Burhan Ghalioun

International affairs

Editorial: A defeat that cannot be concealed by the smoke of the fires
The American escape from Iraq is proceeding and the scenes conveyed by the international media outlets of the evacuation of the bases which the US government tried to enhance on Iraqi soil confirm the veracity of the American defeat in this country in particular and throughout the region in general. The American administration started pulling out its troops long before December, while those still in the bases whose evacuation was announced are mere symbolic units.
There is no doubt that during the last few months the United States achieved great success at the level of exploiting and exaggerating the incidents seizing media and political attention, far away from its defeat in Iraq. It was also able to capitalize on the popular protests to launch thick clouds of smoke and cover its humiliating escape from the swamp of defeat and failure. But the reality which cannot be concealed by the commotion and the incidents witnessed in all the Arab countries is that the American-Israeli colonial adventure in the region ended with failure and that the plan of the American administration led by Barack Obama to salvage the colonial invasion and protect Israel has failed. Indeed, it was unable to impose commitments for the protection of Israel on Syria and Iran, and was unable to save Israel from the predicament seen in the undermining of its deterrence capabilities and strategic superiority following the defeats during the wars on Lebanon and Gaza, which were led by Bush’s administration and funded by the Gulf leaders.
The American defeat in Iraq marks the defeat of the unilateral hegemony project and the American counterattack which exploited the protests through a deal with the command of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, and brought back the government of the Ottoman illusion to its ties with the Western project. All of this does not prevent the fact that a new reality has surfaced in the region, saying that Iraq in the post-American occupation phase will become closer to the Syrian-Iranian axis and the resistance and independence forces, and that the world is about to witness a new cold war between the Western colonial alliance which includes Israel and is led by the US on the one hand, and the international independence alliance which includes Russia, China, India, Latin American states, South Africa, Iran, Syria and the resistance forces on the other. From now on, it will be impossible for anyone to deal with any incident, conflict, development or balance affecting regional and international relations outside the circle of the equations produced by or surrounding this cold war. This plurality affecting the international scene and the balance between the economic, political and strategic power centers is the future of the world, while the United States - and the Western camp and Israel from behind it – went against the course of history. This direction will impose itself at the level of the conflict of wills in which the powers of independence around the world are engaged. The East in particular will be the arena of major transformations during the next stage.

