President Obama with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
© Pete Souza, White House.

Arab affairs

Editorial : Oil and Israel before human rights

In light of the new situation witnessed in the Arab countries, many facts emerged regarding the reality of the American and Western behavior in the face of a difficult test imposed by the consecutive Arab revolutions in more than one Arab state.
The most eloquent scene during the last few weeks was that which shed light on the behavior of the United States and its allies toward the situation in Libya, to the point where even the statements condemning the massacres perpetrated by the Libyan regime came late in order to give Gaddafi the chance of settling the situation militarily and thwarting the popular revolution. _ It seemed clear that the West did not have reliable agents within the command of the revolution and this drove the Americans to support Gaddafi during the first stage through the British and Italian governments, while the American intelligence –in its assessment of the situation- showed extreme enthusiasm toward Gaddafi’s possible victory.
The paradox was very strong in the presence of a revolution staged by the Libyan people to make democratic demands and Western governments dealing with his revolution in their political and media rhetoric as though it was similar to the regime which committed massacres and is continuing to bomb the Libyan cities and villages from the air. In the meantime, the Americans are even obstructing the imposition of a no-fly zone to give more time to their ally Gaddafi, while the statements of condemnation would have not been issued to begin with had it not been for the embarrassment caused by the rise of the Western public opinion and the insistence on a position supporting the Libyan people who are calling for help from the so-called international community, but to no avail.
All the scenarios that were drawn up in regard to a possible military interference in Libya are based on guaranteeing hegemony over the Libyan oil at the expense of the Libyan people, whether the Americans and NATO were to divide Libya in case Gaddafi is unable to settle the situation militarily or were to choose the direct occupation of the country. In both cases, Libyan blood will be shed, Western hegemony on the oil will be imposed and a position will be secured to serve the Israeli projects both economically and militarily.

Israel in the maze of Arab changes

In the outcome of the strategic assessment of the results of the changes in the Arab countries, Ehud Barak announced the intention of the Israeli government to ask the United States for an additional twenty billion dollars in military aid to rebuild the strength of the Israeli army, considering that the Egyptian front was considered to be part of the military balance and due to the changes that are currently seen in Egypt. Indeed, the Israelis are afraid that these changes will lead to Egyptian demands to amend or annul the Camp David accord, a fear which was enhanced by the announcement made by the new Egyptian foreign minister - after he assumed his position - regarding the refusal to see the continuation of the blockade on the Gaza Strip which is perceived as being a crime against humanity.
According to the Israelis, the mere lifting of the blockade by the Egyptian side will pose a strategic threat because it will liberate the Gaza Strip from the ban which was imposed on the introduction of goods, despite the fact that the Strip’s population and freedom-fighters got these goods through smuggling via the tunnels, thus succeeding in defying the Israeli will and the measures of Mubarak’s regime. Today, the race between the transformations and the Israeli attempts to enhance its strength after it lost its status in the July 2006 war in Lebanon is the most difficult strategic predicament in Tel Aviv. And while the American-Israeli maneuver seen in the renewed talk about the activation of the negotiations on the Syrian and Palestinian tracks is a failed one, the preparations for a preemptive war starting with Syria’s targeting as a central link in the resistance system seems the most likely Israeli option within the maze of changes that have exited its control.

The Arab file

In addition to its ongoing attacks against the Palestinian people, the Israeli occupation authorities informed a number of Jerusalem inhabitants that their homes will be destroyed, destroying in the meantime the village of Arakib in Negev.
British Foreign Minister William Hague announced that Britain had decided to raise the level of Palestinian representation in London from that of delegation office to that of Palestinian mission.
By doing so, Britain is following in the footsteps of many other countries including France, Spain, Ireland and Portugal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his demands to maintain Israeli forces along the Jordan River to prevent the arrival of fighters to the awaited Palestinian state.

