Iran & the issue of Palestine | Iran Today

Quds Day rallies were cancelled for a second year in a row due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but that cannot cancel the Day and its significance. Quds Day is the annual commemoration of the plight of Palestine. It is held on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan, which is May the 7th this year.

Why the Middle East “peace agreements” will fail to achieve their purpose

Why the Middle East “peace agreements” will fail to achieve their purpose

September 25, 2020

By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

This week, a third Arab country has reportedly agreed to submit to Washington’s pressure to normalize relations with the Zionist state. This was very much expected and I’m sure it didn’t catch most observers by surprise. In the end, I expect most of the shameful Arab League to submit since it is known that most of them have had secret dealings with the Zionist state since many years, if not decades ago. So why come out of the closet now? What is the purpose of these “peace agreements?”

Personal I find it rather humorous that they are calling these deals “peace agreements” since peace agreements are signed by countries who have been at war, not long-standing allies who have never fired a single bullet towards each other. But the purpose of these deals are unfortunately not to make us laugh, but to intimidate.

Washington has realized that it cannot remain in the Middle East for ever. This is not because the Islamic Republic of Iran has vowed to expel them, but because reality has finally caught up to them. They are hated in this region, every act of terror that they commit against the people of this region, be it through sanctions or bombs- will attract more support for the Resistance Axis, the only force that truly fights them in the Middle East.

Moreover, their own people have grown tired of these constant wars and acts of terror overseas, and with a 22 trillion dollar debt, their economy is no longer what it used to be. On top of that, they’ve been humiliated by their own allies on the world stage, who refuse to re-impose sanctions and embargoes on the Islamic Republic – despite the constant threats issued by the likes of Mike Pompeo.

Taking a step back from its traditional role of lead terrorizer of the world is also an outspoken foreign policy issue for US President Donald Trump. Trump has on many occasions made it clear that he considers many of Washington’s allies to be “free-riding” on Washington’s “generosity”. He has repeatedly told his NATO allies that they “must pay” for Washington’s supposed protection. The same has been said about Washington’s Persian Gulf vassals. I know some people would say these statements by Trump are just excuses to redeploy US troops closer to Russia and China, but if we play with the idea that Trump perhaps isn’t the 5-dimensional chess player that some believe him to be, I would say this:

Trump has been an outspoken critic of Washington’s role in the Middle East. He even admitted himself that Washington has killed “hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East” and that “the single greatest mistake we ever made was to go to the Middle East”.

So this takes us back to the so called “peace agreements”. Both the timing and the way they were presented by the media gives us many clues as to what Washington’s intentions are. Western diplomats, think tanks and journalists have been quick to call the “peace agreements” a “nightmare for Iran” and a “a major geo-strategic shift in the region”. Brian Hook, the former US State Department’s lead official on Iran, said the “agreement amounted to a ‘nightmare’ for Iran in its efforts against Israel in the region.” But why? What is their reasoning?

At first glance, if one were to follow the Western narrative, it would seem that Washington’s allies have all united against the Islamic Republic and now stand to offer a collective deterrence against Iran. But anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of Middle Eastern politics would reach the same conclusions that were stated above – peace agreements are signed by countries who have been at war, not long-standing allies who have never fired a single bullet towards each other.

Of course the timing for President Trump is also perfect. A few months before the US elections, he presents his own version of the Camp David Accords, which resulted in the normalization of relations between Israel and Egypt in 1978. He will certainly portray this as a great political victory for him at home.

But what Washington is really doing is merely posturing. This is what they’ve been doing for over 4 decades against the Islamic Republic. For Washington this will be a great way to exit the region without being thrown out and without compromising Israel’s security. But they’re not kidding themselves, they know that nothing has changed and that this is just more of a PR stunt than it is a “diplomatic coup”. Let’s be honest, no country will ever fear Bahrain or the UAE, and Washington knows this. Collectively the Arab League’s military forces would offer little resistance in a regional war against the Resistance Axis. These are the same Arab League armies that cannot even defeat the Houthis in Yemen despite massive Western assistance. Not only are they extremely incompetent, as proven on multiple occasions in Yemen where the Saudi Air Force has bombed their own forces on the ground, but they are also cowards, again proven in Yemen where Saudi forces have been filmed abandoning their superior US-made vehicles and running away from the field of battle.

It would seem that Washington’s eventual withdrawal from the Middle East is to the detriment of Israel’s interests rather than to the benefit. Unless of course we forget that Israel possesses nuclear weapons and that it probably won’t be long before the US and Israel will arm Saudi Arabia with Nuclear Weapons to target Iran. But still, the secret dealings between Israel and “some Arab states” as Zionist Chieftain Benjamin Netanyahu said years ago, the not-so-secret Israeli Nuclear Weapons arsenal and the fact that Washington’s potential “taking a step back” policy does not really mean that it wouldn’t come to the aid of Israel in a matter of minutes, don’t really strike anyone in the region as “shocking news”.

