The exile in the Balkans of Mohammed Dahlan

Milenko NedelskovskiMilenko Nedelskovski

The exile in the Balkans of Mohammed Dahlan


The troubled course and power of Mohammed Dahlan are shaking Palestinians. Near Yasser Arafat, he implemented his assassination at the request of Israel. Unable to maintain order during the fratricidal war between Hamas and Fatah, he resigned from his post and fled abroad. Now based in Egypt, he heads Palestinian security again and has excellent relations with Yahya Sinwar, the Prime Minister of Gaza. During his exile, he has woven many links that he now exploits …

The UAE Crown Prince’s pit bull

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He’s the man of a thousand lives. He’s the man with a thousand faces. “He is also the man of a thousand crimes” persifles his enemies. Mohammed Dahlan’s name slams like a bullet from AK-47, a weapon he wields with mastery. If his name is on everyone’s lips in the Middle East, few venture to pronounce it aloud. Fear…

Former head of security of Yasser Arafat, former strong man of Fatah, possible successor of Mahmoud Abbas at the head of the Palestinian Authority, Dahlan’s shadow hangs over all the intrigues stirring the Near and Middle East. The Palestinian uses his networks and money in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya with incomparable dexterity to establish the influence of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Recently, it was his role in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi that was revealed. Last November, the Turkish daily “Yeni Safak” reported that the second team sent to the Saudi Arabian consulate to clean up after the Saudi journalist’s murder was recruited by Mohammed Dahlan himself and that the men present on the spot were the same as those involved in the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhif, an influential Hamas member, in 2010.

Mercenaries in Yemen

A must in the region, “Abu Fadi”, its war name, even seems to have a gift of ubiquity, as it seems to be in several places at the same time. Recently, his involvement in the financing and arming of mercenaries deployed in Yemen to fight Houthi rebels has been the subject of much debate. Some intelligence services also provide him with a number of targeted assassinations with the help of a mercenary team led by the Israeli Abraham Golan. His expertise has made him the most prominent security advisor in Abu Dhabi. His mandate: to influence the re-composition of the Middle East in the direction most favourable to MBZ and to sabotage Qatari interests by the most vile means. The Emirati monarchy is also counting on him to crush all internal disputes mercilessly. Observers see him as the most ferocious watchdog of the Emiratis. “It’s the MBZ pit bull who always keeps him on a leash” risks one of them.

MBZ and Dahlan: a long friendship

Dahlan first met Mohammed Ben Zayed, born like him in 1961, in 1993, during a trip by Yasser Arafat to Abu Dhabi. The first, a young adviser to the Palestinian raïs, is preparing to take over the leadership of Preventive Security, one of the police units in the Gaza Strip, which has just been evacuated by the Israeli army, in accordance with the Oslo agreements. A function that he will transform into a financial pump, by taking a tithe from freight trucks entering the territory. The position will also allow him to establish useful contacts with many foreign intelligence services, including the Israeli Shin Beth.

The second, not yet known as “MBZ”, was at that time a fighter pilot, who was positioned to become the heir to his half-brother Khalifa, to whom the succession of Zayed, the founder of the UAE, was already promised. Like Dahlan, the young prince turned a state institution, the Offsets Bureau – which manages the funds that foreign arms companies must reinvest locally after obtaining a contract – into the matrix of his political rise.

The two thirty-somethings, driven by the same thirst for power, met several times and became sympathetic.

Thus, when in the summer of 2011, Mahmoud Abbas had him expelled from Fatah and sued him for embezzlement, it was quite naturally in the Emirates that he took refuge.

In Abu Dhabi, Dahlan is working harder than ever. To counter the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, winners of the elections held in Egypt and Tunisia after the uprisings of 2011, his Emirate master inaugurated a secret and strong diplomacy. As a good barker, Dahlan will be one of the giants of this counterrevolutionary enterprise.

In Egypt, “MBZ” and “Abu Fadi” support the destabilization of Mohamed Mursi, the winner of the 2012 presidential election, from the Muslim Brotherhood. In particular, they finance the gigantic demonstrations in June 2013 that led to Power General Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi.

Suitcases full of cash

Dahlan also invests in Egyptian media on behalf of the Emirates. He is participating in the launch of the Al-Ghad television channel, directed by journalist Abdellatif Menawi, a nostalgic for the Mubarak regime. In return, the Egyptian authorities provide him with services. In April 2015, they let his wife, Jalila, enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing point, while under pressure from Mahmoud Abbas, Israel had closed the Erez gate on the north side. Once there, with suitcases full of cash, Jalila Dahlan financed a collective wedding for 400 Gazans. The day after the wedding, huge posters bearing the image of Khalifa Ben Zayed proclaimed “Thank you Emirates” on the walls of Gaza.

The Emirates’ man also operated his famous contacts in Libya. In this country, Abu Dhabi supports Marshal Khalifa Haftar, based in Cyrenaica, against the pro-Qatar camp of Misrata, and against the Prime Minister of national understanding, Faïez Sarraj, who is favoured by the Western World. Dahlan knows several former kadhafists present in Haftar’s entourage: Mohammed Ismaïl, Hassan Tatanaki, a philanthropic billionaire connected to arms dealers, and Kadhaf Al-Dam, a cousin of the Libyan Guide killed by the Misrata rebels in October 2011.

Deliveries of Emirati weapons to Camp Haftar, Libya

Multiple sources claim that these men have helped “Abu Fadi” to travel to Cyrenaica several times since 2012. One of the SissiLeaks, these clandestine recordings of conversations between the Egyptian president and his entourage that leaked into the media in the winter of 2015, referred to a trip by Dahlan, by private jet, from Cairo to Libya. To do what ? Many observers are convinced that Dahlan is one of the actors in the chain of Emirates arms deliveries to Camp Haftar, which was highlighted by the UN panel of experts on Libya. In addition to his security background, the vast network he has in the Balkans qualifies him for this role as an intermediary.

In the 2000s, on the strength of the old friendship between former Yugoslavia and the PLO, forged in the non-aligned movement, the opportunist Dahlan infiltrated the business circles of this region. He approached two senior executives: Milo Djukanovic, Prime Minister of Montenegro four times between 1991 and 2016, long suspected of mafia connections; and Aleksandar Vucic, former Prime Minister and now President of Serbia, whose transparency is not his best quality.

