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ديسمبر 7, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

يروّج آلاف من المحللين السياسيين ومنتحلي صفة مثقفين على شاشات التلفزة الإقليمية لمقولة تزعم ان التدخل الأميركي في الشرق الأوسط، يوفر للعرب حماية من التدخلات الخارجية وينقذهم من خطر الاحتلال.

ويقذفون بثلاثة انواع من المخاطر التي يجابها الأميركيون في العالم العربي كما يقولون وهي المطامع الإيرانية، والإرهاب، وروسيا.

لجهة الخطر الإيراني، يمكن الجزم بالاستدلال العلمي التاريخي ان إيران لم تعتدِ على بلد عربي منذ الفتوحات الاسلامية قبل الف عام تقريباً، وفي حين ان اتهام تحالفاتها في العالم العربي بأنها من الحرس الثوري الإيراني، فأمرٌ مثير للسخرية، لأن انصار الله في اليمن هم جزء من “الزيود” الذين يحكمون اليمن منذ تسعة قرون على الأقل.

لقد مر عشرات المستعمرين على اليمن في مراحل تاريخية مختلفة، وتلقوا جميعاً هزائم شديدة، أسألوا الأتراك والانجليز والسعوديين، وحتى المصريين في مرحلة عبد الناصر، أما قبل الإسلام فألحقوا هزائم بالرومان والفرس والصليبيين والإغريق فقط.

لجهة الحشد الشعبي العراقي فهو عراقي تاريخي ينتمي لكتلة بشرية تنتمي الى ارض السواد منذ آلاف السنين أي قبل دخول الإسلام اليه، وتحالفه مع إيران أدى الى دحر إرهاب كبير مدعوم من الأتراك والأميركيين والخليج.

هذا يؤكد أن تحالف إيران مع الحشد الشعبي كان عاملاً أساسياً في تحرير العراق من الإرهاب ومنع تقسيمه حسب مشروع أميركي – خليجي علني وليس إيرانياً.

كذلك فإن الدور الإيراني في سورية انما جاء بعد تدخل إرهابي كوني من حدود تركيا وبرعاية من مخابراتها وتمويل سعودي – إماراتي قطري تلبية لمطالب أميركية.

هذا الدور دعم الجيش السوري ببضع مئات من المستشارين وأسلحة كثيرة ومساعدات أخرى مادية، حتى تمكن من تحرير 65 في المئة من سورية بإسناد روسي وآخر من حزب الله.

حتى الآن لا أحد يعرف كيف أسهم التدخل الأميركي في إنقاذ المنطقة، بل على العكس لانه كشف التواطؤ الأميركي بدعم الإرهاب لتفتيت المنطقة.

ماذا عن لبنان؟ هناك حزب الله المتهم بإيرانيته على مستوى السياسة، باعتبار انه لبناني أصلي من جبل عامل.

تكفي هنا الاشارة الى ان الدعم الإيراني لحزب الله أدى الى تحرير جنوب لبنان من “إسرائيل” في العام 2000 ونجاحه في منع اجتياحها له في العام 2006، ومشاركته في القضاء على الإرهاب الدولي في سورية وجرود بلدة عرسال اللبنانية.

لذلك فالسؤال هنا، هو ما هي التدخلات الأجنبية التي أنقذ الأميركيون العرب منها، ففلسطين المحتلة هي بإيدي أصدقائهم اليهود المدعومين منهم، ومدينة القدس المقدسة باعها الأميركيون للإسرائيليين مصدرين قراراً بإلغاء وكالة الاونروا ومانحين شرعية للمستوطنات الاسرائيلية في الضفة الغربية ومقدمين لـ”إسرائيل” الجولان السوري المحتل ومزارع شبعا اللبنانية المحتلة.

لذلك يسأل البعض عن هوية الذي يسطو على النفط في شرقي الفرات؟ ألم يعترف الرئيس الأميركي ترامب انه وضع يده عليه عازماً على استثماره لمصلحة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية.

أما فمن يحتل العراق مقيماً فيه عشرات القواعد العسكرية فهي أميركية ايضاً.

فكيف يمكن اذاً اعتبار إيران خطراً يهدّد العالم العربي، وهي التي لا تحتل متراً واحداً من أراضيه، فيما يسيطر الأميركيون بالاحتلال على أراض سورية وعراقية وليبية ولديهم قواعد في البحرين والإمارات وعمان والكويت والسعودية والإمارات مع حق التزوّد بالوقود والسلع في المغرب ومصر والاردن.

وهل ننسى تركيا التي تحتل بدورها عشرات آلاف الكيلومترات في شرقي الفرات والشمال الغربي السوري حتى ادلب واراضي في العراق ولديها قواعد عسكرية في قطر وليبيا.

بالمقابل لا تحتل إيران متراً واحداً من المناطق العربية المجاورة.

يكشف هذا العرض عن مدى الانحطاط في ثقافة الدفاع عند قسم من المحللين العرب ومنتحلي صفة مثقفين.

على مستوى الإرهاب فالدور التركي – الخليجي الأميركي في دعمه عند انطلاقته غير مخفي تماماً كمستوى الوضوح في ان الذين هزموه في ميادين سورية والعراق هم الجيشان السوري والعراقي وحزب الله والحشد الشعبي، وروسيا التي شنت عليه مئة وعشرين الف غارة وإيران التي شاركت في القضاء عليه.

الا تبين هذه المعطيات ان الأميركيين يشكلون وبالاً على العالم العربي وقوة احتلال لأراضيه؟ وتظهر في آن معاً ان إيران ليست قوة احتلال، بل أمنت دعماً لقوى عربية متحالفة معها يجمعها بها العداء لنفوذ أميركي يلتهم ثروات المنطقة منذ 1945 ويحتل أراضيها ويسيطر على سلطاتها السياسية.

لذلك يمكن الاعتراف بأن الأميركيين يدعمون الأنظمة العربية لتقويتها في قمع شعوبها وتسهيل مسألة السطو الغربي على ثرواتها.

ماذا عن روسيا؟ هل تشكل خطراً على العرب ويعمل الأميركيون على مجابهته؟

المعروف أن روسيا لم يسبق لها ان احتلت ارضاً عربية في التاريخ ولم تكن قوة استعمارية كحالة الغرب.

اما وجودها العسكري في سورية، فهو يحوز على الشرعية القانونية من الأمم المتحدة التي تعترف بحق اي دولة الاستعانة بقوات من دولة أخرى، وهذا ما فعلته سورية بطلبها التدخل الروسي في مكافحة الإرهاب على أراضيها.

إن هؤلاء المثقفين والإعلاميين المستعربين يتوجون إيران عدواً للعرب، فيما يحتل الأتراك والأميركيون والاسرائيليون أراضي عربية بحجم دول كبيرة ويزعمون محاربة الإرهاب وهو المتحدّر من “القاعدة” الوهابية السعودية او الإخوانية التركية، ويرحلون نحو اتهام الروس في وقت تتمتع دول الخليج ومصر ومعظم الدول العربية بعلاقات جيدة مع موسكو.بذلك ينكشف تواطؤ مثقفين وإعلاميين عرب مع الأميركيين والأتراك لإبقاء العالم العربي في خدمة المستعمرين بشعارات كاذبة وزائفة.

