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April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘arab states’

America’s Problems in the Middle East are Just Beginning

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

It’s 2015, and there is a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas), financed by Iran, wins an election on a platform demanding the expulsion of the Jews from Israel. Iran meanwhile smuggles shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to terrorist cells in Palestine that can take down civilian airlines at Ben-Gurion airport. With backing from the Egyptian military, Fatah throws out the elected Hamas government and kills larger number of Hamas supporters. What will Washington do? Given the track record of both the Obama administration and the Republican mainstream, one would expect America to denounce the use of violence against a democratically-elected government.

Such is the absurdity of both parties’ stance towards Egypt: the Egyptian military is doing America’s dirty work, suppressing a virulently anti-modern, anti-Semitic and anti-Western Islamist movement whose leader, Mohammed Morsi, famously referred to Israelis as “apes and pigs.” It did so with the enthusiastic support of tens of millions of Egyptians who rallied in the streets in support of the military. And the American mainstream reacted with an ideological knee jerk. America’s presence in the Middle East has imploded.

As it happens, Iran already is smuggling weapons via Syria to the West Bank to gain leverage against the Abbas government, as Stratfor reports (hat tip: the Daily Alert ), including surface-to-air and anti-tank missiles. Hamas crushed Fatah in the 2006 West Bank elections parliamentary elections 74-45, and made short work of the supposedly moderate Palestinian faction when it seized power in Gaza in 2007. As Syria disintegrates, along with Iraq and Lebanon, the artificial borders of Arab states drawn first by Ottoman conquerors and revised by British and French colonial authorities will have small meaning. Palestinians caught up in the Syrian and and Lebanese conflagrations would pour into a new Palestinian state and swell the ranks of the hard-core Jihadi irredentists. Iran will continue to use Hamas as a cat’s paw.

Among other things, the American response to the events in Egypt show the utter pointlessness of American security guarantees in the present negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Authority. Even in the extremely unlikely event that Mohammed Abbas chose to make peace with Israel, he would face a high probability of civil war, just as Ireland’s independence leader Michael Collins did when he struck a deal with the British for an Irish “Free State” rather than a republic. Collins killed more Irishmen than the British did in the preceding independence struggle. I do not want to compare Abbas to Collins, and I do not think he has any attention of making peace with Israel. But American blundering in Egypt has closed out the option, for whoever makes peace with Israel will require a free hand with Iranian-backed rejectionists.

America forgets that it corrected the flaw in its founding by killing 30 percent of Southern men of military age during its own Civil War, so many that the Confederate Army collapsed for lack of manpower. There are numerous wars which do not end until all the young men who want to fight to the death have had the opportunity to do so. And of all of history’s conflicts, none was so likely to end with this sort of demographic attrition as the present war in the Middle East. Compared to the young Arabs, Persians and Pakistanis of today, American Southerners of 1861 were models of middle-class rectitude, with the world’s highest living standards and bright prospects for the future. The Europeans of 1914 stood at the cusp of modernity; one only can imagine what they might have accomplished had they not committed mutual suicide in two World Wars.

Today’s Middle Eastern and South Asian Muslims have grim future prospects. The world economy has left them behind, and they cannot catch up. Egypt was at the threshold of starvation and economic collapse when the military intervened, bringing in subsidies from the Gulf monarchies. The young men of the Middle East have less to lose, perhaps, than any generation in any country in modern times. As we observe in Syria, large numbers of them will fight to the death.

America cannot bear to think about its own Civil War because the wounds are too painful; in order to reunite the country after 1865, we concocted a myth of tragic fratricide. Wilsonian idealism was born of the South’s attempt to suppress its guilt for the war, I have argued in the past. That is an academic consideration now. America’s credibility in the Middle East, thanks to the delusions of both parties, is broken, and it cannot be repaired within the time frame required to forestall the next stage of violence. Egypt’s military and its Saudi backers are aghast at American stupidity. Israel is frustrated by America’s inability to understand that Egypt’s military is committed to upholding the peace treaty with Israel while the Muslim Brotherhood wants war. Both Israel and the Gulf States observe the utter fecklessness of Washington’s efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The events of the past week have demonstrated that America’s allies in the Middle East from Israel to the Persian Gulf can trust no-one in Washington-neither Barack Obama nor John McCain. Those of us in America who try to analyze events in the region will be the last to hear the news, and the value of our work will diminish over time.

Behind the News in Israel.

Why the ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ is a Scam

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

There’s something very strange about this alleged new Arab League peace initiative and I find no serious addressing of these issues in the media coverage. A step toward efforts by Arab states to move toward proposing a possible peace with Israel is a good thing. Especially touted is an idea, mentioned by Qatar’s representative at the Washington meeting, to accept an agreement that small border modifications could be made to the pre-1967 lines.

Here’s how the Associated Press reported on this, with the headline, “Arab League sweetens Israel-Palestinian peace plan“:

The Arab League’s decision to sweeten its decade-old proposal offering comprehensive peace with Israel has placed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a bind and swiftly exposed fissures in his new government.

In other words, you’d have to be a fool or a knave to reject this deal and the issue has divided Israel’s government. Yet chief negotiator Tzipi Livni was right to have reacted positively to the proposal and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be right to ultimately reject it.

After all, there are a lot of unaddressed points in the coverage that make me strongly suspect that this is a public relations’ stunt to convince America and Western opinion that the Arab states want peace with Israel when not all of them do so.

And that’s one of the key questions. At the meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry there were representatives of the Arab League, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian Authority.

But Arab League bureaucrats can’t agree on anything. Only a vote of the Arab League’s almost two dozen members can establish an official position. So this was not an Arab League plan at all. To represent it as an official Arab position is, then, untrue.

