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THE POWER OF ISRAEL

2 •2005


contents no. 2/2005 2 Editorial

ISRAEL AGAINST ISRAEL

4 Arnon SOFFER - What the Barrier is for 14 Aldo BAQUIS – The Kingdom of Judea Vs the State of Israel 22 Ely KARMON – Hizbullah as Strategic Threat to Israel 49 Guy BECHOR - The Party of God is Victim of its Victory

WHAT IS CHANGING IN THE MIDDLE EAST (AND WHAT IS NOT)

58 Margherita PAOLINI – Gas and Oil: Getting Along Without the Arabs in the East

67 Abdel Ra’uf Mustafa AL-SIDDIQI – The Pretend Peace with Israel 72 David POLANKSY – Greater Middle East or Daydream? 79 Giovanni PARIGI – The Iraq that Counts and the One We See

HEARTLAND PLUS

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Interview with Viktor Yushchenko, President of the Republic of Ukraine

97 Fabrizio MARONTA and David POLANSKY – How to Become the # 1 109 David T. ARMITAGE – What Americans can Learn from Italian Carabinieri 115 Doug BANDOW – Cities of God 121 AUTHORS


THE POWER OF ISRAEL

EDITORIAL

If This Is Victory…

T

hesis: Israel has won. The second Intifada has ended in the suicide of the

Palestinian cause. Terrorism hasn’t torn apart Israeli society nor has it crushed its economy. The wall - or “separation barrier” in the rhetoric of Jerusalem – is a success. Arab public opinion is increasingly less inclined to get enthused for the Palestinians. Bush is aligned with Sharon. Arafat has been buried, Saddam has been eliminated, Baššār al-Asad’s Syria has been marginalized, ayatollah Iran has been surrounded by the extraordinary deployment of American bases and troops between Afghanistan and the Persian gulf; and with the Egyptian and Saudi regimes caught up in the fight for survival against the same radical Islamic networks that wish to destroy the “Zionist entity”, who still threatens the existence of Israel? Moreover, the Jewish State is expanding its sphere of influence in the Middle East, almost taking on the role of chief regional power. Antithesis: Israel has only gained time. Arabs and Muslims will never accept the “Zionist entity”. The hatred of the Jews remains common currency in Middle Eastern society. The Jihadists have hijacked the Palestinian cause. The police States, which in the region feel caught in the vice of Islamic radicalism and democratization sponsored by the United States, cannot accede to real peace with the Jewish State without risking their own overthrow. And if they could really vote freely, in many Arab countries the archenemies of the West and Israel would triumph. In any case, Bush won’t be around forever, nor can he continue to unconditionally side with Sharon. In the end, demography remains the lethal weapon of the Palestinians: by 2020, in the area between the Mediterranean and Jordan (including Israel and the Occupied Territories), there will be a clear Arab majority. The old debate - that has plagued the Zionist movement since its origins - of whether the future State should be Jewish or for Jews (Judenstaat), will be resolved in favor of the Arabs: that is, with the end of Israel and the birth of “Israelestine”, as Gheddafi in his time hoped for, and in accordance with the formula “two peoples in one State”. Synthesis: the future remains uncertain, but today the Jewish State is stronger than ever.

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ISRAEL AGAIINST ISRAEL


THE POWER OF ISRAEL

WHAT THE BARRIER IS FOR

WHAT THE BARRIER IS FOR

by Arnon SOFFER

At least for a few decades, separation of Israel from the Palestinians is inevitable, especially due to the growing demographic disparity between the two. Otherwise, Jewish democracy risks being overcome by an Arab-Islamic wave.

T

he death or changeover in leader on the

Middle-Eastern – indeed, even on the world - political scene, often raises expectations of great positive change. After periods of hostility and conflict, there is hope that the adversaries might understand the futility of war and that they might reach a mutual understanding. At the end of each world war, it was hoped that a new order would prevent future conflicts - hopes that always went up in smoke. The Madrid Conference in 1991 gave rise to a wave of optimism on the future of the Middle East, to be placed under the protective umbrella of a single democratic superpower interested in peace in the region. Even as a result of the Oslo Accords (19931995), we were inundated with publications on the «New Middle East», a region in which there would be collaboration in the areas of water resources, tourism and development initiatives. It’s worth recalling that all these publications originated from the West, and not from the Arab States. So what results has all this yielded? What has been achieved? Israel has never had so high a number of civilian victims as during this period of euphoria. In the wake of the occupation of Iraq in 2003, and even more so after the elections that took place there in 2005, the Western world has been flooded by new waves of publications which have hailed the beginnings of democracy in the Arab world. Even in relation to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and in particular the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, a new climate of optimism has been created based on some encouraging signs: the death of Arafat and the changes in the Palestinian leadership – the latter occurring in an orderly manner – represent, according to many, the start of a period of moderation and responsibility. The elections in Iraq and the American presence in that country, close to States that encourage terrorism – which is the case with Syria and Lebanon - as well as the Syrian army’s withdrawal from Lebanon in March-April 2005, have contributed to the sense that major positive geopolitical changes are taking place in the region. I would suggest that we shouldn’t raise our expectations on the basis of the hopeful declarations of certain leaders or articles by people who allow themselves to get carried away with their wishful thinking, but that we should base ourselves on an objective analysis of the geographic, demographic, economic, social and religious reality on the ground.

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This is what we aim to do in the remainder of this article. We’ll start off with an examination of relations between Israel and bordering Arab countries, followed by a look at relations between Israel and the Palestinians, and finally we’ll deal with the separation barrier in Israel, asking the question: is it possible to dismantle the barrier or should its construction be brought to completion?

