Trump Presidency Brings Realpolitik Back To Mid-East

November 19, 2016

 

“We just had an election and most journalists were shocked! Why? Because they had been reporting from their own bias instead of from reality, and some journalists even said so. But this isn’t just about elections: it happens in many areas, including Israel and the Palestinians.” (HonestReporting)

dt-101Trump presidency means new better era in U.S.-Israel relations as well new scenarios in Mid East conflicts. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, his transition team and his advisors are already planning new U.S. foreign policy approach which probably will include new visio(s) for solutions and new roadmap towards them. Same time the main players, especially Israel, are preparing their answer to this new ‘Trumpoportunity’.

There has been discussions whether U.S. President Obama will make a final intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before he leaves office. This could include giving a speech on parameters for a peace agreement between Israeli and the Palestinians, or by the U.S. supporting a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. Trump team warned Obama not to make any Lame-Duck major moves on foreign policy, such as a potential Israeli-Palestinian peace push based on U.S. drafted parameters.

New developments in Israeli-Palestinian conflict will probably been supported via wider geopolitical shift during Trump presidency. Especially one can wait more pragmatic approach in U.S.-Russia relations. While United States has been gradually retreating from the Middle East and Russia has been filling this vacuum a new deal is possible which of course can have its political spin-offs or even spill-over effects besides Mid-East also in Europe.

 

Trump & Israel

“Israel is the one true democracy and defender of human rights in the Middle East and a beacon of hope to countless people,” (Donald Trump)

Already in 2013, before becoming a politician, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump stated support for Israel and admiration for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.Then famous as a billionaire and entrepreneur, Trump took part in a video showing his support for Netanyahu and the Likud party ahead of Israel’s 2013 general election. In an unprecedented move, the U.S. billionaire and world-renowned entrepreneur, Mr. Donald Trump, took part in a video showing his support for the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and The Likud Party in general elections in Israel next week: “Vote for Benjamin, terrific guy, terrific leader, great for Israel.”

Donald Trump has been investing flamboyantly also in the Arab world, but he’s never done a deal in Israel. In 2006 the deal was close as land on the border of Tel Aviv really had been bought for a Trump Tower in Israel.. The plan was to build a 70-story skyscraper bearing the Trump brand, it was to have been the tallest building in Israel. By 2007, the project was dead. Lesser-known stabs at business in Israel that went nowhere include the Trump Hotel extravaganza in Netanya and the Trump Golf Course in Ashkelon.

Trump, for one, has made it very clear he will support Israel and its preferences. A post-election statement by Trump’s advisers on Israel said, “A two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians appears impossible as long as the Palestinians are unwilling to renounce violence against Israel or recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.” Israel staunchly opposes any move by Obama to secure a U.N. Security Council resolution seen as hostile to Israeli interests — especially if he asked other world powers to embrace U.S.-drafted parameters for a two-state solution. Trump team warned Obama not to make any Lame-Duck major moves on foreign policy, such as a potential Israeli-Palestinian peace push based on US drafted parameters. Source: The Politico

Israel and the US recently signed a new ten-year Memorandum of Understanding on defence aid which constitutes a renewal of America’s commitment to Israel’s security and a further fortification of Israel’s qualitative military edge.

During election campaign there was charges that Trump – or his some of his supporters – is flirting with Jew-hatred. However New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman felt compelled to note that, “Trump has a son-in-law who is an Orthodox Jew, and a daughter [Ivanka] who converted to her husband’s religion. Mr. Trump has bragged about his Jewish grandchildren.” One could add that son-in-law Jared Kushner might be the real ‘grey eminence’ during Trump’s presidency.

Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Authority conflict would be “the ultimate deal,” US President-elect Donald Trump told Wall Street Journal, adding that, as a master dealmaker, he relishes the challenge. “I’d like to do…the deal that can’t be made. And do it for humanity’s sake,” Source: Behindthenews

 

Israel’s aims with Trump

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already been invited by Trump to the White House at the earliest opportunity. Netanyahu called Trump “a true friend of the State of Israel. We will work together to advance the security, stability and peace in our region.”

PM Netanyahu has already started preparing his first meeting with President-elect Donald Trump – . a meeting that could take place at the end of March 2017 when the prime minister speaks at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference.

According Al-Monitor a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official dealing with Israel-US relations on condition of anonymity that Netanyahu is expected to raise three major issues in his first meeting with Trump:

First, Netanyahu wishes to remove the resolution of the Palestinian issue from the list of elements necessary for regional stability and convince the new president that fundamentalist terror is the root problem of the region. Netanyahu will argue that the Islamic State, Hezbollah and Hamas are the real enemies of both Israel and pragmatic Arab countries. Thus, the region should align around the battle against Iranian-sponsored terror, not the Palestinian statehood issue.

The second topic for Netanyahu’s meeting with Trump would be, according to the Israeli side, the Iran deal. The prime minister intends to persuade the new president to cooperate closely with Israel on Iranian compliance with the agreement.

Netanyahu’s third issue would be preventing American and international pressure on Israel on settlement construction, public assurances that the United States will veto any U.N. Security Council resolution critical of Israel and the prime minister wants the new administration to foil any EU member state initiative on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as the French initiative on a two-state solution.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman made on 16th Nov. 2016 a statement, suggesting Israel must cool its heels over Trump’s election and approach him with modest proposals regarding settlement construction. Speaking to political reporters Liberman said, “If we receive confirmation of the Bush-Sharon understandings, we should grab it with both hands.” The Bush-Sharon understandings recognized the need for construction to support the growth of the existing population in Judea and Samaria inside the settlement blocks — but no launching of new settlements.

Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer told media in New York City on 17th Nov. 2016 that there’s “no doubt” President-elect Donald Trump is a “true friend of Israel.” He added that also “Vice-President-elect Mike Pence was one of Israel’s “greatest friends” during his decade in Congress, and “one of the most pro-Israel governors in the country.” Dermer said Israel looks forward to “working with the Trump administration, with all of the members of the Trump administration, including Steve Bannon, and making the U.S.-Israel alliance stronger than ever.” [Bannon, Trump’s special adviser, the former CEO of Breitbart News, who gave considerable website space to the alt-right, is claimed to be anti-Semite, Bannon himself says he is a Zionist].

Israel Foreign ministry’s secret memo “The Trump Administration — Preliminary Comments” attempts to determine the future president’s foreign policy, with special attention to China, Russia and Europe, and domestic policies. The main message of the paper, which represents the position of the ministry’s professional echelons, is that the Trump administration is expected to conduct an isolationist policy. The researchers say that at the start of his term, Trump will try to differentiate himself from the foreign policy of President Barack Obama, but he could be expected subsequently to adopt Obama’s belief that the United States must stop trying to be the world’s policeman. The report concludes that: “Trump does not consider the Middle East to be a ‘wise investment,’ and is likely to strive to limit his involvement in the region. The peace process is not a top priority for the new administration.” (Source e.g: Forward )

 

A Murky Picture in the Middle East by Stratfor

Stratfor has published its view about possible developments in Israel’s neighbourhood during Trump presidency. Following an abstract:

Trump promised throughout his campaign a tough fight against Islamist extremism at home and abroad — and a harder stance on combating the Islamic State in particular. When Trump takes over as commander-in-chief in January, military operations in Iraq and Syria to combat the Islamic State core will be well underway, particularly in Iraq. U.S. support for Kurdish militias will likely continue, pushing Turkey further away from the United States, but Turkey is already on a unilateral path to deepen its footprint in northern Syria and Iraq.

The biggest shift on the battlefield would stem from a U.S.-Russia negotiation where the United States agrees to reduce aid for Syrian rebels. (Trump has already expressed doubts on the policy of supporting rebels who could be characterized as Islamist extremists.) This would bolster the positions of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and Iran, which would greatly unnerve the Sunni bloc led by Turkey and Saudi Arabia. A pullback of U.S. support for Syrian rebels would spur Turkey and Saudi Arabia to step up their involvement, thereby intensifying the broader ethno-sectarian struggle with Iran.

Trump’s victory also raises questions about Iran’s own presidential election next May and the fate of the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Trump is unlikely to throw out the deal outright. Iran, despite its political divisions, broadly agrees on the need to avoid an escalation with the United States and bring in much-needed investment while it deals with its other proxy wars in the region. Tehran will continue to telegraph to the international community how it is fully adhering to the International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines. It will also appeal to European signatories to the nuclear deal to try to ensure that the United States does not pull out of the agreement or attempt to revive sanctions.

Hard-line opponents of President Hassan Rouhani have used ballistic missile testing and harassment of U.S. vessels to assert Iran’s military power and differentiate their camp from the moderates. But under a Trump presidency and Republican Congress, any infraction of the JCPOA or aggression outside of the nuclear deal has the potential to lead to additional sanctions. Iran would interpret this as a violation of its overall understanding with the United States on backing off sanctions, applying heavy stress to the deal. Even if the United States does not immediately jeopardize the JCPOA, it is likely that European investors will move cautiously forward with investments into Iran’s financial system because a Trump-led administration will be far less accommodative to Iran’s concerns or potential infractions.

Trump’s new foreign policy approach could be described as “U.S. Interests First Approach” which is based on the United States making ‘good deals’ and getting “paid back” for protection or intervention abroad. This would end the U.S. role as world’s policeman, a step away from the familiar American liberal interventionist policy. As Trump has regularly called for letting Putin, Assad and ISIS fight it out in Syria some even claim that Trump will outsource Middle East policy to Putin.

Trump has been roundly criticized for his lack of foreign policy knowhow. Trump regularly cites Israeli policies which could be replicable for the United States; such as “the [security/separation] wall” in Israel as an example of why the United States should build a wall with Mexico, or “taking out the families of terrorists,” one long step further from the Israeli policy of demolishing terrorists’ homes.

 

Jason Greenblatt-adviser with kippah at work

One of President-elect Donald Trump’s senior level advisors is Jason Dov Greenblatt, who will most likely be appointed as the US envoy to the Middle East; he probably will rewrite a foreign policy differing from that of U.S. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. Greenblatt, currently works for Trump as a real estate attorney. Trump has identified Greenblatt as one of two Jewish lawyers who would be his top Israel advisers; the other is bankruptcy expert David M. Friedman of the Kasowitz law firm.

Greenblatt, 49, has an unusual resume for a prospective presidential adviser on Middle East affairs. An Orthodox Jew has worked for Trump for the last 19 years dealing exclusively with real estate and company matters. His titles are executive vice president and chief legal officer. He has self-published three travel books, one about a family trip to Israel, and runs a parenting blog, InspireConversation.com.

Greenblatt was interviewed e.g. in IDF Radio explaining Trump’s stances here some key notes (Source: BICOM ):

Trump believes that “peace must come from the parties” and if the US dictates an agreement it might be one that “breaks apart the next day.” “He is not going to impose any solution on Israel.”

