x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Europe should break with US on Israel

Through the statements of these two senior EU envoys, Europe is compelled to adopt a more independent approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"Chris Patten, the European commissioner for external affairs, was impartial, far-sighted and bold when he called on the European Union to rid itself of US hegemony and adopt a more resolute stance towards the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," opined Mazen Hammad in the comment section of the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. Mr Patten was also frank when, in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, he described Israel's policy in Gaza as illegal, inefficient and altogether an immoral failure. He also called for ending the isolation of Hamas after attempts to emasculate it have fallen short.

Mr Patten, who said he found it "easier to get into a maximum security prison in the UK than to enter Gaza", made his remarks after his visit to Gaza two days ago. One week earlier, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Catherine Ashton, also visited the Gaza Strip and spoke out against the Israeli-enforced embargo, saying that easing the blockade was insufficient. Indeed, through the statements of these two senior EU envoys, Europe is compelled to adopt a more independent approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, away from the shadow of "the American cloak". This may turn a new page in the EU's international diplomatic record, when the old continent can start setting its own objectives and implementing them without yielding to US pressure.

The mounting power of the Zionist movement on a global scale and the firm sway it has over American politics played a major part in the US president Barack Obama's accession to the presidency, writes Rakan al Majali in the opinion pages of the Jordanian newspaper Addustour. "There was a need for a figurehead successor to George W Bush who would give America a positive propaganda to cover up the atrocities and open aggressions perpetrated by the Bush administration [?] in the Middle East region in order to tip the existing power balance in favour of Israel," says the writer.

Since the assassination of John F Kennedy, successive American presidents, to prove their competence, had to outperform their predecessors in serving Israel's agendas. Kennedy's assassination brought Lyndon Johnson, who orchestrated the 1967 war and Israel's massive territorial expansion. Then, after the 1973 war, Nixon manoeuvered to bend settlement agreements to match Israel's terms. The Watergate scandal spelled his downfall and Carter came on board. He brokered the first Camp David accords, which officially took Egypt out of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Being a fervent supporter of the war against the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, President Reagan was no different. Then came Bush Sr, and the rest of the story is better known.

Even the staunchest ideologues of capitalism have acknowledged the global economic downturn, although they now maintain that the crisis has hit bottom and that the world economy is ready to rebound. On the other hand, more prudent experts, like George Soros and Warren Buffet, have repeatedly dismissed such views as overly optimistic and remind whoever will listen that real chances for a sustainable recovery are being stifled.

"In our region, the situation is far more complex than that," according to Abdul Jaleel al Nuaimi, a columnist with the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat. "Most of the talk is about an 'imported crisis'. No one mentions regional players who must be held accountable. And when matters get to the point where officials in financial institutions pay the price, the process is carried out with the utmost secrecy," the columnist notes.

Worse still, since the global recession broke out two years ago, the region's politicians and economists tried to "counter" it by either denying it altogether or, at best, professing the minimal impact it has had on the Gulf. Bucking the trend, the chairman of the Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait, Mourad Ali Mourad, admitted last week that the recession is still being felt in Bahrain and in the region's banking sector. "If not recognised first, no crises are solved," the writer asserts.

Sudanese elites, politicians and media all take it for granted that the secession of Southern Sudan is the certain outcome of the referendum due to be held early in 2011, comments Mohammed Fadel in the Emirati newspaper Al Bayan. The former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who heads the African Union's commission on Sudan, has already started putting forward propositions like "a two-state confederation" or "a free trade market" for when the southerners split from the north.

Similarly, the US envoy to Sudan, Gen Scott Gration, said the international community should be expecting the establishment of a new state in less than a year, despite warnings from a coalition of 24 rights groups against the dismantling of the largest country in Africa. Add to that, both northern and southern political leaders seem to be content with this prospective secession; to an extent, it serves their immediate interests.

Yet, in more realistic terms, the southern secession carries with it the serious threat of another civil war, not over tribal acrimony this time, but over oil. The complicated, strenuous and inevitable process of wealth sharing requires a level of patience and depth of vision that Sudanese politicians have repeatedly proved they lacked. * Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi @Email:aelbahi@thenational.ae