Archive for August, 2020

A Giant Step Toward Peace?

Posted in On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , on August 27, 2020 by playthell
      Dirty Donald and his Partners in Crime

Or Yet Another Grand Delusion

Before the ink on the deal for diplomatic recognition between Israel and the United Arab Emirates could dry, there was chatter emanating from the White House about Don tha Con being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in bringing the parties together – yet another manifestation of his hysterical Obama envy. The recognition of Israel by the UAE is being hailed as a watershed event that will improve the rancorous relations between Israel and her Arab neighbors, which has prevailed since the founding of the Zionist state in 1948.

However, while the American administration is touting the historic importance of this agreement, cheered on by traditional allies in the NATO Alliance, some key parties with serious interests at stake are not cheering. Their reactions range from the outright rejection by all factions of the Palestinians, whose status as a Middle Eastern people occupied by European Colonial settlers is the foci of the conflict, to the deafening silence of the Saudi’s; the regions richest and most powerful Arab state; to open hostility from Turkey and Iran – the most powerful Muslim military states in the region.

In view of this hodgepodge of reactions, it requires the boundless optimism of a professional hustler to conclude this deal is cause for enthusiastic celebration.  A candid view of the unvarnished facts, rather than the wishful thinking that permeates the US-Israeli narrative of events, presents a radically different scenario. Rather than a prelude to a period of regional peace, we see a rocky road ahead full of pitfalls and mine fields – real and metaphorical – that could just as easily lead to increased armed conflict and instability throughout the Mid-East.

In the view of many observers, this writer prominently among them, when the contradictions between the various ethnic and religious factions, the instability of oppressive kleptocratic Arab regimes – Saudi Arabia prominently among them – combined with the interest of individual nation states, the probability of protracted regional conflict seems inevitable. The task of this essay is to play past the fanfares and confetti, and objectively weigh the nitty gritty facts of the matter without fear or favor as the reactions of parties with skin in the game unfolds.

As is to be expected, the official “Joint Statement” issued by the three parties that crafted the agreement initiating diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE, is bristling with self-congratulation and promises of better days ahead for this trouble region:

“ This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region. All three countries face many common challenges and will mutually benefit from today’s historic achievement…As a result of this diplomatic breakthrough and at the request of President Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world. The United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are confident that additional diplomatic breakthroughs with other nations are possible, and will work together to achieve this goal.”

However, the Palestinian leadership across the ideological spectrum, uniformly reject this view. And since it is their status as an oppressed people under Israeli military occupation that is at the center of the conflict between Israel and the Islamic world, no solution to this decades old problem can be realized without their cooperation. Hence one could reasonably argue that insofar as the Palestinians are concerned, the ambitiously titled “Abraham Agreement,” was as dead as the ancient Hebrew prophet after whom it was named at birth.

In a statement issued through his Senior Advisor, Nabil Abu Rodina, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the agreement “a blow to the Arab Peace Initiative and the decisions of the Arab and Islamic summits, as well as an aggression against the Palestinian people.” Abbas also denounced the agreement as “a de-facto recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” This recognition follows the US lead in one of the Trump Administration’s most blatant assaults on the rights of the Palestinian people, and a serious blow to a “two state” solution, which the entire world recognizes as the best way out of this protracted quagmire that continues to destabilize the oil rich Middle East.

Hence President Abbas considers the UAE recognition of Israel to be treasonous to the struggle of the Palestinian people. And he minces no words in denouncing it: “The Palestinian leadership rejects what the United Arab Emirates has done and considers it a betrayal…“Neither the Emirates nor any other party has the right to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian leadership shall allow nobody to interfere in the Palestinian affairs or decide on their behalf regarding their legitimate rights in their homeland…”

President Abbas denunciation and rejection of the Israeli/UAE agreement was echoed from all factions of the polycephalis Palestinian national liberation movement. After a meeting between Abbas and Haniyeh, leader of the more militant Hamas faction, Hamas issued this statemen:
“They clearly affirmed the rejection of this declared agreement, considering that it is a non-binding agreement for the Palestinian people, and will not be respected, and stressed that all components of our people stand together in rejecting normalization or recognizing the occupation at the expense of our people’s rights…They also stressed during the call that no one is allowed to make Palestine, its sanctuary, its most remote places, its martyrs and the suffering of its people a bridge for normalization with the enemy.”

