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News & analysis from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective
Decay in anti-Americanism is to blame for bad Iranian-Saudi relations and disorientation in anti-Israel struggle
September 19, 2016
Obviously Barack Obama and Ban Ki-moon’s times in office are coming to an end soon and within weeks of each other at that. And the world has started to think more about Iranian elections less than a year from now. Obama likes sports analogies and has talked about “fumbling the ball” in health care reform and certain militants’ being “JV.” It is called “running out the clock” in sports, though, only when there is a definite end to the game in sight and one team is clearly ahead by some margin or could get a late lead. And in AmeriKKKan football, a team will take a yardage loss, but often to ensure victory by keeping possession of the ball with seconds left on the clock. The “game” doesn’t end when one’s term ends unless success is viewed narcissistically in terms of what is good for one’s political legacy or rhetorical reputation regardless of actual effect on many other people.
In that sense, it is hard to understand what various energetic critics of Saudi Arabia are thinking, to the extent they assign any priority to Palestinian liberation or regional stability. It cannot be the case that both Iran – which has an allegedly uncompromising position on I$rael – and the United States are ahead. That is unless people want to admit ties are already much greater, or interests more confluent, than have been admitted. It seems unlikely. Nor do different opponents of both Iran and Saudi Arabia, or of Saudi Arabia’s taking more control of things, seem to be winning in terms of their stated goal of a two- or one- state outcome, or transition to a genuine secular socialist movement transcending borders while threatening all states in the region. Nor has the economic and social basis for an independent state for the Palestinian nation disappeared. It hasn’t gone away, contrary to claims of various exploiters, settlers, aspiring parasites, petty-bourgeois people, the privileged, and the overly discouraged. It will continue to exist well after January 2017. There is no reason to hold onto control to avoid an unsporting appearance. As for taking a late lead, arguably Obama already did that with a $38 billion Israel aid deal, but the Middle East can still extricate itself from excessive obligations to the United $tates and achieve a peace that the amerikans have little interest in really supporting.
Though it is not inevitable, continuation of the status quo will lead to more amerikan involvement and entanglement in the Middle East eventually, beyond the record-breaking military aid deal that was signed last week. An extremely serious setback is taking place that France, Russia and China – while obviously accommodating or cooperating with the united $tates in other contexts – have appeared in the media as trying to stop. If it is not stopped, there may be a dramatic increase in u.$. presence in Sinai within the next eight years, beyond the “Multinational Force and Observers” camps already there supposedly to maintain the Egypt-Israel treaty. This would complement the influence that the united $tates seeks to preserve and expand at the southern opening of the Red Sea in contradiction with various other capitalist countries. The ignorant and the conniving keep yapping about “Wahhabism,” and other culture, as if the only economic issues that mattered were their own ones narrow or short-term.
Much ISIS growth in the area is related to the Israeli-Palestinian issue directly and specifically or to conditions on the peninsula related to complex contradictions in Arab-Israeli relations, contradictions that are shaped by u.$. needs and influence. ISIS action could result in deterioration of relations, and more war and u.$. involvement in the region significantly impacting international trade and economic growth of countries. Many Saudis and other Arabs perceive that if they don’t deal with ISIS, the united $tates will take major steps that are against their own interests even as that country benefits from some ISIS attacks, but their relationship with the united $tates and anti-amerikanism continues to be contradictory. Further u.$. aggression and occupation looms. Many including this writer have been trying to warn the world about this and how the united $tates would take advantage of lack of progress on the two-state solution in the context of ISIS, encouraged others to not be desensitized by the Syria war as if more war in the region wouldn’t matter, and many are obstinate. The reason has a lot to do with grave illusions about the amerikan people and Western activism as having superiority vis-à-vis non-amerikans’ diplomacy. Some play dumb or stupid because it is a lot easier for Westerners and their lackeys to bash Islam, Arabs and Jews – together or separately, and depending on who’s listening – than support a long and difficult anti-amerikan struggle. People can have other than a leisurely attitude and be zealous on Middle East issues and still go in the wrong direction.
