Two Middle East developments you may have missed

by Norman A. Bailey  |  February 24, 2017  |  ARTICLES

Indications of positive change in countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE should be carefully assessed.

With all the overwrought bile, disguised as "commentary", on Donald Trump's first month as president two truly significant items from the Middle East were practically ignored by a media ever-more ideologically biased:

The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia declared in an international forum in Munich that the Jews had the right to the land of Israel.

For the first time in a history stretching back three and a half millennia, a woman was named governor of a province in Egypt.

It is easy to make too much of such developments. The admirable Sisi government in Egypt is vulnerable to a deteriorating economic situation and the Saudi regime is still one of the most politically repressive in the world.

Nevertheless, it would be equally wrong to be overly dismissive. For Israel, which must live in a neighborhood with such enemies as Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaida, Islamic State and many others, and failed states such as Syria and Lebanon, indications of positive change in countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE should be carefully balanced against excessive optimism or pessimism.

An Israeli government operating within a clearly dysfunctional political system, subject to ideological attack from the right and the left, has to find the way to maneuver with the greatest of care but also decisiveness in this maze called the Middle East.

Despite multiple domestic distractions and accusations of corruption, Netanyahu has once again demonstrated his political mastery, including a triumphant trip to Singapore and Australia. There is no indispensable person, but he comes remarkably close. And therein lies a great danger, largely due to his own refusal to nurture a successor in the same or similar mold. It is high time to change that situation and the events mentioned above and many others make it an imperative.

This article was originally published by Globes.