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IDF: Mideast being Redrawn along Sunni-Shiite Fault Line

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon receives briefing from Intelligence Directorate.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/11/2013, 6:44 PM

Fatah demo in Gaza (file)
Fatah demo in Gaza (file)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon visited the Military Intelligence (MI) Directorate Tuesday and met with the Director of the MI Directorate, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.

"We are in a period of dramatic changes that present the Military Intelligence Directorate with unprecedented challenges, which create both opportunities and dangers – and it is important to identify both," Minister Yaalon said during his visit. "Some of the challenges stem from the dramatic changes in the world, and particularly in the Middle East, as well as from technological developments, mainly in the cyber and communications realm – and even they create opportunities and threats. It is wise to be alert to the changes."

The IDF Website, which reported on the visit, noted that the Yaalon's comments echoed a survey of strategic changes and regional threats that Maj. Gen. Kochavi delivered last month. In that review, the intelligence chief stated that Military Intelligence had identified three central pillars around which the most significant changes influencing the region revolve: the economic situation, social upheaval and Islamization.

"The social upheaval is here to stay," Maj. Gen. Kochavi said in that speech, referring to the massive political and social changes that have occurred throughout the Middle East in recent years. He added that such upheaval "is becoming more violent every day, and it is creating a vacuum which is being filled with Islamist and jihadist political factions."

He added that regional shifts have deteriorated governance in areas bordering Israel, noting, "For the first time in decades, Israel has four active borders which could open up from terror attacks."

Kochavi also discussed the changing role of religion in shaping regional alliances. "Today, the Middle East is being redefined into Shiite and Sunni camps," he explained, "which explains things like why Hamas has distanced itself from Iran in recent months and is moving closer to Egypt and Turkey, or why Iran is arming the Shiite minority in Yemen."

According to the IDF Website, "He went on to explain that the shift from a nationalist to a religious approach has realigned alliances between the countries in the region and that the new approach increases the perspective of Israel as a foreign, unacceptable element in the Middle East."