Israel and the Arab States: the peace that’s possible If we accept the supposition that world conflicts principally derive from disputes relating to territory and natural resources, there would be no real reason for conflict between Israel and the Arab States. However, in this case, the determining factors are different: religious, cultural and ethnic differences, reciprocal and deep-seated fears, and considerations relating to honour, prestige, envy and revenge. Let’s take the case of the conflict with Syria: a small American military unit based in Qunayţra in the Golan Heights, would be sufficient to separate Syrian forces from Israeli ones and eliminate mutual suspicions. The water issue could have been resolved in a meeting of no longer than an hour between the leaders of the two countries.1 The same goes for relations between Israel and Lebanon. There is no real territorial dispute and the Palestinian refugee issue could have been resolved a long time ago just as it has been in other parts of the world. Official relations – be they cold, cool or lukewarm – exist today between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and some of the Persian Gulf States. Israel would be willing to make these relations friendlier, but to do so it needs a sign from the Arab States. With the geopolitical changes that are occurring in the Middle East, it is to be hoped that even the Arab States situated farthest away from Israel – namely Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon and Algeria, and perhaps even Saudi Arabia and Yemen – will join the group of Arab States that entertains official relations with Israel. Israel could offer them its resources comprising human know-how and sophisticated industries, and they could offer Israel oil, raw materials and tourism. These States are hostile to Israel without there being any real justifications other than those related to the Palestinian issue, the Jewish faith and ancient fears. The United States, on its own, can improve relations between Israel and the Arab countries and guarantee peace between the parties by offering support, piloting compromises and defending peace in the region; all this on the condition that Europe doesn’t interfere and disturb the process. I have strong doubts as to whether France, which today is a Christian-Muslim State, can remain neutral, given the hostility it has displayed towards Israel from 1967 till today! In short, geopolitical changes in the Middle East could lead to political agreements between Israel and all the Arab countries, both near and far.

1

Cf. A. SOFFER, Rivers of Fire, Boulder 1999, Rowman and Littlefield.

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Israel and the Palestinian people: peace is a long way off As we have already seen, as far as possible relations between Israel and the Arab countries are concerned, optimism is justifiable in light of the geopolitical changes in progress in the region. Unfortunately, for various reasons, the same cannot be said regarding relations between Israel and the Palestinian people.

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First of all, there is a demographic problem. In every place in the world where an ethnic or religious group has a rate of population growth three or four times higher than another, it raises fears of loss of control, in particular in relation to resources. The IsraeliPalestinian case represents the most extreme example of this: the rate of Jewish natural population growth is 1% per annum. If we add the waves of immigration to Israel (which are not predictable) to this, we would note that in some years, especially at the beginning of the 1990s, the rate of population growth reached 2% per annum. In contrast, the rate of population growth of Muslim-Arabs within the borders of Israel is 3% per annum, and in some years has reached up to 4.5%! In 2005, the population of the Gaza Strip will grow by between 3-4% while in some years this growth has hit 5%. In this context, population pressures on Israel are foreseeable such as to put its resources, capacity for strategic control and maintenance of a Western-style quality of life at serious risk.2 The high rate of natural population growth will continue for at least the next twenty years. In 2020, the Jewish population in Israel will reach 6.5 million people. The Palestinian populace encircling it – namely, the Palestinians who live in Israel and those settled in Jordan – will in that same year reach 10-12 million (Map 1)3. In such a context, even in a situation of total peace, there is a need for a separation since only effective fencing can offer a response to the demographic peril. Political agreements, mutual trust or assurances on the part of the powers-that-be cannot cancel out the danger and its tragic consequences. And this is as true in the Middle East as it is in Western Europe. Thanks to massive economic aid to the Palestinians, it is possible to achieve positive changes – supposing that this aid really gets into the hands of those who need it and doesn’t go into the pockets of corrupt officials. However, the positive influences of these changes would begin to be felt only after many years. The experience gained by Israel regarding the improvement in condition of disadvantaged groups – such as the case of Jews coming from Muslim countries or of Israeli Arabs – with the aim of bringing them up to a similar condition as that of Jews coming from Western countries, indicates that between 20 to 50 years are required to achieve this result. In other countries, the improvement in the condition of weaker groups has required even longer periods of time. For example, this is the case in the United States in relation to people of African or Latin American origin, and also in France and Germany in relation to Muslims of Moroccan or Turkish origin. As long as the gap remains this great, Israel will continue to defend itself from the influx of poor Palestinians who seek to improve their quality of life. Their numerically significant presence would shift the demographic balance in favour of the Palestinians. This threat, which endangers the very existence of the Zionist-Jewish democratic State, places Israel in a situation of having to complete the separation barrier and of having to maintain it for a long time to come, without taking into consideration the geopolitical changes which are occurring today in the Middle East. The European Union 2

Cf. A. SOFFER, Israel, Demography 2004-2020, in Light of the Disengagement, Haifa 2005, Chair of Geostrategy. 3 All the maps in this article are original works of the author (editor’s note).

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is doing exactly the same thing in its attempt to defend itself against the incursion of people coming from less-developed areas, putting in place similar systems as those used in Israel in Southern and Eastern Europe. The same goes for the United States on its border with Mexico.

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As far as the economic gap is concerned, we should stress the fact that the ratio between the GDP in Israel and that of the Palestinians is 18:1! This is the highest differential in the world between two bordering nations. Just to make a few comparisons, the economic gap between the USA and Mexico is 4.5:1 and between Germany and Poland, 3:1. Just on its own, this enormous economic divide between Israel and the Palestinians will provide the impetus for a very heavy burden being placed on the Jewish State.

The economic issue will have to be made a focal point of discussion even if positive developments occur in the region, as the poverty of the Palestinians and dearth of

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resources present on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip will make rapid economic growth difficult - even with substantial Western aid. Many years will pass before the West Bank and the Gaza Strip can feel the effects of economic development that radically changes their quality of life. And until the economic gap between the two bordering nations is reduced, the separation barrier will have the very important function of protecting the Israeli economy, limiting the volume of illegal traffic and impeding the incursion into Israel of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian workers – the majority of whom could remain living within its borders, in contrast to what happens in Singapore and Malaysia for instance. There, every morning, thousands of Malaysian workers cross the border to Singapore and cross back in the evening to return to their homes in Malaysia at the end of the working day. A model of this kind is impracticable in a Middle East known to all for its lack of order, which forms part of the culture of its inhabitants. In the case of Israel, the demographic and economic differences are particularly striking, since the distance between the border and the area representing the heart of Israel is very small. Only 15 kilometres separate the centre of Tel Aviv from the border, while there is only one kilometre between the outskirts of the metropolis and the beginning of the Palestinian territory. For this reason, the separation barrier between Israel and the Palestinians must be more effective than that existing between the United States and Mexico! No geopolitical agreement in the Middle East would enable this necessity to be overcome. Beyond the geographic, demographic, economic and social divides, national and religious differences, together with deep-seated reciprocal fears, are also at play here. All this reinforces the hostility of the parties and transforms their conflict into the most profound the world has known in the last sixty years. Islamic leaders do not recognise Jewish law over any part of the Israeli territory. Their position is that all Israel is waqf land, meaning land that belongs to the Muslim sacred heritage and is therefore inalienable. For this reason, the dispute over the issue of Jerusalem, and particularly over the Temple Mount, is irresolvable. No foreign force could defend this city.

