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Bernard Lewis: Son of Nuri as-Said Returns?


An alarming and bizarre suggestion for Iraq has resurfaced, touted by two people who should know better. Respected Middle East academic Bernard Lewis and ex CIA director James Woolsey suggest that the best plan for Iraqi democracy is (are you ready for this one??) restoration of the Hashemite monarchy.

Recall that the Hashemites were promised "Arabia" by T.E. Lawrence, but the British could not deliver. The Wahhabi's ousted the Hashemites from Saudi Arabia and the French, with British help, ousted Feisal from Syria. Syria and Saudi Arabia have always been afraid of a return of the Hashemites, a fear shared by the Egyptians, who would not like to be eclipsed by a united Arab state. As consolation prizes, the Hashemi family were given Jordan and Iraq, but of course they lost Iraq in a revolution in the 50s, with the body of the hated pro-British Nuri as-Said being dragged through the streets tied to an automobile.

Now the conservative geniuses in Washington DC want to recycle this idea. What could be more democratic, argue Bernard Lewis and James Woolsey, then a constitution? What constituion could be more logical than the 1925 Made-in-Britain Iraqi constitution that names the Hashemites as rulers of Iraq? Indeed, what could be more democratic then restoration of a British imposed constitution that names who must be the ruler? You learned in school that democracy is supposed to be a government chosen by the people. Forget about that kid stuff. Middle East expert Bernard Lewis, fond of teaching the Middle East about Western notions of progress, is about to teach us natives all about democracy. The constitution determines the ruler, saving the people of Iraq a lot of needless fuss.

Iraq's neighbors and some other people might justifiably be alarmed by this idea. Not mentioned in this article, but discussed last year at length, is the fact that restoration of the Hashemites is part of a larger and even more fantastic plan that would unite Iraq and Jordan (and probably Saudi Arabia and Syria) and transfer Palestinians to Iraq and Jordan.

In an article in the Israeli newpaper Yedioth Ahronot, Alex Fishman wrote on September 21 2002:

The revolutionary group in the Pentagon is processing the world perceptions of the RAND Institute into operative plans. The goal: change of the political map through military means. And by the way, they also have a detailed plan for us. For example, in the working presentation at the Pentagon it was stated that Palestine is actually Israel. Otherwise said, the Palestinians will be able to realize their national aspirations mainly in a state like Jordan. Jordan takes on a key role. According to this plan, when the story of the Ba'ath regime in Iraq is over with, democratic Iraq will return to be part of the Hashemite Kingdom. It is not a coincidence that the Americans invited prince Hasan of Jordan to two meetings with the Iraqi opposition sitting in London. A clue to the Palestine is Israel approach can be found in a public statement made by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who referred to the Israeli presence in the territories as so-called occupation.

This plan cannot fail to raise justifiable consternation in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It should also raise consternation in Israel. In the fullness of time, according to this plan, there would be one Arab state encompassing Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and Iraq under the benign and US-er friendly ruler of the Hashemites. In effect, the Caliphate, or a parody of it would be restored, and almost the whole Middle East would be pro-US and pro-Israel. But what goes around surely comes around. What happens when the people, spearheaded perhaps by dissatisfied Palestinian radicals, revolt against this government, drag the latter0day Nuri-as-Said (possibly Ahmed Chalabi) through the streets of Baghdad or Hejaz, and proclaim a United Arab Republic under a new edition of Saddam Hussein?

The entire scenario may be the product of paranoia, but if so, the madness is shared by many. The Hashemite monarchy plan was also touted by National Review editor David Pryce-Jones in September 2002. Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean everyone is NOT out to get you.

Ami Isseroff


King and Country
The Hashemite solution for Iraq.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003 12:01 a.m. EST

Following the recent passage of the Security Council resolution on Iraq, the key issue continues to
be how quickly to move toward sovereignty and democracy for a new government. The resolution's call
for the Iraqi Governing Council to establish a timetable by Dec. 15 for creating a constitution and
a democratic government has papered over differences for the time being.

