Israeli Repression vs. Arab Resistance

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Two different scenarios, intrinsically related with each other, are taking shape, simultaneously, in the Middle East.

At the western-end of ME spectrum is the year-old battle of nerves between an ever-repressive and arrogant Israel and its nemesis to the west, a full-of-new-confidence and healthily strident Turkey. Turks, under their dynamic leader, Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan, stood up to Israel’s arrogance and hubris, last year when their peace flotilla carrying humanitarian relief for the victims of Israel’s brutal siege of the Palestinians in Gaza, was attacked on the high-seas by Israeli commando pirates. Nine Turkish peace activists were killed on board the hijacked ship, Mavi Marmara, in that savage Israeli raid conducted in gross violation of international law and convention.

Turkey’s response to that blatant provocation from a trigger-happy Israel, led by a Zionist PM Netanyahu, was swift and principled. It immediately recalled the Turkish ambassador from Tel Aviv and demanded an unconditional apology from the Israeli government as condition for the return of its ambassador.

In the latest twist to the ongoing saga, Turkey announced, on September 2, the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador in Ankara and, at the same time, putting a freeze on all military co-operation with Israel. The Turkish retribution came in the wake of Netanyahu’s blatant and provocative refusal to apologize for the crime committed by his commando pirates against the Turkish peace flotilla.

Netanyahu, no doubt, was emboldened to persist in his arrogant response to the Turkish demand by the unveiling of a belated UN report on the Israeli piracy. The findings of the UN investigation were published by the Israeli-friendly New York Times on the same day, September 2, and their thrust was provocation enough for Ankara to show the exit to the Israeli ambassador.

The UN ‘fact-finding’ is the nearest thing to a complete whitewash of the Israeli crime. It absolved Israel of the need to apologise, saying that an expression of regret-unacceptable to Turkey-would suffice. Even more provocatively, the partisan report describes the Israeli illegal blockade of Gaza as a "legitimate security measure." Adding insult to the Turkish sense of grievous injury, the report lamely charges Israel with only "excessive and unreasonable" use of force.

Turkey has apparently no intention to allow a lawless Israel, chaperoned by its western friends, to go scot-free after having violated every canon of international law. Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, while asserting his government’s right to take appropriate actions against Israel, let the world know that it would seek help of the forthcoming General Assembly session, commencing later in September, in New York to lodge a formal case against the Israeli blockade of Gaza in the International Court of Justice. He also said that his government would also back court actions against Israel by families of the victims of the peace flotilla and also ensure free navigation in Eastern Mediterranean. Analysts believe Turkey may, henceforth, provide the cover of its naval vessels to future peace flotillas.

It’s obvious that no Israeli action is taken without consultations, often prior, with Washington. The two allies not only have a camaraderie of interests conflated in diplomatic arena but they march in cahoots in other fields, too, including their ‘expertise’ in developing newest techniques and methods of torture and repression of their quarries and victims.

The latest tranche of Wiki Leaks unveiled on September 1 includes secret cables sent from the American Embassy in Tel Aviv on the latest repression tactics honed by bosom friend and ally, Israel.

There is, for instance, a cable report sent in February 2010, by the US Ambassador to Israel, James Cunningham, based on his conversation on security-related issues with Avi Mazrahi, Head of the Israeli occupation army in the West Bank. Mazrahi has been quoted in the report telling Cunningham that his forces in the occupied areas would use force against the Palestinians even if their demonstrations were entirely peaceful. He boasts of the Israeli terror-machine being at work full time and informs his interlocutor that his soldiers would be using Dirty Water-a mixture of water and tear gas-against the Palestinians with impunity. The Americans describe the ‘Dirty Water’ as a dirty cocktail with the awful and unbearable stench of skunks. And they still pride calling themselves purveyors of civilization; what an irony.

Another cable from the same source quotes an Israeli security agent  boasting to an American diplomat in Israel about their prowess in wielding overwhelming force against unarmed Palestinians and sarcastically quipping; ‘we don’t do Gandhi well.’

Israel and US are also desperately engaged in twisting the arm of the lame-duck Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to prevent him from taking the case of Palestinian statehood before the impending UN General Assembly later this month. They are threatening the Palestinian Authority with the most-likely cut-off of US economic aid to PA and pressure from the Israeli-controlled US congress to browbeat the Palestinians.

Of course US will not think twice before wielding its veto in the Security Council on Israel’s behalf. But the fallout of such crass reiteration of America’s sickening partisanship of Israel could only be disastrous for US global standing and its professed claim of an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. It would wreck the US image of being a referee, if any of it is still intact, though it’s mostly in shreds, already.

However, the Palestinians can’t simply afford to be hoodwinked or intimidated by such mafia tactics. Their train, according to one of their spokesmen, has already left the station and is moving full-speed ahead to reach its destination, the platform of UNGA, later in September, where the world, including some reluctant European partisans of Israel, stand ready to accord it the title and recognition of a fully-fledged and sovereign state in the truest sense of international law. A US veto would expose, in crystal clarity, how bogus and bunkum is their claim of seeking peace in the Middle East.

At the other end of the ME spectrum the steadfast resolution and grim determination of the Arab peoples to make their ‘spring’ a reality is contributing myriad colours-of success and disappointment-to the rainbow. There is, in this pastiche, the impressive gains of the people’s struggle against a ruthless tyrant like Qaddafi in Libya, and the dismal hues of the Syrian people’s valiant effort against an equally tyrannical Bashar Al Assad tinged with the still fruitless blood of the victims of his brutality.

