Netanyahu highly values MBS role in signing ‘Abraham Accords’

11 Jul 2022

Source: Israeli media

By Al Mayadeen English 

Former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu expresses openly for the first time MBS’ clear contribution to the signing of several normalization agreements with “Israel”.

Former Israeli occupation PM Benjamin Netanyahu (Archive)

Israeli media relayed the appreciation of the leader of the Israeli opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu, to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, for his contribution to the completion of the four so-called “Abraham Accords”.

Netanyahu said that in case he assumes leadership once again, then he intends to achieve full “peace agreements” with Saudi Arabia, as well as with other Arab states.

The former Israeli Prime Minister’s statement comes ahead of an upcoming visit by US President Joe Biden to the Middle East, during which he will meet with Palestinian and Israeli occupation officials.

According to Israeli media, Biden plans to meet with Netanyahu during his upcoming visit to “Israel”.

This is the first time in which an Israeli official openly highlights bin Salman’s clear contribution to the signing of the normalization agreements with the Israeli occupation.

The UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan were part of the so-called “Abraham Accords” brokered by former US President Donald Trump’s administration in 2020 to normalize relations with “Israel”.

Mossad plane lands in Riyadh ahead of Biden’s visit

On Monday, the political affairs commentator for the Israeli Makan channel, Shimon Aran, revealed that a private Israeli plane “that the Israeli Mossad used in the past landed this afternoon in Riyadh.”  

The Israeli commentator confirmed, through his account on Twitter, that the plane landed this afternoon in Riyadh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, apparently in preparation for US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit.

Netanyahu visited Saudi Arabia

It is noteworthy that “Israel” Hayom newspaper had previously revealed that Israeli envoys visited Riyadh several times throughout a period of time that extends for over a decade now. However, these visits have always been kept secret.

There has been one exception to the secret visits and that is Netanyahu’s visit in November of 2020 to the Red Sea city of Neom, which was widely yet carefully publicized, where he met with bin Salman.

Previously, Israeli Security Minister Benny Gantz had visited Saudi Arabia as chief of staff, while Aluf Meir Dagan, Tamir Pardo, and Yossi Cohen arrived as heads of Mossad and Ben Shabbat as head of the “National Security Council.” The purpose of the visit was to develop security coordination, especially against Iran.

Netanyahu, as did most Israeli officials, had flown to Saudi Arabia in a private plane especially leased for this occasion. At the time, it was business contacts that have matured into political, military, and security deals.

 A “road map for normalization”

In the same context, four informed US sources told Axios that the White House has been working on a “road map for normalization” between Saudi Arabia and the Israeli occupation ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to West Asia in July.

Earlier this year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman said, “We do not view Israel as an enemy, but rather as a potential ally in the many interests that we can pursue together, but some issues must be resolved before we can reach that.”

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Anti-normalization Countries Resist The Arab-‘Israeli’ Alliance

July 9, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

Amid a push by the US and the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime to build an anti-Iranian coalition in the region, a report suggested that a number of Arab countries are against such an alliance.

Washington and Tel Aviv are pushing Arab countries for the realization of a military pact to counter alleged threats from Iran.

Citing unnamed sources, Reuters said the plan is on the agenda of US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to the occupied territories and Saudi Arabia in mid-July.

According to the sources, the plan seeks to “build a network of radars, detectors and interceptors between Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt, with the help of ‘Israeli’ technology and US military bases.”

However, it highlighted the resistance of some Arab countries, including Iraq, Qatar, and Kuwait, against such a plan due to their relations with Iran and also because of rejecting any ties with the ‘Israeli’ occupiers.

Starting from the tenure of former President Donald Trump, Washington has tried to convince a number of Arab countries to publicly announce the normalization of ties with the ‘Israeli’ regime.

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco were among the first countries to toe the line, facing strong condemnations from Palestinians who denounced the move as a “stab in their back.”

Using baseless accusations against Iran, Washington is now trying to force some other regional states to side with the Zionist entity.

Iraq, however, is one of the countries that has clearly voiced its opposition to ‘Israel’ as it recently adopted a law criminalizing any sort of ties with the regime.

In late May, Iraq’s parliament approved a law making it illegal for the country to ever normalize its relations with the Zionist occupation regime.

Back in 2020, the UAE and Bahrain entered United States-brokered so-called “peace deals” with the ‘Israeli’ regime. Some other regional states, namely Sudan and Morocco, followed suit.

Reports suggest that Saudi Arabia is the next country that may embark on normalization. Analysts suggest the direct flight of Air Force One from Tel Aviv to Jeddah during Biden’s upcoming trip as a symbolic act can be interpreted within this framework.

Israeli military officials sent to Qatar as US works to bolster security cooperation

Arrival of officials in Qatar underscores how normalisation impacts Arab states that have not formally established ties to Israel

A general view shows US Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft at al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar (AFP/File photo)

8 July 2022 

By Sean Mathews

Israeli military officials have secretly been dispatched to Qatar as part of a security reshuffle that places Israel in US Central Command’s area of responsibility, current and former US and Gulf officials have told Middle East Eye.

At least one location where Israeli officials have travelled is al-Udeid, a US air base and the forward operating headquarters of all US forces in the Middle East, also known as Centcom, the sources said.

Israel was absorbed into Centcom last year, in a move that built on the 2020 normalisation agreements which saw Bahrain and the UAE establish full diplomatic relations with Israel. Morocco and Sudan normalised relations with Israel soon after.

A Gulf official with knowledge of the matter who spoke with MEE on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive topic did not say how many Israeli personnel were currently in the country.  

The Abraham Accords and Israel’s inclusion in Centcom ‘are forcing all Arab capitals to reassess what their relationship with Israel looks like’

– R Clarke Cooper, former US official

Despite lacking formal relations, Israel and Qatar – two key US allies – maintain ties, and are known to engage on issues including the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

“There is dialogue, and it is a good dialogue,” said the Gulf official.

Qatar publicly acknowledges what it calls a “working relationship” with Israel. Those ties came to the fore during Israel’s offensive on Gaza last year when Defence Minister Benny Gantz reportedly met with Qatari officials in an unnamed country to negotiate aid for the besieged Gaza Strip.

However, the disclosure, not previously reported elsewhere, of Israeli military officials travelling to Qatar underscores how ties are extending beyond traditional areas such as Palestine, particularly as the US works to bolster security cooperation between its Arab partners and Israel.

“The Abraham Accords, as well as the inclusion of Israel into the US Central Command, are forcing all Arab capitals to reassess what their relationship with Israel looks like,” R Clarke Cooper, former assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs under the Trump administration and currently at the Atlantic Council, told MEE.

“Current considerations of military integration to address shared threats like Iran is a real-time example of such reassessment,” he added.

‘Exploring greater security coordination’

In March, Qatari military officials – along with those from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Jordan – reportedly held a meeting with US and Israeli counterparts in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm al-Sheikh to discuss a plan for joint missile defence.

The meeting took place against a backdrop of rising tensions with Iran, as talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal stall. 

In contrast to other Gulf states, Qatar is seen as more supportive of a return to the deal. Qatar shares the world’s largest natural gas field with Iran. Its leader, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, travelled to the Islamic Republic in May in a push to jumpstart stalled talks. Last month, the US and Tehran held indirect negotiations in Doha aimed at reviving the accord.  

Biden Middle East visit: Why an Israel-led security pact is a paper tiger
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But Qatar’s geographic position also means that it would be vulnerable to any escalation in the region, analysts say.

“The Qataris, like other smaller countries between Saudi Arabia and Iran, are open to exploring greater security coordination with other actors, whether that be Turkey, whether that be Israel as well,” Anna Jacobs, a senior analyst on Gulf states at the International Crisis Group, told MEE.

Asked about the stationing of Israeli military officials at US bases in Qatar, Centcom referred MEE to the Israeli military. The Israeli military refused to comment on the topic.

Lt Col Dave Eastburn, US Central Command spokesman, told MEE in a written response that the “easing of tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors subsequent to the Abraham Accords has provided a strategic opportunity for the United States to align key partners against shared threats in the Middle East, including our partners in Israel”.

‘Working relationship’

Qatar, a gas-rich country of 2.8 million people, of which only 300,000 are Qatari nationals, has had a complex relationship with Israel.

Qatar was the first country in the Gulf to establish trade relations with Israel. During the Second Intifada, it was reportedly pressured by Saudi Arabia and other states to close its trade office there. A reopened office was subsequently shuttered when Israel launched its 2009 invasion of Gaza.

Qatar has long positioned itself as an advocate of the Palestinian cause. The Al Jazeera Media Network and its affiliates, which are funded by the Government of Qatar, are viewed by many as critical of Israel.

Doha is also close to Hamas, the group that governs the besieged Gaza Strip, and provides hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza in coordination with the UN, and with the backing of Israel.

Doha’s leverage with Hamas helped it negotiate a ceasefire to last May’s fighting which saw more than 260 Palestinians killed in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, and 13 in Israel. Following the truce, Qatar pledged $500m in support of Gaza’s reconstruction.

A few months after the ceasefire, Qatar announced new measures to provide aid to impoverished families in Gaza. Defence Minister Benny Gantz praised Doha, stating: “I would like to thank Qatar for taking a positive role as a stabilising actor in the Middle East.”

“The Qataris have a win-win situation,” Yoel Guzansky, a Gulf expert at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, told MEE.

“They are appreciated on the Palestinian street for not normalising. They have good relations with the US and good relations with Israel.”

Navigating the grey zone

Biden is scheduled to embark on a four-day trip to the Middle East next week, where he will first visit Israel and the occupied West Bank. The visit will then culminate with a major gathering of regional leaders in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah.

Ahead of Biden’s trip, US officials have hinted that new states could take steps to normalise relations with Israel. The US is believed to be negotiating a deal to transfer two Red Sea islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, in a move that could eventually pave the way for Riyadh to normalise in the future.

Biden Middle East visit: Why the Arab world needs a new leadership
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Few expect Qatar to take similar measures.

The State Department denied MEE’s request to discuss Qatar and US normalisation efforts. Qatar also didn’t respond to requests for comment by the time of publication. 

In an interview earlier this year, Qatar’s foreign minister ruled out normalising ties with Israel “in the absence of a real commitment to a two-state solution” between the Israelis and Palestinians.

“If I was the Qataris, I would not normalise. And if I was the Israelis, I don’t know if I would want them to,” Guzansky said, explaining that both sides were so far apart on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that it was likely in each’s favour to keep bilateral ties in a “grey zone”.

Navigating that grey zone amid signs that normalisation in the region is proceeding will likely continue to test Qatar’s ability to balance the relationship. 

Hamas’ return ticket to Damascus won’t come cheap

The Palestinian resistance movement’s complicated relationship with Syria is headed for a reset, but it won’t be on their terms.

July 06 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Despite excited media reports of a Hamas-Syria rapprochement, nothing is finalized: the Palestinian resistance movement has much more to prove still.

By The Cradle’s Palestine Correspondent

On 21 June, two unnamed Hamas sources told Reuters that the Palestinian resistance movement had decided to restore ties with Damascus following a decade-long rift after Hamas expressed support for the Syrian opposition.

The news caused a row, and it seems that this may have been the purpose behind its leak.

Shortly after the report, dozens of websites, satellite channels and media commentators in Turkey, Qatar, and the UK who are sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood – the political Islamist group to which Hamas belongs ideologically – distanced themselves from Hamas, which has neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

However, comments made by the head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, has added credence to these claims.

In a speech before the National Islamic Conference in Beirut, on 25 June, Haniyeh said, “The time has come after ten years to make historic reconciliations in the Islamic nation.”

“What is happening in the region today is very dangerous as Israel is paving the way through military and security alliances to fight Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas,” he added.

So how accurate are the reports about “high-profile” secret meetings between Hamas and the Syrians? Is there a relationship between Haniyeh’s visit to Beirut and the timing of these revelations?

The heavy legacy of Khaled Meshaal

When Hamas left Syria over a decade ago, the office of Khaled Meshaal, who was the head of the movement’s Political Bureau at the time, justified the decision as stemming from “moral premises.”

They contended that the Hamas movement stands with the people in deciding who will rule them, saying “even if the ruler supports our right, we will not support his falsehood.” This reverberated within the movement, and the majority of its popular base supported “Syrian revolution” in the face of “the regime that is slaughtering its people.”

That was back in 2011, when the so-called Arab Spring helped sweep the Muslim Brotherhood (MB or Ikhwan) and its affiliates into power in Egypt and Tunisia, and paved the way for the MB-aligned Syrian armed opposition to take control of the outskirts of Damascus. .

But only four years later (2015), the picture was completely reversed: Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi was ousted in a Gulf-backed military coup; Tunisian President Kais Saied turned against the Brotherhood’s Ennahda party and removed it completely from the political scene. And Damascus gradually regained control over the vital parts of Syria.

In the wider region, the regime of Omar Al-Bashir fell in Sudan, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence in Libya, Yemen, Jordan and Kuwait was severely diminished.