But there are still substantial disagreements even among people who want to see democracy and the
rule of law in Iraq as promptly as possible. The U.S. sees the need for time to do the job right.
France, Germany and Russia want both more U.N. participation and more speed--a pair of mutually
exclusive objectives if there ever was one. Some Iraqis call for an elected constitutional
convention, others for a rapid conferring of sovereignty, some for both. Many Middle Eastern
governments oppose democracy and thus some support whatever they think will fail.

There may be a path through this thickening fog, made thicker by the rocket and suicide-bombing
attacks of the last three days. It is important to help Ambassador Paul Bremer and the coalition
forces to establish security. But it is also important to take an early step toward Iraqi
sovereignty and to move toward representative government. The key is that Iraq already has a
constitution. It was legally adopted in 1925 and Iraq was governed under it until the series of
military, then Baathist, coups began in 1958 and brought over four decades of steadily worsening
dictatorship. Iraqis never chose to abandon their 1925 constitution--it was taken from them. The
document is not ideal, and it is doubtless not the constitution under which a modern democratic Iraq
will ultimately be governed. But a quick review indicates that it has some very useful features that
would permit it to be used on an interim basis while a new constitution is drafted. Indeed, the
latter could be approved as an omnibus amendment to the 1925 document.
This seems possible because the 1925 Iraqi constitution--which establishes that the nation's
sovereignty "resides in the people"--provides for an elected lower house of parliament, which has a
major role in approving constitutional amendments. It also contains a section on "The Rights of the
People" that declares Islam as the official religion, but also provides for freedom of worship for
all Islamic sects and indeed for all religions and for "complete freedom of conscience." It further
guarantees "freedom of expression of opinion, liberty of publication, of meeting together, and of
forming and joining associations." In different words, the essence of much of our own Bill of Rights
is reflected therein.

We need not shy away from the 1925 constitution because it establishes a constitutional monarchy.
Understandings could readily be worked out that would not lead to a diminution of Amb. Bremer's
substantive authority in vital areas during the transition--some ministries may, e.g., transition to
Iraqi control before others. In the document as it now stands the monarch has some important powers
since he appoints the government's ministers, including a prime minister, and the members of the
upper house, or senate. Many of these and other provisions would doubtless be changed through
amendment, although the members of the current Governing Council might be reasonably appointed to
some of these positions on an interim basis. Some new features, such as explicit recognition of
equal rights for women, a point not clear in the 1925 document, would need to be adopted at the
outset. During a transition, pursuant to consultations with Amb. Bremer and with groups in Iraq, the
king could under the constitution appoint ministers, including a prime minister, and also adopt
provisional rules for elections. The elected parliament could then take a leading role in amending
the constitution and establishing the rules for holding further elections.

Using the 1925 constitution as a transitional document would be entirely consistent with permanently
establishing as head of state either a president or a monarch that, like the U.K.'s, reigns but does
not rule.

It is worth noting that monarchy and democracy coexist happily in a number of countries. Indeed, of
the nations that have been democracies for a very long time and show every sign that they will
remain so, a substantial majority are constitutional monarchies (the U.S. and Switzerland being the
principal exceptions). And we should recall how important King Juan Carlos was to the transition
from fascism to democracy in Spain. As odd as the notion may seem to Americans whose national
identity was forged in rebellion against George III, there is nothing fundamentally undemocratic
about a limited monarchy's serving as a transitional, or even a long-term, constitutional structure
in Iraq or any other country.

Selecting the right monarch for the transitional government would be vitally important.
Conveniently, the 1925 constitution provides that the people of Iraq are deemed to have "confided .
. . a trust" to "King Faisal, son of Hussain, and to his heirs . . . ." If the allies who liberated
Iraq recognized an heir of this Hashemite line as its constitutional monarch, and this monarch
agreed to help bring about a modern democracy under the rule of law, such a structure could well be
the framework for a much smoother transition to democracy than now seems at hand. The Sunni
Hashemites, being able to claim direct descent from the Prophet Mohammed, have historically been
respected by the Shiites, who constitute a majority of the people of Iraq, although the latter
recognize a different branch of the family. It is the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, not the Hashemites,
who have been the Shiites' persecutors.

