International affairs

Editorial: Washington’s precious catch: the oil and the bank accounts

The Americans have reaped hundreds of billions of dollars after having frozen Mubarak’s, Ben Ali’s and Gaddafi’s bank accounts. This enticing sum which has become under the control of the American administration and some of its European partners met an urgent need in the ranks of the major industrial countries in these times of crisis, in which their governments are forced to issue treasury bonds to fund their growing expenses, to activate the economic wheel and resist the suffocating stalemate.

In addition to this economic and financial dimension, the availability of hundreds of billions of dollars is alleviating the industrial states’ need for Chinese help, at a time when the Chinese government is demanding costly political prices that are making the American empire feel the retreat of its international influence even further. Real gains reside in these frozen billions as they are compensating for the loss resulting from the fall of rulers who had offered major services to the American and Western hegemony over the Arab countries.

During the next few years, the new governments in these countries will find it difficult to liberate and restore these frozen assets, while the proof for that is what was seen in Iraq whose debt was multiplied by the Americans following the occupation, without them returning anything from the funds they froze throughout twenty years. In that same context, they have hijacked Iraq’s oil which is still underground for the next twenty years.

The Arab affairs

Editorial: Plan to sabotage Al-Assad’s reforms

The timing of the transfer of the infection to Syria and the fueling of the turmoil in it through the payment of funds and the mobilization of a massive Lebanese, Arab and foreign machine to serve the current campaign targeting the country, point to a blunt attempt to block the way before president Bashar al-Assad’s reform project. The proof for that is the continuation of this campaign following the announcement of the decisions of the Baath Party command on Thursday. Indeed, what is required is turmoil and the mobilization of parts of the Syrian youth to serve the project of chaos which has turned into a chapter of terrorist violence exercised by outlaws and infiltrators, some of whose sources of financing and armament were exposed following their involvement in the Daraa events.

This campaign did not undermine Al-Assad’s determination to fix the relations between Syria and Lebanon, as he adopted a series of measures including the ending of Abdul Halim Khaddam’s and Ghazi Kanaan’s control over the so-called Lebanese file, while completely turning his back on the deals offered to him by Jacques Chirac and Western envoys dispatched by Bush’s administration to trade Syrian military presence in Lebanon with the pledge to disarm the resistance.

Throughout the past years, President Al-Assad and the Syrian command placed the deterrence of the American-Israeli project in the region at the top of their list of priorities and the Syrian efforts focused on redrafting the Middle Eastern map outside the circle of imperialistic hegemony. Syria thus engaged in partnerships across the border, enhanced the alliance with Iran and secured harmony with Turkey. Al-Assad’s strategy drew up the facets if the independent Middle Eastern bloc that is cooperating economically, politically and on the security level. This consecrated the embracing of the resistance in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq on stable grounds and proved its efficiency following difficult tests in the Lebanon and Gaza wars. The plan to transfer the protests infection to Syria, aims at blocking the way before the reform project of President Al-Assad who announced his determination to implement it as a first response to the Arab popular revolutions. The denial of calm in Daraa and the attempts to give the impression that demonstrations are being staged through fabricated reports spread by Syrian dissidents abroad and adopted by Western and Arab media outlets participating in the plan to sabotage Syria, aim at saying that the situation in Syria is unstable and that the reforms are not perceived seriously, although popular protests were launched on Thursday night and Friday morning in more than one location in the Syrian capital and provinces in support of President Al-Assad and the decisions which he promised to implement.

The Arab file

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad launched a series of economic and political changes and issued on Thursday night decrees to help improve the living conditions of the citizens. Regarding the incidents witnessed in the Daraa province, media adviser Boutheina Chaaban assured that the Baath party command decided to form a committee to communicate with the citizens in Daraa, discuss the incidents and hold those who were responsible for them accountable.
It is worth noting that some media outlets intentionally pointed to the expansion of the protests to Lattakia, which is known for being the former stronghold of Refaat al-Assad’s gangs. In the past, these groups used to terrorize the citizens and carry out acts of violence and theft, which forced President Assad to oust Refaat al-Assad and his sons from the country altogether. On Friday, the city witnessed the presence of unknown snipers who randomly started shooting at the citizens and left two people dead, in the context of the plans aiming at undermining Syria’s security. In regard to Banias, it is known to be the hometown of former Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam who is obviously exploiting the funds stolen from the Syrian people to finance anti-regime operations.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a legislative decree to increase the wages and release all those who were arrested in the Daraa incidents.
Media adviser of President Al-Assad, Boutheina Chaaban, assured in a press conference that the Baath party command was planning on establishing a new and efficient mechanism to fight corruption and secure the issuance of the necessary legislations. It also planned on looking into the rapid ending of the state of emergency and issuing legislations guaranteeing the safety of the country and the citizens, in addition to the drafting of a parties law and making it the object of political and popular dialogue. Chaaban mentioned that ten people were killed since the eruptions of the incidents in Daraa, assuring there were ongoing investigations to reveal the implications of these developments. She said there was evidence proving the presence of foreign funding and hands standing behind what was happening in Daraa, indicating that the results of the investigations will be presented once they are complete.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh ousted the government and assigned it to continue handling the daily affairs in the country, until a new one is formed. He then considered that those calling for chaos, violence and sabotage were a very small faction of the Yemeni people. The Yemeni president then warned against the eruption of a bloody civil war in case dissent is witnessed within the military institution, considering that the military commanders who had joined the young protesters were implementing a foreign agenda.

