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'You can triumph yourself to death'." from Tariq Ali

A protracted colonial war With US support, Israel is hoping to isolate and topple Syria by holding sway over Lebanon Tariq AliThursday July 20, 2006The Guardian
In his last interview - after the 1967 six-day war - the historian Isaac Deutscher, whose next-of-kin had died in the Nazi camps and whose surviving relations lived in Israel, said: "To justify or condone Israel's wars against the Arabs is to render Israel a very bad service indeed and harm its own long-term interest." Comparing Israel to Prussia, he issued a sombre warning: "The Germans have summed up their own experience in the bitter phrase 'Man kann sich totseigen!' 'You can triumph yourself to death'."
In Israel's actions today we can detect many of the elements of hubris: an imperial arrogance, a distortion of reality, an awareness of its military superiority, the self-righteousness with which it wrecks the social infrastructure of weaker states, and a belief in its racial superiority. The loss of many civilian lives in Gaza and Lebanon matters less than the capture or death of a single Israeli soldier. In this, Israeli actions are validated by the US.
The offensive against Gaza is designed to destroy Hamas for daring to win an election. The "international community" stood by as Gaza suffered collective punishment. Dozens of innocents continue to die. This meant nothing to the G8 leaders. Nothing was done.
Israeli recklessness is always green-lighted by Washington. In this case, their interests coincide. They want to isolate and topple the Syrian regime by securing Lebanon as an Israeli-American protectorate on the Jordanian model. They argue this was the original design of the country. Contemporary Lebanon, it is true, still remains in large measure the artificial creation of French colonialism it was at the outset - a coastal band of Greater Syria sliced off from its hinterland by Paris to form a regional client dominated by a Maronite minority.
The country's confessional chequerboard has never allowed an accurate census, for fear of revealing that a substantial Muslim - today perhaps even a Shia - majority is denied due representation in the political system. Sectarian tensions, over-determined by the plight of refugees from Palestine, exploded into civil war in the 1970s, providing for the entry of Syrian troops, with tacit US approval, and their establishment there - ostensibly as a buffer between the warring factions, and deterrent to an Israeli takeover, on the cards with the invasions of 1978 and 1982 (when Hizbullah did not exist).
The killing of Rafik Hariri provoked vast demonstrations by the middle class, demanding the expulsion of the Syrians, while western organisations arrived to assist the progress of a Cedar Revolution. Backed by threats from Washington and Paris, the momentum was sufficient to force a Syrian withdrawal and produce a weak government in Beirut.
But Lebanon's factions remained spread-eagled. Hizbullah had not disarmed, and Syria has not fallen. Washington had taken a pawn, but the castle had still to be captured. I was in Beirut in May, when the Israeli army entered and killed two "terrorists" from a Palestinian splinter group. The latter responded with rockets. Israeli warplanes punished Hizbullah by dropping over 50 bombs on its villages and headquarters near the border. The latest Israeli offensive is designed to take the castle. Will it succeed? A protracted colonial war lies ahead, since Hizbullah, like Hamas, has mass support. It cannot be written off as a "terrorist" organisation. The Arab world sees its forces as freedom fighters resisting colonial occupation.
There are 9,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli gulags. That is why Israeli soldiers are captured. Prisoner exchanges have occurred as a result. To blame Syria and Iran for Israel's latest offensive is frivolous. Until the question of Palestine is resolved and Iraq's occupation ended, there will be no peace in the region. A "UN" force to deter Hizbullah, but not Israel, is a nonsensical notion.
· A demonstration against the Middle East war has been called by the Stop the War Coalition and others on Saturday http://www.stopwar.org.uk/.

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an excellent post by Marc Lynch


Power Ploy, or Spot the Setup
The piece about the Arab politics of the current crisis is now up at The American Prospect under the title "Power Ploy: Why three Arab regimes are publicly aligning themselves against Hezbollah and Iran." Most of the argument will be familiar to those who've been reading here the last week, but it goes a bit further in working through what Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are up to. An excerpt:

...these three regimes evidently see this crisis as an opportunity to demonstrate their value to the United States and conclusively put an end to American calls for democratization. The domestic power of Islamists has long been the trump card of these regimes, which have used the prospects of their electoral victory to frighten off American democracy enthusiasts. This gambit gained extra currency in Washington after the strong showing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt’s Parliamentary elections and the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections. In this context, protests in support of Hezbollah probably serve the interests of the pro-American despots right now. The last week will put the final nails in the coffin of democracy promotion, if these regimes have their way: Why would America push for democracy when these regimes are so publicly helpful, and the publics likely to win elections so hostile?

