The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Israeli Cassandras?

Yesterday, a senior Israeli military official, Major General Yair Navah, predicted that King Abdullah might be the last Hashemite monarch, causing a stir in Amman:

Naveh noted that at least 80 percent of Jordan's citizens are Palestinian and said that, due to regional threats including Hamas' rise to power, King Abdullah is liable to be the last Hashemite monarch to lead the kingdom. He also warned of the creation of an "Islamist axis" that could topple the regime.

These comments, which Naveh made during a lecture in Jerusalem, caused fury in Amman, and Jordan threatened to reduce official ties with Israel.

An official in Jordan's embassy in Israel, Omar A-Nadif, said Wednesday that the Jordanian government expects "appropriate measures" to be taken against Naveh. He warned that failing to do so could harm Israel-Jordanian ties.
Today, it was the deputy chief of staff of the Israeli army, who made dire predictions, this time about Egypt. According to Israeli Army Radio, Moshe Kaplinsky told a group of businessmen that "An uncertain situation in Syria is obvious, but even in Egypt we are beginning to see all kinds of first signs of a possible destabilization of the once-solid Mubarak regime."

I have no reason to believe that these are just the professional assessments of two senior officers -- not necessarily the hopes or analysis of Israeli intelligence. But knowing that these are issues which are being discussed at that level in the Israeli security establishment is interesting, for two reasons: first, Israeli security assessments have a pretty good track record of accuracy, and second, it raises the question of at what point will Israel decide to intervene, directly or indirectly, to preserve regimes with which it has a long working relationship. Or to put it another way, to what extent is Israel worried about the prospects for Islamists in its neighboring states?