Two scenarios I would like to present two possible scenarios for the future of the Arab (in the Territories) – Israeli (in Israel) conflict. The first, which we’ll call «the pessimistic or realistic scenario», envisages that serious changes in the region will not take place. The attempts to resolve the conflict will, one after the other, fail as has happened in the past. Leaders will change, and will change their minds, but – as has always been the case – it will be the extremists who will determine the continuation of the conflict. In the meantime, other events will take place in the world which will attract the attention of public opinion and the world will tire of the continual attempts to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If all this occurs, there is no doubt that the separation barrier will be vital for the future of Israel.

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According to the second «optimistic» scenario, Western powers will succeed in enforcing an agreement between the States in the Region. The Arab States will be forced to sign peace accords with Israel, «betraying» the Palestinian question. Syria, Lebanon and Egypt would stop assisting Palestinian terrorism and the activity of the latter, for its part, would progressively diminish until it reaches acceptable levels. Even in this case, the separation barrier will be necessary to prevent attacks. The West can do nothing to change the geographic reality of the Land of Israel. It can’t change the distance between Tel Aviv and the border, just as it can’t overly accelerate the improvement in quality of life of the Palestinians. A change of this kind, assuming it occurs without corruption and in a democratic or pseudo-democratic fashion, will take many years. The existing divides between Israel, as a developed democratic country, and the Palestinian Autonomous Territory, as a Third World State, will remain great. For this reason, it will be necessary to close the borders and to control who enters and leaves (exactly as occurs on the borders between the USA and Mexico and between Europe and

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North Africa). The very high rate of population growth among Palestinians will not fall rapidly, and its consequences will impede the economic and social development of Palestinian society for many years. From Israel’s point of view, it is important that there is surveillance over trade and social contacts between Israeli Arabs and Arabs who live in Gaza and on the West Bank. This is to ensure that these economic relations are conducted according to normallyaccepted modern standards (Map 2).

The barrier and its path The path of the barrier, as it is proposed, can be seen in the maps in this article. Map 3 gives a view of the entire country, while Map 4 zooms in on Jerusalem. The considerations which have led to the determination of this course are based on the principle that the maximum number of Jews should be included within the borders of Israel. In Jerusalem, the barrier generally traces the eastern borders of the city and, where there are no particular legal issues – meaning doubts of the Ministry of Justice or appeals to the Supreme Court – it has already been constructed. In other areas, such as in the vicinity of the Tomb of Rachael, the works have been blocked as a result of objections raised by Christian religious organisations. Then there is the area between Al-Ezariya and A’nata, which has been left without a barrier with a view to the reunification of Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim: there is much discussion on this point with the United States, as the issue of the Palestinian territorial continuity between the area of Rāmallāh and Bethlehem/Hebron still has to be resolved. In the north, the barrier between the River Jordan and Rosh Ha’ain is almost complete. In that area, the barrier has shown its effectiveness, blocking all attempts at infiltration. After a long wait for the decision of the Supreme Court, construction work subsequently commenced from Rosh Ha’ain to Jerusalem, without taking in the city of Ariel for the moment. Around this small town, however, a part of the route has already been defined and there are even parts of the barrier already constructed. The go-ahead that the Supreme Court is giving to the works, rejecting the various appeals or proposing adjustments, has given a strong momentum to the work even in the south. It is therefore clear that the barrier is essential, also to preserve Israel as a Western island capable of keeping afloat and not being engulfed by the sea of Muslim-Arabs that surrounds it. The optimistic scenario assumes extraordinarily positive developments in the Palestinian camp: namely, the installation of a Western-style democracy, the fight against terrorism, economic development, recognition of Israel by Islam, the end of the fear of a Zionist invasion and the overcoming of frustrations attributable to how much Israel has been able to achieve. These processes take time, and in the meantime separation remains necessary. No foreign army, no economic aid, and no speeches by presidents, kings or prime ministers can change the abovementioned reality.

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When, within 20-50 years, the Middle East becomes part of the Global Village and militant Islam becomes moderate or is defeated, then Israel can dismantle the barrier that separates it from the Palestinians, Europe can dismantle the barrier that separates it from North Africa and the United States can dismantle the barrier dividing it from Mexico. Then, perhaps, we will truly have reached the end of this affair. But until then, the barrier, which the enemies of the Jewish State consider an evil, will have a vital role in the defence of Israel, its culture, its economy and its democracy.

Translation by John Mifsud

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THE KINGDOM OF JUDEA vs. THE STATE OF ISRAEL

THE KINGDOM OF JUDEA Vs THE STATE OF ISRAEL

by Aldo BAQUIS

The nationalist-religious extremist groups condemn Sharon as a traitor, accusing him of not being Jewish. They dream of a monarchy governed by Mosaic Law. The Sanhedrin has been revived and there are risks of alignment with the most radical settlers. Is civil war possible?

A

t first glance, it is easy to underestimate the

subversive Israeli Right. The small number of its ranks, together with the eccentricity of its political agenda of substituting the prime minister with a descendent of King David, as well as permanently dissolving the Knesset so as to place their trust in a rabbinic Sanhedrin instead, have for a long time kept the followers of the “Leadership of the Faithful” in a political limbo where, as a rule, not even the most radical exponents of the settlers’ movement dared to venture. In the Israeli press, those who look back nostalgically to the biblical monarchy of three thousand years ago are treated with contempt mixed with derisive sarcasm. In technological and western Tel Aviv, there is little patience shown towards those who years ago went into raptures when, in a rare event, a heifer was born in a stable in Galilee perfectly-formed and with a uniformly red coat; namely, precisely the animal which one day would have been sacrificed on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to cleanse the people of Israel - had it not been, unfortunately, for the stubborn tuft of white hair poking out of its tail, deemed incompatible with the rigid requirements of orthodox Judaism. In recent months, Shin Bet, the internal security service, has seen to wiping off the mocking grins aimed at these zealots. Already by the end of 2003, the head of Shin Bet, Avi Dichter, warned that the radical Right potentially represents a strategic threat for Israel because there are elements at work within it that are unscrupulous, ready to attack the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, in the Esplanade of the Mosques in Jerusalem, which the Jews call the Temple Mount. An event of this kind, according to Shin Bet, could have catastrophic consequences and could incite the entire Muslim world against Israel. There is no shortage of precedents. At the beginning of the 1980s, a group of Jewish zealots (among whom were quite a few that had military experience) planned to attack the mosques in Jerusalem both for practical reasons – namely, to block the impending retreat from the Sinai in the context of the peace accord with Egypt – and for religious reasons, that is, to remove the “eyesore” (Islamic places of worship) from the

