Saturday, August 05, 2006


Beating Israeli Drums in Petra

By Nicola Nasser*
Friday June 23 2006

The Petra meeting on Thursday between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has not only changed nothing, but was also cunningly exploited by the Israeli royal guest to beat the drums of the Israeli message in the heart of the heritage of the Jordanians’ pride.

In the aftermath of the symbolic meeting and the informal and inconclusive talks over breakfast hosted by Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Petra between Abbas and Olmert, the media storm subsidised into the shocking outcome that the meeting has changed nothing and certainly doom a second would-be summit to failure:

Israel is still deeply entrenched in its unilateralism to dictate its preconditions and corner the Palestinian leadership into accepting the only Israeli option on the table: to co-ordinate with the Israeli government its unilateral plan to redeploy its occupation in the West Bank, with the precedent in the Gaza Strip as a guide!

The Petra meeting boiled down to be just a pressuring environment to squeeze the Palestinian leader into accepting the Israeli dictates and a media event to air Olmert’s preconditions for a breakthrough with Abbas, and indeed with any Palestinian in power regardless of who this person is.

Despite the hosting Jordanian monarch’s call on both men to adopt “confidence-building measures,” Olmert insensitively dismissed King Abdull II’s judgement that it was “time to break the deadlock in the Middle East peace process,” and insisted that such a breakthrough becomes timely only when Abbas - and in fact the king himself as well as Israel’s other Arab peace partners – adopts his dictated preconditions for a breakthrough.

The Israeli inheritor of Ariel Sharon’s “message of peace” reiterated his mentor’s message that no Palestinian partner exists yet:

Olmert explicitly disqualified the Palestinian leader as incompetent in spite of his “good intentions,” and said: “I think that Abu Mazen is a genuine person, … But to the best of my knowledge, he is not the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority” and “the political power is not with him.”

Sidestepping Abbas as unqualified, he excluded the second player in the Palestinian tragic drama, namely the democratically-elected Hamas-led government, as a government run by a “terrorist organization condemned by the civilized world.”

Olmert also ruled out any potential Jordanian mediation by dooming it as untimely and insensitively ignoring his host’s insistence that the resumption of negotiations must be based on the internationally-drafted and U.N.-adopted “Road Map” that stipulates the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

He ruled out negotiations altogether. “As long as political power rests with the terrorists, we cannot negotiate,” he said.

To make a bad situation worse, Olmert undiplomatically tested the cordial royal hospitality of his hosts to seize on the occasion to beat the drums of his arrogant preconditions:

Israel has “three, non-negotiable” preconditions before opening substantive negotiations on a final peace agreement: “total disarmament of terrorist organizations and total cessation of violence, full implementation of agreements and recognition of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state,” he said, adding: “The difficulty of engaging in actual negotiations depends on this.”

Answering positively to those preconditions is not enough. The Palestinians have to accept also a fait accompli:

Israel would not return to its pre-1967 boundaries.

Major Jewish settlement blocks will be annexed to Israel.

”There will be blocks of settlements that will remain, that cannot be evacuated,” Olmert said.

Rendering his lip service apology for the recent deaths of Palestinian civilians in Israeli military strikes, Olmert added fuel to the fire and promised the Palestinian civilians more: “Israel will continue to carry out targeted attacks” and “Pinpoint preventions” of attacks, despite growing numbers of Palestinian civilian casualties, he said.

However, “pinpointing” the Palestinian leader politically in Petra was counterproductive.

The Palestinians would never accept Israel's imposition of borders, will insist on a state within 1967 borders and that Israeli unilateralism would lead to further conflict, Abbas told reporters.

The Israelis “may impose, but it won't put an end to the conflict. We may not have the power to prevent this, but we have the will to say no,” Abbas said.

Beating the Israeli drums in Petra won’t solve the conflict with Israel, nor break the impasse in the peace process, or ease the inter-Palestinian deadlock.

It will only perpetuate the bloody conflict, exacerbate the internal Palestinian strife and put President Abbas in a more difficult position internally and externally.