New leadership, a new direction

It was inevitable that these significant region-wide changes would also transform Hamas’ leadership to reflect the new political scene. In 2017, Ismail Haniyeh was appointed head of the Political Bureau, while that same year, Yahya Al-Sinwar, who was released from Israeli prisons in 2011, became the leader of the movement in Gaza.

Seen as a hawk, Sinwar relies on the absolute support of the movement’s military arm, the Al-Qassam Brigades, and as such, introduced a new political approach to Hamas’ regional relations.

Although Sinwar’s first move was to reorganize relations with Cairo after a four-year estrangement, by far his most important change was to revive Hamas’ relations with the Axis of Resistance, making it the movement’s top foreign policy priority.

Within a few years, the Hamas leader in Gaza had re-established full relations with Iran and Hezbollah, but its return to Damascus still remains the biggest obstacle.

In order to thaw the ice with Syria, Iran mediated first, followed by Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and more recently, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). This deadlock was not broken until after the Hamas operation “Sword of Jerusalem” in May 2021.

Testing the waters

In that same month, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad responded to a greeting from Al Qassam Brigades, conveyed by the Secretary General of PIJ Ziad Al-Nakhaleh, with a corresponding greeting. After that, contacts began to increase between Syrian officials and Hamas leaders.

Syrian sources informed The Cradle that a year ago it was decided to “reduce security measures against a number of Hamas members in Syria, release a number of detainees, and reveal the fate of other missing persons.”

But that didn’t achieve normalcy between Syria and Hamas either. There are those within the latter, it appears, who continue to sabotage progress made with Damascus.

To understand the dynamics of this particular relationship – present and its future – it is necessary to review its stages throughout the years.

From Amman to Damascus

Hamas began paving the way for its relationship with Syria in the early 1990s through visits made by its official Musa Abu Marzouk. In 1992, Mustafa Al-Ledawi was appointed as the head of an unofficial office for the Hamas in Damascus.

The great leap occurred with the visit of the founder of Hamas, the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, to Damascus in 1998. This official visit, and the warm reception accorded Yassin, constituted a huge breakthrough in relations, after which the late President Hafez Al-Assad authorized Hamas’ official presence in Syria, providing it with political and security facilities and logistical and material support.

Despite previous bad blood between Damascus and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, notably in regard to the Hama massacre in 1982, there were several prudent reasons for the Syrian government and Hamas to collaborate.

One reason can be traced to the rivalry between Hafez Assad and the late Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat, who sided with the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War (1990–91) after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on 2 August, 1990.

On 21 November, 1999, a plane carrying Hamas’ then-political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal landed at Damascus airport, after being expelled from Jordan and refused a reception by many Arab capitals.

Since then, a number of political bureau members relocated to Damascus, and Hamas’ activities in Syria intensified. Between 2000 and 2010, the relationship further strengthened over several events, including the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the 2005 withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon, the 2006 July war between Israel and Hezbollah, and most importantly, the Israeli aggression against Gaza in 2008.

Syrian support

Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar, who was interviewed by The Cradle in Gaza, talks about an important detail that the media did not mention at the time. When Hamas formed its first government in Gaza in 2007, in which Zahar was foreign minister, “Syria was the only Arab country that recognized the diplomatic red passport issued from Gaza.”

Zahar says: “The Syrian leadership gave us everything. On my first visit to Damascus, we were able to solve the problem of hundreds of Palestinian refugees stuck on the Syrian-Iraqi borders, and Syria adopted the Palestinian calling code (+970), and expressed its willingness to provide support to the elected Palestinian government. For that, it faced an Arab, international, and American war.”

Today, Zahar is the designated official tasked by Sinwar to revive the relationship with Damascus. This was confirmed by sources in Hamas, who said that he traveled to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage, and may head from there to Damascus.

These details are meaningful: it means Egypt is spared the censure of allowing Zahar to travel to Syria, and would avoid an awkward situation for Cairo in front of the US, Israelis and Gulf Arabs.

From Damascus to Doha and Ankara

The Syrian crisis that erupted in March 2011 put Hamas in a unique bind of its own making. Fellow Palestinian Islamists in PIJ, for example, did not take a radical position on the “revolution” from 2011 to 2017, and were content with maintaining their offices in Damascus, although its political and military leadership relocated to Beirut due to deteriorating security conditions.

On the other hand, Hamas issued its first statement regarding the Syrian crisis on 2 April, 2011, in which it affirmed its support for the Syrian people and leadership, and considered that “Syria’s internal affairs concern the brothers in Syria… We hope to overcome the current circumstances in order to achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people, and preserve Syria’s stability and its internal cohesion, and strengthening its role in the line of confrontation and opposition.”

This wishy-washy statement did not hide the hostile stance of the movement’s members and elites, who all adopted the anti-Syrian narrative. On 5 November, 2011, the Syrian security forces stormed the offices of Hamas, confiscated its assets, and shuttered them.

In early 2012, Meshaal traveled to Doha, Qatar, before holding a scheduled meeting with Bashar Al-Assad. Hamas declared that the meeting “will not be useful.”

Hamas and the opposition

On 8 December, 2012, the movement burned bridges with Damascus when Meshaal and Haniyeh raised the flag of the “Syrian revolution” during a celebration marking the movement’s launch in the Gaza Strip in front of tens of thousands of their supporters.

In a parade held during the celebration, a number of members of the Al-Qassam Brigades wore the opposition flag on their backs.

The Syrian government’s reaction was no less restrained. Assad accused Hamas of actively participating in the war against the Syrian state by supporting Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra, and by providing instructions to opposition factions on ways to dig tunnels and fortify them to withstand aerial bombardment.

Other opposition militant groups such as Bait Al-Maqdis, Faylaq Al-Rahman and Army of Huda announced that they were affiliated with Hamas.

Once an Ikhwani, always an Ikhwani

In 2016, Assad said in an interview with Syrian newspaper Al-Watan: “We supported Hamas not because they are Muslim Brotherhood, but rather we supported them on the grounds that they are resistance. In the end, it was proven that the Ikhwani (member of Muslim Brotherhood) is Ikhwani wherever he puts himself, and from the inside remains a terrorist and hypocrite.”

All this may seem a thing of the past, but it still affects the formation of a new relationship between the two parties, especially after the return of turncoat Meshaal and his team a year ago to important leadership positions in Hamas.

Although the majority of the movement’s leadership has changed, the old legacy of Meshaal still weighs heavily on everyone, especially in Damascus. There are many in Syria who still warn the “wound is open;” that Hamas has not yet closed it, but rather wants a “free return.”

Understanding Hamas’ structure

Before explaining Hamas’ recent decision to restore ties with Syria, it is necessary to know how the movement is run to ensure representation and accountability. Hamas has a Shura Council of 15 members, chosen in elections in which cadres of certain organizational ranks participate.

These cadres choose their representatives in the local advisory councils from different regions (West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, territories occupied in 1948, and prisons). As for members of Hamas’ base, they elect their representatives in the General Consultative Council, which in turn elects the Political Bureau.

Despite this ‘healthy democracy,’ the position on Syria produced two contradictory currents:

The first current is led by Meshaal, who was head of the Political Bureau until 2017. It includes Ahmed Youssef, a former adviser to Haniyeh, and Nayef Rajoub, one of the most prominent leaders of Hamas in the West Bank.

The second current has no specific leader, but Zahar was the public face before Sinwar joined him.

Between these two viewpoints, Ismail Haniyeh and Musa Abu Marzouk maintain a state of ‘pragmatism’ by taking a middle position between the Qatar-Turkey axis and the Axis of Resistance.

Although the decision to leave Syria was taken with the full approval of the members of the Shura Council and members of the Political Bureau, the entire burden of the decision was placed on Meshaal. The man, who was a personal friend of Assad and Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah, became blacklisted by the Axis of Resistance.

Meshaal’s influence

All prior efforts to restore relations between Hamas and Syria were a “waste of time” as long as Meshaal was at the helm of the movement. This was not only the opinion of the Syrians, but of many Iranians as well.

In 2015, for example, when there were media reports about efforts to restore Hamas-Syrian relations, the Iranian Tabnak website (supervised by General Mohsen Rezaei, a leader in the Revolutionary Guards and currently one of the advisors to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei) launched a scathing attack against Meshaal.

At that time, Meshaal had refused to visit Tehran if he was not received at the highest levels – that is – to meet specifically with Khamenei. The Tabnak website wrote: “Meshaal and the Hamas leaders lined up two years ago on the side of the international terrorists in Syria… They are now setting conditions for the restoration of relations between Hamas and Iran as if Iran did not have any conditions.”

Since that time, Meshaal and his team have remained staunchly reluctant to even talk about restoring relations with Damascus. In addition to their loyalty (to some extent) to Turkey and Qatar, they were aware that reviving relations would weaken their organizational position within Hamas, and contribute to increasing the influence of their rivals.

On the other hand, these rivals remained weak until 2017, as Meshaal managed to marginalize Mahmoud Al-Zahar who did not receive any influential positions.

Re-joining the Resistance Axis

The formation of the new Political Bureau meant there were now a large number of officials who were not involved in any public positions on the Syrian crisis – such as Sinwar, Saleh Al-Arouri, and Osama Hamdan, who maintained a balanced relationship with all parties.

Zahar told The Cradle that Sinwar was “convinced” of his theses about the shape of the “last battle with Israel.” He added: “I spoke with Abu Ibrahim (Sinwar) for a long time about restoring the bond with the components of the nation that have hostility to Israel, specifically Hezbollah, Syria and Iran, and this is the pillar of Hamas’ foreign policy in the future.”

Nevertheless, Zahar believes that Damascus “will refuse to deal with the movement’s leadership, which took the lead during the war.” But it is likely that the Syrians will accept to deal with him personally, which he will seek during his forthcoming visit.

What’s Next?

Well-informed sources in Hamas revealed to The Cradle that the movement’s Political Bureau met this month and made the decision to return to Syria, despite Meshaal’s objection.

The resolution has two aims: first, to build a resistance front in the “ring countries” surrounding Palestine; and second, to establish a maritime line of communication between Gaza and the port of Latakia, in Syria.

The sources also revealed that Jamil Mezher, who was recently elected deputy secretary general of the PFLP, conveyed a message from Sinwar to the Syrian leadership calling for the restoration of relations between the two parties.

After his visit to Damascus, Mezher met with Haniyeh in Beirut to discuss the results. Haniyeh also met Nasrallah, as well as Ziad Al-Nakhaleh in an expanded meeting of the leaderships of Hamas and the PIJ in the Lebanese capital. All these events took place in one week.

According to Hamas sources, Haniyeh informed Nasrallah that the movement has unanimously taken an official decision to restore relations with Damascus. The two sides also discussed the demarcation of the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel.

The sources confirm that “Hamas is ready to simultaneously target gas-stealing platforms from the Gaza sea, in the event that Hezbollah targets an exploration and extraction vessel in the Karish field.”

Hamas sources, as well as an informed Syrian source, however, deny holding any recent new meetings between the two parties. The Syrian source reveals that meetings sponsored by Islamic Jihad were held last year.

What does Syria stand to gain?

On the other hand, Damascus has its reasons for postponing the return of this relationship. Of course, internal reasons can be overlooked if Bashar Al-Assad himself makes the decision.

But it is the current regional situation and the re-formation of alliances that worries the Syrian leadership the most.

It is true that Assad the son, like his father, has learned the ropes in dealing with the MB, but now he has no need for a new headache caused by the return of Hamas. There is no great benefit from this return except in one case: the normalization of Syrian relations with Turkey, Qatar, or both.

On Syria’s terms

Only in this scenario, can bridges be re-built with Hamas. But the conditions for this are currently immature, as this normalization will be at the expense of Syria’s relationship with its ally Russia, whether in the issue of gas supplies to Europe or stopping the military operation that Ankara is threatening against Kurdish terrorists in northern Syria.

Syria, which has already improved its relations with the UAE, and is currently working to improve its relations with Saudi Arabia and Jordan, will not include a “losing card” in its stack of cards now.

It will also not compete with Egypt over a file – the relationship with Hamas – which Cairo considers its monopoly in the region.

Also, Damascus is not in the midst of a clash of any kind with the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah movement, which took advantage of the exit of Hamas to consolidate their position in the Syrian capital and improve their relationship with Assad.

However, when news broke about the possible resumption of Hamas-Syrian relations, this time Damascus did not launch an attack on the movement and did not comment negatively on the news of the rapprochement and the restoration of the relations – as it did previously.

There is no doubt that the battle of the “Sword of Jerusalem” and the presence of a new leadership in Hamas’ Political Bureau has thawed the ice significantly. But the answer to when full rapprochement will be achieved is a decision likely to be made between Assad and Nasrallah.

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

Algeria: 60 years of endless support for the Palestinian cause

July 5, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net + Agencies

By Ahmad Karakira 

Algeria has always demonstrated unconditional support for the country of Palestine and the Palestinian cause, which dates back to fighting “Israel” and helping Egypt claim back Sinai in the 1973 October War.

