Without Palestine, There is No Arab Unity: Why Normalization with Israel Will Fail

August 10, 2022

Pro-Palestinian rally in Cairo. (Photo: Ali Martin, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Ramzy Baroud

It seemed all but a done deal: Israel is finally managing to bend the Arabs to its will, and Palestine is becoming a marginal issue that no longer defines Israel’s relations with Arab countries. Indeed, normalization with Israel is afoot, and the Arabs, so it seems, have been finally tamed.

Not so fast. Many events continue to demonstrate the opposite. Take, for example, the Arab League two-day meeting in Cairo on July 31 – August 1. The meeting was largely dominated by discussions on Palestine and concluded with statements that called on Arab countries to reactivate the Arab boycott of Israel, until the latter abides by international law.

The strongest language came from the League’s Assistant Secretary-General who called for solidarity with the Palestinian people by boycotting companies that support the Israeli occupation.

The two-day Conference of the Liaison Officers of the Arab Regional Offices on the Boycott of Israel praised the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has been under intense western pressures for its unrelenting advocacy of international action against Israel.

One of the recommendations by Arab officials was to support Arab boycott initiatives in accordance with the Tunis Arab Summit in March 2019, which resolved that “boycott of the Israeli occupation and its colonial regime is one of the effective and legitimate means to resist.”

Though one may rightly cast doubts on the significance of such statements in terms of dissuading Israel from its ongoing colonization schemes in Palestine, at least, it demonstrates that in terms of political discourse, the collective Arab position remains unchanged. This was also expressed clearly to US President Joe Biden during his latest visit to the Middle East. Biden may have expected to leave the region with major Arab concession to Israel – which would be considered a significant political victory for the pro-Israel members of his Democratic Party prior to the defining November midterm elections – but he received none.

What American officials do not understand is that Palestine is a deeply rooted emotional, cultural and spiritual issue for Arabs – and Muslims. Neither Biden, nor Donald Trump and Jared Kushner before him, could easily – or possibly – alter that.

Indeed, anyone who is familiar with the history of the centrality of Palestine in the Arab discourse understands that Palestine is not a mere political question that is governed by opportunism, and immediate political or geopolitical interests. Modern Arab history is a testament to the fact that no matter how great US-Western-Israeli pressures and however weak or divided the Arabs are, Palestine will continue to reign supreme as the cause of all Arabs. Political platitudes aside, the Palestinian struggle for freedom remains a recurring theme in Arab poetry, art, sports, religion, and culture in all its manifestations.

This is not an opinion, but a demonstrable fact.

The latest Arab Center Washington DC (ACW) public opinion poll examined the views of 28,288 Arabs in 13 different countries. Majority of the 350 million Arabs continue to hold the same view as previous generations of Arabs did: Palestine is an Arab cause and Israel is the main threat.

The Arab Opinion Index (AOI) of late 2020 is not the first of its kind. In fact, it is the seventh such study to be conducted since 2011. The trend remains stable. All the US-Israeli plots – and bribes – to sideline Palestine and the Palestinians have failed and, despite purported diplomatic ‘successes’, they will continue to fail.

According to the poll: Vast majority of Arabs – 81 percent – oppose US policy towards Palestine; 89 percent and 81 percent believe that Israel and the US respectively are “the largest threat” to their individual countries’ national security. Particularly important, majority of Arab respondents insist that the “Palestinian cause concerns all Arabs and not simply the Palestinians.” This includes 89 percent of Saudis and 88 percent of Qataris.

Arabs may disagree on many issues, and they do. They might stand at opposite sides of regional and international conflicts, and they do. They might even go to war against one another and, sadly, they often do. But Palestine remains the exception. Historically, it has been the Arabs’ most compelling case for unity. When governments forget that, and they often do, the Arab streets constantly remind them of why Palestine is not for sale and is not a subject for self-serving compromises.

For Arabs, Palestine is also a personal and intimate subject. Numerous Arab households have framed photos of Arab martyrs who were killed by Israel during previous wars or were killed fighting for Palestine. This means that no amount of normalization or even outright recognition of Israel by an Arab country can wash away Israel’s sordid past or menacing image in the eyes of ordinary Arabs.

A most telling example of this is how Egyptians and Jordanians answered the AOI question “Would you support or oppose diplomatic recognition of Israel by your country?” The interesting thing about this question is that both Cairo and Amman already recognized Israel and have diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv since 1979 and 1994, respectively. Still, to this day, 93 percent of Jordanians and 85 percent of Egyptians still oppose that recognition as if it never took place.

The argument that Arab public opinion carries no weight in non-democratic societies neglects the fact that every form of government is predicated on some form of legitimacy, if not through a direct vote, it is through other means. Considering the degree of involvement the cause of Palestine carries in every aspect of Arab societies – on the street, in the mosque and church, in universities, sports, civil society organizations and much more – disowning Palestine would be a major delegitimizing factor and a risky political move.

American politicians, who are constantly angling for quick political victories on behalf of Israel in the Middle East do not understand, or simply do not care that marginalizing Palestine and incorporating Israel into the Arab body politic is not simply unethical, but also a major destabilizing factor in an already unstable region.

Historically, such attempts have failed, and often miserably so, as apartheid Israel remains as hated by those who normalized as much as it is hated by those who have not. Nothing will ever change that, as long as Palestine remains an occupied country.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The Post-Oslo Social Economy: An Analysis

August 12, 2022

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, US President Bill Clinton, and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat at the signing of the Oslo Accord. (Photo: Vince Musi, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Omar Zahzah

“It’s classic Fanon, if you think about it,” Palestinian writer Yara Hawari, Senior Analyst of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network,  remarked in 2018 about the 25th anniversary Oslo Accords.

“It’s like, Let’s create this class of people that are going to maintain the security of the oppressed or the natives, so that we don’t have to do it.”

The “class” Hawari refers to here is the Palestinian Authority, that repressive, native informant apparatus whose incarceration and brutalization of its own people and total obedience to the Zionist colonial state was institutionalized through the passage of the Oslo Accords in 1993. Hawari relates the formation of the PA to the underdeveloped national middle-class Fanon describes in “The Pitfalls of National Consciousness,” a class that maintains its material integrity and interests by preserving neo-colonial relations and collaborations with the colonial power.

Palestinian activist Jamal Juma explains that through the Accords, the PA made it so that Palestinian livelihoods would be controlled by organizations including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and that the division of the West Bank into areas A, B, and C is ultimately guided by a larger strategy of total annexation. 

An expansive exploration of the former subject, Toufic Haddad’s Palestine, Ltd. demonstrates how Western donor states and financial institutions used the Oslo Accords as a test-case in the exploration of national and governmental forms of arrangement that could be most agreeable to neoliberal capitalist ventures—an insight that suggests how Palestine operates as a “lab” in ways other than the more familiar discussion of the Zionist state honing the weaponry, crowd-control and surveillance tactics that it will eventually export to other nations and corporations upon Palestinian bodies and territories.

Yet as crucial as these insights are, they are tied to the material components of the Oslo Accords’ disastrous impacts.

I believe it’s also important to discuss other, more abstract components of the Accords’ destructiveness—components that are not even limited to Palestine alone. Such an undertaking is important, as every attempt to diagnose the true colonial character of our condition brings us one step closer to a potentially liberated–and liberatory–consciousness.

Emotional and Mental Reproduction

The physical character of colonial projects may reproduce itself emotionally and mentally, both within the collective morale of the colonized as well as in the minds and hearts of individuals among colonized populations. Thus, it takes no great leap of the imagination to consider that the physical and political fragmentation wrought by the Oslo Accords—the arrogant and arbitrary declaration that a future Palestinian state would only concern those Palestinians presently within colonized and militarily occupied Palestinian territory; the abandonment of the liberation struggle; the creation of a corrupt Palestinian bourgeoisie elite that would profit directly off of oppressing and exploiting its own people–have also reinscribed themselves within the individual Palestinian psyche.

It also stands to reason that such a reinscription would have profound effects not only upon individual Palestinian morale, but the activism (and here I deploy this term intentionally) that followed in the wake of the Oslo Accords.

My subject of analysis is a particular type of activism (again, used here to describe a mindset and various forms of prioritization) that values the individual reputation, ego, “brand,” politics, over, or at the complete exclusion of, the larger liberation struggle as well as the need for mutual and collective struggle among our people. One person or organization becomes the default representative of the Palestinian cause, and rather than seeing others involved in the same struggle as comrades, all become competitors in a cheap struggle for “authenticity.” 

Collectivity shifts from a strength to a liability, as the plurality of voices and approaches so integral to the health of any veritable liberation movement becomes crowded out by the cultural lure of being the default Palestinian voice, the Palestinian activist, the Palestinian intellectual, and so on, as opposed to one among many.

Anti-colonial criticality becomes redirected towards liberal policy analysis and so-called “thought leadership” that takes for granted and even benefits from the perseverance of structures and systems that need to be destroyed rather than sustained. But even a more critical posture is not necessarily indicative of having transcended this status quo, as being the most radical presence can become commodified as its own, cynical show of competition.  

It is no longer the Palestinian struggle that is engaged, in its entirety and contradictions, but a sanitized version that is repackaged and sold to a target audience. The fragmentation imposed upon our struggle by our colonizers and the so-called leadership among our people that willfully collaborate with them for their own personal gain is restaged in this competition, and fragmentation itself becomes incentivized rather than challenged.

