MIDEAST MIRROR 10.06.15, SECTION B (THE ARAB WORLD)
1-Arrogance and gloating
2-The new Gaza threat
4-Boycott Israel, not just the occupation
1-Arrogance and gloating
[Turkish President] Erdogan disregarded the most basic principles of international relations and respect for other countries’ sovereignty. And this is to say nothing of his support for a group [the Muslim Brotherhood] that uses terrorism and intimidation as its means of coming to power, or his support for extremist groups in neighboring Syria. Arrogance consumed Erdogan's mind, and he believed he could deceive all the people all of the time. He pursued his fanciful dreams and sought to revive the past glories of the Ottoman Empire, crowning himself as the Middle East's sultan, and becoming the key to the region and in control of all its affairs. He believed that he could become the region's sole spokesman, and that the West would have no alternative but turn to him whenever it wishes to do anything in the area--Egyptian al-Ahram
There are those who may argue that Turkey needed a leader of Erdogan's status, with significant authority bestowed upon him by the people in order to achieve serious political and economic goals. But the correct response is that there is no achievement bigger than healing the wounds of identity, history, and geography. The latest Turkish parliamentary elections have opened the door to such an achievement. But what is most risible among the crowd of gloaters at Erdogan's misfortunes are those Arab tyrants and their supporters who are in the midst of a totally different historical moment that conflicts with what has happened in Turkey. Those Arab tyrants boast that they remain on their thrones at a time when their countries are collapsing and fragmenting and when their peoples are rushing collectively or individually to flee for their lives by land, sea, or air, so as to escape the terrible holocaust their rulers have imposed on them--pan-Arab al-Quds al-Arabi
Turkey’s voters have finally come to realize the price of President Erdogan's domestic and foreign policies and have punished him accordingly, by inflicting a terrible defeat on him and his party in last Sunday’s parliamentary elections, says the editorial in an authoritative Cairo daily. The Arab tyrants who have been gloating over Erdogan's setback are the most risible of his opponents, argues the editorial in a Qatari-owned pan-Arab daily. Given Turkey’s current situation, Erdogan has, in fact, proven that he is the Ataturk of the current moment despite his electoral defeat, managing to deal with the problems that these very same Arab tyrants have failed to address.
SLAP IN THE FACE: “Turkey’s voters have delivered a powerful slap in the face to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan," writes the editorial in Wednesday's authoritative Cairo daily al-Ahram.
At the same time, Erdogan has been severely punished for his bad policy choices and imprudent behavior, especially in foreign affairs, due to his insistence on intervening in the domestic affairs of some of the region's countries.
The Turks have come to realize that Erdogan's presence at the summit of power poses a threat to the country’s future and its regional and international relations. This is why they decided to deny the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) its parliamentary majority in what appears to be the prelude to early general elections and removing the AKP from power after it has held onto the country's reins for the last 13 years.
Erdogan disregarded the most basic principles of international relations and respect for other countries’ sovereignty. And this is to say nothing of his support for a group that uses terrorism and intimidation as its means of coming to power, or his support for extremist groups in neighboring Syria.
Arrogance consumed Erdogan's mind, and he believed he could deceive all the people all of the time. He pursued his fanciful dreams and sought to revive the past glories of the Ottoman Empire, crowning himself as the Middle East's sultan, and becoming the key to the region and in control of all its affairs. He believed that he could become the region's sole spokesman, and that the West would have no alternative but to turn to him whenever it wishes to do anything in the area.
Did Erdogan not contemplate the moral that was plain for him to see, namely, that as the Brotherhood was gloating over Egypt's misfortunes in the 1967 defeat (even though Egypt is their country whose importance and status they have failed to appreciate), he utterly failed in the parliamentary elections at that very same moment?
By way of contrast, opinion polls point to a rise in [Egyptian] President 'Abdelfattah as-Sissi's popularity inside and outside the country thanks to his efforts, his achievements during the short period he has been in power, and his policy of steering clear of the petty actions and macho statements that Erdogan had grown accustomed to on every occasion.
Nor did Erdogan notice that the ballot box has clearly said that he is no longer appropriate for him to remain in power. For if he has no interest in power for its own sake, as he claims, why did he not tender his resignation after his party's resounding defeat, so as to offer a practical demonstration that he respects the voters' will?
Erdogan chose to back a terrorist group that harbors nothing but ill will towards its own country, and that boasts that it intends to topple Egypt from every available podium. But this will not happen, God willing, because Egypt's people are defending it together with its great patriotic army.
"This army bears a sword with which it protects the country's national soil in one hand, and pickaxe for construction rather than destruction, in the other," concludes the daily.
