To A Wider Prison: Bahraini Regime Conditionally Releases Some Political Prisoners

September 16, 2021 

To A Wider Prison: Bahraini Regime Conditionally Releases Some Political Prisoners

By Staff, Agencies

As if the Bahraini regime is just sending political prisoners from small cells to a wider prison…

The Bahraini regime has conditionally released 30 prisoners under new rules allowing electronic monitoring and home detention instead, the government and activists said on Wednesday. Almost all those freed are considered political detainees by rights groups.

The Gulf state has imprisoned thousands of protesters, journalists and activists – some in mass trials – since an anti-government uprising in 2011. It says it prosecutes those who commit crimes in accordance with international law, and rejects criticism from the United Nations and others over the conduct of trials and detention conditions.

Under a 2017 “alternative sentences” law prisoners who had served at least half their sentence in jail were allowed to complete it outside via measures including community service, rehabilitation courses and electronic surveillance.

Last week, the king amended the law to allow a switch to non-custodial punishments at any point in a sentence.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, a Bahraini activist in exile who heads the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy [BIRD], said 27 of those released this week were political prisoners, and many had been detained when they were juveniles.

“However, they will continue to face severe restrictions on their liberty and these rare releases remain overshadowed by the continued incarceration of hundreds of political prisoners in Bahrain,” said Alwadaei. He called on the government to unconditionally release all political detainees.

One of those released on Sunday night was Kameel Juma Hasan, who was arrested at age 14 and sentenced to 28 years in 2019. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention [WGAD] in May said it considered him to have been arbitrarily detained.

Documents seen by Reuters show some release offer conditions including devices to monitor movements and bans on speaking to the press, using social media or any political activities.

Hassan Mushaima, who was arrested in 2011 and jailed for life for anti-government protests, declined a conditional release offer this week, his son Ali Mushaima told Reuters.

Several high-profile government critics remain in prison, including Abduljalil al-Singace who has been on hunger strike for more than 60 days.

Leading human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was released under the alternative sentence law in June 2020.

BIRD estimates that there are over 1,400 political prisoners out of a total prison population in Bahrain of around 3200-3800.

On Wednesday the public prosecution claimed it was considering alternative sentences for six children, without elaborating.

Earlier this year prisoners and security forces clashed inside Jaw prison, and families protested outside, after COVID-19 outbreaks.

Protests across Bahrain against Normalization

 September 3, 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Al Mayadeen

Protests broke out across Bahrain rejecting normalization with “Israel” and denouncing the appointment of the Bahraini Ambassador to the occupation entity.

Protesters hold signs in support of the Palestinian cause

Protests took place in various regions across Bahrain, rejecting normalization with “Israel” and denouncing the appointment of the Bahraini Ambassador to the occupation entity.

The demonstration in the Abu Saiba area, which chanted “together we stand against normalization,” witnessed protesters burning the Israeli flag and affirming their solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Similar protests were witnessed in the regions of Al Markh, Sanabis, and Samaheej.

NSO Group’s Spyware Used on Bahraini Activists – Report

August 25, 2021

NSO Group’s Spyware Used on Bahraini Activists - Report

By Staff, Agencies

In the course of violating human rights in the Bahraini kingdom, nine activists from Bahrain had their iPhones hacked by advanced spyware made by the ‘Israeli’ company NSO Group, the world’s most notorious hacker-for-hire firm, a cybersecurity watchdog reported on Tuesday.

Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto said NSO Group’s Pegasus malware successfully hacked the phones between June 2020 and February 2021. Those reportedly hacked included members of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and two political dissidents living in exile. At least one of the activists lived in London when the hacking occurred, Citizen Lab said.

Citizen Lab said it has “high confidence” that at least four of the activists were hacked by the Bahraini government, which has a history of using commercially available spyware.

One of the activists targeted is Moosa Mohammed, who said he was previously a victim of spyware, in 2012.

“When I fled torture and persecution in Bahrain, I thought I would find safety in London but have continued to face surveillance and physical attacks by Gulf regimes,” he said.

The government of Bahrain, a tiny island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia that’s home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, has a long history of suppressing dissent. Bahrain’s National Communication Centre dismissed Citizen Lab’s findings as “misguided” and said in a statement the country is committed to safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.

NSO Group said in a statement that it had not yet seen the report, but questioned Citizen Lab’s methods and motives. “If NSO receives reliable information related to the misuse of the system, the company will vigorously investigate the claims and act accordingly,” the company said.

Citizen Lab found that in some instances the malware infected targeted iPhones without the users taking any action — what’s known as a zero-click vulnerability.

Bill Marczak of Citizen Lab said the exploits worked against a recent versions of the iPhone’s operating system, adding that there’s “no indication that the bugs exploited have been fixed.”

Ivan Krstic, head of Apple Security Engineering and Architecture, said such attacks are costly and often have a short shelf life. “They are not a threat to the overwhelming majority of our users,” he said in a statement, adding that Apple constantly adds new protections for its devices and data.

The new report is the latest unwelcome news for NSO Group. The firm was the focus of recent reports by a media consortium that found the company’s spyware tool Pegasus was used in several instances of successful or attempted phone hacks of business executives, human rights activists and others around the world.

Undermining Political Rights in Bahrain: A Prolonged Systematic Brutality

12/07/2021

Undermining Political Rights in Bahrain: A Prolonged Systematic Brutality

By Sondoss al-Asaad

Ten years since the onset of the 2011 popular uprising, Manama’s regime has decided to terminate the political action in the country after dissolving all political societies and liquidating their funds on flimsy pretexts, which has been confirmed by Amnesty International in its report, “No one can protect you.”

The report along others highlights the dismantling of political activism in Bahrain by targeting the leaders and members of political societies due to their national stances against corruption, monopoly, brutality and the culture of impunity.

This campaign has been led by the Minister of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments, Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, a member of the ruling family and whose personal relation with the peaceful opposition is only characterized by animosity and hostility.

Undermining political action is indeed an arbitrary approach that the authorities insist on following against the opposition, for nothing but to consolidate absolute rule.

This approach has been followed with all opposition political societies, starting with the Islamic Action Society [Amal] and then the top opposition bloc Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, all the way to the secular National Democratic Action Society [Waad], which was dissolved on May 31, 2017.

The dissolution of Al-Wefaq and the liquidation of its funds came on the basis of malicious allegations, including: Providing an incubating environment for terrorism and extremism; Calling for external intervention in internal national affairs; Inciting violence and encouraging mass rallies and sit-ins; organizing activities that cause strife in the country; Criticizing the performance of the authorities, etc.

Targeting Al-Wefaq continued with the arbitrary detention of Sheikh Ali Salman, the top opposition leader, with the aim of silencing and framing all political associations, and instead formulating sham associations to whiten the face of the regime before the international community.

Definitely, Bahrain’s judiciary is non independent and human rights organizations have frequently described as unjust and subservient to the authority.

This confirms the regime’s public and comprehensive prosecution of all the citizens, turning Bahrain into a big prison in light of the firm popular conviction that Al-Wefaq is not just a political association, but rather a natural organization that reflects the people’s aspirations, due to the broad segment it represents.

Thus, there is no solution in Bahrain without a comprehensive political solution and a genuine political partnership, which guarantee the building of a state of institutions and law, the achievement of justice and development within the framework of a constitutional monarchy similar to the modern kingdoms.

Manama regime must come out of the crucible of exclusivity of public opinion and must engage people in the political process, and thus be able to see the broad horizon of a policy solution that will be reflected in all aspects of life in Bahrain because the marginalization of constitutional institutions has done a great deal of damage to the local economy.

Likewise, the security mentality, the suppression and marginalization of elites, and the importation of an alternative people has impeded human development in the country.

إعلام محور المقاومة

22/06/2021

فجأة ودون سابق إنذار تمّ إغلاق مواقع تابعة لقنوات تلفزيونيّة لمحور المقاومة، وأعلن على صفحاتها الرئيسية أنها تغلق بقرار من وزارة العدل الأميركيّة، والإغلاق سواء كان رسمياً أو عبر قراصنة هو تعبير عن هشاشة المزاعم الأميركيّة حول التمسك بحرية الرأي والإعلام، والسابقة ليست جديدة فهي تعبير عن استمرار سبقه الكثير من إجراءات القمع التي بدأت مع تصنيف مؤسسات إعلاميّة على لوائح الإرهاب. وكانت البداية مع قناة المنار.

اللافت أن هذا يجري في بداية ولاية الرئيس الأميركي الجديد جو بايدن، الذي جعل في مقاربته لإعادة صياغة سياسات بلاده عنوان حقوق الإنسان المرجع الذي يوجّهها، وأول هذه الحقوق حق التعبير، فعندما تفاوض واشنطن مع طهران لرفع العقوبات والعودة إلى الاتفاق النووي، لا تفعل ذلك بحساب الاعتراف بحق الشعب الإيراني، بل دفعاً لما تعتقده الأصعب وهو امتلاك إيران لسلاح نووي. والسياسة الفعلية لواشنطن هي ما يجسّده قرار إقفال موقع قناة العالم ومواقع قناة المسيرة اليمنيّة وقناة الكوثر العراقية وقناة فلسطين اليوم، وكلها مواقع إعلاميّة لا تحمل إلا الآراء.

في الوقت نفسه يصمت الأميركي عن انتهاكات جدية ومؤلمة لحقوق الإنسان، واعتداءات موصوفة على حرية التعبير، فتسقط المعارضة الإماراتيّة آلاء الصديق في حادث مدبّر في لندن، كانت واشنطن ستشكل له لجنة تحقيق دولية لو كان المعني منشقاً روسياً، وستتخذ من باب الاحتياط عقوبات فورية حتى ينتهي التحقيق، وبالمثل بعد شهور من الوعود بالسير حتى النهاية في تحميل ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان مسؤوليّة قتل الصحافي جمال الخاشقجي، قرّر بايدن وقف أي ملاحقة بحق ابن سلمان.

يحظى نظام البحرين برعاية وحماية واشنطن رغم فضائح الانتهاكات التي توثقها كل الهيئات الدولية الأممية والمنظمات الحقوقية، حيث آلاف معتقلي الرأي يقبعون في السجون مهددين بتفشي وباء كورونا، ويعاني قادة كبار السن ومرضى بينهم من معاناة المرض من دون أن ينالوا أبسط رعاية صحية.

لا ترفّ عين المسؤولين الأميركيين عندما يقرأون التقارير عن أحوال الفقر في اليمن والمعاناة في سورية وفنزويلا، بل يتباهون بنتاج الحصار والعقوبات، وهم يعرفون ويعترفون أنهم يعاقبون الشعوب على خياراتها، كما فعلوا عندما رفضوا الاعتراف بنتائج الانتخابات الفلسطينية التي قاموا برعايتها عبر مؤسسة كارتر عندما جاءت النتائج تحمل قوى المقاومة إلى البرلمان.

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Bahrain’s Al Khalifa Regime: MBS Retreating, And So Are We!

Bahrain’s Al Khalifa Regime: MBS Retreating, And So Are We!

By Latifa al-Husseini

The photo joining Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Cleric Sayyed Abdullah al-Ghuraifi will represent nothing but a dual meeting. No signs that the session the Bahraini regime sought to exaggerate will establish any decisive solution that would exit the kingdom from the ten-year-old unending crisis.

Inspecting the aims behind Al Khalifa’s receiving of Sayyed Abdullah al-Ghuraifi isn’t an unsolved puzzle. Many similar meetings and a repeated style questions trust in the ruling regime whose record is full of abusing each and every detail and issue.

Five days earlier, on April 25, Hamad bin Isa received Sayyed al-Ghuraifi with a group of scholars and clerics in a meeting meant to congratulate on the occurrence of the holy month of Ramadan. The king was keen to appear to the people smiling in the photo disseminated by his official media. The guest, however, didn’t appear smiling at all. The meeting is the second of its kind between the two sides in five months.

In December, Sayyed al-Ghuraifi visited the Saferiya Palace after ten years of estrangement. It followed the tightened grip against the political and popular opposition, in which every demander of rights ended either behind bars or martyred.

“It is just a waste of time,” this is how senior Bahraini opposition sources described the meeting. “Those who want an actual solution to the problem and starting a dialogue with the opposition after years of oppression, detention, torture, suppression, negligence, killing, and execution, won’t be satisfied with an imagery photo that don’t reflect any seriousness,” the source added.

“Sayyed Abdullah al-Ghuraifi doesn’t shut a door in front of the regime due to his religious rank,” the senior sources analyzed, “however, the regime is awaiting opportunities to promote what it wants to show the foreign public opinion in the first place, then the local one.”

Nothing to be mentioned about the meeting. It is just that it slightly broke the ice between the opposition and the regime that didn’t offer any real initiative that solutions might be built upon. Those observing the exacerbating political and rights situations in Bahrain know very well that tightening the security fist inside the kingdom doesn’t match the claims of openness to the people’s demands and those representing them.

Would the king release around 2000 political, not criminal, detainees inside his prisons? Will the regime’s apparatuses suddenly treat them humanely and treat those whose health situations intentionally deteriorated due to the negligence of his personnel and prisons’ administrations, especially the notorious Jaw Prison? Would the regime allow the opposition figures to breathe and restore their unjustly usurped freedom? Would the national identity be restored to those whose citizenships were revoked? Will the collective and Friday prayers return to their golden days in Duraz? Will the regime revive those who are now under the soil?

Those are realistic questions to which the sources add the following: “Will the regime stop its unending violence against a big sect of its people? Will it accept that the jurisdiction established justice indeed? Will it accept that the parliament carry out its observatory role to hold the government accountable? Will it stop curtailing his power and respond to the criticism and accusations?”

 Despite the gloomy situation in Bahrain, it should be said that something is happening. This is what the Bahraini sources hint to.

According to their information, the king’s latest step goes along with the calmness in the region, especially after the recent stances voiced by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman [MBS], and his retreating rhetoric regarding Iran. Unlike what he believed before, MBS said “Iran is a neighboring country, and we want good and special relations with it. We don’t want Iran’s situation to be difficult, we want it prosperous.”

So, the Bahraini opposition’s issue is related to the Iranian-Saudi dialogue. In this context comes releasing female detainee Zakiya al-Barbouri who was detained three years ago during a fierce raid that targeted civilian houses in the town of Nuweiderat.

