Footer Pages


August 2012: Middle East Realigns

Non-Aligned Movement

Non-Aligned Movement
Members Dark Blue; Observers Light Blue

Away from the headlines, a revolution is taking place in the Middle East. On the last two days of August 2012, the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement will take place in Tehran, Iran. The encounter, which happens once every three years, will bring together key figures from Palestine, Egypt and Iran. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was invited today, July 8, by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s behalf. The meeting took place in Jordan, and Abbas agreed to participate. Earlier, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh visited Tehran for the celebration of 33 years to the Islamic Revolution there. It seems that Iran is making efforts to achieve reconciliation between the two Palestinian factions. No less relevant is the fact that the newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi—Egypt’s first Islamist president—will preside over the Non-Aligned Movement Summit. For the first time in a generation Egypt may be righteously called a “non-aligned country.” These two countries, Sunni Egypt and Shi’ite Iran, are among the biggest and most influential countries in the Middle East. They haven’t had diplomatic relations since 1980, following Iran’s Islamic Revolution and Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, but after the recent Egyptian elections, the countries became closer. The upcoming summit will be the perfect place to cement a new reality in the Middle East; a realignment of the non-aligned, a coalition of Sunni and Shi’a Islam. Israel’s worst nightmare.

Palestinian Split

Lod - Land Day 2011

Palestinian Protests in Lod – Land Day 2011

In its internal and external policies, Israel always favored the “Divide and Conquer” doctrine. The Palestinian society had been a main target of it, having been divided into several segments. The clearest divide is between Palestinians who are Israeli citizens and those who are denizens of the Palestinian Authority or refugees; Israel forbids marriages between them. Subtler manipulations include political polarization of the Palestinian society. The main result of the latter is the Hamas-led Gaza and the Fatah-controlled West Bank. This divide was created after Arafat’s assassination and has created an obstacle for Palestinian independence. The situation on the ground is of two completely different administrations; there isn’t even territorial contiguity between them.

It is clear even to the Palestinians that under these circumstances they can’t expect to get formal recognition as a unique state. Maybe this is the reason why Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas gave up so quickly after Israel demanded from him to stop the independence efforts at the UN last year (see Israel Hits Back at UN, Palestine and Germany and Palestine awarded first UNESCO World Heritage Site). If Palestine is not unified at the independence declaration moment then two micro-states would be formed.

The unification task is not simple. The Palestinian Authority is in fact one of several similar (though much smaller) organizations owned by the State of Israel. Its budget is provided by the State of Israel and it has military and political limitations, but towards its population, the PA is almost the sovereign. The PA is in fact run by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which is recognized as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” by the United Nations and over 100 states; it holds a permanent observer seat in the United Nations General Assembly. The PLO is an organization of political parties; the largest among them is Fatah, which had been founded and led by Yasser Arafat. Hamas—the party leading Gaza—doesn’t belong to the PLO. Founded in 1987, Hamas won the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, defeating Fatah. Israel, the USA and Europe imposed sanctions on the Palestinians in an attempt to block the rightfully elected party. Eventually, the Palestinian Authority was split between the PLO-run West Bank and the Hamas in Gaza. In the current situation there aren’t suitable political tools allowing the unification of the Palestinians. In order to achieve that, Hamas must be made member of the PLO. Israel will oppose. Moreover, both Palestinian sides will oppose—each one for different reasons—unless a unifying leader appears.

Fatah Poster | Yasser Arafat and Marwan Barghouti
Fatah Poster | Yasser Arafat and Marwan Barghouti

Palestinian Amalgamation

Given the circumstances, the combined Iranian-Egyptian pressure on the Palestinians may not be enough. There is a growing estrangement between the Palestinian enclaves. In Gaza, Palestinians face an enemy who lives beyond a clear border, while in the West Bank there is little separation between settlers and Palestinians. It is difficult to see how a unifying leader can emerge under such conditions. Unless he already exists.

Former Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti is now jailed in Israel. Regarded as a leader of the First and Second Intifadas, Barghouti supported the peace process, but in 2000 he became disillusioned. He became the main figure behind the Second Intifada—also known as Al-Aqsa Intifada—in the West Bank. In 2002 Barghouti was arrested in Ramallah by the IDF and Israeli authorities accused him of murder of Israeli civilians and attacks on Israeli soldiers. He was tried and convicted on charges of murder, and sentenced to five life sentences. Marwan Barghouti refused to present a defense to the charges brought against him, maintaining throughout that the trial was illegal and illegitimate. In jail since then, he has not been part of the Palestinian Authority split. Barghouti is remarkable not only in the eyes of the Palestinains. He occupies a place of honor in the memory of all Israelis, due to things said by one of his lawyers. Shamai Leibowitz is an Israeli lawyer, better known for being the son of the polemic Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz (see Diskotel). During his defense of Barghouti, he compared Barghouti to Moses. He said in the Israeli court: “According to some lawyers, he should be called a terrorist, but according to Exodus, he is a freedom fighter.” Mr. Leibowitz argued that Moses killed an Egyptian not because he hated Egyptians but because the man was beating a fellow Jew. While the Israeli audience was shocked, Barghouti smiled. He may not be Moses, but many consider him the Palestinian Mandela, the only leader capable of amalgamating Palestinians into unity.