Olmert’s statements in Petra gave more ammunition to the incumbent Hamas, the rival of Abbas’ former ruling movement, Fatah, leading Palestinian observers to conclude that this was exactly Olmert’s goal, i.e. exacerbating the inter-Palestinian strife.

In a statement, Hamas spared no time to strongly criticize Abbas for meeting Olmert as “guests of honor.”

“We had expected, in the light of Zionist massacres ordered by Olmert against the Palestinians and in view of the U.S.-Zionist siege imposed on our people, that the president of the Palestinian Authority refrains from meeting this terrorist (Olmert) until the killings stop and the siege on the Palestinian people and its government is lifted,” the statement said.

Olmert’s rejection of negotiations and the Road Map, and his insistence on going it alone has yet to convince even many Israelis.

The Israeli prominent military commentator of Haaretz, Ze'ev Schiff, on Friday ridiculed Olmert's “convergence” plan as a convergence to “Israel's new combat lines. That is what happened with the lines of the disengagement from Gaza: They turned into new combat lines - after the entire world had praised Ariel Sharon for the withdrawal.”

“A leader who deceives himself and the public about this is being irresponsible,” Schiff wrote.

*Nicola Nasser is a veteran journalist in Kuwait, Jordan and Palestine and the editor of the English Web site of the Palestine Media Center (PMC). He contributed this article to Media Monitors Network (MMN).


Palestinian, Iraqi Dialogues: Containment as Tactic

By Nicola Nasser

Arab News
Monday, 3 July 2006

In both Iraq and Palestine dialogue is being used as a containment tactic to maintain an unsustainable status quo, to disarm and “divide-and-rule” an armed resistance to the occupation. This despite the differences in the historical backgrounds, the initiation and context of dialogue and national credentials of the “peace camps” in both cases.

A divide between those who are betting on the “good faith” of the United States and those who have lost faith in Washington has developed into internal strife in Iraq and Palestine, though in the Palestinian case the United States has an Israeli face or could it be the other way round? Dialogue in both occupied countries is either being used or offered to resolve the ensuing internal conflicts. In practice, the internal crises, conflicts and disputes are direct products of the occupation in both cases.

Ironically using the Palestinian-carved up metaphor of “the olive branch” to describe it, Iraq’s US-backed Premier Nuri Al-Maliki has announced a “national reconciliation dialogue” to politically disarm the Iraqi resistance after the US failure to defeat them militarily in spite of efforts lasting more than three years.

Late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat used the metaphor to offer a peace alternative to “armed struggle” against the Israeli occupation while addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 1974.
Then, Arafat was described by the United States and Israel as the leader of the “terrorist” Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Maliki’s use of the metaphor is “ironical” because it was first offered by a national liberation movement — the PLO — in the hope of ending a military occupation by peaceful means. But in the Iraqi case it is used by Maliki to institutionalize and legitimize — in parallel with force — a regime change brought about by an occupying power. But the comparison with the ongoing Palestinian national reconciliation dialogue doesn’t stop at the “olive branch” metaphor.

In both cases the occupying powers are ostensibly not parties to the “national” dialogue, which is conducted by nationals who are divided over the feasibility of armed resistance to occupation.

But in both cases the dialogue was a means that was directly or indirectly initiated, proposed or inspired by the occupying powers, or at least approved, encouraged or given a nod by them.

The United States is the key player in Iraq and it was the US administration that initiated the idea of engaging the “armed men” in dialogue before the tactic was officially adopted by the Iraqi ruling elite.

It was to contain and abort the burgeoning Palestinian national movement, the Israeli occupying power and its strategic US ally initiated first covert and later overt channels of “dialogue.”

The quid pro quo was a promise to establish a Palestinian state on the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Palestinian concession was a strategic coup that accepted a two-state solution instead of the original PLO’s “one democratic and secular” state.

The trickery and evasive commitment of the Israeli occupying power to the signed Oslo accords and the double-speak, biased and double-standard policies and unkept promises of the US sponsor of the ensuing “peace process” doomed the Madrid and Oslo process, leading the Palestinian people under occupation since 1967 to “armed struggle” again after 14 years of futile peace-making since 1991.