Through a cascade of Balkan companies, most of them shady ones (Monte Mena, Levant International Corporation, Alfursan or Queens Beach Development…), Dahlan was able to conclude some lucrative business such as the production of Egyptian cigarettes “Cleopatra” or as this acquisition of land along the Zagreb- Belgrade highway, revealed by the Balkan Investing Reporting Network (BIRN). But above all, he helped his boss, Mohammed Ben Zayed, to penetrate this market. Between 2013 and 2015, Abu Dhabi won several major contracts in Serbia under particularly opaque conditions, including the Belgrade Waterfront, a project estimated at $3.5 billion to renovate an old part of the capital.

Huge stocks of weapons available in the Balkans

For his good offices, Dahlan received Serbian and Montenegrin passports, as well as eleven from his relatives. And Mohammed Ben Zayed’s interest in the Balkans is also due to the region’s huge arms stocks, a legacy of the civil war of the 1990s. An investigation by BIRN and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, published in 2016 in the Guardian, revealed that in 2015, at least eight cargo planes loaded with weapons took off from Serbia for Abu Dhabi. Random? In June of that same year, General Haftar visited Belgrade.

Some of this equipment was reportedly re-exported to Libya under the supervision of Mohammed Dahlan. In a telephone conversation available on YouTube, recorded clandestinely, we also hear a relative of Mahmoud Jibril, the Prime Minister of the rebellion in 2011, offer a militia leader “Dahlan’s help”. For many experts in the region, there is no doubt: “Dahlan is the man of the Emirates to bring troops to Haftar. He works with Haftar’s son, Saddam. The two men are also business partners and are reported to have invested in a mining site in Sudan. “The appetite of MBZ’s Pittbull is insatiable…

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PLO Learned Bitter Oslo Lesson: Negotiation With US and israel (apartheid state) Is for Suckers

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat watches as US President Bill Clinton, King Hussein of Jordan, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin fix their ties at the White House (AFP)

PLO Learned Bitter Oslo Lesson: Negotiation With US and Israel Is for Suckers

The actual reality in Palestine today is a direct result of the Oslo Accords and is precisely what Israel had always wanted: deeper and more entrenched Israeli control over the lives, land and resources in Palestine, while maintaining the appearance of a peace process, for the failure of which the Palestinians are to blame.

WASHINGTON — The intention behind the Oslo Accords, one can argue, was made evident when, almost to the day on the 25th anniversary of the accords, the U.S. closed the PLO mission in Washington. The State Department cited the Palestinian failure to “advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” according to a report in the The New Yorker. The Head of Mission, Husam Zomlot, was then, like a criminal, deported, his personal bank account frozen, and his children taken out of school.

Misconceptions regarding Oslo

Though the prevailing opinion regarding the Oslo Agreements is that they were intended to bring about an Israeli-Palestinian peace but failed, the fact is that Israel’s intentions were very different. The actual reality in Palestine today is a direct result of the Oslo Accords and is precisely what Israel had always wanted: advancing deeper and more entrenched Israeli control over the lives, land and resources in Palestine, while maintaining the appearance of a peace process for the failure of which the Palestinians are to blame.

Article I of the Oslo Accords states:

Aim of negotiations:

The aim of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations within the current Middle East peace process is, among other things, to establish a Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority, the elected Council (the “Council”), for the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, for a transitional period not exceeding five years, leading to a permanent settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

Neither one of these UN resolutions, 242 or 338, touches on the rights of the Palestinians to self-determination. In fact, the Palestinian people are not mentioned at all in these resolutions, other than a short, vague comment in resolution 242 stating that the Security Council affirms the necessity “for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem.” But the resolution offers no specifics. One has to wonder, then, what was the aim of the negotiations?


Historical context

It is interesting to juxtapose the Zionist attitudes towards Palestine with those of the Palestinian national movement, which is represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO. The Zionist movement fought hard to receive international recognition and its crowning achievement was the passing of UN resolution 181, on November 29, 1947. This resolution called for the partition of Palestine and legitimized the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. While the Zionists always maintained that they had accepted the resolution and that the “Arabs” rejected it, within a month of this resolution being passed Zionist militia were already destroying villages and communities throughout the country, shelling Palestinian neighborhoods in the port city of Haifa, and forcing Palestinian into exile. They continued these attacks for over a year until the majority of the country was in their hands and the majority of the Palestinian people were out.

Palestinians took some time to recover from the destruction, forced exile, and violent takeover of their land, and it wasn’t until the mid-1960’s that the PLO had emerged as a national resistance movement demanding the liberation of the land that was rightfully theirs and the return of the refugees. After the 1967 Mideast War, Israel was presented with a second opportunity to implement the partition of Palestine, only this time the Palestinian’s would get only the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel responded with continued mass forced exile, destruction of Palestinian towns and communities, and massive building for Jews only.

Israel Palestine flag burn

Israelis burn a Palestinian flag Palestinian headquarters in East Jerusalem July 25, 1996. Greg Marinovich | AP

By the mid-1970’s the Palestinian demand went from the freeing all of Palestine to a call for a democratic state with equal rights. From there it evolved to accepting whatever part of Palestine could be freed, until the 1988 declaration by Yasser Arafat that announced the full recognition of the state of Israel, dropping the armed resistance and a readiness to engage in peace talks. This gave the Palestinians nothing until, in 1993 as a result of the Oslo Accords, the PLO got Jericho and Gaza in which to establish some autonomy. Israel in the meantime had integrated the West Bank, now called Judea and Samaria, with cities and towns, highways and shopping malls all built for Jews only; and the Palestinians who remained in what used to be the West Bank were, and still are, living in small enclosures surrounded by checkpoints and bypass roads.


The end of Oslo

One may argue that the closure of the PLO mission in Washington is the official end of the Oslo process. U.S. policies since the end of 2017 could not have been more aligned with Israeli interests and the current U.S. administration could not be more friendly to Israel. Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, pulling out of the Iran agreement, and ceasing the funding of key UN Palestinian relief organization UNRWA all served Israeli interests. As for the closure of the PLO mission, now that Israel has achieved its goals there is no need for pretense, and the mission was merely part of the facade, as though there was any intention to allow for a Palestinian state to emerge.

The Palestinian national movement dropped its armed struggle and its demands for a free Palestine, heeded the advice of so-called friends, and succumbed to the pressures of the U.S. in the hopes of a peace agreement that would at the very least satisfy the Palestinian desire for self-determination. Instead, 25 years after the Oslo Accords were signed in Washington, they got the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the Nation-State Law that declares that Palestinians have no right to self-determination on their own land, and the closure of their mission in Washington.

One wonders whether in retrospect — with hindsight being the 20/20 vision it is — the Palestinian national movement would have done better had it continued to fight. As the Vietcong did, defeating the U.S. in Vietnam; the FLN did, defeating France in Algeria; and Hezbollah did, defeating Israel in Lebanon, perhaps the PLO would have defeated the Zionists and freed its people and its land.