All oppositional forces, from our colonizers to their imperialist allies, would like nothing more than for us to remain scattered, to remain fragmented, so it is natural that we would find ourselves in systems and situations where attacking one another as a way of building ourselves up is encouraged, however indirectly.

What is Meant By Social Economy

An “economy” typically implies a system of relation and exchange. Thus to refer to the phenomenon in question as a “social economy” might seem a strange choice of words. But through this formulation we are considering the ways in which social relations themselves are conditioned by economic processes—the way, for example, personal and professional relationships become distorted by capitalistic notions of profit, productivity, and artificial scarcity, or how neoliberal belief systems encourage a “buffet” style approach to issues of oppression that says holding a marginalized identity in and of itself entails liberatory intentions (Mahmoud Abbas should be a sufficient enough refutation of this regressive political tendency.)

In our example, political work becomes imperceptibly overtaken by for-profit incentives of competition, false scarcity, and exclusion, and a cause that is at heart a collective struggle for anti-colonial liberation becomes nothing more than a means of self-promotion and advancement. To the extent that rampant NGOization both in Palestine and internationally diverts liberation-focused efforts to reformist ones sharply limited by strings-attached funding and siphons the intellect and creativity of organizers into bureaucratic demands such as fundraising and donor relationship building, we cannot ignore the interplay between compromised institutions, predatory economic subjugation, and political mercurialness.

Good Faith and the Unconscious

However, while such engagement may at times be informed by a willful disregard, our experiences suggest that such a state of affairs is more likely to be reinforced unconsciously. Thus, even in the most intense moments of seeming competition and disagreement, the possibility of good faith should always be presumed.

One imperfect yet nevertheless amelioratory practice given this state of affairs is to insist upon intentional and conscientious distinctions between the grassroots and non-profit spheres. To be sure, there is overlap, but to consciously present non-profits as the grassroots would ultimately water down grassroots work with the demands, limitations, and restrictions of non-profit bureaucracy. 

In the interim to the complete dissolution to the non-profit system, one important approach is to navigate non-profit spaces with an awareness of these material distinctions and always ask oneself (and one’s organization(s)) how best to utilize the resources and networks of the non-profit milieu to amplify the grassroots without restriction whenever possible. 

It would be a far simpler task if the Oslo Accords had resulted in a generation of self-interested activists and organizations competitively profiting off of their Palestinian “brands,” for better or worse, but this is not what I’m arguing. The reality is murkier, and more difficult to define, but ultimately what I’m suggesting is that various factors, including the overemphasis on the individual within settler-colonial/capitalist US nationalist ethos, as well as the myriad forms of fragmentation inflicted upon us through the Oslo Accords, are themselves internalized and re-staged within US activist scenes, but often at the level of general instinct and impression. 

Various social and symbolic norms make it so that certain actions and attitudes are simply felt to come more naturally than others. This is the case with capitalism in general, which presents a complete distortion of social relations and attachments as so-called “reality,” “nature,” “society,” and so on. Our colonial condition, while in some ways more particular, nevertheless operates with similar effect: the horizon of possibility is increasingly depleted by shrinking borders and an abdication of responsibility and dedication to the struggle.

The Way(s) Forward

There is no one set “solution” to such a state of affairs, but as individualism and competition are the scourges, approaches that center collaboration and mutual uplift obviously should be prioritized. To that extent, continually engaging in (and presuming) good faith from others—with the exception of crossing red lines about Zionism and normalization—should be standardized. But even when it comes to these red lines, it is crucial to be able to name exhaustive standards for Zionism and normalization, as well as to establish and maintain cultures of principled political commitment.

At this point, it ought to be far from politically controversial to say that the Zionist entity has no right to exist, should never have existed and in fact, should not exist even now; that Palestinians have the right to all forms of resistance until total return and liberation, and that all of the Zionist entity is, in fact, occupied Palestine, an alien construction upon stolen land and lives that needs to be destroyed in the lead-up to comprehensive Palestinian liberation and reparations.

Explicitly naming competitions and turf wars as reflective of the Oslo Accords rather than feeding into them can at times aid in refocusing efforts towards the larger struggle and collective betterment, though this is not always a guarantee.

At the root of the issue is the need to operate with a sense of Movement rather than individualism or activism, and always begin from a position of helping the collective cause rather than advancing individual gains. The struggle is hurt by our fragmentation, though it’s important to resist the cynical cooptation of this principle as a means of encouraging tolerance of any and all political lines within our spaces and wider networks (such as normalization of the Zionist entity, including acceptance of the Palestinian “Authority’s” security coordination).

For the purpose is to rekindle and preserve a sense of collective identity and resistance that operates within a genuinely anti-colonial frame, rather than accepting our colonization as an inevitability, or even past event.   

– Omar Zahzah is the Education and Advocacy Coordinator for Eyewitness Palestine as well as a member of the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) and the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). Omar is also an independent scholar, writer and poet and holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

Saudi airspace open before Israelis but not Yemenis: Al-Houthi

Aug 9 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Ansar Allah chief Sayyed Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi underlines Sanaa’s stance in support of the Palestinian cause and condemns “Israel” and the United States.

Ansar Allah leader Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi during a speech on August 8, 2022 (Ansar Allah’s Website)

There are aggressive steps being taken against those who oppose the Israeli occupation and counter American hegemony and normalization, Ansar Allah leader Sayyed Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi said on Monday.

“The Americans and the Israelis want to deviate the Ummah from the right path, and the Israeli-US views corrupt human society, especially the Islamic society,” Al-Houthi added.

“The Americans and Israelis cannot accept our nation being independent and rejecting subordination,” he said. “The enemies seek to deviate the Ummah so that  it is loyal, obedient, and submissive to them […] the Saudi airspace is open to the Israelis and closed to the Yemeni people.”

The main goal of the enemies, he said, is normalization, which is an approach they are taking toward many Arab regimes. He also stressed the Sanaa government’s stance in support of the Palestinian cause, calling on the Islamic and Arab countries to take an explicit stance against the Israeli occupation.

Regarding the recent Israeli offensives on Gaza, Al-Houthi said: “The recent Israeli escalation, which was confronted by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, is a message that reminds us that the enemy continues to commit its crimes.”

“The Israeli tactic comprising of targeting a Palestinian faction while saying it is not targeting other factions is a means of trickery aimed at driving a wedge between the resistance factions,” Sayyed Al-Houthi underlined.

The Israeli occupation’s aggression on Gaza was conducted under the pretext of “Tel Aviv” targeting high-ranking officials in Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) while murdering dozens of innocent civilians, including children.

“The normalizing regime’s enmity toward the freedom fighters in Palestine is flagrant, so much so that the Saudi regime imprisoned humanitarian workers,” the Yemeni leader explained.

The leader of the Ansar Allah movement called on the Palestinian resistance factions “not to allow this Israeli tactic to succeed,” while urging the Palestinian people “to remain in a state of constant readiness to confront the enemies at any moment during the temporary truce.”

Al Mayadeen‘s source reported that there was a ceasefire agreement reached in the Gaza Strip on late Sunday. The sources noted that the agreement was reached with the Israeli occupation agreeing to the PIJ’s demands in full.

The Israeli occupation began on August 5 with aggression on the Gaza Strip on Friday, and Al-Quds Brigades announced that Tayseer Al-Jaabari, a military commander in the northern Gaza Strip, had been martyred.

Consequently, Al-Quds Brigades launched an operation in response to the Israeli occupation’s aggression on the Gaza Strip, by launching salvoes of rockets toward the occupied Palestinian territories.

Our correspondent reported that the death toll of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip has reached 41 martyrs so far, with 311 others wounded.

Palestine Resists

Kicking off with a brutal Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip that claimed the lives of nearly a dozen civilians, including children, “Tel Aviv” is launching a campaign of aggression on the blockaded strip. This promoted the Palestinian resistance to take up arms against the occupation and resist its barbaric offensives.

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كلام بارد في ملف ساخن: قضيّة المطران الحاج