The Story of Daher Al-Umar Undermines Israel’s Own Origin Story

Daher Al-Umar Feature photo

Akka, Haifa, Tabaria, are all cities with a rich Arab history which Daher made into thriving towns, and yet little memory of him existents thanks to enormous efforts put forward by the state of Israel to control the historical narrative.

December 02nd, 2019

The history of Palestine, even its very recent history, has been all but forgotten. It was pushed out by a new version of history, a narrative that is based on faith and has very little to do with history. One striking example is that of the 18th-century Palestinian leader and unifier, Daher Al-Umar. For most people, neither the man or the period in which he ruled Palestine is known.

Here is what Palestinian author Ibrahim Nasrallah writes about Daher Al-Umar:

This matchless character has long been worthy of the attention of novelists and film and television producers, who could have made him a luminous part of our popular consciousness and the ongoing struggle of the people who populated and gave life to the land of Palestine.”

 

Time to Remember

In his forward to The Lanterns of the King of Galilee, a historical novel based on the life of Daher Al-Umar published in 2011 in Arabic, and in English in 2014, Nasrallah writes, “What saddens me now is that I didn’t come to know this great man earlier in my life.” The man to which he is referring is Daher Al-Umar Al-Zaidani, also known as The King of Galilee, whose remarkable life spanned from 1689 to 1775.

Daher Al-Umar governed most of historic Palestine and shaped its economy and politics as well as the life of its inhabitants for the better part of the 18th century. He established ties – economic and political – with European empires and created a boost in the economy and lives of the people of Palestine that was unprecedented. Palestine, under Daher, was the closest thing to an independent state one could achieve in 18th century Levant.

I had only heard of Daher Al-Umar from reading Nasrallah’s book, which shows that Nasrallah is correct as he continues to say in his forward, “Unfortunately many people are ignorant of what Daher achieved toward establishing an autonomous Arab homeland in Palestine.” However, what is astonishing is that Nasrallah himself admits that he only came across the figure of Daher in 1985 while working on his epic novel, Time of White Horses, published in Arabic in 2007 and in English in 2012.

 

A Challenging Narrative

In his forward, Nasrallah doesn’t shy away from stating the obvious, that his homeland, the country which Daher unified and ruled, namely Palestine, “fell prey to the Zionist onslaught that wrested it from its owners by means of myths, tanks and collusion.”

One might add that these myths used by the ZIonists were not just any myths, but perhaps the most powerful myths the world has ever known. In fact, even referring to these stories as “myth” will surely give rise to serious opposition as we are talking about none other than the Bible itself.

The Zionists based their claims to rights over Palestine using the toughest narrative to challenge. It is not one that is tough to challenge because it is rooted in historical facts, but because it is rooted in faith. In establishing their stake to Palestine, the Zionists built a foundation on three myths that operate as three pillars: The myth of the Jewish people, the myth of the homeland and the myth of history, and all three stem from the biblical narrative.

Jewish refugee Palestine

700 Jewish refugees aboard the S.S. Parita arrive in Palestine on Aug. 22, 1939. Photo | AP

The myth of Jewish people claims that Jews are a nation like all nations, unified by a common language, history and country. This myth is in direct opposition to the way observant, orthodox Jewish people define themselves, which is as a people unified by a common faith and observance to the Almighty. This definition allows for Jewish people to be Arabs and speak Arabic, to be Polish and speak Polish or Yiddish or to be citizens of any other country in the world and still remain Jewish, as they had done for two millennia.

The myth of the homeland claims that Palestine is the homeland of the Jewish people and that it has been empty for thousands of years. This myth stands in contrast to the fact that Jews have a home and land wherever they reside, and Palestine is and always was inhabited and thriving.

The myth of that history involves the secularization of the Old Testament. It treats the Old Testament as a historical document that describes the history of the Jewish people. According to this myth, the Bible has historical value, even though centuries of research prove otherwise. Furthermore, this myth ignores the fact that the bible is not a history book but rather a book of faith with little significant historical foundation.

It is in the face of these challenging myths that opponents of Zionism and supporters of the rights of Palestinians have to struggle. It is in this context that knowing about Daher Al-Umar is so crucial, and one must ask, why and how a figure of such stature, influence and importance was erased from memory.

 

Daher’s Palestine is Nasrallah’s Palestine

Nasrallah writes that his acquaintance with Daher had given him the ability to “trace the roots that go so deep into the land of Palestine.” He continues to describe this Palestine specifically as, “Arab Palestine, the Palestine of beauty, tolerance and the willingness to embrace the other.” People who know Palestine, particularly pre-ZIonist Palestine, will agree with Nasrallah when he goes even further, calling it, “the Palestine of cultural, spiritual and human richness; the Palestine that aspires to all that is free, lovely and good.”

Daher was known for his tolerance and the good relations he forged with Christian communities, Jewish communities and the Shia community of southern Lebanon. At his invitation, Jews from Izmir had come to come to Tabaria, or Tiberias and settled there during his reign. Sadly, as a result of the 1948 Zionist destruction and forced exile, little remains of the Arab Tabaria of Daher.

Tiberias Palestine 1936

Tiberias pictured circa 1936, prior to the 1948 Nakba. Source | Kahvedjian Collection

The mosque Daher built in the city still stands. It is a monument that under any other circumstances would have been venerated, cared for and used by the faithful. According to Zochrot and to what any visitor can witness, the mosque still stands, but it was desecrated and until recently used by the city as a storage space. Now it remains closed and neglected.

Akka, Haifa, Tabaria, are all cities with a rich Arab history which Daher made into thriving towns, and yet no memory of him exists. The onslaught of Zionist erasure of the history, names and monuments on the one hand and enormous efforts put forward by the new state of Israel to push forward a historical narrative that supports Israel’s existence has been devastating and incredibly difficult to challenge.

 

Erasing Memories

All of the cities that existed in Palestine prior to 1948 and were subjected to ethnic cleansing had their streets renamed. Most, if not all, have streets named after Ben-Gurion, Weizman, Hertzel, Balfour, and other major Zionist figures. Streets have been renamed after Israeli generals like Rabin, Dayan, Bar-Lev, etc., and still others are named after military units, replacing the historical names that used to exist. This process continues to this day and can be seen clearly, particularly in Jerusalem where the “Zionization” process is in full force.

Ibrahim Nasrallah ends his forward expressing the hope that, “those who read this novel will relive all the feelings I experienced in the course of writing it, and when that happens I’m sure they’ll sense how much better they’ve become.” Having read the book, I must agree.

Feature photo | A painting of Daher Al-Umar by Ziad Daher Zaydany circa 2010

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

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

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The Road to Damascus: How the Syria War was Won

The Road to Damascus: How the Syria War was Won

October 18, 2019

by Pepe Escobar : posted with permission and crossposted with Consortium News

What is happening in Syria, following yet another Russia-brokered deal, is a massive geopolitical game-changer. I’ve tried to summarize it in a single paragraph this way:

“It’s a quadruple win. The U.S. performs a face saving withdrawal, which Trump can sell as avoiding a conflict with NATO ally Turkey. Turkey has the guarantee – by the Russians – that the Syrian Army will be in control of the Turkish-Syrian border. Russia prevents a war escalation and keeps the Russia-Iran-Turkey peace process alive.  And Syria will eventually regain control of the entire northeast.”