So what have these “Peace Agreements” really shown us? Nothing really. We all knew this day would come eventually. They were cautious when they sent the UAE and Bahrain out of the closet first, dipping their toes into the water to see the reaction of the people in the region. Seeing how the Arab league and most other countries didn’t really react with outrage, they are now sending more countries to step out and admit their shameful alliance with Israel. Really, the only thing that the Gulf monarchies have achieved is to write their own names into the history books as the shameful allies of a terrorist state. We have yet to see [at the time of writing 2020-09-25] which country will be the “third Arab state” to sign the agreement with the Zionist state, but it matters not, camps were chosen long ago despite not having been declared officially by some countries.

My bets are on Morocco by the way.

Road to Saudi Ties with ‘Israel’ Being Paved, Cautiously

Road to Saudi Ties with ‘Israel’ Being Paved, Cautiously

By Staff, AP

Although Saudi Arabia has made its official position on the region’s longest-running conflict clear, claiming that full ties between the kingdom and the Zionist entity can only happen when ‘peace’ is reached with the Palestinians, state-backed Saudi media and clerics are signaling change is already underway with ‘Israel.’

It is a matter that can only happen under the directives of the country’s heir, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS].

“It’s no secret there’s a generational conflict,” said New York-based Rabbi Marc Schneier, who serves as an advisor to Bahrain’s king and has held talks in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries to promote stronger ties with the ‘Israeli’ entity.

Gulf capitals have been increasingly looking to the Palestine-occupier entity as an ally to defend against common rival Iran amid quiet concerns about the direction of US foreign policy and the uncertainty around the upcoming presidential election. But it’s not only countering Iran that’s brought ‘Israel’ and Arab states closer in recent years.

The rabbi said the former Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Khalid bin Salman, told him that the top priority of his brother, MBS, is reforming the Saudi economy.

“He said these exact words: ‘We will not be able to succeed without ‘Israel’.’ So for the Saudis, it’s not a question of ‘if,’ it’s a question of ‘when.’ And there’s no doubt that they will establish relations with ‘Israel’,” Schneier said.

Prominent Saudi royal, Prince Turki al-Faisal, insisted that “any talk of a rift between the king and the crown prince is mere speculation.”

“We’ve seen none of that,” said the prince, who served for years as head of intelligence and briefly as ambassador to the US.

In a phone call with US President Donald Trump on September 6, King Salman repeated his commitment to the Arab ‘Peace’ Initiative, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency. The initiative offers ‘Israel’ normal ties with Arab states in return for Palestinian statehood on territory the Zionist entity occupied in 1967 — a deal that starkly contradicts the Trump administration’s Middle East so-called ‘Deal of the Century’.

When the White House announced last month the United Arab Emirates and ‘Israel’ agreed to establish full diplomatic ties — a move matched by Bahrain weeks later — Saudi Arabia refrained from criticizing the deal or hosting summits condemning the decision, despite Palestinian requests to do so.

It also approved the use of Saudi airspace for ‘Israeli’ flights to the UAE, a decision announced the day after Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, met with Prince Mohammed in Riyadh. Kushner has been pushing Arab states to normalize ties with the Zionist entity.

Prince Turki said Arab states should demand a high price for normalizing ties with ‘Israel.’ He said ‘Israel’ remains “the stumbling block in all of these efforts.”

Relatively, Raghida Dergham, a longtime Arab columnist and co-chair with Prince Turki of the Beirut Institute Summit in Abu Dhabi, said younger generations in the Middle East want normality rather than a confiscation of ambitions and dreams.

“They want solutions not a perpetuation of rejection,” said Dergham, whose Beirut Institute e-policy circles have tackled questions about the future of the region and its youth.

When the UAE-‘Israel’ deal was announced in August, the top trending hashtag on Twitter in Saudi Arabia was against normalization with ‘Israel.’ Still, public criticism in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain has largely been muted, in part because these governments suppress free speech.

“It is very hard to get accurate data, even when polling people,” said Yasmine Farouk, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Farouk said public opinion on ‘Israel’ in Saudi Arabia is diverse and complex, with opinions varying among different age groups and among liberals and conservatives. She said there is an effort to prepare the Saudi public for change and to shape public debate around ‘Israel.’

As Saudi Arabia prepares to mark its 90th National Day on Wednesday, clerics across the country were directed to deliver sermons about the importance of obeying the ruler to preserve unity and peace.

Earlier this month, the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, delivered another state-backed sermon on the importance of dialogue in international relations and kindness to non-Muslims, specifically mentioning Jews.

He concluded by saying the Palestinian cause must not be forgotten, but his words caused a stir on social media, with many seeing the remarks as further evidence of the groundwork being laid for Saudi-‘Israeli’ ties.

The English-language Saudi daily, Arab News, which has been featuring op-eds by rabbis, changed its social media banner on Twitter this past Friday to say “Shana Tova,” the Jewish New Year greeting.

Why Is Benjamin Netanyahu Defending Mohammed bin Salman?

By Richard Silverstein
Source

For the past month, while governments and media outlet around the world sounded a drumbeat of shock and dismay over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, all that could be heard on the subject from Israel was the sound of crickets. Israeli columnist Ben Caspit said his country’s leadership was avoiding the subject “like the plague”.