Arab Affairs

The Istanbul council and Colin Powell’s program
The statements delivered by Borhan Ghalioun, the alleged president of the Istanbul council to the American Wall Street Journal, clearly revealed the reality of the political project of the Syrian opposition movements whose symbols, leaders and organizations are connected to the Western colonial alliance and its agents in the region [1]. Clearly, Ghalioun delivered these statements upon the request of his international and regional sponsors. They constitute a material on which the American intelligence wishes to capitalize before the American public opinion in the context of Barack Obama’s electoral campaign and the plan to target Syria to serve the Israeli hegemony project over the region. Ghalioun was addressing the Zionist lobby and the influential groups in the American Congress, as his statements were definitely not addressed to the Syrian people whom he tried to dupe with talk about reform, democracy and the modern state.
More importantly, Borhan Ghalioun announced that the program of the Syrian opposition movements which are actually led by the Muslim Brotherhood organization is to turn Syria into an America-Israeli colony. The inclinations tackled by Ghalioun at the level of foreign policy which he believes the opposition’s government will adopt in case it were to come to power, actually convey the demands carried by Colin Powell and were rejected by President Bashar al-Assad following the occupation of Iraq. Indeed, when Ghalioun says that the Syrian opposition government will end the alliance with Iran and stop all forms of support to Hezbollah and Hamas, he is actually announcing that the Syria wanted by these wretched oppositions is the same Syria which was wanted by Colin Powell following the occupation of Iraq.
He also added that the government that will be formed by the opposition will – if it ever comes to power - seek peaceful means and not military ones to restore the Golan. In other words, it will negotiate to secure an agreement similar to Camp David and will relinquish the position adopted by the Syrian command throughout the past years, in terms of the insistence on full sovereignty over the entire Golan and the Tiberius water. Ghalioun’s program, which is that of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Ar’our, and the leftist mix following them, aims at subjugating Syria to the conditions of Colin Powell and George Bush which are the same as Obama’s and Sarkozy’s conditions that are rejected by President Bashar al-Assad and the overwhelming majority of the Syrian people.
The West is recruiting opportunistic political groups that want to reach power at any price and are willing to kneel down before the American orders to secure the Israeli interests and subjugate Syria to full Zionist hegemony. Any other claim by Ghalioun is an exposed imposture. What is required today is clarity and Ghalioun’s clarity in the adoption of Israel’s and America’s plans to destroy Syria and transform it into an affiliate was unblemished. In his statements, Ghalioun provided a cover for all the terrorist operations inside the country and his recognition is highly valuable before the Syrian public opinion which is gradually discovering the facts and is way too smart to fall in the traps of mercenary groups seeking Syria’s destruction and submission.
Today, following Ghalioun’s statements, it is our right to ask all those who claim to be pan-Arab, who gave advice to the Syrian command and spoke about reform and change, about their position vis-à-vis this blunt announcement which confirms all our talk about the existence of a colonial conspiracy against Syria, using these wretched and mercenary opposition movements as its tools. We believe that the renewal of the Syrian state’s infrastructure and the deepening of popular participation in the national decision as it was presented by Doctor Bashar al-Assad, will lead to the immunization and enhancement of Syria’s status and role as a powerful country in the battle of liberation from Zionist colonial hegemony over the East.

The Arab file

• On Sunday, the Arab League approved with the majority of the votes the imposition of wide-scale economic sanctions on Syria. Qatar’s foreign minister said that if the Arabs fail to contain the crisis, other foreign powers could interfere. For his part, Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi stated: “Our biggest concern is to spare the Syrian people from the repercussions of these sanctions.”
• Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem assured that the sanctions will go both ways and that no interest rose above that of the Syrian people. He assured that the solution resided in three points: Proceeding with the reforms announced by President Assad, launching a comprehensive national dialogue not only between the authority and the opposition but between millions of Syrians who belong to neither the authority nor the opposition, and discontinuing the violence, regardless of its source.
• In the meantime, the UN-affiliated investigation committee into the incidents in Syria announced in a report issued in Geneva on Monday that the Syrian security forces committed “crimes against humanity” while oppressing the demonstrations opposing President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. At this level, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the UN report did not convey an official viewpoint, rather the opinion of the representatives of this organization’s general secretariat, without anyone having granted them such prerogatives.
• The American Treasury Department placed Syrian officials and companies on what it dubbed “black lists.” As for the European Union, it added the names of twelve figures and eleven entities on the sanctions list, thus freezing their assets and imposing restrictions on their movement. It was also decided to ban the exportation of oil and gas production equipment and trade with Syrian governmental bonds.
• The Arab League set another deadline for Syria to approve its demands, expiring on Sunday at noon. But the Syrian command had already announced its clear stand on several occasions, thus refusing to engage in such settlements and compromises. On the other hand, Jordan addressed a strong blow to the Arab League by requesting that it be spared from the respect of the economic sanctions imposed on Syria. This means that the sanctions will have no value on the ground, considering that Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq will abstain from implementing them.

• On Monday, the Egyptian voters headed to the ballot boxes to elect their representatives in parliament. The official preliminary results of these elections clearly pointed to the victory of the Democratic Alliance led by the Muslim Brotherhood group, followed by the Salafi alliance led by Al-Nour Party and the Egyptian bloc alliance led by the Free Egyptians Party. In the meantime, the demonstrators on Tahrir Square proceeded with their sit-in, calling for the formation of a national salvation government and the departure of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces from the management of the country’s affairs. For his part, Prime Minister-designate Kamal al-Janzouri announced that he will reveal his new formation on Monday.

• Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh issued a general pardon affecting “all those who committed foolish acts during the crisis.” The official Yemeni television revealed that the president issued a general pardon excluding those implicated in crimes and in the presidential mosque incident, adding that the latter will be sent to trial, whether they are parties, groups or individuals.
• Vice President Abed Rabo Mansour Hadi signed on Saturday a decree in which he called for early elections in February, i.e. upon the end of the 90-day period which started the day President Saleh signed the reconciliation agreement in Riyadh. The vice president appointed opposition leader Mohammed Basindwa as the prime minister of the new transitional government, at a time when the clashes escalated in the city of Taez. At this level, the prime minister threatened: “If the bombing of the city of Taez does not stop, the opposition will reconsider all its positions.” He also called on the Yemeni vice president to “issue immediate orders to stop of the bombing of the city,” which Hadi did.

• The Kuwaiti government presented its resignation to Prince Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad who accepted the resignation and ordered the government to tend to the country’s urgent affairs. This resignation was made a few hours before a crowded demonstration was staged by the opposition on Al-Irada Square in front of parliament to call for the non renewal of the term of Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad in the premiership. The demonstrators also called for early elections and the release of 24 activists detained against the backdrop of the storming of parliament two weeks ago. One day after having accepted the resignation of the Kuwaiti government, Parliament Speaker Jassem al-Khorafi decided to suspend the sessions of the national assembly until the formation of the new government.

• Following the students’ attack against the British embassy in Tehran, British Foreign Minister William Hague announced the closing of the British embassy in Tehran, the closing of the Iranian embassy in London and the departures of those working in it. For its part, Tehran also ordered all the British diplomats in Iran to leave the country, while head of the Shura Council Ali Larijani accused the Security Council of rushing to condemn Tehran against the backdrop of the incident. Indeed, the Security Council had issued a harsh statement condemning the attacks which targeted the British diplomatic headquarters.

Israeli file

• Once again, Israel violated Lebanese sovereignty and detonated spying devices targeting Hezbollah’s communication network via reconnaissance aircrafts, after the devices were discovered by element from the party in the eastern part of the Lebanese city of Tyr. Last year, Israel had also detonated more than one device which targeted that same network.

• The Israeli papers issued this week followed the outcome of the Egyptian parliamentary elections and the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood earned the majority of the votes. The comments where thus negative for the most part, as some considered that the group’s victory in the elections will constitute a strong blow to the peace agreement and a blunt threat to the relations between Cairo and Tel Aviv, due to the hostility carried by the members of the group towards Israel. Others said that even if the MB is the biggest party in the People’s Assembly, this did not mean they would be able to annul the peace agreements with Israel.

• The papers also lengthily tackled the Iranian file and the warnings issued by the intelligence chiefs against the dangers of an Israeli military attack against Iran. On the other hand, the papers addressed Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the proposals of the international Quartet.

