“NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN”: ISRAEL’S DANGEROUS CHALLENGE TO AL-AQSA CUSTODIANSHIP THREATENS WORLD PEACE

JANUARY 26TH, 2023

Miko Peled

Source

The Jordanian Ambassador to the State of Israel was recently denied entry to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem – the third-holiest site in Islam. This is an incident that is so severe and so dangerous that not only the Jordanian government but the entire Arab and Muslim world – as well as the West – should have reprimanded Israel severely. The governments of Israel and Jordan decided to downplay this incident, but there must be no mistake; it marks a dangerous new development for the Holy Sanctuary, or Haram Al-Sharif, where the mosque sits. With this “incident,” Israel – and particularly the new czar of national security – the racist thug turned minister – Itamar Ben-Gvir is telling the Arab and Muslim world, “there’s a new sheriff in town.”

Preventing the Jordanian Ambassador from entering the Al-Aqsa compound was unacceptable on several levels. As a Muslim, he has the right to go and pray at the mosque at any time he pleases; as an ambassador and representative of another country, he should be afforded courtesy and respect; and as the ambassador of the state which is the custodian of the entire compound, the entire Holy Sanctuary, he is entitled to visit at any time and needs no permission from any other authority.

A SACRED SITE LIKE NO OTHER

Known in English as the Holy Sanctuary, Haram al-Sharif takes up about one-sixth of the Old City of Jerusalem or about one-half square mile. In 2022, I interviewed Dr. Yousef Natshe, one of the leading authorities on Islamic art and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The compound is composed of three levels of topography and over one hundred architectural structures, representing some of the finest examples of Islamic art and architecture. There are fifteen gates leading to the compound, four of which are currently blocked. As Dr. Natshe describes it, “it is a narrative within a narrative.”

The Haram Al-Sharif has been constantly cared for and developed by the most notable figures in Islam going back to Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, who entered Jerusalem in the seventh century, CE. “Wherever you look you see the fingerprints of an amir or a king,” all of whom added something, Dr. Natsche says.

He also added what many Palestinians – young and old – have expressed over and over again: Al-Aqsa is the last resort, the final refuge. As Palestinians lose land and rights and the ability to survive, not to mention lose their children to Israeli bullets, they look to Al-Aqsa as a place of refuge and the place they will protect with everything they’ve got. “Each Palestinian sees him or herself as the protector of Al-Aqsa,” he explained. We have seen this in recent years as settlers and soldiers storm the site and Palestinians from all walks of life stand to protect it.

The Israeli government knows this, and the current administration is challenging Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims by desecrating the Holy Sanctuary, demanding it for themselves. And while this was done slowly and gradually in the past, the current government is marching forward with no regard for the consequences. What we saw take place with the Jordanian Ambassador was the first shot in a war they are declaring on Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims everywhere.

UNACCEPTABLE ON SEVERAL LEVELS

While Israel tried to describe the incident with the Jordanian Ambassador as little more than a misunderstanding, it was nothing of the sort. Militarized and heavily armed Jerusalem police patrol the Al-Aqsa compound regularly in order to intimidate and show who is in charge. The only way to describe these police officers is “goons”; they are large, brutish, usually unshaven, easily provoked and with a dangerous propensity for violence. I have personally seen them many times, including when they are on the attack.

Based on tradition that goes back more than fifteen hundred years, and on diplomatic and legal agreements that have been signed and reaffirmed over and over in the last century, custodianship of the Holy Sanctuary today belongs to the Kingdom of Jordan. That means, in simple language, that they have the authority in the compound. The Waqf, or religious trust that governs the Holy Sanctuary, which includes Al-Aqsa mosque and all that exists within the compound, is a Jordanian institution, governed by the Kingdom of Jordan. One could perhaps compare it to an embassy, and the authority and sovereignty within the embassy belongs to the state it represents.

In the summer of 2022 I visited the Waqf, which is where I interviewed Dr. Yousef Natshe. I had to walk into the offices of the Waqf, the Islamic religious trust, and it was like entering an office within Jordan. For reasons beyond understanding, I had to negotiate with Israeli police about the right to enter the office, which for all legal purposes is under the sovereignty of the Jordanian government and not the Israeli police.

GRAVE CONCERN

If there is anyone watching the developments surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa compound who is not gravely concerned, then they need to wake up. Claims made by Zionists to Al-Aqsa would be equivalent to someone demanding the Vatican – which was built much later than Al-Aqsa – be removed because before it was built there was a temple for some other deity and they have the right to build their own temple again. If someone was mad enough to make such claims, they would be laughed at, and rightly so.

It is probably not possible for someone who is not a Muslim or at least close enough to Islam to comprehend the importance, the significance and the awe surrounding Al-Aqsa. It is equally not possible therefore to comprehend the danger in what Israel is doing. Israel and its current zealot-led government are fully aware that they are placing not only Jerusalem, not only Palestine, not even only the entire Middle East but the entire world on the edge of an unpredictable catastrophe.

It is time for the international community to step in. It is time for Americans to prepare for the possibility that the Sixth Fleet – which controls the Mediterranean region – be mobilized to rescue Palestinians. The longer the world waits, the more Palestinians die and the closer we get to what will surely be an unimaginable loss.

Leaked files: How Britain trains Jordan to spy on its citizens

January 24 2023

The British government covertly trained Jordanian security services in techniques known as “digital media exploitation” which has been used to monitor, manipulate, and disrupt dissent in the kingdom.

Source: The Cradle

Photo Credit: The Cradle

ByKit Klarenberg

By Al Mayadeen English 

Leaked documents reviewed by The Cradle reveal that Britain secretly trained Jordanian security services in techniques used by the notorious UK security and cyber agency GCHQ, which provides signals intelligence to the British government and its armed forces.

Over three intensive, week-long, Foreign Office-funded training sessions conducted between June 2019 and March 2020, members of the Public Security Directorate’s shadowy Special Branch, handpicked by the British Embassy in Amman, were taught the finer points of “digital media exploitation.”

In theory, the purpose of the exercise was to assist “evidence gathering agencies in Jordan to effectively extract data from digital devices” to enhance their investigative capabilities, and improve the standard of prosecutions, particularly in the field of terrorism.

This would in turn enable enhanced sharing of evidence between Amman and London, “and lead to increased operational cooperation.”

Tried and tested tactics

As readers of The Cradle will well-know by this point, the officially stated noble objectives of Whitehall’s assorted security support and reform programs in West Asia may not align with the underlying reality of these efforts.

For example, this outlet has previously revealed how British operatives and technology are placed in Lebanon’s intelligence services under the guise of teaching them how to use digital forensic tools. This allows London to closely monitor their activities – and Lebanese citizens.

Those programs are delivered by British government contractor Torchlight, a company staffed by UK military and intelligence veterans with high-level security clearances. The same company was also behind the training provided to Jordan’s Special Branch.

According to its submissions to the Foreign Office, based on a “comprehensive on-site visit” in 2018, the Directorate’s operatives were already “satisfactorily equipped in terms of hardware and software” to conduct “digital media exploitation.”

Spying on citizens

However, Torchlight felt that they were not “adequately trained to fully exploit the potential of the equipment they possess.” Given the resources available to the Directorate, this “potential” could be highly concerning.

For example, Torchlight has noted that Special Branch uses Cellebrite’s suite of digital intelligence products. Cellebrite, an Israeli company with clients including multiple repressive governments, produces technology capable of breaking into encrypted devices and extracting and analyzing all data within it.

While the firm has helped solve murky murder cases, overwhelmingly it is deployed to monitor the activities of human rights activists, journalists and dissidents.

The professional backgrounds of Torchlight staffers involved in the Jordanian training project raise additional concerns. It was led by the company’s Head of Digital Intelligence, Andy Tremlett, a cyber and electronic warfare specialist who spent over a decade in senior positions at GCHQ.

Along the way, he was “charged with the provision of support to the most specialized and discreet areas” of British Special Forces operations, and responsible for expanding the agency’s “overseas footprint” and “potential delivery platform.” These positions granted him “vast experience in how to use and exploit digital material,” and integrating different forms of intelligence in broader espionage operations.

‘Destroy, deny, degrade and disrupt’

Further details of Tremlett’s ability to “exploit” the private data of targets aren’t offered, although he is said to have “spent a significant portion of his career within the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG).” The existence of this unit was exposed by US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2014, and the details of its operations are truly shocking.

JTRIG’s explicit mission is to employ a variety of dirty tricks to “destroy, deny, degrade and disrupt” enemies and “discrediting” them, by planting “negative information” about them online, and manipulating discussions on internet forums and social networks.

leaked presentation on JTRIG’s covert activities shows this harassment extends to changing an individual’s social media profile pictures to take their paranoia “to a whole new level” or simply deleting their online presence, writing anonymous blog posts “purporting to be [by] one of their victims” to damage their reputations, emailing and texting their work colleagues, neighbors and friends, and arranging “honey trap” stings.

“A great option. Very successful when it works,” the presentation states in regard to the latter strategy. “Get someone to go somewhere on the internet, or a physical location to be met by a ‘friendly face.’ JTRIG has the ability to ‘shape’ the environment on occasions.”

Writing incriminating blog posts was said to have “worked on a number of different ops,” with “Iran work” cited as a particularly effective example, although this is not expanded upon. Elsewhere, it is disclosed that JTRIG “significantly” disrupted the Taliban’s communications network by bombarding them with phone calls, texts and faxes “every 10 seconds or so.”

Evidently, it was not digital forensics with which Torchlight’s training modules were primarily concerned. In fact, JTRIG operations related to “digital media exploitation” were, per the leaked presentation, primarily concerned with placing information on “compromised” electronic devices, including “damning information, where appropriate.”

Protecting the British-installed monarchy

In Jordan, criticism of King Abdullah II – a member of the Hashemite dynasty installed on thrones across West Asia by the British following World War I, and himself a British Army veteran – and government officials and institutions is a very serious crime.

Journalists are routinely subject to harassment, arrest and prosecution by authorities for even mildly critical reporting or social media posts. And protests over rising hardship among the general population are becoming more frequent.

The prospect of Amman’s secret police being proficient in JTRIG’s malicious methods is therefore disturbing by definition. The ease with which they could be abused to ruin the lives of objectors, and/or jail them on bogus charges, is clear.

Britain’s willingness to export these techniques to Jordan is not surprising. The strict and widely criticized Cybercrime Law, which restricts freedom of expression online and citizens’ right to privacy, makes the country a perfect staging ground for London’s nefarious activities elsewhere in West Asia, and helps keep their presence and intentions secret.

For example, from the early days of the Syrian crisis, Britain operated a site located 45 minutes from Amman where fighters in the proxy war were trained. Leaked files related to the project predicted that some of these individuals would go on to join Al-Nusra and ISIS and that equipment would be stolen and used by them.

Despite this, the Foreign Office was unconcerned about these prospects, likely because there was little risk that they, or the training program more generally, would ever be publicly exposed.

By Kit Klaernberg

US and Israel ‘biggest threats to security’ across Arab world: Arab Opinion Index

An overwhelming majority of Arab citizens say they oppose normalization with Israel, believing instead that the Palestinian cause concerns the entire region

January 20 2023

(Photo credit: AP)

ByNews Desk- 

The US and Israel have been named the “biggest threats” to the security of the Arab world by citizens from across West Asia and North Africa, according to the 2022 Arab Opinion Index released on 19 January by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies.

When presented with a list of countries and asked which poses the biggest threat to the Arab world, 84 percent of respondents said Israel, while 78 percent said the US.

Tied for third place are Iran and Russia, as 57 percent of respondents considered the two sanctioned nations the biggest threat to regional security. Meanwhile, 53 percent of citizens named France as a significant threat.

Turkiye and China were the only countries with positive results for their policies in the Arab world.

“There is a general sense of American hypocrisy on [West Asia] policy,” said Dana El Kurd, a professor at the University of Richmond, at a press briefing following the release of the findings.

Respondents, in particular, had a somber outlook on US policy on Palestine, as only 11 percent said they approved of Washington’s positions. On the other hand, 31 percent of respondents said they approved of Iran’s policies towards Palestine.

The poll also shows that 76 percent of respondents agreed that the Palestinian cause concerns all Arabs, not just Palestinians. An overwhelming majority (84 percent) said they would not support the normalization of ties with Israel.

This is true even in nations that have already normalized ties with Tel Aviv, like Jordan, Sudan, and Morocco, highlighting a clear divide between the interest of citizens and their leaders.

Even in Saudi Arabia, which Israel has considered the most crucial target for normalization, only five percent of respondents said they would favor such a deal.

When asked why they oppose normalization, respondents cited the over 70-year-long Israeli occupation of Palestine and the establishment of an apartheid state to persecute Palestinians as the main reason.

The Arab Opinion Index poll comprises in-person interviews with 33,000 respondents across 14 Arab countries. According to the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, interviews with Saudi citizens took place over the phone.

Countries polled included Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Tunisia.

What prompted the urgent, secretive summit in Abu Dhabi?

January 20 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Key Arab heads of state convened this week for an emergency meeting that excluded the Saudis and Kuwaitis. The likely hot topics under discussion were Egypt’s economic collapse and Israel’s aggressive escalations.

By Abdel Bari Atwan

On 18 January, the United Arab Emirates hastily arranged a consultative summit in Abu Dhabi, which included the leaders of four member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Heads of state of the Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE attended the urgent summit, along with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

The absence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and either Kuwaiti Emir Nawaf al-Ahmad or his Crown Prince Mishaal al-Ahmad was noted with some surprise. No official statements or press leaks have yet emerged to explain the omission of the two GCC leaders or their high-level representatives from the urgent consultations.

This surprise summit came on the heels of a tripartite meeting in Cairo on 17 January, which included President Sisi, King Abdullah, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Directly afterward, the Jordanian monarch flew to Abu Dhabi carrying a message for Emirati Emir Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) that prompted him to immediately convene a summit the next day.

What was so urgent to necessitate an emergency meeting of Arab leaders? Why did the top Saudi and Kuwait leaders give the  summit a miss? There are several possibilities behind this swift convening of key Arab leaders in Abu Dhabi.

First, is the rapid deterioration of Egypt’s economy after the decline of the Egyptian pound to its lowest levels in history (32 pounds to the US dollar). Spiraling inflation rates, harsh conditions imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – most notably the floating of the national currency and a heavy reduction of private contracting and trade companies affiliated with the Egyptian army – have added sharply to the economy’s downward turn.