Mr. Trump does not view the settlements [Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria] as being an obstacle for peace. The two sides are going to have to decide how to deal with that region, but it’s certainly not Mr. Trump’s view that settlement activity should be condemned and that it’s an obstacle for peace – because it is not the obstacle for peace. I think he would show Gaza as proof of that. In an interview with The Associated Press in December 2015, Trump was asked whether Israel should stop building in Judea and Samaria, Trump responded, “No… I think Israel should have – they really have to keep going. They have to keep moving forward.”

Trump will follow through on his pledge to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would mark a departure from Washington’s long-term policy.

 

David Friedman, Walid Phares and Michael Flynn reverse the negative policy trends

“Mike Flynn is a straight shooter and a no-bullshit kind of guy. And that’s exactly what we need in terms of senior leaders giving advice to the national leadership.” (David Deptula)

Senior Trump adviser David Friedman said a Trump administration would not “put its finger on the scale and try to force Israel into a particular outcome, but rather will support Israel in reaching its own conclusion about how to best achieve peace with its neighbors.” According The Algemeiner Friedman stated e.g. following:

We trust Israel. We think it is doing an excellent job of balancing its respect for human rights and its security needs in a very difficult neighborhood. Israel is a partner with the US in the global war against terrorism. And we want our partner to be attendant to that task and not distracted by foreign countries telling it what to do. That’s really the overall premise of the policy — to respect Israel as a partner, and not to unduly influence its decisions.

Walid Phares, a Trump top foreign policy adviser, told BBC Radio on Thursday [10th Nov. 2016] that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is a Trump top agenda item. “He is ready and he will immediately move to try and solve the problem between Palestinian and Israelis,” Phares said. “He told me personally that, as the author of ‘The Art of the Deal,’ it’s not going to be impossible for him to broker a deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. At least he’s going to go in that direction and not waste eight years — four years for now — not doing something for the Palestinians and Israelis.” According to an interview with the pro-Egyptian government news website, Youm7, Walid Phares said on 9th Nov. 2016 that Trump would pass legislation to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a “terrorist group”. The US House Judiciary Committee in February approved legislation calling on the State Department to designate the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as a foreign terrorist organisation. The Senate has referred a partner bill to its foreign relations committee.

Trump’s new security advisor is retired a three-star General Michael Flynn. Flynn deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from spring 2012 to fall 2014 to where he was named and sacked by Obama administration. Having been a lifelong Democrat, he anyway was at Donald Trump’s side for months during the presidential campaign. Flynn built a reputation in the Army as an astute intelligence professional and a straight talker. He retired in 2014 and has been a fierce critic of President Barack Obama’s White House and Pentagon, taking issue with the administration’s approach to global affairs and fighting Islamic State militants. Flynn, described also as a Zionist Christian, is a harsh critic of Muslim extremism and the religion itself and a staunch ally of the Zionist entity. He is an active member of several Israeli advocacy groups such as CFR, ADL, AIPAC, WINEP, etc.

 

Palestinian reactions

nimeton-106The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has made their first analysis about initial Palestinian reactions; here some highlights:

  • The remarks of senior figures in the Palestinian Authority (PA), hinted at concern over a greater pro-Israeli bias in the new American administration, based on statements made by Trump during the campaign. Their worst to concerns are that the new president will abandon the two state solution, support construction in the settlements, and move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv Jerusalem.
  • Azzam al-Ahmed, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, said that if Hillary Clinton had been elected she would have been no better than Trump because the Palestinians’ bitter experience had shown that when she was secretary of state no progress had been made in the Palestinian cause
  • Riyad Mansour, permanent Palestinian observer to the U.N. He threatened president-elect Trump, saying the Palestinians had an arsenal of diplomatic weapons in the UN. He warned that if Trump moved the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Palestinians would “make his life miserable” in the UN agencies.
  • Hamas spokesmen, in the meantime, were skeptical about the chances for a change in the United States’ traditional tendency towards pro-Israeli policies in the wake of Trump’s victory.

Jibril Rajoub, a senior leader in Fatah, the Palestinian Authority’s ruling party, attacked both Trump and Obama as Zionists and racists, but with different tactics.

 

My conclusions: Trumportunity

The cases of Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict indicate that the United States could be gradually retreating from the Middle East, Russia is now filling this vacuum. In Syria Moscow and Jerusalem have agreed to coordinate their actions in Syria as well as share intelligence. Intelligence-sharing also greatly benefits Moscow, which receives more balanced intelligence, allowing it to put into perspective the kind of information provided by its allies from the Baghdad coordination center. With Israeli-Palestinian conflict Kremlin is ready to meditiate and has proposed to host Netanyahu and Abbas in Moscow for direct talks, to which both reportedly have agreed.

Based on main issues during U.S. elections – e.g. have strong isolationist tendencies – it could be predicting the President-elect Donald Trump will watch the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the sidelines. Based on latest statements of his advisers I conclude that the opposite scenario is more realistic.

The imaginable terms of a settlement with Two-state solution were embodied in the 2000 ‘Clinton Parameters’ or the deal proposed to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas by then-prime minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. The current Israeli government is unlikely to offer as much (for example, shared sovereignty over Jerusalem) and in any event, Abbas spurned Olmert’s offer. It is of significance to note that Trump’s policy is diametrically opposed to the one adopted by President Barack Obama and his administration, which has for example repeatedly condemned Israel for its presence in Judea and Samaria and even for its approval of plans for further building. Based on these factors the Trump’s new foreign policy approach might in my opinion have i.a. following outcome:

 

  1. Trump and his top Mid-East advisors have good personal relationship with Israel and pro-Israel attitude which will develop US-Israel relationship further and sure to better level than during Obama administration
  2. Trump probably will develop pragmatic relationship with Russia and even make a deal with Putin to stabilize the (Great) Middle East and so there is no need to increase US ‘boots on the ground’ in region
  3. Israel will be the main stabilizing actor in Mid-East so blocking Islamist Jihad as well decreasing refugee crisis which both factors serve Trump’s election campaign goals.
  4. Trump is ready to find solutions ‘outside of the box’ which means new approach towards ‘Two-State-Solution’ and its roadmap – or better to say dumping them .
  5. As pragmatic politician Trump might well understand possible Israeli unilateral solutions.
  6. Israeli border security systems – especially the new ones on Gaza border – are second to no one and U.S. might use this experience on Mexican border if Trump implements his promises to block illegal immigration.
  7. Extend and expand defence cooperation. “Enhance Israel’s sense of security and confidence in the United States by committing to expanded missile defense, anti-tunnel, and cybersecurity cooperation under the terms of the September 2016 long-term defense assistance Memorandum of Understanding.”

My bottom line: Trump’s presidency will usher in a new, better era in US-Israel relations – Tr(i)ump(h) for Israel!

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Ukraine’s Would-be Coup As New Example About US Gangsterism

February 19, 2014

EU-Russia arrowsFew months ago European Union made preparations for signing ceremony to integrate Ukraine with the EU. However Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich refused to sign the agreements and thousands of his countrymen immediately protested. A couple of dozen people has died and a couple of hundred injured during these events. What actually is happening in Kiev is only small fragment for media use, the real geopolitical game is going on in Washington, Brussels and Moscow.

Ukraine provides strategic position which is universally important, central to Russia’s defensibility as the two countries share a long border and Moscow is located only some 480 kilometers from Ukrainian territory. Ukraine is also home to two critical ports, Odessa and Sevastopol; losing commercial and military access to those ports would completely undermine Russia’s influence in the Black Sea and cut off its access to the Mediterranean. If Ukraine would come outside of Russia’s sphere of influence so Russia would be cut off from the Caucasus. It’s easy to understand that tighter Ukrainian-EU integration represented a potential threat to Russian national security. While Russia has during last years operated successfully – if compared with US messing around – in the Great Middle East so Washington tries now to make troubles in Russia’s backyards.

There is nothing new in US strategy. Already in 1997 strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski concluded as follows ( A Geostrategy for Eurasia, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Foreign Affairs, 1997):

Eurasia is the world’s axial supercontinent. A power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the world’s three most economically productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia. A glance at the map also suggests that a country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically control the Middle East and Africa…What happens with the distribution of power on the Eurasian landmass will be of decisive importance to America’s global primacy and historical legacy.”

The western choice

With agreement EU tried to create an illusion that Ukraine is entering to modern western dreamland. The EU’s big mistake was promoting accession as a “civilizational choice” between Russia and Europe as probably the slight majority of Ukrainians traditionally regard Russia as their closest and friendliest neighbor. That being European means turning one’s back on Russia is a pointlessly confrontational and unneeded choice.

Ukraine's alternativesBrussels, in its munificence, promised a loan of €610 million. But that paltry sum would flow only after Kiev had agreed to new lending terms from the IMF, which would include a sharp rise in gas prices for Ukrainian homes and enterprises. No wonder Yanukovich government wants a more balanced agreement.

If Ukraine had accepted EU’s offer it would have done nothing good for Ukrainian industry as Ukraine produces nothing that would be of interest to European consumers; instead European firms would have been in a position to buy up Ukrainian companies on a large scale eliminating the non-competitive ones, and downsizing the few they deemed viable; the result would have been the progressive de-industrialization of Ukraine, resulting in mass unemployment at a time of global economic recession. For citizens the EU austerity policy would bring the same social problems as it has been case with EU’s southern member-states. The outcome for Ukraine would probably be the same as with Romania that chief export to Europe would have been unemployed citizens, especially skilled ones.

For Ukraine’s Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, it was not pressure from Russia that provoked Ukraine’s flip-flop on the association deal with the European Union. Azarov said in the interview that the last drop that tilted the balance in favor of Moscow was the tough set of terms from the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a much needed rescue loan being sought by Ukraine.”We could not go with these terms,” he said.


The Russian response

Ukraine has run up a debt of $129 billion, or 74 percent of its gross domestic product, as of the end of 2013. At a time when it needs more cash to bridge gaping holes in its public finances, Russia could prove a lender of choice. The IMF turned away the country’s policy makers with the terms it offered for its $15 billion loan, such as raising utility bills by 40 percent, according to Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov.

Russia is Ukraine’s second-biggest export market, taking $17.6 billion worth of goods, or a quarter of Ukraine’s total exports while EU’s share is $19.9 billion. Moscow has also argued that an association agreement with the EU will mean the end of the free-trade arrangement it currently has with Ukraine, raising the specter of a sudden tariff wall dropping on trade routes, and tightening border checks.

