Turmoil in the Middle East: Regional Dimensions Beyond Religion

Given the current Middle Eastern scenario, one may reasonably hold the argument that the on-going turmoil in the Middle East owes its burden equally to the Machiavellian Anglo-American policies in the region and the harrowing failure of the Muslim governments/leaderships in the Middle East to rationally respond to those challenges. But are there any dimensions beyond religion?

Nationalism and Turmoil

The region of West Asia (known as the Middle East) and North Africa has been home for tension and conflict since the end of the 19th century. The tensions were accentuated by the division of North Africa between European powers during the period of colonial expansion and the Sykes-Picot Agreement between the British and the French in 1916 during the First World War.

Showing no regard to the demographic distribution of ethnicities, religions, languages and other cultural dimensions, borders of nation-states were drawn and mandatory colonial imperialism was established until the mid of the 20th century.

While the western role in the region was fluctuating between supportive and subversive of dictatorships, stability and security remained constant measures when meddling in the region.

Entangled by these complex processes of independence after the Second World War, newly emergent nation-states were neither capable nor willing to establish well-functioning political, economic and social systems. Democratization processes, procedural and cultural, were postponed. There were actually many other pressing matters to attend to other than democratization. The Egyptian writer and winner of Nobel Prize for Literature, Naguib Mahfouz, notes correctly that in Egypt “most people are concerned with getting bread to eat. Only some of the educated understand how democracy works.”

Nationalism came up to define individual subjects, who lived within the borders of nation-states as, for instance, Syrian, Iraqi, and Egyptian etc. Two paradoxes developed concerning nationalist sentiments in the region: The first one is that the concept of nationalism was interchangeably used to refer to Pan-Arabism, which excluded significant segments of these societies such as for instance, the Berber in North African countries and the Kurds in Syria and Iraq.

The newly drawn borders not only created frontiers among majorities, but also among religious minorities. The Druze divided between Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel (formerly Palestine), the Kurds between Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran and the Armenians between rather more national states are a few cases in point.

Even the official names of the newly authoritarian nation-states were controversial: Arab Republic of Egypt, Syrian Arab Republic, The Arab Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Libyan Arab Republic etc. Nation-states failed to recognize the diversity within their borders, as colonial powers did before them.

IN THE WORDS OF LIBYA’S FORMER LEADER MUAMMAR AL-GADDAFI: “THE TIMES OF ARAB NATIONALISM AND UNITY ARE GONE FOREVER. THESE IDEAS, WHICH MOBILIZED THE MASSES, ARE ONLY A WORTHLESS CURRENCY.”

The second one is that nation-states offered very little to serve the cultural sphere in the region but much to serve doctrinal forms of thought. While nation-states were, and unfortunately still are, lacking vision, participation and serious contributions to their citizens, rapid demographic inflation in the region crippled the already struggling economic and political institutions. In 2014, the region was home for approximately two per cent of the global population.

Focusing on nationalist notions, while unable to respond to real life contradictions paved the way for Islamist ideologies to blossom. In other words, deficient and inadequate response to peoples’ needs increased rigid frameworks of ideological perception, in which Islamism counterposed to nationalism were racing to reach power. Nationalist criticism of Islamist ideologies was, we might risk saying, itself ideological and vice versa. Ironically, the distinctions between nationalism and Islamism have blurred recently, so one might detect nationalist Islamists and Islamist nationalists.

Identity Crisis

The region of the Mashreq, an Arabic word means the place of the sunrise, is considered the cradle of ancient human civilizations and the birthplace of the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Yet, its recent contributions to human development can be, with confidence, considered minimal in comparison to the western ones since the Age of Enlightenment.

This is a time-dimension of identity crisis.

The region of West Asia and North Africa experienced the period of Cold War at its best. While some regimes tended to ally themselves, although sometimes sporadically, with the US, some others tended to ally themselves with the Soviet Union. Postcolonial period of oil extraction remarkably characterized the geopolitical calculations in the region. Securing the flow of oil and gas without interruption and at acceptable prices to the United States and its allies is still a main policy pillar of foreign intervention in the region. The Mashreq, in other words, suffers from several political conflicts and is significantly dominated by foreign powers. Not only is the region linguistically, ethnically and religiously fractionalized, but also ideologically: Nationalism, Baathism, socialism, communism, liberalism and Islamism. This is a philosophical dimension of identity crisis.