Algeria’s unconditional support for the Palestinian cause

On July 5, 1962, after 132 years of French colonialism, Algeria declared its independence. The Evian agreements of March 18, 1962, ended the war between France and the Algerian National Liberation Army (ALN), and a referendum of self-determination took place on the first of July, 1962.

The results of the referendum came in favor of transferring power from the French to the Algerian authorities on July 3, ending decades of occupation, settler colonialism, and massacres.

The date – July 5 – was deliberately chosen by the Algerian government in reference to July 5, 1830, when the city of Algiers was occupied by France.

The seven-year war between the French occupier and the Algerian resistance left around one million Algerian martyrs on the path of Algeria’s freedom and liberation.

Endless stories about heroic epic battles by the Algerian resistance against Western colonialism can be recounted on the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence.

However, this piece aims to shed light on Algeria’s endless support for Palestine, the Palestinian cause, and fellow Arab states against all forms of oppression and occupation since the north African country gained its liberation through resistance.

“We are with Palestinians, be they the oppressed or the oppressors”

To begin with, Palestinians supported the Algerian Revolution from 1954-1962 and showed solidarity through organizing fundraisers for Algeria.

Despite some Arab states shamefully signing normalization agreements with the Israeli occupation in exchange for some benefits, Algeria has strongly opposed such deals, considering normalization with the occupation as a betrayal to the Arabs and the Palestinian cause.

In the early 1970s, former Algerian President Houari Boumediene said his famous phrase, “We are with Palestinians, be they the oppressed or the oppressors.”

It is noteworthy that similar to the official Algerian stance on Palestine, Algerians, according to the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, oppose normalizing ties with the Israeli occupation with a 99% rate.

One would wonder about the secret behind Algeria’s unconditional support for the Palestinian cause.

Historically, Algeria has always been advocating the Palestinian cause and supporting fellow Arab states against the Israeli occupation.

In fact, after only five years of gaining its liberation from the French occupation, Algeria supported the Arab allies against “Israel” by sending troops and aircrafts to fight alongside the Arab states in the 1967 Six-Day War.

The Algerian army also played an important role during the 1973 October war.

Significantly, when Egypt signed the Camp David Agreement and established ties with the Israeli occupation, Algeria severed its ties with Egypt.

In addition, Algeria established close relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), providing it with weapons, training its fighters during the 70s, and helping the PLO obtain observer status in the UN in 1974.

After the former US President Donald Trump’s administration, the UAE, and “Israel” revealed the so-called “Abraham Accords” in August, current Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune stressed his country’s deep commitment to the Palestinian cause, affirming that Algeria deems Palestine as a sacred cause.

Algiers also harshly criticized the normalizing states (the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan). It also paid the price for its anti-normalization stance, as the US acknowledged the Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara after years of unresolved disputes and unachievable status.

In trying to understand the reason behind Algeria’s official and popular support for the Palestinian cause, Sami Hamdi, the Editor-in-Chief of the International Interest magazine, explained that “Algerians feel a deep resonance with the Palestinians who have been colonized for some 82 years and believe that whatever the difficulties, resistance will eventually succeed.”

In the same context, TRT had quoted Jalel Harchaoui, a Senior Fellow at the Geneva-based Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, as saying that Algeria’s “somewhat exceptional history makes resistance against colonial powers writ large a narrative crucially central to the Algerian state as we know it.”

Algeria’s participation in the 1973 October War

Aiming to restore the lands that “Israel” occupied during the 1967 Six-Day War – Sinai in Egypt and the Golan Heights in Syria – on October 6, 1973, Cairo and Damascus launched an attack on the Zionist entity. The war coincided with the holy month of Ramadan.

During that time, Algeria played a significant role in providing Egypt and Syria with Soviet weapons and bringing in troops to the Egyptian front to fight the Israeli occupation, despite its then-instable economic situation as a result of the pre-independence era of French colonialism.

In fact, then-Algerian President Houari Boumedienne reportedly flew to Moscow to secure military aid for the Egyptians and the Syrians.

In a reiteration of its role in supporting anti-colonialist movements, Algeria sent more than 2,100 troops, 815 non-commissioned officers, and 192 officers to Sinai. It also sent 96 tanks and over 50 fighters and bomber aircraft to Egypt, according to the Egyptian authorities.

Algiers also participated in the oil embargo imposed by the Arab members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on the US over its support of the Israeli occupation during the war, which led to significant price hikes around the world.

On October 17, Arab oil producers decided to increase the price of oil by 17% and cut oil production by 5%, vowing to “maintain the same rate of reduction each month thereafter until the Israeli forces are fully withdrawn from all Arab territories occupied during the June 1967 War, and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people are restored.”

Sharon underestimated the power of Algerian forces

In the context of the 1973 October War, the former Chief of Staff of the Israeli occupation forces, David Eliezer, acknowledged in his released diaries that “Israel” lost this war as a result of the arrogance of then-Major General Ariel Sharon, who underestimated the power of the Algerian forces and thought that they wouldn’t stand a chance against the IOF forces, thinking that they would flee as soon as they set their eyes on Israeli tanks.

Eliezer said that 900 IOF soldiers were killed and 172 tanks were destroyed in just one day during the war.

On his part, the former Israeli Security Minister Moshe Dayan revealed that all the intelligence information showed that Algerians did not have weapons capable of intercepting the Israeli forces.

Dayan also said the Israelis received intelligence about a state of division between the Egyptians and the Algerians. The Israelis were surprised by the Algerian forces downing a giant US Lockheed C-5 Galaxy aircraft by a missile, which frightened the US Staff and frustrated the Nixon administration.

The former Israeli minister said the Egyptian forces deceived the Israeli forces, making them believe that the strategic Al-Adabiya port was not fortified enough. However, the Algerian forces were in charge of protecting the port.

One cannot but hail the role of Algeria in supporting the Palestinian cause and anti-colonial liberation movements, whether on the official or popular level. Despite the geographical distances separating Palestine from Algeria, Algerians believe that the two countries share the same pain, torture, grief, sorrow, and hopefully the same liberation to be achieved in the near future.

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The west’s Plan B: Secure the realm

Having failed in preserving the unipolar order, the west will resort to Plan B – reviving a bipolar world based on the ‘civilized’ west and the ‘barbarian’ rest.

June 27 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Fadi Lama

Plan A: Global Hegemony

By the late 1990s, it was clear that a China-led Asia would be the dominant economic, technological and military power of the 21st century.

The late Polish-American diplomat and political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski spelled out in 1997 that the way to control Asian growth, and China’s in particular, was to control global energy reserves.

The attacks on 11 September 2001 provided the “catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor” to set military intervention plans in motion. As noted by US General Wesley Clark, “in addition to Afghanistan, we’re going to take out 7 countries in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.”

Energy reserves of these countries – in addition to those already controlled by the west – would result in western control over 60 percent of global gas reserves and 70 percent of global oil reserves.

However, the west’s direct military intervention wars failed, and subsequent proxy wars using assorted Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamists failed as well.

Rise of the ‘RIC’

In the two decades since Brzezinski laid out his strategy and the west immersed itself in failed wars, the Eurasian sovereignist core of Russia, Iran, and China (RIC) were heavily focused on national development in all arenas, including the economic, technological and military fields, and physical and social infrastructure development.

By 2018, it was clear that plans for western control of global energy reserves had failed and that the RIC had overtaken the west in many, if not most, of the aforementioned sectors.

As a result, the RIC were able to project power, protecting sovereign nations from western interventionism in West AsiaCentral AsiaSouth America and Africa. In Iran’s case this also involved a direct military response against US forces, following the assassination of the late General Qassem Soleimani. Making matters worse, the gap between the west and the RIC is widening, with little chance for the former to catch up.

The impossibility of sustaining western global hegemony had become evident amid continuous erosion of western power and global influence, which coincide with a commensurate expansion of RIC global influence, both of which necessitated an alternative strategy: a Plan B, as it were.

Plan B: Securing the realm

In view of the irreversible widening of this gap, and the growing global influence of the RIC, the only feasible strategy for the west would be to ‘terminate the competition’ by splitting the world into two regions, one in which the west has ironclad control, where western “rules” reign, and is divorced from the RIC-influenced region.

The current geostrategy of the west is the imposition of an Iron Curtain with the inclusion of as many resource rich nations as possible. Only by realizing the west’s actual geostrategic objective is it possible to understand the reason behind its apparently self-defeating actions, specifically:

  • Imposition of draconian sanctions on Russia that hurt the west far more than Russia.
  • Increasing tensions with China and Iran whilst engaged in a proxy war with Russia.

While the world is fixated on the conflict in Ukraine, the geostrategic objective of the west is being steadily advanced.

Sanctions: the catalyst of crises and coercion

The widely accepted explanation is that the west imposed draconian sanctions with the expectation that it would turn the ruble into “rubble,” create a run on banks, crash the Russian economy, weaken President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power, and pave the way for a more amenable president to replace him.

None of these expectations materialized. On the contrary, the ruble strengthened against the dollar and the euro, and the Russian economy is faring better than most western economies, which are witnessing record inflation and recessionary indicators. To add insult to injury, Putin’s popularity has soared while those of his western counterparts are hitting record lows.

The west’s after-the-fact explanation that sanctions, and their repercussions, were not well thought out, do not hold water.

Often overlooked though, has been the devastating impact of these sanctions on the Global South. US economist Michael Hudson argues that the Ukraine war is merely a catalyst to impose sanctions that would result in global food and energy crises – allowing the US to coerce the Global South to be “with us or against us.”

Indeed the impact of these crises are compounded by the earlier detrimental impact of Covid lockdowns. Food, energy and economic crises are further exasperated by the US Federal Reserve raising interest rates which directly impact the debt servicing ability of Global South countries, placing them on the edge of bankruptcy and at the mercy of the western-controlled World Bank and International Monetary Fund — the instruments for effectively locking these nations within the western realm.

Thus, despite the very negative impact of sanctions on western countries, these nevertheless fit perfectly with the strategic objective of locking in as many Global South countries within the western sphere of influence.

Tensions with China and Iran:

Driving a wedge between Eurasian powers has been an axiom of western geostrategy, as expressed eloquently by Brzezinski: “The three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are:

  • to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals,
  • to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and
  • to keep the barbarians from coming together.”

In this regard, raising tensions with Beijing and Tehran, while the west is involved in a proxy war with Russia, appears contradictory.

However it starts to make more rational sense when contextualizing the strategy as one aiming to establish an “Iron Curtain” that separates the world into two: one is the western Realm, and the other is Brzezinski’s ‘Barbaria,’ at the core of which are the RIC.

Two worlds

The western realm will continue on its path of neoliberalism. Yet due to significantly smaller populations and resources under its control, it will be significantly impoverished compared to present, necessitating imposition of police states for which Covid-19 lockdowns provide a glimpse into the socio-political future of these states.

Global South countries under the western realm will continue down a path of increased poverty, requiring management by dictatorial governments. Political turbulence is expected as a result of deteriorating socioeconomic conditions.

‘Barbaria,’ as reflected in the very diverse political and economic models of the RIC, will have a variety of development models, reflecting the civilizational diversity within this realm and the mutually beneficial cooperation which currently exists between the RICs, and between the RIC and others.

What about the Global South?

Facing the perfect storm of food, energy, inflation and debt servicing crises, many Global South countries will be in a very weak position and may be readily coerced into joining the western realm. This will be facilitated by the fact that their economic, and consequently, political elites, have their interests aligned with the western financial construct – and will thus wholeheartedly embrace joining the west.

The inability of west to provide effective solutions to these crises, coupled with their colonial past, will make joining Barbaria more attractive. This can be further influenced by the RIC providing support during this crisis period.

Russia has already offered to assist in the provision of food to Afghanistan and African countries, while Iran notably provided gasoline to Venezuela during its fuel crisis. Meanwhile, China has a successful track record of infrastructure development in Global South countries and is spearheading the world’s most ambitious connectivity project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

As Russian economist and Minister of Integration for the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) Sergey Glazyev already hinted when describing the emerging alternative global financial network: “Countries of the Global South can be full participants of the new system regardless of their accumulated debts in dollars, euro, pound, and yen. Even if they were to default on their obligations in those currencies, this would have no bearing on their credit rating in the new financial system.”

How many Global South nations can the western realm realistically expect to hold onto when Barbaria offers a clean slate, with zero debt?

Where does this leave West Asia?

The Axis of Resistance will be further aligned with Barbaria; however, political elites in Iraq and Lebanon favor the western realm. Thus, a politically turbulent period is expected in such countries. Due to the inability of west to offer economic solutions, coupled with the clout of local Resistance parties in these countries, the end game for Iraq and Lebanon is ultimately to join Barbaria, along with the de-facto government of Yemen.