The respect enjoyed by the Hashemites has been earned. They have had a generally deserved reputation for tolerance and coexistence with other faiths and other branches of Islam. Many Iraqis look back on the era of Hashemite rule from the 1920s to the 1950s as a golden age. And during the period of over 1,000 years when the Hashemites ruled the Hejaz, wherein the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina are located, they dealt tolerantly with all Muslims during the Haj, or annual pilgrimage. Disagreements and tension under Hashemite rule have never come close either to the bloody conflicts of many centuries' duration in Europe between Catholics and Protestants or to the massacres and hatred perpetrated by the Wahhabis and their allies in the House of Saud.

Recently in a brilliant essay in the New Republic, Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen has pointed out
that tolerance and "the exercise of public reason" have given democracy solid roots in many of the
world's non-European cultures, and that balloting must be accompanied by such local traditions in
order for democracy and the rule of law to take root. The legitimacy and continuity which the
Hashemites represent for large numbers of people in the Middle East, and the tolerance of "public
reason" with which they have been associated, could provide a useful underpinning for the growth of
democracy in Iraq.

Historically, rulers in the Middle East have held office for life and have nominated their
successors, ordinarily from within the reigning family. This ensured legitimacy, stability and
continuity, and usually though not invariably took the form of monarchy. In the modern era
succession by violence has sadly become more prevalent. It would be reasonable to use the
traditional Middle Eastern concepts of legitimacy and succession and to build on the wide and
historic appreciation for the rule of law and of limited government to help bring about a transition
to democracy. The identification of legitimacy with the Western practice of balloting has now
occurred in many cultures around the world, but it may well occur sooner in Iraq if it is developed
at least initially as an expanding aspect of an already legitimate constitutional order.

Some contend that a process that gave the U.N. a central role would somehow confer legitimacy. We
are at a loss to understand this argument. Nearly 40% of the U.N. members' governments do not
practice succession by election. In the Middle East only Israel and Turkey do so. Why waste time
with U.N. member governments, many of them nondemocratic, working out their differences--and some
indeed fundamentally oppose democracy in Iraq--when the key parties who need to do that are the
Iraqis? Besides, real legitimacy ultimately will come about when Iraq has a government that
"deriv[es] its just power from the consent of the governed." During a transition in which Iraq is
moving toward democracy, a government that is operating under its existing constitution, with a
monarch as called for in that document, is at least as legitimate as the governments of U.N. members
that are not democracies at all.

Much would hinge on the willingness of the king to work closely and cooperatively with Amb. Bremer
and to appoint a responsible and able prime minister. The king should be a Hashemite prince with
political experience and no political obligations or commitments. In view of the nation's Shiite
majority, the prime minister should be a modern Shiite with a record of opposition to tyranny and
oppression. Such leaders would be well-suited to begin the process that would in time lead to
genuinely free and fair elections, sound amendments to the 1925 Iraqi Constitution, and the election
of a truly representative governing body. We would also strongly suggest that the choices of king
and prime minister be made on the basis of character, ability and political experience--not on the
basis of bias, self-interest, grudges or rivalries held or felt by some in the region and indeed by
some in the U.S. government.

Mr. Lewis is a professor emeritus at Princeton and the author, most recently, of "The Crisis of
Islam" (Modern Library, 2003). Mr. Woolsey is a former director of the CIA.

August 22, 2002, 9:00 a.m.
A Time for Kings?
Hashemites and others in the Arab mix.
By David Pryce-Jones, from the September 2, 2002, issue of National Review

Washington is searching for a successor regime to Saddam Hussein. It is an exercise in political science. Can an even passably democratic government be devised to take the place of a dictator who has stripped his people of decency and trust in others? Iraqis of all sorts are putting themselves forward: dissidents and exiles, former army officers who fled from Saddam in fear of their lives, men of substance certainly. But how representative are they? Why should Iraqis have confidence in self-selected and evidently ambitious leaders whose legitimacy is questionable? This is where the Hashemite family comes in. The last ruler in Baghdad to enjoy legitimacy was a Hashemite, King Faisal II, grandson of the man appointed imposed, if you will by the British after World War I to rule Iraq. The legitimacy was admittedly tenuous, but better than none at all. A return to a constitutional monarchy might provide the framework for law and order and national unity.