Top Photo | In this photo taken Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, a Palestinian woman walks on a street in the West Bank town of Abu Dis, along a barrier separating from east Jerusalem. Twenty years after the two sides signed the Declaration of Principles on the White House lawn, the words that launched Israeli-Palestinian talks on dividing the Holy Land into two states ring hollow. Nasser Nasser | AP

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

It’s clear the US and israel (apartheid state) favoured Abbas. It’s also clear he failed.


US President Donald Trump with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office of the White House on May 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. [Thaer Ganaim/Apaimages
By Dr Mohammad Makram Balawi | MEMO | September 18, 2018

A few years after Arafat assumed the leadership of the Palestinian national movement he tried to tempt the West to offer him something in return for what he called peace. Many people still remember him with his white sweater, in the United Nations General Assembly in 1974, saying: “I come bearing an olive branch in one hand, and the freedom fighter’s gun in the other. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.”

As one Fatah former leader and Arafat companion once told me, Arafat and his group always thought that liberation should happen within their lifetime and that they should enjoy its fruits. They were convinced from the early stages that they cannot beat the Zionists with all the American and Western support behind them. They were ready from the beginning for something other than complete liberation, unlike most Palestinians. It was not a surprise to my friend that Arafat ended up trapped with a lousy agreement, the Oslo Accords, engineered secretively by Mahmoud Abbas, his successor.

Almost all Palestinian factions, including those who are members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), rejected it and many Fatah and Palestinian National Council (PNC) members resigned in protest against the agreement, including Mahmoud Darwish, Ibrahim Abu Lughod and Edward Said, who accused Arafat of treason.

The attempts of Fatah to lead the Palestinian national movement led eventually to the complete monopoly of the Palestinian national decision. All other factions who used to get their financial support and annual budget from the PLO had to concede to Arafat’s decisions even if they opposed them, and for those who refused to do so Arafat used to smear, intimidate and in many cases use brutal force against them, including assassination if necessary.

Although the PLO’s institutions and other Palestinian bodies had elections, most of the time they were decorative. Most of the Palestinian leadership, including Arafat, did not believe in leadership succession and democratic transition. Opposition was never allowed unless it was superficial and could beautify the face of the PLO and give legitimacy to the “historical leadership”, as Arafat and his group used to be called by their supporters.

In the eighties, after Hamas and Islamic Jihad (IJ) became serious contenders, Fatah tried to combat them. In the beginning Arafat refused to recognise that these movements ever existed. Then he spread a rumour, which many still believe in, that these movements were the creation of Israel to divide the national Palestinian decision. Fatah and its members used to assault members of Hamas and IJ, in universities, Israeli detention camps, mosques and wherever they could.

In 1993 the Oslo Accords were signed and from that moment on a deep rift was created between the Palestinian people, who were once always united behind resistance. Arafat believed, and made many Palestinians believe, that through diplomacy Palestinians could have their independent state. This sweet dream was a mere illusion, which Arafat eventually realised before his mysterious death.

The “peace process” – which was supposed to yield according to Oslo a Palestinian state within six years – continued for about two decades and managed only to consolidate Israeli control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Arafat eventually realised that the United States and Israel had turned him into a policeman whose duty it is to keep his own people calm and accept the gradual annexation of land and the looting of resources.

By the beginning of the second intifada, which was triggered by Ariel Sharon’s intrusion into Al-Aqsa Mosque, Arafat started local resistance groups in secret and released many Hamas leaders and members from his prisons. Sharon and George W. Bush decided that it was time to get rid of him and the Israeli Army destroyed almost all the infrastructure Arafat managed to build with European aid in the West Bank, surrounded his headquarters in Ramallah, and imposed Mahmoud Abbas on him as a prime minister.

It was by then very clear that the Americans and the Israelis despised Arafat and favoured Abbas. Arafat’s health gradually and mysteriously deteriorated, he finally died and Abbas took over. Abbas did not believe in pressurising Israel using armed resistance, nor with peaceful resistance, as is evident in the way he runs the areas under his jurisdiction. He seems to believe that the only way to implement his plans of having a state is to convince the Americans and reassure the Israelis, which seems a very naïve approach.

Yet there were some serious obstacles to overcome. First was the armed Fatah groups Arafat founded and financed, which Abbas could liquidate quickly. The second is groups like Hamas, which Arafat, with all his might, could not contain. Abbas chose a new tactic; elections. Abbas managed to convince Hamas’ leadership to take part in the general elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, inaccurately estimating that it would not get more than 30 per cent of the seats of the Legislative Council, and he would emerge victorious and impose his views on Hamas through democracy.

Abbas found no other way except to recognise the results of the elections but worked to undermine the work of the government which was formed by Hamas, and boycotted by most of the other Palestinian factions due to Abbas’ pressure. Through Fatah armed groups and PA security agencies, Abbas started with the help of people like Mohmmed Dahlan – who was then the head of the Preventive Security Force in Gaza – an armed revolt. Abbas made the work of the government almost impossible.

Local Hamas leaders got fed up of the situation and with their smaller and less equipped forces, kicked Dahlan and the armed leaders of Fatah out of the Gaza Strip, and Abbas in return cracked down on Hamas in the West Bank. From that time on Abbas and his group monopolised Palestinian representation under the pretext that Hamas carried out a coup in Gaza and unless it surrenders and hands over everything to Abbas there will be no reconciliation, which gave Abbas all the liberty he wanted to go on his way undisputed.

Yes, Abbas ruled undisputed, but it is very clear that he failed. Abbas worked for three decades to make the Oslo Accords a reality but ended up cursing his partners, the Americans and the Israelis, in a vulgar way, for he has nothing else he could do. Abbas lacks the courage to declare that he led the Palestinian people into a disaster, apologise and give way to a new leadership. One day, most probably soon, Abbas like Arafat will pass away, and leave his people face to face with his disastrous heritage.

Oslo Paved the Way to Deal of Century: “It Was A Mistake To Have Negotiated With Israel At All”

I Advised The Palestinian Negotiating Team. It Was A Mistake To Have Negotiated With Israel At All

Israel's Prime Minister Yitchak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat conferring after being awarded, together with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo

Buoyed by the Oslo Accords, I moved to the West Bank as a legal adviser to the PLO team. I was wrong. 25 years since that iconic Arafat-Rabin handshake, it’s clear talks are futile – and Palestinians are no closer to freedom

By Diana Buttu

September 13, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –    Twenty-five years ago this month, on the White House lawn, the lives of a generation of Palestinians changed forever when the late Palestinian leader,Yasser Arafat, shook hands with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. That handshake marked the start of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, with promises of a new era of peace, freedom and prosperity.

