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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Obama's first priority: Forcing Israel down from the Golan

Buried deep in her Friday column, Caroline Glick reports that the first priority of the incoming Obama administration, as part of its strategy of sucking up to Mutt and Jeff, is to force Israel to leave the Golan Heights to the good graces of the Chinless Ophthalmologist of Damascus (Hat Tip: Michael T.).
Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton pledged in her Senate confirmation hearings that the new administration will immediately seek to engage Iran diplomatically. She also stated that the US intends to actively pursue better relations with Iran's Arab satellite-state, Syria. Moreover, she pledged that the Obama administration will make an immediate push to establish a Palestinian state.

Clinton's testimony makes clear that Obama's major initiatives will all involve forcing Israel to pay a price. According to a source in close contact with Obama's transition team, the first price that Israel will be pressured to pay will be the Golan Heights.

Obama has pledged that soon after taking office he will make a major speech in an Islamic capital to strengthen US ties to the Muslim world. And the source asserts that Obama intends to make that speech in Damascus. Moreover, he intends to pressure Israel to surrender the Golan Heights to Syria as "payback" for any Syrian indication that it will weaken its ties to Iran.
And just how bad a move is this? Well, forget for a minute that it puts Syrian gunners in the Heights overlooking Israel's breadbasket, and look what it does to US interests.
The inability of Arab governments to take any collective or decisive action on Gaza is rooted in two basic trends, said Rami Khoury, the director of the Issam Fares public policy institute in Beirut. Most Arab regimes are terrified of Islamist movements like Hamas, which represent the greatest threat to their legitimacy. Many, including Egypt and Jordan, face challenges at home from their own popular versions of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’s ideological parent. Most Arab leaders are also reluctant to provoke the United States and Israel (with which Egypt and Jordan have peace treaties).

For those reasons, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have refused to endorse a meeting of the Arab League. They do not want to be embarrassed by figures like Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, who — like his Iranian allies — has won points with an angry Arab public by supporting Hamas and inveighing against the passivity of other Arab leaders.

On Friday, Mr. Assad took his attacks a step further at the Doha gathering, deriding the Saudi-sponsored proposal for a peace plan with Israel as “already dead,” and calling for all Israeli embassies in Arab countries to be closed. Soon after he made his comments, Qatar and Mauritania announced they were cutting their economic and diplomatic ties with Israel, in another sign that countries like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, who support a diplomatic approach with Israel, could become isolated if the violence does not end soon.

Mr. Assad’s broadside was also a reminder that the perennial fractiousness of Arab politics goes deeper than disagreements on politics and religion. Syria’s differences with Saudi Arabia, which stem from Syria’s ties with Iran and its suspected role in an assassination in Lebanon in 2005, have been exacerbated by a personal feud between the Saudi king and Mr. Assad that began with Mr. Assad publicly insulting the king two years ago and is likely to be worsened by the bitter accusations of the past few weeks. Even where two countries share the same ideology and politics, personal differences between leaders have sometimes maintained a rift. Syria and Iraq were ruled for decades by the Baathist leaders Hafez al-Assad (Bashar’s father) and Saddam Hussein, whose rivalry kept their countries bitterly divided.

“One of the problems with Arab politics is that it remains tribal and personal and that is why Arabs cannot agree about anything,” said Hilal Khashan, a professor of political science at the American University in Beirut.

Yet today’s inter-Arab tensions are not just about Gaza, or relations with the West, or even personal disputes. Many Arab leaders believe that Iran is aiming to become the dominant power in Middle East, and is using the Palestinian issue to batter its rivals through Hamas, its client.

“What’s happening in Gaza is dangerous on its own, but also dangerous in its implications,” said a Jordanian official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue. “Iran is interested in prolonging the violence, because that would help it to mobilize the Arab street and turn people here against their governments.” [And we know that Iran pressured Hamas not to accept a cease fire even though Hamas was clearly being routed in Gaza. CiJ]

That broad political threat to moderate Western-leaning governments may outweigh the sectarian anxieties provoked by Iran’s Shiite theology as its national power rises. Iran, after all, has now helped empower a Sunni Islamist movement, Hamas, as well as a Shiite Islamist movement, Hezbollah, and together the movements can claim a popular following across the Arab world.
As bad as the Egyptian, Jordanian and Saudi regimes are, can anyone seriously believe it's in America's best interest to be promoting the interests of Islamist Iran and their terror-supporting sidekicks in Syria over the three 'moderate' Arab states?


At 8:06 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

You wonder why bad Arab regimes prefer having Israel around. Israel is their ace in the pocket against Iran. Israel hasn't put a price tag on Hosni Mubarak's head. Iran did. Its not that they love the Jews; its that they fear Iran more and in the Middle East, that has made for strange political bedfellows. Its an alliance of interests between Israel and the Sunni Arab regimes, not about love and brotherhood - which will never be.


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