الإثنين 25 تموز 2022

 ناصر قنديل

– سعى البطريرك بشارة الراعي لتحويل قضية المطران موسى الحاج الى عنوان معركة سياسيّة وشعبيّة، أكبر من حجم العناوين التي تثيرها القضية بكثير. فالقضية تقوم على ثنائيّة يمكن للحوار بين الكنيسة والقضاء رسم قواعد تحول دون تكرارها دون ضجيج، وإذا استدعى الأمر الاستعانة برئيس الجمهورية كوسيط يلتزم «الحياد الإيجابيّ الناشط» يعرف البطريرك أنه وضع قضية الفارين الى فلسطين المحتلة، وبينهم العملاء، في صلب بنود التفاهم بينه وبين حزب الله عام 2006، وحصل من الحزب على مواقف أثارت نقاشاً صعباً داخل الحزب وبين حلفائه. والثنائيّة هي وضع آلية تحاول البطريركيّة فرضها بقوة الصراخ على القضاء، في كيفية التعامل مع سلك الكهنوت في المسائل القضائية، فرفع البطريرك السقف، مرة بقول أحد معاونيه أن المطارنة لا يحاكمون إلا أمام الفاتيكان. وهذه يعرف البطريرك انها إعلان فدرالية قضائية تصلح لزمن حكم المتصرفيّة أيام الاحتلال العثماني، لكن لا أحد يستطيع تخيل ان رجال الدين اللبنانيين لا يحاكمون على أي جرائم جزائيّة أمام محاكم بلدهم، بل يقوم الفاتيكان بمحاكمة بعضهم وكنيسة موسكو بمحاكمة بعض آخر والأزهر لبعض ثالث، والنجف وقم لبعض رابع. ولاحقاً عدل البطريرك معادلة الامتيازات التي يريدها للكهنة والرهبان في شروط التقاضي بالقول إنه لا يجوز التحقيق مع أي منهم او توقيفه الا بإذن من البطريرك، طالباً حصانة للكهنوت وليس لرتب منهم تشبه حصانات المدراء العامين، ما يفتح الباب لمطالب مشابهة، تجعل عشرات آلاف العاملين في الأسلاك الدينية خارج نطاق المساءلة القضائية دون إذن مرجعياتهم.
– القضية الثانية التفاوضية التي أراد البطريرك فتح ملفها، هي قضية فرض العلاقة الطبيعية بين الداخل اللبناني واللبنانيين الفارين في فلسطين المحتلة، واعتبار هذه العلاقة شبيهة لعلاقة لبنان واللبنانيين والكنيسة وسواها من المؤسسات اللبنانية بأي جالية لبنانية في المهجر، ونفي صفة الخصوصية التي يرسمها حول وضع وجودهم تحت سلطة كيان احتلال يجمع اللبنانيون على توصيفه بالعدو، رغم ما يحمله ذلك من مخاطرة تضع كيان الاحتلال ضمناً بمنزلة تشبه أي دولة عربية أو اجنبية تستضيف جالية لبنانية، حيث لا حاجة للرقابة، ولا سريان للمنع، ومفردة الحالة الإنسانية كافية لإسكات أية مساءلة قضائية أو تدقيق أمني، ولأن المطلب سقفه عال، فلا مانع عند البطريركية من حصر هذا التوصيف بالشق المسيحيّ منه.
– عملياً يدرك البطريرك استحالة الحصول على أي تكريس قانوني بالنصوص، في القضيتين، ويعلم أن أية تسوية يتمّ التوصل إليها ستبقى شفهية وظرفية، قابلة للنقض والتعديل مع تغيّر الظروف، ويعرف أن الممكن واقعياً هو الحصول عليه كان ممكناً التوصل إليه في جلسات مغلقة، مع مرجعيات قضائية يعرف أن ولاءها للبطريركية، أو مع رئاسة الجمهورية التي يعرف أنها سوف تسعى لتحقق له سقف الممكن في القضيتين، فلها مؤيّدوها في السلك الكنسيّ الذين لا تريد خسارتهم، ومظلة الحصانة تغريهم جميعاً، وقضية اللبنانيين في فلسطين المحتلة قضيته ولا يريد خسارتها ونقل مرجعيّتها الى جهات تخاصمه للمزايدة بها عليه وعلى تياره السياسي والحزبي على أبواب نهاية عهده، لذلك لا تكفي القضيتان لتفسير موقف البطريرك.
– قضيّتان أشدّ أهمية في السياسة تفسران الموقف، الأولى هي ما تناهى للبطريركية عن فقدان زمام المبادرة في المعركة التي أطلقها تحت عنوان الحياد والعداء مع السلاح بوجه حزب الله، في ظل تفاعل شعبي لبناني عام مع دور حزب الله في قضية ثروات النفط والغاز، وظهور حجم صحة الرهان على قيادته وسلاحه وتوظيف مقدراته ومعادلاته لخدمة مصلحة لبنانية لا مجال للخلاف حولها، ما يستدعي تجييش الشارع والإعلام والسياسة في قضية لا علاقة لحزب الله بها، لكنها قابلة للتوظيف ضده بالإيحاء والتلميح والتغميز، للقول تذكروا أن حزب الله عدوكم فلا تبالغوا بالتصفيق له، والثانية ما تدركه البطريركية من حاجتها لصناعة مركز تفاوضي قوي في الداخل وفي التعاطي مع الخارج على أبواب انتخابات رئاسة الجمهورية، وما يستدعي ذلك من محاولة حشر حلفاء حزب الله من المسيحيين، وخصوصا المرشحين الطبيعيين منهم في قضية تتم تعبئة الشارع خلالها تحت عنوان يستهدف حزب الله، والهدف إحراج هذه القيادات ومطالبتها بموقف الى جانب الكنيسة، تفادياً للتشهير بها علناً ومحاصرتها في الشارع.
– الحصيلة ظهرت في فشل محاولات تحشيد الأحد في الديمان، بصورة تستعيد حشوداً زادت أضعافاً في قضايا أخرى، رغم توجيه الدعوات للحشود من القوات اللبنانية والكتائب، وما تبقى من جماعة 14 آذار، ولأن حزب الله لا علاقة له أصلاً بكل هذه القضية، وقد تمّ الزجّ باسمه بصورة مفتعلة فيها، فلا هو تفاعل سلباً مع الاتهامات، ولا الناس تفاعلت معها ايجاباً، ولأن أولوية حزب الله لا تزال قضية ثروات النفط والغاز، فهو يتسامح مع كل الاتهامات المباشرة وغير المباشرة التي طالته، افتراء، بما فيها الهتافات المشينة التي صدرت في حشود الديمان، فهل تقتنع البطريركية بالعودة الى ما كان يجب عليها فعله قبل هذه المعركة الخاسرة، طالما أن قضية المطران قابلة للحل على طاولة صغيرة في غرفة مغلقة؟

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Bahrain king dismisses minister for refusal to normalize with “Israel”

 July 23, 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

The President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities was dismissed by the king for refusing to shake hands with the Israeli ambassador to Bahrain.

Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa dismissed Friday the President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, who is also part of the royal family, for refusing to shake hands with the Israeli ambassador to Bahrain and for refusing to Judaize old neighborhoods in Manama, the Bahraini capital. 

Bahraini sources revealed that the king did not wait for Mai to return from her official visit in Albania to dismiss her, but rather did it right away. Replacing Mai, Khalifa bin Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa was appointed. 

On June 16, 2022, US Ambassador Stephen Bundy held a memorial service in his home for his father, to which Sheikha Mai was invited, but not alone – the Israeli ambassador to Bahrain, Eitan Na’eh, also received an invite. 

During the filming of the service, and as they were introduced to shake hands, Sheikha Mai withdrew her hand and refused to shake Na’eh’s hand. She left the ambassador’s house, and requested the embassy not publish any image of her at the event. 

Recently, the former minister refused to Judaize old Manama neighborhoods, such as Bab Al-Bahrain and Al-Mutanabbi Street, including the Jewish Synagogue located on Sasa’ah Avenue. 

Last year on November 30, Mai hosted at the Sheikh Ibrahim Center historian and pro-Palestinian Ilan Pappe, who stresses on the abolition of the “Zionist racist settler colonialism of Palestine,” a blow to normalization with “Israel” in Bahrain. 

Mai had worked in culture and media for over 20 years, and has always been a controversial figure in the kingdom. 


رعد: التعامل مع العدو خيانة وطنية والمتعامل لا يمثّل طائفة

 السبت 23 تموز 2022

النائب رعد: التعامل مع العدو خيانة وطنية وجريمة والمتعامل لا يمثّل طائفة

لبنان الأخبار  سياسة

شدّد رئيس كتلة الوفاء للمقاومة، النائب محمد رعد، على أنّ التعامل مع العدو «خيانة وطنية وجريمة والمتعامل لا يمثّل طائفة»، وسأل: «لكن ما بالنا إذا عوقب مرتكب بالعمالة فيصبح ممثلاً لكلّ الطائفة، وتنهض كل الطائفة من أجل أن تدافع عنه؟ فأيّ ازدواجية في هذا السلوك؟»، واعتبر أنّ «علينا أن نتعلّم من الدروس، وأن نحفظ بلدنا ومواطنينا، لأنه لن يبقى لنا إلاّ شركاؤنا في الوطن»، لافتاً إلى ضرورة «أن يمتلك شركاؤنا مصداقية في سيرتهم ومواقفهم».

وفي مسألة ترسيم الحدود البحرية، رأى رعد أنّها «حلقة من حلقات المشروع التآمري على بلدنا»، معتبراً أنّ «على كلّ العالم الآن أن يجد المخرج المناسب الذي يستجيب لما حدّده الأمين العام».وقال رعد، خلال احتفال تكريمي في بلدة عيتيت الجنوبية، إنّ «أزمتنا التي نعيشها في لبنان على الرغم من صعوبتها وقعت من أجل تحقيق غاية، وهي نزع سلاحنا، وتخلينا وثنينا عن إرادة المقاومة وعن التزام خيار المقاومة»، معتبراً أنّ «الإفقار والتجويع والحصار ومنع دخول الدواء والأدوات الطبية والعجز عن سداد كلفة الاستشفاء وحرمان البلاد من النفط والغاز والمشتقات النفطية ومن المواد الغذائية، هدفه أن ييأس الناس من خيار المقاومة، وأن يعمدوا إلى أميركا، ويرفعوا اليدين استسلامًا لإرادتها».

وأضاف «إنّنا نعرف حجمنا ووزننا السياسي وقدرة تأثيرنا في الداخل، لكننا لسنا أهل تسلّط ولا بغي ولا تنكّر لعقودنا الاجتماعية، فنحن شركاء في هذا الوطن»، ودعا «شركاءنا إلى الامتثال بنا تحقيقًا للأمن والتوازن وللاستقرار في هذا المجتمع»، وإلى «عدم الرهان على الخارج، لأنه إذا بكينا، فإن هذا الخارج لا يعطينا أوراقًا لنمسح دموعنا، بل يسهم في الإيغال باللعب والرقص على جراحنا».