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Esplanade of the Mosques and “to cleanse it” with a view to reconstructing of the new Temple. The decision of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to give up the Gaza Strip and to clear out the eight thousand settlers who live there has torn apart the rabbinic world. In the orthodox urban areas of Mea Shearim (Jerusalem) and Bene' Braq (Tel Aviv), traditionally alienated from the institutions of the secular Zionist State, the decision to dismantle 20 colonies at Gaza and four small settlements on the northern West Bank has been approved without creating serious problems. In parliament, the Ashkenazic Torah Front supports the coalition while the Sephardic party Shas, also in the opposition, is focussing on social issues. The situation is completely different in the rabbinic colleges, which are inspired by religious nationalism and which for decades have taught their disciples that the State of Israel was a necessary tool for the salvation of the Jewish people. For this significant school of religious thought, the Six-Day War and the “liberation” of the lands sacred to Judaism (the Old City of Jerusalem, Hebron with the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Beit El and Nablus) had a feel of divine intervention about them. Sure, the leaders of this school would say until recently, the various Israeli generals (Yitzhak Rabin, Moshe Dayan, and even Ariel Sharon) were acting in a secular context. Perhaps they might seem to be “gentiles expressing themselves in Hebrew”; and yet, in spite of themselves, they were the instruments of a higher, deterministic will. For this reason, these rabbinic colleges have systematically churned out idealists ready to offer themselves as volunteers both in the colonization of the freed lands and in the armed forces necessary to defend them. It is no accident that today, in the highest ranks of the army, there are quite a lot of officers who wear kippahs or skullcaps. In this peculiar rabbinic world, the pragmatic evolution of Sharon has created a split which is not only political, but also cultural and even theological. It’s too early to say for sure, but some have sensed that it’s the beginning of a Copernican revolution. This is why in March, the ex-Rabbi Ashkenazic leader Avraham Shapira, from the vantage point of his 90 years of age and from his pedestal of revered master of the nationalist-religious rabbinic colleges, launched an inflammatory appeal: “After Jewish Passover”, he said, “whoever provides military services is directly or indirectly furthering Sharon’s plans. Have you received a draft card? In reality, you’ve received a card which means the destruction and expulsion of the inhabitants of the colonies”. In his opinion, soldiers who are religious should refuse to obey the clearing out orders. Even up till recently, it would have been unthinkable that an exponent of religious nationalism would incite desertion and mass disobedience. In the horrified eyes of these religious leaders, the overly-secular Sharon has therefore ceased to be “an instrument of divine will in spite of himself” and has resumed the appearance of the “gentile who expresses himself in Hebrew”. In this climate, it is no coincidence that at the end of April, the small orthodox journal Shaa' Tova' ba-Hadashot raised doubts about whether Sharon is really a Jew. His mother, Vera Sheinerman – says the journal – was an assimilated Jew of Russian origin. But his maternal grandmother, according to these (probably unfounded)

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“revelations”, was a non-Jewish Russian. According to Orthodox Judaism, “Arik” Sharon is therefore not Jewish, but has rather absorbed in his blood an element of Russian rural anti-Semitism. This finally explains, in the eyes of the zealots, the “eagerness” of the Cossack-turned-prime minister of Israel to expel Jews from their homes and raze their synagogues to the ground. A photomontage in which the image of Sharon was superimposed over that of Stalin in uniform was hung from the city walls of Jerusalem. In the radical right-wing Israeli press, Sharon is now portrayed as a dictator who cynically tramples on democracy owing to his evident weakness in the face of the Palestinian Intifada. He’s a helmsman without a compass, without solid Jewish roots. The one-time warrior has aged – say the articles – and he certainly won’t know how to defend Judea-Samaria (the West Bank) when external pressures call upon him for further redeployments. When they look to Jerusalem, the exponents of the radical Right see a discredited and corrupt prime minister, flanked by an unruly Knesset and by parties which internal splits and cynicism have rendered impotent. A keen desire for something new and drastically purifying can be sensed in the most extremist settlements and in the most lively rabbinic colleges. In a recent television interview, Sharon said that in Israel, there is a very radicalised political atmosphere, which is perhaps the prelude to a civil war. An exMossad head, Dany Yatom, raised the risk of a coup d’état that could be led by highranking officers manipulated by subversive rabbis. In spring 2005, we can say that religious nationalism, which for decades had been one of the pillars of the secular Zionist State, is forging ahead in its march towards taking militant positions. The gap between it and subversive right-wing fringe groups (aficionados of the Kingdom, the Sanhedrin and the Temple Mount) has reduced. This summer, with the beginning of the withdrawal from Gaza, the two forces could even unite or forge a tactical alliance. Shin Bet says that the fusion of the ideological fervour of those who look back nostalgically to the biblical monarchy, with the nationalist-religious leaders’ perfect acquaintance with the corridors of power as well as military strategies, does not bode well.

A king, a Sanhedrin and a temple in Jerusalem Seen from the subversive Right’s perspective, the State of Israel is a hostile entity because it is shaped on the basis of western culture, which is foreign to the way of life and thinking of these zealots. Some months ago, M.D. Ben-Ami, pseudonym of a right-wing polemicist, needed a good 900 pages to list in a pamphlet (entitled: Jacob’s worm and uncle Ishmael) all the inherent ills of the Israeli mass media, the judicial system and the academic world. In his view, they are elite and characterised by a cosmopolitan outlook, lack Jewish roots and are very aggressively against orthodoxy. Perhaps there will never be the civil war feared by Sharon. But a creeping cultural war has been underway for some time. According to these zealots, on one side there are “the Israelis” (a term pronounced in a pejorative tone), namely “the gentiles who express

