Skip to main content

How Trump’s declaration inflames a Middle East already ablaze

Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a turning point in the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, the issue is much bigger than Palestine as Donald Trump may have just lit the match that will set off the powder keg of the Arab World.

by Eric Draitser

Part 3 - A region at war

Though it is often seen in a vacuum, the Palestine issue cannot be divorced from the broader dynamics of the region. And, given the heightened tensions and turmoil in the Middle East – the war in Syria, Saudi-Qatar conflict, the war in Yemen, the Islamic State’s rise, etc. – Palestinian resistance must be examined as part of a broader regional transformation.

Hezbollah has for years been seen by many, especially the Israeli state, as a principal belligerent on the side of Palestinians. Since 2006 and Hezbollah’s resounding victory over Israeli military forces, the organization has become perhaps the primary force for armed resistance against Israel. As such, the organization would undoubtedly have a vital role to play in any potential resistance. But questions remain about Hezbollah’s capabilities in the wake of its intervention in Syria and, to a lesser degree, Yemen.

According to a survey of news coverage of Hezbollah fighter funerals, more than 1,000 Hezbollah fighters were killed in combat in Syria in the four and a half years of Hezbollah’s involvement (September 2012 – April 2017). As Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council noted:

This number [1000 killed]…must be treated as an absolute minimum, since the Hezbollah leadership has every reason to downplay losses. Giving full information on number of killed would increase domestic (Lebanese) resistance to Hezbollah’s involvement and reveal more information about its forces to its adversaries… Of these Hezbollah fighters, 60 were identified as al-Qaid al-Shahid (martyred commander) or al-Qaid al-Maydani (field commander), which distinguishes them from the rank-and-file members of the Shia militia.

Aside from demonstrating how much blood Hezbollah has shed on the battlefields of Syria, the death toll indicates that, at the very least, Hezbollah’s battlefield leadership has been significantly impacted by the losses. Naturally, new commanders rise to take the place of their fallen leaders but, as any general could tell you, it’s not easy to replace competent field commanders. Indeed, some of those leaders were veterans of the 2006 campaign against Israel, and it remains an open question whether that experience can truly be replaced.

Of course, Hezbollah has also been actively involved in Yemen — if not in military actions, then certainly as advisers. According to a 2015 Financial Times exclusive, Hezbollah sources in Beirut were quoted as saying that Houthi fighters had “trained with us in Iran, then we trained them here and in Yemen,” and that Iran was “probably” supplying weapons to the Houthis. One Hezbollah source told the FT that “We are the guerrilla experts, so we give advice about the best timings to strike back, when to hold back.

While these points are disputed by some in the organization and its supporters, the fact remains that Houthi capabilities, to say nothing of tactical victories, owe much to Hezbollah as a role model, if not a direct mentor.

As Paul Salem — Vice President for Policy Analysis Research, and Programs at the Middle East Institute — noted recently:

Hezbollah has been building up its presence in Yemen and Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has raised the Houthi cause and the war against Saudi Arabia there as a main cause of Hezbollah in recent speeches. Hezbollah’s role in the missile that was launched at Riyadh on November 4 only punctuated the threat. Saudi Arabia fears that Hezbollah and Iran could build missile systems that threaten the kingdom from Yemen as they have done against Israel from Lebanon.

So, it seems that the war in Yemen, like that in Syria, has implications for the Palestinian resistance. While it’s highly unlikely that Yemen has drained much in terms of material resources from Hezbollah, that conflict has made Hezbollah into a direct belligerent against Saudi Arabia, a significant escalation from the indirect proxy conflict in Syria.

The implications for Palestine should be self-evident: why would Saudi Arabia, and MBS specifically, allow Hezbollah to become the leading edge of a fight against Israel when the organization remains the leading edge of the ongoing conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran in both Syria and, to a lesser extent, Yemen? The contradiction here makes it apparent that, in the context of Palestine, any appearance of unity would be mere window-dressing. Beneath the surface, these forces would remain in conflict.

Also, one has to wonder whether MBS would attempt to extricate himself from the self-created quagmire in Yemen by using Palestine as a bargaining chip. Might Riyadh make a backroom deal wherein they sell out the Palestinian resistance in exchange for political and/or military support from the U.S. in Yemen? This would make some sense given President Trump’s recent comments urging the Saudis to end the blockade of Yemen, a statement widely regarded as an indication that Washington’s political cover for Saudi war crimes was wearing thin. Could we see a renewed backing from Washington in exchange for non-interference in any Palestinian uprising? It is a definite possibility.

And, given the recent news of the death of former Yemeni President Saleh, the chances of an escalated war against the Houthis have grown exponentially. The Saudis will need U.S. political cover and military/logistical support to prosecute their war.

