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America's "Divide and Rule" Strategies in the Middle East

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Global Research, January 25, 2008



The Presidential Tour of George W. Bush to the Middle East: A New
Cold War?

In 1946, Winston Churchill delivered his "Iron Curtain" speech in
Missouri that helped set the rhetorical stance for the rivalry
between the two camps or poles respectively formed by the Soviet
Union and the United States after the Second World War.

Starting in 2006, the Middle East has been depicted in a similar way
by the White House and 10 Downing Street. In the end, history will
decide and give its verdict on the miniature version of the Cold War
now unfolding in the Middle East.

It is no secret that the 2008 presidential tour of George W. Bush Jr.
to the Middle East is more about rallying hostility and antagonism
against Iran and those forces resisting Washington's political and
socio-economic curriculum for the Middle East. The U.S. President's
tour is part of an exhorted effort to replace Israel with a vilified
Iran as a looming threat to the Arab World. This undertaking which is
part of America's Project for a "New Middle East" was initiated after
Israel's war against Lebanon in July of 2006.

Balkanization and the Muslim Divide: Shiite Muslims versus Sunni
Muslims

In relationship to the preparations for creating the "New Middle
East" there have been attempts, with partial success, to deliberately
create divisions within the populations of the Middle East and
Central Asia through ethno-cultural, religious, sectarian, national,
and political differentiations.

Aside from fuelling ethnic tensions, such as those between Kurds and
Arabs in Iraq, a sectarian divide is being deliberately cultivated
within the ranks of the people of the Middle East which consider
themselves Muslims. This divide is being fostered between Shiite and
Sunni Muslims.

These divisions have been fuelled by the U.S., British, and Israeli
intelligence apparatus. The intelligence agencies of Arab regimes
within the Anglo-American orbit have also been involved in the
construction of these divisions. This divide is also being cultivated
with the help of various groups and leaders in these respective
communities.

Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the rulers of the Arab League
countries were aware that the U.S. and Britain intended to redraw the
borders of the Middle East. It was openly mentioned at the summit of
Arab rulers being held in Egypt prior to the Anglo-American invasion.
The interests of many of the corrupt Arab elites, the self-proclaimed
cream of the crop within the Arab World, and autocratic Arab
authorities have historically convened and adhered to Anglo-American
and Franco-German political and socio-economic interests.

The House of Saud, the Hariri clan of Lebanon, and the absolute
rulers established throughout the Arab World all share common
financial and economic links with the Project for the "New Middle
East." They have a vested interest in the promotion of the economic
and political model that the U.S. wishes to entrench in the Middle
East.

The "Shia Crescent" and the Phantom Iranian Conquest of the Middle
East

To create hostility within the Muslim populations of the Middle East,
Iran is being portrayed as the vanguard of Shia or Shiite
expansionism in the region, vis--vis the so-called "Shia Crescent,"
and Saudi Arabia portrayed as the champion of the Sunni Muslims.

The truth of the matter is that Iran does not represent all the
Shiite Muslims nor does Saudi Arabia represent all the Sunni Muslims;
these efforts are part of the politicizing of religious faith, which
serves U.S. foreign policy goals. It also contributes to misleading
public opinion throughout the Middle East.

This animosity between peoples of Muslim faith and the populations of
the Middle East has been created to justify animosity against Iran
and those perceived to be in the same camp as Iran, such as Syria and
Hezbollah.

Arab leaders also have an easier time controlling their populations
when they are fighting against each other and are consequently
weakened as a result of sectarian and ethnic divisions. The latter
also create confusion within the various populations, distract them
from their problems at home, and projects their animosity towards
their leaders on others. Fear or anger towards the "Other" or
the "Outsider" has always been a form of manipulating large groups
and whole segments of societies.

With the peoples of the region divided against each other, their
resources can be controlled and they themselves governed and further
manipulated with greater ease. This has been part of the objective of
British and American foreign policy all along. In this effort, local
rulers and foreign forces have been partners.

"The Coalition of the Moderate" in the Mid-East and the manipulation
of the Arabs

"We [Israel] must clandestinely cooperate with Saudi Arabia so that
it also persuades the U.S. to strike Iran."

