MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Sunday, November 30, 2003
Anti-Peace Peace Groups
The upcoming launching of the informal Geneva Accord has provoked widespread opposition from extremists of all sides and from the Israeli government. The Israel government and the Yesha council are opposed to the agreements, as are extremist Palestinian groups. Surprisingly, among the opponents are Israel labor party leaders Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak, who were apparently more worried about Amram Mitzna stealing their thunder than about making peace.
Dialogue is Dangerous
In the Middle East, dialogue can be hazardous to your health and liberty. Salah Uddin Shoab Choudhoury, editor of the Weekly Blitz in Bangladesh , is a practicing Muslim and ardent advocate of dialogue and moderation. He has written articles against Islamist extremism. He agreed to open a Bangladeshi branch of IFLAC, a group that advocates dialogue through literature and culture. He was to address an Israeli writers conference on the role of media in bulding peace. [more]
Thursday, November 27, 2003
How many states?
From time to time, we hear about final settlement plans for Israel and the Palestinians that do not involve a two state solution. These plans are not new. The same plans have been around at least since 1948, and the same types of people are championing them, though they often pretend that their "solution" is suggested by the difficulties of the peace process or demographic considerations or considerations of justice.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
The Emperor's New Peace Plan
Ariel Sharon has the perfect peace plan. It can satisfy everyone. For the doves, it is painful concessions, for the hawks, it is a strategic withdrawal. It is the talk of the town, and everyone sees it a different way. It doesn't exist, but in the context of the virtual peace process, that is a minor defect. It has as much reality as anything else about the road map.
The Israeli-Palestinian non-peace process thrives and has reached new non-heights. Make no mistake: on the ground, in reality, nothing happens, nothing at all. No Israeli outposts or settlements or trailers are evacuated. No Palestinian fanatics put down their weapons and give up their suicide belts. Everything is just as it was two years ago. In many people's minds in fact, nothing at all has changed since 1948.
It is just as well perhaps, because real change would be risky for the leaderships of both sides. But the public wants "peace" without any change, and the foreigners - the USA and the EU and the UN - want a peace process. It is not nice to say you don't want peace, and you don't support the peace process. So there is a peace process, and a road map, and a UN resolution about the roadmap, and talk of Palestinian reform and of Israeli withdrawals. However, it is a virtual peace process, and the withdrawals of the Israelis and the concessions of the Palestinians are virtual withdrawals and concessions. For Americans watching the news it might be substantially the same as the real thing. However, back here in the good old Middle East we are in the same place - we can see through the Matrix illusion. [more]
Monday, November 24, 2003
Just a headline?
The New York Times article below, entitled "Hezbollah, in Iraq, Refrains From Attacks on Americans," is just informing us about the presence of a Hezbollah group in Iraq and explains that the unit remains passive. The article goes on to discuss various possibilities to explain the presence of the group and its passivity.
Thursday, November 20, 2003
More Horrors in Turkey - Holy Murder
[updated] Once again, Turkey has been targeted by terrorists. This morning several explosions rocked Istanbul Turkey, apparently part of two or more major attacks that hit the HSBC bank, the British Consulate and apparently, the Metro City shopping center, other targets. Earlier reports described four or five explosions. Later reports claimed there were only two. At least 27 people have died and 400 injured according to latest reports, including the British Consul. British stores were hit in the Metro City shopping center, including Marks and Spencer.
There is no doubt now that the attacks were aimed at Turkey because of the pro-Western and pro-Israel policies of the Turkish government. Turkish Foreign Minister Gul said that Turkey would not bow to terror, and Turkish sources that the attacks are a declaration of war on the free world, and that Turkey would be strengthened in its alliance with the West and with Israel.
Of Road Maps and SOBs
When US President Bush announced his new program for peace in the Middle East last year, including reform of the Palestinian authority and a Palestinian state, his announcement was greeted with skepticism by supporters of Palestine and Bush critics. Israeli PM Ariel Sharon, they pointed out, was a fan of this plan, so it could not be too good for Palestinians. The Bush speech that was so derided by left-wing critics and Palestinians evolved into the quartet road map, and the rest is history.
Who do you believe II?
Israelis and Palestinians have lived in different realities for nearly a century. On each side, there is an apparatus that manufactures the different histories from current events each day. As usual, in recent weeks there have been a spate of incidents that were reported quite differently by Palestinian sources and Israeli sources.
Sometimes the news is manufactured in ways that would be funny if they were not maccabre. Palestinians staged funerals to manufacture evidence for an Israeli 'massacre' in Jenin in 2002, but a camera caught one of the "corpses" as he off the stretcher, and got up and got back on. Recently, the Israeli settler's Web site Arutz-7 ran a story that insisted that leftist activists or Palestinians had uprooted olive trees in a Palestinian village.
The answer is that we can no longer believe the IAF apparently. There were certainly real casualties in that incident. This week, Israeli MK Yossi Sarid claimed that the IAF report on the strike was incomplete, and that the IAF had used additional weapons besides the two missiles. IAF admitted that it had not told the whole story, claiming security limitations. It is not clear that the missing information is related to the unexplained Palestinian casualties, but it is extremely suspicious.
Those who complain that Israeli "public relations" efforts are not good enough at explaining the Israeli position should take into account that sometimes the efforts may be much too good in fact.
Ami Isseroff [more]
Iran's nuclear Pandora's box
Today, Thursday, November 20, 2003, the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will meet in Vienna to decide whether Iran's violations of its nuclear safeguards agreements are severe enough to warrant referral to the UN Security Council in New York, a step that could lead to multilateral diplomatic and economic sanctions. (The key players on the IAEA board and the Security Council are essentially the same few states.) It's clear enough that in light of a new degree of openness and cooperation from Tehran, the Europeans have chosen to resist any move toward confrontation at this time. But the same IAEA Director-General's report of November 10 that details this heightened cooperation also inspires profound pessimism about how much longer Europe's stance of "constructive engagement" can be sustained. [more]
by Analyst @ 09:34 AM CST [Link]
Iraq: the game is already over
There is something perversely fascinating and certainly also painful and sad about watching American "thought leaders" haltingly reconcile themselves to our failure in Iraq, their progress retarded by the continuing need to shield themselves from recognition of what has already happened. Make no mistake about it. Barring the totally unforeseeable, the issue has been decided. When the first bomb blew up the first pipeline, the game was already over. [more]
by Analyst @ 07:48 AM CST [Link]
Monday, November 17, 2003
New Hope for Peace?
Recent events provide the first signs of new hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Both sides in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict had long ago adopted the idea that the best thing to do regarding progress toward peace is... nothing. If this nothing could be accompanied by noise and fanfare about peace, so much the better, as long as the time could be used to entrench positions and create "facts on the ground."
Sunday, November 16, 2003
Horror in Turkey - Anti-what?
The synagogue bombings in Turkey that killed 23 will undoubtedly evoke cries of "antisemitism." There is no doubt that antisemitism was an element in this murderous act, just as anti-Americanism was exploited by the attacks of Osama-Bin-Ladin on the World Trade Center. However, in both cases, the real target was a local regime. Osama Bin Ladin was really aiming to topple the pro-American Saudi Regime, and the current terror hit in Turkey was aimed at the pro-Israel and pro-West Turkish regime. It was another in a long serious of attacks against targets in moderate Arab and Muslim countries, including murderous attacks in Bali, Indonesia, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and in Casablanca, Morocco.
Friday, November 14, 2003
Is there a "Carlos Westendorp" moment in Paul Bremer's future?
The Philadelphia Inquirer, ordinarily not a news leader, yesterday was first to describe an alarming report from the CIA's Baghdad station chief. The report, endorsed by CPA chief Paul Bremer, claims that most Iraqis now consider Americans to be occupiers, not liberators -- an estimate of the situation strikingly at odds with the publicly presented views of the Administration.
Today, the Inquirer further says that Bremer will present a series of options to the Iraqi Governing Council over the coming weekend in an attempt to force an accelerated transfer of power. [more]
by Analyst @ 01:07 AM CST [Link]
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
China's positive role on Iran
It isn't often mentioned, but the Chinese government played an instrumental role in exposing Iran's plutonium separation experiments, thus helping to bring about yesterday's breakthrough on nuclear safeguards. [more]
by Analyst @ 04:59 PM CST [Link]
They will make a dictatorship and call it democracy
Arab world reactions to President Bush's "Democracy" speech ranged from cautious optimism to
The meaning of victory in Iraq
In the past two weeks, the most visible, high-profile events in Iraq have been the repeated attacks on U.S. facilities in Baghdad, near-simultaneous suicide bombings at the Red Crescent HQ and police stations around Baghdad, the loss of dozens of Coalition troops (about half of them in two U.S. helicopters), and fierce retaliation by the U.S. military. The situation doesn't look so good. But the most important developments in the Iraqi arena actually have been taking place in Washington. [more]
by Analyst @ 07:19 AM CST [Link]
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Israel's image in the European Union
Monday, November 3, 2003 The Jerusalem Post
by Editor @ 12:22 AM CST [Link]
Monday, November 10, 2003
The latest Riyadh suicide attack
The significance of the latest suicide attack in Riyadh is difficult to gauge. Saudi Arabia is still in many respects a closed society, and reliable information about what happens within its borders is hard to come by. But here are a few impressions. [more]
by Analyst @ 07:51 AM CST [Link]
A letter from Iraq
I've just received, after a period of involuntary silence, an email from a friend in the US Army who is currently serving in Baghdad. He sent it to a large number of people and I don't think he'll mind that it's fetched up here. Here are some excerpts. He mentions a Congressional delegation, apparently the one led in mid-September by Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), the ranking minority member (i.e., the top Democrat) on the House Armed Services Committee.
My friend sometimes uses use elipses (three dots like this: ...). So only when you see them in brackets, like this [...], does that mean I've left something out. [more]
by Analyst @ 07:17 AM CST [Link]
Saturday, November 8, 2003
Hanan Ashrawi Gets Peace Prize
Hanan Ashrawi got the Sydney peace prize and gave what sounded like a fine speech. Her voice of reason was very welcome at last after the long torrent of one-sided invective that usually issues from spokespersons for either side. The award of the prize to Ashrawi was sharply criticized by right-wing Zionist organizations (eg, the ZOA, as quoted in http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/69) who insisted that Ashrawi is a spokesperson for 'terror' and unworthy of a peace prize. Therefore, it is important to examine both the speech and Ashrawi's record.
Friday, November 7, 2003
Iraq: An encouraging word (for the US) from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia
Not everyone in the Arab world is dead set against the US occupation of Iraq, as shown
Rabin: We can't expect them to mourn
Some people are most anxious to institutionalize the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, They want to make it into a neutral, national event, as though it was something that happened a long time ago, because of disagreements that are now long past. The memorial to Rabin would then become part of the national background, like the Lincoln memorial in the United States, symbol to a martyr of a conflict that is over. More correctly, it would become like a statue of Robert E. Lee, a tribute to a great man who happened to fight on the wrong side.
Wednesday, November 5, 2003
Son of Iranian Nukes Worries
The unfolding saga of Iran's hypothetical or real bid to acquire nuclear weapons continues. Iran, a poor a poor country with over 9% of the world's oil reserves and over 15% of the world's gas reserves claims it is investing in nuclear reactors because it is worried about fossil fuel depletion and pollution. Some people might be skeptical of those claims, but many were surprised when Iran filed the additional informatin the IAEA had requested a week ahead of schedule. At the same time, Iran announced it was freezing work on upgrading of uranium, which was the major concern that had led to fears it was building the bomb. Iran also agreed to comply with demands for snap inspections.
Is it enough? Amir Taheri says "no" in the New York Post, and IAEA Chairman Mohamed El-Baradei
Ami Isseroff [more]
Dennis Ross: Israel Needs a Palestinian Partner
In the Wall Street Journal (see below) Dennis Ross writes that Israel needs a Palestinian partner, and that Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei had better be that partner, because there will not be a chance for a third Palestinian Prime Minister.
Certainly, Israel needs a Palestinian partner to carry out the roadmap. But the Palestinians equally need an Israeli partner, and that partner is not in evidence. The failure of Abu Mazen and the chaos in the Palestinian Authority is not Israel's fault, but Israeli actions certainly didn't help. Ahmad Qurei or anyone else cannot survive without the support of the Palestinian people, and they cannot get support for moderate policies unless there is some sign that these policies will pay dividends in Israeli concessions.
Tuesday, November 4, 2003
Explaining "The Talkative American"
by Analyst @ 09:23 PM CST [Link]
Paul Wolfowitz: The Talkative American?
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz exerts a powerful reality distortion field, as evidenced by the very nearly sycophantic rendering of the National Journal's James Kitfield, one of several veteran Washington journalists who accompanied the Great Man on his recent trip to Iraq. [more]
by Analyst @ 09:17 AM CST [Link]
Monday, November 3, 2003
Adding to the Mess
Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan. Usually, it is pursued by opportunistic bastards. The US occupation of Iraq is getting into deeper and deeper trouble, illustrated most recently by the downing of a US helicopter with loss of 16 lives.
Sunday, November 2, 2003
Geneva: Right idea, difficult premises
The article below by Yossi Alpher illustrates to me how "peace" can mean different things to the different sides.
Under a view of openess, of willing to achieve a true peace, Yossi Alpher sees only the disturbances it can bring to Israelis.
For instance, there is no water clause and it is a key issue, writes he. Still, why is it a key issue ? Because, since 1967 Tel Aviv and other Israeli places do get free Palestinian underground waters. Why should it continue that way ? It seems just evident to him.
In the following paragraph, he says that if settlements are hard to defend, they should not be annexed. Without thinking that if a true peace is achieved, there is no need to defend Ariel. Contrarywise, he doesnít ask himself why the Palestinians should accept a peace that leaves them at most 60% of the territories occupied since 1967. Why, in addition, they should accept to convince millions of people that the ROR is impossible while it is impossible to any "conceivable Israeli
by Editor @ 02:27 PM CST [Link]
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