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi warned the NATO forces that are launching air raids against the security brigades against a long war in which he will eventually be the victor. He thus called on them to retreat, adding: “We will not let them enjoy our oil. We will not let the Fateh Revolution go to waste and will not allow America, France and Britain to take our oil.” He then invited those whom he referred to as the “defeated attackers” and tyrants to a land confrontation.
Gaddafi also warned the states bordering the Mediterranean Sea that their interests will be at stake after NATO’s bombing of some areas which he is controlling.

The chairman of the judicial committee supervising the referendum over the constitutional amendments, Councilor Mohammad Attiya, announced that the results of the referendum over these amendments showed their approval by 77,2% of the overall participants and their rejection by 22,8%. For its part, the January 25 Revolution Youth Alliance announced its acceptance of the results of the poll over the constitutional amendments, as long as the elements of safety and integrity are available.

The Israeli occupation forces continued their escalation against the Gaza Strip, thus bombing it, infiltrating it and carrying out air raids against it, resulting in the martyrdom and injuring of a number of Palestinians. The Palestinian resistance factions responded by launching rockets on the settlements and by detonating a bus in the heart of occupied Jerusalem, causing the death of one and the injuring of over thirty Israelis. In that same context, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil el-Araby, warned Israel against implementing any military operations against the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli file

The bombing which targeted a bus in the occupied city of Jerusalem, the Israeli military escalation which followed it against the Gaza Strip and the threats of Israeli military leaders – at the head of whom is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu- were the main headlines tackled by the Israeli press this past week. A few hours after Netanyahu made his threats, Israeli war planes launched a series of raids on several areas of the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian resistance launched a number of Grad missiles on the Israeli settlements.

The papers also focused on the Iron Dome system which will obstruct the missiles launched from the Gaza Strip towards the Israeli settlements.

On the other hand, the Israeli papers extensively tackled the decision to imprison former president of the Hebrew state, Katsav, against the backdrop of sexual crimes.

In regard to Libyan affairs, the papers addressed the international dispute over the nature of the participation in the military attack on Libya, the goals behind the Western intervention and the United States’ role in the military campaign.

The Lebanese file

Hezbollah secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a celebration organized to express solidarity with the Arab revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Libya, that the new majority’s accountability started since the Bristol meeting when the March 14 forces announced they will not participate in the government. Nasrallah pointed to the presence of “massive pressures exercised on Mikati by ambassadors and states. They are saying to him: do not form a government which only includes the new majority. But how can he do that? It is a new majority which has the right to form the government. There are discussions over the color of the government, its formula, its ministerial statement and its future policies.” He added: “There are calls to summon foreign powers and I know as well as you that the Americans, the French, the West and the Arab world are being sought out to pressure the prime minister-designate. And if a day comes when we will need to reveal the details, we are ready to do that.”

Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati said to An-Nahar in response to a question about the outcome of his contacts and efforts: “There is slow progress.” Regarding the veracity of what was said about disputes between him and certain sides in March 8, he stated: “There are different viewpoints and I am seeking a government formation that will be comfortable to all the sides… Quite honestly, I have not yet lost hope. I never did.” In response to another question, he assured: “Syria has never interfered at this level,” adding he was not pessimistic.

Prime Minister of the caretaker government Saad al-Hariri said: “The other team made a mistake when it thought that we were negotiating to resolve the crisis due to our insistence on maintaining power and thus tried to annul us politically.” He added: “We do not want to annul anyone. However, we will do our best to eliminate the tutelage of the arms over the Lebanese state and people, because it is affecting the state’s action, economic development and Lebanon’s progress on all levels. It has started to pose a threat on the interests of the Lebanese abroad after it turned into a tool to export the Iranian revolution to the Arab and Islamic states.”

