The United States has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement and the Arabs are in a confrontation with Iran. So, the American decision serves the interests of the Arabs, the Arabs are with America, with Donald Trump.
This US president committed the most hostile act towards the Palestinian people, the Arabs, the Muslims and Christians, even towards the international community and humanity itself, when he “gifted” Israel Jerusalem as its capital.
Trump still believes that by doing so, he is reinforcing the pursuit of peace. He does not realise, and does not want to realise, that he has prevented any progress toward peace. It is difficult for the Arabs to be with Trump on Palestine, despite being with him in his confrontation of Iran. Are the Arab’s interests in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon a part of his administration’s consdierations?
No, of course not. America’s come first and last, and Trump wants to lure Tehran to negotiations (like North Korea) in which he may provide normalisation incentives to engineer Iran’s regional influence. He may do so to obtain nuclear and missile concessions dictated by America, but desired by Israel.
The talk of “with” and “against” is chronic, but its uninterrupted phase dates back to the moment right after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when the cancer of terrorism entered the fabric of an already sick relationship between America and the Arabs. Israel immediately employed the “terrorism standard” to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians and their rights and to apply it to America’s general dealings with the Arab region.
Iran used it first to focus on the “Sunni terrorism” and then recently in order to show the difference between Shia militias generated by the Revolutionary Guard with their constructive and controlled terrorism and the terrorism of those Iran calls “takfirists”, referring to Sunni extremists.
The debate changing to show a different kind of Arab awareness, either by addressing the Syria, Yemeni, Iraqi, and Libyan tragedies in order to establish that there is no advancement for the Arabs after their current decline or by addressing the infiltration of regional powers in order to falsify the Arab consciousness and conclude that the Arabs deserve what is happening to them and that they have no friends or allies.
Their interests are being pillaged by everyone, including the Russians, Americans, Israelis, and Iranians. They are dealing with them as they please and establishing a new Middle Eastern reality where they fight, agree, justify their crimes, and pass their violations as long as they eliminate the voices of the Arab victims from their consdierations.
It is obvious that the least that can be said about a debate guided by the law of the jungle, discussed by forces manipulating and controlling the fates of the Arab nations. This debate aims to integrate the Arabs into agreeing to the hybrid situation made up of the following factors: Russian-Iranian occupation in favour of Russia in Syria; Russian-Iranian consideration for Israel’s interests in Syria; Iranian-American division of influence in favour of Iran’s domination in Iraq; “Legitimising” the status quo of Israel’s occupation of Palestine; and a deterrent balance between Israel and Hezbollah in favour of Iran (and the Syrian regime, temporarily) in Lebanon
Accordingly, if Israel strikes the Iranian military system in Syria, in whose interest will it be? In Israel’s of course, not in the interest of Syria or the Arabs.
If the Israeli-Iranian hostility “intersects” with the Arab-Iranian hostility, will an “enemy of my enemy” automatically become “my friend”? On the contrary, one must not forget that these two enemies are likely to become friends or at least two coexisting parties.
Does the cruel suffering of many Arab nations from Iran’s crimes of sabotage against their countries and communities eliminate the suffering of the Palestinian people from the crimes of the continued Israeli occupation? Does this occupation gain any legitimacy in Palestine and therefore in the Syrian Golan?
Has it become understood/accepted for Benjamin Netanyahu to exhibit his intelligence documents regarding the Iranian nuclear programme that has not produced any bombs, while Israel conceals all information regarding its nuclear arsenal from the international community? This same arsenal it intimidates the Arabs with, claimed superiority over them with, and with which it resolved its conflict with them?
Has the surrender of the Arabs and their exposure become the necessary condition for regional stability?
These questions must be asked, not to intensify the state of Arab hostility towards the two countries, but because the Arabs must realise, either theoretically in solidarity or fragmented, as is prevalent, that the decline of their interests is a result of their countries’ lack of regional weight.
Therefore, these interests will not be achieved by geo-political paradoxes, nor by theoretical and random exchanges. They will not establish normal relations with the regional neighbourhood or even harmonious relations within frustrated Arab societies, whose new generations refused to be pushed from frustrations to frustrations.
Despite the phase of difficult transformations that the Arab region is undergoing, there are concepts that cannot be changed by circumstances, including: regional security that is not based on weapons of mass destruction, terror, and subjugation, regardless of how the balances have changed; any imaginable regional peace is not based on the distribution of influence between interfering countries or over the remains of geographic entities and communities, regardless of the constraints; with regards to the Palestinian cause, we cannot surrender to the will of the occupation, which aims to liquidate the cause in isolation of any human rights or international legitimacy; and the Syrian and Iraqi issues cannot be subject to the logic of international and regional quotas.
The United States had monopolised mediation between the Palestinians and Israelis and obtained Arab acknowledgement that peace was a “strategic option” that was still available. However, the facts have shown that peace is not an option for the Americans and Israelis and that their strategic understandings has made negotiations with the Palestinians and the peace process a public hoax. Trump has recently turned negotiations and the peace process into a means to legitimise violations of international law.
The Israelis have convinced him that the Palestinians’ “right of return” has been dropped and that settlement activity continuous to eat up the land given the international immunity provided by Washington. They have also convinced him that eliminating the Jerusalem file was the last remaining step to end the Palestinian cause.
Thus, the Nakba was renewed amidst talk about a peace plan after the Nakba was resolved by war. There is no clearer message than the American-Israeli message: Whoever loses the war does not gain peace, and that rules are based on the balances of power.
All of this is perceived by Iran as advice for its regional policies. If the Arabs do not learn from their defeats and mistakes, then Iran will learn and borrow from Israel’s actions, most of which it applies directly in Syria and part of which it applied in Iraq.
When Russia intervened in Syria, it agreed with Iran to ensure its interests and not to allow its relationship with Bashar Al-Assad’s regime get in the way. In exchange for this, the Iranians had to provide ground support to the Russian air strike. Moscow, on the other hand, reserved supervising the confrontation between Iran and Israel for itself, without completely controlling it, only managing it in order for it not to lead to a disintegration that is difficult to contain.
While this arrangement seems costly to the Iranians so far, Israel’s strikes so far seem to be concerned only with eliminating any threats from its borders. It does not seem concerned with ending Iran’ presence, its infiltration of Syria, or its supply lines with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
In other words, as long as Iran remains capable of achieving its “project” and securing its supply line extending from Tehran to Beirut, it is willing to bear the losses. In this case, it may consider the Israeli strikes as reinforcing its presence rather than threatening it.
It was natural for the Arabs to support the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement, regardless of Trump’s motives and demands. This is because the agreement, the negotiations that preceded it and the momentum that followed formed the background and foundation for Iran’s most violent and destructive intervention in all of the areas it invaded directly or by means of its militias.
Even obtaining a nuclear bomb would not have allowed it or its followers to try to control Yemen because its other bomb, the sectarian bomb, proved to be more dangerous and effective.
In the end, the Arabs must not forget that while there is an American (and Israeli) confrontation, there is also a US-Russian-Chinese fight to attract Iran and this will not pass without taking its ambitions into account.
This article first appeared in Arabic in The New Khaleej on 20 May 2018
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.