Monday, November 26, 2007

Leaders Gather in Annapolis for U.S.-Sponsored Middle East Summit, Hamas Not Invited

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

A Good Interview

".......Phyllis Bennis is a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies, where she focuses on US Middle East policy. Her most recent book is Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer. She joins us now from Washington, D.C.

Phyllis Bennis, what do you expect to happen at this summit?

PHYLLIS BENNIS: Very little, Amy. I think there has been a great successful effort at tamping down expectations. But what has not been clarified is that the real goal of these meetings also have very little to do with actually reaching a just and comprehensive and lasting peace, which of course requires ending Israeli occupation and ending Israel’s policies of apartheid and discrimination.

There are two real goals for this meeting; neither of them have really anything to do with Palestinian rights, a Palestinian state, Israeli security or anything else. They are, number one, to shore up Arab States’ support for the US crusades against Iran and Iraq in the region, and, two, to rebuild Condoleezza Rice's legacy, which right now is grounded in her being the person who stood before the world in the summer of 2006, as Israeli bombs were devastating Lebanon, and said, “We don’t need a ceasefire yet.” She wants to change that. That’s a huge part of why this meeting is going forward.....

PHYLLIS BENNIS: Well, on the question of Lebanon, the political crisis is very strong. There is no agreement yet on -- between the two almost-equal factions in the government about how to choose the successor to President Lahoud, who just resigned at the end of his term. There are new negotiations scheduled for this coming weekend. But it does mean that Lebanon, even if other parties are discussing it -- for example, the Syrians or the Israelis -- the Lebanese are not in a position to play much of a role at this conference. I assume they will send an official delegation, but it will be understood that it will not be a delegation that is authorized to speak in any definitive way.

The question of Iran, of course, is very central. Even European diplomats, even the Israeli Meretz Party and many others around the world, are acknowledging that this summit has more to do with Iran than it does with the Palestinians. This is a summit designed to shore up Arab States’ support for the US escalations against Iran. This is a situation in which most Arab regimes would be only too happy to jump into the US -- to jump into bed with the US in attacking Iran. The problem is that the Arab people in all those Arab countries are not so keen on that, do not see Iran as a major enemy. So, in order to gain political credibility at home and avoid being overthrown, in some cases, those governments need to be able to give their people something. The US is essentially throwing them a bone, saying, “Here, give your people this, so that you can come onboard our anti-Iran crusade and stay onboard our war in Iraq.” The bone they are throwing to the Arab regimes is this photo op in Annapolis."

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