Netanyahu, Al-Sisi Hold Phone Call after Egypt Border Attack

 June 6, 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone Tuesday with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi in the aftermath of Saturday’s deadly attack at the border with Egypt.

According to a readout from Netanyahu’s office, Sisi expressed his “deep condolences” over the attack and committed to a “joint and exhaustive investigation.”

However, a spokesman for the Egyptian presidential palace did not mention an expression of condolences, instead simply saying that the conversation “addressed the shooting incident at the Egyptian-Israel border on Saturday, June 3, 2023, that led to the deaths of border security personnel.”

The spokesperson, Ahmed Fahmy, also noted that the phone call was initiated by Netanyahu.

“The president and prime minister of Israel have affirmed the importance of full coordination to uncover all the circumstances of the incident,” he added in a brief statement.

Both sides, meanwhile, affirmed “commitment to upholding the two countries’ peace treaty and security coordination,” The Times of Israel reported.

Three Israeli soldiers were killed early Saturday at a guard post close to the Harif military base.

Source: Israeli media

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Saudi Arabia to invite Syria’s Al-Assad to Arab League Summit in May

2 Apr 2023

Source: Agencies

By Al-Mayadeen English 

The spokesperson for the Arab League secretary general, Gamal Roshdy, states that the Arab League is not informed beforehand of every decision or move between Arab countries on the bilateral level.  

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addresses parliament in Damascus, Syria on August 12, 2020 (Reuters)

According to sources, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be invited by Saudi Arabia to the Arab League summit that is due to be hosted in Riyadh on May 19, which would put an end to Syria’s regional isolation that it has been suffering from since 2011. 

Hossam Zaki, the League of Arab States (LAS) Assistant Secretary-General, confirmed last week that “the 32nd Arab summit is expected to be held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on May 19,” adding that heads of government are also expected to attend the Arab Development Summit in Mauritania and the Arab-African Summit in Saudi Arabia this year as well. 

This follows as Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan is scheduled to travel to the capital Damascus in the next few weeks to submit the invitation to al-Assad to the summit. Initial plans for a visit by either Prince Faisal to Syria or by Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad to Saudi Arabia were postponed as a result of the February 6 earthquakes that devastated Turkey and Syria.

Several Arab countries rushed to Syria’s aid after the February 6 earthquake that killed tens of thousands in the war-torn country and neighboring Turkey. At the time, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi called his Syrian counterpart in unprecedented support since El-Sisi took office in 2014.

The spokesperson for the Arab League secretary general, Gamal Roshdy, stated that the Arab League is not informed beforehand of every decision or move between Arab countries on the bilateral level.  

“We are not supposed to be informed in advance about the assumed visit,” he said.

Read next: Arab League chief demands end of politicization of aid to Syria

After Syria was suspended from the organization in 2011, both Western and Arab nations boycotted him as a result of the protests that turned violence into war. However, this return to the organization would not only alter the regional approach towards Syria and the conflict but also Syria’s involvement in regional politics. 

Another potential landmark agreement

The beginning of that return started when Saudi Arabia and Syria agreed to reopen their embassies after the end of the month of Ramadan, according to sources familiar with the matter, but the Saudi foreign ministry did not confirm the agreement but confirmed talks were ongoing with the Syrian counterpart to resume consular services.

It does come with conditions – the talks include demands from Saudi Arabia not limited to close cooperation on border security and drug trafficking.

Egypt recently resumed contact with Syria after both parties agreed to fortify cooperation, marking the first official visit by a Syrian foreign minister to Egypt in more than a decade. Egypt served as a mediator alongside Saudi Arabia to facilitate Syria’s return to the League. 

Read more: Syrian Foreign Minister arrives in Cairo

On the other hand, nations like the US and Qatar have been demonstrating opposition to resuming ties with Syria, using al-Assad’s government situation as an excuse and asking to see progress for a political solution in the country.

If Saudi Arabia and Syria establish a concrete agreement and resumption of ties, it will be the second victory against the desires of the West following the landmark agreement earlier last month between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The previous summit, the 31st, was held in Algeria in November 2022 and was attended by 16 Arab presidents. 

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مقاربات ما بعد الزلزال: الإمارات أثبتُ «المُصالحين»

 الخميس 16 شباط 2023

اللافت هو الموقف الأميركي غير المُتشدّد، أقلّه راهناً، إزاء الانفتاح العربي على سوريا (أ ف ب)

مصطفى شلش  

عادت سوريا، عقب الزلزال المدمّر الذي ضربها وتركيا في السادس من شباط، إلى واجهة الأحداث، لكن هذه المرّة على وقْع الخلاف حول كيفية إدخال المساعدات الدولية والأممية إلى البلد المنكوب، في ظلّ وجود مناطق خارجة عن سيطرة دمشق، والعقوبات الأميركية والأوروبية المفروضة على الأخيرة. وجدت واشنطن وبروكسل نفسَيهما، إثر ذلك، واقعتَين تحت ضغط الحاجة إلى التراجع عن حصارهما الخانق ضدّ سوريا، بينما بدأت مقاربات الدول العربية تتّخذ أشكالاً أكثر وضوحاً وثباتاً، بعدما هيمنت عليها، خلال عام 2022، الحرب الروسية – الأوكرانية، وأزاحت سوريا من قائمة أولوياتها (على عكْس الفترة الواقعة بين عامَي 2011 و2019)، وشغلتْها بمحاولة الموازنة بين الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد الأوروبي وروسيا والهند والصين.

وكانت المتغيرّات التي شهدها الإقليم منذ عام 2013، بدءاً من إطاحة حُكم «الإخوان المسلمين» في مصر، مروراً بنموّ التنظيمات الإرهابية وسيطرتها على مساحات واسعة في سوريا والعراق، لعبت دوراً في إعادة تشكيل التحالفات، حيث اضطرّت قطر وتركيا إلى إجراء تغييرات تكتيكية في دعْمها للجماعات الإسلامية، بينما بدأت بلدان أخرى مِن مِثل السعودية والإمارات وبشكل أقلّ الجزائر تستشعر خطراً متزايداً من تلك الجماعات. هكذا، تَقلّص تدريجاً الدعم المالي – الهائل – للمعارضة السورية المسلّحة التي سيطرت عليها في أغلبها تيّارات إسلامويّة مُتطرّفة، فيما لم تَعُد مسألة تغيير النظام السوري عبر العمل المسلّح ممكنة، خصوصاً منذ اقتحام روسيا الساحة السورية عام 2015. وعلى خطّ موازٍ، أصبحت البلدان الخليجية (السعودية والإمارات) ومصر – بشكل أقلّ – أكثر قلقاً على أمن الملاحة البحرية، ومن النفوذ الإيراني المُتزايد في العراق وسوريا ولبنان وحديثاً اليمن، بالإضافة إلى مخاطر الأمن السيبراني والإرهاب.
وبنتيجة كلّ تلك المتغيّرات، وعلى ضوء أداء الدول العربية في أعقاب الزلزال الكارثة، يمكن القول إن ثمّة مقاربتَين عربيتَين في التعامل مع القضية السورية، الأولى إماراتية – مصرية، والثانية سعودية. وإذ تشترك كلتاهما في هدف واحد هو إنهاء الصراع وعودة الاستقرار والأمن إلى البلاد، إلّا أنهما تختلفان في الوسائل والطُرق والخطاب الديبلوماسي.

المقاربة الأولى (الإماراتية – المصرية)

الاتّصال الإماراتي – المصري مع دمشق، استند إلى التحوّل في أولويات السياسة الخارجية للبلدَين، وتقدير مصالحهما الاقتصادية والأمن القومي، وهو ما بدأ منذ عام 2013. آنذاك، توقّفت أبو ظبي والقاهرة عن تبنّي موقف الإدانة الحادّ والعلني ضدّ النظام السوري والدعم الكامل للمعارضة، كما كان سائداً بين عامَي 2011 و2012. بالنسبة إلى القاهرة، بقيت القنوات الديبلوماسية والاقتصادية والاستخبارية مفتوحة بشكل غير رسمي، فيما سُجّلت عام 2014 أوّل زيارة للرئيس المصري، عبد الفتاح السيسي، إلى سوريا، حيث أعلن أن الأخيرة هي العمق الاستراتيجي لمصر، ودعا إلى احترام وحدة أراضيها، محذّراً من تقسيمها أو تفتيتها، ومؤكداً أن هذه المسألة على صلة بالأمن القومي المصري. في السنوات الأخيرة، لم يتغيّر موقف القاهرة عملياً؛ إذ جدّد وزير الخارجية، سامح شكري، في عام 2020، التأكيد أن بلاده «مصمِّمة على عودة سوريا إلى مكانها الطبيعي على الساحتَين الإقليمية والدولية». لكن مصر ظلّت حريصة على إظهار نوع من التمايز في موقفها، وهي رعت اتّفاقَي تهدئة في الغوطة الشرقية وفي ريف حمص الشمالي، كما سمحت لأحمد الجربا، الرئيس السابق لـ«الائتلاف السوري» المُعارض، بأن يمارس نشاطه السياسي عبر ما يُسمّى «الغد السوري».

الروابط الإماراتية مع سوريا ستتعمّق تدريجياً وتتزايد فاعليتها


أمّا أبو ظبي فحسمت أمرها لاحقاً بالانفتاح على دمشق، خصوصاً مع تفاقُم التوتّرات الإقليمية في ملفَّي ليبيا واليمن بين عامَي 2015 و2018، وتوسُّع الحضور التُركي والإيراني على نحوٍ بات من وجهة نظرها بحاجة إلى تركيز جهود أكبر، بالإضافة إلى التوتّر داخل البيت الخليجي وقطْع العلاقات مع قطر. كذلك، لعبت المصالح المشتركة دوراً في التقارب بين سوريا والإمارات، ولا سيما أن الأخيرة كانت ثاني أكبر استثمار أجنبي مُباشر في الأولى قبل عام 2011. هكذا، استغلّت أبو ظبي قوّتها الاقتصادية في دمشق، واعتبرت أن الانخراط مع النظام سوف يأخذه بعيداً ولو بشكل تدريجي عن إيران، وأن تقديم حوافز له قد يؤدّي إلى إحراز تقدّم أفضل ممّا أفرزتْه فرضيات غير واقعية لم تنجح أبداً لأكثر من عقْد. وعليه، أضحت الإمارات «الشريك التجاري الأبرز لسوريا» بحسب وزير الاقتصاد الإماراتي، عبد الله المري، الذي أعلن أن التجارة غير النفطية بلغت 272 مليون دولار عام 2021.

المقاربة الثانية (السعودية)

لا تريد السعودية رؤية سوريا مجزّأة خوفاً من تأثير ذلك غير المباشر على المنطقة، لكنها تتطلّع إلى تقليص نفوذ إيران قبل أيّ تطبيع سياسي أو اقتصادي مع دمشق، التي لم تنسَ بعد، من جانبها، انخراط الرياض القوي في دعم أقوى فصائل عسكرية مُعارضة للنظام (خصوصاً “جيش الإسلام” بقيادة زهران علوش). في نهاية عام 2021، وجّه ممثّل السعودية لدى الأمم المتحدة، عبد الله المعلمي، نقداً لاذعاً إلى سوريا، قائلاً: «لا تُصدّقوا إذا قالوا إن الحرب انتهت في سوريا، وما هو النصر الذي حقّقتْه دمشق إذا وقف زعيمهم على هرَم من الجثث؟». لكن هذا الموقف الحادّ لم يَعنِ عودة المملكة إلى دعْم العمل المُسلّح في سوريا، بل بدا متعلّقاً بالدرجة الأولى بموقف دمشق مِن الهجمات الصاروخية التي تشنّها حركة «أنصار الله» اليمنية ضدّ أهداف سعودية؛ إذ ظلّت الحكومة السورية ملتزمة الصمت إزاءها، فيما ظهرت، في تشرين الأول 2021، صورة للملحق العسكري لسلطات صنعاء، العقيد شرف الماوري، مع رئيس المخابرات العسكرية السورية، أثناء اجتماعهما في دمشق.
على هذه الخلفيّة، كما يبدو، لم تسهّل السعودية عودة سوريا إلى مقعدها في «جامعة الدول العربية»، لكن ذلك لم يمنع التعاون الاستخباري بين الرياض ودمشق؛ إذ تردّدت تسريبات، أواخر عام 2022، عن أن مدير المخابرات السورية، اللواء حسام لوقا، قام بزيارة سرّية إلى الرياض عبر مطار بيروت، استغرقت 4 أيام، بعدما كان شهد عام 2021 حدثَين مُهمَّين، هما:

اولا- اجتماع كشفت عنه مصادر مصرية بين لوقا، ورئيس المخابرات السعودية خالد الحميدان، في القاهرة، في ما بدا أقرب إلى محاولة مصرية لتقريب وجهات النظر من بوّابة الأمن القومي الداخلي والإقليمي.

ثانيا- مشاركة وفد من وزارة السياحة السورية برئاسة وزير السياحة، محمد مرتيني، في الاجتماع الـ47 لـ«لجنة منظّمة السياحة العالمية للشرق الأوسط» في العاصمة السعودية الرياض، حيث كانت تلك أوّل زيارة علنية لمسؤول سوري إلى المملكة منذ أكثر من عقد.

على أن ثمّة ملفّاً آخر يجعل الموقف السعودي أكثر تشدُّداً حيال سوريا، متمثّلاً في حركة تهريب المخدرات من الجنوب السوري إلى دول الخليج عبر الأردن، وهو ما تُفضّل عمّان معالجته عبر حلّ سياسي يعيد الاستقرار إلى البلاد، ويتيح مكافحة الميليشيات المُنفلتة والحدّ من تجارة المخدرات عبر الحدود. ويُضاف إلى ما تَقدّم الخلاف السعودي – السوري حول ملفّ «حزب الله»، ودوره السياسي في لبنان، حيث يحظى بدعم سوري مُطلق، فيما ترى المملكة إلى ضرورة تحجيم هذا الدور، خصوصاً أن السعوديين يَعتبرون لبنان منصّة «عدائية» ضدّهم في ما يتعلّق بالملفّ اليمني، سواءً لناحية تقديم الحزب دعماً عسكرياً مفترَضاً لـ«أنصار الله»، أو استضافتِه القنوات الإيرانية الناطقة بالعربية أو تلك اليمنية التي تبثّ ضدّ المملكة.

المستقبل السياسي للمقاربتَين

تلقّى الرئيس السوري، بشار الأسد، مكالمة هاتفية مِن كلّ من وليّ عهد أبو ظبي محمد بن زايد، والرئيس المصري عبد الفتاح السيسي، للتعزية بضحايا الزلزال، والتعهّد بتقديم الدعم اللازم لدمشق، في وقت حطّت فيه طائرة وزير الخارجية الإماراتي، عبد الله بن زايد، في سوريا، كأبرز مسؤول عربي يزور البلاد خلال الكارثة التي حلّت بها. في المقابل، لم يتمّ الإعلان عن أيّ تواصل رسمي مِن قيادات المملكة مع دمشق، في حين بدأت الرياض تسيير رحلات مساعدات إلى المناطق الخاضعة لسيطرة الحكومة السورية، توازياً مع تقديمها دعماً إنسانياً للشمال الغربي حيث معاقل المعارضة، تماماً مثلما فعلتْ أيضاً القاهرة حتى تُظهر نفسها كعنصر محايد وقادر على التواصل مع الأطراف كافّة، وهو ما تتفهّمه دمشق التي حرصت، أقلّه عبر وسائل إعلامها، على إظهار امتنانها لمصر، وفي الوقت نفسه عدم توجيه أيّ نقد غير ديبلوماسي إلى السعودية.

اللافت هو الموقف الأميركي غير المُتشدّد، أقلّه راهناً، إزاء الانفتاح العربي على سوريا، علماً أن شركات إماراتية كانت بدأت بالفعل ببناء محطّة طاقة شمسية بقدرة 300 ميغاوات بالقرب من دمشق منذ منتصف تشرين الثاني 2021، بينما تعتزم القاهرة المشاركة في أيّ عملية إعادة إعمار سوريا. ومع بدء التقارب التركي – السوري، والأردني – السوري، ستكون واشنطن أمام مهمّة صعبة في لجْم رغبة حلفائها في المنطقة في البحث عن مصالحهم الأمنية والاقتصادية، والانفصال عن مقارباتها في غير ملفّ، خصوصاً أن هذه الأخيرة تبدو متقلّبة وغير ضامنة للاستقرار.

