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Saturday, 30 June 2018 17:09

Dying in temporariness

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Temporariness is a well-known Israeli procedure used with the Palestinians. The examples are many: Your presence in East Jerusalem for instance is considered to be temporary, and you will be defined as “ A Jordanian Citizen residing permanently in Israel”, or as a “ holder” of “Undefined” , or “ unclassified” status as it is new added in this year. 

Another example is the one related to Palestinians living in Area C of West Bank. Some of these were evacuated from the Negev in 1950’s. The Jordanian Government allowed them by then to reside in the so called “ Miri Land” in West Bank. 

Opposite to the Western concept of “ State land”, the “ Miri Land”, is part of the inherited Ottoman land law, which gives usufruct  rights to those who cultivate and use the land, including the right to inherent its use from one generation to other.

After 1967 occupation, Israel put it hands over all the Miri Lands in West Bank, and started to deal with them as “ State lands” disregarding as such the rights of the usufructs of these lands a generation after a generation since the 1948 Nakba. The Israeli High Court of Justice accepted such a definition , and Upon that the Bedouins of Al Khan Al Ahmar and others in the Jordan Valley and around Hebron began to face this claim that their presence in those lands is temporary and that they should be ready to leave them.

Yet a third example is from inside Israel of 1948. There, the Bedouins residency areas are considered temporary by the State of Israel, and therefore the Israeli authorities is seeking to evacuate them, the last example is Umm Al Hiran village which received an Israeli High Court decision of evacuation from the land of the ancestors in the last April. Besides it Al Araqeeb village is still struggling to stay in the place, by keeping building the “ illegal” village according to the Israeli law once and again after each demolition by the Israeli Aurhorities. These demolitions reached the number of 130 times till today. 

As such, the title of this column “ Daying in Temporariness”, refers to the fact that the Palestinian  spends his/her hall life in temporainess. In Such a life he/ she will need so creative ways of action in order to be able to stay in place, and/ or to manage the damage happening by decreasing its effects in case of the inability to get rid of it. In other words the policy of “ Temporariness”, include in it an integral component that make it impossible for the Palestinian to change it as much as the Israeli occupation and his legal structures continues. He/ She ( The Palestinian) has no option other than to find ways to maneuver in order to be able to continue existing till he/ she dies.

The Temporariness procedure is addressing both land and the human being and the link between them as well.

Starting with the Human being, the procedure allows for the punishment of the Palestinian, not because he/ she did something wrong, but because he/ She exists where he/ she is not supposed by Zionism to exist as Dr Adi Ofer indicated. As such one can understand why an angel like Razan Najjar the paramedic will be killed on the borders between Israel and Gaza, while practicing her paramedic services to the casualities. One can also understand why cruel violence and the heavy power of the Israeli army will be used against the Palestinian peaceful marches since 1967 till today. Other practices to understand in the light of this include also ( among others) the so called” Citizenship and residency procedures” used by Israel with the East Jerusalem Palestinians as mentioned above. 

In regard to the land, considering it as “ Eretz Israel” by the current Israeli Government and its colonial settlers, leads to the disconnection in their minds between the land and those who lived over it for very long centuries before the “ return of the Jews” as it is called beginning from the 19th century.

The result is then twofold: In one hand the land presence in the hands of the Palestinians is considered by this continous Zionism as temporary till the “ People of Israel” take it back. This is in one hand. 

In the second hand, the attachment and the connection between the human being and the land is considered to be also temporary. What follow this consideration are policies not only to takeover the Palestinian Land, but also others that makes the presence of the Palestinians in the whole country as “ illegal”. Here this “ illegality” is not limited to the East Jerusalem Palestinians, but it also include the area C Palestinians who are subject to evacuations from their lands, house demolition, and all the other procedures that the Palestinian Jerusalemites face. Finally the people in areas A and B are under so many restrictions that “ invites” them to leave the country. To be added as well the policies of temporariness that are  still practiced against the Palestinians inside Israel, and those on the opposite that do not acknowledge any right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. The logic of the concept is going in the direction of creating new refugees instead of solving the previous ones continuous plight since 1948.

In conclusion, these policies of temporariness, are just other indications of a settler colonial project that is still expanding on the expense of other, rather than indications to the willingness of this project to solve the problem with the other by recognizing as the indigenous rights of that other. In the case of Israel we still have a state in the service of the settler colonial project not a vice verca. As such it’s borders did not stop on 1948, but it keeps expanding and expanding. This include a lot of resulting doomsday scenarios that one can see, and can also expect worsening in the future.