Not to be forgotten, the ongoing diplomatic conflict between Saudi Arabia and Qatar complicates the situation in Palestine further. As mentioned above, the financial and political backing that each has provided to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas respectively will undoubtedly spill over into a proxy conflict in Palestine, one that could torpedo any chance of a truly unified resistance to Israeli oppression and occupation.

Of course, one cannot forget Turkey’s ongoing war against the Kurds, and the criminal networks and death squads operating under the Islamic State banner that have been decimated in recent months. The latter is particularly crucia,l as southern Lebanon had become a major battleground against ISIS fighters, which culminated in the controversial agreement between Hezbollah and the Lebanese Government and ISIS to provide safe passage for more than 300 ISIS militants and their families.

All these factors complicate the picture of a unified Palestinian resistance. Do they make it impossible? Of course not. However, it must be understood that any uprising in Palestine is connected to, and not divorced from, the politics of the region.

But what of the global players, specifically China and Russia? How might they factor into this increasingly complicated mosaic of political relations?

Source, links:


[1] [2] [4] [5]

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Former Pentagon official confirms: Trump prepares for war with Iran

globinfo freexchange
Right after Trump's sudden announcement that he will withdraw the US forces from Syria, we had some mixed reactions. Some liberals reacted angrily, but most of the reactions from the liberal machine were rather moderate, or at least not as intensive as someone would normally expect.
On the other hand, Trump's supporters and all those who had enough of the pro-war neoliberal establishment, felt a kind of vindication, as it appeared that Trump would eventually keep its promise for an 'anti-interventionist' policy.
But the blog wrote immediately a 'not so fast' article to explain that most of the Americans and all those who are tired of the US endless wars, should not rush to celebrate. We estimated that Trump's move is probably a sign that he is going to re-organize troops and go after the big target called Iran.
Indeed, shortly after the move, Trump, suddenly again, announced that he will also pullout troops from Afghanistan.
And then, about…

Panicked neoliberal tools attempt to trigger a war of generations against AOC's progressive counterattack

globinfo freexchange
We were slightly surprised to see such an article title in one of the primary info tools of the global neoliberal regime and financial capital. But the subtitle immediately clarified everything.
When we read the title “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Revenge of the Millennials” of the article in Bloomberg, we thought that we might be in front of a small miracle. We thought that the time has come for some people inside the core of the establishment apparatus to admit that the younger generations have lost dramatically from this brutal system. And so, the time has come to overthrow it, take their 'revenge'.
But no, it was too good to be true.
The subtitle immediately revealed the trick: “The Democrats’ major economic initiatives tend to favor the young at the expense of the old.”
Then, inside the article we read: “Almost every major new economic initiative proposed by Democrats — the Green New Deal, Medicare for all, debt-free college — has a common feature: Un…

The desperate efforts of the Western neoliberal establishment to build a new propaganda machine

globinfo freexchange
The UK government and other Western governments and the US in recent years have had increasing difficulties persuading enough of their populations as to the legitimacy of the foreign policies that they have been pursuing.
And at the same time, Western countries have been going through a period of political crisis and economic crisis.
Piers Robinson, Chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism at the University of Sheffield, further explains:
I think a lot of this drive is as much about trying to shore up shaky official narratives and trying to shore up political systems in a situation of political crisis, as it is actually about countering Russian propaganda.
I would suspect that that's a little bit of an excuse here to really what's going on of problems much closer to home.
This is not just to do to UK, this is Europe-wide. And there are also indications from the documents that they are intending to start to have some kind of impact within the United…

How neoliberalism manufactured consent to secure its unlimited power

From David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism
Part 10 – How Margaret Thatcher systematically destroyed the British industry along with the trade unions
While there were many elements out of which consent for a neoliberal turn could be constructed, the Thatcher phenomenon would surely not have arisen, let alone succeeded, if it had not been for the serious crisis of capital accumulation during the 1970s. Stagflation was hurting everyone. In 1975 inflation surged to 26 per cent and unemployment topped one million. The nationalized industries were draining resources from the Treasury.
This set up a confrontation between the state and the unions. In 1972, and then again in 1974, the British miners (a nationalized industry) went on strike for the first time since 1926.
The miners had always been in the forefront of British labour struggles. Their wages were not keeping pace with accelerating inflation, and the public sympathized. The Conservative government, in the midst of power …

