30 November 2010

A cursor highlights a part of the homepage of the WikiLeaks website (AFP: Joes Raedle/Getty Images)
Michael Brull
Michael Brull 

In September 2009, Antony Loewenstein wrote an article expressing scepticism about the tactical viability of Salam Fayyad’s plan to build a Palestinian state in the West Bank, whilst the occupation continued.
I said in response that this framework was completely inadequate for understanding the dynamics of the Israeli relationship to Fayyad. Fayyad exists within an imposed framework of Palestinian collaborators with the Israeli occupation, which was essentially the purpose of the Oslo agreement. I went on to make this point:

“Any sentient being should know the obvious by now: the US Government, much of the West, and corrupt Arab elites are collaborating in the occupation of Palestine. Arab collaboration is becoming increasingly brazen, with some dictatorships rewarding Israel with increased normalisation for not freezing settlement activities in the West Bank.”

Almost immediately after I wrote my critique of the collaborationist leadership of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas failed to support the Goldstone Report at the UN.
Some activists, who failed to understand the dynamics of the conflict, or who had adopted a narrowly nationalistic reading of the conflict (Israelis bad guys, Palestinians good guys) were shocked. However, whilst it was a terrible betrayal, it was hardly a shock.
I think it is in the West in particular that there is very limited understanding of the reactionary Arab elements which collaborate with the US and Israel. Even those who are critical of Mubarak labour under various delusions, such as of the imaginary support of Palestine by Iran, or the resistance of Hamas. So the Independent would report Egypt building a wall to prevent goods getting into and out of Gaza, and Hamas refused to even criticise Egypt for it.

Or just the other day, it was reported that Hamas was forcibly imposing a ceasefire on Palestinians in Gaza, preventing Palestinians from militarily resisting the occupation. Enforcing the Israeli occupation whilst the siege on Gaza continues, it seems plain to me that there’s no reason Hamas can’t become the next Fatah (and I have just picked out two illustrative examples – there is a lot to despise Hamas for).

The funny thing is, the loyal servants of the Israeli government on the right probably understand much of this better than some of the left. AIJAC, for example, hailed the “moderate Arab governments (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and even the Palestinian Authority)”. Putting aside the moderate Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas, we now know why these vicious theocracies and dictatorships are so “moderate”. Jordan and Bahrain openly support bombing Iran, whilst Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates have been waging a mildly more circumspect campaign against Iran.
Meanwhile, Mubarak “hates Hamas, and considers them the same as Egypt’s own Muslim Brotherhood, which he sees as his own most dangerous political threat.” The document goes on:

“Egypt also continues to cooperate with Israel, especially via intelligence sharing, to prevent militants from Hamas and other extremist organisations from crossing the Gaza border, and on thwarting militant activity in Egypt. Egyptian efforts are all justified under President Mubarak’s pledge that Egypt with “protect its borders”.”

This is despite Egypt’s concern that it not be “perceived as collaborati[ng] in Israel’s siege of Gaza”, though this is obviously what they’re doing. This was all predictable.
What else have we learned? The documents show US praise for human rights in these hideous regimes, like Saudi Arabia (“In response to Brennan,s [sic] praise for the King,s [sic] interfaith dialogue initiative, his commitment to advancing rights”). But again, I was writing about this a year-and-a-half ago. And the actual secular Arab left has been vocal on this too (for example, Assaf Kfoury).
The picture that emerges from the most prominent leaked documents is of a Middle East utterly dominated by the US and Israel, with Arab dictatorships falling over themselves to support the interests of both. As’ad AbuKhalil notes that the US puppet client states are only concerned about possible Iranian nuclear weapons: it is no secret that their populations may view with a little more concern Israel’s nuclear weapons.

Broadly speaking, very little has changed in the last 40 years, excepting the Iranian revolution. And the nature of the Iranian regime is too often misunderstood too, as people forget the military ties between Israel and Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. Yes, that was when the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini gave speeches about the end of the Little Satan, today quoted by Ahmadinejad, to the outrage of Zionist propagandists who declare that now Iran’s leaders want to destroy Israel.
In short, these leaks command the attention of the public. But people could learn much the same by reading studies of US and UK archives in relation to the Middle East, particularly the excellent work of Mark Curtis (The Great Deception, Unpeople, Web of Deceit – sadly, not his latest book which was deeply disappointing).

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