But the Palestinian peace camp has been all along an integral part of the national movement, even before the PLO leadership was sneaked into the Israeli autonomy trap in the West Bank and Gaza, and was never perceived as a proxy or an interlocutor for the occupying power. Hamas’ engagement in dialogue with this camp negates such a hypothesis while the rejection of the mainstream Iraqi resistance groups of Maliki’s dialogue offers hints to the contrary, at least for the time being.

This difference is highlighted by the stance the respective occupying power is taking vis-à-vis the dialogue in each case.

The US wants the Iraqi dialogue to succeed, at least temporarily until its peaceniks muster enough force to go it alone.

In the Palestinian case, there is common ground for the dialogue to conclude a middle way compromise between those who are committed to the two-state peaceful solution through negotiations with Israel and those who adopt all means of resistance against the Zionist occupation of all Palestine.

In the Iraqi case, the dialogue offer is doomed because it is a non-starter: First because Maliki ruled out a timeline to end the US-led military presence, which is the common ground for any Iraqi national consensus.
Second, because Maliki’s offer of amnesty excluded those who had killed both Iraqis and Americans. The US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad torpedoed the offer when he publicly objected to pardoning the killers of American troops.

Accordingly Maliki has practically confined his proposed dialogue to the parties of the bloody sectarian conflict, thus killing his own initiative before it took off.

True Iraqis need to reconcile their sectarian divide, but this divide is a direct product of the US-led invasion, the making of Maliki’s ruling elite, and has nothing to do with the real divide in the country between the pros and cons of the invasion.

The core of any reconciliation in Iraq is a common stand against the foreign presence in the country. The other prerequisite is an accommodation with the real political presence of the former ruling Baath party on the ground, a fact acknowledged by more than one speaker during Maliki’s announcement of his dialogue offer.

Evasive dealing with this real political fact will not lay any realistic ground for any meaningful and successful national dialogue in Iraq.
*Nicola Nasser is the editor of the English website of the Palestine Media Center (PMC) and a veteran Arab journalist based in Ramallah, West Bank.


Anti-Americanism Made in US

By Nicola Nasser*

Middle East Times
July 10, 2006
Acknowledgement to Media Monitors Network (MMN).

