World News and Trends- The Middle East: Ticking toward disaster?

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Ticking toward disaster?

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He believes "a war is not far away" and writes that "almost anyone in the Middle East will tell you this."

And yet he says: "Almost no one in the United States or Europe believes it." Americans and Europeans simply talk of a "low point in the peace process."

It was back in April that Israeli commentator Hemi Shalev wrote in Maariv, an Israeli paper, that "more and more people, including those who should know, are starting to believe that an enormous explosion is unavoidable. If the Americans do not succeed in stopping the deterioration at the last moment, and if the leaders do not come to their senses before it is too late, the region will go up in flames and the historic act of conciliation will sink into rivers of blood, both ours and theirs."

Intelligence reports indicate that Israeli commandos have undergone intensive training for "snatch raids" in search of terrorists in Palestinian territory-one of which ended disastrously in early September with the deaths of 12 Israeli commandos-and there is talk of a possible "reinvasion."

Even more frightening in the longer run are persistent reports of further weapons development in Iran and Syria, not to mention the intentions of Iraq. For instance, the American commander in the Persian Gulf "gave a stark warning that Iran might be closer to developing nuclear weapons than had previously been assessed." Gen. Binford Peay "predicted that Iran could be a nuclear power by the turn of the century." Though he declined to be pinned down on an exact year, the U.S. Gulf chief nonetheless warned that the time "is coming closer." Also, Israel has long persisted in her warnings about Iranian weapons-development potential.

Reports are also extant that, "with peace talks deadlocked for more than a year, Syria has been accelerating its missile programme and building new launch pads." (Sources: The Independent on Sunday, The Jewish Chronicle, The Times of London, emphasis added.)