Is Settlement Truly Impossible?
By Ghaleb Kandil
Many analyses, reports and positions in regard to the Syrian situation have been talking about the impossibility of settlement at the level of the ongoing conflict between the Syrian national state and the Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist gangs led by the Al-Nusra Front and including a mixture of Muslim Brotherhood elements and multinational Takfiri groups, along with local gangs featuring a mixture of thieves and bandits.
Firstly, the decisive factor it this level is the balance of powers within Syrian society and its reflection on the two fronts involved in the conflict, i.e. the national state and the Syrian Arab Army on one hand, and the terrorist gangs collaborating with NATO on the other. Any close follower of the Syrian situation knows very well that the Syrian popular majority which constitutes a solid core - extending beyond sects and regions – and has expressed since the beginning of the crisis its support to President Bashar al-Assad and all the initiatives he adopted in the face of terrorism and rebellion, has expanded during the course of events, did not retreat and was joined by two new factions: the gray faction which was neutral, and which clearly stood alongside the Syrian Arab Army, the national state and President Al-Assad following the expansion of terrorism and the uncovering of the chapters of the foreign attack against the country, thus rejecting anarchy and wishing to see the reinstatement of Syrian stability under the authority of the centralized state, far away from any foreign intervention and the bloody terrorism practiced by Al-Qaeda. On the other hand, there was a wide popular faction under the influence of the reform slogans at the beginning of the incidents. But soon enough, it discovered up-close the honesty of President Bashar al-Assad and the national state in regard to the efforts to introduce reforms. This happened in parallel to the exposure of the opposition’s foreign ties and its rejection of dialogue. Hence, this faction, and despite its insistence on its reformatory aspirations, is rejecting the authority of the thugs, murderers and terrorists that has become the real project of the Syrian opposition movements linked to the West. On the field, this is being sensed by the Syrians, in the presence of gangs affiliated with the Al-Nusra Front, which pushed this faction of the people to rally around the opposition movements and symbols that are cooperating with the principle of dialogue and national partnership, and are sincere about the rejection of foreign intervention and the fighting of colonial aggression.
Secondly, the vast majority of the Syrians is fully standing behind the national state, its army and president, and there is no doubt that a small social faction representing the base of the Muslim Brotherhood organization and some other opposition groups is still hostile towards the state and the army for different motives and calculations. But the number of people belonging to this faction is decreasing to the point of constituting a clear minority on the Syrian street, and is losing more of its components in each area witnessing the presence of the Nusra Front armed men, due to their spread of terrorism and their hosting of Takfiri elements, thieves, murderers, outlaws, arms smugglers and drug dealers.
Thirdly, this balance in Syrian society is determining the direction of the conflict, and there is no doubt that wide circles among the majority supporting the state and the army is rushing the military settlement, far away from any talk about compromise with the terrorist gangs or the parties collaborating with the West. However, if the talk about the impossibility of the settlement is due to the balance of human and military power between the Syrian Arab Army and the terrorist gangs, this calculation is surely erroneous, without downplaying the impact of the presence of tens of thousands of terrorists, including thousands of foreigners and professional slaughterers on Syrian soil, or the seriousness of the weapons and funds that were dispatched to them under American directives. This is also without downplaying the size of the economic depletion which resulted from the continuation of the incidents and the terrorist attacks, at a time when the Syrian national state is trying to face these events with an exceptional dynamism required by the nature of the developments.
The aforementioned factors mean that the fight put up by the Syrian state, people and army against terrorism will last a long time, and that all the pending settlements on the political level will not lead to the ending of terrorism. They also mean that all the international contacts and efforts are pointless, and will not allow the ending of the Syrian bloodshed unless the national state is supported in the face of international terrorism, and unless deterring measures are adopted against all the countries involved in the support of terrorism with money and weapons, i.e. the United States, the NATO member states, the Turkish government, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Libya among other countries interfering in Syrian domestic affairs. These terrorist gangs are a foreign tool to destroy the Syrian state, and any other talk about the Syrian situation is a lie and falsification.