Marwan Barghouti

Marwan Barghouti

As of now, Barghouti is still in jail while holding a seat at the Palestinian Parliament, seat that he won while in jail. Palestinians are desperately waiting for an earthly Messiah capable of liberating them from a generations-long oppression. Meanwhile, Egypt and Iran show all the signs that an alliance between them was born. Both countries have common interests in the newly discovered gas fields of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and in solving the Palestinian issue. Both may find Barghouti a suitable candidate for leading Palestinians into a new era. Even in jail, he can serve as an efficient political figurehead. Next month, the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran may witness a dramatic realignment in Middle Eastern politics. Away from the headlines, a revolution is taking place in the Middle East.

“I have been to Palestine where I’ve witnessed the racially segregated housing and the humiliation of Palestinians at military roadblocks. I can’t help but remember the conditions we experienced in South Africa under apartheid. We could not have achieved our freedom without the help of people around the world using the nonviolent means of boycotts and divestment to compel governments and institutions to withdraw their support for the apartheid regime.” —Archbishop Desmond Tutu

4 Responses to August 2012: Middle East Realigns

  1. who_me July 10, 2012 at 7:16 am #

    an israeli jew shows his israeli loyalty:

    “Rep. Berman Threatens Tuvalu Over Iranian Oil Shipping

    Follows Up Similar Threats Against Tanzania by Going After Tiny Island Nation”

  2. who_me July 11, 2012 at 12:01 am #

    while hitlery flaps her labellum for ziojewdom, the real world ignores her and goes about its business:

    “Iran’s Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi says China has agreed to invest USD20 billion in developing north and south Azadegan and Yadavaran oil fields which will finally produce 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil.”

    i would imagine it must be exceedingly frustrating for the old sow knowing that almost everybody when they hear the name hillary clinton think of the only woman bill clinton didn’t want to have sex with. 😀

  3. who_me July 11, 2012 at 4:33 am #

    a few paragraphs as a teaser:

    “I would add that Israel has not only shaped America’s perceptions, it has also supported policies both overseas and domestically that have fundamentally shifted how the United States sees itself and how the rest of the world sees the United States. This is most evident in failed national security policies, damaging interactions with the Muslim world, and the loss of basic liberties at home because of legislation like the PATRIOT Act. Israel and its powerful lobby have been instrumental in entangling Washington in a constant state of war overseas while at the same time planting the seeds for a national security state at home. In short, the end product of the relationship is that the United States has abandoned many liberties, constitutional restraints, and its rule of law to become more like Israel.

    This all came about initially because of the false impression that somehow Israel knew more about the Arab world than did U.S. statesmen and diplomats. The Israelis were widely perceived as experts on what was going on in their backyard, but a more correct interpretation would have been that Tel Aviv was working hard right from the beginning to produce a negative perception of Arabs and their ways. American diplomats described as Arabists actually had quite a good understanding of the countries they served in, a vanished world in which the U.S. was welcomed and widely perceived in the most positive terms. After the Second World War, nearly all Arab countries were well-disposed toward the United States, and before the creation of Israel, the U.S. had only friends in the region. After the birth of Israel, Washington’s increasing tilt toward Tel Aviv meant that Israel’s enemies inevitably became America’s enemies.

    I can personally recall intelligence reports from the Israelis that circulated through the U.S. government in the 1980s and 1990s. The reports were always designed to cast doubts on Arab leaders and their intentions while carefully avoiding any mention of the Israeli hand in regional instability. Information from Israel was regarded as something of a joke, never considered credible except by those in government who were already on message. Even then it was not wise to be seen as too critical of the Israeli relationship. And Israel had little else to offer Washington beyond its line of self-serving propaganda. Ironically, the reality was that Israeli leaders then and now did not treat the United States as an ally at all. Jeff Stein cites a poll of CIA officers that ranked Israel “dead last” among friendly countries in intelligence cooperation with Washington.”

  4. who_me July 11, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    “Authors Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman in their book Spies against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars state that the notorious spy agency has killed at least four Iranian nuclear scientists, including targeting them with operatives on motorcycles, an assassination technique used by the elite killers at Kidon.

    The Kidon killers “excel at accurate shooting at any speed and staying steady to shoot and to place exquisitely shaped sticky bombs” and consider it their hallmark.

    Kidon, known to be one of the world’s most efficient killing machines, is technically described as a little Mossad within Mossad.

    Tasked with carrying out covert ops across the world, Kidon has embarked on a number of black ops and assassinations in different countries.”