وفي انتظار ما سيتكشّف في الأيام المقبلة، فإن الروابط الإماراتية مع سوريا ستتعمّق تدريجياً وتتزايد فاعليتها، بينما ستُحافظ مصر على موقفها الرافض لتغيير النظام عبر العمل المسلّح، والدافع نحو إجراءات سياسية تنهي حالة اللااستقرار. أمّا العلاقات السعودية – السورية الحالية فهي صعبة، وأمامها طريق طويل للوصول إلى نقطة التطبيع؛ فكلا البلدَين لديهما مصالح متضاربة مع إيران وفي لبنان والعراق، بينما تصبح المسألة اليمنية ورقة مناورة لصالح دمشق تَعتبرها الرياض خطّاً أحمر. لذا، ستبقى هذه العلاقات، أقلّه الآن، محصورة في التنسيق الأمني ضدّ الإرهاب وفي مكافحة الجرائم الدولية من خلال تبادُل المعلومات.

من ملف : الأردن يكمل استدارته: هذا أوان مصالحة سوريا

What prompted the urgent, secretive summit in Abu Dhabi?

January 20 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle

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

By Abdel Bari Atwan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

مدنٌ «خاوية على عروشها»: نهضة التبذير

 الجمعة 16 كانون الأول 2022

ما افتَتحه السيسي، هو مجموعة مبانٍ سكنية تفصلها عن المدن المجاورة نحو 30 دقيقة، وتبدو كلفتها مرتفعة (أ ف ب)

الأخبار  

بافتتاح مدينة المنصورة الجديدة المطلّة على البحر المتوسط، والتي أُنفقت مليارات الجنيهات على إنشائها، واعترتْها عمليات فساد أدّت إلى تهشيم بنيتها التحتية حتى قبل تشغيلها، الأمر الذي جعل كلفتها تفوق ضِعف ما كان مُخطَّطاً له في الميزانية. مع ذلك، لم تَجرِ أيّ محاسبة واضحة ومعلَنة للمتورّطين في الفساد، في وقت تَحوّل فيه الافتتاح إلى مناسبة ليحاضر السيسي في المصريين حول ما «أفسدوه» على مدار سنوات، من خلال البناء العشوائي وإدارة السلطات المحلّية، وغيرها من الظواهر التي كانت الأنظمة المتعاقبة شريكة للمواطنين فيها. على أن السيسي فضّل، في حديثه، تحميل هؤلاء مسؤولية غياب الدولة عن توفير السكن، والسكوت عن الأموال التي كانت تُدفع لـ«المحلّيات» مقابل سماح الأخيرة بالتعدّي على الأراضي الزراعية، مُحاوِلاً من خلال ذلك تبرير التكلفة المرتفعة لعملية إنشاء المدينة، التي تَغيّر هيكلها وتصميمها بشكل كامل، وأرجئَ تنفيذ جزء رئيس منها إلى مرحلة ثانية لضَعف الإقبال. ويتمثّل هذا الجزء في الأبراج المطلّة على شاطئ البحر المتوسط، والتي جرى تبديل موقعها بعدما تَبيّن أن الموقع الذي اختير ابتداءً لم يكن صالحاً لبناء ناطحات السحاب على غِرار تلك التي ارتفعت في العلمين الجديدة وافتُتحت الصيف الماضي.

أمّا ما افتَتحه السيسي، فليس أكثر من مجموعة مبانٍ سكنية تفصلها عن المدن المجاورة نحو 30 دقيقة على الأقلّ في السيارة، وتبدو كلفتها مرتفعة كثيراً بالنسبة إلى محدودي الدخل. لكنّ المفارقة أن المنصورة الجديدة لا يفضّلها حتى الأثرياء وأبناء الطبقة الوسطى، وذلك بالنظر إلى أن أمامها سنوات حتى تكون أكثر ملاءمة للسكن والتنقّل، فضلاً عن ارتفاع أسعار المحروقات والسيّارات، والذي يُضاعف من كلفة الانتقال منها وإليها بشكل يومي. وإذ تضمّ المدينة مئات الفيلات الجديدة، ومِثلها من العمارات المخصَّصة للإسكان الاجتماعي، فإن تساؤلات كثيرة تُطرح حول مدى الحاجة إلى هذه العمارات التي يتمّ تشييدها بسرعة قياسية، من دون دراسة جدوى تحدّد التكلفة المناسبة والأسعار العادلة لبيعها، خصوصاً في ظلّ عزوف المواطنين عن شراء الوحدات السكنية المطروحة من الحكومة بشكل شبه كامل، لارتفاع أسعارها بشكل مبالَغ فيه مقارنة بمشاريع القطاع الخاص التي تتميّز أيضاً بخدمات ما بعد البيع، ولا سيما في حالة الشركات الكبيرة.

ومنذ وصول السيسي إلى السلطة في عام 2014، وفي خضمّ أزمة اقتصادية طاحنة، سعى النظام إلى إنشاء عدد من المدن الجديدة في قلْب الصحراء، مستغلّاً المساحات الشاسعة من الأراضي، سواءً في الساحل الشمالي أو حتى في المنصورة ومدن القناة، والتي كانت غالبيتها إمّا «وضْع يدٍ» لبعض المواطنين أو تتبع القوّات المسلّحة أو غير مستغَلّة. ومن بين تلك المدن المستحدَثة، العلمين الجديدة التي باتت مقرّاً صيفياً للدولة، والعاصمة الإدارية الجديدة التي يجري تشييدها منذ 8 سنوات. على أن هذه المشاريع، ذات التكلفة الباهظة، خلقت ديوناً متزايدة على الدولة بسبب التوسّع في عمليات استيراد مستلزمات البناء، وعدم توافر العديد من الخامات محلّياً، إلى جانب عمليات الفساد المنظَّم التي ارتُكبت بوساطة الشركات المنُفذِّة، ومن بينها شركات تابعة للجيش بشكل مباشر، أو أشرف عليها لواءات متقاعدون، في ما كلّف خزينة الدولة ملايين الدولارات التي أُنفقت على خُطط لم تتمّ الاستفادة منها إلى اليوم لأسباب عدّة.
ووفق الجدول الزمني للانتقال إلى العاصمة الإدارية الجديدة، كان من المفترض أن تُباشر الحكومة عملها فيها مطلع 2020، لكن تداعيات جائحة «كورونا» أدّت إلى تأخير تطبيق هذه الخطط. وحتى بمعزل عن الجائحة، فقد ثبتت استحالة البدء بالعمل هناك، من دون توفير وسائل مواصلات تتّسع لأعداد المواطنين الذين سيتّجهون إلى العاصمة الجديدة لإنهاء مصالحهم، وهو ما سبّب تأخّراً إضافياً، إلى جانب ما استتبعه التعجّل في إنشاء المباني الحكومية الفارهة من ارتفاع في أسعار مستلزمات البناء، وخاصة الخامات المستورَدة التي زادت واردات الدولة منها بما يتناسب مع احتياجات قصر الرئاسة الفخم ودار الأوبرا العالمية ومبنى وزارة الدفاع الذي يشبه مبنى البنتاغون من ناحيتَي التصميم والتأمين. نتيجة تلك العوامل، وتحت وطأة الضغط أيضاً من الحلفاء الخليجيين، بدأ النظام يتراجع عن فكرة الانتقال السريع إلى العاصمة الجديدة، مقتصِراً على نقْل بضع عشرات من الموظفين لحفظ ماء الوجه فقط، فيما أُرجئ استيراد العديد من التجهيزات النهائية حتى إشعار آخر بسبب أزمة نقص العملة، واكتُفي بعقْد جلسات لمجلس الوزراء في المقرّ الحكومي الجديد. وممّا دفَع إلى تلك الإجراءات كذلك، أن الوضع الاقتصادي العالمي وتراجُع الاستثمارات الأجنبية المباشرة، توازياً مع تراجُع قدرة المواطنين على الإنفاق، كلّها عوامل أدّت إلى تعقيد أكبر لخُطط الحكومة الهشّة، والتي كانت تأمل تعويض كلفتها من بيع المقرّات القديمة في وسط القاهرة، مثلما جرى في بعض الأراضي التابعة لوزارة الداخلية.

في السياق نفسه، وفي خضمّ تنفيذ خطّة الانتقال إلى العاصمة الإدارية الجديدة، جرى تأسيس مدينة حدائق العاصمة على أطرافها لتكون مقرّاً لإقامة موظّفي الحكومة، وهو ما كلّف خزانة الدولة مليارات الجنيهات التي يُفترض أن تستردّها على مدى 20 عاماً من موظّفيها المنتقِلين، والذين حصلوا على الشِقق بدعم حكومي، علماً أن بعضهم سيتقاعدون بعد أقلّ من 10 سنوات، وأن بعضهم الآخر، ممّن لم تتبقّ أمامهم سوى فترة وجيزة للتقاعد، قُبلت طلبات تسريحهم. كذلك، شملت الخطّة إنشاء القطار الكهربائي، وتشغيله بتكلفة تجاوزت ملياراً و300 مليون دولار في المرحلة الأولى، مع تنفيذه في عامَين فقط، الأمر الذي أدّى إلى ارتفاع إضافي في تكلفته، فيما مُنحت الشركات المنفّذة له مستحقّاتها بالدولار في خضمّ أزمة عملة بدأت تلوح في الأفق منذ بداية العام الماضي. مع هذا، ظلّت الحكومة تتجاهل تلك المؤشّرات، وتنخرط في مشاريع متعدّدة، كان آخرها القطار الكهربائي السريع، والذي جرى الاتفاق على تنفيذه مع «سيمنز»، مقابل 8.5 مليارات دولار تُسدَّد للشركة الألمانية العملاقة، في وقت تُكافح فيه مصر للحصول على قرض وتسهيلات ائتمانية من «صندوق النقد الدولي» والشركاء الدوليين بقيمة تصل إلى 9 مليارات دولار، من بينها 3 مليارات دولار فقط قيمة قرض يُسدَّد على 3 سنوات لمعالجة عجز الموازنة.
على أن مشروعات البناء تلك، ليست وحدها التي تمثّل مظاهر التبذير في مصر، بل إلى جانبها أيضاً محطّات الكهرباء الضخمة التي تفوق الاحتياجات المحلّية. فخلال 3 سنوات، جرت إضافة شبكة كهرباء تكفي للعقود الخمسة المقبلة، في ما عدّه الرئيس إنجازاً كونه نُفّذ بأسعار أقلّ ممّا كان سيُنفَّذ به في المستقبل. لكن على أرض الواقع، أُغلقت بعض المحطّات، وتعطّلت مشاريع أخرى للطاقة النظيفة كان يُفترض إنجازها بميزانيات أقلّ لتجنّب مزيد من التعطيل في محطّات توليد الكهرباء الكبرى، والتي أنشئت بالتعاون مع «سيمنز».

الدولة تلوم العجَزة حان الوقت لكي تموتوا!
في وقت يستمرّ فيه تكميم أفواه المعارضة، وإعلاء «الصوت الواحد» من قِبَل الأجهزة السيادية، إلى جانب العمل على إقصاء شخصيات عديدة من المشهد لامتلاكها آراءً نقدية بخصوص الوضع الراهن، يرفض النظام المصري الاعتراف بفشله في التعامل مع الأوضاع الاقتصادية، مُفضِّلاً تحميل المواطنين تداعيات السياسات الخاطئة المتّبَعة، ومستمرّاً في حشْد حجج «غير منطقية» لتبرير تلك السياسات. حججٌ من بين أبرزها، مثلاً، تراجُع معدّل وفيات كبار السنّ، وهو ما تُحمّل الحكومة المُواطنين مسؤوليته وفق ما جاء صراحةً على لسان رئيس الحكومة، مصطفى مدبولي، في شهر آب الماضي. وعلى رغم تراجُع معدّلات المواليد بشكل مطّرد نتيجة تدهوُر الأوضاع الاقتصادية وتضاعُف المعاناة التي تُواجهها الأُسر، يلوم مدبولي الزيادة السكّانية في تضييع معدّلات التنمية التي يحقّقها النظام سنوياً، على اعتبار أن زيادة أعداد المواليد مقارنةً بقلّة الوفيّات المتوقّعة ستؤدّي إلى إضافة 1.6 مليون فرد، وهو عبء يلتهم جهود الحكومة، من وُجهة نظر الأخيرة.
أمّا الحجّة الأبرز الثانية، فهي زيادة أعداد العاملين في الجهاز الإداري للدولة، علماً أنه خلال السنوات العشر الماضية، انخفض عدد هؤلاء إلى أكثر من النصف، ليستقرّ عند نحو 3 ملايين موظّف فقط حالياً، بعدما كان يتجاوز حاجز 8 ملايين، على رغم أن غالبية المصالح الحكومية تعاني مشكلات مرتبطة بعدم وجود عدد كافٍ من الموظفين لإنجاز المهام المطلوبة. يُضاف إلى ما تَقدّم أن الحكومة التي تروّج لسعيها إلى تحسين منظومة الصحّة عبر تطبيق النظام الجديد للتأمين الصحّي الشامل الذي دخل حيّز التنفيذ في محافظتَين أخيراً، قرّرت توجيه عائدات النظام للاستثمار بها وتحقيق عوائد من خلالها، بدلاً من استخدامها في توسيعه وتسريعه، وفقاً لِمَا وعدت به سابقاً، خوفاً من تحميلها أعباء مالية جديدة.

القطاع العام يسكّر أبوابه: لا مكان لطالبي العمل
ومنذ وصول السيسي إلى الحُكم، يشهد الجُنيه المصري تدهوراً حادّاً في قيمته، التي انخفضت خلال 9 سنوات من 7 جنيهات لكلّ دولار، إلى نحو 31 جنيهاً في السوق السوداء، ونحو 25 في البنوك حيث لا تتوافر العملة الصعبة أصلاً. يأتي ذلك في وقت أَوقفت فيه الحكومة التوظيف في مؤسّساتها، ليقتصر راهناً على مالكي السلطة والنفوذ وبأعداد محدودة للغاية، فيما التوظيف في الشركات الخاصة التي يديرها الجيش والمخابرات، والتي تكلَّف بأعمال لصالح الجهات الحكومية، يفتقد إلى عنصرَي الأمان والاستقرار. وحتى التسهيلات البسيطة والمتوسّطة الممنوحة للشركات الخاصة، لم تَعُد متاحة من دون قيود؛ إذ إن القبضة الأمنية والرسوم باتت تُلاحق مَن يسعون إلى هذا العمل على رغم ما يعتريه من تعقيدات وصعوبات، بينما يأتي تَوجّه الحكومة لفرض مزيد من الضرائب والرسوم، ليعمّق أوجاع عاملِي المهن الحرّة، والذين لا تلتزم الدولة بأيّ شيء حيالهم مقابل ذلك. أمّا مَن وضعوا أموالهم في البنوك للحصول على العائد من الشهادات، فيفقدون قيمة مدّخراتهم مع تدهوُر سعر الجنيه، وتسجيل التضخّم أرقاماً قياسية بشكل شهري.
قبل أسابيع قليلة، كان أحد المستثمرين الخليجيين يتحدّث في مؤتمر اقتصادي، بحضور وزراء، عن مزايا الاستثمار في مصر، والتي من بينها عدم إلزام المستثمر بزيادة سنوية في الأجور على غرار الصين، في حين بات الحدّ الأدنى للأجور بحسب الحكومة 3 آلاف جنيه (أقلّ من 100 دولار وفق سعر الصرف في السوق الموازية). هكذا، وبينما يتحدّث السيسي عن قدرته على تحسين أجور الموظّفين الحكوميين، يعجز في الوقت نفسه عن إلزام القطاع الخاص بالزيادة، التي تَقدّمت عدّة شركات بطلبات لاستثنائها منها، في حين تتهرّب الغالبية أصلاً من تعيين موظّفين جُدُد لتجنّب أيّ أعباء أو التزامات إضافية. مع ذلك، لا تجد الحكومة رادعاً من الطلب إلى مُواطنيها، الحصول على شِقق في وحدات الإسكان الاجتماعي المدعومة في أمكنة بعيدة عن العاصمة، وهو ما يعكس اختلال النظرة إلى المُواطنين، الذين لا يعانون فقط تدهوُر قيمة الدخل، وإنّما أيضاً النفقات المتزايدة في التنقّل والحركة، في ظلّ ارتفاع أسعار المحروقات بشكل مطّرد في السنوات الثلاث الماضية.

بالنتيجة، العمل اليومي بالأجر لم يَعُد مجدياً، والانتظام في العمل الحكومي ليس خياراً متاحاً، والقطاع الخاص يسعى إلى الربح من دون النظر إلى أيّ اعتبارات أخرى. لذا، لم يَعُد مستغرَباً تزايُد هجرة الشباب المصري إلى الخارج، بحثاً عن فُرص عمل أفضل تُحقّق لهم أبسط شروط الحياة الآدمية.

