Speaking on background this week, a senior Israeli official said that the threat of conventional war against Israel had fallen sharply due to instability in the Arab world.
The official predicted that the twenty-two members of the Arab League would split into 28 to 30 countries during the next five years as the so-called Arab Spring turns out to be an “Islamist winter.” Those who expected a democratic resurgence after the Arab revolts of 2011, he argued, “have no understanding of history and no understanding of the social circumstances of Arab countries. It isn’t like Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism. Eastern Europe had the experience of democracy between the wars, and it also had a great culture. Above all, it didn’t have a political religion dedicated to conquest.”
What the official characterized as “the implosion of the Arab world” would make it much harder for Arab countries to mount a conventional threat against the Jewish state, he said. “Between the alternative of having our enemies divided or united, we prefer to have them divided,” he added. “The states put together after World War I by Mr. Sykes and Mr. Picot won’t hold together. We are finding out that Arab countries aren’t really countries in the first place. Libya turns out to be not a country, but a collection of 140 tribes. And we hardly need talk about what is happening in Syria.”
He added, “The clout of the Arab League is falling, and Arab oil is becoming less important.” After the 1967 war, he observed, the Arabs consoled themselves for their defeat by asserting that time was on their side. “Now, no-one can say that time is on the side of the Arabs. They are in danger of disintegration. Time is on nobody’s side. Time is on the side of whoever prepares best for the future.”