-Brigadier-General Oded Tira, Israeli Military

"Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do
it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you
are to help them, not to win it for them." The historical context of
this statement is very significant. This admission was made during
the First World War in the Middle East when the British were fighting
against the Ottoman Turks with the help of the Ottoman's rebellious
Arab subjects. The Arab's help was insured through false promises and
London's deception. What was being revealed by this interlocutor of
British policy was British forces should not do most the active
fighting in the Middle East and let the Arabs fight Britain's war
against the Turks.

Revealing the author, these were the words of a man who has been
inscribed into the pages of history as a legendary figure and as a
hero to the Arabs. In reality he was an agent of British imperialism
that misled the Arabs with the help of of corrupt local leaders. His
name was Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence or, as most people
know him, "Lawrence of Arabia."

The 27 Articles of T.E. Lawrence (August 20, 1917) is where these
words can be found for all to scrutinize. Thus started the road down
to the modern entanglement of the Arab masses to colonial masters and
handpicked Western vassals.

Some may argue that the British were helping the Arabs gain autonomy,
but history shows this to be an absolute lie. London was furthering
its own interests and it had been a geo-strategic objective of theirs
to divide the Ottoman Empire up regardless of the fact that that
there was a war with the Ottomans and the Central Powers.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement reveals this as does the creation of
British and French mandates in the place of what were supposed to be
independent Arab nations. It should also be noted that all the major
problems in the Middle East are rooted in this period from the
Armenian Genocide, the Kurdish Question, and the Arab-Israeli
Conflict, to the issue of Cyprus and the territorial disputes of the
Persian Gulf and the Levant.

The Arab elites are being marshaled into formation yet again to do
the dirty work of foreign powers. Once again, Arab leaders are also
accessories to the agenda of foreigners in the Middle East against
their own people.

Links between the U.A.E. Speeches of Messrs Bush and Blair: Dividing
the Mid-East into Camps

The "us and them" mentality is being lodged into the mindset of
Middle Easterners in regards to themselves. The ancient region is
being divided into two camps by the White House and its partners.

After the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon in July 2006, Condoleezza
Rice the U.S. Secretary of State and others such as Tony Blair
started this venture by categorized the Middle East into two
groupings. Those in the Middle East that fell into the Anglo-American
camp and colluded with Israel were described as "moderates"
and "reformers" and as part of what became called the "Coalition of
the Moderate." It is also around this time that the Pentagon
announced its plans to arm Israel, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Arab
regimes allied to the U.S. and Britain.

Those in the Middle East who either opposed foreign intervention and
hegemony in the region, either because of their own agenda or because
of the right for self-determination, were labeled "extremists"
and "rejectionists." [1] These anti-hegemonic forces in the Middle
East were categorized as members of the "other camp" even though in
some cases they had no links aside from fighting foreign tutelage.
This latter camp includes the Iraqi Resistance, Hamas, and Iran,
amongst others.

There is an obvious theme in the underlying rhetoric of the December
2006 and January 2008 Middle East policy speeches of Tony Blair and
George W. Bush. Both were presented in the U.A.E. and held almost
exactly a year apart. Both speeches depict a bloc of radicals in the
Middle East led by Iran and both speeches attempt to divide the
Middle East into two opposing blocs.

It was soon after the disastrous 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon
that Tony Blair, in line with Condoleezza Rice, subtly called for "an
alliance of moderation in the region and outside of it to defeat the
extremists." [2] While in Dubai the former British prime minister
called Iran a "strategic challenge," which according to Paul
Reynolds, an international affairs correspondent, was a replacement
for the words "strategic threat" from his original speech read in
California. He also replaced the words "trying to acquire a nuclear
weapon" with "trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability." [3] This
obvious change in word selection was because the people of the
countries living next to Iran know better and would not have taken
Tony Blair's speech seriously.

This was simply the beginning of the public revelation of the
alliance system that already informally subsisted in the Middle East.
Tony Blair's U.A.E. speech was another stage in the media phase of
the war effort that includes the preparation of the general public
for confrontation in the Middle East. It was also part of the attempt
to turn the conflict into one of ideas and an ideological one like
the Cold War.

The U.A.E. and Israel as models for the "New Middle East"
By the start of 2008, the White House and its allies have ceased
their insincere chatter about democratization in the Middle East,
except in the case of Iran where it is mentioned ad nauseam. This
sidesteps the reality that Iran holds democratic elections and that
Iran is a far less inhibited state than any of America's Arab
sponsored regimes. Democracy has never been a goal for the U.S. in
the Middle East, especially in regards to its own set of autocratic
and dictatorial allies.

