Game of Nations From Sykes-Picot and Balfour to the Arab Spring لعبة الأمم | من سايكس بيكو وبلفور إلى الربيع العربي

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Balfour Declaration: The Promise of the Non-Owner to the Unworthy

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SYRIAN SOCIAL NATIONALIST PARTY, ARAB NATIONALISM AND CONFLICT IN SYRIA

South Front

Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Arab Nationalism And Conflict In Syria

The traditional societies of the Middle East have always been notable for their ethnic and religious diversity. Today, however, the Middle East is on the cusp of a deep schism along ethnic and religious lines. This situation has brought several Muslim Arab states to the brink of collapse, is provoking new difficult to resolve conflicts, and continues to undermine the secular aspect of Arab nationalism to the benefit of strengthening its Islamic component, the replacement of nationalism as such with ultra-religious extremism and ethnic separatism.

An Iraqi Army M1A1M Abrams battle tank destroyed by Kurdish Peshmerga forces during the recently sparked Arab-Kurdish tensions in northern Iraq:

The current range of conflicts, which revolve around the struggle for power and territory, showed their destructive potential. The difficulty in resolving such conflicts is due to their roots in history, which further complicate the search for peace. There is also another, no less important, problem. Most of the current Arab states’ political organizations are based on the principle of nationalism. This is the principle that was used to form the post-Ottoman independent states. Their multi-religious and multi-ethnic nature was also the aftermath of the rather arbitrary drawing of borders during the colonial period.

The Evolution of Arab Nationalism

By the end of the late ‘30s and early ‘40s of the 20th Century, the influence of Islam on Arab nationalist movement began to grow. This was to a large extent due to a deep disappointment on the part of a sizable proportion of liberal secular Arab elites in the “civilizing” mission of the secular and enlightened West. As a result of Middle East policies of Western powers, Arabs were not able to establish a single state. Their lands were arbitrarily divided between Great Britain and France, the newly founded states became colonial dependencies. Simultaneously, Western powers actively supported the creation of a national Jewish nucleus in the Palestine, which only worsened the already tense situation.

After WW2, this process continued, receiving its expression in the concept of urub, or the spirit of Arab national consciousness, in order to strengthen the ties between Arab nationalism and Islam. The struggle over the future course of political development that raged in Arab states in the 1950s and ‘60s in the context of establishing independent states and modern societies brought to power secular Arab nationalists (Ba’athists, Naserites), who tried to pursue development using socialist ideas.

In spite of that, the Islamist trend within Arab nationalism did not vanish but merely receded. Even the most progressive and secular Arab leaders were forced to seek legitimacy in adherence to Islam and respect the interests of religiously active parts of society when forming own base of support.

Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Arab Nationalism And Conflict In Syria

Supporters of President Bashar al-Assad (portrait) wave Baath Party flags during a pro-government rally in Damascus. FILE IMAGE: Louai Beshara – AFP

The lack of a charismatic mainstream leader with regional appeal capable of offering a pan-Arab model of secular development respecting the interests of the Arab Muslim majority, the rights and desires of national and religious minorities, and attract regional elites and the broad masses, caused Arab leaders to encounter problems in the early 21st century. The long-serving leaders were  concerned continuity of their political course, in order to guarantee their own interests were preserved. Young Arab leaders inherited power from their fathers. This was achieved through intra-elite compromise, achieved not so much through free agreement or a democratic choice, but rather through clever intrigues and strong-arm tactics used to neutralize possible competition. Therefore the young leaders were forced to mostly worry about forming their own governing team, balancing between various power centers and regularly proving their legitimacy and the ability to govern the state to both domestic and international actors.

In the 1990s and early ‘00s, economic problems and the desire to demonstrate pro-democracy leanings led some Arab leaders to strengthen own legitimacy through elections. But the main winners of this liberalization were Islamist political movements, whose adherence to Western democratic norms was dubious.

As an alternative to hereditary power transfer, a whole range of moderate Islamic movements (for example, Tunisian An-Nahda Islamic party led by Rached Ghannouchi) entered the fray with the aim of democratizing Islam. They called for a “democratic Islamic state” within the existing borders. They also favored renouncing violence as a means of political struggle, condemned terrorism, supported the principle of open parliamentary elections, questioned the idea of divinity of authority, supported democratic power transition procedures, and also spoke in favor of expanding the role of women in the traditional Islamic society while in general actively promoting human rights.

But here the reformers of Islam ran into a problem. There were and are too few supporters of democratic Islam in the strongly traditional Arab society. And one can readily say the society is not ready for them. Can one seriously view the ideologues of moderate Islam the pioneers of democracy in the Arab world? Can a democratic Islamic state ensure political and religious pluralism, which is one of the fundamental aspects of democracy? How does one reconcile the norms of Sharia with human rights in the way they are understood in the West? To what extent can women’s rights be expanded? They could not answer these questions, and therefore the political fray was joined by supporters of Islamic fundamentalism who called for a return to the sources of Islam and build a modern society on this foundation.

Modern Islamic fundamentalism was formed as a reaction to such secular ideologies as liberalism, Marxism, and nationalism. For Muslim fundamentalists, an Islamic state was an ideological state, expanding its authority into every aspect of human life. It would control social, political, economic, and even cultural interactions. Sovereignty in such a state belongs to God, which in practical terms means Sharia law. Fundamentalists spoke in favor of democratic elections not for the sake of establishing democracy or individual freedoms, but in order to establish the rule of Islam. And when fundamentalist theorists touched upon the question of democracy, they were not talking about its compatibility or incompatibility with Islam, but about how difficult it was to reconcile Western democratic principles with Islamic governance that could only be based on the revealed laws of Islam—Sharia.

But even here there were problems. Principles of “pure Islam” adhered to by Wahhabites and Salafites were most applicable to the environment of early Middle Ages. When one had to overcome tribal conflicts and built a centralized state. The assumption of power in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood did not resolve societal problems, but rather made them worse. ISIS implementation of Islamic state ideas in Iraq and Syria showed how savage the application of Islamic norms can be in the context of 21st Century. The only example of successful functioning of a theocratic state is Iran. But here the overwhelming majority of population are adherents of Shia Islam which is based on the principle of vilayat al-fakih. This principle assumes that the leadership over the Shia is to a certain extent centralized and is being implemented by authoritative and competent Shia clerics whose authority is beyond doubt.

Given the proliferation of ideas and Islamic movements, the question of how (and whether) one can reconcile secular Arab nationalism with Islam, in order to develop the basis for a new national ideology, gains in importance. Or perhaps might it not be better to reject the idea of Arab national state with Islamic leanings?

It may be now is the time for concepts based on national, religious, and territorial principles, which could found the basis of a new political system capable of neutralizing obsolete medieval vestiges of Islam, unify states whose borders were drawn by Western powers without considering local issues, ensure justice among various ethnic and religious groups, stabilize international relations in the region.

One of such movements which might be ready to solve above-mentioned problems is the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.

Party History and Program

The idea of a Syrian nation within clearly defined borders is not new. In the 19t century the proponents of a Syrian state included Butrus al-Bustani, who believed that a unified Syrian nation ought to form an autonomy within the Ottoman Empire that required reform. His follower Henri Lammens, a prominent Arabist of the late 19th-early 20thcenturies, claimed that Greater Syria existed already in ancient times in the Fertile Crescent. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the establishment of an Arab state became a very real possibility. But the intervention by Western powers in the affairs of former vassals of the Porte and the Sykes-Picot delineation of spheres of responsibility ended plans for creating such a state.

Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Arab Nationalism And Conflict In Syria

Antoun Saadeh

But the idea did not die, and in 1932 the Lebanese journalist and Christian Antoun Saadeh created the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP). It was founded as an anti-colonial and liberation organization. Saadeh rejected language and religion as defining characteristics of the new nation, and instead clamed nations are formed through joint developments of peoples inhabiting a certain geographic area.

Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Arab Nationalism And Conflict In Syria

SOURCE: Stratfor.com

The Syrian national state, as imagined by the party founder, should cover the Fertile Crescent and the area of current Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Cyprus, Sinai, south-east Turkey (Alexandretta and Cilicia), parts of the Zagros mountains on Lebanese territory, and regions in Saudi Arabia’s north.

According to Saleh, “the aim of the SSNP is a Syrian social renaissance which will accomplish unification and breathe life into the Syrian nation, organizing a movement seeking full independence of the Syrian nation and defense of its sovereignty, creating a new social order to protect its interests and increase its standard of living, seeking to form the Arab Front.”

Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Arab Nationalism And Conflict In Syria

A map of Greater Syria. SOURCE: theweichertreport.com

Its main principles are separation of mosque and state, keeping the clerics from involvement in political and legal processes, removing religious barriers, removing feudal relics from social life, transforming the agrarian economy into an industrial one, protection of worker rights, of national and state interests, and the establishment of strong, effective military.

When it comes to relations with Jews, SSNP is strictly anti-Zonist, since Saadeh believed Jews were unable and unwilling to assimilate. He also criticized assertions that the Jews could be a foundation for a national state. According to SSNP Jews were not a nation because they were a heterogeneous mixture of nations.

Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Arab Nationalism And Conflict In Syria

SSNP flag. Click to see the full-size image

The party emblem is whirlwind (Arabic “Zawba’a), which according to party members is a fusion of Christian cross and Islamic half-moon. Emblem arms represent freedom, duty, discipline, power. The black backdrop reflects the dark past as part of Ottoman Empire, colonialism, national and religious fragmentation, and backwardness.

Here one needs a caveat to clarify the party’s name and its emblem. There is no similarity between it and the NSDAP. SSNP was formed long before NSDAP. Saadeh visited Axis powers during WW2 and was arrested by French colonial authorities, but released after they couldn’t find evidence of collaboration, and Nazi leaders said they had no dealings with him. He was also in favor of French colonial authorities over Nazi rule.

The creation of Israel in 1948 and its militant, aggressive policies pursued with Western approval caused worry in Arab states. Israel’s actions caused as an attempt to meddle in Arab matters using Jewish hands, and once again redraw the borders. Arab leaders’ incompetence caused their defeat in the 1947-48 war. Saadeh criticized their actions, and in 1949 SSNPR attempted a coup in Lebanon which failed. As a result of collusion between Lebanese and Syrian governments, and with active British intelligence support, Saadeh was executed. The party was delegalized. Prior to the start of the civil war, SSNP attempted another coup in 1961, fought against Arab nationalists. The civil war the party viewed as the consequence of dividing the Syrian nation into separate states. Until the end of the war, SSNP fought alongside Hezbollah against Israeli occupiers and their Lebanese supporters. Only in the early ‘90s did the party become legalized and, starting in 1992, it participates in Lebanese parliamentary elections.

In Syria itself, SSNP was a significant force since independence. But ideological disagreements with the ruling Ba’ath Party and the Syrian Communist Party led to SSNP leaving Syria’s political arena.

Current Situation

In the spring of 2005, SSPN was partly legalized in Syria and allowed an observer in the National Progressive Front which is headed by Ba’ath.

The party viewed the start of anti-government demonstrations as yet another effort to fracture the country along ethno-religious lines. It organized demonstrations in support of the current government. On February 26, 2012 the majority of Syrians supported a referendum that amended the constitution by removing Ba’ath Party from the post of the leading political force, equalizing its status with other parties. This allowed SSNP to fully participate in political struggles. Between March 2012 and May 2014 the party was part of the opposition Ba’ath National Front For Change and Liberation. But in May its leader stated SSNP would leave the National front and support Bashar Assad in presidential elections.

Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Arab Nationalism And Conflict In Syria

Ali Haidar

The current leader of SSNP in Syria is Ali Haidar, who also the Minister of National Reconciliation in Syria’s government. The party secretary is Joseph Sweid. He also has a ministerial portfolio. In Lebanon, SSNP is headed by Ali Halil Qanso who is also the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs

The party currently is the most numerous political force in Syria, after the ruling Ba’ath, with over 100,000 members. In 2012 elections the party won 4 out of 250 seats in Syria’s parliament, in 2009 Lebanese elections it won 2 seats out of 128.

Here is what Ali Haidar said in an interview with the Al-Mayadin TV channel concerning the civil war in Syria. “Throughout the war, the US headed the anti-Syrian campaign and tried to destroy Syria’s national existence using terrorist groups such as ISIS and an-Nusra. US airstrikes on ISIS terrorists on one hand, and sponsoring and training “opposition” fighters simply amount to replacing uncontrollable terrorism with US-controlled one.” In his view, US regional strategy has not changed. They seek to change Middle East’s political structure to guarantee Israel’s security and legalize its existence. As to reconciliation, Haidar said that it’s not a political tactic but the fate of all Syrians, the result of governmental effort on the national level, even though in some regions of Syria it is encountering resistance due to the presence of foreign mercenaries.

Armed formations and their role in the Syrian war

SSNP’s armed formation is the Nusur al-Zawba’a (Eagles of the Whirlwind). It was formed during the Lebanese civil war in 1974. The main motivating factor for SSNP member participation in the war was the ongoing war against Wahhabism and Israel which supports it, in order to preserve the multicultural and multi-religious Syria. Since 2014, Eagles of the Whirlwind are considered the most effective pro-government force, after the SAA.

Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Arab Nationalism And Conflict In Syria

Click to see the full-size map

Eagles’ strength is eastimated at 6-8 thousand. They operate in Raqqa, Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Sweida, Deraa, Deir-ez-Zor, Idlib, Latakia, Jobar, Damascus, East and West Ghouta provinces. They are armed mainly with small arms and improvised armored vehicles. This is due to them fighting mainly in urban confines, where rapid movement is required, every  house is a fortress, and tanks are an easy and sluggish target.

Eagles differ from other formations in that they don’t have a single commander. Each unit has its own commander and each region its administrator. Their names are unknown, only their pseudonyms.

The heaviest fighting experienced by SSNP units took place in northern Latakia, in Salma, Ghamam, and Deir Hanna. This region was strategically important since it is adjacent to Turkey and provides supply and reinforcement routes for an-Nusra. Moreover, controlling this region blocks militant movement into the province and also opens a route for government forces into Idlib.

Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Arab Nationalism And Conflict In Syria

Click to see the full-size image

Another region where Eagles were active is the al-Ghab plain. This plain runs along western coastal mountains, and is in close proximity to Hama province capital. Controlling the plain creates a buffer zone which is crucial to ensure the security of coastal regions. Next to al-Ghab there are several cities with mainly Christian population, Mahardah and al-Suqaylabiya. Mahardah, in particular was the site of heavy fighting since the start of the war. Since 2015, Islamists launched attacks here nearly every day. The approaches to the city were nominally held by SAA’s 11thDivision. But in the 6 years of war, the unit had practically ceased to exist. The division had under 500 soldiers and officers in March-April 2017. SSNP was able to field about 1500 fighters from among local inhabitants, and only their presence allowed the SAA to hold this important sector.

Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Arab Nationalism And Conflict In Syria

Click to see the full-size image

The Homs province includes the mostly Christian city of Sadad, which was also a test for SSNP fighters. An-Nusra first took Sadad in October 2013. According to Human Rights Watch, 46 inhabitants, including 14 women and 2 children, were murdered, some of the bodies were dropped into a well, and churches were looted. After intensive clashes, the SAA ejected Islamists from Sadad on October 28, 2013.

Two years later, in October-November 1015, ISIS appeared on Sadad outskirts after capturing nearby Muheen. The city was defended by local population, SAA, and 500 Christian fighters. They were helped by 200 SSNP fighters. Fighting together, they were able to stop ISIS advance.

Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Arab Nationalism And Conflict In Syria

Click to see the full-size image

The Sadad visit by Syrian Orthodox Church Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem Karim II was an important event. He met with the fighters to raise their morale and take part in funeral rites. The defense of the city is significant because it is one of the few remaining Syrian cities with predominantly Christian population, fighting against a huge number of jihadists.

SSNP units are recruited from among Orthodox Lebanese and Syrian Christians. At first, most of the recruits came from Lebanon, then their number decreased as the number of Syrians grew. One should not think, however, the Eagles consist only of Christians. Muslims and Christians are fighting side by side. This was evident in Sadad fighting, where SSNP units contained many Muslim volunteers. This fact is yet more evidence of the level of support the idea of Syrian state has among its adherents, and SSNP does nto segregate along religious lines.

At present time, due to the large-scale government offensive, Eagles units maintain order in cities liberated from the militants.

The party’s future in Syria’s political life

In order to determine SSNP’s role in Syria’s and Middle East’s political life, one must deal with several difficult to answer questions.

SSNP’s strong aspects. Spring 2011 demonstrations were caused by external factors but also the internal political stagnation. The Ba’ath party has been in power since the early ‘60s. Sooner or later the war will end and Syria will have to make a choice—what political forces will govern the country? Secular and radical Islam have shown its true nature, and there is no return to it. USSR collapsed over 25 years ago. Without its support, there is also no future for a return of socialist parties in the Middle East. Therefore SSNP has a good chance to gain power and show its abilities. By Middle East standards, SSNP is a political veteran. It has a clearly defined program, which it follows. There is an advanced ideology with a future, which is important when no other political force can offer anything new. Seeking dialogue with the ruling party (Ba’ath in Syria) means that in extreme conditions SSNP will not seek confrontatios and is ready to aid its former rival. Participating in the war against Islamic and international terrorism, in deed and not word, gives the party considerable weight and popular support.

Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Arab Nationalism And Conflict In Syria

Omar Sanadiki / Reuters

Weak aspects. Since its start, the party has been underground. This is reflected in its low level of participation in legislative activity in Syria and Lebanon, as mentioned earlier. Apart these two countries and Jordan, where SSNP has been active since 2013, the party has no significant presence elsewhere.

Political democratization in post-imperial nation-states, first secular and then religious, meant the transfer of power into the hands of the majority. The question of religious or national minorities was addressed in different ways by various countries but, as a rule, these approaches tended to rely on force. Some nations had to emigrate, others took up arms. Given progressive state weakness and near-universal drive for autonomy, one can draw the conclusion the region is continuing its process of tribalization. Overcoming the remnants of clan and tribal systems and the minorities’ desire for own sovereign states will be very difficult for SSNP. This is further complicated by the persecution of Christians and their mass exodus from Lebanon in the past and Syria right now. But the local Christians were the most opposed to any forms of violence, and represented the intellectual and entrepreneurial elite. They made the party into what it is today: ready for dialogue, to offer a new path of development, to defend own country with force of arms.

Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Arab Nationalism And Conflict In Syria

SOURCE: RIA

There are also external factors which cloud the future of SSNP. How will regional powers, like Turkey or Israel, react to the appearance of a new actor, the Greater Syria? Will they allow it to appear at all? Will the leaders of countries in SSNP zone of interest be willing to give up own power, population, and territory?

Internal and external factors make SSNP’s future extremely uncertain. The idea of establishing a state on the basis of the common aspects of the people populating the region is still ahead of its time. But even if SSNP fails for some reason, it will represent a big step toward creating a new-model Arab state.

Conclusion

Unlimited nationalism as foundation of state system has sparked a trend toward anarchy and therefore can no longer be used as an effective means of political organization and preserving societal stability. Arab leaders who survived Arab Spring find it difficult to ensure own legitimacy, internal stability, and good relations with more powerful neighbors. Some have left the stage peacefully. Some were forcibly removed. Others are fighting to remain in power. Wars, coups, mass unrest, and outflow of refugees are boosting the trend toward anarchy and threaten not only the Middle East but the whole world. The recent history of Middle Eastern countries contains many examples of struggle between and cross-pollination among religious (pan-Islam, Islamic Modernism) and secular (Pan-Arabism, Arab Nationalism) currents. This trend to a certain extend determined the evolution of the Arab political thought and helped to, up to a certain point, adapt to the ideas borrowed from the West. But as noted above, they were unable to avert the fracturing of the Middle East and address the conflict among ethnic and religious groups. This fracturing is made worse by the arbitrary nature of borders of countries which qualify as Arab. These states control the territory they do largely due to powerful external pressure, and not as a result of internal processes. It means the current system suffers from a delay-fuse bomb planted under it. It may be now is the time to implement new political ideas and to establish a state based on a historic sense of community among people living in a certain area, irrespective of their language, religion, or nationality.

من التحوّلات الميدانية إلى التحوّلات السياسية

 

سبتمبر 20, 2017

زياد حافظ

3

عرضنا في المقال السابق بعض التحوّلات الدولية والإقليمية الناتجة عن التحوّلات الميدانية في كلّ من سورية والعراق. وكما ذكرنا سابقاً فإنّ المشهد الدولي لا ينفصل عن المشهد الإقليمي والعربي. وكذلك الأمر بالنسبة للمشهد العربي. ففي السياق العربي نبدي الملاحظات التالية.

أولاً: كانت الإنجازات الميدانية في كلّ من العراق وسورية إضافات عزّزت الدور الإيراني وعلى حساب دور حلفاء الولايات المتحدة في المنطقة وفي مقدّمتهم دولة الكيان الصهيوني وفي الجزيرة العربية حكومة الرياض ومجلس التعاون الخليجي. ففي هذا السياق، نعتبر أنّ فعالية مجلس التعاون ككتلة سياسية مهيمنة على المشهد السياسي العربي خلال العقد الماضي تراجعت بشكل ملحوظ بعد انفجار الأزمة بين حكومة الرياض وحكومة الدوحة.

ثانياً: إنّ قراءتنا لتلك التطوّرات تفيد بأنّ مصر لعبت دوراً مفصلياً في تحييد دور مجلس التعاون الذي كانت تقوده حكومة الرياض. لذلك أصبحت حكومة الرياض مكشوفة وأضعف بعد الإخفاق المدوّي في كلّ من اليمن والعراق وسورية، وحتى في لبنان، مع «تحرّر» نسبي لرموز لبنانية

موالية لها من توجهّات كادت تبعدها نهائياً عن السلطة. ونضيف إلى كلّ ذلك تراجع سعر برميل النفط الذي أثّر بشكل مباشر وكبير على قدرة حكومة الرياض في الاستمرار في سياسة الإنفاق الداخلي والخارجي العبثي في آن واحد. كما أنّ الابتزاز الأميركي لحكومة الرياض أفضى إلى شفط ما يقارب 450 مليار دولار من احتياطها المالي. وبغضّ النظر إذا ما تمّ دفع تلك المبالغ أو لا، فإنّ الانطباع في مجمل الأوساط المراقبة هي تراجع القدرة المالية لحكومة الرياض في التأثير على القرار العربي بشكل عام، وبالتالي على الصعيد الإقليمي والدولي.