من ملف : دولة قهْر «الغلابة»

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US Brokering Talks to Transfer Islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia with ‘Israeli’ Backing

May 25, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The US administration of Joe Biden is reportedly brokering talks aimed at finalizing the transfer of two Red Sea islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia in an agreement Tel Aviv hopes will include steps by Riyadh toward normalizing ties with the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity.

In 2017, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ratified a treaty to hand over Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. The deal withstood protests and legal challenges in Egypt but was never finalized.

The two Red Sea islands figure blatantly in the ‘Israeli’-Egyptian agreement signed in 1979, which promises safe passage to Zionist settlers and military ships through the narrow waterways of the Straits of Tiran.

As part of the 1979 deal, Egypt agreed to demilitarize multinational observers led by the United States and allow the presence of a force of multinational observers led by the US to patrol the islands. Their transfer to Saudi Arabia, therefore, requires a degree of ‘Israeli’ buy-in in order to move forward.

The island transfer, first announced in April 2016, had fueled rare protests in Egypt with opponents of Sisi accusing him of having traded the islands for Saudi largesse. The government claimed the islands were Saudi to begin with but were leased to Egypt in the 1950s.

The Straits of Tiran are the Zionist regime’s only water passage from Eilat to the open sea, allowing for shipping to and from Africa and Asia without requiring passage through the Suez Canal, as well as passage to and from the Suez Canal.

The Zionist occupation’s navy ships use the waterway to reach open seas, where they carry out naval exercises that are not possible in the narrow confines of the Gulf of Aqaba.

The Tel Aviv regime is also asking that Saudi Arabia take a number of steps toward normalizing ties with the occupation entity — namely allowing additional ‘Israeli’ flights to use Saudi airspace and allowing direct flights between the occupation entity and Saudi.

Bennett, Sisi and MBZ Discuss Iran, ‘Mutual Security Interests’

23 Mar 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Zionist Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed [MBZ] held a joint meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt on Tuesday to discuss a joint defense strategy in dealing with what they referred to as the ‘Iranian threat,’ as well as ‘common security interests.’

What are the ‘common security interests’ that would pool the ‘Israeli’ entity with Egypt and the UAE?

Although the so-called ‘Iranian threat’ would come to mind first, there would be several other concerns. A hint to that is the Emirati comments to ‘Israeli’ The Jerusalem Post newspaper, which mentioned that “Abu Dhabi is shocked by the US behavior,” and that “it is hard for the UAE to deal with the US administration of Joe Biden in security affairs,” also noting that ties in general have been deteriorating.

The JPost cited a source in Abu Dhabi as saying: “The United Arab Emirates is very unhappy with the US move toward removing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard from its Foreign Terrorist Organizations list.”

Some in Abu Dhabi “are in great shock,” and they view the possibility of the IRG’s designation being removed in the same way as ‘Israel’ does, the source added.

The meeting took place as the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran was nearing completion.

The US and Iran have been indirectly negotiating in Vienna to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal for the past 11 months. The deal placed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear development in exchange for the gradual lifting of sanctions.

Most of those restrictions expire at the end of 2025. In addition, in recent years, Iran has far surpassed the deal’s 3.67% uranium enrichment limit, enriching to 60% – weapons-grade uranium is enriched to 90% – and has converted some of it to a format that is hard to dilute or transport.

The Tel Aviv regime and the United Arab Emirates expressed dissatisfaction with American concessions to the Islamic Republic.

“The leaders discussed the ties between the three countries on the background of recent developments in the world and the region, and the ways to strengthen [the ties] at all levels,” Bennett’s office stated.

Bennett’s visit to Egypt was supposed to be secret, but once the press caught wind of it, Sisi’s office did not oppose placing a Zionist regime’s flag at the meeting for the photo-op.

Sisi also accompanied Bennett to his plane when he departed Sharm El-Sheikh on Tuesday, after spending the night in the Sinai resort town.

Concern in Tel Aviv about Washington’s intention to respond to the demand to remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard from the list of terrorism

Erdogan’s Reconciliations: ‘Israel’ is a Friend, Assad Remains an Enemy! مصالحات إردوغان.. “إسرائيل” صديق والأسد يبقى عدواً!

 ARABI SOURI 

Turkey Erdogan – Syria President Bashar Assad

Erdogan knows that reconciliation with Assad will not be easy for him as long as he believes that such reconciliation will mean the final defeat of his regional and international project.

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

A week after the “Turkish reconciliation with the UAE”, which was achieved by Mohammed bin Zayed’s visit to Ankara (11/24) at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the latter announced his “efforts to achieve similar reconciliations with Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain,” speaking about his upcoming visit to Abu Dhabi in the first half of next February after he called Bin Zayed and congratulated him on the UAE National Day (December 1).

Erdogan, who, along with his ministers, forgot everything he said about Mohammed bin Zayed politically, and the loyal Turkish media insulted him, describing him with the worst epithets, it seems that he also forgot everything he personally said about Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and “Israel” in whole and in detail, which proves the success of the Emirati mediation on the path of Trump’s “deal of the century”, Bin Zayed declared himself its godfather.

As the betting continues on the results of the seventh round (and subsequent rounds) of the Iranian nuclear file negotiations in Vienna, the information talks about the recent visits of Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to Cairo, Riyadh, Manama, and “Tel Aviv”. The visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog (with Azerbaijani and Ukrainian mediation as well) to Ankara may soon follow, at a time when ambiguity persists about Cairo’s position, which seems to not rush reconciliation with Ankara until it secures a practical and final position from President Erdogan against the Egyptian and Arab Muslim Brotherhood, it is a request that he may agree to the Egyptian part (and indeed the Israeli one with regard to the “Hamas” movement), and postpone the Arab part, especially the Libyan and the Syrian, with the continuation of regional and international bargaining in these two files, including the visit that President Emmanuel Macron will pay (4-3). (December) Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, yesterday’s enemies and today’s allies in the American play which still have Syria as its main target, along with Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen.

This explains the Saudi-Emirati escalation in Yemen, the continued Saudi conspiracy against Lebanon, the Moroccan persistence (the king and his entourage) in alliance with “Israel” against Algeria (to obstruct and thwart the Arab summit) and North Africa in general, and finally, the continuation of the Turkish and American position in Syria.

Washington prevents its Kurdish allies from any agreement with Damascus, to continue its covert and overt projects with various parties in Iraq, to ​​ensure its interests in the region in general, at a time when the Turkish position in Syria remains the most important and influential element in the overall developments of the latter, with its repercussions on all regional projects and plans. and international (the West’s provocations against Russia in Ukraine), which is the calculation that makes President Erdogan a key party in the “deal of the century” in its updated form, which Washington, along with Paris, London, and even Berlin, wants with its new government (the leader of the Green Party and Foreign Minister Annalina Birbock is a friend of “Israel” and an enemy of Russia and China), to succeed in arranging the affairs of the region, while guaranteeing the future of “Zionist” Israel forever.

This will require weakening the Arab position more than it is now, by blowing up the concept of resistance in all its forms and military, political, social, cultural, and humanitarian content, which has so far succeeded in obstructing all imperialist and colonial projects and schemes with its Arab and Islamist tools.

As usual, the bet remains on President Erdogan’s stance regarding all these facts and their future possibilities that he wants to support his position in Syria as long as the Arab and Western parties do not want a solution soon. Erdogan, who abandoned all his previous statements and policies, and reconciled with the Emirates, and declared his readiness to reconcile with the “archenemy” Egypt (Sisi) and “Israel”, everyone knows that he will not reconcile with President Assad as long as he knows that the Arab and Western regimes will never force him to do so.

He also knows that reconciliation with al-Assad will not be easy for him personally, as long as he believes that such reconciliation will mean the final defeat of his regional and international (Muslim) Brotherhood project, reconciliation with President al-Assad will require him to withdraw the Turkish forces and authorities from the areas they control (about 9% of the area of Syria) in northern Syria, and stop all kinds of military and financial support for tens of thousands of armed opposition factions (operating under the orders of the Turkish army) that are fighting the Syrian state, And to stop protecting Idlib and the “Al-Nusra” (Al Qaeda Levant) and its ilk in it, and finally to return the Syrian refugees from Turkey to their country, within the framework of a plan to be agreed upon with Damascus. This is, of course, with coordination and cooperation with it to address the situation east of the Euphrates, where the Kurdish militias that Ankara considers the Syrian branch of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party, which has been fighting the Turkish state for 40 years.

Such possibilities require more than a miracle for President Erdogan to call or meet with President Assad, who was his only friend when everyone was against him because of his former Brotherhood origins. The Turkish withdrawal from Syria, with all its secret and overt elements, would mean at the same time its withdrawal from Libya and Iraq, and its abandonment of its ideological projects, not only in the region but in the whole world as well.

This probability is very weak, at a ratio of 1 out of 10, if not 1 out of 100, given Ankara’s intertwined and complicated relationship externally and the most complex at home, especially after he became the absolute ruler of the country after the change of the constitution in April 2017. He sees in the details of his ideological and nationalist foreign policies important elements to influence his supporters and followers, to ensure the continuity of their support for him, despite the catastrophes of serious economic and financial crises, the most important of its causes are the costs of foreign policy. Otherwise, the issue does not need such tidal changes in Erdogan’s positions, who can return Turkey to pre-2011 with one phone call with President al-Assad, and without resorting to any Gulf, Russian or Iranian mediation. Who would reconcile with Sisi (he said that he is a criminal) And “Israel” (he described it more than once as a criminal gang), and seeking reconciliation with Ibn Salman after he said what he said about him (after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi), he can reconcile his former friend Assad simply, especially since Syria has not undertaken any hostile action against Turkey, despite all that Ankara has done to it over the past ten years.

This comes at a time when everyone knows that reconciliation with Syria will open the gates of the region to him again, as long as he will return to be a friend of “Israel” (to win the favor of the Jewish lobbies and to distance “Israel” from Cyprus, Greece, and France), and to ensure that the Gulf regimes support him financially, to help him achieve huge economic gains from development and reconstruction projects in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon, and the rest of the countries in the region, and Turkey is the most fortunate in it, because of its capabilities and proximity to it, which requires a new stage of reconciliation and forgiveness between Erdogan and all the leaders of the region.

The return of coordination and cooperation between them will mean nothing unless it starts with President Assad. This is, of course, if the new coordination and cooperation are not aimed at another bloody spring targeting Syria, as was the case 10 years ago, otherwise, how can “Israel” turn into a friend of Erdogan, and Assad remains more than an enemy!

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مصالحات إردوغان.. “إسرائيل” صديق والأسد يبقى عدواً!

الخميس 2 كانون الأول 2021

حسني محلي

يعرف إردوغان أنَّ المصالحة مع الأسد لن تكون سهلة بالنسبة إليه ما دام يعتقد أن مثل هذه المصالحة ستعني هزيمة مشروعه الإقليمي والدولي نهائياً.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is turkey-erdogan-syria-president-bashar-assad.jpg
كيف تتحول “إسرائيل” إلى صديق لإردوغان، ويبقى الأسد أكثر من عدو!؟

بعد أسبوع من “المصالحة التركية مع الإمارات”، والتي تحققت بزيارة محمد بن زايد إلى أنقرة (24/11) بدعوة من الرئيس رجب طيب إردوغان، أعلن الأخير “مساعيه لتحقيق مصالحات مماثلة مع كل من مصر وإسرائيل والسعودية والبحرين”، متحدثاً عن زيارته القادمة لأبو ظبي في النصف الأول من شباط/فبراير المقبل بعد أن اتصل بابن زايد هاتفياً وهنأه بالعيد الوطني للإمارات (1 كانون الاول/ديسمبر).

فإردوغان الذي نسي، ومعه وزراؤه، كل ما قاله عن محمد بن زايد سياسياً، وأهانه الإعلام التركي الموالي، واصفاً إياه بأسوأ النعوت، يبدو أنه نسي أيضاً كل ما قاله شخصياً عن عبدالفتاح السيسي و”إسرائيل” جملةً وتفصيلاً، وهو ما يثبت نجاح الوساطة الإماراتية على طريق “صفقة القرن” التي أطلقها ترامب، وأعلن ابن زايد نفسه عراباً لها.

ومع استمرار الرهان على نتائج الجولة السابعة (والجولات اللاحقة) من مفاوضات الملف النووي الإيراني في فيينا، تتحدث المعلومات عن زيارات قريبة لوزير الخارجية مولود جاويش أوغلو إلى القاهرة والرياض والمنامة و”تل أبيب”. وقد تلحق بها زيارة الرئيس الإسرائيلي إسحاق هرتسوغ (بوساطة أذربيجانية وأوكرانية أيضاً) إلى أنقرة قريباً، في الوقت الذي يستمر الغموض حول موقف القاهرة، التي يبدو أنها لن تستعجل المصالحة مع أنقرة حتى تضمن موقفاً عملياً ونهائياً من الرئيس إردوغان ضد الإخوان المسلمين مصرياً وعربياً، وهو الطلب الذي قد يوافق على شقه المصري (بل والإسرائيلي في ما يتعلق بحركة “حماس”)، ويؤجل شقه العربي، وخصوصاً الليبي والسوري، وذلك مع استمرار المساومات الإقليمية والدولية في هذين الملفين، ومنها الزيارة التي سيقوم بها الرئيس إيمانويل ماكرون (3-4 كانون الأول/ديسمبر) لكلٍّ من قطر والإمارات والسعودية، أعداء الأمس وحلفاء اليوم في المسرحية الأميركية التي ما زالت سوريا هدفها الرئيسي، ومعها إيران والعراق ولبنان واليمن.

ويفسّر ذلك التّصعيد السّعودي – الإماراتي في اليمن، واستمرار التآمر السعودي ضد لبنان، والتمادي المغربي (الملك وحاشيته) في التحالف مع “إسرائيل” ضد الجزائر (لعرقلة القمة العربية وإفشالها) والشمال الأفريقي عموماً، وأخيراً استمرار الموقف التركي والأميركي في سوريا.

وتمنع واشنطن حلفاءها الكرد من أيّ اتفاق مع دمشق، لتستمر في مشاريعها السرية والعلنية مع أطراف مختلفة في العراق، لضمان مصالحها في المنطقة عموماً، في الوقت الذي يبقى الموقف التركي في سوريا العنصر الأهم والأكثر تأثيراً في مجمل تطورات الأخيرة، بانعكاساتها على مجمل المشاريع والمخططات الإقليمية والدولية (استفزازات الغرب ضد روسيا في أوكرانيا)، وهو الحساب الذي يجعل الرئيس إردوغان طرفاً أساسياً في “صفقة القرن” بصيغتها المحدثة، التي تريد لها واشنطن، ومعها باريس ولندن، وحتى برلين، بحكومتها الجديدة (زعيمة حزب الخضر ووزيرة الخارجية أنالينا بيربوك صديقة لـ”إسرائيل” وعدوة لروسيا والصين)، أن تنجح في ترتيب أمور المنطقة، مع ضمان مستقبل “إسرائيل” الصهيونية إلى الأبد. 

وسيتطلَّب ذلك إضعاف الموقف العربي أكثر مما هو عليه الآن، من خلال نسف مفهوم المقاومة بكلِّ أشكالها ومضامينها العسكرية والسياسية والاجتماعية والثقافية والإنسانية، وهي التي نجحت حتى الآن في عرقلة كل المشاريع والمخططات الإمبريالية والاستعمارية بأدواتها العربية والإسلامية. 

وكالعادة، يبقى الرهان على موقف الرئيس إردوغان حيال كلّ هذه المعطيات واحتمالاتها المستقبلية التي يريد لها أن تدعم موقفه في سوريا ما دامت الأطراف العربية والغربية لا تريد لها حلاً قريباً، فإردوغان الّذي تخلّى عن كل مقولاته وسياسته السابقة، وصالح الإمارات، وأعلن استعداده للمصالحة مع “العدوين اللدودين” مصر (السيسي) و”إسرائيل”، يعرف الجميع أنه لن يصالح الرئيس الأسد ما دام يعرف أن الأنظمة العربية والغربية لن تجبره على ذلك أبداً.

كما أنه يعرف أنَّ المصالحة مع الأسد لن تكون سهلة بالنسبة إليه شخصياً، ما دام يعتقد أن مثل هذه المصالحة ستعني هزيمة مشروعه الإخواني الإقليمي والدولي نهائياً، فالمصالحة مع الرئيس الأسد ستتطلَّب منه سحب القوات والسلطات التركية من المناطق التي تسيطر عليها (حوالى 9% من مساحة سوريا) في الشمال السوري، وإيقاف كل أنواع الدعم العسكري والمالي لعشرات الآلاف من مسلحي الفصائل المعارضة (تأتمر بأوامر الجيش التركي) التي تقاتل الدولة السورية، والكفّ عن حماية إدلب ومن فيها من “النصرة” وأمثالها، وأخيراً إعادة اللاجئين السوريين من تركيا إلى بلادهم، في إطار خطة يتم الاتفاق عليها مع دمشق. هذا بالطبع مع التنسيق والتعاون معها لمعالجة الوضع شرق الفرات، حيث الميليشيات الكردية التي تعتبرها أنقرة الفرع السوري لحزب العمال الكردستاني التركي الذي يقاتل الدولة التركية منذ 40 عاماً. 

