Stagecraft at Annapolis

Annapolis conference on Palestine is nothing more than US jamboree, aimed at improving the image of US President, opines DR. S AUSAF SAIED VASFI. He says it would not take the world towards peace and a lasting solution to the problem of continuing vi

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Annapolis conference on Palestine is nothing more than US jamboree, aimed at improving the image of US President, opines DR. S AUSAF SAIED VASFI. He says it would not take the world towards peace and a lasting solution to the problem of continuing vi

Optimism is good for individual, national as well as international health. But the difficulty at Annapolis was the total absence of grounds for any such likelihood. The rock-bottom reality that came to world notice in the capital of Maryland was draught of sincerity on the part of the United States, at whose behest the Jamboree, attended by 49 organisations, 16 Arab states plus one quarter of the world’s Foreign Ministers. This playboy or playgirl approach to peace in the Middle East is not new as the would be ex-Presidents have nothing to lose, except credibility.
The outgoing American Presidents have been resorting to this gimmick so that they may enter into history with peace. But Iraq alone, not mentioning Afghanistan and other hot-spots, where Muslim blood has been spilled by Mr. George W. Bush, is more than enough to keep him tossing in his grave.
He left the “historic” meet three hours after he arrived, leaving Ms. Condoleezza Rice, in her boss’s words “the most powerful woman of the world”, in charge of the 3-day conference, which understandably proved an ideal occasion for photo opportunities and TV channels’ coverage than substance. There was no involved mediator or referee. The “enemies of peace” themselves were everything. Thus the failure of all the US-brokered conferences is meticulously ensured.
To an extent, the Saudi Foreign Minister had earlier thrown sufficient hints that Annapolis would see “launching” of talks. Reacting to presspersons’ questions, Mr. Saud Al-Faisal had said: “We have come to support the launching of serious and continuing talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis that will address all the core and final status issue.” These talks, he added, must be followed by the launching of the Syrian and Lebanese tracks at the earliest.
Because of the ever-continuing American intransigence, extremism has come to stay in the region. The US has authored conflicts where they did not exist. Where they existed, the US widened the gaps between the disputants. The Shia-Sunni ideological difference is a case in point. Each and every state in West Asia has Shia population. The US uses the minority to transform the unfortunate, age-old chasm into an unbridgeable gulf. Much earlier, the Orientalists had prepared the ground for it.
The Arab “soft” policy has provided space for “hard” strategy pursued by Iran. And it has paid dividends in the form of Hamas or Mehdi Army to name a few achievements of Tehran.
The Iranian fear is so formidable among the Egyptians, Jordanians and some sections of the Saudis that they, it is forcefully alleged, are for cooperation with the United States, the godfather of Israel, to get rid of the “menace”.
Tamara Cofman Wittes, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and director of its Middle East Democracy and Development Project, has been quoted by Nargiz Asadora (RIA Novosti) to say that Iran’s growing influence in the region concerns not only the U.S but also motivates Jordanians, Egyptians, Saudis, Palestinians and Israelis to unite with it in a coalition against this radical player.
The popularity of the Iranian and Pro-Iranian leaders in the Arab street has become not only a regional but also a domestic problem for the governments in West Asia. Public opinion polls conducted in six Arab countries after the Lebanese war in the summer of 2006, showed that the most popular policy-maker was Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrullah, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the runner-up.
At the same time, says the academic, the people are becoming increasingly discontented with their ruling elites and are blaming them for corruption, lack of commitment to liberal reforms and pro-Western policy. There is an element of truth in this assertion, he concludes.
There was no trace of the shared or even non-shared vision at the Annapolis. Opportunities for trade, interaction compromises or accommodation were conspicuous by absence. It appeared as if one was turning the ignition key on a car with flat tyres.
Can, or will, ever America deliver? This question brings under sharper focus the Zionist grip over the United States. Mr. Jimmy Carter, not long ago, came out with a book Palestine Peace, Not Apartheid, which has been severely criticised by the Americans. Why? Because he has deplored the way the Palestinians have been treated. Mr. Carter asserts he has extensively travelled in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza and the condition of the Palestinian people was an “embarrassment”.
When asked why the political leadership did not speak up, the former US President replied it is due to the excessive power of lobbies like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which staunchly supports Israeli policy. It would be “political suicide” for a US politician to censure Israel, added the former US President.
Add to it what Prof. Stephen Watt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago said in their book The Israel Lobby. They say it is simply not possible to have an open debate on Israeli policies in the US in the way one could debate the pros and cons of, for example, French or Kenyan policies. They also point out, as did President Carter, that it is easier to debate these issues openly in Israel than it is in Washington. The book understandably sent shockwaves through the political community. The authors were denounced and even accused of being anti-Semitic.
The only significant contribution of the summit is: talking is better than non-talking or armed confrontations. At least for the time being, targeted assassinations, bulldozers and apartheid walls have stopped. It is nice to see Mr. Mahmoud Abbas and Mr. Olmert shaking hands with each other.
Ambiguity on key, lethal issues has been a tradition of the US. In the latest declassified material, Mr. David Stout finds out that in July 1969, as the world was spell bound by the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, President Richard M. Nixon and his close advisers were quietly fretting about a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Their main worry was not a potential enemy of the United States, but one of America’s closest friends.
“The Israelis, who are one of the few people whose survival is genuinely threatened, are probably more likely than almost any other country to actually use their nuclear weapons,” Henry A. Kissinger, the national security adviser warned Nixon in a memorandum dated July 19, 1969.
Israel’s nuclear arms programme, which Israel has never officially conceded exists, was believed to have begun at least several years before, but it was causing special problems for the young Nixon administration. For one thing, the president was preparing for a visit by its prime minister, Golda Meir, who was also in her first year in office and whose toughness was also legendary.
Should Washington insist that Israel rein in its development of nuclear weapons? What would the US do if Israel refused? Perhaps the solution lays in deliberate ambiguity (emphasis added), or simply pretending that America did not know what Israel was up to. These were some of the options that Kissinger laid out for Nixon on that day before man first walked on the Moon.
We Indian Muslims, who cater to no lobby and have no constituency as well except Islam, honestly feel the Palestine issue is not likely to be solved by any interested broker, particularly by those who brought Israel into existence. We feel so because their intentions are not above board. They are a party and their attitude is partisan and protectionist, as we have seen through the immoral use of veto by US in the UN.
Israel would never accept a sovereign Palestine state, as it happens to be a roadblock in its dream of Greater Israel. Its ultimate map includes the regions extending from the Euphrates to Nile, including parts of Lower Egypt, Southern Lebanon, Southern Syria, land east of Jordan and the northern part of the Hijaz and Medina. In this backdrop, where is the question of an independent and sovereign Palestine State?
Only one change in strategy can alter the situation: De-Arabise the Palestine issue. Make it Islamic as the fact is in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah. The world Muslims’ Quibla-i-Awwal happens to be in East-Jerusalem. Launch a totally peaceful and utterly moral campaign at world level for its ultimate evacuation.
That perhaps was the vision and approach and strategy of the late Malik Faisal (may his soul rest in peace).