MANY GLOATERS: "No sooner did the results of the Turkish parliamentary elections appear, then there was a wave of gloating at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's misfortunes," writes the editorial in Wednesday's Qatari-owned, London-based, pan-Arab daily al-Quds al-Arabi.
There are many such gloaters, and at their forefront stand Erdogan’s ideological and personal enemies who believed that the rise of his star, his economic and political successes and his indisputable popularity since he moved from the Istanbul Municipality to the premiership in 2003 until he became head of state in 2014, has been nothing short of disastrous.
These gloaters include Erdogan's ideological and political enemies in Turkey and the Arab world, headed by some Arab tyrants. In Turkey, there are the hard line Turkish secularists represented by the People's Republican Party (CHP). Their problem is that Erdogan and his Islamist-leaning AKP have secured the leadership of the state even though they [the secularists] had been enjoying this privilege ever since the establishment of the republic in 1923.
Broadly speaking, Ataturk and the Turks’ greatest achievement was to preserve the unity of the Turkish state. Secularism was the ideology adopted by Ataturk and the Turkish elite, assuming that this would be the creed that would prevent the country from breaking apart. But Ataturk's successors used that ideology as a pretext for blocking the peaceful transfer of power. The price was paid in terms of Turkey's Islamic identity and those who believe in it. The Kurds also paid the price, but their nationalist calls have safeguarded their aspirations for independence. In this sense, the Islamists were the partners of Kurds for many long decades.
The AKP's sweeping victories in all Turkish elections since 2003 represent a major achievement that has followed upon a long history of struggle. The party also tested the Turkish Republic's ability to develop and rise up the ladder of civilization and respect for democracy, human rights, self-expression and dignified life. Similarly, the fact that the Kurds have finally entered parliament marks an achievement for their peaceful struggle and a new test for the Turkish system's ability to develop and become more civilized.
In this sense and from a historical perspective, the victory of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) – the party that managed to bring the Kurds' aspirations to parliament – cannot be viewed as a defeat for the AKP, as those gloating over Erdogan's setback would like to believe. Rather, it represents the historical expression of a moment when the sense of injustice against Islam and Kurdish identity have come together in defending their right to exist, expressing themselves, and mending the path taken by the Turkish Republic – an instance of what Egyptian philosopher Hassan Hanafi refers to as 'the cunning of history.'
For at this momentous turning point in Turkey's history, the Turks – who conquered Constantinople – have managed to conquer a new Constantinople that takes them to the open space of tolerance and a common desire to build of their country.
There are those who may argue that Turkey needed a leader of Erdogan's status, with significant authority bestowed upon him by the people in order to achieve serious political and economic goals. But the correct response is that there is no achievement bigger than healing the wounds of identity, history, and geography. The latest Turkish parliamentary elections have opened the door to such an achievement.
But what is most risible among the crowd of gloaters at Erdogan's misfortunes are those Arab tyrants and their supporters who are in the midst of a totally different historical moment that conflicts with what has happened in Turkey.
Those Arab tyrants boast that they remain on their thrones at a time when their countries are collapsing and fragmenting and when their peoples are rushing collectively or individually to flee for their lives by land, sea, or air, so as to escape the terrible holocaust their rulers have imposed on them.
Erdogan did not acquire the same sort of power as Ataturk, quite simply because Turkey no longer needs an Ataturk. As for the Arab tyrants, they are still trying to bury their people together with their rule, which has been long dead.
In this sense, Erdogan is the Ataturk of his specific historical moment. Under his rule, Turkey became the 17th largest economy in the world. And because of him, there is now a chance to solve two the major problems that the Arab world remains unable to address: that of identity, and the problem of minorities.
"As for the gloating Arab tyrants, all they are doing is to turn their era of living-dead states into a permanent one," concludes the daily.
2-The new Gaza threat
The emerging jihadist threat in Gaza calls for a comprehensive political and social solution for the Strip, and not just new security arrangements with Egypt, says Ahmad Jamil ‘Azm in today’s Jordanian al-Ghad
Recent developments in the Gaza Strip with the emergence of salafi jihadi groups and reports of an understanding between Hamas and Egypt concerning the situation in Sinai highlight the need for a lasting and comprehensive solution for the situation in the Strip, argues a Palestinian commentator in a Jordanian daily.
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS: “A number of recent developments in the Gaza Strip have been linked to what has come to be known as ‘jihadi salafism’ or the takfiri groups,” writes Ahmad Jamil ‘Azm in Wednesday’s Jordanian daily al-Ghad.