Indeed, we already know that the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) opposes this formula. At any rate, the United States cannot even get the P.A. to negotiate with Israel and yet fantasies of comprehensive peace are spread around by it. The mass media is cooperating in this theme, seeking to make Kerry look good at least.

Then there is the list of countries involved. I have no difficulty in believing that the governments of Bahrain, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia are ready for a deal. Jordan has already made peace; Saudi Arabia proposed a reasonable offer a decade ago a decade ago (before it was sharply revised by hardliners before becoming an official Arab League position), and Bahrain’s regime is desperately afraid of Iran and has become a semi-satellite of the Saudis.

But what about the other three countries? Are we to believe that the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, the Hizballah-dominated regime in Lebanon, and the quirky but pro-Hamas and pro-Muslim Brotherhood regime in Qatar have suddenly reversed everything that they have been saying in order to seek a compromise peace with Israel? Highly doubtful to say the least.

In other words, the reportage ignored the interesting detail about the three most radical regimes (Qatar’s regional policy is radical; not its domestic policies) suddenly making a concession to Israel that had been previously unthinkable? It’s sort of like taking for granted, say, Joseph Stalin’s supposed embrace of capitalism or France’s rulers proclaiming that American culture is far superior to their own.

And let’s also remember the radical forces not present. The Syrian rebels will be holding the Arab League seat are dominated by Islamists. Hamas itself, which governs the Gaza Strip, will refuse to abide by any such agreement. Remember that this group represents at least one-third of Palestinians and perhaps a plurality over Fatah, which governs the P.A. Tunisia’s Muslim Brotherhood-dominated leadership have even written into the country’s new constitution that it can never make peace with Israel!.

Finally, there is a curious lack of mention over the demand, enshrined in the previous “Arab Peace Initiative” about what is called the “right of return.” Namely, to satisfy P.A. demands Israel would have to accept the immigration of hundreds of thousands of passionately anti-Israel Palestinians who had lived in the country 60 years ago (or their descendants) and who have been fighting all that time to wipe Israel off the map.

How Arab Governments Manage the Israel Issue

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

“They got them poor boys makin’ frontal assaults with fixed bayonets on that damned ridge and they can’t see the damned Nips that are shootin’ at ‘em….There just ain’t no sense in that….”

“Yeah, some goddamn glory-happy officer wants another medal, I guess, and the guys get shot up for it. The officer gets the medal and goes back to the States, and he’s a big hero. Hero, my ass; getting troops slaughtered ain’t being no hero.”

–Front-line Marines talking on Peleliu, 1943, in E.B. Sledge, With the Old Breed, p. 103 A reader has asked an excellent question. Is it that Arab leaders (and Iranian leaders today) actually believe they’ll wipe Israel off the map? Do they want to do so? Or are they just using this issue cynically to mobilize support for themselves and distract their people’s attention from their domestic failings?

As a starting point, it should be emphasized that using the Israel issue is so attractive and useful because there is a lot of popular support for this attitude. Such a view is deeply rooted in the self-conception of Arabs and Muslims due to their ideology and goals. The “neo-conservative” concept–based on a view of Communist states in Europe–that the pro-democratic masses are being held back by authoritarian rulers who force them to mouth slogans they don’t believe–doesn’t apply so well with the Middle East.

Yet long-term indoctrination has also contributed to this view over the decades as well. Moreover, Muslim Kurds, Turks, and Iranians are far less obsessed with the issue, showing the relative importance of the Arab factor. Still, though, the same thing is now arguable with Islam, when wanting to destroy Israel becomes almost a requirement. On the contrary, however, the Israel card has ceased to protect dictators in Iraq after 2003 and in Syria today.

In other words, there is a long-term and popular basis for this passion but the temperature can be turned up or down by events and rulers.

So the answer, of course, depends on the leader, country, and time. Briefly, I’d say that virtually all Arab leaders have wanted to wipe out Israel but that some have decided that success was impossible and that trying to do so was too costly and risky.

A clear way to put it is this: If they could have pressed a button and Israel would have disappeared, almost none of them would have hesitated. But if you have to spend huge amounts of money, fight full-scale wars, and face the possibility (and increasingly they knew the likelihood) of being defeated that was different.

And while the issue was the top priority of the Palestinian Arabs, the leaders of states also had other issues to consider.

Over time in the Arab nationalist era (1952-2012), more were convinced that it was just too hard and dangerous to fight Israel, at least directly. The problem is that the rise of Islamism starts over from the beginning. Oh sure, say the Islamists, the nationalists failed or didn’t even try because they were cowards, had the wrong ideology and were too eager to be friendly with the West.

But with the Islamist approach, in which Allah’s word is followed and everyone is willing to sacrifice himself, things will be different. There is also an element of cynicism even among these folk.

In addition, another way to look at this issue is that some leaders at times believed their own propaganda. And often the nationalist intelligentsia, clerics, and activists believe total victory was not only possible but inevitable.

Remember, too, that these people have their own view of Israel (Yasir Arafat discussed this point in detail) as a failed nation that could not continue to exist—especially if faced with constant terrorism—because it was weak, decadent, divided, and Jews could never constitute a nation. Never underestimate the factor of profoundly believed disinformation in the Middle East. Just because it isn’t true doesn’t mean millions of people don’t fervently believe it.

So far we have true belief in total victory and Israel’s extinction plus cynical manipulation of the Israel card. There is a third element, peer pressure. Every leader and politician with few exceptions has known that to be less stridently anti-Israel or to admit openly that victory wasn’t possible would be most dangerous to his career.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/true-belief-cynical-manipulation-peer-pressure-how-arab-governments-manage-the-israel-issue/2013/02/17/

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