RAMALLAH -- Following a trend of voting at the United Nations, the US-led Western diplomacy twice recently used two UN forums to protect the military atrocities of the Israeli occupying power, in a 50-year-old pattern that has pre-empted peace, security and development in the whole Middle East region, with tragic and devastating effects on the Arab world in particular.
The US-led Western diplomacy in the worst cases used to veto or threaten to veto draft resolutions presented by Arab, Islamic, Non-aligned or formerly Soviet-oriented nations. Otherwise this diplomacy used to abstain or absent its ambassadors from voting sessions.
Normally and mostly such resolutions deal with the territorial expansionist military adventures or the military atrocities of the Israeli occupying power, "the" strategic ally of the US in the Middle East. Justifying their opposition, the US-led Western diplomats always claimed the draft resolutions were "not balanced."
This trend and pattern of voting discredits not only the international body, but also the US-led Western diplomacy's self-appointed role of a peace maker in the Arab-Israeli conflict. This week the US led Western diplomacy against an Arab draft resolution at the UN Security Council in New York and an Islamic draft resolution at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva.
On July 6 the newly constituted 47-member HRC in a special session in Geneva adopted a resolution, presented by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), to immediately dispatch a fact-finding mission to the region to investigate the Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip. The resolution called also for an immediate end to the Israeli military operations, asked Israel to abide by the provisions of international human rights laws, called for a negotiated solution to the ongoing crisis in the Middle-East, criticized Israel for the arrest of Palestinian government ministers, other officials and civilians, and authorized the HRC to immediately dispatch a fact-finding mission to the region.
The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in an ongoing invasion of the Gaza Strip, which was launched on June 27, reoccupied the northern Gaza Strip and parts of the east and south, including the airport, bombed the power, water, road and government infrastructure to rubble, plunged the Mediterranean coast into a humanitarian crisis and darkness, paralyzed the executive, legislative and local government, with a lot of bloodletting.
Special UN Investigator, John Dugard, presented a report to the HRC in which he accused Israel of collective punishment. The HRC resolution is non-binding. However, the US-led Western opposition has stripped it from any real weight to make it potentially applicable, thus giving Israel the diplomatic green light to carry on with its military onslaught against the Palestinian people.
The United States opposed the resolution, which was passed by a 29-11 vote. Canada, Japan and nine European countries voted against it. Israel's ambassador to the UN, Itzhak Levanon, said the "resolution isn't even-handed. It's not equitable and it's not balanced."
Why should and how could a "human rights" forum be "even-handed" between an occupying power and a people under occupation, a violator of human rights and those whose rights are violated, an overwhelmingly crushing military power and civilian population, an invading army and civilian defenders with their meagre, primitive and home-made arms, or between state and individual terrorism?
In his capacity as the diplomatic attorney for the occupying power, Levanon could not but demand "even-handedness," but how could the Western diplomatic mediators who sidelined the UN and self-appointed themselves as the peace brokers between the Palestinian and Israeli protagonists?
The US envoy Warren Tichenor, although his country is not a member of the council, delivered a statement during the debate, which called on the HRC to act "in an even-handed, fair and equitable way."
Similarly Terry Cormier, Canada's representative on the HRC, justified his country's vote against the resolution because it did not provide a balanced perspective. "This draft resolution focuses almost entirely on Israel while ignoring that party's legitimate security concerns," he said.
Japan also called the resolution "one-sided and not constructive."
Five members abstained from the vote, including Britain, France and Germany.
Pakistan's ambassador, Masood Khan, speaking on behalf of the OIC, expressed his dismay. He said he could not understand how any country could vote against the resolution in the face of the Israeli escalation and violation of human rights in the territory. "The crisis, Mr. President, is serious," he said. "A provocation does not justify disproportionate use of force against civilians and non-combatants in contravention of the Geneva Conventions."
Also on Thursday, the US and France, two permanent members of the 15-member Security Council, foiled a similar resolution presented by Arab states, represented by Qatar, to the UN Security Council demanding Israel "immediately cease its aggression against the Palestinian civilian population" and release of the democratically-elected Palestinian cabinet ministers and legislators. Both countries, who have veto power over any resolution, said the resolution was "not balanced" and would not be voted on any time soon.
It is the same old obsolete Western rhetoric justifying the old unbalanced US-led diplomacy. For more than half a century the US, which led the West after World War II, has voted against and vetoed dozens of UN Security Council resolutions, which otherwise could have solved the Arab-Israeli conflict in Palestine a long time ago and spared the instable and poor region five major wars, and billions of dollars squandered on wars.
Instead the US vetoes have pre-empted peace, motivated the Israeli expansionist military adventures, prolonged the Israeli occupation of Arab land, undermined Arab peace initiatives, embarrassed Arab friends of the US and the West, placed Arab states that had peace treaties with Israel in a difficult position vis-à-vis their peoples, exacerbated the regional insecurity and instability, and created an incubator-environment for terrorism.
Moreover, this failing diplomacy has had tragic and devastating effects on the peoples of the region, derailed regional development, and tarnished the image of the United States and its Western allies.
It is anti-Americanism made in the United States.
*Nicola Nasser is a veteran journalist in Kuwait, Jordan and Palestine and the editor of the English Website of the Palestine Media Center (PMC).