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themselves in Hebrew” and who could easily be Americans, Danes or Swedes. On the other side of the barricade, however, are “the Jews” with a capital “J”: those who, in contrast to Sharon, have not lost the “compass”, which is represented by the Bible and its precepts. They are therefore those who are predestined to take over control of the helm one day. Manhigut Emunit (Leadership of the Faithful), is the title of an ideological text published recently by one of these zealots named Mordechai Karpel. Pursuing the technique of infiltration behind “enemy” lines, Karpel – along with another ideologist Moshe Feiglin and with many hundreds of their followers – joined the Likud and is now part of the Central Committee (of around three thousand members). Ten years after the tragic events in Kings Square in Tel Aviv – and even today the ambiguous role of Shin Bet and its agent Avishay Raviv remains distressingly obscure – we can however say that the first victim of the slowly growing conflict between “Israelis” and “Jews” was the Labour prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, the definitive sabra cut down by gunfire by the zealot Igal Amir - not only to stop him from giving up strips of the Land of Israel to the Arabs, but also to avoid the danger that as a result of regional peace accords, Israel would be transformed into a western State like many others, and would no longer be anchored to specific Jewish values. In a recent interview, Rabbi Yossef Dayan, one of the advocates of a return to monarchy and close to the new Sanhedrin, said “In short, Judaism and western democracy are incompatible”. This is a lesson which he says he learnt thirty years ago from Rabbi Meir Kahane, the founder of the right-wing subversive group Kach, outlawed in 1994 after the massacre of Palestinians carried out by a member of that organisation at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. “As far as I’m concerned”, added Dayan (who in 1995 uttered a kabbalistic curse against Rabin, the Pulsa de Nura or “Lashes of Fire”), “the Knesset can “democratically” establish that the weekly day of rest in Israel is Tuesday. In my opinion, as a Jew, it will always and only ever be Saturday”. Rabbi Dayan, author of a recently published book entitled “The Throne and the Crown”, believes that the gap between “Israelis” on the one hand and “Jews” on the other is so great that it could one day translate into a physical separation between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Judea. As well as appropriate structures, the future monarchy will need a candidate for the throne – and he believes himself perfectly suitable as a direct descendent of the lineage of King David, the only line authorised to guide the chosen people. One of the leading theorists on the transition from western parliamentary democracy to a monarchy is Professor Hillel Weiss of the Ber Ilan University (in Tel Aviv), who is currently also serving as a spokesman for the New Sanhedrin. In his book “The King’s Way” (2003), Weiss explains that the move to a democratic monarchy has become “an issue of existential nature” for Israel, because parliamentary democracy has a harmful nature, as it pushes Israelis to assimilation to other western regimes “and wipes out the Jews as individuals, as a religion and as a State”. For instance, Weiss finds it untenable that lay judges sitting on the Supreme Court may establish if someone is a Jew.

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He finds it repugnant that there are Arab parliamentarians in the Knesset “who identify with the enemy”. Israel, he claims, is in fact governed by “Hellenising oligarchies”. The only beacon of salvation is therefore an oath of loyalty to the King of Kings and to his Law. Sovereignty – theorises Weiss – doesn’t descend from a race that is merely a motley crowd of ignoramuses, but directly from God. “There can be no legitimate regime in Jerusalem if not that of a democratic monarch”, concludes the professor. “Only in this way can the Jews regain their identity”. In his book on monarchy, Rabbi Dayan jumps ahead in time and anticipates the role of the future King of Judea. He will have no more qualms in the fight against the enemy, nor will he worry about not striking “innocent civilians”. “At the head of our army, the King will know how to come out as victor of the conflict: he will keep the cities of the enemy besieged to then raze them to the ground. Terrorism has a military solution.” Thus, the monarch will see to “Jewifying” the education system and the judicial system. The Supreme Court of Jerusalem will become obsolete on that day, and will hand over the mantle to the Sanhedrin composed of 71 doctrinal masters (dayanim). Things are already happening on this front. On 13 October 2004, a meeting of the new Sanhedrin was held for the first time, after a hiatus of 1660 years, on the shores of Lake Tiberiade in the evocative synagogue of Abulafia. “A historic day for the Jews” the settlers’ radio station Channel 7 would call it the next day. The “Israelis” however, in their newspapers, on that day found only a brief mention. Speaking in the name of the new institution, Rabbi Yishai Baabed said then to the settlers’ radio station that “the Sanhedrin has been conceived as a point of reference both for aspects of daily life as well as in relation to greater national issues”; hence, as a theoretical alternative not only to the Supreme Court but also the Knesset. “Our edicts will be based solely on Mosaic Law”, added the rabbi. “The revolution has begun”, exclaimed the overwhelmed hundred-year-old kabbalistic rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri. “We want a monarchic regime in place of the current fascist regime which only pretends to be democratic. And we want the Temple of Jerusalem”. Proclamation after proclamation: this is how the plan for a Kingdom of Judea is brought into focus by these zealots. The territory has already been identified: the West Bank, scattered with colonies where 240 thousand inhabitants live, to which another 200 thousand Israelis in East Jerusalem can theoretically be added. The regime would be: monarchic, overseen by a Sanhedrin (which for nearly over a year now has met regularly to discuss topical issues; in April, for example, it asked Pope Benedict XVI to promptly give back to the Jews all their treasures still held in the Vatican). The candidate for the throne is identifiable, according to Rabbi Dayan, from among the descendents of the six familial clans: the Abrabanels, the Berdugos, the Charlaps, the Dayans, the Roths and the Shaaltiels. The military potential is based on the experience developed by the settlers during their military service and on the quantity of arms and ammunition stockpiled in over thirty years of the Israeli regime kindly turning a blind eye. The last component of the plan of the zealots concerns the Temple Mount. Even on this front, there are those who have been working to forcefully make the issue a top priority in the national agenda - namely the Revava (meaning: ten thousand people)