Article published in Akhbar El Balad: http://www.akhbarelbalad.net/ar/1/6/4055/

Photo credit: EPA

“Agricultural Terrorism”, is a kind of “ concept” that one finds when looking at Channel Seven of the settler colonialists( Now on: The settlers), and at some websites of those settlers.
The alleged concept describes the Palestinian attacks against the Settlers agricultural lands by burning tires, igniting fires, and the so called “ Weaponized Kites” like those flying from Gaza to the South of Israel creating arsons there.
The most important is the “retaliation” proposed and practiced by the settlers, and their Government in Israel. In the South West Bank the settlers decided to “ retaliate” themselves in addition to what the Israeli Army is doing , and that is by uprooting Palestinian trees and venyards, and leaving leaflets and writings on the stones saying that these attacks are conducted in response to the so called” Agricultural Terrorism” of the Palestinians. Inside the colonial settlements committees for  “self Defence” against arsons and the other Palestinian attacks are created like in Gush Etzion. This brings back the 1988 discusion about if the settlers will be allowed by the State of Israel to run special patrols outside their colonial settlements. Today this is not a matter of discussion any more. The settlers are already attacking in different places in Palestine. These attacks are well documented over years by the UN Office for the Coordination of the Humanitarian Assistance to the Palestinian People( OCHA), and B’TSELEM and many other human rights organizations. What we are interested here instead is about the assumptions  behind such concepts and practices.
The Israeli Government is also “retaliating” by giving the settlers the right to carry arms “ to defend themselves”, and by all the punishment procedures used, the last among them  is the suggestion of the Minister of Home Security Gilad Erdan to target and kill those who run “Weaponized kites” from Gaza, due to his claim that they are terrorists. Days ago the Israeli Army military jets attacked a group of those kites runners inside Gaza. Also Israeli missiles attacked others.?. Air-jets and Missles against kites: A highly proportionate and balanced confrontation!.
Why the Palestinians will face two kinds of the so called “retaliation”. One by the settler colonial state, and the second by the Non- State Actor called the “ Settlers”?. Let us here notice also the convergence between the two. The settlers are not separate from the official level. They have ten Ministers in the Government, and they now represent the biggest block in the Knesset. Accordingly the 1980’s discusion about the possibility of the settlers to split from the state and establish their own “Judea and Samaria” State is not valid any more today. Why they should split while they have all the state in their hands?. 
Further than that there are groups among the settlers and the Israeli right wing who call today for the transformation  of the state of Israel from a county that combines some democratic aspects with its Jewishness, to a pure Jewish State( These are Like: Lehava, and Price Tag, Elad and others). So why to split if your project became about the transformation of the State as a whole?.
The above question, have connections with different issues in the theory of “ conflict resolution” and the world political practice, and finally the Palestinian practice since 1993.
In regard to the theory, the field of conflict resolution, tends to understand the context in Palestine and Israel as a one about two parties who both have equal responsibility to compromise,  calm down the “ conflict” and prevent it from escalating. This is obviously wrong, but it is also in the surface only. When one digs behind, he/ she will find the original commitment to establish Israel by Britain and the Evangelicals and the Puritans led by Cromwell since the seventeenth century. 
This commitment by the politicians and by the “ Bible Academics” created the process of establishing the National Home to the Jews in Palestine”, then allowing this National home security wise to create the Haganah for “Jewish Defense” in 1921, then the  “ Special Night Squads” in 1936 led by the British Orde Charles Wingate who was an evangelical by himself, and other security bodies were also established under the so called “the right of the Jewish National Homeland to defend itself against  the Palestinian attacks”. The name of the game before 1948 was: Take their land, make them angry and ourageous to the extent that they will initiate” Terrorist attacks”, then use your right to “ retaliate” under the so called formula of “ self Defense”. Very easy: Their Land will be appropriated, and then they are the responsible for what will happen to them because of their attacks, and because of their rejection to stay calm, and impotent, like any “ obedient boy”.
Yet, this is not all the story in the conceptual level, what follows is the description of the “ Conflict” here as a “ Low Intensity Conflict” . The criteria used here is the number of casualties in the conflict.Upon this criteria our conflict is included in the tale of the academic lists about “ conflicts”. But this calculation is misleading,  Since  the “ Conflict” here is about land theft and transfer of population ( Spaciocide) , rather than being about full physical genocides that are used on the way, but the main aspect will continue to be the spaciocide. This Spaciocide is probably more painful than the physical genocide, because the people and their country places, space, territory, landscape, and society are all erased.
So we have a big problem first with the theory and practice of this emerging field called as” conflict resolution”. A lot of qualitative academic work is badly needed to bridge this big gap in the conflict resolution literature. 
Second, what follows are the political practices. Today we witness the same process that was practiced before 1948: We take your land( This is the real “ Agricultural Terrorism”, and not the Palestinian response to the grabbing of their land), then we have the right of self defense and retaliation to your attacks called by us as being “ terrorist”. In the pre 1948 the Zionist Groups were  “ retaliating” while the British Mandate was giving the support and the protection. Today the settlers groups are covered and supported by the Israeli Government that represents them.
In Oslo the Palestinians were ploughed with the same formula with its root in the academia clarified above: They were told: leave the essential issue of land theft aside, leave the rights of the refugees aside, leave Jerusalem aside, and let us talk and negotiate to reach a peace agreement that will end hostilities, while the theft of land in West Bank and East Jerusalem continues during the negotiations, and while no progress is made to end the plight of the Palestinian refugees.
This process, allowed for the gradual seizure of West Bank and East Jerusalem territories a piece after a piece, reaching the current point of planning to annex area C as a first stage to Israel, accompanied with the language about settlers being the indigenous population while the Palestinians are the “ strangers” and the “ terrorists” who should pay the price of their wrongdoings. The Palestinians face the Israeli Army oppression, but also the settlers one, both claiming as being “retaliating” to the Palestinian “ terrorism”, while the basic fact was an still that the Palestinians are those who retaliate all the time against the aggression practiced against them and their land.
A path of change, is not an easy thing to do, but it is possible with patience, persistence and strong follow up. Besides struggling In the academic and the conceptual levels. It is required that instead of focusing solely on the top down internationalization through diplomacy, other option will need to focus on bottom up processes of comprehensive non violent struggle( This one also include the top down political and diplomatic one, but as inseparable part of it).
The first process create symbolic resolutions of support to Palestine that are combined with empty words of calling the “two sides to go back to negotiations”. These are like checks without a deposit, and they will be confronted by the fact of the Israeli society shift to clearer settler colonial positions than ever. 
The second process will be more successful if well planned and includes political, diplomatic, legal, economic, developmental, and other creative actions of resistance, and if it will be coordinated by a united Palestinian leadership, and the participation of all the Palestinians from West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, the Palestinians inside Israel and the Palestinian Refugees. International participation will be also required.
Such a process will create the pressure needed to make change in the world positions that will lead to a change in favor of Palestine, and not vice versa.
It is not an easy undertaking, but it is about the reallocation of Palestine anew in the global camp struggling for justice, liberation, and ethics- based politics. It is also about the readiness to pay the sacrifices required for its success. 

 

Article by Shehab and Maria Al Makahleh

The coming war against Iran is pushed by some Arab rulers rather than Israelis who are benefiting from the state of rivalry and enmity between a number of Sunni Arab countries against Iran, blaming Tehran for threatening their countries and interfering in their internal affairs. By the same token, US President Donald Trump has announced his country's withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran early May 2018 and he will not accept any amendments to the pact as he insists on changing the whole deal to include Iranian ballistic missiles.

After years of breakneck and ruthless fighting, Syria and Iraq are slowly stabilising after defeating most of the terrorist groups in both countries. However, the international influence in the Middle East brings massive problems to the region: high level of tension between Iran and Israel, hostility between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and stability of oil prices, terrorism, and political rift between old regional allies. Chaos will continue in the region and it will rather escalate with no signs of plummeting as the international and regional powers are not willing to bring veneer of order to the region, which will lead anarchy after stability in some countries which started to breathe a sigh of relief. Will international powers keep fueling Sunni-Shiite infighting? Will Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen be in ruins?