It appears no Israeli politician wants to say anything for fear of offending that country’s latest Arab bromantic partner, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Bin Salman, according to many analysts, would have had to have ordered the murder of a figure as prominent as Khashoggi.

Then on Friday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally gave his view on the Khashoggi case, saying it had to be “dealt with” but not at the cost of the stability of Saudi Arabia and the fight against Iran.

MBS: the linchpin of Trump deal

MBS, as he’s known, is the key Arab linchpin of the Trump-Netanyahu deal of the century, which is supposed to finally resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. The details of the delayed proposal, which Trump and his Middle East appointees continue to promote, has been widely reported in various media outlets. Leaked parts of the deal, many analysts say, suggest it is highly favourable to Israeli interests and largely disregards Palestinian rights.

Despite the one-sided nature of the plan, MBS has dutifully attempted to sell it to the Palestinian leadership. In a command performance, in which the Saudi crown prince summoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to his royal palace, MBS told a reluctant Abbas that if he didn’t acquiesce, he should resign. The implication was that the Saudis would find another Palestinian leader who would agree to such a deal.

So far, Abbas has resisted this Saudi offer and not lost his head – or his job. Later, King Salman even reasserted the Saudi commitment to a deal which offered Palestinians a state within 1967 borders, which the new Trump plan eschewed.

A peace agreement that is favourable to the Israelis is something that comes along once in a lifetime. So, Netanyahu realises that stepping into the Khashoggi imbroglio is the last thing he wants to do. If there is even a slight chance the Saudi prince can come through, he doesn’t want to upset this apple cart.

Caspit’s Israeli government sources lay out further argument for laying low on this subject.

Gulf gravy train

There are also huge economic interests at stake. As a result of the warming of relations among Israel and the various Gulf states, Israeli military and surveillance firms have signed contracts worth billions. Planes filled with consultants, trainers, weapons and sophisticated surveillance gear make weekly trips between Tel Aviv and Gulf capitals.

Tens of Israelis are posted to these Gulf outposts to install and train their local clients in their use. The salaries they earn are highly lucrative compared to what they might earn in similar jobs at home. For the Israeli military-intelligence industry, this is a goose laying hundreds of golden eggs on a regular basis.

However, perhaps the most crucial mutual interest shared by Netanyahu and MBS is their hatred of Iran.

Palestinians prepare to set fire on an Israeli flag and portraits of Donald Trump and Mohammed bin Salman during a protest at the border fence with Israel, Gaza city, on 13 April 2018 (AF

Behind the scenes, Israel continues to side with Saudi Arabia. Iranian threat top our agenda, whereas Saudi Arabia’s internal affairs are less important and less interesting [to Israel] right now.” This view was echoed by Netanyahu on Friday, who explicitly stated that Khashoggi’s murder was less important than “blocking Iran”.

The rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia that has gathered speed over the past few years is fuelled by the reginal rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia; and Israel’s hostility to the perceived Iranian encroachment on its territorial spheres of interest in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza.

The Erdogan factor

Israel’s proclivity to excuse the mayhem committed at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul is also fuelled by an intense, long-standing enmity toward Turkey’s Erdogan, which dates back to Israel’s slaughter of 10 Turkish citizens on the Mavi Marmara in 2010.

It took years for Israel to negotiate a resolution to this conflict in which it apologised for the deaths and paid families of the victims $20m. Though diplomatic relations were restored, the relationship has never been as close as it had been previously.

Netanyahu also wants to benefit from the rivalry between Turkey, which is ruled by the Islamist AKP Party, and the Saudis. Turkey supported the Muslim Brotherhood after the movement won democratic elections in Egypt. The Saudis despise the Brotherhood as a threat to their form of dynastic rule.

Erdogan is playing this scandal like a violin. He is doing so both to repair the international standing he lost when he crushed a coup and imposed draconian counter-measures which saw tens of thousands of Turks imprisoned and fired from their jobs. He is also drawing out the scandal in order to bring the Saudis down a peg in the regional power hierarchy.

Thus, Israel’s leader wants to do nothing to burnish Erdogan’s reputation in the midst of this contest between the two Sunni states.

An orchestrated campaign

There is also an underlying, unspoken realisation on the part of the Israelis that their Mossad runs its own assassination squads throughout the Middle East and beyond. It has killed not only Arab enemies and foreigners helping them, but it has also killed its own citizens.

Israel cannot afford to denounce any nation for killing its enemies for fear the world will only be reminded that it does the same. Not to mention, that some of these killing operations failed as spectacularly as the one that brought about Khashoggi’s murder.

Finally, though Israel refuses publicly to condemn the murder of the Saudi journalist, privately it’s engaged in an apologia for the Saudis’ murderous behaviour.

Other Middle East leaders have come to the crown prince’s defence. In recent days, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Netanyahu have reached out to the Trump administration to express support for the crown prince, arguing that he is an important strategic partner in the region, said people familiar with the calls.

It appears highly likely that Netanyahu is defending MBS as part of an orchestrated campaign on the Saudi’s behalf. Such a move makes Israel a defender of an act of state-sponsored terror. But this shouldn’t be very surprising considering that Israel is one of the world’s foremost practitioners of the art.

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