Angry citizens raided the state security apparatus headquarters in a number of Egyptian provinces and found documents and files about politicians, artists, judges, businessmen and students, as well as files about Palestine, Libya and the United States. On Sunday, the Egyptian High Council of the Armed Forces warned against the publication of the latter documents.
In the meantime, the Manshiat Nasser, Sayyeda Aisha and Al-Mukattam areas in Cairo witnessed violent clashes between Coptic demonstrators and Salafi groups. The Egyptian government accused elements loyal to the aides of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of being behind the sectarian acts of violence.
Tens of thousands demonstrated on Tahrir Square on Friday in protest against the clashes which erupted between Muslims and Copts, in what was dubbed the one million people march for national unity.

The demonstrations in Bahrain are ongoing while Bahraini political opposition associations are insisting on the resignation of the government - among other conditions - to begin the national dialogue which was called for by Crown Prince Salman Ben Hamad al-Khalifa. The Bahraini government assured that it supported the freedom of expression and the peaceful demonstrations that were guaranteed by the constitution, stressing the necessity of abstaining from damaging the public, commercial and economic interests of the citizens due to the negative impact of such damage on the country’s security.
On the other hand, Prince Salman corroborated the role of the GCC states in supporting them politically, financially and morally to allow Bahrain to exist the crisis, adding that all the GCC leaders backed up dialogue and Bahrain’s initiative to engage in dialogue with all the sides.

The Yemeni opposition announced that the indirect dialogue with the authority via religious scholars had ended without achieving any results and there was no choice but to take to the street until President Ali Abdullah Saleh steps down.
In the meantime, the protests and demonstrations continued, leading to clashes between the Yemeni president’s oppositionists and loyalists and the fall of many dead and wounded.
The Yemeni president presented an initiative in which he relinquished the prerogatives of the presidency in favor of a parliamentary system, without however leaving power before the end of his term in 2013. The opposition rejected this “late” initiative.

The popular revolution in Libya is ongoing while the Libyan regime’s forces are counting to bomb the positions of the rebels with aircrafts and tanks. For its part, the armed Libyan opposition is preparing for a long war and has deterred attempts undertaken by the forces of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to regain a number of cities, especially Misratah.
The head of the national transitional council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, assured that the council expected to be officially recognized by some states very soon. He announced that the council rejected a negotiations offer presented by Muammar al-Gaddafi adding: “He should firstly step down and leave, and afterwards we might not pursue him in justice.” Abdul-Jalil then indicated: “Some people proposed to act as mediators to stop the bloodshed and end what is being faced by the people in Misratah.”

The Iraqi cities are witnessing a series of protests and demonstrations. Around five hundred people gathered in the center of Baghdad while carrying anti-governmental and anti-parliamentary banners and reiterating the slogan “we have regrets.”

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faysal said on Wednesday that dialogue, not protests, was the best way to induce change in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He continued: “Change can be achieved through the citizens of the Kingdom and not foreign fingers that are not needed in Saudi Arabia. We will sever any finger that dares interfere in the Kingdom.” The Saudi Senior Scholars Association issued a statement in which it completely banned the staging of protests and considered the demonstrations as being prohibited.
In the meantime, a number of protesters in the Eastern Province were hit when the Saudi police opened fire in its attempts to disperse a demonstration calling for the release of prisoners.

The Israeli file

Israeli fears and concerns over the developments in the Arab world
The Israeli papers tackled the Arab developments from all angles, as well as their impact on Israel. Haaretz thus quoted Ground Forces Commander Major General Sami Turjeman as saying: “The army’s agenda is filled with complicated tasks and challenges, including the domestic threats, the Northern arena and the wider circle.” He indicated that any action which will lead to the end of the bloodshed in the upcoming decisive war will be justified, assuring however: “At the same time we are insisting on maintaining the basic military readiness of the army, and therefore our second hand will be ready to respond. You, the officers and the commanders of brigades are an important part of this required readiness.”