The answers come from the meetings of American administration regarding forming a new alliance against Iran to impose new sanctions on the country and to force the international community to abide by what the US wants. This justifies his recent appointments of the three hawkish officials to his administration: Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, Gina Haspel as CIA director and John Bolton as National Security Adviser. The three of them are against Iran and the nuclear deal as well. Thus, they will seek to implement what Israel wants, represented by its far-right government, which is planning and working hard to prevent Iran from developing its military industries and overthrowing its political regime. Unfortunately, there are Arab countries that  share aggressive intentions of the US and Israel. They  purchased American weaponry for hundreds of billions of dollars, normalising ties, forgetting the Israeli-Arab conflict by labelling it as Israeli-Palestinian issue, ignoring US president Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Bringing back Bolton to power poses a high risk as it pushed the US to war edge. The hawkishness of the two other officials will also lead to one or two regional wars in the Middle East.

The US and Israel as well as a handful of Arab states do not hesitate to ally with Israeli government’s expansionist policies. These countries have been behind the destruction of Iraq in the 1990s and they are the ones who highly contributed to the destruction of Syria, Yemen and Libya, neutralizing Egypt and alienating it from national role to confront Arab real enemies overseas.  Since 1973, we have not seen a true Arab battle against Israel. The reason is, that many Arab states, even those which have no normal ties with Tel Aviv, have sought neutrality in the Arab Israeli conflict for their own survival, regardless of the fierce war Iraq had to undergo against Iran and the hundreds of thousands in death toll in both sides and the volume of destruction in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen for these “friendly" to Israel Arab countries  in order to thrive and to avoid any setback on their economies. No one would ever believe that such cities and states would develop without the Iraqi sacrifices against Iran at that time which the Iraqis are paying until now. It is the same countries which push forward for prolonging the war in Syria, Yemen and Libya as well as other places in the Middle East as this serves the economies of those who are lobbying for the “Century Deal” at the expense of Arabs: Christians and Muslims.

For many Arabs, Iran is not the enemy of Arabs; it is the enemy of the minority of Arabs, who are under the influence of the West. Israel believes that Iran is its enemy which Tel Aviv seeks to destroy before Tehran becomes a major power that would threaten Israel’s presence in the region. Why do some Arab rulers conspire against Arabs? Who will benefit from a devastating war in the region? What gains will get the Arabs who will be involved in the battle against Iran or Syria, if pushed to by the West and Israel? What happens if Iran wins the battle?

Observers believe that Arabs will not achieve anything useful from any regional war against Iran and its alliance or Turkey and its coalition. Supposedly, if a war breaks out between Israel, the US and its Arab allies against Iran, the end will be that the Areb countries would be further divided to be better controlled and monitored by Israel and its Western allies, where oil and gas resources will be fully controlled by these countries for decades to come. However, if Iran wins the war, the first victims will be those countries which have taken part in the aggression against Iran and its allies. By then, new demonstrations in the region will arise against Arab rulers who have destroyed their countries’ economies and armies for the sake of foreigners and who mortgaged their states’ wealth and natural resources to their enemies.

Arabs are a nation plagued by some failed rulers who cannot read the international developments and threats correctly, and who prefer to cooperate and ally with the enemies of the nation. The greatest enemies of the Arabs are some Arabs who conspire against their peoples for the sake of their enemies who have no morals and who do not respect their promises.

In Munich Security Conference which was held February 2018, most Arab governments have demonised Iran and considered Tehran a greater enemy; their behind-the-scenes collaboration with Israelis against Iran has become an uncluttered secret. The West including the US along with Israel are aligning with some Arab because oil is a crucial concern and a top priority. Thus, demonising Iran or any other country other than Israel at this time is very fruitful as this will be a credit for the Americans and their allies in the West to abuse the Arabs and abuse their resources to the last single penny.

Is it likely that the Middle East will be redrawn, but this would happen in the coming ten years with the creation of an independent Kurdistan state even if Turkey and Iran fight against that tooth and nail. The next era will witness not only partition of countries that witness infighting, but also those which will witness chaos in the coming years dividing countries whose areas are millions of square kilometers into various states. The Arab world will continue cracking further and Arabs will be seeking shelter in other countries in waves of immigrants.

Article published by Valdai club: http://valdaiclub.com/a/highlights/the-21st-century-more-cracks-in-arab-countries/

Photo credit: Felipe Dana/AP

Monday, 28 May 2018 17:36

The theft of Palestine in action

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The last two weeks developments were intensive in a way that included all the components of what was going on since the second half of the nineteenth century. The process of the displacement of the Palestinians, and the replacement of them by colonial settlers.

Colonial Settlement expansion wise, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics new report released in the 15th of May, showed that the number of settlers reached the number of 636,402 in the end of 2016, representing the percentage of 21,8 in comparison with each 100 Palestinian. In East Jerusalem 68.3 of its population is already settlers. Besides that there are a majority of settlers versus the Palestinian population in area which represent 64 percent of West Bank. This means that East Jerusalem and area C are already Judaized in regard to their population. While the 6,310,000 Palestinians calculated by the end of 2017 are condensed in the tiny Strip of Gaza, and the area A, and to lesser extent area B of West Bank both representing no more than 36 percent of West Bank. 

What will be the next step of the settler colonial project now on?

The trend is not for peace, but for more grabbing of land, and more settlement expansion. In the last two weeks the Israeli Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared the establishment of new 3900 settler units in West Bank. In Jerusalem 58 new units decided  for Gilo settlement , and 92 for Pisgat Zeev. More importantly the government decided a new plan of 2 billion shekels in the 13th of May aiming clearly this time to Israelize Jerusalem as opposite to the previous plans that were released on the name of sustaining security in the city as the Israeli Journalist Nir Hasson indicated( Haaret, 14/5). Moreover the Judaization of Bab Al Rahmeh Cemetey is still going on combined with a plan to create cable cars project going from the Mount of Olives to the Wailing Wall, accompanied by a full change of the landscape of the Old City of Jerusalem and its environs. 

 These examples of  settlement and Israelization processes are accompanied with laws and practices of displacement such as the law to confiscate the Jerusalem ID’s from any body who do not show loyalty to Israel( Hamas PLC members were the first to pay the price of this law), and the ongoing discussions for ousting Kufr Aqab and  Shufat Refugee Camp from Jerusalem aiming to decrease the Palestinian population from the city. Also there are the new decision of the Israeli Ministry of Justice to oblige the Palestinian Jerusalemites to register their houses and properties on their names. Failure to do so due to problems resulting from the Islamic inheritance system, or from the fact that many of the lands and properties are endowned will lead to confiscation of the House or the property. In the other side a legal coverage is on the way to annex the settlements of  Adumim and Givat Zeev and Gush Etzion to the city to increase the number of the Jews in it. Finally the incursions to Al Aqsa Mosque by the extremists of the “ Temple Mount” calling for the rebuilding of the Temple reached new number of 1410 in the 13th of May, which is called as “ The Jerusalem Day”. 

