Mideast Apocalypse 2030: Why Obama wants the Palestine Issue Solved. Now.

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) –

It began in Hebron, which Palestinians call “al-Khalil,” the city of Abraham. Hundreds of thousands of Israel squatters had been enticed into this Palestinian city of 400,000 by the Likud government with cheap rent in cookie-cutter apartment buildings constructed on stolen Palestinian land. The raids on Palestinian olive orchards, their main source of income, had become daily affairs, leaving the environs denuded and full of stumps. Then it went beyond killing trees. Palestinian young men were kidnapped, tortured, killed. Graffiti threatened the rest of their families and warned them to escape to Jordan while they could. The Jordanian army moved tank and sniper units to the best crossing points over the Jordan River, announcing it would shoot on sight any Palestinians who attempted to immigrate illegally.

Then the riots began and spun out of control, squatters targeting Palestinians and vice versa. The Israeli army intervened on the side of the squatters, Palestinian bodies piling up. Artillery was trained on Palestinian neighborhoods. Tens of thousands fled toward Jordan, but halted in the valley when they saw the vanguard of the attempted exodus mown down.

The riots spread to Ramallah, Jericho, Jerusalem. Heavily armed squatters sprayed machine gun fire into the midst of Palestinian demonstrators. The Israeli army moved in and Palestinian masses fled before it. Three million huddled, sleeping in open fields with no sanitation, between the lines of the Israeli and Jordanian armies. Cholera broke out.

Then the riots began in Irbid. Jordan is 60% Palestinian, and the YouTube videos of East Bank Jordanian troops shooting down desperate women and children as they forded the river enraged them. Irbid threw off the army and declared itself liberated. Then East Amman rose. ISIL in nearby Iraq invaded through the Eastern Desert.

The government in Jordan was overthrown and it became part of the caliphate, joining with Syria and northern Iraq. The joint Levantine Counter-Crusade mobilized guerrillas to infiltrate the West Bank and deployed drones and rockets deeper and deeper into Israel. The drone launchers were hidden and mobile, almost impossible for the Israeli air force to take out.

Israelis were forced out of their homes into shelters by the constant, unpredictable bombardment. The army planned an invasion of caliphal Jordan. But there was no government there, only armed gangs in each city, and even taking Amman would have had little effect. Israeli soldiers who made forays into the Ghor Valleey faced a constant barrage of suicide bombings, IEDs, drones, and rocket attacks from every direction, with no obvious return address.

Israelis in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Beersheva, under constant bombardment and faced with infiltration by thousands of determined attackers, began fearing the government could not protect them. Flights were booked up months advance from Tel Aviv airport and thousands left for Europe and the US daily. Ferries popped up to take people to Cyprus.

The Israeli high command threatened a nuclear strike on its enemy, but the caliphate was in chaos, with no command and control or center, and it wasn’t clear what to nuke. Moreover, the fallout would hit Israel. Still, in desperation, an Israeli fighter jet dropped an atomic bomb on Raqqa. The radioactive dust blew into Israel and the public feared for the safety of their children. Alerts warned the public not to drink the milk or eat meat from livestock in Israel.

Now people chartered thousands of vessels to flee from Haifa port. Captains with space on their vessels flocked to Haifa. Some overcrowded, smaller craft overturned in rough water in the Mediterranean. Israel lost a million of its population. Many Russian Israelis felt the new post-Putin prosperous democratic state offered them more than a radioactive and besieged holy land. The displaced Palestinians in the West Bank, cold and exhausted from huddling in tents, moved back toward their old neighborhoods. The Israeli army, faced with shooting down three million miserable, marching civilians, mutinied and refused to obey orders. Soldiers put back on their civilian garb and snuck onto the chartered boats. Seeing the army collapse caused a complete panic. Another million fled. Scandinavia announced an open immigration policy for Israelis.

The caliphate captured Jerusalem soon thereafter, and began logistical planning for capture of the Israeli stockpile of nuclear warheads outside Dimona…

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Related video links:

ITN Source: Escalating Tension after murder of Palestinian youth

TeleSur: “Israeli forces clash with Palestinian youth in Hebron”

26 Responses

  1. The possibility of ISIS or some other jihadist group coming into control of nuclear weapons technology is not farfetched.

