Thursday, October 30, 2014

عن سيناء وما يريده السيسي من حماس

AN IMPORTANT PIECE!

ياسر الزعاترة

ياسر الزعاترة
كان من الطبيعي أن يتوقف المراقبون عند تصريحات الرئيس المصري التي أدلى بها بعد وقت قصير جدا من مقتل الجنود المصريين في سيناء، والتي اتهم من خلالها جهات خارجية بدعم المنفذين، في إشارة واضحة إلى قطاع غزة. حدث ذلك قبل أن تتوفر أية معلومات عن العملية، اللهم إلا أعداد القتلى والجرحى.
لا يمكن بأي حال المرور مرَّ الكرام على توجيه اتهام من هذا النوع، لا سيما أن عاقلا لا يمكنه تمرير نظرية أن المنفذين -فضلا عن الدعم اللوجستي- قد جاء أو جاؤوا من قطاع غزة، وذلك لأسباب أهمها حرص حماس الشديد على عدم إغضاب النظام المصري في هذه المرحلة تحديدا، فضلا عن عدم وجود أية مصلحة لحماس في استهداف الجنود.
كما أن حماس ليست من السذاجة بحيث لا تدرك أن شيئا كهذا لن يطيح بنظام السيسي المدعوم عربيا ودوليا ولديه قدر لا بأس به من الدعم الداخلي الشعبي، فضلا عن سيطرته على الإعلام والقضاء والأمن والجيش، بل لعل عمليات من هذا النوع تفيده من الناحية العملية، إذ تحرف الأنظار عن ملامح فشله على كل صعيد، كما تخفف من حدة الانتقادات الخارجية التي توجه إليه على صعيد انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان التي تجاوزت أسوأ العهود السابقة منذ مرحلة عبد الناصر.
"إن اتهام السيسي المباشر لحماس، وتبعا له إعلامه، وحملة التحريض عليها؛ إنما يشكل مقدمة لتلبية الشرط الذي يبدو أن السيسي قد تكفّل به لنتنياهو ممثلا في نزع سلاح حماس وقوى المقاومة"
حماس بدورها تراقب السلفيين الجهاديين في القطاع ممن يمكن أن يفكروا في أمر كهذا، ثم إن القطاع يستورد السلاح ولا يصدره، كما أن الحدود مراقبة والأنفاق مغلقة، فيما صار لفتح والسلطة حضورهما الواضح، إن بشكل رسمي أم غير رسمي (الأخير بقي موجودا طوال الوقت).
بعيدا عن نظرية المؤامرة في تفسير استهداف الجنود الذين تستحق عائلاتهم التعزية، فهم الذين لا ذنب لهم في واقع الحال في سياسات النظام الدموية، إن كان في سيناء أم في عموم الداخل المصري، وهم في الغالب من أبناء الناس البسطاء. بعيدا عن تلك النظرية، فإن المرجح أن جماعات سلفية جهادية هي التي نفذت العملية (أنصار بيت المقدس، أو أجناد مصر)، وهذه لا تنكر عملياتها، بل تعلن عنها بكل صراحة، والأرجح أن تفعل ذلك هذه المرة أيضا، وربما بثت شريط فيديو أيضا.
وفي حين يبدو الانسداد السياسي في مصر عاملا فاعلا في تفجير العنف، وضمِّ المزيد من الشبان إليه، بخاصة في ظل جاذبية الظاهرة الجهادية للشبان عربيا في ضوء ما فعله تنظيم الدولة والحرب العالمية عليه، فإن حالة سيناء سابقة على ذلك ولا يقل عمرها عن عشر سنوات، أي أنها عاصرت مبارك، وعاصرت مرسي في فترته القصيرة، وإن تراجعت بسرعة نظرا لكونه الوحيد الذي ذهب نحو المنطق الصحيح في معالجتها ممثلا في الاعتراف بالمظالم التي يتعرض لها أهالي سيناء، فيما رأينا بعده الطائرات تقصف بلا حساب وتقتل المدنيين بشكل عشوائي، كأن الجماعات الجهادية جيش له ثكنات (الإجراءات الجديدة تبدو أسوأ).
نأتي إلى ما يريده السيسي من قطاع غزة عبر اتهامه (اتهام حماس من الناحية العملية وليس ما يسمى حكومة الوحدة) باستهداف الجنود، وهنا نقول بالفم الملآن إن اتهامه (أي السيسي) المباشر لحماس، وتبعا له إعلامه، وحملة التحريض عليها إنما يشكل مقدمة لتلبية الشرط الذي يبدو أن السيسي قد تكفّل به لنتنياهو ممثلا في نزع سلاح حماس وقوى المقاومة.
إن الاتهام المذكور ما هو إلا مقدمة لجعل نزع السلاح شرطا للتعاون في معبر رفح (الذي أغلق حتى إشعار آخر)، ومن ثم التعاون في إعادة الإعمار، وهو الأمر الذي يتواطأ معه محمود عباس بالكامل، الذي سبق أن قال في القاهرة إن حكومة الوحدة تعني سلاحا واحدا للشرعية، تماما كما هو الحال في الضفة الغربية.
إنها المؤامرة التي يريدها أيضا ممولو الانقلاب، والذين يعتبرون ملاحقة حماس ونزع سلاحها جزءا من مطالبهم، وهم بالتأكيد يجاملون نتنياهو الذي لا يكف عن تقديم الشكر لهم، والإشادة بجهودهم، فضلا عن التعامل مع حماس كجزء من "الإسلام السياسي" الذي يطاردونه على كل صعيد.
"ما ينبغي أن تفعله حماس وقوى المقاومة هو قلب الطاولة في وجه عباس ومساره، والسيسي ومخططه، إذ إن مقايضة إعادة الإعمار وفتح المعبر بنزع سلاح المقاومة لا يمكن أن يكون مقبولا بأي حال"
إنها ذات المؤامرة على سلاح المقاومة، لكنها تستخدم اليوم دماء الجنود المصريين كسلّم لتحقيق أهدافها، وهذه المرة بقوة دفع من قطاع من الشارع المصري الذي يتعرض لحملة تحريض جديدة ضد حماس تذكِّرنا بالأسابيع الأولى للانقلاب، وبمرحلة عدوان الصهاينة على قطاع غزة نهاية 2008، وبداية 2009 أيام المخلوع. وها إن المنطقة العازلة التي يجري إنشاؤها تأتي لتؤكد هذا الهدف الذي نتحدث عنه بكل وضوح.
كيف ستتصرف حماس في مواجهة ذلك؟ هذا هو السؤال. إذ يجب أن تتفاهم مع كل القوى والشخصيات الوطنية في الداخل والخارج على إنشاء تحالف موسع هدفه التصدي لهذه المؤامرة التي تريد نزع سلاح المقاومة وضم القطاع إلى الضفة في لعبة التنسيق الأمني والتفاوض البائسة.
نعم يجب أن تتصدى لذلك، ولو أدى الأمر إلى فرط ما يسمى بحكومة الوحدة، لا سيما أننا نتحدث عن تحالف لا يهدف فقط إلى إنقاذ السلاح في قطاع غزة، بل يهدف إلى إنقاذ القضية من التصفية على يد عباس والسيسي والتحالف العربي من ورائهما، وذلك عبر مسار لن يفضي إلا إلى دولة في حدود الجدار تغدو في حالة نزاع حدودي مع جارتها يُترك أمر البت فيه إلى المؤسسات الدولية!!
ما ينبغي أن تفعله حماس وقوى المقاومة هو قلب الطاولة في وجه عباس ومساره، والسيسي ومخططه، إذ إن مقايضة إعادة الإعمار وفتح معبر رفح بنزع سلاح المقاومة لا يمكن أن يكون مقبولا بأي حال، ليس لأجل القطاع وحدده، وإنما لأن المؤامرة تطال القضية وتهدد بتصفيتها كما أشير آنفا.

