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Sharon and Bush: the twain torment the Muslim World
By Karamatullah K. Ghori

Toronto: The new name of ruthless brutality and oppression is Ariel Sharon.

Eversince he stalked the holy precincts of Al-Aqsa and its Harem in a deliberate hectoring to provoke the Palestinians, that fateful day of September 2000, Sharon has relentlessly and brutally pursued a single item agenda : reoccupy the truncated lands under Palestinian authority and trash all symbols of Palestinian self-rule.

Sharon piled on provocation after provocation to create an alibi to consign the Palestinian areas to his vultures in the Israeli army. The catalyst for him to formally re-occupy the Palestinian lands was the suicide attack in Jerusalem on June 18 which resulted in 20 Israeli casualties. He wasted not a moment to send his tanks rolling into the Palestinian towns and cities and give the army an indefinite stranglehold over them.

Some Palestinian militants may have doubted his resolve to follow through on his agenda of naked aggression. Hamas and other like-minded movements decided to call his bluff. But Sharon was not bluffing. The Palestinian hotheads erred by misreading his devious mind. They should have known that a butcher does never bluff. Once he has the quarry in his sights he goes after it with a sharpened knife. That is exactly what Sharon, better known as the Butcher of Beirut, did with his characteristic, cold and calculated, brutality. 

And yet it is very true that notwithstanding his insatiable lust for Palestinian blood, Sharon would not have dared to press on with his open defiance of the world public opinion, firmly arrayed against his murderous orgy in the occupied lands, had he not had unstinted blessings of Washington to carry on his agenda and thumb his nose at the rest of the world.

In Gorge W. Bush, Sharon has a mirror-image as far as any plan to pulverize the Palestinians, in particular, and Muslims, in general, is concerned. From the day Bush eased his way into the White House the two soul mates have regularly, and periodically, exchanged notes and calibrated their moves to let loose terror, whenever convenient to them, on the Arabs and the Muslims. September 11 and its aftermaths took the cloak off any pretensions on their part-or at least on the part of George Bush-that they did not have a symbiotic relationship on everything concerning the Muslim interests in any part of the world. Sharon, an epitome of Zionism and Bush, a personification of the Christian Right in U.S., have a fanatical alliance to target the Muslims on any excuse or pretext.

The timing of Sharon's re-occupation of the Palestinian areas had apparently been cleared with the White House in advance. Sharon visited Bush in Washington less than a week before his final strangulation of the Palestinians, and the two apparently synchronised their moves against the Palestinians and the Iraqis down to the fine details. 

It is not coincidental that Sharon wielded his sledgehammer against the hapless, captive, Palestinians within hours of the public disclosure in Washington that President Bush had authorised CIA to use whatever means necessary and warranted to remove Saddam Hussain from power in Iraq. The new freedom of action granted by the so-called leader of the 'free and civilised world' to his ace spy agency known for its cloak and dagger operations against a host of 'enemy' heads of state and government in the past, includes a license to murder the Iraqi leader. This is as good, or bad, as the Mafia taking out a 'contract' on the head of a targeted rival amongst the dons. 

But the Mafia never publicises its 'contracts.' So why should the President of United States choose to accord unabashed public airing to a supposedly top secret 'contract' he has awarded to CIA to get rid of Saddam Hussain?

Scott Ritter, a former chief inspector of UNSCOM, the UN agency charged with the responsibility to unearth and destroy Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction, has come up with a very logical and sound reason for this apparently illogical and irrational behaviour of George Bush.

Ritter himself had acquired quite a notoriety during his 6-year- long stint in Iraq as UNSCOM's chief sleuth because of his unconventional behaviour. He was strongly suspected by the Iraqis as working for CIA and Mossad, the notorious Israeli answer to CIA. Ritter later admitted, after making an ignoble exit from Iraq in 1998, that he had shared his 'knowledge' of Iraq with the two impugned agencies.

Writing in The Los Angeles Times of June 19, Ritter made a convincing case that the only 'logic' behind the calculated 'leak' of Bush's supposedly secret authorisation to CIA to murder Saddam could have only one object : sabotage any possible return of weapons inspectors to Iraq.

There is a lot of plausible logic to Ritter's argument. Intense deliberations have been going on for the past more than a year between UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Iraqi Foreign Minister on the mechanics of returning the arms inspectors to Iraq. A lot of ground is believed to have been covered already. A third round of negotiations between the two interlocutors is due to be held in New York in early July to finetune the arrangements and calibrate related details of the much-awaited, born-again, mission. The Iraqis are said to be fully co-operating with UN to facilitate the reintroduction of arms inspectors in Iraq on mutually acceptable terms. Insiders believe that the Iraqi government has agreed already, in principle, to let the inspectors back into Iraq.

But this is not a welcome development to George Bush. He does not want the inspectors to go back to Iraq because that would rob him of the only possible alibi to let loose his terror on the Iraqis. Up until now, all other alibis to strike Iraq with terror have been non-productive. Bush and his Pentagon hawks have failed, despite meticulous efforts, to pin the charge of complicity in the September 11 terrorist acts on Iraq. Now if the inspectors were to return to Iraq they would lose the only remaining card still in their hand to find fault with Saddam Hussain. Hence the deliberate leak on the murder contract to CIA.

Bush and company are, as indications go, counting on the known sensitivity of the Iraqi establishment to any plans to unseat their leader. UN inspectors have, for good and logical reasons, been suspected in the past to have colluded with those whose sole ambition is Saddam Hussain's liquidation. Iraqis, by this line of thought, would be quite justified and entitled to apprehend that the fresh inductees amongst the UN inspectors may also not be immune to becoming the Trojan Horses for U.S. designs against Saddam Hussain. The Washington hawks are counting on the credible likelihood that because of its safety concerns for the life of Saddam Hussain the Iraqi government may, in the end, decline to let the inspectors back into their country.

