By Dr. Eyad Sarraj
We do not need a great deal of intelligence, access to classified information, round or square theories to be able to put events into perspective or to understand them in their proper context and to know where we stand. For observers, it is a straightforward process to discern that most daily news bulletins for about ten years now have included a piece of news from Iraq followed by another about Palestine and that the attack on Iraq has coincided with the assault on the Palestinian Authority. As such, would it be outlandish to ask whether plans to target both countries were made simultaneously? After Egypt bowed out of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq had become the next strong Arab country that could threaten Israel while the Palestinian Authority had been demanding land for peace; a clear threat to the Zionist project. Thus, it was imperative to ensnare both Iraq and the Palestinian Authority, to destroy their ambition, and if necessary, to completely destroy them.
The story began in 1997 when a group of US neo-conservatives released a policy document prepared for then Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. The document, entitled ‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm’, detailed an aggressive new policy for solving Israel’s security issues and laid out the features of a plan for a new Middle East. The plan was presented to Netanyahu in 1996 following his rise to power and upon his request. Netanyahu was dissatisfied with the Oslo accords and with the accompanying talks about peace and Palestinian statehood and sought advice on how to get rid of the accords which he saw as a threat to Israel and the settlement project. The document, developed by notorious neo-cons like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, asserted the need to do away with Saddam Hussein and his regime, to find an alternative leadership to Yasser Arafat and to strike both Hezbollah and Syria thus ending the story of land for peace. According to the document, it was decided that peace must only be exchanged for peace and have no relation to land.
However, this required careful planning as nothing happens by chance. Charges against Iraq were being prepared when the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2000 took place; an incident that cannot be excluded from the whole scheme. At the same time it was necessary to thwart the Palestinian endeavor for peace at Camp David. In any case, it was necessary to invent convincing pretexts and a huge campaign was needed to promote the idea that the Iraqis and the Palestinians were the ones responsible. It was important to take advantage of the leading figures by studying their potential reactions so that they would be consistent with their aspirations and pride and it was also important to take advantage of their close associates who had been planned around the leaders to give them “advice” when the time came.
It was no coincidence that both George Bush and Ariel Sharon entered the political arena at the same time and that both had the same mindset of attack and war.
The arrival of George W. Bush to the U.S. presidency brought those who had written the document into the government under his administration and they put up detailed plans with the Israeli leadership to achieve these goals. The attack first began on Yasser Arafat who was accused of being the cause of the failure of the Camp David negotiations and of obstructing the peace process. Arafat returned to Palestine to find himself being challenged by Sharon when the latter broke into the Haram al-Sharif in a provocative step calculated to inflame the Palestinians and humiliate them so that they would make offerings and force their leadership to use weapons. Youths surrounded the Netzarim settlement in central Gaza and threw stones while Israeli troops shot them with live bullets. In Jerusalem, Gaza and Nazareth scores fell.
Popular demands for intervention of the security forces escalated and that final decision to get the security forces involved was what was required to move the plan in its path. Palestinians were the aggressors and terrorists and they did not want peace while Israel has a right to defend its security and to punish the Palestinians. Israel immediately attacked their infrastructure and government institutions; the airport, the sea port and power transformers while leading Arafat into the trap of the Iranian arms ship.
When Israel had gained full control, Arafat was forced to give up his powers and appoint a prime minister. He then found himself in a last-ditch attempt to defend everything that he believed in, so he requested assistance from Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the hope of achieving a fairer balance. This step was also necessary in order to declare war and eliminate the “terrorist” group Hamas as there were indicators suggesting the group was a candidate to succeed Fatah.
The rest of the story in Palestine has become clear, and the sinister plot ended with the siege of Arafat and his death, the construction of the apartheid wall, the spread of settlement, and the death of the peace process in return for land, as well as the siege of Hamas.
As for the issue of Iraq, the charge leveled was that it supported terrorism (!) and that it had atomic weapons (!). According to the scenario, Bush asked Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq knowing that he would reject such a request. Of course that was exactly what was required in order to destroy Iraq as had been planned in advance regardless of the U.S. allegations, which appeared false at any rate.
Iraq has ended up being what we know it is today and the same for Palestine. After all this destruction, Obama comes to office and promises a new policy on the Middle East, but falls back rapidly when faced by the force of the US Zionist lobby and the neo-conservatives, who are still in power. This is precisely why we see Obama pressuring the weaker party in order to do away with any hopes of bringing settlement construction to a halt or of ending the occupation before the realization of the Zionist project.
The question is, shouldn’t all this be enough to steer everyone in the right direction and to ensure unity and a single national project??? Has the Palestinian Authority become an obstacle to Palestinian ambitions making it necessary to desolve it through a national resolution, or can it be developed to become the tool of liberation? Do we have the time? And the bigger question is: Do we have the determination??
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.