The Bahraini opposition examines what it happening at home very carefully. It is true that things are turning to calmness, but the lost trust in the authority’s performance and its continued elusiveness won’t let it rest until an inclusive solution to the crisis prevails, in which citizens obtain their rights.

Despite all the dominant fear, the opposition is always open to any step that seems positive. Prominent Cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim identified, in his advisory words, the way to exit this complicated calamity. He emphasized that “solving the crisis that threatens with complete destruction depends on the ruler’s retreating his mistake, and doing this is a grace.”

Ayatollah Qassim called on the regime to initiate an agreement with the opposition to set a new constitutional, institutional, and practical situation that preserves the rights of the citizens and admits their sovereign position in their country’s policy.

Upon this, the good will be returned with another good; and the stance made by al-Wefaq National Islamic Society’s Deputy Secretary General, Sheikh Hussein al-Daihi, is clear in this regard as he confirmed that any step forward made by the crown prince will be met with more step forwards.

It is the kingdom of “retweets”, which waits the regional events to similarly stop oppressing its people, or it is just perhaps to have some rest before resuming its actions in another situation.

Sheikh Isa Qassim: New Constitution Sole Way out of Bahrain Crisis

20/4/2021

Sheikh Isa Qassim: New Constitution Sole Way out of Bahrain Crisis

By Staff, Agencie

Bahrain’s top cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim stressed that “Drawing up a new constitution is the only way out of the political crisis in the protest-hit kingdom.”

He further called on urging the regime in Manama to pursue an agreement with the Bahraini opposition instead of increasingly suppressing the dissidents.

“Since the people do not find anything to persuade themselves to stop their protest movement and are witnessing a surge in the [regime’s] policy of repression, dictatorship and marginalization, they are pressing ahead with their uprising, whatever the cost may be,” Sheikh Qassim said in a statement released on Monday and carried by the Bahrain Mirror news website.

His Eminence further highlighted: “There would be no way out of the current situation unless the government reaches an agreement with the opposition to draw up a new constitution and found relevant institutions so as to protect the citizens’ rights and recognize their sovereign position in the country’s politics.”

The senior cleric pointed out that “Reforms must be undertaken at a pace satisfactory to the public and must guarantee the authority, dignity, comfort, security and interests of all.”

This comes as Bahrain’s crackdown continues in Ramadan as regime forces attack political inmates in Jaw prison.  “There is a serious political and legal crisis in Bahrain, the consequences of which will be dangerous for both the nation and the government itself,” he stated.

He denounced the Manama regime over the “absurd” policy of putting more people behind bars, saying such a practice will not even benefit the “unjust political goal” being pursued by the Al-Khalifah regime.

“If the purpose of populating prisons with thousands of inmates is to tone down the demands for political and civil rights to mere calls for the release of prisoners, the calls among the prisoners themselves for the nation’s rights [to be guaranteed] will definitely thwart such a conspiracy,” Sheikh Qassem confirmed.

“The people of Bahrain are well aware of the fact that the solution to the country’s crisis lies only in a genuine improvement of the situation and establishment of a political relationship between the nation and the government on the basis of new and viable principles,” His Eminence elaborated.


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Bahrain Crackdown: Demonstrations Continue For 20th Consecutive Night in Support of Jailed Activists

Source

Bahrain Crackdown: Demonstrations Continue For 20th Consecutive Night in Support of Jailed Activists

By Staff, Agencies

Amid the continued crackdown of the Manama regime, Bahrainis have rallied for the 20th night to reiterate their call for an immediate and unconditional release of political inmates amid concerns over the alarming situation of the country’s prisons in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

The demonstrations were held under the banner of “Friday of Prisoners’ Rage,” with participants denouncing Bahraini authorities’ mistreatment of imprisoned activists, and the miserable conditions of prisoners at detention centers across the tiny kingdom.

The demonstrators carried Bahrain’s national flags as well as pictures of jailed political opponents, and chanted anti-regime slogans in several villages, including Karzakan, Karbabad, Hamala, Shahrakan, al-Dair, Karrana, Abu Saiba, Shakhura, Bu Quwah, North Sehla and Samaheej, as they called for the unconditional freedom of the prisoners.

Similar rallies were held in the villages of Dar Kulaib and Ma’ameer, where protestors held up the pictures of prominent opposition figure Zakia al-Barbouri, who was charged to five years in prison on February 6, 2019, and had her citizenship revoked in a politically-motivated case.

Earlier this month, Bahrain’s most prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim warned that political dissidents in Bahraini prisons are facing deaths and demanded their immediate release. 

In a statement carried by Arabic-language Bahrain Mirror news website on April 1, the senior cleric called on the ruling Al Khalifa regime to choose between the deaths of the dissident inmates and their release.

“One of the worst things that the government of Bahrain does is to keep prisoners as leverage for political bargaining, especially now that the coronavirus is attacking prisons with full force,” the senior cleric added.

Demonstrations in Bahrain have been held on a regular basis ever since a popular uprising began in mid-February 2011.

The participants demand that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama, however, has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent.

On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.

King Hamad ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3, 2017.

The Myth of Peace in the Middle East: Deconstructing the Naturalization Narrative

April 16, 2021Articles,

American-Israeli delegation visit to Morocco in December 2020. (Photo: US Embassy Jerusalem, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Mohamed El Metmari

This critical essay deconstructs the political narrative surrounding the naturalization agreements that have occurred between some Arab countries and Israel formally known as the Abrahamic Accords or Jared Kushner’s plan for peace in the Middle East. It offers unique perspectives and analysis of these accords and their true geopolitical intentions. Primarily, it argues how the peace promised by these newly established ties remains just a myth as it explores the true objectives behind them. Interestingly enough, it also highlights the true goals behind the U.S’ mediations in these Accords.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is one of the hottest yet unresolved political issues of today. Whereas this conflict is not heading towards any resolutions soon, the recent naturalization agreements that have occurred between some Arab regimes and the apartheid state of Israel may mark a future shift in Middle East’s political scene.

Earlier to these agreements, boycotting Israel was these Arab nations’ approach to show support for Palestinians and their claims. Before 2020, only two bordering countries have had diplomatic ties with Israel; that is, Egypt and Jordan. This number has risen to six as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco have set full diplomatic and economic relations with Israel as part of Jared Kushner’s plan for peace in the Middle East known formally as the Abrahamic Accords.

Celebrating the first occurrence of the Abrahamic Accords, Trump hosted a signing ceremony in the White House and had the following rash statement to announce: “We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history. After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East.” By this politically immature statement, Trump seemed as if he had finally found a solution to the conflict in the region.

As for peace in the region is concerned, Jared Kushner’s peace plans do not make any sense. Apart from Sudan, none of the countries involved with these accords are in conflict with Israel. On the opposite, Morocco and so the Gulf States have retained very healthy diplomatic relations with Israel, even if they were undeclared publicly. For instance, Morocco has had a fair share of intelligence-sharing with Israel since the mid-sixties. On top of that, the two countries had liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat from Sept. 1, 1994, to Oct. 23, 2000. Not to mention Morocco’s contribution in populating Israel by handing over its Jewish population to the newly established Jewish state during the reign of the Moroccan king Hassan II.

Granted, Israel supports the totalitarian regimes of the region mainly because these totalitarianisms do not demand accountability for its human rights and international law violations. Hence, most Arab dictatorships have been dealing with Israel on political and security levels; especially after the outbreak of the Arab spring where these regimes had to obtain the latest spying and security tech to topple every dissident in their population who desires regime change. Whereas the case of the Washington Post’s correspondent Jamal Khashoggi remains the most covered case, Amnesty International has reported that Moroccan journalist Omar Radi’s phone has also been infected with the Israeli Pegasus spyware.

The Myth of Peace: Deception, Expansion and Dispossession.

Each time an Arab country initiates full diplomatic relations with Israel, its local propaganda machine makes it look as a major historical event that has occurred in the country. Some media outlets have gone far with this. For example, they take the religious tolerance preached in the Muslim faith as a pretext for setting these normalization agreements with this ‘Jewish’ nation. Other media platforms, however, have beautified the image of Israel’s apartheid regime via elaborate historical descriptions of Jewish culture and heritage. This is not wrong at all, but what is wrong is to evoke this history only at this particular event ignoring Israel’s present violations of International Law and Human rights and most of all occupation of Palestinian lands. This is why it is easy to deconstruct the naturalization narrative and prove that it is just a myth.

First of all, the context of these agreements was preceded and controlled by the 2020 US elections. Trump’s administration had tried to convince the American public that it will be the first administration that ends the conflict in the Middle East and thus planning on gaining a potential leverage in the election race. But despite the occurrence of the Abrahamic Accords last year and even Trump’s administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, 2017, it still was not enough to win Trump the approval of the devastated American public. This is mainly because Americans wanted Trump out of the White House at any cost; even if it meant choosing the lesser evil of the two candidates in the elections.

Meanwhile, these events come as a perfect opportunity to boost the reputation of the Likud party and more specifically the reputation of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whose image has been stained by his corruption and monopoly of the Israeli political scene. Unlike Trump, the chances of him getting replaced in the upcoming Israeli elections are relatively low because of his firm grip on power and the lack of his equal in the Israeli political arena. Furthermore, with the massive press coverage that comes with such events, Netanyahu, similarly to Trump, wanted the spotlights on him to distract the public from his administration’s terrible handling of Covid-19 and thus gaining significant leverage in the elections.

Second, the biggest gain for Israel from these new ties with the Arab States and Morocco is that it reinforces its political influence in the Middle East. Not only this, but unlocking Israel’s geo-political isolation in the region as well. And since this newly granted influence to Israel is an approved one, it gives it freedom to expand and occupy more without any opposition. Of course, if Israel is gaining a legitimate influence in the region, this means that Palestine’s position will exacerbate. And thus the Palestinian cause will no longer have the leverage it has on the Middle Eastern political scene.

Furthermore, Israel’s decision to create ties with the Gulf countries in specific is not arbitrary. This move was motivated by economic reasons. As it is known, the Khaleeji people are the biggest consumers in the region. Hence the khaleeji market becomes a perfect destination for Israeli goods. Israeli products, foods in specific, can even replace other products coming from other countries because of the close distance and the low shipping costs. Additionally, Sudan may not offer much as markets are concerned, but it is definitely a great source of agricultural imports for Israel. Being the mediator between Israel and its “new” allies, the US benefits from these agreements as well since it is Israel’s biggest ally. After all, any ongoing political conflict between Israel and any of the Middle Eastern countries is primarily endangering US’ political and economic interests in the region. In other words, the mediation of the US in these so-called Peace agreements is not out of a sort of altruism because the US is only after its share of the pie.

Third, to say that these newly established ties will bring “peace” to the region is ludicrous and rash but not totally wrong. But for whom this peace is served; for Palestine, for the Arab States, or for Israel? To give a rather simple and short answer, it is apt to say it remains just a myth for the Palestinians in specific, but it means more security and power for the Israeli side in particular. To put it differently, with Israel having full diplomatic ties with these Arab countries and Morocco, it becomes easy for it to carry its annexation plans and dispossession of Palestinian lands without being held accountable. And the Palestinians are likely to be displaced gradually and implicitly to one of these countries. Apparently, Morocco and the rich Gulf states are the biggest fish that Israel could ever come to terms with. Since they provide financial comfort and political stability, some Palestinians may choose these destinations over their currently Israeli-occupied and war-inflected homes.

However, it is worth mentioning that the Emiratis as well as the Saudis despise the Palestinians. Hence, the Palestinians will never accept the reality of being displaced to one of these two countries. Meanwhile, this does not apply to either Kuwait or Oman in which do not have a strong political influence in the region. Apart from Morocco, they maybe the desired destination Israel is looking for to displace the Palestinians to after annexing their lands. Whether the two countries agree to normalize relations with Israel in the future or not, it does not really matter as long they are subservient to UAE and Saudi Arabia. Apparently, the Palestinians are likely to resist as they usually do.

Concurrently, Israel is likely to pressure them to accept this bitter reality as it has been doing for the last decades. Hence, Israel will possibly seek not only to increase its siege and pressure on the borders and checkpoints, but it may also instigate a war with Hamas as a pretext for a military escalation. Hamas, on the other hand, will be, as always, scapegoated for the whole thing especially that it is classified as a terrorist organization. Therefore, the peace that Israel is seeking is a peace with the Palestinians out of Palestine.

However, Israel is not the only benefactor from these agreements. Clearly, the Gulf States have paid for US military protection by signing these accords. But UAE in specific have had further arms deals and gained even more political protection against the Iranian influence in the Arab peninsula. Nonetheless, when a country signs a peace deal, it does not instantly demand acquirement of advanced F-35 stealth Jet, which is what this Gulf State did, because the two are paradoxical. Therefore, in opposition to the classic definitions of peace treaties, the brokered peace from these agreements is a purchased one like many peace agreements that have been signed before it in the region. After all, Sudan agreed to normalize relations with Israel so it is de-listed from the state-sponsors of terror, the Gulf States signed them as a payment for US military protection and Morocco got support for its sovereignty over Western Sahara.

Therefore, as all the purchased peace agreements the Middle East has witnessed over modern history- whether it is peace for land, peace in exchange of monopoly or what have you- this one is also doomed to be broken by conflict since it is not based on a balanced compromise where two equal parties meet in the middle. Rather, it is a political move towards accumulation of power where the main side of this conflict, meaning the Palestinians, is not even included in these agreements.

The US, Morocco, and Israel: A Geopolitical Chess Game over Africa

The fact that Israel has pursued diplomatic relations with Morocco- a country so far away from the Middle East’s political discourse- is by no means for peace as it is claimed by any of the Accords’ orchestrators. The moment it was announced that Morocco was to resume relations with Israel, Moroccan propaganda machines overshadowed the controversies that come with this event by preaching to the public about the Moroccan Jewish heritage and the coexistence of the Abrahamic religions in this homogeneous sphere. This normalization was depicted as a win-win situation for Morocco especially that Trump has rewarded Morocco’s approval of its resumption of relations with the apartheid regime by signing a presidential proclamation that recognizes Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.