وتتطلّب مثل هذه الاحتمالات أكثر من معجزة بالنسبة إلى الرئيس إردوغان حتى يتصل بالرئيس الأسد أو يلتقيه، وهو الذي كان صديقه الوحيد عندما كان الجميع ضده بسبب أصوله الإخوانية السابقة، فالانسحاب التركي من سوريا بكل عناصره السرية والعلنية سيعني في الوقت نفسه انسحابه من ليبيا والعراق، وتخليه عن مشاريعه العقائدية، ليس في المنطقة فحسب، بل في العالم أجمع أيضاً.

هذا الاحتمال ضعيف جداً بنسبة 1 على 10، إن لم نقل 1 على 100، نظراً إلى علاقة أنقرة المتشابكة والمعقدة خارجياً والأكثر تعقيداً في الداخل، وخصوصاً بعد أن أصبح الحاكم المطلق للبلاد بعد تغيير الدستور في نيسان/أبريل 2017، فهو يرى في تفاصيل سياساته العقائدية والقومية الخارجية عناصر مهمة للتأثير في أنصاره وأتباعه، لضمان استمرارية دعمهم له، على الرغم من كوارث الأزمات الاقتصادية والمالية الخطرة، وأهم أسبابها تكاليف السياسة الخارجية، وإلا فالموضوع لا يحتاج إلى مثل هذا المد والجزر في مواقف إردوغان الذي يستطيع أن يعود بتركيا إلى ما قبل العام 2011 باتصال هاتفي واحد مع الرئيس الأسد، ومن دون اللجوء إلى أي وساطة خليجية أو روسية أو إيرانية، فمن يصالح السيسي (قال عنه إنه مجرم)، و”إسرائيل” (وصفها أكثر من مرة بأنها عصابة إجرامية)، ويسعى للمصالحة مع ابن سلمان بعد أن قال عنه ما قال (بعد مقتل جمال خاشقجي)، يستطيع أن يصالح صديقه السابق الأسد بكل بساطة، وخصوصاً أنَّ سوريا لم تقم بأي عمل معادٍ ضد تركيا، على الرغم من كل ما فعلته أنقرة بها خلال السنوات العشر الماضية.

يأتي ذلك في الوقت الذي يعرف الجميع أن المصالحة مع سوريا ستفتح له أبواب المنطقة من جديد، ما دام سيعود صديقاً لـ”إسرائيل” (ليكسب ود اللوبيات اليهودية، ويبعد “إسرائيل” عن قبرص واليونان وفرنسا)، ويضمن دعم أنظمة الخليج له مادياً، ليساعده ذلك على تحقيق مكاسب اقتصادية ضخمة من مشاريع التنمية وإعادة الإعمار في سوريا والعراق وليبيا واليمن ولبنان وباقي دول المنطقة، وتركيا هي الأكثر حظاً فيها، بسبب إمكانياتها وقربها منها، وهو ما يحتاج إلى مرحلة جديدة من المصالحة والمسامحة بين إردوغان وكل زعماء المنطقة، وعودة التنسيق والتعاون في ما بينهم لن تعني أي شيء ما لم تبدأ بالرئيس الأسد. هذا بالطبع إن لم يكن التنسيق والتعاون الجديد لا يهدف إلى ربيع دموي آخر يستهدف سوريا، كما هو الحال منذ 10 سنوات، وإلا كيف تتحول “إسرائيل” إلى صديق لإردوغان، ويبقى الأسد أكثر من عدو!

المثلث السعودي- القطري- الإماراتي.. أين السيسي وإردوغان؟

حسني محلي

03-06-2021

حسني محلي 

المصدر: الميادين نت


حديث عن تحرك قطري مدعوم من إردوغان لمنع أي تقارب عربي مع دمشق، على الأقل قبل الاتّفاق النووي الذي سيحقق لطهران مكاسب إضافيّة.

استغلَّت قطر العزلة الإماراتية عربياً، فسبقت إردوغان إلى المصالحة مع السيسي.

ستغلَّت قطر العزلة الإماراتية عربياً، فسبقت إردوغان إلى المصالحة مع السيسي

بعد سلسلة من التناقضات التي شهدتها علاقات قطر مع كلٍّ من السعودية والإمارات، بعد انقلاب عبد الفتاح السيسي على الإخوان المسلمين في مصر، وهو ما انعكس على علاقات هذه الدول وسياساتها في اليمن والمنطقة عموماً، عاد الغرام يطبع علاقات هذه الدول، من دون تحديد السبب والهدف!

وعلى الرّغم من المنافسة التقليدية المكشوفة بين الإمارات والسعودية وخلافاتهما في اليمن، عادت الأمور فجأة إلى وضعها شبه الطبيعي بين الرياض والدوحة، بعد قمة العلا في 5 كانون الثاني/نوفمبر الماضي، من دون أن يكون واضحاً لماذا لم تتشجّع أبو ظبي على هذا التطبيع، ورجّحت عليه بكل حماس العدو الأكبر “إسرائيل”. 

استغلَّت قطر العزلة الإماراتية عربياً، فسبقت رجب طيب إردوغان إلى المصالحة مع السيسي، ودخلت في حوارات مثيرة مع موسكو، انتهت بالاتفاق في الدوحة، في 11 آذار/مارس الماضي، على آلية جديدة تدعم مسار أستانا، ولكن من دون إيران. وقد أعلنت طهران بدورها تأييد هذه الآلية، مع تحفظها غير المعلن عن “غرام” موسكو مع كل من قطر وتركيا، على الرغم من استمرار دعمهما للمعارضة السورية، السياسية منها والمسلحة، بما في ذلك “النصرة” في إدلب.

موسكو التي عبّرت في اجتماع منتدى سان بطرسبورغ الاقتصادي الدولي (الأربعاء) عن تأييدها لتحركات قطر الإقليمية، يبدو أنّها تجاهلت تصريحات وزير الخارجية القطري محمد عبد الرحمن آل ثاني، الذي قال بعد زيارته الأخيرة إلى القاهرة ولقائه الرئيس السيسي إن “موقف بلاده في سوريا لم يتغير، وإنهم ما زالوا ضد الرئيس الأسد”، وهو ما سنراه أكثر وضوحاً في اجتماع وزراء خارجية الدول العربية، الذين سيجتمعون في الدوحة في 8 الشهر الجاري. وتهدف قطر من خلال هذا الاجتماع إلى عرقلة عودة سوريا إلى الجامعة العربية، مع استمرار الضغوط الروسية بخلاف هذا الاتجاه. 

يفسر ذلك التحرك القطري المفاجئ للمصالحة مع “عدو الأمس” القاهرة، بل أكثر من ذلك، إقناع الرئيس السيسي بالمصالحة مع الرئيس إردوغان، ليساهم ذلك في إنهاء الخلافات السعودية مع أنقرة، التي يعرف الجميع أنها لن تفكر في أي مصالحة مع الرئيس الأسد، وهو ما لا يخفيه الرئيس إردوغان أبداً. 

ويدفع ذلك بعض الأوساط إلى الحديث عن تحرك قطري مدعوم من الرئيس إردوغان، لمنع أي تقارب عربي (سعودي – مصري – إماراتي) مع دمشق، وعلى الأقل قبل الاتّفاق النووي الإيراني الذي سيحقق لطهران مكاسب إضافيّة، بعد ما تحقق لها من تفوق نفسي في انتصار المقاومة الفلسطينيّة في الحرب الأخيرة، فيما يسعى الرئيس السيسي لاستغلال الوضع الجديد في غزة لدعم مكانته الإقليمية والدّولية وترسيخها، وبضوء أخضر أميركيّ وأوروبيّ، من دون أن ننسى أن قطر وتركيا، ومعها السعودية، وباعتراف حمد بن جاسم، في تشرين الأول/أكتوبر 2017، كانت قد قادت الحرب على سوريا منذ بداياتها، كما تبنت السعودية والإمارات، ومعها باكستان، حركات الإسلام السياسي المسلّح، مثل “طالبان” و”القاعدة”، ومن قبلها تنظيمات المجاهدين الأفغان خلال الاحتلال السوفياتي للفترة الممتدة بين العامين 1979-1989.

ويذكر الجميع أيضاً الخلافات التي انفجرت بين قطر وتركيا وكلّ من السعودية والإمارات، اللتين دعمتا انقلاب السيسي في 3 تموز/يوليو 2013، فأعلنوا جميعاً الإخوان المسلمين تنظيماً إرهابياً. وقد لجأت قياداته لاحقاً إلى إسطنبول والدوحة.

كما لم يذكر أحد كيف استعدّت الدوحة لمرحلة ما بعد انقلاب السيسي، إذ تخلى الأمير الأب حمد بن خليفة آل ثاني فجأة (قبل انقلاب السيسي بأسبوع واحد فقط) عن منصبه لنجله الشاب تميم، الذي تبنى الإخوان المسلمين بشدة، واستنجد لاحقاً بالجيش التركي بعد تهديدات السعودية والإمارات له في حزيران/يونيو 2017، فأصبح لاعباً إقليمياً بفضل دعم إردوغان له.

وقد أدى دور الوساطة (!) بين طالبان وأميركا، والآن بين إردوغان وكل من السيسي والأمير محمد بن سلمان، العدوين المشتركين السابقين له ولحليفه إردوغان، وهو يقول إنه مستعد لمصالحة الجميع، باستثناء الأسد، علماً بأن إردوغان وآل ثاني كانا الأكثر تقرباً من الرئيس الأسد، وهما الآن الأكثر عداء له، من دون أن يكون واضحاً سبب استمرار موسكو، حليفة دمشق، بتعاونها معهما.

كما لا يدري أحد المبررات والأسباب التي تدفع إلى مصالحة دولتين مهمتين بكل المعايير والمقاييس، كمصر والسعودية، مع دولة بحجم قطر، التي لم تتهرب، بفضل أنقرة، من تحدي هاتين الدولتين، وإلى جانبهما الإمارات، التي تكتفي الآن بمراقبة تحركات قطر عن كثب، من دون اتخاذ أي موقف سلبي أو إيجابي حيالها، ورجّحت على ذلك الدخول على خط المواجهة بشكل غير مباشر، عبر دعم زعيم المافيا سادات باكار، الذي بدأ يكشف خفايا الدولة التركية وأسرارها في العديد من الأحداث الدموية داخلياً وخارجياً، ومنها عمليات الاغتيال الغامضة وتهريب المخدرات، وبالتالي تقديم الأسلحة والمعدات الحربية لجبهة “النصرة” والمجموعات الإرهابية في سوريا.

ويبقى السؤال أو التساؤل عن الدور الأميركي الحالي والمحتمل في مجمل هذه المعادلات، مع حقيقة تواجد القواعد الأميركية والأطلسية في جميع هذه الدول، الصديقة تارة، والعدوة تارة أخرى، مع استمرار حسابات واشنطن في سوريا والعراق، ومع التأكيد دائماً على ضمان أمن “إسرائيل” إلى الأبد، وهو ما لا تعترض عليه الدول “العدوة – الصديقة”، ويبدو أنها متفقة بشكل أو بآخر، ولكل حججها في ذلك حول قضية أساسية، وهي عدم السماح لإيران بترسيخ تواجدها في سوريا ولبنان واليمن، وبالطبع منطقة الخليج عموماً، وإلا فالقضية لا تحتاج إلى كل هذا المد والجزر في المواقف، بعد أن أثبتت السنوات العشر الماضية دورها ومسؤولياتها في أحداث المنطقة عموماً، وبشكل خاص في سوريا، التي تنتهي كل مشاكل المنطقة بحل أزمتها، ولكن بصفاء النيات. 

هذا الأمر لا يحتاج إلى أكثر من لقاء واحد، على أي مستوى كان، يتفق فيه الجميع على ضرورة العودة إلى ما قبل العام 2011، حتى من دون أي اعتذار من الشعب السوري، فقد دفع هذا الشعب الكثير إرضاء لغرائز ونزعات البعض من زعماء المنطقة، الذين ساهموا معاً في سيناريو ما يُسمى بـ”مشروع الشرق الأوسط الكبير”، ومن بعده “الربيع العربي الإمبريالي”، الذي قدم ما لا يخفى من خدمات تاريخيّة لـ”إسرائيل”، من دون أن يستخلص هؤلاء الزعماء أي درس من هزيمة “إسرائيل” هذه أمام المقاومة الفلسطينية ومن معها وخلفها من دول وشعوب التصدي والممانعة التي صمدت طيلة السنوات العشر الماضية ضد كل الأعداء.

ويبدو أنهم لم يستخلصوا العبر والدروس، فراحوا يتحايلون على أصحاب هذا الانتصار، وإلا كيف لنا أن نفسر التناقضات التي نعيشها الآن، بعد أن نسي هؤلاء الزعماء كل ما قالوه ضد بعضهم البعض، ولكل واحد منهم الكثير من الأسباب الشخصية والعامة ليكره الآخر أو الآخرين، وهو ما يفسر التحركات القطرية الأخيرة، والغريب فيها أنها حدثت برضا كل الأطراف الإقليمية المعادية والصديقة، بل أكثر من ذلك، برضا الأطراف الدولية، وهي أيضاً معادية وصديقة، وفي مقدمتها روسيا وفرنسا وبريطانيا وأميركا، التي تدير كل تحركاتها العسكرية في المنطقة عموماً من قاعدتي “العديد” و”السيليه” القريبتين من قناة الجزيرة التي “تتحدى الإمبريالية والصهيونية”!

وليس واضحاً كيف سيكون الرد الإيراني على كل هذه التحركات، التي إن لم تساهم في إنهاء الأزمة السورية فوراً، وبمصداقية تامة، فإنَّ المحافظين الذين يتوقَّع لهم الكثيرون انتصاراً كبيراً في الانتخابات القادمة، سيكون لهم موقف أكثر حزماً وحسماً إلى جانب الرئيس الأسد ومن معه في خندق المقاومة، وهو ما أثبتته طهران كنهج عقائديّ استراتيجيّ لن يتغيّر، ولكن قد يزداد عمقاً!

ويبقى السؤال الأهم في كل هذه المعادلات والسيناريوهات: هل سيطوي الرئيس السيسي صفحة الماضي مع “عدوه اللدود” الرئيس إردوغان؟ وكيف؟ وهل سيعملان في سوريا أو ضدها؟ ولمَ؟ وكيف سيكون ذلك؟ 

وتبقى المفاجأة الأكبر دائماً هي احتمالات المصالحة التركية مع “إسرائيل” بعد سقوط حكومة نتنياهو، الذي كان إردوغان يرى فيه عائقاً أمام محاولاته للمصالحة مع تل أبيب. وقد تبعث بدورها، بحكومتها الجديدة إذا نالت الثقة وعمَّرت طويلاً، إشارات إيجابية إلى أنقرة، ليساعدها ذلك في الخروج من عزلتها الإقليمية والدولية، ولو كان ذلك لمرحلة تكتيكية لا تتناقض مع أهداف “إسرائيل” ديناً وعقيدة واستراتيجية!

مصر وحالة اللامعقول… أمن قوميّ أم أمن الرئيس؟ Egypt and the state of the absurd … national security or the security of the president?

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

مصر وحالة اللامعقول… أمن قوميّ أم أمن الرئيس؟

سعادة مصطفى أرشيد

أثار حادث جنوح الباخرة «إيفر غيفن» منذ أيام وسدّها مجرى الملاحة في قناة السويس، تسونامي من الأخبار والتعليقات والتحليلات، اعتمد كثير منها على نظرية المؤامرة، التي وإنْ كانت غالباً على خطأ، إلا أنها قد تصيب أحياناً، ومما لا شك فيه، أنّ تأثيرات هذا الحدث ولا بد، استراتيجية بامتياز، وسوف تكون لها تداعيات مهمة في الزمن القريب، انه ليس حدثاً عابراً.

تتعطل الموانئ السورية، اللاذقية، بانياس وطرطوس، يتمّ تدمير ميناء بيروت بفعل فاعل، يتوقف ميناءا عدن والحديدة عن العمل بسبب الحرب والحصار، وأخيراً تجنح سفينة «إيفر غيفن» التي تحمل بضائع يقلّ وزنها قليلاً عن ربع مليار طن بسبب الرياح، والنتيجة أن تغلق قناة السويس أمام حركة الملاحة، فيما تعمل موانئ الخليج بنشاط، مثلها مثل موانئ حيفا وأسدود، ويتداول الجميع الحديث عن قناة بديلة، تصل بين البحر الأبيض المتوسط والبحر الأحمر، من عسقلان حتى أيله (ايلات)، وعلى شواطئها مدن صناعيّة وتجمّعات عمالية وفنادق ومراكز ترفيه.