There are reports that the IMF has asked GCC countries to provide $40 billion in immediate aid to Egypt, otherwise the state’s collapse is imminent and inevitable.

Second, are the dangerous policies currently under consideration by the right-wing government of Israel’s new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These include, most notably, threats to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the practical abolition of Jordan’s Hashemite Custodianship over Jerusalem, the illegal annexation of the West Bank, and the deportation of hundreds of thousands of its Palestinian residents to Jordan.

Third, former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, warned his neighbors a few days ago on Twitter of an imminent US-Israeli aggression against Iran that could fundamentally shake the security and stability of the Gulf.

The risk of economic collapse facing Egypt was perhaps the most important and urgent factor on the summit agenda. Financial assistance from the Gulf – once a reliable source of emergency aid – has completely stopped. Even if it continues, funds will no longer arrive in the form of non-refundable grants and unconditional deposits, as in years past.

That approach to funding has changed as Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed bin Jadaan made clear in his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on 18 January. In previous statements, Egypt’s President Sisi has confirmed his country’s financial woes by revealing that Gulf states have stopped their aid completely.

The absence of the Emir of Kuwait from the consultative summit may be understandable in this context – if, in fact, Egypt’s economy was the top of the summit’s agenda. The Kuwaiti National Assembly (parliament) has adopted a decision to prevent his government from providing a single dollar in aid to Egypt.

Gulf states have provided Egypt with $92 billion since the ‘Arab Uprisings’ began to tear through the region in January 2011.

Currently, Kuwait’s own internal governmental crisis, in addition to the deterioration of its relationship with Cairo over its deportation of Egyptian workers, can explain the emir’s absence. What is not understood so far, is why Saudi’s MbS was a no-show in Abu Dhabi.

While Emirati leader MbZ’s warm and friendly reception of his Qatari counterpart Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani raised hopes of easing bilateral tensions, news leaks suggested that Saudi-Emirati relations are in their own state of crisis – based on growing differences over the Yemeni war and other regional issues. Perhaps this crisis is what led to a thaw in Qatari-Emirati relations.

In addition, Egyptian-Saudi relations have collapsed to an state unprecedented for years. A report last month by US media outlet Axios revealed that Egyptian authorities have halted practical procedures in their transfer of the strategic Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi sovereignty. Egyptian official media has also launched a fierce attack on the Saudi-owned “MBC Egypt” channel and its presenter Amr Adib, accusing him of working for the Saudis amid fears the station will stop broadcasting from Egypt.

Besides the economic aspects, the differences, squabbles, and fluctuating relations between the countries of this axis, there are other issues of significant gravity that may have been addressed at the Abu Dhabi summit.

A key topic may have been the ambitions of Netanyahu’s unprecedentedly right-wing Israeli government – notably its prevention of Jordan’s ambassador from visiting Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, as a first step to abolish the Hashemite Custodianship over the ancient city.

While the failure to invite Palestinian President Abbas to the Abu Dhabi summit (there is an Emirati veto against it) may suggest otherwise, Jordan – currently under US and Israeli pressure to participate in the second Negev summit in Morocco – and its monarch may have pressed this issue in Abu Dhabi.

Gulf states that have normalized relations or opened communications with Israel would have been asked to use their influence to de-escalate these pressures. The ramifications of continued Israeli aggressions in Jerusalem and the West Bank are a direct threat to Jordan’s security and stability.

Interestingly, all the states represented at the Abu Dhabi summit – with the exception of the Sultanate of Oman and Qatar – have signed normalization agreements with Israel. The absent Saudis and Kuwaitis, have notably not yet joined that club.

Details of the Abu Dhabi emergency summit of heads of states have not yet emerged, but the days ahead could provide some answers. Will billions flow to Egypt to extract the country from its financial crisis? Or will the Arab House remain the same? We will have to wait to see.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

واشنطن تحشد ضد التطبيع مع دمشق | أنقرة: مستعدون للانسحاب

الخميس 19 كانون الثاني 2023

علاء حلبي  

سربت أنقرة تصريحات تفيد بموافقتها على الانسحاب من سوريا جزئياً أو كلّياً وفق جدول زمني محددّ (أ ف ب)

على رغم العقبات الكثيرة التي تعترض طريق التطبيع السوري – التركي، تشير المعطيات المتوافرة كافة إلى أن أنقرة متمسّكة بهذا المسار، وهو ما أنبأ به مثلاً تسريبها حديثاً لأحد مسؤوليها عن استعدادها للانسحاب الكلّي أو الجزئي من الشمال السوري. ولعلّ ذلك التمسّك يفسّر جانباً من «الهَبّة» الأميركية، متعدّدة الأشكال والمستويات، لعرقلة عملية الانفتاح على دمشق، بدءاً من محاولة حشْد المعسكر الغربي بأكمله ضدّها، مروراً بالاشتغال على الربط الاقتصادي بين مناطق سيطرة «الإدارة الذاتية» وتلك الخاضعة لسلطة أنقرة، وليس انتهاءً بالعمل على تهشيم «الائتلاف» ومحاولة استنبات تشكيلات معارضة بديلة

مقالات مرتبطة

قُبيل زيارة وزير الخارجية التركي، مولود تشاووش أوغلو، لواشنطن، ولقائه نظيره الأميركي، أنتوني بلينكن، عقد ممثّلو دول الاتحاد الأوروبي اجتماعاً في العاصمة البلجيكية بروكسل، بدعوة من المبعوثة الأوروبية لمنطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا، هيلين لوكال، لمناقشة الأوضاع في سوريا، ليخلص الاجتماع إلى تأكيد استمرار موقف الاتحاد الأوروبي القائم، والمتمثّل في رفْض أيّ خطوات تطبيعية مع دمشق، ورفْض رفْع العقوبات عن الأخيرة، كما ورفْض إعادة الإعمار، الأمر الذي يتماشى مع حملة التصعيد التي تقودها واشنطن في الملفّ السوري هذه الأيّام. كذلك، سارعت الولايات المتحدة، التي لمست رفضاً قاطعاً من أنقرة لخطّتها القديمة – الجديدة للربط بين مناطق «الإدارة الذاتية» التي تقودها «قوات سوريا الديموقراطية» الكردية (قسد) والشمال السوري الذي تسيطر عليه تركيا، كبديل للانعطافة التركية نحو دمشق، إلى الإعلان عن اجتماع تشاوري في جنيف لممثّلي الدول التي تماثلها في مواقفها من الأزمة السورية، في إشارة إلى التحالف السياسي الذي تقوده ضدّ روسيا، حيث تربط واشنطن بين ملفَّي سوريا وأوكرانيا، وتَعتبر أيّ تقدّم في الملفّ السوري نجاحاً لموسكو، وفق مصادر سورية معارضة، تحدّثت إلى «الأخبار».

المصادر ذكرت أن جدول أعمال اللقاء لم يتبلور حتى الآن، غير أن المؤكد أنه سيستمرّ ليومَين: اليوم الأوّل (يُتوقّع أن يكون الإثنين القادم) يناقش فيه المجتمعون الخطوات الموحّدة التي يمكن اتّباعها لمنع أو تخفيف أيّ آثار للانعطافة التركية، وإعادة تقييم قانون العقوبات الأميركية على سوريا، ومدى إمكانية تنفيذ بنود منه ضدّ الدول التي انفتحت أو تسير نحو الانفتاح على دمشق، على أن يُعقد في اليوم التالي اجتماع مع الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة، أنطونيو غوتيريش.

استبَقت واشنطن زيارة أوغلو بجولة لمنسّق البيت الأبيض للشؤون الأمنية للشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا شملت الأردن والعراق


واستبَقت واشنطن زيارة وزير الخارجية التركي بجولة قام بها منسّق البيت الأبيض للشؤون الأمنية للشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا، بريت ماكغورك، شملت الأردن والعراق، حيث ناقش المسؤول الأميركي ملفّات عدّة من بينها الموضوع السوري. وبحسب مصادر كردية تحدّثت إلى «الأخبار»، فإن ماكغروك ناقش مع أربيل سُبل التنشيط الاقتصادي لمناطق «الإدارة الذاتية»، والاستفادة من استثناءات قانون عقوبات «قيصر»، والتي تشمل مناطق «الذاتية» وأخرى تسيطر عليها تركيا في الشمال السوري باستثناء إدلب وعفرين. في المقابل، أشار أوغلو، قبل انطلاقه إلى واشنطن، إلى أن الملفّ السوري سيحتلّ حيّزاً رئيساً من مباحثاته هناك، مضيفاً أن ملفّ طائرات «F16» سيكون حاضراً أيضاً، علماً أن الولايات المتحدة استثمرت هذا الملفّ مرّات عدّة للضغط على تركيا، بعد إخراجها إيّاها من مشروع تطوير طائرات «F35» إثر شراء الأخيرة منظومة «S400» الدفاعية الروسية.

وبالإضافة إلى الحراك السياسي والميداني (عبر إعادة نشْر القوّات الأميركية وتوسيع رقعة تمركزها، ومحاولة إحياء فصائل عربية تابعة لها في مناطق نفوذ «قسد»)، أعلنت الخارجية الأميركية ضخّ 15 مليون دولار لدعم ما سمّته «مكافحة التضليل، وتوسيع بثّ وسائل الإعلام المستقلّة، وتعزيز مبادئ حقوق الإنسان». ويتوافق ذلك مع التحرّكات الأميركية الأخيرة لخلق معارضة سورية بديلة لـ«الائتلاف» تنشط من نيويورك، تمهيداً لسحب البساط من تحت أنقرة، وإنهاء «الائتلاف» الذي يمثّل واجهة سياسية للمعارضة تتحكّم بها تركيا، علماً أن حملة كبيرة بدأت تَظهر بالفعل عبر وسائل الإعلام ومواقع التواصل الاجتماعي ضدّ هذا التشكيل. وفي المقابل، وفي تصريحات يبدو أنها تهدف إلى الضغط على واشنطن، سرّبت أنقرة إلى وسائل إعلام تركية تصريحات لمسؤول تركي كبير لم تُسمّه، أعلن خلالها موافقة بلاده على الانسحاب من سوريا جزئياً أو كلّياً وفق جدول زمني محدَّد، في ردّ مباشر على مطالب دمشق. كذلك ذكر المسؤول التركي أن بلاده متّفقة مع الجانب السوري على عدم وجود أيّ خطوط حمراء لا تمكن مناقشتها، الأمر الذي يعني إصراراً تركياً على الانفتاح على دمشق، خصوصاً بعد الزيارة التي أجراها وزير الخارجية الإيراني، حسين عبد اللهيان، لأنقرة قادماً من سوريا، وإعلانه دعم بلاده هذا الانفتاح، واستعدادها للانضمام إليه وتحويله إلى لقاءات رباعية تضمّ روسيا وإيران وتركيا وسوريا، وفق «مسار أستانا» الذي تحدّث عن إمكانية تعديله وتحديثه أيضاً. بدورها، أكدت موسكو مضيّها في تقريب وجهات النظر بين أنقرة ودمشق، حيث أعلن وزير الخارجية الروسي، سيرغي لافروف، استمرار العمل لإجراء لقاء على مستوى وزيرَي خارجية سوريا وتركيا، مرحّباً في الوقت ذاته بالمسار التركي للحلّ في سوريا.

ميدانياً، تابعت «هيئة تحرير الشام» (جبهة النصرة) هجماتها التصعيدية لتسخين جبهات القتال، عن طريق إرسال «إنغماسيين» إلى محاور «خفض التصعيد» في إدلب. وأفادت مصادر ميدانية بأن هجوماً جديداً شنّه عدد من «الجهاديين» على محور قرية معرة موخص في ريف إدلب الجنوبي، ردّ عليه الجيش السوري بقصف مكثّف على مواقع المسلحين، الأمر الذي أدّى إلى مقتل عدد منهم، عُرف منهم «أبو عبيدة النعماني» و«أبو جهاد الحلبي»، وهما من فصيل «أنصار التوحيد».

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Report: Israel Outraged by ‘Irresponsible’ Visit of Western Envoys to Al-Aqsa Mosque

January 18, 2023

A large delegation of foreign diplomats visits Al-Aqsa Mosque. (Photo: via QNN)

Israel is angry that envoys from the European Union and other Western countries visited Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque last Wednesday, Israel Hayom reported on Sunday.

According to the Israeli newspaper, the delegation, which included around 30 diplomats from EU countries, Canada, Australia, and Argentina, did not coordinate with the occupation authorities.

Instead, it was reported, they coordinated with the Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem, which is the religious administrative body covering the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa.

“We joined like-minded diplomats at Al-Aqsa Mosque to demonstrate support for Jordanian custodianship of Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem,” tweeted the British Consulate in the holy city.

“We continue to promote historic status quo arrangements which permit all three Abrahamic faiths to worship in the Old City.”

The Israeli newspaper cited a spokesperson of the Israeli Foreign Ministry expressing outrage. ”

This visit was irresponsible and could have led to provocation and incitement,” he reportedly said.

“The foreign ministry will continue to engage via diplomatic channels in order to prevent steps that could lead to escalation and has made it clear to the EU that it does not take it lightly.”

(MEMO, PC, SOCIAL)

Europe is looking for a role and influence

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Jordan hosts leaders from across West Asia for French-organized summit

The Iranian foreign minister met with the EU foreign policy chief ahead of the summit to discuss the inert JCPOA-revival talks

December 20 2022

(Photo credit: AFP)

ByNews Desk

Senior officials from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, and the EU launched the second Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership in the Jordanian capital Amman on 20 December.

Organized by France and Iraq, the summit stated aim is to “provide a forum for discussing the region’s problems.”

Ahead of the conference’s start, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani held a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and nuclear talks coordinator Enrique Mora to discuss the dormant process to revive the Iran nuclear deal.

Following the meeting, Borrell said in a tweet that he urged the Iranian diplomats to “immediately halt military support for Russia and internal repression.”

“Stressed need to immediately stop military support to Russia and internal repression in Iran. Agreed we must keep communication open and restore JCPOA on basis of Vienna negotiations,” the EU official said.