Alienating the Beating Heart of Middle East

By *

The United States is seeking a “new Middle East” by alienating the Syrian beating heart of the strategic region. Washington wants Syria to cooperate as near as in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon and as far as in Iran but is sending her messages and messengers all around the region except to Damascus.
This Wednesday the U.S. sponsored in Rome an international conference on Syria’s next door war-ravaged Lebanese neighbour to which were invited regional countries that have no common borders with Lebanon and nations as far as Russia, but not Syria the most burnt and threatened by the Lebanese raging fire.
While confirming this week that the “time has come for the new Middle East,” the United States seemed to shoot herself in the legs when it bypassed Damascus as the right address to any credible approach to the Syrian heartland of the region, leaving observers with the conclusion that Syria is not cooperating and accordingly it has to be forced into cooperation.
And while carrying this mission herself in the eastern Iraqi front, the U.S. delegated the job in the western front to her Israeli regional proxy, which occupies a strategic part of Syria. True the war decision-making is made in Israel, but Syria holds the key to the regional peace-making as well as to any sustainable regional re-mapping in the immediate vicinity of major U.S. strategic concerns, namely the security of oil and Israel.
The relative stability the region enjoyed during the past three decades and the twin Jordanian and Egyptian peace treaties with Israel were only made possible thanks to the Saudi-Egyptian-Syrian troika of which Syria constituted a cornerstone.
Several factors, mostly U.S.-linked, have placed this Syrian cornerstone in jeopardy. The most decisive factor was and is the U.S. determined campaign to change the regional political regimes, starting from the immediate neighbours of Syria in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, explicitly indicating that the end target is changing the Syrian regime itself, as a prerequisite for heralding the “New Middle East.’
President George W. Bush has sent his invading troops into Iraq, gave a green light for the Israeli war machine to bombard the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, spearheaded a regional propaganda campaign to adopt the Iraqi-model of the U.S.-sponsored democracy towards Syria, and put his Secretary of State on a shuttle plane to send a message to Damascus: Make the choice and subscribe to our “New Middle East.”
But why didn’t Bush send his message and messengers direct to the Syrian capital? Is Bush naïve not to? Absolutely he is not.
Bush is very well aware that Syria had received the U.S. message early and long enough to loose trust in it and to conclude from a bitter experience that Washington was not serious to be even-handed and remained biased in the Arab – Israeli conflict, that its promises to bring about peace were phoney and hollow, and that it was only interested in reinforcing the U.S. – Israeli hegemony in the region.
The U.S. message was sent to Damascus thirty-six years ago, received positively, led to a lengthy honey moon in the bilateral ties, and could have lasted longer had not Washington had second thoughts when it led the invasion of Iraq early in March 2002, sowing deeper doubts in the U.S. real intentions and complicating further an already complicated regional situation.
Unleashing the regional Israeli war machine against democratically elected grassroots anti-occupation movements in Palestine and Lebanon, the geopolitical allies of Syria, confirmed the Syrian doubts about the U.S. regional plans. The US-led invasion of Iraq, the Israeli US-backed periodical invasions of Lebanon and the Israeli 39-year old occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights have all focused Syria in the eye of the Middle East storm and are stretching Syrian strict adherence to the peace option, international law, United Nations legitimacy and diplomatic norms to a breaking point.
However the United States and Israel are unmercifully and persistently mounting pressure on the country in a deliberate effort to break it down and up, unless Damascus completely and unconditionally subscribes to their re-mapping of the Middle East, following the “good example” of Libya.
“We are pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one (and) the Syrians have to make a choice … Are they going to be a part of what is clearly a consensus of the major Arab states in the region?” Secretary Condoleezza Rice said on Friday.
Syria did make the “choice” when late President Hafez Assad assumed power in 1970-71, joined the “Arab consensus,” subscribed to peace as a strategic option and officially adopted the U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, risking internal rift in the ruling Baath party.
Assad’s strategic choice led Syria into Lebanon backed by the Arab consensus, the U.S. backing and a grudgingly Israeli green light, which positioned him into a bloody collision course with the Lebanese pan-Arab and leftist allies of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was then condemned by the U.S. and Israel as “the” international “terrorist” organization, at a time when Osama bin Laden was a U.S. ally and Hizbollah and Hamas were not yet born.
Assad’s choice also indulged Syria into a diplomatic honey moon with the U.S. at a time of a bipolar world system, when the former Soviet Union (USSR) was at the helm of the other side of the cold war divide, paved the way for Syrian – Israeli peace talks, and even led Syria to join the U.S.-led military coalition that drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait in 1991, where Syrian and U.S. soldiers fought shoulder-to-shoulder.
However it was a one way U.S. ticket that brought Syria neither closer to peace nor security. More than thirty years were lost for nothing on betting on the U.S. “good will” and “good offices” that were not forthcoming. The Syrian Golan Heights remained occupied by Israel. The Syrian regime remained targeted for change by U.S. ruling neoconservatives. Syria remained sanctioned as a state sponsoring “terrorism.” U.S. remained weighing in heavily on Syria to succumb to the dictates of the Israeli occupying power for peace as well as the U.S.-Israeli re-mapping plans for the Middle East.
That is the “status quo ante” that Secretary Condoleezza Rice failed to grasp when she refused to “freeze” the status quo ante on the Israeli-Lebanese border. Syria also has repeatedly warned against preserving the status quo ante. How could any Syrian leadership sit idle watching the geo-military and geo-political bases of its national security undermined to bring the Israeli hostile occupying power to the doorsteps of its metropolitan? How could any country tolerate such an existential threat!
The United States and Israel are contemplating a NATO-led international force at Syria’s doorsteps, and to bring about a pro-U.S. or a puppet regime in Beirut. Israeli bombardment of Lebanon is driving hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee the atrocities of the Israeli midwife of the “new” sovereign and democratic Lebanon from the west into Syria, which is hardly coping with the ongoing flow of thousands of Iraqi refugees fleeing the birth horrors of another democratic regime that was midwifed by the US-led invasion of its eastern neighbour, in addition to slightly less than half a million Palestinian refugees the country is hosting since the creation of the state of Israel forced them out in 1948.
Syria, however, is strongly holding on to its strategic option of peace and negotiations. The Syrian – Israeli front has for decades remained the only “silent” front, more silent than even both fronts of Jordan and Egypt, the only Arab countries to sign peace treaties with Israel.
On Sunday Syria said it was willing to engage in direct talks with the U.S. to help end the fighting in Lebanon within the framework of a broader peace initiative that would include a return of the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel in 1967. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, swiftly dismissed any talks with Syria, which “doesn't need dialogue to know what they need to do,” he told Fox News Sunday, adding: “Syria, along with Iran, is really part of the problem.”
“American officials are very good at vernacular descriptions, but lousy at history and political reality in the Middle East,” Lebanese journalist Rami G. Khouri wrote in The Daily Star on Monday.
The Bush administration's approach to the “New Middle East” is doomed to failure because it rules out addressing Syrian national strategic concerns and Syria as a regional key player, irrespective of who rules in Damascus.
*Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Ramallah, West Bank. He is the editor of the English language Web site of the Palestine Media Centre (PMC).