A crisis arises if there is a conflict when defining multiple layers of identity that should concur between the understanding of the self and actual reality. For instance feeling proud of being an Egyptian or Syrian national collides with a harsh reality that neither the Egyptian nor the Syrian national passports rank decently compared with other travel documents of almost the whole world. This is a psychological dimension of identity crisis.

Individuals in the region of West Asia and North Africa still face several problematics to determine, especially to answer two crucial questions: Who are they as a collective or individual and where are they in the world today?

Serious contemplation about these issues has the potential to achieve two crucial results: The decrease of rigid ideological forms of thought and the increase of self-consciousness.

Ideologies With Islamic Flavour

During the 1970s, Islamist movements, rigid ideological movements with an Islamic flavour, were augmented by the recapitulated military defeats of nationalist regimes before Israel. These movements emerged to defy the western secular model of governance and modernization on one hand, and to go back to Islamic references – “governing by what Allah has revealed in the Quran” – on the other. While this is another psychological dimension of identity crisis, it is a modernization process itself. The success of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini represented a political and ideological support to other Islamist movements in the region, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, Egypt, Jordan and other countries, and later to more radical groups such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Following the collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, the US increased its military capacities in the Arabian Peninsula during the 1990-91 Gulf War. This has led to the increase of anti-Americanism sentiments in the region, which was a perfect condition for radical Islamists, including Al-Qaeda affiliates, to gain ground among the weary populations.

To sum up, there are several reasons behind the persistence of turmoil in the region of West Asia and North Africa. Some of which are based on external interventionism, some others lie in the heart of the region. New narratives and collective memory creation should be intensively and extensively operationalized in order to reach a stable level of pacification among all conflicting actors.

 

MP. Omar Ousi calls on Syrian Kurds not to bet on U.S. project in region

Syria Times

Head of the Syrian Kurds’ National Initiative MP. Omar Ousi has underscored that the recent dramatic development in Hasaka city serve the enemies of Syria and of Kurds, calling on the Kurds not to bet on the American project in the region.

He also appealed to the Syrian national political leadership not to trust the Turkish President RacepTayyip Erdogan because he is the leader of the Muslim brotherhood.

Speaking to the Damascus-based al-Watan newspaper on Tuesday, the MP unveiled that a Kurdish delegation composed of spokesman of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) Mr. Ridor Khalil and General Commander of the YPG Mr. Siban Hammo plus several leaders from the units and the Asayish accompanied by Russian generals headed to Hmeimimair base on Monday afternoon to  reach sustainable truce.

“We in the Syrian Kurds’ National initiative and I myself have taken part in efforts being exerted to reach a truce. We have contacted with all participating sides, and I think- God willing- that the two sides will reach a sustainable truce to stop bloodshed of comrades in arms,” Mr. Ousi said.

He expressed optimism over reaching a solution to end the conflict in Hasaka city.

“Now, we are going through hard times and it is not a good time to  put the blame on one side or another. We belong to one homeland.. Arabs and Kurds and the other components of the Syrian people ,” the MP added.

He clarified that the Syrian Kurds, mainly the YPG, have offered thousands of martyrs to defend the other Syrian components in the north of Syria.

“America has no agenda for the Syrian Kurds. It is searching for a partner on the ground to control part of the Syrian territories in the north-eastern side of Syria in order to be invested in the international conferences against the Syrian national project and the allies – Russia and Iran-“ Mr. Ousai asserted.

He referred to the Pentagon’s recent remarks about the U.S. readiness to send U.S. jets into Hasaka to protect the American ground forces in al-Shdadi, al-Rmilan and near Hasaka .

Turkey

Add to that, the MP asserted that Turkey will never change its position in the US-Zionist plan and it is the south-eastern wing of the NATO.

