Strange regional alignments in the Gaza Massacre

By Richard Falk

Richard Falk

Prefatory Note

My post below, an earlier version of which was published in AlJazeera English as an opinion piece. It was written before I had the opportunity to read an illuminating assessment of the regional and global turmoil that culminated for now in the massacre carried out by Israeli armed forces in Gaza. I highly recommend “The Tragedy of Great Power: The Massacre of Gaza and the Inevitable Failure of the Arab Spring” written by the learned Islamic jurist and scholar, Khaled Abou El Fadl, a distinguished professor at UCLA School of Law, with the link to the article below:

What makes Professor El Fadl profound essay particularly valuable is his ability to fit the regional pieces together in a convincing manner, showing how and why governments that rule in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, encouraged the overthrow of Egypt’s elected government headed by Mohamed Morsi in mid-2013 and more recently encouraged Israel to destroy Hamas.

He also shows that Hamas is not accurately perceived as a byproduct of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, but has its own “very distinct pedagogies, objectives and methodologies.” In depicting the forces of resistance and transformation as opposed to the geopolitics of counterrevolution as constituting the core struggle taking place throughout the region it becomes clear why the alignments in the Middle East are assuming their current configurations.

It is telling and provocative for Professor El Fadl to situate the Palestinian Liberation Organization (and by implication, the Palestinian Authority) as de facto allies of Sisi’s Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE as well as being existential partners of the United States and Israel in subjugating the region to Western goals.

What has developed further since the end of the Cold War rivalry that long dominated the region should be considered a geopolitical protection racket that gained political salience in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The upheavals of 2011 shook the foundations of the old order, and led to renewals throughout the region of Faustian Bargains by which various authoritarian regimes receive protection, including help with the destruction of any political actor, whether Islamic or not, that dares to challenge this established order composed of ultra-rich native elites claiming dynastic privileges conferred by colonial powers then seeking native collaborators to manage exploited and oppressed populations.

While these elites appease Israel, the masses in the same political space remain passionately and symbolically dedicated to the Palestinian struggle as became evident in the September 9, 2011 attack by several thousand Egyptians on the Israeli Embassy shortly while the heroic memories of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak were still fresh.

Of all the complexities surrounding the reaction of the world to the horrifying spectacle of Israel’s severe criminality in Gaza none is more perplexing than the complicity of most governments throughout the Arab world.

What makes their political posture particularly bewildering is the degree of ethnic, religious, cultural, and historical commonality that creates such close ties of identity among the peoples of the region. And no single issue has been as unifying over the decades for these people than has their long intensely felt opposition to the injustice, suffering, and exploitation that the Palestinian people have endured for the past century as a result of the encroachments of the Zionist movement on their lands. Read More »

TFF PressInfo: GCC Military Command or a More Open Society

By Farhang Jahanpour*

Short e-mail PressInfo version here.

Saudi Military exercises

On 30th April 2014, Saudi Arabia staged its largest-ever military exercises codenamed “Abdullah’s Shield” after the kingdom’s 91-year old ruler and coinciding with the ninth anniversary of his ascension to the throne. The exercises involved 130,000 Saudi troops and showcased some of the latest weapons purchased by the kingdom from the United States and China, including the Chinese CSS-2 intermediate-range ballistic missiles with a range of 2,650 kilometers (1,646 miles) which are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The Chinese version of these missiles is already equipped with nuclear warheads. This was the first time that these missiles had been seen in public in Saudi Arabia.

Crown Prince Salman presided over the exercises, which were also watched by a number of prominent foreign guests, including King Hamad of Bahrain and more pointedly by Gen. Raheel Sharif, the Pakistani chief of the army Staff. There have been persistent rumors over many decades that in return for Saudi funding of the Pakistani nuclear weapons’ program, Pakistan had committed to provide nuclear warheads for CSS-2 missiles, should Saudi Arabia decide to have them. Earlier in the year when Prince Salman visited Pakistan, he personally invited Gen. Sharif to be his guest at the exercises. Pakistani media stressed the point that Gen. Sharif had gone to Jeddah “on the invitation of Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud to witness the military exercise…” (1)

With the exception of Bahrain’s ruler, none of the other GCC rulers watched the exercises. The guests included the crown prince of the UAE, the prime minister of Jordan and military commanders from some GCC states, but Qatar pointedly did not send any representatives. This was yet another sign of a growing rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

A unified GCC Command and Monetary Union

At the GCC summit held in Kuwait in December 2013, the Saudis called for a unified GCC military command to have 100,000 forces, half of which would be contributed by the Saudis. (2) However, other GCC members opposed the idea as they saw it as a way of consolidating Saudi domination of other GCC states and affirming Saudi Arabia’s position as the big brother. Many smaller GCC states value their independence, and while they would like to cooperate with other GCC members, they do not wish to be absorbed into a unified military alliance as junior partners. Oman openly expressed its opposition to the proposal and Qatar and Kuwait also followed suit. Read More »