بلا حدود- الحاسي: الانقلابيون يحاولون إعادة الدكتاتورية إلى ليبيا

A GOOD PROGRAM



Egypt's Israeli tactics in Sinai

Until Egypt is restored onto the path towards democracy, fanatic armed groups can never really be defeated. Military solutions of such conflicts cannot suffice without a political settlement
Asa Winstanley 

Thursday, 30 October 2014 10:39

An attack against the Egyptian military in the Sinai peninsula on Friday resulted in the death of 31 soldiers. No group has yet claimed responsibility, but reports suggest that the deadly assault was likely carried out by al-Qaida-inspired groups in the area.

The military regime wasted no time taking advantage of the situation to tighten its grip on power. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the military-officer-in-a-suit who came to power on the back of July 2013's military coup against the elected government, declared a state of emergency.
And in a "presidential" decree Monday, he outlined further measures which will make it easier for the military to stamp out its opponents under the guise of fighting a broadly-defined "terrorism".
All state facilities, including universities, roads, bridges and power stations, are now defined as military. This means that military trials for civilians are back, despite the regime's solemn promises to democratise.
While a regime official told The Guardian's Patrick Kingsley that the law was aimed only at "terrorists committing serious crimes against the military and police," in fact it is broadly defined, allowing military trials against civilian opponents of the regime. The same anonymous official tellingly said: "Do you really think that the government will apply those military trials [to] activists without justification?"
The re-defining of areas of the country as "military zones" is closely reminiscent of Israeli tactics against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank. Any time Palestinians mount a protest against the various forms of Israeli occupation (be it the apartheid wall, the settlements or the checkpoints) Israeli soldiers instantly declare the area a "closed military zone". Daring to violate these "zones" is an offence that can result in imprisonment, serious injury or death at the hands of Israeli army thugs.
This is only one of the many parallels, and shared strategies and tactics between the Israeli occupation regime and the Egyptian military regime. This should come as no surprise; both are part of the regional order imposed by US imperial hegemony. Both regimes are generously funded with billions of dollars in US tax payers' money.
Soon after the Sinai attack, Sisi reportedly said that Egypt was fighting "a war of existence". This is another propaganda theme long beloved of Israeli army officers and politicians (who are quite often the same people). Any sign of Palestinian resistance, armed or unarmed, political or diplomatic, is declared as a threat to the very existence of the Israeli entity. Such intense paranoia is a sign that the Israeli project for the region does not have much of a shelf-life.
Reports on Tuesday stated that Egypt has already begun demolishing Egyptian homes in Rafah, near to the Gaza Strip, in order to create a 500m-wide "buffer zone" to protect against the "threat" of weapons smuggling.
Some 580 homes are said to be under threat of destruction. And again: Israel has done the same, in the very same area. During the second intifada, Israeli bulldozers in Gaza cleared out huge areas in the Palestinian town of Rafah (close to Egyptian Rafah, but on the other side of the Egypt-Gaza boundary line). Countless Palestinian homes and livelihoods were destroyed and levelled to the ground, all the name of "fighting terror". The American activist Rachel Corrie, crushed to death by one of these army bulldozers, was only one of the many to die at the hands of the Israelis during that period.
Egypt's military regime has made it a mainstay of their propaganda to agitate against Palestinians in Gaza, scaremongering against them using compliant state media, which frequently indulges in outlandish conspiracy theories. Palestinians in Gaza in general, and Hamas in particular were said to be behind all sorts of ills to befall Egypt since the 2011 democratic uprising that overthrew previous military dictator Hosni Mubarak. This is another parallel with Israel, since anti-Palestinian agitation is the very lifeblood of Israeli politics.
While al-Qaida-like groups in the area are a genuine threat, it can easily be argued that theEgyptian regime's brutal tactics in the region, as well as its enthusiasm for doing Israel's dirty work there have opened the door for these groups.
Until Egypt is restored onto the path towards democracy, fanatic armed groups can never really be defeated. Military solutions of such conflicts cannot suffice without a political settlement.

Defeat could turn out an advantage for Tunisia's Islamists

So the question this time around is not whether Ennahda is exclusionary, but whether Nidaa Tounes is. Will the winner attempt to take all this time around?
David Hearst 

Thursday, 30 October 2014 10:33

Tunisia is a small country with a big audience. The process of electing a parliament and a president matters, not only because it keeps the democratic process alive, but also for the signals it sends the rest of the Arab world. Tunisia, the cradle of the revolution, keeps on setting the agenda.