By Ghaleb Kandil
The Muslim Brotherhood and the Plan to Renew Hegemony
After tens of years during which the Muslim Brotherhood organizations were in the opposition, they have reached power for the first time in a number of Arab countries. The realistic results of these experiences are featuring crises, conflicts and political divisions caused by two factors. On one hand, the MB leaders are showing a suspicious wish to monopolize power and annul any margins of plurality or opposition, just like the regime to which they succeeded in power. On the other hand, the Muslim Brotherhood leaders are revealing an ability to adapt to the American and Western hegemony conditions, and to the economic and political dictations of the West, especially in regard to normalization with Israel and submission to its security requirements.
Firstly, it seems clear from the experience of the MB governments, especially in Egypt, that the handling of the Palestinian cause is similar to the one seen under the previous regions. Even worse, the Israelis are nowadays bragging that what they earned from President Muhammad Morsi’s government under American sponsorship and in partnership with Turkey and Qatar exceeded by far the acquisitions secured by Israel under Mubarak’s regime. The main source of the threat at the level of the Palestinian cause and Egypt’s independence, is the use of the popular and political credit of the Muslim Brotherhood to justify the submission to the American and Israeli dictations, not to mention the urgent action launched by Morsi’s government – in collaboration with Qatar and Turkey – to tame Hamas and include it in the course of the Palestinian authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas, i.e. the desperate and useless negotiations with the enemy, instead of seeing political change in Egypt encouraging the escalation of Palestinian resistance and the development of its liberation project. Hence, the MB command reflected on Hamas in terms of a dangerous political adaptation to the logic of the settlement, instead of seeing it flaunting its liberation doctrine and its insistence on the resistance as a strategic option. Consequently, we heard talk about a truce and negotiations, while the last ceasefire agreement – and its content – constituted a sample of a political administration that is below the level of the accomplishments secured on the field by the resistance fighters, in a way which rocked the Zionist entity and provided an opportunity to demand the toppling of the siege instead of returning to its stipulations and foundations with tripartite American-Egyptian-Israeli coordination.
Secondly, regardless of the outcome of the current confrontations in Egypt or in Tunisia, what is certain is that the conflict over power wherever the MB is present will remain wide open, and that more social powers will join this confrontation because the Muslim Brotherhood leaders are seeking alliances with the military elite that is loyal to the West and reassurance at the level of the American and Israeli interests, instead of expanding the popular base and maintaining the unity of the political movements which participated in the uprisings. And although the MB organizations were late to join the action on the street in the so-called Spring countries, the movement’s command is spread a discourse claiming it led the popular uprisings and accusing those opposing its project of betrayal and of trying to reproduce the former regimes. In the meantime, the Muslim Brotherhood is the one doing so, through its affiliation with the West, and its submission to Israel’s hegemony over the region with its own economic, political and security conditions.
There can be no stability wherever the MB is in power. It will rather be an era of ongoing political turmoil, far away from independence and liberation. Moreover, we will witness the renewal of the colonial hegemony mechanism and attempts to tame the resistance and revive the illusions surrounding the negotiations that are wanted by the Americans to enhance the safety net around the Zionist entity.
By Nasser Kandil
The Lavrov-Kerry Agreement
For about a decade, the Middle East has been living under the stipulations of the agreement signed between the French and British foreign ministers under the name Sykes-Picot in 1916. Unlike what many Arabs assume, this agreement did not stem from the French support offered to a group of Lebanese leaders, none of whom is still alive while Sykes-Picot is. Others believed it aimed at supporting the monarchy in Egypt or Iraq, or at instating the authority of Al-Sharif Hussein’s action, through its dynasty over a unified kingdom.
The changes which affected the ruling political components in the region, especially Gamal Abdul-Nasser’s revolutions, Syria’s and Iraq’s coups and the victory of the Algerian revolution among other developments witnessed in the Sykes-Picot states during the Cold War, failed to induce drastic change at the level of the geography of the Sykes-Picot components, although the major actors in the Yalta Summit were able to inherit the makers of the agreement, or rather share its influence, without being able to amend it since this would have required a decisive victory by a rising international superpower, which would draw up alone the facets of the new world. The United States under George Bush’s two administrations tried to do that and failed, while no new international understanding has been reached between two major opposite camps in a war that would determine the balance of powers and the circles of influence, as the chapters of this process have been ongoing since the 2001 Afghanistan war.