A two-state outcome doesn’t require enthusiasm in I$rael. There ought to be much deeper and more extensive international support for the already-existing State of Palestine regardless of what I$rael wants. There ought to be, but to realize it requires boldness, specific commitments, and strong action coordinated with Palestinian representatives, not just verbal recognition, vague support for Palestinian action, easy gestures, and toothless signals. That isn’t the one-state solution in vogue in some circles. Short of that higher level of international support, any two-state outcome with relative peace and full Palestinian sovereignty will require a degree of buy-in from different countries in the region including Saudi Arabia, which is persisting with some seriously mistaken policies because of economic vulnerability caused by the amerikans. However, the Obama regime newspaper the New York Times – actually following the lead of populists, liberals, so-called socialists and “greens” with a problem with Islam and both Iran and Saudi Arabia – has been engaging in stepped-up rhetoric against Saudi Arabia for months over alleged material and ideological connections to 9/11, in addition to rhetoric about Islam and wimmin’s rights abuses that liberal Democrats, other pseudo-feminists and pseudo-Marxists have been spewing for fifteen years or longer. It is tantamount to warmongering. It has been almost eight years since George W. Bush left office, a similar number or several years since Afghanistan and Iraq troop surges that now seem distant to many, and Obama is about to leave the White Office after having commanded an invasion and overthrow (Libya) that some reactionary supporters of Obama and likely-next u.$. president Hillary Clinton still barely seem to notice or care about. Now, in the midst of ongoing amerikan operations in Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Yemen (all Arab League countries), Afghanistan, and Pakistan, Iran’s current foreign minister and recurring Times op-ed contributor has published an article in the New York Times talking about “us” ridding the world of simply “Wahhabism,” which is allegedly the version of Islam predominant in Saudi Arabia and linked to the government there, as if amerikans and amerikan-influenced readers could handle Islamic country questions correctly.(1)
Much of the article sounds like an echo of what an article by Times national security reporter Scott Shane, published weeks earlier, says about “Wahhabism,” “oil-financed proselytizing,” and terrorism. The very act of taking to the pages of the New York Times again – an instrument of extreme polytheism and u.$. imperialist parasitism – to criticize Saudi Arabia this way is itself remarkable in that the Times has both an amerikan audience and a global audience. It is in those contexts that Javad Zarif has chosen to suggest Saudi Arabia influences Westerners, including amerikans specifically, against their own interests in relation to “fanaticism.” It happens to be ironically in line with what some alleged Islamic purists are saying regarding the struggle with the House of Saud being more important than the struggle against the united $tates or Israel. Some Saudis also place more importance on Islamic purity domestically than on anti-amerikanism – the real problem with what some Saudi religious leaders are saying – but that isn’t what Zarif addressed.
Besides speaking of “a gullible West,” it seems Zarif raised and then explicitly rejected the idea that the united $tates plays the principal role in Middle East conflict. “While the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq set in motion the fighting we see today, the key driver of violence has been this extremist ideology promoted by Saudi Arabia – even if it was invisible to Western eyes until the tragedy of 9/11.” This seems to represent a divergence from previous statements drawing attention to the amerikan role in Iranian-Saudi conflict and Middle East violence.