Drastic transformation in Israeli-Egyptian relations
The Israeli papers intensified their attacks on new Egyptian Prime Minister Issam Sharaf, thus describing him as being “Israel’s enemy” and accusing him and the new foreign minister of being “anti-Semitic.”
They pointed to the performance of the new Egyptian government headed by Sharaf - which swore the oath before the head of the High Council of the Armed Forces Marshall Tantawi - saying that Sharaf who was known for his positions which opposed Israel and its policies toward the Palestinian people, insisted on showing his anti-Semitism by selecting another anti-Semitic man as the new foreign minister instead of Ahmad Aboul-Gheit. The papers then talked about Tel Aviv major fears toward Sharaf and his new government, saying that it expected Sharaf and his government to restrict or stop enhancing the economic cooperation and commercial agreements between Egypt and Israel during the next stage. The greatest among these fears revolves around Sharaf’s response to the Egyptian people’s demands to discontinue the exportation of Egyptian gas to Israel at the cheapest prices, or to reconsider these prices.

The Lebanese affairs

March 13: additional losses domestically and externally
The mobilization for the Sunday gathering staged by the March 13 forces preoccupied many Lebanese areas that were visited by partisan leaders, at a time when instigation and hatred were detected in the speeches of the leaders of this movement. In the meantime, information circulated about massive sums of money being spent in parallel to wide scale and multifaceted media campaigns.
The main point does not reside in the size of the crowd which will be secured by the March 13 campaign, but in the political course for which this event will pave the way. After the designation consultations, the disruption of the relations between Deputy Walid Jumblatt and his former ally Saad al-Hariri was finally consecrated, while despite the severance of relations seen last year between Jumblatt and the March 14 alliance, the two men had continued to carry out political coordination. However, this relation was recently detonated and Al-Hariri only got Marwan Hamade from the Jumblatti group and its wide base, despite the fact that he threw money in Hamade’s direction to allow him to infiltrate that base. This attempt was pathetic just as it was the case with the Shiite group within the March 13 Movement, which is nowadays headed by Mohammad Abdul Hamid Baydoun, Okab Sakr, Nassir al-Assaad, Sayyed Ali al-Amin, ‘Sheikh’ Hajj Hassan and ally Ahmad al-Assaad who is currently away from the spotlight.
On the Arab level, the blow came from the GCC meeting held in Riyadh, as a statement was issued in support of Mikati and his efforts to form the new government. This surprised Al-Hariri, especially at the level of the Saudi position which is no longer in favor of his retaliation plan, although Al-Hariri maintains close ties with many leaders in the Kingdom. Still, he is blockaded by the Saudi Oger case and the crisis with Mohammad Ben Nayef, and the repercussions of both issues.
The March 13 movement is unable to turn its crowd, regardless of its size, into a power capable of changing the domestic political equations. In the meantime, it is concerned about the changes occurring in the region and around the world, knowing that this movement always relied on foreign support. In this context, despite the American promises regarding a possible Israeli war that might change the equations, what is concerning the March 13 group is the fact that this war –if it were to occur- could mark a new victory for the resistance forces in the region.

The Lebanese file
Al-Jadid television aired a report regarding the presence of witness Zuheir al-Siddiq in Egypt in the Mohamadiya area. A phone message reached Al-Jadid’s correspondent in Egypt saying: “Mohammad Zuheir al-Siddiq is Syrian and accused of having assassinated late Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. He is not mentally ill as you stated. I met him in the home of member in the People’s Assembly Yehya Azmi and he used to come with Ibrahim Siddiq Yehya from Cairo. He established relations with people from Mohamadiya, and all of them disappeared following the January revolution.” When the correspondent demanded proof, the latter provided the channel with six photos of Siddiq, in one of which he appeared with the pyramids behind him, in another eating with his brother and one in front of the archeological sites in Alexandria.
Al-Jadid indicated that as soon as the first part of the report was aired, head of the Information Branch Wissam al-Hassan left for Egypt and arrived at Cairo airport at eight thirty.
The general directorate of the internal security forces mentioned in a statement that Al-Hassan headed to Egypt on Monday night “on a regular Egypt Air flight to conduct a visit that was scheduled a while ago and hold a meeting with the new head of General Security in Egypt, Brigadier General Murad Mawafi.
Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem stated: “The tribunal is part of an American Israeli plan to strike the resistance. The March 14 group wants this tribunal to target the resistance and not to learn the truth.” Sheikh Qassem added: “We are in the process of seeing the formation of a new government which we hope will bring positive things. The designation of Prime Minister Mikati was the right choice to obstruct strife.”

