MID-EAST REALITIES © - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 8/03: The very idea that the Americans and the Brits, after their long history of treachery and deception in the Middle East, are now going to do something other than continue on in that tradition is rather ludicrous. All the current talk at the moment -- especially from the Europeans and the usually gullible "peace" and "human rights" NGOs -- about helping the Palestinians by sending them "observers" is indeed a fitting CIA response to the predicament the American government finds itself in at the moment.
On the one hand the U.S. clearly facilitates and sponsors Israeli policies, closely coordinating everything with them. Washington is dominated by the Israeli/Jewish lobby and its operatives, and Congress is essentially "Israeli Occupied Territory". On the other hand the Americans have to try to present themselves as at least somewhat "even-handed" in order to protect the American-sponsored Arab "client regimes" from the wrath of their own people, not to mention protecting the plentiful and cheap oil supplies that prop up the American way of life thanks to these regimes. Additionally the Americans are committed, partially on behalf of the Israelis, to keeping the Iraqis prostrate, Iran contained, and American military forces in control of the crucial Gulf area.
Now there's not really much "secret" to the "observers" approach anymore anyway, contrary to what one would think by a casual reading of today's article in The Guardian. First of all there already are official "international observers" in Hebron, unofficial ones elsewhere, and we all know how much good they have done the Palestinians! It was just a few years ago that the Americans presented the disastrous Hebron Agreement as a great breakthrough as well -- see http://www.MiddleEast.org/archives/hebron.htm for background information what happened then. Second of all if "observing" were all the "observers" were going to do there's already plenty of international media around and in this age of the Internet and instant video not much that actually happens where it can be "observed" is all that secret for long.
The actual secret plot masked by all this talk of "observers" probably goes something like this:
* Give the Israelis a little more time to knock off key Hamas leaders, push those involved in the Intifada and not under Arafat's full control far deeper underground both literally and figuratively, and eliminate or severely repress all those who might get in the way of new "arrangements" to be agreed to by Arafat or Abu Mazen or Rajoub (with Sha'ath continuing in his role as quasi-American and Arab-regime agent) in the guise of "implementing the Mitchell Report". Anyone who doesn't realize at this point that the Israelis are doing what they are doing with the clandestine help of both the CIA and Arafat's own key intelligence operatives just doesn't understand what this "peace process" has been all about from the start.
* Use the ruse of "international observers" as a figleaf for the impotence of the Arab League and key Arab client regimes, the co-optation of the United Nations, and the continuance of American dominance over what is done and not done in the region regardless of what other countries might say or think. .. * Infiltrate the Palestinian areas with more still more CIA personnel and technology all designed to get the Palestinians under better control and put those who oppose in even greater danger and fear.
* Destroy or co-opt the organizations and individuals who represent the most significant threats to putting the "peace process" back together again twisted to Sharon's acceptability.
* Try to push the Arafat Regime into some new agreements -- both overt and covert -- that require them to bring about an end to the Intifada, all the while making it very clear to Arafat that if he doesn't comply he could find his own regime totally destroyed.
* Simultaneously let the Israelis push forward with their plan to "unilaterally separate" themselves from the Palestinians with barriers of all kinds, physical and otherwise -- including more "by-pass" roads and restrictive arrangements. The Palestinians will essentially be relagate to ghetto existence in their "autonomous population areas" with little land or resources and limited freedom of movement.
* Hold out to Arafat and company the carrot of an in-name-only "Palestinian State", with the very substantial monetary and political rewards that would flow to him and his top lieutenants if they will help legitimize such a quisling bantustan-like puppet "State". All the while continue twisting Arafat all the more so he realizes his options are very limited and that it may be better for him to play along with the Americans, of course fronting for the Israelis, rather than to find his regime destroyed and himself back in exile at such a late date in his own life and fortunes.
The bottom line is that what's going on at the moment is more appropriately thought of as a secret plot to more fully demoralize and repress the Palestinians -- one being pursued each in their own way and for their own reasons by the Israelis, the Americans, as well as the key Arab regimes in Amman, Cairo and Riyadh.
Lacking any good options because of all the terrible mistakes and blunders he has made in the past -- not to mention all the accumulated secrets the Israelis and Americans have about him and his regime -- Yasser Arafat is going along with both "Mitchell" and "Observers" desperately hoping to keep his own rather despicable regime alive, in control, and of course in the money.
According to western diplomatic sources, the US is pressing ahead with the observer force and has drawn up a series of options covering numbers, terms of reference and where it should be located in the West Bank and Gaza.
Britain and other European countries have been involved in the planning.
It is the first positive sign of diplomatic activity for weeks in a Middle East confrontation that reached new levels of violence with a raid on Tuesday that killed eight Palestinians, including two Hamas leaders.
The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, who warned yesterday the region had reached the point of catastrophe, has long pushed for an international observer force but Israel has been resolutely opposed.
The Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, and the foreign minister, Shimon Peres, will continue to say publicly for the time being that it sees no future for such a force. But Israel is in no position to ignore the US, its main ally and protector.
Two Israeli government sources, who would normally only list objections to the idea of such a force, confirmed separately yesterday that it was coming closer to acceptance. "It may be that Israel has to agree to something," one said.
A western diplomatic source said: "There is a small sign that Israel migt be more willing."
Such a monitoring force could be the first step in rebuilding the defunct peace process. Its composition is one of the issues under discussion.
Although the final details have not been decided, the balance in the US is tilting towards having an international force that will almost certainly include Britain, and away from an exclusively US force made up of the CIA.
The diplomatic source said: "The US is doing detailed work on options for an observer team and that includes options for its make-up and reporting and exactly what its terms of reference should be."
US thinking has been circulated to a restricted audience in various European capitals. A source said the US planned to make an announcement soon. One of the reasons cited by Israel for opposition to the force is that it does not think Palestinians should be rewarded for violence.
Israel also questions how such a force will work on the ground, arguing that it is unlikely to see any more than international journalists do. The government says observers will see Israeli shelling and rocket attacks while the activities of Palestinian bombers continue unseen.
It is an extraordinary turnaround by the US, which earlier this year vetoed such a force when it was raised first by the United Nations.
The first sign of a shift came in June when the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, during a visit to Ramallah on the Israeli-occupied West Bank, signalled support for a call by Mr Arafat, for an international force. But within hours, after meeting Mr Sharon in Jerusalem, Mr Powell backtracked, claiming his words had been misinterpreted.
Two weeks ago, at the G8 summit in Genoa, the US was persuaded to back a statement saying it supported "third party monitoring". But Israel rejected the G8 statement.
Israel will attempt to dilute the force as much as possible. Mr Peres agreed at one point, during talks with Egypt, to a force provided it was made up entirely of representatives from the US, mainly the CIA. But Mr Sharon stamped on the idea when Mr Peres returned to Jerusalem.
The CIA has a presence already, with its director, George Tenet, trying to get Israeli and Palestinian security forces together.
The Palestinians have campaigned for the observer force partly because they claim it will help provide them with protection against Israeli excesses and partly because they want to internationalise the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
The Israelis say the Palestinians' goal is to have an internationally agreed solution imposed on the two sides but that would be unworkable. In the end, the Israelis say, an agreement will only come in talks.