For his part, the Iranian foreign minister condemned western countries for supporting “rioters” and imposing illegal unilateral sanctions against Iran under the pretext of protecting human rights.

Amir-Abdollahian also voiced readiness to resolve any misunderstanding in direct negotiations with Ukraine, and called on the remaining JCPOA signatories to avoid politicizing the talks further and to adopt a “constructive and realistic approach to make necessary decisions for an agreement.”

Talks to restore the 2015 nuclear deal have been at a stalemate since September, when anti-government protests took hold in Iran. At the time, western nations accused the Islamic Republic of raising “unreasonable demands” in relation to a UN investigation into Iranian nuclear sites.

In the days leading up to the summit, reports spoke about a new possible meeting between Iranian and Saudi officials. However, there has been no official word on whether Amir-Abdollahian will meet with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud.

Since 2021, Iraq has hosted five meetings between Saudi and Iranian officials, the last of which was in April, but these contacts have not yielded any breakthroughs in relations.

Another notable leader attending the summit is French President Emmanuel Macron, who analysts believe is using the opportunity to keep a strong presence in West Asia, where western influence continues to wane.

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King of Jordan vows to punish protesters 

Jordanians have been taking to the streets of the kingdom to protest the government’s decision to hike fuel prices for the 16th time in two years.

December 17 2022

FILE (Photo credit: Getty Images)

ByNews Desk

Jordanian King Abdullah II bin al-Hussein, visited on 16 December the hometown of police colonel Abdul-Razzaq Abdul-Hafez al-Dalabeh, who was murdered during violent protests that have swept several cities in the kingdom.

While wearing military attire, the king offered his condolences to the family, and promised to strike the “enemies of stability” with an iron fist.

Abdullah added that security forces will deal severely with anyone who raises arms against the state or attacks its property and personnel, vowing to not rest until the murderers of Dalabeh were brought to justice.

“We will not accept insults or assault against members of our security services who are vigilant about protecting our homeland and its citizens,” the king added.

Abdullah added that vandalism will not be tolerated, and will be dealt with as a serious violation of the security of the kingdom, during an address to tribal elders.

In light of these developments, the police directorate issued a statement about its ongoing investigations and stated they “will not stop until the perpetrators are arrested to be handed a deterrent punishment.”

The punishment intends to set an example to any Jordanian who would plan or consider similar attacks on the state and its personnel.

According to the Director of Public Security Major General Obaidullah al-Maaytah, about 49 Jordanian police members were injured during the protests.

Maaytah assumed the role of the director of public security in September, to tackle the growing gap in the relationship between the Jordanian throne and the tribes.

According authorities, at least 44 protesters were arrested for “participating in the riots in a number of regions in the kingdom.”

The statement added they “will be brought before the courts” to be punished to to the fullest extent permitted by law.

Two weeks ago, the transportation sector in Jordan announced a nationwide strike to protest the government’s decision to hike fuel prices for the 16th time in two years.

With the government’s failure to implement effective reforms that would protect lorry and taxi drivers, the strikes expanded to include everyday citizens who took the streets to express their discontent.

Jordanians called on the government to resign for its failure in safeguarding their livelihood.

Their call was supported by 17 parliamentarians who asked for the resignation of Bishr al-Khasawneh’s government, through a vote of no confidence at the parliament.

Nonetheless, the Minister of Interior Mazen Faraya applauded the government’s actions for handling the situation “wisely and with accountability.”

He added that all just demands will be addressed, but stressed on the upmost need to end the strike at vital sectors in the kingdom, to mitigate repercussions on the economy.

Jordan: Protests against high fuel prices

US NON-PROFIT-FUNDED ISRAELI EXTREMISTS POSE IMMEDIATE THREAT TO AL-AQSA MOSQUE AND REGIONAL STABILITY

DECEMBER 7TH, 2022

Source

Robert Inlakesh

As the Religious Zionist Party forms part of Israel’s new government, fears arise of tensions over the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound leading to a new regional escalation. Israeli settler provocations at Jerusalem’s holy sites have a long history of causing civil unrest that runs counter to Washington’s foreign policy goals, which is why U.S.-based non-profits that finance Israeli extremists are all the more outrageous.

With far-right Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir pledging to fight for unfettered access to Al-Aqsa Mosque for extremist settlers, the conditions that could lead to an explosion of violence throughout occupied Palestine – and even regionally – are ripe. In May 2021, Israeli settler incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, combined with routine attacks on worshipers by Israeli police, caused a war to break out between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Once on the fringes of Israeli society, the extremist Temple Mount and Eretz Yisrael Faithful Movement have now entered the mainstream, with a leader of the second most powerful Israeli political party on their side. The temple mount group openly states on its website its intentions of destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as we know it today and building the Jewish “Third Temple” in its place – a virtual declaration of war against the Muslim world.

Although the extremist settlers who routinely storm the mosque are not necessarily close to achieving their end goal, they are hoping to see the new Israeli government grant them the full right to storm at will and perform religious rituals in Al-Aqsa. Such provocations could spark a round of tensions inside the Old City of Jerusalem and its surroundings, leading to a situation that the Secretary General of Lebanese Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, has vowed to challenge using a united resistance front, formed of a number of regional actors, including Yemen’s Ansar Allah.

THE ORIGINS OF THE AL-AQSA MOSQUE TENSIONS

Since the early days of the British Mandate period in Palestine, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and its surroundings have been central to both the Palestinian national struggle and to creating the grounds for greater conflict between Zionists and Palestinians.

The Zionist movement’s attempts to take over the Western (Wailing) Wall – attached to the outer walls of the Al-Aqsa site, have sparked a number of riots and clashes, culminating in the bloody 1929 al-Khalil (Hebron) uprising.

During the Ottoman Rule of Palestine, Chaim Weizmann, then head of the Zionist Organization, saw the Western Wall site as a prize to attain, initially in order to bring ultra-orthodox Jews into the Zionist camp. He attempted to purchase the site from the Islamic religious trust known as the Waqf. In Tom Segev’s book, “One Palestine, Complete,” he cites a letter written by Weizmann to his wife, where he described, “the minarets and the bell-towers and the domes rising to the sky are crying out that Jerusalem is not Jewish,” clearly indicating a need to change the city’s character.

According to Yehoshua Porath’s book, “The Emergence of the Palestinian-Arab National Movement 1918-1929”, during tensions between Zionists and Palestinians in 1920s Jerusalem, the precedent was already set for Muslim fears over any change in the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites. Porath writes that the Palestinians understood Zionist attempts to change the status quo at the Western Wall site as a gradual attempt to take over the Haram al-Sharif (otherwise known as the Dome of the Rocks mosque), located in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

In reaction to Zionist attempts to attain more control in the Old City, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, created a large campaign to both refurbish the site and to signal to Muslims that the Al-Aqsa Mosque was under attack. This campaign ended up increasing the importance of the third-holiest site in the Islamic faith and in the Palestinian national struggle, combining the religious significance of al-Aqsa with the Palestinian fight for national liberation. The fact that Judaization attempts were being made by leaders of the Zionist movement, pre-dating the British Mandate rule itself, remains stored in the Palestinian collective consciousness until this day.

AL-AQSA UNDER THE LAW

The position that is maintained by the United Nations, despite Israel having passed its own legislation to annex Jerusalem in 1980, is that under international law, the territory is considered to be occupied. The international community “rejects the acquisition of territory by war and considers any changes on the ground illegal and invalid”, is the way the issue of Israel’s claims to sovereignty over the city it viewed by the UN. In addition to this, the status quo, as per Israel’s agreement with Jordan, is that the Jordanian Waqf has the right to maintain security inside the Al-Aqsa compound, whilst Israeli forces have the right to manage security on the Holy Site’s exterior.

Despite attempts to change it, Israeli law states that performing acts of religious worship inside the site is forbidden for Israeli Jewish citizens. Jewish Israelis are allowed to enter as tourists, as is the case for non-Muslim international travelers to the site. However, the Israeli police that operate security checks surrounding Al-Aqsa clearly do not abide by this precedent.

Israel has no right, under international law, to any of Jerusalem. One way that Tel Aviv could have been granted legitimacy in Jerusalem was through a potential peace deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), with no such deal having yet taken place. Between 1993 and 1995, both Israel and the PLO signed what was known as the Oslo Accords. Oslo gave birth to a semi-autonomous Palestinian governing body – the Palestinian Authority – in some limited areas of the West Bank and Gaza. The series of agreements between the PLO and the Israeli government was supposed to lead to a process by which a Palestinian State could be created.

Israel Palestinians
Palestinian youth are handcuffed after protesting Israelis stroming Al-Aqsa Mosque, April 15, 2022. Ariel Schalit | AP

Although Israeli negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA), currently based out of the city of Ramallah, never resulted in a peace deal, the PA had only ever claimed for their state to include East Jerusalem. Under international law, without a viable Palestinian state – one that has its capital in East Jerusalem, Israel has no legal right to any part of the city.

Despite this, in 2000, then-Israeli opposition leader, Ariel Sharon, stormed the Al-Aqsa compound, causing a mass Palestinian revolt. Sharon’s move followed a march that had just taken place to commemorate the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres of around 3,500 Palestinians and Lebanese civilians – massacres that Sharon played a central role in facilitating.

For Palestinians, it was the act of an Israeli politician storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque site that served as the straw that broke the camel’s back. The uprising across the Occupied Territories known as the Second Intifada began in September 2000 and continued officially until 2005.

ISRAEL’S GROWING ENCROACHMENT ON AL-AQSA

Over the past two years, the Israeli assaults on Palestinian worshipers inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound have been extremely pronounced, especially during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Israeli riot police have repeatedly stormed the site, injuring hundreds of Palestinians and even killing a young man earlier this year. The war between Gaza and Israel in 2021 began as a result of tensions surrounding Al-Aqsa and the threat of an Israeli settler “death to Arabs” march penetrating the compound’s walls.

Leading up to the 2021 conflict, Israeli police had restricted access to the site for prayer during the month of Ramadan and even closed off the minarets at Al-Aqsa to prevent the call to prayer. In 2019, the Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Leon, pushed to install quiet speakers at the Mosque site, which indicates that the action performed by the Israeli police was likely not arbitrary and fits into a trend of extinguishing the Islamic presence in the city.

Going further back, in 2010, an Israeli terrorist attempted to detonate explosives in order to blow up the Al-Qibli Mosque inside the Al-Aqsa compound. This attack was followed by continued attempts by settlers to invade the area. 2015 however, was when the provocations began to take off in an unprecedented manner, with the number of Israeli settlers choosing to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque steadily increasing since that time.

According to Yaraeh – an organization that promotes settler incursions into Al-Aqsa – from August to October 2021, approximately 10,000 Israeli settlers entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, representing a 35% increase from previous years. This October, Yaraeh proudly announced that almost 8,000 settlers stormed the site in one month – the highest on record and more than in the entirety of 2012

In 2021, Hagit Ofran, the director of Peace Now’s Settlement Watchdog, told +972 Magazine that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had been responsible for tensions at the al-Aqsa site, “so much so that it was the reason Netanyahu was no longer in touch with Jordan’s King Abdullah II”. Since the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel and Jordan have been bound by an agreement that maintains the “status quo” at the site, which involves Tel Aviv respecting the Hashemite King of Jordan’s symbolic custodianship over Al-Aqsa.

With Netanyahu returning to power, the Jordanian element to this story is particularly important. Netanyahu is backed by fanatical Israeli lawmakers who would like to see Palestinian citizens of Israel expelled from the country altogether. Although Jordan’s King Abdullah II is not likely to abandon his nation’s 1994 peace treaty with Tel Aviv, it is clear that during the Trump administration years, the Hashemite ruler had been isolated after taking a stance against the Netanyahu-Trump “Deal of the Century” model to end the Palestine-Israeli conflict. There are even reports that Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was involved in attempts to hatch a coup plot to overthrow the Jordanian monarch – one that was publicly quashed in April 2021. The Israeli role in the alleged U.S.-Saudi campaign to undermine Abdullah was said to have been part of an attempt to strip the Hashemites of their symbolic custodianship over Al-Aqsa.

Under the Biden administration’s combined efforts with the former Bennett-Lapid government of Israel, Amman had again grown closer to Tel Aviv and even signed a memorandum of understanding for a “water for clean energy” exchange agreement. However, with Netanyahu’s return to power and the current weakening of the Palestinian Authority, if tensions arise from the growing encroachment upon Al-Aqsa, Jordan’s ruler could again be undermined. The Jordanians and Palestinian Authority have already joined hands, sending a message to the U.S. and E.U. to demand that no change be made to the status quo at Al-Aqsa as the new Israeli government comes to power.

In addition to its plans for the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians in neighborhoods like Silwan, Israel is also demolishing Islamic burial sites in the Old City. The Israeli Supreme Court has also been complicit in rejecting appeals to prevent a cable car project in the Old City, which will economically impact local Palestinians, as well as destroy their heritage sites. Recently, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem has condemned the rising settler attacks on holy sites throughout the city, but his statements largely fell on deaf ears.

Given all the context noted above, it is fair to assume that another escalation is only around the corner and that due to the silence of the international community, the Palestinian people will be left to defend their holy sites on their own. When this happens, however, it is likely that much of the Western world, along with Israel, will act as if the Palestinians are being violent and unreasonable, and motivated purely by anti-Semitism.

U.S. FUNDING OF EXTREMIST TEMPLE MOUNT GROUPS

The Temple Mount movement, which explicitly expresses its desire to not only change the status quo at Al-Aqsa but to build the ‘third temple’ by destroying the Islamic Holy site there, is spearheaded by American-born Israelis. There has been significant financial as well as promotional support from U.S. citizens and organizations. Lately, prominent conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson have themselves entered the site in the presence of extremist Temple Mount figures. Among both Christian and Jewish Americans, the issue has been of importance for starkly different religious reasons.

The Temple Institute, the most notable of a number of organizations that advocate changing the status quo at the Al-Aqsa compound and building the Jewish third temple, was revealed by a Haaretz news investigation to have been funded by a leading U.S. donor to Benjamin Netanyahu. The Temple Institute, founded in 1987 by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, received $96,000 from the U.S.-based One Israel Fund in 2012 and 2013 alone, with a number of other American organizations also contributing donations during that time. The 2015 Haaretz report uncovered that the financing of extremist Temple Mount groups comes from a large pool of tax-exempt charitable organizations that are based in the United States, ranging from New York and California to Texas.