What’s striking in this yet-unfinished picture painted on the Arab canvas is the sensational-though not entirely unthinkable-revelation of a close camaraderie of interests between Arab tyrants, both fallen and still alive, and western intelligence services, like CIA and MI-6.

The lid from this shameless collusion between the denizens of democracies-who pride themselves in being self-proclaimed gurus of international morality-and brutal Arab dictators routinely mocked and derided in the western news media, has been blown sky-high in the wake of the overthrow of Qaddafi’s barbaric regime in Tripoli.

What the liberators of the Libyan people have found in the archives of Qaddafi’s Stalinist intelligence service is a treasure-trove of documents graphically detailing its close and cordial relations with CIA, MI-6 and even the Israeli Mossad. The bosses and ring leaders of these agencies were on first-name basis with each other, as revealed from letters exchanged between CIA and MI-6 on the one hand, and Moussa Koosa, the former spy chief and foreign minister of Libya, who defected from the regime last march. Moussa was routinely addressed as "Dear Moussa" in the letters signed by CIA and MI-6 chiefs, signing in their first names.

How ethically-bankrupt and heartless was this nexus of nefarious interest between these power-hungry organizations may be culled from the gripping episode of Abdel Hakim Belhadj, the current military commander of Libya’s provisional government. Belhadj played a leading role in the liberation of Tripoli from Qaddafi’s hold.

In 2004, Bel Hadj was picked up by CIA in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on suspicion of being an Al-Qaeda partisan. He was subsequently shifted to Bangkok, Thailand, and passed on to MI-6, which quickly handed him over to the torture experts of Qaddafi’s terror machine. Bel Hadj remained a prisoner of Qaddafi for 6 years and was regularly tortured and oppressed.

Qaddafi, the erstwhile whipping boy for western democracies, had won their hearts after he abandoned his alleged programme of nuclear weapons and masqueraded himself as a champion of western secularism, vis-à-vis ‘militant Islam.’ He was quickly embraced as a front-line soldier in the war against the so-called Islamists; his draconian intelligence service became equally kosher to its western counter-parts.

Qaddafi wasn’t the only Arab despot in a bear-hug with western democracies in their joint manoeuvres against the interests and ambitions of the Arab peoples. Syria, Jordan and Yemen-and of course Egypt under Mubarak, above all-were among other ‘notable’ Arab regimes courted by US and its civilized European partners in their common platform to keep the Arab peoples suppressed and hostage to their tyrannical regimes. Suspected Muslim and Arab ‘terrorists’ corralled in US and Europe, on the heels of 9/11, were regularly ‘shipped out’ to these ruthless Arab regimes for interrogation and torture. The name given to this modern form of slave trade was ‘rendition’ of suspects.

 The services of these heartless and brutal Arab despots were commissioned on the plea that ‘western values’ didn’t allow the suspects o be interrogated aggressively. Apparently there was complete faith in western governments and corridors of power that their favoured Arab regimes, presiding over torture chambers and dungeons, would do the needful to the satisfaction of their western mentors and masters. In return, these western intelligence outfits shared their expertise with the likes of Qaddafi to develop and hone new methods of oppression to keep their cowering masses subdued and under firm control.

The success of the Arab Spring, howsoever tardy and costly in terms of the blood of peaceful protesters shed, with impunity, in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, is, however, pulling the rug from under the feet of not only Arab tyrants but also their western cohorts. London, Washington, Paris et al may now be beating a hasty retreat in the face of the popular Arab backlash and pretend they had nothing to do with Arab tyrants supported by them.

A nagging sense of disappointment must pervade the intelligence services of the west and their Israeli cohorts over the loss of supine tyrants and their minions always ready to do their dirty work. But more foreboding for the west and Israel is the emergence of a new power like Turkey showing a path of resilience and new-found confidence emanating from a commitment to democracy and respect for the fundamental rights of their people. Turkey is blazing a trail for the Arabs struggling to regain their lost freedoms from the clutches of tyrants who have been their oppressors for as long as they have been serving the interests of western imperialism.

Turkey’s own return to popular democracy, after years of unlawful military domination, wasn’t easy or without sacrifice. Tayip Erdogan himself suffered years of imprisonment and political ostracism before his charisma and dignified leadership won the day in ousting the generals from their bastion in the sanctum of political power. But Erdogan is showing the way to those emerging at the helm of affairs in countries like Libya, following the blossoming of their spring for democracy, how to nurture their freedom and power, in its wake, for the larger good of their people.

No wonder an oppressor like Israel is so worried, not only for the loss of the lucrative foothold it had in Turkey itself, but more about the trend Turkey is setting for Israel’s Arab neighbours, like Egypt, to emulate. Israel and its western supporters are shaking in their boots at the prospect of Turkey’s brave example travelling to the Arab heartland and triggering tremors there.

Success may be its own reward in a classical sense, but real success that leads to the flowering of freedoms for a long-oppressed people, comes only when they find the strength to shape their policies without letting any outsider to dictate its shape or contours to them. That’s a test still ahead of emerging democracies in the Arab world; success or failure in this key test would impact the course of history in our times, and in the years and decades to come.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 September 2011 on page no. 26

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