Responding to Javad Zarif’s piece, of course you have the Western chauvinists and fools bashing both Iran and Saudi Arabia as equally to blame for violence, or defending amerikan-Saudi ties by saying Iran is more responsible. There have been numerous articles published to these effects in the last several days. The foreign minister is right about one thing: it isn’t just Iranian-Saudi rivalry or Shia-Sunni conflict. Instead of emphasizing the amerikan role, though, Zarif in the op-ed highlights conflict of “Wahhabists” with other Sunni Arabs, Muslims in general, and others including “Christians, Jews, Yazidis.” The underlying message appears to be one of unity with amerikans against Muslims in various lands – even where, and especially where, most Muslims or Sunnis in a country show signs of Wahhabi influence or Saudi patronage. Urgency is needed to confront “a grave danger that the few remaining pockets of stability will be undermined by this clash of Wahhabism and mainstream Sunni Islam,” it is suggested. The West, which has been under amerikan influence and been a major force creating and exacerbating instability in the Middle East, somehow can move on from that by being riled up against so-called Wahhabi influence in “mosques and madrasas across the world,” “[f]rom Asia to Africa, from Europe to the Americas,” to take “concrete action” against extremism. After suggesting Saudi Arabia’s finances should be targeted by “the West,” the op-ed ends with a tepid invitation of unity between “Saudi rulers” and “the community of nations” against terrorism and violence as if the Saudi rulers could be expected to either abandon “Wahhabism” for themselves or continue adhering to a Muslim faith they are supposed to consider “devastating” and a “toxic threat” internationally.
Such an invitation made so publicly does not inspire agreement. Although, the op-ed contains, “The sooner Saudi Arabia’s rulers come to terms with this [“Mr. Hussein is long dead, and the clock cannot be turned back”], the better for all. The new realities in our region can accommodate even Riyadh, should the Saudis choose to change their ways.” There is also the interestingly worded, “Saudi Arabia’s effort to persuade its Western patrons to back its shortsighted tactics is based on the false premise that plunging the Arab world into further chaos will somehow damage Iran.” Zarif has demonstrated a willingness to engage in theatrics for the benefit of certain audiences so one hopes for a meaning to Zarif’s writing that is not obvious.
This writer understands the need to counter the amerikan lie that its involvement in the Middle East and backing of various forces there is about fighting terrorism. Also, Iran is still dealing with unequal treatment and great difficulties in finance, investment and trade caused by the amerikans. In addition, there have been unfortunate and concerning statements, omissions and appearances on the Saudi side, which an Iranian professor discussed in an article published on September 11 as reasons to get the Saudis “condemned by the world.”(2) For that matter, Saudi Arabia’s own top diplomat felt the need to reply to Zarif by reminding amerikans of why they supposedly have Iran on their official “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list. Foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir also wrote against “Death to America” and anti-Western “hatred,” and al-Jubeir raised the issue of an Islamic legal opinion against Salman Rushdie, stirring up amerikans’ anti-Islam sentiment as Iran’s diplomat did. That was in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal.(3)
None of that seems to justify the approach taken with the New York Times, however. Though not the majority that it should be, a global plurality already thinks the united $tates is the greatest threat to peace, and many others consider that country a major threat or obstacle.(4) A better response to openly pro-amerikan Saudi rhetoric would be to renew calls for Iranian-Saudi unity against the united $tates, not keep groveling for amerikan favor as if diplomacy meant attacking each other like this and not amerika. Not weakening unfavorable attitudes toward the united $tates. Not encouraging idolatry toward the amerikkkan people or u.$. leadership. Being more “diplomatic” with the united $tates than with a Arab or Muslim country is a reflection of u.$. hegemony, not diplomatic principles or effective tactics.
New Palestine survey
The united $tates is the greatest threat and obstacle to peace, and it is also the greatest obstacle to the two-state solution in Palestine, the land occupied by settlers inside and outside “Israel.” In terms of what Palestinians themselves want, more Palestinians favor the two-state solution than oppose. So, globally and regionally, the treatment of the united $tates should be similar.