According to the Temple Institute’s last publicly available financial report, for the years 2019 and 2020, the organization received over $2.9 million in funding. Around half came from the Israeli government, with the other half coming from donations. To contribute funds from the United States to the Temple Institute, donors can be directed from a website called America Gives, partnered with Israel Gives, a website from which you can directly aid to the Temple Institute. American Support for Israel, U.K. Gives and Canada Charity Partners are all set up to receive donations from outside of Israel.

American-born ex-Likud Party Knesset member, Yehuda Glick is a prominent figure in the Temple Mount movement and heads the Shalom Jerusalem Foundation. On the foundation’s official website, you can find a donation campaign that hopes to attract people who seek to “see the rebuilding of the Third Temple speedily in our time”. The foundation collects money through a tax-exempt charity based in New Jersey called the Jerusalem Friendship Alliance INC and collected more than $1.8 million in total revenue between 2011 and 2020.

The above-noted means of donating from the United States to the Temple Mount movement are but only a sample of a much larger pool of charitable organizations, through which American organizations and private persons can give money to a cause that runs counter to U.S. policy. Washington supposedly supports maintaining the status quo at Al-Aqsa.

FEARING A REPEAT IBRAHIMI MOSQUE MASSACRE SCENARIO

In 1994, after years of attempts by extremists to change the status quo at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron), the settlers were finally successful. On February 25, U.S.-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein entered the Ibrahimi Mosque with an automatic weapon, opening fire on Palestinian worshipers. The horrifying terrorist attack resulted in the murder of 29 people and the injury of 125 others, in what Palestinians claimed was a settler plot with indirect support from the Israeli military.

Shortly after the attack, Israel declared the old city of Al-Khalil a closed military zone, later seizing 60% of the Ibrahimi Mosque and turning it into a synagogue closed off to Palestinians. The attack was a resounding success for the Israeli terrorist, who had achieved his goal of making Palestinians pay for falling victim to his actions, and making the life of those living in the Old City miserable and subjected to constant checkpoint stops. Today, Al-Khalil’s Old City is one of the most disturbing areas to visit in all of Palestine, as settlers occupy homes that Palestinians have been expelled from, while simply visiting the Ibrahimi Mosque comes with a humiliating journey through a military checkpoint and a number of stops.

Although violent attempts to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound have not yet returned into the fold, the possibility of extremist attempts to use violence at the site is always a fear in the back of every Palestinian’s head. This fear is not unfounded, nor is it without historical precedent, as the Jewish Underground terrorist group had attempted just this back in the 1970s and 1980s; to not only blow up al-Aqsa Mosque but to detonate bombs on packed Palestinian civilian buses in East Jerusalem. Yehuda Etzion, a former member of the Jewish Underground who attempted to blow up Al-Aqsa in 1984, today still advocates building the third temple. Etzion continued to agitate, heading the Chai Vekayam movement that played a prominent role in promoting the Temple Mount movement in the early 2000s. The Jewish Underground is no longer operating, and many of its members were arrested for their violent attacks and plots. However, interestingly, the funding for this organization came primarily from within the United States.

The extremist settler, Baruch Goldstein, who was responsible for the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, was a protégé of the extremist Israeli political figure known as Meir Kahane, the founder of the infamous Kach movement, whose armed wing was the Jewish Defense League (JDL).  The Kach movement was eventually outlawed in both Israel and the United States, with the JDL being designated a terrorist group for its violent antics. Today, former members of the Kach movement and those sympathetic to its cause, such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, are now about to take cabinet positions in the new Israeli government.

Those who follow the beliefs of Meir Kahane, whose group carried out bombing attacks on U.S. soil, are called Kahanists. A 2019 Investigation conducted by The Nation revealed that a web of non-profit American organizations was financing Kahanist groups affiliated with the Religious Zionism Party, which is poised to become the second most powerful Israeli political party under the new Netanyahu administration. An Intercept report in early November then followed up on The Nation’s findings and revealed that tens of millions of dollars had been donated to Israeli far-right groups affiliated with the Religious Zionism Party. Religious Zionism openly advocates for changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa. Its most prominent figures, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, have both stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque this year.

The Biden administration has not changed Washington’s long-standing position of maintaining the status quo at al-Aqsa. However, its position of upholding “unwavering support” for Tel Aviv directly contradicts this position. The Israeli government, the recipient of $150 Billion in U.S. aid, directly finances the Temple Institute and other far-right organizations. Some of Israel’s most prominent political figures also support the idea of building the Jewish Third Temple and actively call for changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa.

Organizations that are the most prominent in promoting these ideas receive a large sum of their finances from U.S.-based tax-exempt organizations. If the U.S. government does not decide to put its foot down and make its support for Israel conditional, a major flare-up over the status of Al-Aqsa will be on its hands – an escalation that could cost Washington its relationship with Jordan and even leaderships in the wider Muslim world. The Al-Aqsa Mosque’s status is an issue that is close to the hearts of over 2 billion Muslims worldwide and attempts to destroy it will be tantamount to a declaration of Holy War, funded by tax-exempt U.S. organizations.

Jordan Warns Netanyahu Of Diplomatic Pitfalls If Al-Aqsa Status Quo Changed

Nov 08 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Jordan warned that bilateral ties with the Zionist entity will suffer if the incoming ruling coalition tries to change the holy al-Aqsa Mosque status quo.

The warning, reported by an ‘Israeli’ public broadcaster, underlined the potential diplomatic pitfalls awaiting Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu who plans to form a cabinet with far-right hardliners.

“Any attempt to change the status quo on the Temple Mount will definitely harm ties between Jordan and ‘Israel,’” the broadcaster quoted an unnamed Jordanian source, referring to al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

The source took specific aim at Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the extremist Otzma Yehudit party and a crucial partner in the ruling coalition, who has made a point of touring the site during times of increased tensions.

Ben Gvir and others in his party are longtime and well-known advocates of unlawful Jewish prayer rights at al-Aqsa Mosque. The Jordanian source warned that visits by Ben Gvir and his other “provocations” would be a whole different story if he does so as a minister.

Jordan’s ruling Hashemite family has been the sole custodian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in East al-Quds, including al-Aqsa Mosque, since 1924.

Under the mosque status quo, only Muslims are allowed to worship within the compound while non-Muslims may visit the site, but are not allowed to pray there.

Al-Quds-based Islamic Endowment [Waqf] has repeatedly denounced the tours of Zionist settlers to al-Aqsa Mosque as provocative, stressing that Palestinian worshipers and guards at the mosque feel insecure in the presence of trigger-happy ‘Israeli’ troops and settlers.

Last May, frequent acts of violence against Palestinian worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque led to an 11-day war between Palestinian resistance groups in the besieged Gaza Strip and the Zionist occupation regime, during which the ‘Israeli’ military killed at least 260 Palestinians, including 66 children.

Netanyahu who served as the Zionist regime’s prime minister from 2009 to 2021, has won elections despite standing charges of corruption and political dysfunction. Netanyahu and his right-wing allies are about to form the most extremist regime in the history of the occupation entity.

During Netanyahu’s term as prime minister, ties with Amman hit a low point.

Last year, Jordan refused to give Netanyahu permission to overfly the country for a diplomatic visit in retaliation after Jordan’s crown prince was unable to visit al-Aqsa Mosque.

القوى الأمنية قد تفقد السيطرة والحراك الشعبي سيندلع مجدداً | واشنطن: الانهيار يحرّر لبنان من حزب الله

 الثلاثاء 8 تشرين الثاني 2022

الأخبار  

حذرت مساعدة وزير الخارجية الأميركي لشؤون الشرق الأدنى، باربرا ليف، من أن لبنان مفتوح أمام كل السيناريوهات، بما فيها «تفكك كامل للدولة»، وقالت إن اللبنانيين سيضطرّون على الأرجح إلى تحمّل مزيد من الألم قبل تشكيل حكومة جديدة.

وفي لقاء نظّمه «مركز ويلسون» عن السياسة الأميركية في لبنان، الجمعة الماضي، وأداره السفير الأميركي السابق في لبنان ديفيد هيل، قالت ليف: «أرى سيناريوهات عدة، التفكك هو الأسوأ بينها… قد تفقد قوى الأمن والجيش السيطرة وتكون هناك هجرة جماعية، هناك العديد من السيناريوهات الكارثية. وفي الوقت نفسه أتخيل أن البرلمانيين أنفسهم سيحزمون حقائبهم ويسافرون إلى أوروبا، حيث ممتلكاتهم».

(هيثم الموسوي)

وأشارت إلى أنه «ليس عمل الديبلوماسيين الأجانب الذهاب إلى مجلس النواب والضغط على النواب لانتخاب رئيس. أعتقد أنه يجب أن تسوء الأمور أكثر، قبل أن يصبح هناك ضغط شعبي يشعر به النواب. نحن نضغط على القادة السياسيين ليقوموا بعملهم ولكن لا شيء يؤثر مثل الضغط الشعبي، وعاجلاً أم آجلاً، سيتحرك ذلك من جديد». ولفتت إلى أن «هناك طروحات تقول إن انهيار لبنان سيمكّن بطريقة ما إعادة بنائه من تحت الرماد، متحرّراً من اللعنة التي يمثّلها حزب الله له (…) ولكن شعب لبنان، وجيرانه الأردن وإسرائيل والشعب السوري، سيتحملون العبء الأكبر لانهيار الدولة، لذلك فإن جهودنا مركزة على تفادي هذا السيناريو، والضغط على من يحكمون البلد». واعتبرت أن «حزب الله يشكل تهديداً لنا ولجيران لبنان، وللبنانيين أنفسهم. ونحن مستمرون في فرض عقوبات وحصار شبكاته في المنطقة وغيرها».
ورأت ليف أن «لبنان بحاجة عاجلة لانتخاب رئيس وتسمية رئيس وزراء، ثم تشكيل حكومة كاملة الصلاحيات لتعمل على بعض القرارات المهمة، بينها إصلاحات جوهرية والموافقة على قروض صندوق النقد الدولي والبنك الدولي، الخاصة بتمويل صفقات الطاقة». وعن المقاربة الأميركية للوضع الحالي في لبنان، أوضحت أن «الولايات المتحدة مستعدة للعمل مع الحكومة على تمكين لبنان، ولكن يجب أن تكون هناك حكومة كاملة الصلاحيات لتقوم بمهامها المتعلقة بالإصلاح الاقتصادي».

وأكدت ليف أن بلادها والسعودية لديهما قواسم مشتركة في ما خص الوضع اللبناني. «لقد مرت علاقاتنا بفترة توتر. لكن لدينا قواسم مشتركة استراتيجية، لا سيما في البلدان الأكثر حساسية مثل لبنان واليمن». لذلك، «عملنا بشكل مكثف من أجل الإصلاحات، والفرنسيون كذلك تدخلوا… السعوديون تراجعوا ولكن أعتقد أنهم سيعودون من جديد».
وعن اتفاق ترسيم الحدود البحرية، قالت ليف إن «الاتفاق يحمي أمن إسرائيل ومصالحها الاقتصادية، ويعطي لبنان فسحة لبدء نشاط التنقيب عن موارد الطاقة، ويدعم مصالح الولايات المتحدة والشعب الأميركي وتطلعاتها لشرق أوسط مزدهر ومتكامل، مع احتمالات أقل لاندلاع نزاعات».

انهيار لبنان سيمكّن بطريقة ما من إعادة بنائه من تحت الرماد متحرّراً من حزب الله


وقالت إنه إلى جانب إصلاح القطاع المصرفي والعمل على القروض مع البنك الدولي وصندوق النقد «يجب إصلاح قطاع الكهرباء ولكن هناك مقاومة كبيرة. شحنات النفط الإيرانية التي تسمى إنقاذية، كلها تهرّب ولا تدخل إلى شبكة الطاقة». أضافت أن «هناك اعتقاداً خاطئاً بين معارضي إصلاح قطاعي المصارف والكهرباء، بأننا لسنا بحاجة إلى قرض الثلاثة مليارات دولار، بوجود الغاز الطبيعي. هذا عمل يحتاج سنوات من الاستكشاف والتنقيب ومعرفة ما الإمكانات التجارية… ليست نقوداً في المصرف».

وعما إذا كان اتفاق الترسيم يمهّد لمرحلة جديدة من التطبيع، بما يشمل لبنان؟، قالت: «إنه سؤال جيد لدرجة أني لم أستطع الإجابة عليه لنفسي. هناك شعور بأن هناك تقاطعات ولدت بين لبنان وإسرائيل. لا أدري ما هو السحر الذي أتاح ذلك؟ الأشخاص في الحكومة في لبنان أدركوا الخسارة التي ضيّعوها خلال السنوات الماضية لأنهم لم يصلوا إلى اتفاق مع إسرائيل».

مقالات ذات صلة

Shea Lies Through Her Teeth as Lebanon’s Electricity Crisis Worsens

August 30, 2022

By Mohammad Youssef

More than a year ago, US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea has given a promise to help Lebanon with power supplies from Egypt and Jordan. A year later, all those promises have proven to be utter lies.

Meanwhile, the new Iranian ambassador to Lebanon, Mojtaba Amani, has repeated his predecessor’s offer to supply Lebanon with free fuel had the Lebanese government requested this officially.

This reflects clearly who are the real friends of Lebanon during its dire crisis.

The US ambassador has never been summoned by any official at the foreign ministry to ask her about her continuous lies, nor was she criticized by any Lebanese government official.

The whole issue would cost a decision by Washington to ease the sanctions against Lebanon and lift the siege that blocks the way for receiving help from Egypt and Jordan. Washington which is veteran in sieges against people and bringing them to the brink of deprivation and famine is exercising its criminal policy now against Lebanon and the Lebanese.

This kind of suffocating blockade is reminiscent of other blockades and sieges that the US imposed against free nations in different parts of the world, namely Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Syria, among many others.

This criminal punishment by Washington has cost dear lives, in Iraq alone half-a-million child died because of this, not to mention the great suffering of the people on many levels.

At the time, no one dared to criticize and condemn America for its crimes except for an independent initiative by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who set an international tribunal in the year 2005 in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to sue the war criminals, the tribunal which was a kind of international conference for judiciary and law experts condemned war criminals namely, US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Contrary to this, Iran has extended and continues to extend a helping hand to Lebanon on many levels.

