And therefore it was Suleimani and his proxies — his “kingmakers” in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq — who increasingly came to be seen, and hated, as imperial powers in the region, even more so than Trump’s America. This triggered popular, authentic, bottom-up democracy movements in Lebanon and Iraq that involved Sunnis and Shiites locking arms together to demand noncorrupt, nonsectarian democratic governance.
On Nov. 27, Iraqi Shiites — yes, Iraqi Shiites — burned down the Iranian consulate in Najaf, Iraq, removing the Iranian flag from the building and putting an Iraqi flag in its place. That was after Iraqi Shiites, in September 2018, set the Iranian consulate in Basra ablaze, shouting condemnations of Iran’s interference in Iraqi politics.
Ali Khamenei is a cagey leader who did not become one of the longest serving rulers in the Middle East by impetuously going to war with America. The clerical oligarchs respect American determination and understand the imbalance between a superpower and a struggling regional actor. They have never figured out Donald Trump, a U.S. president who offers unconditional talks while working to crater the Iranian economy. We should not expect Iran to take on a president who just ordered the killing of one of their famed commanders.
The inspiration for the following three paragraphs came from an assumptive accusation to the effect that ” No Justice in the Middle East and the US/EU support these dictators, like Egypt and Saudi.”
EU/NATO has no encouragements — of which I’m aware — for dictatorships.
Unfortunately, our geopolitical world having become arranged as it is presents challenges to what we may distill as a common humanity with some universal ethical, psychological, and spiritual qualities. Here, the bludgeons of the medieval worldview and its political methods should be easily recognized against the modern alternative: checked and distributed power x popular participation, representation, and self-determination.
The axis formed by the Putin-Assad-Khamenei alliance remains practically, hopeless medieval and committed to kleptocracy by absolute authority under cover of vacuous brutality or convenient dogma. Well-served: the malign narcissism of so-called “great leaders” who measured by modern standards really are not so great as they may believe themselves to be.
Although history books say that the Arab Spring ended five years ago, Stimson Center Middle East Fellow Ellen Laipson recently cautioned that the uprising’s revolutionary wave of demonstrations is in no way over. “There is enduring debate going on in the Arab world about the individual citizen’s thinking about their relationship to the government,” she said, during an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Laipson then yielded the floor to leading pollster James Zogby, who presented results from recent Middle East opinion surveys that documented the region’s unfulfilled desire for peace and prosperity.
BackChannels editor means to turn some attention to writing fiction, but not on this post, which responds to the political cant that has been spinning off the concept of “The Occupation” for decades.
At this point, some 69 years about from 1948, the very term, “The Occupation” should morph into what it has been always: “The Preoccupation”.
A little bit of anti-Semitism, a lot of anti-Zionism, a bit informed by Russo-Soviet anti-Semitism and a murderous medieval politics that while claiming to protect the Palestianians and advance the cause of their dignity and freedom has instead robbed them for decades of both.
If there are BackChannels readers — frankly, there are 🙂 — I suggest we prepare to say goodbye to the Orwellian world that has handled — and intellectually poisoned — the refugees of 1948 for absolutely breathless sums of money that have been reliably skimmed away from them and their needs as people.
“The fact that the occupation is immoral, that military occupation has elicited violent resistance since time immemorial, that Israel has faced terrorism for decades or that home-grown terrorists were running over Israelis with cars and trucks way before ISIS was even born is conveniently overlooked in Israel’s eternal quest to absolve itself of culpability and to gloss over its failure to do anything substantial to bring it to an end. Palestinian violence, in this scenario, can only be quelled by force, never eradicated at its source.”
The true underlying source of so much violence has been and remains at this moment old Soviet-style (earlier: medieval) information control and incitement.
End the Preoccupation.
There’s nothing else to do but turn Arab eyes and minds toward the manipulations of the KGB, including the invention of Yasser Arafat and the engineering for the long term of a disingenuous People’s Struggle designed to bolster Arab Pride while actually controlling and exploiting the Palestinian People.
I watched a classic last night — _The Little Drummer Girl_ — and found it sad how little has changed.
