(Arabs) have chosen the U.S. as an arbitrator, but never gave up the symbols of the times when we perceived it as an adversary. We did not give up the ministries of information, the central committees and the politburos... We might even add: it was not us who ousted Saddam Hussein. We are not in favor of replacing Yasser Arafat with the likes of Abu Mazen. We are all prepared to stand firm by Syria, according to its own terms.
Hazem Saghieh, Dar Al-Hayat, 2003/04/19
There can be no settlement in the Middle East under Sharon. This is half of the truth-impasse. The other half involves the Arabs' responsibility, and has nothing to do with the current White House administration, despite the fact that this is the first time the Arabs have had to face two successive administrations that are so extreme.
But where does our responsibility lie? Regardless of the nature of the U.S. administration, the Arabs have yet to answer the question: is the U.S. an enemy, or a mediator and arbitrator?
If it is an enemy, as we used to say during the Cold War (the Zionist-imperialist alliance), we should not be surprised by its support for Israel. We should prepare ourselves for a relentless resistance.
But if it is an arbitrator, as we have been demanding it to be after the Cold War, we cannot hold on to the Cold War's structures, which were established in times of confrontation. In other words, those Arab politicians who are an extension of Brezhnev and Honecker cannot remain in place...
We also have to identify what exactly we want. In other words: we have chosen the U.S. as an arbitrator, but never gave up the symbols of the times when we perceived it as an adversary. We did not give up the ministries of information, the central committees and the politburos. We brought in a country like Lebanon into the Cold War structure, just as it was coming to a close. By doing so, we appeared as if we were refusing to pay the cost for our defeat in the Cold War - the defeat of our Soviet partner, and our defeats in the war against Israel.
We might even add: it was not us who ousted Saddam Hussein. We are not in favor of replacing Yasser Arafat with the likes of Abu Mazen. We are all prepared to stand firm by Syria, according to its own terms.
Incidentally: if we take an overview of the region, we will find that the Clintonian America made it easy for us to pay the price of defeat. It drove Israel to reach a peaceful settlement with the Arafat leadership. It seemed, at the time, that the drive that resulted from the Gulf war will be used in Palestine instead of Iraq: there was Madrid, and then Oslo. But then came the second intifada. Focus on Iraq came only as the result of the failure of the (reasonable and deferred) investment on the Palestinian-Israeli front. True, those who became the Pentagon hawks had already expressed the Iraqi priorities. But it is also true that it only became the American policy after the end of the Clintonian era and the collapse of Oslo (in addition to 9/11 and the rise of Bush to presidency). Even in Iraq, the war was a by-product of the inspections' collapse. Saddam evicted the inspectors, but the extent of Arab hostility towards them was obvious. We also refused to pay, there as well, any price for the Cold War. We went even further: just as we tried to reinforce the situation in Palestine, Abu Ammar's authority, by holding steadfast in the Iraqi Saddam Hussein's regime, we also tried to reinforce the Iraqi situation with the Palestinian suffering. Thus, we never said that Saddam's regime deserved to be punished because it waged two wars against its neighbors. All we said was that it was being punished and that the Arabs, i.e., the Palestinians, were the victims.
In the meantime, other developments took place, which preceded this overwhelming offensive. America under Clinton did not hide its joy, for with the 'new generation' of son-rulers, it is hoping that change could come out of continuity.
Moreover, it did not hide its joy with Mohammad Khatami becoming president of Iran. But what practically happened here and there?
Our attitude contributed to seeing the Bush tendencies overcome Clinton's administration. Our conclusion: those who didn't want to pay for their defeat in the Cold War may implicate every one in heated wars. They may make us all victims of the aggressiveness that dominates the Pentagon. Look at Iraq. To the chances of a Palestinian civil strife. To the possibilities of an Israeli aggression against Syria or the Palestinians. But on the other hand, look at the makeup of the recent Lebanese government, where old tendencies continue to prevail as always...
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