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group, which operates in the extremist settlement of Tapuach (Nablus) and is led by David Ha-Ivri, another follower of Rabbi Kahane. At the beginning of April, Ha-Ivri attempted to organise a march of ten thousand Jews to the Temple Mount, deeply alarming the leaders of Waqf (Agency for the Protection of Islamic Property in Palestine) who, among other things, feared an attack on the al-Aqsa Mosque, or attacks of a similar nature. On the Jewish Zealot “D-Day” (the first day of the Jewish month Nissan, or 10 April), three thousand Israelis in anti-guerrilla gear took positions around the Esplanade of the Mosques to block the albeit minimal threat. Ha-Ivri only managed to assemble a few dozen followers. Dragged off to the nearest police station, he made it clear that he will be back at the entrance of the Temple Mount, punctually on the first day of every Jewish month, to reclaim the right to pray in the most sacred place for Jews. “In the end, we will enter with heads held high, and not by night like chicken thieves”, he underlined. Ha-Ivri finds the current situation absurd and indecent. In order to not anger Muslim believers, the Israeli police allow entry only to small groups of Jews and these are followed closely. “They even prohibit us from showing our national flag in our most sacred place” exclaims Ha-Ivri. “One of our companions, who dared to mumble a prayer, was accused by the police of having committed an indecent act in a public place. It was as if he had gone out nude in the centre of Tel Aviv.” As with all revolutionaries, even Ha-Ivri has a long-term plan: to change the status quo on the Esplanade of the Mosques. “Whether they like it or not, the Muslims will have to get used to our presence”, he declares. For him, the main issue is not the Muslims, but the holiness of the Mount, where the Temple of Jerusalem stood until 70 A.D. The area of the Sancta Sanctorum is prohibited to Jews, and its exact location has been lost over the years. In theory, inadvertently, Ha-Ivri and company may already be walking over it. “Have no fear, all is resolved” explains the zealot now, who has had detailed maps of the Esplanade printed in which the areas “added” after the destruction of the Temple are highlighted in garish colours, and where, in his opinion, today it is right to enter, pray and (one day) build a fitting synagogue (see coloured map). To avoid embarrassing encounters, Revava has even planned two separate entrances to the Esplanade: one for men and one for women. Before entering the Mount, it is necessary to “purify oneself” with ablutions. Even Weiss, in his book on the monarchy, insists on the necessity of Jews returning to pray on the Temple Mount. Once, he recalls, Orthodox rabbis prohibited entrance to the Esplanade tout-court. But some years ago, after much insistence, the Rabbinate of Jerusalem authorised – at least in theory – the construction of a model of a synagogue to be erected on the Temple Mount: not in place of the Islamic holy places, but beside them. On a private basis, architect Gideon Harlap has prepared nine possible synagogue models. Needless to say the mere thought of Jews reciting prayers on the Esplanade of the Mosques is intolerable to Palestinian Islamic leaders. They believe that in September 2000 (during a visit which preceded the Intifada), Ariel Sharon, then leader

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of the right-wing opposition, in fact desecrated the al-Aqsa Mosque; this is despite the fact that he didn’t enter the mosque but remained on the Esplanade. It is important not to lose sight of the size of these groups, whose activities frequently overlap. When put to the test, Revava only assembled a few dozen militants in the streets. Professor Weiss is the spokesman of a Sanhedrin of whose existence the average Israeli in the street has no idea. Rabbi Dayan, pretender to the throne, is so unpopular with mainstream rabbis that in the settlement where he lives (Psagot, near Ramallah), local leaders would like to stop him giving interviews. Until recently, Weiss, Kaduri, Ha-Ivri, Dayan and others like them acted eagerly but always in a political limbo comprised of a few thousand people. The forecast withdrawal from Gaza has now triggered a process of alignment with the militant factions of the settlers’ movement, which has caused a rise in the activities of the subversive Right and has forced Shin Bet to also focus their attention in that direction. Translation by John Mifsud Explanatory note for colour map of the Temple Mount on following page

At the time of the Israeli occupation of the Temple Mount in 1967, Orthodox Rabbis prohibited Jews from going up the Mount for fear that they might walk over the inner sanctum of King Solomon’s Temple, the Sancta Sanctorum, where in biblical times only the High Priest could enter. That place (Ezrà, in Hebrew) was considered the seat of the Shekinah, or the Divine Presence. Over the years, on the insistence of nationalist Rabbis, that ban has been relaxed. Orthodox Rabbis were made to note that the width of Solomon’s Temple was approximately half that of the Wailing Wall. A large area of the Temple Mount was furthermore added by King Herod later on, meaning that it was of necessity outside the forbidden area. Even the zealots agree that entry to the Temple Mount necessarily requires an act of purification to be carried out via ablution in a “miqve” (a rainwater pool). After which, escorted by the police, they pass along the perimeter wall, careful not to get close to the Dome of the Rock which, according to their belief, was erected on the site where the Temple once rose. During these visits, men and women remain separated for reasons of modesty. Even with these precautions, today many Orthodox Rabbis still oppose visits to the Temple Mount.

Key to the ten places indicated in the map prepared by the Revavà group

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Wailing Wall Plaza and the Mograbi Gate King Solomon’s Stables South-east Roadbed Shushan Gate (destroyed) Mercy Gate King Solomon’s altar Gate of the Tribes Lions’ Gate Observer’s Gate Cotton Gate

(Aldo Baquis)

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HIZBULLAH AS STRATEGIC THREAT TO ISRAEL

by Ely KARMON

Origins, ideology and tactics of the political-terrorist movement based in southern Lebanon. Its ambiguities and links with Teheran and Damascus. The disarmament of Nasr Allah’s militias is unlikely, also due to the weakness of international pressure.

O

ver the past decade, various developments -

in particular, the 1992 Lebanese parliamentary elections, the significant internal developments in Iran and Syria, and the Israeli unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 - led analysts to predict that Hizballah would transform itself from an international terrorist organization into a Lebanese political party.1 Despite these developments, however, Hizballah continued to use international terrorism as a strategic tool for advancing its goals. The organization regards terrorism not only as a legitimate military strategy but as a religious duty, part of a “global jihad.” Hizballah represents a strategic threat to Israel on three levels: as a major independent player with clear strategic goals in the Lebanese arena, in the Israeli – Palestinian conflict and in the Middle East as a whole; as an arm of the Syrian army; and as a proxy of the Iranian religious regime. As Hussein Agha, an Arab scholar puts it: “Hizballah operates in a theater where four immediate forces provide the coordinates within which it has to survive and fulfill its purpose: Syria, Iran, the Lebanese government and the wider Lebanese society. Beyond those four immediate forces are the Palestinian scene and the Arab world and its moods. Then come international considerations, especially those pertaining to the US and Europe. Israel is the defined enemy and as such whatever it does, or doesn't do, is of direct impact. Part of the success story of Hizballah has been its ability to juggle these forces and keep them relatively docile.”2 1

See for instance Augustus Richard Norton, “Hizballah and the Israeli Withdrawal from Southern Lebanon,” Journal of Palestine Studies, XXX, No.1 (Autumn 2000), pp. 25, 33-4 and Sami G. Hajjar, Hizballah: Terrorism, National Liberation, Or Menace? Strategic Studies Institute Monographs, U.S. Army War College, August 2002, pp. 29-35. A year after publishing his article, confronted with the reality of Hizballah’s aggressiveness against Israel’s northern border, Norton recognized that he was mistaken when he “expected the border region to be calm and saw the Israeli exit as a remarkable opportunity for Lebanon to get on the path of recovery.” 2 Hussein Agha, “A note on Hizballah,” in Hizballah and the Lebanon-Israel border, bitterlemonsinternational, Edition 36, Volume 2, September 23, 2004, at http://www.bitterlemons-international. org/previous.php?opt=1&id=57 .

