By Tony Sayegh
It appears that the existing official Arab order that has been on life support for the past 20 years or so is finally expiring. The events of the past three weeks in both occupied Palestine and in Lebanon have made that abundantly clear.
To illustrate the slow death of this order, which includes the Arab League, all one has to do is to contrast the reaction of Arab officialdom in 1967 and in 1973 to what is happening (more accurately not happening) today. After the 1967 defeat of three Arab armies and the capture of the rest of Palestine, the Sinai and the Golan Heights, the Arab regimes had their famous summit in Khartoum with the three famous no's. No to recognizing Israel, no to negotiations and no to peace with the Zionist state. These were principled positions that received wide support in the Arab street.After the 1973 war, the Arab regimes took a united stand in support of both Egypt and Syria's drive to liberate their occupied land and even the reactionary Saudi Arabia went as far as imposing an oil embargo on the West, to force neutrality and objectivity by the West, led by the U.S.
It has been downhill from that date on. Today by contrast, when the Palestinians and Lebanese are resisting, the existing Arab order is accusing these resistance movements of irresponsibility and adventurism. It is really astounding, when one considers that Hezbollah was the first Arab movement that was actually able, through guerrilla resistance, all by itself, to force the withdrawal of occupying Israeli forces, unconditionally and without any negotiations, from any occupied Arab territory. In the same vein, the Palestinians have been able to elect the first truly democratic government in the entire Arab world and to withstand the ferocious Israeli attacks to destroy the elected Palestinian government and the resistance of Hamas and others.
One cannot, of course, ignore the Iraqi resistance and what it has been able to achieve in just three years. With the American military mired to its neck in Iraq and with its reputation and perceived supremacy in tatters, outright defeat is just a matter of time. And what does the existing Arab order do? It facilitated and encouraged the invasion and destruction of Iraq and now it is working with the occupiers to consolidate the occupation and to support and strengthen the puppet Iraqi government. The Arab League, by orders from the U.S., has undertaken a series of meetings of "conciliation" to help strengthen the puppet Iraqi government. Even the government of Syria, is cooperating with the occupiers, by sealing the border with Iraq, extraditing Iraqis wanted by the U.S. occupation to the U.S. occupiers and sharing intelligence information with the U.S. military.
The transformation is now total. While collaboration with Israel and the U.S. used to be behind the scenes and denied, it is now in the open. Jordan and Egypt have full diplomatic, economic and security relations with Israel. When one Israeli soldier was captured, the leaders of these two countries woke up and mounted a vigorous campaign to pressure the Palestinians to free that one soldier while never daring to even whisper about 10,000 Palestinians kidnapped, tortured and imprisoned by Israel. When Usrael imposed a total blockade on the Palestinians for daring to elect Hamas, the Arab order, in its entirety, including the Arab league, financial institutions and banks and the various governments complied with the Usraeli orders. Egypt and Jordan shunned the elected Palestinian officials and Egypt would not even dare to have sovereignty over the crossing between its territory to Gaza; enough said about Egyptian sovereignty.
The real signal that the Arab order has been fully transformed is the unprecedented Saudi attack on the resistance movements of Hamas and Hezbollah. This attack was repeated for the second time yesterday. Saudi Arabia, up to this point, has operated mostly in the shadows and this coming out of the closet is highly significant. It announces to the world that the American goal of shocking and awing the Arab regimes has been a total success and all the regimes now line up behind U.S. policies in the region against the interests of the people. This line up includes the puppet Abbas and his Palestinian Authority.
It is not an exaggeration to state that this is a historic moment, even more momentous than in 1948. At least in 1948, the regimes, while some of them were still occupied by British forces, made a token effort to help the Palestinians. Now they are besieging and fighting the Iraqis, Palestinians and the Lebanese. The stakes have never been higher; a final solution of the Palestinian question is being imposed which will see Israel dictating boundaries and probably expelling Palestinians. Lebanese are being expelled from the south of Lebanon and Israel may expand northward. Iraq is being split and the Israeli presence and influence (especially in the north) is greatly expanded.
Is it any wonder that when the Arab foreign ministers met, yet one more time, a few days ago and did not even dare to adopt a minimum position in support of the Palestinians and the Lebanese, that the reporters were so disgusted with them and in the face of shouts and demands from the journalist, the head of the Arab League could only say, "the peace process in dead?" This is the end of the Arab league and what remains of inter-Arab institutions. What has emerged are two distinct cultures: the culture of resistance by the oppressed and dispossessed majority and the culture of regimes totally subservient to Israel and actively implementing Usraeli policies by all means available, including force.