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Iran Will Respond in Kind to Any Measure Against Its National Security

July 18, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

A senior Iranian diplomat said the Islamic Republic will respond in kind to any measure against its national security from any neighboring country, in a veiled reference to the countries that have normalized their relations with the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime.

“Targeting our security from neighboring countries will be met with a response to those countries and a direct response to ‘Israel’,” Kamal Kharrazi, the head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, warned in an interview with Al Jazeera news network published on Sunday.

Tehran has emphasized that it pursues a policy of improving relations with neighboring countries, while at the same time making it clear that the countries, which are normalizing their relations with ‘Israel’ and allowing the occupying regime to establish a foothold in the region, are betraying the Palestinian cause and bringing instability to the region.

Kharrazi, however, said ‘Israel’ is in a phase of weakness and US President Joe Biden’s support for the regime would fail to bring it back to the fore.

Kharrazi said Iran has carried out extensive military drills to demonstrate its capability to hit targets deep inside the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity in the event “Iran’s vital and sensitive facilities are targeted.”

During the interview, Kharrazi, an ex-foreign minister, also said Tehran calls for launching regional talks to be attended by important countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, and other states.

He noted that Qatar has made important proposals on holding dialog among regional countries and that Tehran has expressed its full readiness in this regard.

The sole solution to regional crises, according to the senior diplomat, is the formation of a regional dialog forum in order to find settlements to political and security disputes among regional countries.

Kharrazi also welcomed recent remarks by Saudi officials about extending a hand of friendship to Iran, saying Tehran is ready to enter into dialog with Riyadh in order to restore bilateral relations to normalcy.

he also rejected allegations that Iran has intentions to make nuclear weapons, saying this is while the Islamic Republic possesses the technical capabilities, such as increasing the level of uranium enrichment from 20 percent to 60 percent.

The diplomat dismissed any possibility of talks about “our missile program and our regional policies,” saying any negotiation on the two subjects would mean submission to the enemy.

Regarding the indirect negotiations with the United States to revive the 2015 Iran deal, he said it is difficult to conduct a direct dialog with Washington in light of a thick wall of mistrust due to hostile US policies toward the Islamic Republic.

He added that there are no guarantees that the US would continue to honor the Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], if the deal is restored, and “this prevents any possible agreement.”

Iran and the US concluded two days of indirect talks, mediated by the European Union, in the Qatari capital of Doha late last month in an attempt to break the stalemate in reviving the JCPOA.

At the end of the talks, Iran and the EU, which plays a mediatory role, said they would keep in touch “about the continuation of the route and the next stage of the talks.”

The talks in Doha followed seven rounds of inconclusive negotiations in the Austrian capital of Vienna, as the US insisted on refusing to undo its so-called maximum pressure policy against Tehran.

US military-entertainment complex cleaning up Saudi regime reputation

17 Jul 2022

Source: Politico

By Al Mayadeen English 

Saudi firms are working alongside US corporations, in tandem with Washington, to wash the slate clean.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, greets President Joe Biden, with a fist bump after his arrival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Friday July 15, 2022. (Saudi Press Agency)

The military-entertainment complex is at work, and this time with its most crucial client, Saudi Arabia. The US government and its giant corporation lackeys are working round the clock, along with Riyadh, to clean a reputation tarnished with pariah statuses and human rights abuses to pave the way for future cooperation and normalization – in other words, getting those strategic interests

Partnerships between celebrities and governments are becoming increasingly popular, and it is not very uncommon for private firms to take on projects to link influencers with foreign governments for some good PR. 

Recent times have seen US firms welcome a top-dollar client – Saudi Arabia – that has been attempting to launder a good reputation as it paves the way for normalization with what NATO dubs the “only democracy in the Middle East.” Within this framework and logic, “Israel” and Saudi Arabia both work to whitewash a dirty slate of endless crimes, and they’ll need to keep doing so to work together at this stage. 

“[Mohammed bin Salman] tried to launder his reputation, whitewash it through bringing in celebrities to hold concerts, to sportswash it by buying soccer clubs, and anyway he can sort of try to rehabilitate his reputation and his image,” said Seth Binder, director of advocacy at the Project on Middle East Democracy. “I think to my mind, President Biden’s trip is that sort of final complete rehabilitation.”

An article published in Politico exposed details of a proposal from the largest PR firm in the world, Edelman, which devised a strategy to fix Saudi Arabia’s bloody reputation – the proposal is an exhibition of how far Riyadh is willing to go to crumble its pariah status today.

The campaign, which Edelman proposed to the US Department of Justice, is a five-year-long campaign named “Search Beyond”, which will include productions with international celebrities from within the Kingdom. A former Edelman employee divulged that the celebrities were chosen strategically, and not in a random fashion. 

So the idea comes, according to the article, as follows: What if Riyadh hosted Trevor Noah’s “The Daily Show” from multiple locations in the country for an entire week, knowing that Noah is a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights among other humanitarian issues? Or, what if Priyanka Chopra, a staunch supporter of women’s rights and feminist activism, hops on board the campaign? Other names included famous DJs Steve Aoki and David Guetta, in addition to Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever” actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, and social media influencer Olivia Culpo. Even a partnership with world-class music festivals like Coachella is on the table. 

The cash set to be paid to celebrities, in many instances, is even far more than what they get from acting in a film. The spokespeople for Edelman themselves are being paid about $787,000 over a year of serving their Saudi clients.

This wouldn’t be the first project that Edelman is implementing with or in Saudi Arabia. The PR giant also did PR for NEOM Company – the company developing a utopian city on the Saudi coast, and it has also promoted LinkedIn in Saudi Arabia in a way that markets it as a “platform that amplified the voices of Saudi career women.”

However, “Search Beyond” is one of the most profit-bearing projects among most partnerships at home, according to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings. Edelman broke down the costs of the project into 4 categories: research, planning, and strategy; media relations and strategic partnerships; social media plan development and outreach; and client management and reporting.

Edelman also promised to “monitor online conversations and media coverage to identify ‘friends’ and detractors,” “commence a relationship-building programme of US-based media contacts,” and host “monthly client meetings.”

Ben Freeman, a research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, said using pop culture for their “reputational laundering campaign” is something Riyadh has been trying to do for years, whether it is through sportswashing or through Hollywood connections. 

“I think that this lobbying campaign … is a big part of the reason why Biden was able to do this trip, why this was at all possible. It’s because of places like Edelman and the other folks working for the Saudis.”

Edelman filed paperwork earlier this month with the Department of Justice to conduct public relations for an advertising company based in Saudi Arabia, with the contract costing $208,000. The Saudi company works closely with the Saudi Data Artificial Intelligence Agency.

With all these ideas up in the air and on the table, nevertheless, an MTV Entertainment spokesperson said that neither MTV nor the Daily Show were involved in “Search Beyond” and declined to comment on whether they will be willing to work with Saudi Arabia in the future. 

Hiring PR firms won’t be the first and last attempt, especially when reports arose that yesterday at the Jeddah Summit, questions pertaining to Riyadh’s pariah status and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi were censored in the media

Welcoming the Devil: Saudi Arabia Opens Airspace to “Israel”!

July 15, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

In an apparent gesture to the Zionist entity, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation announced early Friday morning that it had decided to allow “all air carriers that meet the requirements of the authority” to fly in the Kingdom’s airspace.

“Within the framework of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s keenness to fulfill its obligations under the Chicago Convention of 1944, which stipulates non-discrimination between civil aircrafts used in international air navigation, and to complement the efforts aimed at consolidating the Kingdom’s position as a global hub connecting three continents and to enhance international air connectivity, the General Authority of Civil Aviation [GACA] announces the decision to open the Kingdom’s airspace for all air carriers that meet the requirements of the Authority for overflying,” read the Kingdom’s announcement.

The decision, which does not mention “Israel” by name, comes amid US President Joe Biden’s visit to the Zionist entity and less than 24 hours before the US president is set to take off from “Ben-Gurion” Airport to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The so-called US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan issued a statement welcoming the statement on Friday morning, saying “President Biden welcomes and commends the historic decision by the leadership of Saudi Arabia to open Saudi airspace to all civilian carriers without discrimination, a decision that includes flights to and from ‘Israel’.”

“This decision is the result of the president’s persistent and principled diplomacy with Saudi Arabia over many months, culminating in his visit today,” added Sullivan. “This decision paves the way for a more integrated, stable, and secure Middle East region, which is vital for the security and prosperity of the United States and the American people, and for the security and prosperity of ‘Israel’.”

Sullivan added that Biden will have “more to say” on the decision later on Friday as he and his staff depart on their flight directly from the “Israeli” entity to Saudi Arabia.

السيد نصر الله: إذا لم يُسمَح للبنان باستخراج الغاز.. فإنّ الحرب أشرف

تموز 13 2022

المصدر: الميادين.نت

الأمين العام لحزب الله، السيد حسن نصر الله، يتحدّث في خطاب عن آخر التطورات السياسية في لبنان، وعن جملة إنجازات المقاومة في حرب تمّوز.

الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله

وفي خطابٍ متلفز حول آخر التطورات السياسية، أضاف السيد نصر الله أنّ “من جملة إنجازات حرب تموز أيضاً إيجاد قواعد ردع بين لبنان والعدو الإسرائيلي”. 