The course Moscow chose decades ago continues to sustain the Middle East Conflict. When the lying stops and the truth dawns, when the incitements stop — and the encouragement of extremism loses drifts into absurdity and loses its energy — then there will be peace — and justice for the Palestinians who may need other than the manipulations of despots.
What some writers in this field do in defense of the Palestinians is actually condemn the Palestinians by defending the concept of “The Occupation”. None argue that checkpoints and martial law — or rules appropriate to low-intensity conflict — persist so long as the terrorism business persists, but one may now argue the utility of “The Occupation” in the Arab mind. What is it doing in there, in the head, but repeating over and over a perception of circumstance that has become with amassed Hamas and PA wealth an ugly absurdity?
Links frequently cited on BackChannels in relation to the Middle East Conflict:
This appeared on my desktop a few minutes ago, and published on December 9, 2016, it’s recent, and it too focuses on the institutionalized incitement to murder in relation to the Middle East Conflict:
I am going to describe for you this ecosystem of incitement to terrorism. I use the word “ecosystem” on purpose. Incitement has evolved. Incitement is no longer about a specific action or statement; it’s about participation in the ecosystem of hate which is intentionally aimed at bringing about the result of terror – violent, brutal murder with an endgame of genocide (first Israel, eventually the rest of the Western World). It’s about participating in, and strengthening, the feedback loop which eventually brings children to murder innocent civilians.
Within a short period of time, the MI6 launched a secret operation in which Mitrokhin and his family were smuggled to Britain. They landed in the country along with the KGB’s top secrets: tens of thousands of documents that Mitrokhin had copied and hidden in milk barrels and other containers in the floor of his two dachas, one of them in the suburbs of Moscow. Only a few people in Britain—led by then-Prime Minister John Major, who personally approved the operation—were aware of the package that had landed in their country that day.
This took place in 1992. Intelligence experts began analyzing the documents immediately and uncovered more and more revelations from Mitrokhin’s milk barrels. They included the wiretapping of former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s phone, stolen US nuclear secrets, and the deep and incredible infiltration of Germany and France’s political leadership.
As a result of these documents, KGB agents were apprehended all over the world, secret operation methods were exposed, and espionage operations—some dating back many years—were thwarted. The impact in Britain, the United States, and countries across Europe was immediate. The intelligence tumult that broke out affected Israel as well, but most of Mitrokhin’s documents about the KGB’s extensive activity in Israel have never been published. Until now.
In childhood, the kid with the chessboard chooses his opponent. Why not in adulthood? And what if you could not only control you opponent but make the same another rival’s opponent . . . how cool would that be?
That would be so far beyond cool as to have arrived at deliciously evil.
Bashar al-Assad’s best defense, for the realpolitik theatrical “Assad vs The Terrorists” becomes for the general opposition, including NATO opposition to the tyrant’s rule, “Assad or The Terrorists” (mirroring slogan: “Assad, Or We Burn The Country”).
Related to the previous, ISIS becomes the primary military war-on-terror focus for the west, which comes with diplomatic, human, and financial costs to the west.
Incubated by its own enemy, the Assad regime and its backers, ISIS has been positioned in time and space to destroy the revolution once pressed by the Free Syrian Army and serve as a foil to the combined forces of Assad, Khamenei, and Putin, all of whom today may at will attack the same even if preferring other non-ISIS (and still noncombatant) targets.
In ISIS, Khamenei (he may thank Assad and Putin) has chosen a familiar Sunni opposition for Iran’s purchase in Iraq’s Shiite militia community. Once again, Iranian Revolutionary Guard get to get their boots into battle with their old Baathist foes, now serving as generals in Baghdadi’s cause.
Related Teasers, Links, and Reference
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, established in 1949, has 28 members devoted to the idea of collective security. Prediction: By the time President Obama leaves office in 2017, the NATO pledge of mutual defense in response to aggression will have been exposed as worthless. Objectively the alliance will have ceased to exist. The culprits? Vladimir Putin—and Barack Obama.
The long-term aim would be to defeat or demoralise the non-Isil opposition, so that Isil became the regime’s only enemy. That would force the West to back President Bashar al-Assad against it. “They want to clean the country of non-Isil rebels, and then the US will work with them as Isil will be the only enemy,” the Damascus source said.
Russia bombed Syria for a third day on Friday, mainly hitting areas held by rival insurgent groups rather than the Islamic State fighters it said it was targeting and drawing an increasingly angry response from the West.
The U.S.-led coalition that is waging its own air war against Islamic State called on the Russians to halt strikes on targets other than Islamic State.
Next came Russia’s move on Syria. The weapons that Russia is sending there are not an attempt to settle the conflict. They are there to protect the Assad regime, which is its cause. Moreover, ISIL does not have warplanes: Russia’s air defense missiles are in Syria for a different purpose.
This became clear on Wednesday, when America was given less than an hour’s warning that the Kremlin was imposing, in effect, a no-fly zone in Syria. With this the Russians not only mounted a direct challenge to American authority. They also ripped up the rulebook of military diplomacy. America was aghast, but had no response.
The Ba’ath regime was strongly anti-American, so it’s not surprising that–despite the unfortunate fate of the Iraqi Communist Party–it was primarily a client of the Soviet Union (not the US), and this relationship continued up until the moment when the Soviet Union collapsed.
That Baathists helped ISIS, before the declaration of the ‘Caliphate,’ to rush into Iraq last year, and assist in the battles for key nodes in Iraq, is indisputable. Even in the Second Battle of Tikrit, just fought in the past few weeks, Baathists were a prominent component of ISIS forces. The very fact that Saddam Hussein’s al-Tikriti tribe was tossed out of their tribal domain certainly bore the hallmarks of the ultimate revenge against the Baathist core.
Moscow’s action were in line with the strategy it had used to defeat the separatist movement in Chechnya, infiltrating the insurgency, driving it into extremism, and facilitating the arrival of al-Qaeda jihadists who displaced the Chechen nationalists. In Syria, Russia’s actions accord with the strategy adopted by the regime and its Iranian masters to present Assad as the last line of defence against a terrorist takeover of Syria and a genocide against the minorities. New evidence has emerged to underline these points.
Testimony from gendarmerie officers in court documents reviewed by Reuters allege that rocket parts, ammunition and semi-finished mortar shells were carried in trucks accompanied by state intelligence agency (MIT) officials more than a year ago to parts of Syria under Islamist control.
Four trucks were searched in the southern province of Adana in raids by police and gendarmerie, one in November 2013 and the three others in January 2014, on the orders of prosecutors acting on tip-offs that they were carrying weapons, according to testimony from the prosecutors, who now themselves face trial.
While the first truck was seized, the three others were allowed to continue their journey after MIT officials accompanying the cargo threatened police and physically resisted the search, according to the testimony and prosecutor’s report.
“In a process of profound importance, five Arab states in the Middle East have effectively ceased to exist over the last decade. The five states in question are Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Libya. It is possible that more will follow.
The causes of their disappearance are not all the same. In two cases (Iraq, Libya) it was Western military intervention which began the process of collapse. In another case (Lebanon) it is intervention from a Middle Eastern state (Iran) which is at the root of the definitive hollowing out of the state.”
The scapegoating of the Jews : KSA vs Iran / Sunni vs Shiite : medieval conflict vs modern transition (with other cultural essentials intact) should probably be on the table for discussion all at once, for they seem to me inseparable issues.
Is security in the ME a “balance of power” issue? Are conflicts in the region about imposing one will or another on large populations? Or are they about “updating” — i.e., seeing things very differently?
Is ISIS a Sunni enterprise reinforcing Sunni vs Shiite animus — or is it an entity that needs to be fought by Sunni, Shiite, Christian, and other forces in concert?
In which world should a reader wish to live?
The one of deceit dividing others from self — or the one of integrity in which a virtue is a universal virtue?
A world modeled on “all against all” and certain to find cause for further division and means toward a nefarious discrimination and patronage — or the other that is “all for all” and against those who foment division and promote conflict between what they divide?