The statement from Dr. Hanan Ashwari, a longtime negotiator for Palestinian rights and a member of highest circles of PLO leadership, perhaps summed up the pain Palestinians are feeling in the most poignant human terms. Upon hearing of the agreement after it was a done deal, she tweeted to the people of the world: “May you never experience the agony of having your country stolen; may you never feel the pain of living in captivity under occupation; may you never witness the demolition of your home or murder of your loved ones. May you never be sold out by your “friends.”

How Palestinians feel about the deal

 

The uniformly bitter rejection of the Israeli/UAE deal by the Palestinian leadership belies the rosy scenario conjured up by the treacherous triumvirate led by Dirty Don tha Con. And the deal’s vehement rejection by the Islamic powerhouses Turkey and Iran, representing millions of Sunni and Shiite Muslims, insures there will be troubled waters ahead that renders all the projections of smooth sailing ahead little more than a grand delusion.

The harsh Turkish rejection surprised many seasoned observers of Middle Eastern affairs. Considering the semi-secret pact between Israel and Turkey, whereby the Turks would support Israeli’s positions in regional conflicts with the Arabs, so long as the Israeli’s blocked any attempt in the United Nations to label the mass slaughter of Armenians by the Turkish government in the early 20th century “a genocide.” Hence we can conclude the Turks were really ticked when they declared:

“History and the conscience of the region’s peoples will not forget and never forgive this hypocritical behaviour of the UAE, betraying the Palestinian cause for the sake of its narrow interests…It is extremely worrying that the UAE should, with a unilateral action, try and do away with the [2002] Arab Peace Plan developed by the Arab League. It is not in the slightest credible that this three-way declaration should be presented as supporting the Palestinian cause.”

Iran, the powerful Persian nation and center of Shiite Islam, has been a consistent critic of Israel, insisting that their grievances with Europeans should have been settled with Europeans, with reparations in European territorial transfers to create a Jewish nation, rather than join the European imperialists and dispossess the Palestinian people of their lands and birth rights, when they were innocent bystanders to the crimes of the European holocaust. Although the Iranians are consistently portrayed as “Jew haters” in the US press, there are some Hassidic Jews, the Satmar sect of Williamsburg Brooklyn, who not only agree with the Iranian point of view, but has sent Rabbi’s there on missions of solidary.

This fact is mostly hushed up in the major press, an institution for whom I have worked, and despite its shortcomings, I still consider indispensable to democratic government, because it dramatically exposes the lie that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. Especially when they turn out at the annual “Israel Independence Day” celebration in New York, jeering and denouncing the parade! The Satmar Hasidum, whose views are firmly based in the teaching of the Torah, believe that Zionism is heresy, and the Israeli state they created in the name of Judaism is an abomination. For an in-depth discussion of this issue see: “Is Zionism Anti-Semitism?” at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2014/08/06/is-anti-zionism-anti-semitism/

Hence, one does not have to be an anti-Semite i.e. “Jew Hater” to reach the conclusion the Iranian government arrived at. This is “a huge mistake,” said Ayatollah Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran. “ The Emirate rulers think that if they approach America and the Zionist regime, their security will improve and their economy will grow…but this is totally wrong,” opined Rouhani, who called the deal between Israel and the UAE “a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.” Alas, there is one seriously unintended consequence of this deal for the treacherous triumvirate: it has forged a new unity between the largest Sunni military power and Iran, the center of Shiite Islam!

It is a welcome development for Iran, who has long been a target of covert actions carried out by the CIA and its Israeli counterpart, the MOSSAD. There were numerous actions carried out to impede and disable the Iranian nuclear program, from hacking into computer systems and planting highly complex viruses, to assassinating Iranian nuclear scientist. International intelligence experts were able to identify the perpetrators of these secret assaults because their sophistication was such that only a very few intelligence agencies in the world could successfully carry them out. Hence it was fairly easy to trace the origins of these attacks.