Oil sheikhdoms of the Gulf are creations of the west and therefore belong in the western realm. However due to events of the past two decades, this may not necessarily be where they all line up.  The west’s debacles in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen have convinced the sheikhdoms that the west has lost its military edge, and is no longer able to offer long term protection.

Furthermore, unlike the west, Barbaria has a track record of not directly meddling in the internal affairs of nations, a factor of significance for the sheikhdoms. Recent diplomatic tensions with the west have been evidenced by Saudi and UAE leaders rejecting the oil production demands of the US administration – an unprecedented development. If offered convincing protection by Barbaria, oil sheikhdoms may decide to join it.

End of an Era

Retrenchment of the west marks the end of a long era of western expansionism and oppression. Some date this era back six centuries to the start of European colonization in the fifteenth century. Others date it even further back to the Great Schism and the subsequent Crusades.

The latter are supported by a statement attributed to British Field Marshal Edmund Allenby on entering Jerusalem in 1917:  “only now have the crusades ended,” and the fact that church bells chimed worldwide in celebration of the occupation of Jerusalem.

During this era, hundreds of millions all over the globe were massacred, civilizations were wiped out, billions suffered and still suffer. To state that we are living in epochal times is a gross understatement.

Naturally the end of such an era cannot happen peacefully; the wars of the past 30 years are witness to this.

The regression of western initiated wars from direct military intervention (Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq) to wars by proxy (Syria, Iraq, Ukraine) augurs well, as it reflects the realization by the west that it is no match militarily to the RIC. Had there been any lingering doubts, the war in Ukraine has put them to rest. Thus it can be concluded that the worst is over.

Internal instability in some Global South countries will exist in the near future; a consequence of the struggle between diverging interests of populations and neoliberal ruling elites. Decline and impoverishment of the west vs. the rise of RIC will favour the resolving these struggles in favour of the peoples and alignment with RIC.

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

Raisi: Normalization of Relations Will Not Bring Security to Zionist Regime

June 28, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi says normalization of relations with a number of regional Arab countries will not bring security to the Zionist regime of the “Israeli” entity.

Raisi made the remarks in a joint presser with the visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Tehran on Sunday.

“During this meeting, we discussed trade and political and economic relations [between the two countries], and decided to boost economic ties. We discussed the rail connection between Shalamcheh [in Iran] and [Iraq’s] Basra [port], which can play a great role in facilitating trade between the two countries. We also discussed facilitation of monetary and banking relations between Iran and Iraq,” he said.

Reflecting on the efforts made by the Zionist regime’s official during past years to normalize relations with some Arab states in the region, Iran’s chief executive said, “The efforts made by the Zionist regime to normalize relations with regional countries will by no means bring security to this regime.

“We and Iraq believe that peace and tranquility in the region depends on all regional officials doing their parts, and normalization [of relations] with the [Zionist] regime and the presence of foreigners in the region will solve none of the regional people’s problems,” Raisi said.

Highlighting the importance of relations between Iran and Iraq and the role played by the two countries in regional developments, Raisi said, “We stood by people of Iraq when the country was going through dire straits and will continue to stick together. This friendship and relations will never go cold and will further develop on a daily basis. There is no doubt that the visit by Mr. Kadhimi and his accompanying delegation can be a turning point in development of relations between the two countries.

He said that during his meeting with Kadhimi they discussed the existing relations among regional countries, adding, “We believe that dialog among regional countries can solve regional problems, [but] the presence of foreigners in the region only creates more problems and does not help solve those problems.”

Back in 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed United States-brokered agreements with the entity to normalize their ties with the regime. Some other regional states, namely Sudan and Morocco, followed suit soon afterward.

Spearheaded by the UAE, the move has sparked widespread condemnations from the Palestinians as well as nations and human rights advocates across the globe, especially within the Muslim world.

Other regional countries have also been fraternizing with the entity, including Saudi Arabia, which received a visit by the regime’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November 2020.

Earlier this month, Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei said the Arab governments that chose to normalize relations with the “Israeli” entity against the will of their people will end up being exploited by the occupying regime.

Elsewhere in the presser, the Iranian president said the two sides have underlined the need for establishing a durable ceasefire in Yemen, lifting the economic blockade, and facilitating intra-Yemeni talks as the solutions to the existing problem in the impoverished country.

“Undoubtedly, we consider the continuation of this [Saudi-led] war fruitless and believe that this war has no outcome but the suffering of the people,” Raisi said, emphasizing that ceasefire can be a “step towards resolving issues in Yemen.”

Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to meet any of its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Kadhimi, for his part, said that during his talks with Iranian officials, the two sides discussed bilateral historical, cultural, and religious relations.

The Iraqi premier added that Baghdad attaches great importance to its relations with Tehran on the basis of common interests.

He noted that Iran and Iraq agreed to make further efforts to serve their nations’ interests and boost trade ties.

Kadhimi said Iran and Iraq also agreed to set a timetable to facilitate the huge annual Arbaeen procession.

He added that while Iranian pilgrims have already been able to receive visas at Iraqi airports, it is now possible for a specific number of Arbaeen pilgrims to obtain visas through border crossings.

The Iraqi prime minister said, “We also discussed major regional challenges and agreed to make a joint effort to help establish stability and calm in the region. We also talked about fateful issues facing the regional nations. We decided to support the Yemen ceasefire and agreed to support dialogue in Yemen in order to put an end to a war that has brought a lot of suffering to Yemeni people.”

اليمن: السعوديّة تسلّم الأميركيّ السلطة

الأخبار السبت 9 نيسان 2022

ناصر قنديل

لم تستطع السعودية الذهاب الى الخيار الأمثل لوقف الحرب في اليمن عبر إعلان انتهاء عمليتها العسكرية التي بدأت قبل سبع سنوات ولم تنجح في تحقيق أيّ من أهدافها، بل زادت التعقيدات التي كانت عشية بدئها تعقيداً وتجذراً، فلم يكن يومها العمق السعودي تحت التهديد، ولا كان بمستطاع اليمن أن يفرض شراكته في أمن إمدادات الطاقة والملاحة في الخليج، ولا كانت مهابة السعودية كقوة إقليمية كبرى موضع تشكيك، وتعمق الجرح الموروث تاريخياً بين اليمنيين والسعوديين بصورة يصعب أن يعالجه الزمن، مع عشرات الآلاف من الشهداء ومئات آلاف الجرحى وملايين المهجرين والجياع، ولم يفد السعودية حشد حلف ضمّ الإمارات والسودان عملياً، وآخرين اسمياً، ولا الرعاية التسليحية واللوجستية والاستخبارية وأحياناً كثيرة العملياتيّة لأميركا وبريطانيا و”إسرائيل”.

وقف العدوان وفك الحصار كان شعار أنصار الله للبحث بأي حل سياسيّ، ورغم ذلك تجاوبوا مع الإعلان عن وقف الغارات من جهة والفتح الجزئي لمطار صنعاء وميناء الحديدة من جهة موازية، رغم عدم وضوحهما كإطار لفتح باب الحل السياسيّ، ولم تستطع السعوديّة الذهاب الى المطلوب مباشرة، رغم قراءة السعودية لتغير المشهدين الدولي والإقليمي، بصورة تجعل الاستمرار بالحرب مستحيلاً، وسبباً للمزيد من الخسائر، فلا الأميركي جاهز ولا هو حاضر أو قادر على تقديم المساندة في ظل همومه المتعاظمة، وصعود روسيا والصين لم يعد فرضية محتملة بل صار واقعاً غير قابل للإنكار، تبدو الحاجة لعدم استفزازه سياسة لا بد منها بمقدار من التوازن، والإسرائيلي في وضع لا يُحسَد عليه، وقد تبخر وهم الحديث عن (“إسرائيل” ليست عدواً بل حليف محتمل)، وتبخّرت صفقة القرن، وتبخّر التطبيع، و”إسرائيل” جحش أعرج وليست حصاناً يُسرَج عليه. و”إسرائيل” تحت ضربات الفلسطينيين تحتاج من يعينها، وليست في وضع يتيح لها تقديم العون، ومَن طبّع معها ومنحها امتيازات وموطأ قدم في بلاده، يستشعر بأنه جلب الدب الى كرمه، وفتح الباب لتهديد استقراره دون مقابل، وعلى الضفة المقابلة يبدو المحور الذي كانت الحرب أداة لتحجيم حضوره، وهو يتعاظم، والأميركي ينفتح على مفاوضات العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي مع إيران لبلوغ الاتفاق مجدداً، والأموال المجمّدة يفرج عنها تباعاً، والعودة للطلب على النفط الإيراني رغم العقوبات تضاهي ما كانت عليه قبلها، وما تمّ تدبيره في العراق أو ما خطّط له في لبنان يصطدم بالجدار. وفي فلسطين تنهض المقاومة بمعادلات ردع في قلب الأراضي المحتلة عام 48، ومعادلات اليمن الرادعة من جهة وصمود اليمنيّين في جغرافيا بلدهم من جهة موازية يجعلان الخروج من الحرب بأقل الخسائر خياراً وحيداً ممكناً.

ذهب السعوديّون الى خيار الباب الموارب، ففتحوا الباب لوقف النار والرفع الجزئيّ للحصار، واستداروا نحو تركيبة السلطة اليمنيّة، فأزاحوا “الشرعية” التي قالوا إنهم دخلوا الحرب لحمايتها، وسلموا رجل المخابرات الأميركية منذ عهد الرئيس علي عبد الله صالح مقاليد السلطة، وجمعوا حوله زعماء الميليشيات التي تقاتل معهم، بمن فيهم التشكيلات المنتمية إلى فكر تنظيم القاعدة وحزب الإخوان المسلمين، وأسموهم جميعاً مجلساً قيادياً مؤقتاً بصلاحيات رئاسية كاملة، وقالوا إن مهمة المجلس التوصل الى وقف للنار مع أنصار الله، وقال أركان المجلس الجديد إنهم يستعدّون للحرب والسلم معاً، لكن جوهر الخطوة السعوديّة في مكان آخر. فالرياض تقول لواشنطن، ها هي عدة الشغل في اليمن، وعلى رأسهم رجلكم فيه فتولوا أنتم القيادة، وخذوا القرارات التي تريدونها. فالسعودية لم تعد هي مرجعية الحرب، وتريد لوقف النار أن يمتدّ، لكنها غير قادرة على تقديم الأثمان التي يستدعيها ذلك.

المأزق هو نفسه سواء تسلّم الأميركي ام السعودي دفة القيادة العلنية. فالقرار بيد الأميركي بالأصل مهما كانت الواجهة، وأنصار الله لن ينشغلوا بالتفاصيل، بين الأصيل والوكيل، وبوصلتهم لن تتوه، فقضيتهم واضحة، سيادة كاملة ورفع كامل للحصار وانسحاب للقوات الأجنبية ينهي الاحتلال، طريق وحيد لفتح باب الحوار السياسي الداخلي حول تفاصيل إدارة شؤون الحكم والاحتكام في تكوين السلطة الجديدة إلى صناديق الاقتراع.

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Mercenaries in Yemen: Nationalities, numbers & horrors

March 29 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Mona Issa 

American. French. Sudanese. German. Colombian. Yemeni. Eritrean. You name it.

Mercenaries in Yemen are a significant factor in what prolonged the war.

It’s the twenty-first century. Corporates have armies. With as little as a few ID papers and almost no governmental regulation, you can take up state-of-the-art arms and be sent to a war that’s not your war, not your battle, and kill people whose names you can barely pronounce. The trade offer? You receive some $10,000 a week. That’s $40,000 a month. That’s more than 30x the American minimum wage for some honest work. You need not read some Veronica Roth, because we’re already living in a dystopian novel. 

Let’s address the word “mercenaries.” In the very far away bureaucratic world of secret operations where sharp terms are smoothed down (recalling comedian George Carlin’s usage of post-traumatic stress disorder as a euphemism for shell-shock!), “mercenaries” is a taboo word. Instead, they’re called special forces to drive people away from the clandestine, underground nature of foreign soldier recruitment. An ancient ‘job’ dormant since the Middle Ages, the United States revived the mercenary industry with Bush’s War on Terror, and continued the venture into the UAE and Saudi-led war on Yemen, and now in Ukraine

Putting Saudi Arabia aside for now – UAE is the perfect orbit state for Washington. With a population of only 1 million with a total of 9 million expatriates, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan does not want to risk it all for a wealthy population that can barely manage a home without housemaids – the UAE is largely operated by foreigners rather than locals. So how was the UAE going to fight this war? An army operated by foreigners – namely US lieutenants and colonels and allies.

But why mercenaries? One reason is numbers. There was no way MBZ was going to send soldiers from his local population of 1 million to war. A foreign population, however, is cost-effective, could be bought in abundance, and will guarantee to prolong the war – especially if major terrorists like ISIS are on the ground.