It has expressed its willingness and readiness to help Lebanon in building two power plants for electricity supplies which will be of great benefit for our country.

Time and again, the Islamic Republic of Iran has offered help to Lebanon and never given false promises. Nowadays, Iran waits for an official Lebanese answer to the new offer to supply Lebanon with free fuel oil.

The problem has been always because of the official Lebanese stance that fears Washington and its sanctions.

The kind of official conduct by the Lebanese government is shameful and lacks respect for our country and people alike. It does not reflect at all that we are a free and sovereign country, rather a pro-western nation that is dictated by Washington.

My vision and our promise, this will not continue and the majority of the Lebanese will not accept to be subordinate to Washington or any other country.

It is time for our officials to learn how to protect our dignity and independence so they would resemble their people that sacrificed lives for the sake of the country’s independence and liberation.

Reports: Jordan to Buy Water from Israel

June 23, 2022

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the US embassy in Amman, shouting slogans against normalization. (Photo: via Twitter)

Jordan is to buy water from Israel in a bid to ease shortages in the country, the Middle East Monitor reported on Thursday, citing Jordan media.

Jordanian Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammed Al-Najjar explained the government will not expropriate land on which illegal wells have been sunk.

“Many wells are located in remote areas,” Al-Najjar was quoted as saying by the Jordan News. “If they had been close to the water networks, though, we would have taken possession of them.”

Al-Najjar also noted that the water in many of those wells does not conform to the official minimum specifications. “There is no water source that we can exploit unless we have obtained permission from the Ministry of Health.”

Last November, hundreds of people gathered in Amman to protest a water-for-energy agreement between Jordan and Israel.

Protesters rejected the agreement, saying it moved towards normalizing ties with Israel while it continues to occupy Palestine.

(The Palestine Chronicle, MEMO, Social Media)

What is the EU’s alternative to Russian gas?

16 Jun, 2022 

The West is looking to the Eastern Mediterranean to replace supplies from Moscow

© Getty Images / Matthias Kulka

The European Union on Wednesday inked a deal with Egypt and Israel for shipments of liquified natural gas (LNG) to its member states. Brussels hopes the agreement will help the continent to reduce energy dependence on its major supplier, Russia. RT explores whether those expectations are realistic.

  1. What does the trilateral agreement mean?
    It is expected to increase Israel’s exportation of natural gas through pre-existing pipelines to Egyptian ports, where it can be pressurized and liquefied, before being transported to Europe by sea. Some Israeli gas is already being sent by pipeline to liquefaction plants on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, from where it is re-exported as LNG.
  2. How much gas could Israel export?
    Israel currently sends around five billion cubic meters of gas per year to Egypt. Cairo had earlier signed contracts with the country for the purchase of 64 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas over a decade. The two sides later extended the deal to 15 years, with an increased volume of supplies of up to 6.9 bcm per year.
  3. How much fuel could be rerouted to Europe?
    Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar stated earlier that it’s unlikely the country would be able to send “huge quantities,” given that most of its present capacity is committed to Egypt, Jordan and the domestic market. Officials have said it would likely take a couple of years before the exports could be significantly expanded.
  4. Is the infrastructure adequate?
    According to estimates, a significant increase in gas exports by Israel would require major long-term infrastructure investment. Moreover, Egypt’s extensive natural gas facilities on the Mediterranean have stood largely inactive since the country’s 2011 uprising.
  5. Is there any other route for Israeli gas to the EU?
    The EastMed project, a seafloor pipeline linking Israel to Greece and Italy via Cyprus, could be another option for gas supplies to the European countries. The project, which is heavily supported by the United States, is expected to deliver around 10 bcm of natural gas to the European Union through Greece and Italy. However, the EastMed is expected to meet just 10-15% of the EU’s projected natural gas needs.
  6. Could the volumes be sufficient for Europe?
    No. Europe’s total gas demand stands at 512 bcm a year. According to estimates, Israel’s supply, extracted from three offshore Mediterranean gas fields, will be nowhere near Russian capacity. Israel produces roughly 12 bcm of natural gas a year, though industry analysts say at least double that amount exists in unexploited reserves.
    Meanwhile, Egypt’s Idku and Damietta LNG plants have a total capacity of 12.2 million tons per year, which could provide around 17 bcm of natural gas. A significant boost in supplies would require the development of new large gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean area.
  7. How much gas has Russia supplied to the EU?
    In 2021, the European Union imported 155 bcm of natural gas from Russia, accounting for about 45% of its gas imports, and close to 40% of its total gas consumption. The trade bloc has faced energy difficulties since imposing sweeping sanctions on its major gas supplier.
  8. Can Europe replace its Russian gas?
    It won’t be easy and it won’t be cheap. The European Union will have to compete with Asia and other buyers for limited global supplies, and will pay higher prices – much higher. Europe relies on Russian natural gas to heat homes, cook meals, and generate electricity in most of the bloc’s 27 member states. Weaning the continent off cheap and abundant Russian gas would be a far more disruptive prospect for the region’s economy.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Jordan issues royal decree restricting Prince Hamzah’s movement and communications

King Abdullah II justified the move against his half-brother, calling him ‘irresponsible’ and accusing him of seeking to sow unrest in the kingdom

May 19 2022

(Photo credit: KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP via Getty Images)

ByNews Desk

Jordan’s King Abdullah II approved a royal decree on 19 May to “restrict the contacts, residence, and movements” of his half-brother, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, who was accused last year of orchestrating an alleged sedition case that shook the Arab country.

In a statement posted on social media, the Royal Hashemite Court of Jordan said it approved this measure due to what it described as the prince’s “irresponsible” behavior, which “could cause instability in the country.”

In early April this year, Prince Hamzah renounced his title of prince and publicly apologized for his behavior.

Abdullah II said he delayed this recent measure to give Hamzah “another chance,” but finally implemented it because the former prince “continues to deny all facts and evidence, is “manipulating reality and living in an illusion,” according to the note.

“I came to the conclusion that he will never change, and my conviction was strengthened with every fact and every word,” the King noted, accusing Hamzah of “seeing himself as the one responsible for the Hashemite legacy,” referring to Jordan’s royal family.

Likewise, King Abdullah also accused the former prince of “turning away from his family for many years,” and “opting for negative behavior … and being surrounded by people who promote the opposition.”

On 3 April, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein announced the relinquishment of his royal title.

Prince Hamzah bin Hussein made the announcement on Twitter.

The statement explains that the decision was based on “current approaches, policies and methods of our institutions” that could not be reconciled with the convictions of Prince Hamzah.

But while the statement refrained from criticizing the King or other ruling elites, the move was seen as a continuation of the strained relations between Hamzah and his half-brother.

Hamzah has clashed with the Royal Hashemite Court of Jordan in the past.

In early April 2021, Jordanian authorities accused Hamzah of having had contact with external parties and carrying out “movements and activities” aimed at destabilizing the security of Jordan, for which he was placed under house arrest, state news agency Petra reported.

The State Security Court sentenced two members of the royal court to 15 years in prison after finding them guilty of “incitement against the king, carrying hostile intentions against the state and seeking to sow anarchy and sedition in the country.”

JordanKing Abdullah IIPrince Hamzah bin HusseinrestrictionsRoyal Hashemite Court of JordanseditionState Security Court

التطبيع الرسمي فلسطينياً وأردنياً: قراءة في مقدمات الاتفاقات “الإبراهيمية”

الثلاثاء 17 أيار 2022

المصدر

إبراهيم علوش 

التطبيع لا ينجح إن لم تضمن “إسرائيل” قطع شرايين الحياة عن الدول المطبِّعة، إن هي قررت تغيير رأيها.

تسلسل الاتفاقات والمعاهدات زمنياً مهمّ جداً، لأنه يدخلنا في الأبعاد الإقليمية للتطبيع مع العدو الصهيوني.

يتيح مرور عقود على توقيع المعاهدات والاتفاقات مع العدو الصهيوني سجلاً زمنياً طويلاً نسبياً لتقييم أثرها ومسارها وصيرورتها، بدءاً من اتفاقات كامب ديفيد التي وُقِّعت عام 1978، ومعاهدة السلام المصرية – الإسرائيلية التي وُقِّعت عام 1979، ودخلت حيز التنفيذ عام 1980، حتى معاهدة وادي عربة، أو معاهدة السلام الأردنية – الإسرائيلية، التي وُقِّعت عام 1994، والتي سبقها “إعلان واشنطن” بثلاثة أشهر بالضبط، والذي نص على إنهاء حالة العداء والبدء بمفاوضات لتوقيع معاهدة بين الأردن والكيان الصهيوني.

سبقت معاهدة وادي عربة عام 1994 اتفاقية أوسلو التي وُقعت عام 1993، وتأسست بناءً عليها قانونياً “السلطة الفلسطينية” عام 1994. وتبعت اتفاق أوسلو اتفاقات متعدّدة، مثل اتفاق أوسلو – 2 (يسمى أيضاً اتفاق طابا) عام 1995، والذي قسم الضفة الغربية إلى المناطق “أ”، و”ب”، و”ج”.  

وكان اتفاق أوسلو – 2 جاء تتويجاً لاتفاق “غزة – أريحا” عام 1994، الذي قضى بانسحاب “إسرائيلي” جزئي من أريحا وغزة لتأسيس السلطة الفلسطينية، وما يسمى برتوكول باريس عام 1994 أيضاً، والذي “نظم” علاقة السلطة الفلسطينية اقتصادياً بالكيان الصهيوني، وكلاهما (اتفاق غزة – أريحا، وبرتوكول باريس) أصبح جزءاً من اتفاق أوسع، هو أوسلو – 2.  

ثم جاء اتفاق الخليل عام 1997 الذي أعطى الاحتلال الصهيوني 20% من مدينة الخليل H2. ثم جاء اتفاق “واي ريفر” عام 1998 الذي كرس مؤسسة التنسيق الأمني رسمياً مع “إسرائيل” والولايات الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، كما كرس دور “السلطة الفلسطينية” في محاربة “الإرهاب” ضد العدو الصهيوني.  ثم جاء “اتفاق واي ريفر الثاني” عام 1999 ، والذي فسر بعض نقاط اتفاق “واي ريفر” الأول، ويسمى أيضاً اتفاق شرم الشيخ، وكان الاتفاق الأول مع نتنياهو والثاني مع إيهود باراك، وبعده جاء اتفاق تنظيم المعابر (معابر السلطة الفلسطينية) عام 2005.

يُضاف إلى تلك الحزمة من الاتفاقات المتناسلة البيانات المشتركة (كما في أنابوليس عام 2007)، وسلسلة اللقاءات التفاوضية مثل كامب ديفيد عام 2000، و”خريطة السلام” عام 2002، و36 جلسة تفاوضية بين محمود عباس وإيهود أولمرت بين عامي 2007 و2009، والمفاوضات المباشرة عام 2010 تحت وعد من إدارة أوباما بإيجاد “دويلة فلسطينية” خلال عام واحد، ثم محادثات تسيبي ليفني وصائب عريقات في الفترة 2013-2014… إلخ. 

ولا يشمل ما سبق عشرات المبادرات الموازية لـ”السلام”، مثل اتفاقية جنيف غير الرسمية بين ياسر عبد ربه ويوسي بيلين عام 2003 لتأسيس “سلام دائم”، وخطة الحاخام بنيامين إيلون للسلام، والتي جرى طرحها وترويجها بين عامي 2002 و2008، والتي تقوم على تجنيس الفلسطينيين في الضفة الغربية بالجنسية الأردنية، والسماح لهم بالبقاء ضيوفاً في الضفة الغربية بعد ضمها إلى “إسرائيل”، وخطة “إسرائيل الثنائية القومية” التي طرحها إدوارد سعيد ابتداءً، وتبناها عزمي بشارة وروّجها بقوة… إلخ.

كل ما سبق مهمّ لأن كثرة العناوين والمبادرات والجلسات التفاوضية وامتدادها عبر عقود، هو أمر مثير للاهتمام بمقدار ما هو مثير للملل، لأنه يقول كثيراً عن انعدام جدوى تلك الاتفاقات والمفاوضات، ولاسيما في ضوء ما تمخضت عنه على الأرض من تزايدٍ للاستيطان وتغولٍ لمشروع التهويد وتطرفٍ متصاعدٍ في المشهد السياسي الإسرائيلي وضلالة الحالمين بـ”حل سياسي للصراع”.

معاهدة كامب ديفيد: الخطيئة الأصلية في السياسة العربية

كذلك، فإن تسلسل الاتفاقات والمعاهدات زمنياً مهمّ جداً، لأنه يدخلنا في الأبعاد الإقليمية للتطبيع مع العدو الصهيوني. فمعاهدة السلام المصرية – الإسرائيلية عام 1979 أخرجت مصر من حلبة الصراع العربي – الصهيوني، ولاسيما أن المادة السادسة من تلك المعاهدة تنص حرفياً على أن الأحكام الواردة فيها تُعَدّ ملزمة ونافذة في حال تعارضها مع أي التزامات أخرى (مثل معاهدة الدفاع العربي المشترك لعام 1950 مثلاً؟!)، وهو ما ساهم في تحجيم دور مصر الإقليمي فعلياً باعتبارها الشقيق العربي الكبير، وأكبر الدول العربية المحيطة بفلسطين، وهو ما يعني موضوعياً فتح الباب للتمدد الإسرائيلي إقليمياً، وكان من عواقب ذلك غزو لبنان واحتلاله عام 1982.

بعد معاهدة السلام مع مصر وقرار الجامعة العربية مقاطعتها ونقل مقر الجامعة العربية من مصر إلى تونس، راح النظام الرسمي العربي يدخل أكثر فأكثر في صيرورة اختلال التوازن والتفسخ والصراعات الداخلية، وكان ذلك كله نتيجة طبيعية لتحييد مصر سياسياً من جانب العدو الصهيوني، وتوهمها أنها يمكن أن تقتنص السلام والازدهار في مصر بمفردها إذا نأت بنفسها عما يجري في محيطها.