News analysis

New failure for America in Syria and Iran
The Americans discovered the demonstrations technique to serve their strategy ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, thus leading the so-called ‘flower revolutions’ which targeted Communist regimes in many countries of the Warsaw alliance.
The Americans implemented these techniques which were drawn up by Condoleezza Rice - before she assumed the post of secretary of state during the mandate of George Bush Jr. - following the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in Lebanon in 2005, through the political and media management of the so-called cedars revolution. These are the same techniques which the administration tried to use during the Iranian presidential elections via the so-called Green Revolution, in parallel to ongoing attempts to do the same in Syria.
However the American and Western efforts to resort to these techniques to pressure Syria and Iran hit a solid wall mainly based on the fact that the regimes in Damascus and Tehran are widely supported by the people and express a real popular will and a national and progressive identity, whereas the regimes which the Americans managed to target were going through a state of deterioration and an inability to meet the popular aspirations.
Despite the repeated failure and the facts on the ground, the Americans will not stop their exposed attempts to weaken the Syrian and Iranian commands, especially since Obama’s administration is adopting the Israeli agenda in the region and will stall for long before recognizing the new facts imposed by the historic fall of the so-called moderation axis, on which Washington based its policies throughout half a century.

The American file

The US seeks air and maritime options in Libya and creates reasons to avoid military action
The Washington Post believed that the US was making up reasons to avoid a military action in Libya, pointing to the response of Obama’s administration to the request of the Libyan delegation at the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, by using the pretext of the discussions with the governments of the NATO alliance. However, the talks seemed to revolve around the reasons for which the no-fly zone should not be imposed. _ The paper indicated that NATO will not try to stop the bombing carried out by Gaddafi against his citizens until a Security Council resolution is issued, a thing which will not be allowed by China and Russia.
The New York Times carried a report headlined ‘U.S. Weighs Options, on Air and Sea’ in which it indicated: “American military planners are sifting through a range of options as the United States, like other Western nations, weighs the response to the bloody Libyan military assaults on rebels trying to oust Col. Muammar el-Gaddafi. Rebel commanders have begged for American strikes on troops and weapons that have turned on civilians and assaulted strongholds of the resistance. And on Sunday, three prominent members of the United States Senate, from both major political parties, renewed the Senate’s call for consideration of enforcing a ‘no-flight’ zone to ground the Libyan air force and prevent it from attacking its people. They also pressed the Obama administration for a more aggressive response, including supplying intelligence, arms and training to the rebels.”

The British file

Winds of change reach Saudi Arabia…
The Financial Times tackled the impact of the action on the Arab street in Saudi Arabia, saying: “Unlike in Tunisia and Egypt, Saudi activists are seeking reform not revolution. But the House of Saud’s determination to treat their demands – legitimate or not – as sedition risks ending up by diverting mainstream discontent into a revolutionary tributary. The Saudi authorities will doubtless ensure there are no big shows of defiance; they sent 10,000 troops to Eastern Province last week after a few hundred Shia protesters took to the streets.”
It also believed: “The impression is inescapable that the Al-Saud are over-reacting, even panicking,” while Foreign Minister “Prince Saud al-Faisal sounded more like Muammar Gaddafi in threatening to “cut off the fingers” of anyone meddling with the stability of the kingdom.”

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