The effort seems to be working. Egypt is trumpeting a new “American-Egyptian Strategic Dialogue,” with pro-government pundits celebrating an end to several years’ tensions over democratization. Jordan is about to hold joint military exercises with the United States. And the Saudis seem to have completed their post-9-11 rehabilitation with the Bush administration. For those of us -- including not only the Bush administration but a great number of liberal foreign policy analysts -- who believe that promoting democracy in the Arab world should be a key element of American grand strategy, the quiet death of democracy promotion could be a tremendous hidden cost of the current crisis. Americans don’t want to look back on the Lebanon crisis and bemoan the fact that amidst the bloodshed and fear, we didn’t spot the setup.

If I had been writing a few hours later, I might have added Bush's recent decision to waive sanctions on Saudi Arabia for violating religious freedoms. I might also have added that these three regimes (like Washington?) were banking on the Israeli assault lasting about a week and focusing on Hezbollah. That, they felt they could contain, while getting major points with Washington - especially if Saudi Arabia "delivered" Iran on a ceasefire agreement. In a sense, I could sum up my argument as these three governments bidding for a return to the mid-1990s status quo: a close strategic alignment with the US, with Arab public opinion either contained or ignored and democratization largely off the table. I don't think that this is really possible, but I think that this is what they had in mind. But with the war dragging on, and Israel's targeting getting ever wider and more devastating to Lebanese civilians and to the country's infrastructure, the policy isn't working so well. Anger is rising, and they are having a harder time justifying their stance - hence the increasingly loud calls for a fast ceasefire from these capitals, at odds with both the US and with their own rhetoric the last week. One other point to highlight from the piece is that I think the communal (Sunni-Shia) stuff is a red herring, pushed mainly by those regimes to justify opposition to Hezbollah as part of opposition to Shia Iran (and avoid the more popular "popular movement vs corrupt regimes" frame common on al-Jazeera and beyond).... but most of the Arab public discourse is rejecting it. Anyway, go read it all over at TAP!

khadder Kenaan يقول...

I have already talked about that here:


read the comments too,
I hope you find it useful.

غير معرف يقول...

إسرائيل “مذهولة” للدعم العربي:
حاكم عربي اتصل بأولمرت مشجعاً

ذكرت صحيفة “يديعوت احرونوت”، امس، ان رئيس الحكومة الإسرائيلية إيهود أولمرت تسلم رسالة سرية من “حاكم دولة عربية معتدلة لا تقيم علاقات دبلوماسية مع إسرائيل” قال فيها “أؤيد عملياتكم في لبنان وشعرت بحاجة إلى تشجيعك في هذه اللحظة. أنتم ملزمون بالاستمرار حتى النهاية. جهات عديدة في العالم العربي تتمنى لكم النجاح”.
وقال وزير الدفاع الإسرائيلي عمير بيرتس، من جهته، “هذه هي المرة الأولى التي تتمتع بها حملة عسكرية اسرائيلية بهذا التأييد، خاصة من الدول العربية التي أيدت الخطوات التي تقوم بها اسرائيل للدفاع عن نفسها. ونحن نريد أن نحافظ على هذا التأييد وإقناع الرأي الدولي بأن وجود حزب الله بهذه القوة سيمنع تنفيذ التفاهمات الدولية وقرارات الأمم المتحدة”.
وأوضحت “يديعوت” أن الرسالة، التي وصلت عبر قنوات دبلوماسية، لم تفاجئ أحدا في القدس. ونقلت الصحيفة عن مصدر في وزارة الخارجية الإسرائيلية أنه وصلت، في الأسبوع الأخير، رسائل في هذا السياق من الدوائر العربية إلى القيادة السياسية.
وأضاف هذا المصدر، في إشارة إلى ما يسمعونه في محادثات مغلقة مع دبلوماسيين ومع وزراء خارجية بل ومع قادة دول عربية، أن “ما نسمعه في الدول العربية ببساطة مذهل”. وأشار إلى أن الجمل تكرر نفسها “واصلوا هجماتكم العسكرية إلى أن تمحوا حزب الله”، “ستصنعون معروفا كبيرا للبنان ولكل المنطقة إذا قضيتم على نصر الله هذا”، “لا تتوقفوا حتى تقضوا عليهم”، “كل من يصف نفسه معتدلا يتمنى لكم النجاح” و”لإسرائيل وحدها الشجاعة للوقوف في وجه هذا الرجل”.
غير أن مصادر الخارجية الإسرائيلية ترى انه لا يتعين التحمس الزائد لهذه الرسائل. “يقولون لنا في الواقع قوموا بعملنا جميعا، ولكنهم علنا لن يقولوا حتى ربع هذا الكلام”.

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