فكرة قناة السويس في البداية، ارتبطت بالغرب وتوسّعه وحركة تجارته العالميّة وتنافسه الاستعماريّ، حفر المصريون القناة بجهدهم وعرقهم في منتصف القرن التاسع عشر، وفقدوا مئات ألوف الأرواح أثناء عملية الحفر، وذلك باستعمال الفأس والقفة، وحققوا خلال عشر سنوات، معجزة هندسيّة تفوق في روعتها وفوائدها وتأثيرها أهرامات الجيزة، لكن ورثتهم لم يحافظوا عليها، وحتى عملية تطويرها التي انتهت عام 2015 لم تكن ذات بال وأهميّة، وهنا يتضح أنّ المسألة ليست مسألة سفينة جانحة بحادث عرضي، أو رياح عاتية، وإنما فشل للنظام.

في عام 1888 وقعت اتفاقية القسطنطينية، لإدارة قناة السويس والتي حدّدت حقوق السفن العابرة للقناة، وكذلك الحقوق والواجبات المترتبة على مصر، ومع تقدّم الزمان، تطوّر القانون الدولي المتعلق بالمضايق والممرات وأضاف على اتفاقية القسطنطينية التي لا تزال معمولاً ومعترفاً بها، بنوداً عديدة تحكم وتنظم عمل القناة، وهي تشمل حرية الملاحة والمرور السريع البريء والآمن للجميع، ومن دون تمييز تجاه العلم الذي ترفعه السفينة الذي يمثل الدولة التي سجلت السفينة بها، ويحظر كلّ من الاتفاقية المذكورة والقانون الدولي إغلاقها، وفي حين تملك مصر حقوقاً في القناة باعتبارها جهداً مصرياً في أرض مصرية، إلا أنها في الوقت عينه ترتب عليها مسؤوليات، وذلك بأن تقوم بما يلزم من أجل سلامة المرور، وصيانة الممر، وتأمين وسائل تيسير الملاحة، وضمان سلامة السفن، وحيازة ما يلزم من آليات الطوارئ في حال تعطلت القناة. فالممرات المائيّة يحظر إغلاقها لما في ذلك من تأثير على السلم العالمي، وأمام خطورة هذا الحدث الذي أثبت أنّ الدولة الفاشلة غير قادرة على إدارة هذا الممر الحيوي، الأمر الذي قد يضع إمكانيّة وضع إدارة القناة تحت رعاية دوليّة أمراً ممكناً.

الفشل عند هذا النظام، لم يبدأ عند حادث السفينة، فالنظام أصلاً لم يستطع المحافظة لا على مكانته العربيّة والأفريقية والإسلامية فحسب، ولا على علاقاته بجواره غرباً في ليبيا التي عادت وستعود عليه بالكوارث، مقابل خدمته لأولياء النعمة ومصدر بقائه في الحكم، أو جنوباً في السودان، الذي تقسّم وأخذ ينحو بشطريه الجنوبي والشمالي بعيداً عن مصر وعن المحيط العربي، وفشل النظام في التعاطي مع سدّ النهضة، الذي أخذ يمتلئ بالماء وأصبح أمراً واقعاً، فيما رجال النظام وقططه السمان يموّلون السدّ المعادي ويقرضون الحكومة الإثيوبيّة، بشرائهم سندات تمويل السدّ، لإماتتهم وإماتة المصريين عطشاً، مقابل فوائد ربوية، فيما حلفاء النظام السعوديين والإماراتيين، الذين يحارب نظام عبد الفتاح السيسي من أجلهم، نراهم يقفون إلى جانب إثيوبيا.

لم يرَ نظام العسكر في مصر، من مخاطر على بلده من الحرب الأهلية وليبيا، ولا في جنوب السودان، وما يحضّر له من سدود ومشاريع مائية، بخبرة وشركات (إسرائيلية) وأموال خليجيّة تقضي على إمدادات المياه من بحيرة فكتوريا والنيل الأبيض، ولا أمام خطر العطش الذي سيصيب مصر بعد اكتمال المشاريع على جميع روافد النيل، ويتنازل عن جزر مهمة لأمنه القوميّ في مضائق البحر الأحمر – تيران وصنافير – والتي كانت السبب المباشر لحرب عام 1967، والتي ستكون متكآت ملاحيّة لمشروع القناة البديلة.

إنها هزيمة لنظام العسكر، لصورة الدولة الشرقيّة في أذهان العالم، أنهم مثال للهزيمة في الحرب، والفشل في الإدارة، والاستبداد بالحكم، وعلى سبيل المثال البسيط، نرى وزير النقل المصري وهو جنرال متقاعد لا يرى في حادث السفينة مسؤوليّة إلا مسؤولية الرياح، التي استطاعت إزاحة سفينة متطوّرة يصل وزنها مع حمولتها إلى ربع مليار طن، في حين يتمّ تداول روايات سخيفة حول سبب الحادث والمسؤولية عنه.

هذا انكشاف لعورات نظام متهافت، فشل في الحفاظ على البلد وعلى أمنها القوميّ، يخوض حروباً بالوكالة في ليبيا، وأخرى في جنوب جزيرة العرب، يتحالف مع «إسرائيل» واليونان في خطوط الغاز، ويفرّط بحقوقه المائيّة التي هي سرّ بقاء مصر المعروفة في التاريخ باسم هبة النيل، عاجز عن التعامل مع الأزمات الاقتصادية الخانقة والمتلاحقة وغير قادر على حلها، البطالة تتفاقم وتزداد بمعدلات مزعجة وترافقها انهيارات اجتماعيّة، فساد مستشرٍ في كافة قطاعات الإدارة القاصرة، أبراج سكنية تنهار فوق أجساد ساكنيها، فيما لا يرى من مهدّدات للأمن القومي إلا في المعارضة الداخليّة، وزجّ 60 ألف من مواطنيه في السجون، بتهمة الانتماء للإخوان المسلمين، فيما بعضهم من الأقباط…

إنه نظام العسكر، ومصر التي نامت نواطير أمنها القومي ومصالحها العليا، فيما عاثت بها الثعالب ضراً وفساداً، لكم تحتاج إلى حاكم بعقلية السلطان العثماني محمود الثاني، الذي أنهى سيطرة العسكر الانكشاريّ على الدولة، بعد أن أصبحوا عبئاً ثقيلاً عليها، ومصدراً من مصادر ضعفها وهوانها.

اليوم في أمّ الدنيا كما يحب أهل مصر تسميتها، نرى في نظام العسكر، انّ الحمار قد أكل الأمن القوميّ وأبقى على أمن الحاكم وضرورات بقائه.

*سياسي فلسطيني مقيم في جنين – فلسطين المحتلة

Egypt and the state of the absurd … national security or the security of the president?

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SAADA Mustafa Arshid

The accident of the delinquency of the ship «Ever given» days ago and blocked the course of navigation in the Suez Canal, a tsunami of news, comments and analysis, many of which relied on the conspiracy theory, which although often wrong, but may sometimes infect, and no doubt, that the effects of this event must, strategy par excellence, and will have important repercussions in the near time, it is not a passing event.

The Syrian ports, Latakia, Banias and Tartus are destroyed by an actor, the ports of Aden and Hodeidah stop working due to the war and siege, and finally the ship “Ever Geven” which carries goods weighing just under a quarter of a billion tons due to the wind, the result is that the Suez Canal is closed to shipping traffic, while the Gulf ports are working actively, as are the ports of Haifa and Ashdod, and everyone talks about an alternative channel, connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, from Ashkelon to Ayla (Eilat), and on its shores industrial cities, labor gatherings, hotels and entertainment centers.

The idea of the Suez Canal at the beginning, associated with the West and its expansion and the movement of its world trade and its colonial competition, the Egyptians dug the canal with their effort and sweat in the middle of the nineteenth century, and lost hundreds of thousands of lives during the drilling process, using the axe and the shell, and achieved in ten years, an engineering miracle beyond In its splendor and its benefits and impact the Pyramids of Giza, but their heirs did not preserve it, and even the process of development that ended in 2015 was not significant and important, and here it is clear that the issue of a ship is not a matter of ship accidentally, or high winds, but a failure of the system.

In 1888, the Constantinople Agreement was signed for the management of the Suez Canal, which defined the rights of ships crossing the canal, as well as the rights and duties of Egypt, and as time progressed, the development of international law on straits and corridors, added to the Convention of Constantinople, which is still in force and recognized, many clauses governing and regulating the operation of the canal, which includes freedom of navigation and rapid, innocent and safe passage for all, without discrimination against the flag that the ship flies in, which represents the country in which the ship is registered, and both the aforementioned convention and international law prohibits its closure. While Egypt has rights in the canal as an Egyptian effort on Egyptian territory, it has responsibilities to do what is necessary for traffic safety, maintain the corridor, secure the means of facilitating navigation, ensure the safety of ships, and possess the necessary emergency mechanisms in the event of a breakdown of the canal. Waterways are prohibited from being closed because of the impact on world peace, and in the face of the seriousness of this event, which has proved that the failed State is unable to manage this vital corridor, which may place the possibility of placing the management of the canal under international auspices.

Failure with this system did not begin when the ship accident, for the regime originally could not preserve its Arab, African and Islamic status only, nor its relations with its side to the west in Libya, which returned and will return to it with disasters, in return for its service to the saints of grace and the source of its survival in power, or to the south in Sudan, which is divided and began to turn its southern and northern parts away from Egypt and the Arab ocean, and the failure of the regime in dealing with the Renaissance Dam, which began to fill with water and became a fait accompli, while the regime’s fat cats were financing the hostile dam and lending to the Ethiopian government, by buying bonds to finance the dam, to kill them and let the Egyptians thirst in exchange for usurious interest, while the regime’s allies, Saudi and Emirati whom the regime of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is fighting for, are standing by Ethiopia.

The military regime in Egypt does not see the dangers to its country from the civil war and Libya, nor in southern Sudan, and the dams and water projects prepared, with experience and (Israeli) companies and Gulf funds that eliminate water supplies from Lake Victoria and the White Nile, nor the danger of thirst, which will afflict Egypt after the completion of projects on all the tributaries of the Nile. Moreover, the regime gave up important islands for its national security in the straits of the Red Sea – Tiran and Sanafir – which were the direct cause of the 1967 war, and which will be navigational anchors for the alternative canal project.

This is the exposure of the states of a reckless regime, which failed to preserve the country and its national security, is engaged in proxy wars in Libya, and another in the south of the Arabian Peninsula, allied with Israel and Greece in gas lines, and overrides its water rights, which are the secret of Egypt’s survival known in history as the Gift of the Nile, unable to deal with the economic crises stifling and successive and other Unemployment is worsening and increasing at alarming rates and accompanied by social collapses, widespread corruption in all sectors of the underage administration, residential towers collapsing over the bodies of its inhabitants, while it sees no threats to national security except in the internal opposition, and 60 thousand of its citizens are imprisoned, accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, while some Copts.

Today in the mother of the world, as the people of Egypt like to call it, we see in the military system that the donkey has eaten national security and kept the security of the ruler and the necessities of his survival.

*Palestinian politician residing in Jenin, Occupied Palestine

Suez Canal: Sisi is a danger not only to Egypt, but to the world

David Hearst is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He is a commentator and speaker on the region and analyst on Saudi Arabia. He was The Guardian’s foreign leader writer, and was correspondent in Russia, Europe, and Belfast. He joined the Guardian from The Scotsman, where he was education correspondent.

David Hearst

26 March 2021 18:16 UT

Egyptian government’s abject failure in responding to the Suez closure highlights the threat this regime poses to international trade and stability

Sisi
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the UN in New York in 2019 (AFP)

When a 35km expansion of the Suez Canal was opened six years ago, banners appeared on the streets of Cairo proclaiming it to be Egypt’s “gift to the world“.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi welcomed foreign leaders on a yacht. Helicopters and jets performed a fly-by. The expansion was hailed as a national triumph and a turning point after years of instability.

The Egyptian government is a practised liar. It lies to its own people every day, but in times of crisis, it also lies to the international community

When the Suez Canal was closed unceremoniously by a 400-metre container ship hitting the bank in a dust storm on Tuesday, there was silence. For 26 hours, there was not a word about the closed canal, the shipping backing up in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, or of the Ever Given itself.

Instead, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) issued a media statement announcing the successful transit of an Italian cruise ship with 65 Covid-19 cases aboard.

There was a media blackout. It was only on Wednesday that the lying started in earnest, with the first official statement noting that efforts were “continuing to reopen the canal”. The SCA downplayed the impacts on navigation, sending a “message of assurance that the navigation will continue as usual”. As if to reinforce that message, the authority allowed a convoy of ships to enter from the northern end in Port Said on 24 March.

Feeding the propaganda mill

The authority warned journalists not to heed any news or rumours about the most serious incident to block the canal since the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, other than statements coming from them. Egyptian journalists did not need any encouragement to toe the line. They fed the propaganda mill, celebrating the SCA’s statement and claiming the ship had been refloated. They even tried to demonstrate this with satellite images, although the images themselves still showed the ship firmly wedged in place. 

The truth was even concealed from international shippers. The Gulf Agency Egypt shipping company quoted the SCA as saying that the container ship stranded in the canal for more than a day had been partially refloated and was standing alongside the bank, and that traffic would resume shortly.

The same story was fed to Lloyd’s List, which reported seeing an email from the Egyptian company sent to the China Shipowners’ Association: “We are still waiting confirmed information for the towing direction. Convoy and traffic will be back to normal within [a] very short time as soon as the vessel is towed to another position,” read the email, based on information provided directly by the SCA early on Wednesday.

Satellite imagery shows tug boats and dredgers attempting to free a ship that ran aground in the Suez Canal on 26 March 2021 (Satellite image c.2021 Maxar Technologies/AFP)
Satellite imagery shows tug boats and dredgers attempting to free the ship that ran aground in the Suez Canal on 26 March 2021 (Satellite image c.2021 Maxar Technologies/AFP)

On Thursday, two days after the chaos had started, the SCA officially announced that navigation had been suspended.

The Egyptian government is a practised liar. It lies to its own people every day, but, in times of crisis, it also lies to the international community. 

When a Russian passenger jet was brought down in 2015 by an Islamic State (IS) missile 23 minutes into a flight from Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg, Russia and the UK instantly cancelled all flights to the Red Sea resort.

Two harsh lessons

But it is difficult to keep maintaining that a ship the size of the Ever Given is floating, when it so evidently isn’t.

However the Suez Canal crisis is resolved, this incident has taught the world two harsh lessons: how important the canal and Egypt still are for international shipping, and how disastrously and incompetently both are being run.Egypt’s Suez Canal: Why does its closure matter?

The incompetence of Sisi’s dictatorship, in other words, is not just a matter of international concern on the issues of human rights and the rule of law. Sisi’s incompetence threatens a major international waterway.

In the immediate future, this week’s Suez crisis could not have happened at a worse moment. It reinforces the interest of oil-and-gas-producing Gulf states in exploring ways to bypass the canal by routing their product through Israel. The Emirati normalisation deal with Israel has led to a tidal wave of contracts and projects, each of which spells an existential threat to Egypt’s monopoly on this traffic.

Whether through a long-neglected pipeline built by the shah of Iran, new internet cable or a railway line, or even a canal through the Negev desert – no greater push could be given to finding ways of bypassing the Suez Canal and Egypt than by the Egyptian reaction to an incident of this magnitude.

Sisi’s disastrous rule

In the longer term, there is now a clear pattern of decline and disaster to Sisi’s rule. Above and beyond all the other issues in which he has embroiled his country – backing the wrong side in Libya, a witch hunt against the Muslim Brotherhood at home and abroad – Sisi really had two existential things to worry about. He has failed in both.

The first was the Suez Canal; the second was maintaining the water levels of the Nile. Sisi laughed and ridiculed his boss, former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, for raising concerns about the dam Ethiopia was building in 2012, and arranged for a leak of a private meeting to embarrass the president. 

The line from the Egyptian army was that the issue was too serious for a mere Muslim Brotherhood president to handle. So they shelved the issue, and Sisi then compounded his mistake by signing away Egypt’s claim in an agreement with Ethiopia and Sudan in 2015. Now, he is reportedly considering military action, just weeks before the dam – which has long been completed – gets its second crucial filling

Instead of concentrating his meagre resources on the two issues that really matter to his country, Sisi has spent all his time obsessed with his image

Instead of concentrating his meagre resources on the two issues that really matter to his country, Sisi has spent all his time obsessed with his image. 