Communism and Arab sodeletedm almost put paid during the Cold War to monarchy in the Middle East. King Farouk, the gross but witty last king of Egypt, once quipped that soon there would be only five kings left in the world: the King of England and the kings of diamonds, hearts, spades, and clubs. In 1952, revolutionary Egyptian officers, Gamal Abdul Nasser among them, dispatched him on his yacht into exile. Six years later, revolutionary Iraqi officers mercilessly murdered their young king, Faisal II, along with many members of his Hashemite family. With a combination of luck and courage, his first cousin King Hussein of Jordan survived about a dozen conspiracies to kill him in the course of his long reign. The late King Hassan of Morocco was almost King Hussein's equal in surviving assassination attempts. In 1975 King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was shot dead by one of his nephews, and if Osama bin Laden now has his way the entire Saudi royal family is doomed. Another Muslim absolute monarch, Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, was driven off the throne of Iran in 1979 by Islamic fundamentalists.

Whatever ideological credentials they may have boasted, successful revolutionaries in practice kept themselves in power by means of force and the secret police. But even men of that type seem to find it natural to aspire to found a dynasty. In Syria today, Bashar Assad is president only because his father once seized power and eliminated his opponents. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Saddam Hussein, and Libya's Muammar Qaddafi are all grooming sons as successors. Lack of legitimacy does not inhibit them.

The passing of power from one ruler to the next in this personal way is a constant source of instability. Anyone with the will and ambition for it has only to decide to seize power for himself, and so upset the state, to be dispossessed in turn by a rival. The spiral of violence is self-perpetuating. Islamic history is an unrelieved tale of usurpation by means of murder and palace coups and revolution. So it was once in the West, of course, where many a ruling family began as usurpers, and only the hereditary principle and the passage of time brought legitimacy. The evolution of the constitutional arrangements of parliaments, parties, and elections gradually introduced the transfer of power by consent, that cardinal stabilizing virtue of democracy.

The principle of hereditary monarchy doesn't attract many defenders in a world of equal opportunity and anti-elitism. But it may have a special role to play when a totalitarian or police state collapses, and the successor state has to form in a void where political legitimacy is an unknown quantity. After the death of Franco, for instance, Spain was open to a right-wing coup and possible civil war. The restoration of constitutional monarchy under King Juan Carlos instead laid the basis of a successful democracy. The return of King Simeon to Bulgaria provided a sense of national identity and continuity, whereas King Michael of Romania failed to take his chance to do the same, and his country is suffering as a result. In Afghanistan, reinstated from exile in spite of his advanced age, Zahir Shah has been a symbol of unity. Many Iranians hope that Reza Pahlavi, the former shah's son, will one day play that role in an Iran liberated from the mullahs. Even post-Soviet Russia has spasms of Romanov nostalgia.

The Hashemite family has a legitimacy which derives from Islam. They claim descent from Hashem, a forebear of the prophet Muhammad. With this ancestry, as they traditionally asserted in the days of the Ottoman Empire, came the right to rule the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in the Hijaz. The sharif, or head of the family, carried the title of Guardian of the Two Shrines. Toward the end of the 19th century, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, a British Arabist, prophesied that if a man of real ability were to appear in the Hashemite family, he would be sure to find "an almost universal following." The result, Blunt fancifully imagined, would be a "liberal Islam."

Ambitious in the extreme and no sort of "liberal," Sharif Hussein, the then Guardian of the Two Shrines, perceived the outbreak of World War I as his chance to become a future King of the Arabs, and with consummate skill embroiled the Ottoman Turks and the British in his schemes of aggrandizement. In his entry in Who's Who he comically recorded among his recreations, "The problems of the Near East," of which he was a prime specimen. In the post-1918 settlement, the British invented the kingdoms of Transjordan (later Jordan) and Iraq for his two sons Abdullah and Faisal I respectively. But the Sharif himself neglected home ground. Unexpectedly, a local rival, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, soon drove him out of Mecca and Medina into exile and early death, usurped the title of Guardian of the Two Shrines, appointed himself king, and founded the present Saudi dynasty.