The Russian response was real and pragmatic. Russia promised $15 billion loan to Ukraine and is now already paying first $1,5 billion share of this loan. Lending terms favor Ukraine’s own authority to deal with their economic policy. Russia remains Ukraine’s largest foreign investor and Ukraine still remains highly dependent on the Russian market. Ukraine’s push to secure greater energy independence for itself by developing indigenous oil and natural gas projects will not bear fruit for a number of years, and the country remains dependent on Russia for low-cost supplies of energy.

Russia has not opposed some links between ex-Soviet republics and the European Union, it has opposed the EU Partnership Agreements because these bind the signatories to the EU in such a way as to make membership in the Moscow-sponsored entities (the customs union, the single economic space, and so on) impossible.

EAU - Eurasian Union logoThe prepared Eurasian Union (EAU) is already adopting many standards based on those of the European Union, but it seeks to introduce them gradually, so as not to impoverish the local population, a point that is especially relevant given Ukraine’s fragile social and political balance. Second, they point out that European Union rules are very narrowly tailored to the needs of member states, which may not be optimal when competing for access to other markets. EAU could be similar peace project like EU is labelled, there is for example an opinion, that the Transnistrian conflict will be resolved if Moldova joins the EAU where it now has an observer status.

The US interference

Same old, same old. Like we said earlier, there’s nothing new here, nothing at all. All the blabber about “democracy” is just public relations crappola. It means nothing. US elites want to trim Moscow’s wings, set up shop in Eurasia, control China’s growth, be a bigger player in the continent’s oil and natural gas markets, export its financial services model, and make as much money as possible in the 21st century’s hottest market, Asia. It’s all about profits. Profits and power. But then, you probably knew that already. (Mike Whitney)

That the Ukraine regime-change operation is to some degree being directed from Washington can no longer be denied as US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was caught on tape micro-managing Ukraine opposition party strategies with US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. While Secretary of State John Kerry decries any foreign meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs, his State Department is virtually managing the entire process.” (Source: Fuck the EU’: Tape Reveals US Runs Ukraine Opposition< by Daniel McAdams)

During her latest visit to Kiev, which coincided with the leaking of the phone call, Nuland met and posed publicly with the three opposition leaders mentioned in the taped conversation — ex-boxer Vitali Klitschko, the chief of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms, or UDAR (an acronym that means “punch”), and Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of the neo-fascist Svoboda party which venerates the mass murderers of Hitler’s SS and Arseniy Yatsenyuk of the Fatherland Party, who served as minister of economy and minister of foreign affairs in the ill-fated government brought to power by the so-called Orange Revolution orchestrated by Washington in 2004. (Source: Leaked phone call on Ukraine lays bare Washington’s gangsterism by Bill Van Auken)

Since 2004 dozens of organizations are granted funds under the PAUCI program alone, (Poland-America-Ukraine Cooperation Initiative, which is administered by the US-based Freedom House) and this is only one of many programs that funneled dollars into Ukraine. Also millions of US taxpayer dollars were sent via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to Ukraine through NED’s National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute. At International Business Conference at Ukraine in Washington – National Press Club – December 13, 2013 Nuland admits following:

“Since the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the United States supported the Ukrainians in the development of democratic institutions and skills in promoting civil society and a good form of government…We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals.”

The opposition

It is possible that Vitali Klitschko becomes the next president of Ukraine. Lacking the knowledge and experience needed to govern a country, Klitschko will inevitably become a pawn in the hands of people who are about to raise him to the top of the state hierarchy hiding in the shadow of his “throne”. Among them will be the American consultants who work with the UDAR Party. It is interesting to take a look at just what kind of companies are mediating in contacts between Klitschko and the US Congress and American government agencies, as well as advising his staff on organizing the early presidential race.

Until recently, according to UDAR’s political strategist Rostislav Pavlenko, the party was working with the American company PBN, which specializes in the field of so-called “strategic communications” on the markets of Russia, Ukraine and other CIS countries. According to PBN’s site, the key areas of the company’s activities are “corporate and crisis communications, public and government relations, and financial communications and investor relations.”

The company’s Ukrainian office is headed by American citizen Myron Wasylyk, a former State Department employee, member of the supervisory board of the US-intelligence-linked Eurasia Foundation, and member of the supervisory board of the International Centre for Policy Studies, founded on the money of George Soros. This center, by the way, contributed to the writing of a draft of a free trade zone agreement between Ukraine and the EU that the president of Ukraine considered a threat to the national interests of the country. In helping Vitali Klitschko establish needed connections in the American establishment, the head of PBN’s Ukrainian office mainly depended on his long-time acquaintance from his time at the Eurasia Foundation, Fiona Hill. She is best known for supporting the actions of the Wahhabis in Chechnya, thinking up justifications for the terrorist attack in Beslan, and opposing the designation of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist group at hearings in the U.S. Congress. During the presidency of George W. Bush, Fiona Hill was the national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council. (Source Vitali Klitschko’s American Coaches by Alexander Savchenko)

Ukraine neo-fascismTyahnybok was reportedly banned last year from entering the US because of rabidly anti-Semitic speeches praising his followers for striking fear in “the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine,” and hailing World War II-era Ukrainian fascists for fighting Russians, Germans “kikes and other scum.”

Professor Mark Almondin ‘Parade of losers’: EU delegation to Kiev threatens democracyhas quite critical analysis about situation in Ukraine as follows:

Once you’d say that what should determine who rules is the crowd in the street, not the ballot box, then of course, in almost any society there are reasons why 50-70,000 people might be discontent with the government, might go into the streets if they get sympathetic coverage in the media, you could inflate the numbers to hundreds of thousands. But even hundreds of thousands are only a small number in a country of 46 million people. And I think whether it is Ukraine today, whether it could be Italy or Spain tomorrow, once you start saying that the ballot box can be trumped by the street that is a deep threat to democracy. Far from promoting EU values and democracy and the rule of law, we seem to be able to throw them out the window in order to get our man into power.

So we are seeing a kind of propaganda war, psychological war taking place using these rumors of both the crackdown domestically and even foreign interference. Whilst at the same time, the very Western media and Western governments who report these rumors completely ignore the evidence of their own involvement in supporting the opposition, providing technical training camps, providing financial and other forms of assistance, providing a media platform for them.US, the European power centers, the organization in Brussels, NATO and so on, see Ukraine as a key strategic factor. They want Ukraine to be under their thumb, under NATO’s thumb, because they are deeply hostile to Russia. They want to draw it into the Western sphere of influence.

Now US is being on the side of anti-Semites and fascists in Ukraine, which sadly is not any new case. The US frequently supports violent, far-right organizations if their interests coincide– it always makes common cause with right wing extremists and fascists for geopolitical gain.” (Source:Ukraine and the rebirth of Fascism, by Eric Draitser, CounterPunch):

In an attempt to pry Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence, the US-EU-NATO alliance has, not for the first time, allied itself with fascists. Of course, for decades, millions in Latin America were disappeared or murdered by fascist paramilitary forces armed and supported by the United States. The mujahideen of Afghanistan, which later transmogrified into Al Qaeda, also extreme ideological reactionaries, were created and financed by the United States for the purposes of destabilizing Russia. And of course, there is the painful reality of Libya and, most recently Syria, where the United States and its allies finance and support extremist jihadis against a government that has refused to align with the US and Israel.”

Ukrainian rioter

Ukrainian rioter

Conclusions

From Orange revolution the Western intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA and MI6, which funneled money into pro-Western NGOs and political parties. that at its core the initiative is nothing more than an attempt to push Russia out of Europe by drawing its boundaries further to the East. Washington is employing methods of international gangsterism, including violence, to effect a political coup aimed at installing a regime that is fully subordinate to US geo-strategic interests. This time the bullseye is on Ukraine, the home of the failed Orange Revolution, where US NGOs fomented a populist coup that brought down the government and paved the way for years of social instability, economic hardship and, eventually, a stronger alliance with Moscow.

The Ukraine president’s turn toward a deal with Russia rather than integration into the European Union was the spark for the current campaign for regime-change. The first demonstrations started when some protesters feel that their dream or great opportunity had slipped away. However any government in Ukraine has the same framework as the present one such as nonexistent real hope of EU inclusion, a dependence on Moscow for energy and an integrated economy with Russia. The country is also clear divided to toward Russia oriented eastern Ukraine whose residents speak Russian and are Russian Orthodox and to toward Europe oriented western Ukraine whose residents and speak their own dialect. The tension between the regions is real, and heavy pro-EU pressure could split the country which on the other hand might be not so bad outcome.

Ethnolinguistic map of Ukraine 2014

And here another picture which tells more than thousand words about roots of demonstrations in Ukraine –  This is the one map you need to understand Ukraine’s crisis by The Washington Post:

one map you need to understand Ukraine’s crisis

Photo credit: Washington Post

The US media puts demonstrations in Kiev in the headlines while for example the fact that during construction works in Qatar for soccer WC 2022 already there has been hundred times more deaths than during protests in Ukraine. And related to death toll one should note that there is casualties not only among demonstrators but among supporters and workers on government side too. The US and EU approach with democracy demands and peaceful solutions is only covering the precise goal of US efforts is to shift political power into the hands of their nazi-puppets. In doing so, it aims to turn Ukraine into a US imperialist beachhead on the very border of Russia as part of its drive to assert American hegemony throughout the strategic landmass of Eurasia.

Here a quality dialog about theme:

and good videoanalysis about topic:

My previous related articles:

Ukraine puzzle


Syria: From War To Dissolution With Help Of Media

August 28, 2013

What are some irrelevant Syrian lives in the grand scheme of things, when the status quo’s wealth must be preserved at all costs.” (Opinion in web forums)

Coat_of_arms_of_SyriaThe Syrian opposition on has accused the government of launching a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs that killed large numbers of civilians as they slept and packed makeshift hospitals with hundreds of victims convulsing and gasping for breath. Photographs and videos posted online showed the bodies of men, women and children, many appearing to be dead, without visible wounds. Varying opposition claims put the death toll in the hundreds, with some saying it was more than a thousand.

While the public is shocked about news the Pentagon is making the initial preparations for a Cruise missile attack to punish Al-Assad regime. So has the “free and democratic world” forgotten the Iraq WMD disinformation campaign? In my opinion they should think twice as the right address might be Qatar-funded mercenaries led by Al Qaeda.

Mediawar

Most people think the horrendous news they watch on TV, read in the newspapers or hear on the radio is real. It is not as the question is more about media-war than neutral unbiased newscast.