Another reason is accountability. Because mercenaries operate outside the scope of direct military command – or, at least that’s what we know – Abu Dhabi benefits from zero accountability. Mercenaries can kill, maim and commit other war crimes with no investigation from a legitimate governmental body. They’re bought and sold like a commodity, where corporates, on the long run, can transform into superpowers like states in the new world.

A third reason would be, as an ex-Navy SEAL – Erik Prince – once said: Muslim soldiers could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims. Sending Muslim soldiers, Emirati or Saudi, to kill Yemenis will bear a conflict of interest. 

Read more: 7 years of aggression on Yemen, victims surpass 46,000

The Yemeni armed forces and the Popular Committees in Yemen can testify to witnessing American, Australian, Sudanese, Colombian, Eritrean, and even Yemeni mercenaries, working for Gulf and US interests in Yemen. Some were recruited out of ignorance and poverty, others were recruited out of coercion and deception, and many bear arms for major cash.

Kingfish

Erik Prince is a former US Navy SEAL who was behind the revival of the private security industry. 

He also calls himself ‘Kingfish.’ 

Notoriously known for Blackwater and his involvement in the Iraq War, he established another private military company called Reflex Responses – or R2 – after he sold Blackwater to investors as an escape from controversy. The UAE secretly hired both companies, Blackwater and R2, to go to Yemen. 

See more: Blackwater founder to charge $6,500 per seat on Afghanistan evacuation plane

Blackwater, which has massacred scores of Iraqis and is despised in Iraq more than the US soldiers themselves, has taken pride in employing Colombians and other Latin American military personnel, from soldiers to commanders. 

But, why did MBZ’s private army, a project originally launched by Blackwater, consist mostly of Colombians? 

As Professor of Strategy at the National Defense University Sean McFate put it, think of the private military industry as the t-shirt industry. In America, it costs 20$ to make, but in Bangladesh, it costs 1$ to make.

Colombian mercenaries are not only cheap, but they are also trained by Washington and are more violent and rigorous than others given they are hardened by guerrilla warfare in Latin America. 

The UAE hired 1,800 Colombians on the ground and tripled and quadrupled their salaries. 

“They’re pretty tough warriors in my experience,” McFate said. “They obey chain of command, and they have American training.

“When you take them out of Latin America and put them in the Middle East, they have no sort of political affiliation to any Middle Eastern action or country, so they’re just truly loyal to their paymaster. So they got a lot of Latin American ex-special soldiers in Abu Dhabi. Then, as the Emirates went to war with Saudi Arabia in Yemen, that’s when the Emirates deployed these mercenaries into Yemen to kill Houthis. And they did. And now we have mercenary warfare in Yemen almost like it’s the Middle Ages again.”

Under the guise of construction workers, Colombian mercenaries became part of an American mercenary army, led by Erik Prince, who scored a $529 million budget from the UAE to create a monster. 

“That is to me a pretty crazy part of the evolution of the mercenary business model that was taken from Erik Prince developing it in the US then exporting it to Abu Dhabi – then, all of the sudden, there are Colombians dying in Yemen. It’s hard to track,” said McFate. 

Spear: A Delaware-based firm with an Israeli touch

“Give me your best man and I’ll beat him. Anyone,” said Abraham Golan, the Israeli-Hungarian owner of Spear Operations Group that has also operated in Yemen to commit targeted assassinations. 

Golan was able to convince, over spaghetti and maybe some wine, the security advisor to MBZ that hiring his security company would be more effective than his own army – and, it worked. 

On December 29, 2015, a group of mercenaries from the Delaware-based military firm planted a bomb in the Islah political party headquarters in Aden, Yemen. Escorted by UAE military vehicles front and back, one of Golan’s mercenaries, Isaac Gilmore (also an ex-Navy SEAL and Delta Force veteran), jumps from the vehicle, fires bullets at civilians around the block, as his comrade rushes to plant the explosive device just under the building. With an Emirati soldier behind the wheel, the SUV zooms off as soon as the deed is done. 

Assassination targets handed out to Spears Group Operations’ mercenaries who were sent to operate in Yemen. (BuzzFeed News)

The group that Golan and Gilmore pieced together was a 12-man army, mostly consisting of former French legion officers and ex-US soldiers. The French officers were paid half of what Golan intended to pay – around $10,000 a month – which was even less than half of their American counterparts, a testimony to the commodification of military personnel and ‘market’ value. 

The assassination plot to kill Anssaf Ali Mayo, a leader of the conservative Islah party in Yemen, was plotted out over spaghetti at a UAE military base with MBZ’s security advisor and ex-Fatah member, Mohammed Dahlan. 

Dahlan fell from grace when he was accused of collaborating with the CIA and “Israel” – and that’s exactly what he did as he sat with Gilmore and Golan. The MBZ security advisor has his hands in a lot of political mess.

Read more: “Israel’s” piggyback on the Saudi-Emirati war on Yemen

A report by Al-Khaleej Online in 2018 exposes Dahlan’s complicity in holding secret training camps in occupied Palestine. 

The secret training camps, which held hundreds of Nepalese and Colombian mercenaries, were situated in the Naqab desert in occupied Palestine, where the geological nature of the region looks synonymous with that of Yemen.

Dahlan personally supervised the training and made regular visits and check-ups.

“Mohammed Dahlan visited these camps on more than one occasion to be informed,” sources revealed to Al-Khaleej Online. Dahlan was filled in on the progress of the preparations, in addition to the mercenaries’ training.

And by the way, the Aden operation failed. 

The price of Washington lip service? The blood of young Sudanese men 

There were two ways through which young Sudanese – even minors under 18 – got recruited to Yemen. By force and deception, and by Omar Al Bashir’s thirst for power. 

Estimates and reports suggest that up to 15,000 Sudanese mercenaries were fighting in Yemen. 

By force and deception: Many Sudanese became victims of forced conscription into becoming mercenaries for a private US firm, Black Shield Security Services. 

Responding to online job posts as “security guards,” the UAE-based company would trick the job applicants into signing the contract, only to the surprise of the young men that, all of the sudden, they’re redirected to a military training camp in the UAE to be sent off to either Libya or Yemen. They were offered ‘large’ sums of money, more than they can ever get in an average job in their country which has been experiencing an ongoing political crisis. 

The contracts signed by young Sudanese men, which had an e-Visa to enter the UAE from Khartoum attached to it, had “profession: Security Guard” written on them. 

Up to 15,000 Sudanese mercenaries were reportedly deployed in Yemen, who, according to the current Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, were reduced to 5,000. Many of them were children.

Official recruitment is also the culprit. Omar Al Bashir, Sudan’s old ruler, whose throne was strangled by sanctions and international pressures, sold his pro-Iran alliance for financial help from the Gulf – which meant sending thousands of Sudanese men and children to kill in Yemen. 

To go through with the recruitment, a private company – Rapid Support Forces – or the Janjaweed, a die-hard Bashir-backing militia, scored major bags with Saudi and Emirati officials. Both groups face allegations of systematic rape, indiscriminate murder and other war crimes from the Darfur war in which 300,000 people were killed. 

Arriving by the thousands from Sudan to Saudi Arabia, the Sudanese mercenaries were handed US-made weapons and uniforms. Then, they were taken to Al-Hudaydah, Taiz and Aden. Paid in Saudi riyals, 14-year-old amateurs were paid some $480 a month, while experienced officers from the Janjaweed were paid $530 a month – both cheaper than any other mercenary, including Colombians.  

The RSF profited $350 million from its role in Yemen. 

Ahmed, who was 25-years-old at the time when he was sent to Al-Hudaydah, commented on this experience: “The Saudis would give us a phone call and then pull back.

“They treat the Sudanese like their firewood,” he told the New York Times.

Other than Sudan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have also been paying Eritrea to provide troops and assistance. In 2015, the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea revealed that Riyadh and Abu Dhabi signed a deal with Eritrea which allowed the coalition to use Eritrean military bases to attack Yemen. Chad isn’t left from the equation either: RSF mercenaries include hundreds of Chadian men, whose alignment lies with Bashir, hence maintaining an interest to keep him in power. 

There are also some 1,000 Pakistani mercenaries fighting in Yemen, despite a majority no-vote in Islamabad’s parliament. 

Yemenis fighting Yemenis 

As poverty, war and uncertainty brought millions of Yemenis to prolonged angst, many contemplated turning their back on their own kind. 

For around $1,200 a month, Yemenis were compelled to join the Al-Fateh brigade, a mercenary-militia based in Najran, Saudi Arabia, which was formed in 2016. The brigade is an all-Yemeni mercenary hub.

The Saudis recruited over 1,000 mercenaries to the Saudi-Yemen border to defend it.

In a report by the Middle East Eye, one mercenary that goes by the name Anees narrates that some thousand Yemenis were forced to advance towards Jabara valley in Saada province, Yemen, knowing that the valley is under control of the Yemeni armed forces, and that they were positioned just behind them in Najran. 

The leaders of Al-Fateh forced the mercenaries to move forward, assuring that Salafi fighters would follow and protect them.

He narrates, “Suddenly, the Houthis started to attack us from the mountains. We tried to withdraw but there were no Salafi fighters backing us up and only the Houthis besieging us from all directions.”

The Yemenis were besieged for four days, abandoned by both the Saudis and the Salafis. 

“We were about to die from hunger. We had run out of food. The Saudis and the Salafis did not break the siege on us, so we fought and pushed towards Najran and only few were escaped including me,” Anees said.

Bundeswehr

Last year, former German soldiers and police officers lodged in an offering to Saudi Arabia to form a group of mercenaries – or, according to German prosecutors, a terrorist organisation – to be sent to Yemen.

Two Bundeswehr soldiers were charged with terrorism by state prosecutors for conspiring to recruit 150 men and former soldiers from the Bundeswehr armed forces. The mercenaries were to be paid $46,400 a month to conduct operations in the Arabian peninsula.

The goal of the mercenary force to be formed was to capture land held by the Yemeni Armed Forces – however, it does not stop there. The mercenary force was also to be sent to other protracted conflicts around the world, with the two convicted terrorists in full conscious awareness that the fighters will have to commit murder and kill civilians to achieve strategic goals. 

The future

If the Saudi and Emirati armies were to fight and bleed, the war would not have lasted long with a population of 30 million willing to resist barefoot. Mercenaries played a significant role in the war on Yemen by sustaining the violence on the ground, continuously causing grief. 

Many experts would say that the future of warfare is private. The effectiveness of state armies is diminishing, while private firms have proven to get more tasks done – however bloody and sinister. 

As corporations overshadow governmental authority, warlords and investors will be more keen on keeping ‘security firms’ going in so-called “conflict zones in the Middle East,” where the flow of weapons and the funding for violence come from Western neoliberal democracies. 

While the use of mercenaries was dishonorable in recent times, the West has been promoting its use. As the foreign fighters are used to carry out targeted assassinations and other forms of murder, states and governmental bodies take in less and less responsibility and accountability for the humanitarian disaster that comes with the recruitment. 

A UN Mercenary Convention in 2001 forbids the recruitment of mercenaries in conflict: Only 36 countries supported the convention. Some of the countries that did not ratify it are the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France, India, Japan and Russia. 

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Depopulation, not overpopulation will be one of the true crises of the century

23 Mar 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Samuel Geddes 

Of the innumerable crises projected to dominate the 21st century, perhaps the most misguided warning has been about so-called “overpopulation,” the reality seems to be the exact opposite.

In most states, this projection is simply the opposite of what the numbers show

West Asian, Arab and Sub-Saharan states, though among the world’s poorest, have the most promising demographic future if they can achieve true economic independence and integration. 

So much of modern life has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic that almost every change seems to have been blamed on it. A particularly interesting example came in 2020 when for the first time since modern records began; China saw a decline in its overall population, with the number of births outnumbered by deaths. The numbers were even more catastrophic in Russia, with over 900,000 excess deaths over the course of 2020 and similarly grim declines across Europe and North America. Even the United States is now seeing net population decline in 20 of its 51 states. 

The dawning of this realisation has led to two misunderstandings. First, that this trend is any more than tangentially because of the pandemic and secondly, that population growth in these countries will ever return to “normal”. 

Of the innumerable crises projected to dominate the 21st century, perhaps the most misguided warning has been about so-called “overpopulation,” wherein the planet’s carrying capacity of human beings will be so overwhelmed by our numbers that a Malthusian die-off of billions will be inevitable due to diminishing access to food, water and arable land. 

In most states, this projection is simply the opposite of what the numbers show. All but 46 of the world’s countries and territories have population growth rates below the “replacement rate” (2.1) needed to maintain any given population level. Likewise, close to 40 states are seeing their overall population decline, including such geopolitical heavyweights as Russia, Germany and Japan. China, currently the world’s most populous state at 1.4 billion is just barely in positive territory. 