This writer knows that New Afrikans (u.$. Blacks) and Palestinians are both nations – an important basic fact many don’t admit while purporting to be experts on details and intricacies of Palestinians’ situation and strategy. But this writer does not claim to be on the ground in Gaza and Hebron to know what’s the very latest in terms of public opinion. We have to work with what we have, such as a possibly out-of-date or imperfect June 2015 survey (“1200 adults interviewed face to face in 120 randomly selected locations”) showing significant percentages of Palestinians favoring Marwan Barghouti, Ismail Haniyeh, and Mahmoud Abbas, in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip if an election were held(5) – all of whom some Western activists consider trash or not worth considering if they are even aware of all of them. Fatah’s imprisoned intifada hero Marwan Barghouti, more popular than Haniyeh even in the Gaza Strip, supports the two-state solution, unlike a certain one-state solution party that only a small percentage of Palestinians support reportedly. Majorities of presumed Arabic-speakers and non-settlers in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank preferred Barghouti to Haniyeh in a two-way competition regardless of two-state solution viability. There was also majority support in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank for Hamas indirect negotiations with Israel. A majority in the Gaza Strip reportedly chose “negotiations” or “popular nonviolent resistance” as the “most effective means for the establishment of a Palestinian state.” A majority of Palestinians considered the two-state solution in general no longer viable according to this survey, but a majority opposed the view that failure of the solution was inevitable and that there needed to be a one-state outcome including everyone. A majority in the West Bank opposed dissolving the Palestinian Authority. 54% in the Gaza Strip supported dissolving it. About 44% didn’t. A majority of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, considered as a group, opposed dissolution of the PA.
This writer’s understanding of the 2015 Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) survey and other surveys released prior to August 2016 was that a large majority of Palestinians opposed the so-called one-state solution while possibly only a plurality of Palestinians would favor the two-state solution, by the end of the summer in Palestine, whether they viewed it as a temporary solution or not.(6) Others would favor a different development or path, but mostly one that didn’t include “Greater Israel,” “Isratin,” or any river-to-sea single country still colonized by settlers. A joint survey by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) and PSR was released in August.(7) It covers early June. A majority of likely-Palestinians in the West Bank actually supported “the solution based on the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, known as the two-state solution” (Arabic face-to-face interviews of adults in June 2-4, 3% margin of error). Importantly, so did a majority of respondents in the Gaza Strip despite 61% thinking the solution wasn’t viable, and 56% opposing it, last year. Interestingly, almost 59% of adults in Israel reportedly said they supported the two-state solution (June 7-14, 2016, by phone in Arabic, Hebrew, or Russian). That is nine or so percentage points higher than the percentage of u.$. people responding to a Pew survey (April 2016) who agreed a way could be found for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully, and some fifteen points higher than the 44% of Gallup respondents (February 2016) who favored the establishment of an independent Palestinian state – suggesting that millions of amerikans oppose the two-state solution despite considering it viable.(8) Amerikans and Jewish Israelis opposed the two-state solution at similar percentages, both around 37%; Israelis as a group opposed it less. The united $tates as a whole is arguably more right-wing than Israelis. Also, “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby” AIPAC still supports “a Jewish state of Israel and a demilitarized Palestinian state.” Most amerikans may not support even that. It would not be because they support something more radical.
Even if one looks at just Jewish Israelis in the IDI-PSR survey, the percentage answering they supported the two-state solution was 53%. The percentage for those identified as Arab Israelis was 87%, which is both more than the large percentage of Arab Israelis who supported the one-state solution and greater than even the percentage of Palestinians in the West Bank who supported the two-state solution; Arab Israelis make it clear it is possible to “support” both the one-state solution and the two-state solution in response to different questions. So, Jewish Israelis by themselves probably support the two-state solution more than amerikans do, and the large Arab presence in Israel and views of the one-state solution shouldn’t be given too much weight in evaluating support for an independent Palestinian state.
Among three options, a plurality of Gaza/West Bank respondents, 44%, chose “a multilateral forum in which major powers sponsor the negotiations” as the most promising possible approach “to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.” 22% chose bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. 18% chose unilateral measures. Similar percentages – 21.8%, 19.6%, and 21.9% – chose “an Arab forum in which Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan participate,” “an EU-led multilateral approach” and “a UN-led approach” as the most useful, or least harmful, idea for a multilateral approach. Only 8% or so of Palestinians not in Israel favored an amerikan-led multilateral approach; only 12% of Arab Israelis favored an amerikan-led multilateral approach. Overall, it can be said most Palestinians can and do distinguish between amerikan-led so-called peace efforts and two-state solution efforts led by others. A plurality in the Gaza Strip and a plurality of Jewish Israelis favored the Arab forum approach inclusive of Saudi Arabia, among the options.