But the signals it sends are many and various, and the western audience listens only to what it wants to hear. To a jubilant French media, Nidaa Tounes' victory over Ennadha was the victory of laicite loosely translated as secularism or the separation of church and state over its polar opposite, Islamism. It was the victory of pro-western modernity over religious conservatism, the good guys over the bad.
Ennahda were the bad guys because they should not have won in 2011. Democracy produced the wrong result. Essentially two faced, Ennahda preached the virtues of democracy to the West, while quietly laying the foundations of the Caliphate it wanted all along. Ennahda thus "allowed," or at the very least, did nothing to stop political assassinations of leftists to take place, according to this narrative.
But Tunisia also sends other messages to other audiences. Secularism is not the only hallmark of Nidaa Tounes. The force with the strongest adhesive power binding this heterogenous party together is a negative. Nidaa Tounes is defined by not being Ennahda, or any of the other two parties Congress for the Republic (CPR) and Ettakatol which shared power with Islamists since 2011.
This is why Nidaa Tounes does not now want to share power with any of the troika. Both Nidaa Tounes and CPR are secular, in the French meaning of the word. The center-left CPR should have more in common with Nidaa Tounes, than the Popular Front, which is composed of communists, marxists and Arab nationalists, and could form one of Nidaa Tounes' coalition partners.
Little of this matters to Nidaa Tounes. Other factors are at play. The party is first and foremost the vehicle of its leader Beji Caid Essebsi, who served under the governments of both Bourghiba and Ben Ali. If this passenger does not go on to win the presidency, there is a real question over the roadworthiness of the vehicle Nida Tounes itself. One of Essebsi's advisers admitted that Nidaa Tounes was the extension of the regimes the revolution has blown away. Anadolu News Agency quoted him as saying: "We are an extension to the Ben Ali regime with one exception and that is the freedom of speech," which was not available (then).
Without Essebsi does Nidaa Tounes exist as a party with a coherent message? And will a coalition formed with a host of minor parties be stable? There is at least the risk that Ennahda could regularly form a blocking majority in parliament, composed of smaller parties that defected to it on single issues.
If the primary battleground of the next parliament will be an economic one, with the new government tempted to make unpopular decisions to lift subsidies, the poisoned chalice of unpopular government in a transition period will have been gratefully passed from Ennahda to Nida Tounes. This could be just what the Islamist party wants.
For Ennahda, a defeat which leaves it the second most powerful political force could be no bad thing. Think of where it came from -- prison and exile and where it is now, a permanent fixture on the Tunisian political scene. This is consistent with other polls measuring the popularity of political Islam even in those Gulf countries which are doing everything they can to bury it.
A poll conducted by the Washington Institute, not a think tank known for its sympathy to Islamism, found the Brotherhood still attracted a "surprisingly large minority" in those countries which moved heaven and hell to suppress it -- 31 percent of Saudis, 34 percent of Kuwaitis, and 29 percent of Emiratis. Hamas, its Palestinian offshoot, scored even higher 52 percent of Saudis, 53 percent of Kuwaitis, and 44 percent of Emiratis.
As Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, professor of political science in the UAE tweeted: "For the percentage of support for the Muslim Brotherhood in the UAE to be 29 percent despite all the intensive media, official and unofficial campaign against them, is a percentage that deserves a pause and a thorough reading."
Considering what has been thrown at it in the last two years -- all the money at the command of the Saudis and Emiratis, the media campaign, the arrests, imprisonment and torture, the Brotherhood enjoys a hard and increasingly hardened core of support across the Arab World.
This of course does not help either side to move forward. Most of the money and power is located on the counter-revolutionary side of the fence, while most of the protest is on the other side. As long as that cleavage exists, neither side can triumph over the other. The flame lit in Tunisia and Egypt will not be snuffed out.
There are other messages from this result. The defeat of Ennahda in the parliamentary elections in Tunisia put to rest the myth that once elected Islamists would be unwilling to give up power, that the movement is essentially exclusionary. This was the charge leveled at Mohamed Morsi -- that he could not form coalitions and presided over the Ikwanisation of all the institutions of state, and the charge Nida Tounis leveled repeatedly at Rached Ghannouchi.
The reality is that he has done nothing but form coalitions and make compromises, which cost him dear. He compromised over the inclusion of the word sharia to get the constitution. He voted against a law that would have excluded members of the old regime from taking part in elections. He paved the way for his own apparent defeat. He put the process of getting a constitution through above the result. He weathered in the process, what his own supporters were calling a soft coup.
Ennahda is playing a longer game. This election has turned the charge of exclusionary politics on its head. When in 2011 Ennahda won 89 seats, they took the premiership but gave the two other most important political prizes, the presidency and the head of parliament to secular parties. They need not have, because they were clear winners. The gap between first place and second in 2011 was 60 seats.
This time around the gap between first and second in the parliamentary elections is much thinner -- 15 seats and Nidaa Tounes does not seem to want to share out the goodies. So the question this time around is not whether Ennahda is exclusionary, but whether Nidaa Tounes is. Will the winner attempt to take all this time around? Will it deal with Ennahda as a legitimate political force? Much will depend on the answer.

A real counterweight to US power is a global necessity

Conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine will spread without effective restraint on western unilateralism