Friday, August 04, 2006


De-Arabization of the Arab League

By Nicola Nasser

August 3, 2006
RAMALLAH, August 3, 2006. The Israeli bombardment of Lebanon and Palestine as well as the ongoing U.S. process of abruptly and forcibly delivering to life a lifeless new U.S.-modeled Iraqi regime are crushing the Arab League “system” in a life-or-death test and again pushing it into a collision course with the people.

Almost all the constitutions and basic laws of the Arab League’s twenty-two states, including the stateless Palestinian Authority, stipulate that their peoples and countries are an integral part of the “Arab nation” and some explicitly pronounce Pan-Arab unity as a national goal. Yet almost all of them in practice pursue policies that flagrantly violate their constitutional stipulations, enveloping their contradiction in Pan-Arab rhetoric Jargon.

The desperate outcries for Pan-Arab help by helpless Palestinian, Iraqi and Lebanese Arabs who are being crushed by the American and Israeli merciless war machines are falling on deaf ears with the Arab League’s states, failing to realistically accept the proven fact of life that no help will ever come from the moribund and defunct regional grouping, still floating only thanks to the mercy of the U.S. midwife of the “New Middle East.”
And despite the proven and frustrating history of the Arab League “system,” Arab masses are time and again turning to this futile regional grouping to look for help in times of crises.

“Where are the Arabs?” “Let the Arabs see!” were yelled with coarse voices to television cameras, sometimes in an Arab Palestinian accent, other times in an Arab Iraqi or Lebanese accents, by the wailing and heart-breaking women, children and men while collecting the live shreds of the bodies of their beloved ones whether in Gaza, southern Lebanon or western Iraq, but their outcries had no echoes in the republican or royal ruling palaces of the member states.

The hope of an “Arab solution” should have faded a long time ago, but the Pan-Arab feeling of affiliation seems to run deep in the hearts and minds of the Arab masses in spite of their religious or cultural diversity and the intensive indoctrination for loyalty to the “nation state” ideology adopted by each and every one of the Arab League member states.

The ruling elites of the “league” states are very well aware of the Pan-Arab bond that fuses the Arab masses in cross-border waves of solidarity in times of crises and have over the time engineered political internal and external mechanisms to pre-empt a tsunami wave that might threaten the nation-state independence.

They have trumpeted “solidarity” among the Arab League states as an alternative to the massive yearning for unity or union, but this solidarity has fallen apart and proved flawed in times of crises.

They promoted the Islamic belief of the overwhelming majority of the Arab masses as an alternative ideology, an orientation that had also listening ears in the western and Israeli corridors of power. However the awakening of the Islamic giant has proved counterproductive and instead cemented further the Pan-Arab bond as a decisive unifying factor.

They have over-trumpeted the “nation-state” ideology and loyalty to the verge of the absurd, that could not convince the cross-border tribal ties, the cross-border sectarian loyalties or the Pan-Arab deep-rooted ideology.

Arab League states individually and as a group failed to mobilize member nations under the Arab League defense pact, could not prevent the Palestinian Nakba in 1947-48, the Israeli occupation of Arab land of four member states in 1967, the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon up to the capital Beirut in 1982, the Iraq-Kuwait crisis in 1990, the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2002, and their helplessness was and is still considered an integral part of all Arab crises, and not part of solutions thereto.

De-Arabization of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for example was a prerequisite and a precondition to recognize the PLO by the United States and Israel as a partner to the Oslo peace accords. A dozen articles of the PLO National Charter were deleted and 16 amended, mostly dealing with the Pan-Arab affiliation of Palestinians, in 1998.

Another example: Jordanian law for political parties prohibits any cross-border organizational ties.
Other Arab nation-states that adopt Pan-Arabism have realistically subjected their ideology to the dictates of the higher “national security.”

The Arab League was founded by seven Arab states under either British or French mandates on March 22, 1945 to: Serve the common good of all Arab countries, ensure better conditions for all Arab countries, guarantee the future of all Arab countries and fulfill the hopes and expectations of all Arab countries.

The British and French colonialists at the time practically sponsored the creation of the league as a guarantee to preempt the realization of the Arab aspiration for unity, but their American inheritors have an expanded plan for the region to incorporate the new reality of ground: i.e. Israel.

The U.S. and Israeli strategists are keen to incorporate Israel as an integral part of the region and because it could not join an “Arab” League they are keen to keep the Arab League floating until their alternative of the “New Middle East” has acquired enough prerequisites to be enforced on the region.

The failure of the Arab League system could logically herald the failure of its member states and in the long run could lead to the fall of both the league and the political “systems” that desperately cling to keep it floating.

This failure has led realpolitic ruling elites to seek “foreign solutions” to Pan-Arab crises.

The Arab League was de-Arabized a long time ago.

Replying to a question about closing the Palestinian information office in 1987 and the creation of a Palestinian state, the former U.S. Secretary of State, Sirus Vance, told an audience of diplomats and journalists at the National Press Club in Washington, that Arabs were never united neither for war nor for peace, that Algeria's former president, Chadli bin Jadid, was the only visiting Arab leader to urge the U.S. Administration to support the creation of a Palestinian state. Had 21 Arab nations closed the offices of the USIA in their capitals, Washington would have opened the PLO information office within days, he said.

Did the Arab League change since 1987? Yes it did, but towards more de-Arabization.

The failure of the Arab leaders to convene an emergency summit meeting on the Israeli offensive on Lebanon has exacerbated the people-state conflict.
*Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Ramallah, West Bank. He is the editor of the English language Web site of the Palestine Media Centre (PMC).

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