The White House is promoting two models on two different levels in
the Middle East as a part of its regional project. One is the latent
model of Israel as a homogenous nation. The second model, which is
openly promoted, is the Khaliji (Gulf) model or that of the Arab
Sheikhdoms that form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the
Persian Gulf littoral. The Khaliji model applies in particular to the
U.A.E. and one of its seven emirates, Dubai, as its embodiment.
Israel is the socio-political model for the Middle East, whereas
Dubai is the socio-economic model for the Middle East. Both models
also bare staggering social ramifications.

The Israeli model, which is being moved forward is not based on any
democratic values, quite the opposite. It is predicated on
ethnocentrism and discrimination. The Middle East is being
reconfigured in Israel's image as a region with homogenous states and
this is evident in Iraq and a reason for the tensions being fanned by
foreign influence in the multi-confessional Lebanese Republic. Just
as Israel is considered the "Jewish State" the Project for the "New
Middle East" wants to establish a whole series of single-identity
states in the ancient region.

The socio-economic model of Dubai and the GCC is based on a vertical
mosaic, in the tradition of John A. Porter's The Vertical Mosaic: An
Analysis of Social Class and Power in Canada, where ethnicity,
heredity, and origins play a role in individual status and its system
in itself is a reconstruction of the caste system of India.

Dubai is a place that is rabid with the exploitation of foreign
workers and nationals and is infamous for the institutionalization of
gross inequities and immorality. Local laws are made to only benefit
the privileged and powerful, while the poor are suppressed. Money
laundering and prostitution are also far spread in Dubai and the
U.A.E. is a modern Sodom and Gomorrah.

Israel, NATO, and the Arab Regimes: A Nexus against Resistance
The House of Saud and Saudi Arabia have emerged as the main force in
configuring a public embracement between Israel and the Arab World
under the auspices of the 2002 Arab Initiative. [4] This Saudi-
proposed initiative is deeply tied to the Project for a "New Middle
East" and allows Israel to integrate its economy with that of the
Arab World and allows for the creation of an alliance between Israel
and the Arab regimes against any forces in the Middle East resisting
America, its allies, and more importantly their political and socio-
economic model.

Despite King Abdullah's speech in Riyadh during the March 2007 Arab
League Summit, Saudi Arabia has officially opposed any end to the
Anglo-American occupation of Iraq and the withdrawal of foreign
troops from Iraq under the pretext that the Iraqi Shiites and the
Iranians will kill the Iraqi Sunnis.

A representative of the Saudi Monarchy, quoting Prince Turki Al-
Faisal, informed the U.S. press that, "Since America came into
[meaning invaded] Iraq uninvited, it should not leave [end the Anglo-
American occupation] uninvited," and rhetorically added that "If it
[the U.S.] does [withdraw its troops from Iraq], one of the first
consequences will be a massive Saudi intervention to stop Iranian-
backed Shia militias from butchering Iraqi Sunnis." [5]
Israel has always considered the leaders of Jordan as important
assets and allies to pacify the Arabs. On April 18, 2007 King
Abdullah II of Jordan reconfirmed this publicly known Israeli secret.
King Abdullah II told a visiting Israeli delegation that Jordan and
Israel were allies, emphasizing that he not only spoke for the
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan but for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Arab
Sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf. [6]

The Jordanian King narrated to Dalia Itzik, Acting Israeli
President, Tzachi Hanegbi, the Chairman of the Israeli Foreign
Affairs and Defence Committee, and other Israeli officials that "we
[Arab rulers and Israel] are in the same boat; we have the same
problem [the forces of resistance in the region]. We have the same
enemies [Syria, Iran, the Palestinians, and Lebanon]." [7]

It is worth noting that the Saudi government and the Arab leaders of
Egypt, Jordan, and the Arab Sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf were fully
involved, covertly and/or overtly, in the 1991 Gulf War and in the
2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. These rulers also played major
roles in the Iraq-Iran War and the economic warfare against Iraq
which prodded Iraq into invading Kuwait for economic relief after its
bitter war with Iran.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are all firmly in the Anglo-American
camp. They are part of the extended international military network
controlled by the United States. They are already members of the
coalition that has been formed against Iran, Syria, and those forces
that have allied themselves with Tehran and Damascus. [8] To varying
degrees these Arab states are also allied with Israel and NATO. All
of these Arab governments that are labeled as "pro-Western" or "pro-
American" also have bilateral military and security ties and
agreements with the United States or Britain and NATO. However, it is
not certain that these states will stay by the side of Washington,
D.C. and London.