The Guardian

Where is the end of history now? Across three continents, conflicts are multiplying. An arc of war, foreign intervention and state breakdown stretches from Afghanistan to north Africa.
In Iraq and Syria, the so-called Islamic State – mutant offspring of the war on terror – is now the target of renewed US-led intervention. In Ukraine, thousands have died in the proxy fighting between Russian-backed rebels and the western-sponsored Kiev government. And in the far east, tensions between China, Japan and other US allies are growing.
British troops finally finally ended combat operations in Afghanistan on Sunday after 13 years of disastrous occupationThe bizarre claim, despite al-Qaida’s global spread, is that the mission was “pretty successful” — in a country where tens of thousands have been killed, the Taliban control vast areas, violence against women has escalated and elections are a fig leaf of fraud and intimidation.
The Afghan invasion launched what would become the west’s war without end, encompassing the catastrophe of Iraq, drone wars from Pakistan to Somalia, covert support for jihadi rebels in Syria and “humanitarian” intervention in Libya that has left behind a failed state in the grip of civil war.
The Middle East is now in an unparalleled and unprecedented crisis. More than any other single factor, that is the product of continual US and western intervention and support for dictatorships, both before and after the “Arab spring”, unconstrained by any system of international power or law.
But if the Middle Eastern maelstrom is the fruit of a US-dominated new world order, Ukraine is a result of the challenge to the unipolar world that grew out of the failure of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. It was the attempt to draw divided Ukraine into the western camp by EU and US hawks after years of eastward Nato expansion that triggered the crisis, Russia’s absorption of Crimea and the uprising in the Russian-speaking Donbass region of the east.
Eight months on, elections on both sides look likely to deepen the division of the country. Routinely dismissed as Kremlin propaganda, the reality is the US and EU backed the violent overthrow of an elected if corrupt government and are now supporting a military campaign that includes far-right militias accused of war crimes — while Russia is subject to sweeping US and EU sanctions.
Last week at the Valdai discussion club near Sochi, Russia’s president, VladimirPutin, launched his fiercest denunciation yet of this US role in the world – perhaps not surprisingly after Barack Obama had bracketed Russia with Ebola and Isis as America’s top three global threats. After the cold war, Putin declared, the US had tried to dominate the world through “unilateral diktat” and “illegal intervention”, disregarding international law and institutions if they got in the way. The result had been conflict, insecurity and the rise of groups such as Isis, as the US and its allies were “constantly fighting the consequences of their own policies”.
None of which is very controversial across most of the world. During a Valdai club session I chaired, Putin told foreign journalists and academics that the unipolar world had been a “means of justifying dictatorship over people and countries” – but the emerging multipolar world was likely to be still more unstable. The only answer – and this was clearly intended as an opening to the west – was to rebuild international institutions, based on mutual respect and co-operation. The choice was new rules – or no rules, which would lead to “global anarchy”.
When I asked Putin whether Russia’s actions in Ukraine had been a response to, and an example of, a “no-rules order”, Putin denied it, insisting that the Kosovo precedent meant Crimea had every right to self-determination. But by conceding that Russian troops had intervened in Crimea “to block Ukrainian units”, he effectively admitted crossing the line of legality – even if not remotely on the scale of the illegal invasions, bombing campaigns and covert interventions by the US and its allies over the past decade and a half.
But there is little chance of the western camp responding to Putin’s call for a new system of global rules. In fact, the US showed little respect for rules during the cold war either, intervening relentlessly wherever it could. But it did have respect for power. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, that restraint disappeared. It was only the failure of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – and Russia’s subsequent challenge to western expansion and intervention in Georgia, Syria and Ukraine – that provided some check to unbridled US power.
Along with the rise of China, it has also created some space for other parts of the world to carve out their political independence, notably in Latin America. Putin’s oligarchic nationalism may not have much global appeal, but Russia’s role as a counterweight to western supremacism certainly does. Which is why much of the world has a different view of events in Ukraine from the western orthodoxy – and why China, India, Brazil and South Africa all abstained from the condemnation ofRussia over Crimea at the UN earlier this year.
But Moscow’s check on US military might is limited. Its economy is over-dependent on oil and gas, under-invested and now subject to disabling sanctions. Only China offers the eventual prospect of a global restraint on western unilateral power and that is still some way off. As Putin is said to have told the US vice-president, Joe Biden, Russia may not be strong enough to compete for global leadership, but could yet decide who that leader might be.
Even Obama still regularly insists that the US is the “indispensable nation”. And it seems almost certain that whoever takes over from Obama will be significantly more hawkish and interventionist. The US elite remains committed to global domination and whatever can be preserved of the post-1991 new world order.
Despite the benefits of the emerging multipolar world, the danger of conflict, including large-scale wars, looks likely to grow. The public pressure that brought western troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan is going to have to get far stronger in the years to come – if that threat is not to engulf us all

'The Arab ancien regime is living on borrowed time'




'The Arab ancien regime is living on borrowed time'
At the 2014 Oslo Freedom Forum, activist Iyad El-Baghdadi spoke about the failure of the Arab Spring to produce visible institutional change, how "our generation found its voice, how we lost that voice, how we can regain it and why despite all the catastrophes in the Arab world Arab world, we remain confident, and we’ll never, ever give up the fight." Below is the full text of his speech. 
  