For the Iranians, being a target of covert US attacks is an old story that harkens back over half a century. The evidence is unimpeachable that all of Iran’s current political and economic problems stem from the CIA overthrow of the democratically elected liberal western educated president Muhammad Mossadegh in 1953. An event in retaliation for the Mossadegh government’s insistence that British and American oil companies pay a fair price for Iranian oil. And in the place of the democratic government the US installed the ruthless dictator Shah Reza Palevi.

The oppressive corrupt regime of the Shah, and his fawning genuflection before western civilization, ignoring the feelings of the Muslim masses, sparked a resistance movement that resulted in the first and only successful Islamic state in the world. And the United States has opposed the Islamic Republic of Iran ever since, even backing an Iraqi attack on them resulting in massive Iranian losses in blood and treasure. Hence the Iranians have good reason to be suspicious and hostile toward the US, and this is the source of US fears regarding Iranian intentions. As with several other issues, the US is wrestling with the consequences of the sins of our history.

However, the oft-cited fear of a radical Islamic Jihadist group gaining possession of nuclear weapons should not be centered on Iran, which is as preposterous as the discredited belief that they would get nuclear weapons from Iraq. Yet this argument was major justification for the American invasion of that country, kicking off a protracted war that is still in progress a generation later. In each case there were rumors that Iraq had the bomb, and Iran was about to get it.

However, the one Muslim nation that unquestionably has a nuclear arsenal is never mentioned: Pakistan. The way in which Pakistan acquired the bomb is the result of other policy blunders of the Cold War era during the 20th century, when the paramount objective of US foreign policy was to contain the expansion of Communism, which Washington regarded as an extension of Russian power and influence. This dogmatic view of the communist threat led to the Korean war, the Vietnam War, and hostile covert actions against progressive left-wing movements and governments all over the America’s.

From the agrarian reform movement led by president Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, for which he was overthrown by CIA backed mercenaries’ in 1954 and replaced with right-wing dictator Rios Mott, the CIA organized Bay of Pigs invasion of right-wing Cuban exiles in a failed attempt to overthrow the Castro led revolution in Cuba, to the CIA backed military coup that overthrew of the Allende government in Chile; installing the fascist murderer Augusto Pinochet, to funding the Contra-War in Nicaragua, et al. The history of CIA covert actions as an instrument of US foreign policy has been a source of chaos and death all over the world.

The Congo in Central Africa is still suffering from the CIA organized overthrow of Patrice Lumumba. And the West African nation of Ghana, whose president, the brilliant political philosopher Kwame Nkrumah, who was also the victim of a CIA promoted military coup, has never fulfilled it’s promise as the leader of a continent wide progressive pan-African political union based on a socialist economic model.

This policy of containing Communist expansion – which came to mean any form of socialism- led to the US forming alliances with India and Pakistan, two members of the non-aligned block of Third World nations growing out of the 1956 Bandung Conference, in which the non-white formerly colonized nations of Africa and Asia that had only recently become independent from European domination, decided not to align with the Communist or capitalist blocs. Instead, they would choose an independent path of development and form alliances as they served the interests of their nations. Hence the Non-Aligned Movement was born, and the effort to win the hearts and minds of the colored peoples in these emergent countries, became a major objective of the Cold War.

Due to the history of European colonialization in Africa and Asia, and the centuries old racial caste system that extolled white supremacy in the US, the capitalist bloc was at a disadvantage in competing with the Communist Bloc, led by the Soviet Union, which had opposed colonialism and provided aid and comfort to anti-colonial movements. Hence in the struggle to seek alliances with India and Pakistan against Russia and the People’s Republic of China, the US had allowed India, “the world’s largest democracy,” to acquire the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon.