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Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon on May 24, 2000, was regarded as a major victory by Hizballah, one that enhanced its regional reputation and strengthened its commitment to terrorism as a strategic tool. As Hassan Nasrallah, the organization’s secretary-general, rightly remarked: “One cannot easily downplay this achievement by Hizballah, since throughout the 1990s it had remained almost the sole group in any Arab state committed to implementing an armed struggle against Israel. It…achieved what no other Arab country or army had been able to do: oust Israel from Arab territory without the Arab side committing to any concession.” 3

The Lebanese arena Since May 2000 Hizballah has practically taken control over southern Lebanon, where the Lebanese army has no foothold, and with Syrian backing has transformed it into an “extraterritorial” base for guerrilla and terrorist activity against Israel. The main area of direct military confrontation between Hizballah and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is in the Shebaa Farms area, a 15-square-mile mountainside along Lebanon's southeast border with the Golan Heights claimed by Lebanon, but belonging to Syria according to the UN. Hizballah periodically attacks mountaintop IDF outposts with anti-tank missiles, Katyusha rockets and mortar rounds. Hizballah has expanded its arsenal of weaponry acquiring armaments capable of reaching a greater number of Israeli targets. Currently, the organization is estimated to have some 13,000 rockets and missiles. These include the SA-7 surface-to-air missile and the Fajr-5 surface-to-surface rocket (which, with a range of forty-five miles, is capable of reaching the Israeli cities of Haifa and Hedera).4 The organization leadership pretends that its military activity is intended to liberate the Shebaa Farms and defend the Lebanese territory against Israeli aggression and is coordinated with the Lebanese government.5 Besides its infringement on UN decisions, a review of this activity will show that it had to do more with regional aims and not defense of Lebanese interests. In October 2000, four months after the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon, Hizballah exploited the eruption of the Palestinian intifada and decided it was time to 3

Hassan Nasrallah, interview, al-Jazeera Television, May 27, 2000. Gary Gambill, “Hezbollah’s Strategic Rocket Arsenal,” Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, 4, no. 11 (November–December 2002) at www.meib.org/articles/0211_l2.htm. 5 Referring to Hizballah’s pretext of the Israeli occupation of the Sheeba farms, Norton acknowledges that “[w]hen the issue first arose in the spring of 2000, few Lebanese had even heard of the Shebaa farms, and even senior Hizballah officials were ignorant of the case.” But again he refused to recognize the aggressiveness of Hizballah and its active interference in the Palestinian intifada: “I am not aware of any credible evidence to support Israel’s claims that Hizballah is active on the ground in Gaza or the West Bank.” See Augustus Richard Norton, “Addendum,” in Martha Neff Kessler, George Emile Irani, Peter Gubser, Augustus Richard Norton, Lebanon and Syria: Internal and Regional Dimensions, edited transcript of the twenty-fifth in a series of Capitol Hill conferences convened by the Middle East Policy Council, May 23, 2001. 4

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resume its artillery attacks on northern Israel and kidnap three Israeli soldiers. This operation was intended to show the support and solidarity with the fight of the Palestinians and to get hold of a bargaining chip for the negotiations on the liberation of Hizballah prisoners in Israeli hands. Until the beginning of 2002 Hizballah’s artillery and bombing activity has been sporadic and low-key, killing 3 soldiers and wounding 4 others. However, during much of 2002, Hizballah appeared to consider opening a “second front” against Israel from southern Lebanon either before or parallel to impending US action against Iraq. The organization’s leaders no doubt hoped that Arabs and Muslims would support such a strategy and put pressure on their governments to do the same. Hizballah may also have hoped that an opportunity would arise to drag Syria and other Arab states into an all-out regional war with Israel and the United States. It is against this background that one should view the escalation in Hizballah’s military activity in March - April 2002. On March 12, Hizballah-backed Palestinian infiltrators crossed the Lebanon-Israel border and attacked nonmilitary vehicles in northern Israel, killing five civilians and one member of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). This incident - the first infiltration from Lebanon since the May 2000 Israeli withdrawal occurred two weeks before Hamas’s deadly Passover suicide bombing in Netanya sparked the IDF’s Operation Defensive Shield, Israel’s first major ground operation inside the Palestinian Authority (PA). In other words, Hizballah had already decided to escalate its operations well before Israel launched its harsh response to increasing Palestinian violence. On August 29, 2002, after four months of tense calm, Hizballah launched a new attack on Israeli outposts in the Shebaa Farms. This attack was probably timed to coincide with several developments: increased U.S.-Israeli pressure on Syria and Lebanon on the eve of U.S. Congressional discussion of the Syria Accountability Act, the escalation of Washington’s rhetoric regarding Iraq, and Iraqi vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan’s visit to Lebanon. Its objective was to send a “swift and hot message to the U.S. administration and the international community from the Lebanese-Syrian-Iranian axis,”6 as well as a “reminder and warning to Israel that it cannot go far in its aggression against the Palestinians while Washington is preparing for an attack against Iraq.”7 Israel's penetrations of Lebanese airspace with aircraft and reconnaissance drones are another source of confrontation. Hizballah accuses Israel of aggression and breach of Lebanon’s sovereignty, when in reality this air activity is due to monitor Hizballah’s own growing heavy arming and instigated attacks. In response to the over-flights, Hizballah anti-aircraft gunners occasionally fire 57mm rounds across the border. The rounds 6

George Alam, “Lebanese Writer Discusses ‘Message’ of Hizballah’s Attack 29 Aug,” al-Safir (Beirut), August 31, 2002, Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Near East and South Asia (FBIS-NES-20020901), August 31, 2002. 7 “Lebanon: Hizballah Attack 29 Aug Linked to Iraqi, Palestinian Developments,” summary of reports appearing in al-Safir (Beirut) and al-Mustaqbal (Beirut), n.d., Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Near East and South Asia (FBIS-NES-2002-0830), August 30, 2002.