Current projections have predicted that by the end of the century, China will have lost a staggering 50 per cent of its current population. Others brought forward this scenario to as soon as the middle of the century! The generations born before the introduction of the one-child policy are now retiring en-masse, leaving behind a workforce that will be a fraction of the size and burdened with the cost of supporting what is becoming the oldest national population in history. Such a demographic profile will bring with it profound economic challenges that will test the thesis of the “Chinese Century” to its limit. It is also unavoidable because, even though the one-child policy is now history and parents are being encouraged now to have upwards of two children per family, the nature of the problem is such that any change in policy has at least two decades before it takes effect, with newly born people finally entering the workforce. 

Nor is this at all limited to China or the states of East Asia. The states of the former Soviet Union have seen catastrophic declines over the last three decades. By some accounts about half of the population of Turkmenistan now lives abroad, having migrated seeking better economic opportunities. Swathes of former European powers such as Spain, Italy and Germany are already effectively empty, their own populations having peaked half a century ago! 

Trying to raise the birth-rate is a non-starter as has been stated. For the most severely affected states there is only one possible solution. In Europe and Russia, mass-immigration is the only option, and this would only serve to cancel out the decline, not to increase the population. Russia already has a vast pool of potential migrant labour in its former Central Asian underbelly. Already home to one of the largest migrant populations in the world, Russia will need to begin making itself as attractive as possible to millions more Central Asian citizens. If and when this decision is taken, Moscow will have to finally repudiate any notion of politically exploiting narrow ethnonationalist chauvinism, such as seems to be taking hold in Europe.  

Those countries in the best long-term position, demographically speaking, are also the world’s poorest and they are overwhelmingly concentrated in the Greater Middle East and Africa. By 2050 nearly half of the 10 most populous countries are projected to be in Africa, including Nigeria, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Egypt. By the end of the century, Nigeria is likely to be the world’s third most populated country, at over 400 million people. 

As of 2021, the country with the fastest growing population is the Syrian Arab Republic, at over 5 percent annually. Other Arab heavyweights including Iraq, Yemen, Sudan and of course Egypt all stand in the ranks of the fastest growing populations on the planet. Unlike the countries of Europe, to which increasing numbers look for the hope of a better future, the region, like Africa south of the Sahara is among the most blessed in natural wealth of anywhere on earth. Rather than continuing to hold to the orthodoxy of economic liberalisation towards a rapidly weakening global system, should the countries of the region prioritize internal development, economic and even political unity, they could rapidly find themselves shaping the global order itself rather than being passively shaped by it. 

Were these states be able to assert meaningful economic independence, develop their own internal markets, educate and employ their populations, the balance of global power in the second half of this century may look truly unrecognisable. 

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

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: A stab in the back of the Palestinian cause

FEBRUARY 19, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Rasha Reslan 

The recent wave of normalization in the Middle East has resulted in gruesome shifts in regional dynamics and balances most notably regarding Palestine and the Palestinian cause.

Most Arab and Muslim countries are apparently considering normalization, but at what cost?

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco are among the Arab countries that signed normalization deals with the Israeli occupation, echoing Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s recognition of “Israel” in 1977.

Here’s the ugly truth: More Arab and Muslim countries are apparently considering doing the same with the US midwifing the move, not to mention that those who adopted the UAE’s prototype for normalization with “Israel” considered the issue of Palestine as non-existent.

Arab peace initiative?

Despite all claims of an Arab peace initiative, Palestine seems to be an afterthought in normalization deals with “Israel”. The so-called “Abraham Accords” were more about Arab transactions with the US than with “Israel”. In short, normalization with “Israel’” was the charge paid in exchange for the US’ recognition of territorial claims (in the case of Morocco), removal from blacklists (in the case of Sudan), preservation of a totalitarian regime (in the case of Bahrain), or sale of weaponry (in the case of the UAE).

Hamas Can Now Hit All ‘Israeli’-occupied Palestinian Territories – Senior Leader

Dec 16 2021

By Staff, Agencies

A co-founder of Hamas said the Palestinian movement can hit all ‘Israeli’-occupied territories as it has become much stronger since it was formed in 1987.

“Hamas started from scratch and confronted the enemy with stones, and today, it possesses capabilities that threaten all the occupied territories,” Mahmoud al-Zahar told Yemen’s al-Masirah network on Wednesday.

He further described the ongoing war with the ‘Israeli’ regime as open-ended, saying the latest military exercise by Hamas’s armed wing affirms the resistance movement’s readiness to confront the Zionist entity and proves its steadfastness in defending occupied al-Quds and the al-Aqsa mosque.

Marking the 34th anniversary of Hamas’s foundation, the Izzeddine al-Qassam Brigades, the resistance movement’s military wing, launched a military exercise dubbed “Shield of al-Quds” in the ‘Israeli’-besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

The exercise, according to Hamas, was intended to inform ‘Israel’ that the resistance is fully prepared “in case they think of doing something foolish” in the besieged Gaza strip.

Elsewhere in his remarks, al-Zahar said the new Zionist cabinet wanted to convey the impression that it was tougher on Palestinians in order to gain the support of the ‘Israeli’ settlers.

He added that the Arab countries standing with Palestine had been similarly harmed by the ‘Israeli’ regime, while some other Arab countries had been completely drawn into the normalization project.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain unashamedly signed US-brokered normalization agreements with the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity in an event in Washington in September 2020. Sudan and Morocco followed suit later that year.

On Monday, Zionist Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met the UAE’s de facto ruler in Abu Dhabi, becoming the first ‘Israeli’ regime leader to publicly visit the Gulf state. The normalization attempts have been strongly denounced by Palestinians as an act of betrayal.

Shield of Jerusalem’: Qassam Brigades Release Photos of Latest Military Drills (PHOTOS)

December 16, 2021

Al-Qassam Brigades train in Gaza. (Photos made available to local media by the Media Unit of Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

In these photos, released by the media unit of Hamas’al-Qassam military Brigades, Qassam fighters undergo intense military training in an unknown site in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Today’s drills are part of a larger training effort under the name of ‘Shield of Jerusalem’, carried out by al-Qassam and other Gaza-based resistance groups in anticipation of a future Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip.

Gaza, a home for nearly two million Palestinians, mostly refugees, has been under hermetic Israeli siege since the democratic elections held in Palestine in January 2006. Since then, Israel has launched several wars on the Strip, killing thousands of people and injuring many more. 

Throughout the years, Gaza’s resistance against Israel has intensified and was progressively strengthened as demonstrated in the last war of May 10.

(All Photos: Made available to local media by the Media Unit of Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza)

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BDS Movement: “If we abandon Palestine, we abandon ourselves”

December 7, 2021

Source: Agencies + Al Mayadeen Net

By Ahmad Karakira

Amid the shameful wave of normalization with the Israeli occupation and the Arab failure to support the Palestinian cause in favor of the US and “Israel,” the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions movement has proven to be effective.

Boycotting is one form of resistance against the Israeli occupation, but is not and should not be an alternative to armed resistance

On November 25th, after a struggle with cancer, passionate writer and activist Samah Idris passed away. Idris dedicated his life to Palestine and the struggle against normalization with the occupation. He was editor-in-chief of the prominent Al Adab literary magazine from 1992 onward.

Idris was one of the founders of the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of “Israel” in Lebanon after the Jenin massacre in 2002, and played a leading role in furthering the movement’s influence.

He had a strong commitment to Palestine and its cause, which he used as a compass in his battle.

In an interview for Al Mayadeen English, he said, “Lebanon condemns the Israeli occupation which violates universal principles and the right of people to self-governance.”

Even in his final days before his untimely death, Idris continued to denounce those who normalize ties with the occupation as he fought to expose the occupations’ atrocities.

The revolutionary’s death comes amid a shameful recent normalization wave by several Arab countries with “Israel,” the newest of which is the visit of the occupations’ Security Minister Benny Gantz to Morocco.

The visit witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on security cooperation between the two sides, deeming the Moroccan regime as a partner in oppressing Palestinians and betraying the Palestinian cause, and ignoring the history of Moroccan revolutionaries and resistance leaders such as Abdelkarim al-Khattabi who fought against Spanish and French colonialism. 

Morocco is the fourth Arab country, following the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan, to have normalized ties with the Israeli occupation under Washington’s sponsorship.

Originally, in 1945, the Arab League issued a decree to officially boycott Israeli companies and goods in support of Palestine, forcing Arab citizens and companies of an Arab League member to boycott any ties with “Israel.”

Unsurprisingly, the US Congress passed laws in 1977 criminalizing US companies that comply with the Arab boycotting bodies.

However, as a result of Western pressure, several Arab countries have abandoned the boycotting movement and normalized ties with the Israeli occupation.

Therefore, the more the normalization ties increase, the more the work of the BDS movement becomes crucial.

Sally Rooney under attack

A few days ago, some 70 prominent authors, poets, and playwrights have signed a letter of endorsement in support of Irish author Sally Rooney’s decision to prevent Israeli publishing house “Modan” from translating her latest work, “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” into Hebrew.

Rooney indicated that her decision is part of a cultural boycott over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

She said she “did not feel it would be right” to accept a contract with an Israeli company “that does not publicly distance itself from the apartheid and support the UN-stipulated rights of the Palestinian people.”

Citing human rights reports, Rooney pointed out that “Israel’s system of racial domination and segregation against Palestinians meets the definition of apartheid under international law.”

The author confirmed she supports the “Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS)” movement targeting “complicit” firms and institutions “in response to the apartheid system and other grave human rights violations.”

Rooney explained that the BDS movement is “modeled on the economic and cultural boycott that helped to end apartheid in South Africa.”

Boycotting origins in Palestine

Since the 1920s, Palestinians have mastered boycotting as a way of resisting the British mandate and the Zionist colonization, and in 1936, they organized a huge six-month strike in protest of the British support for Zionism.

In addition, the Resistance factions launched a popular boycott of Israeli products during the first Intifada (1987-1992), which led to a dynamic plunge in Israeli exports.

When all UN resolutions failed to stop “Israel” from violating international laws and continuing its crimes against Palestinian people and land, 170 different Palestinian bodies first launched the BDS movement in 2005. 

The BDS movement website wrote, “Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure ‘Israel’ to comply with international law.”

In an aim to withdraw apartheid in South Africa, several activists, organizations, unions, and politicians pressured the apartheid South African regime through heavy lobbying, isolation, and product boycotting worldwide as a form of achieving liberation. The boycott movement cost the racist regime a great loss and isolation from international events and markets by the demand of many Europeans.

As a result, post-apartheid South Africa has supported the Palestinian cause since the two sides established formal diplomatic relations in 1995, a year after the end of the apartheid regime. South Africa also reduced its diplomatic representation in the so-called “Tel Aviv” in 2019 and withdrew its ambassador.

It is noteworthy that the boycotting movement has been historically used to end oppression, such as Ghandi’s Indian Salt March in 1930 and African Americans’ famous Montgomery Bus Boycott in late 1955. Unlike BDS, these movements are celebrated without being described as “anti-Semitic.”

Its success and effect

“BDS aims to end international support for Israeli violations of international law by forcing companies, institutions, and governments to change their policies. As Israeli companies and institutions become isolated, ‘Israel’ will find it more difficult to oppress Palestinians,” explains the BDS movement.

So far, BDS has achieved several victories against the Israeli occupation on many levels, which led “Israel” to dedicate resources, including money, government staff, and security services to undermine BDS and threaten its activists.

Culturally, thousands of artists, famous of which is Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters from legendary rock band Pink Floyd, have declined to perform in “Israel” as a result of BDS calls and is even an ardent supporter of the movement.

In addition, various academic institutions and unions in the US, Canada, South Africa, and the UK have announced their support for Palestine and the movement.

After respecting the choice of boycotting, renowned British scientist Stephen Hawking withdrew from the Israeli Presidential Conference. Also, after a visit to Palestine, the famous Black activist and academic, Angela Davis, expressed that she “unequivocally endorses the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign.”

Most recently, the South African government announced that it has “withdrawn its support” from the current Miss South Africa (SA) pageant due to fruitless attempts to persuade the pageant to reconsider its plan to participate in the Miss Universe event, which is set to take place in “Israel.”

Economically, a UN report showed that BDS was a major cause of a 46% drop in foreign direct investment in “Israel” in 2014, while the world bank mentioned that the movement resulted in a 24% drop in Palestinian imports from the occupied lands, according to the movement. Moreover, the Israeli occupation government and the Rand Corporation published reports that predict that BDS will cost “Israel” billions of dollars, which it did.

How “Israel” is fighting BDS

Proving to be effective, “Israel’s” policies against BDS and pressure on EU and US have proven the efficiency of the movement and the extent of loss it has caused to the occupation. 

The Zionist lobby worldwide and pro-“Israel” groups have urged governments such as France, Canada, the US, UK to criminalize BDS.

Last but not least, it is important to mention that the BDS movement is one form of resistance out of many against the Israeli occupation, amid the shameful wave of normalization with the Israeli occupation and the Arab failure to support the Palestinian cause in favor of the US and “Israel.”

However, boycotting is not and should not be an alternative to armed resistance as the late Samah Idriss affirmed, “We believe there is no other way to communicate with the Israeli occupation except through boycotting and armed resistance, and nothing else.”

