January 11, 2009
The often asked question, when it comes to the Palestinians, is about the role of Arab countries in the Palestinian struggle for freedom. The people not familiar with the political landscape of the area often see the Middle East as two camps, Arab countries on one side and Israel on the other. The reality is totally different. Israel has seldom been alone. Beside its usual American, French, British and other staunch allies, she has had the hidden backing of several Arab countries.
For close to 30 years now, many Arab countries have been collaborating with Israel; some like Egypt (gained independence: 1922) and Jordan (gained independence: 1946) openly, while others like Saudi Arabia (founded: 1932), UAE (founded: 1972) and Kuwait (founded: 1961) from behind the scenes.
The reasons for this collaboration vary from country to country but they all have one thing in common: the rulers of these countries are all dictators and need foreign protection from their own people. Some such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and UAE were put in power by the British.
The founder of Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Aziz bin Saud (the kingdom is name after him) was put in power by the British. The same goes for the others, except Egypt which experienced a coup by the army officers in 1952, resulting in the ousting of the monarchy and the accompanying British influence. But the Western influence returned with Anwar Sadat.
All these countries are dictatorships and all are under pressure from their people. What they cannot accept is any democratically elected form of government in their mist. They fear that if an Arab government becomes democratic they may have to become one themselves, hence losing power.
One of the things that they love about Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, is that he won the election not by popular vote but by popular method of rigging the election; something that these Arab leaders understand and respect.
In contrast, Hamas really represented the aspiration of the people. As soon as Mahmood Abbas’ term as president is over and he had to stand for re-election, he would surely lose. In contrast, Hamas really won the municipal elections in 2005 and the Parliamentary election in 2006. The elections were supervised by international observers, many from Europe, and US.
Palestinians were fed-up with the corrupt regime of Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah. They wanted to clean house. But as soon as Hamas took over, the US and the Europeans put an embargo on Hamas, calling it a terrorist organisation and not a peace partner. Israel closed the borders and refused to let anything into Gaza. Egypt also did the same.
What is not mentioned much in the media is that this was done with the complete approval of the Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. After all, Egypt could have opened its border for transfer of food and fuel. The reasons behind this hostility were and are that Hamas is a truly elected government and worst of all, Hamas is a branch or an off-shoot of Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt.
Muslim Brotherhood has a branch or related organisation in Jordan as well. Egypt and Jordan are worried that should Hamas survive and show its resistance, their people may get the idea that they can also resist the tyrannical rule of these despots. One must not forget that Muslim Brotherhood represents the only serious challenge to the Mubarak’s rule in Egypt.
The 81 year old Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has been “president” since 1981 (28 years). He has won every election with a comfortable majority. He is much loved by his secret services. Prior to every election he arrests and imprisons all the opposition, ensuring a “clean” election. Torture is so widely used and accepted in Egypt that US outsources torturing of some its prisoners to Egypt. This alone should tell you volumes about the nature of Mubarak’s rule. He is now trying hard to crown his playboy son as his successor.
But the Americans are not so sure if the son is capable of keeping the 80 million Egyptians in line and are therefore looking for alternative candidates. The head of the feared main secret service is one of the prime candidates along with some of the top generals. Challenging him is the Muslim Brotherhood organisation, enjoying grass root support from all sections of the Egyptian society including lawyers, doctors, judges and student associations. Not surprisingly, US and Israel call Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation…
King Abdullah II of Jordan, born of a British mother, educated in the West, including the Jesuit Center of Georgetown University, was brought to power by the CIA. His uncle was a long time crown prince, yet after his father died in a US hospital, Madeline Albright, Clinton’s Secretary of State flew to Jordan to inform the Jordanians that the king on his death bed had “changed his will” and named his son Abdullah as his successor. The new king Abdullah II is married to the Queen Rania, a Palestinian.
The majority of this kingdom of 5 million people are Palestinians who are not very friendly to this king. In 1967 there was a Palestinian uprising (led by the PLO) against King Hussein (ruled: 1952-1999, the father of the current king), which resulted in heavy casualties among Palestinians.
In addition, the kingdom is currently full of Iraqi refugees who resent the king’s help to the Americans in invasion of their country. On top of all this, we have the Muslim Brotherhood which tries hard to abolish the monarchy.
King Abdullah relies heavily on the US support and backing for staying in power. King Abdullah also sees a natural ally in Israel, a country that can come to its aid in case of another uprising.
Saudi Arabia (House of Saud)
I don’t have to tell you much about Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is run by the 84 year old, ailing Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud. His personal wealth is estimated at $21 billion. He rules a clan of 8000 princes who in turn rule the country.
