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A Proclaimed State of War - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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If the popular marches towards the Palestinian border have brought the struggle against Israel to a new historical starting point, then Obama and Netanyahu’s speeches in Washington, as well as before the American-Zionist AIPAC organization, have brought the entire region into an atmosphere of war.

Obama’s first speech was directed entirely against the Arab region, naming specific countries and charging each one with the duties it should meet, whilst expressing satisfaction with certain states, and dissatisfaction others. Only countries which satisfy the US will be entitled to receive aid, provided that they are on the road to democracy; the word democracy in this context meaning a commitment to US policies and demands. As for the countries which do not meet such requirements, they should soon recognize American demands and desires, and start implementing them, in other words their regimes should change and accept US conditions.

Obama’s second speech revealed the illusions entertained by any Arab citizen, hoping that the US President, in his capacity as a world leader, would trend towards justice, especially with regards to the Palestinian nation. The Palestinians demand an independent state (something America also desires), in accordance with the 1967 borders (as recognized by the US), albeit in a manner that guarantees that Israel will control 80 percent of the Palestinian soil (or more), whereas the Palestinians will keep only 20 percent (or less). Yet the Arab citizen must now dispel illusions with regards to Jerusalem, the Palestinian peoples’ right to return, and the removal of settlements that violated international laws. Obama did not talk about any of this in his first speech, except the 1967 border issue. Yet as soon as he finished his second speech, all these significant causes vanished from the political scene, and we were face to face with the President of a superpower retracting what he himself declared previously, mainly the acceptance of the 1967 border, and instead, calling for complete compliance with Israeli demands. Israel demands that Jerusalem becomes its eternal capital, and is seeking a political settlement to declare Israel as a Jewish state – which would ultimately result in displacement. Israel also demands that the 1967 borders be amended, under the false slogan of “ensuring the defense of Israel’s security.” Israel stipulates that its border must remain along the River Jordan, as this is perceived to be a relatively safe zone. In fact, maintaining these borders would mean the seizure of the River Jordan’s water, and the domination of the overlooking West Bank mountains, hence threatening Jordan as a state, with all due respect to the “peaceful” Wadi Araba agreement.

Much has been said by Arabs and Palestinians about Obama and Netanyahu’s speeches, and much has also said about a superpower submitting to a minor state. Much was said about the significance of Netanyahu’s speech in front of the AIPAC where he was received like an emperor and where, as was said, he delivered the speech of his life in front of American Zionist leaders, who stood up and applauded him nine times. Yet two things have not been explicitly said: Firstly, Obama and Netanyahu’s speeches signal an end to the negotiation approach, which began with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. Secondly, the speeches have marked the beginning of a state of war in the Arab region. The state of war does not mean the mobilization of troops, nor does it mean the beginning of armed clashes. Indeed these may come, but firstly and most importantly, it is obvious that the climate now is one of war, and those who do not prepare will lose. Preparation for war begins with political and economic decisions, and ends with military decisions. The duration of this process may be months or years, yet the length of time is insignificant. Strategists have often claimed that when two sides are in a state of war, and subsequently attempt to reconcile, but negotiations between them eventually fail, a return to war is the natural and ultimate conclusion. This is the state which the Arab region is experiencing now.

The word ‘war’ is a significant one to use in this context, yet in our reality, it has specific Arabic interpretations. For instance, Jerusalem is now a Jewish city and is effectively the eternal capital of Israel, whilst the ‘Palestinian State’ has become a symbol of a bygone era. In fact, the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations have become a useless burden. As for the broader Arab sphere, the clearest example of the state of war is that Jordan has become the alternative homeland for the Palestinians, with all the dangers this carries for its Arab independence. When the issue of establishing a special relationship between Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] was being proposed, the issue of Palestinian migrations to Jordan should have been considered, as they would have consequences for the GCC states. This is how the early signs of the war climate have arrived in the Gulf region.

A few years ago, and following the signing of the Oslo Accords, an intellectual-political forum was held at the Center for Strategic Studies in Abu-Dhabi, to discuss the impact of the Oslo agreement on the security and future of the Gulf region. During the forum, a US professor said that it was a matter of necessity for special relations to be established between the strongest two powers in the region: Israel’s economy and the Gulf state’s economy. He said that in the region there are two countries that compete (notice the word compete) to perform the role of mediator between these two economies; namely Jordan and Egypt. What we know now is that Jordan, with all its different communities, is rejecting, disapproving and struggling against the “alternative homeland” policy. As for Egypt, it has somewhat departed from the American policy framework, albeit partially, and distanced itself from the telephone through which it receives American orders. It began to act to restore its old standing as a state with direct strategic influence upon every single Arab event. Yet through their speeches, Obama and Netanyahu have brought the American way of thinking back into the Arab political arena. It is for this reason that the war climate is not limited to Palestinians and the Israelis alone, but it will cross the West Bank all the way down to Jordan, and from there to the Gulf, and then its consequences and impact will continue to spread.

Israel’s entry into the Arab oil domain is an extremely serious matter, and an age old Zionist dream. Let us recall that Shimon Peres, the current Israeli President, immediately after the Oslo Accords were signed, wrote his famous book “The New Middle East” in which he presented a rosy portrayal of the utopia that would come to existence after new peace emerges, and when the new peace projects are implemented. He said: “putting one dollar on each Arab barrel of oil will ensure the revenues necessary for the projects that will create our new heaven,” revealing the Zionists’ longing for a share of Arab oil. Such way of thinking will rise once again in view of the new international balances, when the world’s greatest superpower acts in the interest of its smallest ally. After all, this ally is less expensive to the US than any military base [in the region], as expressed by former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in a conversation with the US President.

Perfect harmony between Israel and the US was promoted in front of our eyes, in addition to harmony between Israel and the US Congress, and between the US President and the Zionist AIPAC. The duty of an Arab strategist, wherever he might be, is to monitor such relationships and act accordingly in a manner that safeguards his country’s interests…or otherwise.

Bilal Hassen

Bilal Hassen is a renowned Palestinian writer and political analyst.

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