Incorporating the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, King Abdullah consolidated Jordan and so further legitimized the rule of his family. In 1951 he was murdered by a Palestinian. His grandson and successor, Hussein, then survived for almost half a century. An honorable man, he ran what might be called a benign police state. The murder in 1958 of his cousin Faisal II put an end to a proposed Hashemite federation of Jordan and Iraq. At the time of the 1967 war, though, King Hussein allied himself to Nasser and so lost the West Bank. In the 1991 Gulf War, he sided with Saddam. Mistakes at this level cost him dearly. For years his heir was his brother, Crown Prince Hassan, but a few days before his death in 1999 he abruptly decided instead to bequeath the throne to his eldest son, Abdullah II, a young man in his mid 30s without much experience outside the army.

Crown Prince Hassan accepted his disinheritance gracefully. Now 55, he has the manners, and even the appearance, of an English gentleman. His voice is positively fruity. He wrote, or at least put his name to, a short but favorable book about Christians in the Middle East. His wife is a vivacious Pakistani. A longtime fixture at international gatherings, he can be relied on for common sense. Expectation is gathering around him. Recently he caused a sensation by turning up without warning at a conference in London of Iraqi opposition leaders, many of them ex-generals. Discreetly, he claimed to be present merely as an observer, but he could not have made it plainer that if the position were open after the downfall of Saddam, he would be available to be king of Iraq. Stung, King Abdullah said that his uncle had "blundered," and as a result "we're all picking up the pieces." Rushing in panic to Washington and London, Abdullah is currently pleading that war against Iraq would be a "tremendous mistake" and "the whole thing might unravel." Rumors circulate that he is in Saddam's pocket. Probably he is afraid that a Hashemite federation of Jordan and Iraq might after all be created, with his uncle becoming supremo.

Other claimants descend from the Iraqi branch of the Hashemites. One is Prince Adil ibn Faisal, an eccentric character at present detained in Morocco for using false identity papers. He claims that Iraqi opposition groups are persecuting him. More plausible is Sharif Ali bin Hussein, whose mother was Faisal II's aunt. Just two years old at the time of the 1958 massacre of his branch of the royal family, he has been a banker in London, and now has a Constitutional Monarchy Movement backing him. He too attended the recent London conference.

Political decisions in Washington, and facts on the ground in the Middle East, will ultimately resolve all the jockeying for position. Restoration of a Hashemite to the throne of Iraq has its logic at a time when rulers and boundaries are in question. But if justice were properly to be done, Saudi Arabia ought to be broken up, and the Hijaz and the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina returned to the Hashemites, who have a more legitimate title to rule than the Saudi family. There might then be a "liberal" Islam after all. That would be a truly historic vindication.

David Pryce-Jones is an NR senior editor whose books include The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs, available in a new edition from Ivan R. Dee.

Iraq And Jordan Will Become One Hashemite State
By Alex Fishman, Yediot Aharonot, 6 September 2002
The tip of the iceberg of the American strategy has been exposed in a study presented at the Pentagon and labeled classified material.

The military attack on Iraq is just the first goal, Saudi Arabia is the strategic goal and Egypt is The Big Prize.
The goal: democratization in societies that spawne the wild growths of Al-Qaida.
The Palestinians, according to this plan, will have to find their place in Jordan.
This is how the loving American hug may become a source of big troubles for Israel.
The David Sutterfield Show, that's how one can summarize the visit of US deputy assistant secretary of state for Middle Eastern affairs. It is a long time since so many smiles were seen here. Sutterfield, one of the prominent figures in shaping the policy of the US State Department in our area, raised roars of laughter in his meetings with the senior Israeli military and political officials.