The displacement process is also ongoing in area C, for Instance the Israeli High Court approved in 22/5 the evacuation of Al Khan Al Ahmar Bedouins including 40 families, and destroying their houses and a school that serves more than 170 Bedouin pupils. This decision will allow for further expansion of the neighboring settlement of Maale Adumim. The Israeli Journalist Amira Hass wrote in the middle of the month in Haaretz about the two villages of Umm Al Jammal and Ein Helweh In the Jordan Valley, which the Government decided to ask the Israeli High Court to release an order for their evacuation with their 300 persons due to the justification that their houses are build without permits. New in this case was the claim of the Government that the law should be implemented equally for both the settlers and the Palestinians, and therefore demolition orders should not be limited to one party than the other. Further in area C other example is related to the village of Sosya close to Hebron that the government decided also to demolish and evacuate its 400 inhabitants. Also in Al Aqaba village close to Tobas a military’s decision was made to destroy 20 houses in the 27th of May, made few days after the release of a new military order that will make the process of demolition of constructions in area C faster and with less obstacles included. In Hebron 2, the neighborhoods of Salaymeh and Gheith Families were closed by gates in 14/5 which prevents them the right of direct access to Al - Ibrahimi Mosque in the city, in the meantime the nearby settlement of Tal Rmiedeh continues to expand over historical archeological sites.

These practices of displacement, are further accompanied by uprooting trees and vineyards. As examples: In Halhoul 500 vineyards were cut owned by Jibril Jahshan a week ago, and yesterday 700-800 vineyards were destroyed owned by Shukri Abu Rajab in East Hebron. In another example the settlers attacked in the 14th of May an initiative to plant trees in Turmos Ayya village close to Ramallah.  

In one hand the people in area C are uprooted, but in second hand their means of living are attacked and destroyed. Thirdly their symbols are under attack. For example carrying the Palestinian flag is not prohibited by the Israeli law, but the MK Ahmad Tibi was attacked harshly by the Police when he was carrying this flag during the demonstration of 14/5 close to the new location of the new American Embassy that was opened at that day. 

Further ahead, there is also the process of demonization as a fourth component . Look for instance to Avigdor Lieberman description of Hamas as a “ Bunch of Cannibals that treat their children as armaments”. Such a statement reminds of the well known attack made by the white settlers in the 16th Century against the Red Indians in “ Abya Yala” which was their original name of what became to be known later as America. This logic was followed by making Hamas responsible for the killings that the Israeli Army committed against the demonstrations of the “ Return Marches” in the borders of Gaza, in which the number of casualties reached around 123 killed and more than 13,000 injured since the Marches  started in the end of March this year, that all besides 50 who are in the status of coma in the hospitals . In the opposite no single Israeli was killed by these Marches demonstrators, and the Army used the massive force of 11 brigades, and jets shelling from the air against them. Besides that the demonization became comprehensive against all the Palestinians, for instance the demonstators in Haifa in the 18th of May were attacked as being loyal to Hamas and the director of Mosawah Center in Haifa Mr Jafar Farah got his leg broken after he was arrested by the Police. The High Court made again a legal coverage to the killings in Gaza when it decided in the 22nd of May that the killings conducted are “ part of the state of war that exists between Israel and Hamas”. Accordingly the court rejected two petitions for instructing a change in the firing orders by the Army.

Changing the landscape is a fifth component. After the displacement, the new comers who replace start the process of changing the landscape. In a former article here, we quoted Netanyahu speaking about “ dissolving the Countryside”. This is of course is conducted on the name of modernity and modernization.

Colonial settlers attacks is a sixth component. Like the attacks on Al Aqsa mentioned above, or the example of the “Price Tag” Group night attack in Shufat this month destroying partially 28 cars, and writing racist slogans. Many other settler attacks taking place around Hebron, Nablus, and Ramallah areas can be also mentioned.

A seventh component is about what the Israeli Journalist “ Zvi Bar’ el” called as the “ Abolishing of the Nakba”( Haaretz, 15th of May”. This abolishement took place legally by the law that criminalize the “ celebration” of the Nakba, and now by the new decisions in the making to prevent taking pictures of the soldiers while they are oppressing or killing Palestinians subject to 5 years imprisonment to those who take these pictures. Haaretz called this new decision in the making as “ Leor Azaria law”, referring to the soldier who killed the Palestinian Abdel Fattah Al Sharif while he was injured and can do nothing. Azaria was sentenced for 18 months, which was decreased to 14 months, then he was released after he spent nine months only in the prison. The abolishing of the Nakaba is also genocidal to the memory. The aim is to prohibit the people their right to remember.

Where we are heading to with these politics of theft of land, changing its landscape (Spacio-Cide as it was called by Sari Hanafi), demonizing the other and the denial of his/ her equal rights as human being, and use the laws to twist the arm of justice, and as such make the law as a “ law- making violence” as it was called by Walter Benjamin.

These processes expreses the continuation of the Nakba as Saeb Erekat wrote in the 14th of May. In the same day the Journalist Fatina Dajani described the Nakba as a “ Past- Present”.  If these processes continue,then  no place, and no space will be left to the Palestinians in their homeland. Striking enough to see Netanyahu calling the Mayor of Maale Adumim settlement to congratulate him for the new government decision few days ago to expand settlements, and to promise him that the Maale Adumim expansion plans are on their way to be approved by the Government. In other hand why the Israeli Government meetings till the end of July were moved to a cave build in the underground close to Jerusalem, where no leaks of the discussions whatsoever will happen. This reminds of Ben Gurion secret meetings with the Zionist leadership before 1948. What the “ evils” that they are discussing?and what the upcoming atrocities that they are planning for?. In the lack of information, one can only use historical evidence to speculate. 

The next columns will analyze the current Israeli proposals about what to do with the Palestinians.

Article published in Akhbar El Balad: http://www.akhbarelbalad.net/ar/1/6/3967/

US President Donald Trump’s pullout declaration from the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran is tantamount to a declaration of war in the Middle East, which would lead to the change of the regime in Tehran. However, the EU-American rift over the deal would weaken the sanctions on Iran if imposed.