The celebrations following this recognition covered up totally for the naturalization. This proclamation has even become an independent narrative of its own. The official discourse in Moroccan media has asserted that this recognition is the fruit of long-lasting diplomatic ties between Morocco and the US and not as a part of the Abrahamic Accords. Moreover, many factors influence politics, but altruism is not one of them. Taking the fact that Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the US in 1777, and the two countries long diplomatic relations, it stands as a surprise that it took so much time for the US to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara or at least support its claim diplomatically.

Meanwhile, political terminology is important here because Moroccan media had it intentionally mixed up to alleviate the Moroccan public’s rage. Trump’s presidential proclamation does not recognize the Western Sahara region as a Moroccan entity as they have claimed, but it only recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over it. These are two different things, because Morocco has already been practicing sovereignty over the region although with some difficulties mainly caused by intense altercations with the Algerian-backed Polisario Front. The only thing that Morocco has needed is legitimacy and this proclamation happens to be it. Obviously, this is a simple treat from the US for Morocco’s acceptance of the resumption of relations with Israel.

Nevertheless, the majority of the Moroccan public welcomed Trump’s move, but they abhorred Morocco’s establishment of ties with Israel. Nasser Bourita, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, has refused to call this an act of “naturalization” of relations. For him, normalization is a Middle Eastern term that does not apply to Morocco which is not a neighboring country to Israel. Indeed, Morocco’s North African location and its large indigenous Amazigh population make it hard to proclaim the country as purely Arab.

Bourita has preferred using the term “resumption” of relations instead. As mentioned earlier, Morocco and Israel had Liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat before Morocco had to close their office in response to Israeli repression of the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000. Not to mention, there is a number of almost 800.000 Jews of Moroccan decent living in Israel right now.

Obviously, Israel remains the biggest benefactor from these naturalization agreements. However, the US did not take part in them without purpose. The existence of Israel in the Middle East protects American interests in the region. That is why Zionist lobbies in the US always do their best to empower this regime. And this is what AIPAC is doing and what Christians United for Israel and other Zionist lobbies are doing. As a result, this support for the apartheid regime enables the US to retain its firm grip on Middle East’s political and economic affairs. These are all facts now. But the case of Morocco is still a uniquely dubious one. Pressing Morocco – a country so far away from The Middle East’s frenzy and even terminology to sign these deals seems confusing to say the least; especially that Morocco is not a rich country like the Gulf States.

However, ever since Morocco’s rejoining the African Union in 2017, many countries and the US particularly have started to look for ways to intensify their relations with this African country more than before. To illustrate, Morocco’s main weapon supplies come from the US. Granted, the influence of the US embassy in Rabat has surpassed diplomatic lines to influencing Moroccan cultural context and even influencing Moroccan academia via its grants and many programs and English learning courses. This soft pressure changes the structure of Moroccan society with time. As of now, although French is the official second language in Morocco, the majority of Moroccan youth, many of whom have benefited from US grants and programs, speak English. This is not bad at all, but again, politics is the game of interests and not altruisms. Implemented in these courses and grants are soft ideologies that create sympathy and acceptance of US values and democracy in the Moroccan community. In the long run, acceptance of the US image rises even if its intentions in the region are not necessarily benevolent.

To connect this to the question at hand, Morocco remains the US’ key holder to the African Union and African countries. This strategic move to invest in Morocco politically and economically and then support its sovereignty over its full territorial land comes as the price for infiltrating a fertile network of rising African economies. Hence, these countries become perfect investment destinations for the US. And although China is the biggest player in Africa as economy is involved, not counting the previous colonial powers of Africa, the US is doing the best it can to take this role in the near future. After its degrading failure to do so under pretexts of humanitarian aid and war on terror, the UShas finally chosen this diplomatic direction to overtake Russian and Chinese influences in Africa. It is hence a perfectly played chess game over geopolitical expansion and power. Peace and human rights preached in these agreements however, are turned into industries that are used to further their dominance and hegemony.

Additionally, what makes Morocco exceptional is its officials’ diplomatic maturity and its political stability in comparison to the Middle East and other African countries. Also, Morocco’s ability to repay its debts boosts foreign investors’ confidence to embark on the Moroccan market. Not to mention, Morocco itself needs this kind of political and economic partnership and support as it seeks to take the lead as an African power. However, this pursuit remains far-fetched without having full sovereignty over its lands or without having strong allies.

Meanwhile, Moroccan King Mohamed VI has confirmed that Morocco’s position on Palestine remains unchanged. He has also affirmed that he places his country’s territorial issue and the Palestinian cause at the same level, and that the kingdom will use its new position to push for a conflict resolution in the region. Thus, Morocco is playing it as safe as it could as it is placing itself neither with the current, nor against it.

All in all, Morocco and the Arab regimes’ decision to normalize relations with Israel is not promising of any lasting peace between Palestine and Israel simply because Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories will gain significant legitimacy from the establishment of these diplomatic ties. Especially that these Arab States are not democratic themselves so they can account it for its infringement of international law and human rights. Granted, since the Palestinian question, the right of self-determination and the right of return are not included in the official discourse of these peace agreements, a resolution for the Palestinian- Israeli conflict remains just a myth that appears to be tangible with propaganda and exclusionary media narratives.

– Mohamed El Metmari is an independent writer and researcher affiliated with the faculty of Letters and Humanities of Abdelmalek Essaadi University, Martil, Morocco. He is an Open Hands Initiative’s Conflict Resolution alumnus. Currently, he is conducting a Master’s thesis centered on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. His articles have appeared on Aljazeera Arabic, SasaPost, and Countercurrents. He contributed this essay to The Palestine Chronicle.

Bahrain’s “Jaw” and Saudi’s “Haer” Prisons: Coronavirus Threatens Detainees

8/4/2021

Bahrain’s “Jaw” and Saudi’s “Haer” Prisons: Coronavirus Threatens Detainees

By Staff

What is happening inside Saudi prisons is the same scenario Bahraini detainees are suffering from inside their county’s notorious “Jaw” Prisone due to the authorities’ negligence and denial of medical treatment while the Coronavirus spreads behind bars.

Political prisoners in Saudi Arabia’s “Haer” Prison, in the capital Riyadh, are suffering from Coronavirus symptoms while the prison’s administration denies them medical care.

In this regard, ‘al-Qist’ rights group pointed to reports about the Coronavirus outbreak in the section of political prisoners in “Haer” Prison, relating the reason behind the outbreak in the political section to denying vaccination to the detainees.

The group called on the Saudi regime authorities to guarantee the basic rights of political prisoners and providing them with healthcare, in addition to releasing them.

Earlier in August, a Twitter account belonging to “Political Prisoners” had reported the spread on the virus also inside the Dammam Political Prison.

In parallel, another rights campaign was launched on social media to release political prisoners inside the kingdom amid the outbreak, including the hashtag #BeforeTheCatastrophe, in an effort to rescue them and save their lives.

The campaign also aimed at pressuring for releasing all those who were arbitrarily detained before it is too late when the virus spreads inside cells.

Relatively, rights groups campaigned under another hashtag #DetaineesUnderCoronaDanger to demand the release of all political prisoners.

The Arab yacht summit plotters have fallen out

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is DYxJNIWWAAMxxsb.jpg
George Nader (fourth from left) organised a secret summit of Arab leaders on a yacht in the Red Sea in late 2015
David HearstDavid Hearst is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He is a commentator and speaker on the region and analyst on Saudi Arabia. He was The Guardian’s foreign leader writer, and was correspondent in Russia, Europe, and Belfast. He joined the Guardian from The Scotsman, where he was education correspondent.

David Hearst

15 March 2021 15:09 UTC 

An alliance of regional rulers that put so much effort into suppressing democracy is weakening now as its participants bear substantial grudges against each other

For the past decade, an alliance of rulers has bent every sinew to halt the onward, and irreversible, fight for human rights in the Arab world.

To preserve their own decaying regimes, this alliance has laid waste to once proud and civilised nations. It has waged wars in Yemen, Libya and Syria, reducing much of them to rubble. It has funded coups in Egypt, and attempted them in Tunisia and Turkey. The blood of hundreds of thousands has been shed in these interventions.

They were fought in the name of defending the region from Islamism and extremism. In this, they attracted the credulous, or cynical, support of former colonial powers France and Britain. But in reality their “jihad” had nothing to do with defending liberalism or secularism.

These regimes had no qualms about enlisting religious forces for political ends. Their quest was for hegemony, or how to transfer autocracy from one generation to another. For them, power was part of the family silver.

Late in 2015 – two years after their first major success, that being the military coup in Egypt, the leaders of this alliance – crown princes and rulers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan – met secretly on a yacht to plot their plans for the region. To summon the same cast of characters on a yacht in the Red Sea today, six years on, would, however, be more difficult. 

For one thing, the fixer of this secret summit is in prison. George Nader is serving ten years on child sex charges. For another, the participants today bear substantial grudges against each other.

Money like rice?

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Egypt have cooled fastest. The Saudis no longer have “money like rice” as the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi once bragged to his chief of staff Abbas Kamel. And any way King Salman is not as generous as his late brother Abdullah was, even if he had the money, which he doesn’t.

Sisi has no interest in following Mohammed bin Salman into the camp of pariah dictators

Sisi tried to get a new line of funding from Riyadh by giving it two uninhabited but strategically placed Red Sea islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to much protest at home. But the Saudis are no longer interested in such baubles like the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba.  

Their eyes light up when contemplating cheaper and faster ways to the Mediterranean – through Israel. Egypt is not saying it, but it is getting increasingly irritated by plans to bypass the Suez Canal, which it enlarged to the tune of $8.2bn.

Whether it is reversing a once-secret desert pipeline that ran from Iran to Israel during the time of the Shah, or the development of ports and free zones in Israel, or Blue Raman, a new fibre optic cable for the Middle East, it’s all pointing in one direction for Cairo – a huge loss of money and regional influence. 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (AFP)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (AFP)

It is not as if there have not been past divergences between banker and client state. Egypt’s refusal to send troops to fight in Saudi Arabia’s disastrous war in Yemen was one. It has refused to be as hostile to Iran and its allies in Lebanon. But two new factors are persuading Egypt that its national interests are not always best served by its regional allies. 

The Biden factor

The first is the arrival of US President Joe Biden and his obvious antipathy to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – even though he refuses to sanction him. Sisi has no interest in following bin Salman into the camp of pariah dictators. Rather, he has a strong motive to distance himself from that clan.For Trump’s Middle East allies, Joe Biden is a new nightmareRead More »

Bin Salman’s international reputation has been tarnished by the release of the US intelligence report into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. When it was released, Mohammed bin Salman expected that every member of his club, and even those that were not, like Qatar, to send a message of support. 

Most did. King Abdullah II of Jordan; Sudan’s prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, flew to Riyadh. Others like Bahrain and the UAE issued statements. The only country to fall silent was Egypt.

The second factor was the military defeat of the Libyan general Khalifa Haftar, when his forces were repulsed from Tripoli and retreated to Sirte. The Turkish intervention, and the effectiveness of its drones, came as a shock to Egypt, whose agenda in Libya was driven by the Emirates. Egypt, however, invested considerably in training, arming and supplying Haftar’s forces.

When both the UAE and Egypt discovered that they were on the losing side – and this was sometime before Haftar pushed Sisi to invade – some in the Egyptian media began to question publicly why Egypt was in this position. Libya is important to its neighbour, not least because of the millions of Egyptians who – in times of peace – work there. When Libya prospers, so does Egypt. Haftar’s defeat opened the way for direct talks with the government in Tripoli, and covert talks with Turkish intelligence chiefs. 

As a result, the candidates of the list which lost the election to the post of prime minister had been agreed beforehand by both Turkey and Egypt. When the Libyans rejected those candidates, it did not disturb the tacit understanding between Ankara and Cairo. Nor are things as close between Cairo and Abu Dhabi. The froideur started over a question of money. But it rapidly went much further over Abu Dhabi’s recognition of Israel

The second wave

The second wave of normalisation with Israel displaced the first. Both Egypt and Jordan lost influence as the gatekeepers of the Arab world to Israel, in the same degree to which the UAE gained it.

It’s no coincidence that two of the nations that attended that yacht summit are in the process of softening their hostility to Ankara

When Abu Dhabi announced it would invest $10bn in Israeli energy, manufacturing, water, space, healthcare and agri-tech, it was no coincidence that Jordan at first refused permission for Benjamin Netanyahu’s jet to use its airspace, and he had to cancel his trip to pick up the prize money in person. Netanyahu’s office said the dispute with Amman stemmed from Israel’s decision to cancel the Jordanian crown prince’s plans to visit the Al-Aqsa mosque the day before.  

Much of the legitimacy of the Hashemite dynasty rests on its role as custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, a role that is now being overtly threatened by its Saudi cousin with Israel’s encouragement. Bin Salman is playing a zero-sum game. By advancing his own relationship with Israel, he is weakening the stability of Israel’s safest border. 

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends the closing session of an African summit meeting (AFP)
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (AFP)

The yacht summit was convened to counter Turkey and Iran’s resistance to their schemes. So it’s also no coincidence that two of the nations that attended that summit are in the process of softening their hostility to Ankara.

Enters Turkey

Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia are being pushed into each other arms by a US president who is hostile to the Saudi crown prince and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mohammed bin Salman was told by his advisers that if Biden won, he would have to open relations with Turkey. 

Where foreign relations are based on secret pacts between leaders each of whom have good reason to fear their own people, they are built on sand

Bin Salman is not convinced, and can’t overcome the feeling that Erdogan was out to get him for having ordered Khashoggi’s murder. But the relationship between his father, King Salman, and Erdogan was never ruptured and so halting attempts are being made.

Qatar has offered to mediate, which is ironic, because when the boycott of the Gulf peninsula states started, the Turks offered to mediate. Turkey maintains strong relations with Oman and Kuwait and both Ankara and Riyadh have an interest in showing Washington they are regional players.

But is more going on under the table? Recently the Houthis claimed to have shot down a drone that “had proven its worth in Azerbaijan”, an oblique reference to Turkey. It was a Turkish drone, but not one used in Azerbaijan. Last year the Saudi government signed a deal with a local company to supply armed drones after getting a technology transfer from a Turkish defence firm, Vestel Karayel. Six drones were delivered. 

