International affairs

Israel and the predicament of the American policy

A thick wave of PR campaigns and lectures about democracy targeting the Arab public opinion prevailed over the Arab scene amid a heated American-European attempt to continue improving their image, starting with exaggeration at the level of their support to the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions which toppled two major friends for the West and loyal leaders to Washington and to the relations with Israel for which they offered unforgettable services, i.e. Ben Ali and Mubarak.

The American veto was issued against a Palestinian resolution bill presented before the Security Council, while accompanied by threats made by President Barack Obama to the Palestinian authority in case it were to insist on heading to the Security Council to ensure the ratification of a resolution condemning the settlement activities in the West Bank or consecrating the recognition of a Palestinian state which Israel has been refusing to allow to exist at any price.
The reality related to the fact that Israel is at the heart of the American and Western strategies in the region resurfaced, thus revealing the duplicity affecting the American and Western rhetoric claiming to want to spread democracy.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is being used under the banner of these slogans because it serves Israel and because the United States is holding its strings, along with those of the international resolutions that are binding to Israel, starting with resolution 194 which stipulates the right of return and resolutions 242 and 338 that call for for the withdrawal of the Israeli occupation from the West Bank, the Syrian Golan and many other locations, all of which are obstructed by an American order.

The Arab street which rebelled in Tunisia and Egypt and is heralding other actions in other countries is imbued with the culture of rejecting the Israeli occupation of Arab lands but also with the culture of supporting the Palestinian cause. As long as America’s and Europe’s rulers are acting as though Israel is their precious gem, each liberation wave in the region will target the Western political influence and will lead the Arab crowds towards supporting the resistance movements that were able to provide a realistic alternative for decades of waiting for a prohibited settlement that would restore some of the occupied lands and some of the rights denied by the Israelis and the Americans. In the meantime, the European governments seemed pleased with a secondary role and with taking instructions from the American master.

Arab affairs

Editorial : Regimes seek protection via sectarian and tribal divisions

The Arab public opinion was preoccupied with major developments in a number of states due to the transfer of the infection of gatherings and demonstrations to demand urgent political and economic changes. Indeed, Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain and Libya witnessed marches and calls for demonstrations in a clear replication of what happened in Tunisia and Egypt during the last few weeks. Many Arab cities thus witnessed bloody clashes which claimed the lives of dozens of demonstrators and generated many more wounded.

It seemed clear –although on different levels- that there was a determination to oppress these activities with direct support from the United States, a thing which reached a scandalous level in Bahrain where the regime used multinational mercenaries under the command of British and American intelligence officers to protect the regime that is assigned to manage an advanced military and security base on Iran’s waist, for the besieging and depletion of which the United States and Israel have mobilized all the capabilities.

The truth that was revealed by the events is the impact of the vertical divisions in the Arab communities and the inclinations of the existing regimes to barricade themselves behind these divisions by turning any call for change into an internal conflict and direct clashes between sectarian and tribal groups.
It is certain that the winding course of change in Egypt and Tunisia will inspire many freedom fighters and will rely on the power of change in these countries, where the remnants of the old rule still occupy an important position in the decision-making equation and where the conflict is clearly evolving between the old and the new powers.

The Arab file

The United States used the veto right on Friday against a resolution bill presented to the Security Council to condemn the Israeli settlement activities in the Palestinian territories, after the Palestinians refused to recant a draft that was drawn up by the Arab countries. The other fourteen members voted in favor of the draft but the US voted against it and toppled it.
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas had assured that the Arab group at the United Nations was proceeding with the presentation of the Arab resolution bill demanding the condemnation of the settlements before the Security Council. In regard to Palestinian division, he said he will not accept the staging of the next general elections in the West Bank solely, adding: “This is completely unacceptable for us. The elections include the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and this is the only way we will stage them.”
In the meantime, leaders in the Palestinian national factions considered that the measures undertaken by the Palestinian authority – ousting the caretaker government and calling for presidential, legislative and local elections- were preemptive steps to elude real reform.

On Tuesday, the Egyptian army gave a ten-day deadline to the committee it formed to amend the constitution to complete its task. The Egyptian armed forces announced that the continuation of the turmoil and the protests will have ‘disastrous’ repercussions on Egypt. The coalition of the revolution’s youth asked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to define a deadline not exceeding nine months to implement the demands of the revolution which the statement narrowed down to eleven key demands, stressing that the constitutional amendments will be temporary until the election of a new People’s Assembly.
Millions of Egyptians celebrated “Victory Friday” which was staged one week after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down in Tahrir Square in the center of Cairo and other provinces, reiterating their insistence on the demands that have not been implemented, namely the resignation of the current government which was appointed by the former president before he stepped down, the immediate annulment of the state of emergency and the release of the political prisoners.