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Iyad El-Baghdadi. I’m an Arab Spring activist and writer. I’m Palestinian, but I’ve lived all my life – since birth – in the United Arab Emirates, better known as the UAE.
Until around this time last year, I was the most influential online voice out of the United Arab Emirates, and among the 30 most influential Arab voices online.
But this past spring on the morning of 30 April, I was abruptly summoned by the government and told that I am being permanently expelled from the UAE. There were no charges, no reasons afforded, no chance for appeal, and the decision was to be carried out immediately. My wife was seven months pregnant with our first child.
When I was invited to speak before you, I thought that this is what I’ll be talking about: About how the authorities didn’t know where they could expel a stateless Palestinian refugee; how they eventually gave me the choice to either fly to Malaysia or stay in jail indefinitely; I thought I’ll be describing the abuse, racism, injustice, and corruption that I witnessed first-hand during my detention; and how I became stranded in Kuala Lumpur International Airport for three weeks following my release.
But this is not the story I’m here to tell.
My story fades into complete insignificance within the greater mosaic of tragedies that befell the Arab Spring – that befell a generation that three years ago opened its mouth to speak, only to have a thousand forces conspire to smother its voice.
In early 2011, the Arab world erupted with a massive youth-led protest movement demanding liberty, justice, dignity, and democracy. The “Arab Spring” as it is now called, touched almost every Arab country, but – with very few exceptions – it failed to produce visible institutional effects. Instead, our revolutions were fought back by an organised counter-revolutionary axis with very deep pockets. And international legitimacy and credibility.
Dear friends – this is a talk about how a generation found it voice and then lost it, how we can regain it, and why despite everything we remain hopeful and will never, ever give up the fight.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is Mariam. 
She’s a Syrian Palestinian young woman who, in 2011, was among the first people to protest peacefully as part of the Syrian revolution. As the revolution gave way to civil war, Mariam’s family became internal refugees, hopping from neighborhood to neighborhood across Damascus for shelter. In 2013, she eventually managed to flee Syria – alone – having witnessed so much death and destruction along the way.
I met Mariam over a meal in Kuala Lumpur. I sat across the table as she told me her ordeal with an air of detached indifference. She bragged that throughout it all, she never cried.
She asked to hear my story and I began to explain.
I lived in the UAE, which is a bit far from the heartlands of the revolution, and does not tolerate any form of street activism. As a result, my Arab Spring experience was online. As the revolutions kicked off in early 2011, I reported on the unrolling events, and helped present our story to the world.
But I like to think that my main contribution was in the realm of ideas.
Even before Mubarak was ousted I was already asking this key question.
It really bothered me that nobody was asking that. Over the next few months I raised the issue several times. What’s next? Do we have a plan?
I had no doubt that a new order was set to arise – but I insisted that it will not arise spontaneously.
It requires original thinking and lots of work. Importantly, it needs a new generation of intellectuals – young, independent, and skilled in formulating their ideas, in networking together, and in communicating with the world.
Within the dizzying rush of events in 2011, nobody was really prepared to talk about these issues. Moreover, a growing polarisation was tearing our movement apart, centered upon the role of Islam. In the midst of this, I provocatively called myself an “Islamic libertarian” – and talked about the need to indigenise liberty, to find our own expression and implementation… our own path to freedom.
By 2012, the Arab Spring had fallen into a trap. When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail – and our only tool was protests. We moved into the streets and then got stuck in the streets. And we were stuck there long enough to allow the dictators to stage a comeback.
A conspiracy was being planned. It’s actually become quite fashionable in many Arab state media to refer to the Arab Spring as a foreign conspiracy – but the real conspiracy was one to stop democracy at any price.
It was an organised assault by a counter-revolutionary axis more afraid of the rise of an Arab democracy than the rise of a thousand terror groups. Especially, the rise of a thriving Arab democracy that could tickle the imagination of their own youth.
It’s very important to note that terrorist groups like ISIS present no existential threat to the Arab dictators. In fact, they’re incredibly convenient – it’s an opportunity for them to present themselves as fighters of terrorism and a force for stability.
When the people boil and demand democracy, and instead of giving them democracy you put the lid back on even tighter than it was before, you do NOT get stability – you get an explosion. And even if you do manage to get the lid back on and clamp it shut, you don’t get stability – you get a time bomb.
At this point in my conversation with Mariam, I was rambling.
I looked up this young woman’s face, and she was crying. Minutes earlier she was bragging that she never cried, but now she was crying.
I did not ask her what sent her over the edge. Reality was much more poignant than anything I could say. Here we were – two Arab activists – sitting some three thousand miles away from home; refugees, in a foreign land. We wanted the downfall of the regimes; but it seemed that the regimes achieved our downfall. Our Arab Spring had turned into a Jihadist Disneyland.
Mariam looked up at me I’ll never forget what she said next. It was as if she poured all of her frustration, all of her betrayal, all of her pain, into this one question.
“Do you mean to tell me you still believe? After all of this, you still believe in an Arab Spring?”
I’ll never forget how she said that.
I said “Yes”. And she looked at me like I’m crazy.
I never got to explain. I hope she’s watching right now.
There are three reasons why I maintain my confidence despite all the catastrophes.
The first reason is that 2011 happened. It was NOT a dream. It was NOT an illusion. Millions of young Arabs really did take to the streets demanding liberty, and dignity, and justice. It was NOT an illusion. Something green and fresh and beautiful appeared and captured the world’s imagination. It wasn’t a mirage. We really do exist.
We’re not a minority, either. We only appear to be a minority because we’re not organised; we’re not on the menu. When the only options presented are black or white, it does not mean that red or green or blue are a minority. When the only options presented are religious authoritarianism or nationalistic fascism, it does not mean that a third option doesn’t exist. It’s just not on the menu. Our historical responsibility right now is to put ourselves on the menu.
The second reason I am confident is that the friendships that arose since 2011 cannot be undone. The online scene isn’t “virtual”, ladies and gentlemen, no, it’s all too real. The ideas are real, the friendships are real. Many of us activists have never met face to face – but we talk almost daily about things we care very deeply about. We’re a family. These friendships are forever.
Martin Luther King once said “Those who want peace must organise as effectively as those who want war”. I’m going to adapt this gem and say “Those who want liberty must organise as effectively as those who want tyranny”. These online friendships can form the nucleus for an intellectual movement as we work together on campaigns, projects, and books.
The third, and perhaps most important reason why I remain confident, is that the old order – the Arab ancien regime – for all its cruelty and deep pockets – has no vision or hope to offer beyond sectarianism, demagoguery, and jingoism. It lives on borrowed time supported by mass hysteria; it's unsustainable and will bring no stability or growth.
More importantly, they have a dirty little secret. They’re afraid of us. They’re not afraid of those with guns – after all they have bigger guns. But they’re afraid of those with ideas.
We are the future, ladies and gentlemen. Despite the catastrophic scene back home, we are the future. If they don’t let us dream, we won’t let them sleep.
There is yet another reason why we can never give up.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the first stop at the Choeung Ek memorial site in Cambodia, better known as the “Killing Fields”. I visited Cambodia in August, in order to avoid overstaying the short-term entry I was allowed into Malaysia.
About fifty paces into the site, on this bench, I collapsed, holding my head in my hands, a sobbing mess.
Cambodians come to this site to look at their past, but I felt like I was walking through an exhibit of what could be the Arab world’s future. A future full of massacres, mass graves, and genocide.
My son was two months old at the time. The Cambodian genocide took place in the mid 70s, around the time I was born.
What genocide sites will my son walk through when he’s my age? Will it be a memorial dedicated to the Rabaa massacre, committed by Egypt’s military regime?
The Ghouta Massacre, committed by Assad’s regime in Syria? The Sh’eitat Massacre, committed by ISIS? Or will it be yet another horror that’s yet to come?
And more importantly, will massacres be behind us, or will my son still live in a world where he’s afraid to speak, where demanding dignity ends you in jail, where you have to think a thousand times about what you want to say – or tweet – for fear of upsetting the wrong people?
This is what awaits us if we fail, ladies and gentlemen.
At this point it’s Arab Spring, or no Arabs. A thriving democratic Arab world is not only our salvation as Arabs, it’s also the world’s best hope to end the cycle of terrorism and tyranny that we’re stuck in.
My book, “The Arab Spring Manifesto”, detailing my vision of an Islamic libertarianism, is due to be completed in December. We’re hoping to have it out by next summer. As far as I know, it would be the first attempt by our Arab Spring generation, and I hope it won’t be the last.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to take a couple more minutes of your time and close with a short message to my son, who was born on my exact birthday last June. He turned four months old a few days ago. I only saw him last week, and only spent three days with him.
Ismael: I say this as a father. I’d rather see you die young than grow up to be a coward.
We were preceded by a generation that kept its head low and kept its nose to the grindstone and learned to live with tyranny and corruption and injustice and to accept them as facts of life. And they bequeathed us the Arab world we see today. A festering pool of retardation and stagnation. A playground for tyrants and terrorists. And now that the counter-revolution seems to have prevailed, they expect us to take the same deal again. “Trust the great leader with your rights. Trust us with your children’s future. Trust the strongman with your security.”
No. No. Do not legitimise them even if the world does. Do not call them Sirs and Majesties even if the world does. Do not call them heroes and champions even if the world does.
Our liberty, or we die trying. Our dignity, or we die trying.
Ismael. May you live long and kick ass. But if they ever make you choose between the two, then kick ass.
  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

عسكرة المجتمع المصري

AN EXCELLENT COMMENT!

خليل العناني
عسكرة المجتمع المصري
لا تبدو القرارات والإجراءات التي اتخذها، الأسبوع الجاري، النظام السلطوي في مصر مفاجئة. وهي التي شملت وضع مؤسسات الدولة ومرافقها العامة، محطات الكهرباء والغاز والمنشآت العامة، تحت حماية القوات المسلحة المصرية، وتحويل كل من يلمسها، أو يعتدي عليها، إلى محاكمات عسكرية. وهي القرارات التي صاحبتها موجة جديدة من الهيستيريا الجماعية، تغذيها وتحركها الأذرع الإعلامية، ومن يقف خلفها من الأجهزة السيادية، وينافح عنها، الآن، كل المستفيدين والمتملقين للسلطة الحالية.