    In 2007, the Israeli Air Force, as part of “Operation Orchard”, destroyed a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria via bombing that was believed to have a weapons-producing capability. The land the destroyed reactor sits on is under the current control of ISIS.

    The Dimona reactor facility in Israel was targeted from Gaza by M-302 ballistic missiles in the last conflict with Israel and many observers feel that it would be easy for a Palestinian paramilitary organization to install effective guidance systems in these missiles that would likely inflict heavy damages in a future war with Israel.

  2. Dear Professor Cole

    Your most excellent piece does not mention the Lebanese front or the Gaza front.

    This from Al Manar indicates that they are preparing to repel another Israeli assault. link to almanar.com.lb

    One does wonder what would happen to the Sabra who decide to flee, as they have no second passports. Germany in contrast to UK has been rather good at accepting Syrian Refugees, but PEGIDA objects.

  3. Fairly plausible, Juan, and more than a bit entertaining. I did like the best parts of your novel much better than this, however.

    If I may quibble with two of your plot elements, the first would be that you see the crisis as being wholly political. I’m inclined to see unforeseen effects of climate change pushing things along: crop failures, epidemics, severe droughts and floods. These would then have political effects, but migration would be less of an issue; all lands would be suffering, there would be no refuge to flee to. At the worst, mass frustration in antagonistic societies could result in a sort of Hobbesian “war of all against all.”

    And these things could happen in 2019 or 2022, no need to wait until 2030.

    Secondly, you see the ISIS/caliphate surviving apparently unchanged from 2015 to 2030, ruling in Syria and Western Iraq. I am much more dubious and doubtful about this. Survive? Possibly, yet unchanged, No. The survival of an ISIS/Caliphate for 15 years would imply very significant changes in at least the foreign policies of America, the Gulf states, Iran and Israel, if not significant internal political disruptions in at least some, and possibly all, of these geopolitical actors.

    Also, 15 years would give the caliphate a history — there would have to be a caliph, if not a history of 2 more caliphs. And there would be a pretty significant history of caliphate domestic and foreign policies.

    And of course, if it did survive for 15 years, we historians would be forced to capitalize Caliph and Caliphate in referring to it.

    • We’re already seeing Palestinian water sources being fouled by excessive Israeli pumping causing salt water intrusion, etc. My guess is that we’re going to see a caliphate without caliphs – where large numbers of lawless gangs use “caliphate” as their brand, but there’s no central command and control. Anarchy, sabotage, and chaos – something a modern army has real trouble fighting.

  4. If the historical time spans of occupation for French-Algeria and Apartheid South Africa prove also to be the case for the current colonial project– self-referred to as “the jewish state”– the date for breakdown will be somewhere around 2060.

  5. New Afgan president getting accolades from NY Times

    Being home at the stage of the powerful makes him the right choice for the oligarchs of the world

    Doug Ollivant, who worked in the National Security Council for Mr. Obama and President George W. Bush, said Mr. Ghani is a “Western-oriented” leader who would be comfortable rubbing shoulders with intellectuals at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, or the Aspen Ideas Forum in Colorado.

    “He’s a creature of Washington, a creature of Aspen and Davos,” he said. “He’s extremely comfortable moving in these circles.”

  6. It’s also possible the US will withdraw it’s umbrella from those Middle Eastern nations it protects from normal social and political evolution. Israel would never have reached this point without that umbrella and the same might be said of the KSA and others in the area. Obama may understand this but he doesn’t possess the freedom to override the vested opposition and make a substantive change just like that. The US president may be ‘the most powerful ruler’ but he is more constrained than the British prime minister and other leaders whose powers devolved from monarchy as opposed to rising from the people. Although it doesn’t look like it at the moment, it is still possible for international consensus to rise to the occasion, the institutions exist and and firing them up would only require the US to take its finger off the veto button. That wouldn’t solve the evolving problems overnight but it would likely head them in a more manageable direction.

  7. Whatever the political situation, the reality is that the entire region is going to be rendered virtually uninhabitable by climate change over the next several decades.

    Gonna be a barren hellscape (even more than it already is), with or without nukes. Everyone on all sides is basically just rearranging deck chairs.

    Anyone that’s smart and affluent and mobile should be looking at getting out. I suspect the few remaining liberal(ish) Jews will be among the first to go.

  8. Thanks Juan. I hope Israelis read this and think a bit harder about how to live in peace alongside Palestinian people with full human rights and responsibilities.