Turkey denies there was anything official about this technology transfer. A Turkish source familiar with the defence industry said Vestel did not seek government authorisation to make such a tech transfer to Riyadh. Still, the incident raised eyebrows. Janes defence news said the Karayel has not been previously known to be in service with the Saudi military.

In any case the Saudi boycott of Turkish goods still continues.

Repairing ties with Egypt

Last week’s flurry of statements from the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, chief counsellor to the president Ibrahim Kalin and the president himself about turning the page with Egypt have been downplayed by Cairo.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, confirming contacts with Cavusoglu, said that Turkey must “align with Egypt’s principles” before relations could return to normal. And the editor in chief of Egypt’s al Watan newspaper published ten conditions before relations could be restored.

This will have the same effect on Ankara as the 13 demands the blockading countries laid on Qatar.

The optimism in Ankara started when Egypt announced an oil and gas exploration bid in the Eastern Mediterranean which acknowledged the coordinates of the continental shelf declared by Ankara. The Greek foreign minister, Nikos Dendias, claims to have since “adjusted” those coordinates after a trip to Cairo.Turkey-Egypt relations: What’s behind their new diplomatic push?Read More »

Turkish intelligence chiefs have, however, met their Egyptian counterparts several times. Apart from Libya, Turkey is offering the Egyptians help in their dispute with Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. UAE is doing the opposite by offering help to the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmet. 

Mohammed Dahlan, the Abu Dhabi-based former Fatah security chief, visited Addis in an announced visit. What was not announced was that his boss Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed went with him, according to one informed source. Egypt is baulking at the Turkish charm offensive and there has been no breakthrough.

“Egypt wants Ankara to take at least a symbolic step on the presence of Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey,” an official told MEE. 

If that is what is needed, it will not materialise. The Muslim Brotherhood does not have a physical presence like a regional office in Turkey. So there is nothing to close down. To go against individual members of the large expatriate Egyptian community in Istanbul would mean extraditing individuals, which Turkey is not going to do. Nor is there any discernible Turkish pressure on the Egyptian opposition media in Istanbul. Cairo would particularly like Al Sharq television off air.

“The Turkish authorities have nothing to offer nor withdraw when it comes to Al Sharq Channel because we are not funded by Turkey or Qatar,” its owner Dr Ayman Nour, the Egyptian opposition politician, told MEE. “We have not sensed any change on the Turkish side with regard to Al Sharq.”

But the axis itself is weakening and the lessons for everyone in the region are clear. Where foreign relations are based on secret pacts between leaders, each of whom have good reason to fear their own people, they are built on sand. Where they are based on the strategic interests of their peoples, they are more durable. The more national interests are based on the interests of their peoples rather than the rulers, the greater the stability of the region

Thus far it has been warm embraces one day, and stabs in the back the next.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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How Britain and U.S. Killed the Bahrain Revolution

Former editor and writer for major news media organizations. He has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages

Finian Cunningham

February 17, 2021

Britain and the United States worked together to kill the Bahrain revolution of 2011 and its people’s long-held aspirations for democratic governance.

Ten years ago this week, the Bahraini people launched a daring, peaceful uprising against a despised and despotic monarchial regime. During the next four weeks, the Al Khalifa regime was rocked to its shaky foundations as hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis took to the streets of the Persian Gulf island state.

What followed, however, was a crucial – if despicable – intervention by Britain and the United States which unleashed a wave of brutal repression – a repression that continues to this day. Without this British and American operation, the Bahraini regime would have fallen to a popular uprising.

At stake for London and Washington was not just the tiny island of Bahrain itself but the stability of the entire chain of Persian Gulf monarchies, principally Saudi Arabia. The Gulf sheikhdoms are essential for maintaining the geopolitical interests of the Western powers in the Middle East, for propping up the petrodollar system which is paramount to American economic sustenance, and prolonging lucrative trade for British and American weapons manufacturers.

If Bahrain were to succumb to a democratic uprising by its people demanding free and fair elections, independent rule of law, more equitable economic governance, and so on, then the Gulf monarchies would be “threatened” by example. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman are the other Gulf states which are ruled over by monarchs. They are all clients of Western powers, facilitating American and British military bases across the region which are vital for power projection, for example prosecuting wars and confronting designated enemies like Iran. Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet base as well as a new British naval base that was opened in 2016. In short, Bahrain could not be allowed to attain democracy as that would have a domino effect across the entire region jeopardizing U.S. and British interests.

The democratic aspirations of the Bahraini people are poignantly apposite. The majority of the indigenous population are followers of Shia Islam with many cultural connections to ancient Iran which lies to the north across the narrow Gulf sea. The Bahraini rulers descend from a colonial settler tribe which invaded the island in the 18th century. The Khalifa tribe hailed from the Arabian Peninsula originally. Their occupation of Bahrain was one of conquest and pillage. Unlike most Bahrainis the usurpers professed to following Sunni Islam and held the native population in contempt, lording over them and imposing arbitrary, extortionate levies under pain of death. But the British Empire constructed the new rulers into a monarchy in 1820 in order to perform a sentinel duty over the island in a key waterway leading to Britain’s imperial jewel in the crown, India. The British Empire had similar protectorate arrangements with all the other Gulf Arab territories.

Down through the centuries, British colonial officers and soldiers were relied on to enforce the Khalifa regime in Bahrain. Uprisings by the people would recur periodically and would be violently suppressed by British security forces.

The pattern was repeated during the 2011 Arab Spring revolts which swept across North Africa and the Middle East. Some of these revolts were manipulated or fomented by Western powers for regime change, such as in Syria and Libya. But in Bahrain, it was a truly democratic impulse that galvanized the Shia majority to once again demand their historic rights against what was viewed as an imposter, despotic regime.

Such was the regime’s shaky hold on power that the tide of popular uprising nearly swept it aside during the four weeks following the beginning of the Bahrain uprising on February 14, 2011. This author was present during this tumultuous time which saw up to 500,000 people take to the streets – nearly half the population. Pearl Roundabout in the capital, Manama, became a de facto “Republic of Bahrain” with peaceful encampments and daily throngs defiantly telling King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa that it was “game over” for his crony regime. It was a heady time and the regime’s imminent perilous fate was palpable. Plunging the people into a bloodbath would be the escape route for the rulers and their Western sponsors.

On March 14, 2011, thousands of troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded Bahrain and began a bloody repression against unarmed protesters. People were rounded up for mass-detention and torture. Young men were shot dead at point-blank range. The vicious repression that began a decade ago continues to this day – albeit ignored by Western news media. All of the Bahraini pro-democracy leaders languish in prisons without due process. Several prisoners have been executed for alleged terrorist crimes after “confessions” were beaten out of them.

Only days before the Saudi-Emirati invasion of Bahrain, on March 9, 2011, the regime was visited by senior British and American security officials. On the British side were Sir Peter Ricketts, the national security advisor to then Prime Minister David Cameron, as well as General Sir David Richards, the head of British military. In a second separate meeting, on March 11, three days before the onslaught, the Khalifa regime was visited by then U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. We don’t know the details of those discussions but media reports stated at the time that the British and Americans were “offering their support for the royal family”.

Britain and the United States worked together to kill the Bahrain revolution of 2011 and its people’s long-held aspirations for democratic governance. The repression goes on with British and American officials frequently visiting Bahrain to express support for the Khalifa regime. Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the island in August 2020 and fawned over the regime for its support to Washington’s policy of normalizing ties with Israel. There is no sign of the new Biden administration taking a more critical position towards Bahrain. Indeed it was the Obama administration in which Biden was vice president that colluded with Britain in the slaughter of the Bahraini revolution back in 2011.

Thus, when Britain and the United States talk about promoting democracy and human rights in places like Hong Kong, Venezuela, Russia, or anywhere else, just remember their bankrupt credibility as proven by Bahrain. Western news media – despite their claims of freedom and independence – also deserve condemnation. Those media have steadfastly ignored the plight of Bahrainis in deference to their government’s geopolitical interests.

A follow-up commentary on the Arab Spring events 10 years ago will look at how the United States and Britain hypocritically and disingenuously moved to intervene in Libya and Syria at the very same time that these powers were suppressing the legitimate pro-democracy movement in Bahrain.

A Decade on Bahraini Uprising, Protesters Rally against Al Khalifah Regime

Source

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A decade ago today, as pro-democracy uprisings raged across the Middle East, tens of thousands of protesters in Bahrain began their own rallies.

10 Years on Revolution: Bahrainis Continue to Protest Al-Khalifa Brutality

Bahrainis have taken to the streets across the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom to mark the tenth anniversary of a popular uprising against the ruling monarchy. Demonstrators carried pictures of the uprising’s leaders and martyrs as well as placards vowing resistance until victory.

Bahrain’s main opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, posted the pictures of the rallies on its Twitter account.

The protesters chanted slogans against the Al Khalifah regime and King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah and held handwritten posters with messages of solidarity with the families of the martyrs and condemnation of the regime’s repression.

Additionally, the Coalition Youth of 14 Feb Revolution in a statement called on all Bahraini groups and masses to close ranks in order to change the ruling political regime in Manama.

Demonstrations in Bahrain have been held on a regular basis ever since the popular uprising began on February 14, 2011.

The protesters demand that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

They have also been complaining about widespread discrimination against the country’s Shia majority.

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Will the Deal of Century include Indonesia?

Source

January 9, 2021 – 12:59

Over the past half a century, presidents of the United States have regularly assured American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) at annual meetings of Washington’s commitment to the Zionist regime’s values. To that effect, efforts to help the Zionist regime reach sustainable security constitute a principled policy of Washington.

Nonetheless, under President Donald Trump, these efforts were significantly different. By signing the “Deal of the Century” before cameras, Trump pretended to be a pragmatic president with regard to the security of Israel through mediating peace between Israel and Muslim nations. He had from the very beginning focused specifically on a handful of Muslim nations. 

Shortly after signing the Deal of the Century, Trump delivered on his pledge. He officially gave the go-ahead to the process of normalizing ties between Muslim nations and the Zionist regime. 

From the day the Deal of the Century was signed until normalization agreements between the Zionist regime and several Muslim nations, an opportunity might have been provided to assess the public opinion in these countries and of course the firm determination of their governments for normalizing ties in view of the materialization of the “Deal of the Century” project initiated by the U.S.

Currently, despite sporadic oppositions across the Muslim world, the Deal of the Century project has taken some steps forward. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Morocco are the three Muslim nations that have normalized relations with the Quds occupying regime. However, we have to look into the future of the Deal of the Century.

The Republic of Indonesia is the largest Muslim world and the third biggest democracy in the world. After living for centuries under occupation, colocalization, and exploitation by the Dutch, the Japanese, and the Americans, Indonesia is close to marking the 75th anniversary of its independence.

Living under colonialism, the Indonesian youth sacrificed their lives to achieve independence in 1945. That taught Indonesian Muslims helpful lessons which are symbolized in the country’s Constitution and more importantly in Indonesia’s five major principles. 
Now we intend to test the waters for Indonesia to see if it can join the Deal of the Century and sign normalization or peace deals with the Zionist regime.

Colonialism yoke

A flashback to the black period of colonialism in Indonesia can serve as the first clue to this enigma. The history of the Kingdom of Srivijaya in Indonesia was millennia-old. Alas, it was seized in the 15th century by the Portuguese. Two centuries later, Britain and the Netherlands dominated Indonesia, leaving tragic disasters behind. That was when Indonesia was renamed the East Indian Company. 

History witnesses that the Dutch spilled too much blood in Indonesia to establish their own regime there. Badung, Bali, and Java still remember the horrible Dutch massacre of Indonesians with no mercy for women and children. After the Netherlands, Japan occupied Indonesia while World War II was underway. Then, it was the Americans’ turn to run Indonesian affairs following their victory in the war.  

Although the U.S. dominance of Indonesia was short-lived and the country braced for independence, the U.S. maintained its secret clout with Indonesia’s policy, which resulted in the mass deaths of three million Indonesians under the pretext of a Communist coup. 
Recently declassified CIA documents show that the intelligence agency was, directly and indirectly, involved in the coup and the subsequent carnage of Indonesians. 

It may be said that Indonesia is a large country in the world to have felt the life under occupation and suffered massive deaths committed by colonialist powers.

That is exactly why from the very outset of the Indonesian National Revolution, independence leaders pursued the five basic principles of Indonesia’s independence as the most significant independence document and future strategy for the country, calling for just life for all human communities.   

Pancasila, political philosophy of Indonesia 

As soon as Indonesia declared independence, the country faced serious political tumults. In 1998 Indonesians had to adopt fundamental reforms, known as reformasi. The reformasi brought once more Pancasila to the fore and resulted in a more forceful implementation of Indonesia’s Constitution. 

In fact, reformasi laid emphasis on major and principled policy lines of Indonesia and their implementation by people, a policy line whose main focal point was administration of justice in all human communities and clear dismissal of colonialism and exploitation all across the globe. 

Indonesian governments have since remained faithful to Pancasila and the Constitution. Wherever people have seen any non-compliance with laws they have taken action against their governments. 

Independent foreign policy  

“Independence is the right of every nation. Occupation must be abolished in the world because it does not comply with humanity and justice.” That is how Indonesia’s Constitution begins. Therefore, Indonesia has always pursued an independent line vis-à-vis colonial issues in the world because it is a founding nation of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and has always adopted a principled and anti-occupation position vis-à-vis the Zionists’ occupation of Palestine. 

This political line is symbolized in the Indonesian governments’ treatment of the Quds occupying regime. Prior to adoption of reformasi and several years after, the Indonesian government maintained low-level political ties with the Zionist regime without recognizing it. The Indonesian government’s stance against the Zionist regime’s inhumane behaviors came to the limelight after it organized its domestic policy and embraced action on the global scale. 

The administration of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) from 2004 to 2014 adopted very tough stance against the Zionists. That is while Indonesia has always faced harsh criticism from the U.S. because of its anti-Zionist stance. On the other hand, Indonesia’s anti-colonialist policy has not been limited to condemnations and political statements. Indonesia has largely helped residents of Gaza and the West Bank. Construction of several hospitals in Palestine, funded by Indonesian government and charities, is a case in point. 
Under President Joko Widodo, Indonesia has pushed ahead with its anti-colonialist policy – as stipulated in the Constitution – since 2014.

Countering Israeli aggression in return for strained ties  

Indonesia has hitherto paid a heavy price because of its faithfulness to the Palestinian cause and its efforts to resolve the issue of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. At political forums and the UN General Assembly, it openly opposed the U.S.’s declaration of al-Quds as the capital of the Zionist regime.

Indonesia’s adoption of an independent policy and support for Palestinian people has not pleased some nations, particularly Australia, leading to a verbal row between the two nations. Indonesia even threatened to sever ties with Australia, saying supporting the Palestinian cause was a principled policy of Indonesia and objecting to Indonesia’s pro-Palestine policy amounted to interference with its domestic affairs. 

Will the Deal of Century reach Indonesia?

In light of the Indonesian Muslims’ support for the Palestinian cause and objection to the Zionist regime’s occupation as well as crimes committed by the regime in Gaza and the West Bank, the issue of normalization of ties between Indonesia and the Zionist regime seems to have no real standing and is just mere speculation. Economically known as the Tiger of Southeast Asia, Indonesia does not depend on the so-called American-Zionist aid. Furthermore, the Indonesian government has shown that it would not shy away from paying any price to support Palestine in line with its Constitution. To that effect, Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman recently dismissed any plan for resumption of ties with the Zionist regime or any proposal for the recognition of Israel.

The dark motives behind Saudi Arabia’s push for Gulf unity

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 000_8Y82NG.jpg
David Hearst is the editor in chief of Middle East Eye. He left The Guardian as its chief foreign leader writer. In a career spanning 29 years, he covered the Brighton bomb, the miner’s strike, the loyalist backlash in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in Northern Ireland, the first conflicts in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in Slovenia and Croatia, the end of the Soviet Union, Chechnya, and the bushfire wars that accompanied it. He charted Boris Yeltsin’s moral and physical decline and the conditions which created the rise of Putin. After Ireland, he was appointed Europe correspondent for Guardian Europe, then joined the Moscow bureau in 1992, before becoming bureau chief in 1994. He left Russia in 1997 to join the foreign desk, became European editor and then associate foreign editor. He joined The Guardian from The Scotsman, where he worked as education correspondent.

David Hearst

6 January 2021 17:22 UTC 

Mohammed bin Salman could use the detente with Qatar to achieve two objectives: to announce his own recognition of Israel, and to persuade his father to abdicate the throne

It took Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman three years and six months to come to the same conclusion that some of us reached days into the blockade of Qatar: that it was doomed to failure.

The project to silence the voice of an independent neighbour was doomed the moment that then-US defence secretary James Mattis and then-secretary of state Rex Tillerson, a former oilman with extensive links to Qatar, learned of plans to invade the peninsula and stopped them.

As the weeks passed, Qatar’s hand was only strengthened. Turkish troops arrived in Doha to form a physical buffer. Iran gave Qatar the use of its airspace. The blockade could never work with an air bridge established around Saudi Arabia.

If anything, this unpleasant shock has strengthened Qatar. The same goes for Turkish and Iranian foreign policy

It took only months for Qatar to assemble a major lobbying operation in Washington, undoing or rolling back the influence of the principal lobbyist for the Saudis, the Emirati ambassador Youssef al-Otaiba, and establishing solid support of its own. US President Donald Trump did not even acknowledge that Qatar hosted the Pentagon’s most important airbase in the region, Al Udeid, when he tweeted his approval of the blockade in 2017. 

In the end, the Saudi prince overestimated Trump’s influence and underestimated the residual power of the US military. Both Tillerson and Mattis are long gone, but the pressure to reverse this mad act of recklessness never receded; it only grew with time.

With the imminent arrival of a hostile US president in Joe Biden, bin Salman sensed the time had come to put an end to his folly. Today, none of the 13 demands originally placed on Qatar by the blockading states have been met. Neither its hosting of members of the Muslim Brotherhood nor its foreign policy have changed. Al Jazeera has not been closed down. Qatar’s alliance with Iran and Turkey has, if anything, strengthened.

Domestically, Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is held in higher esteem for his defence of the state than he was before, as Qatari nationalism has mounted. Qatar is more self-sufficient and confident than it was before the blockade. 

‘Qatar has won’

If anything, this unpleasant shock has strengthened Qatar. The same goes for Turkish and Iranian foreign policy.

“You could say Qatar has won,” Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of politics in Dubai who was one of the foremost defenders of the blockade three years ago, told the Financial Times. “The cost of fighting was too high – there is a realisation now that this is the black sheep of the family and we just have to put up with it. These have been the worst three-and-a-half years in the history of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council].”This GCC show of unity can’t hide its weakness

But these conclusions are, for the moment, bin Salman’s alone. It is interesting to note who was absent from the display of brotherly love at the GCC summit on Tuesday. The no-show by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed came alongside the absence of Bahrain’s King Hamad and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Bahrain is in the midst of an increasingly bitter border dispute with Qatar, and Egypt remains sceptical about the whole enterprise. Mada Masr quoted Egyptian government sources as saying that Cairo does not see a sufficiently strong foundation to open a new page in relations with Doha. Qatar, they claimed, was still mounting a “methodological campaign aimed at the Egyptian regime”. 

The sources noted that none of the basic demands made of Qatar – closing down Al Jazeera, shuttering a Turkish military base, severing ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and reducing ties with Iran – had been met. It is too early to say whether this signals a fracturing of the counter-revolutionary forces that have held together since they paid for and installed Sisi as president of Egypt after a military coup in 2013.

Tensions over Yemen and Israel

Certainly, there are grounds for a bust-up between mentor bin Zayed and his protege, bin Salman. One is Yemen: who is really in charge of the Saudi-led intervention that bin Salman launched in March 2015 – the Saudis or the Emiratis? Militias funded by and loyal to the UAE have taken control of the south, leaving the Saudis with an unresolved war with the Houthis in the north.

A second source of tension is Israel. In spearheading normalisation with Israel, the Emiratis clearly pitched themselves as Tel Aviv’s principal Gulf partner. Otaiba’s boast that the UAE and Israel had the two most capable military forces in the region raised eyebrows in Riyadh and Cairo. 

The Israeli prime minster and the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain participate in a signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords in Washington on 15 September (AFP)
The Israeli prime minster and the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain participate in a signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords in Washington on 15 September 2020 (AFP)

Writing the first-ever op-ed by a Gulf diplomat for an Israeli newspaper, Otaiba boasted before normalisation took place last year: “With the region’s two most capable militaries, common concerns about terrorism and aggression, and a deep and long relationship with the United States, the UAE and Israel could form closer and more effective security cooperation. As the two most advanced and diversified economies in the region, expanded business and financial ties could accelerate growth and stability across the Middle East.”

The Emirati claim to be the principal partner of Israel could cause problems for the future king of Saudi Arabia. Another notable absentee from the GCC summit was the country’s current king, Salman.

Kingdom split

Al Jazeera’s coverage of the tumultuous events shaking the Arab world has waxed and waned. Even before the blockade, it did not, for instance, devote the same attention to the murderous bombardment of Yemen by Saudi warplanes as it did to the Egyptian revolution in 2011. 

While producers and reporters are freer to report than most of their contemporaries in the Saudi-, Emirati- and Egyptian-controlled media, the state of Qatar still has its hands on volume control. There are many examples, including the decision to downplay coverage of the trial of Loujain al-Hathloul, the prominent Saudi activist recently sentenced to five years and eight months in prison.

To deliver Saudi Arabia into the hands of Israel would represent a real prize to the alliance being built over and around the heads of Palestinians

Bin Salman could use this detente with Qatar to achieve two objectives: to announce his own recognition of Israel, and to persuade his father to abdicate and pass the crown to him.

There is no doubt that bin Salman thinks it is time to do both. From the very start of his campaign to become king, establishing close clandestine relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been key to bin Salman’s relationship with US presidential adviser Jared Kushner and his father-in-law, Trump. 

The kingdom is split from top to bottom on the issue of normalisation with Israel. Foreign-policy heavyweights in the family still publicly voice opposition, notably the former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal. The king himself, to whom Prince Turki remains close, is also opposed, and the issue will have a strong impact on the Saudi people.

Future turmoil

One first step towards resolving this is to neutralise or turn down the volume of the Arab media that could run against bin Salman. This mainly comes from Qatar, which might explain why Kushner himself was present at the GCC summit.

For all the pain involved, the prize is great – and Biden, a committed Zionist, would welcome it. To deliver Saudi Arabia into the hands of Israel would represent a real prize to the alliance being built over and around the heads of Palestinians. Saudi Arabia remains, by dint of its size and wealth, a “real” Arab nation.

While the resolution of the crisis with Qatar is to be welcomed, the motives for doing so could lead to yet more turmoil in Arab world.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

This GCC show of unity can’t hide its weakness

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

Israel is an advanced garrison for U.S. in the region: Moroccan analyst

By Mohammad Mazhari

December 28, 2020 – 18:15

TEHRAN – A Moroccan journalist describes Israel as an “unnatural entity” which is “planted” in the region to represent U.S. interests and cause escalations.

“Israel is an unnatural entity based on expansion, and it does not have standards of a state,” Driss Addar tells the Tehran Times. “It is an advanced military garrison for America, which is the hidden state of the Jews of Khazaria.”
The Moroccan journalist calls Israel an arrogant regime that is established based on expansionism.
Following is the text of the interview: 

Q: How do you see the decision of some Arab states like the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan to normalize ties with Israel? 

A: There are multiple reasons for each government, although the context that paved the way for Arab states to normalize their relationship with Israel was apparently the same.

But before answering your question, I would like to point out that regarding Morocco the step of normalization of ties was taken within the framework of joint Arab action and settlements based on the two-state solution. 

The Moroccan step differs in terms of context and historical motives and also even the content of the statement issued in this context.

That is why the Palestinian Authority treated the Moroccan decision differently, in contrast to its position on the Abraham Accords, which was rejected by Morocco too. 

The Arabs today are pushed into a corner, and their interaction with their geopolitics is limited to be a spectator or the functional tool for other powers.

So the Emirates’ normalization of ties with Israel is based on promised goals within the framework of building an Israeli-(Persian) Gulf coalition to confront Iran after America portrayed Tehran as an enemy.

In this concept, the previous friend becomes the enemy and the enemy becomes a close friend who is welcomed.

Israel and the United States are aware that geography in the East is senseless after the creation of chaos, breakup plans, and proxy wars, and today they are investing in this reality, with the certainty that the idea of a new Middle East has become impossible after Syria’s victory over a terrorist war that was imposed on it.

 With the emergence of Russia as a new international power and Iran as a large regional power, the current U.S. administration wants to cripple the next administration by forming an Israeli-(Persian) Gulf alliance to prevent a U.S. return to the nuclear deal or laying landmines for Biden.

Q: Why did Morocco accept to normalize relations with Israel? It seems that there were informal relations with Israel before the announcement of normalization.

A: Morocco provides an explanation and justification for this normalization step and this agreement is limited to the transfer of the Moroccan community and a set of exchanges between the two sides.

 Not to mention America’s recognition of the Moroccan Sahara, it contributed to this step while other countries do not have these incentives, which makes the Moroccan situation different.

Morocco has been playing a mediatory role in the past and wants to continue it now. In the context of the change in the regional system and the escalations over the Palestinian issue, Morocco adopted a different viewpoint that sees itself as more capable for mediation than Egypt or Jordan.

Here Morocco has determined an agenda, including finding a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Here we are not talking about the best way to achieve consensus within the framework of an official Palestinian demand; the point here is related to Morocco, as it started from the beginning and after the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on a political solution and in the same framework that was agreed upon in the Arab world and in the (Organization of) Islamic Cooperation, that is the two-state solution.

So, Morocco has set an agenda realizing that the people reject the normalization of ties with Israel. So it did not call it normalization, but a statement that all wait for the implementation of the demands mentioned in it.

Morocco does not want to exclude the Palestinian cause but rather stated that this issue is equal to its national causes.

The issue is explained clearly in detail. So it is a conditional agreement that pledges a just solution to the Palestinian issue.

Moroccans are monitoring the progress of the agreement. Hence, unlike other forms of normalization, there is no signal of disregard or humiliation for the Palestinian cause in Morocco. 

The agreements between the Arabs and the Israeli regime were raised under initiatives and joint actions, while this is a conditional initiative and not a blank check.

Morocco hopes that all parties in the conflict succeed in finding an opportunity for a fair settlement approvable by international, Arab, and Islamic communities, otherwise it will not be applicable. Any initiative needs to take into account the Palestinians’ rights to succeed. 

I guess what is expected from this agreement is something greater than what is carried out by states that have fully normalized ties with Israel.

Over the years of conflict, the Israeli regime neither abides by UN resolutions nor Arab initiatives, and the siege on the Palestinian people is continuing. 

This is something that cannot be overlooked. Morocco had officially closed the contact office during the second Palestinian uprising (Intifada) in 2000.

The issue here is not who will join the normalization process or not. We must seek the possible conditions to facilitate a comprehensive and complete peace in the Middle East (West Asia).

What distinguishes Morocco is that it has a large community within Israel and also officials in the Israeli government are still associated with their Moroccan origins. 

Therefore, Rabat considers it an opportunity to resolve the conflict in a context that is under regional and international pressure.

Arabs are living in a difficult situation and Morocco is part of the Arab world and is concerned with resolving the Palestinian issue and considers it as a red line.

What happened is a conditional connection to mediate between Israel and Palestine. It is not a full normalization, because it would not be possible before settling the Palestinian issue. 

Here we had to pause at the difference between contact mechanism, which is a pre-condition for any mediation, and full normalization that cannot be achieved in the absence of a solution. 

Rabat says that the agreement does not compromise on the Palestinians’ legitimate rights.

Official Moroccan position has not changed as it sticks to a two-state solution. However, Morocco accepted conditional contact, clearly and within an agenda that approves the Palestinian cause in the context of its first national priority, which is contrary to the content of the Abraham Accords.

Q: Do you think that the normalization will benefit the Islamic and Arab worlds? Do you expect Israel to give up its expansion plans after the normalization of relations?

A: What I said is an explanation and not a justification, and therefore it falls within the framework of understanding the political possibilities.

But strategically it will not change the situation at all, because the problem is very deep, as we face a blockage in the proposed solutions.

Even the two-state solution is a long story presented a long time ago, but it is not practically possible. Given the Israeli rejection and the impossibility of the two states’ existence in this small geography, in which this Israeli regime was planted, this small area cannot host two states in terms of history and religion.

Therefore, it is not possible to expect significant results from normalization unless we go beyond the limits of the current static situation.

Israel is an unnatural entity based on expansion, and it does not have standards of a state. It can even be said that it is an advanced military garrison for America, which is the hidden state of the Jews of Khazaria, according to Tatiana Grachova, the Russian writer and author of the book “Hidden Khazaria”.

Consequently, this regime is established on expansionism, and this is the main reason for escalations in the region. 

Despite Israeli arrogance, in the political process, one can only talk about an attempt to besiege and embarrass this regime.

Q: Don’t you think that Saudi Arabia would join others to normalize ties with Israel sooner or later? What will be its impact on the rest of the Arab countries?

A: The recent signals hint that Saudi Arabia will join the normalization process.

I don’t think that the Saudi normalization will create a different atmosphere or will have more serious repercussions rather than the previous steps in normalization. The main goal of these countries is forming an alliance with Israeli to surround Iran. The rest of the Arab countries, especially those close to the conflict zone, are in a different position. With the exception of Syria, whose position is clear on Israel as an enemy, the rest of neighboring Arab countries not only prefer to support normalization of ties with Israel but also support aggression against the resistance axis and occupied Palestine.

Q: Now how would you describe the position of Arab countries, governments, and people toward the Palestinian cause?

A: It is no longer possible to address the path and options of Arab policies.

But no one is against the right of the Palestinian people to resist the occupation, especially in its difficult circumstances.

Now the question here is how can the demands of the Palestinian people be fulfilled to confront Israeli malicious policies?

If you focus only on the dark reality of our region, you will see that the Palestinian cause is in its worst condition, but a strategic vision will say that the facts suggest important changes in favor of the Palestinian cause.

Rather, the victory of Syria, and the achievements of the resistance axis, is the most important cards that can hinder the deal of the century.

This deal cannot be passed without eliminating the Lebanese resistance and overthrowing the Syrian state, the two goals that were not achieved by the resistance of the nations of the region.
 

RELATED NEWS

How Gulf states became business partners in Israel’s occupation

Jonathan Cook

14 December 2020 12:29 UTC | 

Since signing the Abraham Accords, the UAE and Bahrain have been actively colluding with Israel’s settler movement and military authorities

The professed rationale for the recent Abraham Accords, so-called “peace deals” signed with Israel by the UAE and Bahrain, was to stymie Israeli efforts to annex swaths of the West Bank. 

The aim was supposedly to neutralise another “peace” plan – one issued early this year by US President Donald Trump’s administration – that approved Israel’s annexation of large areas of the West Bank dominated by illegal Jewish settlements. 

In practice, both have quickly jettisoned any pretence that Palestinians will benefit from these deals

The two Gulf states trumpeted the fact that, in signing the accords in September, they had effectively scotched that move, thereby salvaging hopes of a future Palestinian state. Few observers entirely bought the official story – not least because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that annexation had only been put on temporary hold

The real purpose of the Abraham Accords appeared less about saving Palestinians than allowing Gulf states to go public with, and expand, their existing ties to Israel. Regional intelligence could now be shared more easily, especially on Iran, and the Gulf would gain access to Israeli hi-tech and US military technology and weapons systems. 

Separately, Sudan was induced to sign the accords after promises it would be removed from Washington’s list of “terror-supporting” states, opening the door to debt relief and aid. And last week, Morocco became the fourth Arab state to initiate formal relations with Israel after the Trump administration agreed to recognise its occupation of Western Sahara.

Twisting more arms

Israel, in return, has been able to begin “normalising” with an important bloc of Arab states – all without offering any meaningful concessions on the Palestinian issue.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are also reported to have been considering doing their own deals with Israel. Jared Kushner, Trump’s Middle East adviser, visited the region this month in what was widely assumed to be a bid to twist arms. UAE-Israel deal: Abraham accord or Israeli colonialism?

Read More »

Riyadh’s hesitation, however, appears to have increased after Trump lost last month’s US presidential election to Joe Biden. 

Last week, during an online conference held in Bahrain and attended by Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, a former senior Saudi government official, Turki al-Faisal al-Saud, launched a blistering verbal attack on Israel, saying it jailed Palestinians in “concentration camps” and had built an “apartheid wall”. It was unclear whether he was speaking in more than a personal capacity.

While the covert purpose of the Abraham Accords was difficult to obscure, the stated aim – of aiding Palestinians by preventing Israel’s annexation of the West Bank – was still seen as a vital tool for the UAE and Bahrian to sell these agreements back home.

But in practice, both have quickly jettisoned any pretence that Palestinians will benefit from these deals. Not only that, but already they barely bother to conceal the fact that they are actively and tangibly colluding with Israel to harm Palestinians – by bolstering Israel’s illegal settlements and subsidising its military regime of occupation. 

Trade with settlements

Bahrain demonstrated this month how indifferent it is to the negative impacts on Palestinians. On a visit to Israel, the country’s trade minister, Zayed bin Rashid al-Zayani, said Bahrain was open to importing products from Israel wherever they were manufactured. “We have no issue with labelling or origin,” he said

The comment suggested that Manama was ready to become a gateway for Israel to export settlement products to the rest of the Arab world, helping to bolster the settlements’ legitimacy and economic viability. Bahrain’s trade policy with Israel would then be even laxer than that of the European Union, a top trade partner for Israel. The EU’s feeble guidelines recommend the labelling of settlement products. 

An illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank is pictured on 19 November 2019 (AFP)
An illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank is pictured on 19 November 2019 (AFP)

After wide reporting of Zayani’s comments, Bahrain’s state news agency issued a statement shortly afterwards saying he had been “misinterpreted”, and that there would be no import of settlement goods. But it is hard not to interpret the remarks as indicating that behind the scenes, Bahrain is only too willing to collude in Israel’s refusal to distinguish between products from Israel and those made in the settlements.

That this is the trading basis of the Abraham Accords is further highlighted by reports that the UAE is already welcoming business with Israel’s illegal settlements. An Israeli winery, using grapes grown on the Golan Heights, a large plateau of Syrian territory seized by Israel in 1967 and illegally annexed in 1981, has reportedly started exporting to the UAE, which has liberalised its alcohol laws for non-citizens.

This is a fruitful turn of events for Israel’s 500,000 settlers in the occupied West Bank. They have lost no time touting for business, with the first delegation arriving in Dubai last month hoping to tap new markets in the Arab world via the UAE. Last week a settler delegation reportedly returned to Dubai to sign an agreement with a UAE company to import settlement goods, including alcohol, honey, olive oil, and sesame paste.

New low-point 

This marks a new low-point in the shift by Arab states away from their original position that Israel was a colonial implant in the region, sponsored by the West, and that there could be no “normalisation” – or normal relations – with it. 

In 2002, Saudi Arabia launched the Arab Peace Initiative, which offered Israel full diplomatic relations in return for ending the occupation. But Gulf states are now not only normalising with Israel when the occupation is actually intensifying; they are normalising with the occupation itself – as well as its bastard progeny, the settlements. 

The peace deals with the UAE and Bahrain will help the settlements entrench further, assisting Israel’s longstanding policy of annexing the West Bank in all but name

Israel has built more than 250 settlements across a vast expanse of occupied Palestinian territory – 62 percent of the West Bank, referred to as Area C under the Oslo Accords. This area was supposed to be gradually transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA), the government-in-waiting under Mahmoud Abbas, to become the territorial backbone of a Palestinian state. 

Instead, over the past quarter of a century, Israel has used its supposedly temporary control over Area C to rapidly expand the settlements, stealing vital land and resources. These colonies have been highly integrated into Israel, with settler roads criss-crossing the occupied West Bank and tightly limiting Palestinian movement.

The peace deals with the UAE and Bahrain will help the settlements entrench further, assisting Israel’s longstanding policy of annexing the West Bank in all but name, through the creation of facts on the ground – the very outcome the Abraham Accords claimed they were meant to prevent. 

Yossi Dagan, head of the West Bank regional council that visited Dubai last month, declared that there was “no contradiction between our demand to impose sovereignty [annex large parts of the West Bank] and the strengthening of commercial and industrial ties” with the Gulf. 

Al-Aqsa dividend

In other words, settlers see the Abraham Accords as a business opportunity to expand their footprint in the occupied West Bank, not an obstacle. The likely gains for the settlers will include tourism, too, as visitors from the Gulf are expected to flock to al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem. 

The irony is that, because of Israel’s physical seizure of areas around the Islamic holy site and its control over access, Gulf Arabs will have far greater rights at al-Aqsa than the majority of Palestinians, who cannot reach it.

Jordan, which has long been the custodian of al-Aqsa, justifiably fears that Saudi Arabia may use a future accord with Israel to muscle its way into taking charge of the Jerusalem holy site, adding it to its guardianship of Mecca and Medina. 

Palestinians gather at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in June 2018 (AFP)
Palestinians gather at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in June 2018 (AFP)

In occupied Jerusalem, Palestinians are deprived of the chance to develop their own housing, let alone infrastructure to cope with the business opportunities provided by the arrival of wealthy Gulf Arabs. That should leave Israel and its settler population – rather than Palestinians – well-placed to reap the dividends from any new tourism ventures.

In a supreme irony, a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family has bought a major stake in the Beitar Jerusalem football team, whose supporters are fiercely anti-Arab and back the takeover of East Jerusalem by settlers. 

Palestinian laboratories

During his visit, Bahrain’s Zayani observed that, as his country geared up for flights to and from Israel next month: “We are fascinated by how integrated IT and the innovation sector in Israel has been embedded in every facet of life.” Israel-UAE deal: The Emiratis are now under Israel’s thumb

Read More »

But Israel’s technology sector is “embedded in every facet of life” only because Israel treats the occupied Palestinian territories as a laboratory. Tests are conducted there on how best to surveil Palestinians, physically limit their movement and freedoms, and collect their biometric data

The hi-tech firms carrying out these experiments may be formally headquartered inside Israel, but they work and profit from their activities in the occupied territories. They are a vast complex of settlement businesses in their own right.

This is why Nabil Shaath, an aide to Abbas, observed of the Gulf’s burgeoning ties with Israel that it was “painful to witness Arab cooperation with one of the worst manifestations of aggression against the Palestinian people, which is the Israeli settlements on our land”. 

Settler ally

How enthusiastically the UAE and Bahrain are getting into the occupation business, and preparing to subsidise its worst features, is highlighted by the Abraham Fund, set up by the US in October. It is a vehicle for Gulf states and Israel to secure billions of dollars in private investment to underpin their new diplomatic relations. 

Again, the official story has glossed over the reality. According to statements from the main parties, the fund is intended to raise at least $3bn to bolster regional economic cooperation and development initiatives.

If the oil-rich Gulf states help pick up the tab, they will incentivise Israel to stay put and steal yet more Palestinian land and resources

The UAE’s minister of state, Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, has said: “The initiative can be a source of economic and technological strength for the region, while simultaneously improving the lives of those who need the most support.”

The fund is supposed to help Palestinians, as one of those groups most in need of support. But again, the main parties are not playing straight. The deception is revealed by the Trump administration’s selection of who is to head the Abraham Fund, one of its last appointments before the handover to Biden. 

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the fund will be overseen by Aryeh Lightstone, a fervently right-wing rabbi and ally of Israel’s settler community. Lightstone is a senior adviser to David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel who has his own strong ties to the settlements. Friedman pushed aggressively for the US to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem. Trump finally did so in May 2018, breaking an international consensus against locating diplomatic missions in Jerusalem. 

Checkpoint upgrade

The political priorities of Lightstone are evident in one of the Abraham Fund’s first declared projects: to “modernise” Israeli checkpoints across the occupied West Bank. 

The checkpoint upgrade is being hailed by US officials as designed to benefit Palestinians. It will speed up their passage as they try to move around the occupied West Bank, and as those with permits enter Israel or the settlements to work. One senior Trump administration official promised checkpoint delays that currently keep Palestinians waiting for many hours could be dramatically cut: “If I can upgrade that, which doesn’t cost a lot of money, and have it take 30 seconds, I am blowing up [freeing up] 400,000 work hours a day.”

There are many glaring problems with this approach – not least that under international law, belligerent military occupations such as Israel’s must be temporary in nature. Israel’s occupation has endured for more than five decades already. 

Palestinians make their way through a checkpoint north of Hebron on 4 October (AFP)
Palestinians make their way through a checkpoint north of Hebron on 4 October (AFP)

Efforts to make the occupation even more permanent – by improving and refining its infrastructure, such as through upgrades to create airport-style checkpoints – is in clear breach of international law. Now the Gulf will be intimately involved in subsidising these violations.

Further, the idea that the Abraham Fund’s checkpoint upgrade is assisting Palestinians – “those who most need support” – or developing their economy is patently ridiculous. The fund is exclusively helping Israel, a robust first-world economy, which is supposed to shoulder the costs of its military rule over Palestinians. 

The Abraham Fund’s planned checkpoint upgrade is actually a subsidy by the Gulf to the settlements

The economic costs of occupation are one of the few tangible pressures on Israel to withdraw from the territories and allow Palestinians sovereignty. If the oil-rich Gulf states help pick up the tab, they will incentivise Israel to stay put and steal yet more Palestinian land and resources.

Indeed, the hours being freed up, even assuming that is what actually happens, are unlikely to help the Palestinian economy or bring financial benefits to the Palestinian labourers Israel has made dependent on its economy through the lengthy occupation. To develop their own economy, Palestinians need their land and resources stolen by Israel restored to them.

Herding Palestinians

Seen another way, the Abraham Fund’s planned checkpoint upgrade is actually a subsidy by the Gulf to the settlements. That is because the very purpose of the checkpoints is to enforce Israeli control over where and when Palestinians can travel in their homeland. 

Israel uses the checkpoints as a way to herd Palestinians into particular areas of the occupied West Bank, especially the third under nominal PA control, while blocking their entry to the rest. That includes a denial of access to the West Bank’s most fertile land and its best water sources. Those areas are exactly where Israel has been building and expanding the settlements.From Egypt to the UAE, normalisation with Israel heralds disaster

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Palestinians are in a zero-sum battle against the settlers for control over land in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Any help Israel receives in restricting their movement through checkpoints is a loss to Palestinians and a victory for the settlers. Modernised checkpoints will simply be far more efficient at herding Palestinians where Israel and the settlers want them to be.

In partnering with Israel on upgrading checkpoints, the Gulf will be aiding Israel in making its technology of confinement and control of the Palestinian population even more sophisticated, benefiting once again the settlers. 

This is the real story of the Gulf’s Abraham Accords – not simply of turning a blind eye to Israel’s decades-long oppression of Palestinians, but of actively becoming partners with Israel and the settlers in carrying out that oppression. 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.Jonathan CookJonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Nazareth since 2001, is the the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is a past winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be found at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net

Scenarios to Awaken Sleeper Cells with American and Saudi Support: Warnings of ’Security Strife’ سيناريوات لتحريك خلايا نائمة بدعم أميركي وسعودي: تحذيرات من «فتن أمنية»

Scenarios to Awaken Sleeper Cells with American and Saudi Support: Warnings of ’Security Strife’

Scenarios to Awaken Sleeper Cells with American and Saudi Support: Warnings of ’Security Strife’

By Mayssam Rizk – Al-Akhbar Newspaper / Translated by Al-Ahed News

In light of the Gulf-“Israeli” normalization agreements, pressure is mounting on Lebanon to fall in line. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is currently content with just being a spectator, while the United States is activating its plan to implement a theory shared by Washington and Riyadh: “Let the country collapse so that we rebuild it without Hezbollah.”

Lebanon has taken a huge leap into a zone similar to the Bermuda Triangle, almost as if its demise had become inevitable. The push for that is strongest among those who insist on removing Hezbollah from the entire political scene – either make a lot of concessions, or face the flood. The American war against the resistance, which involves the use of deadlier tools than those employed in Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003, and Lebanon in 2006, is continuing in accordance with the aforementioned theory: “Let the country collapse so we can rebuild it without Hezbollah”.

Saudi Arabia strongly believes in this theory even though it has not been put into practice yet. However, it can be set in motion as a financial reserve when the opportunity presents itself.

Until then, work to sow chaos resumes: activating the activities of NGOs and movements with a specific agenda, imposing new sanctions on Lebanese figures, and the prevailing absence of security. All of which will open up the internal arena to a range of possibilities.

A year and two months ago, the objective was to expose the corrupt political class, but now it is time to overthrow it, regardless of the existence of an alternative, or so the information indicates.

The difference between these two periods of time is that in the fall of 2019, there were no Emirates-“Israeli” relations, Bahraini-“Israeli” relations, Saudi-“Israeli” relations. In other words, today “Israel” is present in every Arab country except Lebanon, which means that the latter isn’t permitted to deviate from this path – forcing it to join their ranks is not built on a void. For there is no longer any ambiguity that the corruption of the ruling system and the absence of any serious effort to search for a solution to address the collapse are helping the outside world implement its plan.

Anyone who reads the graph of the country’s movement at all levels will realize that it is heading towards a more painful stage, in light of the downfall scenario that threatens all institutions that are no longer able to contain its dangerous repercussions. In parallel, Washington is activating its policy to destroy Lebanon, in cooperation with local actors entrusted with this task, in addition to a set of basic pillars for its project run by the US administration from abroad and the US embassy in Beirut. The coming stages will unfold as follows:

The first pillar: Reactivating civil society associations, some of which operate according to the Western agenda. And this is done through the implementation of the activities of some groups that try to exploit any righteous movement and divert it to another path. According to some sources, certain movements could cause security incidents that might further exacerbate the situation.

For example, the surprise encounters involving young people who confronted officials and figures in public places may develop into security problems if they move onto private residences. Then, who guarantees, for example, that there will be no casualties should a fight between these youths and the security team of any official take place?

The second pillar: The infiltration of these organizations into certain areas under the guise of aid, specifically Christian ones, and spreading the impression that there is no way to guarantee social security except through the West, with the aim of replacing major parties in these areas, specifically the Free Patriotic Movement.

The third pillar: Putting more Lebanese figures on the sanctions list, in addition to state institutions or even banks, to further destabilize the economic and financial situation and work to sow doubt in these institutions and encourage financial transactions on the black market.

The fourth pillar: undermining security by awakening sleeper cells and sowing sedition. This is no longer a secret, as many political and security forces now talk about reports confirming the existence of serious security threats.

Even though Saudi movements in Lebanon appear to be faint so far, available information suggests that the kingdom is sharing its theory with Washington. However, it will not intervene directly right now, but rather wait for the country’s complete collapse based on the conviction that “this collapse will only negatively affect Hezbollah, weaken it, and force it to back down. Thus, it will be possible to rebuild the state in Lebanon through an American agenda and Saudi funding.”

سيناريوات لتحريك خلايا نائمة بدعم أميركي وسعودي: تحذيرات من «فتن أمنية»

ميسم رزق 

الخميس 17 كانون الأول 2020

في ضوء التطبيع الخليجي – الإسرائيلي يزداد الضغط على لبنان للانضمام إلى الركب. المملكة العربية السعودية تكتفي حالياً بدور المتفرّج، فيما الولايات المتحدة تفعّل خطتها لتنفيذ نظرية تتشاطرها واشنطن والرياض: «دعوا البلد ينهار حتى نعيد بناءه من دون حزب الله»

دخلَ لبنان، جدياً، منطقة شبيهة بـ «مُثلّث برمودا»، وكأنّ سقوطه صار قدراً. الدفع إلى ذلك، على أشدّه عند من يشترط إخراج حزب الله من كل المشهد السياسي مع كثير من التنازلات… وإلا الطوفان. الحرب الأميركية ضد المقاومة، بأدوات أكثر فتكاً مما تعرّضت له أفغانستان (2001)، والعراق (2003)، ولبنان(2006)، مستمرة وفق نظرية «دعوا البلد ينهار حتى نعيد بناءه من دون حزب الله». نظرية «تبصم» عليها الرياض بـ «العشرة»، رغمَ انكفائها حالياً، لكنها جاهزة للتفاعل متى سنحت الفرصة، باعتبارها الاحتياطي المالي. حتى ذلِك الحين، يُستأنَف العمل لاستكمال زرع الفوضى عبرَ: تفعيل نشاط منظمات المجتمع المدني والتحركات التي تنطلِق بأجندة محدّدة، فرض عقوبات جديدة على شخصيات لبنانية، وطغيان الأمن المفقود، مما يجعل الساحة الداخلية مفتوحة على أي احتمال. قبلَ عام وشهرين من اليوم، كانَ العنوان تعرية الطبقة السياسية الفاسدة، أما حالياً فقد حانَ وقت إسقاطها، بمعزل عن وجود بديل، هكذا تقول المعلومات. الفارق بين الزمنين، أنه في خريف 2019، لم تكُن هناك إمارات وإسرائيل، بحرين وإسرائيل، سعودية وإسرائيل، أي أن إسرائيل اليوم موجودة في كل دولة عربية إلا لبنان، بمعنى، أن الأخير لا يُمكن أن يكون شاذاً عن هذا المسار، وإجباره على الانضمام إلى الركب ليسَ مبنياً على فراغ. إذ لم يعُد ثمة لبس في أن فساد المنظومة الحاكمة وغياب أي مسعى جدّي للبحث عن معالجة الانهيار يساعدان الخارج في تنفيذ خطته.

من يقرأ الخط البياني لحركة البلاد على كل الأصعدة، يكتشِف أنها تتجه نحوَ مرحلة أكثر إيلاماً، في ظل سيناريو السقوط الذي يتهدّد كل المؤسسات التي لم تعُد قادرة على احتواء ارتداداته الخطيرة. في موازاة ذلك، تُفعّل واشنطن سياستها لتدمير لبنان، بالتعاون مع فاعلين محليين أُوكلِت إليهم هذه المهمة، بالإضافة إلى مجموعة ركائز أساسية لمشروعها تديرها الإدارة الأميركية من الخارج والسفارة الأميركية في بيروت، وستبدأ بالظهور تباعاً في المرحلة المقبلة، وذلك على النحو التالي:

الركيزة الأولى: إعادة تحريك جمعيات المجتمع المدني، التي يعمل بعضها وفق الأجندة الغربية. وذلك، من خلال تنفيذ نشاطات لبعض المجموعات التي تحاول استثمار أي تحرّك محقّ، وحرفه إلى غير مساره. وهنا، تقول بعض المصادر إن من شأن بعض التحركات أن يؤدّي إلى وقوع حوادث أمنية تفجّر الأوضاع. فعلى سبيل المثال، «الكبسات» المفاجئة التي ينفذها بعض الشباب ضد مسؤولين وشخصيات في أماكن عامة، قد تتطور إلى إشكالات أمنية في حال انتقلت إلى المنازل، وحينها من يضمن مثلاً عدم وقوع ضحايا فيما لو وقع تضارب بين هؤلاء الشباب والفريق الأمني لأيّ مسؤول؟

الركيزة الثانية: تغلغل هذه المنظمات في المناطق تحتَ ستار المساعدات، تحديداً في المناطق المسيحية، وإشاعة الانطباع بأن لا سبيل لضمان الأمن الاجتماعي إلا من خلال الغرب، وذلك بهدف الحلول مكان الأحزاب التي لها ثقل في هذه المناطق، تحديداً التيار الوطني الحر.

الركيزة الثالثة: وضع مزيد من الشخصيات اللبنانية على لائحة العقوبات، بالإضافة إلى مؤسسات في الدولة أو حتى مصارف، لزعزعة الوضع الاقتصادي والمالي أكثر فأكثر، والعمل على بثّ الشك في هذه المؤسسات وتشجيع الحركة المالية في السوق السوداء.

إسرائيل اليوم موجودة في كل دولة عربية إلا لبنان


الركيزة الرابعة: ضرب البعد الأمني في العمق، من خلال تحريك لخلايا نائمة وافتعال فتن. وهو ما لم يعُد سراً، إذ أن الكثير من القوى السياسية والأمنية باتت تتحدث عن تقارير تؤكد وجود تهديدات أمنية جدية.

وإذ تبدو الحركة السعودية في لبنان حتى الآن خافتة، إلا أن المعلومات تؤكّد بأن المملكة تشاطر واشنطن نظريتها، لكنها لن تتدخل الآن مباشرة، بل ستنتظر انهيار البلاد بالكامل، وفقَ قناعة تامة بأن «هذا الانهيار سيؤثر سلباً على حزب الله فقط، وأن ذلك سيُضعفه وسيجعله يتراجع. وبالتالي سيكون بالإمكان إعادة بناء الدولة في لبنان بأجندة أميركية وتمويل سعودي»!

البندريّة وخطاب التركفيصيليّة..لكلّ مقام مقال

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سعادة ارشيد

بعد زمن قصير من توقيع دولة الإمارات العربيّة والبحرين على اتفاقيات التطبيع مع (إسرائيل)، أجرت إحدى الفضائيّات المحسوبة على السعوديّة، مقابلة من ثلاث حلقات مع بندر بن سلطان، سفير بلاده الأسبق في واشنطن، وأمين سابق لمجلس الأمن الوطني السعودي، استعرض خلالها الأدوار التي قام بها والتي لعبتها بلاده في الجزيرة العربية والإقليم والعالم، واستفاض في حديثه عن الشأن الفلسطيني بشكل مسموم طال القيادة ولم يترك الشعب، فقد اعتبر الفلسطيني محامياً فاشلاً عن قضية عادلة، وأنّ القيادات الفلسطينية تتاجر بالقضية لحساباتها الخاصة، ثم أنها قيادات قاصرة عن فهم السياسة ومتخصّصة في إضاعة الفرص، وفوق ذلك أنها ناكرة للجميل ومتطاولة على مَن يُحسن إليها، وهي عادة فلسطينية حسب المقالة البندريّة. وقد تطايرت سهام هجومه في اتجاهات عديدة لتطال إيران والحوثيين في اليمن، والأتراك والقطريين والمقاومة اللبنانية، وكذلك فضائيتي «المنار» و»الجزيرة»، لكن سهامَه طاشت عن دولة الاحتلال أو أنّ أقواله قد سقطت سهواً أو عمداً… لا يهمّ، إذ إنّ بندر بن سلطان لا يرى فيها دولة عنصرية ولا يعرف عن وحشيتها ودمويّتها، وأنها عنصر من عناصر القلق في الإقليم، التي حدّدها ابن عمه تركي الفيصل منذ أيام، فالشرّ كله حسب بندر هو في مَن أصابته سهامه.

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هذه التوجهات لم تكن مستغربة عند مَن يتابع الأداء السعودي، وعند مَن تابع مسيرة بندر بن سلطان، وما يجيش في أعماقه من عقد نفسيّة، وما مارسه من أدوار في التحريض على الأمن القوميّ من العراق إلى سورية والمقاومة اللبنانية، ثم اليمن وإيران وأفغانستان، ومن عرف علاقاته المشبوهة مع المحافظين الجدد في واشنطن إبان رئاسة بوش الابن، وما يستتبع ذلك من علاقة مع دولة الاحتلال، يُضاف إلى ذلك ما عرف عنه من فساد في صفقة اليمامة، والتي قيل إنّ حجم الرشى والعمولات التي دفعت في تلك الصفقة هي الأضخم في تاريخ الفساد.

لما كانت قناة (العربية) السعودية شبه الرسمية، هي من أجرى المقابلة، ولما كان توقيتها قد أعقب توقيع اتفاقات التطبيع الخليجية، فقد افترض العقل السليم أن المقابلة تمثل تدشيناً لخطاب إعلامي سعودي جديد، يعبّر ويتواءم مع الانهيارات الخليجية ويمثل مقدمة لسياسة سعودية جديدة تتمثل باللحاق بركب التطبيع عندما يحين الوقت المناسب.

بما أنّ مربط خيول البترودولار قد انتقل منذ زمن من لندن إلى واشنطن، وأتت نتائج الانتخابات الأميركية على غير ما يرغبون وبالضدّ من استثماراتهم في دعم المرشح الخاسر، الأمر الذي جعل من ضرورات السعودية أن تتمايز عن شركائها الذين استعجلوا التطبيع ـ وإنْ كانت قد دعمت تلك الخطوة ـ وأصبح من أولوياتها نسج علاقة مع الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة التي سبق أن أبدت عدم إعجابها بالأداء السعودي وبشكل خاص بولي العهد، وربما ستبقى قصة اغتيال الصحافي الخاشقجي السعودي الجنسية والديمقراطي الانتماء والهوى، مخرزاً في عنق ولي العهد لمعاقبته وابتزازه.

في مقلب آخر، يعاني نتنياهو من مصاعب داخلية، خاصة بعد رحيل حاميه ترامب، الأمر الذي دعاه للإلحاح على ولي العهد السعودي لزيارته في مدينة «نيوم» على أن تبقى الزيارة سراً، حتى عن الحكومة (الإسرائيلية) والجيش، ثم قام بتسريب الخبر للصحافة، نتنياهو لا يهمّه إلا مكاسبه حتى لو أخلّ بوعوده وأحرج مضيفه السعودي، الذي وقع في ارتباك وحرج. مثّل ذلك إزعاجاً بالغاً للسعودية، خاصة أنّ الزيارة لم تكن لها أية قيمة أو معانٍ سياسية أو أمنية أو اقتصادية، وإنما كانت بمنظور ولي العهد علاقات عامة لأيام مقبلة، قد يُبنى على مقتضاها التطبيع السعودي عندما تنضج الظروف ويتولى ولي العهد العرش، ولكنها بمنظور نتنياهو، هدف في ملعب خصومه في الحكومة، ونجاح يدعمه في الانتخابات القريبة وأمام جمهوره الذي قد يُسهم في خلق حالة رأي عام تدعمه أمام القضاء الذي سيمثل أمامه لا محالة.

لطالما مثلت السياسة السعودية مظهراً رزيناً وحذراً في العلن، ورسمت لنفسها صورة من الوقار والجدّية، والالتزام بثوابت الدين والسياسة، ولكن نتنياهو قد فضح المستور وبخس تلك الصورة النمطيّة الزائفة. سرعان ما جاء الردّ السعوديّ من قبل الدولة العميقة أو للدقة للعائلة السعودية العميقة، وعلى لسان تركي الفيصل رجل الاستخبارات السعودية العتيق والمحنّك، والذي يُعتبر صندوق بلاده الأسود، في خطابه في المنامة وعلى مسمع ومرأى وزير الخارجية الإسرائيلي والعالم أجمع، أراد تركي الفيصل استرجاع هيبة الدولة والعائلة ومشروعيتهما سواء الإسلامية بسدانة الحرمين وقيادة العالم الإسلامي، والسياسة بقيادة (الاعتدال العربي)، ومجلس التعاون الخليجي، وتركي الفيصل لا يريد لابن عمه ولي العهد بموقعه الرسمي أن يقع فريسة لنتنياهو وحساباته السياسية، أو لأعداء السعودية المتربّصين، الذين سبق لبندر بن سلطان أن عدّدهم بالاسم.

مَن يستمع لخطاب تركي الفيصل قد يلتبس عليه الأمر ويظنّ لوهلة، أنّ الخطيب أحد قادة معسكر المقاومة، أو أنه رجل من الزمن الجميل الذي مضى والذي كان فيه قيمة لنبرة التحدّي، اتهم تركي الفيصل (إسرائيل) بأنها دولة عنصريّة تخالف الشرائع الدولية والإنسانية، فهي تعتقل وتقتل وتهدم البيوت من دون رادع، وأنها وإنْ ادّعت أنها دولة مستهدفة وصغيرة إلا أنها دولة بغي وعدوان، وأنها لا تحمل أية قيم أخلاقيّة سامية تدعيها، ثم أنها امتداد للاستعمار الغربي، وقال غير ذلك كثيراً وللقارئ أن يعود إلى نص الخطاب.

لكن القراءة السياسية للخطاب، تلاحظ أنّ رسائل قد تسرّبت بين فقرات الحماسة والغضب، وقد تكون هي أهمّ ما في الخطاب، تركي الفيصل لا يرى في اتفاق أبراهام كتاباً منزلاً من عند الله، وإنما هو مرتفع من لدن الإدارة الأميركيّة الراحلة، وبالتالي فإنّ تعديلات يجب أن تجري عليه بحيث يقترب من مبادرة الملك فهد بن عبد العزيز 2002 في بيروت والتي عُرفت باسم المبادرة العربية للسلام، والتي يمكن اختصارها: تطبيع شامل مقابل دولة فلسطينية وسلام شامل، هذا الأمر يرى تركي الفيصل أنّ من شأنه إعادة تجميل صورة بلاده، وفي موقع آخر قال إنّ (الإسرائيلي) يصرّح برغبته بأن يكون صديقاً للسعودية، فيما يطلق كلابه من سياسيين وإعلاميين لتنهش في اللحم السعودي، وتشيطن وتشوّه صورة السعودية. وفي هذا إشارة للحملات الإعلامية (الإسرائيلية) والغربية التي تجد في ملف حقوق الإنسان في السعودية ما يُقال، كما أنه يشير بطرف خفي لتسريب الإعلام (الإسرائيلي) لخبر زيارة نتنياهو للسعودية، كما أنه بذلك يضع شرطاً مسبقاً لأيّ لقاء أو علاقة مستقبلية مع (إسرائيل)، بأنّ عليها أن تلتزم باحترام بلاده وعدم التدخل في شؤونها الداخلية وملفات حقوق الإنسان التي طالما وجدها الإعلام الغربي و(الإسرائيلي) مادة دسمة.

معروف عن تركي الفيصل قديماً أنه رائد من رواد التطبيع والعلاقة مع (إسرائيل)، سواء في ملفات الأمن أو السياسة، وقد كان من أدواته وأزلامه في هذا المجال أنور عشقي السيّئ الصيت والسمعة، وبالتأكيد أنّ تركي الفيصل لم يغادر ـ ولن يغادر اصطفافه القديم ـ ولكنه يريد ترشيد العلاقة مع (إسرائيل) وإنضاج التطبيع مع المحافظة على مكانة ودور بلاده، وإبطاء أية اندفاعة متعجلة وغير محسوبة بدقة يقوم بها ولي العهد، ولا يريد وهو من رجال العائلة العميقة أن تكون بلاده وعائلته أداة من أدوات نتنياهو في صراعه مع أشكنازي وغانتس وغيرهم من الساسة (الإسرائيليين). تركي الفيصل لم يغادر موقعه، تماماً مثل ابن عمه بندر بن سلطان، وكلاهما لم ينطق عن هوى أو عن وحي يوحى، وإنما نطق كلّ منهما حسب مستجدات السياسة، والسعودية تستجيب للمتغيّرات، كلاهما مثل العقلية السعودية التقليدية، ولكن من دون أن تتغيّر هذه السياسة او تغادر اصطفافاتها، أو تستقيل من وظيفتها.

*سياسيّ فلسطينيّ مقيم في جنين – فلسطين المحتلة

Biden will not end the ‘deal of the century’ – Palestinian leaders are acting in haste

Joseph Massad

24 November 2020 

The goal of the US ‘peace process’ has long been – and will continue to be under Biden – the obliteration of Palestinian resistance to Israeli colonisation

People denounce the ‘deal of the century’ in the occupied West Bank on 28 February 2020 (AFP)

Since the election of Joe Biden as the next US president, reports of the death of the “deal of the century” have been greatly exaggerated. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has felt a sense of relief that its love affair with Israel and Israel’s allies could finally resume. 

The PA had cut off official security coordination with Israel in May, and cooled relations with Bahrain and the UAE after they opened diplomatic relations with Israel this summer. The PA used the pretext that President Donald Trump’s “deal” was detrimental to Palestinian interests.  

In the wake of Biden’s election, the PA declared the deal and annexation plans to be “no longer on the table”. It officially resumed security coordination with Israel, citing assurances from Israel that it would comply with prior agreements it had signed with the PA.

This came just days after Israel opened bidding on the construction of a new Jewish colonial settlement intended to cut off occupied East Jerusalem from the West Bank. The PA has also restored its ambassadors to Bahrain and the UAE. 

Palestinian prisoners

These PA moves seek to appeal to Biden, who is expected to be more sympathetic to their cause than Trump. And so, instead of announcing that the PA was looking forward to being welcomed back into the US capital, the adamantly anti-Palestinian New York Times, the US “newspaper of record”, announced that “in a bold move to refurbish their sullied image in Washington, the Palestinians are laying the groundwork for an overhaul to one of their most cherished but controversial practices, officials say: compensating those who serve time in Israeli prisons, including for violent attacks.” 

Israel has been demanding for decades that the PA not support the families of Palestinians killed by Israel, let alone the families of Palestinian prisoners of war. The US Congress “repeatedly passed legislation to reduce aid to the Palestinians by the amount of those payments”, which were also cited by Trump when he cut funding to the PA in 2018.

Biden will be little different from Trump who, in fact, was little different from Obama or previous presidents

The New York Times added that “Palestinian officials eager to make a fresh start … are heeding the advice of sympathetic Democrats who have repeatedly warned that without an end to the payments, it would be impossible for the new administration to do any heavy lifting on their behalf”. 

This is an important example of how Biden will be little different from Trump who, in fact, was little different from Obama or previous presidents. Biden has vowed not to move the US embassy back to Tel Aviv, nor to rescind US recognition of Israel’s illegal annexation of that city. Perhaps the only difference is that Biden may restore aid to the PA, while curtailing support to families of Palestinian prisoners – details of which are “being hammered out in Ramallah”, according to the Times.  

Security coordination

But as the “deal of the century” is predicated on the premise that the US and Palestinians must give Israel everything it wants, it remains unclear why the PA thinks the deal is no longer on the table. After all, the PA has acted in accordance with that very premise by resuming security coordination with Israel, returning its ambassadors to the Gulf states, and negotiating cuts to support for prisoners’ families – all without getting anything in return. 

The issue of financial support to Palestinian prisoners’ families is, in fact, a central feature of how the US “peace process” has always been premised on coercing Palestinians and other Arabs to join the US in legitimising Israeli colonial conquests and delegitimising any resistance to them. 

An Israeli border guard fires tear gas towards Palestinians in Bethlehem in 2017 (AFP)
An Israeli border guard fires tear gas towards Palestinians in Bethlehem in 2017 (AFP)

Since the 1993 Oslo I Accord, the PA has committed to stamping out all Palestinian resistance to Israeli colonisation of Palestinian lands, collaborating with Israel either by informing on or handing over resistors to Israeli security forces, or by having its own security agencies imprison or kill them. Why, then, Israel and the US complain, would the PA support their families?

This is to be contrasted with the fact that Israel and the US have always rewarded Israeli Jews who massacre Palestinians. A minuscule number of Israeli soldiers who kill Palestinians have ever been prosecuted, and even fewer found guilty, as has been documented by Israeli human rights groups and others. 

Israeli impunity

Last year, an Israeli soldier who fatally shot an unarmed 14-year-old Palestinian boy was sentenced to a month in military prison. The boy’s father told the New York Times: “This is unjust.” He said he feared that the soldier’s sentence would “encourage his colleagues to kill in cold blood”. 

Also last year, the Israeli army exonerated its soldiers in the killing of a Palestinian double-amputee protesting at the Gaza fence who was shot in the chest. The army said it could not ascertain that its soldiers were the ones who killed him. Another Israeli border police officer who killed yet another Palestinian teenager in 2014 was sentenced two years ago to nine months in prison, having been praised by the judge as “excellent” and “conscientious”. Biden victory means the end of an era for Netanyahu

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As for the Israeli military medic who shot dead an already injured Palestinian lying on the ground in 2016, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison, a year of probation and a demotion. His sentence was later decreased to 14 months, of which he served only nine before being released. 

These are neither aberrant nor new examples; they harken back to the establishment of Israel. Late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who expelled the Palestinian population of the city of Lydda in 1948 and devised the “break-their-bones” policy against Palestinians during the First Intifada, is celebrated in Israel and the US as a “hero” for peace. He never went to jail for his crimes.  

Nor did former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who, dressed in drag, headed a commando unit that assassinated several Palestinian leaders in their homes in Beirut in 1973. He, like Rabin, is hailed as a hero. 

In October 1956, the Israeli army committed a horrific massacre against its own Israeli-Palestinian citizens in the village of Kafr Qasim, when its soldiers shot dead 49 men, women and children coming home from their fields after a day of work, and injured dozens more.  

Despite an initial government cover-up, a trial took place and prison sentences were handed down in October 1958 to eight officers ranging from eight to 17 years. Appeals were filed, and all the sentences were reduced with all the convicted killers released by 1960, having spent their sentence in a sanatorium in Jerusalem, and not in a prison cell.

Officer Gabriel Dahan, convicted of killing 43 Palestinians, was appointed as officer responsible for Arab affairs in the city of Ramle in September 1960. The brigadier most responsible for giving the orders for the massacre, Yshishkar Shadmi, had a separate trial, and was found guilty of a “technical error” and fined one cent. 

Better deal next time?

What Biden and his friends are demanding of the PA today is precisely what Israel and Trump also demanded: namely, that it consider Israeli conquest, colonisation and occupation of Palestinian land – including the killing of Palestinians who resist (or do not resist) Israel – as heroic acts.

Since the PA did right by Israel and the US when it agreed in Oslo to quash any resistance to these Israeli heroic acts, it must continue to do so by not supporting the families of Palestinian prisoners or martyrs. 

It has always been the same deal, which is what Trump tried valiantly to impress upon the world

The goal of the PA, as envisaged by the Oslo Accords, is not only to obliterate any remaining resistance to Israel, but also to quash the Palestinian people’s will to resist their insidious coloniser once and for all. That was the essence of the US “peace process” in the 1970s and 1980s, of the Oslo deal, of former US President Bill Clinton’s Camp David offer in 2000, and of Trump’s “deal of the century“.  

It has always been the same deal, which is what Trump tried valiantly to impress upon the world. The much-awaited Biden, however, will be sure to indulge the PA. He will pretend, alongside the PA, that Palestinians will get a new and better deal next time.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Joseph Massad is Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of many books and academic and journalistic articles. His books include Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan, Desiring Arabs, The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians, and most recently Islam in Liberalism. His books and articles have been translated to a dozen languages.

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