Turning the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf into NATO Lakes
NATO is expanding, but not only in Europe and the former Soviet
Union. There have been longstanding plans to turn the Mediterranean
into a permanent "NATO lake" and an arena closely linked to the
European Union. The Russian naval build-up in the Eastern
Mediterranean and off the Syrian coast is a move to challenge this
process.

Several Arab regimes have had agreements and military arrangements
with NATO through NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue (established in 1995)
for over a decade. Amongst them are Egypt and Jordan. These are the
Arab nations that border the Mediterranean or are in close proximity
to it. While on the other hand, the Arab Sheikhdoms of the Persian
Gulf have lately entered into arrangements with NATO. For example,
Kuwait recently signed security agreements with NATO and effectively
opening the door for NATO entrance into the Persian Gulf.

The GCC agreements underway with NATO are effectively an extension of
the Mediterranean Dialogue and NATO expansion eastwards. The shift to
create a Gulf common market similar to the E.U. and a Mediterranean
Union are also linked to NATO expansion and the project to
permanently compel the Washington Consensus on the Middle East and
the Arab World

The expansion of a mandate for NATO in the Persian Gulf has been in
motion for years and has followed behind NATO's objectives in the
Mediterranean Sea. NATO influence in the Persian Gulf effectively
allows the area to fall under the joint management of Franco-German
and Anglo-American interests. It is no coincidence that Nicholas
Sarkozy started his presidential tour of the Middle East in the same
window of time as the U.S. President nor is it a twist of fate that
France and the U.A.E. signed an agreement on January 15, 2008
allowing France to establish a permanent military base in U.A.E.
territory on the shores of the Persian Gulf. [9]

The Real Divisions in the Middle East: Indigenous Forces versus
Foreign Clients

In Palestine, during past demonstrations in 2006, the press reported
that small groups of Fatah supporters chanted "Shia, Shia, Shia" in
mockery of Hamas because of its political links to Tehran, because
Iran is a predominately Shiite Muslim country.[10] This was a dismal
sign of the growing animosity that has been inseminated in the Middle
East. Yet, it also reflects that the divisions in the Middle East,
such as the Shiite-Sunni divide, are manufactured and artificially
engineered.

Hamas, like Syria, is Sunni Muslim in identity and it is allied with
Iran, which is predominately Shiite Muslim. This alliance clearly
demonstrates that the real divisions in the Middle East are not based
on religious or ethnic affinity or differences. Similarly, in Lebanon
the forces of resistance are Muslim, Christian, and Druze and not
just Hezbollah or Lebanon's Shiite Muslims as is often described in
the Western media.

In reality, the regional differences in the Middle East are between
the independent and indigenous forces, regardless of religion,
politics, and/or ethnicity, in the region and the client forces and
governments in the region that serve Anglo-American and Franco-German
foreign policy and economic interests.

The Resistance Bloc

"As Lord Chatham said, when he was speaking on the British presence
in North America, he said `if I was an American, as I am an
Englishman, as long as one Englishman remained on American native
soil, I would never, never, never lay down my arms.'"

To generalize, the independent and indigenous forces of the Middle
East are:

.1. Most of the various Palestinian fractions. This included the
Palestinian Authority under Hamas before the Mecca Accord and the
truce that was reached with Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah;
.2. The Lebanese Resistance and National Opposition in Lebanon, which
is a combination of Muslims, Druze, and Christians;
.3. The Iraqi Resistance, which is a genuine series of diverse
peoples' movements that reflects the will of the Iraqi people(s);
.4. Syria;
.5. Iran, which is both a rival and the centre of the organized
political and state-levels of resistance.
People-based Resistance and State-based Resistance
The forces of resistance in the Middle East and neighbouring
Afghanistan can be classified as being either a peoples' resistance
or being a state-level force of resistance. However, there is a third
and hybrid category.
Iraq and Afghanistan both purely represent peoples' resistance
movements. Iran and Syria, for whatever rationale (good and bad),
represent cases of state-level centres of resistance to the U.S.,
NATO, and Israel. Sudan also falls into this category.