  9. But where is the United States, good old “Uncle Freier”, in this scenario? Even assuming Tel Aviv’s grip on the US federal government has been broken, it’s unlike America to fail to intervene militarily, particularly in that region.

    One would have to assume: the Zionist lobby is totally discredited, and there may even be a feeling of revulsion for Israeli tactics. The US has dramatically cut back on its miliary, particularly as regards foreign adventurism. The US Congress AND President feel no compulsion to support Israel. Ditto for US Jewry. We’re no longer a slave to oil.

    The 600-lb gorilla is otherwise “in the room” and should have been accounted for.

    • This was my thought as I read the scenario. The US has had an unhealthy relationship with Israel for my entire life, and the selective historical narrative that dominates in this country concerning Israel’s history, both ancient and modern, does not show any signs of a much-needed (popular) revisionism anywhere on the horizon. I think Professor Cole does an awesome public service (okay, I’m using an adjective my students would use!), but as you say, in his apocalyptic vision the US of A’s absence is a 600 lb. gorilla.

      A more likely scenario would be a humanitarian disaster that would once again fall on the Palestinians with a US president on the phone with an Israeli PM, with said president politely telling him that if he doesn’t stop he’ll get really mad and may even raise his voice, stop saying please, and wag his finger at a camera at the next presser. But pull the plug on aid? Exercise veto power at the UN? A weapons embargo against Israel? UN inspectors for nuclear weapons in Israel? Significant humanitarian assistance from the US for food, housing, and doctors in Gaza? Hey, let’s not get crazy here.

      But one of the commentators in this thread (HT to Kodachrome) is more spot on: there is no problem so big that human-driven climate change will not render it more acute. Time takes care of most problems; we have decided that it will take care of this one.

  10. I do not argue about the completeness and sophistication of this scenario. But these scenarios are useful instruments to change mind sets. It is important to convince decision makers that the status quo, the western pro-Israel permissiveness, will one day certainly lead to some kind of catastrophe. And in my opinion any “solution” for the Israel-Palestinian situation will be preceded by bloodshed/civil war/1948 revisited. But I also believe that the earlier it happens, the better. The later it happens, the higher the toll. For this reason I advocate in the Netherlands to isolate Israel, to support BDS, to put as much pressure on Israel as possible to force it into a one-nation state with equal rights for all inhabitants. (the so-called two state solution is no longer realistic) It may require some kind of civil war, but again, rather now then later. Let the Israeli government realize that there is no future in this world for a nicely ethnically cleansed Jewish state with a messianic theological mission based on self invented exceptionalism. Let us continually expose what is behind the veil of democracy; a government of a minority that is suppressing a majority of Palestinian inhabitants in the Greater Israel area.
    If we care about all these people, lets put as much pressure on that government as possible, to avoid the increasing risk of the kind of scenario you just pictured.
    Thank you for keeping us awake!!!
    Iric van Doorn

  11. I find this scenario implausible, and I’m not sure why – Prof Cole’s little finger’s fingernail knows more about the ME than I do, and he’s clearly a more talented story teller.

    I do feel the hazy potential of impending doom gathering in the ME right now, like a bad storm. But lacking others’ creativity and expertise, I can’t get any more precise than that.

  12. This situation won’t last til 2030, nor is there a probability that Israel on its current course will either.

  13. Maybe I read this doomsday scenario too quickly. Was there any mention of American forces (including missiles and bombers) in the battle? Before it reached the point painted by Dr. Cole, (and even after it reached the painted point) America would surely be there, right in the thick of the war—at least $50 Billion a day!

  14. I see this as very plausible. To those mentioning the 600lb gorilla of “Wheres the US in this scenario” – in 15 years the USofA will look very different than it does now. Also throughout this potential future it is noted that there is no one individual or even one city as being in charge so like the Israelis the US would have no one to focus an attack on. Personally I think Israelis need to remember (or be reminded of) there own persecution history and couple that with how South African apartheid turned out to see that equality of all is the only safe path forward.

    • The Israelis are becoming ideologically indistinguishable from the American far right/Tea Party, which treats the defeat of white supremacy in South Africa as a bad thing, even the defeat of the Confederate States as a bad thing. The solution, to them, is to break the will of the untermenschen in one great bloodletting. That’s what all those assault rifles they’re buying are for.

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