Friday, October 03, 2014
Palestinian-U.S. relations head for stormy times
By Nicola Nasser*
Washington’s response to the speech that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered at the UN General Assembly last September 26 confirms that the bilateral Palestinian-U.S. relations are heading for stormy times.
The U.S., which opposed Abbas’ plan to seek a UN Security Council resolution to end the Israeli occupation within a defined timeframe, not only cautioned him against proceeding with any such plan but also issued an official statement condemning the language he used to express the Palestinian people’s opposition to the continued occupation and the ongoing war crimes that Israel is perpetrating in the territories it occupied in 1967.
“Abbas’ speech today included offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing and which we reject,” U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement on last September 27, which criticised Abbas’ speech as “provocative,” “counterproductive” and undermines “efforts to create a positive atmosphere and restore trust between the parties.”
Clearly, Abbas bent before the onslaught of the winds of American rejection. He “submitted” his plan to the General Assembly but he did not ask to bring it to a vote in order to secure an international resolution that would strengthen his hand when he submitted it to the Security Council. It is also noteworthy that while he called for a deadline to end the occupation he omitted the three-year timeframe that he had previously stipulated.
There is no serious Palestinian opposition to Abbas’ plan to internationalise the search for a political solution to the Palestinian struggle to end the occupation of
West Bank and .
It would be extremely difficult to come up with a Palestinian who would argue
against replacing Gaza
sponsorship with UN sponsorship of the process of reaching a negotiated
settlement with the Israeli occupying power. Indeed, this direction is
supported by a near unanimity of Palestinian opinion, including among resistance
factions that have given Abbas a chance to put his strategy to a last test
without obstructing his manoeuvrability. US
But Abbas’ plan signifies that he has thrown in the towel on his reliance on
sponsorship, which in turn means confrontation with . Clearly, he will not succeed in
neutralising the Washington U.S. by
merely bowing before its opposition to his plan or by asking for approval.
Certainly, he should not hold out any hope that U.S. will not use its veto to defeat
his proposed resolution in the UN Security Council. Nor will he placate the Washington by
deferring Palestinian applications to join international treaties and organisations,
such as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of
All the indications are that the U.S. will campaign against the Abbas plan and continue to insist on brokering a solution that it has been unable to produce during the more than two decades in which it monopolised the sponsoring the negotiating process with the Israeli occupying power.
On September 23, 88 US senators signed a letter urging U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to take prevent “negative developments at the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, and the International Criminal Court that could derail any prospects for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Senator Rand Paul refused to sign this letter. He wants Washington to cut off “all aid to the Palestinian Authority until the conditions in Senator Paul’s Stand with Israel Act are met,” according to his e-mail statement to The Washington Post that day.
Warning Abbas “that
willingness to cooperate with him will continue to depend on his willingness to
return to the negotiating table with the Government of Israel and avoid
unilateral measures,” the senators were keen to sustain the usual U.S. “carrot-and-stick” policy, in this case by “enabling the Palestinian
Authority to move toward becoming the Palestinian governing authority in .” This was their
bribe to him. Gaza
But any policy of confrontation with the
U.S. means that Abbas must reject all bribes,
which would inevitably come at the cost of sacrificing the Palestinian
In addition, in a confrontation of that sort, Abbas would risk losing Arab support in view of the Arab consensus to ally with — or at least not oppose — the
in the war it has declared against ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and ). Therefore, the resistance
and Palestinian national unity will be the only foundation on which President
Abbas can rely in the confrontation. Syria
In this context, the Arab League’s declared support for the Abbas’ plan lacks credibility and cannot be relied on when it comes to confronting the
In fact, in the event of a confrontation, the likelihood is that this support
would dwindle and fade and turn into an American tool to pressure the PA
presidency into bowing to U.S.
This confrontation is foreshadowed by preliminary chapters of the same, especially since 2011 when the
defeated the Palestinian drive to obtain UN recognition of as a member state. The following
year, the Palestine U.S. was not able
to prevent the UN from recognising
as a non-member observer state. But Palestinian memory has not forgotten how
the Palestine U.S. undermined
Palestinian accomplishments, such as the International Court of Justice
recommendation regarding the separating wall designed to annex another chunk of
the West Bank, and the Goldstein Report. The
Palestinians remember very well how the U.S. obstructed dozens of international
resolutions in support of Palestinian rights and how it continuously prevented
the international community from sponsoring any just negotiating process that
might end Washington’s own monopoly over what it fraudulently calls the “peace
process,” in which the U.S. has never been an honest broker.
