Winds of Change in the Middle East: A View from Israel


Featuring Maj. Gen. (IDF, Ret.) Amos Yadlin

2011 Schiff Memorial Lecture

Weeks of revolution and turmoil across Arab states underscore the fact that Israel is not the central focus of Arab politics, retired major general Amos Yadlin, Israel’s former top intelligence official, told a standing-room-only crowd at The Washington Institute’s fourth annual Zeev Schiff Memorial Lecture earlier this week. Cautioning against both euphoria and gloom in assessing the implications of the “Arab Spring,” he instead urged a methodical country-by-country analysis of how popular protests and regime reactions are likely to affect regional security.

“I think that there is a new understanding, not in Israel, not in the United States, but in the Arab Street, that Israel is not the core problem of the Middle East,” said Yadlin, who just completed five years’ service as head of Israeli military intelligence. “We must be very careful in our response to provocation. It would not be wise to play into the hands of those who want to divert the attention from the real problems of the Arab world to Israel.
” His remarks were delivered to a standing-room-only crowd attending The Washington Institute’s fourth annual Zeev Schiff Memorial Lecture on Middle East Security.

A much decorated fighter pilot who served as deputy commander of the Israeli Air Force and as Israeli defense attache in Washington, General Yadlin argued that democratic change in Syria and Iran would provide the greatest improvement to Israel’s security situation. Iran, he noted, was most likely surprised by the show of force displayed by the Obama administration in committing military power in Libya. At the same time, General Yadlin — who just joined The Washington Institute as its new Kay Fellow — raised concerns that Iranian leaders may seek to speed up their country’s nuclear weapons program as a way to deter other nations from contemplating Libya-style intervention in support of anti-regime protesters.

Click to read a transcript of General Yadlin’s remarks (PDF).

Or, go to the Washington Institute website

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