It is not only the Iraqis who might be entitled to feel uneasy about the war drums beating so loudly and ominously in Washington on Iraq. Bush has had his heart set on launching a punitive war against Iraq on whatever pretext. He owes it to his father as well as to those who have been instrumental in paving his passage into the White House. Even if the Iraqis were to accept the UN inspectors back into their country, Bush's hawkish instincts would invent some other excuse to translate his war agenda into a reality against Iraq and Saddam Hussain. For him the only bottom line is war on Saddam and Iraq.

Friends of U.S., in Europe and next door Canada, feel radically alarmed at Bush's untamed hostility and declared aggressive intent against Iraq. 

Foreign Minister Graham of Canada is one such friend who does not believe in mincing his words when tendering friendly advice to Canada's bullying 'big brother.' Graham swiftly and promptly denounced Bush's directive to go after Saddam Hussain using all fair and unfair means. In an undisguised rebuke at the sole 'contract' given to CIA, Graham acidly observed : "We prefer, as Canadians, to work through the United Nations." Graham left no one in doubt that Canada did not approve of the gangster tactics being deployed by Bush to overthrow a 'problematic' foreign leader, and said: "We believe very strongly in building strong, multilateral, legally based, multilateral reactions to problems in the world and we would urge the United States to respect that and international legal norms."

Graham , in particular, has earned the ire of the powerful Jewish lobby in Canada because of his candid disapproval and denunciation of the other arm of the Bush-Sharon team-Ariel Sharon. He did not flinch from speaking his mind in strongly criticising Sharon's strong arm belligerence against the Palestinians during a recent visit to Canada by the Israeli Head of State.

In tandem with Graham's plain-talking, a group of nine Canadian MPs , who visited Israel, the West bank and Gaza recently after Sharon's murderous campaign of terror in the Occupied Territories, have sharply denounced Israel for its naked barbarity. They have painted a grim picture of life in the Palestinian areas and lambasted Israel for its reign of terror. In a report titled " Mission to Palestine", and submitted to the Canadian Parliament they have suggested that Canada should suspend its free-trade agreement with Israel until "meaningful" peace talks are reconvened with the Palestinians. They have also demanded of Israel that the" "occupation , with its brutality, destruction, humiliation and human rights violations must end."

The report also calls on Israel to recognize a Palestinian state by withdrawing to the pre-1967 borders that separated Israel from the West Bank and Gaza and to dismantle its settlements as part of a negotiated end to the dispute with the Palestinians. 

Arguably, America's friends and allies now have a much better understanding than before of the destructive course on which Bush wishes to embark, only to serve the interests of Israel and the aggrandizing military-industrial complex of U.S. They also realise that this wantonly aggressive and adventurous streak of George Bush would inevitably lead to a sharp polarisation between the west and the Islamic world with unforeseen consequences for both.

But Bush and the clutch of hawks guiding him at every step of the way are unlikely to be deterred by the concerns of friends and allies. There is , then, Ariel Sharon tilting at all the windmills, and keeping his persecution of the Palestinians at a feverish pitch so that the momentum of war and conflict that he and Bush so much relish should not be lost.

Washington insiders believe that the fine- print of an invasion plan of Iraq has been fine-tuned and calibrated. The proverbial 'Is' have been dotted and the 'Ts' crossed. All that is awaited now is the go-ahead signal from the Commander-in-Chief, George Bush, who, understandably, will push the button only in cahoots with his friend, Ariel Sharon.

For that reason, Bush wants Sharon to complete his ongoing terror campaign quickly. Not that he wants to check Sharon's ambition or constrict his free hand. The emphasis from Washington is that the operation be rolled up in good time to allow a breathing spell before the guns are turned against Iraq. 

Sharon has received Washington's unqualified endorsement for his re-occupation of the Palestinian territories. Likewise, Bush is at one with Sharon that there can be no talk of a Palestinian state at this stage, nor a time table could be given for it. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt cut a sorry figure when he pressed Bush for such a commitment during his visit to Washington just before Sharon's and Bush turned him down flat. That is how valuable the 'moderate' Arab leaders are to George Bush.

Bush, with a visceral dislike of Yasser Arafat also, apparently shares Sharon's irrepressible urge to get rid of Arafat as part of his grand design to decimate the Palestinians. As such, Sharon's next move would, most likely, be expulsion of his old nemesis, Arafat, from Palestine. 

Friends of Israel in the Bush administration, such as the national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, an inveterate Arab-baiter anxious to prove her loyalty to Jewish interests, have been dropping hints aplenty about the 'desirability' of a 'new' ( read pliable, in the mould of Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan or General Musharraf of Pakistan ) generation of Palestinian 'leaders'. These new Palestinian leaders would then be fed crumbs of Israeli-American largesse in disjointed and incoherent Palestinian Bantustans. 

The two-pronged strategy, vis--vis the Palestinians and the Iraqis, now in the works in Tel Aviv and Washington would be the likely exile of Arafat from Palestine and elimination of Saddam Hussain from Iraq. The plans call for a pincer offensive, both military and diplomatic, from U.S. and Israel to achieve their joint targets. The Bush dynasty in U.S. is doing all it can to help establish an Israeli Empire ( Moshe Dayan's dream and Ariel Sharon's life mission) on the ruins of the Palestinians and the Iraqis.

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