Syria may be the biggest defeat for the CIA since Vietnam.

Yet that hardly begins to tell the whole story.

Allow me to briefly sketch in broad historical strokes how we got here.

It began with an intuition I felt last month at the tri-border point of Lebanon, Syria and Occupied Palestine; followed by a subsequent series of conversations in Beirut with first-class Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian, Russian, French and Italian analysts; all resting on my travels in Syria since the 1990s; with a mix of selected bibliography in French available at Antoine’s in Beirut thrown in.

The Vilayets

Let’s start in the 19thcentury when Syria consisted of six vilayets — Ottoman provinces — without counting Mount Lebanon, which had a special status since 1861 to the benefit of Maronite Christians and Jerusalem, which was a sanjak (administrative division) of Istanbul.

The vilayets did not define the extremely complex Syrian identity: for instance, Armenians were the majority in the vilayet of Maras, Kurds in Diyarbakir – both now part of Turkey in southern Anatolia – and the vilayets of Aleppo and Damascus were both Sunni Arab.

Nineteenth century Ottoman Syria was the epitome of cosmopolitanism. There were no interior borders or walls. Everything was inter-dependent.

Ethnic groups in the Balkans and Asia Minor, early 20th Century, Historical Atlas, 1911.

Then the Europeans, profiting from World War I, intervened. France got the Syrian-Lebanese littoral, and later the vilayets of Maras and Mosul (today in Iraq). Palestine was separated from Cham (the “Levant”), to be internationalized. The vilayet of Damascus was cut in half: France got the north, the Brits got the south. Separation between Syria and the mostly Christian Lebanese lands came later.

There was always the complex question of the Syria-Iraq border. Since antiquity, the Euphrates acted as a barrier, for instance between the Cham of the Umayyads and their fierce competitors on the other side of the river, the Mesopotamian Abbasids.

James Barr, in his splendid “A Line in the Sand,” notes, correctly, that the Sykes-Picot agreement imposed on the Middle East the European conception of territory: their “line in the sand” codified a delimited separation between nation-states. The problem is, there were no nation-states in region in the early 20thcentury.

The birth of Syria as we know it was a work in progress, involving the Europeans, the Hashemite dynasty, nationalist Syrians invested in building a Greater Syria including Lebanon, and the Maronites of Mount Lebanon. An important factor is that few in the region lamented losing dependence on Hashemite Medina, and except the Turks, the loss of the vilayet of Mosul in what became Iraq after World War I.

In 1925, Sunnis became the de facto prominent power in Syria, as the French unified Aleppo and Damascus. During the 1920s France also established the borders of eastern Syria. And the Treaty of Lausanne, in 1923, forced the Turks to give up all Ottoman holdings but didn’t keep them out of the game.

Turkish borders according to the Treaty of Lausanne, 1923.

The Turks soon started to encroach on the French mandate, and began blocking the dream of Kurdish autonomy. France in the end gave in: the Turkish-Syrian border would parallel the route of the fabled Bagdadbahn — the Berlin-Baghdad railway.

In the 1930s France gave in even more: the sanjak of Alexandretta (today’s Iskenderun, in Hatay province, Turkey), was finally annexed by Turkey in 1939 when only 40 percent of the population was Turkish.

The annexation led to the exile of tens of thousands of Armenians. It was a tremendous blow for Syrian nationalists. And it was a disaster for Aleppo, which lost its corridor to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkish forces under entered Alexandretta on July 5, 1938.

To the eastern steppes, Syria was all about Bedouin tribes. To the north, it was all about the Turkish-Kurdish clash. And to the south, the border was a mirage in the desert, only drawn with the advent of Transjordan. Only the western front, with Lebanon, was established, and consolidated after WWII.

This emergent Syria — out of conflicting Turkish, French, British and myriad local interests —obviously could not, and did not, please any community. Still, the heart of the nation configured what was described as “useful Syria.” No less than 60 percent of the nation was — and remains — practically void. Yet, geopolitically, that translates into “strategic depth” — the heart of the matter in the current war.

From Hafez to Bashar

Starting in 1963, the Baath party, secular and nationalist, took over Syria, finally consolidating its power in 1970 with Hafez al-Assad, who instead of just relying on his Alawite minority, built a humongous, hyper-centralized state machinery mixed with a police state. The key actors who refused to play the game were the Muslim Brotherhood, all the way to being massacred during the hardcore 1982 Hama repression.

Secularism and a police state: that’s how the fragile Syrian mosaic was preserved. But already in the 1970s major fractures were emerging: between major cities and a very poor periphery; between the “useful” west and the Bedouin east; between Arabs and Kurds. But the urban elites never repudiated the iron will of Damascus: cronyism, after all, was quite profitable.

Damascus interfered heavily with the Lebanese civil war since 1976 at the invitation of the Arab League as a “peacekeeping force.” In Hafez al-Assad’s logic, stressing the Arab identity of Lebanon was essential to recover Greater Syria. But Syrian control over Lebanon started to unravel in 2005, after the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, very close to Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) eventually left.

Bashar al-Assad had taken power in 2000. Unlike his father, he bet on the Alawites to run the state machinery, preventing the possibility of a coup but completely alienating himself from the poor, Syrian on the street.

What the West defined as the Arab Spring, began in Syria in March 2011; it was a revolt against the Alawites as much  as a revolt against Damascus. Totally instrumentalized by the foreign interests, the revolt sprang up in extremely poor, dejected Sunni peripheries: Deraa in the south, the deserted east, and the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo.

Protest in Damascus, April 24, 2011. (syriana2011/Flickr)

What was not understood in the West is that this “beggars banquet” was not against the Syrian nation, but against a “regime.” Jabhat al-Nusra, in a P.R. exercise, even broke its official link with al-Qaeda and changed its denomination to Fatah al-Cham and then Hayat Tahrir al-Cham (“Organization for the Liberation of the Levant”). Only ISIS/Daesh said they were fighting for the end of Sykes-Picot.

By 2014, the perpetually moving battlefield was more or less established: Damascus against both Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS/Daesh, with a wobbly role for the Kurds in the northeast, obsessed in preserving the cantons of Afrin, Kobane and Qamichli.

But the key point is that each katiba (“combat group”), each neighborhood, each village, and in fact each combatant was in-and-out of allegiances non-stop. That yielded a dizzying nebulae of jihadis, criminals, mercenaries, some linked to al-Qaeda, some to Daesh, some trained by the Americans, some just making a quick buck.

For instance Salafis — lavishly financed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait — especially Jaish al-Islam, even struck alliances with the PYD Kurds in Syria and the jihadis of Hayat Tahrir al-Cham (the remixed, 30,000-strong  al-Qaeda in Syria). Meanwhile, the PYD Kurds (an emanation of the Turkish Kurds’ PKK, which Ankara consider “terrorists”) profited from this unholy mess — plus a deliberate ambiguity by Damascus – to try to create their autonomous Rojava.