These developments may arise from different directions, but they all seem to highlight the need to close this file. Yet the question remains as to whether this is possible, since all the current proposals are of a security nature whose effectiveness without a parallel comprehensive political and social solution is in doubt.
The first such development was revealed by reports, backed by statements from senior Hamas figures, concerning an understanding with the Egyptian authorities (or early signs of one) that would normalize relations with Hamas in the Gaza Strip based on the latter’s cooperation with arrangements in Sinai that involve creating buffer zone between the Strip and the violent salafi jihadi (takfiri) groups. This appears to be an implicit admission of a connection between what is happening in the Gaza Strip and in Sinai.
The truth is that such a link seems clear and is not simply an accusation; moreover, the Egyptian authorities are as responsible for this state of affairs as Hamas. For it is impossible to ignore the fact that the phenomenon of armed elements and violent groups in Sinai would not have emerged had it not been for the tunnels ‘industry’ and the unofficial economy that accompanied it. That ‘industry’ and its economy are linked, in turn, to various tribal and social structures that seek an ideological slogan to justify their activities. At the very least, these structures provide a fertile ground for infiltration by al-Qa’ida and its ilk. Had there been a solution other than of the tunnels, their economy and the social structures linked to them, what happened would not have taken place.
The second development this week was the rocket fire aimed at Israel by salafi groups in the Strip. Responsibility was claimed by a group calling itself The Martyr ‘Omar Hadid Brigade – Beit al-Maqdis. This in turn is linked to a third development. The Palestinian news agency Ma’an quoted Hamas sources as saying that ‘these (salafi) elements number no more than 1-3% and are not united in any way; they are no more than scattered individuals who do not follow any particular figure, but each group calls itself a different name. But they are under [Hamas] control and their movements are being monitored. In fact, 10 of them are already in prison.’
In other words, these are small and scattered groups. This may be true; but it does not make them any less dangerous. However, the Hamas source, whose knowledge and position in the movement are not known, may have been unintentionally exaggerating the strength of jihadi salafism. For 1-3% is an enormous figure, especially if this represents a proportion of the overall [1.8 million] population. If, however, he is referring to the extent of popular support for these movements, this may be more accurate, or even less than the true figure, in fact. But however it may be read, it remains a huge figure, amounting to some 60-thousand people bearing in mind the Gaza Strip total population. 5% of them would be enough to upset all the existing balances, since firing rockets at Israel to ‘spite’ Hamas could undermine the entire situation and a few such attacks could drag the Strip into a deadly abyss.
Cooperation between Hamas and Egypt, assuming it takes place, would be a step in the right direction, provided certain conditions were satisfied, most importantly:
- First, that there should be a conviction that a security solution alone is insufficient, with no illusions that a limited trade-off between Egypt and Hamas would be enough for what is required. For without a tangible change in the existing political, economic, and social circumstances, the environment would remain suitable for extremism. Hamas knows that some of its own elements may be attracted by this sort of thinking and pattern of action, bearing in mind that no organization is immune to having their members veer towards extremism. For example, Mumtaz Daghmash, one of the first to lead such groups, was an officer in the PA’s Preventive Security when Fateh was still in control of the Strip. In other words, there is need for a comprehensive plan for easing the living conditions in the Strip.
- Second, Hamas should not once again conclude that any opening to Egypt – no matter how big or small –will allow it to rule the Strip by itself, or that this can replace the need to reach an understanding with the Palestinian presidency, or to accept the  national accord government in order to reach a permanent solution for the Strip.
Any ease in tensions between Hamas and Egypt provides an opportunity that may be used by the Palestinian presidency to try and formulate a comprehensive concept that would end the current occluded horizon of national reconciliation. Instead of a limited security solution in Sinai in return for reducing the pressure on Hamas, it may be possible to work on formulating a complete package for the Strip.
"This is especially necessary in light of the blockage in the peace process and the current freeze in the process of internationalizing the Palestinian cause," concludes 'Azm.
There is nothing strange about the fact that the perpetrators in the cases of Mosul, Tikrit and al-Ramadi have remained unknown, for in today’s Iraq no one is held accountable for forgery, corruption or betrayal, says 'Adnan Hussein on today’s Iraqi www.sotaliraq.com
One full year after the fall of Mosul in ISIS’s hands, the identities of those that facilitated its capture remain unknown, notes an Iraqi commentator. But there is nothing strange about that, given what else has been happening in the country since 2003, and since party politics and the entire political system have been built on corruption and the protection of those guilty of illicit gain.
OPEN FILE: "Even after a full year, the perpetrators remain unknown," writes 'Adnan Hussein on Wednesday on the Iraqi website www.sotaliraq.com.