Clearly, between the dismantlement of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the end of the American withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, we faced a Third World War launched by the United States to impose a new political geography and new rules of influence. This succeeded in Eastern Europe, whose identity has changed, reaching the discovery of the necessity to arrange the Middle East before drawing up the rules of the new game. We thus saw the Afghan war which marked the beginning of the campaign that reached Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza, and the emergence of the new balances saying that the Russia-China-Iran trio, which is the new actor in Asia, is not the Sick Man who could be eliminated in a Third World War. We also saw the eruption of the Arab spring and its revolutions, with all that this revealed in terms of alliances with political Islam represented by the Muslim Brotherhood group, reaching the point of allowing collaboration with Al-Qaeda organization, i.e. the decisive element of this war.
At this level, Geneva seems to be the address of the new understanding that is surfacing, while John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov seem to be the two names that will enter the history of international politics from its wider door, by placing their signatures on a document which will control the world for maybe a decade to come.
Many wish to see the world revolving around them and to see its facets drawn up through them, as it was the case during the birth of the Sykes-Picot agreement. However, the American times of progress are faltering and the countdown is beginning, despite the numerous promises and countless deadlines. The hopes have collapsed with the end of the wager on Syria’s fall as the last piece of the puzzle to come up with the new balances. Kerry is the maker of the Muslim Brotherhood game in the region for those who don’t know, its promoter in the American backstage, the creator of dialogue with President Al-Assad and the promoter of this dialogue in Washington, the obstinate opponent of intelligence cooperation with Al-Qaeda or the so-called dual containment, the caller for calm sharing and soft negotiations with Beijing, Moscow and Tehran to draw up the facets of a new Middle East other than the one heralded by Condoleezza Rice, is proud that the fruit of the alliance with the MB was Israel’s security after Hamas’s repositioning in the lap of the Egyptian Brotherhood, as he expected and explained to his colleagues in the Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee.
As for Lavrov, he is the number one man of geopolitics around the world, and the man behind its theory which Davutoglu tried to steal with his known zero-problems policy with the neighbors. He a solid negotiator and the maker of well-studied terms, such as linking the negotiations over the Syrian presidency to the non-undermining of sovereignty, and linking foreign intervention to ensuring the conditions for dialogue, then the elections. The two men will negotiate for a long time and will tear up many maps. But it is clear from now that four equations will be dubbed the Lavrov-Kerry agreement for a century to come:
the geographic area extending from China to Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and the frozen Pole is a Russian area of influence hosting American interests. The Southern part is an American area of influence with Russian-Chinese-Iranian interests.
there will be a long process to appease the Palestinian-Israeli conflict without embarrassing its parties with lethal concessions before their explosive populations
the oil and gas pipelines, trade and security are a strategic, security, economic and financial interest under Russian-Chinese-Iranian control from the Mediterranean to the gulf and Kazakhstan, while there is at the heart of this intersection a critical position occupied by Syria, which deserves funding to reinstate its stability and ensure its reconstruction needs.
the political changes to ensure elected governments sharing power with presidents, kings and princes will affect all the states of the region, including the Gulf kingdoms and emirates, but in a calm way. As for the oppositions in the Gulf, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, they will get what will be given to the Syrian and Iraqi oppositions, with a red line preventing the representatives and supporters of Al-Qaeda from entering the authority game.
During the spring, Kerry and Lavrov will be able to draft the details of this memo, and Kerry will then be ready to visit Syria.