تحولت الأصولية السلطوية في مصر إلى "أسد جريح"، بعد الهجمات الإرهابية الأخيرة، يضرب كل من يقف في طريقه من دون تفرقة، أو تمييز، وتسعى إلى ابتلاع المجتمع، بعدما ابتلعت الدولة أكثر من ستين عاماً. وهي خطوة كانت متوقعة، منذ وصول الجنرال عبد الفتاح السيسي إلى السلطة، والذي فشل، حتى الآن، فيما جاء لإنجازه، وهو استعادة الأمن وتحقيقه. والآن، يحاول مداراة هذا الفشل، بإيجاد حالة تعبئة جديدة، تقوم على خلق حالة هيستيريا جماعية وخوف مصطنع. وهو ما رأيناه فى تعليقات كثيرين من مؤيدي الأصولية السلطوية الذين تراوحت تبريراتهم للعسكرة، من المطالبة بتهجير أهالي سيناء من أرضهم، وهو ما بدأ بالفعل في رفح، مروراً بالمطالبة بفرض الطوارئ (وهي مفروضة بحكم الواقع)، وانتهاء بالتخلص من أي صوت، ولو من داخل معسكر الانقلاب.

حالة "الجنون السلطوي" ملازمة لكل الانقلابات العسكرية التي حدثت طوال القرن الماضي. فالجنرال أوغستو بينوشيه الذي استولي على السلطة في تشيلي عام 1973، بعد إطاحة الرئيس سلفادور أليندي الذي قُتل في قصر الرئاسة بعدما رفض التخلي عن مقعده الشرعي، وقام بينوشيه بحل الأحزاب اليسارية التي كانت مؤيدة لأليندي، ومارس كل أشكال الإرهاب السياسي لمعارضيه الذين هرب كثيرون منهم، طالبين اللجوء السياسي في بلدان أخرى. وخلال عهده، سُجن ما لا يقل عن 25 ألف شخص، واختفى ثلاثة آلاف آخرون، إلى أن تمت إطاحته، بعد حوالي عقدين، وتم اعتقاله في بريطانيا عام 2002، وتقديمه للمحاكمة عام 2004. وهو، أيضاً، ما حدث مع ديكتاتور آخر، هو رافيل تروخيو الذي حكم جمهورية الدومينكان حوالى ثلاثة عقود، قتل الآلاف وقمع عشرات الآلاف، قبل أن يتم اغتياله عام 1961.
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التحالف الذي دعم الرجل منذ انقلابه، في الثالث من يوليو/ تموز 2013، يبدو ليس فقط مفتتاً ومنقسماً، وإنما أيضاً غير قادر على التعبئة وحشد التأييد، مثلما كان يفعل قبل عام
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يسير الجنرال على "قضبان" المسار التشيلي نفسها، ولكن بسرعة مذهلة، قد تؤدى إلى نهايته قريباً. فقد قام بتأميم المجال العام من خلال قانون "التظاهر" سيئ السمعة، وقتل معارضيه وقمع مخالفيه على طريقة بينوشيه وتروخيو نفسها، وألقى عشرات الآلاف في السجون. بيد أن مشكلة الجنرال ليست فقط أن التاريخ لا يعيد نفسه حرفياً، وإنما، أيضاً، لأنه لا يتحلى بالقدر نفسه من الثقة، أو القدرة على سحق معارضيه، من دون مشكلات حقيقية. فالرجل يبدو "متوتراً" وخائفاً، على الرغم من محاولته إظهار عكس ذلك، وهو ليس في مأمن كامل من مؤامرات السلطة ومغامرات الحكم. فالتحالف الذي دعم الرجل منذ انقلابه، في الثالث من يوليو/ تموز 2013، يبدو ليس فقط مفتتاً ومنقسماً، وإنما أيضاً غير قادر على التعبئة وحشد التأييد، مثلما كان يفعل قبل عام. ومن جهة أخرى، لا تبدو المؤسسات الرئيسة التي تدعم الجنرال، كالداخلية والجيش والقضاء والإعلام، متماسكة بالقدر الذي قد يسمح للجنرال الذهاب بعيداً في توتره وانجرافه. قد يبدو ظاهرياً أن هذه المؤسسات متماسكة ومتحدة خلف الرجل. لكن، ما بينها من الخلافات والصراعات لا يمكن إخفاؤها، وربما تنفجر، إذا ما فشل الجنرال في تحقيق إنجازات حقيقية، وهو ما يبدو واقعاً حتى الآن. ولنتذكر جميعاً ما حدث مع مبارك الذي ظل في السلطة ثلاثين عاماً، ولكن، ما إن استشعرت هذه المؤسسات اقتراب سقوطه، تركته وحيداً، وحاولت أن تنجو بنفسها. وهو أمر لا يمكن استبعاد حدوثه مجدداً، مهما حاول الإعلام الموالي طمس هذه الحقيقة. ومن جهة أخيرة، فإن ازدياد معدل القمع غير المميِز، والذي لا يفرق بين معارض وآخر، ليس فقط إلى إعادة لململة صفوف المعارضة المتناثرة، وإنما أيضاً حدوث انفجار مجتمعي هائل. قطعاً، قد يأخذ هذا بضعة أعوام، لكنه حتماً سوف يحدث.

لا يمكن للديكتاتورية أن تعيش بدون خلق "عدو خارجي"، وتضخيمه من أجل مداراة جرائمها، ومثلما خلق الجنرال بينوشيه العدو اليساري، يحاول السيسي خلق "العدو الإسلامي"، من أجل تبرير سياسات عسكرة الدولة وإخضاع المجتمع، وإبعاد النظر عن محاسبته على إخفاقه وفشله فى تحقيق أي إنجاز حتى الآن. وقد كان تصريحه الذي أدلى به بعد الهجوم الإرهابي في العريش أكثر تعبيراً عن هذه الحقيقة، حين قال بأنه يخوض "حرب وجود"، وإن "مزيداً من القتلى سقطوا وسوف يسقطون". ومن المفارقة أن الرجل لم يجرؤ على إقالة أي مسؤول، بسبب الإخفاق الأمني الذي حدث، على الرغم من الوجود العسكري الكثيف والمتطور فى سيناء.

إذا كان التاريخ خير واعظ، فليتعظ السيسي ودروايشه مما حدث فى دول أميركا اللاتينية التي تخلصت معظم شعوبها من الديكتاتورية، وألقت بهم جميعاً على قارعة التاريخ، غير مأسوف عليهم.