” I appeal to the Syrian leadership not to repeat the previous strategic mistake of openness to Turkey economically, politically and security,” Mr. Ousi said, calling on some Arab and Syrian political analysts not to take part in the media campaign being launched against the Syrian Kurds.

“Arabs, Kurds and Christians will remain one people,” he concluded.

Truce

Yesterday, the Syrian TV channel reported that an agreement to halt fighting was reached in the northeastern Hasaka province and it came into effect at 14:00 p.m.

The agreement was reached few days after the Asayish, the military wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party, escalated its provocative actions in Hasaka city, attacking state establishments, stealing oil and cotton, disrupting exams, carrying out abductions, and causing a state of chaos and instability.

The provocations amounted to encircling Hasaka city, shelling it with artillery and tanks and targeting the Syrian Arab Army positions in it, claiming the lives of a number of military personnel and civilians, according to the official news agency (SANA).

The agency added that the Asayish’s persistence in their acts required a suitable retaliation by Syrian Arab Army as it targeted the sources of artillery fire and the groupings of armed elements responsible for these criminal actions.

Less than 10 hours after reaching a truce agreement with the official government parties on Sunday, the Asayish violated the agreement and launched attacks on residential neighborhoods and government establishments in Hasaka.

Basma Qaddour

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Syrian Army Steps up Operations against Terrorists in Aleppo, Other Provinces

Local Editor

Syrian ArmyA number of heavy vehicles for terrorist organizations have been destroyed, including tanks and armored vehicles in Aleppo, as the Syrian army continued its operations, SANA reported.

Aleppo

The Syrian Air Force targeted gatherings of terrorists and movement axes southwest of the military  academies in the southern countryside of province.

Many terrorists were killed and a number of armored vehicles and cars equipped with machine guns were destroyed in the air strikes, a military source old SANA Wednesday.

In the same context, SANA reporter said an army unit fought fierce clashes with Jaish al-Fatah terrorists in the  surroundings of the strategic Um al-Qarae hill during the past hours, killing and injuring a number of them and  destroying 3 tanks and 5 vehicles equipped with machineguns and loaded with ammunition.

The reporter added that other army units operating in the southern countryside of Aleppo fired artillery and rocket  shells on the withdrawal routes of the terrorists, inflicting heavy losses upon them.

Meanwhile, the terrorist organizations acknowledged on their social media pages the death of the “leader of mortar  battalion” within Jaish al-Fatah, Hussein al-Safrani and the “military official” within the organization Zaki al- Taqiqa.

Daraa

The army units targeted a command center for Israeli-linked terrorist organizations in the vicinity of the Post building in Daraa al-Balad area in Daraa city.

The center was destroyed and all the terrorists inside it were killed or injured.

Sweida

An army unit directed concentrated strikes on ISIL movements and gatherings in the eastern countryside of the southern Sweida province.

During the strikes, a gathering of ISIL oil tankers in the area of al-Rashida oil fields to the east of Sweida city was destroyed, many of ISIL terrorists were killed and  others were injured.

Hama

The army units destroyed a number of vehicles and mortar positions and kill and injure more than 15 terrorists in operations in the northern countryside of Hama province.

SANA reporter told SANA that an army unit destroyed an SUV car and a mortar position belonging to “Jund al-Aqsa” terrorists south of Mourek town, some 35 km north of Hama city.

The source added that at least 11 terrorists were killed or injured when its position in the area was hit.

Other army units targeted terrorists’ hideouts in al-Lahaya village, leaving one terrorist dead and 3 others injured and destroying a mortar position.

Another army unit carried out a military operation to secure the road in the northern countryside of Hama during which it targeted a terrorist group south of Tallet al-Sayyad, north of Kafr Zeita town, 38 km northwest of Hama city. Two cars, one of which equipped with a machine gun and the other transporting terrorists, were destroyed.

Quneitra

An army unit carried out a special operation targeting a gathering of vehicles for al-Nusra terrorists in Um Batina village, southeast of al-Baath city in Quneitra province, SANA reporter said.

The operation resulted in the death of many terrorists and the destruction of three vehicles transporting terrorists, weapons and ammunition.

