What does Europe want from Cairo Conference? ماذا تريد أوروبا من مؤتمر شرم الشيخ؟

 What does Europe want from Cairo Conference?

مارس 18, 2019

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The Arab-European summit has been arranged by Arab initiatives, but it translated a European decision that expressed the threats resulted from the chaos that threatens the Mediterranean Basin, and the resulting consequences on the European security. This is after the summit which brought together the Arabs and the Europeans a year ago in the Dead Sea, in which they suggested to fix a regular Arab-European summit. Therefore, Egypt hosted the first summit.

The Europeans observe the Arab inability of abiding by the high rhetoric and political American ceilings practically whether regarding what is related to the future of the American visions of the Palestinian cause or the future of the relationships with Iran. The American positions coinciding with the decisions of the withdrawal are being implemented slowly and have Israeli ceilings. The Arabs did not find the basis that enables them to follow especially regarding the deal of the century which will end with the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem. The Arabs failed in finding a Palestinian partner who provides the coverage to apply the American options.

The Europeans know that the adoption of Washington of its high ceilinged options towards the Palestinian cause and Iran which coincides with the decision of the withdrawal from the region spreading among Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan will lead to a chaos in this big geographical basin, moreover, the undisputable conflicts will turn into an open environment of confrontation among the fighters and will weaken the idea of the state and stability, furthermore, it will create a high level of security comfort  in which the terrorism becomes more rooted and the immigrants will increase.

The Europeans do not dare to think of building an alliance as Washington wants despite the emergence of such an Arab-European summit which its holding has been coincided with Warsaw Conference in which the European leaderships were absent. Therefore, Cairo Summit which was without America, but with the presence of the same partners of Warsaw to discuss the same issues seemed as a response to Warsaw, while what the Europeans want is to find a framework for America’s allies who were affected by its risky behavior, to deal with it without leaving America which threatens all due to the presence in Warsaw and Cairo summits.

The summit which was not attended by the French President or the German Chancellor in order to prevent provoking the American anger is an attempt to seek stability by the American who decided to deal with its allies, their interests, and stability carelessly. It is a simple attempt to draw Arab or European policy without affecting America as the way of Charles de Gaulle and Gamal Abdul Nasser, and to announce an independent decision and policy on the basis that; such of this geographic basin in the old countries world forms a geopolitical and geo-economic unity.

The rising of the American imprudence and the impasse alone can revive this summit and turn it into a salvation way accepted by Washington in such a state of aggravation of the inability. Perhaps Europe is waiting for this moment in a way that does not provoke Washington.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

ماذا تريد أوروبا من مؤتمر شرم الشيخ؟

فبراير 25, 2019

ناصر قنديل

لا ينتظر البحث في القمة العربية الأوروبية من زاوية التفكير بمبادرات يقف الحكام العرب وراءها بحسابات التأثير في رسم المعادلات الدولية والإقليمية، والتحكم بمسارات ما يُكتب لهم من وراء البحار. فالقمة تمّت بدعوة عربية لكن ترجمة لقرار أوروبي جاء تعبيراً عن الشعور بالمخاطر التي تختزنها الفوضى التي تهدّد حوض البحر المتوسط وما ينعكس عنها من نتائج على الأمن الأوروبي، وذلك بعد قمة جمعت العرب والأوروبيين قبل عام في البحر الميت، واقترحوا خلالها تثبيت قمة دورية عربية أوروبية، وتولّت مصر استضافة القمة الأولى.

يراقب الأوروبيون العجز العربي عن السير بالسقوف الأميركية العالية كلامياً وسياسياً، والمعدومة القدرة والأدوات عملياً ومادياً، سواء ما يتصل بمستقبل الرؤى الأميركية للقضية الفلسطينية أو بمستقبل العلاقات بإيران، حيث المواقف الأميركية المتزامنة مع قرارات بالانسحاب تطبَّق على البارد، تتبنى سقوفاً إسرائيلية، لم ينجح العرب الراغبون بالسير بها في إيجاد الأرضية التي تمكنهم من مجاراتها، خصوصاً في ما يخصّ صفقة القرن التي تنتهي بتثبيت احتلال «إسرائيل» للقدس، وقد فشل العرب بإيجاد شريك فلسطيني يقدّم التغطية لتمرير الخيارات الأميركية.

يعرف الأوروبيون أن مضي واشنطن بالسير بخياراتها العالية السقوف تجاه القضية الفلسطينية وإيران، بالتزامن مع خيار مرادف يجري تثبيته هو الانسحاب من المنطقة الممتدة بين أضلاع مثلث سورية واليمن وأفغانستان، سينتج خلال سنوات درجة أعلى من الفوضى في هذا الحوض الجغرافي الكبير الذي يتوسطه العرب، وستتحوّل الصراعات غير القابلة للحسم بيئة مفتوحة على توازن سلبي بين المتقابلين في ساحات المواجهة، تضعف فكرة الدولة والاستقرار، وتنشئ قدراً عالياً من السيولة الأمنية، يتجذر فيها الإرهاب ويكثر منها النازحون.

لا يجرؤ الأوروبيون على التفكير ببناء حلف موازٍ لما تريده واشنطن، رغم ظهور القمة العربية الأوروبية بهذه الصيغة لتزامن انعقادها مع مؤتمر وارسو الفاشل الذي غابت عنه القيادات الأوروبية، فجاءت قمة شرم الشيخ بدون أميركا وبحضور شركاء وارسو ذاتهم بحضور أوروبي لمناقشة المواضيع ذاتها كأنها رد على وارسو، بينما الذي يريده الأوروبيون هو إيجاد إطار لحلفاء أميركا المتضررين من رعونتها لتنسيق كيفية التعامل مع نتاج هذه الرعونة، من دون الانعتاق من الحبل الأميركي الذي يطبق على رقاب الجميع من حضور وارسو وشرم الشيخ.