25 years later, Palestinians are no closer to freedom, as Israel has further entrenched, rather than lessened, its now 51-year military occupation.

Like countless others at the time, I was optimistic that the negotiations would finally lead to Palestinian liberty as promised and based on this, I decided to move to the West Bank to work as a legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team. During that period, I met with countless diplomats, worked on scores of proposals and even began a house-to-house campaign to speak to Israelis about ending Israel’s military rule.

But while I and others worked to end occupation others worked to entrench it, including the Israeli government and its settlers: within the first seven years after the negotiations began, Israel used incentives to nearly double its settler population. Today, the settler population is more than three times the size it was in 1993, with nearly 700,000 settlers living in the West Bank.

Back in 1993, settlements were, for the most part, confined to hilltops, with Israeli settlers considered to be fringe. Far from being ostracized, today, some Israel’s largest cities are settlements, settlers have taken over homes in the heart of Palestinian towns and settlers command positions on the Israeli cabinet and on the Supreme Court. In short, settlers are the norm, not the exception. Today, Israeli settlers speak openly about annexing the West Bank or expelling Palestinians.

I am often asked why the negotiations process failed. It is easy to point to the rise of right-wing Israeli governments, poor leadership or weak or uninterested U.S. presidents. But the real reason for failure lie beyond these factors.

It is because the parties should not have started negotiating in the first place.

To demand that Palestinians – living under Israeli military rule – negotiate with their occupier and oppressor is akin to demanding that a hostage negotiate with their hostage taker. It is repugnant that the world demands that Palestinians negotiate their freedom, while Israel continues to steal Palestinian land. Instead, Israel should have faced sanctions for continuing to deny Palestinians their freedom while building illegal settlements.

Twenty-five years later, rather than living the joys of freedom, we mark each day, by thinking about how to maneuver the maze of Israel’s more than 500 checkpoints, put in place to accommodate Israeli settlements, just to be able to get to work or to school. A 25 year-old in the West Bank has likely never been able to visit the sea – a few miles away – while a 25 year-old in Gaza has never been able to leave the Gaza Strip, to visit friends and family in the West Bank and Jerusalem or even abroad.

It isn’t just movement of people that is affected. Palestinians have not been able to take advantage of technological progress for “security reasons” for example, as cancer treatment advances throughout the world, Palestinian hospitals are barred from acquiring radiation equipment. Even our postal system remains hostage to Israel’s whims.

But, rather than recognize the mistake of negotiations, the world continues to demand that we continue the facade even though negotiations irrevocably broke down more than a decade ago. The negotiations process has, in effect, served as cover for the world to do nothing – while giving Israel the cover to build and expand settlements.

If peace is to be achieved, it must entail costs – and this time, not shouldered by the Palestinians. Rather, Israel must receive the strong message, the first in its history, that settlements will no longer be tolerated but rather reversed, and that Palestinians must be free.

I am under no illusions that the Trump Administration will put into place such sanctions. While previous administrations tried to maintain a semblance that they were helping “both sides,” Trump has come decidedly in support of Israel’s right-wing pro-settler movement.

Whether by declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or by attempting to extinguish the right of return, President Trump has shown that his “deal of the century” will undoubtedly accommodate Israeli settlements, take away Palestinian rights and reward Israeli wrongs. The closure of the PLO office in Washington D.C. this week is yet another check on Israel’s wish list.

For Israel and its supporters, the past 25 years have been a victory. With Trump at the helm, Israel’s settlers are at an all-time high, Palestinians are confined to bantustans and the U.S. is cracking down on Palestinians for demanding their freedom.

But this short-term fix has long-term implications. While Oslo changed the lives of a generation of Palestinians, this generation and the next have certainly learned its lessons: that negotiating is futile, and that our rights cannot be compromised. With this, it is only a matter of time before we begin struggling for equal rights in a single state, rather than press for statehood.

Diana Buttu is a Ramallah-based analyst and activist, and a former adviser to Mahmoud Abbas and the negotiating team of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Twitter: @dianabuttu 

This article was originally published by Haaretz 

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‘Assadist list’ nothing more than McCarthyism paired with ‘hoodwink’ science

George Galloway
George Galloway was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years.
He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT).
He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator.
‘Assadist list’ nothing more than McCarthyism paired with ‘hoodwink’ science


To paraphrase those Hollywood actors when dragged before the arc-lights of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC): “I am not now nor have I ever been an Assadist.”

In the long stand-off between Syria and Iraq, with all its ruinous consequences, I was with Iraq. Between 1980 and 2002 – 22 years – I never set foot in Syria and wouldn’t have been welcome if I had. I have a house named after the Beirut Palestinian refugee camp Tel al-Zaatar which was razed to the ground by the Syrians [Phalange party/Lebanons Forces/Arafat] with many residents massacred. My first ever solidarity mission – more than 40 years ago – was to collect bagpipes for the orphans’ band from Tel al-Zaatar.

Side Bar

  • In his biographical profile of Yasser Arafat, The broken revolutionary, Robert Fisk writes: “When he needed martyrs in 1976, he called for a truce around the besieged refugee camp of Tel el-Zaatar, then ordered his commanders in the camp to fire at their right-wing Lebanese Christian enemies. When, as a result, the Phalangists and “Tigers” militia slaughtered their way into Tel el-Zaatar, Arafat opened a “martyrs’ village” for camp widows in the sacked Christian village of Damour. On his first visit, the widows pelted him with stones and rotten fruit. Journalists were ordered away at gunpoint.”
  •  The Real Story of Tel al-Zaatar

I met the late president Hafez Assad only once – at a World Peace Conference in Damascus where I shared the stage with him, Yasser Arafat and others. I was 26 years old.

I have met the now-president Bashar Assad only twice – both times in formal meetings.

I have zero relations with the government in Syria and never have had. In fact I denounced sections of the regime under examination by Michael Mansfield QC in an inquest not that long ago.

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It’s true that in the existential battle for the Syrian Arab Republic between the Assad government and its motley array of enemies I have stood foursquare with the Republic. It’s true that in a fight between the Assad forces and the head-chopping, heart-eating Islamist fanatics of Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and the alphabet soup of extremism they have spawned, I stand with the former rather than the latter. But then what sentient being without an ulterior agenda wouldn’t?

It’s true I have said that Assad is being targeted by imperialism, not for the bad things about his political system, but for the opposite reasons.