Source: Agencies

24-08-2016 – 15:14 Last updated 24-08-2016 – 15:14

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France Behind Ghouta Gas Attack: Syria

Local Editor

Syria said that a chemical attack that killed hundreds of civilians in August 2013 was orchestrated by French intelligence agencies.

Appearing during a heated session of the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari hit out at several members of the US-led coalition.

Bashar JaafariDiscussing the sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of people in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on 21 August 2013, he inferred the atrocity was part of a plot to divert UN weapons inspectors from another incident blamed on rebels.

“The use of chemical weapons in the Damascus area was meant to prevent from Dr Åke Sellström from going to Aleppo because [France] knew who had used chemical weapons in Aleppo,” al-Jaafari said.

“They wanted to prevent Dr Sellström from reaching Aleppo by any means and therefore they used chemical weapons in Damascus with the involvement of French intelligence.”

For his part, France’s representative to the Security Council, François Delattre, described the allegations as “absurd”.

“I’m not going to revisit all the derisory and grotesque things voiced by the representative of Syria,” he said.

On August 21, 2013, hundreds of people were killed in a Sarin gas attack in Ghouta, a massacre that UN inspectors call “the most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them” in Halabja in 1988.

Syrian opposition groups and their western allies claim the nerve gas attacks were launched by the Syrian government. Damascus rejects the allegation, saying the attack was carried out by militants operating inside the country to draw in foreign intervention. Subsequent investigations by the UN and Russia backed Syria’s assertions.

Source: Agencies

24-08-2016 – 12:24 Last updated 24-08-2016 – 12:24 |

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Interview with Dmitry Orlov (MUST LISTEN!)

August 24, 2016

I have to say that I fully agree with every word Dmitry Orlov says.  I highly recommend this interview with him!

The Saker

Election pantomime: Voting For The Best-Fit Hat For The Master

Voting For The Best-Fit Hat For The Master

2016-election-candidates

OK! It is the ‘Election’ year, again – Your opportunity to ‘Vote’ and ‘Elect’ your next ‘President’. You are excited, bursting with the hope that your new ‘Al Presidante’ will fulfill his/her promises and work ceaselessly to glorify the nation ‘again’, bring back the jobs and prosperity, and, above all, bomb our ‘enemies’ to the smithereens.

And, the great news is that you have a battalion of the very best and deserving of the candidates to chose from!

But, wait a minute, haven’t we been voting for the last couple of hundreds of years? Are not we electing and sending our own representatives to run our government for us? So, why in the name of the Sumatran Orangutan are we in such a mess? Why our tomorrow has been looking bleaker than our yesterday?

While the wealth of the billionaires has been growing steadily – without even one hick-up, for the last two centuries, the voters are being asked to toughen up and learn to adopt to survive on less and less. While the controlling billionaires’ fronts, their big banks and investment institutions, were being bailed out to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars – the money that your coming generations will have to pay for, your homes were being foreclosed as you were unable to pay the mortgage.

More than 34 Trillion Dollars were created – drastically diluting the worth of your savings and retirement accounts, to “Bailout” the same banks and institutions that kept on foreclosing your homes, while only $11 trillion could have paid off all the existing mortgages on the residential real estate, thus, freeing up billions of dollars a month for the consumer spending that, in turn, could have reinvigorated every sector of the economy. Your elected government, instead, opted to feed the Fat Cats – leaving you in “Hope” of the “Change” to come.

You have , in fact, zero rights – Your governments, from Democrats to Republicans, and back from Republicans to Democrats, keep on enacting the laws to further curb your rights and freedom. Instead of serving you, they govern you and rule you. Were not our elected representatives suppose to listen to us and obey our instructions?

Doesn’t it seem to be some thing very rotten here?

May it be that we have been sold an illusion, – a dream – The American Dream? Do you realize that dreams are just the dreams – not the reality? Dreams remain the dreams – that is why they are dreams.

You have been brain washed from the childhood to have faith in the system. You have been told all your life to obey and follow the system – Don’t like the present administration, just wait for the next election, and you will have the opportunity to elect the government of your own choice – The System works!

But, the question one needs to ask, works for whom?