But why are American allies in the EU opposing deal pulling? It can be attributed to changing political alignments in the Middle East region after the 2011 Arab Spring, and the Western drive to reach a deal that serves EU interests as many of the European states have been undergoing rigid economic conditions. These factors prompted the EU to sign the deal alongside China and Russia in 2015.

However, the agreement has not changed Iran’s behavior and that former US President Barrack Obama’s administration was pathetic in signing such a deal along with the UK, Russia, China, France, and Germany.

The Americans have sought to ignite fire under Iranian feet by pushing the government into new negotiations with new rules and conditions while Europeans have sought to keep the agreement and to add some amendments to the deal. The EU has repeatedly declared support for the deal, rejecting American pugnaciousness and confrontational attitude.

The EU advocacy for the deal stems from economic and commercial factors as Europeans fear unexpected hindrances and obstacles to affect their penetration to the Iranian market. Thus, the EU states give priority to economic interests in the Iranian market to secure more commercial contracts. However, political, security and human rights files, are less important to them compared to Americans.

If there is no win-win formula for the EU, it is not expected that the EU would ever accept any amendments to the deal

– Shehab Al-Makahleh

Geopolitical factor

While Washington focuses on keeping the geopolitical factor in the Middle East unchanged, rejecting Iranian expansionist policies, opposing Iranian hiking influence in the region which threatens stability of the Middle East, and countering Tehran’s support for armed movements and militias in Arab countries, the EU turns deaf ear to this risk.

Thus, Trump’s administration calls on Tehran to set aside its expansionist agendas before talking about any economic openness. At the same time, the US urges the EU to follow the American approach when opening dialogue with the Iranian government; in other words, not to prioritise their economic and commercial requirements to political and military ones.

The EU sounds not interested in the Middle East issues and concerns are only restricted to economic regardless of the repercussions and ramifications to the Middle East region.

To date, Trump seems to have achieved a partial victory; however, this can be a double edge weapon that can backfire against American interests any moment. He has been able to move the European rhetoric machine against Iran at some point vis-à-vis Tehran’s political and military interventions in the Middle East and with regard to Iranian ballistic missiles.

The question remains whether American pullout of the nuclear agreement cause rift between the US and the EU? It has been clear that since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's presentation of documents related to Iranian nuclear program about Tehran’s breach of the nuclear agreement, Trump and his hawkish administration have taken their decision to cancel the deal and started to discuss scenarios of imposing sanctions on Iran.

Some experts believe that Trump has given a precious gift to the Supreme Leader of Iran and the hawks of the Iranian government because he ended the power of the reformers and the Iranian opposition. Both the hawks and the hardliners in Iran have been awarded a golden opportunity and would have in the near future the upper hand to Hassan Rouhani and his reformist wing.

Trump’s decision was not a surprise as he previously announced that the multilateral deal was an unmitigated disaster which has not taken into consideration the Iranian ballistic missile and its other military capabilities.

The rift between the EU and the US over the deal is that any sanctions on the Iranian economy will harm the European markets, which have won many contracts in Iran after the 2015 deal. Thus, Trump's declaration could harm investor’s confidence in Iran and freak out larger businesses to get out of Iranian volatile market.

Apparently, Tehran and Washington have no economic or commercial ties at present; however, this is not the case with the European partners as they seek to maintain Iranian economy vibrant and buoyant. 

Why the EU, China and Russia support the deal?

Trump has pulled out of the deal leaving the EU, Russia, China and the UK at stake to negotiate a new deal that better serves their interests in Iran. Statistics show that trade exchange between the EU and Iran reached $9.5 billion in 2015, hiked to $17 billion in 2016. In 2017, trade exchange recorded $25 billion.

The major companies benefitting from Iran are French, Dutch and German including Total, Airbus, Renault and Shell amongst others. China, on the other hand, is deemed the largest trade partner to Iran. In 2017, trade turnover between Iran and China stood at US$38 billion, accounting 23 per cent of Iran’s total trade. Russian Iranian total trade amounted to US$1.8 billion in 2017.

If there is no win-win formula for the EU, it is not expected that the EU would ever accept any amendments to the deal.

However, China and Russia will gain more from the pullout of the Americans from the multilateral nuclear deal as this will give both Moscow and Beijing diplomatic leverage over Washington’s as both capitals would present themselves as the credible mediator to fill the vacuum of the US in the Middle East.

Article published in Al Arabiya: https://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2018/05/25/Reasons-behind-US-EU-rift-over-Iran-nuclear-deal.html

President Mahmoud Abbas seems to be on his way out as the leader of the Palestinian Authority. Who will take his place? 

Palestinian politics today is undergoing a change as President Mahmoud Abbas’ health condition deteriorates. With no clear heir to ensure a landslide victory, the question over who will replace Abbas remains unanswered. The possible successors are a source of argument among the Palestinians and the international community. Currently, speculation centers around four names.

Among them is Mahmoud al-Aloul, the first vice president of Fatah. Abbas himself supports Aloul to be his successor to lead the Palestinian Authority (PA). However, Aloul is not a welcome choice for some Arab countries because he is hawkish and opposes the two-state solution. Sources have stated that Fatah’s General Councildecided in March to change the party’s internal constitution in order to appoint Aloul as the acting leader for three months if Abbas’ health affects his ability to rule. Israel is also concerned about the succession, as a PA power vacuum could lead to further violence.

The second candidate in the race is Jibril Rajoub, a former West Bank security chief and a senior Fatah figure. He served as head of the Preventive Security Force in the West Bank until 2002, after which then-PA President Yasser Arafat appointed Rajoub as his national security adviser in 2003. Rajoub believes he is the most suitable candidate to lead the PA after Abbas.

The third candidate is Mohammed Dahlan, a former Gaza security mastermind who was forced to flee Ramallah in 2011 following allegations of corruption and an attempted coup against Abbas. It is said that Elliot Abrams, a National Security Council adviser during the George W. Bush administration, nominated Dahlan to lead the PA mission against Hamas in Gaza in 2007, which earned him the warlord moniker. While in exile in the United Arab Emirates, Dahlan was accused of sending money to some Fatah members in Gaza to undermine Abbas’ authority in Ramallah, the headquarters of the PA. Dahlan had always opposed Islamist movements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including Hamas, and is waiting for the right moment to return to the West Bank as president.

