USA-Israel vs. Arab-Muslim Worlds: What Happens? – by Johan Galtung

25 Aug 2014

Nothing good. But let us have a look at it in the standard peace studies way: Diagnosis-analyzing, Prognosis- forecasting, and Therapy–remedies, even solutions.

Johan Galtung

“Israel-Palestine” is the discourse Tel Aviv-Washington prefers. They have all the strong cards: overwhelming military power, political veto in the United Nations Security Council, the economic upper hand in interlocking economies–not just oil cash from Saudi Arabia-Qatar–and the idea of working for a solution with Washington as “mediator”–only USA can bring the two together, gently or roughly–toward a sustainable peace.

It is needed a great distance from reality to believe in that spin. USA and Israel are interlocked by a much deeper tie: they came into being in the same way; flagging a divine mandate for a land without a people for a people without a land. Goes one goes the other.

Palestine is also part of something much bigger than itself: the Arab people with its tortured history of 500 years of colonialism and imperialism, and the religion of Islam. Two nationalisms, carried by Fatah and Hamas in Palestine, both potentially giving rise to a much bigger state, Arabia (not only Saudi), and to a region, the Islamic Umma, beyond an organization of the Islamic Community (of states).

USA is co-responsible for the current Israeli genocide in Gaza and seen as such by most of the world. Hate one hate the other.

Israeli expansion implies conflict with neighbors and their neighbors into the Arab-Muslim worlds. Your problems are my problems say the USA. So far. But one layer deeper is the US hyphenation of Judaism and Christianity to Judaeo-Christianity, leaving out the third Abrahamic religion. The stark reality is three religions hating and killing each other through millennia–but the hyphen, like in Israel-USA, calls for an alliance of 2 against 1. A political program.

Add to this the three imperialisms suffered by the Arab nation. Four centuries Ottoman Empire; four decades English-French imperialism from Sykes-Picot to Nasser; US-Israeli imperialism to make the Middle East region safe for Israel and democracy. However, democracy is rule by the consent of the ruled, not colonialism-imperialism by the consent–so far–of the demos in the rulers, USA and Israel.

The collisions are massive, involving ever more of the huge Muslim part of the world beyond the Arab part. How will this evolve?

More fear, more hatred; more terrorism, more state terrorism. USA-Israel will probably keep the military superiority for some time. But much else is happening. Both are heading downhill in the sense of losing the support they had. USA is losing its world hegemony–even within NATO where Germany de facto is siding more with Russia than with the USA over Ukraine–and Israel by its fall from the moral high grounds into the immoral abyss even among the many deeply touched by the shoa. Israel aggravates its own situation by gluing the etiquette “anti-Semitic” to its increasingly numerous and powerful critics.

But where are the Arab and Muslim worlds heading? Not downhill.

The Ottoman Empire was a relatively benign Sunni “family of nations” with a caliphate also centered in Istanbul. No effort to recreate an Arabia ruled by Turkey is acceptable to the Arab nation. But also unacceptable is Sykes-Picot Western colonialism with four colonies or “mandates”; Iraq-Palestine, Syria-Lebanon. Blindness, ignorance or stupidity is needed to be surprised at the Islamic State (IS). Sykes-Picot could not stand, but the US invasion from 2003 reified those artificial creations, one of them in the meantime divided by the UK into Israel-rump Palestine-Jordan. IS was highly predictable: extremist brutality bred by oppression, and a vision: An ottoman empire with a caliphate without a special role for Turkey.

Without Sykes-Picot no Balfour, without Balfour no Israel. The Ottoman Empire had no Israel. A problem of USA-Israel’s own making.

Patrick Cockburn in the London Review of Books 21 Aug 2014 points to a third of Syria and a quarter of Iraq, with a population beyond Denmark, quickly conquered, heading for Baghdad and Damascus–the capitals of two major Islamic dynasties. Assad may fall, so may al-Maliki’s successor(s). Al Qaeda will join IS. Their problem is Iran and the Kurds, possibly with US-engineered wars that may unravel as such. We will soon see. Imagine IS conquering Baghdad, what happens to the megalomaniac US embassy? IS uses Saddam Hussein assets like the Tikrit clan and his military. But Saddam reified Sykes-Picot as Iraq’s ruler installed by the USA till he turned against them in 1988 in the Arab-Persian Gulf.

Anyhow, stop the present IS and a new will emerge out of the same Arab nation holism and dialectic; much stronger forces in the longer run than USA-Israel on a downhill slope with the USA possibly heading for racist fascism at home and abroad. But how about Islam?

Two major factors in its favor. The counter-cyclical pendulum between Christian and Islamic dominance–up for one means down for the other being so similar–is moving from the Christian-secular toward the Islamic pole. One factor is Islam’s message of togetherness and sharing, very attractive to the victims of egocentrism, greed and inequality in the Western world. Add to that something similar to the IS factor: the long term move toward an Islamic umma, not a state system ruled by kings-emirs-sultans, even against theshahada.

And who created so much of that state system? The West, through its colonialism. What we witness today is not only IS but all over Muslim youth trying to be the umma, uniting across even colonial borders, between Iraq and Syria–like the Tutsi bridge between anglophone, francophone and afrophone Africa. Be the future you want.

Solutions beyond USA-Israel going down and the Arab-Muslim worlds up? Yes: dialogue, searching together for how all four could become masters in their own house and only that. The challenge of the century.

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Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He is author of over 150 books on peace and related issues, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS, is included. Thank you.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 August 2014.