Saudi Arabia is the centre of corruption in the Arab world. The Saudi rulers corrupt everything with their money. Lacking the necessary mental power or physical courage, they try to stay in power by subterfuge, lies, and deception. They fund the real extremists on the one hand while portraying themselves as the protectors of the Western interest on the other.
They preach intolerance and xenophobia to their people decrying the Western decadence, while spending a lot of time enjoying the life in the West. They pay the West for protection against their own people and they pay the extremists to do their fighting elsewhere. Saudi rulers are indeed the worst of them all.
House of Saud is also the financier of the so called Arab Moderates and the extremism that they cause. House of Saud financed the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. They later financed the Taliban. They also paid Saddam Hussein to fight Iran. Then they paid the Americans and Egyptians to fight Saddam Hussein. They are the financiers of death and misery.
They finance anything, anywhere, as long as this reduces the threat to their illegitimate rule. They are currently financing the civil war in Somalia, bandits in Baluchistan (Pakistan and Iran) and god knows what else.
They are detested by their own people and neighbours yet loved by Bush, Cheney and the oil companies. As long as they provide the money and oil the US is willing to tolerate them. And guess what? The Muslim Brotherhood hates the House of Saud too. This makes them a threat and hence they have to be dealt with.
As can be seen, each country has a selfish reason to eliminate Hamas, but each is restrained by its population. Israel has no such a restraint imposed on it. She not only can wage a terrible war, but she also gets assistance from Arab countries. Indeed it is the second time (the first was the invasion of Lebanon in 2006) that Israel is getting open and solid support from these Arab countries. The invasion of Gaza was discussed in Egypt before its implementation. Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia are Israel’s active partners.
Egypt is actively involved in stopping all aids from getting to Palestinians in Gaza save a token few trucks. These few trucks are allowed to go through so they can be filmed and shown to Egyptian people. All demonstrations are banned, and all Egyptian volunteers for Gaza are either arrested or sent back.
There are hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the Muslim world that are willing to go to the aid of the Palestinians, but the Egyptian authorities don’t allow them passage. Egyptians even stop medical aid from passing through their territory…
In addition there are many Iranian cargo planes full of food and medicine which have been sitting on the tarmacs in Egypt for days waiting for permission to deliver their cargo. Egyptians even denied the medical aid sent by the son of the Libyan President Qaddafi to land in Egypt.
One thing is clear: these three countries do not want the Israelis to fail in their mission of totally destroying Gaza. Hosni Mubarak said so himself. The daily Haaretz reported that Hosni Mubarak had told European ministers on a peace mission that Hamas must not be allowed to win the ongoing war in Gaza.
As Egypt physically aids the Israeli military by denying food, fuel and medicine to the civilians, the House of Saud helps Israel by giving her time and diplomatic cover.
When Israel started its invasion there was an immediate call for an Arab summit. Saudi Arabia and Jordan (along with Egypt of course) delayed the summit… After a few days when the summit was eventually held, they issued the same old statements. Yet this time same as the Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, they blamed the victims. In a statement, Saudi Arabia blamed Hamas for Israel’s continuing offensive in the Gaza Strip. Saudi Arabia, after blaming Hamas, declared that it will not even consider an oil embargo on Israel’s supporters. She then again blamed Hamas.
By this time, the three Arab countries along with Kuwait and UAE began singing the old song: international community is not doing anything about the catastrophe that is taking place in Gaza.
It seems that these Arab tyrants have no shame at all. This reminds me of a quote from Marquis de Sade (1740-1814): “One is never so dangerous when one has no shame, than when one has grown too old to blush.”
These Arab leaders (many are indeed too old to blush) are complicit in the murder of so many civilians, especially young children. According to AFP, quoting the medics on the ground, fully one third of all people killed have been children. How can these Arab leaders justify this to their people?
The answer is that they cannot. Israel knows this and for the second time can show the Arab street that their leaders are nothing but a bunch of old hypocrites. These Arab leaders are now exposed and can do nothing but to cooperate fully with Israel and US. What stand between them and their people’s rage is their army and secret services, which in turn are supported by the US.
Israel has cleverly exposed these leaders for what they are: collaborators of the worst kind. These Arab leaders have brought an unimaginable shame to their people. To quote Lucien Bouchard: I have never known a more vulgar expression of betrayal and deceit.
Our hope is now with the people of these countries to clean this stain from their honour.
Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar lives in Norway. He is a management consultant and a contributing writer for many online journals. He’s a former associate professor of Nordland University, Norway.