The forces of resistance in Palestine and Lebanon fall in between
these two categories as a mixture of state-level and people-based
resistance. In close proximity to the Middle East in the Horn of
Africa, Somalia is a debatable case, but is also an authentic centre
of resistance against foreign control that is linked to the struggle
to reconfigure the Middle East.

The forces of resistance in Lebanon and Palestine are also
distinctive in that they are also locked in internal or domestic
struggles between client and co-opted forces serving the Anglo-
American, Franco-German, and Israeli agenda in the Middle East.
The involvement of a whole nation's assets is obviously one of the
major differences between the state-level centres of resistance, such
as Iran, and the peoples' movements of resistance that is
disenfranchised from governing, such as in Iraq. However, wherever
there is a greater amount of foreign military subjugation the forces
of resistance are stronger and spring from the support of the local
populaces. The heavy casualties that the U.S., Britain, and NATO are
facing in Iraq and Afghanistan are because of the will of the
peoples' and their resistance.

Struggles across the Mid-East: The "Coalition of the Moderate" versus
the Resistance Bloc

The existing divisions between the independent and indigenous forces
of the Middle East and those aligned within the Anglo-American orbit
are represented by the following:

.1. The struggle between Hamas and its allies with Israel, Fatah, and
their allies in the Palestinian Territories;
.2. The ongoing struggle between the Iraqi Resistance, which is
essentially the Iraqi people, with the U.S. and Coalition forces over
the occupation of Iraq;
.3. The political face-off between the Lebanese National Opposition
(the majority in Lebanon) and the Lebanese governing parties (the
minority in Lebanon);
.4. The clash over Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq taking place between
Syria and both NATO powers and their Arab clients;
.5. And finally the many bitter regional and international rows
between Iran and the United States, which includes the Iranian
nuclear energy program and Iraq.

The Bush Tour: War Drums, Resistance, and the "New Middle East"

"One cause of instability is the extremists supported and embodied by
the regime that sits in Tehran. Iran is today the world's leading
state sponsor of terror. It sends hundreds of millions of dollars to
extremists around the world -- while its own people face repression
and economic hardship at home. It undermines Lebanese hopes for peace
by arming and aiding the terrorist group Hezbollah. It subverts the
hopes for peace in other parts of the region by funding terrorist
groups like Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad. It sends arms to
the Taliban in Afghanistan and Shia militants in Iraq. It seeks to
intimidate its neighbors with ballistic missiles and bellicose
rhetoric. And finally, it defies the United Nations and destabilizes
the region by refusing to be open and transparent about its nuclear
programs and ambitions. Iran's actions threaten the security of
nations everywhere. So the United States is strengthening our
longstanding security commitments with our friends in the Gulf -- and
rallying friends around the world to confront this danger before it
is too late."

-George W. Bush Jr., 43rd President of the United States (Speech
in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, January 13, 2008)

It is no secret that the main purpose of the U.S. presidential tour
of the Middle East was to raise opposition against Iran and anyone
resisting the "New Middle East." Almost immediately, Syria claimed
that the presidential Middle Eastern tour of George W. Bush Jr. was
mostly made to try and further isolate Syria and orchestrate a future
war scenario against Iran. [11]

The U.S. President's tour of the Middle East came at a time when the
U.S. Navy made false claims about threats being made by Iranian
Revolutionary Guard speedboats in the Persian Gulf.

After the U.S. Navy withdrew its allegations the U.S. President
stated that if any thing negative should happen to U.S. warships in
the region it would be Tehran that would be held responsible.

At the same time there was a bombing in Beirut that was directed
against the American embassy. The bombing in Beirut could have been
staged, just as the U.S. Navy's claims were fictitious, to justify
the U.S. President's position against Iran and the Resistance Bloc.
In addition, reports were released from Israel about an Iranian-made
rocket being fired from the Gaza Strip by the Palestinians during the
U.S. President's tour of the Middle East.

In 2007, the Syrian President while in Deir ez-Zor, on the eve of an
important conference on Iraq in Sharm el-Sheikh in which Condoleeza
Rice publicly initiated contact with the foreign ministers of Syria
and Iran, warned his countrymen that "Syria, the Arab region and the
Middle East are going through a dangerous period. Destructive
colonial projects are seeking to divide and reshape our region
creating a new Sykes-Picot [Agreement]." [12]

Abdel Al-Bari Atouani, a noted Palestinian figure and the editor-in-
chief of the Al-Qods Al-Arabi in London, warned in a televised
interview with ANB TV in early-February, 2007 that the U.S. is
exploiting the Arab countries through their governments as the
firewood to wage a war against Iran and its allies in the Middle
East.