وشدد السيد نصر الله على أنّه “كان هناك مشروع أميركي للسيطرة على المنطقة، من خلال القوات العسكرية المباشرة، لكنّ صمود المقـاومة ولبنان وفشل أهداف حرب تموز، وجّها ضربةً قاسيةً جداً لمشروع الشرق الأوسط الجديد”. 

وتعليقاً على تهديد وزير الأمن الإسرائيلي، بني غانتس، بالسير إلى بيروت وصيدا وصور، قال السيد نصر الله إنّ “كل الإسرائيليين يدركون أنّ الكلام  حول دخول لبنان فارغ”. 

ونصح غانتس أن “يجري مراجعة لتجربة حرب تموز، في أيامها الأخيرة، حين اتخذوا قراراً بدخول بنت جبيل”، وأضاف متسائلاً: “غزة المحاصرة، والتي تعاني من ظروفٍ صعبة، لا تجرؤ على التقدم خطوات فيها، فكيف تهدد بالوصول إلى صيدا وبيروت؟”. 

وأكّد السيد نصر الله أنّ “على الإسرائيلي، لدى إجراء حساباته للحرب، أن يأخذ بعين الاعتبار البيئة والقدرات والجغرافيا التي كلها مع المقاومة”. 

السيد نصر الله: الولايات المتحدة دخلت مرحلة الشيخوخة

وتابع السيد نصر الله أنّه “يوجد اليوم نسخ جديدة من مشروع الشرق الأوسط الجديد”، مشيراً إلى أنّ “زيارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن إلى الشرق الأوسط تأتي في هذا السياق”. 

ولفت إلى أنّ “أميركا اليوم هي غير أميركا في 2003 و2006″، قائلاً إنّ “رئيسها العجوز هو صورة عن أميركا التي دخلت مرحلة الشيخوخة”. 

وبشأن أهداف زيارة بايدن إلى الشرق الأوسط، أوضح السيد نصر الله أنّ “ما جاء بالرئيس الأميركي إلى المنطقة أمران، أحدهما إقناع دول الخليج بتصدير النفط والغاز، والذي يتقدم موضوع إسرائيل”، مضيفاً أنّ “ليس لدى بايدن ما يقدمه للشعب الفلسطيني على الإطلاق”. 

وأكّد في السياق أنّ “مهمة الأميركيين الأولى والحاسمة في نتائج الحرب الروسية الأوكرانية هي تأمين البديل من الغاز الروسي لأوروبا”، مشيراً  إلى أنّ “أميركا تقــاتل روسيا بالأوكرانيين حكومة وجيشاً وشعباً، وجرّت معها كل الدول الأوروبية”.  

وبيّن السيد نصر الله في خطابه، أنّ الهدف الثاني من زيارة بايدن إلى المنطقة، هو “الالتزام بأمن إسرائيل والتركيز على التطبيع”. 

السيد نصر الله: الفرصة الذهبية في مسألة استخراج الغاز والنفط هي الآن

وحول استخراج النفط والغاز في لبنان، شدد السيد نصر الله على أنّ “الفرصة الذهبية المتاحة في مسألة استخراج الغاز والنفط هي الآن، أي هذان الشهران”، لافتاً إلى أنّه “بعدهما ستكون الكلفة أعلى”. 

وتوجّه إلى المسؤولين اللبنانيين قائلاً: “لا تسمحوا للأميركي بخداعكم وإضاعة الوقت، وإذا لم تثبتوا حقوقكم قبل أيلول/سبتمبر (منصة الغاز في كاريش ستبدأ بالعمل في أيلول/سبتمبر)، فإنّ الأمور ستكون مكلفة بعد هذه المهلة”. 

وأكّد أنّ “المقــاومة هي القوة الوحيدة التي يملكها لبنان للحصول على حقه بالنفط والغاز”، مبيّناً أنّ “استخراج النفط والغاز يؤمن مليارات الدولارات للدولة اللبنانية من دون أي ديون خارجية، وهذا هو طريق الإنقاذ الوحيد للبلد”. 

وقال السيد نصر الله إنّ “الوسيط الأميركي لا نعدّه وسيطاً، بل هو طرف يعمل لمصلحة إسرائيل ويضغط على الجانب اللبناني”، مضيفاً “ما أتى بالوسيط الأميركي آموس هوكستين في زيارته الأخيرة أمران، الحاجة الملحة لتأمين بديل من الغاز الروسي وتهديدات المقاومة الجدية”. 

 وأضاف أنّ لدى “العدو الإسرائيلي نقطة ضعف هي حاجته للغاز والنفط في مقابل نقطة القوة لدى لبنان، والتي تكمن في قدرته على التعطيل”، قائلاً للمسؤولين اللبنانيين إنّ “المقاومة نقطة القوة الوحيدة التي لديكم في مفاوضات ترسيم الحدود فاستفيدوا منها واستغلوها”. 

وتابع: “لم نتفق أو نعد أحداً بأننا لن نقدم على أي خطوة وأننا ننتظر المفاوضات، ومن يعد الأميركيين بذلك فهو يخدعهم”، مؤكداً أنّ من “حق المقاومة الإقدام على أي خطوة في الوقت المناسب والحجم المناسب للضغط على العدو الإسرائيلي”. 

وأردف قائلاً: “نحن خلف الدولة في الترسيم أي إنّها هي التي تفاوض وليس نحن من نفاوض، لكن قلنا إنّنا لن نقف مكتوفي الأيدي”.

السيد نصر الله: حزب الله تقصّد إرسال 3 مسيرات للاستطلاع ولإسقاطها من قبل الإسرائيلي

وعن إطلاق حزب الله 3 مسيّرات غير مسلّحة في اتجاه “المنطقة المتنازع عليها” عند حقل “كاريش” مطلع الشهر الجاري، أوضح السيد نصر الله أنّ “المسيرات جاءت بعد الجواب الأميركي الواضح بالخداع وتقطيع الوقت وتركيب الطرابيش”.

وأشار السيد نصر الله في السياق إلى أنّ حزب الله تقصّد “إرسال 3 مسيرات للاستطلاع ولإسقاطها من قبل الإسرائيلي”، لافتاً إلى أنّه “لأول مرة في تاريخ الكيان الإسرائيلي، تطلق باتجاهه 3 مسيرات في آنٍ واحدٍ، وعلى هدف واحد”. 

كذلك، توجّه السيد نصر الله إلى العدو والصديق قائلاً إنّ “مسألة ترسيم الحدود مصيرية، وهي الطريق الوحيد لإنقاذ لبنان وشعبه، ولا نمارس فيها الحرب النفسية”. 

وأضاف السيد نصر الله: “لنكن كلبنانيين على موقف واحد نُسمعه للإسرائيلي بعيداً عن الأزقة والخلافات”، مؤكداً أنّه “إذا كان الخيار عدم مساعدة لبنان ودفعه باتجاه الانهيار ومنعه من استخراج الغاز، فإنّ التهديد بالحرب، بل والذهاب إليها، أشرف بكثير”. 

وأردف: “أقول للعدو وللأميركي إنّ رسالة المسيرات بداية متواضعة عما يمكن أن نذهب إليه”، موضحاً أنّ “هناك من يريد لهذا الشعب أن يموت جوعاً وأن نقــتل بعضنا على أبواب الأفران ومحطات البنزين”. 

وأعلن السيد نصر الله أنّه “إذا وصلت الأمور إلى نقطة سلبية، فلن نقف فقط في وجه كاريش.. سجلوا هذه المعادلة، سنذهب إلى كاريش وما بعد بعد كاريش”، كاشفاً عن أنّ حزب الله “يتابع كل ما هو موجود على الشواطئ المقابلة ويملك كل الإحداثيات”. 

وأيضاً، توعّد السيد نصر الله بأنّه “إذا مُنع لبنان من استنقاذ نفسه باستخراج غازه ونفطه، فلن يستطيع أحد أن يستخرج أو يبيع غازاً ونفطاً أيّاً كانت العواقب”. 

وختم السيد نصر الله متوجهاً إلى الشعب اللبناني قائلاً: “أيها الشعب اللبناني، لقد وصلنا إلى نهاية الخط، ونحن لا ننتظر إجماعاً.. ولن نتخلى عن الدولة”. 

Biden in Jeddah: mending fences, not building bridges

President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia will likely end in face saving gestures, but no major geopolitical concessions

July 12 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Kristian Alexander and Giorgio Cafiero

Before 2019, never had a US president referred to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a ‘pariah’ on his campaign trail. Joe Biden’s Saudi-bashing as a presidential candidate, plus a host of other delicate issues, have fueled significant friction between the White House and Riyadh.

Today, relations between the US and Saudi Arabia are probably at their worst since the events of September 11, 2001, stymied by a major trust deficit in the relationship between Biden’s White House and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS).

By the same token, the Biden administration views Saudi Arabia as a critical partner in the Persian Gulf and continues to sign massive arms deals with the kingdom.

For all the rhetoric on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose brutal murder MbS is said to have sanctioned, team Biden never imposed state-level sanctions against Saudi Arabia, nor on the crown prince himself.

Meanwhile, the administration praises the role of Riyadh in the Arab world’s trend toward normalization with Israel.

Within this context, Biden’s first presidential trip to West Asia – in which he will go to Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Saudi Arabia this week – will be important to White House efforts to mend fences with Riyadh and salvage this decades-old partnership.