A demonstration in the city of Afrin in support of the YPG against the Turkish invasion of Afrin, Jan. 19, 2018. (Voice of America Kurdish, Wikimedia Commons)

That Turkish Strategic Depth

Turkey was all in. Turbo-charged by the neo-Ottoman politics of former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the logic was to reconquer parts of the Ottoman empire, and get rid of Assad because he had helped PKK Kurdish rebels in Turkey.

Davutoglu’s Strategik Derinlik (“Strategic Depth’), published in 2001, had been a smash hit in Turkey, reclaiming the glory of eight centuries of an sprawling empire, compared to puny 911 kilometers of borders fixed by the French and the Kemalists. Bilad al Cham, the Ottoman province congregating Lebanon, historical Palestine, Jordan and Syria, remained a powerful magnet in both the Syrian and Turkish unconscious.

No wonder Turkey’s Recep Erdogan was fired up: in 2012 he even boasted he was getting ready to pray in the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, post-regime change, of course. He has been gunning for a safe zone inside the Syrian border — actually a Turkish enclave — since 2014. To get it, he has used a whole bag of nasty players — from militias close to the Muslim Brotherhood to hardcore Turkmen gangs.

With the establishment of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), for the first time Turkey allowed foreign weaponized groups to operate on its own territory. A training camp was set up in 2011 in the sanjakof Alexandretta. The Syrian National Council was also created in Istanbul – a bunch of non-entities from the diaspora who had not been in Syria for decades.

Ankara enabled a de facto Jihad Highway — with people from Central Asia, Caucasus, Maghreb, Pakistan, Xinjiang, all points north in Europe being smuggled back and forth at will. In 2015, Ankara, Riyadh and Doha set up the dreaded Jaish al-Fath (“Army of Conquest”), which included Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda).

At the same time, Ankara maintained an extremely ambiguous relationship with ISIS/Daesh, buying its smuggled oil, treating jihadis in Turkish hospitals, and paying zero attention to jihad intel collected and developed on Turkish territory. For at least five years, the MIT — Turkish intelligence – provided political and logistic background to the Syrian opposition while weaponizing a galaxy of Salafis. After all, Ankara believed that ISIS/Daesh only existed because of the “evil” deployed by the Assad regime.

The Russian Factor

Russian President Vladiimir Putin meeting with President of Turkey Recep Erdogan; Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov standing in background, Ankara, Dec. 1, 2014 Ankara. (Kremlin)

The first major game-changer was the spectacular Russian entrance in the summer of 2015. Vladimir Putin had asked the U.S. to join in the fight against the Islamic State as the Soviet Union allied against Hitler, negating the American idea that this was Russia’s bid to restore its imperial glory. But the American plan instead, under Barack Obama, was single-minded: betting on a rag-tag Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a mix of Kurds and Sunni Arabs, supported by air power and U.S. Special Forces, north of the Euphrates, to smash ISIS/Daesh all the way to Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.

Raqqa, bombed to rubble by the Pentagon, may have been taken by the SDF, but Deir ez-Zor was taken by Damascus’s Syrian Arab Army. The ultimate American aim was to consistently keep the north of the Euphrates under U.S. power, via their proxies, the SDF and the Kurdish PYD/YPG. That American dream is now over, lamented by imperial Democrats and Republicans alike.

The CIA will be after Trump’s scalp till Kingdom Come.

Kurdish Dream Over

Talk about a cultural misunderstanding. As much as the Syrian Kurds believed U.S. protection amounted to an endorsement of their independence dreams, Americans never seemed to understand that throughout the “Greater Middle East” you cannot buy a tribe. At best, you can rent them. And they use you according to their interests. I’ve seen it from Afghanistan to Iraq’s Anbar province.

The Kurdish dream of a contiguous, autonomous territory from Qamichli to Manbij is over. Sunni Arabs living in this perimeter will resist any Kurdish attempt at dominance.

The Syrian PYD was founded in 2005 by PKK militants. In 2011, Syrians from the PKK came from Qandil – the PKK base in northern Iraq – to build the YPG militia for the PYD. In predominantly Arab zones, Syrian Kurds are in charge of governing because for them Arabs are seen as a bunch of barbarians, incapable of building their “democratic, socialist, ecological and multi-communitarian” society.

Kurdish PKK guerillas In Kirkuk, Iraq. (Kurdishstruggle via Flickr)

One can imagine how conservative Sunni Arab tribal leaders hate their guts. There’s no way these tribal leaders will ever support the Kurds against the SAA or the Turkish army; after all these Arab tribal leaders spent a lot of time in Damascus seeking support from Bashar al-Assad.  And now the Kurds themselves have accepted that support in the face of the Trukish incursion, greenlighted by Trump.

East of Deir ez-Zor, the PYD/YPG already had to say goodbye to the region that is responsible for 50 percent of Syria’s oil production. Damascus and the SAA now have the upper hand. What’s left for the PYD/YPG is to resign themselves to Damascus’s and Russian protection against Turkey, and the chance of exercising sovereignty in exclusively Kurdish territories.

Ignorance of the West

The West, with typical Orientalist haughtiness, never understood that Alawites, Christians, Ismailis and Druze in Syria would always privilege Damascus for protection compared to an “opposition” monopolized by hardcore Islamists, if not jihadis.  The West also did not understand that the government in Damascus, for survival, could always count on formidable Baath party networks plus the dreaded mukhabarat — the intel services.

Rebuilding Syria

The reconstruction of Syria may cost as much as $200 billion. Damascus has already made it very clear that the U.S. and the EU are not welcome. China will be in the forefront, along with Russia and Iran; this will be a project strictly following the Eurasia integration playbook — with the Chinese aiming to revive Syria’s strategic positioning in the Ancient Silk Road.

As for Erdogan, distrusted by virtually everyone, and a tad less neo-Ottoman than in the recent past, he now seems to have finally understood that Bashar al-Assad “won’t go,” and he must live with it. Ankara is bound to remain imvolved with Tehran and Moscow, in finding a comprehensive, constitutional solution for the Syrian tragedy through the former “Astana process”, later developed in Ankara.

The war may not have been totally won, of course. But against all odds, it’s clear a unified, sovereign Syrian nation is bound to prevail over every perverted strand of geopolitical molotov cocktails concocted in sinister NATO/GCC labs. History will eventually tell us that, as an example to the whole Global South, this will remain the ultimate game-changer.

 

الأميركيّون مع اللجنة الدستوريّة السوريّة غربي الفرات فقط!

سبتمبر 26, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

بدأ التفاؤل بتشكيل اللجنة الدستورية السورية يتراجع لسببين: رفض الأكراد في شرق الفرات والشمال لها، والتباينات الداخلية بين أطرافها حول المواضيع الأساسية للنقاش.

وكان أطراف مؤتمر أستانة روسيا وتركيا وايران توصلوا قبل ايام عدة بمشاركة هامة من الامم المتحدة على تحديد 150 شخصية سورية سياسية هم اعضاء اللجنة الدستورية، من الموالاة والمعارضة يتولون إنتاج صيغة سياسية لحل الازمة في سورية.