القمة التي غاب عنها الرئيس الفرنسي والمستشارة الألمانية منعاً لوقوعها في مكان يستثير الغضب الأميركي محاولة لاستجداء الاستقرار من الأميركي، الذي قرّر بوعي أنه يتعامل مع حلفاء لا يقيم لهم ولمصالحهم ولاستقرار بلدانهم أي اعتبار، محاولة خجولة لرسم سياسة عربية أوروبية، يخشى أصحابها رفع الصوت بوجه الأميركي على طريقة شارل ديغول وجمال عبد الناصر، والإعلان عن قرار مستقل وسياسة مستقلة، على قاعدة أن هذا الحوض الجغرافي لدول العالم القديم يشكل وحدة جيوسياسية وجيواقتصادية، يعرف أصحابها مصالحهم، وطالما قرّر الأميركي مغادرتها، فأهلها أقدر على إدارتها، وأعلم بمصالحها.

تصاعد الرعونة الأميركية والطريق المسدود بوجهها وحدهما قد يتكفلان ببث الروح في هذه القمة وتحوّلها خشبة خلاص ترتضيها واشنطن في لحظة تفاقم العجز، وربما تكون أوروبا تنتظر هذه اللحظة ببرود لا يستفز واشنطن قبل الأوان.

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Is a War With Iran on the Horizon?

Source

ICH

The Trump Administration Is Reckless Enough to Turn the Cold War With Iran Into a Hot One

By Bob Dreyfuss

March 12, 2019 “Information Clearing House” – Here’s the foreign policy question of questions in 2019: Are President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, all severely weakened at home and with few allies abroad, reckless enough to set off a war with Iran? Could military actions designed to be limited — say, a heightening of the Israeli bombing of Iranian forces inside Syria, or possible U.S. cross-border attacks from Iraq, or a clash between American and Iranian naval ships in the Persian Gulf — trigger a wider war?

Worryingly, the answers are: yes and yes. Even though Western Europe has lined up in opposition to any future conflict with Iran, even though Russia and China would rail against it, even though most Washington foreign policy experts would be horrified by the outbreak of such a war, it could happen.

Despite growing Trump administration tensions with Venezuela and even with North Korea, Iran is the likeliest spot for Washington’s next shooting war. Years of politically charged anti-Iranian vituperation might blow up in the faces of President Trump and his two most hawkish aides, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, setting off a conflict with potentially catastrophic implications.

Such a war could quickly spread across much of the Middle East, not just to Saudi Arabia and Israel, the region’s two major anti-Iranian powers, but Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and the various Persian Gulf states. It might indeed be, as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested last year (unconsciously echoing Iran’s former enemy, Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein) the “mother of all wars.”

With Bolton and Pompeo, both well-known Iranophobes, in the driver’s seat, few restraints remain on President Trump when it comes to that country. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, President Trump’s former favorite generals who had urged caution, are no longer around. And though the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution last month calling for the United States to return to the nuclear agreement that President Obama signed, there are still a significant number of congressional Democrats who believe that Iran is a major threat to U.S. interests in the region.

During the Obama years, it was de rigueur for Democrats to support the president’s conclusion that Iran was a prime state sponsor of terrorism and should be treated accordingly. And the congressional Democrats now leading the party on foreign policy — Eliot Engel, who currently chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Bob Menendez and Ben Cardin, the two ranking Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — were opponents of the 2015 nuclear accord (though all three now claim to havechanged their minds).

Deadly Flashpoints for a Future War

On the roller coaster ride that is Donald Trump’s foreign policy, it’s hard to discern what’s real and what isn’t, what’s rhetoric and what’s not. When it comes to Iran, it’s reasonable to assume that Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo aren’t planning an updated version of the unilateral invasion of Iraq that President George W. Bush launched in the spring of 2003.

Yet by openly calling for the toppling of the government in Tehran, by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement and reimposing onerous sanctions to cripple that country’s economy, by encouraging Iranians to rise up in revolt, by overtly supporting various exile groups (and perhaps covertly even terrorists), and by joining with Israel and Saudi Arabia in an informal anti-Iranian alliance, the three of them are clearly attempting to force the collapse of the Iranian regime, which just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

There are three potential flashpoints where limited skirmishes, were they to break out, could quickly escalate into a major shooting war.

The first is in Syria and Lebanon. Iran is deeply involved in defending Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (who only recently returned from a visit to Tehran) and closely allied with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite political party with a potent paramilitary arm. Weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu openly boasted that his country’s air force had successfully taken out Iranian targets in Syria. In fact, little noticed here, dozens of such strikes have taken place for more than a year, with mounting Iranian casualties.

Until now, the Iranian leadership has avoided a direct response that would heighten the confrontation with Israel, just as it has avoided unleashing Hezbollah, a well-armed, battle-tested proxy force.  That could, however, change if the hardliners in Iran decided to retaliate. Should this simmering conflict explode, does anyone doubt that President Trump would soon join the fray on Israel’s side or that congressional Democrats would quickly succumb to the administration’s calls to back the Jewish state?

Next, consider Iraq as a possible flashpoint for conflict. In February, a blustery Trump told CBS’s Face the Nation that he intends to keep U.S. forces in Iraq “because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is the real problem.” His comments did not exactly go over well with the Iraqi political class, since many of that country’s parties and militias are backed by Iran.

