Ariel Sharon MIA? Has the comatose ex PM gone walkies?
Ariel Sharon, the former Prime Minister of Israel, has been in a coma since 2006, and has never regained consciousness. Isreali website Rotter is reporting that the man once in charge of the thorn in the side of many a Middle Eastern countries side has gone AWOL from medical care. The news agency called various hospitals in Israel to inquire about the health of the former PM, but the medical centers confirmed that Sharon was not in their care. Tel Hashomer hospital was quoted as saying that they “have no idea where Sharon is".
Sharon’s so-called reported mysterious disappearance coincided with another Israeli incursion in to the grounds of the Al Aqsa mosque on Friday, with riot police firing tear gas and stun grenades to clear protesters. The Al Aqsa mosque is Islam’s third-holiest site and Sharon’s controversial walk-about in 2000 became the precursor to what became know as the “Al Aqsa” intifada, which lasted five years.
If Sharon has indeed by some miraculous twist in Middle East drama awoken from his coma, what will he have missed over the years that he has been in the coma?
The biggest change is undoubtedly the Arab Spring, which has swept the Middle East and North Africa after the self-immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi in December 2011, setting the region alight with popular protests and leading to the downfall of the leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen and protests in Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and Morocco. The Arab Spring has also left Syria in a state of sectarian civil war that has cost the lives of 30,000 people, as Bashar al-Assad clings on to power.
Much of this has threatened the security of Israel, not least with the election of Mohammed Morsi in Egypt, who is bringing the issue of Palestinian rights back to the fore, after it appeared to drop off both the US and UN’s agenda at the UN General Assembly this month.
Closer to home, Israel has also seen protests, something never quite encountered before in the country as it struggles with the cost of living and the high rental prices for homes, as citizens of Israel begin to question the policies of the state.
Under Sharon’s successors, illegal settlement building in the Occupied West Bank has increased dramatically and the peace talks between Israel and Palestinian Authority have all but stopped.
Iran, too, remains an increasing problem for Israel, and President Ahmadinejad appears at least content on provoking Israel as each side ramps up the rhetoric. Binyamin Netanyahu, one of Sharon’s peers and now successor made an almost laughable appearance at the UN General Assembly with a ‘cartoon bomb,’ adding more playground fuel to the fire.
Perhaps it was yesterday's lone-drone attack on Israel that aroused the sleepy frame of Sharon from his slumber - as he got wind that it might be sent with love from his mortal nemesis Iran? He might have slept through war with Lebanon and Arab revolutions, but a war with Iran he would not be missing!
So should Sharon, who may or may no longer be in a coma, and may simply be victim of a rumor or administrative error in his relocation, see the Middle East today, he might find that everything has changed, but also that nothing really has changed. Peace always seems a little uneasy, elusive, and a big tease. What's more, it’s always worth expecting the unexpected.
Do you think the former Israeli Prime Minister has gone walkies? Or is this rumor just that?