While the Syrian Arab Army is proceeding with its field operations against the terrorists, hundreds of people in the Al-Sabil neighborhood in Aleppo staged crowded marches in support of the Syrian Arab Army in its operations against the terrorists, calling for the ousting of the terrorists receiving support from foreign sides asking the army to hasten its national mission in eliminating the terrorism pits, in order to reinstate security and normalcy in their city. In the meantime, the population of the Yarmouk camp in Damascus took to the streets to ask that the terrorists be ousted from the camp.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon contacted Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem over the phone, and addressed the situation in Syria in general, the mission of UN Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi and the situation in the Yarmouk camp in particular. Minister Al-Muallem assured the secretary general that the United Nations and the international community were responsible for the frustration of the Palestinians, due to their non-implementation of their resolutions in regard to the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. He stressed that what Syria has been offering the Palestinians for decades was never offered by any hosting state, and that Syria repeatedly warned in the past against the seriousness of the Palestinians’ implication in the Syrian crisis and the attempts to shift their attention away from their rights, at the head of which comes the right of return.
The independent international investigation commission into the events in Syria said on Thursday that the conflict was now being conducted on sectarian bases, thus increasingly placing the Alawite minority in the face of the Sunni majority, in the presence of foreign fighters helping both sides. Human rights investigators affiliated with the United Nations revealed that fighters from all around the world had infiltrated Syria to participate in a civil war which divided the country on sectarian bases.
On Saturday 22 December, Egypt witnessed the second round of the referendum over the Constitution Draft, at a time when six Egyptian human rights organizations called for the reorganization of the first round after they detected numerous violations and breached in it. Last Monday, more than 1,300 members in the General Prosecution demonstrated in front of the General Prosecutor’s office, calling on him to resign. A few hours later, Judge Talaat Abdullah Ibrahim presented this resignation then recanted it, saying that it was made in extraordinary circumstances.
On Tuesday night, thousands of Egyptians demonstrated in rejection of falsification in the area surrounding the presidential palace, chanting slogans against the new Egyptian Constitution Draft and condemning what they described as being falsification witnessed in the first stage of the referendum over it. On Friday, one day prior to the referendum, clashes erupted between oppositionists and loyalists, resulting in the injuring of around 37 people in Alexandria. The police used tear gas bombs to separate the demonstrations who were casting stones at each other.
On Sunday, the preliminary results of the referendum revealed that the Constitution Draft had earned 64% of “yes” votes.
Demonstrators attacked Tunisian President Moncef al-Marzouki and Parliament Speaker Mustafa Bin Jaafar on Monday during celebrations Sidi Bouzid to commemorate the second anniversary of the revolution which launched the Arab Spring. The two Tunisian leaders had headed to this economically marginalized city in the western part of the country to commemorate Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation. In this context, the state of emergency which was proclaimed the day Ben Ali fled the country and which granted the army and police wide prerogatives is still in force, at a time when President Al-Marzouki issued a presidential pardon in favor of hundreds of Tunisian prisoners.
And while the local papers revealed that a new government will be announced at the end of the month, the main opposition parties reiterated their refusal to join any new governmental formation.
On Sunday, the ruling National Congress in Libya announced the closing of the country’s border with four Libyan neighboring states in a temporary way, but also announced that the southern part of the country was a closed military zone in the face of the mounting turmoil.
The Israeli electoral file occupied the main headlines of the Israeli papers issued this week. At this level, Haaretz criticized the decision issued by the central electoral committee to write off the name of Deputy Hanin Zohbi and prevent her from partaking in the electoral battle, saying that the committee’s decision was rejected and tyrannical. For its part, Maariv indicated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was planning on introducing important changes to his upcoming government, in case he is reelected as it is expected.
The papers also spoke about the settlement expansion in Eastern Jerusalem and the ratification of the project which includes 1,500 new housing units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in north Jerusalem. Haaretz indicated on the other hand that Israel was facing a true geopolitical crisis, considering that Tel Aviv’s security needs exceeded its military capabilities, pushing it to rely on foreign power not only to acquire strong military capabilities, but also to draw up the foreign policies towards the Arab world. The paper added that these heavy requirements were burdening the small state.
On the other hand, Haaretz carried a poll whose results were as follows: 67% of the centrist and leftist parties’ voters in Israel oppose the division of Jerusalem and withdrawal from occupied Jerusalem.
New Orient News (Lebanon)