الواقع العربي - خفايا العلاقات بين واشنطن والحوثيين

A GOOD VIDEO

أرانب قاتلة تحت قبعة السيسي

وائل قنديل

29 أكتوبر 2014
أرانب قاتلة تحت قبعة السيسي

مصر لا تستقيل من التاريخ فقط هذه الأيام، بل تتجرد من العقل والمنطق والحس الإنساني، في اندفاعها المحموم نحو فرض نمط جديد من "الوطنية الفاسدة" على قطاع -أو قطيع- واسع من الجماهير المخطوفة.
كانوا قديماً يعلموننا أن الكيان الصهيوني يتمنى أن تبقى مصر دائماً ضعيفة غارقة في الفوضى، حتى خرج علينا الدكتور مصطفى الفقي، سكرتير مبارك السابق للمعلومات، بنظرية تتناسب مع قيم عصر السيسي، تقول نصاً "من مصلحة إسرائيل أن تبقى مصر قوية ومستقرة". ولو مددت الخط على استقامته، فإن باقي الجملة المسكوت عنه سيكون هكذا "لكي تدافع عن إسرائيل ضد العدو الفلسطيني، وتنظف لها سيناء من الأوغاد وترحّلهم من المنطقة".
لقد بلغت هيستيريا العسكرة حداً صارت النخبة معه تتعامل مع حاكم مصر العسكري بالطريقة ذاتها التي تتعامل بها النخبة مع زعيم كوريا الشمالية، وربما تتفوق عليها.
الجميع اكتشفوا فجأة أن الديمقراطية شر مستطير، وأن الحريات خطر داهم، وأن رغبات القائد فوق الدستور والقانون، فيذهب عميد سابق لكلية الحقوق (الحقووووووق) بجامعة القاهرة إلى القول "حرية الرأي والتعبير يجب أن تتنحى جانبًا في تلك اللحظات العصيبة، لحين وقوف الدولة على قدمين ثابتتين، والانتصار على الإرهاب".
ولو عدت إلى ثلاثينيات القرن الماضي، ستكتشف أن مؤسس الفاشية، الزعيم موسوليني، ليس أكثر من عازف بيانو، مقارنة برموز فاشية السيسي، إذ كان تعبير القائد الإيطالي عن فاشيته أكثر تهذيباً حين قال "الكل في الدولة، ولا قيمة لشيء إنساني أو روحي خارج الدولة، فالفاشية شمولية، والدولة الفاشية تشمل جميع القيم وتوحدها، وهي التي تؤوّل هذه القيم وتفسرها، إنها تعيد صياغة حياة الشعب كلها".
أعود إلى كِتاب "الطاغية" للدكتور إمام عبد الفتاح إمام، وأبحث عن منابع هؤلاء الفاشيين الجدد، فأجد ما يلي: الترجمة الحقيقية للديمقراطية في المذهب الشمولي هي أن إرادة القائد أو الزعيم هي إرادة الشعب، أو كما ذهب بعض المنظّرين في العهد الناصري: هي ديمقراطية "التحسس"، بمعنى أن القائد الزعيم الملهم يتحسس "مطالب الجماهير"، ويصدر بها قرارات وقوانين. ولما كان الشعب دائماً على حق، فإن الزعيم المعبر عن إرادة الشعب هو أيضا دائما على حق.
ولكي يثبت القادة الشموليون أن إرادتهم هي إرادة الشعب، فإنهم يلجأون إلى الاستفتاء العام والتصويت "التهليلي". وبهذه الطريقة، يستخرج الزعيم الملهم والقائد الساحر من قبعة الديكتاتورية أرنباً اسمه الديمقراطية.
انتهى الاقتباس، وبقي السؤال:
كم طناً من الكلام استهلك جنرال مصر وإعلامه في حشو أدمغة الناس بحديثٍ أجوف عن "الإرادة الشعبية"، في سياق سعيهم المحموم لاختطاف الجماهير، تارة باسم الحرب على الإرهاب، وأخرى باسم الدين، وإقامة جدار من الخوف والفزع، لعزلها عن مطالب ثورتها الحقيقية والوحيدة؟
وعملية ارتهان الشعب في حضّانات الخوف هذه لا تتم إلا بمداعبة غرائز الوطنية الزائفة، واستثارة مناطق الرعب، عبر "الاستفادة من وسائل الإعلام والاتصال والإثارة، والترغيب والترهيب، للتأثير على جماهير الناس، وتحقيق التطابق المنشود بين إرادة الشعب وإرادة القائد". كل المطلوب منك أن تغمض عينيك، وتسترجع شريط الصور منذ الثلاثين من يونيو/حزيران 2013 وحتى الآن، ستسمع نصاً ركيكاً واحداً، لا يخرج عن مجموعة كليشيهات مثل "إرادة شعبية" و"33 مليون مواطن" و"مصر مستهدفة" و"تحيا مصر" و"لا تسمحوا لأحد بالتدخل بين الجيش والشعب والقائد".
راجع، أيضاً، لقطات اختراع جهاز الكفتة الكاذب، وحفر قناة سويس جديدة على الناشف، وطفل السرطان الذي تحسنت حالته بلمسة واحدة من القائد.. ستكتشف أنك أمام عملية قرصنة على أسوأ ما في أرشيف الطغاة. 