In a US mid-term election year that will likely lead to significant gains for his Republican opposition, Biden seeks to score major foreign policy points in Jeddah that can be used for domestic consumption back in Washington this summer.

Incentivizing Biden to convince the Saudis to increase their oil production are the millions of US motorists struggling with high gas prices and the many average American voters grappling with generational high inflation.

Energy prices are therefore extremely important to Biden’s controversial trip to the kingdom. Yet, this month’s summit in Saudi Arabia is unlikely to give Americans much relief at the gas pump between now and the elections in November.

Shifting the narrative from oil to peace

Determined to ensure that the US public does not tie this tour’s success specifically to a Saudi oil production hike – which could easily result in the Biden administration’s humiliation – the White House message is that this visit to Jeddah largely concerns peace in the region.

As Biden wrote in the Washington Post, avoiding a future in which the region is “coming apart through conflict” is of “paramount importance” to the White House, and he will “pursue diplomacy intensely – including through face-to-face meetings – to achieve our goals.”

According to Biden, if the region comes together through “diplomacy and cooperation” there is a lower chance of “violent extremism” threatening US national security or “new wars that could place new burdens on US military forces and their families.”

This trip comes at a time in which there is a fragile truce in Yemen, where the Saudis and Emiratis have waged a devastating seven-year war. Although the conflict remains unresolved, the drastic reduction in violence and increased humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country have given millions of Yemenis desperately needed relief.

The truce in Yemen has been possible in part because of Saudi and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member support, which makes it easier for Biden to justify his visit to Jeddah. After all, it was the Khashoggi affair and the conflict in Yemen that ‘Biden-the-candidate’ cited as reasons for his ‘pariah’ treatment of Riyadh.

Thus, moving toward a settlement to this conflict, in which the last two US presidents were heavily involved in escalating, helps Biden save face as he makes this trip. If the president leaves the kingdom with some guarantees from the Saudis about their commitment to future truce extensions, that could be interpreted as a win for Biden.

“The US administration is beginning to realize that President Biden can’t just ignore Saudi Arabia and that it’s in the best interest of the two countries to start working together, not just to reduce oil prices and pressure on US consumers, but also to further the stability of the Middle East and contain [the Iranian] threat whether in Lebanon or Yemen,” Najah Al-Otaibi, an associate fellow at the Riyadh-based King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, said in an interview with The Cradle.

Expanding on her point, Al-Otaibi said that “Saudi Arabia has recently agreed to extend the United Nations-mediated ceasefire with Yemen, and Prince Mohammed [bin Salman] played a critical role in this move, according to Biden’s officials who thought it is a step forward to solving the conflict.”

Last month, Biden clarified that, for him, bolstering Israel’s security was a major motivation for the trip to Saudi Arabia. Despite some speculation among pundits that Saudi Arabia will soon join the Abraham Accords, this is highly doubtful, especially with King Salman still on the throne. However, with MbS “the reformer” as future king, normalization between “the Land of the Two Holy Mosques” and Israel is all the more likely.

Insecurity and an ‘Arab NATO’

Even if Riyadh remains outside the Abraham Accords, there is much that Saudi Arabia can do to make it easier for other Arab-Muslim countries to normalize with Tel Aviv, and for the kingdom’s allies, already signatories to the Abraham Accords, to build on their overt relations with the Israelis.

While in Jeddah, Biden will likely push the Saudis to take some more baby steps toward a de facto normalization with Israel, even if it remains unofficial. One way for the kingdom to do so would be by granting permission for Israeli planes to transit Saudi airspace on their way to the UAE, Bahrain, and other countries.

Other avenues could include bolstering involvement by Israeli technology firms in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, Saudi–Israeli military cooperation, and more visits by high-ranking Israeli officials to the kingdom that could build on former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s November 2020 visit to Neom.

Shoring up US–Arab partnerships in preparation for the increasingly likely scenario that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks with Iran will collapse in acrimony is a high priority for Biden.

Against the backdrop of Iran’s nuclear advancements as negotiations further stall, Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states attending the GCC+3 summit are preparing for a post-JCPOA future in which friction between the US and Israel, on one side, and the Islamic Republic, on the other, appears set to intensify in the coming weeks and months.

“I think Iran, not oil, is the main issue as Iran moves closer and closer to having all the parts it needs to put together a nuclear bomb,” David Ottaway, a Middle East fellow at the Wilson Center, told The Cradle. “Only a revival of the Iranian nuclear deal can stop that trend, and nobody is optimistic about that happening now.”

Although Riyadh and Tehran have been in direct talks via Baghdad since April 2021, the Saudi leadership wants assurances from team Biden that Washington remains committed to the kingdom’s security regardless of the fate of the 2015 nuclear accord, and that the US will work with its Arab allies to counter Iran in regional hotspots, such as Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Yet, mindful of the little trust Saudi officials have in the Biden administration, it is difficult to imagine the US president gaining enough confidence from Riyadh during this upcoming trip vis-à-vis Iran-related issues. As Ottaway told The Cradle:

“I suspect [Biden] will declare another US commitment to defending the kingdom from its foreign enemies, but after Trump’s failure to take any action after Iranian attacks on Saudi oil facilities in 2019, he needs to say or do something to back up [what are] just words.”

In recent weeks, there has been much discussion about an Arab NATO that includes Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other US-friendly Arab states. Biden will seek to advance this initiative as the west and its allies and partners in West Asia remain worried about Iran’s regional foreign policy agenda.

“[Biden] wishes to reaffirm the historical strength and enduring reciprocity of the alliance, but also to press Riyadh on cooperating more on the energy side – particularly as the US moves as well to create a region-wide defense platform, the so-called Middle East NATO,” Sean Yom, an associate professor at Temple University, pointed out in an interview with The Cradle.

“There is, however, one sticking point that will probably cause a difference: the Saudis continue to desire a strong US presence in the Gulf, one that can police Iran and intervene in a potential militarized conflict, whereas Biden clearly is continuing his predecessors’ anti-interventionist stance,” added Yom.

Nonetheless, many experts have doubts about an Arab NATO ever manifesting into a real alliance, and expect the initiative to remain merely conceptual. This assessment accounts for the opposition of some Arab states to an open military coordination with Israel, as some GCC states, like the Sultanate of Oman, do not want to join an alliance aimed at weakening or intimidating Tehran.

There are also logistical hurdles which would make it difficult for these state militaries to integrate in a NATO-like manner.

“Biden’s plan for a US-backed ‘Arab NATO’ of GCC states plus Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan seems as unlikely to succeed as Trump’s Middle East Strategic Alliance, which never got off the ground,” Ottaway says.

Virtue-signalling human rights

Although Biden’s administration has determined that the moral costs of this presidential trip do not outweigh the perceived benefits, the Khashoggi affair remains a delicate issue – though significantly less so now than in the immediate aftermath of the grisly murder in October 2018.

MbS wants the US government to drop the Khashoggi issue, but elements within Biden’s party maintain that any interaction between him and the crown prince would be “profoundly disturbing.” To placate more progressive politicians, high-profile media pundits, and human rights activists who criticize Biden for “legitimizing” MbS on this trip, the president will seek some human rights concessions, like those which his administration secured at the start of his presidency.

If Biden is successful on this front, he could return to the US claiming that his visit to the kingdom helped advance, rather than hinder, the cause of human rights. Such an achievement would help Biden save face and tell his base that he did not abandon certain principles or so-called ‘American values’ by meeting MbS in the Saudi kingdom.

“His campaign trail rhetoric, like all political campaign rhetoric, was never going to bear much resemblance to executive policy and official diplomacy,” cautioned Yom. “But I do think Biden will exit the meetings by claiming that he squarely put human rights concerns, and potentially even democratic awareness, onto the agenda for Riyadh.”

Yet, whether the Saudi leadership feels it is under sufficient pressure to release any political prisoners, or provide liberties to some recently released Saudis who are banned from traveling, remains to be seen.

From the perspective of the Saudi government, the US and other western governments are inappropriately virtue signaling when raising human rights concerns in the kingdom. The view from Riyadh is that these issues are internal issues that do not concern Washington or European capitals.

Saudi and other Arab officials will often point to US sins in Iraq or police brutality against African-Americans to highlight elements of hypocrisy on the part of US politicians lecturing the Saudi government on the human rights front.

MbS reportedly “shouting” at US national security adviser Jake Sullivan after the high-ranking official brought up the Khashoggi case underscores the effect of these discussions on the leaders of Saudi Arabia.

The grander geopolitical picture 

Biden will visit Saudi Arabia amid a period of increasing east–west bifurcation and intensifying great power competition. Although neither China nor Russia is on the verge of replacing the US as security guarantor of Saudi Arabia or any GCC states, US influence in the Gulf has declined with Beijing and Moscow gaining greater clout at Washington’s expense.

Biden’s trip to Jeddah aims to reassert US influence in the Persian Gulf and attempt to prevent Riyadh and other Arab capitals from moving closer to the Chinese and Russians. An objective of Biden’s is to bring GCC states back into the geopolitical orbit of the west, while slowing down the growth of their partnerships with Beijing and Moscow.

“There were undeniable hiccups in the relationship last year, relating to halting support to the Yemen war, aggressive rhetoric against MbS, and more scrutiny on arms sales,” Yom explained.

“Fundamentally, none of these factors perturbed the great structural core of the US–Saudi alliance, built upon mutual perceptions of energy security, sovereign protections, and regional hegemony. But those hiccups were enough to make the decision-making circles in Riyadh a bit uncomfortable, enough at least to entertain Russian and Chinese overtures for military and energy cooperation.”