One should again remember that in the Middle East there is a medi-awar ongoing. Some examples from recent shows:

a) The shooting session of the fake photos in Egypt: A part of film can be seen also via this link  or this youtube

Plyywood shooting session in Egypt

b) Video of MB sit-in where the dead bodies in their coffin wrappings were being dragged out of the ice tanks to the center of the sit-in, minutes before the Police raid:

c) Picture supposed to show a victim of ‘the gas attack’ in Damascus. The picture has also been used to show a victim of an attack in Egypt as well to show a victim of an attack in Palestine.

d) Related to Syria it was the rebels who use chemical weapons and Jihadists, not Assad, apparently behind reported chemical attack in Syria.

e) More media-war practice in the Middle East e.g. in Minimizing Collateral Damage In Gaza Conflict

There is a tendency for the concept to be invoked in the heat of action, giving the appearance of propriety for Western television viewers, but that it neglects the conflicts that are forgotten by the media or occur based on chronic distresses than sudden crises. For example the US launched two military campaigns against Serbia while ignoring real and more widespread slaughter in Rwanda .

Old practice new theatre

The pattern of U.S. collaboration with Muslim fundamentalists against more secular enemies is not new. In the 1980s Washington’s secret services had assisted Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran. Then, in 1990, the US fought him in the Gulf. n both Afghanistan and the Gulf, the Pentagon had incurred debts to Islamist groups and their Middle Eastern sponsors. By 93 these groups, many supported by Iran and Saudi Arabia, were anxious to help Bosnian Muslims fighting in the former Yugoslavia and called in their debts with the Americans. Bill Clinton and the Pentagon were keen to be seen as creditworthy and repaid in the form of an Iran-Contra style operation – in flagrant violation of the UN Security Council arms embargo against all combatants in the former Yugoslavia. One could add that Ayman al-Zawahiri, later the leader of al Qaeda, came to America to raise funds in Silicon Valley for Bosnian jihadists.in 1993, Mr. bin Laden had appointed Sheik Ayman Al-Zawahiri, to direct his operations in the Balkans.

Image shows a M60 recoilless gun (YU) being used to attack an army outpost,Hajez Barad, in Busr al-Harir, Daraa, on March 2nd.

Image shows a M60 recoilless gun (YU) being used to attack an army outpost,Hajez Barad, in Busr al-Harir, Daraa, on March 2nd.

Unfortunately, history is repeating. From my point of view it remains to see if this newest U.S. clandestine recycling operation has better success that earlier in Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya … I doubt. More in U.S. Recycles Its Old Balkan Practice With Syria .

Only bad options

We can do this with no boots on the ground, from stand-off distances(US dream)

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey, may have made the case. In a letter to Congressman Elliot Engel, Dempsey said the American military is clearly capable of taking out the Syrian air force. He wouldn’t do it because it would “offer no strategy for peace,” he wrote. “is a deeply rooted, long-term conflict among multiple factions, and violent struggles for power will continue after Assad’s rule ends. We should evaluate the effectiveness of limited military options in this context.” (Source: American Thinker )

Centcom’s Forward Command in Jordan is manned by 273 US officers. This underground facility near Amman is linked to US, Israel, Jordanian and Saudi Air Force commands ready for an order from President Barack Obama to impose planned air-strike as well a partial no-fly zone over Syria. There are today some 1,000 US military personnel in the Hashemite Kingdom, plus a squadron of F-16 fighters and several Patriot anti-missile batteries strung along the Jordanian-Syrian border to shield Jordanian and American bases and the capital, Amman. Obama’s final decision on a no fly and a buffer zone in Syria is expected in the coming two to three weeks.

Syria, cradle of civilizations, compared e.g. with US

Syria, cradle of civilizations, compared e.g. with US

Arming rebels and pushing for military intervention will not solve the problem Syria is facing but indeed could lead to the death of thousands of Syrians and to the breaking-up of the country falling under the control of violent fundamentalist Jihadist forces. It will mean the further fleeing of Syrians into surrounding countries which will themselves become destabilised. The entire Middle East will then become unstable and violence will spiral out of control.

Anyway if USA decides to bomb Syria wouldn’t the right address be Qatar-funded mercenaries led by Al Qaeda instead of the Assad regime.

Russia as a peacemaker?

While Obama/US is now in the corner with his ”red lines” Russia has became more reliable player in the Middle East as it is emerging:

as a vocal defender of Christianity against Muslim persecution around the world;

as a plausible peacemaker in the Middle East, with far better relationships with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria than America has today;

as the monopoly natural gas supplier for Germany, with the consent of the Franco-German axis;

as the only country with a credible a nuclear umbrella to protect its friends and deter its enemies;

To show Russia’s seriousness in the Middle East, President Putin has paid personal visits and kept contacts with all the players, including the Sisi regime in Egypt, Israel, Syria’s Assad, and Saudi Arabia.

Who has smoking gun?

It would be very peculiar if it was the government to do this at the exact moment the international inspectors come into the country(WMD inspector Rolf Ekeus)

Syrian President Bashar al Assad has now survived two years of civil war, and indeed he is even winning it.Only foreign intervention especially by the United States could defeat him. If so why he would do the one thing Obama said would trigger US action? Since both sides have been highlighting atrocities carried out by the other to garner support from outside Syria, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that some unscrupulous rebel faction could have launched a so-called ‘false flag’ operation to discredit the regime even further.

At the moment, it is difficult to see what desperate situation would have caused al Assad to use chemical weapons and risk the worst. His opponents however have the motivation – using chemical weapons to force the United States to intervene and depose al Assad. It might be possible that lower-ranking officers in al Assad’s military used chemical weapons without his knowledge and perhaps against his wishes. While all options are open what happened in relation of chemical weapons from my perspective it is crucial to wait untill we know more, for example after investigations made by U.N team.

U.N., Israel and Syria hypocrisyBtw the latest news out of Syria is confirmed, namely that the the Syrian army has discovered rebels’ storehouse in the Damascus area, where toxic chemical substances, including chlorine, have been produced and kept,

Dissolution of Syria

In normal cases the United States and its coalition partners, are using humanitarian pretexts to pursue otherwise unacceptable geopolitical goals and to evade the non-intervention norm and legal prohibitions on the use of international force. This false pretented humanitarianism has become a legitimizing ideology for projection of U.S. hegemony in a post–Cold War world. For example NATO intervention in Kosovo was conducted largely to boost NATO’s credibility. With case of Syria US doesn’t have big geopolitical interests to go war, the main cause might be that Obama draw his red line – use of chemical weapon – and he now have to act on the red line principle or be shown to be one who bluffs. If Obama doesn’t act this would show US weakness.

Despite how US acts one should notice that there is already lot of foreign intervention in Syria: Russia, Hizbollah etc are giving weapons and support to al Assad regime; US, Saudis etc are giving weapons to sc freedom fighters; Qatar etc are financing al Qaeda’s fighters and Kurds get support e.g from Iraq. US might launch its air-strike but bottom line is that foreign fighters have already their boots on the ground. The Israelis are privately reluctant supporters of the al-Assad regime. It is a known quantity, with whom negotiation within established parameters is  possible. The alternative, of divided Sunni Islamist politics presenting a potentially existential danger to the Jewish state and the region as a whole, is all the more destabilising. EU is bystander as usual however ready to throw their money in when dirty job is done.

Balkanization of Syria Map credit The Economist

Balkanization of Syria

In my opinion the majority of the people of Syria are calling out for peace and reconciliation and a political solution to the crisis. The probable short term result will be dissolution of Syria – some kind of new balkanization or Somalization as it already happened in Iraq. The country might fragment, as Kurds and Alawites form their own mini-states. The positive outcome might be that second piece– after North Iraq – of Kurdistan will be established while it remains to see when regions from Iran and Turkey will join to this long-felt need.

¤     ¤     ¤

Appendix:

SYRIAN GIRL 8 Reasons Why The NWO Hates Syria


Fatah-Hamas Deal: Three Scenarios

May 3, 2011

The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.” (Hamas Charter: Article 7)

The reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas came to a draft agreement in last week. The core of the new Hamas-Fatah deal is agreeing to a unity and power-sharing of two parties mentioned. Palestinian division, playing so-called “moderates” against “extremists”, has been key element of US/EU and Israeli policy almost a decade. If the Palestinian unity deal holds it can open the Middle-East deadlock – but which way remains too see. I see at least three different scenarios as outcome:

  1. Israel makes a deal with Palestinian representatives

  2. No Israeli-Palestinian negotiations – UN recognises Palestine

  3. Israel annexes part of West Bank – cold peace

Some background

“This is our answer to the enemy: We have no other home.” (President Peres)


Similar Hamas-Fatah agreements were made in March 2007 In Mecca, which lasted for three months until the outbreak of a five-day war in Gaza, which ended with Hamas taking complete control of the territory. The second agreement was signed in Saana, Yemen on March 2008 by the same signatories as now and it lasted just two days. Last year negotiations were mediated by Germany and Turkey in Damascus, but now entered into a definitive agreement, assisted by the Egyptian intelligence service in Cairo.

After failed previous agreements The Palestinian Authority (excluding Hamas) has had fruitless round of talks with Israel meditated mainly by US, PaliLeaks are giving clear picture offers nad responses to them (more e.g. PaliLeaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace). During negotiations The Palestinian Authority lost its rest authority as well credibility to achieve any results. Uprisings in Arabstreet this Sring may have been the main reason for Hamas-Fatah deal now as the Palestinian president, Abu Mazen/Abbas, lost his allies – Hosni Mubarak and Omar Suleiman in Egypt. Also Hamas is losing its Syrian protector, Bashar al-Assad. But The Guardian editorial highlights also the third reason which had little to do with either of the above: Abu Mazen’s faith in Barack Obama finally snapped. US failed to deliver even the limited and partial extension of Netanyahu settlement moratorium. The PLO forced a vote on settlements at the UN security council, despite US pressure, leaving the US alone to cast its veto in a 14-1 vote. Preparations for UN recognition of Palestinian statehood proceed apace (again, in opposition to US policy).

The Israeli government immediately sounded the alarm over the prospect of having to deal with Hamas. “The Palestinian Authority must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both,” said prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu warned that the deal could lead to a Hamas takeover of the West Bank. “Hamas aspires to destroy the state of Israel and says so explicitly. The idea of reconciliation with Hamas demonstrates the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and makes one wonder whether Hamas will seize control of (the West Bank) the way it seized control of the Gaza Strip,” the Israeli prime minister said. (Source: The Guardian )

Directly related to the agreement it stopped the joint Israeli-Palestinian security panel because Hamas is of course not allowed into the meetings where joint Israeli-Palestinian (covert) operations against Hamas are planned. The United States is considering to remove its USD 475 million economic support for PA, the EU’s position as a major funder is not yet clear. From its side Israel will hold up an USD 89 million cash transfer to the Palestinian Authority planned for this week to assure that any money transferred to the Palestinians will not reach the militant Hamas organisation.

In parallel, Journal of the Kuwait Al-Rai, referring to Syrian security men, whereas the event of war with Israel, Syria will play a “strong hand” and to compete with Hamas in Tel Aviv bombing missiles. (Both are in possession of Scud missiles; Israel’s new missile defense to respond this threat is described e.g. in my article Will Iron Dome balance the Hamas Terror?)