Lessons from the Tunisian elections

By Rami Khouri

I suspect that the Tunisian parliamentary elections Sunday were the most significant domestic and national political development in the modern history of the Arab world. Here is why I say this, and also what I believe we learn from the elections.
Never in ancient or modern Arab history has a citizenry of a country debated, written, validated and then put into action a constitution that reflects national values and also defines the organization of political life, the exercise of public authority, and the rights of citizens. Tunisians experienced some serious bumps in their transition to a constitutional democracy since they overthrew the tyranny of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in early 2011.
Tunisians accomplished this while suffering from serious economic pressures and social services disparities – especially among marginalized provincial populations – which confirms their commitment to addressing their socio-economic challenges through the participatory mechanisms of a pluralistic democracy. This is in sharp contrast with the hysteria and hallucinatory emotional excesses and fears that many Egyptians resorted to last year when they called in the armed forces to remove Mohammad Morsi, the elected president from the Muslim Brotherhood.
So the Tunisian experience since February 2011 offers evidence of three critical phenomena: the capacity of the Tunisian people to peacefully overthrow their former dictatorship, to affirm their desire to live in a pluralistic democracy, and to manage their vulnerable transition without succumbing to fear, greed, panic or chaos. Tunisians proved they were able to put their democratic values into practice, according to their own priorities and particularities.
The election victory of the new Nidaa Tounes party reflects a relatively sophisticated response by those smaller parties and political groupings who came together to form this alliance of former officials, secularists, progressives and leftists. This contrasted with the dozens of smaller groups that splintered the centrist-secular votes and allowed Ennahda to triumph in the 2012 elections and lead the coalition government.
This suggests – like the South African transition to democracy did – that members of the former regimes could be allowed to engage in political activity in the new democratic era, but they have to play by the new rules of democratic accountability and public legitimacy. It also indicates that politicians with somewhat different legacies and values could work together for a greater purpose than their own selfish incumbency. That greater purpose that has achieved the triumph of Nidaa Tounes seems to have been the desire to defeat Ennahda, and to form a government that could reflect a degree of consensus among different groups, rather than a winner-take-all mentality.
The performance of Ennahda is an important historical marker: anIslamist party that won free democratic elections, was allowed to rule at the head of a coalition government, largely failed to achieve the important goals that voters expected from it (jobs, economic expansion, security, social justice) then gave in to popular demand and stepped down in favor of a transitional government. This important precedent teaches Ennahda a valuable lesson about the realities of democratic accountability – if you do not deliver on your promises, the voters send you home. It also clarifies to the entire citizenry that Islamists can participate in pluralistic democratic practices and live to compete electorally another day after they lose a free and fair political contest.
Incumbent Islamists in Arab democracies were a novel sight in 2012 in Egypt and Tunisia. In 2013, they both also revealed their amateurism in governance, as they were unable to go beyond their sloganeering about Islam to offer solutions to society’s challenges and citizens’ aspirations. The incumbency, failures and subsequent booting out of the Islamists democratically in Tunisia is the first time that Arab citizens electorally achieved a core principle of established Western democracies – to “throw the bums out” of office when the incumbents do not deliver on citizen expectations.
So this Tunisian experience is also a historic inaugural implementation of the principle of the consent of the governed, which has never pertained in Arab societies in an organized, democratic, constitutional and civil manner. We can be certain that the next prime minister – to be appointed only after the presidential election next month – will pay much more attention than in previous years to choosing an effective Cabinet and prioritizing policies that respond to genuine citizen needs.
The democratic transition in Tunisia remains young and vulnerable, but it is indeed the first democratic transition in modern Arab history that has taken root in an environment of sustained citizen activism. I and millions of others hold out the hope that just as Tunisia sparked the series of Arab uprisings and revolutions in the past nearly four years, so will this brave little country lead the way again in prodding other Arabs to achieve a democratic transition, rather than only to yearn for it.

Tunisia.....The Remaining Hope

Real News Video: A Third Intifada on the Horizon?

Journalist Max Blumenthal discusses the situation in Jerusalem and the reconstruction plans for Gaza

Egypt Troops Expel Civilians, to Level Homes Near Gaza Border

Will Indefinitely Close Only Non-Israeli Gaza Crossing


Egypt’s military junta is following up its blaming of Gaza militants for a major attack on a military checkpoint in northern Sinai late last week with an ambitious plan to essentially seal off the tiny Gaza Strip from Egyptian territory.
Troops are out in force ordering civilians who live within half a kilometer of the border to evacuate their homes, declaring a “state of emergency” and a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the area, which they plan to level.
Instead of homes, the region will be replaced with a series of water-filled trenches, with the hope that this will drown any Gazans who try to dig tunnels into the Sinai Peninsula.
In addition, Egypt plans to “indefinitely” close the border crossing into the Gaza Strip, meaning the sole non-Israeli crossing, through which humanitarian aid might cross, will be entirely inaccessible. Given the junta’s hostility to the Gazans, this could remain the case for a long time to come.

Binyamin Netanyahu 'chickenshit', say US officials in explosive interview

Quotes from senior Obama administration figures damn Israeli prime minister over stance on settlements and Palestinian peace


in Jerusalem

US relations with Israel have plunged to new depths of bitterness and hostility as senior officials in the Obama administration decried Binyamin Netanyahu as a “chickenshit prime minister”, “coward” and a man more interested in his own political survival than peace.
The furious assessment delivered in anonymous but no-holds barred comments in an interview with the American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic underline a state of anger with Netanyahu that is characterised as “red hot”.
The remarks are particularly telling in having been made to Goldberg, a Washington insider who has interviewed both Obama and Netanyahu, and who warned US-Israeli relations were in a “full-blown crisis” that could only get worse after the midterm elections.
The comments underline the dismal state of relations between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu after a series of damaging announcements by Israel – including again this week – regarding its determination to push ahead with settlement building in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The temperature of relations plunged again last week when Israel’s defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, was pointedly snubbed by senior administration officials during a visit last week to Washington, which itself followed a public warning from the White House that Israel risked alienating its “closest allies”.
Despite the deepening frustration in Washington, Netanyahu continued to hit back over the latest settlement announcement, saying US criticism was “detached from reality”, even on the eve of the publication of the latest remarks.
“The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” said one official quoted in the Atlantic. “The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars. The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states.
“The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”
In a more diplomatic and public statement on the recent settlement announcements, the US National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey insisted the US would continue to criticise Israel.
“There are times when we disagree with actions of the Israeli government and we must raise our concerns, such as our concerns about Israel’s settlement policy,” he said. “We raise these concerns as a partner who is deeply concerned about Israel’s future and wants to see Israel living side by side in peace and security with its neighbours.”
In comments designed to further sting Netanyahu, who has expended huge diplomatic effort on attempting to derail any deal with Iran over its nuclear programme, another official suggested the White House no longer believed Netanyahu would launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran to prevent it obtaining nuclear weapons.
“It’s too late for him to do anything,” the official said. “Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”
The comments are the latest in a series of high-profile spats between Washington and Netanyahu’s government. Relations began their sharp decline when defence minister Yaalon accused the US secretary of state, John Kerry, of being “obsessive and messianic” in his pursuit of a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. Later, in off-the-record remarks, Kerry warned that Israeli risked becoming “an apartheid state”.
In a terse response to the remarks in the Atlantic the Israeli prime minister’s office said: “Netanyahu will continue to uphold the security interests of Israel and the historical rights of the Jewish people in Jerusalem, and no amount of pressure will change that.”
Responding to the remarks late on Tuesday night, Israel’s far-right economics minister, Naftali Bennett, used his Facebook page to call for Washington to renounce the comments: “If what was written [in The Atlantic] is true, then it appears the current administration plans to throw Israel under the bus.
“The prime minister is not a private person but the leader of the Jewish state and the whole Jewish world. Such severe insults towards the prime minister of Israel are hurtful to millions of Israeli citizens and Jews all over the world.
“Instead of attacking Israel and forcing it to accept suicidal terms, it should be strengthened. I call on the US administration to renounce these coarse comments and to reject them outright.”