbouring states and reduce to an absolute minimum the low level conflict with the Palestinians, which hopefully will lead to a Palestinian state and remove any festering sore that could unite the disparate Arab rulers and their ballooning military budgets:

"Saudi Arabia's defense budget of dlrs 25.4 billion corresponds to dlrs 962 per capita, spending by Oman of $3.02 bn equates to $1,007 per head and the UAE's $2.65 bn expenditure works out at $1,035 each for its 2.56 million inhabitants.

The ratio is even higher for Kuwait, an equivalent of dlrs 1,856 per head for its dlrs 4.27 bn defense budget in 2005. In Qatar, the cost reaches $2,538 per capita to make up its dlrs 3.02 bn expenditure.

In terms of the country's GDP, Iran's defense spending works out at only 3.5 percent, higher than only than the UAE's 2.23 percent among Persian Gulf countries.

Expenditure in Bahrain, which is equivalent to $764 per capita, is 4.1 percent of GDP. In Qatar it is 6.19 percent, in Kuwait 6.24 percent, in Saudi Arabia 8.44 percent and in Oman 9.64 percent, the report said"

Oh great, poverty spreading across the Middle East and it is Guns before Butter, how social 'progressive' in the 21st century!

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