The West is not against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, to the contrary – all of its best friends are such. The West is not against one-party – even one-family – rule in the Middle East, to the contrary – we have preferred them, armed them and had the closest possible relations with such states in the Middle East for a 100 years. The West is not against rigged elections in the Middle East, to the contrary. We have facilitated them ever since such farcical elections began.

Syria as been targeted by imperialism and its local satrapies for other reasons. Because of its historic relationship with Russia, it has been the victim of a proxy war, in effect a war against Russia by other means.

Because it refuses to make a surrender peace with Israel, giving up in the process its sovereign territory on the illegally annexed Golan Heights.

Because it refuses to break relations with the Lebanese resistance, and with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Because it refused to allow its territory to be used as a back-door entry into Iraq to facilitate the Anglo-American illegal invasion and occupation of its neighbor.

For all these reasons I repeat what I have said many times: the Syrian Arab Republic is the last castle of Arab dignity.

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© Omar Sanadiki

But none of that makes me an Assadist. It just makes me an enemy of his enemies.

Yet I have made the Assadist List, compiled by a student scribbler, a Kester Ratcliff, whose name needn’t detain us for long. He is his masters’ voice and his masters are whom we should focus on.

Mind you I am in good company on the list. My friend, Right Honourable Jeremy Corbyn PC MP, Leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for one. The multiply-commended award-winning, regularly British Foreign Correspondent of the year Patrick Cockburn is another. The Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott MP is another. As is Mother Agnes Mariam De La Croix, the Mother Superior of the Monastery of St James the Mutilated in Syria. The veteran Trotskyite leader Tariq Ali, who led my first ever demonstration against the war in Vietnam in 1968 when I was 14 years old, is another.

The redoubtable American author and journalist Max Blumenthal is apparently an Assadist, as is the Fox News host Tucker Carlson, as is Noam Chomsky! Baroness Cox of the British House of Lords makes the list as does Ireland’s finest MP Clare Daly. The American comedian Jimmy Dore is an Assadist, don’t you know!

Britain’s best known foreign correspondent Robert Fisk makes the cut as does future US presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard. The world’s most famous journalist Seymour Hersh is there –  an Assadist, who’d a thunk it?

The quintessential English Christian gentleman newspaperman Peter Hitchens is too, as is the doyen of English journalism Simon Jenkins or, Sir Simon Jenkins FSA FRSL, to give him his Sunday name. An Assadist (if only the Queen had known when she tapped his shoulder with her sword at Buckingham Palace).

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FILE PHOTO: Members of the Civil Defence, also known as the 'White Helmets'. © Alaa al-Faqir

Boris Johnson, the erstwhile British Foreign Secretary – he’s an Assadist! (although possibly only because of his “foolishness”)

Owen Jones, the liberal milksop from the Guardian newspaper, who witch-hunted Mother Agnes from public platforms in England on the grounds SHE was an Assadist, well, you’ve guessed it, he’s an Assadist too (though a “milder” Assadist).

The British Shadow Foreign Secretary – a well known “Friend of Israel” – Emily Thornberry is an Assadist. As is the former Associate Editor of the Guardian, Seumas Milne.

I could go on, believe me, there are 151 of us – but you have probably already got the picture. This list of Assadists is a farrago of foolishness, a soupcon of silliness, a pile of what the Pope called at the weekend – “the material of the toilet bowl.”

As such it could be laughed off as the teenage student scribbling that it is.

But just like the McCarthyite witch-hunts in 1950s America, this kind of malignant list-making can have consequences for those listed. Many of those never worked or were able to travel again. For some on this list the potential consequences could be graver still. Some on the Assadist list should be subject to criminal sanctions, according to the author.

It is fitting perhaps that the list comes complete with a diagram which looks like the unhinged green-ink scrawling of a madman in a hospital for the criminally insane. It purports to map all of those listed as somehow connected even though many of us hate each other’s guts. I could make a diagram of the connections between the gun-runners, the financiers and the propagandists for the Jihadists and the crucifying Islamist Pol Pots doing their dirty work. Whilst it would make a more convincing case, ennui I’m afraid precludes it.

In any case the great Western effort to overthrow Assad and destroy the Syrian Arab Republic has failed. All their money, all their weapons, all the blood they shed have been to no avail – except for the hundreds of thousands of lives they destroyed. Come to think of it, a hospital for the criminally insane is perhaps the best place for the author and his patrons.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

معركة الجنوب ونباح الكلاب .. هل كشف أول أسرار لقاء بوتين والاسد؟؟ ….بقلم نارام سرجون

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بقلم نارام سرجون

عجيبة هذه الاقدار .. ولاشبيه لها الا مسائل الرياضيات .. تحل المسألة على صفحات دون أي خطأ .. وفي السطر الأخير ترتكب الخطيئة الوحيدة والأخيرة برقم صغير أو فاصلة .. وتخسر كل المسألة .. فالجواب خاطئ .. وربما تخسر كل عمرك ..

وفي رياضيات المفاوضات بين سورية وكيان اسرائيل كان المتر الأخير في الجولان هو المتر الذي جعل مسألة الاتفاق مستحيلة حيث تمسك به الرئيس حافظ الأسد وكان هذا المتر يعادل كل الجولان وفلسطين .. وكان بامكانه أن يقبل بالتنازل عن المتر الاخير دون أن يبلل قدميه في ماء طبرية ويمشي على خطا السادات

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.. ولكنه كان يعلم ان السادات لم يأخذ من سيناء مترا واحدا بل سمح له بوضع محافظين وبلديات وفنادق .. وكان ماحصل عليه السادات مثلما حصل عليه ياسر عرفات ومحمود عباس في اوسلو .. مجرد بلديات بلا حرية ولاسيادة .. فكامب ديفيد هي طبق الاصل عن أوسلو .. سلام بلا أرض ..

فالأسد لم يحس بجاذبية عرض كامب ديفيد .. لأن الارض لاتتحرر اذا بقي للاحتلال مسمار واحد فيها .. ومسامير اسرائيل في سيناء ومصر كثيرة جدا .. في حركة القوات ونوع سلاحها وفي الاقتصاد والغاز والنفط والزراعة .. ولكن لايحس بها الناس كما يحسون بها في الضفة الغربية .. فالتنسيق الامني وشروط دخول السلاح وتحرك القوات في الضفة وفي سيناء واحدة ويجب ان توافق اسرائيل على كل فقرة وكل حركة في كلتا المعاهدتين .. ولايمكن ابرام اي اتفاقية دفاعية مع اي دولة قد يمس اسرائيل سوء منها .. وهذا مسمار ضخم في السيادة .. أي ليس المتعاهدون أحرارا الا اذا وافقت اسرائيل .. وغير ذلك لايهم اسرائيل من يكون محافظا في مدن سيناء ولايهم من يرأس البلديات والمخافر فيها أو في الضفة ولا الأعلام والصور والشعارات التي ترفع .. ولكن الاستقلال قطعة واحدة ولاتستطيع ان تكون حرا في السياحة ولست حرا في السلاح والتجارة والدفاع والاتفاقات ..