The Jerusalem Post, in sequence with the U.S. President's arrival in
Saudi Arabia from the U.A.E., released statements from an unnamed
senior Palestinian official from the West Bank claiming that "Syria
and Iran have stepped up their efforts to overthrow Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his ruling Fatah party." [13]
The claims were compiled by Khaled Abu Toameh and also brought to
light the political gathering of a large array of Palestinian
political parties (referred to by Abu Toameh as "radical groups")
that will be hosted by the Syrians in Damascus.

Not surprisingly, Khaled Abu Toameh's article failed to point out
that the Palestinian government running the West Bank is illegitimate
and follows the orders of Mahmoud Abbas instead of a popularly
elected Palestinian prime minister. The Palestinians gathering in
Damascus will study ways to make the Palestinian Liberation
Organization (PLO) more inclusive and representative of mainstream
Palestinian desires instead of the edicts of Mahmoud Abbas and a few
other individuals that run portions of the West Bank as personal
fiefdoms with Israel and the White House as their overlords.

In Lebanon, a newspaper affiliated with the Hariri family and its
political allies also started to toe the American-led campaign line
to demonize Iran. An-Nahar, the newspaper once edited by the slain
Lebanese parliamentarian Gebran Tueni, stated in an opinion piece by
Ali Hamade that the Arab League must pressure Tehran for a settlement
in Lebanon and it is in Iran that the path lies to a Lebanese
settlement or towards confrontation "if developments [in the Middle
East] headed towards a confrontation with the Iranian imperial agenda
for the Arab East."

The Oval Office, the Establishment, and Anglo-American Foreign Policy
in the Middle East

U.S. and British foreign policies are more about the objectives of
the Anglo-American establishment than the distinctiveness of the
individuals that hold the office of American president and British
prime minister. This reality has been confirmed in the course of the
election campaign by the potential successors of George W. Bush Jr.,
Democrats and Republicans alike.

Aside from a few individuals who represent the true aspirations of
the American people, the majority of presidential contenders in the
U.S. are talking about a virtual continuation of the military
policies of the Bush Jr. Administration.

John McCain has talked about attacking Lebanon and Syria. [14]

Hilary Clinton wants a permanent occupation of Iraq or a "post-
occupation phase" as U.S. officials decadently call it and she has
threatened Iran.

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, has made it clear
he intends to mirror the Bush Jr. Administration and that he does not
intent to recognize a Palestinian state and that he would use nuclear
weapons against a non-nuclear Iran.

The era of wars will not be over with the departure of George W. Bush
Jr. and Vice-President Cheney from the White House.

The problem is deeper and more complicated than the persona of one
man and his cabinet. George W. Bush Jr. is only a figurehead in the
mechanisms of a larger machine; he represents the establishment but
he alone or his cabinet do not steer the helm of U.S. foreign policy.
Important Questions: The Nature of Cooperation and Rivalry between
America, Iran, and Syria

Our reality is a far more complicated one. Once upon a time, before
coming to power, Hamas used to collaborate with Israel against Yasser
Arafat's Fatah.

The Christian Science Monitor made a good point in an article by Marc
Lynch: "`Everywhere you turn, it is the policy of Iran to foment
instability and chaos,' Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned Gulf
dignitaries in Bahrain last month [December, 2007]. But in reality,
everywhere you turn, from Qatar to Saudi Arabia to Egypt, you now see
Iranian leaders shattering longstanding taboos by meeting cordially
with their Arab counterparts." [15]

In fact the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was invited to
the important GCC Summit in the Qatari capital, Doha, which discussed
the economic integration of the Persian Gulf and GCC-Iranian
cooperation. Iran, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia also were making
public shows of drawing closer even before the gathering in Doha,
which included military and economic agreements between Oman and Iran.

Cairo and Tehran have also publicly opened the door for the full
normalization of diplomatic relations. What develops in Egyptian-
Iranian relations is yet to be seen. Iran is also making further
economic and commercial inroads into both Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran
and Syria are also linking their energy infrastructure with Iraq and
also taking steps that undeniable assist the U.S. in Anglo-American
occupied Iraq.

