News, June , 2007
The Condy Rice Vision of Democracy in the New Middle East: Maintaining the Israeli Occupation
By Hassan El-Najjar
ccun.org, June 25, 2007
The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice has not stopped amazing us about her vision of democracy in the "New Middle East."
Last year, she spoke of "the birth pangs of a new Middle East." Yesterday, she acknowledged that "democracy is hard." She was referring to the heavy blows received by the US-supported governments in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian occupied territories from their rivals.
So, what's Rice's vision of democracy? And to be fair, what's the Israeli vision of democracy in the Middle East, which is blindly adopted by US foreign policy executives, Republicans and Democrats alike?
For Israelis and their followers in the NATO countries, democracy in the Middle East should result in puppet governments and puppet rulers, who guard the Israeli and NATO interests.
It would be nice if these governments and rulers come as a result of elections, real or even phony. But it's the end of the world if elections result in bringing to power genuine representatives of the people, who guard their interests, not interests of others. In this case, Israelis and their followers in the West would rather have the dictatorial and autocratic puppet regimes stay in power, even without elections.
Let's take the Palestinian democratic experience, as an illustrative example for the above argument.
After Arafat and the PLO had returned to the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza, as a result of the Oslo agreement, in 1994, democratic elections were held in 1996. Observers from all over the world, including NATO countries, particularly from the Carter Center, testified that the elections were fair and democratic.
The Israelis and their supporters in the US-EU governments hailed the Palestinian democracy and claimed it as their baby. However, when the Israelis failed to live up to their obligations by 1999, and the Palestinians started demanding full Israeli withdrawal and the establishment of the Palestinian state, then Palestinians were classified as "terrorists" again.
The democratically-elected Arafat was stamped as a "terrorist" and was imprisoned inside his office until his death or assassination. The Palestinian territories were re-invaded by the Israeli occupation forces, which committed all kinds of war crimes and atrocities against the Palestinian people. The US-EU governments did nothing to stop these Israeli atrocities and war crimes. To the contrary, they supplied the Israeli occupation government with the money and the weapons it needed, in addition to supporting it in the UN, shielding it from international sanctions.
In 2002, in an effort to counter the effects of the Israeli massacre in Jenin, President Bush announced his intention to help establish an independent Palestinian state before he leaves office, in five years. It was nothing but a lip service. It would end the Israeli occupation and create peace in the Middle East and the world. But it is against the wishes of the Israelis and their supporters who have been dreaming and working for an Israeli empire dominating the region extending from the Nile to the Euphrates. We have never heard about this Bush idea again.
New elections were held in January 2006, in which Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian Parliament (PLC). The Israelis and their supporters in the US-EU governments expected that Fateh would stay in power, which meant that they were (and still are) out of touch with reality. People realized that the Fateh administration reached its peak and failed to put an end to the Israeli occupation. They turned to Hamas, as an alternative. It is that simple.
The fact that Hamas accepted to enter the political process should have been greeted gleefully by the Israelis and their followers in the US-EU governments, if they were really interested in peace. It meant that Hamas was willing to reach a peaceful settlement with the Israeli government. Actually, Hamas leaders announced that they delegated negotiations with the Israeli government to the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. They were willing to support any agreement he would reach with the Israelis if it would end the Israeli occupation and lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
However, the Israelis and their followers in the US-EU governments expressed disappointment from the first day. The Israeli occupation government announced that it would boycott the democratically-elected Hamas government. Moreover, it announced imposing an embargo and a regime of sanctions on the Palestinian people to punish them for daring to vote for Hamas. Identical announcements followed by US-EU governments.
For about a year and a half, the Palestinian people have been severely punished for exercising democracy. The Israeli occupation government withheld Palestinian tax revenues, which were used in paying the salaries of government employees. Money transfers were stopped from Arab and Muslim countries. The Palestinian economy was destroyed. The vast majority of the Palestinians became unemployed, living in destitute, waiting for food rations and hand outs from UN and NGO agencies and organizations.
Why did this happen?
Is it because Hamas has a military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, which resisted the Israeli occupation and used suicide bombing as a tactic?
Well, Fateh also has its military wing, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which also resisted the Israeli occupation and used the suicide bombing tactic?
