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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Editorial: Mideast meltdown

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  • While everyone on this side of the ocean seems obsessed with the soap opera that is the Petraeus scandal, things are heating up in the Middle East, with Syria specifically going out of its way to turn its civil war into a regional one.
    Earlier this week the military forces of Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad bombed a rebel-held village within spitting distance of Turkey’s border, infuriating Turkish officials who don’t need much excuse to begin pulling triggers of their own. Indeed, the wounded were taken to hospitals in Turkey, which already is dealing with a significant refugee problem; some 2.5 million Syrians have been displaced by Assad’s declaration of war against his own people. Given that, Turkey’s leaders are promising to plant Patriot missile batteries along their shared 550-mile border with Syria, suggesting that they will knock down Syrian warplanes.
    Israel also got in on the act this week, its tanks firing back on Syrian artillery from the Golan Heights after mortars came flying over its borders. Some have suggested that an increasingly desperate Assad is deliberately trying to goad Israel into a fight, on the theory that nothing will bring his long-divided people and other Arabs - most of whom despise him - together more than their mutual hatred of Israel.
    If so, he should be careful what he wishes for, as Palestinians in Gaza learned this week when Israel, in response to repeated rocket attacks, unleashed an aerial assault that reportedly took out Ahmed al-Jabari, military commander of the terrorist group Hamas. Israel also has threatened a ground invasion, angering not only Palestinians but the new government in Egypt, imperiling the uneasy peace - but peace nonetheless - that has existed for decades between those two nations.
    Of course, anyone who has been paying attention is aware just how much Israel has amped up the bellicosity of its rhetoric toward a nuclear-ambitious Iran.
    Every American president since Eisenhower has had to deal with conflict in that region of the world, but as Middle East expert and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote this week, the great potential danger for the Obama administration is that its individual parts explode simultaneously with failed states, civil wars and massive refugee movement. The whole thing could make this nation’s “fiscal cliff” showdown look like a picnic.
    President Barack Obama wanted a second term, and he got it, with all the accompanying headaches at home and abroad. During an election year he steadfastly avoided committing America to any military involvement in Syria - the U.S. has provided some $200 million in humanitarian assistance - but now, with all the above going on and France recognizing a rebel government while offering to arm the resistance there, the White House may be getting painted into a corner from which it cannot escape making a decision.
    Page 2 of 2 - In any case, these are perilous times, and we don’t have the luxury of being distracted by the trivial.
    Journal Star of Peoria, Ill.
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