Deal with united Hamas-Fatah front

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” (Hamas Charter: Preamble)


Hamas-Fatah deal means that now Israel may have got a strong
counterpart on the Palestinian side as any significant Israeli-Palestinian agreement demands involvement of Hamas. So far the reluctance of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate with Israel is his lack of political legitimacy, he officially holds no power (in January 2009 he unilaterally awarded himself a one-year extension as president). Also Abbas’ prime minister, Salam Fayyad’ authority is limited, he ran in the 2006 parliamentary elections and won two seats out of 132.

Fatah is seen as the more secular organisation, which has supported the Oslo Accords which led to the formation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. Hamas, an Islamic group, opposed the Oslo Accords and continues to refuse to honour past agreements with Israel. The US and EU both view Hamas as a terrorist organisation, anyway its successful imposition of law and order in Gaza have persuaded analysts that peace between Israel and Palestinians is impossible without its involvement.

The factor, which in fact can nullify this negotiation slot, is that Hamas will continue to aim the establishment of an Islamic state in Gaza, the West Bank and the current Israeli territories by force if necessary. Now approved the draft agreement, which final form is planned to sign next week, does not give any indication that the Hamas / Fatah would agree to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept past agreements with Israel. Senior Hamas leader in Gaza, Mahmud A-Zahar, makes it clear that despite reconciliation agreement his organization with Fatah, Hamas has no intention of changing its attitude toward Israel: “The transition government will not take part in the diplomatic process.” (Source e.g. Ynetnews)

Haarez editorial gives interesting alternative view to deal compared to the one of PM Netanyahu’s, who hastened to denounce the reconciliation agreement. Here Haarez perspective:

Israel can improve its status if it takes its fate into its own hands. It can be the first to welcome the establishment of a Palestinian sister-state, wish it luck, hold out its hand in peace and express a desire to discuss borders, refugees and settlements issues, this time on an entirely different level − as two sovereign states…On the tactical level, Israel will be able to pass the responsibilities required of a state to the Palestinian side as well, whatever its government.

One base for negotiated peace deal could be the latest Olmert proposal 2008 which may be most far reaching compromise so far.

UN option and the effect of unilateral Palestine actions

Since we can’t defeat Israel in war, we must do it in stages, we must take whatever area of Palestine we can get, establish sovereignty there, and then at the right time, we will have to convince the Arab nations to join us in dealing the final blow to Israel. (Yasser Arafat)


Israel-Palestine conflict is now on crucial stage as September is shaping up to be a key month for peace efforts. The Palestinians say that in the absence of a peace deal, they will take their case to the United Nations. It appears now that a Palestinian state will be imposed – or better say tried to impose – on Israel by the international community as overwhelming majority of U.N. members will vote to give them a state. However since the U.N. General Assembly’s decisions are not legally binding, the vote would be largely symbolic, and it remains unclear what the Palestinians will do after that. International support for the Palestinians has put heavy pressure on Netanyahu to offer his own diplomatic plan to end the impasse. Netanyahu is expected to deliver a major policy speech to U.S. Congress next month. But officials close to the prime minister say he has not yet decided what he plans to say.

Some 110-140 countries is estimated to support Palestinian case in UN, there is also a slight possibility that UNSC will make similar resolution. Besides sending again letter to Jerusalem at its worst there can be discussions about sanctions against Israel; however even today Israel is more diplomatically isolated than ever before and also outside governments there is a growing civil BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against Israel. Despite this economically life in Israel has never been better. According latest data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel’s economy grew 7.8 percent in the last quarter of 2010, international trade is rising steeply as in the first quarter of 2011, exports rose 27.3%. compared grew of 19.9% in the final quarter of last year. Imports rose respectively 34.7% and 38.9%. Despite hard statements EU remains Israel’s largest trading partner and even ally of Hamas and Iran Turkey’s trade with Israel reached an all time high last year. So international isolation does not seem effect very much.


Unilateral Israeli actions

“(Peace) initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement… Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the infidels as arbitrators in the lands of Islam… There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility.” (Hamas Charter: Article 13)

Jerusalem Post reports that ‘Annexation for declaration’ idea advancing in Knesset . True, the Israeli Likud party is already preparing a draft law, which accompanied Israel in Judea and Samaria, or at least its a lot areas with Jewish mayority as well as the Jordan River Valley; this in case that the PA government take its proposal at the UN.

As Likud MK Danny Danon said, that

A Palestinian declaration of statehood would officially bury the Oslo Accords, which state that final borders will be decided via negotiations and that unilateral actions constitute violation of the accords…The Palestinians declaring a state would free us of all the diplomatic, security, and economic commitments we made in the Oslo Accords.

Danon favors responding to a Palestinian declaration of statehood by annexing all of Area C, which includes all the West Bank’s Jewish settlements and empty land. He said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should follow the example of his predecessors Levi Eshkol, who annexed eastern Jerusalem, and Menachem Begin, who annexed the Golan Heights. Area C Israeli 59% of WB land and 4% of WB Palestinians.

Israel’s unilateral actions can be understood from its security driven policy. The main thread from Hamas-Fatah deal is that as more motivated, well organised partner with popular support Hamas will override Fatah in West Bank like they have done in Gaza. If Hamas keeps its aim the destruction of Israel, the deal and Hamas takeover would allow it to deploy Iranian and Syrian-supplied Katyusha missiles near all Israel urban centers. From Israel security perspective this brings most of Israel population under thread of hostile missiles and rockets. Be’er Sheva already has been attacked by Grad Katyusha missiles from Gaza, as have been Haifa and the Galilee from Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon.

Map by Americans for a Safe Israel (ASFI)


My conclusion

For the Palestinians internal unity creates a change for developing a new national platform, strategy and representative PLO, which can also implement agreements if needed. If Hamas-Fatah deal makes a commitment to non-violence and recognises also Israel’s right to existence it might be a partner for Israel to make new peace deal. The effect and nature of Hamas-Fatah deal will be tested soon as Palestinian groups on Facebook are calling for violent uprisings against the citizens of Israel, openly planning a Third Intifada on May 15th, 2011. Previous intifadas resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians through suicide bombings and other horrific acts of terror. They are aggressively pursuing their goal of reaching one million supporters.


If Hamas-Fatah deal is neutralizing terrorism it may boost the international community and especially US to put pressure to both Israel and Palestine authorities to find negotiated common solution. This way the deal really can be what Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu called “a key window of opportunity” for the entire region. One crucial point for outcome will be PM Netanyahu’s speech before the US Congress next month, will it appease Obama admistration and EU-3 (Cameron, Sarkozy and Merkel) about Israeli intentions in peace process.


One can guess that I am not very hopeful about the peace deal soon after Hamas-Fatah agreement, at least in its current form. Hamas should first change its fundamential course to apply non-violent methods and accept Israel security concerns, and Israel needs time to trust Hamas intentions. Perhaps the best outcome related to three scenarios mentioned could be limited cold peace or truce, plus restricted trade agreements.

Earlier and now I still consider sc Three State-Option the most pragmatic solution. As Egypt now is opening Rafah border crossing and when its current leadership better cooperates with Hamas it would be easier than before logistically and politically annex Gaza with Egypt e.g. as autonomius province with cultural and economical independence. Annexing Palestinian West Bank areas similar way with Jordan could decrease Israeli security concerns and hence allow smaller buffer zones and less fragmented area for Palestinians. (More e.g. in The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict )

Background Annex

Conflicting Views of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Every year in USA, campus hate groups such as the Muslim Students Association and Students for Justice in Palestine join a festival called “Israel Apartheid Week”, which also is part of the growing BDS movement (BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel). As response the David Horowitz Freedom Center is sponsoring counter-protests on more than 50 college campuses, as part of its Islamo-Fascism Awareness Campaign. From banner below one can open some of the claims from Palestinian side and counter claims from Israeli side to highlight the big difference of views in Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

Egypt at crossroads – theocracy, democracy or something between

February 10, 2011


While Yasmin Revolution in Tunisia inspired population throughout Arab world and wide support to change regime got decisive role in Egypt it was clear that Tunisia was not an isolated event – some process has started with geopolitical consequences. Mubarak’s ouster in Egypt is one step with process and it is still unclear how far and how deep the outcome will be as well where the tremors will reach.

Egypt has came to a crossroads – Egyptians may choose to embrace the model of a secular reformist state with a prominent role for the military as Turkey has done; there is a second possibility that the Islamists exploit the influence to gradually take the country into a reverse direction – not towards modernity and reform but backward, nearest example could be Iran. With smaller scale the same is possible in Tunisia too as well with rest of some twenty Arab countries short of democracy. If all countries on the Arab road make the same selection towards Islam so an Islamic Caliphate could be reality. Islamic radicals seek to take over governments from North Africa to Southeast Asia and to re-establish a caliphate they hope, one day, will include every continent. Islamic United States is a central aim of some radical groups.

ISLAMIC CALIPHATE – Arab version (Pakistani version includes also India and Bosnia)

Now there is a moment for change, I would claim that the status quo is sooner or later unsustainable in all Arab countries. However in all probability the roads will differ from country to country. Arab regimes have a choice: They can either lead a reform process from above or watch it take place in the streets below, different interest groups on the street level may implement different agendas.

The Egyptian autocrats removed the Internet from Egypt; the Chinese autocrats removed Egypt from the Internet. (an anonymous quote from web forum)

The popular unrest in the Arab world has even reached Libya. There have been calls in Libya for demonstrations next week to protest against Muammar Gaddafi’s 41.5-year rule. From social media I have got messages that especially youth is trying to collect people for 25th February demonstration but Libya’s regime is not waiting escalation passively – internet is blocked, many prominent bloggers and tweeter are arrested and related facebook sites hacked. As Gaddafi has iron grip in country the time for revolution might not have arrived – yet.


The demonstrators

The workers are the primary instigators of the Egyptian uprising. The April 6 group of young labor activists first came to prominence when they supported strikes by textile factory workers in Mahalla al-Kubra and elsewhere for improved wages and work conditions. There have been more than 3,000 labor actions by Egyptian workers since 2004. The pro-labor youth activists have been among the major leaders of the uprising in the past week, and had pioneered the use of Facebook and Twitter for such purposes. According DEBKAfile large sections of Egypt’s economic machinery are shut down by spreading strikes. Although reforms and pay hikes have been pledged by the new Egyptian government, large groups of workers, mainly in Cairo, rebelled against state-appointed managements and set up “Revolutionary Committees” to run factories and other work places, including Egyptian state TV and Egypt’s biggest weekly “Ros el-Yusuf.”