Both organizations killed hundreds of Israelis. But what about the Israelis? Didn't they also kill thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians during the second Intifadha, 2000-2005? Aren't they still killing Palestinians on daily basis?
Then, what's the difference? Why did the Israelis and their followers reject the democratically-elected Hamas government?
Apparently, this has nothing to do with democracy. It has everything to do with the inability of the Israelis to control Hamas, which insists on ending the Israeli occupation and the establishment of the Palestinian state, something the Israelis have been avoiding by all kinds of tricks for the past forty years.
It is so sad that all what the US-EU governments care about is carrying out policies of the Israeli occupation government, even if it means giving a bad name to the Western-capitalist-type of government, called democracy.
Rice ... Again: Democracy Will Come to Middle East
Rice: Democracy Will Come to Middle East
By ANNE GEARAN AP Diplomatic Writer
Jun 25, 2007, 3:48 AM EDT
PARIS (AP) --
Nearly a year after she was ridiculed for calling a war in Lebanon "the birth pangs of a new Middle East," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is insisting democracy will come to the region whatever the setbacks.
In Paris for talks on the future of Sudan's ravaged Darfur region and a meeting with Lebanon's Western-backed premier (Saniora), Rice met Monday with new French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
On Sunday, she acknowledged the bad news coming from Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
"Democracy is hard, and I see it as especially hard when there are determined enemies who try and strangle it," Rice said when asked about the "birth pangs" remark during a news conference with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
Kouchner organized Monday's conference to speed deployment of about 20,000 new peacekeeping troops to Darfur, the vast, arid region where an estimated 200,000 have died in fighting between African rebels and militias backed by the Arab-led Sudanese government. The conflict has driven about 2.5 million from their homes.
(ccun.org: Darfur is rich in oil and uranium)
The Darfur session includes major powers with ties or influence in the eastern African country, but no representative of the Sudanese government. Kouchner said the meeting is supposed to "shake things up a bit," and is not peacemaking summit.
"I have seen firsthand the devastation and the difficult circumstances in which people live in Darfur, and I will be very frank," Rice said Sunday. "I do not think that the international community has really lived up to its responsibilities there."
Rice visited Darfur in 2005, spending an afternoon in a refugee camp. Kouchner, a Socialist doctor who co-founded the Nobel Prize-winning aid group Doctors Without Borders, has been to Darfur more frequently and more recently.
Rice's two-day Paris trip is a coming-out party for what the Bush administration hopes will be a happier relationship with the conservative Sarkozy after perceived slights and lectures from his predecessor, Jacques Chirac.
Rice welcomed a summit Monday between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Egypt, calling Arab support for embattled Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas more important than his Western backing. She acknowledged the difficulties Abbas has faced since his Islamic rivals, Hamas, won Palestinian elections last year.
(ccun.org: But Israel and its NATO supporters refused to support the new Palestinian democracy, just because Hamas won the elections. It's ridiculous for Israelis and their supporters to speak about democracy any more).
It will be the first meeting between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert since Abbas lost control to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and consolidated power under an emergency government in the West Bank.
Israel agreed Sunday to release desperately needed funds to Abbas. The gesture a day before the summit with leaders of Egypt, Israel and Jordan was meant to bolster him in his struggle with (the democratically-elected) Hamas.
The birth analogy caused anger and eye-rolling across the Middle East, and Rice has dropped it from her rhetoric. She had made the remark during a frantic shuttle diplomacy mission last summer that neither ended Israel's one-month war with Hizbullah resistance fighters in Lebanon nor helped the U.S. image as a go-between.
Questioned by Western and Arab reporters Sunday, Rice gave a forceful defense of the principle behind the words - that violence and hardship may be necessary to achieve freedom, and that the forces of moderation and democracy will win out against what Rice calls extremists.
Violence and fratricide have followed each of three U.S.-backed elections in the Middle East in the past three years - in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
"Yeah, it's really hard. It's hard for democracy to take hold in a place where it has not taken hold before, but I am confident about the triumph of these values because I've seen it before," Rice said.
"There is nothing wrong with the people of the Middle East," she added. "They can triumph and triumph democratically."
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