Idris is no longer with us, but his memory will live in the hearts and minds of all the supporters of the Palestinian cause.

Moroccans Rally Calling For End to Rabat’s Normalization with ‘Israel’

Dec 1, 2021

By Staff, Agencies

Angry Moroccans against the butchers of the Palestinian children and those normalizing the savagery in the garb of lucrative military deals on Monday took to the streets in several cities across the country to protest Rabat’s normalization of ties with the Zionist regime and recent military agreements signed between the two sides.

The protesters, including activists and ordinary people, took part in large-scale protests in the cities of Oujda, Berkane, Ben Slimane, Beni-Mellal and Oulad Teima on Monday.

The demonstrators chanted vociferous anti-‘Israel’ slogans, calling for an end to normalization of relations between Rabat and Tel Aviv and voicing their support for the Palestinian cause.

The Moroccan police, however, foiled a similar protest by pro-Palestinian groups in the capital Rabat on Monday, using brute force, according to reports.

The demonstrations protested under the banner of “The Moroccan Front to Support Palestine and against Normalization”, denouncing recent bonhomie between the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime and Morocco.

They also condemned the visit of Benny Gantz, the Zionist war minister, to Morocco and rejected any collaboration with “the enemies of the Palestinian people.”

The pro-Palestine demonstrators said any cooperation with the Tel Aviv regime constitutes a threat to Morocco and the whole region.

Gantz visited Rabat last week, his first known visit to one of the Arab states that normalized ties last year, during which the two sides signed a military agreement and a pact that would see the occupation regime sell drones and weapons to Morocco.

In a statement, Gantz said that the agreement was “very significant and will allow us to exchange ideas, enter joint projects and enable ‘Israeli’ military exports here.”

Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan signed agreements to normalize relations with Tel Aviv in 2020 as part of the so-called ‘Abraham Accords’, brokered by the previous US administration.

The normalization deals sparked widespread protests in these countries, pointing to the overwhelming divide between the rulers and the people, and have also been condemned by all Palestinian political factions, who have termed it a betrayal of their cause.

Monday’s protests coincided with the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, an annual day dedicated to expression of solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine.

Algeria Battling “Israel” in Africa

10 Nov 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Hussam AbdelKareem

Due to the strong Algerian opposition, “Israel”‘s accession is almost impossible.

Argelia lucha contra "Israel" en África | Al Mayadeen Español

On October 16th, 2021, the Executive Council of the African Union announced the postponement of its decision on approving or rejecting the “observer status” of “Israel” in the Union to the next African summit scheduled for February 2022. This decision is in fact the culmination of a great effort made by Algeria politically and diplomatically over the course of three months among the African countries to oppose and confront the sudden decision taken by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki, to accept the application of “Israel” to join the African Union as an observer member, and the subsequent presentation by the Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia (the headquarters country) of his credentials to the Union on the 22nd of June 2021.

From the first day of the decision of Moussa Faki, a French-educated former Chadian prime minister, Algeria went into something like a state of emergency, and a decision was taken at the highest levels to launch a comprehensive diplomatic campaign and to use all of Algeria’s weight and political capabilities to confront Faki’s personal decision. The Algerian Foreign Ministry announced its total rejection of “Israel’s” admission to the ranks of the African Union and said that the Chairperson of the Commission had not consulted the member states in this regard.

Algeria began to move and succeeded in persuading six Arab African countries (not including Morocco and Sudan, who are involved in a process of normalization), namely Tunisia, Egypt, Mauritania, Djibouti, Libya, and the Comoros Islands to announce their opposition to Faki’s decision in a statement on August 3rd. Moussa Faki quickly felt that he is being targeted by the pressures of Algerian diplomacy, represented by Minister Ramtan Lamamra, so he issued an official statement on August 6th in which he responded to Algeria and affirmed that his decision to accept “Israel” as an observer member is indeed within his authorities.

The Algerian campaign against “Israel” in Africa did not stop (South Africa, who had reservations about Moussa Faki’s decision from the first day, cooperated with it), and succeeded in persuading Sudan to join the countries opposing Faki’s decision in a statement issued by the Sudanese Foreign Ministry on October 15th. And in the next day, Algeria succeeded in leading a group of 24 African countries who also announced their objection to Faki, which prompted the Executive Council to finally decide to postpone the decision on accepting the membership of “Israel” until the next summit. This is an important diplomatic victory for Algeria because it actually means, almost certainly, the failure of the project of “Israel”‘s accession, as approving it in the African summit; due to the strong Algerian opposition, “Israel”‘s accession is almost impossible.

This Algerian activity and efficiency are due, in part, to its desire to compensate for the years of relative inaction that characterized the Algerian diplomacy during the rule of the ailing former president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, which allowed “Israel” to penetrate into African circles that it did not reach before. Benjamin Netanyahu intensified contacts with West African and sub-Saharan countries in 2016 and hosted an agricultural conference in “Israel” in which 15 countries participated. He also made several visits to the region and was feeling so triumphant to the extent that he publically said, during his visit to Liberia “Israel is returning strongly to Africa!”. “Israel” succeeded in establishing diplomatic relations with a record number of African countries (46 countries out of 55 members of the African Union).

Historically speaking, the late Gamal Abdel Nasser took charge, in the fifties and sixties of the last century, of combating the Israeli penetration into the African continent. And he took advantage of Egypt’s weight at the time and its relations with the national liberation movements in the continent to besiege the Israeli presence and keep it within minimum limits (most notably with the apartheid racist regime in South Africa). In the aftermath of the October 1973 war, “Israel” was having diplomatic relations with only four African countries. But Sadat’s coup in Egypt and the Camp David Accords opened the African doors to “Israel” once again. The banner of combating Israeli expansion in Africa then passed to Colonel Gaddafi in Libya, who paid great attention to the countries of the continent and built a network of close relations with them and provided them with financial support and contributed to a large extent in keeping most African countries, especially its western and sub-Saharan countries, out of Israeli influence until he was killed in 2011.

The growing Moroccan-Israeli relations are one of the reasons for this Algerian activity at the African level. Algeria no longer considers “Israel” as a Pan-Arab danger, but has become a direct threat to it on its borders. When “Israel” and Morocco crowned decades of their unofficial relations by announcing the establishment of full diplomatic relations in December 2020, Algerian President Abdelmajid Tabboun said, “We notice a kind of rush towards normalization. We will not participate in it or bless it. The Palestinian Cause is sacred to us here in Algeria, and it is the mother of all causes”. His Prime Minister Abdelaziz Jerad followed with a strong statement in which he said that “Algeria is being targeted” and that there is a foreign will for Zionism to reach Algeria’s borders.

That is, Algeria’s leadership has come to consider “Israel’s” relations and activities in neighboring Morocco as a direct security and strategic threat, which has caused great tension in the Algerian view of the Moroccan ruling regime. The Algerian newspaper “Al-Shorouk” published an article titled “For these reasons, the Zionist entity targets Algeria.” And what made matters worse was the intelligence information that “Israel” had helped Morocco establish a military base near the Algerian border. Things crossed its red lines when Algeria felt that “Israel”, through Morocco, was trying to interfere with the internal Algerian affairs. And recently, Algerian television announced that the separatist “MAK” movement has ties to “Israel” and Morocco and that those involved in it were in contact with Israeli parties under the cover of “civil society organizations.” In the end, Algeria decided to cut diplomatic relations with Morocco last August.

“Israel”, in turn, responded to Algeria, accusing it of being part of an axis that includes Iran. Its foreign minister, Meir Lapid, from Casablanca, expressed concerns “about Algeria’s role in the region, its rapprochement with Iran, and the campaign it led against Israel’s admission as an observer member of the African Union”.

Today we are witnessing a great Algerian rise to combat and thwart the Zionist expansion in Africa. This is not surprising for a country with a glorious history of revolution and resistance to colonialism, who, since the days of its great revolution sixty years ago, has been associated with Palestine, its revolution, and its cause, and considered it the twin of its soul and struggle, and is still in the same position.

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

Jewish-American Group Visits Saudi Arabia to Advance Normalization with ‘Israel’

Nov 5, 2021

Jewish-American Group Visits Saudi Arabia to Advance Normalization with ‘Israel’

By Staff, Agencies

A Jewish-American group visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently to advance the normalization of ties between the kingdom and the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime, with a member of the group predicting a deal in the coming months or year.

The delegation, consisting of 20 Jewish-American leaders, met with senior Saudi officials, including at least six government ministers and top representatives of the Saudi royal house, according to Zionist media.

The visit came at the invitation of the Saudis and with the support of the Biden administration, after a visit to the UAE – the first Arab country that normalized its relations with the occupation regime in 2020 – in order to strengthen bilateral ties.

“The Saudis are preparing their citizens for normalization with ‘Israel’,” said Jewish-American businessman Phil Rosen, a member of the delegation, ‘Israeli’ Ynet news website reported.

Rosen also said he “would not be surprised if we see normalization between Saudi Arabia and the Tel Aviv occupation regime in the coming months or year.”

Under US-pushed normalization deals, a number of Arab countries, including the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, have agreed to establish official diplomatic ties with the apartheid entity.

The normalization accords, however, have been denounced by Palestinians the people of the region as “treacherous”, and sparked protests in the countries that signed them.

In recent weeks, the Zionist regime has approved plans for more than 1,700 new illegal units in the East al-Quds settlements of Givat Hamatos and Pisgat Zeev.

In a statement on Wednesday, UN experts condemned the regime’s illegal expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East al-Quds as “the engine of the occupation” and hold the Zionist entity responsible for a wide range of rights violations against the Palestinian people.

Al-Manar, Al-Masirah Channels Launch Friday Extensive Documentation of Saudi-led Aggression Massacres on Yemen: Video

October 28, 2021

Al-Manar and Al-Masirah TV Channels are scheduled to launch an extensive documentation project which records all the massacres committed by the US-Saudi-led forces and mercenaries in Yemen.

An interactive map will come-to-light on the official websites of the two TV channels at 8 p.m. and reveal in an innovative way the massacres committed by the aggression with all the available data and figures.

The interactive map is aimed at preserving and perpetuating the sacrifices of the Yemeni civilians before the Saudi-led aggression.

“So as Rights Remain Preserved,” was the motto of the documentation that represents a reference for right activists, academicals, media outlets and public opinion, using photos, videos and demonstration tools.

Al-Manar English Website is also part of the project and will display the interactive map with data translated in English. Click here.

Yemen has been since March 25, 2015 under aggression by the Saudi-led coalition in a bid to restore power to fugitive president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is Riyadh’s ally.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been killed or injured by US-Saudi-led airstrikes.

The Arab impoverished country has been also under harsh blockade by the coalition which includes in addition to the Kingdom, the UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Documentation Project of Yemen Massacres

Saturday – October 29, 2021

Massacres Map of the Saudi-American aggression on Yemen

Introduction:

This work is one of the largest documentation projects that records massacres committed since the start of the Saudi-US aggression on Yemen, on March 26, 2015, based on information released by well-known sources.

We assure, through this project, that the blood of Yemen’s oppressed martyrs and injured will persist in the conscience of the free people. This blood will also constitute a mark of disgrace for all who contributed to the bloodshed in Yemen.

Objective:

Documentation of widespread massacres perpetrated by the Saudi-US aggression across Yemen through an interactive and innovated map that can be considered a reference to rights activists, media outlets and journalists as well as to specialists and public opinion.

Definition of a Massacre:

A killing is considered a massacre in this project when at least one civilian gets martyred by Saudi-led aggression fire.

Map Characteristics:

  • Every dot on the map represents a massacre
  • Dots are classified by colors, every color refers to a year
  • The color of dots gets bolder as per the number of martyrs
  • Every massacre is recorded according to:
    • Date of the massacre
    • Place of the massacre
    • News summary
    • Link of the news story
    • Number of martyrs
    • Number of injured
    • Related photos and video (if available)
  • The map allows the search feature according to:
    • Place of the massacre (mainly provinces)
    • Date of the massacre
    • Keywords
  • Yemeni Center for Human Rights was considered the main source regarding the number of victims. Hence, there would be an overlap between the toll which appears on the map and the news summary
  • Areas where the massacre occurred are approximate

Characteristics of the Interactive Frontpage:

  • Represents statistical reference to massacres
  • The map is the source for figures on the frontpage

Notes:

We don’t claim that this project has covered all massacres committed by the US-Saudi aggression on Yemen. Therefore, we are glad to receive any addition, either on the level of massacres or the visual material at: yemen-map@almanar.com.lb

Thanks to all who contributed to this work.