The nomination of General Michel Sulaiman as the next Lebanese
president has also been called a concession to Syria for its
cooperation with the U.S. in Iraq and even for its attendance at the
Annapolis Summit.

However, if this is so then there are unanswered questions not only
about Syrian-American cooperation, but about the meeting between
David Welch, the U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Near Eastern
Affairs, and General Sulaiman before the fighting between Fatal Al-
Islam and the Lebanese Army erupted in 2007.

It is clear that there is an agenda to redraw the borders of the
Middle East in order to institute lasting economic policies that
benefit Anglo-American and Franco-German interests, along with their
Israeli bulldog in the Middle East.

The Syrians and the Iranians are well aware of the plans to divide
their home region and to play the peoples of the Middle East against
one another. Tehran and Damascus too have been guilty of playing the
same game for their own interests, but what America and its allies
envision is a far broader partition and reconfiguration of the Middle
East, which also places Syria and Iran in the sights of this historic
struggle.

The question here is: are these efforts to divide the Middle East
(into "moderates" and "radicals") part of a policy of containment, a
war strategy, or something far more sinister?

The intentions of people-based resistance movements like those of the
Iraqi Resistance are simple and mostly clear, but state-based
resistance if it can really be called that is often ambivalent in
its intent.

Are Iran and Syria genuinely resisting the "New Middle East" which in
the end serves the Washington Consensus? The ongoing economic reforms
including the privatization programs in both Iran and Syria suggest
that these countries are not totally opposed to the dominant neo-
liberal agenda, which characterises Washington's expansionary
policies. [16]

It is no sin to question motives, especially when circumstances call
for it, but it is a sin and a crime to mislead the masses. As
developments in the Middle East unfold, the political stance of Iran
and Syria will become clearer.

NOTES

[1] Jonathan Beale, Rice seeks Mid-East support on Iraq, British
Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), January 13, 2007.
[2] Paul Reynolds, Blair and the `strategic challenge' of Iran,
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), December 20, 2007.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Uzi Mahnaimi, Saudis lead Israel peace bid, The Times (U.K.),
December 3, 2006.
[5] Simon Tisdall, Iran v Saudis in battle of Beirut, The Guardian
(U.K.), December 5, 2006.
[6] Shahar Ilan, Jordan's Abdullah tells Israel: We share same
enemies, Haaretz, April 19, 2007.
The remarks were immediately denied by the Jordanian King once they
were circulated by the Israeli press. These denials are parallel to
the denials of the House of Saud about its diplomatic meetings and
negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Israel which were divulged as
true after the initial denials.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Anatole Kaletsky, An unholy alliance threatening catastrophe, The
Times (U.K.), January 4, 2007.
[9] Laurent Pirot, France Signs UAE Military Base Agreement,
Associated Press, January 12, 2008; Emmanuel Jarry, France, UAE sign
military, nuclear agreement, Reuters, January 15, 2008; Paul
Reynolds, French make serious move into Gulf, British Broadcasting
Corporation (BBC), January 15, 2008.
[10] Fatah, Hamas clash in Gaza after Abbas calls early elections,
Associated Press, December 16, 2006.
[11] Damascus slams Arab leaders for allowing Bush's `criticism of
Syria,' Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA)/ German Press Agency, January
14, 2008.
[12] Mazen and Thawra, President al-Assad says Arab Region passes
through new juncture, Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), April 30, 2007.
[13] Khaled Abu Toameh, Syria, Iran trying to overthrow Abbas, The
Jerusalem Post, January 15, 2008.
[14] Shani Rosenfelder, McCain: Disarm Hizbullah, tackle Assad, The
Jerusalem Post, August 9, 2007.
[15] Marc Lynch, Why U.S. strategy on Iran is crumbling: Gulf states
no longer want to isolate Iran, Christian Science Monitor, January 4,
2008.
[16] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging
America's Ambitions in Eurasia, Centre for Research on Globalization
(CRG), August 26, 2007; Julian Barnes-Dacey, Even with sanctions,
Syrians embrace KFC and Gap, Christian Science Monitor, January 11,
2008.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is an independent writer based in Ottawa
specializing in Middle Eastern affairs. He is a Research Associate of
the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

First published by Global Research, January 17, 2008

www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7816



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