News analysis

The United States and the Arab revolutions
On the eve of the eruption of the revolution in Tunisia and Egypt, Obama’s administration was drowning in a major crisis due to the obstruction of the plan to contain the failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the dead end reached by the peace settlement due to the American president’s submission to the dictations of the Zionist lobby and the positions of Netanyahu’s government which rejected the minimum level of conditions allowing the Palestinian authority to save face. This happened despite this authority’s full submission to the dictations of the Americans and the Israelis to serve the occupation in the West Bank and maintain the thin negotiations line under the sponsorship of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The status of the Israeli deterrence power had collapsed before that date and the American strategic calculations reached the conclusion that it was necessary to relinquish the illusion of war on Iran because the cost would be quite high. In the meantime, the negotiations with the Islamic republic in Istanbul had reached the threshold of an American recognition of Iran as a nuclear power and a major player in the region.
The danger which was perceived by the Americans as being a threat to their interests and to Israel’s, resided in the Egyptian case where the youth of Tahrir square toppled the attempt to appoint Omar Suleiman who was considered Americas’ and Israel’s strongman in Mubarak’s regime, but also when the calls on Tahrir square rose against the Camp David accord and in favor of restoring Egypt’s lost Arab role that draws its legitimacy from the support of the Palestinian cause and the resistance.
The American wager thus looks obstructed but the attempts will not stop. This is why the March 14 forces acted inside Lebanon and toward the Syrian domestic arena ever since Saad al-Hariri’s government resigned, as the Americans are trying to ripen the conditions of an Israeli war against Syria and Lebanon through an ongoing depletion process targeting both countries.

The American file

A few days following NATO’s launching of the military campaign against Libya and the strongholds of Muammar Gaddafi, the American papers pointed to the clear divisions in the ranks of the alliance and tackled the existing dispute over who should be running the military operations and command. Moreover, the Washington Post indicated there was no proof for the fact that the attacks launched by NATO had prevented the regime’s forces from killing civilians or had turned the balance of power in favor of the revolutionaries. As for the Los Angeles Times, it assured that President Barack Obama was facing increasing criticisms inside and outside the US due to the military campaign in Libya.

Also in the context of the Middle Eastern events, the papers talked about the retreat of the support of the Yemeni tribes toward President Ali Abdullah Saleh and about five army generals having joined the anti-regime protesters. This will further weaken the Yemeni president’s grip over the authority, the papers said, although he has been in power for over thirty years. The Washington Post thus wondered about the nature of the developments in the Arab world, but also about the nature of the revolution and whether it aimed at achieving democracy against a tyrannical rule or was a mere tribal confrontation.

The British file

The British papers issued last week tackled the repercussions of the events in Libya, NATO’s assignment to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and the dispute regarding NATO’s role in the military operation. They also addressed the renewal of the confrontations between the Palestinians and the Israelis against the backdrop of the Jerusalem explosion and the Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip.

Moreover, they talked about Saudi Arabia’s motives to interfere in Bahrain and play on the strings of sectarianism, the fears of seeing Al-Qaeda’s further infiltration in Yemen if its president were to insist on staying in power and the air campaign launched on Libya under the hegemony of American aircrafts.

Saudi interference in Bahrain fuels sectarianism and hypocrisy behind Arab interference in Bahrain, especially that of Saudi Arabia
The Guardian indicated that the “Saudi intervention in Bahrain will fuel sectarianism, not stifle it,” pointing out that the Arab “uprising began in a spirit of hopeful nationalism. But now religious divides are being exploited.”
The paper added that what was new at the level of the Bahraini uprising was the “sectarian dimension” in this small island where “A majority of the Bahrain population is Shia and they are governed by a Sunni monarchy with a long history of discrimination.”
The Guardian assured that the “The Saudis are using the threat of sectarianism as cover, insisting that urgent action was necessary to prevent what they are, in fact, fuelling.” As proof for that, the paper believed that “Provoking the fear of Shias meets domestic requirements; it inhibits the cautious Saudi version of the Arab spring – a nervous internet petition movement asking for reforms had been gathering strength.”
It added: “Highlighting sectarianism serves Saudi well with another constituency – its American allies. There have been plenty of thinly veiled references to Iranian links with their co-religionists in Bahrain; presumably, allegations of "foreign interference" in Bahrain have been poured into American ears to keep them on side.”
However, The Guardian revealed that the Saudi intervention in Bahrain will have negative repercussions, although it may appear to Riyadh and Manama that the situation is in their favor. It assured in this context: “In the last few days there have been demonstrations against Saudi intervention in Bahrain in Shia communities in Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and the crucial Saudi eastern province of Qatif, where most of its Shia live – and where Saudi oil is also concentrated.”

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