 

From How to Protest Intelligently -leaflet

While some demonstrators may demand for Western-style liberal democracy the main part of them have their interests with the state of the Egyptian economy – Egypt’s peasants, workers and merchant class to rise en masse. The demonstrators are clearly united in opposing Mubarak as an individual, and to a large extent united in opposing the regime. Beyond that, there is a deep divide in the opposition and thus far do not appear to have been able to generate the type of mass movement that toppled the Shah of Iran’s regime in 1979.

From How to Protest Intelligently -leaflet

In social media there is not so many tweets espousing Islamic extremism, instead there are many of them supporting Socialist/Marxist themes. Tunisian public rising was clearly against former dictator Ben Ali and his local and foreign collaborators in the US, Israel, France, Germany and Italy. In the first post-Ben Ali government of Tunisia at least six new people of a 17 member cabinet were selected from these groups. Similar as in Tunisia also Egyptian grassroots big part of political activists are coming from Socialist/Marxist/Unionist circles. In Egypt there are some of the more well-known socialists groups involved in kicking off the January 25th protests (Source and more in The Graph: The Socialist Roots Of The Egyptian Protests ):

  • Kafya/Kefaya – “The Egyptian Movement for Change” – Translated to English it means “enough”. It’s made up of socialists, Marxists, (seems ‘Change’ means the same to them as it did to Barack) secularists and Islamists. Some see this group as Mubarak’s primary opposition group.
  • Tagammu – “National Progressive Unionist Party” – a socialist political party in Egypt that rejects religious extremism.
  • Mahalla/April 6th – a large group of unionists/socialists and their youth supporters.
  • The Center for Socialist Studies – an Egyptian group in Giza committed to bringing about “revolutionary socialism”.
  • Nasserites – mainly Arab nationalism combined with socialism and secularism. Named after former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. These supporters tended to be older in age and were in much smaller numbers at the protests, but their worldview is mostly consistent with their younger counterparts.

From How to Protest Intelligently -leaflet

The political Islam waits on the sidelines. The Muslim Brotherhood has not been instrumental in this movement to date. The socialists involved in the January 25th uprising do not trust the Muslim Brotherhood politically because they see that group as beholden to Egyptian capitalism. However, the Brotherhood has money, powerful people who don’t mind engaging in murder, and years of organization on their side. If they want to co-opt this movement, they’ll be a force that the Egyptian neo-Marxists have to deal with. Based on events in Tunisia and Egypt The Graph concludes that

it’s clear that the current “revolution” in Africa has more to do with socialism than it does about Islamic fundamentalism, although the latter is playing a strong secondary role within some of the factions. Socialism has very deep roots in the Egypt and the Middle East going back to the era of Salama Moussa who wrote the first Arabic book on socialism in 1912 titled, “Al-Ishtirākiyya (The Socialism)”. Moussa also helped form Egypt’s Socialist Party (later to be renamed the Communist Party in 1923) in 1921.

Protests have begun in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Albania, and Jordan and they are planned to take place also in Syria, Libya and the rest of Arab world. There may not be a common ideology behind these protests, but e.g. in Albania the Socialist Party is speaking out against the current government.

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB)

The Muslim Brotherhood may look so far like bystander; however it is may get even decisive role with further developments. Though many members of the MB joined the protests, they maintained a low profile. The group’s traditional slogans were not seen in Tahrir Square. However inside MB there exists many views. One of them came publicity via Muhammad Ghanem, representative of Muslim Brotherhood in London, who demanded civil disobedience but also “Halting Passage through the Suez Canal… and Preparing for War with Israel”.


Egypt’s MB always remained a pragmatic organization, true militant Islamists or jihadist groups are e.g. Tandheem al-Jihad, which was behind Sadat’s assassination, and Gamaa al-Islamiyah, which led a violent insurgency in the 1990s responsible for the killings of foreign tourists. There is some base to claim that majority of Islamists who are not jihadists and instead are political forces. The MB is internally divided. It faces a generational struggle, with an old guard trying to prevent its ideals from being diluted while a younger generation looks to Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a role model. The core question – without clear answer – is if the Muslim Brotherhood will remain a benign force in the event that it came into power.

The Muslim Brotherhood has participated to electoral competition and representation, developed new professional competencies and skills, and forged closer ties with Egyptian activists, researchers, journalists, and politicians outside the Islamist camp; indeed the MB could well evolve to be more like Turkey’s Justice and Development (AK) Party.

In her article What the Brotherhood Is and How it Will Shape the Future published in Foreign Affairs, Carrie Rosefsky Wickham concludes following:

It remains to be seen whether the Brotherhood as an organization — not only individual members — will accept a constitution that does not at least refer to sharia; respect the rights of all Egyptians to express their ideas and form parties; clarify its ambiguous positions on the rights of women and non-Muslims; develop concrete programs to address the nation’s toughest social and economic problems; and apply the same pragmatism it has shown in the domestic arena to issues of foreign policy, including relations with Israel and the West.

As Muslim Brotherhood rule is one possible option in future Egypt and to understand the implications, The Palestinian Media Watch has translated the important MB book “Jihad is the way” by Mustafa Mashhur, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, 1996-2002. Translation can be found from PMW site.

Non-violent revolution

Anonymous leaflets How to Protest Intelligently – circulating in Cairo also provide practical and tactical advice for mass demonstrations, confronting riot police, and besieging and taking control of government offices. Signed “long live Egypt”, the slickly produced 26-page document calls on demonstrators to begin with peaceful protests, carrying roses but no banners, and march on official buildings while persuading policemen and soldiers to join their ranks. The leaflet ask recipients to redistribute it by email and photocopy, but not to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which are being monitored by the security forces. Here some translated pages of How to Protest Intelligently :

Revolution flag of Egypt 1919

One previous model for recent upraising in Egypt is what Egyptians havealways called the “Revolution of 1919”, though many English histories follow the British colonial usage and call it an uprising. Like 2011, 1919 had no clear leadership and was largely a genuine popular uprising. It had its own flag, with the crescent and the cross to show both Muslims and Copts supported it, a symbol has be seen occasionally also recent demonstrations.

Attitudes in Egypt

In a survey conducted April 12 to May 7, 2010, the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project examined the views of Egypt and six other Muslim publics about politics and the role Islam should play in it. A 59%-majority of Muslims in Egypt believed that democracy was preferable to any other kind of government. About one-in-five (22%), however, said that in some circumstances, a non-democratic government could be preferable, and another 16% said it did not matter what kind of government is in place for a person in their situation. Besides attitudes to different questions in Egypt the following tables include also results in some selected countries where the same survey took place: (Source: Pew Research Center publication )



Hardliners exporting terrorism

The Gaza Strip was clearly an exporter of terrorism to Egypt before the current crisis began. Egypt’s outgoing interior minister, and after him the Egypt media, accused the Army of Islam operating in the Gaza Strip of involvement in the mass-casualty suicide bombing attack at a Coptic church in Alexandria (January 2011, 25 killed and at least 80 wounded). Army of Islam operatives in the Gaza Strip were accused of directing terrorist activities in Egypt for Al-Qaeda and of contacting terrorist operatives through the tunnels under the Egyptian-Gazan border (which, according to the outgoing interior minister, threaten Egypt’s national security). The Army of Islam was also accused of involvement in other terrorist attacks carried out in Egypt in recent years, including one in the El Khalili bazaar in Cairo which killed a woman tourist from France (February 22, 2009).Various jihadist-Salafist networks affiliated with Al-Qaeda thrive in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Army of Islam (Jayish al-Islam), established in 2006, is one of the most prominent. It -temporary – later joined by operatives of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing.


Another example of internal Arab terrorism with roots in the Gaza Strip was the exposure of a terrorist network in Morocco. In June 2010 an eleven-man cell of Moroccans from Casablanca, Azjlal (in the Atlas mountains) and Oujda (in eastern Morocco), as well of Palestinians, was exposed. The cell was headed by Yahya al-Hindi, aka Abu Qutada al-Shami, a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip. He had previously been a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative and was influenced by Al-Qaeda’s ideology. ( Source: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center )

Israel’s security concern

PM Netanyahu’s early comments were supporting Mubarak, but few days later statements from Israel were moderated more towards understanding the need to replace him. President Obama publicly sided with the protesters’ cause, but is secretly helping the army play for time and keep Mubarak going for the interim; now also Israel and its intelligence have joined the effort. Israel’s early support for Mubarak was probably based on fear that Mubarak’s regime will be replaced with Islamist regime, he anyway was capable of keeping the Muslim Brotherhood in its place. Israel may have hard experiences about Brotherhood’s activities in Gaza strip, however the views in this organization are not one to one with those among Iran’s ayatollahs.


Israel assumed that its victory in 1967 had improved its national security. First, it provided Israel with strategic depth, which it never had before. An attack by its neighbors, particularly Egypt and Syria, would first be fought outside of Israel. On 1973 Israel was forced to revise its overconfident position as happened what the Israelis call the Yom Kippur War and the Arabs call the Ramadan War. Just six years after their 1967 defeat, the Egyptians mounted a two-army assault across the Suez, coordinated with a simultaneous Syrian attack on the Golan Heights. Even more stunning than the assault was the operational security the Egyptians maintained and the degree of surprise they achieved. One of Israel’s fundamental assumptions was that Israeli intelligence would provide ample warning of an attack. And one of the fundamental assumptions of Israeli intelligence was that Egypt could not mount an attack while Israel maintained air superiority. Both assumptions were wrong. But the most important error was the assumption that Egypt could not, by itself, coordinate a massive and complex military operation. In the end, the Israelis defeated the Egyptians, but at the cost of the confidence they achieved in 1967 and a recognition that comfortable assumptions were impermissible in warfare in general and regarding Egypt in particular.


The Egyptian recognition that its interests in Israel were minimal and the Israeli recognition that eliminating the potential threat from Egypt guaranteed its national security have been the foundation of the regional balance since 1978.

To be continued: revolts, reforms, coups, revolutions…?

Situation in Egypt is so appalling that a military takeover of the regime is a serious future scenario. This is no new idea – in 1952, Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser staged a military coup that displaced the Egyptian monarchy, civilian officers in the military, and British influence in Egypt. Nasser created a government based on military power as the major stabilizing and progressive force in Egypt. His revolution was secular and socialist. On Nasser’s death, Anwar Sadat replaced him. On Sadat’s assassination, Hosni Mubarak replaced him. Both of these men came from the military as Nasser did.

Thinking different scenarios forward so first one could be that the regime might survive with or probably without Mubarak. Under the same scenario there may be a coup of the army staff.  A second possibility is that the demonstrators might force elections in which ElBaradei or someone like him could be elected and Egypt might proceed on the path of democracy. The third possibility is that the demonstrators force elections, which the Muslim Brotherhood could win and move forward with an Islamist-oriented agenda. And then there is a possibility that Egypt will sink into political chaos.