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ولذلك فان كامب ديفيد واوسلو اتفاقيتان تشبهان الأواني المستطرقة ولافرق بينهما اطلاقا الا ان كامب ديفيد ترتدي اقنعة أكثر وتختفي مخالبها تحت قماش كثيف من القفازات الديبلوماسية .. وستظهر هذه المخالب في مشروع نيوم وتيران وصنافير وسد النهضة ..

الجولان لايمكن أن يتذوق مأدبة كامب ديفيد ولا أوسلو ولن يمد يده الى اي شيء في هاتين الوليمتين ولن يلبي الدعوة اليهما .. ولاشيء يناسب الجولان الا مائدة جنوب لبنان ووليمة النصر .. وهو سيسير في ذات الطريق وسيلتقي مع جنوب لبنان المحاذي له ..

ربما كانت كل الحرب على سورية في كفة والمتر الأخير فيها في كفة أخرى .. فالحرب على سورية اذا اردنا تحليلها كما نحلل الكيمياويات في المخابر تقول ان الحرب على سورية كانت من أجل ان تنتهي آخر عقبة في وجه اسرائيل لابتلاع فلسطين والجولان حتى آخر متر .. حيث تتفكك سورية ويتفكك جيشها وشعبها .. وتفكك الامم يعني ان الكيانات الوليدة لاتعرف من منها يحق له ان يرث تركة الأمة الكبرى .. بل ويرمي كل كيان وليد عن كاهله عبء مسؤولية وراثة وجع الامة وخساراتها ويعتبر نفسه أنه أمة جديدة لاشأن له بما ورثته بقية الكيانات .. فعندما تم تقسيم بلاد الشام عبر سايكس بيكو كانت الفكرة ان يكون هناك امة أردنية وأمة فلسطينية وأمة لبنانية .. بحيث الأردن لايهمه من كل تركة سورية الا ان يستعيد وادي عربة وليس فلسطين ولا الجولان ولا جنوب لبنان .. وينشأ في لبنان “فينيقيون” يقولون ان فلسطين للفلسطينيين ولبنان للبنانيين .. وفي سورية من يقول سورية اولا ..

ولذلك فان الحرب على سورية كانت من اجل تفكيك سورية وعندها سيكون السؤال على المفككات والقطع المتناثرة والشظايا السكانية والدويلات الوليدة: من سيرث همّ الجولان او غيره مثل لواء اسكندرون؟؟ ومن يجب عليه حق التحرير أو حتى واجبه أو المطالبة به أو التفاوض عليه؟؟ .. أهي دولة حلب العثمانية أم دولة دمشق أم دولة الساحل أم دولة حوران وجبل العرب أم دولة الاكراد.. ؟؟ النتيجة ان لاأحد سيجد ان عليه وحده واجب حمل هذه التركة .. ويصبح الجولان مثل الولد اليتيم الذي ماتت عائلته كلها وتشتت من بقي من أبناء عمومته .. ويصبح ملكا طبيعيا لمن سرقه ووضعه في ملجأ وميتم الأمم المتحدة .. فقد أمسى مشاعا ولا مالك له الا من وجده وسرقه .. اي اسرائيل .. ومن نافلة القول ان فلسطين كلها ستصبح نسيا منسيا ..

وكنا نلاحظ ن اسرائيل استماتت لخلق شريط عازل وجيش لحدي من جبهة النصرة .. ودخلت المعارك جوا وبرا والكترونيا .. وأحيانا كيماويا .. وكانت تستقبل المعارضين وتعالجهم وتدعوهم الى مؤتمرتها مقابل شيء واحد هو أن يعلنوا ان الجولان هو ثمن تقدمه الثورة راضية لاسرائيل مقابل مساندتها للمعارضة لاحتلال دمشق .. وكان أكثر مايهمها هو ألا يتصل الجولان بعد اليوم بالارض السورية ويبقى منطقة عازلة واسعة تسمح لها باقامة مشاريعها النفطية والسياحية وهضم هذه الهضبة في معدة التوراة ووعدها .. في الطريق لهضم مايبقى بين الفرات والنيل في هذا القرن ..

اليوم صارت احلام اسرائيل في مهب الريح .. الجيش السوري وحلفاؤه لايحتاجون كثيرا لاجتياح الارهابيين في الجنوب السوري والوصول الى ان يكونوا مع الاسرائيليين وجها لوجه من جديد .. ووجوه السوريين الجديدة شديدة البأس لاتسر عيون اسرائيل .. والمعركة مع الارهابيين ستكون من اسهل المعارك .. وسيكون طيران نتنياهو في خطر شديد اذا قرر التدخل في المعركة .. بل ان القوات البرية الاسرائيلية المرابضة في الجولان صارت في مرمى الصواريخ وسينالها الجحيم اذا تدخلت في المعركة كما بدا واضحا من العشاء الصاروخي الاخير في الجولان .. ولذلك تم الاستنجاد باميريكا وترامب وصارت اسرائيل ترسل رسائل التهديد عبر وزارة الخارجية الاميريكية .. ان المنطقة الجنوبية خط أحمر .. وانها تخضع لشروط خفض التصعيد التي ترعاها روسيا .. بل وتطالب اسرائيل بحماية اميريكية لاعلان ضم الجولان رسميا ..