Significant majorities of Gaza Strip, West Bank and Jewish Israeli respondents opposed the one-state solution. About half of adult Arab Israelis support the one-state solution, but it seems a majority of Palestinians as a whole (inside and outside “Israel”) don’t. All groups “certainly oppose” the one-state solution more than they “certainly support” it.
Judging by reported responses to two questions in the IDI-PSR survey, V8-10 and PV11.3, a majority of Arabic-speakers in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank opposed a certain end-of-conflict settlement with two states, but a majority might support it if the State of Palestine received an amount, US$30-50 billion, similar to the recently signed $38 billion Israel aid package amount to “help in settling those refugees wishing to live in the Palestinian state and compensating them.” The united $nakes spends a half a trillion dollars on its military each year and will give Israel another $38 billion, but it cannot give the State of Palestine $50 billion to bribe Palestinians into accepting a demilitarized state and family unification of only 100,000 refugees. That’s little more than $10 thousand per Palestinian in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and much of the supposed reason for the Israel aid package could go away.
This writer does not claim to be on the ground in Detroit and Jackson, Mississippi, or New York and Chicago for example, either, but seemingly a majority of New Afrikans don’t yet support an independent New Afrikan state. There is more reason to struggle against the majority’s inclination in that context, though, because of the bribery issue in the rich parasitic united $nakes. In the Palestinian context, people around the world need to exercise caution with Western activists who oppose what majorities and pluralities of Palestinians want: whether that is their own state or compensation sufficient to address Palestinians’ right of return, rather than just Israeli citizenship or some larger I$rael extending from “the river to the sea” as a subversion of the discourse of Palestinian liberation. There is also bourgeois and petty-bourgeois influence in Palestine, but support for the two-state solution, as opposed to integration with I$raeli exploiters, shouldn’t be regarded as particularly bourgeois though obviously we are talking about a bourgeois stage of struggle with Palestine still oppressed by naked old-style colonialism. Globetrotting activists supporting the one-state solution with a duplicitous attitude toward settlements, and suggesting that New Afrika and Palestine aren’t nations or that it doesn’t make a difference, in fact need to be ejected. Whether they know it or not, their “solidarity” that is so emotionally pleasing or uplifting is a cover for undermining progress.
The writing here – anti-amerikan, pro-two-state-solution for the short term, pro-diplomacy, pro-multilateral-approach, pro-Arab-unity, pro-Muslim-unity – is based on realities of public opinion and economic, social and political factors, and on what many are already trying to do who just need more support. Many others are stuck in rhetorically easy nihilism, pseudo-radicalism or idealism, of one kind or another, and then they wonder why ISIS is at their doorstep or has already crossed the threshold – a movement that the vast majority of Palestinians don’t consider to represent true Islam (“Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (56)”).
Right now, both Iran and Saudi Arabia seem to be saying in global media that the struggle against amerika is less important than struggles against other things. Yet, they don’t agree on what to do with Israel, and the amerikans’ divide-and-conquer has reduced Iran and Saudi Arabia to flattering and pandering to amerikans in their newspapers and disparaging the other’s practice of Islam. When the struggle against amerika isn’t prioritized, of course it becomes harder to oppose Israel as an ally of the united $tates and effectively oppose situations that the united $tates uses to justify involvement. All kinds of views of Israel and the united $tates are possible.