دور مصر في إفشال قمّة ترامب ونتائجها السياسية المرتقبة لتشكيل حلف أطلسي عربي سني في مواجهة إيران، وتلقائياً محور المقاومة، كان عبر الخطاب الذي ألقاه الرئيس المصري عبد الفتّاح السيسي في قمة الرياض التي جمعت قادة من الدول العربية والإسلامية مع الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب. فمصر تستعيد تدريجياً وعلى خطى ثابتة استقلالية قرارها السياسي. فمن جهة حافظت على التواصل والتفاهم مع حكومة الرياض حتى في المغامرة غير المحسوبة في العدوان على اليمن، وعلى محاربة جماعات التعصّب والتوحّش والغلوّ التي دعمتها حكومة الرياض بشكل مباشر وغير مباشر. وبالتالي استطاعت أن تحيّد في الحدّ الأدنى حكومة الرياض تجاه توجّهات مصر وفي الحدّ الأقصى الاستفادة من المساعدات المالية. غير أنّ إصرار الرئيس المصري في خطابه في القمة على إدانة كلّ من يموّل الإرهاب فجّر العلاقة مع حكومة الدوحة، وبالتالي وحدة الموقف في مجلس التعاون. ومن المفارقات التي نتجت عن تلك القمة هي الانفصام في المواقف. فمن جهة كانت بعض قرارات تلك القمة إدانة لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين وحركة حماس وحزب الله، ومن جهة أخرى فتحت مصر صفحة جديدة من العلاقات مع حركة حماس. فترميم العلاقة بين مصر وحماس يقلق الكيان الصهيوني وينسف نتائج قمة الرياض في حلف سني يخدم أهداف الكيان.

من جهة أخرى وبعد خمسين سنة على خروج مصر من اليمن، تحت ضغط حكومة الرياض وما رافقها من شبهات بدور الأخيرة في العدوان الصهيوني على الجمهورية العربية المتحدة، أصبحت مصر مَن يستطيع إخراج بلاد الحرمين من التعثّر في اليمن عبر احتوائها وليس عبر احتواء حكومة الرياض لمصر. قد ينقلب المشهد كلّياً وذلك بسبب حكمة السياسة المصرية ودقّتها في الملفّات المعقّدة.

ثالثاً: أما على صعيد علاقة مصر بالكيان الصهيوني، فرغم كلّ التصريحات الرسمية بين الدولتين، فهناك أنباء مصدرها وسائل الإعلام في الكيان الصهيوني تفيد أنّ صفقة الأسلحة الأخيرة بين الولايات المتحدة والكيان الصهيوني والتي تشمل تسليم 17 طائرة من طراز «أف 35»، هي لمواجهة «العدو» المصري! كما أنّ المشروع الصهيوني لربط المتوسط بإيلات عبر قناة يمرّ بالأردن هو تهديد مباشر للأمن القومي المصري، لأنه تعدّ مباشر على قناة السويس.

رابعاً: إنّ قرار جامعة الدول العربية بالتنسيق مع السلطة الفلسطينية في إنشاء لجنة مهمّتها العمل على منع حصول الكيان الصهيوني على مقعد دائم في مجلس الأمن لم يكن ليحصل لولا مباركة مصر.

خامساً: إذا أخذنا بعين الاعتبار أنّ العقيدة القتالية للجيش في جمهورية مصر العربية هي أنّ العدو هو الكيان الصهيوني، وبما أنّ الكيان لم يعد يخفي نظرته العدائية لمصر، ففي رأينا فإنّ الخط البياني للعلاقة بين مصر والكيان سيصل إلى تفريغ اتفاقية كامب دافيد من مضمونها في فترة قد لا تكون بعيدة. عندئذ يكتمل دور مصر في التوازن الإقليمي والدولي وعلى الصعيد العربي. وما قد يسرّع في ذلك التحوّل العداء الأميركي لمصر المتمثّل بقرارات الكونغرس الأميركي بتخفيض ملموس للمساعدات الأميركية وربطها بقرارات تمسّ السيادة المصرية. هذا ما لا تقبله مصر وقد يحرّرها من الجنوح إلى الولايات المتحدة. لم تصل الأمور حتى الآن إلى القطيعة مع الولايات المتحدة غير أنّ الحكومة المصرية بادرت منذ فترة بتبنّي سياسة التوازن وتنويع مصادر تسليحها ونسج علاقات مع دول بريكس التي تُوّجت بدعوتها لحضور القمة الأخيرة لها.

4

التحوّلات الميدانية في كلّ من العراق وسورية ستشكّل قاعدة للتحوّلات السياسية في المشرق العربي بشكل مباشر. فالتلاقي الميداني بين قوات الجيش العربي السوري وحلفائه وفي طليعتهم المقاومة مع قوات الجيش العراقي وحلفائه على الحدود له دلالات عديدة.

أولاً: إنّ التلاقي هو الردّ القومي على تجاوز مفهوم الحدود الموروثة من الحقبة الاستعمارية والذي حاول تسويقه مشروع الدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام، على حدّ زعمه. فالتلاقي على الحدود يكرّس وحدة الدم العربي في مواجهة المشاريع التقسيمية والتفتيتية التي يحاول الحلف

الصهيوأميركي فرضها على بلاد الشام وبلاد الرافدين. وهذا التلاقي يحاكي ويشفي غليل المواطن العربي الذي ينادي بوحدة الصف والموقف والتكامل تمهيداً عندما تسمح الظروف الموضوعية والذاتية لتحقيق الوحدة، حلم أبناء الأمة.

ثانياً: إنّ تصريح القائد الميداني لقوّات حزب الله على الحدود السورية العراقية وتأكيده على عروبة العراق، هو الردّ الميداني على ما حاول المحتلّ الأميركي تحقيقه في نزع عروبة العراق عن دستوره. كما هو تأكيد على إفشال تقسيم العراق إلى كيانات مذهبية متناحرة. فالعروبة تجمع أبناء الأمة بينما الطروحات الأخرى تفرّق بينهم.

ثالثاً: إنّ تأكيد أمين عام حزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله أنّ الرئيس السوري بشّار الأسد هو القائد لمحور المقاومة، يؤكّد أولاً على قومية المعركة في وجه جماعات التعصّب والغلوّ والتوحّش، وثانياً، أنها تنفي الادّعاءات المشكّكة في الدور العربي لمحور المقاومة. فالتحالف مع الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران هو تحالف ندّي وليس تحالفاً تابعاً لأيّ جهة إقليمية أو دولية.

رابعاً: إنّ قرار الرئيس السوري بالتوجّه نحو «الشرق» على الصعيدين السياسي والاقتصادي يشكّل نقلة نوعية مفصلية قد تُخرج نهائياً الغرب من التأثير في الأقطار العربية في منطقة الشرق الأوسط. إنّ التلاقي الميداني السوري العراقي يواكب التلاقي السوري مع العمق الآسيوي أولاً مع إيران وثانياً مع دول بريكس. هذا التلاقي يربط بحر الصين ببحر المتوسط بشكل غير منقطع رغم محاولات الولايات المتحدة في قطعه بانتشاره المتعثّر في أفغانستان.

هذا الصمود ثم النصر التاريخي والأسطوري بدأت انعكاساته على المحور المناهض لمحور المقاومة. فالسجال المؤسف الذي شهدناه في اجتماع على مستوى المندوبين في الجامعة العربية يعيدنا إلى ما شهدناه منذ ست سنوات، عندما تمّت مخالفة ميثاق الجامعة بتعليق عضوية دولة مؤسّسة لها أيّ الجمهورية العربية السورية. إنّ السياسات العبثية التي اتبعتها بعض الدول الخليجية بدءاً من تغطية احتلال العراق إلى تغطية العدوان الأطلسي على ليبيا إلى العدوان الوحشي على اليمن والعدوان الكوني على سورية أتت أكلُها. فمن استثمر في احتلال العراق وفي الفتنة المذهبية يحصد ما زرعه من مآسٍ وخيبات أمل وتراجع في المصداقية والنفوذ. وهذا التراجع قد ينعكس سلباً في داخل هذه الدول التي استسهلت المراهنة على الخارج. هذا المشهد لا يُفرحنا بل يؤلمنا. والجامعة العربية مدعوّة اليوم قبل الغد أن تقوم بمراجعة جذرية وجريئة لسياساتها منذ تغطيتها احتلال العراق حتى الساعة. ولا تكتمل هذه المراجعة في المؤسّسة وفي الدول المؤثرة فيها إلاّ بعد الرجوع إلى مقاومة الغرب والكيان الصهيوني. كما أنّ المراجعة داخل الجامعة العربية يجب أن تترافق بمشاركة الشعوب، فجامعة الدولة العربية مقتصرة على الحكومات وتقصي الشعوب وهذا لم يعُد ممكناً.

إنّ التحوّلات في العراق وسورية ستكون حبلى بتطوّرات على الصعيد السياسي والاقتصادي في المشرق العربي. فعلى الصعيد السياسي فإنّ التلاقي الميداني بين القواّت العراقية وحلفائها مع الجيش العربي السوري والمقاومة وحلفائه يعني أنّ أيّ مغامرة قد يقدم عليها الكيان الصهيوني أو حتى الولايات المتحدة والحلف الأطلسي ستُواجه بطاقات بشرية ومادية من كلّ قطر عربي. هذا هو فحوى رسالة أمين عام حزب الله في أحد خطاباته الأخيرة محذّراً العدو وحلفائه من أيّ حماقة. فالجبهة الشرقية التي حاولت الدول العربية في الستينيات إيجادها أصبحت قائمة وهذا ما يقلق الكيان الصهيوني.

من التداعيات السياسية إنهاء حالة النفور بين الدولة اللبنانية والجمهورية العربية السورية، علماً أنّ شرائح وازنة في تكوين الكيان اللبناني لم تقطع علاقاتها مع سورية رغم سياسة «النأي بالنفس» العبثية. موازين القوة تغيّرت والمصلحة اللبنانية تقضي بالتفاهم مع الدولة السورية. وقد بدأت ملامح التغيير في المشهد السياسي اللبناني، حيث رموز التشدّد تجاه سورية بدأت بمراجعة مواقفها للحفاظ على مصالحها. كذلك الأمر بالنسبة لحكومة الأردن التي تسعى إلى فتح صفحة جديدة مع سورية.

ولا بدّ لنا من الإشارة إلى أنّ النصر الذي يتحقّق أمامنا ستكون له انعكاسات كبيرة على الصراع مع الكيان الصهيوني. فنهج المقاومة ينتصر في لبنان وسورية والعراق، وبطبيعة الحال في فلسطين. نتوقّع نقلات نوعية في نهج المقاومة في فلسطين بعد ترتيب البيت الداخلي وعودة بعض الفصائل إلى نهج المقاومة وليس التفاوض. فما زالت اللاءات الشهيرة في قمة الخرطوم منذ خمسين سنة صالحة اليوم.

وإذا ربطنا هذه التحوّلات مع التصدّع في مجلس التعاون الخليجي والعودة التدريجية لدور مصر فإنّ ملامح نظام عربي جديد باتت على الأبواب. غير أنّ التغيير المرتقب يحتاج إلى عمل دؤوب لتكريس استقلالية ذلك النظام وتحصينه من اختراقات التطبيع والتبعية. فما كان مستحيلاً منذ فترة وجيزة أصبح ممكناً بل واجباً. فهذه هي مسؤولية النخب العربية المسكونة بوحدة هذه الأمة ونهضتها.

أما على الصعيد الاقتصادي فورشة عملية إعادة إعمار، خاصة بلاد الشام، والتشبيك المرتقب مع بلاد الرافدين بالنسبة للبنى التحتية ستجعل المنطقة تشهد فورة اقتصادية لم تشهدها سابقاً. غير أنّ المشكّكين يثيرون مسألة التمويل الممسوك من المؤسسات المالية الغربية ما يعيد دخولها إلى المنطقة. نعتقد أنّ البدائل للمؤسسات المالية الغربية موجودة، وأنّ الإمكانيات متوافرة سواء من الصين أو الهند أو روسيا أو دول آسيوية أخرى تدور في فلك بريكس، خاصة أنّ كلاً من العراق وسورية تعومان على بحر من النفط والغاز.

في النهاية، فإنّ النصر في سورية والعراق أمام الهجمة الكونية عليهما تحت عناوين جماعات التعصّب والغلو والتوحّش غيّر في المعادلة العربية والإقليمية والدولية. يبقى استثمار هذا النصر لمصلحة شعوب المنطقة. ونختتم باقتباس ما جاء به الدكتور علي فخرو في مقال مثير قائلاً: «والآن، وبعد أن واجه القطران نفس المؤامرات، من نفس المصادر، بنفس أسلحة الغدر والخيانات من البعيد ومن الإخوة الأعداء القريبين، وبعد أن نجح كلّ ذلك في نشر الدمار والاقتلاع واضطرار الملايين للخروج إلى منافي الضياع وفي معاناة ستة ملايين من أطفال سورية وخمسة ملايين من أطفال العراق من المرض والجوع والحرمان من الدراسة والتشرّد في الشوارع، وبعد أن ضعفت الدولتان إلى حدود العجز أمام حركات الانفصال والتقسيم وإشعال الصراعات الطائفية والقبلية… الآن وكلتاهما تحصدان ما زرعه ضياع فرصة التوحيد التاريخية التي أشرنا إليها، فإنّ السؤال … لا بدّ أن يطرح نفسه ويستدعي الجواب الواضح الصريح. السؤال: هل تعلّم القطران الدرس؟ وهل سيستفيدان من عبر أوجاع وأهوال الجراح المتماثلة والمشتركة؟

بمعنى آخر هل سيحدثان زلزالاً استراتيجياً في الأرض العربية من خلال توجههما بخطى ثابتة، حتى ولو كانت تدريجية، نحو تبني وتنفيذ خطوات وحدوية في الاقتصاد والأمن الداخلي والخارجي والسياسة والعمالة والنظام المجتمعي المدني والتربية والتعليم وحقوق المواطنة، على سبيل المثال…؟

أمين عام المؤتمر القومي العربي

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حق تقرير المصير للكرد… ومعهم للعرب والترك أيضاً؟

سبتمبر 16, 2017

د. عصام نعمان

هزمت بريطانيا وفرنسا السلطنة العثمانية في الحرب العام 1918. أعلن مصطفى كمال اتاتورك وفاتها بإقامة الجمهورية في تركيا العام 1924. اختلف الورثة من تركٍ وعرب وكرد على حصر إرثها وتقاسم تركتها وما زالوا. المفارقة أنّ «قاتلَيّ» السلطنة تولّيا، من خلال مؤتمرات ومعاهدات نظّماها، تحديد هويات الورثة وعددهم وحصصهم الارثية. أقرّا للترك دولةً في برّ الاناضول. اصطنعا للعرب بضع دويلات في بلاد الشام وبلاد الرافدين. وعدا الكرد بدولة في مفاوضات معاهدة سافر Severes 1920 ثم أنكراها عليهم لاحقاً. منذ ذلك التاريخ تدير دول أوروبا، ومعها أميركا، نزاعاً متمادياً بين ورثة شرعيين وآخرين مفترضين للإرث العثماني التليد.

الكرد كانوا وما زالوا ساخطين على ما انتهت إليه قسمة التركة العثمانية: غالبيتهم أُبقيت في تركيا الكمالية. أقليتهم جُعلت من نصيب العراق وسورية. أما مَن كان منهم يعيش خارج السلطنة العثمانية فقد أُلحِق بالكيانات السياسية القائمة وأهمّها إيران.

دول الغرب قرّرت، اذاً، مصير الكرد. ليس مصير الكرد فحسب، بل مصير الترك والعرب والأرمن أيضاً، وهي ما

زالت تتلاعب بمصائر هذه الأقوام بقدر ما تتيحه موازين القوى الدولية. في هذا المجال، نشأت مفارقات لافتة. فالترك الذين أسقطت أوروبا امبراطوريتهم وتصرفت بـ «ممتلكاتها» انحازوا إلى دولها في الصراعات الدولية التي أعقبت الحرب العالمية الثانية 1945-1939. والعرب الذين كانت بريطانيا وعدت الشريف حسين الهاشمي بدولة تضمّ الولايات العربية المطلوب سلخها عن السلطنة العثمانية أُحبِطوا فارتضى بعض قادتهم نصيبه من التركة التي جرى تقاسمها، واعترض بعضهم الآخر. أما جمهورهم الأوسع فكان وما زال يتوق الى إقامة دولة واحدة تضمّ الشتات.

اليوم يعود بعض الكرد بقيادة مسعود البرزاني الى طرح مسألة حق تقرير المصير، وأقرّ تنظيم لذلك استفتاء في 25 الشهر الحالي ليشارك فيه سكان المناطق العراقية الواقعة تحت سلطة قواته البيشمركة . الدول الحاضنة لسكانٍ أكراد تركيا، العراق، سورية، إيران رفضت مشروع الاستفتاء، كما أنّ الولايات المتحدة أعلنت رفضها ؟ له أيضاً. بعض هذه الدول رفض مبدأ الاستفتاء وطلب إلغاءه. بعضها الآخر طلب تأجيله. البرزاني أعلن تمسكه بإجرائه في موعده مع انّ قوى سياسية كردية عدّة تعارض إجراءه في الوقت الحاضر. الى أين من هنا؟

يرسم إصرار البرزاني على إجراء الاستفتاء رغم المعارضة الدولية الواسعة علاقة استفهام كبيرة. ذلك أنّ القيادات الكردية المتعاقبة حرصت بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية على التعاون مع دول الغرب، ولا سيما بريطانيا والولايات المتحدة، والانخراط في مخططاتها وسياساتها وحروبها لدرجة حملت بعض معارضيها في العراق على تسميتها «تاكسي الدول»، فهل يتجاوز البرزاني تقليداً اتبعه معظم أسلافه ويمضي في الاستفتاء إلى النهاية برغم الدول المعارِضة… وكيف ستكون النهاية؟

يرى بعض المراقبين أنّ البرزاني يناور ولا يصادم، وأنه يحاول استغلال حال الاضطراب والفوضى التي يعيشها العراق وحال الشجار والاختلاف التي تمرّ بها الدول الإقليمية والدول الكبرى كي يعزّز مركزه التفاوضي إزاء حكومة بغداد بغية حملها على تقديم تنازلات في مسألتين رئيسيتين: إقرار «حق» الأكراد في محافظة كركوك وفي المناطق المتنازع عليها في محافظات نينوى وصلاح الدين وديالى التي تضع البيشمركة يدها عليها، وتكبير حصة إقليم كردستان في ميزانية الدولة الاتحادية وفي عائدات النفط المستخرَج من منابعه في الإقليم المذكور.

فوق ذلك، يبتغي البرزاني تنازلاً آخر: موافقة جميع الأطراف، العراقية والإقليمية والدولية، على تأجيل الاستفتاء وليس على إلغائه. ذلك أنّ تأجيل الاستفتاء ينطوي على معنى الإقرار بحق تقرير المصير، رغم الانصياع إلى مطلب إرجاء تنفيذه، بينما يعني إلغاء الاستفتاء إنكار حق تقرير المصير برمّته.

قد يتوصّل أطراف النزاع إلى تسويةٍ للخلاف بالتوافق على مصطلح ديبلوماسي يؤمّن مخرجاً ولو مؤقتاً من حال التأزّم والحرج، أو قد يُترك البرزاني لمصيره في تنفيذ استفتاء لن يكون له في الظروف الراهنة مفعول أو مردود عملي. لكن سؤالاً مصيرياً يبقى مطروحاً وضاغطاً على جميع أطراف الصراع: كيف يمكن الخروج من المعضلة التاريخية؟

المعضلة التاريخية هي حاجة جميع أقوام السلطنة العثمانية المهزومة إلى تقرير المصير من جهة، ومن جهة أخرى ضرورة ألاّ يمارس كلٌّ من هذه الأطراف حقه في وجه الآخرين وعلى حسابهم. فالعرب والكرد والترك وغيرهم من الأقوام لهم الحق بتقرير المصير الذي مارسته عنهم عنوةً بريطانيا وفرنسا غداةَ انهيار السلطنة العثمانية باصطناع كياناتٍ سياسية هشّة وقيامهما بتوزيعهم عليها اعتباطاً بينها أو في داخلها.

كيف تمارس هذه الأقوام حقها في تقرير المصير بعد أن انتهت الرقعة الجغرافية التي كانت تسيطر عليها السلطنة العثمانية في المشرق الى ما انتهت اليه من كياناتٍ متعددة، ركيكة ومتنازعة؟ أبالاحتراب في ما بينها أم بالحوار؟ وكيف يكون الحوار في هذا الزمن الصعب؟

الجواب: برسم مسار طويل يبدأ بتعايش الأقوام داخل كلّ كيانٍ من كيانات بلاد العرب والترك واتحادها في طلب الحرية والديمقراطية وفي بناء دولة مدنية على أسس حكم القانون والعدالة والتنمية. والمأمول أنّ بلوغ هذه الأقوام حال الدولة المدنية الديمقراطية يضعها أمام خيارين: 1 البقاء فيها بإطار نظام مركزي ديمقراطي أو اتحادي فدرالي ديمقراطي، أو 2 الحوار والتفاوض مع الأطراف المعنيين لتحقيق الاستقلال بمودة وإحسان.

كِلا الخيارين أقلّ كلفةً من النزاع والاحتراب.

وزير سابق

Preparing for War on Hizbullah

 

The US and its Arab allies are drawing up plans to suffocate the movement financially as a prelude to eventual militarily action

By Abdel Bari Atwan

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May 21, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –   The US-led war on the Islamic Sate group under the banner of fighting terrorism may be viewed by many, especially by Arab members of the coalition that is waging it, as legitimate. But in our view it increasingly looks like a cover or smokescreen aimed at paving the way, or bestowing legitimacy on, a different war: one aimed at eliminating resistance to Israel in the region, and specifically the Lebanese Hizbullah movement.

The US war for Kuwait in 1991 was fought for the same purpose. A trap was set, after careful planning and precise distribution of roles, for Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. Its aim was to drag him into Kuwait to provide a pretext for destroying Iraq, aborting its scientific progress and military ascendancy and undermining its regional role. It is no exaggeration to say that the proxy war on Syria war has a similar objective– not only to destroy and fragment Syria as an adversary of Israel, but to lure a reluctant Hizbullah into the conflict and thus diminish its enormous popularity and the place it gained in hearts of tens or hundreds of millions of Arabs after its two great victories against Israel: First, when it succeeded in liberating southern Lebanon from Israeli occupation in 2000 after years of persistent resistance, and again in July 2006 when it also fought valiantly and stood fast in epic resistance to an Israeli onslaught that sought to annihilate it.

Most of the regional moves currently being made by the US — including Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to Riyadh and the Eager Lion military exercises in Jordan – have one ultimate objective: to declare all-out war on Hizbullah. This includes drying up its financial resources and criminalizing the organization, in the same way Saddam Hussein was criminalized and the Palestinian resistance movement prior to that: first during the days of the PLO and its factions, and then with the rise of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups that continue to fight Israel.

The West has a variety of problems with Iran, and the country’s nuclear ambitions are one of the most prominent. But it is possible to live with, and even contain, these ambitions by various means. However, Iran’s unforgivable sin in the West’s eyes was to support Hizbullah in Lebanon and transform it into a formidable military force that poses a real deterrent and threat to Israel at a time when the Arab states were surrendering to it. Many have stopped referring to it as the enemy and instead begun building bridges of cooperation and normalization with it and treating it as a strategic regional ally.

Hizbullah crossed all American and Israeli red lines by developing a vast missile capability (100,000 missiles according to some estimates) along with fighting skills that most of the region’s armies — including the Israeli army — lack, combining attributes of conventional armies with expertise in guerrilla warfare. Moreover, four years of fighting in Syria has further strengthened, developed, and modernized these skills.

There have been reports in recent days of an unpublicized closed-door meeting in Washington involving a number of Gulf and Arab states aimed at agreeing a strategy for confronting Hizbullah in the coming period. Participants included Saudi Arabia and Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE. This was intended to prepare for the two multilateral summits (with Arab/Muslim leaders and Gulf rulers respectively) that Trump will attend in Riyadh.

Reports from this meeting indicate that the joint Western-Arab plan for confronting Hizbullah include imposing financial sanctions on the organization’s members, supporters and sympathizers around the world, especially Lebanese expatriates in Africa and Europe who provide financial support for the party or institutions affiliated or close to it. This will involve measures to monitor money transfers and dry up all the party’s external funding sources in order to create difficulties for its leadership in financing its political and military structures and its extensive social institutions and activities.

The war on the hardline jihadi groups such as the Nusra Front and IS is drawing towards a close. Nusra is besieged in Idlib, rural Damascus and a few enclaves in rural Aleppo. The recent Astana agreement delegated the task of liquidating it to the so-called moderate Syrian opposition factions backed by the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. As for IS, it has lost most of Mosul, and the war to liberate al-Raqqa by the US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is now imminent, and will begin as soon as sufficient supplies of American tanks, armoured vehicles and missiles have been delivered to these forces.

In other words, the destruction of the ‘Islamist’ groups that are internationally designated as terrorist organizations will open the door wide to the more important war on Hizbullah, not only in Syria but in Lebanon too. It is to begin with an economic war and culminate in a military offensive — as, indeed, the wars on Iraq did.

Could this scenario which is being implemented in stages against Hizbullah (and by extension Iran) achieve the same success it did against Iraq – and prior to that against the Palestinian presence in Lebanon, which was ended with the 1982 Israeli invasion? It is hard to give a categorical answer to this hypothetical question. What can be said, however, is that circumstances have changed, and Israel has changed as well. Hizbullah is the pivot of a regional and confessional structure, and has the open and total support of Iran, and of Iraq to a lesser degree. Any war against it will not be easy. If the 1991 scenario succeeded in Iraq, that was due above all to Arab collusion and betrayal, as well as the demise of the Soviet Union which left the US as the world’s unchallenged hegemon.

The wars currently unfolding in the region and the conspiracies being hatched are all for the sake of enhancing Israel’s security and stability and maintaining its military power and supremacy. It is ironic that this is happening around the time of the centenary of the infamous Balfour Declaration and Sykes-Picot agreements. For the task now being undertaken is aimed at consolidating the Zionist presence in Palestine and the region envisaged in that Declaration, while dismembering the states that emerged from the womb of those agreements.

This article was first published by http://www.raialyoum.com

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

What will be the future of the region ….a competition or a conflict? المنطقة إلى أين… تنافس أم صراع؟

يناير 22, 2017

 

Written by Nasser Kandil,

This question is not proposed in the beginnings of the Arab Spring which seemed that it was foreshadowing of a call for a change (revolution) before it becomes clear that it is foreshadowing of a chaos and mystery, that affect the fate of the national entities which emerged after the two World Wars taking them away from the dream of unity towards fragmenting the fragmented and dividing the divided, and driving them into civil wars after destroying the national armies which often were symbols of the repression of the central state, but soon they became symbol of the national identity which is threatened of demise in favor of ethnic, sectarian, and tribal identities, and combating identities that are involved in fateful wars till the death, till the protection of the survival of the entities which were generated by Sykes-Picot as a project of fragmentation became a national demand that worth the enormous sacrifices, as the preservation of the armies has become an issue of the preservation of the backbone of a  regressed country that is threatened of passing away. This question is not proposed too especially after the wars of the US Empire which aim to create a new World system that is based on the collapse of the system which was expressed by the engagement rules after the Second World War, and was known as the Cold War, in addition to what was proposed on the people in our region especially options that their sweetest were bitter, such as the standing against the wars after the fall of Berlin Wall defending on regimes from which their people were suffering, or the standing in the bank of the war of independence where there was no place for life, freedom, independence, and identity. The imperial project carries its philosophy to the new world and it foreshadows one of its bilateral at the spokesman of Francis Fukuyama; the end of the history and the fall of the identities, and what does it mean the unilateral savage globalization or the clash of the civilizations according to Samuel Huntington, a clash in which the people and the nations which stick to privacy and identity are crushed, and their fate is not better than the fate of the Indians as the original indigenous of the country, those who stick to a life style, culture, and a behavior that it is inconsistent with the unified collective identity and which is proposed to be applied on all humans at the end of the history.

The question is proposed after there was a justification to propose it, the US imperial project is cracking and the question became legitimate, To where America is moving. The Arab Spring has got a distorted outcome which is ISIS, an accumulative outcome of the overwhelming chaos which the region has entered or which inserted to it. Thus the normal question becomes: To where the region is moving after the failure of the US imperial project, the failure of the Arab Spring and the anticipated victory on ISIS. The questions starts from determining our awareness which has changed in us, is it enough to answer the question without the ill awareness that the wars under the name of the victory on others are our wars instead of our peace, construction, development, knowing that originally they are our countries, and communities?

When Thomas Friedman tried in his book “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” to formulate the concept of the globalization which was adopted by the US wars in developing what he has started in the openings of New York Times promoting for these wars in the era of the US President Bill Clinton which Europe was its arena, before it was the turn of Asia in the era of George Bush, he considered that the Olive tree is a symbol of identity and privacy, while the Lexus car is a symbol of luxury, concluding that there is no place in the new world for the private identities but to follow the luxury, generalizing the slogan uproot your olive tress by yourselves and follow the Lexus before this car uproots your trees, because your olive trees have no place in the world of tomorrow in both cases. Thus the US wars, then its Arab Spring or its smart war and later the birth of ISIS reveal three dangerous facts. First, the Lexus car was employed by the olive tree to uproot the trees of others for its account. In our region the only tree which is allowed to be left is the Israeli tree, so it is not a coincidence the rise of the US globalized imperial project with the declaration of Israel of its intention to develop the identity of its project for more vulgarity in persisting in the private provocative identity which is different to Friedman’s recipes and launches its project as a Jewish state. The second fact is that the seek to destroy our national olive trees was in favor of our other olive trees which do not produce fruits, they are our fighting and killing identity, where the clans, tribes, sects, and doctrines have got all necessary sponsorship to grow at the expense of the national state, and thus having parties, armies, flags, and states. The third fact is that ISIS as an accumulative legitimate outcome of the failure of the two projects; the imperial military and the  revolutionary intelligence; Summer and Spring, has got its strength from a distorted example of an obscure identity in history to the extent of suffocation in the form and the content, but the surprising fact is that the end started in the state of origin of the savage globalization by returning to the racist crude private identity,  which depends on its olive tree, as an example produced successively by the formations of the rising political speech in the West from America Donald Trump to Britain which got out of the European Union towards France which is more French, less European, and less global as described by Francois Fillon the luckiest presidential candidate.

In the equation of the conflict of the identities the danger of the fall of the seek for luxury, civilization, and modernity becomes present, and the balance between formulating the identity that is able to meet the challenges and the accord of the facts of history and geography at the same time in a spontaneous way becomes the politics. While the small wars inside the borders of the countries in order to fragmentize and dispel them or between the countries in order to waste their resources and to arouse their tribalism become the clearest expression of the non-politics, and because it is impossible after all of what has happened to talk about a friendly game of chess which according to its result the stones are re-arranged as in the first half, while in the war, the second half is waged from where the first half ends no repetition from the beginning, so it must be said that there is a project that was defeated and there are forces that win, but there is no later project that wins. It is clear from the approach of the international regional scene that those who stood in the bank of the US wars have put themselves in the bank of losers, in return today they are weaker than producing a project, since their project has fallen, because the American is regressing to inside the borders to reform himself, while the countries which antagonize and resist the US project can boast that they are in the bank of winners, but they cannot claim possessing a project but just having a golden vocabulary that forms one of the pillars of the desired project, it is the resistance, it is a vocabulary for the territory, its conflicts and identities, but it is not a sufficient vocabulary to describe the project of the national identity and the project of the national state or the forms of the alliances and the reconciliations which form politics while formulating the project items.

The fate of the region between the competition and the conflict depends on two things, first will those who were defeated commit suicide and run an adventure and a risk generalizing the example of ISIS and pushing more geography and capacities in its account, thus it will have new reasons of power, as having control over the cultural and intellectual background that is consistent with its project and the most important oil wealth in the region from Libya to the Gulf?, or will they have the courage to get out of war with determining the losses and engage in the regional settlements in which the competition is revolving, but  through a political mind as in the scientific politics. Second, and the most important is do those who won and accumulated the surplus of power have the humility of victory, thus they succeed in tuning the surplus of power into additive value. The most important additive value is the national settlements, thus the victory turns from the victory of forces into a victory of a project that has visions of forming the national state.

What is going till now in Lebanon nationally and what will be the consequences of the war in Syria regionally and internationally encourage talking about the preference of the competition to the conflict especially in the light of the scarcity of resources which affect everyone. The wars have their bad consequences on us, so the final word will be what will Iraq do nationally and regionally? Do the main players in it have the ability to raise their regional limits towards the integration with Syria which alone forms an attractive pole for the renaissance project, and the ability to reduce their national limits towards formulating courageous settlements that re-attract those who suffer from the concern of marginalization of politics, as well as innovating solutions for the projects of separation, secession, and division by promoting the characterization of the unified Iraq in which it stays away from the rules of the conflict of the divisional identities, and thus the revenue of the concession for the national consensus will be bigger than the revenue of the virtual division, or a dream, or an illusion of separation?

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

المنطقة إلى أين… تنافس أم صراع؟

يناير 14, 2017

ناصر قنديل
– لا يُطرح هذا السؤال مع بدايات الربيع العربي الذي بدا مبشراً بدعوة للتغيير والثورة قبل أن يتّضح كمبشّر بالفوضى والغموض الداكن يلفّ مصير الكيانات الوطنية التي تولّدت بعد الحربين العالميتين، ويأخذها عكس حلم الوحدة، نحو تفتيت المفتَّت وتقسيم المقسّم وإدخالها في حروب أهلية بعد تدمير الجيوش الوطنية التي غالباً ما كانت رموزاً لقمع الدولة المركزية، وسرعان ما صارت رمزاً للهوية الوطنية المهدّدة بالزوال لحساب هويات أتنية وعرقية وطائفية وقبلية ومذهبية، هويات متناحرة متورطة بانفعال غرائزي قاتل في حروب حتى الموت، حتى صارت حماية بقاء الكيانات التي ولّدتها «سايكس بيكو» كمشروع تفتيت مطلباً وطنياً يستحق التضحيات الجسام، كما صار الحفاظ على الجيوش قضية حفاظ على عمود فقري لدولة تتداعى مهدّدة بالاندثار. ولا يطرح السؤال أيضاً بعد حروب الإمبراطورية الأميركية لإنشاء نظام عالمي جديد تأسيساً على انهيار النظام الذي عبّرت عنه قواعد الاشتباك بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية وما عُرف بالحرب الباردة، وما صار معروضاً على الشعوب في منطقتنا، خصوصاً من خيارات أحلاها مرّ، الوقوف بوجه حروب ما بعد سقوط جدار برلين دفاعاً عن أنظمة أذاقت شعوبها الأمرّين، أو الوقوف في صف حرب استتباع لا مكان فيها لحياة وحرية واستقلال وهوية. والمشروع الإمبراطوري يحمل فلسفته للعالم الجديد ويبشّر على لسان فرانسيس فوكوياما بإحدى ثنائيته، نهاية التاريخ وسقوط الهويات، وما تعنيه العولمة التوحشية الأحادية أو صدام الحضارات وفقاً لصموئيل هنتغتون، صداماً تُسحَق فيه الشعوب والأمم التي تتمسّك بخصوصية وهوية، ولا يكون مصيرها أفضل من مصير الهنود الحمر، كسكان أصليين للبلاد، كل البلاد، وأي بلاد، يتمسكون بنمط عيش وثقافة وسلوك، لا تنسجم مع الهوية الجامعة الموحّدة والمعروضة للاستنساخ على البشرية في زمن نهاية التاريخ.

– يُطرح السؤال وقد دار الزمان دورة كافية لتبرير طرحه، فالمشروع الامبراطوري الأميركي يتهاوى والسؤال صار مشروعاً: أميركا إلى أين، والربيع العربي نتجأ،تاستولد حمله الشرعي بمولود مشوّه هو داعش، كثمرة تراكمية للفوضى العارمة التي دخلتها المنطقة أو أُدخلت إليها، ليصير السؤال الطبيعي المنطقة إلى أين، بعد فشل المشروع الإمبراطوري الأميركي وفشل الربيع العربي والانتصار المنتظر على داعش. والسؤال يبدأ من تحديد قدرتنا على وعي الذي تغيّر فينا، وهل هو كافٍ لنجيب عن السؤال برؤيا تستشرف ولا تعيد إنتاج وعي الذات المريضة بعيون مريضة، لتنتج باسم الانتصار على حروب الآخرين، حروبنا نحن، بدلاً من سلامنا وعمراننا، وتنميتنا، وبالأصل دولنا، ومجتمعاتنا؟

– عندما حاول توماس فريدمان في كتابه سيارة اللكزس وشجرة الزيتون، أن يصيغ مفهوم العولمة الذي تحمله الحروب الأميركية، في تطوير لما بدأه في افتتاحيات نيويورك تايمز ترويجاً لهذه الحروب في عهد الرئيس الأميركي بيل كلينتون وكانت ساحتها أوروبا قبل أن يحين دور آسيا مع جورج بوش، اعتبر أن شجرة الزيتون ترمز للهوية والخصوصية، وسيارة اللكزس ترمز للرفاه، مستنتجاً بحصيلة كتابه أن لا مكان في العالم الجديد للهويات الخاصة بل للحاق بركب الرفاه، مطلقاً شعار اقتلعوا أشجار زيتونكم بأنفسكم والتحقوا بركب الركض وراء اللكزس قبل أن تقتلع اللكزس أشجاركم، فزيتونكم لا مكان له في عالم الغد في الحالتين، لتتكشف الحروب الأميركية ومن بعدها ربيعها العربي أو حربها الذكية، وختامها ولادة داعش، ثلاث حقائق خطيرة: أولها أن سيارة اللكزس كانت تشتغل لحساب شجرة زيتون بعينها يُراد اقتلاع أشجار الغير لحسابها، وفي منطقتنا الشجرة الوحيدة المسموح ببقائها هي الشجرة «الإسرائيلية»، فليست مصادفة أن يتزامن صعود المشروع الإمبراطوري الأميركي المعولم مع إشهار «إسرائيل» نيتها تطوير هوية مشروعها لمزيد من الفظاظة في الإمعان بالهوية الخصوصية المستفزة والمغايرة لوصفات فريدمان وتطلق مشروعها كدولة يهودية. والحقيقة الثانية أن السعي لتدمير أشجار زيتوننا الوطنية كان لحساب أشجار زيتوننا الأخرى التي لا تنتج ثمراً، وهي هوياتنا القاتلة والمتقاتلة، التي حظيت عشائر وقبائل وطوائف ومذاهب بكل الرعاية اللازمة للنمو على حساب الدولة الوطنية لتمتلك كل منها أحزاباً وجيوشاً وأعلاماً ودويلات. والحقيقة الثالثة هي أن داعش كمولود شرعي تراكمي لفشل المشروعين الإمبراطوري العسكري والاستخباري التثويري، الصيف والربيع، استمد قوته من نموذج مشوّه لهوية غارقة في التاريخ حتى الاختناق في الشكل والمضمون، لكن الحقيقة المفاجئة هي أن النهاية بدأت في بلد المنشأ للعولمة المتوحشة بالعودة للهوية الخاصة الفجة والعنصرية، لكن المستندة إلى شجرة زيتونها، في نموذج تفرزه تباعاً تشكيلات الخطاب السياسي الصاعد في الغرب من أميركا دونالد ترامب إلى بريطانيا الخارجة من الاتحاد الأوروبي وصولاً لـ«فرنسا الآتية»، كما يصفها فرانسوا فيون المرشح الرئاسي الأوفر حظاً، أكثر فرنسية أقل أوروبية، وأقل وأقل عالمية.

– مع معادلة صراع الهويات يصير الخطر سقوط السعي للرفاه والتمدن والحداثة حاضراً، ويصير التوازن بين صياغة الهوية القادرة على ملاقاة التحديات ومواءمة حقائق التاريخ والجغرافيا في آن واحد بصورة غير مفتعلة، هو السياسة. وتصير الحروب الصغيرة داخل حدود الدول إمعاناً في تفتيتها وتشتيتها، أو بين الدول تضييعاً لمواردها واستنهاضاً لعصبياتها، التعبير الأوضح عن اللاسياسة. ولأنه يستحيل بعد كل الذي جرى الحديث عن لعبة شطرنج ودية، يُعاد بنتيجتها رصف الحجارة، كما في الشوط الأول، بينما في الحرب يُخاض الشوط الثاني، من حيث انتهى الشوط الأول لا تكرار بالبدء كما بدأ، وجب القول إن ثمة مشروعاً هُزم، وقوى انتصرت، لكن ليس ثمة بعد مشروع ينتصر. والواضح من مقاربة المشهد الدولي الإقليمي أن الذين وقفوا في خندق الحروب الأميركية وضعوا أنفسهم في صف الخاسرين، وبالمقابل فإنهم اليوم أعجز من إنتاج مشروع، ومشروعهم قد سقط، لأن الأميركي وهو عمود خيمتهم يرتدّ إلى داخل الحدود لإعادة صياغة ذاته، بينما بالمقابل تستطيع الدول التي ناوأت وقاومت المشروع الأميركي أن تباهي بوقوفها في ضفة النصر، لكنها لا تستطيع ادعاء امتلاك مشروع، على أهمية امتلاكها مفردة ذهبية تؤسس أحد أركان المشروع المنشود وهي مفردة المقاومة، لكنها مفردة للإقليم وصراعاته وهوياته، لكنها ليست مفردة كافية لتوصيف مشروع الهوية الوطنية ومشروع الدولة الوطنية، ولا أشكال التحالفات والمصالحات التي تشكل السياسة بعينها في صياغة بنود المشروع.

– المنطقة بين التنافس والصراع وقفٌ على اثنتين، الأولى: هل يذهب الذين هزموا إلى الانتحار، ويخوضون مغامرة ومخاطرة تصعيد نموذج داعش وضخ المزيد من الجغرافيا والمقدرات في حسابه ما يمنحه أسباب قوة جديدة من عيار سيطرته على بيئة ثقافية وفكرية تنسجم مع مشروعه وثروات النفط الأهم في المنطقة من ليبيا إلى الخليج، أم يمتلكون شجاعة الخروج من الحرب بتحديد الخسائر والذهاب بعقل سياسي بمعنى السياسة العلمي نحو الانخراط في التسويات الإقليمية، التي في قلبها تدور المنافسة. أما الثانية والأهم فهي هل يمتلك الذي انتصروا وراكموا فائض قوة تواضع الانتصار، فينجحوا بتحويل فائض القوة إلى قيمة مضافة، والقيمة المضافة الأهم هي التسويات الوطنية، ليتحول النصر من نصر قوى بعينها إلى انتصار لمشروع يملك رؤيا بناء الدولة الوطنية؟

– ما يجري حتى الآن في لبنان وطنياً، وما تذهب إليه معادلة الحرب في سورية إقليمياً ودولياً يشجّعان على الحديث عن ترجيح كفة التنافس على الصراع، خصوصاً في ظل شح الموارد التي يقع الجميع تحت أثقالها، وقد أكل ما مضى من الحروب أخضر بلادنا واليابس في البشر والحجر، لكن تبقى الكلمة الفصل لما سيفعله العراق، وطنياً وإقليمياً، وهل يملك اللاعبون الرئيسيون فيه قدرة رفع سقوفهم الإقليمية نحو التكامل مع سورية الذي ينشئ وحده قطباً جاذباً لمشروع نهضة، وتخفيض سقوفهم الوطنية، نحو صياغة تسويات شجاعة تستعيد الواقعين تحت قلق التهميش إلى السياسة، وتبتكر حلولاً لمشاريع الانقسام والانفصال والتقسيم بتوصيف للعراق الموحّد، يبتعد عن تلازمه مع قواعد صراع الهويات البينية بين رابح وخاسر فيها، فيصير عائد التنازل للتوافق الوطني أكبر من عائد الانقسام الافتراضي أو حلم أو وهم الانفصال؟

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The Proxy War on Syria: the culprits and their intentions ~ [part 5]

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We have published and re-published, over the past years, many posts about the “Proxy War” against Syria, but this series of five articles by the Belgian author Bas Spliet, in our opinion sums up well the whole matter, from the beginning to the present day. (SFP-WP)

NOTE: this is the last part of a five-part series entitled ‘The proxy war on Syria‘. To consult the previous four parts click here

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By Bas Spliet, ScrutinisedMinds

The so-called Syrian “civil war” is not in any way, shape, or form a natural development. The US, NATO and their regional allies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, and Israel) have played a key role in the emergence of all anti-Syrian extremist groups, including Daesh (or IS/ISIS/ISIL). Without foreign involvement, this war would simply not have occurred. Consequently, if the ongoing financial, armaments-, and ideological support to the insurgents would finally be brought to a halt, the suffering of the Syrian people will be over soon.

Rather than a conflict between Syrians, this is a war on Syria. Because an Iraqi-style invasion was off the table since the public is reluctant to boots on the ground, the foreign powers involved decided to wage a proxy war in which each has its own role. While the US, Qatar and Saudi Arabia arm and fund death squads that serve as proxy armies to overthrow the Syrian government, Turkey and Jordan host military bases in which the CIA and US special forces train Syrian “rebels” (including later Daesh militants) and serve as crossing points for foreign jihadis (see part 3). Besides training and funneling arms to the insurgents, the US – and the West in general – is responsible for shaping public opinion in support of the war. A final co-conspirator that should not go unmentioned is Israel. The Zionist state has a more hidden hand in this proxy war, as it can use its powerful lobby groups in the US to push its agenda.

The big question of course remains: what’s at stake?

Pipeline geopolitics

Although wars for resources are illegal under the UN charter, petroleum issues appear to play a major role in much of the global conflicts of recent decades. As journalist John Foster brilliantly stated: “Where there is war, oil, gas and pipelines are never far away.” Indeed, when you look beneath the surface of the wars in Iraq, Libya, Ukraine and Afghanistan, you will find oil, gas, and contested pipeline routes.[1]

The same is true in the case of Syria. All regional powers that have in one way or another been crucial in the rise of the armed opposition in Syria – Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Turkey – have one major thing in common: they are all eager to construct a gas pipeline to the European market that would cross through their countries. In 2000, Qatar proposed to construct a pipeline from the world’s richest gas repository it shares with Iran to Europe. The proposed route for the pipeline would pass through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey, all of which would of course profit extensively from transit fees. The EU and Turkey were particularly anxious, as the project would relieve them from Russian gas, of which they are the biggest consumers.[2]

Syria, however, rejected the pipeline deal in 2009, as Qatari gas would undermine the gas export to Europe of its longtime ally Russia. Instead, Assad decided to back another pipeline project, which would transport gas from the Iranian side of the Persian Gulf gas field through Iraq and Syria to the ports of Lebanon. This would make Shia Iran, not Sunni Qatar, the principal supplier of gas to Europe, which further enraged Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the US.[3] The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline would also jeopardise another Western-backed gas transportation project, the Nabucco pipeline, which is set to connect Azerbaijan gas with Europe through Turkey.[4]

The American role in these obscure political games should not be underestimated. In 2001, then US Vice President Dick Cheney presented a report published by the Council on Foreign Relations and the James Baker Institute for Public Policy – two of Washington’s most prominent think tanks – that hinted Iraq’s oil policy to be a threat to America’s national “energy security.” By now, it is widely acknowledged that opening up Persian Gulf energy resources to the world economy was a primary mover for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[5] In 2008, by the time the US had left the country in ruins, RAND Corporation – another influential US think tank – reaffirmed that control over the Persian Gulf resources remained “a strategic priority” in America’s “long war.”[6] To extent this control, the think tank recommended the US 1) to support “conservative Sunni regimes” (i.e. the Gulf monarchies) and 2) to employ a “divide and rule” strategy by using nationalist jihadis as proxy-forces.[7] Indeed, this is exactly what the US has been doing in Syria.

The balkanisation of the Middle East

Although pipeline politics was certainly one of the, if not the, covert cause of the proxy war, there is a more long-term objective, too: the breaking up of Syria. After decades of imperialism in the Middle East, Syria remains the only stronghold of secular Arab independence, which makes her an obvious target for the powers that shouldn’t be. As hinted by retired four-star US General Wesley Clark, who served as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander during the 1999 Kosovo war, Syria was already on the Pentagon drawing board during the very onset of the fraudulent “war on terror.” When he was interviewed by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now in 2007, he said that in the aftermath of the 2001 9/11 attacks a general of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told him that the Ministry of Defense had decided that “we are going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and finishing off [with] Iran.”[8] Accordingly, as revealed by Wikileaks cables, William Roebuck, at the time chargé d’affaires at the US embassy in Damascus, advised his superiors in 2006 to effectively destabilise the Syrian government by coordinating more closely with Egypt and Saudi Arabia to fan the flames of sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Syria.[9] Essentially, this cable puts the groundwork for fomenting a civil war five years before the actual eruption of violence. These two revelations are of course only words and should not be interpreted as solid evidence. However, it does give a stimulation to dig a little deeper.

In early 2016, US Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that if the Geneva peace talks fail, partitioning Syria “may be the best way to end the war.”[10] UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura, however, acknowledged that both the Syrian government and the armed opposition groups present at the Geneva peace talks reject federalism, let alone partition.[11] As balkanising Syria would happen along sectarian lines, and as it would leave a large amount of the country’s national resources to only a small percentage of the Syrian population, endless conflict between weakened enclaves would be the expected outcome.[12] So, if breaking up Syria is a recipe for never-ending war and is opposed by almost all Syrians, why did Kerry brought it up?

Well, how do you figure out the real objective of US foreign policy? Look at their think tanks of course. Indeed, six months prior to Kerry’s statement the Brookings Institute argued for the establishment of Western-backed safe zones, which would eventually develop into more or less autonomous area’s.[13] In October 2015, the author of the Brookings article, Michael O’Hanlon, specified his vision of Syrian balkanisation:

“One largely Alawite (Assad’s own sect) [sector], spread along the Mediterranean coast; another Kurdish, along the north and northeast corridors near the Turkish border; a third primarily Druse, in the southwest; a fourth largely made up of Sunni Muslims; and then a central zone of intermixed groups in the country’s main population belt from Damascus to Aleppo.”[14]

From 2013 onwards, variations to this plan (e.g. a threefold partition into an Alawitistan and Kurdistan aside from a Sunni heartland) have repeatedly been proposed by US establishment figures.[15] Kerry’s “plan B” thus sounds an awful lot like the “plan A” of a number of US strategists, policy makers, and imperialist organs. The fact that upper neocons like Henry Kissinger and John Bolton have supported the breaking up of Syria as the best possible outcome should tell you enough.

The idea to weaken a sovereign nation by exploiting sectarian division, ethnic tension and internal violence is not new. The US and its allies have used the tactic throughout history in various parts of the globe, including in Africa, Latin America, and the Balkans. In the case of the Middle East, the carving up of the Arab world was brought up for the first time in Anglo-American strategist circles by British-American historian Bernard Lewis. Lewis, a British military intelligence officer during World War II and longtime supporter of the Israeli right, wrote an article as far back as 1992 called Rethinking the Middle East – published in Foreign Affairs, the quarterly of the Council on Foreign Relations – in which he predicted the “lebanonisation” of the Middle East:

“Most of the states of the Middle East – Egypt is an obvious exception – are of recent and artificial construction [sic][16] and are vulnerable to [“lebanonisation”]. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation-state. [sic][17] The state then disintegrates – as happened in Lebanon – into a chaos of squabbling feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.”[18]

According to Lewis, American policy is mainly aimed at preventing regional hegemony (whether in the form of pan-Arabism or in the form of one strong regional power) that would establish monopolistic control over the Middle Eastern oil reserves. The US does not pursue this policy of “lebanonisation” in a classical imperial fashion, hints Lewis, but instead by invigorating Islamic fundamentalism, as religious opposition groups are the only ones that have at their disposal a network outside the control of the state.[19]

This is essentially what happened in Iraq, and what is happening now in Syria. The US and its allies are doing everything they can to exploit sectarian tensions in order to break up existing sovereign Arab nations into small and inter-fighting weakened microstates. The very first time this tactic was described in detail, however, was not by an American strategist, but an Israeli one. To understand why all the above-mentioned leads back to an Israeli paper, a deeper look into Israel’s role in Middle Eastern conflicts is essential, however.

Divide and conquer: Israel’s role behind the scenes[20]

“Senior IDF officers and those close to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, such as National Security Advisor Ephraim Halevy, paint a rosy picture of the wonderful future Israel can expect after the war [with Iraq]. They envision a domino effect, with the fall of Saddam Hussein followed by that of Israel’s other enemies: [the PLO’s Yasser] Arafat, [Hezbollah’s] Hassan Nasrallah, [Syria’s] Bashar Assad, the ayatollah in Iran and maybe even [Libya’s] Muhammar Gaddafi.”[21]

Aluf Benn in Ha’aretz, one month before the US invasion of Iraq

“After the war in Iraq, Israel will try to convince the US to direct its war on terror at Iran, Damascus and Beirut.”[22]

Uzi Benziman in Ha’aretz’, just after the US invasion of Iraq started

The power of the Israel lobby in the United States is like an elephant in the room: it is practically impossible to disregard its presence, but still, people are afraid to talk about it. For those of you that are not aware of the power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and their fellow Zionist lobbyists, I strongly recommend you to read The Israel lobby and U.S. foreign policy, an in depth article by distinguished American professors John Maersheimer and Stephen Walt that is essential in understanding Israel’s role in past and current crises in the Middle East.[23] The two professors, both specialised in international relations, came to the conclusion that the central focus of US foreign policy in the Middle East is not in its own national interest, but instead lies in its relationship with Israel.[24] Writing at the height of the US occupation of Iraq in 2006, Maersheimer and Walt put forward a myriad of evidence that Israeli pressure in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks was absolutely crucial in the final push towards Washington’s decision to invade Iraq.[25]

British-Israeli journalist Jonathan Cook further corroborates this thesis in his eye-opening book Israel and the clash of civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the plan to remake the Middle East. When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, Cook argues, it broke with its traditional policy of rewarding and punishing strongmen and resorted instead to regime overthrow and direct occupation. This policy change, which predictably brought sectarian divide with it, was opposed by the oil industry as well as the US State Department, however, as both preferred the old tactic of replacing Saddam Hussein with another US handpicked dictator. Rather than the oil giants, Cook concludes, it was the Israel lobby that persuaded the neocons that this new policy of invasion and occupation would be beneficial not only to Israel, but to American interests too.[26]

As substantiated above by Gen. Wesley Clark, but also by Maersheimer and Walt’s paper[27] and by many other analysts and commentators, the neocons and Israel never had the intention to end the “war on terror” after Iraq and Afghanistan were left in ruins. Rather, they saw war with Iraq as the first step in an ambitious campaign to remake the Middle East. With Saddam Hussein out of the way, they turned their sights on Israel’s other regional adversaries, Iran and Syria.

As was the case with the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Israel’s role in the current Syria debacle at first seems minimal. Indeed, aside from a few occasional airstrikes,[28] giving medical treatment to wounded jihadis,[29] and once in a while funneling weapons to Syrian rebels,[30] it does not have a direct role in the proxy war. That does not mean that Israel is not a fierce supporter of Assad’s overthrow, however. Israel would undoubtedly gain significantly from the breaking up of Syria, which has always – contrary to many of its fellow Arab states – remained a fierce opponent of the Zionist state. With regards to the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967, the destabilisation of Syria could allow Israel to finalise the land grab it started decades ago. Also, the Israeli government has recently granted a US company the right to explore oil and natural gas in the Golan Heights.[31] If Syria ceases to exist as a sovereign state, and Israel’s illegal annexation of the area is no longer contested, opposition against this move might fade away too. More importantly, Israel is afraid of the so-called Shia land bridge, which connects their propped up number one enemy, Iran, with Hezbollah through Iraq and Syria. The destabilisation of Syria and the consequent breaking up of the Shia land bridge would not only kill the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline project, it would also destroy or further isolate three of Israel’s main enemies: Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran.

Last but not least, Israel would be the first in line to benefit from the disintegration of sovereign Arab nations, because as long as Arabs fight among each other, they cannot, and will not, unite in their struggle against Zionism. This brings us back to where we dwelt off: the balkanisation of the Middle East. Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist with a past in Israel’s Foreign Ministry, published the very first detailed plan to break up Iraq and Syria along sectarian lines in the journal of the World Zionist Organisation in 1982, long before it gradually found its way to Anglo-American think tanks.[32] The paper, called A strategy for Israel in the nineteen eighties, argues that in order for Israel to become an imperial regional power, it must effect the division of all existing Arab nations into microstates based on ethnicity or religion. Consequently, Arabs would be left inter-fighting and severely weakened, which would enable Israel to “ottomanise” the Middle East: that is, recreate the state of affairs that existed before the arrival of the European colonists, but with Israel replacing the Ottoman Empire as the dominant power exercising hegemony.[33]

If Israel achieves its objective of becoming the uncontested ruler over the Middle East, it might be able to realise its dream of “Greater Israel,” which according to Zionism’s founding father, Theodor Herzl, extends all the way “from the Brook of Egypt [i.e. the Nile] to the Euphrates.”[34] The actual annexation of such a large piece of the Arab world is of course (or so I hope) likely never to happen. But still, “Greater Israel” is very much present in Zionist mythology.[35] Therefore, as biblical references and mythology are often used in legitimising the Zionist colonisation of Palestine, the dream of “Greater Israel” might as well serve as an incentive to destroy all of Israel’s neighbour states, regardless of the human lives it would cost to achieve it.

To date, the Yinon plan is the most explicit, detailed and unambiguous Zionist strategy for the Middle East. Its significance for Syria is enhanced by its date of publication, as it is written around the time of the US-backed 1982 Muslim Brotherhood’s insurgency at Hama, where sectarian tensions were exploited on a similar level as today. According to Yinon:

“Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula. […] The dissolution of Syria and Iraq into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon, so that there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern neighbor, and the Druzes who will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan.”[36] (emphasis added)

Ironically, according to Yinon, “this state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run.”[37] I wish he could have personally told that to the family members of the hundreds of thousands of dead Syrians, let alone to those of the over a million Iraqi war casualties. Indeed, imperial Zionists are only interested in “peace and security” for Israel, i.e. the downfall of everyone who denounces Zionism, i.e. the dissolution of all independent Arab states, i.e. Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.