The US-Palestinian confrontation was inevitable, even if much delayed. Palestinian leaders from both the resistance and the negotiating factions always tried to avert it. The Palestinians never chose confrontation; successive
administrations however were constantly bent on forcing it on the Palestinian
If President Abbas, who for decades placed his faith in U.S. good will, has finally reached the conclusion that it is futile to continue to depend on the U.S. and that now is the time to stand up to Washington and turn to the international community to sponsor his negotiating strategy. His decision will receive the unanimous support of the Palestinian people. However, if he backs down, he will undergo the most important test of his political career, as he will come face-to-face with the people’s judgment of the credibility of his strategic choices, which have never obtained a national or popular consensus.
The choice of confrontation also entails the need to press forward in creating and setting into motion the mechanisms for implementing the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, as well as the need to respond quickly to the overwhelming Palestinian demand to apply for the membership of international treaties and organisations.
But above all, it requires safeguarding the resistance in all its forms and developing it in quantity and quality until its scope is expanded to embrace all the Palestinian people, wherever they may be. Confrontation means refusing to allow Ezz Al-Din Al-Qassam to be assassinated twice!
Even if the inconceivable occurred and the U.S. acknowledged the will of the international community in support of Palestinian rights, refrained from using its influence to stop Abbas’ plan and even refrained from wielding its veto in the UN Security Council, there remains the perpetual risk that the UN resolution would amount to no more than a paper victory to add to the pile of Palestinian paper victories, since any such political victory requires a national force to translate it into a reality on the ground in the occupied territories.
If the Palestinian presidency does not respond to these needs and demands, which receive the full support of the Palestinian people, he will find himself once again singing outside the his national flock.
Regardless of whether or not there is a confrontation with the
these needs and demands are national requirements that must be promoted,
enhanced and developed, because they are indispensable if Palestinian popular
will is to succeed in liberating its land and translating “paper” victories
into real victories on the ground. U.S.
The Palestinians have learned an important lesson from their enemy. The Palestinian national movement has dozens of international resolutions in its favour. This is something the Zionist movement never possessed throughout its history, apart from that one non-binding partition resolution, 181, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1947. But this one resolution the Zionists had translated into reality on the ground and then expanded on it through the exercise of overwhelming military force. This is the power that Palestinians are being prevented from possessing today, just as has been the case in the past.
May God bless late Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser who always said that what has been taken away by force can only be regained by force. History has proven him right and events have shown that the course the Arabs and Palestinians took after he died — which headed in the opposite direction to his — was gravely wrong, indeed sinful.
* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (email@example.com).
This article was first published and translated from Arabic by Al-Ahram Weekly on October 3, 2014.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Donors will fail Gaza again
By Nicola Nasser*
On 12 October,
is due to host a conference, sponsored and chaired by Egypt and Norway,
of international and Arab donors for the reconstruction of . This is their ostensible aim. But the
reasons that the donors cited for not fulfilling earlier pledges, made in Paris
in 2007 and Sharm El-Sheikh in 2009, still exist. Gaza
This means that the donors who attend the upcoming
conference will probably make the same pledges they made at the two previous
conferences and then once again fail to fulfil them. Cairo
Meanwhile, the Palestinian people under blockade in
Fulfilment of the donors’ old/new pledges is still contingent politically on the imposition of the status quo in the West Bank on
Even should these conditions be met, the donors’ fulfilment of their pledges will remain contingent on the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) continued commitment to negotiations as its sole strategy, and to the agreements that led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
All the evidence indicates that the PLO and the PA have spearheaded the battle to impose the donors’ conditions on their behalf. Beneath the rubric of “legitimacy”, “the national project” and “the single central authority” that “alone holds the powers to make decisions on war and peace,” the PLO and PA have demonstrated that they are ready to abide by the donors’ political conditions.