فاختارت الدولة 50 عضواً ومثلها المعارضة فيما تولّت الامم المتحدة اختيار 50 شخصية سورية بموافقة الدولة على أن تبدأ هذه اللجنة أعمالها أواخر تشرين الاول المقبل بهدف انتاج آليات سياسية تنهي الحرب على سورية التي اندلعت قبل ثماني سنوات.

للتذكير فقط فإن الأميركيين والخليجيين والاتراك دعموا بشكل عسكري مباشر حيناً وبالتمويل والتسليح والتدريب دائماً نحو مئة الف ارهابي ونيّف معظمهم من الأجانب الذين اخترقوا الحدود السورية بتغطية من مخابرات الدول المجاورة.

وكان الهدف اسقاط الدولة السورية او تفتيتها. لكن الانتصارات العسكرية لمحور الدولة وحلفائها الروس وحزب الله والايرانيين، أدى الى انكفاء الارهاب الى شرقي الفرات والشمال بموازاة احتلال تركي لعفرين وادلب بلبوس منظمات ارهابية.

ضمن هذه المعطيات بدأ محور أستانة الثلاثي محاولات لإطلاق تسوية سياسية منذ عامين ضمن معادلة الإصرار السوري الايراني على تحرير البلاد والمراوغة التركية الباحثة عن نفوذ عثماني لاردوغان وهندسة روسية تريد تحرير سورية مع جذب تركيا اليها وعدم فتح حرب كبيرة مع الاميركيين.

لقد بدا ان هناك ربطاً تركياً بين سحب «ارهابيي انقرة» من ادلب وبين تشكيل لجنة دستورية يحوز الترك فيها، على وجود سياسي من بين مناصريهم من الاخوان المسلمين السوريين.

فكان ان احتكرت تركيا وبشكل شبه كامل لائحة المشاركين على لوائح المعارضة وعلى رأسهم نصر الحريري رئيس ما يسمّى اللجنة العليا للمفاوضات وذلك على حساب إبعاد المعارضين من انصار السعودية واوروبا و»إسرائيل».

فأصبحت اللجنة الدستورية مؤلفة من موالين للدولة وآخرين للمعارضة المحسوبة على تركيا ومستقلين يحظون باهتمام مصري بموافقة الدولة وبدا ان شرط حيازة ثلثي الأعضاء لإصدار اي قرار يندرج في اطار عرقلة اعمال لجنة دستورية لا يزال التأثير الخارجي على اعضائها كبيراً، ففيما تستطيع الدولة اتخاذ أي قرار تراه لمصلحة شعبها، يعجز ممثلو المعارضة عن قبول أي اقتراح من دون موافقة تركية مسبقة وربما سعودية وأميركية وذلك لتأمين تأييد حولها من الاقليم والخارج.

هناك ما بدأ يلوح ايضاً كخلافات اكثر عمقاً، فالدولة ترى اللجنة الدستورية آلية لتعديلات دستورية من خلال الدولة الحالية، بما يجب ان يعكس برأيها مسألتين: دستورية الدولة ونظامها المغطى بأكثر من انتخابات داخلية، والتأييد الشعبي الواسع لها الذي تجب ترجمته بتعديلات في الدستور الحالي لتوفير مشاركات شعبية سورية وازنة.

بالمقابل عادت المعارضة الى اساليبها السابقة، بإطلاق شعارات قالت فيها اللجنة الدستورية انها تأسست لإلغاء الدستور الحالي وبناء دستور جديد وانتخابات رئاسية ونيابية يشارك فيها النازحون السوريون في أماكن نزوحهم في تركيا والأردن واوروبا وشمال سورية وشرقها وبعض انحاء لبنان، على ان يتولى مندوبون تابعون للامم المتحدة الاشراف على الانتخابات في مناطق الدولة، وللمعارضة شرطٌ آخر وهو إبعاد الدولة السورية ومقاتلي حزب الله والتنظيمات الاقليمية الموالية له والروس والمستشارين الايرانيين عن أماكن الاقتراع غربي سورية.

هذه بعضٌ من النقاط المختلف عليها، والتي لن تكون معالجتها سهلة، لانها بنيوية من داخل الوظائف الاساسية للجنة الدستورية.

لذلك فإن الذين يطرحونها منذ الآن انما يريدون افشال اللجنة الدستورية مسبقاً او في ما بعد.

لجهة المساعي الاميركية لنسف هذه اللجنة او دفعها لتكون اداة لصراع تركي سوري أو تركي روسي فتستعمل الأكراد في شرقي الفرات كآلية اساسية لعرقلة دورها، بشكل يبدو فيه الهدف الاميركي هو عرقلة الانسحاب التركي من ادلب وما عودة الأميركين الى جذب الترك عبر تنشيط موضوع المنطقة الآمنة معهم عند الحدود مع سورية إلا من هذه الوسائل الاضافية.

فليس هناك من يعتقد ان اكراد الشمال وبعض الشرق يستطيعون تبني موقف رافض للجنة الدستورية من دون طلب اميركي مباشر يستلهمونه او يأتمرون به.

لقد اعتصم حزب الاتحاد الديموقراطي الكردي وآلياته السياسية والعسكرية في الادارة الذاتية لمجلس سورية الديموقراطية وقوات سورية الديموقراطية بصمت وصولاً الى حدود التجاهل، اثناء مفاوضات ثلاثي أستانة حول اللجنة الدستورية مكتفين بمفاوضات سرية كانوا يجرونها في تلك المرحلة مع الدولة السورية.

وفجأة تعمدوا إعلان رفضهم للجنة الدستورية بعد تشكلها مباشرة وبذريعة أنها لا تضم اكراداً موالين لهم، علماً ان هناك عضوين كرديين من ممثلي المعارضة في اللجنة ينتمون الى المجلس الوطني الكردي.

وتبين أن «قسد» تطلب تمثيلاً كردياً مستقلاً داخل اللجنة الدستوري، لا علاقة له لا بالدولة ولا بالمعارضة، وهذا يعني انها تريد تمثيل شعب مستقل هم الأكراد مع جغرافيا خاصة بهم هي شمال وشرق سورية.

وهذا هدف اميركي يريد تفتيت سورية بواسطة الاكراد من جهة وتركيا من جهة ثانية. الامر الذي يوضح ان الاميركيين يؤيدون اللجنة الدستورية في غرب الفرات فقط، مقابل اعترافهم بدولة للكرد في الشمال والشرق.

اللجنة الدستورية الى اين؟

انها ذاهبة لعقد الكثير من اللقاءات بما يعزز من المرجعية الدولية لثلاثية أستانة، لكن التوصل الى حلول دستورية مسألة صعبة، لأن حل الازمة يحتاج الى تحرير إدلب وحشر الأتراك في زاوية ضيقة وهذا ما تعمل عليه الدولة السورية مع الروس، بعد استنفاد الوسائل السياسية لإقناع اردوغان بأن الدولة العثمانية سقطت الى الأبد منذ مئة عام واصبح من المستحيل إعادة إحيائها.