Egypt’s society is diverse enough to withstand a despotic theocracy and if in doubt so the army is the final guarantor. Sustainable significant change requires a new political structure, as well as a new process that ensures free and fair elections and adequate opportunities for popular participation. Real democracy must be substantive as well as procedural, bringing human security to the people, including basic needs, decent work, and a police that protects rather than harasses.

In my opinion the outcome in Egypt and maybe in other Arab countries in near future will be a reform not revolution, that is, changes in personnel and policies, protection of human rights, but no challenge to the structure or the constitution.  I am afraid so but the events so far are giving hope that surprises are also possible.

Geopolitical outcome

For radical Islam a radicalized Egypt could give a great boost even if Islamist Egypt would not be an Iranian ally. However for the United States, an Islamist Egypt would be a strategic catastrophe. Also Israel would be endangered. Israel’s national security has rested on its treaty with Egypt. The demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula not only protected Israel’s southern front, it meant that the survival of Israel was no longer at stake. In all of the wars Israel fought after its treaty with Egypt (the 1982 and 2006 wars in Lebanon) Israeli interests, but not survival, were at stake. Islamic Egypt would bring a multi-front war again on the table.

If the military regime retains power the geopolitical arrangements would remain in place, except in case where new regime must get popularity by anti-Western and anti-Israeli policy to get support base from the Muslim Brotherhood. If the advocates for democracy win, and if they elect someone like ElBaradei, it is unlikely that this scenario would take place. The pro-Western democratic faction is primarily concerned with domestic issues, are themselves secular and would not want to return to the wartime state prior to Camp David, because that would simply strengthen the military. If they win power, the geopolitical arrangements would remain unchanged.

If there are significant threats to US interests in Suez, and particularly if workers and unemployed start taking over whole areas and start to self-organise it is possible that US will ally with new regime based on army coup.

So the Western governments could be more afraid of the arrival of democratic institutions in the Middle-East than of military stable dictatorships. Anyway the outcome doesn’t depend on what the European Union, Tehran or Washington says so let’s give the stage to locals.

Some of my other Middle East articles:



PaliLeaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace

January 29, 2011

The biggest leak of confidential documents in the history of the Middle East conflict began on Sunday, 23th January 2011 by the Al-Jazeera website with Britain’s Guardian newspaper. A cache of thousands of pages of confidential Palestinian records covering more than a decade of negotiations with Israel and the US has been obtained by al-Jazeera TV and shared exclusively with the Guardian. The papers provide an extraordinary and vivid insight into the disintegration of the 20-year peace process, which is now regarded as all but dead.

The Palestinian Papers (“PaliLeaks”) show that Israel indeed had real partner with whom to negotiate issues such as borders, land swaps, settlements, refugees, Jerusalem and even recognition Israel as Jewish state. The authenticity is accepted by both sides. While the greater Middle-East is now in turmoil due the coup in Tunisia, PaliLeaks are causing shockwawes among Palestinians and in the wider Arab world. The papers are giving also perspective to possibilities for two-state solution and US facilitation, mediation, to reach it.

The Palestine Papers

The Palestine Papers, released in the Al-Jazeera website, cover the negotiating period from 1999, before the Oslo process broke down in Camp David, up to the frozen peace talks in 2010. Al-Jazeera is publishing 275 sets of meeting minutes, 690 internal e-mails, 153 reports and studies, 134 sets of talking points and prep notes for meetings, 64 draft agreements, 54 maps, charts and graphs, and 51 “non-papers” – alltogether at least 1,684 documents. The documents revealed by Al Jazeera seems to be much more important than the documents recently released by WikiLeaks.

Some highlights of PaliLeaks are e.g. following details:

  • The scale of confidential concessions offered by Palestinian negotiators, including on the highly sensitive issue of the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
  • The Palestinian Authoroty agreed first that solely10,000 and finally 5,000 Palestinian refugees return to Israel as part of the Palestinian right of return.
  • Among other documents due to be released is an Israeli offer to transfer Israeli Arabs citizens to the territory of a future Palestinian state.
  • Recognition of Israel as Jewish state
  • How Israeli leaders privately asked for some Arab citizens to be transferred to a new Palestinian state while US proposed Palestinian refugees to be deported to Chile and Argentina
  • The intimate level of covert co-operation between Israeli security forces and the Palestinian Authority.
  • The central role of British intelligence in drawing up a secret plan to crush Hamas in the Palestinian territories.
  • How Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders were privately tipped off about Israel’s 2008-9 war in Gaza.

PA as Israel ally

When Palestine people gave a winning support to Hamas in relatively democrat elections many EU and US leaders made conclusion that voters made a wrong selection. To spread western values and real democracy some actions were taken. British intelligence – MI6 – had remarkable role in fight against Hamas. The bulk of the British plan has since been carried out by the West Bank-based PA security apparatus which is increasingly criticised for authoritarian rule and human rights abuses, including detention without trial and torture. The documents also highlight the intimate level of military and security cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli forces.

Moreover, Al-Jazeera revealed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was personally notified by a senior Israeli official that Israel was planning an attack on the Gaza Strip, the night before Operation Cast Lead. Israeli and Palestinian officials reportedly discussed targeted assassinations of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists in Gaza.

Refugees and their return

Many of the concessions have been considered non-negotiable in the past such as the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel. Palestine refugees are the people and their descendants, predominantly Palestinian Arabic-speakers, who fled or were expelled from their homes during and after the 1948 Palestine War, (some 750,000) and after the Six-Day War (1967) (280,000 to 325,000). UNRWA’s definition of a Palestinian refugee also covers the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948. The number of Palestine refugees varies depending on the source. For 1948-49 refugees, for example, the Israeli government suggests a number as low as 520,000 as opposed to 850,000 by their Palestinian counterparts. As of January 2010, UNRWA cites 1,396,368 registered refugees in camps and 3,370,302 registered refugees not in camps.

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert had agreed (2008) to a proposal that would have seen 1,000 Palestinian refugees given the approval to return to Israel over a space of five years. This would have resulted in a total of 5,000 refugees whose entrance into Israel would have been based on certain criteria and humanitarian grounds. By the following year (2009), PA main negotiator Saeb Erekat appeared to have accepted that choice.

Condoleezza Rice, the Bush administration’s secretary of state, wanted to settle displaced Palestinians in Argentina and Chile as an alternative to letting them return to former homes in Israel and the occupied territories. Rice made the proposal in a June 2008 meeting with US, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Berlin.

Ms Livni, meanwhile, repeatedly suggested a land swap with the Palestinians, so several Jewish settlements in the West Bank would become part of Israel while Israeli Arab were moved out of Israel. Correspondents say while this move would have been on a limited scale, it is the first time Israel has apparently suggested moving populations to either side of future borders, rather than just swapping land.

On 2004 there was a similar idea that Israel compensate the Palestinians with land occupied by Israeli Arabs. The Lieberman Plan, also known in Israel as the “Populated-Area Exchange Plan”, was proposed by Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the Israeli political party Yisrael Beiteinu. The Lieberman Plan only advocates ceding the Triangle Arab communities, the ethnic Druze community, which is pro-Israel, would also remain part of Israel. “Israeli Arabs will not lose anything by joining the Palestinian state. Instead of giving the Palestinians empty land in the Negev, we are offering them land full of residents, who will not have to leave their homes,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon in an interview to London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper published in early February 2010.

Where to draw borders

The settlements are a known issue of contention between Israel and the United States; although America has not supported their construction, it has, on some occasions, recognized the realities that have developed over 40 years. Improbability for two-state approach is big without massive withdrawals from Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where over 500,000 settlers now live. PaliLeaks are showing serious attemp to find a compromise between total withdrawal to the 1967 border and a redefined border through land swaps.


Latest proposal on 2009 included Israeli annexation of two percent of the West Bank and East Jerusalem adjacent to the 1967 line containing about 350,000 setters in big bloc settlements. In return, Israel would evacuate about 150,000 other settlers and transfer to Palestine two percent of its land, of equal quality, next to the southern West Bank and Gaza. Israel’s current leadership (which is dominated by the settler, religious and ideological right) as well as extreme Hamas elements would probably resist this, however leaked documents show that with current PA an agrement might be possible.

As well as the annexation of all East Jerusalem settlements except Har Homa, the Palestine papers show PLO leaders privately suggested swapping part of the flashpoint East Jerusalem Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah for land elsewhere. Erekat told Israeli leaders in 2008: “This is the first time in Palestinian-Israeli history in which such a suggestion is officially made.” No such concession had been made at Camp David. But the offer was rejected out of hand by Israel because it did not include a big settlement near the city Ma’ale Adumim as well as Har Homa and several others deeper in the West Bank, including Ariel. the major territorial disputes remain over Ariel, Elkana, Ma’aleh Adumim and the Har Homa suburb of East Jerusalem (which was built after the 1993 Oslo Accords).

Speaking about borders one should note that Israel, in pre-1967 borders covers approximately 19% of British Mandate Palestine (of which 9% is the Negev dessert). The West Bank and Gaza cover approximately 7%, and Jordan covers approximately 74%.

U.S. land swap proposal

By coincidence same day when Al-Jazeera started to publish PaliLeaks, the New York Times published a map of a land-swap proposal prepared by David Makovsky of Washington Institute for Near East Policy , which indicates territory inside the Green Line that Israel would give to the Palestinians in return for the settlement blocs. Makovsky’s D.C. office is located near that of Dennis Ross, who serves as a senior adviser to the Obama administration in the peace process.

Now a Washington think tank with close connections to officials in both Israel and the United States has sketched out realistic borders for a new Palestinian state. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy/David Makovsky Strategic report Imagining the Border Options for Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Territorial Issue includes a series of maps showing detailed options for removing most of the West Bank from Israeli occupation.

According publisher in this new Washington Institute report, David Makovsky analyzes the intersection of demography and geography in the West Bank in order to demystify the territorial dimension of the conflict and facilitate peacemaking. Through detailed maps and in-depth population data, he shows how the parties can use land swaps to meet some of their most important goals, such as minimizing dislocation, ensuring security, and establishing a contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank.

Two-State could have agreed many times during last 60 years

The Palestinians have been rejecting compromise deals that would have given them an independent Palestinian state (the first ever in history) for more than 60 years. They rejected United Nations resolution 181 in 1947 dividing the land west of the Jordan river into two states, Jewish and Arab. Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, rejected the Clinton proposals in 2000 at Camp David, and then walked away from the Taba negations in 2001 which would have given him virtually everything he had been demanding.

In November 2007, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Bush administration convened in Annapolis with the unified goal of solving all outstanding issues. Annapolis provided the framework for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians toward bringing an end to the conflict and to all claims.