ولكن اسرائيل تعرف وأميريكا تعرف ان المتر الاخير في المعركة هو المتر الأهم .. وتحرير سورية كلها مع بقاء الجولان رهينة في اسرائيل مسورة بمقاتلين ارهابيين في حزام آمن يعني أن معظم اهداف اسرائيل تحققت في ابعاد الجولان أكثر عنا وسيطرتها اللامباشرة عليى المزيد من الاراضي حوله عبر تنظيمات اسلامية .. وهذا يعني ان الحرب على سورية حققت أهم ماتريده اسرائيل .. فاسرائيل تدرك ان المدن السورية مدمرة ولكن سيتم اعمارها .. وتدرك ان ادلب عائدة قريبا .. وان بقاء الاميريكيين في الشرق مزحة ثقيلة .. لأن الاميريكيين سيهربون عندما يبدا جسر جوي من النعوش الوصول من الرقة الى واشنطن .. ولكن انهيار المعارضة في الجنوب السوري يعني لاسرائيل (انك ماغزيت ياابو زيد) وعادت الامور الى ماكانت عليه .. والأسوأ قادم .. لأن السوريين لن يعودوا الى المفاوضات وهم يعلمون ان المفاوضات كانت وسيلة اسرائيلية لكسب الوقت .. وكلما فاوضنا أكثر كانت اسرائيل تملك هامشا لاطلاق مؤامرات جديدة كان أولها اسقاط بغداد ثم اخراجنا من لبنان وآخرها الربيع العربي .. ولذلك فان محور سورية وايران وحزب الله سيبدا العمل مباشرة في نطاق الجولان .. لأن كسر هيبة اسرائيل في الجولان سيكون اهم انجاز .. وسيكون خطرا جدا .. واضطرارها للانسحاب منه بعد انسحابها من جنوب لبنان بقوة المقاومة والسلاح من بعد شعار المعارضة وذريعتها (40 سنة بلا رصاصة) سيعني نهاية لمشروع اوسلو وكل مشاريع السلام في الاردن وحتى في مصر لأن الجولان من نتائح هزيمة 67 التي استندت عليها ذريعة كامب ديفيد .. فاذا ماعاد الجولان بالقوة سقطت كامب ديفيد وغيرها معنويا واخلاقيا .. لأن مايحمي هذه الاتفاقيات هو هيبة اسرائيل وقوتها .. وسقوط الهيبة هو أول النهاية .. وأن شعار (99% من اوراق الحل في امريكا) سينتهي ببساطة لأنه سيكشف ان 99% من اوراق الحل بأيدي الشعوب التي لاتستكين .. وهذا ماتعمل عليه ايران وسورية وحزب الله .. كسر هيبة اسرائيل في معركة تحرير .. الجليل أو الجولان ..

وهنا نفهم كيف ان ترامب ألغى الاتفاق النووي مع ايران ليس لانه يريد الغاءه بل لأنه يريد ان يعيد التفاوض بشأن أمن اسرائيل .. أي الجولان يعود الى مرحلة المفاوضات الماراثونية .. وتنكفئ ايران وحزب الله عن سورية وتبتعد عن خط الجولان الأحمر ولايتم اتخاذ تحرير الجنوب اللبناني نموذجا .. وبدا الاميريكيون والاسرائيليون يهاجمون الجيش السوري في الشرق والوسط للايحاء ان لديهم القدرة على طعنه في الخلف اذا توجه جنوبا أو حاول التلاعب بالاستقرار الحالي في الجنوب والشرق الى ان تنتهي المفاوضات غير المباشرة عبر الروس .. وهي رسائل تحذير من ان الجنوب خط أحمر .. غير قابل للتفاوض .. وان روسيا نفسها ستكون في خطر الاصطدام اذا لم “تلجم” حلفاءها عن الجنوب ..

يقولون ان الكلاب التي تنبح تموت وهي تنبح ولاتتعلم ان النباح لايقدم ولايؤخر .. الكلاب نبحت عند تحرير حلب .. والكلاب نبحت عند تحرير حمص .. والكلاب نفسها نبحت عند تحرير الغوطة .. والكلاب نفسها نبحت عند تحرير القلمون .. وعند تحرير تدمر .. ولكن ماذا انت فاعل مع مخلوق خلق لينبح ولم يتعلم ان النباح لم ينفع الكلاب منذ آلاف السنين .. الكلاب نبحت .. وكل قوافل الدنيا تابعت مسيرتها .. وقافلة التحرير .. ستصل الى الجنوب السوري شاءت الكلاب السوداء الأوبامية أو الكلاب الشقراء الترامبية ..

ويتوجب على ترامب ان يعرف كتاجر ورجل صفقات ان السياسة مثل التجارة أيضا .. فليس كل الزبائن لهم نفس الطباع وليس كل من يمر بالسوق يشتري كل مايعرضه عليه .. وأن في السوق أحرارا لايشترون من اللصوص وسوق الحرامية الذي تديره عصابة البيت الأبيض والكنيست.. والاهم ان دكان ترامب الذي افتتح له فروعا في كل الشرق الاوسط لبيع منتجاته الصهيونية عبر قرارات لارصيد لها .. لم يسمح له بدخول دمشق .. لبيع منتجاته ونباحه .. فيمكن لترامب ان يبيع السعوديين والخليجيين نباحه .. ووبره .. ولهاثه .. ويمكنه أن يبول في كل ركن من الخليج كما تفعل الكلاب التي تبول في كل الزوايا وجذوع الاشجار والجدران لتحديد الاقليم الذي تسيطر عليه وتكون مثل رسائل التهديد والوعيد للكلاب الأخرى كيلا تقترب من نطاق ملكوتها .. وهناك زبائن خليجيون لايرفضون أن يشتروا النباح .. وبول الكلاب .. ويستحمون ببول الكلاب التي تبول على وجوههم .. لأنها تعتبر ان بعض الوجوه جدران واعمدة تحمل رسائل الكلاب وتحدد نطاق اقليمها ..

وأستطيع اليوم أن أستنتج أن لقاء الأسد وبوتين كان لبحث السياسة والدستور وانهاء الملفات الحساسة الديبلوماسية .. ولكن انذارات الاميريكيين من الاقتراب السوري من الجنوب وتحميل روسيا مسؤولية ذلك تعني أن الكلاب الاميريكية تشممت أنوفها رائحة معركة قادمة في الجنوب .. رائحة المعركة كانت تنطلق من سوتشي حيث التقى الأسد .. وبوتين .. وربما هذا هو السر الذي كنا نفتش عنه عن لقاء سوتشي الاخير ولم نهتد الى اي سر من أسراره الى أن سمعنا نباح الكلاب الاميريكية ..

والكلاب التي تنبح اليوم .. تعلم أنها نبحت .. في دير الزور .. وفي حلب .. وفي حمص .. وفي البوكمال .. وفي تدمر .. وفي الغوطة والقلمون .. وفي دوما .. وكلما ازداد النباح .. نعلم أن هناك حجرا سيلقم في أفواه الكلاب ..

   ( الأحد 2018/05/27 SyriaNow)

If I Were MBS, I’d Be Cynical About This Visit

Robert Fisk

08-03-2018 | 10:52

Thank heavens Theresa May is giving a warm welcome today to the illustrious Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, His Royal Majesty Mohammad bin Salman. For it is meet and right that she should do so. His Royal Highness is a courageous Arab reformer, keen to drag his wealthy nation into the 21st century in a raft of promises – women’s rights, massive economic restructuring, moderate Islam, further intelligence gathering on behalf of the West and an even more vital alliance in the “War on Terror”.