The fourth candidate is Nasser al-Kidwa, the nephew of Yasser Arafat and senior Fatah official. Kidwa has served as the Palestinian foreign minister and envoy to the United Nations. He is the most likely candidate to win the presidential race as he is supported by the Arab Quartet that includes Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Possible Scenarios

There are three possible scenarios in the coming months to replace the aging Abbas, as per NPR. The first option, if Abbas is no longer able to uphold his office, is that the speaker of the Palestinian National Council, Aziz Dweik (who is a member of Hamas but is based in the West Bank) would replace Abbas for 60 days until elections are held. The second is for Abbas himself to select a temporary replacement until the elections. The third is to set a date for elections where the four candidates would nominate themselves, unless a tectonic change takes place at the very last moment, such as a new intifada in Gaza and the West Bank.

The first option is unlikely to happen because Dweik is a member of Hamas. Abbas will not cede power to a rival organization due to internal and regional complications and ramifications. Thus, Dweik could not take over the Palestinian leadership unless the US, Israel and other regional powers suddenly back Hamas, which Washington, Tel Aviv and the European Union classify as a terrorist organization.

As for the second alternative, Abbas would select a person close to the PA leadership to rule for a transition period before the election date is set. The selected leader will also have a chance to nominate himself as leader of the PA in the presidential elections. This would be Arafat’s nephew, as he was backed by regional and international powers, including the US and Israel, when he served as foreign minister. This can lead to the third scenario in which the temporary president of the PA could become a candidate and winner in the presidential elections.

Since 2016, Arab leaders have looked for an alternative to Abbas. That same year, they spoke to Abbas personally on his 81st birthday when they congratulated him and wished him good health. At the time, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi were in charge of an Arab initiative to seek out a successor. The UAE and Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, had sent their representatives to Ramallah to discuss the issue directly with Abbas, as the leaders of both nations did not want to see a power vacuum in the political arena of the PA.

Critical Time

In December 2017, after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Kidwa said that any protests by Palestinians should be conducted “in a peaceful and an unarmed, sustainable way, so that would lead to serving the Palestinian national cause in this regard.” His moderate stance toward the American decision is one reason why he is favored by many countries, unlike his rivals who call for escalation.

The move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14 is deemed critical to the coming Palestinian leadership, whoever the candidate will be. However, the tough rivalry among the candidates, mainly between Rajoub and Dahlan, will only increase in the coming months, preventing both from heading the PA.

With the start of Ramadan, it is expected that Palestinians will try to raise the question of Jerusalem as a core issue not only for them, but for Muslims and Christians as well. Thus, we might witness a kick-off of a new uprising in Gaza and the West Bank, of which the violence against Palestinian protesters on the border with Gaza on May 14 could become a tragic preview. This could lead to either Aloul or Kidwa winning the race for the PA presidency based on their wide national support.

The PA presidential race is critical. The next president will be accountable for establishing an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, while ensuring its peoples’ right to self-determination. The president will be working with Arab and Muslim leaders to secure the status of the holy shrines in East Jerusalem as part of the capital of an independent Palestinian state, without offending Jewish holy sites in the city. That is why the best solution for the issue of Jerusalem is to divide it into West and East capitals, for Israel and Palestine respectively, to avoid any future regional war.

Article published in Fair Observer: https://www.fairobserver.com/politics/palestinian-authority-succession-fatah-mahmoud-abbas-gaza-west-bank-middle-east-news-76251/

Wednesday, 23 May 2018 23:18

Russia seeks win-win Middle East peace deal

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Since 1948, Russia has been an advocate of the two-state solution and has been pushing both Arabs and Israelis to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in accordance with this plan, leaving Jerusalem for the final talks. Recently, Russia has started to exert more pressure on Israel to cease building new settlements in the occupied West Bank. This has been clear from the many statements issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry expressing deep concern at the deteriorating situation when it comes to Israel’s settlement projects.

Why Moscow is pushing for the two-state solution and for the procrastination of the status of Jerusalem can be explained by Russian fears that a lack of progress in the peace process could result in unilateral steps that would undermine the prospects of resolving the conflict. In other words, Russia is concerned about the liquidation of the Palestinian cause.

If the superpowers of the US and Russia do not have the sincere will to reach a solution, it would lead either to seriously harming the Palestinian cause or to the spreading of extremism in the region. Russia seeks to achieve a win-win deal for both Israelis and Palestinians rather than a win for one party at the expense of the other.

The announcements by the US of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving its embassy there were deemed by Russia as a blow to all peace attempts, driving the whole region toward a direct clash.

With the increased tension between Iran and Israel in Syria and the failure so far to eradicate terrorism from Syria and Iraq, as well as other countries in the region, there is great potential for further conflict if the stalemate in the peace process continues and if new settlements continue to be built. The Israeli government has, in the past few months, approved plans to build 1,100 new units in 20 settlements in the West Bank. This not only undermines the whole peace process, but it is also a blatant attempt to wipe out Palestinian identity.

Why has the Russian position toward Israel changed in the past few years? It is a result of the shifting Israeli perspective on the peace process, which was supposed to solve the conflict and declare an independent Palestinian state many years ago. 

Russia alone cannot solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — it needs regional cooperation and support from the EU and of course, the US.

– Maria Dubovikova

When the region’s leaders make official visits to Moscow, their meetings with President Vladimir Putin touch on bilateral relations. However, Putin also insists on discussing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which, if it remains unresolved, will lead to further skirmishes throughout the Middle East.

During his trip to Moscow this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was told by Putin that the issue of Jerusalem should only be determined in final status talks and that the two-state solution is the best way to avoid any spillover to neighboring countries.

As Russia adheres to the UN resolutions on the principles of a peaceful settlement, including the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state, Moscow seeks the leeway to bring both sides together in a conference similar to that in Sochi for Syria. It is hoped these direct negotiations would help the two parties reach appropriate agreements.

But clearly, Russia alone cannot solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — it needs regional cooperation and support from the EU and of course, the US. Only concerted efforts can bring peace to the region and solve the complicated conflict in a manner that leads to co-existence in two states where both peoples respect each other and cooperate for the betterment of their nations.