A revealing window into Sisi’s real priorities in the years in which he has run Egypt into the ground can be seen in the official record of lobbyists working for the Egyptian government, filed with the US Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

An investigation of these official records conducted by a group of Egyptian journalists at Sasapost reveals how the lobbying operation in Washington went into overdrive after the 2013 Rabaa massacre and the suspension of $260m in US military aid, a fraction of the total $1.3bn package.

Sisi’s government paid the Glover Park Group $250,000 a month to lobby senior members of Congress who opposed him, such as Senators Lindsey Graham and the late John McCain. Glover Park spent two years working on Graham until he reversed his position, Sasapost reported. Between 2013 and 2019, Sisi paid this company alone $13.25m – a huge price in the Washington lobby market.

Whitewashing the regime

What were Egypt’s concerns in Washington? Whitewashing Sisi’s image, targeting the American right and Israel’s supporters, and focusing on “religious rights,” with Joe Biden about to enter the White House. In other words, everything that Sisi has spent his money on has been about his image. None of it has had anything to do with what really matters to his country.

But these are Sisi’s priorities. He has not uttered one word about the crisis going on in the Suez Canal. 

It is now commonplace to hear that Egypt is a failing state – a state that fails its citizens, one with depleted resources, a weakened economy plundered by the Egyptian army, and growing levels of poverty affecting tens of millions of people. 

The international community, however, has yet to wake up to the fact that Sisi is a danger not only to his people and his country but also to international trade and stability. Perhaps a big ship jammed into a tight space will do that for them.

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

timeline suez canal

The Arab yacht summit plotters have fallen out

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

David Hearst

15 March 2021 15:09 UTC 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Money like rice?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Biden factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second wave

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enters Turkey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repairing ties with Egypt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Hearst

6 January 2021 17:22 UTC 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Qatar has won’

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

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

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

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

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

Tensions over Yemen and Israel

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

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

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

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

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

Kingdom split

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

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

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

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

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

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

Future turmoil

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

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

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

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

This GCC show of unity can’t hide its weakness

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

For Trump’s Middle East allies, Joe Biden is a new nightmare

 Source

David Hearst
17 November 2020 14:19 UTC | Last update: 17 hours 25 mins ago

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


The president-elect’s actions in the Middle East will be dictated by events. But the loss of Trump represents a body check for the ambitions and aspirations of Gulf hegemons
Then Vice President Joe Biden during a visit to Saudi Arabia in 2011 (Reuters)

You can detect the shadow of Donald Trump fading from the Middle East in the nervous twitches of his closest allies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is accelerating settlements before the inevitable freeze or pause in construction in January when President-Elect Joe Biden takes over. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is releasing just a fraction of the estimated 60,000 political prisoners he has stashed in his jails.

Trump’s Middle East triumphs will soon turn to disaster

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Sisi’s television anchors are, from one day to the next, given different scripts to read out. Take the sad case of Nashaat al-Deehy. When Biden was a candidate, al-Deehy trashed him: “Joseph Biden will become the oldest US president in the history of the United States of America. On 20 November he will be 78 years old. This will impact his mental situation and he suffers from Alzheimer’s and therefore is not fit to be president of the United States of America.”

But once the US media had called Biden president-elect, al-Deehy became respectful. “We have just learned that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi sent a congratulations cable to US President-elect Joe Biden. This man has great respect for Egypt and is known to be wise and he listens well. He does not take decisions frantically. He does not take decisions when he’s angry. All of this was missing in the case of Donald Trump, who was violent and stubborn and arrogant. All of this we’re seeing it.”

Small gestures

The Saudi ambassador in London is in an equal turmoil. One day he hints to the Guardian that jailed women activists could be freed during the G20 summit next week.

“The G20, does it offer an opportunity for clemency? Possibly. That is a judgment for someone other than me,” said Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. “People ask: is it worth the damage it is causing you, whatever they did? That is a fair argument to make and it is a discussion we have back at home within our political system and within our ministry.”

The next day he calls in the BBC to deny what he has just said.

Poor ambassador.

The king himself is by no means immune from wild policy swings. He has started being nice to Turkey.

A week after the earthquake in Izmir, Salman ordered the dispatch of “urgent aid” to the city. Then we learn that the king of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were in talks. The occasion was to present condolences for the death of the Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. But direct contact with a satellite of Riyadh would have been impossible without a green light from the diwan, the Saudi royal court.

Ever since Erdogan refused to let the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul drop, he has become a hate figure in Riyadh. Turkey has been declared – repeatedly –  a regional threat by Saudi social media and Turkish goods subject to a growing boycott. Now it has all changed.

These are small gestures, but telling ones, as Trump leaves office.

CIA bites back

Top of the list of nervous allies is the man who used Trump to fashion his rise to power.

Biden has every incentive to encourage MBS’ many enemies in the Royal family to step forward to prevent the over ambitious prince from becoming King

To become crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) had to get rid of, and trash the reputation of his elder cousin Mohammed bin Nayef, who was at the time the CIA’s prime asset in the country and the Gulf region. Before he did this, bin Salman phoned Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law and Middle East adviser, to ask permission. It was given, sources with knowledge of the call told Middle East Eye.

Biden knows bin Nayef personally. Bin Nayef’s chief of staff and former interior minister Saad al-Jabri has fled to Toronto. A few days after Khashoggi’s assassination in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, MBS despatched another crew from the Tiger Squad to kill al-Jabri, according to a lawsuit filed under the Torture Victim Protection Act in the US District of Columbia.

Al-Jabri was lucky. Border agents at Toronto International Airport detected the operation and sent it back home. All this is active evidence. None of this has been dealt with. The CIA’s own assessment that MBS ordered Khashoggi’s killing has never been published.

It is not just Biden himself the crown prince has to fear – although the presidential candidate reserved his sharpest words for the killing of Khashoggi – but the return of the CIA to the top table of decision making in the White House.

Overnight MBS goes from having a president in the White House who “saved his ass”, as Trump put it, to a successor who is not remotely interested in doing the same. Biden has every incentive to encourage MBS’s many enemies in the royal family to step forward to prevent the over-ambitious prince from becoming king. There are enough of them, by now.

Get out of jail card

An Oval Office under new management leaves MBS with relatively few options.

He could use Israel as his get-out-of-jail card, by pushing for recognition and normalisation. There is bipartisan support in Congress for the Abraham Accords signed between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel.

How Mohammed bin Salman is quietly enabling an Israeli axis in the Arab world

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Although the incoming Biden administration will put more emphasis on restarting direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, it would not stop another major Arab state like Saudi Arabia from joining the party.

The opposition to Saudi normalisation with Israel would be at home, not abroad. Recognising Israel would be perilous domestically. However much Saud alQahtani’s social media trolls bully Saudi public opinion, it is ferociously pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist.

Never more so than today, Palestine remains the key source of instability in the Middle East, the conflict that defines it, the conflict that endures as a symbol of European colonisation and Arab humiliation.

The custodian of the Two Holy Mosques recognising Israel? Not over many Muslims’ dead bodies.

Each time MBS has had to walk back on his wish to recognise Israel (and he was very near to flying to Washington and playing the role of smiling sponsor at the signing ceremony in the White House, before cancelling at the last minute) he has turned to his father, the king, to say that nothing has changed and reaffirm official state policy.

This is the Arab Peace Initiative published by his predecessor King Abdullah in 2002 and it only allows  recognition of Israel after a negotiated solution has been found based on 1967 borders.

US President Donald Trump waves to supporters on 15 November (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump waves to supporters on 15 November (Reuters)

The loss of Trump’s “крыша” – or protective roof – and the arrival of a hostile president in Biden will mean that MBS will need his father in the post as king even more than he has done in the past. We know from Saudi sources that at one point MBS was toying with the idea of forcing his father’s premature abdication on health grounds and seizing the crown himself.

The loss of Trump’s protective roof and the arrival of a hostile president in Biden will mean that MBS will need his father in the post as king even more than he has done in the past

In his latest round of purges, MBS targeted leading members of Hay’at al-Bayaa (the Allegiance Council) whose role is to approve a royal succession and the appointment of a new crown prince.

The latest arrests to purge the Allegiance Council of his critics would only have made sense if MBS himself was intending to becoming king. But that was in good times, when bin Salman’s star was rising and he could still visit London and Washington without creating flashmobs of human rights protesters.

In bad times, the king remains the tribal chief, who commands the loyalty of the royal family and the kingdom. Regardless of Salman’s actual mental condition, he is still the head of the family and there will be no rebellion against him. The same would not apply to his son if he pushed his father aside and seized the crown. He would be fair game for a palace coup. This is probably the main reason why the father is still king.

Regional alliance

The fate of the regional alliance that a future King Mohammed was attempting to build around himself also hangs in the balance. The real fight going on in the Sunni Arab world is about who would take over as leader and Western proxy.

Biden must end Trump’s alliance with Mohammed bin Salman

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The purpose of the alliance with Israel – in Emirati eyes – is not to increase wealth but power, power to become, with Saudi Arabia under King Mohammed, the regional hegemon.

That ambition still exists.

But the role that an “Arab Nato” alliance was intended to play to combat and curb Iran will now be diminished by Biden’s attempt to restore the nuclear agreement with Tehran. Iran’s rulers stared Trump in the eyes and did not blink first. They outlasted this US president as they have done to Jimmy Carter and every president who followed him.

The nuclear agreement (known as JCPOA) was Barack Obama’s crowning foreign policy achievement – although it was the fruition of years of negotiation involving many countries and past foreign ministers – the so-called P5 plus one, the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, and Turkey and Brazil before them.

However, each side’s moves are sequenced and whatever difficulties that lie on that path, Biden will pivot once more to restoring this nuclear agreement. Even if some sanctions continue, the policy of using them to exert “maximum pressure” will be over.

Detente will inevitably create a new reality in the Gulf region.

It will also create a new reality for members of the opposing alliance, Turkey and Qatar. Biden is no admirer of Erdogan, with whom he has spent many hours talking. He has apologised to Erdogan once for remarks suggesting that Turkey helped facilitate the rise of the Islamic State group. He is not about to do that again soon.

In a meeting with the New York Times’ editorial board filmed in December, Biden described Erdogan as an autocrat. Asked about how comfortable he felt with the US still basing 50 nuclear weapons in Turkey, Biden said his comfort level had “diminished a great deal” and that he would be making it clear to the Turkish leader that the US supports the opposition.

A volatile world

Once in power, Biden may find it more difficult to express this personal hostility. Whether he likes it or not, Turkey is a more confident regional military power than it was in Obama’s time.

Its military has proved itself as a counterweight to Russian military power in Syria and Libya, and it has just achieved a major breakthrough in Nagorno Karabakh, establishing for the first time access by road from the Turkish border to the Caspian Sea.

This is a strategic win for the Turkish state.

If he is going to partially lift sanctions on Iran, Biden will find that he needs Turkey as a regional counterbalance. There are today too many arenas, from Syria and Iraq to Libya, where Turkey has become a player. Biden has to deal with these “facts on the ground” whether he likes it or not.

Similarly, pressure will also now grow on Saudi Arabia to end its siege on Qatar. Their immediate neighbour, the UAE, will always regard Qatar’s pro-Islamist foreign policy as an existential threat. But the same does not apply to Riyadh, and quiet negotiations in Oman and Kuwait have already taken place.

Biden’s actions in the Middle East will be dictated by events. But the loss of Trump represents a body check for the ambitions and aspirations of Gulf hegemons.

It’s a more uncertain, volatile world.

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

How the Israel-UAE Pact Undermines International Law

Lawrence Davidson (@PointAnalyses) | Twitter

Posted by Lawrence Davidson 

How the Israel-UAE Pact Undermines International Law—An Analysis (22 August 2020) by Lawrence Davidson

Part I—“Normalizing” Relations

Much of the diplomatic world has gone gaga over the 13 August 2020 “normalization” of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—facilitated by years of encouragement coming out of Washington. 

In truth this is but a quasi-new relation, because “Israel and the UAE have been cooperating and normalizing relations under the table for many years.” The UAE’s agreement to the public upgrading of this relationship was reportedly made in exchange for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s “suspension of plans to annex parts of the West Bank.” We can now update the old warning to beware of Greeks bearing gifts—beware of Zionists offering compromise.

Though the Israeli Prime Minister’s suspension of annexation is hailed as a major compromise on the part of Israel, it is more illusory than real. Both the Palestinians and Netanyahu himself pointed out that the suspension is not seen as a permanent one. The Palestinians and their supporters also quickly pointed out that this agreement changed nothing in terms of Israel’s illegal behavior on the ground—particularly the de facto annexation represented by the continuing encroachment of Israeli settlements. Under these circumstances, the agreement actually registers the UAE’s acceptance of this criminal state of affairs. The Palestinian spokesperson Hanan Ashrawi put it succinctly: “May you never be sold out by your ‘friends.’ Israel got rewarded for not declaring openly what it has been doing to Palestine illegally & persistently since the beginning of the occupation.”

Despite the fact that the change from informal relations to something more official and public meant little change on Israel’s part, the leaders of the Zionist state, the U.S., and the UAE were determined to present the event in a way that would convince both themselves and others that something momentous had been realized. 

The joint statement coming from the three governments celebrated a “historic diplomatic breakthrough.” Netanyahu asserted that the agreement marked “a new age in Israel’s relations with the Arab World.” He expected to see more Arab states follow the UAE’s lead. And, indeed, it looks like the disreputable dictatorship in Bahrain might be the next in line. 

President Trump framed the event this way, “By uniting two of America’s closest and most capable partners in the region” — something which his egocentric worldview drove him to insist only his administration could do—“this deal is a significant step towards building a more peaceful, secure, and prosperous Middle East.” Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien expressed his opinion that the deal should “solidify a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for Trump.” That would, potentially, put Trump right up there with the ignominious Henry Kissinger.

The Democratic Party candidate for president, Joe Biden, immediately gave his approval. “The UAE’s offer to publicly recognize the State of Israel is a welcome, brave, and badly-needed act of statesmanship. … A Biden-Harris administration will seek to build on this progress, and will challenge all the nations of the region to keep pace.”

Others soon chimed in:

—Egyptian military dictator Abdel Fattah El-Sisi told us “This step will bring peace to the Middle East. We appreciate the efforts of those in charge of this agreement in order to achieve prosperity and stability for our region.”

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas: Germany welcomed the “historic” deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The normalization of ties between the two countries “is an important contribution to peace in the region.”

—United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the agreement, saying “The UAE and Israel’s decision to normalize relations is hugely good news.”

Besides the Palestinians, there were only a few others who saw through the facade. Iran labeled the agreement as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause. “The oppressed people of Palestine and all the free nations of the world will never forgive the normalizing of relations with the criminal Israeli occupation regime.” Turkey’s reaction was similar: “Neither history nor the collective conscience of the region will ever forget and forgive the hypocritical behavior of the UAE, which is trying to depict the deal as a sacrifice for Palestine, when in reality it is a betrayal to the Palestinian cause for its own narrow interests.”

I think Iran and Turkey are correct in their reaction to what is certainly a betrayal. However, I am not sure of the “never forgive” part, keeping in mind the fact that collective memories have, historically, proved fickle. Nonetheless, if anything, these two critical countries did not go far enough in their condemnation. This is so because the Israel-UAE deal is a betrayal of more than the hopes for justice and a better future of oppressed peoples. This bilateral agreement, whether it spreads to the rest of the Arab world or not, is nothing less than the forsaking of the world’s prospects for more civilized and humane international relations.

Part II—The Deep Context 

It would appear that the vast majority of world leaders either know very little history or consider it, as Henry Ford did in 1916, as “bunk.” Yet, the Israel-UAE pact should be measured not only against the historical injustices to Palestinians which it reinforces, but also against the harm it does to a number of progressive historical achievements realized immediately following World War II.

After World War II a number of seminal reforms were undertaken. A revived United Nations was established, a Universal Declaration of Human Rights was inaugurated, international conventions outlawing genocide and crimes against humanity were signed. Eventually apartheid was outlawed and an international criminal court established. These steps, spurred on by the horrors of total war culminating in the Holocaust, represented great forward progress for mankind. They should have strengthened the provisions set forth in the pre-existing Geneva Conventions and acted to restrain aggressive nationalism. They should have acted to educate the masses against racist policies and assured accountability for those who would promote government-level criminal behavior. 

