Friday, January 6, 2012

Being Nice to the King

Abu Mazen Hopes

Last week, Israel and the Palestinians met in Amman at the behest of His Royal Highness and under the aegis of the Quartet.

This rather satirical command performance was justified as an act of courtesy for HRH, the King of Jordan, Abdullah. The King had urged the Palestinians to come by and say hello because of, or in spite of the fact that Tony Blair, that great friend of the Palestinians, will be there. And oh, almost by chance, Bibi’s emissary to the Palestinians, Advocate Molcho, will also be there. Who could refuse to honor the King in these difficult days.

In Amman, the farce ended with cynical smiles. No breakthrough.

It was just another exercise in futility. But, strangely, or not so strangely, Western diplomacy was awash with greetings on the successful resumption of talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. You did not have to be of a suspicious nature to see that the US, the Quartet and Molcho’s boss were laying a trap for the Palestinians.

And lo and behold, another meeting is going to take place this week as part of the resumption of talks with the Palestinians. And without any connection to the results of this week’s meetings, we learn that “exploratory talks” are going to go on for the whole month. The Palestinian News Agency Ma’an reports (4/1/12) that Abu Mazen “hopes that the meetings will revive peace talks.”

It is well known that you can fool all of the people some of the time, but it sure looks like the only ones being fooled here are the people around Abu Mazen. And they are, sadly enough, once again a sorry spectacle. Israel and its allies are touting a Palestinian return to genuine negotiations. The Palestinian leadership, which can only lose by this tricky attempt to confuse the public, including its own people, is characteristically confused and inefficient. One must hope that it is nothing worse than this.

Pity the Poor Egyptian Generals

They have been forced, literally forced into bringing Mubarek to trial - unable otherwise to escape the mass wrath of the Egyptian people. It is no accident that when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) hear the prosecution demand the death sentence for Mubarek, the generals can feel an impending noose tighten around their own necks. Just a month ago, they were clearly responsible for giving orders to assassinate tens of protesters, and wounding hundreds, i.e., orders identical to those issued by their former leader and colleague, Husni Mubarek. Same crime, same criminals.

The election of a new parliament where the tone is going to be set by the Moslem Brotherhood is a foregone conclusion. This will create a totally unbelievable situation. The Army (SCAF) does not intend to forfeit their entrenched control of the country. But they do need someone to promise them immunity. The Brotherhood are fully aware of SCAP’s difficulties. Their own ranks have provided no few victims and fatalities during the long night of Mubarek’s absolute reign. It remains to see whether the Brotherhood will ignore its own martyrs to cut a deal with SCAF.

Underreporting Unpleasant News

Death and destruction still haunt the streets of Tripoli. The various armed bands that made up the rebel army have not disbanded and are in no hurry to do so. As far back as November, there were clashes at a Tripoli hospital. This month, hundred of fighters in Benghazi are demanding their salaries. This week, four dead and more wounded resulted from a clash between Misrata and Tripoli rebel groups over control of a particular building in Tripoli. The different contingents of fighters, instead of going home quietly, have their eye on sharing $100 million in assets in the process of being unfrozen. Will Libya, “rescued” by the West have to undergo a fate similar to that of “liberated “Iraq?