The White House and the entire US foreign policy establishment have grave concerns about Sino–Saudi ballistic missile cooperation and the extent to which the Chinese and Emiratis are making their defense and security relations more robust.

It is safe to say that while in Jeddah, team Biden will make it clear that the US will withhold future military assistance if GCC states move militarily closer to China. The extent to which such pressure has any impact on Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s relationships with Beijing remains an open question.

Nonetheless, team Biden must understand that this visit will occur against the backdrop of serious tensions between the US and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has grown frustrated with many aspects of Washington’s agenda in the Biden era.

The Saudi government’s view is that Biden is an ’Obama 2.0’ – a perspective that is not unreasonable when mindful of how many Obama administration veterans, including Biden himself, are serving in the White House.

By moving closer to China and Russia, the Saudis are sending a message, loud and clear, to Washington that Riyadh has other options on the international stage as the world moves towards multipolarity with more Arab statesmen perceiving the US as a power that is withdrawing from West Asia.

Riyadh can exaggerate the extent to which the kingdom has grown closer to Beijing and Moscow to gain leverage over the US and secure more concessions from Washington. That is likely to continue, and Biden would be making a mistake in placating the Saudis in every instance to merely try to stop Riyadh from tilting closer to China and Russia.

Simultaneously, Saudi Arabia is showing itself to be increasingly confident and Biden’s visit to the kingdom will add to Riyadh’s sense of being emboldened, giving the Saudi leadership more reason to pursue its own interests in ways that sometimes align more closely with Beijing and Moscow’s foreign policy objectives than those of western powers.

Despite these geopolitical tensions, the Biden administration and Al-Saud rulers both value Washington and Riyadh’s decades-old partnership, and neither side wants to abandon it. Much anger and a significant trust deficit, however, have built up between these two countries.

Biden will not be leaving Saudi Arabia later this month with all these issues resolved. But the dialogue in Jeddah has the potential to begin a process of mending fences.

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

بايدن في إسرائيل: توسيع التطبيع مهمّة أولى

 الأربعاء 13 تموز 2022

هناك تقديرات في إسرائيل بأنّ زيارة بايدن محدودة الأهداف والنتائج (أ ف ب)

يحيى دبوق

على رغم أن الرئيس الأميركي، جو بايدن، سيحلّ، اليوم، ضيفاً على إسرائيل، إلّا أن زيارة الكيان العبري لا تمثّل محطّة رئيسة ضمن جولته المختصرة التي تنتهي في السعودية، حيث غاية الزيارة ومقصدها. مع هذا، يجهّز المسؤولون الإسرائيليون سلّة مطالب يتوقّعون من الضيف الأميركي أن يلبّيها، وفي مقدّمها الإسهام في توسيع اتفاقات التطبيع لتشمل المملكة، والدفع نحو حلف عربي – إسرائيلي لمواجهة تهديدات إيران وحلفائها، وإنْ بدأ على شكل منظومات رادارية إنذارية مشتركة لكشف الصواريخ والمسيّرات «المعادية»، إلى جانب عطاءات مالية وتكنولوجية لن تبخل واشنطن في تعزيزها. وفي ظلّ محدودية التوقّعات، فإن أهمّ ما في الزيارة، من جهة تل أبيب، هو أنها تمثّل فرصة ممتازة لمعاينة وفحص حدود القوّة الأميركية في عالمٍ بات سريع التحوُّل

يصل الرئيس الأميركي، جو بايدن، إلى تل أبيب، اليوم، في زيارة مجاملة للحليف الإسرائيلي، قبل أن يتّوجه إلى السعودية، حيث ينتظره زعماء دول عربية، هم هدف الزيارة ومقصدها. وسيسعى بايدن إلى تجنيد هذه الدول ما أمكن، لمؤازرة الولايات المتحدة والغرب عموماً، في المواجهة العسكرية – الاقتصادية القائمة مع روسيا في أوكرانيا. ومن المقرَّر أن تتضمّن الزيارة إلى إسرائيل، لقاءات بروتوكولية يتخلّلها إطلاق مواقف أميركية تعبّر عن تأييد كامل وشامل لتل أبيب والتزام مطلَق بأمنها وتفوّقها العسكري، وتشديد على الوقوف إلى جانبها في مواجهة التهديدات المُحدقة بها، وفي مقدّمها تلك الإيرانية. من جهته، سيركّز الجانب الإسرائيلي على إثارة مكامن قلقه – وإن بصورةٍ غير مباشرة – من إمكانية تبديل التموضع الأميركي في المنطقة، وتراجع انشغال واشنطن فيها لمصلحة ساحات أخرى. أمّا تهديد إيران وحلفائها، فسيكون محور المقاربة الإسرائيلية للزيارة.

ما هي توقّعات تل أبيب؟
هناك تقديرات في إسرائيل بأنّ زيارة بايدن محدودة الأهداف والنتائج، وهي تُعّد في الأساس خطوة أولى تمهيدية تكتنفها المجاملات والودّ، قبل زيارة جدة، حيث المقصد الرئيس لزيارة المنطقة. مع ذلك، فإن محطّة بايدن في تل أبيب، تشكّل فرصة لهذه الأخيرة لتحصيل ما أمكن من الإدارة:

تريد تل أبيب حلفاً عربياً – إسرائيلياً لمواجهة تهديدات إيران وحلفائها

– كما تطالب بدفع تسوية ما تلحظ مصالحها، في ما يتعلّق بترسيم الحدود البحرية مع لبنان، ليس فقط في إنهاء الترسيم وحفظ المصالح البحرية الغازية والنفطية المباشرة، بل في أن تكون تسوية كهذه توطئة لأخرى أكبر، تصل، في نهاية المطاف، إلى التطبيع مع لبنان، علماً أن المطالب الإسرائيلية – قبل التسوية البحرية وبعدها – ستكون مركّزة على إشراك الإدارة الأميركية أكثر في الجهود والمساعي الاستخبارية والأمنية لمواجهة سلاح «حزب الله»، الذي باتت القدرة الذاتية على لجمه وصدّه ومنع تناميه، متواضعة ومتعذّرة من ناحية إسرائيل، فيما الضغط على لبنان و«حزب الله» بواسطة الأزمة الاقتصادية، هي في الأساس استراتيجية تتبنّاها الإدارة وتسعى إلى تعزيزها، مع أو من دون دفع إسرائيل وتحفيزها.

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Netanyahu highly values MBS role in signing ‘Abraham Accords’

11 Jul 2022

Source: Israeli media

By Al Mayadeen English 

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

Former Israeli occupation PM Benjamin Netanyahu (Archive)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mossad plane lands in Riyadh ahead of Biden’s visit

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

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

Netanyahu visited Saudi Arabia

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

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

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

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

 A “road map for normalization”

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

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

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

July 9, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8 July 2022 

By Sean Mathews

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

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

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

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

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

– R Clarke Cooper, former US official

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Exploring greater security coordination’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Working relationship’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Navigating the grey zone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Algeria: 60 years of endless support for the Palestinian cause

July 5, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net + Agencies

By Ahmad Karakira 

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

Algeria’s unconditional support for the Palestinian cause

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Algeria’s participation in the 1973 October War

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharon underestimated the power of Algerian forces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saudi Arabia to Grant the Zionist Enemy Ultimate Freedom of Navigation

July 1, 2022

By Staff

The United States, “Israel”, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are reportedly close to clinching a deal over two strategic islands in the Red Sea, Tiran and Sanafir. That’s according to Barak Ravid, a political affairs commentator for “Israel’s” Walla! website.

Ravid quotes three senior “Israeli” officials who claim that the parties are inching towards finalizing a set of agreements, understandings, and guarantees ahead of an upcoming visit to the region by US President Joe Biden.

Ravid argues that the deal “will constitute an important achievement for the Biden administration in the Middle East.” He also thinks that it may pave the way for a gradual process of normalization between Saudi Arabia and “Israel.”

Ravid points out the obvious: “Israel” and the Saudis don’t have official diplomatic relations, and therefore, cannot directly sign a formal agreement regarding the two islands.

As such, the participating sides are trying to come up with creative legal and diplomatic solutions to close the agreement through indirect contacts. Ravid adds that in recent months, the Biden administration mediated quiet negotiations between Saudi Arabia, “Israel” and Egypt over a deal that would complete the transfer of the two islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.

According to Ravid, the question was raised at the heart of the negotiations about how to respond to Saudi Arabia’s request to remove international observers from the two islands while at the same time maintaining the security arrangements and political guarantees requested by “Israel.”

For their part, the “Israelis” wants to ensure that Egyptian guarantees in the context of the so-called “peace” agreement bind the Saudis as well, especially with regard to an agreement allowing “Israeli” ships to freely sail through the Strait of Tiran to and from the port of Eilat.

Two senior “Israeli” officials told Walla! that Saudi Arabia agreed to take upon itself all Egyptian guarantees, including the obligation to preserve freedom of navigation.

“Israeli” officials said that the outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the new Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and War Minister Benny Gantz were briefed in recent days about the details of the plan to complete the agreement and agreed on its principles.

According to the plan, Saudi Arabia will sign an agreement with Egypt regarding the two islands, and in return, it will send a memorandum to the United States detailing its commitment to freedom of navigation and security arrangements.