If all of these post-World War II reforms had actually been enforced, it would now be easier to exercise effective pressure to settle the differences between Israelis and Palestinians based on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the provisions of the 4th Geneva Convention. International acceptance of the racist nature of Israeli society and the apartheid-style policies it pursues would be much less likely. Government leaders who promoted near-genocide in places like Myanmar and Sri Lanka would face a truly effective International Criminal Court. George Bush’s unjustified invasion of Iraq in 2003 would have had to be judged every bit as criminal as Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. And the two men’s fates might have been the same. The world would have progressed both in terms of ethics and respect for laws forbidding crimes against humanity.  

The recent Israel-UAE deal is but another sign that these progressive reforms mean nothing. The Israelis can perhaps look forward to “normal” relations with ever greater number of Arab states. The reaction of Western countries to Israeli crimes will be to continue turning a blind eye. All the governments concerned will see the UAE’s behavior as a green light, and thus they too will acquiesce in the destruction of those progressive achievements outlined above.

Part III—Calling Going Backwards Something “New and Innovative”

Back in 2018 I attended a small conference put on by an organization named Middle East Dialogue. The stated aim of this meeting was to “promote dialogue about current policy concerns in the Middle East, and to provide a civil space for discussion across the religious and political spectrum.” The conference theme in 2018 was “A New Collective Vision.” 

While there I attended a presentation on “new and innovative” approaches to foreign policy in the Middle East. The presenters were extolling an environment of national self-reliance—the formation of policy based on assumed national interests without any “unreasonable” restrictions placed on policy by outside organizations. This was, of course, a version of the traditional “realist” approach to foreign policy that conservatives support. However, here the approach was being presented as something new. And, surprise, surprise, the presenters were claiming that Israel was leading the way into this new and bright future.

Come the Q and A session, it took me about 45 seconds to destroy the presenters’ premise. And, if I do say so myself, I did it politely. Their only reply was that my rebuttal was not how they saw things—implying that mine was but another opinion. The presenters were wrong. What I laid out was a short version of the above, based on evidence of the potential progress they sought to destroy. As good Zionists they probably knew that it was only based on the destruction of agreements like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 4th Geneva Convention, that today’s Israel could be accepted as a “normal” state. The United States has long bought into this Faustian restructuring of international relations. Now the UAE leaders can regard themselves as fully part of this ruinous bargain. 

Egypt arrests top Muslim Brotherhood leader after seven years in hiding: Ministry

Mahmoud Ezzat is the acting chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition group

Ezzat, 76, has served as acting general guide (chairman) of the Brotherhood since the arrest of the group’s most senior leader Mohamed Badie in 2013 (AFP/file photo)

By MEE staff

Published date: 28 August 2020

The acting leader of Egypt’s largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, was arrested on Friday after seven years of speculation on his whereabouts, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior announced. 

According to a ministry statement cited by local media, Mahmoud Ezzat was arrested at an apartment in the New Cairo neighbourhood east of the capital “after monitoring his movement for a while”.

During their search of the apartment, security forces found “a number of computers, mobile phones with encrypted programs to secure his communications and management of the leaders and members of the organisation inside and outside the country,” the statement read.

Ezzat is among several Brotherhood leaders and anti-government protesters who have been sentenced to the death penalty since 2013. 

He is facing multiple death sentences issued in absentia, as well as life imprisonment on a range of charges, including espionage and leadership of an unlawful group. According to Egyptian law, those sentenced in absentia stand a retrial once arrested.

It remained unclear who would serve as  acting Brotherhood leader following Ezzat’s detention.

A statement by the group later on Friday held the government responsible for Ezzat’s life, saying he suffers from a number of chronic illnesses.

“Subjecting him to torture in light of his chronic illnesses and advanced age will amount to deliberate and extrajudicial killing,” a statement by the group read. 

Crackdown on Brotherhood leaders

Several Brotherhood leaders have died in custody in recent years, including the late President Mohamed Morsi and former MP Essam El-Erian. Rights groups have said their deaths were most likely due to medical negligence and poor conditions in jails.

Ezzat, 76, had been serving as the acting general guide (chairman) of the Brotherhood since the arrest of the group’s most senior leader, Mohamed Badie, following the military coup of 2013 led by then Minister of Defence Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. 

Sisi, now the Egyptian president, ousted his democratically elected predecessor, Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi, in July 2013. Since then, the former army general has led a crackdown on Brotherhood leaders and supporters, as well as secular opposition groups who criticise his rule. 

Human Rights Watch has estimated that over 60,000 political prisoners are languishing in jails since Sisi became president in 2014, while many others have been living in self-imposed exile fearing reprisals at home. 

Mohammed bin Zayed’s Mission Impossible: Alliance with Israel

By David Hearst
Source: Middle East Eye

The Abu Dhabi crown prince wants to turn his statelet into another Israel

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed has extended the UAE’s reach across the region in conflicts from Yemen to Libya (AFP)

The mentor

Islamism in any form, political or militant, is a fraction of the force it used to be in 2011, and for the foreseeable future it is incapable of summoning hundreds of thousands onto the streets, and toppling regimes, as it once did in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen.

Islamism in any form, political or militant, is a fraction of the force it used to be in 2011

And yet the counter-revolution, unleashed when Mohamed Morsi was toppled as Egypt’s president in 2013, continues furiously. 

It produces identikit dictators: Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, Abdel Fatah el-Sisi in Egypt, Khalifa Haftar in Libya, all pour scorn on free elections, live like pharaohs, and create dynasties for their family and sons. 

They are all beholden to one man who has either funded, armed or mentored their rise to power. 

This man is the organising genius of coups in Egypt; he has become a major player in the civil war in Libya; he is leveraging his country’s ports to become a presence in the Horn of Africa; he has pushed the Saudis into a war in Yemen to promote late Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s son, and then ditched that strategy to promote southern separatists; he was instrumental in launching the blockade of his neighbour Qatar; he introduced an unknown Saudi prince to the Trump clan and cast the CIA’s man in Riyadh on the scrap heap. 

There is no pie in which Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, doesn’t have a finger. He rarely makes speeches or gives interviews and when he does he comes across as casual, reticent, softly spoken.

On the rare occasions he talks to a journalist as he did to Robert Worth of the New York Times, he portrays himself as the reluctant first responder, the fireman dousing dangerous wildfires: the September 11 attacks (two of the hijackers were Emiratis) and the Arab Spring were two such galvanising events. 

This is an act, and largely for a Western audience.

MbZ’s ‘Islamist menace’

 As time has elapsed, this can not be the whole story. As MbZ has developed his counter-jihad, so have the ambitions expanded of this quiet, English-speaking, Sandhurst-trained prince. 

MbZ knows how to manipulate decisions in the White House. He can read their ignorance, arrogance, and personal greed. His money goes directly into their pockets

Thwarting the looming Islamist menace – as he describes it – can no longer account for the ambition, scope and cost of his dreams. The Islamist menace of his nightmares is largely dormant.

A shrewd observer, he can see, as clearly as anyone, the US crumbling as an organising power in the Middle East. He knows how to manipulate decisions in the White House. He can read their ignorance, arrogance, and personal greed. His money goes directly into their pockets. He can play on the chaos of real-time decision-making in the Oval Office like a mandolin.

It must have occurred to him that the Middle East needs a new ruler. Why not him? It’s time, he has judged, to move out of the shadows and lay out his own stall.

So what’s the mission?

Mission statement

This was, some might say boldly, put into words by MbZ’s best operator abroad, his ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba, recently. 

The op-ed he wrote in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronot was ostensibly to warn Israel that annexation was a bridge too far. Writing in Hebrew, Otaiba posed to a Jewish audience as a friendly Arab – “one of three Arab ambassadors in the East Room of the White House when President Trump unveiled his Middle East peace proposal in January,” he reminded them.

The UAE and Israel are an item. No need for the loving couple to hide behind the bushes

In fact, the letter was no such thing. It certainly wasn’t a message from the Palestinians themselves. The UAE has no problems with the Israeli occupation and will overtly send two planes full of personal protection equipment (PPE) to Ben Gurion airport and make any number of high- profile trade deals with Israel to reinforce their intent to normalise relations. 

The days of disguising the flight plans of aircraft from Abu Dhabi to Ben Gurion airport by making them disappear over Jordan are long gone. The UAE and Israel are an item. No need for the loving couple to hide behind the bushes. Nor was it a message from Jordan, which regards annexation of the West Bank as an existential threat to the kingdom. 

It turned out to be a message from liberal Jews in America to right-wing Jews in Israel. The mastermind of this operation was the American Israeli billionaire Haim Saban, according to a report in Axios. A former adviser to Netanyahu, Caroline Glick called the letter Saban’s brainchild.

In any case, it had little to do with Arab opinion. It did, however, contain another more important message: MbZ’s mission statement appears in two key paragraphs Otaiba wrote.

“With the region’s two most capable militaries, common concerns about terrorism and aggression, and a deep and long relationship with the United States, the UAE and Israel could form closer and more effective security cooperation. 

“As the two most advanced and diversified economies in the region, expanded business and financial ties could accelerate growth and stability across the Middle East,” Otaiba wrote.

In these sentences, UAE not only claims to have a military stronger than that of both Egypt and Saudi Arabia but, fantastically, it also claims to have the strongest and most diversified economy in the Arab world.

Those are some boasts for the crown prince of a tiny Gulf city state to make. 

“Little Sparta” has big ambitions.

Israel’s junior partner

By comparing its military reach to Israel’s, the UAE is sidelining its allies in the Saudi and Egyptian armies. But this is of little importance. Mohammed bin Zayed wants to turn his statelet into another Israel.

Both countries are small in size and population. Both are deeply militarised societies. Israel’s “citizen’s army” is well known. The draft that MbZ introduced for Emirati men in 2014 and expanded from 12 to 16 months in 2018 is less well known.

Both countries have a military and economic reach which extends far beyond their borders and into the heart of Africa. If Israel has shown it has a long arm that can reach to Entebbe and all over the world to exact revenge, so too has UAE shown its long arm in Libya, Turkey, Syria – nations far away from the Gulf. 

Both have a dynamic population that can serve Western interests.They have common enemies – Islamism, Turkey, Iran. They have a common strategy to control the region. The two largest regional challenges for the Emirates and Israel are Turkey and Iran respectively.

The Emiratis confront the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan head-on. They funded an attempted Gulenist coup in 2016. They oppose his forces in Idlib by paying Bashar al-Assad to break the ceasefire arranged by the Russians, and the UAE confronts Turkish forces in Libya.

When unidentified bombers attacked Turkish air defence batteries in the newly recaptured Libyan airbase of Al-Watiya, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, an advisor to the Emirati royal court, tweeted: “On behalf of all Arabs, the UAE has taught a lesson to Turks.”

There can only be one bulldog on the block and Israel has no intention of sharing that role with an Arab with ideas above his station

He deleted it afterwards.

But Israel itself stays in the background. It regards the Turkish military as its main threat. As I reported in January last year, Yossi Cohen, the head of Mossad, told a meeting of diplomats from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt in a Gulf capital that Israel considered Turkey’s military to be more capable and less easily containable that Iran’s. But Israel itself does not confront Turkey.

Similarly the UAE does not confront Iran, even when tankers are mined outside an Emirati port. The kinetic stuff is done by Israel, which is believed to be responsible for a large explosion in Natanz in workshops which assemble centrifuges to enrich uranium, and possibly for up to six other mysterious explosions in Iran too.

Regionally, the UAE and Israel work in tandem, each covering the other’s back. But this does not mean that the project itself is stable or long term. Israel may indeed find it useful to play along with MbZ’s ego to serve its own interests of keeping the Palestinians under permanent occupation.

But its national interests come first.

Otaiba’s chutzpah sparked a lively reaction from Glick who wrote in Israel Hayom: “No one is doing anyone any favors. And if we’re already on the subject of favors, the stronger side in this partnership is Israel. The Israeli economy is much more robust that the oil economies of the Persian Gulf. Who does Otaiba think he’s scaring with his threats when oil is selling at $37 a barrel?”

There can only be one bulldog on the block and Israel has no intention of sharing that role with an Arab with ideas above his station.

The second problem with MbZ’s mission is his Sunni Arab allies. When the Saudis and Egyptian military elites realise that their own national and commercial interests are suffering, they will start to look at MbZ’s pyrotechnic adventures differently. 

The maritime deal that Turkey signed with the UN-backed government in Tripoli gives Egypt greater access to maritime riches than it could possibly have in a deal with Cyprus and Greece, and yet Egypt denounced the deal as illegal.

Similarly the carving up of Yemen by the UAE, which has now occupied the Yemeni island of Socotra and is backing southern separatists in Aden, is not in the interests of Riyadh, which is primarily concerned about maintaining the security along its southern border and installing a puppet regime in Sanaa.

History lessons

Israel should not be fooled by expressions of support from the UAE’s satraps, like Abdul Salam al-Badri, deputy prime minister of the eastern Libyan-based government in Tobruk, or Hani bin Breik, the vice chairman of the Southern Transitional Council in Aden, who by the way is a Salafist.

History bodes ill for MbZ’s project. Every Arab state that has worked with or recognised Israel is today weaker and more divided as a result

History bodes ill for MbZ’s project. Every Arab state that has worked with or recognised Israel is today weaker and more divided as a result. This goes for Egypt and for Jordan, both of whose diplomats, who once thought of themselves as pioneering, regret what they did in the name of peace. It proved a bitter false dawn.

The economic miracle both countries were promised at the time never materialised, the Palestinian conflict is as intractable as ever, and historic Palestine is weaker and smaller than ever before. 

Jordan, which has worked more closely with Israel than any other Arab country, is tottering on the verge of bankruptcy, mass unemployment and social breakdown. Its strategic interests in the West Bank and Jerusalem counts for nothing with the dominant settler right-wing in Israel.

Fatah, which recognised Israel, is asking itself the same questions. Why did we do it at Oslo? What was it for? That debate is bringing them closer to their rivals Hamas. 

A doomed alliance

The reality is that the dalliance between Israel and the UAE is doomed. It is the work of individuals ,not peoples. MbZ’s plots and staretegems are his own, not his nation’s.

The Arab street is implacably opposed to recognising Israel until a just solution is found for the Palestinians, a solution involving their own land and their own right of return. 

MbZ’s mission is mission impossible and the sooner his Arab allies see that, the sooner they can prevent a second decade of regional war

The MbZ-Israel project is poison for the region. it is not Israel coming to terms with its neighbours. It is making fools out of them.

Before the Syrian and Libyan civil wars, Turkey did not have an interventionist foreign policy. It has one now. Similarly, Iran’s military reach never really extended beyond the Shia minorities of the Sunni Arab states, and that is taking its military support for Hezbollah and its financial support for Hamas into account.

Iran never actually threatened Israel’s military dominance as Cohen himself acknowledged in that meeting in a Gulf state over a year ago. Iran, from Mossad’s point of view, is containable. 

MbZ’s mission is mission impossible and the sooner his Arab allies see that, the sooner they can prevent a second decade of regional war.


By David Hearst
Source: Middle East Eye

RIPPLE EFFECTS: GREECE AND TURKEY OPEN NEW NORTHERN FRONT ON LIBYAN CONFLICT

Source

 25.07.2020 

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Greece’s navy has declared a state of heightened alert and deployed ships to the Aegean Sea in response to a Turkish vessel conducting seismic surveys for energy exploration purposes close to a disputed maritime area.

On Tuesday the Greek foreign ministry issued a formal protest to Turkey following the announcement that a Turkish drilling ship would conduct explorations in the maritime area south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo in the south eastern Aegean. The foreign ministry also released a statement:

We call on Turkey to immediately cease its illegal activities, which violate our sovereign rights and undermine peace and security in the region.”

Following Turkey’s rejection of the protest, the Greek Navy has sent ships to patrol in the area.

“Navy units have been deployed since yesterday in the south and southeastern Aegean,” a navy source told AFP, declining to give further details.

Athens has stated that Turkish surveys in sections of the Greek continental shelf constitute an escalation of the tension in the region where the two countries dispute the boundary of their respective maritime areas. LINK

Experts cited in media reports have interpreted Turkey’s conduct as designed to test Greece’s determination to defend its interests in the eastern Mediterranean region, and believe that the Turkish leadership’s moves may also be linked to the Libyan conflict. According to this interpretation of the latest developments, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apparently seeks to “test” the reaction of his opponents. LINK

A report in Xinhua suggests that Greece’s response is to draw even closer to Egypt. Greece and Egypt have been holding negotiations over the demarcation of an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, however the boundaries of the area they are discussing overlaps with the area which was subject to a maritime agreement signed by Turkey and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord in Libya late last year (the two parties also signed a military agreement pursuant to which Turkey has sent thousands of fighters and a large amount of weapons and supplies to the Government of National Accord).

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi received a phone call from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday, during which they discussed regional issues, with a focus on the Libyan crisis.