This is not just an old plan which “conspiracy theorists” recovered from the dust bin. Yinon’s strategy falls perfectly in line not just with what has happened to the Middle East since its publication, but, as we saw in the previous paragraph, it also corresponds to many statements made over the years by both Israeli and US-NATO strategists, think tanks and officials. Most recently, Israel’s right-wing Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, reiterated that the balkanisation of the Middle East would be vital to Israel’s “national security” in December 2016:

“Many of the countries in the Middle East were established artificially, as a result of the Sykes-Picot Agreement and based on colonial considerations that did not take into account the pattern of inhabitance and the deep sectarian rifts within the respective societies. Thus, to genuinely solve the region’s problems, borders will have to be altered, specifically in countries like Syria and Iraq. Boundaries need to be redrawn between Sunnis, Shia and other communities to diminish sectarian strife and to enable the emergence of states that will enjoy internal legitimacy. It is a mistake to think that these states can survive in their current borders.”[38]

Taking all of this into account, it might be easier to grasp why Efraim Inbar, an Israeli think tank director, believes that the destruction of Daesh would be a strategic mistake for his country, saying that “allowing bad guys to kill bad guys sounds very cynical, but it is useful and even moral to do so if it keeps the bad guys busy and less able to harm the good guys.”[39] It also might be easier to understand a leaked email from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from 2012:

“The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad. […] It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible to undermine Israel’s security. […] The end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. […] The rebellion has now lasted more than a year. The opposition is not going away, nor is the regime going to accept a diplomatic solution from outside. With his life and his family at risk, only the threat or use of force will change the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s mind.”[40] (emphasis added)

In other words, as the New Observer put it: “Destroy Syria for Israel.”[41]

Conclusion

The decision to invade and occupy Iraq was only made when two neocon goals, US control of oil on the one hand and Israeli regional dominance on the other, merged together in one shared vision.[42] Similarly, I would argue that both pipeline geopolitics and the US-Israeli goal of balkanising the Middle East were on their own necessary but insufficient conditions for this proxy war to take root. Only when the opportunity presented itself after Syria refused the Qatari gas pipeline, but also when other factors – like the Arab Spring protests and the Gulf’s desire to export Islamist fundamentalism across the region – merged together with the US-Israeli desire to break up Syria, could this conspiracy unfold. Therefore, not too much effort should be put in figuring out who is dominating who. It is more important to understand that the US, NATO and Israel work together as one force, and with their regional allies, in destroying Syria. This force – or more accurately, the powers behind it – are trying to achieve global dominance by systematically targeting independent nations. Syria, however, is one of the few nations left that stands defiant against giving up its pride and sovereignty. For instance, it still has a state-owned central bank, is not in debt with the IMF, and has banned genetically modified seeds.[43] Unfortunately, the Syrian population has paid a high price for being proud of their independence. Coupled with the dire consequences of US and EU sanctions (that punish ordinary Syrians instead of the government, as acknowledged by the UN),[44] the brutal proxy war has left millions of Syrians impoverished and starved, millions displaced, and hundreds of thousands dead.

Syria is not the first country that has been targeted in the war of terror, though. Over the last 15 years alone, The US-NATO-Israel alliance has been responsible for making life for the Palestinians even more unbearable; for the ongoing bloodshed in Afghanistan, a direct result of the US invasion and occupation; for destroying Iraq, leaving over a million of its inhabitants dead; for turning Libya from Africa’s richest country into to a failed state; and now for openly provoking war with Iran. Since 1945, the US has launched countless overt and covert campaigns to overthrow sovereign governments, in which it is responsible for the deaths of an estimated 20 to 30 million people.[45] And yet, we keep giving them moral authority over the world. Time and time again, we fall for the same trap, thinking that the annihilation of yet another nation is yet another miscalculated mistake. Is this not the definition of pure insanity?

Where is this leading? What are the ramifications of the war on Syria on a global scale? Are we heading towards a World War III scenario? And more importantly, what is the solution? I guess an afterword is necessary.


Notes

[1] John Foster, “Where there is war, oil, gas and pipelines are never far away,” The Ecologist, 04.03.2014, http://theecologist.org.

[2] If you want to read more about the overlapping history of imperialism and pipeline geopolitics in Syria, I highly recommend Robert F. Kennedy’s (cousin of late US President John F. Kennedy) article “Syria: another pipeline war,” Eco Watch, 25.02.2016, http://ecowatch.com.

[3] Kennedy, “Syria: another pipeline war.”

[4] Greg, “The destabilization of Syria – who gains?”, Passion For Liberty, 14.09.2013, http://passionforliberty.com.

[5] Nafeez Ahmed, “Iraqi invasion was about oil,”  Guardian, 20.03.2014, http://theguardian.com.

[6] Christopher Pernin et al., Unfolding the future of the long war: motivations, prospects, and implications for the U.S. army (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2008), 174.

[7] Pernin et al., Summary of Unfolding the future of the long war, 16.

[8] Amy Goodman, interview with Wesley Clark, Daily Show, Democracy Now, 02.03.2007, available online: “Gen. Wesley Clark weighs presidential bid: ‘I think about it every day’,” Democracy Now, 02.03.2007, http://democracynow.org.

[9] William Roebuck, “Influencing the SARG in the end of 2006,” 13.12.2006 (Wikileaks, Cable 06 Damascus 5399 a).

[10] Patrick Wintour, “John Kerry says partition of Syria could be part of ‘plan B’ if peace talks fail,” Guardian, 23.02.2016, http://theguardian.com.

[11] “Syria government, opposition reject federal system: De Mistura,” Press TV, 17.03.2016, http://presstv.ir.

[12] Maram Susli, “Kerry’s plan at balkanizing Syria,” New Eastern Outlook, 29.03.2016, http://journal-neo.org.

[13] Michael O’Hanlon, “Deconstructing Syria: a new strategy for America’s most hopeless war,” The Brookings Institute, 30.06.2015, http://brookings.edu.

[14] Michael O’Hanlon, “Syria’s one hope may be as dim as Bosnia’s once was,” Reuters, 06.10.2015, http://blogs.reuters.com.

[15] Brandon Turbeville, “Kurdish ‘federalization’ reminiscent of Kerry’s plan B, Brzezinski, NATO plan A,” Activist Post, 18.03.2016, http://activistpost.com; Steven MacMillan, “Creating Sunnistan: Foreign Affairs calls for Syria and Iraq to be balkanized,” New Eastern Outlook, 31.12.2015, http://journal-neo.org.

[16] Contrary to what is often asserted, Syria is an exception too. The term Syria dates back to Roman times, and has been used to describe the area for thousands of years. If Syria is not a historical state, no state is.

[17] The previous articles of this series have shown that there is a very strong sense of national identity, and that the Syrian government enjoys major popular support, in spite of the fact that it is severely weakened.

[18] Bernard Lewis, “Rethinking the Middle East,” Foreign Affairs 71, no. 4 (1992): 116-7.

[19] Lewis, “Rethinking the Middle East,” 107-16.

[20] Please note that this is by far the most controversial part of this series. There exists a taboo on scrutiny of Israel in academia and mainstream press, especially in the US. However, the true reasons behind the proxy war on Syria would not be fully revealed – at least in my opinion – if I would leave aside Israel’s role behind the scenes. I would like to stress with the strongest possible emphasis that this part is not in any way, shape or form motivated by antisemitism (after all, Arabs are Semites too), nor by any other kind of hatred. To the contrary, I regard all my fellow humans as equal, and it is precisely that principle which encouraged me to write about topics like these.

[21] Aluf Benn, “Background enthusiastic IDF awaits war in Iraq,” Ha’aretz, 16.02.2003, http://haaretz.com.

[22] Uzi Benziman, “Corridors of power – who will give the go-ahead?”, Ha’aretz, 21.03.2003, http://haaretz.com.

[23] John Maersheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel lobby and U.S. foreign policy,” Middle East Policy 13, no. 3 (2006): 29-87.

[24] Maersheimer and Walt, “The Israel lobby and U.S. foreign policy,” 30.

[25] Maersheimer and Walt, “The Israel lobby and U.S. foreign policy,” 53-8.

[26] Jonathan Cook, preface to Israel and the clash of civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the plan to remake the Middle East (London: Pluto Press, 2008), 13-4.

[27] Maersheimer and Walt, “The Israel lobby and U.S. foreign policy,” 58-61.

[28] “Israel joins forces with ISIS? Tel Aviv bombs Syria for sixth time in 18 months,” 21st Century Wire, 20.01.2015, http://21stcenturywire.com; Leith Fadel, “Israeli air force attacks Syrian army in the Golan Heights,” Al-Masdar News, 17.09.2016, http://almasdarnews.com.

[29] “Report: Israel treating al-Qaida fighters wounded in Syria civil war,” The Jerusalem Post, 13.03.2015, http://jpost.com.

[30] See for instance: Majd Fahd, “Syria’s security forces confiscate huge amount of Israeli ammo,” Al-Masdar News, 27.04.2016, http://almasdarnews.com; “Large amounts of munitions, including Israeli-made weapons, seized in western Sweida,” SANA, 14.02.2016, http://sana.sy.

[31] Daniel Graeber, “Cheney-linked company to drill in occupied Golan Heights,” Oil Price, 22.02.2013, http://oilprice.com.

[32] Oded Yinon, “A strategy for Israel in the nineteen eighties,” Kivunim, translated by Israel Shahak (Massachusetts: Association of Arab-American University Graduates, 1982).

[33] Noam Chomsky, Fateful triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians (London: Pluto Press, 1999), 767.

[34] Theodor Herzl, Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, vol. 2 (New York: Herzl Press, 1960), 711.

[35] According to several passages in the Old Testament, the ancient kingdom of Israel allegedly compromised a large part of the Middle East – including parts of present-day Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia – under David and Solomon. The map of this “Greater Israel” is also projected on the smallest Israeli coin, the 10 agora. Furthermore, almost 70 years after its inception, Israel has not yet defined its borders.

[36] Yinon, “A strategy for Israel in the nineteen eighties,” paragraph 22.

[37] Yinon, “A strategy for Israel in the nineteen eighties,” paragraph 22.

[38] Avigdor Lieberman, “Israel’s national security in a turbulent Middle East,” Defense News, 02.12.2016, http://defensenews.com.

[39] Efraim Inbar, “The destruction of the Islamic State is a strategic mistake,” BESA Center Perspectives, paper no. 352 (2016).

[40] Hillary Clinton, “New Iran and Syria 2.doc,” 2012

 

(Wikileaks, Hillary Clinton Email Archive, U.S. Department of State, case no. F-2014-20439, doc no. C05794498).

[41] “Clinton: destroy Syria for Israel,” The New Observer, 22.05.2016, http://newobserveronline.com.

[42] Cook, Israel and the clash of civilisations, 86-91.

[43] Adrian Salbuchi, “Why the US, UK, EU & Israel hate Syria,” RT, 09.09.2013, http://rt.com.

[44] Rania Khalek, “U.S. and EU sanctions are punishing ordinary Syrians and crippling aid work, U.N. report reveals,” The Intercept, 28.09.2016, http://theintercept.com.

[45] James Lucas, “Study: U.S. regime has killed 20-30 million people since World War Two,” Signs of the Times, 24.04.2007, http://sott.net.


SOURCES:
By Bas Spliet, ScrutinisedMinds
Submitted by SyrianPatriot 
War Press Info Network at :
https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2016/12/29/proxy-war-syria-5/
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