Article published in Arab News: http://www.arabnews.com/node/1307581

Monday, 21 May 2018 02:14

Good bye “conflict resolution”

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Forty five years passed since the 1973 first Geneva Conference for Peace between the Arab Countries and Israel. A lot of talks took place by then to find a way for the inclusion of the PLO in that Conference directly or indirectly. The Palestinian National Council of 1973, and 1974 eleventh and twelfth sessions were both  an attempt in that direction when they decided to create a “ Palestinian National Authority in any part of Palestine to be liberated”. This program signaled the PLO move from the Liberation of all Palestine strategy, to another one that speaks about liberation in stages, opening the way to the recognition of Israel in the 1988 PNC conference. The 1973-1974 change gave PLO the Arab recognition as the sole representative of the Palestinian people which took place in the Arab Summit held in Rabat in 1974, and it also opened the UN doors to Yasser Arafat to give his famous speech” I came to you with an olive branch in one hand, and a gun in the other. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand”, and he repeated the last sentence. Besides that the PLO started engaging with some European countries like France.

Yet, these changes of the 1973-1974 were not enough for United States and Israel to accept the inclusion of the PLO in the so called” Peace Process”. This inclusion had to wait for the Americans till 1988 when PLO recognized the UN Security Council Resolution 242 during the  PNC 16th conference held in Algeria by then. After that conference an American dialogue with the PLO started, and the American Ambassador to Tunisia Robert Pelleatru was appointed to conduct it. Without delving in too much details, the rest of the story is known starting from Madrid Conference of 1991 when PLO participated as part of a joint Jordanian- Palestinian delegation, followed by eight sessions of “ corridor meetings” aiming to agree on the agenda before interning the negotiations room. These sessions were held in Washington between the Palestinian delegation that was led by the late Haidar Abdel Shafi the well known Palestinian National Personality from Gaza,  and the Israeli one led by Lawyer Elyakim  Rubenstein. The sessions were stopped without entering the negotiations room. This stoppage took place after Oslo Declaration of Principles was released as a result of secret direct talks that took place between Israel and the PLO. Since Madrid conference of 1991, 27 years already passed, and 25 are almost passed since Oslo. Palestinian wise the harvest was bitter.

The colonial settlements grow bigger more than six times, during the “ peace process”. Jerusalem got fully separated from the other parts of the Palestinian 1967 territories, and almost Judaised except the Old City and some other few communities. The Refugees issue is taken in practical terms out of the table by Israel and the United States. Last but not least Area C became De facto annexed to Israel if not De Jure yet, and Jerusalem annexed territory to Israel is still growing by grabbing parts of West Bank, and adding them to Jerusalem. The outcome of all of this is a creeping annexation as it was first called by Moshe Dayan in the end of 1960’s, and the creation of one bigger Israel that have no place for the Palestinians. What will be the next step towards those ignored Palestinians?. Some in Israel are raising their voices calling for their transfer, in other hand the official Israeli Policy is keeping silent about their fate, but at the same time supporting those who call for the transfer of the Palestinians by taking no single step against their statements and actions. 

This is a summary of the bitter harvest so far, which is also an indication that the worse is still to come. Why is that?

The main reason is the formula that was used for peacemaking and conflict resolution  between the Palestinians and the Israelis. I published a long research paper about this formula in the “ International Negotiation Journal” last January 2018, titled “Beyond Exacerbating Asymmetry, and Sustainig Occupation”. Here is a brief summary of the findings about the conflict resolution formula that was adopted by the United States and Israel towards our case: 

First: Despite the grief asymmetry between the two sides( The occupier and the occupied). They were considered to be symmetrical. “ You will get if you give”.  ( Netanyahu).

Second: The process dealt with West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as the subjects of bargaining and division between the two sides. This approach led to the marginalization of the Palestinian refugees issue, and other issues like the Palestinian rights in West Jerusalem.

Third: The Process was gradual, and incremental, so the discussed details will open the way to other endless kind of details leading as such to the failure of all the negotiations rounds.

Fourth: Instead of agreeing in advance about the end game( The goal of the Negotiations), the final status was kept as an “ open ended”, and the core issues including of Jerusalem, refugees, settlements and borders were left to the permanent status negotiations that its rounds failed one after the other, while settlments were growing in the ground.

Fifth: The mediator was biased to the strong side all the way ahead. In the times of President Donald Trump the mediator moved to a worse position of becoming a partner to Israel in settlement expansion, and in Judaizing Jerusalem.

Sixth: The formula for the negotiations was based on “ Ignoring the past, and looking together for the future”. That was adopted instead of reconciling and solving the atrocities of that past.

Seventh: The formula included a People to people approach which ended up becoming the hub for “ technical” and “ business like” projects with a lot of bearucracy in reporting and the quality of reporting included from the donors side. This was accompanied by an assumption by the donors that the two sides moved to a stable “post- Conflict period” of partnering in making solutions, therefore institutional building became the fashion instead of the continuation of the support for the Palestinian non- violent struggle for self determination and independent statehood. Neo- Colonial tools of control was included as research explicated.

In brief, a commercial  formula of compromise prevailed either by looking politically for the division of the 1967 occupied territories between the two sides, or by doing business together through the so called” people to people projects”. 

The bitter harvest of this formula is ahead of our eyes. Accordingly it should be said clearly: Goodbye to conflict resolution with all its shortfalls, and look instead for reconciliation. The conditions of the latter do not exist in the ground today, but an international formula of non violent struggle for the emancipation of the Palestinian people can create the conditions for it instead of focusing solely on diplomacy. 

Article published in Akhbar el Balad: http://akhbarelbalad.net/ar/1/6/3944/

Photo credit: AP

In response to the savage massacre committed by the Israeli Army against the “ Marches of Return and Seige Lifting” of yesterday in Gaza, the White House in Washington DC released a statement blaming Hamas for using violence, and supporting the “ right of Israel to defend itself”. Also Mr Jason Greenblat the American Envoy to the Middle East “ Peace process” wrote an article in the Israeli newspaper “ Yisrael Hayoum” accusing Hamas of returning Gaza back to the “ Iron Age”

Till Nine PM yesterday evening, the death toll among Gaza Palestinians participating in the Marches reached the number of 55 (increased to 58 by 1:26 am this morning), in addition to 2410 injured. According to the Ministry of health in Gaza, there are 203 children and 78 women among the injured. 40 of these were in a critical conditions and 76 seriously injured. 1204 got injured by live bullet, and 130 by rubber covered metal bullets. Further than that the Ministry of health report includes calculations about the parts of the bodies that were injured, for instance 79 injured in the neck and the head, 76 in thier chests and stomaches, 164 in different places of their bodies, and 1055 in the lower parts of their bodies. As such many of the injured will be left with permanent disabilities life long.

