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A Moment of Reflection Amid the Noise of Events - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The best of what I have read recently is Harold Pinter”s response to being awarded the Noble Prize for Literature. When he was told that the Noble Prize Committee wanted to talk to him on the phone, he asked: “why?” A response that discloses the modesty of a literary and political figure who had daring stands against war, injustice and violation of human dignity. Equal to Pinter winning the Nobel Prize is only selecting Noam Chomsky as the number one thinker in the world. Both geniuses have gone beyond mere ingenuity to become voices for right, justice and just causes in the world. Interest in literature and Noble Prizes is, however, a luxury for a citizen of the Middle East. Politics and political strife leave no space in our psyche except for an unrelenting defensive state of the self, identity, and country.

One way to understand the occupation, wars, and chaos taking place in the Middle East is a strategy paper that came out in 2000: “A clean break: a new Strategy for Securing the Realm.” The coauthors were Richard Pearl, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Douglas Faith, Robert Luinberg, Jonathan Torob, David Wormser, and Mirave Domser. The strategy is one of dominating the region and transforming it into the so-called “New Middle East.” The “clean break” refers to a new peace process with new basis. The strategy prescribes basic implementation steps as:

Working with Turkey and Jordan to contain destabilization and deflect dangerous threats against Israel.

Moving away from “comprehensive peace” towards “balance of powers.”

Transforming the dynamic of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, with Israel maintaining the right to persecute Palestinians in Palestinian territories and confiscate more lands.

Crafting a new relationship with the United States based on the assumption that Israel has become a mature state, capable of self-dependence, and pursuing strategic coordination with the United States on issues of mutual interest.

This strategy trades “land for peace” for “peace for peace,” that is peace achieved through power superiority of Israel. The strategy also stipulates that Israel”s claim to Palestinian lands is “legitimate and noble,” and that “Arab unconditional acceptance of this Israeli right to land” can achieve peace in the region. The strategy sees Syria, Hezbollah and Iran as the major powers opposing Israel”s ambition for achieving supremacy in the region. Therefore, the coauthors deem it important to “strike Syria directly, work on dissembling these major powers, rejecting the principle of land for peace in the Golan, ending the idea of comprehensive peace, and containing Syria with all possible means.” The strategy, of course, states that Iraq is a strategic target. The ultimate goal is to redraw the map of the Middle East in a way that serves those aims. The strategy necessitates changing the relationship between Israel and Palestinians so that the world sees them as two parties of a dialogue, “selecting Arabs willing to cooperate with Israel to achieve this plan and getting their valuable help, and tempting other Arabs with money and good relations with the United States in exchange for cooperation.” Henceforth, Israel does not only run the battle in the Middle East, but becomes an “intellectual and moral leadership for the Middle East, and strong, rich and secure Israel becomes the basis for a new and safe Middle East.”

Five years later, Arabs are drowned in the details of their daily lives, media is driving them against one another, and Israel is using Palestinian mothers as human shields to arrest their children. The Guardian writes on October 18th that the number of settlers has increased since Sharon occupied an area in the West Bank larger than the one from which he withdrew in Gaza. News is chiming about the trial of Saddam, while the statue of Ja”afar al-Mansour, the Caliphate who built Baghdad and named her the city of peace, gets destroyed. Thousands of Arabs and Palestinians reside in Israeli prisons, while Israel assassinates and imprisons people at will, and implements apartheid policies. Chaos rules supreme.

It might be telling for those in Arab countries who perceive themselves through ethnic and sectarian lenses to reflect on the past five years. They will see that loss has been everybody”s lot. The only beneficiaries are those who have been diligently planning the future of Arabs as one mass, regardless of sect and country. Will there come a day when Arabs start building their countries from within, when they start drawing strategies and plans for definite goals instead of reacting to the evolution of history? Do they see, as I see, that on the Arab arena there are no winners and losers but only details for plans and revelations of strategies that target their identity? Events and wars in our region are only the procedural details of the implementation plan of the strategy of domination.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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