Monday, November 27, 2006

Israel: dangerous when cornered

David Seaton's News Links
Briefly described, the neocon plan for the Middle East theorized that the invasion of Iraq and its regime change, accompanied by much "shock and awe", would bring about regime change in Iran and Syria. The new regimes thus produced would forthwith sign peace treaties with Israel and this would leave the Palestinians isolated and thus forced to accept whatever conditions Israel willed. This strategy was expressed as, "the road to Jerusalem leads through Baghdad". Poof! That strategy lies in ruins. Turned inside out like a stocking. The United States is now in the death grip of the Middle East and is struggling to extricate itself. Now it appears that "the road to Baghdad lead through Jerusalem", in other words: for the USA to leave Iraq with even a shred of dignity intact it needs the cooperation of Iran, Syria and the various factions of Iraq who share a common hatred for the "Zionist entity" and will need to humble Israel in order to justify their concessions before their peoples. Therefore, any cooperation, peace plan, or peace conference will come at the expense of Israel, which will have to concede much, much, more than what Ariel Sharon termed, "painful concessions". To top it off, after their military, diplomatic and propaganda failure against Hezbollah last summer, the Israeli's military prestige is in tatters and their enemies emboldened. The Israeli rightwing will do anything and activate any resource to slow down or derail this momentum which is totally to their detriment. In my opinion many of the strange things that are occurring and may occur in the near future, in the Middle East and elsewhere, can be explained by the Israeli right's need to save what they can from the collapse of the neocon 'dream'. This article from the Financial Times lays out the elements without connecting the dots. DS
The assassination in Lebanon should not derail dialogue - Financial Times
Abstract: The assassination of Lebanese industry minister Pierre Gemayel last Tuesday sent shockwaves through the Middle East. It seemed to run counter to the growing momentum for diplomacy and co-operation that had seen Syrian ministers in Baghdad, the Iraqi president preparing to go to Tehran and calls in London and Washington for a change of course toward more constructive engagement with Syria and Iran. However, the killing necessitates a balanced policy of moving ahead with the United Nations special tribunal on assassinations in Lebanon while also reducing conflict and instability through constructive and multilateral dialogue.(...) At the international level, the murder disrupts the momentum in London and Washington for a fundamental change of approach in the Middle East. Regardless of who actually perpetrated it, much public commentary has laid the blame at the doorstep of Damascus. Syria has condemned the killing, denies any responsibility and protests that the act, carried out on the day that the UN Security Council was meeting to finalise the tribunal agreement, could not have been timed more effectively to hurt its interests. Nevertheless, the assassination revived international wariness of the Syrian regime and helped rush the tribunal agreement through the Security Council.(...) Despite the latest events, the logic of reaching out to Tehran and Damascus still holds. The two are major forces in the region and there is much to be gained from robust and responsible dialogue between them and the international community. With the removal of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban, Iran has made gains in the region, helped by the rise in oil prices. Iran will be an important participant in the future of Iraq and in the stability or otherwise of the Middle East. Despite sharp differences over its nuclear programme, Iran shares with other countries an interest in a stable Iraq. It seeks assurances that it will not be attacked or overthrown, that it will not be considered a pariah state and that its role in the region will be recognised. In exchange, it should be open to co-operation in Iraq, security in the gulf, as well as co-operation in stabilising Lebanon.(...) The killing in Lebanon reminds us all that there are dangerous and violent elements at play. But there is no alternative to engaging governments and encouraging states to become partners rather than pariahs in the international community, thus having a stake in playing by its rules. READ IT ALL

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