According to the Xinhua report, Sisi expressed Egypt’s opposition to “illegitimate foreign intervention” in Libyan domestic affairs, citing that they would further exacerbate the security conditions in Libya in a way that affects the stability of the entire region, said Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady in a statement.

For his part, the Greek prime minister also voiced rejection of foreign interference in Libya, while highlighting the political course as a key solution for the Libyan issue.

He hailed Egypt’s “sincere efforts” that seek a peaceful settlement to the Libyan crisis, according to the statement.

Over the past few years, the Egyptian-Greek ties have been growing closer, with their growing enmity with Turkey also resulting in them developing a similar position on Libya. The talks between Sisi and Mitsotakis took place just a few days after the Egyptian parliament approved a possible troop deployment in Libya to defend Egypt’s western borders with the war-torn country. LINK

A perceptive analysis of the emerging Turkey-Libya (Tripoli) relations published last month remains just as salient to describe the situation today:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gambled big in Libya and won big – so far. This victory portends important changes in the politics of the Mediterranean, for Turkey has succeeded not only in demonstrating its determination to become the dominant player in the Eastern Mediterranean, but also in showcasing its military prowess and wherewithal. The latter might precipitate a deeper conflict and crisis in the region, extending north toward Greece.

Erdogan threw his support behind the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) against General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which had besieged the GNA’s capital, Tripoli. Haftar suffered a humiliating defeat as Turkish drones, troops, navy vessels and some 10,000 Syrian fighters transported by Ankara to Libya stopped him in his tracks and then forced him to abandon bases and territory. A last-minute call for a ceasefire by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was rejected by the victorious GNA, which has set its aims at capturing other towns, including the critical port city of Sirte.

Indirectly, this was also a defeat for the countries that had backed Haftar: Egypt, the UAE and Russia. The UAE had contributed military equipment and the Russians non-state mercenary forces.

Turkey’s Libya expedition has to be seen from two perspectives. First, the GNA concluded a deal with Ankara that delineated their respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in such a way that it divides the Mediterranean Sea into two sections. Turkey’s purpose is to hinder efforts by Egypt, Cyprus, Israel and Greece to export natural gas, either through a pipeline or on LNG vessels, to Europe. Turkey has aggressively interfered with efforts by these to drill for gas. Ankara claims that most of the waters around Cyprus actually belong to Turkey or to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a country recognized only by Turkey.

However, more important than simply preventing Eastern Mediterranean gas exports is the underlying strategy driving this push against Haftar. From the moment he assumed power in 2003, Erdogan has striven to elevate Turkey’s international role to that of a regional, if not global, power. Initially, his strategy was one of “zero problems with neighbors,” which served to emphasize Turkey’s soft power. The primary driver, however, was the desire for Turkey to assume a hegemonic position over the Middle East. This policy foundered and was essentially buried by the Arab Spring.

What has replaced it is a more aggressive and militarized posture that takes the fight to perceived enemies. That could mean anyone and everyone, since Turks tend to see most countries as a threat, even if they are allies. LINK

While Turkey has bet big and won big so far, it appears that the period of relatively easy victories is over and its aggressive moves are going to face more resistance in future. As Turkey continues to shows no sign of moderating its expansionist claims and manoeuvres, the region is now moving irrevocably towards a catastrophic military clash as Turkey and Egypt have drawn incompatible ‘red lines’ in Libya, with the coastal town of Sirte likely to be the detonator (or possibly the Jufra airbase to the south).

An international agreement promoted by the UN in 2014-2015 established an executive body and a legislative body to govern Libya and pave the way for a more permanent arrangement. However, fundamental disagreements between the two quasi-State organizations resulted in a complete split, with the executive arm becoming the ‘UN-backed’ Government of National Accord based in Tripoli and the House of Representatives relocating to Tobruk (thus the legislative arm is also ‘UN-backed’, though this detail is usually omitted from mainstream media reports).

Turkey has allied itself with the Government of National Accord (GNA), Egypt has allied itself with the House of Representatives (and its armed forces, the Libyan National Army – the LNA – headed by Khalifa Haftar). More generally, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia are invariably reported as supporting the LNA, while the GNA is mainly backed by Turkey and Qatar.

Following the drastic changes on the battlefield over the last two months as the GNA swept the LNA from its positions around Tripoli following a failed attempt to capture the Libyan capital, both Turkey and Egypt have committed themselves to positions that are in direct conflict, indicating that a major armed clash is inevitable unless there is a major diplomatic breakthrough or one of the two sides accepts a humiliating backdown.

Specifically, Turkey and the Government of National Accord are demanding that the Libyan National Army (which recently gave Egypt permission to send its armed forces into Libya) withdraw from the two areas (Sirte and Jufra) and have expressed their determination to take the areas by force if necessary. The Libyan National Army and Egypt have stated that any attempt to capture the two areas will result in Egypt entering Libya in force, which would result in a direct confrontation between Turkey and Egypt. While Egypt has the advantage of sharing a long land border with Libya, in the event of a major conflict air and maritime power could be decisive.

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EGYPTIAN PARLIAMENT AUTHORIZES POSSIBLE DEPLOYMENT OF TROOPS TO LIBYA

Source

21.07.2020

Egyptian Parliament Authorizes Possible Deployment Of Troops To Libya

Egypt’s parliament on Monday unanimously approved the deployment of armed forces abroad if necessary to defend Egypt’s national security following the rapid expansion of Libya’s Turkey-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which appears to be preparing for a major assault to capture the key coastal city of Sirte.

The stage is set for a dramatic escalation of the conflict in Libya, which appears to be certain to occur if the armed forces of the Government of National Accord and its major ally Turkey attempt to capture Sirte. They appear determined to do so, notwithstanding repeated warnings by Egypt’s president that Egypt will join the battle in force if this occurs.

Under Egypt’s constitution, the president, who is the supreme commander of the Armed Forces, shall not declare war or deploy troops outside the country without first seeking the opinion of the National Defence Council and the approval of a two-thirds majority of MPs.

Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament, the House of Representatives, has already granted permission for Egypt to deploy its armed forces in Libya if deemed necessary. Now, the Egyptian Parliament has cleared the way for any future deployment by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

In an official statement following a closed-door session, the parliament said it “unanimously approved sending elements of the Egyptian armed forces in combat missions outside the borders of the Egyptian state to defend the Egyptian national security in the western strategic front against the acts of criminal militias and foreign terrorist elements until the forces’ mission ends.”

“The Egyptian nation, throughout history, has advocated for peace, but it does not accept trespasses nor does it renounce its rights. Egypt is extremely able to defend itself, its interests, its brothers and neighbours from any peril or threat.”

“The armed forces and its leadership have the constitutional and legal licence to determine when and where to respond to these dangers and threats.” LINK

The decision was announced several days after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said Egypt “will not stand idle” in the face of any attack on Sirte, which he earlier described as a “red line” for Egypt’s national security and warned it would prompt military intervention by Cairo.

President El-Sisi also met with Libyan tribal leaders on 16 July in Cairo, where they called on the Egyptian Armed Forces “to intervene to protect the national security of Libya and Egypt.” El-Sisi said that Egypt “will quickly and decisively change the military situation” in Libya if it intervenes, adding that the Egyptian Army is one of the strongest in the region and Africa.

Earlier in July, the Egyptian Armed Forces conducted an exercise near Libya’s border. The drills, codenamed Resolve 2020, took place in the north-western district of Qabr Gabis, about 37 miles from the Libyan border.

The parliament also reviewed the outcomes of a meeting on Sunday of the country’s National Defence Council (NDC) headed by El-Sisi. The closed-door session was also attended by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Alaa Fouad and Major General Mamdouh Shaheen, assistant minister of defence.

The statement of the NDC after Sunday’s meeting declared that Egypt seeks to stabilise the current situation in the field and not to cross declared lines — referring to the Libyan cities of Sirte and Al-Jafra — with the aim of bringing about peace between all Libyan parties.

“Egypt will spare no efforts to support the sister Libya and help its people to bring their country to safety and overcome the current critical crisis, grounded in the fact that Libya is one of the highest priorities for Egypt’s foreign policy, taking into account that Libyan security is inseparable from Egyptian and Arab national security.”

The NDC affirmed commitment to a political solution to put an end to the Libyan crisis, in a manner that maintains its sovereignty and national and regional unity, eliminates terrorism, and prevents the chaos of criminal groups and extremist armed militias. It also asserted the importance of limiting illegal foreign interference that contributes to aggravating the security situation and threatens neighbouring countries and international peace and security.

The meeting of the National Defence Council also discussed ongoing trilateral negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia concerning the latter’s Renaissance Dam Project.  LINK

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محظوران أميركيّان في حروب الأمم على ليبيا؟

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تتوارى السياسة الأميركية خلف دول مرتبطة بها تتقاتل بِعنف شديد في ميادين ليبيا. فتبدو وكأنها محايد في هذه الحرب التي تغطي مساحات ليبيّة ضخمة تصل بين حدود مصر والبحر الأبيض المتوسط وتونس والجزائر وبعض جهات أفريقيا السمراء.

لماذا يختبئ الأميركيون عسكرياً في ليبيا وهم الذين يهاجمون عسكرياً أو بواسطة منظمات عرقية وإرهابية في أفغانستان والعراق وسورية والصومال واليمن والسودان وينشرون قواعدهم في معظم جزيرة العرب والأردن وتمخر بوارجهم وأساطيلهم بحار المنطقة من دون استثناء.

بداية يجب إسقاط فرضية عدم الحاجة الأميركية إلى ليبيا، التي تمتلك أكبر ثروات من الغاز والنفط وموقع استراتيجي هام يطل على البحر المتوسط الذي تتقاتل الأمم من أقصى الأرض على سواحله وأعماق مياهه التي تحتوي خزاناً كبيراً من موارد الطاقة.

للتوضيح فإن الدول المنخرطة عسكرياً تشمل تركيا وروسيا وفرنسا وإيطاليا والسعودية والإمارات مع إسناد مصري وجزائري. هذا إلى جانب القوتين الليبيتين الأساسيتين، دولة السراج في الغرب ودولة حفتر في الشرق مع بعض الإطلالات الإنجليزية والألمانية والصينية الخجولة.

إنها إذاً حرب عالميّة على ليبيا لربط صلة بثرواتها من جهة وبالصراع على البحر المتوسط من جهة أخرى.

فهل يمكن للأميركيين أن يغيبوا عن الوليمة الليبية الدسمة؟

لم يذكر التاريخ القريب عن أي ضمور في الشهية الاستعمارية الأميركية التي تمزق العالم على جثث ملايين المدنيين في شتى أنحاء الأرض من أجل الهيمنة الاقتصادية.هذه ليست تهمة افتراضية، بل حقيقة يعيشها حتى اليوم الكثير من الناجين.

لذلك فإن الغياب الأميركي في التدخل العسكري المباشر في ليبيا، يرتبط بفشل التدخلات الأميركية المباشرة في أفغانستان والعراق وسورية وكثير من دول أخرى.

وبما أن الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية أصبحت على بعد ثلاثة أشهر فقط (تشرين الثاني)، فهذا يعني أن أي تدخل عسكري أميركي مباشر لن يكون أكثر من تورط من دون إمكانية عقد أيّ حل مع الدول المتنازعة في ساحات ليبيا.

فالأميركيّ القادر على التعاقد هو رئيس باقٍ في منصبه لسنوات عدة على الأقل.

وبما أن الرئيس الأميركي الحالي ترامب المرشح لولاية جديدة لا يريد هدراً لدماء أميركية جديدة في ليبيا تنعكس فوراً على وضعه الانتخابي، فارتأى القتال من الخلف.

هذا إلى جانب القوى المختلفة المتورطة في حروب ليبيا، تحاول الاستفادة مما تسميه وقتاً ضائعاً يأتي عادة قبل الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية بأشهر عدة، وتعتقد أن الاتفاق حول ليبيا لن يكون إلا مع الرئيس الجديد.

لذلك تذهب الدولة الأميركية العميقة إلى التدخل بإدارة الحروب في الميدان الليبي إنما من خلال مشاركات الدول الصديقة وبناء على محظورين أنتجتهما بدقة لمنع أي خلل أو طارئ في هذه الحرب.

ضمن هذا الإطار يجب فهم عدم الممانعة الأميركية القاسية على التدخل العسكري التركي في ليبيا، وعدم رفضها لنقل أنقرة قوات إرهابية في ميادين سورية إلى ليبيا.

هذا الصمت على تورط أردوغان الليبي مطلوب من النفوذ الأميركي لاستكمال مشهد الصراع، ضد التدخل الروسي، وهذا من الأسباب التي ترعى فيها واشنطن تدخلاً عسكرياً مصرياً في ليبيا، وتبدو حذرة من احتمالات تدخل جزائري فيها.كما أن التدخل السعوديّ الإماراتيّ هو أيضاً بدعم أميركي، فتصبح حروب ليبيا، أميركية من جهة تركيا وأميركية من جهة مصر والسعودية والإمارات ولها علاقة نسبية بالتدخل الفرنسي – الإيطالي – اليوناني فيها.

أي أن الأميركيين يضبطون الأطراف المتقاتلة في حروب ليبيا من جهتيها المتقاتلتين ولا يخرج عن نفوذهم إلا شركة «فاغنر» الروسيّة التي توالي السياسة الروسية.

هذا ما جعل وزير الخارجية الأميركي بومبيو يحذّر من الهيمنة الروسية على ليبيا، لكن الروس ينفون علاقتهم بالشركة مضيفين بأن الغرب الأوروبي – والأميركي سرق ليبيا من نفوذهم السوفياتي – الروسي عندما قتل رئيسها السابق معمر القذافي فاتحاً أبواب فوضى عميقة في معظم صحاريها وبحارها.

الروس إذاً هم الوحيدون الذين يخرجون عن النسق الأميركي لحرب ليبيا، وهذا سبب إضافي يضاف إلى حاجات واشنطن باستمرار إدارة الحرب.

هناك إذاً محظوران أميركيان يؤكدان على أن الإدارة الأميركية تريد تأجيل حسم ما في ليبيا أو توقيع هدنة مع الطرف الروسي.

المحظور الأول هو ضرورة مراوحة الحرب عند خط جبهة سرت النفطي واندلاعها بشكل حاد في مختلف المناطق الأخرى.

أما المحظور الثاني فيتعلق بمنع أي حسم في هذه الحرب انتظاراً لاستكمال الانتخابات الرئاسيّة الأميركيّة.هذان المحظوران هما اللذان فرضا على الدولة الأميركية العميقة الاستنجاد بالرئيس المصري السيسي ليرسل جيشه إلى منطقة ليبية من الحدود مع مصر حتى جبهة مدينة سرت.

بذلك يطوّق التدخل الروسي من جهة ويتواصل القتال في عموم ليبيا من جهة ثانية، وذلك للزوم التفرغ الأميركي المقبل لإدارة اقتسام الغنائم على الساحة الليبية بين أميركيين أولاً، يليهم الأتراك والأوروبيون وبعض الفتافيت المتساقطة لمصر السيسي والكثير من الولاءات السياسية على سبيل الوجاهة والمعنويات للإمارات والسعودية.فهل يقبل الروس بهذا الأمر؟

قد يتم إقناعهم بشيء من التعاقد لشركاتهم في ميادين النفط والغاز، مقابل احتمال آخر صاعد يرى أن ليبيا مقبلة عن «كنتنة» كبيرة لأن مساحتها تصل إلى مليون وأربع مئة ألف كيلو متر مربع لشعب لا يصل إلى خمسة ملايين نسمة، تزعم تركيا أن بينهم نحو مليون من التركمان، ينتمي إليهم السراج حاكم دولة غرب ليبيا حالياً.

يتبين بالاستنتاج أن حرب ليبيا طويلة بقرار أميركي يمنع توقفها وحسمها في آن معاً، وهي قابلة للتقاسم لافتقارها إلى دولة وطنية قوية على المنوال السوري تجسد الطموحات الفعلية لأهلها، فحفتر أميركي – مصري – روسي – سعودي – وإماراتي – وأوروبي فهل بقي مكان عنده لليبيا؟

كذلك فإن منافسه السراج إخواني – تركي من أصول تركمانية تعود إلى عصر الإنكشارية الذين كان يحتلون ليبيا فأين ليبيا من انتماءاته؟

يبدو أن حلفاً روسياً – جزائرياً مع تيارات ليبية شعبية هو الحل الوحيد لمنع تحويل ليبيا إلى أشلاء تنهشها الأمم وتحذفها من تاريخ الدول، لتصبح مشيخات تعود إلى عصر الإبل والنوق وسط تصفيق سعودي إماراتي يصر على ربط العرب بالقرون الوسطى ومسابقة أجمل بعير في سباق الهجن.

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