Thank God, however, that Theresa May – in her infinite wisdom – is not going to waste her time greeting a head-chopping and aggressive Arab Crown Prince whose outrageous war in Yemen is costing thousands of lives and tainting the United Kingdom with his shame by purchasing millions of dollars in weapons from May to use against the people of Yemen, who is trying to destroy his wealthy Arab brothers in Qatar and doing his best to persuade the US, Britain and sundry other Westerners to join the Saudi war against the Shias of the Middle East.

You see the problem? When it comes to money, guns and power, we will cuddle up to any Arab autocrat, especially if our masters in Washington, however insane, feel the same way about him – and it will always be a “him”, won’t it? And we will wash our hands with them if or when they have ceased to be of use, or no longer buy our weapons or run out of cash or simply get overthrown. Thus I can feel some sympathy for young Mohammad.

I have to add – simply in terms of human rights – that anyone who has to listen to Theresa “Let’s Get On With It” May for more than a few minutes has my profound sympathy. The Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, a very intelligent Richelieu, must surely feel the same impatience when he listens to the patently dishonest ramblings of his opposite number. Boris Johnson’s contempt and then love for the Balfour Declaration in the space of less than 12 months is recognized in the Arab world as the cynical charade that it is.

Human rights groups, Amnesty and the rest are angrily calling Crown Prince Mohammad to account this week. So are the inevitable protesters. Any constable who raises a baton to keep order will be “doing the Saudis’ work”, we can be sure. But I fear that the Crown Prince should be far more concerned by the Government which is now groveling to his leadership. For he is dealing with a Western power, in this case the Brits. And the only advice he should be given in such circumstances is: mind your back.

A walk, now, down memory lane. When Gaddafi overthrew King Idris, the Foreign Office smiled upon him. A fresh face, a safe pair of hands with an oil-bearing nation whose wealth we might consume, we thought Gaddafi might be our man. The Americans even tipped him off about a counter-coup, just as we much later helped Gaddafi round up his opponents for torture. Then Gaddafi decided to be an anti-colonial nationalist and eventually got mixed up with the IRA and a bomb in a West Berlin nightclub – and bingo, he became a super-terrorist. Yet come the “War on Terror” and the invasion of Iraq, Gaddafi was kissed by the Venerable Blair and became a super-statesman again. Until the 2011 revolution, at which point he had to become a super-terrorist once more, bombed by NATO and murdered by his own people.

Talking of Iraq, Saddam had a similar experience. At first we rather liked the chap and the Americans even tipped him off on the location of his communist opponents. He was a head-chopper, to be sure, but as long as he invaded the right county, he was a super-statesman. Hence we helped him in his invasion of Iran in 1980 but declared him a super-terrorist in 1990 when he invaded the wrong country: Kuwait. And he ended up, like Gaddafi, killed by his own people, albeit that the Americans set up the court which decided to top him.

Yasser Arafat – not that we even think of him these days – was a Palestinian super-terrorist in Beirut. He was the center of World Terror until he shook hands with Yitzhak Rabin and Bill Clinton, at which point he became a super-statesman. But the moment he refused to deviate from the Oslo agreement and accept “Israeli” hegemony over the West Bank – he was never offered “90 per cent” of it, as the American media claimed – he was on the way to super-terrorism again. Surrounded and bombarded in his Ramallah hovel, he was airlifted to a Paris military hospital where he conveniently died. The “Israelis” had already dubbed him “our bin Laden”, a title they later tried to confer on Arafat’s luckless successor Mahmoud Abbas – who was neither a super-terrorist nor a super-statesman but something worse: a failure.

It should not be necessary to run through the other Arab transmogrifications from evil to good to evil again. Nasser, who helped to overthrow the corrupt King Farouk, quickly became a super-terrorist when he nationalised the Suez Canal and was called the “Mussolini of the Nile” by Eden – a slightly measly comparison when you remember that Saddam became the “Hitler of the Tigris” in 1990. [His eminence Imam] Khomeini was a potential super-statesman in his Paris exile when the Shah was overthrown. Then he became a super-terrorist-in-chief once he established the Islamic Republic. The French Jacobins thought that Hafez al-Assad was a potential super-statesman but decided he was a super-terrorist when Bashar al-Assad – lionized in France after his father’s death – went to war on his opponents, thus becoming a super-terrorist himself. The Brits quickly shrugged off their loyalties to Omani and Qatari emirs when their sons staged coups against them.

Thus Mohammad bin Salman, may his name be praised, might be reminded by Adel al-Jubeir as he settles down in London: “Memento homo”, the gladiator’s reminder to every emperor that he is only “a man”. What if the Yemen war is even bloodier, what if the Saudi military become increasingly disenchanted with the war – which is almost certainly why the Crown Prince staged a putsch among his commanders last month – and what if his Vision2030 proves a Saudi South Sea Bubble? What if the humiliated and vexatious princes and billionaires he humbled in the Riyadh Ritz Hotel come to take their revenge? What if – dare one speak his name? – a future British prime minister reopened the Special Branch enquiry into the Al-Yamamah arms contract? And, while we’re on the subject, what if someone discovers the routes by which US weapons reached Isis and their chums after 2014?

Or a real war breaks out with Iran? Please note, no mention here of the Sunni-Shia struggle, the 2016 butchery of Shia opponents in Saudi Arabia – most described as “terrorists”, most of them decapitated – and absolutely no reference to the fact that Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist doctrines are the very inspiration of Isis and al-Qaeda and all the other ‘jihadi” mumbo-jumbo cults that have devastated the Middle East.

Nope. The truth is, you can’t just tell who your friends are these days.

Wasn’t it the Brits who double-crossed the Saudi monarchy’s predecessors in Arabia by promising them an Arab empire but grabbing Palestine and Transjordan and Iraq for themselves?

Wasn’t it the Brits who published the Balfour Declaration and then tried to betray the Jews to whom they’d promised a homeland and the Arabs whose lands they had promised to protect?

Wasn’t it – since we are talking autocrats – the Brits who gave Ceaucescu an honorary knighthood and then took it back when he was deposed? We gave Mugabe the same gong and then took it back. Incredibly, we gave one to Mussolini too. Yes, we took it back in 1940.

So have a care, Crown Prince Mohammad. Don’t trust perfidious Albion. Watch your back at home, but also abroad. Thanks for all the arms purchases. And thanks for all the intelligence bumph to help us keep track of the lads who are brainwashed with the Wahabi faith. But don’t – whatever you do – be tempted by an honorary knighthood.

Source: The Independent, Edited by website team

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