Friday, October 07, 2005

The war on pan-Arab nationalism

As always, heavy-duty good stuff from Pepe Escobar (my emphasis in bold):

"Imad Fawzi al-Shuaibi, head of the Strategic Studies Center in Damascus, told al-Jazeera that former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, 'did have disagreements with Syria, but he did not call for the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon, or stir up hostility towards Syria or demand an end to Syria's role in Lebanon'. Lebanese lawyer Bushra al-Khalil went one step ahead: he told al-Jazeera that 'Hariri's death is part of the plan to divide the region into tiny helpless sectarian states. This plan has started in Iraq and it will continue to hit all other Arab countries.'

It's clearly understood in vast swathes of the Middle East that the crucial trait of Bush's Greater Middle East implies a coup de grace against Arab nationalism - wherever it is manifested. It's always important to remember that most borders in the Arab world are totally artificial, imposed above all by British colonialism.

For Washington, the real enemy is not Islamic fundamentalism: it's Arab nationalism. For decades the ultimate target of Israeli foreign policy has been to sow disunion among Arabs. Secular Arab nationalism is the ultimate threat to Israel, thus to the US, in neo-con thinking. The crux is not religious: it's political."


"Progressive, secular Arab intellectuals stress that Washington-Jerusalem will never tolerate united Arab lands. They stress that the Greater Middle East package is pure 'strategic intimidation' designed to 'eliminate any form of Arab or Muslim unity considered as a threat to the US strategy, and that of its strategic ally, Israel', as Mahua Daoudi, a Syrian intellectual and scholar at the CNRS think tank in Geneva, put it."


" . . . in the Arab world, as Asia Times Online has learned, the fear is that the death of Iraq will mean in fact the death of Arab nationalism. That's the view, among others, of Abdullah al-Ashaal, a former planner at the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: he sustains that de-Ba'athification is being instrumentalized to blow up the foundation of the Iraqi state; Iraq's Arab identity is being threatened so three statelets based on ethnic-religious differences may be created.

The same analysis is shared by Paris-based Lebanese Antoine Basbous, director of the Observatory of the Arab Countries. He confirms that pan-Arabism is a key target of Bush's Greater Middle East and is convinced Iraq's break up is inevitable, not so much because it was an initial American objective, but because now, with extremism being unleashed on all fronts, Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds are ready to go to battle to preserve their interests. More worringly, Basbous predicts that this pattern will be repeated all over the Middle East.

The neo-con allegation that democracy is incompatible with Islam is rubbish: Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Turkey, all Muslim countries, are democracies. The specific - and crucial - problem of Arab lands is that the US cannot possibly promote democracy beyond mere rhetoric; otherwise its satraps and client states are in danger of being taken over by Islamist-leaning and certainly anti-US regimes. That would certainly be the case in Egypt and Saudi Arabia."

It is correct to see many of the current scandals in Washington (Plame, Franklin/AIPAC, Abramoff, and DeLay) as the reaction by patriotic Americans to the wholesale capture of American foreign policy by Israeli interests. However, it is also important to remember that American fear of pan-Arab nationalism predates its current unhealthy relationship with Israel by decades. The CIA started to covertly sponsor the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1950's, in reaction to Nasser and the perception of his ability to forge a pan-Arab alliance. The whole thing starts to make sense when you realize that al Qaeda is just an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. Terrorism destabilizes Arab countries and simultaneously provides the excuse, via the 'war on terror', for American military intervention. The ultimate goal is to prevent pan-Arab alliances, and ultimately to break up any states which could be threatening to Israel into unimportant statelets (the strategy described by Yinon, discussed here many times). The current neo-con/Zionist trick has been to piggy-back Israeli interests on the long-standing fear of the Washington establishment of any pan-Arab alliance, based on a perception of the loss of power inherent in loss of total control of the oil fields (imagine what would happen if the oil wealth was controled for the benefit of all the Arab peoples, rather than just for those elites installed by the colonialists). Iraq is the first example of the long-term American-Israeli strategy, with Syria - the only remaining state sponsor of socialist, pan-Arab nationalism - to follow (it is becoming obvious that the plan is to partition Syria by giving its eastern portions to the new destabilizing statelet of Kurdistan). The only response of the Arab peoples, if they are to avoid total annihilation, is to work even more quickly towards the goal which Israel and the United States are trying to destroy, Arab nationalism. Stop taking the bait and fighting amongst yourselves!


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