7 Decades of China’s achievements

7 Decades of China’s achievements

September 11, 2019

by Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan

China is an old civilization and has been passing through various ups and downs throughout history. Which is very much rational and the natural cycle of human history. There was a time when Romans were at the peak, but today they stand nowhere, British and French colonialized half of the world, but today squeezed to a small state only. Ottoman Empire in Turkey was in control of parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe, but today is a small developing nation. Every peak has to pass through fall, it is a natural cycle in the history of nations. But China, the last 200 years have been suffering due to the colonializations, imperialism, and expansionism of Western World. Either it was opium war I or II or War of resistance, the Chinese suffered a lot. But with the establishment of the “The People’s Republic of China on the 1st of October 1949, China liberated finally. However, it did not end the Western world’s aggression against China. It was the economic blockade of China or war against communism threat, China was the victim in the early 1950s, 1960, and 1970s.

China spent almost 3 decades on internal reforms with a focus on ideology, unity, and change of mindset during the period 1949-1978, under the great leadership of Chairman Mao. Fight against feudalism and imperialism was at the top of the agenda. Equality was promoted, the farmers, workers, and soldiers were treated equally. In the eyes of the state, everyone was equal irrespective of its nature of job, profession, social status or qualification. It gave a lot of courage to people of China and hope for a bright future, which was a motivational force for them to struggle for a better life. As a net achievement of political reforms, the whole nation became united and stands on one page with the Government.

After having great success on the political front, China entered into a new phase of Economic Reforms, under the visionary leadership of Comrade Deng Xiao Ping, since 1978. During the last 4 decades, Chinese common man persistently worked hard, the visionary leadership has provided the incentive-based right policies and the Government has provided enabling environments. China made huge progress on the economic front, it has surpassed the German Economy in 2006, surpassed the Japanese Economy in 2010, and expected to surpass American Economy in 2026. Currently, China has gained the status of the second-largest economy just behind the USA only.

One of China’s major victories is on the “Poverty Elimination front”. Just within 4 decades, China has lifted around 750 million people from the line of poverty. No other nation or collectively whole world has not shown such huge achievements. It was a goal set up in the Millennium Development Goals by the UN and China has contributed a lot. In fact, China’s contribution to fighting against poverty worldwide has been recognized. Many nations are beneficiary of Chinese assistance to fight against poverty and hunger. Some of the nations are following the Chinese path to address the issue of poverty in their own countries and are successful to some extent.

The life of a common man in China has been improved to a huge extent. From the shortage of food and the basic necessities of life, China has turned into an abundance of food and a luxury lifestyle. I lived in China for 7 years in the 1980s and eye witness to the use of coupons and rationing of food and daily consumer products. Buying a bicycle, washing machine, electric fans were considered luxury and faced many difficulties. New clothes and shoes were purchased at festivals, especially on Chinese “New Year” only. Living standards and public transport were rather poor in condition. As a result of Economic Reforms, China has emerged as a net exporter of its excessive production and earning a huge amount of foreign exchange. Spiritual life for Chinese citizens has also witnessed a big change, entertainment Industry, Tourism, and luxury life has been witnessed in width and length of China.

Chinese people enjoy more freedom of expression and access to information as compared to 4 decades ago. Law and order situation has been ranked as one of the best in the global arena. Curse of Terrorism is a very common phenomenon all around the world, but in China, it is comparatively safe and under control. The legal system inside China has improved a lot and people feel more safe and secure inside China. Openness and modernity are very much visible on the streets of all big cities in China. Prosperity is prevailing and sense of comfort is visible from the faces of the common man.

The third phase of China is globalization which is currently prevailing in China, under the great leadership of President Xi Jin Ping.

Chinese progress in Agriculture and the Industrial sector has changed the whole world’s trading pattern and become a hope for developing nations. China’s trade surplus with the rest of world, especially with the developed world has set an example for all developing nations. Today, no other country compete in China in the price and surrendered its market to China.

With the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China has been engaged in developing Infrastructure and connectivity among the BRI states. Today, there are more than 150 countries, regions and international organizations, recognizes BRI and most of them are beneficiaries of BRI fruits. BRI is a model for the future development of economy and trade. As a matter of fact, BRI has changed the whole pattern of geopolitics.

The growing recognition of BRI is witnessed around the world, many more countries have shown interest in joining BRI initiatives. As a matter of fact, China is the only country, having an excessive amount of foreign exchange and expertise in the development of Infrastructures. China is at the top position in the world in the field of Infrastructure development. For example, High-Speed Trains, China has built the longest and largest network inside China, especially its High-Speed Train to Tibet, in the high mountains, at an elevation of 4500 meters above the sea level is not less than a miracle. Motorways, High ways, Tunnels and Bridges all across the country are visible proof of China’s lead in the world. Many developing countries are inspired and impressed with the Chinese achievements and are willing to cooperate with China to replicate their experiences with them. High Rise buildings and architectures in China witness its strength.

Chinese companies are engaged in many countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe to develop infrastructure projects. The money and experience gained by China are useful for many developing nations. In fact, the Chinese model is one of the most successful models of developments in the current prevailing systems of governance in the world. It has produced much more than the Western Democratic model. It is time for the rest of the world to learn the best things from the Chinese-Governance model. I believe any system, which makes people prosper, society stable and safe, access to justice and freedom of expression, is a good model of governance.

BRI is a message of peace, harmony, and development. It promotes people to people contact, promotes mutual understandings, and promotes trade and tourism. Based on mutual understandings, relations among nations can be established more durable and beneficial. At least, it can eliminate misunderstanding to huge extent.

The growing number of Chinese Universities, among the top 500 Universities of the world is a good indicator of Chinese leadership in the Education sector. The increasing trend of R&D in China has made its leader in Telecommunication, IT, Artificial Intelligence, and many emerging technologies in the world. Chinese culture is dominant in the western world, many people are learning the Chinese language around the world, Chinese culture, movies, and dresses are getting more popularity globally. Chinese soft power has recognized as a force behind its success.

With the rise of China as a global power, China is equally contributing to world peace and proactively participating in international affairs positively. China understands its responsibilities and contributing its due share in geopolitics positively. China has not fought any war during the last four decades. Although there were many occasions, where the war was inevitable, China, played “Big Country Diplomacy” and averted t war. In 2017, when there was border stand-off between India and China at Doklam, it was China, who observed restrains and normalized the situation through diplomacy. Current, the situation in Hong Kong, is proof of continuity of China’s policy of openness, tolerance, and democracy (Chinese characteristic of Socialism). No one can imagine, in Socialist country, where the communist party enjoys full authority, allows its citizens to launch such violent and prolonged protests. In a matter of fact, regaining sovereignty of China over Hong Kong and Macao, was a big achievement of China, as without firing a single bullet or killing any one person, just with peaceful negotiation, China gained this victory of regaining sovereignty of its lost parts from Britain and Portugal after one hundred years.

China enjoys supremacy over the South China Sea, but never exercised its military hegemony. Instead, it always offered its doors of negotiations with any one of the stakeholders. In spite of interference from far away nations, China observed restrains and averted any war-like situation. China has the power to gain control over “Diao Yu Dao” disputed islands between China and Japan but prefers peaceful negotiation as a mode of resolving this issue too.