And a year from now, we shall still find that the file continues to be opened once, and closed many times, and that the perpetrators are still unknown. And the same will happen in two, three, and ten years’ time.
There is no intention to reveal the identity of the perpetrators of the crime in which Mosul fell; one that paved the way for countless major crimes such as the occupation of one-third of the country's area, the death of thousands, the displacement of hundreds of thousands, the enslavement and rape of thousands of others, and so on.
But there is nothing strange about this. All the killings by car bombs, mortar shells, shootings and guns with and without silencers, that we have witnessed since 2003 have remained unsolved and their perpetrators have remained unknown. Tens of prominent politicians, distinguished academics, professionals and famous media figures, and thousands of ordinary people have been killed –assassinated deliberately and with prior planning and determination, in fact.
Markets have been burnt down, and schools, hospitals, homes, mosques, and churches demolished in the process. Yet our state institutions have proven unable to identify the perpetrators of these actions. The victims' families have tired of repeated inquiries and their material and psychological cost. They have therefore surrendered to the status quo. And the status quo is that no one wants the perpetrators' identity to be known. This is because removing the cover that hides their identity would be akin to a horrendous earthquake, with the earth vomiting out what lies deep inside, and all that is high tumbling down. On that day, no legally or illegally amassed monies will be of any use. But everyone is careful to safeguard their monies and families.
There is nothing strange about the case of Mosul. All the forgeries witnessed in various general and local elections have been classified as perpetrated by unknown people. And the same goes for the forgeries of academic degrees and official documents that have allowed thousands who have failed in their studies to assume leading state posts with the full knowledge and protection of religious and non-religious parties, as well as parties whose ranks have been infiltrated by former murderers and Saddam’s minions.
There is nothing strange about the case of Mosul. All of the major financial and administrative corruption, whose heroes were MPs, ministers, senior ministry figures, heads of institutions, general directors, bankers, businessmen, contractors, army, police and security officers … all these dossiers have remained closed. The open files were confined to petty thieves and those with no fixed dwelling –a euphemism for those who have fled the country with the help and facilitation of their partners inside the state’s apparatuses.
There is nothing strange about the fact that the perpetrators in the cases of Mosul, Tikrit, and al-Ramadi have remained unknown. And there will be nothing strange if they were to remain unknown for two, three, or ten years to come, perhaps forever.
"For we live in the land of wonders, in a state of wonders, with a government and a judiciary of wonders," concludes Hussein.
4-Boycott Israel, not just the occupation
The Palestinians should escalate their most effective means of pressure so far extending it to a boycott of Israel and its racist laws, not only the occupation, says Hani al-Masri in today’s Palestinian al-Ayyam
The recent successes chalked up by the campaign to boycott Israel have greatly worried the Israeli government, notes a leading Palestinian commentator. But such a campaign cannot be guaranteed success unless the Palestinian leadership throws its weight behind it, and unless the movement ultimately questions Israel's very legitimacy and does not confine itself to boycotting Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.
DEEPLY CONCERNED: "Israel has been deeply concerned because of the growth of the boycott movement– so much so, that the French mobile phone firm Orange suspended its contract with Israel’s Partner Company," writes Hani al-Masri in the leading Palestinian daily al-Ayyam.
This gave rise to a major Israeli campaign in which the government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu took part. Pressure was exerted on the French government, which owns 25% of Orange's shares, and which ultimately forced the company to backtrack on its decision to suspend its activities in Israel. But the issue is still not over, and the battle will continue until Orange retracts its last decision.
Last week, the presidents of Israeli universities met with the Israeli president and told him that the academic boycott of Israeli universities has reached a dangerous point, but that Israel can abort this if it acts immediately. They warned the government that it if fails to act and wage a counter-campaign before it is too late, Israeli universities and academics would be unable to work or cooperate with universities or academics around the world.
The Israeli government also held a special meeting to discuss the boycott and how to confront it. It decided to set aside more funds to combat it, as well as organize a campaign to collect contributions from Israel's friends, matching the Israeli budget allocated for this mission, at least. And the Knesset is preparing to discuss the matter again.
The Israeli government views the boycott as of equal importance and danger as 'terrorism'. It is focusing on the claim that boycotting Israel is a form of anti-Semitism that targets 'the Jewish state,' which is an extension of the anti-Semitic campaign that targeted the Jews and peaked with the massacre committed by Hitler's Germany against millions of Jews. This is a false and feeble claim, because the leaders and members of the boycott campaign include Semites and Jews. Second, the Israeli counter-campaign focuses on the claim that the boycott aims to de-legitimize and destroy Israel, and wipe off the map.