Lebanese affairs

News analysis: Nasrallah’s facts explain the fierceness of the attack on Syria
The positions announced by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah towards Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s decision to fund the tribunal, went in line with the requirements of the Lebanese interests and will play a decisive role during the next stage in drawing up the political developments inside Lebanon. Clearly, the March 14 forces are going through a state of shock and disappointment after they wagered for a long time over the collapse of the government or its resignation due to the dispute surrounding the funding clause.
The step carried out by Prime Minister Najib Mikati generated wide constitutional and political controversy, especially after the funding was taken out of the budget of the Relief Committee. By doing so, he chose a path linked to his political priorities from outside the natural constitutional institutions, i.e. without going back to the Cabinet. This priority actually resulted from the prime minister’s submission to the blackmail campaigns led by the Future Movement ever since Mikati was assigned to head the government.
Prime Minister Mikati thus blocked the road before the winds, after the United States, France and Saudi Arabia confirmed that the threats were serious, whether on the governmental or the personal levels. But the most important point in the funding controversy was seen in the exceptional facts revealed by Sayyed Hassan Narsrallah and are learned for the first time since the toppling of the government of Saad al-Hariri who undermined the Syrian-Saudi initiative from New York based on the American request. The most dangerous and significant facts were the ones featured in the papers which Sayyed Nasrallah said were in his possession, regarding a comprehensive international-regional agreement to annul the tribunal as conveyed by Turkey’s and Qatar’s foreign ministers and the secret written pledge that was presented by Al-Hariri via the two ministers and whose existence he could not deny in his response to Sayyed Nasrallah.
The documents assured that Hezbollah’s command rejected the trade off to which Sayyed Nasrallah had hinted in the past, i.e. the lifting of the tribunal’s sword which is brandished against the resistance, in exchange for granting immunity to Al-Hariri and his economic, judicial and security team in the face of constitutional accountability while allowing them to dominate the country economically and politically based on the conditions set by Saad al-Hariri to serve his own interests and his economic and financial project.
The position adopted by Hezbollah’s command and revealed by Sayyed Nasrallah confirms that Hezbollah refused the transformation of the country into an American colony managed by Al-Hariri, in exchange for the lifting of the pressures targeting it as a party through the falsification of the investigations, the use of false witnesses and the escalation of the Israeli infiltration of the Lebanese communication network via the international tribunal. What Sayyed Nasrallah revealed regarding the deal he turned downs also exposes the reality of the fierce attack launched by the Western-Israeli alliance against Syria during this stage. Indeed, the American and Western positions and especially the Qatari and Turkish ones in regard to the failure of this deal, is based on the fact that Syria did not exercise enough pressures on Hezbollah’s command to force it to accept the equation. The facts reveal that this deal was accompanied by great international and regional incentives offered to Syria by the Turkish, Qatari and French governments.
Sayyed Nasrallah revealed another truth, which is that President Bashar al-Assad left it up to Hezbollah’s command and the concerned Lebanese national leaders to adopt a decision toward the Turkish-Qatari offer that was issued from a summit held in Damascus. The command of the resistance proved once again it did not build its calculations on partisan or factional interests and that the priority was the future of Lebanon and its people. As for President al-Assad, he proved once again that Syria had Lebanon’s interest at heart and adopted the Lebanese decisions without imposing dictations over its allies in accordance with the Syrian interests.

Lebanese file

• Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri intensified his consultations with the president and the prime minister, as well with the leaders of the majority, prior to the Cabinet session which was supposed to be held on Wednesday to settle the issue of the tribunal’s funding. Speaker Berri had assured As-Safir he was not concerned about the government’s fate and that he was deploying all possible efforts to help overcome the new predicament. He considered that the Lebanese should be able to come up with the adequate solution and bear this responsibility because the external parties were currently busy with other issues.

• On Wednesday, Prime Minister Mikati announced from the governmental Serail that he transferred Lebanon’s share to the tribunal. He said: “The threats facing our nation require a clear position and a courageous decision.” He added that his insistence on funding the tribunal firstly stemmed from his insistence on Lebanon’s protection, and secondly from his belief in the principle of justice. He added that he pledged not be a prime minister who did not meet Lebanon’s international commitments or who led Lebanon away from the lap of the Arab and international communities.

• On the other hand, three quarters of the Lebanese soil fell in darkness after the sudden discontinuation of the work of the Zahrani power plant in the South. This step resulted in a massive decrease in production, which was reflected in quasi-total electricity cuts which affected all the Lebanese territories, including some areas in Greater Beirut. On Sunday, Prime Minister Mikati announced that he was able to reach an agreement with the employees and that power will be restored on Monday.

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[1« Leader Sees New Syria, Without Iran Ties », by Jay Solomon et Nourmalas, Wall Street Journal, 2 décembre 2011.