Confirmed: Germany builds its own imperialist empire

globinfo freexchange
Almost two years ago we identified Germany's efforts to develop its military in the context of its ambition to build its own sphere of influence.
As we wrote, Brexit will give the chance to Germany to increase influence due to the change of power balance, especially now that France appears weak - crawling behind Berlin's austerity, sado-monetarism and neoliberal destruction. These conditions (created in the Greek experiment), are necessary to Germany in order to retain a model in favor of its surpluses. These could become the solid ground upon which Germany could build a strong, modern military machine.
Therefore, Merkel knows that the economic domination is not adequate for a country to become a major power. It is also important to have a strong military presence in its “sphere of influence”, or, its financial/debt colonies, if you prefer. The German military presence in Lithuania is a first step towards this direction as the Baltic countries have already be…

WikiLeaks disturbing and hopeful findings on Tulsi Gabbard's path to progressiveness

The definite detachment from the Clintonian machine
globinfo freexchange
Searching the Podesta emails inside WikiLeaks we found a rather disturbing fact about Tulsi Gabbard who recently announced that she will run for the 2020 US presidency. Iraq War Veteran, Jon Soltz, chairman at VoteVets at the time, sent an email on Aug. 2012 to Hillary Clinton top lobbyist, John Podesta, in order to thank him for his contribution to Gabbard's campaign in Hawaii.
Soltz wrote (emphasis added):
This morning, we are one step closer to making history. In Hawaii, VoteVets PAC-endorsed Iraq veteran Tulsi Gabbard has won her primary, in a stunning come-from-behind victory. If she wins in November, she along with Tammy Duckworth (who we also feel very good about), would be the first female combat veteran ever elected to Congress in United States history! This is happening because of you. Your tens of thousands of dollars in donations for Tulsi's campaign, through VoteVets PAC, allowed her to run a fir…

The difference between Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn and what the US elections won't allow you to decide

globinfo freexchange
A country that has been completely taken over by the banking mafia and the corporate power will never allow people to decide on the most important issue: the abolition of the dominant system that works against them.
Professor Richard Wolff explains:
Because of Bernie Sanders, particularly, we now have the word Socialism floating around, but typically it's about, more or less, really among Democrats. Like Mr. Sanders is ambiguously an independent but he's also a Democrat.
So, the ‘Socialists’ seemed to be the Democrats who want to do more for people. Social welfare, social supports, state supports, versus those who don't want to do quite so much - the centrist Democrats, like Clinton and Obama.
But the real question is a program of change. Socialism is a change of system it goes away from capitalism to do something else. It would be interesting if we could have an election ‘do we want that?’, ‘would we like a different system?’.
There are countries doing t…

The IMF is dismantling Argentina all over again

Part 1
In September, Argentine president Mauricio Macri accepted the 2018 Atlantic Council’s Global Citizen Award. In attendance were many of world’s neoliberal power players and policy makers, among them International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
Facing the crowd, Macri gleefully admitted that “with Christine, I have to confess we started a great relationship some months ago,” referring to a series of loan agreements with the IMF amounting to $57.1 billion dollars. “I expect that this is going to work very well, and we will end up with the whole country crushing on Christine,” he continued.
This dynamic of chasing an improved image with the world’s big banks and the dominant economies in the West is emblematic of Macri’s priority to secure a relationship with the IMF and improve the country’s image with global financial institutions. But it comes at a devastating cost for the majority of the population who will suffer from neoliberal policy prescriptions of…

How neoliberalism manufactured consent to secure its unlimited power

From David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism
Part 11 – The Reagan/Thatcher neoliberal legacy: a bizarre form of a sinister political doctrine from which it would be difficult one to escape
But Thatcher had to fight the battle on other fronts. A noble rearguard action against neoliberal policies was mounted in many a municipality –– Sheffield, the Greater London Council (which Thatcher had to abolish in order to achieve her broader goals in the 1980s), and Liverpool (where half the local councillors had to be gaoled) formed active centres of resistance in which the ideals of a new municipal socialism (incorporating many of the new social movements in the London case) were both pursued and acted upon until they were finally crushed in the mid-1980s.
She began by savagely cutting back central government funding to the municipalities, but several of them responded simply by raising property taxes, forcing her to legislate against their right to do so. Denigrating the progressive…

Banishing Truth

by Chris Hedges
The investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, in his memoir “Reporter,” describes a moment when as a young reporter he overheard a Chicago cop admit to murdering an African-American man. The murdered man had been falsely described by police as a robbery suspect who had been shot while trying to avoid arrest. Hersh frantically called his editor to ask what to do.
The editor urged me to do nothing,” he writes. “It would be my word versus that of all the cops involved, and all would accuse me of lying. The message was clear: I did not have a story. But of course I did.” He describes himself as “full of despair at my weakness and the weakness of a profession that dealt so easily with compromise and self-censorship.
Hersh, the greatest investigative reporter of his generation, uncovered the U.S. military’s chemical weapons program, which used thousands of soldiers and volunteers, including pacifists from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as unwitting human guinea pigs to measure…