العبرة هنا أن تقسيم الوطن العربي إلى دولٍ وسياساتٍ قُطريةٍ متنابذة ليس تاريخاً قديماً أو مشكلة عقائدية يتداولها القوميون العرب فحسب، بل تحمل تجزئة الوطن العربي دلالاتٍ جغرافيةً – سياسيةً عميقةً وراهنةً. وبالتالي، فإن إزالة عمود مركزي، مثل مصر، من معادلة الصراع، كان يفترض بها أن تؤدي إلى انهيار الأقطار الأخرى كأحجار الدومينو، لولا المقاومة والرفض في الشارعين العربي والفلسطيني من جهة، وحالة الصمود والتصدي التي نشأت على الصعيد الرسمي العربي في مواجهة مشروع كامب ديفيد من جهة أخرى. وثبت، بعد عقودٍ من التجربة، أن هذا ليس خطاباً ديماغوجياً أو “لغة خشبية”، كما يهذر البعض، بل إنه يشكل قيمة جغرافية – سياسية ملموسة كحائط صد أعاق الانجراف والانهيار في الوضع العربي على مدى عقود، وإن كان العدو انتقل سياسياً إلى حالة الهجوم. 

بعد التجربة المصرية في السلام مع العدو الصهيوني، برزت عقدة “السلام الشامل” في مقابل “السلام المنفرد”، والتي أعاقت المشروع الأميركي للإسراع قدماً في فرض مسلسل المعاهدات والتطبيع على الصعيد الرسمي العربي، على الرغم من سعي المحور الخليجي لفرض مبادرة الأمير فهد في القمة العربية في فاس في تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر 1981، والتي رفضتها سوريا آنذاك وأفشلتها (عن وجه حق، وإدراك ووعي تامّين لما تعنيه من تجريفٍ للوضع العربي وإلحاقٍ له بصيرورة كامب ديفيد من خلال الاعتراف الرسمي العربي جماعياً بحق الكيان الصهيوني في الوجود، على أساس مبدئي على الأقل). 

بعد العدوان الصهيوني على لبنان عام 1982 وعقابيله، انعقدت قمة عربية استثنائية في فاس مجدداً في أيلول/سبتمبر 1982، أُقرت فيها مبادرة الأمير فهد رسمياً، والتي أصبحت تعرف بعدها بمقررات قمة فاس 1982، وهي تعادل، بالنسبة إلى الجامعة العربية، برنامج “النقاط العشر” بالنسبة إلى منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية، كما سيأتي.

المدخل الفلسطيني لتعميم مشروع كامب ديفيد عربياً

كانت العقدة المركزية في الإصرار على “السلام المنفرد” هي القضية الفلسطينية والمسؤولية العربية إزاءها، مع أن القصة ليست قصة مسؤولية إزاء القضية الفلسطينية، بمقدار ما هي قصة مسؤولية إزاء الذات في مواجهة خطر المشروع الصهيوني على المنطقة برمتها. ولنا عودة إلى تلك النقطة، لكن كان لا بد من “فرط” العقدة المركزية، المتمثّلة بالموقف الرسمي الفلسطيني؛ أي موقف منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية، من أجل تعميم مشروع كامب ديفيد على كل الأقطار العربية، وصولاً إلى الاتفاقيات المسماة “إبراهيمية”.

كان يوجد داخل منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية، منذ بداية السبعينيات (وبعض الكتّاب والمعاصرين لتلك المرحلة يقول إنه وُجد منذ نهاية الستينيات) تيارٌ يرى ضرورة التفاهم مع “إسرائيل” والإدارة الأميركية لتأسيس “دولة فلسطينية” وفق حدود عام 1967.  أبرز رموز ذلك التيار، في ذلك الوقت، كان ياسر عرفات ومَن حوله في قيادة المنظمة والجبهة الديمقراطية لتحرير فلسطين.  

جاء الانقلاب الرسمي في موقف منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية في المجلس الوطني الفلسطيني في القاهرة عام 1974، والذي أقر ما يسمى “برنامج النقاط العشر”، والذي مثّل نقطة التحول الجوهرية في برنامج التحرير إلى برنامج تأسيس “سلطة وطنية فلسطينية على أي جزء يتم تحريره من فلسطين”. ومنذ ذلك الوقت، بدأ الانجراف الرسمي الفلسطيني في اتجاه تأسيس الدويلة مع التخلي بالتدريج عن الشروط والضوابط التي وُضعت لها، فالمهم هو تثبيت “المبدأ”، وبعد ذلك تتم زحزحة الشروط والضوابط باللتدريج بفعل عوامل النحت والتعرية السياسيَّين، وكانت تلك هي الرحلة التسووية التي قادت قيادة منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية إلى أوسلو وما تلاها.

جرت المصادقة فوراً على هذا التوجه التسووي في مقررات القمة العربية المنعقدة في الرباط عام 1974: “إن قادة الدول العربية يؤكدون حق الشعب الفسطيني في إقامة سلطة وطنية مستقلة بقيادة منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية، بصفتها الممثل الشرعي الوحيد للشعب الفلسطيني، على كل أرض يتم تحريرها”، والعبرة تكمن في تمرير خطاب “سلطة وطنية فلسطينية على كل أرض…”.

للتاريخ، لم يصوّت إلّا ثلاثة أعضاء في المجلس الوطني الفلسطيني عام 1974 ضد برنامج النقاط العشر، أحدهم ناجي علوش (أبو إبراهيم)، والثاني محمد داوود عودة (أبو داوود)، والثالث سعيد حمامي (الذي عدّه متشدداً أكثر من اللزوم لأنه ربطه آنذاك بشروط صعبة!). 

شكلت مفاوضات جنيف بعد حرب أكتوبر عام 1973، واعتقاد قيادة منظمة التحرير أنها “على وشك” أن تتمخض عن “دويلة فلسطينية” بموافقة أميركية – إسرائيلية، خلفيةَ الانجراف الرسمي الفلسطيني نحو وَهْم المشروع التسووي.   

لكنّ صيرورة مشروع كامب ديفيد هي الصلح المنفرد، وبالتالي نشأت مشكلة “الصلح المنفرد” في مقابل “السلام الشامل”، فكان لا بد من تذليل تلك العقبة عبر إقامة صلح منفرد مع منظمة التحرير ذاتها من أجل نزع الذريعة من أيدي رافضي “الصلح المنفرد”.

كان ذلك يتطلب “إعادة تأهيل” منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية ذاتها على نحو يتوافق مع متطلبات الطرف الأميركي – الصهيوني. وأدت حرب لبنان عام 1982، فيما أدت إليه، إلى إخراج منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية من لبنان. وفي الأعوام التي تلت، أشرفت قيادة منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية على ورشة كبرى لإعادة صياغة العقل السياسي الفلسطيني في اتجاه قبول دولة ضمن حدود عام 1967، وصولاً إلى “إعلان استقلال” وهمي في المجلس الوطني الفلسطيني في الجزائر عام 1988، تم الاحتفاء به كثيراً، كان من صاغه الشاعر محمود درويش، ووافقت عليه كل التنظيمات المنضوية في منظمة التحرير وقتها.

جاء الوصول إلى اتفاقية أوسلو بعدها عام 1993 تحصيلاً حاصلاً لتراكمات النهج التسووي، لأن البحث عن دويلة وعن “السلام” و”الازدهار” بالتفاهم مع “إسرائيل” والإدارة الأميركية، بعيداً عن “الشعارات الفارغة”، وعن العرب “الذين تخلوا عنا”، كما شاع في الخطاب السياسي الفلسطيني آنذاك، هو المعنى الحقيقي لشعار “يا وحدنا” الذي رفعه ياسر عرفات، كما أنه لا يزال المآل الحقيقي لكل من يرفع شعار “يا وحدنا” في أي قُطر عربي: التفاهم مع “إسرائيل”.. فالحس القُطري ليس مشروعاً نهضوياً للقطر، بل هو مشروع تسييد الكيان الصهيوني على المنطقة، وبالتالي تدمير القطر ذاته وتفكيكه.

لكنّ تيار البحث عن “الذات القُطرية” في الحالة الفلسطينية بالذات، وتحقيقها في “دويلة”، بعد التخلي عن مشروع التحرير، بالتفاهم مع الطرف الأميركي -الصهيوني، هو مكسب كبير لمشروع كامب ديفيد (الصلح المنفرد)، لأنه يجرح صدقية من رفضوه باسم “السلام العادل والشامل”. وما دام أصحاب القضية الرسميين ساروا في ركبه، فإنه لا تبقى لغيرهم ذريعة، باستثناء موقف أصحاب العلاقة وأولياء الدم: الشعب العربي، من مسألة التطبيع. ولا تزال هذه هي أهم جبهة في مقاومة التطبيع اليوم.  

صيرورة التطبيع على الصعيد الرسمي الأردني

بعد توقيع اتفاقية أوسلو، بات استكمال كسر حلقة دول الطوق مرهوناً بموقف سوريا ولبنان، لأن العلاقات التطبيعية بين النظام الأردني والعدو الصهيوني أقدم من أوسلو، بل أقدم من كامب ديفيد ومن أي مفاوضات بعد حرب أكتوبر 1973. وبحسب مقالة في صحيفة “واشنطن بوست” الأميركية للصحافيين الإسرائيليين، يوسي ميلمان ودان رفيف، في الـ27 من أيلول/ سبتمبر 1987، فإن الملك حسين بن طلال أرسل رسالة عام 1963 إلى رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي آنذاك، ليفي أشكول، فأرسل أشكول مدير مكتبه الخاص من أجل لقاء الملك في لندن في منزل طبيب الملك حسين الشخصي، اليهودي إيمانويل هربرت، في شهر أيلول/سبتمبر 1963. 

في عام 2014 نشر الكاتب الإسرائيلي يوسي ميلمان بعض المعلومات، وردت في صحيفة “معاريف” الإسرائيلية، تتعلق بعلاقة الملك حسين التاريخية بالساسة الإسرائيليين وجهاز الموساد. وورد ضمن المعلومات أن “إسرائيل” أنقذت حياة الملك حسين عدة مرات، إحداها – يقول ميلمان إنه كان شاهداً عليها – كانت بداية “لمواجهة سوريا حين استجابت “إسرائيل” لمساعدته بتركيز قوات من الجيش مكّنته من مهاجمة سوريا التي كانت تنوي مساعدة الفلسطينيين في أيلول/ سبتمبر 1970″.

وتحدث الكاتب عن “مئتي ساعة من المكالمات أو المحادثات للملك مع الزعماء الإسرائيليين، وأن رؤساء الموساد أحبّوا لقاء الملك، وهو ما تم في مقر الموساد في إسرائيل، وفي قصر الملك في عمّان، وفي القارب الملكي في ميناء العقبة، وفي منازل خاصة في لندن وباريس”.

وبحسب الكاتب، فإن “اللقاء الأول تم عام 1963 بين الملك حسين ويعقوب هرتسوغ، الذي كان آنذاك نائب مدير مكتب رئيس الحكومة، في منزل طبيب في لندن، بهدف تنسيق المواقف وفحص إمكان وجود تعاون سري”.

وفي هذا اللقاء – يزعم الكاتب – “جدد الملك حسين، بتأخير 16 عاماً، العلاقة التي كانت بين جده الملك عبد الله الأول بالصهيونية، بحيث أقام عبد الله الأول هذه العلاقات في الثلاثينيات من القرن العشرين”.

وليس الأمر في حاجة إلى كثير من التمحيص، إذ إن قصة العلاقات القديمة بين العدو الصهيوني والملك حسين وردت بالتفصيل في كتاب “أسد الأردن: حياة الملك حسين في الحرب والسلام”، بالإنكليزية، للكاتب الإسرائيلي آفي شلايم عام 2009.  واسم الكتاب بالإنكليزية هو Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace.

باختصار، لا تحتاج قصة الوصول إلى معاهدة وادي عربة إلى تحليل سياسي أو تاريخي مفصّل، مثل الحالتين المصرية والفلسطينية، اللتين مرّ كلٌّ منها في نقطة انقلابٍ ما، من الناصرية إلى الساداتية في حالة مصر، ومن ثقب إبرة “برنامج النقاط العشر” في الحالة الفلسطينية، وإنما هي حالة إخراجِ السر إلى العلن بعد أن أتاحت اتفاقية أوسلو ذاتها ذلك، وكان الأمر “مطبوخاً” أصلاً على الصعيد الرسمي الأردني.  

العِبْرة هي أن اتفاقية أوسلو ذاتها أتاحت الصلح المنفرد للنظام الأردني، بكسرها محظور “السلام الشامل” الرسمي العربي، على نحو يجعل التطبيع “الإبراهيمي” اليوم تحصيلاً حاصلاً، لولا أن معاهدات دول الطوق لم تكتمل بتوقيع مثيلاتها من جانب سوريا ولبنان. وكان يُفترض، على ما يبدو، أن تكتمل في دول الطوق أولاً، وهذا أحد أهم أسباب الحرب المستمرة على سوريا، وعلى المقاومة في لبنان، وتورط الطرف الأميركي – الصهيوني المباشر فيها.

التطبيع يمأسس لإلحاق الأردن بالفضاء الصهيوني

لكن فيما يتعلق بعواقب وادي عربة، لا بمقدماتها الواضحة، يجب أن نذكر أنها كرست قانونياً صيغتين أساسيتين للعلاقة الأردنية – الإسرائيلية:

–       أولاً: السعي لتحقيق تكامل إقليمي، تبلور في خمس عشرة مادة من أصل ثلاثين تتألف منها المعاهدة، غطت كل أوجه الحياة بين الطرفين، مدنياً واقتصادياً.

–       ثانياً: السعي لتحقيق تنسيق رفيع المستوى، أمنياً وسياسياً، أصبح الأردن الرسمي عبره ملزماً بالتعاون ضد أي شكل من أشكال العداء لـ”إسرائيل”، حتى لو كان ذلك على مستوى التحريض اللفظي فحسب، كما جاء مثلاً في المادة الحادية عشرة من تلك المعاهدة.

–       ونضيف أن المادتين الخامسة والعشرين والسادسة والعشرين، من معاهدة وادي عربة، نصّتا على أنها تسمو على كل ما عداها تماماً كما في معاهدة السلام المصرية – الإسرائيلية.