Regarding trade war with the USA, China always observed restrains and showed maximum tolerance, even in case of reciprocity, offered a mild response only. Many aggressive statements from the President Trump are on the record, but, Chinese side did not pass any derogatory remarks. China has the capacity and capability, but deliberately, as per its own policy, is not stretching its muscles.

As a civilizations of several thousand years, having experiences of wide variety, China has emerged as a mature, wise and tolerant nation. China has learned that wars and egos, may not solve the issues permanently, that is why, China has focused on its internal developments and overcame any possibility of war. China’s peaceful rise may be a role model for the rest of world to be followed. Chinese influence is visible around the globe and may increase in future too.

China will celebrate the 71st anniversary of its liberation on the 1st of October 2019. Preparations are underway and a massive program of celebration has been chalked out. Chinese Embassies in all world capitals will also celebrate this occasion. Chinese communities in various countries are also prepared well to enjoy the festivity of “National Day”. Please join me in congratulation the Chinese people and Government in the happiness of National Day.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomate), Academician, Researcher, Peace-activist, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), Islamabad, Pakistan. E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com)

“Greater Lebanon”: where to?

August 19, 2019

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

Abou Omar, a close friend of mine, is one whom I have so much in common. Not only he was my boss many moons ago, but we were both brought up in political families that endorsed and advocated the unity and integrity of Syria.

When I caught up with him recently after many years, I was not surprised that our thoughts had many congruencies, and the discussion we had has given me the inspiration to write this article.

One does not have to be a member of the Social Syrian National Party (SSNP) to realize that Syria and Lebanon have been the same country up till nearly a century ago when French General Gouraud redrew the map of what was then called “Petit Liban” (ie Small Lebanon) and annexed to it other territories and gave the “Grand Liban” (Greater Lebanon) tag to the new entity.

One of my first articles on The Saker, if not the first, was titled “The Capitulation of Grand Liban” https://thesaker.is/the-capitulation-of-grand-liban/. It outlines briefly the history of Lebanon in the 100 years or so.

For the benefit of those who do not wish to read the whole article above, I reiterate that the term “Small Lebanon” was used to describe a predominantly Christian Maronite and Druze entity. This state was the love child of an uneasy concession of the ailing Ottoman Empire to European powers (Britain, France, Italy, Austria and Russia) to give Mount Lebanon a reprieve after decades of sectarian strife between the Maronites and the Druze. The Maronites, being Catholic, were France’s favourites, whilst the Druze were Britain’s.

In rebranding Lebanon, as it were, and for whichever reason, Gouraud decided to include a Muslim component to the Lebanese demography. To this effect, the predominantly Sunni coastal cities of Beirut, Tripoli, Saida plus other Sunni provinces in the North, together with some Shiite provinces in the South and the Beqaa Valley were included in the new Mosaic that gave, according to the 1932 census, a marginal Maronite majority and hence stipulated, perhaps as planned, that the President of Lebanon will have to be a Maronite Christian. http://countrystudies.us/lebanon/34.htm

The 1932 infamous census was used as the defining foundation of “fairness” upon which all positions in all tiers of government were established. So unlike other states that provide merit-based employment, not only the President of Lebanon had to be a Catholic Maronite, but the PM had to be a Sunni Muslim, the Speaker of the House a Shiite Muslim, his deputy a Christian Orthodox and so forth. Each electorate was represented on sectarian grounds by candidates of same religion and sect, and even unqualified positions had to be based on “sectarian equality”. A government office could not even hire a janitor even if it needed only one, it must hire two; a Christian and a Muslim.

It wasn’t till the 1989 Taif agreement that followed the sectarian Civil War that the 1932-based model was revisited. But after a decade and a half of blood bath, one would think that the failed sectarian model was dumped altogether, but it wasn’t. It was only amended to give Muslims equal number of Parliamentarians as against the former 11-9 split.

But that sectarian “compromise”, which in itself was a reason for conflict, was not the only problem Lebanon had and has. In the 1920’s, the “new” Sunni Lebanese did not want to belong to what they considered a Western puppet state, and they took to the streets chanting “We demand Syrian unity, Christians and Muslims”. A few decades later when Egyptian President Nasser rose to prominence, the children of the first generation of new Lebanese took to the streets with a slightly amended version of the slogan demanding Arab unity for Christians and Muslims.

The Right-wing Lebanese Christians therefore felt Lebanese Muslims are fifth columnists who are not loyal to Lebanon, and as the rift grew and the Lebanese Left supported the PLO in its struggle, the Christian Right formed well trained and equipped militia, and the 1975-1989 Civil War was an inevitable outcome.

When the Syrian Army entered Lebanon in 1976 upon the request of the Lebanese Government, Syria had a golden opportunity to mend the growing rift between Lebanon and Syria, a rift that was fanned by pre-Civil War economic and development successes of Westernized Lebanon as opposed to an impoverished socialist Syria. But by then, Syria was on the road towards recovery under a huge nation-building scheme that was put in place by President Hafez Assad, the father of the current President and the founder of the Assad legacy.

Ironically, even after four and a half decades of the Lebanese slump and Syrian rise (despite the war), some Lebanese still live in the past and feel and act superior to their Syrian cousins. I say cousins not only metaphorically, but also because there is hardly a family in Lebanon that doesn’t have family in Syria.

But during the 29 year long presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon, Syria did not manage to win the hearts and minds of the average apprehensive Lebanese. Among many other acts of corruption, Abou Omar’s (my friend) car was stolen by a corrupt Syrian Army officer. Acts of such nature did not sway those who understood the basics of the anti-Syrian politics. Abou Omar was a victim of corrupt Syrian Army thugs, but his loyalty to Syria remained unwavering.

Ironically, eventually a substantial section of Lebanese Sunnis became aggressively Lebanese in their outlook. It is possible that the current anti Hezbollah passion has united some Sunnis and Christians against a “common enemy”. But perhaps by the time they developed this sentiment, it was already too late for Great Lebanon to rise from the ashes.

And whilst the Lebanese economy is going down the gurgler, corruption is having a huge surge and the state is now virtually bankrupt with very heavy debt and no solution in sight. Corruption has reached epic proportions that recently, a Lebanese Member of Parliament has publically said in the House that the public knows that politicians are lying to the public about the debt, and the politicians know that the public knows that the politicians are lying. https://www.facebook.com/1234196636614228/posts/2624089564291588?s=549881917&v=e&sfns=mo (Facebook link).

During the Civil War, the specter of Lebanese partition was always on the cards and high on some agendas. Back then, the scenario for such a partition was that Israel would take South Lebanon and control the Litani River water, a Maronite “canton” akin to the former Small Lebanon would be created, and the North and the Beqaa would go back to Syria.

Such a partition scenario is no longer feasible, mainly because there is a new force on the ground; Hezbollah.

With Hezbollah on the ground, Israel will never be able to secure any territorial gains in Lebanon. Furthermore, the Maronite politicians ie members of the so-called “The Maronite Political Entity” are now split between a traditional Right and pro-Hezbollah faction. The incumbent President Aoun belongs to the latter group, but his tenure has thus far been plagued by bigtime corruption and squandering of resources.

