Thursday, 7 August 2014

Israel, The Gaza War and the West

'Global revulsion at the mind-numbing carnage of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza seems finally to have spurred some of the western political class to speak out'. Seumas Milne, Gaza is a crime made in Washington as well as Jerusalem, The Guardian, Wednesday 6 August 2014
The reason why British politicians are hastening to position themselves against Israel's ruthless attack on Gaza has as much to do with dormant principles being awoken as with the fact, contrary to Milne's assertion, that Israel is acting completely in defiance of Washington and London.

That is a thought Seumas Milne never has been prepared to entertain. For him, it's quite clear Israel's assault on Gaza is one done with the connivance of 'the West' because he wants to claim only world opinion and outrage, as represented in and through him and his 'journalism' has led to an attitude shift.

However, Israel, has never, followed Washington's line nor was it ever a puppet of 'US Imperial Power', even during the Cold War. But its foreign policy has become increasingly independent in recent years, especially under Netanyahu who detests Obama and his administration for being 'soft' and pro-Arab.

The rise of Qatar as a major trade partner and gas rich oil emirate prepared to back the Muslim Brotherhood accounted for a gradual shift in the foreign policy of the Western Powers which preceded the 2014 War. Qatar was also prepared to back Gaza by supplying aid for infrastructure projects.

Evidently, the value of the arms deals remained a factor in the reluctance of British and US politicians to say anything condemnatory at the outset of current crisis this summer. But the point is that arms deals are usually tied to perceived strategical objectives and often energy interests.

With the collapse of Syria and the ongoing chaos in Iraq and Libya, the states carved out of the remains of the Ottoman Empire during and after the First world War 1914-1918 are coming unravelled. Across the Eastern Mediterranean and Greater Middle East, a new constellation of alignments have emerged.

The important year was 2011. Though Qatar is not a democracy, it used its gas wealth to support its regional policy of promoting Arab democracy in Egypt and Syria. The Obama administration was, in fact, not for the Egyptian coup in 2013 that restored the old order after the revolution of 2011 ( the 'Arab Spring ').

Nor was Britain. The reason was parly an admission that the old order of the secular dictator dating back to the post-1945 era and Cold War realpolitik was over. But it was also a recognition that Arab democracy was necessary is resentments at the old order were not to boil over into support for terrorism.

The Egyptian coup ended that and had to be accepted as an a fait accompli because of two things. Firstly, Russia was vying for influence in the Eastern Mediterranean with the discovery of the large gas reserves of the Levant Basin and was prepared to step in to supply arms to Sisi's military regime.

Secondly, despite an identification with some of Qatar's regional ambitions in tangent with Turkey, especially as part of the Friends of Syria Group-one dedicated to overthrowing Assad-the better to check Iran and advance a Qatar-pipeline, Egypt remained important as a geopolitical bulwark of stability.

Once Washington overcame its intitial hostility to the coup, it hastened to restore full military aid but it had not expected Israel to have taken that as a green light to impose its own 'solution' to its own problem with the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza, that is Hamas, with such exemplary brutality.

The Western Powers have been distinctly cool towards Netanyahu's revival of the 'war on terror' pose put forth under the Bush presidency and, as its diplomats and politicians have pointed out, the killing in Gaza is bad in itself but also makes it harder to assert US and British interests in the Middle East.

Israel, it should be remembered, was hostile to the West's backing for Sunni forces in Syria, brokered by Qatar and Turkey and designed to removed Assad. That's why Netanyahu praised Putin's Russia for negotiating the deal to remove Assad's chemical weapons without a military strike.

That, and the fact Israel has sought cooperation with Russia on arms developments and developing the offshore gas fields discovered in its territorial waters in 2010, hardly shows Israel to be a mere tool of the West just as vulgar propagandists such as Milne blithely assume.

Israel, has never, followed Washington's line nor was it ever a puppet or 'a satrapy' of Us Imperial Power, even during the Cold War. But it's foreign policy has become increasingly independent in recent years, especially under Netanyahu who detests Obama and his administration.

Washington, London and Paris have been gravitating towards Qatar because of energy interests and no longer regard the Israeli-Egypt-Saudi block as the main or important player in the Middle East. The growing consternation at the Israeli onslaught is a product of this changed reality.

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