To this day, I cannot understand why the Palestinian leadership did not accept the far-reaching and unprecedented proposal I offered them. My proposal included a solution to all outstanding issues: territorial compromise, security arrangements, Jerusalem and refugees. ( How to Achieve a Lasting Peace: Stop Focusing on the Settlements By Ehud Olmert Israel PM 2006-2009)


Olmertpage003

Most recently, in the 2008 post-Annapolis negotiations, the Palestinians and Israelis almost finalized an agreement negotiated by the two sides. It was to include a Palestinian state on the about 95% of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Arab East Jerusalem, with a land bridge connecting Gaza and the WB. There was to be a land swap between Israel proper and the remaining 5% of the WB along the proposed future border where most of the Jewish settlers live. Israel was also to pay compensation to the descendents of Palestinian refugees.

Alternatives for two-state

In their analysis ( Rethinking the Two-State Solution by Giora Eiland ) the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, concludes that two-state approach may be outdated. Instead they propose sc Jordanian option. Their proposal suggests that

rather than establishing another Arab state, the parties could return control over most of the West Bank to Jordan. Until recently, such an idea was rejected completely by everyone, especially the Jordanians themselves. Today, however, more and more Jordanians, Palestinians, and Israelis have come to believe that this is the right solution. If a Palestinian state is established there (WB), many fear that it would be taken over by Hamas. Such a scenario could have far-reaching consequences for Jordan. To be sure, the notion of pursuing alternative solutions is not yet politically correct, and therefore no official Jordanian or Palestinian support could be given to such efforts at the moment. Nevertheless, tacit support for this idea has been expressed in private talks.

For their part, many moderate West Bank Palestinians believe that an independent Palestinian entity in the West Bank and Gaza would not be a viable state. Sooner or later, this unstable situation would facilitate a Hamas takeover, and moderate Palestinians would prefer to live under a Jordanian regime rather than Hamas. It is important to note that most Palestinians never strove for an independent Gaza–West Bank state in the first place. They want to be free of Israeli occupation and pursue a normal life, but they do not much care about the exact form of the political solution.

The other two-state solution by Fred Schlomka

I have made same conclusions and propagated long – instead of dead road maps towards two-state – for “three-state” approach”, where Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty. From my point of view this solution could be from administrative point of view stronger as well economically more sustainable. (More e.g. in The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict” ).

The three-state solution essentially replicates the situation that existed between the 1949 Armistice Agreements and the 1967 Six-Day War. Beginning in 1949, Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip, Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and no Palestinian Arab state existed. In 1950, Jordan officially annexed the West Bank and granted the Arab residents Jordanian citizenship. One may note that between 1949 and 1967 neither of those countries, nor any other voice in the Arab world or among the Palestinians, believed it was right to establish a Palestinian state in those territories, even as a temporary solution until the land was liberated in its entirety.

Motivation?

“If one day we see bloody riots in the West Bank similar to the ones we saw in Gaza, it would be worthwhile to go back to the latest al-Jazeera project. This is yet another step, and apparently a deliberate one, in weakening the PA, a move that one party stands to benefit from: The Hamas movement. It is for good reason that Hamas already uses the term “popular revolution” in its reports”

(Al-Jazeera helping Hamas by Roee Nahmias)

Why the PaliLeaks took place in overall, why they happened now and by whom? These questions are essential while thinking forward now stagnated Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The identity of the source for the Palestine papers is not proofed. However among PA there is strong suspicion that a former CIA agent (Clayton Swisher) and a former EU official (Clayton Swisher) were responsible for leaking the Palestine Papers. Also former Fatah security commander Muhammad Dahlan, who has been accused of planning to overthrow the PA leadership, is believed to help to lrak the documents to embarrass and discredit Abbas and his top negotiators.

Related to timing some observers think that the revelation of Palestinian negotiators’ willingness to compromise would not just offend Palestinian pride but instantly spark a wave of revulsion, leading to a Tunisia-style revolt against the PA. Also Hamas accused the negotiators of betraying the Palestinians. From the other side one can also claim that PaliLeaks are preparing Palestinian public opinion for the painful concessions that peace will, one distant day, require.

The first reaction among The Palestinian Authority was that the documents are “a pack of lies”, PA was accusing al-Jazeera of distorting the truth and quoting statements out of context. However after few days, when there were serious evidence that documents are based to facts, the PA (Erekat) said that “ the lesson that should be drawn from the documents is that the Palestinians are serious about peace”. Indeed, from Israeli perspective the Palestine papers are helping Israel to understand that there is a partner on the Palestinian side.

Follow-ups?

“Today it is also clear that the process did not fail and was not exhausted…A peace agreement that will end the conflict and protect the national and security interests of Israel is possible.”

(Tzipi Livni)

The two-state solution is now dead and buried by Israel and the PLO. Impossible for anyone (even the BBC) to pretend that there can be an independent Palestinian state. Now we know that the capitulation was total, but still the Israeli overlords of the PLO refused to sign a deal and their friends in the press blamed the Palestinians for being too difficult. They wanted Palestine to be crushed before they would agree to underwrite a few moth-eaten protectorates that they would supervise indefinitely. They wanted Hamas destroyed. The PLO agreed. The recent assault on Gaza was carried out with the approval of Abbas and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, not to mention Washington and its EU. The PLO sold out in a literal sense. They were bought with money and treated like servants.”

(Total Capitulation by Tariq Ali)

The details indicate that Annapolis was the most serious attempt so far at reaching an Israeli-Palestinian deal. The Bush team facilitated the removal of 25 Israeli settlements from Gaza and the West Bank in 2005, and pushed for a final-status deal in Annapolis as well post-Annapolis talks. The new round facilitated by Obama team has stagnated, hard line government in Israel is not so eager for compromises and Hamas still has remarkable support among Palestinians being as well the real authority in Gaza strip.

It is claimed that the documents could well destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization, a coalition of parties that includes Fatah, which is led by Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Can Fatah survive being discredited to this extent, the time will tell. However the papers, especially the leaked maps, will serve as the starting point for future negotiations.

How the peace process will continue is depending first if/how political leadership of Israel and PA is transforming, second ongoing events in Egypt and Lebanon may have their influence, third indirect Israel-Syria peace talks (“giving up the Golan”) may help peace in north. The most important outside factor may be if there is any progress with negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program.

From my point of view the bottom line is that based on PaliLeaks the peace agreement was more near than ever since 1967 at least with PA. Also two-state solution was and maybe still is realistic – although without Gaza. Despite this in my opinion creating a new Palestinian state in fragmented West Bank is not a viable – or even desired – solution, not economically nor from administrative point of view. A Jordanian option for WB would be more sustainable and three-state solution for WB, Gaza, region and its population.

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NATO 2020: Downsizing Instead of Reshaping

August 30, 2010

Note:

My article was originally published on August 30, 2010 as OP-ED in a collaborative project to create recommendations for NATO’s new Strategic Concept by Atlantic-Community.Org (open think tank).

Ari RUSILA: Rather than providing for collective defense, today’s Alliance is invited to join American wars. Instead of scribbling a new Strategic Concept for NATO that will preserve the dominant position of the US, it might be wiser for European states to develop a New Security Structure within the EU to replace the Cold War relic.

During last sixty years, the security environment and NATO’s role within it have both changed considerably. Threats are more diverse, as the main enemy of the Alliance disappeared in the 1990s. An attack in North America or Europe by the army of an outside state is highly unlikely. Instead of providing for collective defense, NATO is invited to fight US wars by attacking sovereign states. While experts are busy planning the new Strategic Concept, they have avoided a core question: Is NATO needed in the post-Cold War security structure, or could today’s challenges be better met by replacing the Alliance with existing, modernized organizations?

Attack is the Best Defense?

Today’s NATO is an extension of US State Department, where the role of other members is to support US wars, guarantee the quarterly profits of the US military-industrial complex (MIC), and try to cover damages and failures of these aggressions economically by using “soft power.”

From her side, the US is motivated by the prospect of gaining control over the world’s main energy resources. Examples include the US “Silk Road Strategy” (SRS) and the GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova) Group, which aimed to block Russia from gas fields in the Caspian Sea, cut her connection to Iran, and isolate Moscow politically. Most conflicts from the Balkans to Afghanistan have their roots in the SRS. Russia’s counter actions have been successful, and both the SRS strategy and GUUAM have been failures. Today, the main focus of the US is to keep a foothold in Central and South Asia and to prevent the expansion of China. NATO’s role is to provide political backing and financial support for these American foreign policy goals, and does not necessarily reflect the EU’s interests (read more in my article Is GUUAM dead?).

Threats Today and in the Near Future

The collapse of Communism removed the original idea of NATO’s existence, and among the Allies there is a growing fatigue to participate in real or imaginary attacks around the world led by an American cowboy policy. The changed security environment has raised the question of NATO’s continuing relevance, and so a new Strategic Concept is being developed to define new threats in order to legitimate the Alliance’s existence. The following can have some relevance:

  • Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and their means of delivery, whether in the hands of irresponsible states or non-state actors.
  • Malevolent use of modern technology and information systems by individuals, organizations and states to target the vulnerable areas of societies is today’s reality – cyber space is a growing battlefield.
  • Globalization is making borders more fluid, so the flow of goods, services, people, technology, crime and weapons is increasing. Open borders can be used to harm different societies by groups with political, religious, economic, or criminal motivations. Also, the communication, transport, and transit routes that link the multi-polar world together are increasingly vulnerable.
  • Climate change, migration of people, struggle over raw materials, and clean water can also be the cause of future conflicts.
  • Intrastate conflicts will continue, caused by both ethnic and economic factors.

The New Security Structure

The New Security Structure – which could replace NATO – should in my opinion cover the whole crisis cycle, from prevention to crisis management to post-crisis stabilization and capacity-building measures. From the EU perspective, the core of this structure should be a combination of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and EU Battlegroups (EUBG). An even wider structure could be created by reinforcing the OSCE as the main security organization in Europe, but this may require a longer time. In order to respond to today’s threats, the ESDP/CFSP/EUBG should coordinate its activities with the UN/Department of Peacekeeping Operations (world wide crisis cycle management), the IAEA (nuclear and other WMD), Interpol/Europol (organized crime, cyberwar) and FRONTEX (borders).

One crucial question, at least during the transitional period from NATO to the New Security Structure, is the coordination of US hard power with EU soft power in ongoing operations. If EUBG is not enough, more military muscle can be provided by the US. However, America will only help its European partners if the US military-industrial complex has some interest in doing so. Additionally, private firms will be more than ready to take on the dirty jobs: assassinations of terrorists, torture, and trafficking, among others (as they are currently doing in Pakistan on the CIAs payroll). Europe must work to establish its own security structure in order to free itself from the obligation of being complicit in such tactics, which are accepted means of defending and spreading western democratic values under the current US-dominated Alliance.



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