Bahrain witnessed demonstrations in which thousands participated to demand political reforms, the release of political prisoners and the discontinuation of “political naturalization”. The protesters thus erected tents on Pearl Square where clashes with the security forces led to the fall of dead and wounded. On the other hand, many marches were staged in the streets of Bahrain in support of the king.
The Wefaq society bloc, which represents the biggest opposition bloc in parliament, announced its withdrawal from the council and called for the resignation of the government after it had suspended its membership in light of the incidents occurring in the country.
Bahraini Monarch King Hamad Ben Issa al-Khalifa delivered a speech in which he announced the formation of an investigation committee into the incidents witnessed in the country, expressing his sorrow for the fall of victims. In the meantime, the United States expressed its deep concerns vis-à-vis the situation, calling on all the sides to show self-restraint.
The GCC states assured they were standing as one in the face of the threats, expressing their support toward Bahrain.

The confrontations in the Yemeni capital continued between demonstrators demanding the toppling of the regime and others supporting it, thus causing the fall of many victims.
In the meantime, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh stated that he was sick of power, but stressed his determination to complete his term which expires in 2013 and described the opposition as being a revolutionary one. He said that the times of coups had gone for good, accusing certain people of having foreign agendas and of trying to spread chaos all around the region.

Clashes erupted between demonstrators and the Libyan security forces on the eve of the “day of rage” which was called for by activists on the domestic scene and oppositionists abroad through social networking websites. The Libyan security forces thus used tear gas bombs, water hoses and live ammunition, leading to the fall of many dead and wounded. According to Human Rights Watch the number exceeds 105 dead.
The European Union called on the Libyan authorities to allow the anti-governmental demonstrators to protest and to take their demands seriously.

The Israeli file
Israel terrified following threats of Hezbollah’s secretary general.
Following the speech of Hezbollah’s secretary general on the anniversary of the martyred leaders in Beirut, Israel, its politicians, press and media were terrified. And while awaiting the reactions of leaders Barak, Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz to whom Sayyed Nasrallah said that Hezbollah’s fighters were ready to liberate Galilee in Northern Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered his response.
Sayyed Nasrallah’s statements generated shock on the Israeli domestic arena, one which was quickly seen in the reaction of the Israeli media outlets. Indeed, Haaretz carried a report headlined: “Hezbollah chief tells IDF: Watch your heads” As for The Voice of Israel, it mentioned: “Nasrallah threatens to seek the occupation of Galilee,” while Yediot Aharonot said: “Nasrallah threatens to take over Galilee.”

Israeli embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul shut down
The Israeli papers quoted the Turkish Hurriyet newspaper as saying that the Israeli embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul were shut down and that the diplomats were carrying out their tasks from their homes. This emerged two days after the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced a state of alertness in Israel’s representation offices around the world to preempt any attacks inspired by Hezbollah.

Iranian warships cross the Canal of Suez towards Syria
The Israeli papers mentioned that Israel and the United States were closely watching the movements of two Iranian warships which Israeli security sources expected to cross the Canal of Suez toward the Middle East and to dock in the Syrian Latakia Port.
The two Iranian navy warships had left Iran several weeks ago on their way to the Mediterranean Sea and had docked in the Saudi Jeddah port after having received an authorization from the Saudi authority for that purpose, a thing which was considered to be unprecedented.

The Lebanese file
Prime Minister of the caretaker government Sa’d al-Hariri said in Biel on the anniversary of February 14 that “the tribunal will sanction the terrorist murders solely and will only charge individuals.” Adding: “We will support the tribunal, its indictment and its sentence and will never say that the accusation is cast against a sect, a party or a faction.” He continued: “We will never be in a confrontation with the Shiite sect,” stressing: “We do not accept the arms or succumb to the arms when they are directed against the Lebanese and are used to blackmail them or to pressure the deputies to do something going against the will of the voters.” He thus announced “We will never allow the arms to continue to be directed toward national life in Lebanon.”
Head of the Lebanese forces Samir Geagea stated: “We will not allow the black coup which was carried out by those wearing the black shirts and was produced by a black and fictive majority to undermine our determination.”
On the commemoration of the martyred leaders, i.e. Sheikh Ragheb Harb, Sayyed Abbas al-Moussawi and Hajj Imad Mughniyyeh in the Southern suburb, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in response to the threats made by the leaders of the Israeli army regarding the reoccupation of Lebanon: “I would like to address Barak, Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz by saying to the fighters of the Islamic resistance: be ready for the day in which the war on Lebanon might force us to ask you to lead the resistance toward the liberation of Galilee in Northern occupied Palestine.” Nasrallah noted: “The remnants of the March 14 forces are determined to go back to the tune of the arms. If your position is settled in regard to the arms of the resistance, should we still head to the dialogue table?” He then cautioned that the situation in the entire region had changed, “and the insistence on engaging in the battle of the arms or on turning it into a headline for the new opposition will be in vain.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by saying: “Nasrallah announced he will occupy Galilee. But I have news for him: he will not be able to do so.” He added: “No one can question Israel’s strength or our ability to defend ourselves. We have a strong army and we want peace with all our neighbors.”