غير أن ذلك كله لم يُعفِ النظام الأردني من دفع ثمن كبير، بعد أن بات من الواضح أن مشروع ضم الضفة الغربية، في ظل “صفقة القرن”، يعني تصدير “المشكلة الفلسطينية” سياسياً إلى الأردن، وحلها على حساب ذاته القُطرية. وبذلك، فإن الاتفاقيات “الإبراهيمية”، كابنة شرعية للاتفاقيات ما قبل “الإبراهيمية”، انقلبت على أمها، وهذا طبيعي، لأن التفاهم مع العدو الصهيوني يعني تفاقم الصراعات العربية الداخلية. لقد دخلت السلطة في فلسطين والأردن في ترتيبات مع العدو تؤدي إلى تجاوزهما، ولولا أن البلاد تدفع ثمن التطبيع، لقلنا: على نفسها جنت براقش!

اتخذ التطبيع في الأردن، بحكم كونه دولة طرفية، وامتلاكه أطول حدودٍ مع العدو الصهيوني، وثقل التأثير الغربي فيه، وفقدان نظامه تراثاً استقلالياً وطنياً (في مقابل تراث وطني استقلالي عريق لشعبه)، صيغةً أكثر طغياناً مما اتخذه في مصر كدولة مركزية، تفصلها صحراء سيناء عن “دولة” العدو، وتملك إرثاً ناصرياً، وتملك قبله إرث دولة مركزية عريقة، على الرغم من استخزاء الأنظمة التي حكمت مصر بعد جمال عبد الناصر للطرف الأميركي – الصهيوني.

فُرِض التطبيع في الأردن بالقوة في كثيرٍ من الحالات، كما قُمِعت الاحتجاجات ضده في كثيرٍ من الحالات الأخرى، مثل اعتصام “جك” السلمي ضد السفارة الصهيونية في عمان، وهو أطول اعتصام في تاريخ الأردن، واستمر أسبوعياً منذ نهاية أيار/مايو 2010 حتى بداية عام 2016، وتم سحقه بالقوة في النهاية. 

وتكريساً لفكرة التكامل الإقليمي، جرى في عز الحرب على سوريا تحويل مرفأ حيفا إلى بوابة تصدير واستيراد، عبر الأردن، إلى الدول العربية. وكتبت صحيفة “جيروزاليم بوست”، في تقرير لها في الـ21 من شباط/ فبراير 2016، تحت عنوان “ارتفاع ضخم في المنتوجات الأوروبية المارة عبر إسرائيل إلى الدول العربية”، أن المنتوجات التركية والبلغارية بصورة خاصة تأتي على متن عبّارات تحمل شاحنات أو في حاويات إلى ميناء حيفا، ليتم شحنها براً إمّا إلى الأردن، وإمّا عبر الأردن إلى العراق والدول الخليجية، وأن عدد الشاحنات التي نقلت منتوجات تركية وبلغارية عبر الكيان بلغ نحو 13 ألفاً في عام 2015، دفع كلٌّ منها رسوماً إل العدو الصهيوني عند دخوله فلسطين العربية المحتلة وخروجه منها، وأن عدد تلك الشاحنات ارتفع بمقدار 25% عن عام 2014، إذ بلغت آنذاك 10.300 شاحنة. وهو ما يشكل، في رأينا المكتوب والمنشور، أهم عائق في فتح الحدود البرية على مصاريعها مع سوريا من جانب قوى الشد العكسي المستفيدة من مرفأ حيفا، في الأردن وخارجه.    

وفي شهر تشرين أول/أكتوبر 2016، أعلن الكيان الصهيوني تدشين خط سكة حديد بيسان – حيفا بتكلفة مليار دولار، الذي كان جزءاً من سكة حديد الحجاز قبل ذلك بقرنٍ ونيف. وقال بوعز تسفرير، المدير العام لشركة قطارات “إسرائيل”، بمناسبة التدشين وقتها، “إن خط قطار حيفا – بيسان سوف يربط ميناء حيفا بجسر (الشيخ حسين)، الواقع في منطقة الأغوار الشمالية، ثم سوف يواصل مسيره إلى الأردن، حيث مدينة إربد وصولاً إلى العاصمة عمَّان. وهو سيكون أيضاً قطاراً لشحن البضائع، وسوف يخدم سكان منطقة وادي الأردن، ويعزّز حركة التجارة لميناء حيفا، كما سيتم تعزيز عمل خط القطار الجديد خلال الأعوام المقبلة”. 

قبل التطبيع “الإبراهيمي” المعلن بأعوام، في 3/2/2017 تحديداً، نشرت وسائل الإعلام تصريحات لوزير المواصلات الصهيوني، يسرائيل كاتس، آنذاك، يقول فيها إنه يدفع في اتجاه تعزيز تبادل المعلومات بين الكيان الصهيوني والدول الخليجية، بسبب ما لذلك من تأثير إيجابي “في خطة التواصل البريّ المزمع إنشاؤها من إسرائيل مع دول الخليج”. كما أشار إلى أنّه، بصفته أيضاً وزيراً للمواصلات، يعمل على الدفع قُدُماً في هذا الاتجاه، وهناك “موافقة من رئيس الحكومة الإسرائيليّة بنيامين نتنياهو، على توسعة خط القطار بين إسرائيل والأردن، ليصل إلى المملكة العربيّة السعوديّة”، مُعتبراً أنّ “الأردن سيكون حلقة الوصل بين إسرائيل ودول الخليج في قضية السكك الحديديّة التي تربط بينهما”.  

وكان رشح، في صيف عام 2015، أن “الإدارة المدنية” للضفة الغربية، والتابعة للجيش الصهيوني، قرّرت المصادقة على مخطط لمدّ شبكة سكك حديدية في جميع أنحاء الضفة الغربية، وأن المخطط يشمل 473 كيلومتراً من السكك الحديدية، و30 محطة قطار في 11 خط سكة حديدية، “يتجاهل الحدود السياسية القائمة”، بحيث ستربط السكك الحديدية بين المدن الفلسطينية، كما ستربط هذه المدن بالمدن في “إسرائيل”، وبالأردن و”سوريا أيضاً”، “وستخدم جميع سكان المنطقة”. وبسبب الطبيعة الجبلية للضفة، فإن المخطط يشمل عشرات الجسور والأنفاق، بحسب مواقع متعددة عبر الإنترنت.

ليس الأردن والسلطة الفلسطينية، إذاً، إلّا منطقتين طرفيتين تمثّلان موطئ قدم للوصول إلى العراق وسوريا والدول الخليجية. وبالتالي، فإن مشروع “الكونفدرالية الثلاثية” (بين الأردن والدويلة الفلسطينية والكيان الصهيوني)، والذي يبرز بين الفينة والأخرى، ليس إلّا صيغة سياسية لتسهيل التغلغل الصهيوني في المشرق العربي.  

أسست معاهدة وادي عربة قاعدة لربط البنية التحتية في الأردن بالكيان الصهيوني من خلال عدد من المشاريع، مثل اتفاقية الغاز مع العدو الصهيوني بقيمة 10 مليارات دولار لمدة 15 عاماً لتوليد الكهرباء عام 2016، والتي أصدرت المحكمة الدستورية قراراً في أيار/مايو 2020 أنها لا يمكن أن تُلغى على الرغم من الاحتجاجات، ولا حاجة إلى عرضها على مجلس النواب… ومن تلك الاتفاقيات أيضاً مشروع قناة البحرين (الميت – الأحمر) لتحلية المياه وإنقاذ البحر الميت، بسبب سرقة “إسرائيل” مياه نهر الأردن، والذي لم يتم إعلان صيغة نهائية له بعد.. وهناك أيضاً المناطق الصناعية المؤهلة Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ’s) والتي يتم بموجبها التصدير إلى الولايات المتحدة منذ التسعينيات من دون جمرك ما دام يوجد فيها مُدخل “إسرائيلي”، وأغلبية الشركات والعمالة فيها غير أردنية أصلاً.. ناهيك بتقارير كثيرة عن تطوير وادي الأردن ومشاريع مناطق حرة وصناعية ثلاثية مع السلطة الفلسطينية.

التطبيع لا ينجح إن لم تضمن “إسرائيل” روافع تمكّنها من قطع الكهرباء والماء والحياة الاقتصادية عن الدول المطبّعة إن هي قررت تغيير رأيها.  فلا أمان للكيان الصهيوني مع رأي شعبي عربي يمكن أن يمارس ضغوطاً تدفع في اتجاه وقف التطبيع. لذلك، فإن النموذج الأردني لإنتاج الكهرباء بغاز فلسطيني مسروق يضع كل مواطن أمام خيار صعب: إمّا أن يقبل التكامل الإقليمي مع “إسرائيل”، وإمّا أن يقبل العيش بلا كهرباء وماء واقتصاد… إلخ. ثم يقال له: إن شئت ألّا تطبّع، فلا تطبِّعْ!  

وستكون لنا عودة إلى البعد الاقتصادي للتطبيع، في مقالات مقبلة، إن شاء الله.

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

Mind tricks: Why resistance to Israel and imperialism are called ‘Shia causes’

April 20 2022

The Arab and Muslim street remains firmly opposed to western imperialism and Israel. So their Arab Sunni rulers began calling all resistance ‘Shia.’

By Omar Ahmed

Would Sunni Arab monarchs be able to continue conspiring with the west and Israel without labelling those who resist collaboration as ‘Shia?’Photo Credit: The Cradle

The past several decades have seen the political ascendency of Shia Muslims in West Asian geopolitics. While initially ignited by Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979, it was the aftermath of the illegal US invasion of Iraq in 2003 which accelerated this political shift by paving the way for Iraq’s Shia majority to govern.

A year after US troops occupied Iraq and overthrew its Sunni president Saddam Hussein, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, fearing a growing influence of Iran among Iraq’s Shia majority and their regional coreligionists, coined the phrase “Shia Crescent.” This so-called ideological belt, it is hypothesized, runs from Tehran through several Arab capitals, including Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut, and later Sanaa.

The idea has been criticized as it treats the Shia as a monolith and greatly exaggerates the extent of control or influence Iran exerts over the region.

Tehran’s efforts to forge ties with friendly governments, powerful political parties, and militia forces are arguably based on pragmatism and self-interest rather than sectarian ideology. Among the state and non-state actors that provide Iran with its regional strategic depth – and therefore, influence – are Sunnis, Druze, Christians, Alawis, Zaidis, and other non-Shia populations. This alliance is more commonly – and accurately – known as the Axis of Resistance and its fundamental tenet is opposition to both western imperialism and the Zionist project, and a desire for self-determination.

Axis of Resistance

With Tehran at its nexus, this network consists of both state and non-state actors. Notable Shia factions include Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and Afghan and Pakistani brigades.

Sunni Palestinian resistance movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad are also considered to be a part of the axis, and an armed affiliate of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Resistance Brigades (also known as Saraya), is composed of Sunnis, Maronite Christians and Druze. At the state level are the mostly Zaidi, Ansarallah-led, de facto government of Yemen and the Alawite-dominated government of Sunni-majority Syria.

While not part of the axis per se, Sunni-majority Algeria has also consistently opposed Zionism and could strengthen its ties with Iran, especially in light of growing tensions with neighboring Morocco whose government has recently aligned with Israel.

Traditional western-aligned Sunni Arab states such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have all expressed their own concerns about this Shia-majority, ‘Iran-led’ axis, and along with Israel have opposed the Resistance Axis. It is due to these mutual interests that there have been several proposals for a “Sunni-Jewish alliance.”

Arab normalization with Israel

This new public alliance tangibly materialized in 2020 with the signing of the Abraham Accords and the normalization of ties between Israel and the UAE, Sudan, Morocco and Bahrain (the latter is a Shia majority nation ruled by a Sunni royal family). Certainly, it ended years of speculation that there were indirect, covert ties between Tel Aviv and several Arab states.

However, it is important to differentiate between the policies of these governments and the popular sentiments among their citizens. According to an opinion poll carried out between 2019-2020 by the Qatar-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS), the majority of the Arab world (88 percent) opposes any normalization with Israel. This includes the Persian Gulf: “Refusal to recognize Israel is proportionally the highest in the Gulf region,” the report found.

Nevertheless, last month’s Negev Summit ushered in an unprecedented level of security cooperation between Israel and Arab states and may be a precursor to an ‘Arab-Israeli NATO‘ equivalent intent on confronting the Axis of Resistance, especially over heightened fears of a nuclear-powered Iran, should efforts in Vienna to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) fail.

The Palestinian issue

After the humiliating and resounding failures of pan-Arab nationalism to liberate occupied Palestine following the Six Day War in 1967, Egypt lost its position as the leader of the Arab world. This was cemented after Egypt made peace with Israel under Anwar Sadat in 1979, the same year as Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

As one of, if not the most pressing and long-standing Arab and Muslim issues of our time, the Palestinian cause was essentially abandoned by the Sunni Arab leadership, only to be championed by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its regional allies. Symbolically, the first statesman to visit revolutionary Iran was Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat who was given keys to what was once the Israeli diplomatic mission-turned Palestinian embassy, as it remains to this day. “We shall liberate the land of Palestine under the leadership of Imam Khomeini,” Arafat declared during his historic visit.

Significantly, during the 1990s, Iran’s support to Palestinians was not merely diplomatic but military too, as Iran has consistently been the main patron of Palestinian armed resistance factions Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), something acknowledged by the movements themselves.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, itself established with the help of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has also been instrumental in assisting Palestinian factions in training and developing weapons capabilities. Early last year, IRGC Aerospace Force commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh stated, “All the missiles you might see in Gaza and Lebanon were created with Iran’s support.”

‘Iranian-backed’ doesn’t make these ‘Shia causes’

Well before the Abraham Accords, there were signs that a regional narrative was being developed to aid Arab autocrats in breaking with the popular causes of the Arab/Muslim world, namely resistance to Zionism and western imperialism.

Two years after King Abdullah’s ‘Shia crescent’ narrative began to be employed, the 2006 Lebanon-Israel war broke out. Although a historic ‘Arab nation’ victory against Israel was achieved that year, in a new public turn, the Arab League and the Saudis in particular were instead scathing in their criticism of Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah for what they said was an unprovoked and irresponsible conflict.

We have now reached an epoch, whereby vocal or material support for a plethora of resistance efforts in West Asia is seen as being ‘Shia’ or even ‘Persian’ rather than Arab or Muslim causes. These include the central issue of Palestine, as after all at the crux of it – that is to say armed struggle – it is only the Resistance Axis that now provides support where it materially matters.