Back in the 1980, The villain was President Carter and the Democratic Party. Iranian mullahs had taken the US embassy staff hostage, and the rescue operation had ended up in disaster. On top of that, the interest rates had crossed the 20% mark, causing the economy to take a nose dive.

So, the voters elected Ronald Reagan, the actor ‘Gubernator’ of California, to run the front for Bush Sr. who paved the way for whatever we are going through now.

After getting done with the behind the scene work, he needed to take the front stage. So, Bush Sr. was elected the next President. It was him who was behind the Iran-Contra scandal and the Savings and Loan scandal. His son and buddies siphoned off over $500,000,000,000 – Those were the times when the “billions” used to be the real “Big Billions” – not the present day billions, pulverized by the trillions of dollars flushed into the coffers of the Fat Cats via the QE .

It was during his era that, utilizing his family’s connections with the likes of Carlyle Group and Petro-Kings and Sheikhs, the country was put on course to perpetual and never ending wars.

Had the voters authorized any of his adventures?

Once he was done with his job, the voter elected his protégé, Bill Clinton – A smooth transition from the Republicans to Democrats, as usual. Clinton, beside screwing Monica Lewinsky, ended up screwing the nation – It was under him that The Act on Patriots was compiled and made ready for the Bush Jr. to promulgate.

Clinton done with the task, the voter elected George Jr. – since Clinton had sabotaged the voters’ other choice, Al Gore, George Jr. had no problem. George Jr., using the gates opened by Bill Clinton, facilitated the Big Loots and Big Swindles by the Fat Cats . It was under him that the Mother of all False Flags was carried out to further the wars started by his father.

Then, the voters hopped on the wagon of Hope and Change. And, the result is all in front of our eyes.

Now, Obama is the villain. He is the cause of all of our miseries. He has screwed all of us real bad. The real economy is in the gutter. Middle class has been decimated. Education and home ownership both are beyond the reach of the so called middle class. Students are coming out from schools burdened with an average debt of $100,000. With no prospects of a decent job, most of them are destined for the slavery – prospects of which may not be far off the chart.

But, the hope is still there. Just a few more months, and we will have the opportunity to elect our Republican president – most probably, Donald Trump the Billionaire, who will fix every thing that has gone wrong under Obama.

This cycle has been going on for generations, from the Republicans to Democrats, and back to the Republican. The same game is being played for centuries. With every swap, billionaires’ billions keep on growing, and you keep on plunging deeper and deeper in a state of despair and destitute.

Did it ever occur to you that you – the voter, have been duped into the role of a dedicated butler? You have been asked to pick up the two hats that are pointed to you, and your job is to make a judgment call, and, very ceremoniously, put one of the hats on your master’s head – The choice is your. That is a privilege, and an honor granted to you in recognition of your loyalty and service to your masters. A great honor to be proud of, indeed!

So, the big question that is going to have a profound effect on your life is; which hat are you going to chose to grace your master’s head the next time?

israel trying to stop Humanitarian aid to Palestine. UK’s Melanie Phillips claims Jewish victimhood

Israel using basic needs to blackmail Palestinians

 

Palestinian children in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun hold placards demanding the reconstruction of homes destroyed during Israel’s invasion two years ago, during a protest against Israel’s siege, 22 May 2016. Ashraf Amra APA images

More than a dozen Israeli human rights organizations are condemning Israel’s attacks and smears against humanitarian aid agencies in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Israel’s defense minister has announced a plan to use basic humanitarian needs to blackmail Palestinians in the occupied West Bank into submitting quietly to Israeli military rule.

The human rights groups, including Adalah, B’Tselem, Gisha and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, “urge the Israeli government to refrain from impeding the activities of these organizations, and to avoid vilifying the vital work of the aid community.”

Their statement comes after Israel arrested officials from two international agencies in Gaza, accusing them of helping the military resistance wing of Hamas.

“On the basis of these indictments, Israeli authorities have made sweeping, far-reaching and irresponsible allegations claiming that humanitarian operations in the Gaza Strip as a whole are connected to Hamas and serve the organization,” the Israeli human rights groups said.