How comes that these killings and injuries just in one day are merely practiced in the framework of “ Israel right to defend itself”?. How comes that later in the day the USA prevented a UN Security Council Statement approved by the other 14 members of the Council condemning the massacre and calling for the formation of an international committee of investigation about them?.

Beyond the shock from these positions, three issues should be emphasized (among others that there are no enough space for all to be discussed in a short column like this one):

The first among these is that United States is not any more just a supporter to Israel politically and militarily, but moreover United States is a partner in the Israeli ongoing settler colonial project in the ground. A latest research had shown that 15 percent of colonial settlers in West Bank (without East Jerusalem) today are Americans. Sara Yael Hirschhorn from Oxford University presented these results showing that there are sixty thousand settlers in West Bank only ( without the inclusion of East Jerusalem), who are originally Americans. Therfore President Abbas was fully right to describe the move of the American Embassy yesterday to Jerusalem as “ an establishment of an American Settler outpost in Palestine”. This is one.

Secondly, the significant point regarding the move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem yesterday, is that it is about dictation of the final status results  in the ground in contradiction with Oslo Agreement article five text which stated that Jerusalem as a whole ( East and West) is subject to the final status negotiations. In other words Oslo Agreement included what the late Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini was saying all the time till he passed away in 2001, that the Palestinians property rights in West Jerusalem should be negotiated and agreed upon before any political agreement about the city and on how to share two capitals for two states in it. The Americans violated this article and adopted the Israeli position which again makes the American Embassy in Jerusalem of a colonial type as mentioned above. 

Thirdly: The American Administration becoming a partner of the Israeli settler colonial project, will share as well the Israeli position of finding no place to the Palestinians within this project. Accordingly the Palestinians should hide and show no presence, expressed by keeping fully silent towards what is imposed and dicatated, or they will pay the price by getting to be” removed” forcefully when they oppose. In this sense all kind of Palestinian struggle armed and non- armed become illegal according to this perspective because they make the Palestinian visible while he / she is supposed to be invisible. Adi Ophir wrote once and again that the Palestinian is punished not because he made something wrong, but he/she is punished becsuse he/ She is found in a place where the settler colonial project expect him/ her not to be existing in. Gaza wise this means that the Gazan Palestinians should continued acting in impotent way despite the move of the Embassy, and despite the anniversary of 70 years of the Nakba given also that 66 percent of Gaza residents are refugees according to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics new report released yesterday.

It was James Zughby who wrote yesterday that the the Americans consider the Palestinians as” invisible victims” that do not count anything by themselves, but they merely represent a “ problem to Israel” that the latter has to deal with and solve. Accordingly no attention will be made to the plight of the Palestinians since 1948.

Article published in Akhbar el Balad: http://www.akhbarelbalad.net/ar/1/6/3933/

Photo credit: AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed

Disputes in the Middle East cannot be resolved unilaterally. They can only be tackled collectively, through integrated regional and international cooperation. This applies to challenges such as the Palestinian cause, terrorism, Arab-Iranian conflict and other lesser predicaments.

Some political observers believe that the Arab-Iranian dispute should be addressed even before the Palestinian-Israeli issue. Since 1967, the Middle East has been a hub for the worst military conflicts and wars.

About 22 percent of world’s conflicts have been concentrated in the region during the past three decades. When the eight-year Iraqi-Iranian went on from 1980 to 1988, both countries lost more than 2 million soldiers.

UN statistics reveal that about 40 percent of the total number of those killed in armed conflicts have fallen in the Middle East since 1980 until the end of 2017. Such conflicts have complicated the political scene and have led to further chaos when the Arab Spring erupted in some Arab republics.

Up to 72 percent of world war toll and military conflict fatalities have been reported in the Middle East. Moreover, the Middle East has the highest levels of terrorist attacks since 2003. Incidents of terrorism increased by 50 percent, leaving many countries behind owing to their impact on economies.

Iran and Arab states are heading toward direct regional conflict that would drive Israel to intervene by targeting some strategic sites in Iran to turn balance of power

– Shehab Al-Makahleh

Balance of power

Many states harbor a strong belief that their main enemy is Iran as it tampers with the stability of Arab countries. This started with Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria. Since no conflict can take place without the pretext, if the root cause is to be resolved then changing the balance of power and the regime in Iran are a must.

As Iran was eying Iraq since 1980s, after regime had changed in Tehran in 1979, a conflict broke out which saw in the Iranian expansionist policies a strategy to rule over the whole region.

The first Iranian step was to control Iraq after American pullout because Iraq is in the north of the Gulf and Iran is located to the east of the Gulf States. 

This is likely to pose a major threat to Gulf states as Iraq is geographically and strategically located between three major powers: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, Turkey and Iran.

Iranians have sought to play the Iraq card first before moving to play other cards which include sectarianism, the cards of Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. Iran believes that an Arab-Iranian model can be created through the Iraqi gate, with the support of others – such as Russia, Syria – without reaching a compromise between Arabs and Iranians in such a conflict.

There is a firm belief that the Iranian regime should be changed in order for the country’s policies to be changed accordingly. Hence, changing the regime of the Vilayat al-Faqih may be considered a regional and international necessity before the possibility of confluence of Iraq and the other Gulf states in the form of an alliance or to form a new regional system.

No peace deal

But why all previous wars have ended with no peace deal or surrender agreement? The Iran-Iraqi war ended on August 8, 1988 with a truce but without a peace or surrender agreement being signed. The same applies to the two wars against Iraq.

Thus, the answer is simply tacit which bears the seeds of a war that would erupt any moment. Should this happen, Iran will be forced to leave Iraq and Syria to protect its borders.

Iran looks at Arabs, whether Sunni or Shiite, from a heritage perspective. It considers the GCC a springboard backed by the West to besiege Iranian revolution.

On the other hand, Gulf Arabs regard the Iranian revolution as an existential threat. This was exemplified by Khomeini who called on Arabs in the Gulf to stir up revolution.

Iran and Arab states are heading toward direct regional conflict that would drive Israel to intervene by targeting some strategic sites in Iran to turn balance of power. The month of May is very critical where the future of the Middle East region will be at stake. 

Article published in Al Arabiya: https://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2018/05/11/Disputes-over-Iraq-and-Syria-Strategies-and-ramifications.html

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