Aoun’s ascendance to the presidency was not an easy birth. It was fraught with hard labour and many political settlements; the most important of which was the reconciliation of Maronite leaders. Another friend of mine, a former ambassador, a Sunni, told me back then that he felt that the Maronite-Maronite reconciliation puts Lebanon finally in good hands. This is because the Maronites are meant to be the custodians of Lebanon, the integrity of its statehood and independence, and that they would rebuild the state and its economy. But the Aoun presidency has failed abysmally and poured oil onto fire with its rampant corruption. Aoun, who is in his eighties, has given the actual reigns to his son-in-law Gibran Bassil, and Bassil is one hell of a corrupt crook with an insatiable fetish for dirty money.

General Gouraud announced the birth Greater Lebanon 99 years ago, and specifically on on the 1st of September 1920 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Lebanon. Will this state survive another century? It is simply cannot, because it is heading towards a cliff edge, and heading there fast.

So where does Greater Lebanon go from here?

With partition no longer on the agenda and Israel kept at arm’s length, Lebanon can only eventually merge back with Syria; but currently this is not possible given that the “War on Syria” has not yet ended.

Sooner or later, one way or the other, willingly or unwillingly, fully or partially, and I dare say for better or for worse, the Lebanese will see themselves back in the bosom of Syria. This however will be faced by resistance; not necessarily armed resistance, but one cannot zero out violence. Ironically this time, the biggest opponents may prove to be the anti-Syria Sunnis in the major coastal cities of Beirut, Tripoli and Saida. The Right wing Lebanese Christian groups will also oppose any such merger, but the much wiser Lebanese Christians understand that Syria has proven to be the actual defender and custodian of Levantine Christianity when the West stood by and watched young Christian Syrian girls sold as sex slaves.

The success or failure of the future “Take 2” version of the Syrian Army entering Lebanon will also depend on to what extent victorious Syria will be able to curb corruption within Syria first. A repeat of the 1976-2005 experience of Syrian Army presence in Lebanon will ultimately lead to another unsavoury outcome.

Syria has to win her moral war like she won her military war; and I have been emphasizing the need to do so in many previous articles, because unlike most other wars, this war has been a war of morality against immorality. Morality and corruption do not mix, and fighting corruption should now be high on President Assad’s agenda.

But above all, Syria is the key for the future of the region. She is the key for the regional geopolitical make-up, the key for Lebanon, the key for justice for Palestinians, the key for Palestine, the key for any matter pertaining to the Levant, because Syria is The Levant.

فعلاً لم يحدث هذا منذ ألف عام

 

يوليو 25, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– في كلام سابق للأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله إشارة اعتبرها مرشد الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران الإمام علي الخامنئي بصيص أمل عن اقتراب موعد تحرير القدس من الاحتلال، وفقاً لما وصفه نصرالله بالاستدلال بالمنطق واقع المعادلات والتوازنات، رابطاً أمله الشخصي بالصلاة في القدس بمعادلة الحياة والموت التي لا يمكن التحكم بها، رغم وقوع توقعاته لتحرير القدس ضمن المدى المنطقي لما يمكنه من أن يكون شاهداً على التحرير، وفي كلام لاحق لمستشار الإمام الخامنئي الدكتور علي ولايتي، المعروف بمكانته في الملفات الاستراتيجية في فريق الإمام الخامنئي، إشارة إلى أن إسقاط الطائرة الأميركية الإلكترونية العملاقة واحتجاز ناقلة النفط البريطانية، أحداث تمثل منعطفاً في تاريخ العالم الإسلامي.

– بالعودة إلى التاريخ تبدو منطقة الساحل الشرقي للبحر المتوسط وعمقها الآسيوي، كميدان جغرافي للمواجهات التاريخية بين الغرب والشرق، مسرحاً لتسجيل انتصارات الغرب وهيمنته واستعراضاته العسكرية، وفرض مصالحه الاقتصادية منذ خمسة قرون على الأقل عندما بدأت الإمبراطورية العثمانية تقدّم التنازلات للدول الأوروبية في جنوب السلطنة، لضمان مصالحها في بلدان الشمال، وصولاً لتفكك السلطنة مع الحرب العالمية الأولى وما تبعها من ترسيخ للهيمنة الغربية، لكن حتى مراحل صعود السلطنة العثمانية لم تشهد ردعاً للصولات والجولات الغربية نحو شرق المتوسط، فخلالها نشأ ما عُرف بعهد القناصل، وتنامي الإرساليات، ونشوء النسخ البدائية للوكالات التجارية.

– آخر ما يكتبه التاريخ عن يد الشرق العليا في شرق المتوسط كان في تمكّن شعوب المنطقة من مواجهة حملات الفرنجة التي سُمّيت بالحروب الصليبية واتخذت الدين شعاراً لها لحشد المشاركة في التعبئة لقواتها تحت شعار الذهاب إلى القدس، بينما سحقت في طريقها إلى فلسطين كل الكنائس الشرقية وقتلت الآلاف من قساوستها ورهبانها، ودمّرت ممتلكاتها، وقتلت عشرات الآلاف من رعاياها، واللافت أن حروب الفرنجة نجحت يومها خلال الفترة الممتدة من نهاية القرن الحادي عشر إلى نهاية القرن الثاني عشر ببناء مستوطنات في فلسطين ونجحت بوضع يدها على القدس، بصورة لا تختلف كثيراً عن واقع كيان الاحتلال اليوم، وبقيت الأساطيل الغربية ومحاولات تأمين طريق بري بحملات مستديمة، هي مصدر الحماية الذي يشكل مصدر قوة هذا الكيان الاستيطاني الناشئ يومها.

– مع تحرير القدس في نهاية القرن الثاني عشر، وجعلها متاحة لكل المؤمنين لممارسة عباداتهم وشعائرهم الدينية، انتهت عملياً الحروب الكبرى وبقيت مناوشات استمرت تحت مسمّى حملات صليبية، لكنها لم تقدر أن تغير الواقع الجديد، حتى نشوء كيان الاحتلال منتصف القرن العشرين، لكن اللافت بالقياس التاريخي أنه منذ نشأة هذا الكيان القائم على اغتصاب فلسطين، للمرة الأولى يبدو محاصراً بصواريخ قوى المقاومة ومقاتليها من كل الجهات عاجزاً عن خوض حرب، وتبدو الأساطيل البحرية والجوية والبرية لنجدته عاجزة عن تشكيل توازن ردع في المنطقة. وهذا هو مغزى ما تمثله حوادث إسقاط الطائرة الأميركية واحتجاز الناقلة البريطانية.

– منذ ألف عام لم يحدث مثيل لذلك، رغم ما تلقته الأساطيل الغازية لنابليون بونابرت على سواحل مصر أو أسوار عكا، ورغم حروب المواجهة التي خاضها جمال عبد الناصر في مواجهة العدوان الثلاثي، فقد بقي في كل حالة منها مجال للإعداد لجولة مقبلة، حيث كان احتياط الغرب القوي ينتقل من ضفة إلى ضفة، كما هو حال الأفول الفرنسي لحساب بريطانيا والأفول البريطاني لحساب أميركا. وهذا مغزى القول اليوم إنه منعطف تاريخي، وبصيص أمل.

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