What does Ehud Barak’s new maneuver mean?

Admitting Defeat or Escaping Failure

29 November 2012 | 15:25 Code : 1909708 Interview General category
An interview with Mohammad Ali Mohtadi, a Middle East affairs analyst
Admitting Defeat or Escaping Failure

Ehud Barak, the Defense Minister of the Zionist regime, announced his resignation from the world of politics less than one week after the 8-day war in Gaza and the atmosphere of elections has filled the air in the occupied territories. What are the reasons behind his sudden resignation?

I believe that Ehud Barak's resignation, not only from the military but also from the political scene, is the result of Israel's defeat in Gaza. The objective of Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, in this war was to revive the deterrent role of the army of the Zionist regime and to destroy the missile power of the Palestine resistance in Gaza. They assumed that they would both become heroes of this war and raise their chances in the upcoming elections. But what has practically happened in Gaza is that Israel did not achieve any of its goals and it could neither revive the deterrent role of its army nor was it able to destroy the missile power of the resistance, because the resistance continued its launching of missiles towards different cities of the occupied territories until the very last minute. Therefore, the first point is that the reason behind Barak's resignation from the political scene is related to the defeat of the Zionist regime's army in Gaza. Ehud Barak was not able to introduce himself as a war hero to the public opinion of Zionist society. 

The second point is that under such conditions, Ehud Barak and his party had no chance of winning the future elections. It means that most of the polls showed that they would gain a maximum of two or three seats in this election and this would be a huge political defeat for Barak. Thus, the Defense Minister of the Zionist regime decided to leave the scene in order to maintain his reputation as a military and political personality.

In comparison with Benjamin Netanyahu or Avigdor Lieberman, some considered Ehud Barak a moderate politician. Do you agree with such an assessment?

In my opinion, the issue of moderation or radicalism is the result of an understanding between Israeli personalities and being radical or conservative has no meaning. The reason is that decisions which are related to national interests are made collectively and consultatively and calling one person moderate or the other radical is in fact dividing the roles between the officials of the Zionist regime, in particular under the present conditions when they are faced with numerous problems and difficult challenges in the region and while considering international equations. At this juncture, the Israelis, more than ever before, need to make collective decisions, for these are issues which determine their destiny. Therefore, I believe that the assumption that Ehud Barak is a moderate compared to Netanyahu is not an accurate analysis. The most that can be said about them is that, in their political statements, Netanyahu always took radical positions or used radical literature while Ehud Barak made moderate statements. But using such literature in political campaigns does not mean that they would have different positions with regard to the emerging challenges or would even contradict each other. 

Some analysts familiar with Israel's domestic policies claim that Israeli politicians, like Ehud Olmert and Shimon Peres, resign from the political scene when they feel that conditions are not suitable, but they later return to the world of politics. Do you consider Barak's resignation temporary and an intelligent maneuver?

Yes, there are cases where a political figure pretends to step aside, but later, due to people's demands, returns to the scene. But this is not true about Ehud Barak, because his time has ended and he has reached the conclusion that he would be better off if he leaves the scene now. Of course, he has reiterated that he will perform his duties as the Defense Minister until the future elections and he will naturally submit his post to the new defense minister after the formation of the new cabinet. It is a political norm that when a minister resigns, he would remain in his post until the new minister is appointed. Ehud Barak has stated the same thing. But his remaining in the ministerial post does not mean that he would be able to make important decisions. Barak will remain in his post until the next elections, and then the new minister will replace him. According to some Israeli newspapers, Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the "Israel Our Home" party, might be the next Defense Minister.

Regarding the issue of a military attack against Iran, Ehud Barak, according to some western and Israeli media, was against such an option. Can we interpret his resignation as the removal of an obstacle in the way of a radical person like Netanyahu to attack Iran?

This issue is more an analysis of the newspapers. I personally do not believe in the assessment that Barak was against a military attack while Netanyahu insisted upon it, and now, with his resignation, Netanyahu can personally decide about this matter. On the contrary, I believe that in the closed-circle decision-making process of the Zionist regime, Ehud Barak, who is a military figure, could better understand the consequences of a possible military attack against Iran, for neither Lieberman nor Netanyahu is from the military. Therefore, since they are not military experts, they are not able to comprehend what facilities are required for a military operation and what its consequences would be, or whether victory would be certain. But Barak, as a military man who has spent all his life in the army and has had military and security activities, can better understand the consequences of such an attack. Even more than him, security officials are aware of such threats. This means that in all the discussions and meetings, military commanders, particularly the commanders of the security apparatus, expressed their opposition to a military attack due to their fear of Iran's retaliatory measures. They knew well that they must pay a high price for such a mistake. 

Thus, I still do not believe that Ehud Barak has prevented such an attack and that, in his absence, Netanyahu and Lieberman would be able to easily decide on a military attack against Iran. It seems that decisions about very significant issues like attacking Iran cannot be made by these two people alone, it rather needs the agreement of army commanders and the security apparatus, and beyond that, the agreement of the West, particularly the US. Such a process in making a decision about this issue cannot be related to the presence or absence of Ehud Barak. Therefore, this is more the analysis of newspapers and it is not based on facts.

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