Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Moshtarak or a Trap? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Moshtarak is the name of the NATO operation that is being led by the US in collaboration with Afghan troops in order to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan in what is considered to be the largest military operation since the Taliban were toppled from power in 2001. The name is derived from the Arab word for “together” and this means that the US and NATO forces are not solely participating in this military operation, but that Afghan governmental forces are also taking part.

The word Moshtarak is a new form of a word that derives from the Arabic root word “sharak” from which a number of other words derive like the Arabic word for trap, company, partnership, partner, and even wife. There is a famous proverb in colloquial Arabic that reads “anything shared is blessed” and in fact the Arabic term for socialism is also derived from this root word.

However another derivative of this word is the term “shirk” which means to trap or become ensnared by, and this is something that reflects the situation that the current US administration is ensnared in. It is clear that the US administration does not know how to extricate itself from this trap, particularly under the leadership of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is unable to convince anybody with her speeches and rhetoric, and in fact it seems to listeners as if her words are pre-recorded. Mrs. Clinton visited the region last week in order to warn against Iran’s nuclear program, as if the region needed to be reminded of Iran’s ambition to dominate it, for this is something that Iran desires to do with or without a nuclear weapon. However Mrs. Clinton was blind to the major problem that Iran is exploiting, namely the Palestinian issue, which is a card that Iran is playing as part of its expansionist strategy. Mrs. Clinton did not touch on this issue unless she was directly asked about it, whereupon she answered by repeating bland words about the two-state solution and living in peace, saying ultimately that this is something that is up to the countries involved to agree upon and nobody can impose peace upon them. Is this reasonable or believable? Does Mrs. Clinton want to convince us that her country is not biased towards Israel and does not unconditionally support Tel Aviv?

This is a strange mix which reflects confusion in the current policy of the US administration and can be seen in Washington seeking a UN Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on Iran. This is a decision that cannot be issued without the approval of all UN Security Council members, particularly China. Although China is against economic sanctions in principle, it may refrain from voting on this issue without utilizing its veto.

China is ill disposed to providing the US with the support that it desires after Washington provoked Beijing by supplying arms to Taiwan, and after the US President received the Dalai Lama at the White House, the timing of which lacks political prudence, to say the least. The US administration tried to play down this meeting, but its timing reflects Obama’s severe lack of foreign policy experience.

However US foreign policy during the Obama – Clinton era has also seen the restoration of diplomatic relations with Syria, and the return of a US ambassador to Damascus. It is true that the objective of this is clear; the US is trying to win over or perhaps neutralize Syria – Iran’s most important ally in the region – but this is something that also reflects the current US administration’s desperation to push forward the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, even temporarily.

As for Iraq, Clinton is holding her breath that the forthcoming weak Iraqi elections take place with as little damage as possible, for what is important is the electoral system rather than its results. The current US foreign policy has become caught in a trap and it is struggling with a lack of priorities, or its priorities are wrong, and this is leading Washington from one trap to another, from one catastrophe to the next.