Yes, Religion Motivates Conflicts in the Middle East

One need not read very widely to encounter the theory—advanced by pundits, government officials, and scholars—that religion is irrelevant to the wars and disorders currently wracking the Middle East, or is merely used as a smokescreen to conceal other agendas. After marshaling much evidence against this line of reasoning, Oren Kessler explains why it has so much appeal:

[Many] post-religious Westerners have never felt the pull of faith. The prospect that mentally sound people—let alone billions of them—would let spiritual conviction guide their most consequential actions doesn’t quite add up. So, too, with the notion of religion as one’s primary identity marker. . . .

Addressing this-worldly motivations (money, land, grievance) is [also] far easier than confronting a person’s closest-held beliefs and the immutable scripture that underlies them. That’s particularly the case because scrutinizing specific religious doctrines remains one of the last great taboos, all the more so when the faith in question is the supposedly “non-white” creed of Islam.

That’s why even when religion is conceded to be at play, the assumption among right-thinking people is that faith is being “twisted” or “used” for some ulterior motive. Rarely considered is the possibility that billions of people take religion seriously and do their best to follow its precepts—precepts that can lead just as easily to charity and loving-kindness as to tribalism and terror.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam, Religion, Religion and politics


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security