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Pegasus investigation and the forbidden love between the occupation and Arab regimes

January 31, 2022 at 8:51 pm

The logo of Israeli cyber company NSO Group on November 11, 2021 in Sapir, Israel [Amir Levy/Getty Images]

A lengthy investigation published by the New York Times, after working for a year, reveals interesting details about the occupation state’s use of Pegasus spyware to gain political influence in the region and the world. The Arabs certainly have the lion’s share of involvement in these details.

The investigation confirms that the Pegasus spyware produced by Israel’s NSO Company cannot be treated as a purely technical or commercial project, without understanding its close connection with the occupation government. The company was founded and managed by former officers and experts who worked in the Israeli security and intelligence services and licenses can only be sold to countries and governments, only after the approval of the government in Tel Aviv. This means that the company is basically a security and political arm of the government and its intelligence.

The report presents several amazing and shameful details about the occupation’s use of the Pegasus spyware to influence the policies of Arab countries and to activate normalisation with these countries.

READ: Jordanian rights lawyer speaks about the Pegasus hacking of her phone

NSO suspended the renewal of Saudi Arabia’s Pegasus license after the assassination of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, but returned it after a phone call between Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and Netanyahu. Bin Salman agreed in the call to open the Saudi airspace to the occupation air as a price to renew the license, and then Netanyahu pressured the company to renew the Saudi license, despite its initial refusal.

The program played a major role in facilitating the signing of normalisation agreements between the occupation and each of the Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, as Tel Aviv agreed to grant the program’s license to all countries that signed the normalisation agreements.

Israel's Pegasus spyware global weapon to silence critics? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Israel’s Pegasus spyware global weapon to silence critics? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Unrelated to the Arab countries, a conflict is taking place between Washington and Tel Aviv over the program after the US put the spyware program on the blacklist, imposing sanctions on it and banning it from use within the US. Israeli circles are claiming that the US sanctions are part of a conspiracy to control the program, while the Biden administration has responded that the program has become an out-of-control danger after it was used by dictatorial governments to prosecute journalists, human rights activists and dissidents.

This conflict takes place at a time when the US is actually seeking to buy the company that produces the Pegasus virus, so that it becomes subject to American laws and procedures and, of course, to ensure it will not be used by certain countries in a way that does not correspond to American interests.

What concerns us, as Arab nations in this investigation, is that it confirms beyond a shadow of a doubt and gives new evidence on the depravity of the Arab regime policies that most of the nations have become aware of. While the occupation state seeks to benefit from scientific research and technical achievements to expand its influence in the world and influence the foreign policy of the countries of the world and the region, and while Washington enters into conflict with its “spoiled ally” in order to ensure its intelligence superiority in the world, the Arab countries open their doors and lands to the occupation, sign normalisation agreements and makes concessions at the expense of the Palestinian people, just to get a spy program that it uses against its own citizens!

This draws a clear picture of the “deviation” of Arab regimes from their political role as, instead of working to protect their citizens and defend the interests of their people, they are making dangerous political concessions for hostile countries in order to obtain capabilities that allow them to spy on their citizens!

READ: Saudi opened its airspace to Israel in return for access to spyware

In the details of this deviation, two very important issues must be mentioned here: The first is that this investigation exposes the lies of the regimes that signed the normalisation agreements in 2020 and justified this with local political reasons and others related to “supporting the Palestinian people.” This investigation confirms that the issue of obtaining spyware and cybersecurity technology are at the core of the goals behind normalisation with the occupation. The second issue is that the Arab countries that bought spyware to spy on their citizens have practically handed over the privacy of these citizens to the occupation state, as all the information obtained by Pegasus goes to the servers owned by the Israeli company.

The investigation also confirms the lie of Israel’s democracy and its support for democracies. An occupying country cannot be a democracy, and the occupation cannot support democracy in the Middle East. Rather, it is more concerned than others with the establishment of dictatorships in the Arab countries, firstly because it realises how easy it is to manipulate dictatorial regimes to work for it instead of working for their people and, secondly, because it wants to continue spreading the lie of being the only democracy in the Middle East.

The New York Times investigation may have provided many accurate details about the deals of the Pegasus program and its role in buying influence for the occupation in the region and the world. As for us, Arabs, it did not reveal anything to us, but only confirmed to us what we already know about the miserable policies of the Arab regimes, and about the forbidden love between the racist occupation regime and the Arab regimes of oppression.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 31 January 2022

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.