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When fear changed sides – Quand la peur change de camp

Thoughts on the Arab revolutions – Réflexions sur les révolutions arabes…

The organization abbreviated as ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) is not new in the region, nor is it a newfound expression of the crises afflicting Arab societies at a moment of profound transformations, initiated by 2011 revolutions.

To the contrary, ISIS is the offspring of more than one father, and the product of more than one longstanding and widespread sickness. The organization’s explosive growth today is in fact the result of previously existing, worsening conflicts that were caused by the different fathers.

ISIS is first the child of despotism in the most heinous form that has plagued the region. Therefore, it is no coincidence that we see its base, its source of strength concentrated in Iraq and Syria, where Saddam Hussein and Hafez and Bashar Al-Assad reigned for decades, killing hundreds of thousands of people, destroying political life, and deepening sectarianism by transforming it into a mechanism of exclusion and polarization, to the point that injustices and crimes against humanity became commonplace.

ISIS is second the progeny of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, both the way in which it was initially conducted and the catastrophic mismanagement that followed. Specifically, it was the exclusion of a wide swath of Iraqis from post invasion political processes and the formation of a new authority that discriminated against them and held them collectively at fault for the guilt of Saddam and his party, which together enabled groups (such as those first established by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) whose activities have been resumed by ISIS to get in touch with some parts of Iraqi society and to establish itself among them.

ISIS is third the son of Iranian aggressive regional policies that have worsened in recent years — taking Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria as its backyard, feeding (directly or indirectly) confessional divisions and making these divides the backbone of ideological mobilization and a policy of revenge and retaliation that has constructed a destructive feedback loop.

ISIS is fourth the child of some of the Salafist networks in the Gulf (in Saudi Arabia and other states), which emerged and developed throughout the 1980s, following the oil boom and the “Afghan jihad”. These networks have continued to operate and expand throughout the last two decades under various names, all in the interest of extremism and obscurantism.

ISIS is fifth the offspring of a profound crisis, deeply rooted in the thinking of some Islamist groups seeking to escape from their terrible failure to confront the challenges of the present toward a delusional model ostensibly taken from the seventh century, believing that they have found within its imaginary folds the answer to all contemporary or future questions.

ISIS is sixth the progeny of violence, or of an environment that has been subjected to striking brutality, which has allowed the growth of this disease and facilitated the emergence of what could be called “ISISism”. Like Iraq previously, Syria today has been abandoned beneath explosive barrels to become a laboratory, a testing ground for violence, daily massacres and their outcomes.

ISIS, an abominable, savage creature, is thus the product of at least these six fathers. Its persistency depends on the continuation of these aforementioned elements, particularly the element of violence embodied by the Assad regime in Syria. Those who think that they should be impartial toward or even support tyrants like Assad in the fight against ISISism fail to realize that his regime is in fact at the root of the problem.

Until this fact is recognized — that despotism is the disease and not the cure — we can only expect more deadly repercussions, from the Middle East to the distant corners of the globe… More

 

 

Israel elected to leadership of UN committee on “Decolonization”

Just when it appeared that the United Nations could not be more ineffective in protecting Palestinian rights and holding Israel accountable for violating them, here comes the news that Israel has been elected as vice-chair of the UN Special Commitee on Decolonization – which deals among other things with matters related to Palestinian refugees.

Palestinians examine the ruins of
buildings demolished by Israeli
occupation forces in eastern Jerusalem,

According to UN minutes, the representative of Israel, the world’s last settler-colonial power, received 74 votes for the post, despite strong opposition from the Arab Group of UN member states.

Qatar, speaking on behalf of the Arab states, described Israel as a “State that violated the United Nations Charter and international law. Because its track record was rife with murder and its occupation had lasted more than 66 years, Israel was not qualified to preside over questions pertaining to Palestinian refugees, peacekeeping and the investigation of its own illegal practices.”

The Arab states had demanded a recorded vote, an unusual step, prompting objections from the ambassador of the United Kingdom which is a member of the Group of Western European and Other States that nominated Israel.

The Balfour Declaration

Canada took the opportunity to express its “unflinching support for Israel” and the United States said it “unequivocally supported Israel’s election.”

Saudi Arabia – whose own membership of the UN Human Rights Council has drawn much criticism – said that Israel’s election was “the moral equivalent of placing the apartheid regime of South Africa in charge of a committee to end racism.”

Theater of the absurd

Israel thanked its supporters, but perhaps its actions spoke louder than words. While this theater of the absurd was playing out in New York, Israeli occupation forces stepped up demolitions of Palestinian homes to make way for colonial settlements.

Its election comes just weeks after Israel announced yet another massive expansion of illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank.

On Wednesday alone, Israeli demolitions left seven Palestinian families homelessin the West Bank.

And take a look at the photostory by Silvia Boarini documenting Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Bedouins in the southern Naqab (“Negev”) region of present-day Israel.

These latest measures of ethnic cleansing come amid Israel’s assault on West Bank cities over the past week, allegedly in search of three missing colonial settlers. Israel has so far abducted more than 300 Palestinians, raided 750 homes as well as dozens of charities and the Birzeit University campus.

If there were a UN Committee on How to Occupy and Colonize, Israel would indeed be the best candidate to lead it. More

The British are at the root of the Palestinian's problems as they, via the illegal Balfour Declaration, allowed the Jews to settle in Palestine (there was no israel then). And they did so while running the southern part of the ex-Ottoman Empire under a Mandate from the League of Nations. A mandate to govern the State of Trans-Jordan and Iraq on behalf of the citizens thereof. Editor