They added that even if the two men were guilty as accused, “this will not detract from the importance, integrity and dedication of international humanitarian organizations assisting residents of the Gaza Strip.”

Many of the nearly 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza depend on humanitarian aid because of the devastation to the territory’s economy after three successive Israeli military assaults and a decade-long Israeli siege.

Dubious accusations

In June, Israel detained the Gaza director of global Christian aid and development charity World Vision, interrogated him for more than 50 days and then charged him with diverting up to $50 million to the military wing of Hamas.

Mohammad El Halabi’s detention only came to light earlier this month.

Halabi’s lawyers have said he was tortured and prevented from seeing an attorney for three weeks.

World Vision leaders have pointed out that the Israeli accusations fly in the face of the facts: the group’s entire budget in Gaza over the last decade was about $22.5 million – less than half the amount Israel claims Halabi, who had limited control over funds, diverted in just six years.

The UN development agency UNDP also revealed that Israel had detained one of its employees in Gaza, accusing him of providing rubble to Hamas for use in construction.

Israeli officials then launched a full-scale smear campaign against aid agencies working in Gaza, accusing them of supporting “terrorism.”

Targeting aid

Israel’s accusations against World Vision and other groups have been picked up by its apologists in an effort to cut off humanitarian aid to Gaza altogether.

Writing in The Jewish Chronicle, anti-Palestinian commentator Melanie Phillips argued that Western government financing for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, as well as groups like World Vision, Save the Children and Oxfam, amounted to funding the “mass murder” of Jews.

Senator Marco Rubio, the failed US Republican presidential candidate, sent a letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry demanding what could amount to a government witch hunt against those who support Palestinians.

“I urge you to investigate every allegation and use all resources to ensure American taxpayer dollars as well as individual private donations of Americans are not being used to fund terrorism,” Rubio wrote.

In the meantime, he urged the administration to “suspend all US assistance to Gaza until a review of the controls in place to prevent a diversion of funds can occur.”

“Carrot and stick”

Last week, Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman announced a new “carrot and stick” policy that amounts to depriving Palestinians of basic needs unless they willingly submit to occupation.

This is another demonstration that Israel sees resources for humanitarian needs as weapons to subdue the Palestinians who live under its military rule.

According to Israel’s Ynet, areas from where there is no “terrorism,” as Israel terms any form of Palestinian resistance, will be allowed to build hospitals, kindergartens and other basic infrastructure.

But villages that have “bred many terrorists” will be subjected to “heavy security,” amounting to the already ongoing policy of collective punishment, which is illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention that governs Israel’s occupation.

Only allowing Palestinian communities to meet their basic needs as long as no one resists also looks like a clear violation of international law.

As the International Committee of the Red Cross notes, the Fourth Geneva Convention requires that, “To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the occupying power must ensure sufficient hygiene and public health standards, as well as the provision of food and medical care to the population under occupation.”

New “village leagues”?

Lieberman’s intention, according to Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz, is to bypass the Palestinian Authority, talk to Palestinians “directly” and “cut out the middlemen.”

“If there are intellectuals, academics, outstanding municipal officials – why should they talk to us through Mahmoud Abbas?” Lieberman asked.

Ahmed Majdalani, an aide to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, and a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, compared Lieberman’s plans to the short-lived “village leagues” of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Israel armed and funded these collaborationist bodies in the West Bank to act as “representatives” of the population after dismissing elected mayors who were affiliated with the PLO.

The aim of the village leagues was to bypass the PLO, which at that time Israel saw as a threat and an enemy.

But since the Oslo accords of the early 1990s, the PLO, whose bureaucracy and resources were effectively transferred over to the PA, has become Israel’s partner in administering the occupation.

Despite Lieberman’s routine bluster against Abbas, Israel continues to rely on the PA to suppress any Palestinian resistance – a policy known as “security coordination.”

This close relationship involves PA security agencies collaborating with Israel to arrest and torture Palestinians.

Despite near universal Palestinian rejection of it, Abbas has called the close relationship with the occupation “sacred.”

Lieberman is optimistic indeed if he thinks he can find Palestinians any more willing to do Israel’s bidding than the PA

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