Friday, April 13, 2007

America as proxy

Whereas Israel has appeared in the past as the US's main proxy in the Middle East, now it apears the relation has reversed

By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Ahram Weekly

"......Palestinians have often been used as, and in some cases have presented themselves to play the role of, a proxy force. The rationale, in some cases, was personal interest; in others, lack of a platform that would allow them to organise. In the two most notable instances in which they tried to exert control over their host domains -- the cases of Jordan in the 1970s and Lebanon in the 1970s and 80s -- the cost was horrendous, leading to unprecedented bloodshed. After Arafat's forced exit from Beirut in 1982, Palestinians were forced to exchange the physical space they obtained for overt allegiance to various regimes. Arafat mastered the art like no other Palestinian leader. The supporters of the Oslo Accords argued that the agreement's key success was freeing the Palestinian political will from pandering to host countries for survival, which proved untrue. A Hamas leader in Syria told me, off the record, during a telephone interview recently: "We have no doubt that Damascus will dump us the moment we are no longer of use, but we have no other option but to play along."......

While Iran's prime objective is to discourage an American military assault against it, Israel seeks regional hegemony, where it is left only with "moderate" neighbours. According to this vision, conceived and promoted publicly by Israeli leaders and their friends in Washington and emphasised to the point of boring repetition by every relevant US official at every possible opportunity, the Iranian "threat" must be eradicated at any cost. Israel's fears of Iran are not nuclear in essence. What worries Israel is that Iran is militarily strong, politically cohesive and economically viable, enough to allow Iran opportunity to challenge Israel at every turn. The Israelis, as their country's history illustrates, simply despise such contenders. Israel's attempt to demolish Gamal Abdel Nasser's national regime in 1956, only eight years after the establishment of the Israeli state, is a poignant example......

But Israel is still cheering for war. Former director of Mossad, Uzi Arad, told the British Guardian that, "A military strike may be easier than you think." He outlined what targets were to be bombed -- not just nuclear, but security and economic centres. "Iran is much more vulnerable than people realise," he stated casually. Arad, like most Israeli officials, wants war, even if such a war would complicate America's regional involvement and cost it innumerable human lives, notwithstanding a foreseeable large number of dead Iranians. It would matter little to Israel, however, for a chaotic Iran, like a chaotic Iraq, is just another opportunity to be exploited, and another "threat" to be checked off Israel's security list.

While proxy relations are part and parcel of Middle East politics, even arrogant superpowers can find themselves exploited, wittingly or not."

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