The Palestinian cause has not always been a ‘Shia’ cause, argues Hussain Abdul-Hussain of the pro-Israel Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, who alludes to the anti-Palestinian sentiments in South Lebanon before the rise of Hezbollah. He claims – a criticism parroted by the pro-west Sunni monarchs – that Iran “found in Palestine a good tool to undermine the sovereignty of Arab Sunni governments” and to win over support from “Arab Sunni masses.” This assessment disregards the fact that even before the revolution, under the rule of Iran’s Shah, Iran’s religious and secular opponents were popularly pro-Palestine and opposed the Shah’s support of Israel.

Who else will oppose Zionism and western imperialism?

In Iraq, there is a lingering threat from pockets of ISIS remnants and legitimate grievances about continuing US military presence, which is likely to continue for years to come. Both of these threats to Iraqi sovereignty have been targeted by “Iranian-backed Shia militia,” many who are an integral part of Iraq’s armed forces in the form of the PMUs. Ironically, these anti-ISIS forces were in fact initiated by a religious ruling from within Iraq, independent of Iran’s diktats.

The world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN, is in Yemen which has been bombed and besieged almost relentlessly for seven years by a US/UK-backed and armed, Saudi-led coalition. Yemen’s resistance to this foreign aggression is led by the Ansarallah movement and its allied Yemeni armed forces. Here too, the Arab Sunni monarchs’ narrative has played a nefarious role, labelling Yemen’s resistance as ‘Shia,’ where in fact they are mainly Zaidis, who are in many ways closer to Hanafi Sunnis and who pray in Sunni mosques. As Iran and its regional axis support anti-imperialism, they are naturally more aligned to the Yemeni resistance, who are almost always now labelled as ‘Iran-backed’ or ‘Shia’ for their resistance against decades of exploitation and subjugation by Saudi Arabia.

For the divisive case of Syria, supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state against the aggressions of hostile states has also been cast as a ‘Shia’ cause, despite the fact that Syria’s Shia community – not to be confused with the Alawites – form a very small minority in the majority-Sunni country. Yet when contextualized as an important actor in the Axis of Resistance, in particular as a transit point between Iran and Lebanon and occupied Palestine, the sectarian designation becomes apparent.

The common denominator for these conflicts is that there is an opposing force to the Axis of Normalization and its US backer. It has become imperative, especially for the burgeoning Sunni Arab-Israeli alliance, for these forces to be deliberately cast as ‘Iranian-supported Shia proxies’ in order to dampen their own populations’ support for popular resistance.

Arab and Muslim populations everywhere would otherwise likely support operations to purge western military interventionism and Israel’s aggressions from West Asia. But say ‘Iran,’ ‘Persia’ or ‘Shia’ and the Arab Sunni elite manage to confuse and quash mass popular resentment of their own malign behaviors.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Arab-’Israeli’ Normalization: Is It Good or Evil?

February 25, 2022

By Mohammad Sleem

Beirut – The biggest step taking place between the Zionist entity and Arab countries nowadays is normalization. Several countries have normalized ties with “Israel” with the latter willing to make it official. This step might lead to a huge positive impact on the existence of the entity itself, not only politically, but also on different aspects, especially economically.

Normalization is the practice of policies or actions to treat “Israel” as a natural part of the Arab world, and to ignore the practices of the “Israelis”, both the regime and its settlers, in the extermination and displacement of Palestinians.

This practice aims to establish relations with the “Israeli” entity and to overlook “Israeli” crimes against the Palestinians without holding them responsible for these crimes.

To date, Morocco has become the sixth country – preceded by Bahrain, UAE, Egypt, Sudan and Jordan – to establish relations with “Israel” after signing agreements under US patronage. “Israeli” Prime Minister Naftaly Benet has been on several official visits and meetings with Arab leaders, with mutual promises for further deals and ties.

Some Arab leaders are seeking to secure their positions, with ties that seem beneficial for both sides, at least regarding political stability for their countries.

On the other side, signing economic deals is a top priority for the “Israeli” regime, as providing funds for settlement construction in West Bank territories is highly demand for land annexation and an increased grip for occupation.

Henceforth, to whom are the outcomes of normalization favorable?

Considering the aforementioned countries that normalized ties with “Israel”, their situation pre- and post-normalization has not changed much, if not becoming worse; as none of these countries gained full stability or improved their economic sector to better levels.

As for the “Israeli” side, normalization has contributed to the entity’s attempts to get its economy out of the current crisis. Indicators issued by “Israeli” economic institutions reflects the status of the entity’s economy.

According to data released by the “Israeli” Central Bureau of Statistics, the rate of the entity’s economic growth fell from 5% to 1% during the first half of 2019. This decline has continued over the past year with the COVID-19 outbreak and the consequent nationwide lockdown. This comes at a time when the entity is maintaining its suffocating economic blockade over the Palestinian territories and settlement projects, and may rise in pace with the expected economic recovery.

Legalizing the looting of Palestinian and Syrian national wealth by the “Israeli” occupation authorities is yet another emerging outcome of normalization.

While European countries refuse to receive any products from “Israeli” settlements in the West Bank, besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied Syrian Golan, the six Arab countries have not yet declared a clear position on this issue; not to mention the fact that the gas extracted from the Mediterranean Sea, which is exported today to Egypt and Jordan, is ultimately a stolen Palestinian wealth.

Consequently, the unfolding profits resulting from Arab-“Israeli” normalization unveils the hidden relations that have been developing years ago. The main cause for Arab leaders to take such a step is fear of sanctions being imposed on their regimes; in addition to the benefits of such a step on both their personal and national interests. However, people in different countries are calling for boycotting nearly everything related to the “Israeli” entity refusing any sort of normalized relations.

Logically, evil stands against all the ethics of humankind. To the devil, it does not matter what the results were of any tie or relation, not even when this cause represents the history of an entire Arab nation, when looting all of its wealth and land being the priority.

Normalization between Arabic countries and “Israel”: Proven record of failure

16 Feb 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Hussam AbdelKareem 

“Israel” knew that it would never settle in the Arab region unless it gets recognized by its people as a “normal state”.

Normalization Between Arabic Countries and “Israel”: Proven Record of Failure

An Advanced Outpost for Colonial Powers

“Israel” had been created in 1948 as an advanced outpost for the colonial-imperial powers keen on dominating the Middle East region and keeping it under control. That’s the plain fact proven at different stages in recent history. And since the announcement of “Israel” as a state on the land of Palestine, it acted exactly like that: a militarized compound disguising in a state’s attire! In 1956 “Israel” was called to service by the then-great Britain and France when they decided to attack Egypt in an attempt to prevent it from liberating itself and nationalizing its Suez Canal. “Israel” joined the evil plot willingly and attacked Egypt without any provocation, showing to its old colonial masters that their investment was paying off. Later, when the British Empire was doomed to demise, “Israel” moved on and joined the camp of the rising star, America, which inherited the old lion. From the sixties of the last century onwards, “Israel” took part in the US’ global efforts in combating national liberation movements, communist-socialist regimes, and people’s revolutions.

When “Israel” was announced in 1948, it was met with unanimous Arab rejection. All Arab nations, many of them still under British – French control, refused to recognize it. Absolutely no Arab felt “Israel” belonged to the region, not culturally nor politically. Nobody was ready to deal with it in any way. Arab People looked at it not as a neighbor but as a group of usurpers who took over Palestine by force and displaced its Arab brothers who became refugees. A solid barrier of rejection and contempt was surrounding “Israel” who stayed in the heart of the Arab region as a bastard state.      

That’s why the normalization of relations with Arabic countries has always been of utmost importance for “Israel”. Even the smallest gesture from anywhere in the Arab world was being warmly welcomed by Israelis if they sense it could create a narrow crack in the rejection wall. “Israel” knew that it would never settle in the Arab region unless it gets recognized by its people as a “normal state”. “Israel” needed recognition more than anything else. “Israel” knew that no matter how strong its army is or how long its occupation of Palestinian lands lasts, it’s Arab recognition that gives it legitimacy and long-term future.

Three Old Normalization Accords

Before the new wave of Arab normalization with “Israel” in 2020, there were three normalization agreements between “Israel” and the Arabs:

-Camp David peace treaty with Egypt (1979)

-Oslo peace agreement with Palestine Liberation Organization (1993)

-Wadi Araba peace treaty with Jordan (1994)

Decades of formal normalization on three fronts resulted in nothing! It is true that written recognition from Arab governments was obtained by “Israel”. However, that can hardly be the real goal that “Israel” was after.

Let’s elaborate:

Egypt and Jordan are both sovereign independent states who were having occupied territories under Israeli control. So they had duty to restitute their lands from “Israel”. That, restitution the occupied land, was the basis for their peace treaties with “Israel”. The governments of Egypt and Jordan presented the matter to their people like that: we have to sign a peace treaty, we have to recognize “Israel” because there is no other way to get our lands back. We, as responsible governments, have to do that, but you, as people, as individuals, as society, have the freedom to make your own decision whether to normalize or not! And it seemed that logic was accepted by most of the people who “excused” their governments and took their own different path.

After four decades of Egyptian normalization, and three decades of Jordan’s, there is no people-to-people relations, no social contacts established, no community initiatives between the sides. The public opinion in Egypt and Jordan is still very much against any dealings with the Israelis. Anyone who “dares” to announce friendly relations with Israelis will be socially isolated and abandoned, swiftly. Civil society, political parties, unions and associations, intellectuals, writers, artists, cinema and sports stars … etc. all refusing to have anything to do with “Israel”. Cultural and economic boycott. The relations between Egypt and Jordan from one side and “Israel” on the other, remain official and limited to political meetings and border security arrangements. This kind of “normalization” can hardly be satisfactory to the Zionists of “Israel”.

The PLO is another story. Palestine is still under Israeli occupation. It’s neither liberated nor independent. Yasser Arafat wanted to have a base at home from which he may continue the struggle towards independence, so he signed an “interim” agreement. The Oslo Accord was supposed to be just a starting point and that’s what made Arafat accept all the unfair and un-advantageous terms imposed by Israelis. Well, Arafat was wrong, and the Israelis turned the “interim” agreement into an ever-lasting one! There are many relations between the Palestinians under occupation and “Israel” but that is, in no way, considered as “normalization” between the peoples. Matters related to borders crossing, transport of goods, water and electricity … are merely living conditions and requirements.

The failure of the decades-long official normalization speaks volumes. “Israel” has not shown any real appreciation of Arab concerns and aspirations. In short, they wanted “peace and normalization” with Arabs as a token of surrender. Palestine land will have to remain under Israeli occupation and Palestinian refugees will have to remain away from home. 

Will the new normalizers have better luck?

In 2020 new Arab normalizers jumped in, under Trump’s patronage, and signed the so-called Abraham Accords (it is telling that the Biden administration keenly avoids the term “Abraham” and refers to the “normalization agreements” instead, intentionally ignoring the religious implications of the term). Unlike Egypt, Jordan and the PLO, the new Arab normalizers are very far away from “Israel”, thousands of miles away! Moreover, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan have no “bilateral” or direct conflict with “Israel” and are therefore under no pressure to conclude any deal with “Israel” whatsoever.

The new normalizers were unable to use the “solving pressing problems” excuse to justify their rush towards “Israel” to their people (who were never consulted about the matter!). So they started talking about modernization, civilization and “peace in the region” and other similar broad ideas. They began a faked kind of “heart to heart” normalization that has an artificial element of passion and love towards “Israel” in it! Sudan in particular talked about improving the economy (lifting the US sanctions and getting World Bank loans) as an excuse.

The new wave of normalization will not succeed, not because the signing parties don’t want that, but because there is no real basis for success in these deals. “Israel” is still the same old Zionist entity that Arabs know very well, and Al-Quds still under occupation, Palestinians still deprived of their homeland and “Israel” is still posing a constant threat to Arab nations. Even history tells us that the economic benefits of normalization won’t work! If anybody has doubt about that, a mere look at Egypt’s and Jordan’s economic hardships – after decades of normalization- will be enough to prove that: NORMALIZATION WON’T WORK.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Media Is Spotting Suspicious Libyan-‘Israeli’ Activity  

Jan 16 2033

By Staff

It seems that Libya is cooking something related to normalization with the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity.

Most recently, correspondent of ‘Israeli’ media outlets endorsed a new narrative which detailed that the executive plane [P4-RMA] used by Libyan General Khalifa Hefter landed in the ‘Israeli’-occupied territories on Thursday after a “diplomatic stop” in Cyprus.

“After two hours on the ground the plane took off back to Cyprus,” Military Correspondent of ‘Israeli’ Channel 11 Itay Blumental, wrote in a tweet that was also retweeted by the Arab Affairs Correspondent of ‘Israeli’ Kan broadcaster, Roi Kais.

Earlier, Saudi and Libyan media outlets reports released on Wednesday night suggested that Jordan hosted ‘Israeli’ Mossad spy agency Director David Barnea and Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Mohammed Al-Dabaiba, as they discussed normalization and security cooperation.

The reports also noted that Al-Dabaiba’s office denied that the meeting occurred.

Back in November, ‘Israeli’ Haaretz newspaper reported that Saddam Haftar, son of Libyan warlord Gen. Khalifa Haftar, flew to Ben Gurion Airport for meetings with ‘Israeli’ officials regarding potential normalization with the occupation regime.

It was unclear who Haftar met with.

On one hand, the Tevel department of the Mossad has reportedly had contacts with various Libyan officials over the years.

On the other hand, former ‘Israeli’ ‘Security Council’ Chief Meir Ben Shabbat and his messenger, known only as “Maoz,” also reportedly had such contacts, and their handling of the file has been passed on to former Shin Bet official Nimrod Gez.

Gez had strong ties to Ben Shabbat and had supported him as a potential future Shin Bet chief before former Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost power and that scenario disappeared.

It is unclear whether any of the above Libyan officials could substantively carry out normalization with the Tel Aviv occupation regime given the ongoing chaos the African country has been in for years.

Last month, the country’s long-awaited elections were postponed and it is unclear if the various on-again and off-again warring groups will be capable of carrying out the elections, let alone altering decades of officially hostile relations with the occupying regime.

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