Thursday, January 5

Israel's Ill

Whether he recovers or not, it's pretty certain that Sharon's political career is over. I can't remember a leader coming back to power after such a hospitalisation. It's both interesting and ironic how parallels can be drawn between Sharon and Arafat's respective illnesses and maybe indicative of how similar the two leaders actually were.

And what of middle eastern politics? Well, Sharon seems to have had a bit of a transformation in the past few months, possibly years. From quite the stubborn, unilateral and sometimes hypocritical leader he's lately earned the contempt of his own people. He's almost followed the cliched model of a leader that only grows a pair toward the end of his rule (for example, I think Bush will surprise toward the end of his term), as it becomes less important to keep power.

Having said that, overall I'd conclude that Sharon was pretty bad for the Middle East. The Gaza withdrawal which he masterminded was well overdue and smacked of an ulterior motive regarding the West Bank. It's almost a case of giving too little, too late and for certain doesn't compensate for past actions. And, for that reason, I'm eager to see who might replace Sharon. In fact, it would have been pretty interesting to see how the Israeli elections would have proceeded had Sharon not been taken ill.