من هو عبد الفتاح البرهان وما دوره في حرب اليمن واتفاق التطبيع؟

2021, 25 , تشرين اول

المصدر: الميادين نت

عبد الفتاح البرهان، القائد العسكري في السودان، يتردّد اسمه اليوم مع إعلانه حلَّ المجلس السيادي والحكومة، وفرضه حالة الطوارئ في البلاد. فمن هو؟ وما هي المناصب التي تقلّدها في حياته السياسية؟

'سنحرص على تنفيذ الاتفاق'
عبد الفتاح البرهان

يجسّد الفريق أول ركن عبد الفتاح البرهان، الذي أعلن اليوم الإثنين حلّ المؤسسات الانتقالية وحالة الطوارئ في السودان، عودةَ الحكم العسكري، وسط ترحيب من البعض، ورفض مطلق من آخرين ندّدوا بما وصفوه بأنه “انقلاب”.

ظهر البرهان اليوم الإثنين، عبر شاشة التلفزيون، في بزّته العسكرية. وأعلن، في نبرة حازمة، أنه يريد “تصحيح الثورة” التي أطاحت عمر البشير عام 2019. وأكّد إعفاء الوزراء ووكلاء الوزراء من مهماتهم، علماً بأن جزءاً كبيراً من هؤلاء اعتُقلوا منذ الفجر على أيدي قوى عسكرية.

في الشارع، يهتف متظاهرون ضده منذ أيام، رافضين “حكم العسكر”، لكن آخرين يطالبون بحكومة عسكرية، ويعتبرون أن الجيش هو المنقذ الذي سيحل كل مشاكل البلاد الاقتصادية والسياسية.

قبل إطاحة البشير، أدّى البرهان دوراً رئيساً بعيداً عن الأضواء في مشاركة السودان في التحالف العسكري الذي تقوده السعودية ضد اليمن، ثم أصبح في دائرة الضوء حين تولى قيادة المجلس العسكريّ الانتقالي في أعقاب إطاحة الرئيس السابق عمر البشير على يد الجيش، في 11 نيسان/أبريل 2019، في إثر تظاهرات حاشدة استمرت خمسة أشهر.

في 12 نيسان/أبريل، أدّى البرهان اليمين رئيساً للمجلس العسكري، الذي تولّى السلطة بعد البشير. تقلّد البرهان منصبه بعد أن تنازل الفريق أول ركن عوض بن عوف عن رئاسة المجلس العسكري بعد أقل من 24 ساعة من تسلّمه السلطة، تحت ضغط الشارع الذي كان ينظر إلى ابن عوف على أنه من داخل النظام، وحليف مقرّب من الرئيس السابق.

من الظلّ إلى المنصب الأول

تحوّل البرهان من شخصية تعمل في الظل إلى رئيس للبلاد بحكم الأمر الواقع. وقال عنه في حينه ضابطٌ في الجيش، طلب عدم الكشف عن هويته، إنه “ضابط رفيع المستوى في القوات المسلحة.. لم يكن يوماً تحت الأضواء كما هي الحال بالنسبة إلى ابن عوف (الذي كان وزيراً للدفاع) والفريق أول ركن كمال عبد المعروف (الذي كان رئيس أركان الجيش)”.

في آب/أغسطس 2019، وبعد عنف في الشارع ومفاوضات مع “ائتلاف قوى الحرية والتغيير”، الذي قاد الاحتجاجات الشعبية، وقّع المجلس العسكري اتفاقاً مع الائتلاف عُرِف بـ”الوثيقة الدستورية”، نصّ على مرحلة انتقالية يتقاسم خلالها المدنيون والعسكريون السلطة لقيادة البلاد نحو انتخابات وحكم مدني.

ترأّس البرهان، بموجب هذا الاتفاق، مجلسَ السيادة الذي كُلِّف الإشرافَ على إدارة المرحلة الانتقالية. ويتكوّن مجلس السيادة من 11 شخصاً: خمسة عسكريين يختارهم المجلس الانتقالي، وخمسة مدنيين يختارهم “تحالف قوى التغيير”، بالإضافة إلى مدني يتفق الجانبان على اختياره.

بعد سنتين من المرحلة الانتقالية، بات البرهان معتاداً على الأضواء، وبات يتصرف ويعامَل على أنه رئيس دولة، فلقد تلقى، الأربعاء الماضي، دعوةً إلى المشاركة في قمة بشأن ليبيا ستُعقَد في باريس في منتصف تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر. وهو يستقبل بانتظام المسؤولين والمبعوثين الأجانب الذين يزورون السودان.

يظهر، بصورة عامة، في بزّته العسكرية مع أوسمته، وغالباً برفقة نائب رئيس مجلس السيادة محمد حمدان دقلو، المعروف بـ “حميدتي”، وهو قائد قوات الدعم السريع المتهمة بقمع انتفاضة عام 2019.

علاقات بالخارج

خلال المفاوضات بين الجيش والمحتجين بشأن تركيبة الحكم، قام البرهان بزيارات لمصر والإمارات والسعودية. والأخيرتان من أبرز المانحين للسودان.

أمضى البرهان فترة من حياته المهنية ملحقاً عسكرياً لدى بكين. ويقول الضابط السوداني عن البرهان إنه “ضابط كبير يعرف كيف يقود قواته”، مضيفاً “ليست لديه ميول سياسية، إنه عسكري”.

وُلد البرهان عام 1960 في قرية قندتو شماليّ الخرطوم، ودرس في الكلية الحربية، ولاحقاً في مصر والأردن. وهو متزوج وأب لثلاثة أبناء. وكان قائداً لسلاح البر، قبل أن يعيّنه البشير في منصب المفتّش العام للجيش.

حرب اليمن

يشير محلّلون ووسائل إعلام سودانية إلى أن البرهان تولّى عملية تنسيق إرسال جنود سودانيين إلى اليمن في إطار “التحالف السعودي” في الحرب ضدّه.

أرسل البشير قوات سودانية إلى اليمن عام 2015 في إطار تحوّل رئيسي في السياسة الخارجية، شهد تخلّي الخرطوم عن علاقاتها المستمرة منذ عقود بإيران، عبر الانضمام إلى “التحالف” الذي تقوده الرياض.

وتقول ويلو بيردج، مؤلفة كتاب “الانتفاضات المدنية في السودان الحديث”، وأستاذة التاريخ في جامعة نيوكاسل، إن البرهان عمل عن كثب مع قوات الدعم السريع، بموجب تولّيه الملف اليمني، من دون أن تستبعد أن يكون دعم هذه المجموعة ساهم في إيصاله إلى السلطة.

عبد الفتاح البرهان و”إسرائيل”

أشارت وسائل إعلام إسرائيلية اليوم إلى أن التطورات في السودان “تمثل سبباً في قلق إسرائيل وإدارة جو بايدن، على حدّ سواء”، معلِّلة ذلك بأنه يعود إلى ترسيخ اتفاق التطبيع مع الخرطوم. 

وقالت إن “استمرار الاحتجاجات سيصعّب دفع عملية التطبيع قُدُماً في السودان، ويجب الأخذ في الحسبان أن رئيس حكومة السودان عبد الله حمدوك لم يكن هو من دفع إلى تطبيع العلاقات بإسرائيل، بل كانت القيادة العسكرية برئاسة عبد الفتاح البرهان”.

وفي السياق نفسه، انتقد مصدر إسرائيلي موقف واشنطن مما يجري في السودان، وقال لصحيفة “إسرائيل هيوم” إنه “في الوضع الحالي يفضّل دعم الجيش وقائده رئيس المجلس الانتقالي عبد الفتاح البرهان، لا رئيس الحكومة عبد الله حمدوك”.

يُشار، في هذا السياق، إلى أن البرهان قال، رداً على علاقته بـ “إسرائيل”، إنّ “لا عداء بين السودان وأيّ طائفة أو دين أو جهة”.

وأرجع عبد الفتاح البرهان توقيع حكومته اتفاقات “أبراهام” مع الولايات المتحدة و”إسرائيل” إلى “اقتناع الحكومة بأهمية نشر قيم التسامح والتعايش بين الشعوب، في مختلف أديانهم وأعراقهم”، بحسب الإذاعة الإسرائيلية.

وكان الرئيس الأميركي السابق دونالد ترامب أعلن، في تشرين الأول/أكتوبر الماضي، توصُّل السودان و”إسرائيل” إلى اتفاق من أجل تطبيع العلاقات بينهما.

وأدّت السعودية دوراً في دفع عملية التطبيع بين السودان و”إسرائيل”، عبر دفعها 335 مليون دولار إلى الولايات المتحدة من أجل تسريع تطبيع العلاقات بين الخرطوم و”تل أبيب”، بحسب ما ذكرت “ميدل إيست مونيتور”.

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‘Normalization’: Betrayal of Palestine by Arab Regimes No Easy Road

October 1, 2021

Anti-normalization protest in Tunisia. (Photo: Via Twitter)

By Iqbal Jassat

Pinning Palestinians down while applying harsh measures of violent repression accompanied by a fanatical settler movement of arch-racists given free rein to attack and plunder, is a notorious game Israel has elevated to a daily ritual.

In fact, the routine of inflicting war crimes has all the hallmarks of a rogue regime entirely caught up in a misplaced belief that to engage in ethnic cleansing is a religious obligation.

Conflating Judaism with a racist political ideology of Zionism has been part of a strategy designed to deceive, distort and divert. It has its roots in the First Zionist Congress held on the eve of the 19th century.

That this is well documented and widely known is not in dispute. Indeed, awareness of Zionism’s goal to dismember and dislodge Palestinians from their centuries-old homeland, and forcibly impose thereon a foreign entity known as Israel, has always been a bedrock for resistance.

Israel has thus always been considered an enemy thrust upon a native population through the most horrific forms of terrorism. The memories of Deir Yassin remind the world of bloody massacres committed by Zionist terrorists who didn’t spare hundreds of villages to colonize Palestine.

That more than seven decades later the expansionist goals of Zionism are still being pursued at a great human cost to successive generations of the indigenous Palestinian population, is reflected in daily atrocities.

None of these facts, as attested to by historians as well as organs of the United Nations, are contested, although Israel and its supporters seek to distort and malign commentators who speak truth to power as antisemitic.

Yet, against this background of terrorism and current conditions siege, occupation, killings and mass imprisonment – recorded and broadcast via mainstream media for all the world to witness – it is bizarre that a handful of Arab regimes have broken rank with Palestine’s freedom struggle.

And at a time when even Haaretz describes atrocities by Israel as a pogrom:

“Residents of the Palestinian communities in the southeastern West Bank have experience with settler attacks – when they graze their flocks, work their fields, or even have a picnic on their own land. But they cannot recall an attack like the one experienced Tuesday by the small communities of Khirbat al-Mufkara, al-Rakiz and al-Tuwani. On Simhat Torah, dozens of young Jews, most of them masked, conducted what can only be described as a pogrom.”

The treachery associated with what has become known as “normalization” is an outrageous manifestation of betrayal and collaboration. Limited to the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, these regimes have in effect confessed that the protection of their shaky thrones counts for more than legitimate rights of the Palestinians.

As unelected self-imposed despots fearful of democratic values, they have bargained that “normalization” with the usurper of Palestine will “guarantee” safety and protection for them. In other words, just as Egypt has done, these oligarchs have outsourced their intelligence networks and security apparatus to Israel, knowing full well that in doing so, they have abandoned Palestine.

Though the abnormality of implicit recognition of an illegal colonial enterprise has been in sharp contrast to countless Arab League resolutions, the deal of “normalization” pushed by Trump and vigorously backed by the Biden administration has exposed these leaders as surrogates of western imperialism.

The case of Bahrain’s role in the “Abraham Accords” reveals the soft underbelly of Arab dictatorships. Besides being financially dependent on its neighbors, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain’s alliance with Israel is designed to entrench its power and crush any resistance to authoritarianism or efforts towards freedom and democracy.

In 2011, during the onset of the Arab Spring uprisings, Saudi Arabia sent troops to Bahrain to suppress anti-government protests. This trend continues today by Israel equally committed to maintaining the status quo and preventing the success of any popular uprisings.

In this context, one may justifiably condemn Bahrain’s gross insensitivity and abject abdication of Palestine’s freedom struggle as treacherous.

Showcasing Israeli war criminal Lapid’s visit to Manama, where he is set to open the embassy flying Israel’s flag, is utterly outrageous. This follows the opening of a Zionist embassy in Abu Dhabi; another embassy will likely be established in Rabat. Sudan thus far has reportedly said that it has no plans yet to open an embassy in Khartoum.

Not surprising therefore that the Arab street across these capitals have vowed to end “normalization”. The iron-fisted grip held by Arab despots notwithstanding, human rights movements (many banned and leaders exiled) have declared their outright rejection of America’s much-vaunted Abraham Accords.

Stirrings in Sudan are becoming more vocal despite Khartoum’s attempts to silence critics. In Bahrain the main opposition group, al-Wefaq National Islamic Society declared Lapid’s trip as a “threat”, saying, “This is provocative news and this trip is completely rejected, and he (Lapid) should not set foot on Bahraini soil.”

Their message is clear: “Any (Israeli) presence on Bahraini soil means incitement.”

– Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the South Africa-based Media Review Network. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. Visit: www.mediareviewnet.com

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