Trump’s declaration followed a Wall Street Journal report late last year that Bolton had asked the Pentagon — over the opposition of various generals and then-Secretary of Defense Mattis — to prepare options for “retaliatory strikes” against Iran. This roughly coincided with a couple of small rocket attacks against Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and the airport in Basra, Iraq’s Persian Gulf port city, neither of which caused any casualties.  Writing in Foreign Affairs, however, Pompeo blamed Iran for the attacks, which he called “life-threatening,” adding, “Iran did not stop these attacks, which were carried out by proxies it has supported with funding, training, and weapons.” No “retaliatory strikes” were launched, but plans do undoubtedly now exist for them and it’s not hard to imagine Bolton and Pompeo persuading Trump to go ahead and use them — with incalculable consequences.

Finally, there’s the Persian Gulf itself. Ever since the George W. Bush years, the U.S. Navy has worried about possible clashes with Iran’s naval forces in those waters and there have been a number of high-profile incidents. The Obama administration tried (but failed) to establish a hotline of sorts that would have linked U.S. and Iranian naval commanders and so made it easier to defuse any such incident, an initiative championed by then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen, a longtime opponent of war with Iran.

Under Trump, however, all bets are off. Last year, he requested that Mattis prepare plans to blow up Iran’s “fast boats,” small gunboats in the Gulf, reportedly asking, “Why don’t we sink them?” He’s already reinforced the U.S. naval presence there, getting Iran’s attention. Not surprisingly, the Iranian leadership has responded in kind. Earlier this year, President Hassan Rouhaniannounced that his country had developed submarines capable of launching cruise missiles against naval targets.  The Iranians also began a series of Persian Gulf war games and, in late February, test fired one of those sub-launched missiles.

Add in one more thing: in an eerie replay of a key argument George Bush and Dick Cheney used for going to war with Iraq in 2003, in mid-February the right-wing media outlet Washington Times ran an “exclusive” report with this headline: “Iran-Al Qaeda Alliance may provide legal rationale for U.S. military strikes.”

Back in 2002, the Office of Special Plans at Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, under the supervision of neoconservatives Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, spent months trying to prove that al-Qaeda and Iraq were in league. The Washington Times piece, citing Trump administration sources, made a similar claim — that Iran is now aiding and abetting al-Qaeda with a “clandestine sanctuary to funnel fighters, money, and weapons across the Middle East.”  It added that the administration is seeking to use this information to establish “a potential legal justification for military strikes against Iran or its proxies.” Needless to say, few are the terrorism experts or Iran specialists who would agree that Iran has anything like an active relationship with al-Qaeda.

Will the Hardliners Triumph in Iran as in Washington?

The Trump administration is, in fact, experiencing increasing difficulty finding allies ready to join a new Coalition of the Willing to confront Iran. The only two charter members so far, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are, however, enthusiastic indeed. Last month, Prime Minister Netanyahu was heard remarking that Israel and its Arab allies want war with Iran.

At a less-than-successful mid-February summit meeting Washington organized in Warsaw, Poland, to recruit world leaders for a future crusade against Iran, Netanyahu was heard to say in Hebrew: “This is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.” (He later insisted that the correct translation should have been “combating Iran,” but the damage had already been done.)

That Warsaw summit was explicitly designed to build an anti-Iranian coalition, but many of America’s allies, staunchly opposing Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear accord, would have nothing to do with it. In an effort to mollify the Europeans, in particular, the United States and Poland awkwardly renamed it: “The Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East.”

The name change, however, fooled no one. As a result, Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo were embarrassed by a series of no-shows: the French, the Germans, and the European Union, among others, flatly declined to send ministerial-level representatives, letting their ambassadors in Warsaw stand in for them.  The many Arab nations not in thrall to Saudi Arabia similarly sent only low-level delegations. Turkey and Russia boycotted altogether, convening a summit of their own in which Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Iran’s Rouhani.

Never the smoothest diplomat, Pence condemned, insulted, and vilified the Europeans for refusing to go along with Washington’s wrecking-ball approach. He began his speech to the conference by saying: “The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.” He then launched a direct attack on Europe’s efforts to preserve that accord by seeking a way around the sanctions Washington had re-imposed: “Sadly, some of our leading European partners… have led the effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions. We call it an effort to break American sanctions against Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime.”

That blast at the European allies should certainly have brought to mind Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s disparaging comments in early 2003 about Germany and France, in particular, being leaders of the “old Europe.” Few allies then backed Washington’s invasion plans, which, of course, didn’t prevent war. Europe’s reluctance now isn’t likely to prove much of a deterrent either.

But Pence is right that the Europeans have taken steps to salvage the Iran nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In particular, they’ve created a “special purpose vehicle” known as INSTEX (Instrument for Supporting Trade Exchanges) designed “to support legitimate trade with Iran,” according to a statement from the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Great Britain. It’s potentially a big deal and, as Pence noted, explicitly designed to circumvent the sanctions Washington imposed on Iran after Trump’s break with the JCPOA.

INSTEX has a political purpose, too. The American withdrawal from the JCPOA was a body blow to President Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and other centrists in Tehran who had taken credit for, and pride in, the deal between Iran and the six world powers (the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China) that signed the agreement. That deal had been welcomed in Iran in part because it seemed to ensure that country’s ability to expand its trade to the rest of the world, including its oil exports, free of sanctions.

Even before Trump abandoned the deal, however, Iran was already finding U.S. pressure overwhelming and, for the average Iranian, things hadn’t improved in any significant way. Worse yet, in the past year the economy had taken a nosedive, the currency hadplungedinflation was running rampant, and strikes and street demonstrations had broken out, challenging the government and its clerical leadership. Chants of “Death to the Dictator!” — not heard since the Green Movement’s revolt against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection in 2009 — once again resounded in street demonstrations.

At the end of February, it seemed as if Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo had scored a dangerous victory when Zarif, Iran’s well-known, Western-oriented foreign minister, announced his resignation. Moderates who supported the JCPOA, including Rouhani and Zarif, have been under attack from the country’s hardliners since Trump’s pullout.  As a result, Zarif’s decision was widely assumed to be a worrisome sign that those hardliners had claimed their first victim.

There was even unfounded speculation that, without Zarif, who had worked tirelessly with the Europeans to preserve what was left of the nuclear pact, Iran itself might abandon the accord and resume its nuclear program. And there’s no question that the actions and statements of Bolton, Pompeo, and crew have undermined Iran’s moderates, while emboldening its hardliners, who are making I-told-you-so arguments to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader.

Despite the internal pressure on Zarif, however, his resignation proved short-lived indeed: Rouhani rejected it, and there was an upsurge of support for him in Iran’s parliament. Even General Qassem Soleimani, a major figure in that country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the commander of the Quds Force, backed him. As it happens, the Quds Force, an arm of the IRGC, is responsible for Iran’s paramilitary and foreign intelligence operations throughout the region, but especially in Iraq and Syria. That role has allowed Soleimani to assume responsibility for much of Iran’s foreign policy in the region, making him a formidable rival to Zarif — a tension that undoubtedly contributed to his brief resignation and it isn’t likely to dissipate anytime soon.

According to analysts and commentators, it appears to have been a ploy by Zarif (and perhaps Rouhani, too) to win a vote of political confidence and it appears to have strengthened their hand for the time being.

Still, the Zarif resignation crisis threw into stark relief the deep tensions within Iranian politics and raised a key question: As the Trump administration accelerates its efforts to seek a confrontation, will they find an echo among Iranian hardliners who’d like nothing more than a face-off with the United States?

Maybe that’s exactly what Bolton and Pompeo want.  If so, prepare yourself: another American war unlikely to work out the way anyone in Washington dreams is on the horizon.

Bob Dreyfuss, an investigative journalist and TomDispatch regular, is the founder of TheDreyfussReport.com. He is a contributing editor at the Nation, and he has written for Rolling StoneMother Jones, the American Prospect, the New Republic, and many other magazines. He is the author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Copyright 2019 Bob Dreyfuss

 

PHILIP GIRALDI: “ATTACKING IRAN”

Written by Philip Giraldi; Originally appeared at The Unz Review

Observers of developments in the Middle East have long taken it as a given that the United States and Israel are seeking for an excuse to attack Iran. The recently terminated conference in Warsaw had that objective, which was clearly expressed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but it failed to rally European and Middle Eastern states to support the cause. On the contrary, there was strong sentiment coming from Europe in particular that normalizing relations with Iran within the context of the 2015 multi party nuclear agreement is the preferred way to go both to avoid a major war and to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation.

Philip Giraldi: "Attacking Iran"

There are foundations in Washington, all closely linked to Israel and its lobby in the U.S., that are wholly dedicated to making the case for war against Iran. They seek pretexts in various dark corners, including claims that Iran is cheating on its nuclear program, that it is developing ballistic missiles that will enable it to deliver its secret nuclear warheads onto targets in Europe and even the United States, that it is an oppressive, dictatorial government that must be subjected to regime change to liberate the Iranian people and give them democracy, and, most stridently, that is provoking and supporting wars and threats against U.S. allies all throughout the Middle East.

Dissecting the claims about Iran, one might reasonably counter that rigorous inspections by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirm that Tehran has no nuclear weapons program, a view that is supported by the U.S. intelligence community in its recent Worldwide Threat Assessment. Beyond that, Iran’s limited missile program can be regarded as largely defensive given the constant threats from Israel and the U.S. and one might well accept that the removal of the Iranian government is a task best suited for the Iranian people, not delivered through military intervention by a foreign power that has been starving the country through economic warfare. And as for provoking wars in the Middle East, look to the United States and Israel, not Iran.

So the hawks in Washington, by which one means National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and, apparently President Donald Trump himself when the subject is Iran, have been somewhat frustrated by the lack of a clear casus belli to hang their war on. No doubt prodded by Netanyahu, they have apparently revived an old story to give them what they want, even going so far as to develop an argument that would justify an attack on Iran without a declaration of war while also lacking any imminent threat from Tehran to justify a preemptive strike.

What may be the new Iran policy was recently outlined in a Washington Times article, which unfortunately has received relatively little attention from either the media, the punditry or from the few policymakers themselves who have intermittently been mildly critical of Washington’s propensity to strike first and think about it afterwards.

The article is entitled “Exclusive: Iran-al Qaeda alliance May Provide Legal Rationale for U.S. military strikes.” The article’s main points should be taken seriously by anyone concerned over what is about to unfold in the Persian Gulf because it is not just the usual fluff emanating from the hubris-induced meanderings of some think tank, though it does include some of that. It also cites government officials by name and others who are not named but are clearly in the administration.

As an ex-CIA case officer who worked on the Iran target for a number of years, I was shocked when I read the Times’ article, primarily because it sounded like a repeat of the fabricated intelligence that was used against both Iraq and Iran in 2001 through 2003. It is based on the premise that war with Iran is desirable for the United States and, acting behind the scenes, Israel, so it is therefore necessary to come up with an excuse to start it. As the threat of terrorism is always a good tactic to convince the American public that something must be done, that is what the article tries to do and it is particularly discouraging to read as it appears to reflect opinion in the White House.

As I have been writing quite critically about the CIA and the Middle East for a number of years, I am accustomed to considerable push-back from former colleagues. But in this case, the calls and emails I received from former intelligence officers who shared my experience of the Middle East and had read the article went strongly the other way, condemning the use of both fake and contrived intelligence to start another unnecessary war.

The article states that Iran is supporting al Qaeda by providing money, weapons and sanctuary across the Middle East to enable it to undertake new terrorist attacks. It is doing so in spite of ideological differences because of a common enemy: the United States. Per the article and its sources, this connivance has now “evolved into an unacceptable global security threat” with the White House intent on “establishing a potential legal justification for military strikes against Iran or its proxies.”

One might reasonably ask why the United States cares if Iran is helping al Qaeda as both are already enemies who are lying on the Made in U.S.A. chopping block waiting for the ax to fall. The reason lies in the Authorization to Use Military Force, originally drafted post 9/11 to provide a legal fig leaf to pursue al Qaeda worldwide, but since modified to permit also going after “associated groups.” If Iran is plausibly an associated group then President Trump and his band of self-righteous maniacs egged on by Netanyahu can declare “bombs away Mr. Ayatollah.” And if Israel is involved, there will be a full benediction coming from Congress and the media. So is this administration both capable and willing to start a major war based on bullshit? You betcha!

The Times suggests how it all works as follows: “Congressional and legal sources say the law may now provide a legal rationale for striking Iranian territory or proxies should President Trump decide that Tehran poses a looming threat to the U.S. or Israel and that economic sanctions are not strong enough to neutralize the threat.” The paper does not bother to explain what might constitute a “looming threat” to the United States from puny Iran but it is enough to note that Israel, as usual, is right in the middle of everything and, exercising its option of perpetual victim-hood, it is apparently threatened in spite of its nuclear arsenal and overwhelming regional military superiority guaranteed by act of the U.S. Congress.

Curiously, though several cited administration officials wedded to the hard-line against Iran because it is alleged to be the “world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism” were willing to provide their opinions on the Iran-al Qaeda axis, the authors of the recent Worldwide Threat Assessment issued by the intelligence community apparently have never heard of it. The State Department meanwhile sees an Iranian pipeline moving al Qaeda’s men and money to targets in central and south Asia, though that assessment hardly jives with the fact that the only recent major attack attributed to al Qaeda was carried out on February 13th in southeastern Iran against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a bombing that killed 27 guardsmen.

The State annual threat assessment also particularly condemns Iran for funding groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which are, not coincidentally, enemies of Israel who would care less about “threatening” the United States but for the fact that it is constantly meddling in the Middle East on behalf of the Jewish state.

And when in doubt, the authors of the article went to “old reliable,” the leading neocon think tank the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which, by the way, works closely with the Israeli government and never, ever has criticized the state of democracy in Israel. One of its spokesmen was quick off the mark: ““The Trump administration is right to focus on Tehran’s full range of malign activities, and that should include a focus on Tehran’s long-standing support for al Qaeda.”

Indeed, the one expert cited in the Times story who actually is an expert and examined original documents rather than reeling off approved government and think tank talking points contradicted the Iran-al Qaeda narrative. “Nelly Lahoud, a former terrorism analyst at the U.S. Military Academy and now a New America Foundation fellow, was one of the first to review documents seized from bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. She wrote in an analysis for the Atlantic Council this fall that the bin Laden files revealed a deep strain of skepticism and hostility toward the Iranian regime, mixed with a recognition by al Qaeda leaders of the need to avoid a complete break with Tehran. In none of the documents, which date from 2004 to just days before bin Laden’s death, ‘did I find references pointing to collaboration between al Qaeda and Iran to carry out terrorism,’ she concluded.”

So going after Iran is the name of the game even if the al Qaeda story is basically untrue. The stakes are high and whatever has to be produced, deduced or fabricated to justify a war is fair game. Iran and terrorism? Perfect. Let’s try that one out because, after all, invading Iran will be a cakewalk and the people will be in the streets cheering our tanks as they roll by. What could possibly go wrong?

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

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israel (apartheid state) and Arab nations discuss ‘common interests of war with Iran’ – Netanyahu

Israel and Arab nations discuss ‘common interests of war with Iran’ – Netanyahu

Israel and Arab nations discuss 'common interests of war with Iran' - Netanyahu

Israel and Arab countries are in talks “in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran”, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, although the translation from Hebrew was later downgrade to mere “struggle.”

The promise of a major conflict in the Middle East was floated by the Israeli leader during his trip to Warsaw.

“From here I am going to a meeting with 60 foreign ministers and envoys of countries from around the world against Iran,” Netanyahu said as quoted by Jerusalem Post.

“What is important about this meeting – and this meeting is not in secret, because there are many of those – is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.”

The Israeli PM is in the Polish capital to take part in a two-day international forum on the Middle East, which starts on Wednesday. Representatives from the United States and the European Union are in attendance in addition to Netanyahu and ministers from Gulf kingdoms. The EU representation at the event however is less than impressive, with heavyweights Germany and France choosing not to send their foreign ministers.

The US delegation is headed by Vice President Mike Pence, who is accompanied by vocal Iran hawk Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor. The Anti-Iranian goals of Israel and the US are apparently dominating the agenda of the forum.

“We’re trying to expand the number of nations who are engaged and have a stake in the future of a peaceful and prosperous Middle East,” Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, told Reuters.

Also on rt.com EU-Iran trade mechanism will be ‘good way’ to bypass US sanctions, Zarif tells RT The EU is on a shaky ground vis-a-vis Iran as it’s member Poland hosts the meeting. The Europeans are attempting to resist the push for confrontation with Iran coming from Washington, hoping to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. The Iranians still stick to the terms of the agreement even after US scrapped it under the Trump administration, but the promise of lucrative business opportunities with the EU, which was a major part of the incentive for Tehran to accept the deal, are nowhere near to materializing under the threat of American sanctions.

“Today, the Iranian people see some European countries as cunning and untrustworthy along with the criminal America. The government of the Islamic Republic must carefully preserve its boundaries with them,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned ahead of the gathering in Warsaw.

Israel and Iran are already engaged in a proxy war in Syria, where Israeli military regularly attack what they call Iranian military targets encroaching on Israel. Building on the foundation of common hostility with Iran, the Jewish state also entered cozy relations with Saudi Arabia and its Gulf supporters over the past decade.

Whether the regular exchange of threats grows into an open shooting war in the Middle East, as Netanyahu seems to be promising, is anyone’s guess.

السيد حسن نصر الله قيادة تاريخية تضيء عتمة الإقليم

يناير 28, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

يستوي أمين عام حزب الله «السيد» حسن نصر الله إلى جانب كوكبة قليلة من قيادات من عصور أخرى، في خانة مَن نجحوا في إلحاق هزائم اساسية في المستعمرين وفيالقهم. ونشروا ثقافة المقاومة في إقليم محتل أو مستتبع.

«السيد» واحد من ألمع هؤلاء، تسلم قيادة حزب الله في أسوأ المراحل في منطقة الشرق الأوسط.

ثقل بدايتها كان مع سقوط العرب في «كمب دايفيد» التي أدّت إلى تسليم مصر لـ»إسرائيل» 1979 واجتياح لبنان وسقوط الثنائية العالمية لمصلحة هيمنة أميركية أحادية 1989 لا تزال تضرب العالم قتلاً واجتياحاً. هذا إلى جانب السقوط التاريخي للدول العربية في إطار علاقات وتطبيع مع العدو الإسرائيلي لم توفر حتى قسماً من الفلسطينيين.

حزب الله بقيادة «السيد الكبير» والمجاهدين سجلوا استثناءين كبيرين، تحرير لبنان من الاحتلال الإسرائيلي 1982 ـ 2000 وردع حرب «تموز» مغطاة بتأييد الوطنيين وردع «إسرائيل» عن احتلال لبنان مجدّداً بإلحاق هزيمة بقواتها المهاجمة 2006 .

كانت اهتمامات السيد وحزبه تتطوّر بمواكبة ارتفاع مستوى العدوانية الأميركية التي احتلت افغانستان 2005 والعراق 2003 حتى اتضح أن ما يجري هو جزء من خطة لتفتيت دول الشرق الأوسط على أسس مذهبية وطائفية وعرقية وقبلية.

هنا أدّت ثقافة الحزب بقيادة «أبي هادي» إلى انتشار ثقافة رفض المستعمر في كامل الإقليم، لأن حزب الله المنتصر أصبح قدوة قابلة للاقتداء بها، ولأن «السيد» أصبح نموذجاً للقيادات التاريخية التي تتمتع بعلاقات عميقة مع شعوبها بالثقافة والعاطفة والتواضع والذكاء والشجاعة والتضحية.

لذلك اقتحم الحزب ميدان سورية. وهو العارف بأن ما يجري فيها ليس إلا خطة أميركية ـ خليجية إسرائيلية وتركية لتفتيتها، وبالتالي تفتيت المنطقة والإضرار بإيران. لذلك شكل حزب الله ركناً من عناصر التحالف الذي أنقذ سورية والمنطقة بالتحالف مع الجيش السوري وروسيا وإيران.. وهنا تعجز الكلمات عن التعبير عن «ملحمة قوات أبي هادي» بأهميتها العسكرية والثقافية، وهي ثقافة مقاومة المحتل في فلسطين واليمن والعراق ولبنان وسورية ومعظم الشرق الأوسط التي نجحت في هذا الاختبار الكبير على الرغم من محاولات إجهاضها بهجمات إعلامية خليجية وغربية كانت تركز على التباينات المذهبية لمنع تراكم تأييد شعبي كبير للحزب.

إن نتائج هذه الجهود بدت واضحة في الميدان السوري والعراقي واليمني واللبناني بمجموعة من الانتصارات التي أربكت المشروع الأميركي وجعلته يجنح لسحب مرتقب لجيوشه المنتشرة مع اعتماده آليات جديدة تجمع بين الإسرائيليين وبعض الدول العربية في حلف معادٍ لثقافة المقاومة في الإقليم وسورية المنتصرة وإيران الصاعدة.

لذلك جاءت أولى حروب السيد الجديدة على شكل مقابلة تلفزيونية، ركزّ فيها على رئيس وزراء الكيان نتنياهو لإثارة الرعب في «إسرائيل».

فالسيد يعرف مصلحة نتنياهو بشِّن هجوم واسع على حزب الله وإيران ولبنان وسورية، مستغلاً تأييداً أميركياً واسعاً إلى حدود المشاركة مع تغطية تمويلية وسياسية خليجية، فحزب الله موضوع في هذه الدول على لوائح الإرهاب ومهاجمته مستحبة بالنسبة لحكام الخليج.

فتجتمع لدى رئيس وزراء العدو مصلحتان مترابطتان: الأولى أن هذه الحرب تدفع باتجاه تعميق الحلف الإسرائيلي الخليجي وربما الأردني المصري، والثانية أنها تمدّه بتأييد شعبي إسرائيلي يدفع نحو نجاحه في الانتخابات القريبة، فيعود مجدداً لرئاسة الوزراء.

هذا ما دفع «سيد المقاومة» إلى إعلان تغيير في قواعد الاشتباك في سورية، بإعلان معادلة جديدة، تقدم على الرد المباشر وبعيارات أقوى على كل اعتداء على أهداف إيرانية أو سورية ولحزب الله في سورية ولبنان.

وهذا تغيير كبير يعكس نصر المجاهدين في سورية على المشروع الإرهابي وتفرّغهم النسبي بصد الاعتداءات الإسرائيلية، مع استعدادهم للرد حتى ولو تحوّل الوضع حرباً مفتوحة. وببراعته، لمح أبو هادي إلى امتلاك حزبه اسلحة نوعية ودقيقة وأخرى سرية قد تتعلق بمنظومات متمكنة من أسلحة الدفاع الجوي، كاشفاً ان «إسرائيل» فشلت في منع وصول الإمدادات «النوعية» إلى لبنان.