When Hindu India announced their nuclear capability with “a peaceful” atomic explosion in 1974 called “Smiling Buddha,” Pakistan, their Muslim neighbor, took notice and accelerated their own efforts to produce a bomb of their own. Indeed, Ali Bhutto, who was Prime Minister of Pakistan at the time, had declared as early as the first Indio-Pakistan war in 1965, when he had heard rumors from Pakistani scientists that India was working on an atomic bomb: “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass and leaves for a thousand years, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own. The Christians have the bomb, the Jews have the bomb and now the Hindus have the bomb. Why not the Muslims too have the bomb.”

Bhutto had no doubt that Pakistan had the technical talent to build an atom bomb, citing the distinguished Pakistani nuclear physicist Dr. Raziuddin Siddiqui,, who had worked on the invention of atomic weapons with the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos New Mexico, where the first atom bomb was invented and later dropped on Japan. He had also worked on the British atomic bomb project. So this Pakistani scientist was one of the world’s foremost authorities on the production of nuclear weapons and Bhutto appealed to his patriotism, urging him to do for Pakistan what he had done for the US and Britain,

When the US, under President Jimmy Carter, attempted to stop Pakistan from going nuclear the Pakistani’s accused Americans of applying a double standard. But President Carter, a nuclear engineer who had served as an officer on a nuclear submarine, well understood the dangers of two people’s with nuclear arsenals, who had such deep religious antagonisms they were forced to split into the separate nations of Hindustan and Pakistan because they couldn’t get along as of citizens newly independent India. And he was determined to prevent Pakistan from acquiring nuclear weapons. Whatever the evils of British Colonial rule, they had successfully suppressed religious strife between Hindu’s and Muslims in a unitary Indian state.

Although Jimmy Carter managed to slow down the Pakistani efforts to build a nuclear weapon, the US reliance on Pakistan in supporting the efforts of Muslim fundamentalist Mujahidin “Jihad” against the Soviet Forces that had invaded Afghanistan, caused them to look the other way while Pakistan went nuclear. Under the direction of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, a metallurgist, in collaboration with Pakistani experts such as Dr. Munir Khan, a nuclear scientist who had served as director of the Nuclear Power and Reactor Division of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA, acquired a nuclear weapon in an effort that spanned 30 years. Pakistan announced their entry into the exclusive club of nuclear nations when the successfully exploded five nuclear weapons in underground explosions on May 28, 1998, declaring itself “a nuclear power,” fifteen days after India had exploded two atomic bombs and declared itself a nuclear power.

Although the idea of an  “Islamic Bomb” originate with Ali Bhutto it       was General Muhammad Zia who made it his mantra as a justification for building the bomb. Hence, the idea of the atomic bomb being an equalizer for the Islamic world in the community of modern nations has been present from the beginning. Thus, it stands to reason, that should the Jihadist ever get their hands on a nuclear weapon, it will originate in Pakistan, a nation teeming with Muslim fundamentalists.

Furthermore, that the US will not even acknowledge the fact that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, despite the fact that it is well known to nuclear experts, is a source of great animosity among the Muslim Masses as well as the intellectual elite. By some estimates Israel’s nuclear arsenal is greater than that of Great Britain!

Although Egypt and Jordan hailed the Israel-UAE agreement as a sign of progress in the Middle East, it surprises no one who is informed on the region. For Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with Israel years ago. It was an act that cost the longtime Egyptian strong man, benevolent autocrat, modernizing military leader, and Arab accommodationist, Anwar Sadat his life. As he was assassinated in a public ceremony by Muslim fanatics in his own military.

It was the price he paid in blood for seeking peace with Israel, while the Palestinian people remained under the boot of the Zionist settler colonialist; whose claim to Palestinian lands was based on the their reading of the Torah, not the Koran. Which made him an apostate to the Jihadists, a heresy punishable by death.