Israel functions as a particularly important amerikan outpost, and it also has its own interests such that many Israelis have more interest in peace than many amerikans do. But, 1) that isn’t what many talking about pro-Israel or “Jewish” money influence in the united $tates are acknowledging. 2) It wouldn’t support telling lies about foreign dominance over amerikans. 3) I$rael can’t be effectively opposed as an amerikan base or a 51st state if u.$. leadership and influence aren’t rejected. And 4) “Israel” will not go away until the world ends u.$. dominance that is basically unchallenged. ◊
• “Boycott the United Snakes: Amerika standing in the way of the two-state solution,” 2016 July. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-07-15-news-Boycott-United-States.md
• “Americanism and anti-Americanism in conflict: understanding public opinion on Palestine,” 2016 August. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-08-11-news-Palestine-public-opinion.md
1. “Mohammad Javad Zarif: Let us rid the world of Wahhabism,” 2016 September 13. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/14/opinion/mohammad-javad-zarif-let-us-rid-the-world-of-wahhabism.html
@JZarif, 4:54 AM - 14 Sep 2016. https://twitter.com/JZarif/status/776026293850689536 “Let Us Rid the World of Wahhabism: Saudis export of this extremist perversion must stop. Islam ≠ Wahhabism.”
“Saudis and extremism: both the arsonists and the firefighters,” 2016 August 25. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/26/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-islam.html
“Mohammad Javad Zarif: Saudi Arabia’s reckless extremism,” 2016 January 10. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/11/opinion/mohammad-javad-zarif-saudi-arabias-reckless-extremism.html?_r=0
2. “New combat needed against Saudi Arabia in legal fronts,” 2016 September 11. http://www8.irna.ir/en/News/82226459/ “However, in an attempt to safeguard security and stability of the region and uphold the interests of the Islamic world, Iran has maintained calm and tried not to fan the flame of tensions with Saudi Arabia by adopting a policy of “patience and self-restrain”.” “Under the present conditions in the region, military ways will certainly add to complexity of situation by opening doors for extra-regional powers so the best warfront the Iranian diplomatic apparatus could easily combat and defeat the Saudi rulers is the field of law where it can make Saudis stand accountable for their deed.” “Tehran has to embark on legal combat against the Saudis and work to get them condemned by the world and then seek compensations for the damage it has suffered because of long record of Saudi hostility.”
3. “Iran can’t whitewash its record of terror,” 2016 September 18. http://www.wsj.com/articles/iran-cant-whitewash-its-record-of-terror-1474234929
4. “U.S. image and leader favorability in surveys: some underlying economic realities,” 2016 September. https://github.com/pinotes/pinotes.github.io/blob/master/_posts/2016-09-05-news-American-favorability-differences.md
“US is the greatest threat to world peace: poll,” 2014 January 5. https://nypost.com/2014/01/05/us-is-the-greatest-threat-to-world-peace-poll/
5. “Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (56),” 2015 June 25. http://www.pcpsr.org/sites/default/files/poll%2056%20fulltext%20English.pdf
6. “Among Israeli Arabs and Jews, limited optimism about a two-state solution,” 2016 March 9. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/03/09/among-israeli-arabs-and-jews-limited-optimism-about-a-two-state-solution/
“New Palestinian poll shows hardline views, but some pragmatism too,” 2014 June 25. http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/long-term-palestinian-views-on-israel-two-states-now-one-state-later
7. “Palestinian-Israeli Pulse: low expectations for an independent Palestinian state in the next 5 years,” 2016 August 22. http://www.pcpsr.org/sites/default/files/PressRelease_English_23%20August2016%20w%20logos.pdf
8. “Americans closely split over Palestinian statehood,” 2015 February 24. http://www.gallup.com/poll/181682/americans-closely-split-palestinian-statehood.aspx
“Americans’ views toward Israel remain firmly positive,” 2016 February 29. http://www.gallup.com/poll/189626/americans-views-toward-israel-remain-firmly-positive.aspx
“5 facts about how Americans view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” 2016 May 23. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/05/23/5-facts-about-how-americans-view-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict/