Condoleeza Rice was all smiles for the cameras yesterday during her Middle East excursion to “accelerate” progress on the ‘roadmap’ – political rhetoric for the non-existent peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
It begs the question: what has she been doing for the last four years?
Let’s not kid ourselves. The roadmap is dead. It won’t move anywhere, let alone “accelerate”. What Rice is really doing is whipping up support among Sunni Arab nations for America’s abortive military campaign in Iraq. While Saddam Hussein was unloved by most Sunni Arabs outside Iraq, he did at least reign in the Shia militias presently rampaging through Baghdad. Sunni Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are nervous of Iran’s Shia influence in the region; influence that will likely strengthen substantially if the Shia-majority government in Iraq allies itself to Tehran. Hence the apparently snap decisions by Sunni leaders to jump on a US bandwagon, under the guise of resurrecting the ‘roadmap’.
Last year’s democratic election, that brought Hamas to power in Palestine, resulted in yet more blunders by Western governments. Hamas’ announcement that it would not recognize Israel’s right to exist prompted knee-jerk reactions from the West. Cutting funding to the Palestinian government could only result in escalating conflict. If you want a war, starve the people. The resulting unrest led to violence in Gaza that eventually escalated into the Israeli/Lebanese war and the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians.
Had the West used diplomacy to resolve the Hamas issue, it would have known that Hamas was not intractable on its policy towards Israel, and was merely refusing to recognize a Jewish state that continually trampled with impunity over Palestinian rights.
The US/EU financial sanctions caused the Palestinian government to turn towards its fellow Arabs for support. As a consequence, the biggest financial contributer to the Palestinian government is no longer the West, but Iran.
The situation that now exists in the Middle East is due almost entirely to the persistent bungling of Western politicians clinging to an American policy of support for Israel, even when that nation commits outrageous atrocities against its neighbors. (Let’s not forget that last year’s disastrous war in Lebanon resulted from the kidnap of two Israeli soldiers.) If this is, indeed, continuing US policy then Europe needs to think about ending its vegetative alliance with its Atlantic partner, and using its own not inconsiderable powers to shape a more peaceful, lasting solution to this troubled region that has for decades suffered the effects of Western foreign influence.
The foreign policy of George W Bush and Richard Cheney has manipulated the region for no other purpose than the extension of US power, at a cost in lives that will go down in history as utterly unacceptable. Condoleeza Rice’s visit to ‘accelerate’ the roadmap will do nothing to further a promised Palestinian state, but has succeeded in girding Bush’s resolve to escalate US aggression towards Iran and Syria, those two nations most feared in the Sunni Arab world.
Filed under: Middle East politics