فلماذا يكشف السيد هذه المعلومات؟

إن هذا الإعلان برسم الداخل الإسرائيلي الذي يتجه الى المزيد من المناكفات والمشاحنات بسبب كذب قيادته عليه.

يتبيّن إذاً أن «السيد» يضع النفوذ الأميركي و»إسرائيل» في خانة العداء الاستراتيجي الدائم، تليهما حليفتهما السياسة الخليجية التي تواصل تفكيك الحد الأدنى من التقارب العربي ـ العربي واستعداء إيران.

أما باقي الدول العربية فتؤدي دور المُستتبع الضعيف الذي يبتسم ويصفق مواصلاً طلب المساعدات والمعونات.

ولتركيا بدورها حصة من «مساءلات» السيد لأن سياساتها العثمانية والأخوانية تصبّ في معظم الحالات في مصلحة النفوذ الغربي و»إسرائيل».

إن أهمية لبنان عند السيد استراتيجية. فهو عرينه ومنطلقه إلى الإقليم و»إسرائيل»، لذلك أولاه الحد الأقصى من تركيزه بإحاطته بمجمل أسباب التناقضات، وإيجاده حلولاً سريعة لها تؤدي إلى مزيد من الاستقرار السياسي لذلك أعلن عن رفضه فكرة المثالثة في تقسيم السلطة السياسية بين المسيحيين والسنة والشيعة لأنها تمسّ بمكانة المسيحيين في البلاد، وتؤسس لعداء مع حليفه التيار الوطني الحر برئاسة ميشال عون.

فأزال براعة اللعب على خلاف محتمل مسيحي ـ شيعي وضرب في منحى آخر معلناً تأييده لاستمرار سعد الدين الحريري في تشكيل الحكومة الجديدة. وهذا يؤدي إلى خفض أهميات من يؤجّجون في الفتنة السنية ـ الشيعية. إلا أنه بدا مؤكداً على العدالة في توزيع الحقائب والمقاعد عبر توزير سني مستقل للقاء التشاوري المؤلف من نواب مستقلين.

صحيح أن السيد بدا حريصاً على تشكيل سريع للحكومة، إنما بعد إرضاء حلفائه من كل الطوائف السنية والدرزية والمسيحية، والشيعية.

كاشفاً أن حلفه السياسي كان يستطيع المطالبة بأكثر من عشرة وزراء ولكن اكتفى بثمانية فقط، حرصاً على الاستقرار السياسي في لبنان.

هذا هو «السيد»، لبنانياً وعربياً وإقليمياً، وصولاً إلى القيادي الدولي الذي كلّف نفسه مجابهة النفوذ الأميركي لأنه يعرف بعمق أن كل المصاعب داخلية لها حدود إقليمية ترتكز على دعم دولي، أليس هذا السيد ضوءاً كبيراً ينير عتمة الإقليم؟

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حساب الأرباح والخسائر نتيجة القمة العربية في بيروت 2019

يناير 22, 2019

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

لم تكن التجاذبات والاشتباكات التي سبقت القمة العربية في بيروت ورافقتها خلال انعقادها لم تكن هذه الاشتباكات من الحجم والمستوى البسيط العادي، بل كانت في بعض وجوهها عميقة جدّية تؤكد حالة الانقسام الداخلي اللبناني والعربي الإقليمي وصولاً الى الدولي حول مسائل كبرى، يحاول البعض إلباسها أقنعة أو التلطّي وراء أقنعة تحجبها.

لقد ظهر أن محاصرة القمة العربية في بيروت جاءت من الداخل والخارج معاً، حصاراً رغب البعض بأن يكون حصاراً للعماد عون ولعهده، وشاء البعض الآخر بأن يكون حصاراً للبنان الذي يحتضن المقاومة او الذي يمتنع عن السير بإملاءات خارجية تحاصر المقاومة او تعزل لبنان عن سورية او تجعله طرفاً في الاشتباك العربي بين المحاور الخليجية التي تريد أن تتمدد لتكون محاور إقليمية برعاية غربية واضحة.

لكن لبنان وبقيادة من العماد عون شخصياً وبدعم مباشر او خفي من قوى وطنية وإقليمية، رفض الانصياع للإملاءات واختط لنفسه سياسة خارجية مضمونها الأساسي: كيف يحمي نفسه ويحفظ حقوقه أولاً ثم كيف يحفظ حقوق الآخرين وعلاقاته وصداقته الاستراتيجية معهم دون أن يتسبب ذلك في عداء او قطيعة مع الآخرين.

لم تكن مهمة لبنان سهلة، فقد كانت بصعوبة مَن يريد أن يجمع الجمر والماء في إناء واحد ويحفظ النار من دون أن تنطفئ كما يحفظ الماء دون أن تتبخّر، أي أن لبنان كان يعرف أن المهمة هذه هي في الحقيقة مهمة شبه مستحيلة إن لم نقل إنها مستحيلة بالمطلق، ومع ذلك قبل لبنان ورئيسه العماد عون التحدّي وسار في الإعداد للقمة تحت شعار قمة حتى بدون رؤساء او ملوك وأمراء، قمة بمن حضر مهما كان عدد الحاضرين ومهما كان مستواهم الوظيفي في بلدانهم، لأن لبنان فهم من الحصار والتضييق أن النجاح هنا يتمثل بالانعقاد بذاته قبل أي أمر آخر.

وهنا لا بدّ من التذكير بأنه عندما استحصل لبنان على موافقة عربية باستضافة القمة، لم يكن بهوية أو مواقف غير التي له اليوم، وبالتالي إن ذرائع الباحثين عن سبب لتعطيل القمة كلها مردودة عليهم، فكل ما يحاولون تسويقه من حجج انما كان قائماً قبل عرض الاستضافة وقبل قرار الموافقة العربية عليها، فلماذا إذن هذا الانقلاب على القمة وحشد الأسلحة لنحرها وتالياً الإساءة الى لبنان والإضرار به؟

ومن جهة أخرى نسأل هل طاقات المعرقلين اختصرت في الحجم الذي مارسوه ضد القمة؟ ام أن هناك محاذير خشيها هؤلاء فامتنعوا عن الذهاب إلى أبعد مما ذهبوا اليه في التقزيم والعرقلة والإفشال؟ فلماذا عرقلوا ولماذا امتنعوا عن الذهاب الى الأبعد؟

أما عن العرقلة والتحجيم فإننا نرى أن أسبابه تعود الى رغبة أميركية خليجية بالضغط على لبنان ليراجع سياسته تجاه المقاومة وتجاه سورية وأن يلتزم بإملاءات «النأي بالنفس» الخادعة التي تترجم حقيقة عداء ضد سورية والتحاقاً بالمحاور الأخرى التي عملت وتعمل ضد المقاومة ومحور المقاومة. وبالتالي كان مستوى الحضور والتراجع الدراماتيكي عن الوعود بحضور هذا الرئيس او ذاك الأمير غايته القول بأن على لبنان أن «يراجع سياسته ويحسن سلوكه» حتى يستحق التفافاً عربياً بمستوى القمة حوله وإلا فانه «لن ينال هذا الشرف». فالعرب لا يستسيغون لبنان العنفوان والمقاومة، ولا يتقبلون بسهولة لبنان المنتصر على «إسرائيل».

أما عن الامتناع عن الذهاب الى الأبعد وصولاً الى حد تطيير القمة أو تأجيلها، أو إفشالها كلياً، فإن سببه عائد الى أن ذلك لو حصل سيصيب الجامعة العربية ذاتها قبل أن يصيب لبنان. فالجامعة هي التي دعت والجامعة هي التي قرّرت ولبنان يتفضل على الجامعة بالضيافة والاستضافة. والجامعة اليوم تحت تأثير ضغط القوى الخاضعة للقرار الأميركي وأميركا بحاجة اليوم على الإبقاء ولو نظرياً على ورقة هذه الجامعة حتى تعود الى استعمالها عند الحاجة.

ومن جهة أخرى يعلم الجميع أن الذهاب الى الأبعد قد يدفع العماد عون وهو رجل كلمة وقرار وموقف ورجل شجاعة ورأي معاً، يدفعه للذهاب الى الأبعد أيضاً وبإمكانه أن يفعل سواء على الصعيد الداخلي او الصعيد الخارجي الإقليمي، وليس من مصلحة هؤلاء دفع العماد عون الى مواقف لا تريحهم. وهذا لا يعني ان العماد لن يقدم الآن، وفي ظل ما حصل من تضييق، على اتخاذ قرارات من هذا القبيل تشمل العلاقة مع سورية ومسالة تشكيل الحكومة وسواها مما قد يجد الرئيس مصلحة وطنية وصيغة انتقامية في اتخاذه.

أما عن حصيلة المواجهة حول القمة وفيها وبدون غوص في القرارات الـ 29 التي اتخذت والتي وفقاً لما نعتقد لن تكون أحسن حالاً من قرارات سبقتها في القمم العربية السالفة التي بقيت حبراً على ورق فإن أهم ما يعنينا من أمر القمة وما أحاط بها ما يلي:

إن مجرد انعقادها في الظروف التي سادت، كان فيها تحدٍّ ربحَهُ لبنان، صحيح أن التأجيل بسبب غياب سورية كان مفيداً في وجه من الوجوه وكان موقفنا واضحاً بهذا الصدد ، لكن الانعقاد مع تمسك لبنان بوجوب عودة سورية وكشف هزالة المواقف العربية من المسألة كان له قيمة سياسية يبنى عليها لاحقاً ويشكل نجاحاً للبنان في هذا المجال.

معالجة مسألة النزوح السوري وضرورة العودة الآمنة دونما ربط بالحل السياسي، كما تريد قوى العدوان على سورية أمر يشكل أيضاً نجاحاً للبنان ولسورية أيضاً، حيث شكل قرار النازحين واللاجئين أساساً يبنى عليه في المواقف الدولية مستقبلاً لمصلحة سورية ولبنان معاً وطبعاً لمصلحة النازحين السوريين الذين يريد الغرب اتخاذهم رهينة أو ورقة ضغط على سورية في إطار الحل السياسي.

أكد لبنان رغم الكثير من العوائق والظروف الذاتية والموضوعية أنه يتمتع بقدرات هامة في مجال الأمن والتنظيم وإدارة اجتماعات من هذا النوع وبهذا المستوى. وفي هذا أيضاً كسب وطني معنوي يحجب الى حد بعيد الخسائر والنفقات المادية التي تكبّدها لبنان في هذا السياق.

أما عن المقاطعين والمعرقلين وفي أي مكان او موقع وجدوا فقد كشفوا أنفسهم وفضحوا قدراتهم المحدودة في التأثير على أمر بحجم ما حصل. وقد يكون ذلك درساً يستفاد منه، ويبقى أن نقول كلمة لممتهني جلد الذات، إنه في المسائل الوطنية يجب أن تتقدم صورة الوطن ومصلحته على مصالح الشخص وذاتيته وأنانيته ولو لحظة واحدة…

أستاذ جامعي وباحث استراتيجي

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