In the meantime, Prime Minster-designate Najib Mikati proceeded with his consultations in different directions to form the new government.
As for the head of the National Struggle Front, Deputy Walid Jumblatt, he expressed his belief in that the March 14 team has made up its mind, adding: “For our part we have made up our mind and any illusion regarding their team’s participation in the government is misplaced.” He added to As-Safir: “To each political choice, there are requirements. The issue is not about the allocation of the seats or about compensations. It is about a choice. Therefore we must be ready to constitute a political team with a unified vision.”

News analysis : A new opposition living off deceit

The political speech of the March 14 forces which announced they had become part of the opposition following the exit of the leader of the Future Movement Saad al-Hariri from the premiership, relies on a series of elements to deceive the people and falsify the facts. This team thus established an operations room which it provided with massive financial capabilities to secure popular mobilization on March 14, while its media outlets launched a wide scale campaign against the new government before it is even formed and against its president which was able to break the walls of instigation.

And while the Maronite Church is preparing to bid Patriarch Sfeir farewell after he turned Bkerki into a faction in the March 14 camp, the Vatican is trying to lead the patriarchate toward a position that is distant from political bias in the heated conflict between the powerful bloc led by General Michel Aoun and his ally Minister Suleiman Franjieh, and the Phalange- Lebanese Forces duo.

Among the paradoxes in the speeches of the March 14 forces was the talk about an artificial link with the Egyptian revolution, while denying the close ties between their leaders and the regime and intelligence apparatuses of President Hosni Mubarak, knowing that Omar Suleiman personally led the operations to support the Future Movement, the Lebanese Forces and the Phalange Party militias in Lebanon.

The speeches also featured the falsification of what happened in the April Understanding by saying that Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri was the one who conducted it, while in reality the late Syrian President Hafiz al-Assad kept the American secretary of state waiting without setting an appointment for him, at a time when he opened the missiles warehouses to Hezbollah which handled the deterrence tasks. However, the secretary of state insisted on meeting President Assad who saw him after he had left him waiting for half an hour at the presidential palace, and led the negotiations which ended with the understanding related to the right of the resistance to deter the Israeli bombing of any civilian targets in Lebanon.

It is clear that the new opposition is determined to engage in the battle against the resistance and its weapons, without any consideration for the past experiences which allowed Israel and its leaders to reach the conclusion that was announced by Tzipi Livni at the end of the July 2006 war regarding the impossibility of disarming Hezbollah. The determination to go through with the experience will cause a shock to this team, especially after Mubarak’s ousting from Egypt and in light of the Saudi position seen in King Abdullah’s anger towards Saad al-Hariri’s conspiracy against the Saudi-Syrian initiative for Lebanon in favor of the American instructions.

The American file

The Bahraini protests threaten the United States’ interests
The American newspapers tackled the Bahraini file while pointing to the dictatorial method adopted by the royal family in the attacks against the demonstrators in Pearl Square. On the other hand, there was talk about false allegations of political democracy and the retreat of the American-Bahraini alliance due to the turmoil in the “Persian Gulf State” and the ongoing threats targeting domestic stability. The Washington Post indicated that all these events and their repercussions were threatening the American interests in the region, pointing to the arrests which targeted a number of Shiite opposition leaders who were accused in accordance with the anti-terrorism law. The paper also pointed to the claims of the ruling family regarding the launching of political reforms before it moved in the opposite direction last year. It thus expressed the intention of the US to stop the oppression and persecution of the Bahraini people and the launching of political and economic reforms in the country, talking about the United States’ concerns toward the measures adopted by the Bahraini security forces against the demonstrators.

The British file

British training of Arab police elements and selling of arms and ammunition to oppress demonstrators in Bahrain
The Independent assured there were strong ties between Britain and a number of Middle Eastern countries, mentioning that during the last two years the British police trained police elements in Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Abu Dhabi emirate in the UAE. It added that Britain should realize that its armament of oppressive and tyrannical regimes abroad was at the end of the day a bad action on all levels.
It mentioned that the current British government was criticized for selling weapons to a number of Arab governments that oppressed protesters demanding democracy by use of violence, leading to the killing of dozens and the injuring of thousands in more than one Arab country during the last few weeks. It stated that ever since it came to power last summer, the British government gave licenses to sell weapons to Bahrain and to other Middle Eastern and North African countries, thus delivering tear gas bombs to Bahrain, ammunition used to control the crowds to Libya, helicopters to Algeria and armored personnel carriers to Saudi Arabia.
The Independent added that the green light to export weapons to the Bahraini government coincided with the elections that witnessed the oppression of Shiite opposition groups by the Bahraini government.

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