The irony is that
has never met the conditions it compelled the donors to impose, not just in
order to proceed with the reconstruction of , but also on the PA in general. Gaza
Currently, the occupation authorities are threatening to dissolve the Palestinian national reconciliation government if it does not assert its full authority over
However, all the evidence also indicates that the resistance is there to stay in
The only possible way to read all of the foregoing, and other facts, is that the reconstruction of Gaza under such conditions and circumstances will be deferred until further notice and that deferring reconstruction and linking it to a process of cloning the West Bank model in Gaza is actually a strategy that paves the way for yet another invasion of Gaza.
It is also a fact that reconstruction needs in
A recent report by the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) estimates that it will cost around $8 billion to rebuild what was destroyed during the last Israeli attack on
Clearly, the reconstruction of Gaza requires a new Palestinian strategy, one that draws a line between the grants donors offer and their political conditions, and that rejects once and for all any Palestinian commitment to those degrading conditions that, as the years since the so-called “peace process” began have proven, have brought more destruction than construction, and have served as the chief incubator of Palestinian divisions and not brought even a minimum degree of national benefit.
At the same time, any new government that emerges from a national partnership must embrace resistance against the occupation. The current national reconciliation government, with its six-month term and its principle tasks of preparing for presidential and legislative elections, is by definition an interim government and is not qualified to shoulder heavy and long-term burdens such as the reconstruction of Gaza and securing the end of the blockade.
Both of these tasks are humanitarian and national goals that are higher than any political or factional disputes. Yet the Palestinian presidency’s determination to toe the line with the donors’ conditions, which make no distinction between humanitarian needs and political ends, is a strategy that fails to discriminate between national needs and factional interests. It is a strategy that protracts the humanitarian disaster in
Unfortunately, the need to separate politics — factional or otherwise — from the humanitarian issue does not appear to be on the agenda of either foreign and Arab donors, or of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in spite of the letter he sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on 30 July declaring Gaza a “disaster zone” in the grips of a “dangerous humanitarian crisis.”
This “dangerous humanitarian crisis” is the product of forms of collective punishment that were inflicted against the people of
The collective punishments that have been and continue to be visited on
To insist that Gaza’s reconstruction be linked to the reinstatement of the “full” authority of the Palestinian presidency and the PA over Gaza, and to the donors’ political conditions which, in fact, are the conditions of the occupying power, is merely another way to say that the reconstruction of Gaza should be linked to the imposition of Fatah’s factional agenda on Gaza.
It also means that civilians in Gaza are to be collectively punished for the factional disputes that Fatah has with Hamas, in which case it becomes very difficult to avoid pointing fingers of accusation at Palestinian complicity in the ongoing collective punishment of the people of Gaza, and more difficult yet to defend any possible Palestinian contribution to the perpetration of such a war crime.
As long as the current situation persists, reconstruction of
It is not too late to opt for the national alternative, which is still available given good intentions, to save the people of
This alternative entails following through on implementation of the mechanisms for national reconciliation, activating the unified command framework for the PLO, agreeing on a new Palestinian strategy based on the principles of partnership and resistance, and creating a new national unity government committed to this strategy and qualified to shoulder such enormous tasks as the reconstruction of Gaza and lifting the blockade.
All of the foregoing requires no more than honest introspection, the prevalence of national conscience, and political free will.
* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This article was first published and translated from Arabic by Al-Ahram Weekly on September 19, 2014.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Palestinian reconciliation at crossroads
By Nicola Nasser*
President Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah movement, which he commands, have unleashed a media campaign against Hamas and the resistance. If pressure from the Palestinian public fails to stop the campaign, Abbas may achieve politically what
failed to achieve militarily: forcing the Palestinian presidency to choose
“peace with ”
over national reconciliation. Israel
It appears that President Abbas has, indeed, prioritised “peace with
He has devised plans for resuming negotiations, and is still banking on
American support for such talks. This is the only explanation for the current
anti-Hamas media campaign. Israel
Abbas sent his negotiators — Saeb Erekat, Majed Faraj and Maen Erekat — to Washington, where they met with US Secretary of State John Kerry a week ago last Wednesday. US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki described the more than two-hour meeting as “constructive”. Abbas then prepared to obtain an Arab mandate, which seems guaranteed in advance, for his plans from the 142nd session of the Arab foreign ministers conference, held in
Ambassador to the UN Samantha
Power poured cold water over the Palestinian Authority (PA) president’s bid to
obtain US backing for his plan, which he intends to put before the UN Security
Council and UN General Assembly. The proposal would end the Israeli occupation
of the West Bank and US
within three years, during which period negotiations would resume within three
months with the occupying power over its borders with the Palestinian state. Gaza
“We don’t think there are shortcuts or unilateral measures that can be taken at the United Nations or anyplace else that will bring about the outcome that the Palestinian people most seek,” Power said in a press conference last week. “To think that you can come to
and secure what
needs to be worked out on the ground is not realistic.” New York
This clearly translates into an unequivocal US “No.” The Palestinian president’s new plan has run up against the same American wall that Palestinian negotiators have faced since negotiations were adopted as a strategic approach. The Zionist route remains the only way these negotiators can access the White House and the UN Security Council.
There can be only one explanation for this plan. It is in fulfilment of a Palestinian promise not to resist the occupation and to offer the occupying power the opportunity to agree to yet another futile round of negotiations. Such negotiations will give
the time it needs to turn
the Givaot colony into a major settler city on the 4,000 dunams of Palestinian
land that it has just seized by declaring it “state land”. Israel
The purpose of this appropriation is to separate the
Hebron and South Bethlehem
governorates in the West Bank. It is also a
means to deflect international humanitarian pressure in reaction to Israeli war
crimes in Gaza, to evade Israel’s obligations to the truce agreement with
the resistance in ,
and to fuel internal Palestinian tensions until they reignite once more. Gaza
It was not Hamas or the resistance that described Abbas’s new plan as a “spurious process”. It was independent Palestinian figures who expressed their views in a statement read out by Mamdouh Al-Akr, general commissioner of the Independent Organisation of Human Rights, on 2 September in Ramallah. They called for an urgent meeting of the unified leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), in accordance with the
Activating the unified leadership framework of the PLO will put President Abbas’s call for a “single Palestinian central authority”, uniquely empowered to “determine matters of war and peace”, into its concrete national context. Only this context can confer legitimacy on a Palestinian leadership that does not derive its authority from resisting the occupation in all forms.
Moreover, the currently missing “electoral legitimacy” is no longer sufficient in and of itself to allow Palestinian decisions on war and peace to remain in the hands of a leadership that is the product of elections that were held with the approval of the occupation power and in the framework of agreements signed with it.
The Palestinian presidency has dropped the available option of resistance from the lexicon of its negotiating strategy, let alone the option of war, which is not available. The PA, in coordination with the occupation’s security apparatus, has become “the security proxy for the occupying power, rather than an instrument to end the occupation and establish the state,” as Palestinian analyst Hani Al-Masri wrote on 26 August.
As a result, the occupying power, alone, holds the keys to the decision of war, which it continues to repeat, and to the decision of peace, which it still refuses to take.
It appears that President Abbas is working against the tide of Palestinian public opinion, as voiced in a recent survey conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) in Ramallah. According to this poll, only 22 per cent of respondents supported a resumption of negotiations, while 53 per cent said they regarded resistance as “the more effective way” to realise the creation of a Palestinian state.
The results of the PCPSR poll contradict all the charges levelled by the president and Fatah against the resistance and Hamas. Of those polled, 79 per cent believe that the resistance emerged victorious from the recent war, while 86 per cent support the defensive use of rockets.
Respondents gave very low ratings to the performance of the Palestinian president, the PA, the national unity government and the PLO, while the approval rating for Hamas was 88 per cent.
What is the substance of this media campaign against Hamas? It ranges from blaming Hamas for prolonging the war and for the consequent loss of lives and material damage, to adopting the Israeli narrative regarding a Hamas-engineered “coup attempt” against the president in the West Bank and the existence of a “shadow government” in
Then there are the charges of keeping Fatah members under “house arrest”, of “opening fire on civilians”, and of “selling emergency relief on the black market.” On top of these come the accusation that Hamas has violated “the law that defines the colours and dimensions of the flag.”
President Abbas’s instructions to create a “committee to hold a dialogue” with Hamas to discuss the “fate of the national unity government,” as announced by Amin Maqboul, secretary of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, does little to encourage optimism. The national unity government, national reconciliation, the
This is because of the confrontation stirred by the systematic smear campaign that President Abbas and the Fatah movement are waging against Hamas and the resistance. The campaign has created a media smokescreen behind which the occupation authority can conceal its foot-dragging in carrying out its obligations under the truce agreement, which will probably be echoed in Israeli procrastination on continuing with truce talks due to be held in Cairo.
It should also be stressed that to accuse the resistance and Hamas of prolonging the war is to exonerate the occupation power of responsibility. The Israeli media was quick to capitalise on this, further proof of the extensive coverage the campaign has received.
Indeed, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev virtually reiterated it verbatim when he said that the Egyptian initiative was on the table from 15 July and that while the Arab League and
The investigatory commission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council will most likely cite the president’s charges to strengthen the claims of the occupying power, as these charges would be regarded as “testimony of a witness from the other side.”
Abbas says that while the “final toll” from the most recent war in Gaza was 2,140 dead, “if added to the number of dead in previous wars, and those who died during the period of the Shalit problem, the number would be 10,000 dead and wounded, in addition to the 35,000 homes that were totally or partially destroyed.”
When Abbas says that “it would have been possible” to avert the human and material losses of the recent conflict he is effectively blaming the resistance, not the occupation, for the last war on
The spectre of discord once again hovers over Palestinian unity, with Palestinian opinion divided over a programme of negotiations versus a programme of resistance. This is the breach through which Arab and non-Arab “axes” penetrate into the Palestinian interior, deepening rather than mending Palestinian rifts.
* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (email@example.com). This article was first published and translated from Arabic by Al-Ahram Weekly on September 11, 2014.
Friday, June 20, 2014
Iraqi hydrocarbon prize of U.S. invasion in danger
By Nicola Nasser*
Excluding “boots on the ground” and leaving combat missions to local and regional “partners,” President Barak Obama and his administration say the United States keeps “all options on the table” to respond militarily to the terrorists’ threat to “American interests” in Iraq, which are now in “danger.”
Similarly, former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on TV screens and in print has recently urged western governments to “put aside the differences of the past and act now” and to intervene militarily in
the future” because “we do have interests in this.” Iraq
Both men refrained from indicating what are exactly the “American” and “western” interests in
that need military intervention to defend, but the major prize of their
in 2003 was the country’s hydrocarbon assets. There lies their “interests. Iraq
On June 13 however, Obama hinted to a possible major “disruption” in Iraqi oil output and urged “other producers in the Gulf” to be “able to pick up the slack.”
The United States has already moved the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, escorted by the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun, from the northern Arabian Sea into the Arabian Gulf (Persian according to Iran) “to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq,” according to Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, on June 14. Media is reporting that
U.S. intelligence units and
air reconnaissance are already operating in . Iraq
The unfolding collapse of the
proxy government in Baghdad has cut short a
process of legalizing the
de-nationalization of the hydrocarbon industry in , which became within reach
with the latest electoral victory of the Iraqi prime minister since 2006, Noori
Anti-American armed resistance to the
proxy ruling regime in ,
especially the Baath-led backbone, is on record as seeking to return to the
status quo ante with regard to the country’s strategic hydrocarbon assets, i.e.
De-nationalization and privatization of the Iraqi oil and gas industry began with the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003. Al-Maliki for eight years could not pass a hydrocarbons law through the parliament. Popular opposition and a political system based on sectarian distribution of power and “federal” distribution of oil revenues blocked its adoption. Ruling by political majority instead by sectarian consensus was al-Maliki’s declared hope to enact the law.
Al-Maliki’s plans towards this end together with his political ambitions for a third term were cut short by the fall to armed opposition on this June 10 of Mosul, the capital of the northern Ninawa governorate and second only to Baghdad as Iraq’s largest metropolitan area.
Three days on, with the fighting moving on to the gates of
Baghdad, “the most
important priority for
right now is to secure its capital and oil infrastructure,” a Stratfor analysis
on June 11 concluded. Baghdad
The raging war in
now will determine whether
Iraqi hydrocarbons are a national asset or multinational loot. Any Iraq U.S. military support to the regime it installed
should be viewed within this context. Meanwhile this national wealth is still
being pillaged as spoils of war. Baghdad
Al-Maliki is not now preoccupied even with maintaining Iraq as OPEC’s No. 2 oil producer, but with maintaining a level of oil output sufficient to bring in enough revenues to finance a defensive war that left his capital besieged and his government with southern Iraq only to rule, may be not for too long.
Even this modest goal is in doubt. Al-Maliki is left with oil exports from the south only, the disruption of which is highly possible any time now.
Worries that fighting would spread to the southern city of
Basra or have already sent oil prices to
nine-month high on Thursday. Baghdad
Legalizing the de-nationalization of Iraqi hydrocarbon industry has thus become more elusive than it has ever been since 2003.
On June 1 forty two years ago the process of the nationalization of the hydrocarbon industry kicked off in
. Now Iraq is
an open field for looting its only strategic asset. Iraq
On April 15 last year the CNN, reviewing “The Iraq war, 10 years on,” reported: “Yes, the Iraq War was a war for oil, and it was a war with winners: Big Oil.”
“Before the 2003 invasion,
domestic oil industry was fully nationalized and closed to Western oil
companies. A decade of war later, it is largely privatized and utterly
dominated by foreign firms,” the CNN report concluded, indicating that, “From
ExxonMobil and Chevron to BP and Shell, the West's have
set up shop in Iraq .
So have a slew of American oil service companies, , the Texas-based firm Dick Cheney ran before becoming
George W. Bush's running mate in 2000. Iraq
The international rush for the Iraqi “black gold” by trans-national oil and gas corporations is at its height with no national law or competent central authority to regulate it.
Nothing changed since except that the “rush” was accelerating and the de-nationalization process was taking roots, squandering the bloody sacrifices of the Iraqis over eighty two years to uproot the foreign hold on their major strategic asset. The ongoing fighting is threatening to cut this process short.
Tip of iceberg
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in
Iraq has been awarding hydrocarbon contracts to
foreign firms independently without reference to the central government in . Baghdad
Since early 2014, it has been pumping crude to
own independent pipeline built last December. On this June 4, Turkey Turkey
and the KRG announced the signing of a 50-year deal to export Iraqi oil from
Kurdistan via . Turkey
deputy prime minister, threatened legal action against firms that purchased
"smuggled oil" via the Turkish-KRG arrangements; he accused of
“greed” and trying “to lay (its) hands on cheap Iraqi oil. Turkey
The dispute between
on the one hand and Turkey
and the KRG on the other is only the surfacing tip of the iceberg of the “gold rush–style” looting of ’s
national wealth. Iraq
One of the main priorities of al-Maliki all along has been to legalize the de-nationalization and privatization process.
Muttitt, author of Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq, wrote a few months before al-Maliki assumed his first premiership that American and British governments made sure the candidates for prime minister knew what their first priority had to be: To pass a law legalizing the return of the foreign multinationals. This would be the vital biggest prize of the
2003 invasion. U.S.
Al-Maliki is the right man to secure a pro-privatization government in
Thomas L. Friedman described him in the New York Times on this June 4 as “our
guy,” “an American-installed autocrat” and a “big gift” the Baghdad U.S. occupation “left behind in .” Iraq
Various drafts of hydrocarbon privatization laws failed to gain consensus among the proxy sectarian parties to the U.S.-engineered “political process” and the “federal” entities of
U.S.-drafted constitution. Iraq
Al-Maliki’s government endorsed the first draft of a privatization law in February 2007 and on August 28, 2011 endorsed an amended draft which the parliament has yet to adopt.
Iraqi trade unions, amid popular protests, opposed and fought the privatization draft laws. Their offices were raided, computers confiscated, equipment smashed and their leaders arrested and prosecuted. Nonetheless, the parliament could not pass the law.
Al-Maliki government began awarding contracts to international oil and gas giants without a law in place. They are illegal contracts, but valid as long as there is a pro-privatization government in
Former British and
leaders of the invasion of ,
Tony Blair and George Bush junior, were on record to deny that the invasion had
anything to do with oil, but the U.S. President Barak Obama has just refuted
their claim. Iraq
On last May 16, Obama signed an Executive Order to extend the national emergency with respect to
for one year. His predecessor
Bush signed this “order” for the first time on May 22, 2003 “to
deal with the … threat to the national security and foreign policy of the Iraq United States posed by obstacles to the continued
reconstruction of .” Iraq
Details of Bush’s Executive Order (EO) No. 13303 are still kept out of media spotlight. It declared that future legal claims on
wealth constitute “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security
and foreign policy of the .” United
Section 1(b) eliminates all judicial process for “all Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products, and interests therein, and proceeds, obligations or any financial instruments of any nature whatsoever arising from or related to the sale or marketing thereof, and interests therein, in which any foreign country or a national thereof has any interest, that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the
States, or that are or hereafter come within the
possession or control of persons.” United
EO 13303 was rubber-stamped by the UN Security Council Resolution No. 1483, which protected the U.S.-controlled governmental institutions in
Muttitt wrote in August 2012: “In 2011, after nearly nine years of war and occupation,
finally left .
In their place, Big Oil is now present in force.” Iraq
“Big Oil” is now the only guarantor of the survival of the
U.S. proxy government in , but the survival of “Big Oil” itself
is now threatened by the escalating and rapidly expanding armed opposition. Baghdad
Obama said the “threats” and “obstacles” to U.S, interests in
Iraq have not
changed eleven years after the invasion; has not enacted yet a
hydrocarbon law to legalize the privatization of its oil and gas industry. Iraq
The developments of the last week in
Obama’s renewal of EO 13303. The Iraq U.S. war
is not over and it is not won yet. Hence Obama’s recent extension of the
national emergency with respect to Iraq for one year. Iraq
its restricted independence in 1932, the nationalization of Iraqi oil wealth
was the national and popular battle cry for complete sovereignty. It is now the
battle cry of the armed opposition. Iraq
* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Antagonizing Palestinians, Australia’s linguistic blunder snowballs
By Nicola Nasser*
Reacting to antagonized Palestinian snowballing protests to her government’s decision on June 5 to reverse a 47-year old bipartisan consensus on describing eastern
as “occupied,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on June 13 denied any “change in
the Australian government’s position.” Jerusalem
On June 5, Australian Attorney-General George Brandis in a statement said: ''The description of
Jerusalem as 'Occupied East Jerusalem' is a term freighted with
pejorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful.''
The new Australian terminology provoked Jordan, the third largest importer of Australian sheep in the Middle East, to summon Australia's charge d'affaires, John Feakes, to convey its “concern” because “The Australian government's decision violates international law and resolutions that consider east Jerusalem as an integral part of all Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.”
Similarly, the Australian Representative in Ramallah, Tom Wilson, was summoned by the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to convey “deep concern” because Brandis’ remarks “contradict all international resolutions.” They requested “official clarification.”
Bishop’s “no change” statement came in response. It was followed on June 14 by Prime Minister Tony Abbott who said, while on a trip to
America, that his government had made only a “terminological
Abbot two days earlier stated that the
(OPT) are in “truth … disputed territories." Occupied
“I think we just call the West Bank, ‘the
West Bank,’ as a geographical entity without adding any
adjectives to it, whether ‘occupied’ [the Palestinian position] or ‘disputed’
[the Israeli position]. We’ll just call it what it is, which is ‘the West Bank.’,” he told the Tablet. However, this is not
official yet, he said.
“There has been no change in the Australian government’s position on the legal status of the
Territories, including East Jerusalem,” Bishop “clarified” in her statement. She
was not convincing. The credibility of Bishop’s and Abbot’s denial of “change”
could hardly be plausible.
It is a “radical change in the Australian position on
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said. The head of the Palestinian delegation
to Palestine Canberra, Izzat Abdulhadi, said ’s new
stance is “very provocative.” Australia
On June 12, Arab and Islamic ambassadors from 18 countries, including
Egypt and Indonesia, protested
to Australia's Department of
Foreign Affairs in . Canberra
The Australian on June 10 reported from
Jerusalem that the 57-member OIC will hold a joint
emergency meeting this month with the 22-member Arab League to decide their response to ’s
“terminology” declaration. Australia
Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi sent Bishop a “letter of protest” requesting “official clarification,” his deputy Ahmad bin Hilli said last Monday.
Palestinians are on record to invoke the multi-billion annual Australian agricultural exports to the member states in the discussions. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told reporters last Friday that “we will work very hard with them … to maintain the trade,” but so far his government has shown no signs to that effect.
Bishop’s and Abbot’s “no change” statements tried to imply that their country’s policy has not changed and that if there was a change it is a linguistic one only.
Either case the change in “terminology” serves neither Australian nor Palestinian interests. Coming ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to
summer, to be the first ever sitting Israeli premier to visit , it serves only as a free of charge
welcoming present. Canberra
However, coming on the 47th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory in eastern Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza Strip and in 2014, which the United Nations proclaimed an International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Australian “change of language” was “absolutely disgraceful and shocking,” according to the member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hanan Ashrawi.
“Such inflammatory and irresponsible statements … are not only in blatant violation of international law and global consensus, but are also lethal in any pursuit of peace and toxic to any attempt at enacting a global rule of law,” Ashrawi was quoted as saying by the Times of Israel on June 6.
In fact, describing the Palestinian territories, eastern
inclusive, as “occupied” is not only a Palestinian position. Jerusalem
The Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem has not been recognized by the international community and all 193 countries of the UN, including the
to have their embassies in Jerusalem because it
would imply their recognition of the city as ’s capital. Israel
Published by The Guardian on this June 11, Ben Saul wrote: “Calling east
‘occupied’ simply recognizes the
near-universal legal status quo, namely that it is not sovereign Israeli
“Declaring that east
will not be described as ‘occupied’ implies that rejects the application
of international humanitarian law … The term "occupation" is
therefore not pejorative or judgmental.” Saul said, adding that “ Australia Australia’s new view … corrodes the
international rule of law and violates Australia’s
international law obligations” in accordance with the Geneva
conventions to which both Australia
are signatories. Israel
The UN Security Council Resolution 478 on August 20, 1980 censured “in the strongest terms the enactment by Israel of the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem,” affirmed “that the enactment of the ‘basic law’ by Israel constitutes a violation of international law” and determined “that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the recent ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.”
Ninety UNSC resolutions, let alone 40 others vetoed by the
rule accordingly. Now U.S. Australia
only other nation that joins and supports in its
violation of all these resolutions. Aside from Israel Israel,
it is also the only nation to change its language on the . Palestinian Occupied Territories
Australian linguistics in context
The Palestinian people are not known for their short memory. They view the Australian government’s “terminological clarification” in the context of the country’s recent pro-Israel changes of policy as well as in
historical anti-Palestinian policies. Australia
Last month, Ambassador Sharma met in
Jerusalem with the Israeli Minister of Housing Uri Ariel, who is
in charge of the illegal construction of the colonial settlements in the OPT.
In January this year, while on an official visit to Israel, Foreign Minister Bishop told the Times of Israel that she isn’t convinced that Israeli construction of illegal settlements in OPT is a violation of international law, and called international boycotts of these settlements “anti-Semitic” and “Hypocritical beyond belief.”
failed to join 158 nations who supported a UN General Assembly resolution
calling for an end to Israeli settlements or to join 160 countries which
supported another resolution calling on to “comply scrupulously” with the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Israel
In November 2012, Australia abstained from supporting the UNGA recognition of Palestine as a “non-member observer state” by a vote of 138 to 9, rendering PM Abbot’s latest “clarification” that Australia still “strongly” supports the “two-state solution” a hollow statement.
Quoted by Emeritus Professor Peter Boyce AO, President of the Australia Institute of International Affairs in
Tasmania, a 2010 study found that 78% of
Australians were opposed to Israel’s
settlements policy and only 22% thought Jerusalem
should be recognized as ’s
capital. More recently, at the time of the 2012 General Assembly vote on
Palestinian non-member observer State status, 51% of Australians thought their
country should vote “Yes” and only 15% “No.” Israel
Australia has had an important role in the
establishment of the Israeli state” and it “stood alone among western governments in
its uncritical alignment with ,”
Professor Boyce wrote. Israel
Certainly Boyce had history in mind.
Australia in its capacity as the Chairman of the UN General Assembly's Ad Hoc Committee on helped to push through the UN Partition Plan on
November 29, 1947. It was the first UN member state to vote in favor of Israeli
statehood and the first to grant Palestine Israel
de-jure recognition when the
recognized it de-facto only. U.S. Israel
was also the first Middle East country with which established diplomatic
relations in 1949. Australia
* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. email@example.com