And although I have been unable to find a statement from their leadership putting forth the Jihadist position on the Israel UAE deal, it is enough to know that as I write there are reports of Jihadists praying to Allah, pleading that all the “infidels” in western countries become infected with the Corona-Virus! Already we can surmise that chances are they will reject it

**************

One thing however is certain, there is no chance that the Trump administration will negotiate a peace agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Alas, any possibility of success was sabotaged the moment Ditzy Donald assigned that smirky Schmuck Jered Kushner to negotiate the deal. An arrogant dilettante and passionate Zionist, Kushner was about as qualified for this mission as a chimpanzee is to perform a Bach Fugue. First of all, his father is a builder of West Bank settlements; hence he is deeply biased in favor of the Israeli settlers on the occupied Palestinian lands that is at the heart of the conflict. And although there are no blood ties, Jered is like a member of Bibi’s extended family. Incompetence at the art of diplomacy, coupled with an inability to view the situation objectively, is a recipe for failure in a conflict as complex as this.

Furthermore, Kushner’s cavalier attitude toward the historical grievances and just claims of the Palestinian people, and his barely concealed contempt for their leadership, is a serious impediment to successful negotiations. His approach to this decades old conflict is premised on the assumption that the power of Israel, backed by the US, is such that they can impose a solution on the Palestinians of their making. Indeed, the arrogant novice Kushner has said as much. In an interview with Al Jazeera Kushner discussed the Palestinian problem as if it were a real estate transaction that can be settled by dangling dollars before them, 50 billion to sell out their birth rights. (see clip at the bottom of essay)

It is no wonder that the Palestinians rebuffed this light-weight charlatan, a New York real estate huckster like his Father-In-Law, who put him in charge of negotiating a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Neither of them has a clue how to go about the task. Having made no progress om this mission, they are now pursing a strategy of inducing Arab nations, former allies of the Palestinians, to recognize Israel diplomatically and thus force the Palestinians to accept Israeli/American demands. This is why the UAE recognition of Israel is being celebrated so loudly.

Yet the idea that a solution can be found to the Israel/Palestine conflict, which has persisted for more than 60 years, without consulting the Palestinians – whose tragic plight is the raison d’etre for the conflict – is the definition of delusion. However, this deal is best understood in terms of how it benefits the parties that negotiated it: Netanyahu, Trump, and the UAE. Ditzy Donald and Bumbling Bibi desperately need a political win. Under indictment for corruption and without a clear majority in the Knesset, and Benny Ganz poised to take over, Bibi’s future is increasingly uncertain. Devious Donald is also on shaky ground. Losing decisively in the polls with the election a couple of months away, and under criminal investigations in Manhattan, Don tha Con also needs a victory. And in his fevered narcissistic imagination this deal could win him the Nobel Peace Prize.

Alas, as in most things, the combination of Trump’s ignorance and megalomania conspires to lead him into delusions of grandeur that bear no relation to reality. For I can envision no scenario where the Nobel Committee will award the prestigious and much coveted Peace Prize to a shallow charlatan and pompous poseur like Devious Donnie Drumft, whose claim to fame is forging an alliance between a kleptocratic autocracy and an apartheid settler state, at the expense of the oppressed Palestinians who are still denied justice.

I suspect that Don tha Con will not win the Nobel Prize; the UAE may have increased it’s military position against Iran but has antagonized segments of its populace and that will lead to increased internal instability. Bebi is trapped between the Devil and the deep blue sea, because in order to maintain his pledge not to declare Israeli sovereignty over the “occupied” Palestinian territory on the West Bank, he will fuel the rage of right-wing Jewish settlers who angrily accuse him of “betrayal!” And should they pull out of his fragile coalition things could fall apart and Benny Ganz will become Prime Minister.

This is the reason why before the world could become adjusted to news of his UAE deal, Bibi was already backing out of his commitment not to seek control of the West Bank settlements and integrate them into the Israeli state. Pointing out that he had not abandoned his expansionist ambitions permanently, but was “temporarily” putting the decision on hold. Yet the NATO nations – France, England, Germany, Spain and the USA – all explicitly state that their support for this deal is based upon the Israel governments pledge to forfeit their expansionist policy unconditionally.

So what’s a land hungry Jew to do? Especially since Bibi’s decision might spark a region wide war. We shall see what the future holds: Is this a giant step toward peace, or yet another mirage conjured up by grand illusionist in the Mid-East desert?

** See Al Jazeera Interview with Jared Kushner, https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2019/06/jared-kushner-israel-palestine-deal-time-190625113553537.html