Sutterfield told, for examples, about a conversation he held with the National Security advisor at the White house, Condoleezza Rice. The subject of the conversation was Arafat's wish to participate in the UN assembly meeting in September, and the pressure that the administration is applying on UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, to prevent this. You know what 'Condi' proposed, chuckled Sutterfield. If Arafat's plane nears US skies in spite of all, we'll take it down..

The thundering laughter of the senior Israeli officials typifies their satisfaction from the visit, which left them with one main conclusion: Arafat, from the American standpoint, is erased. The only concession the Americans are willing to give the Palestinians with regard to their leadership is that the change of power will be committed gradually. The Americans don't have a problem with Arafat continuing to sit in the Mukata'a. But he won't have any rehabilitation.

On this matter Sutterfield had, on the eve of his arrival here, a stormy meeting with the trio of senior negotiators - the Russian Vodovin, Moratinos from the EU, and Larsen from the UN. The US approach to Arafat doesn't give him any hope, they roared. You are leading the Palestinians to the conclusion that they have no alternative but terrorism.

Sutterfield and his aides were not convinced, not even by the loud volume. The estimate is, as in Israel, that there is scant connection between the American approach to Arafat and the Palestinian motivation to continue along the path of terror.

During Sutterfield's visit it became known that the Americans are not in a hurry to hold the elections to the Palestinian Authority. Although they do want the elections to be instrumental in a change of leadership, there is no urgency in it.

The only disagreement that Sutterfield had with the Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, concerned the need to hold a session of the Palestinian legislative council in Ramallah to approve the new cabinet. On Sunday, during the government meeting, Sharon still thought this was a bad idea and hinted to the ministers that he would not give his hand to this gathering. Two days later, minister Itzhak Levi was astounded when he found out that Sharon had changed his mind. No one tells me anything, complained Levi.

The background to Sharon's change of mind was the nearly unlimited American support of the Israeli approach to the Palestinian Authority and Arafat. The support is so clear, that it is just a pity to get into a confrontation with them on an issue which is not really one of principle.

The Americans, for their part, acted diplomatically: they did not make the disagreement public, so that Sharon did not feel that he was giving in to pressure. If Arafat is in any case a dead man in the eyes of the Americans, why not let him summon the Legislative Council to appoint some unimportant ministers.

A Reminder from Alistair Crock
Sutterfield reported to the administration, that in his meetings with Sharon and with the Chief of Staff, Moshe Ya'alon, he heard a new term: the Israeli government is committed to a policy of constructive destruction of the Palestinian Authority (before Chief of Staff Ya'alon hurries to deny that he made such a statement, we'll note that the words written here are taken from an American report on the conversations with him. So maybe he was misunderstood again.). Constructive destruction means that Israel would eliminate the Authority in order to enable the growth of a new ruling system that is not infected with terror.

By the way, Sutterfield and Ya'alon had a conversation on the developments in Palestinian society, the attempts at internal negotiations and the Tanzim's initiative for a cease-fire - which has received a boost this week. The Americans got the impression that Israel would not disrupt and would even look positively upon these attempts at a cease-fire.

Sutterfield is heading an effort of applying pressure on the extremists in the Islamic movements to join them to the initiative. Therefore, he went to Damascus to talk with the Syrians about their support of Hamas from the outside. The Americans also left Islamic extremists in the area with the impression that they would raise them to the top of the terror list - if they sabotage the process of pacification and the cease-fire.

And before the heads of the Army claim once again that they knew of no initiatives for a cease-fire, it should be mentioned that this week Alistair Crock, the British intelligence man working for the EU, again briefed the head of the Research Department at the Israeli Army Intelligence on these initiatives (for those who forgot, the same Alistair Crock briefed senior army commanders on the initiative for cease-fire which had been taking shape, on the eve of Shehada's assasination). To the Americans it is important that the area will calm down through arrangements for a cease-fire, but at the same time the administration has its own pace in all that regards regional arrangements. The Americans are have already made it clear to the Palestinians that they have no intention to specify the components of the final settlement beyond what was said in the Bush speech. Now, the Americans are talking about the summer of 2005 as the target date for a final settlement and the foundation of a Palestinian state.

A three-stage plan is involved: after Sutterfield's return to Washington, the administration will present both sides with a series of steps - sign-posts, without target dates - for each side to take. The Palestinians will need to calm the ground, to commit reforms and to go to elections; Israel will mainly commit to humanitarian steps.

At the end of 2003, or the beginning of 2004, an international convention will be held, in which the final status accords will discussed. And then, the plan of action leading to the end of the conflict will be made. The third stage, at the beginning of 2005, is supposed to be the implementation of the permanent settlement. In Middle Eastern terms we are talking about nearly the end of time. Who knows what will be here by then.

What is certain: with such a plan, Sharon passes the next elections in Israel without any giving, withdrawal, or concessions to the Palestinians - and that is what he wants.

Egypt On Target

The status of the Palestinians in the international arena is at the nadir. In two years of Intifada they have lost their underware, to use terms from the world of the Casino. Arafat, personally, is responsible for their situation. When he went to the Intifada, Arafat could not take an important component into account: the great revolution, whose extent is hard to grasp, in the American administration's approach to the Middle East. This revolution comes from the school of vice-president Cheney and the seniors in the Pentagon, and has caught onto the people of the White House.

We are talking about a revolutionary group, with a totally different approach to the Arab world and the threats coming from it, says professor Ehud Sprintzak, a world expert on terror and researcher at the Herzelya Institute of Interdisciplinary Research, who recently returned from a series of meetings with heads of the Pentagon: One can summarize their approach in one sentence: they think that the Arab world is a world of retards who only understand the language of force.

From this it is easier to understand the current American approach to the conflict with the Palestinians and to the expected confrontation with Iraq, and the utterances in the Pentagon about the Saudi danger.

The main players in this revolution are Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. But the ideological explanation fueling all the plans for action of the revolution is provided by three other figures: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, his deputy Douglas Faith, and above them the Ideologist Richard (Dick) Perl. Perl heads the Advisory Committee to the Pentagon, a civil, statutory institution.

[Note by Mewnews - This refers to the well known bizarre slide presentation done by Laurent Murawiec, not necessarily based on any study and not necessarily in affiliation with RAND.

The tip of the iceberg of the worldview behind this American revolution was recently exposed through a leak from a study prepared by the RAND Institute, which was presented in mid-month at the Pentagon and was labeled classified material. The RAND Institute has been undertaking research and planning work for the administration for decades, mainly for the Pentagon. It turns out that Richard Perl invited a study from RAND entitled What should be the American strategy in the Middle East. Where Middle East means the area spanning North Africa to Afghanistan.

As part of the presentation of the study at the Pentagon, a slide was projected, in which Saudi Arabia was defined as an enemy that needs to be dealt with. The contents of the slide were leaked, and received great media exposure. The Saudis threatened and even executed withdrawal of monies from the US. President Bush got worried, invited Saudi prince Bandar for a reconciliation and RAND started to dissociate itself, to a certain extent, from the study it has prepared. But that doesn't matter anymore. This study reflects the ideology held by those who ordered it. And, by the way, Israelis who recently visited the Pentagon and discussed issues related to the Middle East quite enjoyed the crumbs of this study that leaked.

The RAND study also puts the war against Iraq in some logical context, which fits in a much wider picture. According to one of the sources, the summarizing slide of the study's presentation - which is actually a summary of the new American strategy in the middle east - states: the American attack in Iraq is actually the tactical aim, Saudi Arabia is the strategic aim and Egypt is the Big Prize.

This means that this group in fact sees change of regimes in these three states as a strategic aim. The logic behind this strategy is that a body like Al-Qaida - the heart of terror and the enemy of American culture - grows out of the educational systems and the social and ruling systems now in place in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. These societies spawned the wild growths of Al-Qaida, and therefore changes should be brought about - democratization, liberalization and westernization. In other words: they should stop threatening the US with its interests in the Arab countries. We are dealing with backward countries and they should be treated accordingly.

No wonder Prime Minister Sharon, who has visited the US six times and has had long meeting with the senior Pentagon officials, returned home and reported to those surrounding him with a sense of relief: There's no need to fear minister Efi Eitam's [promoter of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians] opinions. Compared to our American friends he's a lily-white dove.

Democracy and Ayatolahs
Professor Ehud Sprintzak has recently heard from the Americans why it is convenient for them to start by treating Iraq. By the American estimate, Iraq has a potential of quality manpower, which can be harnessed to social-economic development and democratic aspirations. When this happens, Iraqi oil will give a good solution to the West, in place of the reliance on Saudi oil. Taking control of Iraq will also be a clear message to the Iranians. But Iraq, as was said, is only the beginning.

A former senior official in the Israeli security establishment, who is not suspect of leftist leanings, met at the end of August with senior members of the Advisory Committee to the Pentagon, who presented before him their worldview with regard to the optimal strategy in the Middle East. The man was shocked by the dangerous potential that this worldview has with respect to Israeli interests, and expressed his opinion to the Americans: if you want a total explosion with the Arab world and want to put Israel in a mess coping with crazy radical regimes, then I recommend you to repeat President Carter's successful plan - bringing democratization to the Shah's Iran. The message was clear: exalted ambitions brought the Ayatolahs to Iran, and that is exactly what might happen in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia and in other moderate states in the Arab world.

The loving hug of the Americans now serves the Israeli goals facing the Palestinians, but this love may in the future be a cause of great troubles for us. Instability in the region is just one of them.

The revolutionary group in the Pentagon is processing the world perceptions of the RAND Institute into operative plans. The goal: change of the political map through military means. And by the way, they also have a detailed plan for us. For example, in the working presentation at the Pentagon it was stated that Palestine is actually Israel. Otherwise said, the Palestinians will be able to realize their national aspirations mainly in a state like Jordan. Jordan takes on a key role. According to this plan, when the story of the Ba'ath regime in Iraq is over with, democratic Iraq will return to be part of the Hashemite Kingdom. It is not a coincidence that the Americans invited prince Hasan of Jordan to two meetings with the Iraqi opposition sitting in London. A clue to the Palestine is Israel approach can be found in a public statement made by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who referred to the Israeli presence in the territories as so-called occupation.

Kissinger Doesn't Phone
Three formerly senior Republicans went out publicly against the race for a confrontation with Iraq: Henry Kissinger, the mythological Secretary of State, Brent Scawcroft, Security Advisor of Bush the father, and Jim Baker, Secretary of State, Head of White Hose Staff, National Security Advisor, and - mainly - Bush the son's lawyer, who handled the Florida vote-counting affair for Bush and brought him to the presidency.

This trio has arguments: the conditions are not ripe, there is no outside support, there is no internal support. But the question is raised why they are going public. Surely each of them knows Bush's home phone number and can tell it to his ear. The three senior diplomats, it turns out, have gotten scared of the ideological messianism of the revolutionary group at the Pentagon and the White House. And meanwhile, the sand-clock for a war with Iraq is continuing to run out. Bush's firm commitments are pushing him to the corner: if he doesn't put them into action, he could find himself out of the picture in the next elections as someone who failed to undertake his commitments. His father, for example, who said read my lips about raising taxes and failed his commitment - paid the price.

On the level of principle, the decision to go to war has already been taken. If one tries to learn something through the smoke-screen of psychological warfare, the Pentagon is continuing to roll plans. At the beginning it was a grandiose plan of 500,000 soldiers, to take the sure route. Later the numbers were reduced to 180,000. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is still not satisfied. He wants a sophisticated project, on the scale of 75,000 soldiers, a lot of special forces, smart ammunition, Afghanistan-style operations. The invitation of Jordanian prince Hasan to London also brings to mind the Afghan finale: toppling of the regime and bringing back the good old king.

Israel is, in the meanwhile, enjoying the post-September 11 American policy. One can continue to enjoy Ms. Rice's jokes at Arafat's expense but it should be remembered that behind these jokes there is a much bigger plan which should not necessarily make us happy.

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