The boycott's importance stems from the fact that it focuses on Israel's point of weakness, the same point that Israel portrays as its source of strength. This is the claim that it represents an oasis of civilization and democracy, with high moral values, a state that respects human rights and liberties and abides by international law and respects international legitimacy. This is despite all the crimes, massacres, sieges, and killings of children, destruction of homes, institutions, churches, mosques, and international institutions it has been engaging in, and despite the racial discrimination and attacks on human beings and their homes, and the violations of law and moral values – all of which run contrary to its claim that it is being done in self-defence.
The strong point of the Palestinian struggle is that it is in defense of a just and morally superior cause, and relies on international law and international legitimacy, even though it only calls for the realization of the minimum of Palestinian rights. Therefore, boycotting Israel is one of the means of resistance that strongly exploits Israel’s vulnerability. It can achieve qualitative successes that can change the entire situation, but only if it is perceived as one of the Palestinians’ new and long-term strategic tools, not merely as a tactical means for exerting pressure to improve the Palestinians' living conditions under occupation, or to improve the terms of the negotiations that have failed (and will continue to fail) to end the occupation unless based on points of strength that the Palestinian negotiators bring to bear at the negotiating table.
Matters have reached a point in fact where Israel has passed an endless series of racist laws. And this transforms it more and more into a regime hostile to humanity, worse than the defunct racial discrimination regime in South Africa. What worries Israel's leaders is that they fear the growth of the boycott campaign, since it is likely to secure greater successes in light of the great change in international public opinion, especially in Europe and the U.S. Israel believes that it has lost Europe and America’s universities. And it fears that this change in public opinion will lead to a similar change among governments sooner or later. Once that happens, it will not be long before Israel faces isolation, sanctions and trials.
One example of the boycott campaign's recent successes comes from the National Union of Students (NUS) in Britain which represents 7-million students, and that has demanded that Israel be boycotted. The giant French company Veolia was forced to sell off most of its business in the occupation state after losing billion-dollars as a result of the boycott campaign against it across the world.
Yet despite the boycott campaign’s successes, one should not rest assured regarding its future. Israel has deployed all its power against it and is trying to mobilize its friends and allies to foil the campaign. It has achieved important successes in this regard by convincing the U.S. Congress, the Canadian Parliament and other world parliaments, to pass laws banning the boycott of Israel as a form of anti-Semitism. These laws also include measures to punish the advocates and participants in campaigns to boycott Israel.
The Palestinians and their friends need to exert greater efforts and deploy more resources and energies to ensure the success of the boycott campaign. Among the measures that need to be taken, the Palestinians’ PA and PLO leaders must throw all their weight behind this battle, and not confine themselves to dealing with it reticently, or failing to intervene when they should do so. One example of this was Orange's backtracking on its decision after the Israeli government exerted pressure on the French government; that should have been met with similar counter-pressures from the Palestinian government.
Moreover, the Palestinian government should work on convincing Arab leaders and governments to join the boycott, because these are some of the most important tools for entering a guaranteed path towards affecting the required change in the balance of power. That will halt Israel’s racist settlement activities and its schemes against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and inside the territories occupied in 1948. It will open a window of opportunity for imposing a settlement that achieves the basic minimum of Palestinian national rights. For these rights will never be achieved in light of the continued illusions and wagers on the international community alone, or on the path of negotiations and U.S. pressure on Israel. For that is the course that has led us to the catastrophe that we find ourselves facing today. Persisting with these illusions and wagers will only produce a bigger catastrophe.
This leaves one final point: Should the boycott be confined to the occupation and settlements and steer clear of questioning Israel's alleged legitimacy? Or should it be comprehensive and focus on the fact that Israel is a state established on the ruins of another nation that it continues to try and annihilate, refusing to implement the dictates of international law and UN resolutions whose implementation could pave the way to a satisfactory solution for the Palestinian problem?
So far, Israel has also aborted all solutions and initiatives that aim to reach a settlement that upholds the basic minimum of Palestinian rights, despite the fact that the Palestinian leadership has recognized Israel's right to exist and has halted resistance to it, abiding by all its security and economic obligations that ensure Israel's security and stability. This calls for a review of the Oslo track and for liberation from its commitments, if only gradually, beginning with ending security coordination and ending with rescinding recognition of Israel.
Those who wish to confine themselves to boycotting the settlements should do so. But the boycott will not bear fruit unless it questions the entire Israeli project. Only then will Israel feel that it is being pursued, and that it may suffer isolation, sanctions and accountability for its previous and ongoing crimes.
"After all, an entity that engages in occupation, settlement activities and racism, and which is an embodiment of a Zionist colonial project that continues to unfold, cannot be legitimate," concludes Masri.
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