The Biden administration will then transfer to “Israel” a memorandum detailing the Saudi commitment to freedom of navigation and will provide American guarantees to monitor the level of compliance.

An “Israeli” official said that Gantz and relevant parties within the security establishment believe that the plan preserves “Israel’s” security interests in the Red Sea and support the move.

“Parallel to finalizing the agreement on the two islands, it is expected that Saudi Arabia will announce that it will allow planes belonging to “Israeli” shipping companies to use Saudi airspace on their way to the east, especially to India and China,” the source adds.

But Ravid clarifies that while the negotiating parties are close to inking a deal, the plan has not been finalized and the agreement and guarantees are still being worked out.

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

June 28, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reports: Jordan to Buy Water from Israel

June 23, 2022

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the US embassy in Amman, shouting slogans against normalization. (Photo: via Twitter)

Jordan is to buy water from Israel in a bid to ease shortages in the country, the Middle East Monitor reported on Thursday, citing Jordan media.

Jordanian Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammed Al-Najjar explained the government will not expropriate land on which illegal wells have been sunk.

“Many wells are located in remote areas,” Al-Najjar was quoted as saying by the Jordan News. “If they had been close to the water networks, though, we would have taken possession of them.”

Al-Najjar also noted that the water in many of those wells does not conform to the official minimum specifications. “There is no water source that we can exploit unless we have obtained permission from the Ministry of Health.”

Last November, hundreds of people gathered in Amman to protest a water-for-energy agreement between Jordan and Israel.

Protesters rejected the agreement, saying it moved towards normalizing ties with Israel while it continues to occupy Palestine.

(The Palestine Chronicle, MEMO, Social Media)

خريطة طريق لمناقشة سلاح حزب الله

السبت 4 حزيران 2022

 ناصر قنديل

قبل الدخول في الموضوع بلغة الحوار، لا بدّ من تثبيت مقدمات وثوابت، أولها أن من لا يريد الحوار ويقول إنه ماض في معركته لنزع سلاح المقاومة عليه ألا يغضب إذا قيل له من أهل المقاومة سننزع عيون مَن يريد نزع السلاح، وثانيها أن حمل السلاح رداً على احتلال او عدوان تهرّبت السلطة من مواجهتهما، أجازته الشرعة العالمية لحقوق الإنسان وميثاق الأمم المتحدة. وحمل السلاح هنا لا يحتاج الى إجماع، إنما نزع هذا السلاح هو ما يحتاج الى إجماع أعلى مرتبة من قرار أية مؤسسة دستورية في الدولة، كما الدفاع عن وحدة الوطن بوجه خطر مشروع لتقسيمه لا يحتاج الى إجماع، بل إن التقسيم هو الذي يحتاج إلى الإجماع، والمناداة بلبنانية مزارع شبعا والدعوة لتحريرها، لا تحتاجان الى إجماع، بل التخلي عنها هو ما يحتاج إلى الإجماع، وملاحقة المطبعين مع الاحتلال والمتعاملين معه لا تحتاج الى إجماع، بل إن التطبيع هو الذي يحتاج إلى الإجماع.

قبل الدخول أيضاً في الموضوع بلغة الحوار، لا بد من تثبيت ركائز له، أولها أن نقطة الانطلاق في الحوار وهدف الحوار، ليس البحث في كيفية نزع سلاح المقاومة، بل كيفية توفير الحماية المثالية للبنان من خطر العدوان الإسرائيلي، والأطماع الإسرائيلية بثروات لبنان ومزاياه الاستراتيجية، وهذا يعني ثانياً أن الحوار يجري بين مؤمنين بأن لبنان يواجه تحدياً اسمه الخطر الإسرائيلي، ويبحث عن سبل المواجهة المثالية لهذا الخطر، على قاعدة أن الدولة التي كانت غائبة عن مسؤولياتها في ما مضى ما استدعى ظهور المقاومة وتجذر حضورها، مستعدة اليوم لتحمل مسؤولياتها، في حماية بلدها، على قاعدة اليقين بأن تخلي الدولة عن هذه المسؤولية تحت شعار الرهان على الموقفين الدولي والعربي يجب أن يكون كافياً كي لا يقول أحد، أن مثل هذا الرهان يحل مكان بناء أسباب القوة، حيث لا قيمة للدبلوماسية إلا إذا وجدت هذه القوة التي تحمي وتدافع وتحرّر.

هذه الحال تشبه حال الأب الذي تخلى عن ابنه طفلاً وجاء إليه بعد أن أصبح رجلاً ناجحاً ذا حضور مرموق يطلب منه أن يسامحه ويسمح له لعب دور الأب. وهذا شرطه أن يجري النقاش بلغة وطنية يعترف فيها الذين غابوا عن المقاومة، سواء من تهرّبوا من الواجب الوطني أو من خانوا هذا الواجب ومدّوا أيديهم للعدو، بأنهم يطلبون التسامح من الذين ضحّوا بكل ما لديهم حتى حققوا السيادة الحقيقيّة لبلدهم وحرّروا أرضه وصانوا كرامته. والبدء من هنا للسؤال كيف نكمل معاً مسيرة الحماية، وكيف تكون الدولة شريكاً يعوّض الغياب المديد عن ساحة المسؤولية، مع الاعتراف والتقدير بما قام به الجيش وما قدّمه من تضحيات، وحاله كحال شعبه، يواجه منفرداً باللحم العاري، بغياب أية رعاية تقدمها الدولة ومؤسساتها ليكون جيشاً على مستوى الجيوش القوية القادرة على خلق التوازن بوجه جيش هائل المقدرات هو جيش الاحتلال.

هكذا أصبحت البداية بسيطة، فالذين يريدون نقاش مستقبل سلاح المقاومة من موقع وطني، يريد حماية لبنان، سيبدأون بالقول نحتاج إلى فترة انتقالية تبقى فيها المعادلة القائمة على حالها، تمتدّ من ثلاث إلى خمس سنوات، ربما نصرف خلالها حضور فائض قوة المقاومة لضمان وحماية ثروات النفط والغاز بتفويض وطنيّ، وتتجه خلالها كل الجهود والقدرات لبناء الدولة القوية القادرة. وهذا يعني بناء دبلوماسية تسليح للجيش بأسلحة نوعيّة تضم شبكات متطوّرة للدفاع الجوي وقدرات نارية متعددة جواً وبحراً وبراً قادرة على إقامة توازن ردع بوجه القوة النارية لجيش الاحتلال، وسنتفق على رصد المال اللازم لذلك، واستدراج الدعم الخارجي من الدول الغربية والعربية التي يغيظها سلاح المقاومة، ونبحث عن مصادر السلاح والدول التي تقبل تزويدنا بالأسلحة النوعيّة، ونميز علاقتنا بها على حساب مَن يرفض، حتى لو كان من يقبل في النهاية هو إيران ومن يرفض هو أميركا، وبالتوازي وكي لا نتوهمّ بأن الجيش وحده يكفي فلا بد من بناء الشعب المقاوم الى جانب الدولة القوية القادرة، ولذلك نسارع بإقرار قانون الخدمة الإلزاميّة لثلاث سنوات على الأقل، يخضع خلالها كل القادرين على حمل السلاح، بين 18 و60 عاماً، للتدريب والتنظيم ضمن وحدات للحماية الشعبيّة تعرف أدوارها ومواقعها وسلاحها عند أي عدوان، وسنوياً ضمّ الذين بلغوا الـ 18 من الذكور والإناث الى الخدمة الإلزاميّة، وإقرار بناء الملاجئ المحصنة وانشاء جبهة داخلية تعنى بمقومات الصمود خلال فترات الحرب، كما يفعل عدوّنا.

إن معيار جدية الذين يتحدثون عن أنهم يرون “إسرائيل” عدواً، ويقولون لا نقبل أن يزايد علينا احد في العداء لـ”إسرائيل”، وانه عندما تعتدي “إسرائيل” سنكون كلنا مقاومة، هو الذهاب لإقرار مثل هذه الخطة من أعلى مستويات القرار التشريعي والتنفيذي في الدولة، ومؤيّدو المقاومة يشاركون معهم، ويتحقق إجماع على استراتيجية للدفاع الوطني، تتيح بعد خمس سنوات أن نجلس ولدينا جيش قادر قويّ وشعب منظم مقاوم، لنبحث مرتبة جديدة من العلاقة بين الجيش والمقاومة، تكون فيها الكلمة العليا للجيش بصفته المسؤول الأول عن حماية البلد، وصولاً لمرحلة بعد خمس سنوات لاحقة قد لا نحتاج فيها لبقاء تشكيل منفصل للمقاومة خارج الجيش وتشكيلات الشعب المنظم. فهل من يرفع يده ويقول هيا بنا، ولنتذكر أننا منذ عشرين سنة نسمع الحديث عن نزع سلاح المقاومة من مواقع العداء، وبلا جدوى، وهذه خطة عشر سنوات من موقع الشراكة في مواجهة العدو، فهل تقبلون؟

عدم التجاوب يعني أن ما نسمعه في الداخل تحت عنوان “التيار السيادي الرافض للسلاح” هو مجرد صدى لصوت العدو، الذي يغيظه سلاح المقاومة، ويريد طابوراً خامساً في الداخل ينال من المقاومة أو يحاول، وعندها من حق الناس أن تقول، هذه المقاومة وسلاحها هي فلذات أكبادنا الذين سقطوا شهداء، ومن يريد نزع السلاح سننزع روحه وعيونه!

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