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explode in the air thousands of feet above Israeli towns, spattering whatever lies below with light shrapnel. In August 2003 one Israeli civilian was killed and four were wounded by such anti aircraft fire. Hizballah also uses the blue line as a means of retaliating for Israeli actions beyond south Lebanon, such as alleged assassinations of party officials and major developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.8 By July 2003, The International Crisis Group (ICG) multinational think tank evaluated that “armed attacks on the Shab’a farms seem no longer to be on the agenda of Hizbollah, which appears eager to move away from an issue that is losing its attraction…Hizbollah has sought to redefine its armed resistance as a means of defying the enemy without necessarily firing a shot… Instead, resistance has become, in effect, deterrence. Hizbollah’s self-proclaimed goal is to make it far more difficult and costly for Israel to attack Lebanon or Syria.” 9 However, this evaluation was contradicted by events on the ground. Hizballah renewed its artillery fire by October 2003, when the situation of the US-led coalition forces in Iraq worsened, but actually 2004 showed the most intensive Hizballah military activity, occurring periodically every two months.10 On November 7, 2004, for the first time an Iranian Muhajir UAV (unmanned air vehicle) operated by Hizballah infiltrated into Israel over western Galilee, a clear provocative escalation by Hizballah and its sponsor, Iran. On January 9, 2005, the very day of the election of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as chairman of the Palestinian Authority following Yasser Arafat’s death in November 2004, an Israeli officer was killed when Hizballah detonated an explosive device in the Shebaa Farms area. On January 14 and 17, Hizballah detonated additional explosive devices in the same area, without causing casualties. Asked why this operation was carried out at this time, Sheikh Nabil Qawuq, Hizballah's commander in the south tried to convince that "[t]his operation has nothing to do with the elections in Palestine” and that the “(Islamic) Resistance is committed to liberating the remaining occupied lands in Shab'a Farms and Kafr Shuba hills. What happened today reaffirms this commitment and falls within the context of continuous jihad and operations to force Israel to leave our land.”11 On April 12, 2005, Hizballah succeeded for the second time in five months in flying an unmanned surveillance aircraft into Israeli airspace. According to IDF officers, this was a provocative act only with propaganda value, as Nasrallah wants to prove 8

Nicholas Blanford, “Irritating Israel,” in Hizballah and the Lebanon-Israel border. “Hizbollah: Rebel Without a Cause?” International Crisis Group, Middle East Briefing, Amman/Brussels, 30 July 2003, at http://Www.Crisisgroup.Org/Library/Documents/ Report_Archive/A401070_30072003.Pdf. 10 Between May 2000 and July 2004 the following attacks against Israeli targets have taken place: 105 anti aircraft attacks; 42 anti tank missile attack; 5 Katyusha rocket attacks; 7 shooting attacks; 10 explosive device attacks; 14 infiltration attempts. 11 Al-Manar: Hizballah's Qawuq Interviewed on Shab'a Farms Operation 9 Jan, Beirut Al-Manar Television, January 9, 2005. 9

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capable of action against Israel without hurting Syria’s interests which is under international pressure to withdraw from Lebanon. The launching of the drone may have been timed to coincide with the joint news conference of U.S. President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, held two hours later.12 A wide-scale terror attack was averted on April 24, 2005 in the Israeli Har Dov area on the Lebanese border when an explosive device detonated from afar by Hizballah men on both sides of the border targeted a routine patrol but caused no casualties. The IDF is examining whether there is a connection between the attempted attack and Nasrallah's threats to forcefully pressure Israel to free Lebanese prisoners.13 In this writer’s opinion, the attack was meant to coincide with the end of the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon and prove once again that Hizballah will not change its strategy vis-à-vis Israel. As in the case of the Israeli unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon, Hizballah leaders are resisting the calls for its disarmament and end of violent activity by pretending that they are the only sure defense of the sovereignty and freedom of Lebanon in the face of continuing present and future aggression from Israel. One of the recent claims by Nasrallah was that he had good personal relations with the late premier Rafik Hariri, implying he received support from him for Hizballah’s military activity. Even Walid Junblatt, the leader of the Lebanese opposition, declared that “[w]e were unanimous at the time of Al-Hariri that Hizballah is a Lebanese defense force. We will hold dialogue with Hizballah to see if there is need for this force or not. We cannot act without consulting with Hizballah. I will not be influenced by US or other instructions.”14 Actually, by early 2001 the Hizballah attacks had begun to severely alienate Prime Minister Hariri. Just one day before the February 16 attack, he had informed a group of investors in France that there was “a clear agreement with our Syrian brothers” to end Hizballah provocations in the security zone. However, in April 2001, Hariri displeased his Syrian allies by allowing his daily mouthpiece al-Mustaqbal to question the wisdom of Hizballah's attack on Israeli soldiers in the Shebaa Farms and whether Lebanon can “bear the consequences of such an operation and its political, economic and social impacts.” Syrian President Bashar Assad was so outraged by the editorial that he canceled a scheduled meeting with the Lebanese premier in Damascus and refused to receive him for over a month.15 12

Haaretz, April 12, 2005. Haaretz, April 24, 2005. 14 See Al-Anwar, April 15, 2005. Walid Junblatt’s declaration came after he probably received reassuring statements from Hizballah leaders following a previous announcement that his dialogue with Hizballah “will be suspended awaiting the party's explanation of circumstances behind raising pictures by demonstrators in Al-Nabatiyah showing Junblatt as a Jewish rabbi.” See “Lebanon's Junblatt Announces Suspension of Dialogue With Hizballah,” Al-Arabiyah Television, March 15, 2005. 15 See As`ad AbuKhalil, “Lebanon One Year After the Israeli Withdrawal,” Middle East Report Online, May 29, 2001, at http://www.merip.org/mero/mero052901.html and Gary C. Gambill and Ziad K. 13

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In this author’s view, the best way to understand the organization’s strategy is to read its leaders’ public straightforward statements. In Nasrallah’s view, Syrian forces’ departure from Lebanon “creates a political vacuum that we must all try to fill. We absolutely must build a real national consensus, which is why Hizballah's domestic responsibilities are much broader than before…The Resistance flanks the army… Israel knows that the Resistance is independent both from the army and from government decisions… If the Resistance were to become just a brigade in the national army, at the first skirmish the enemy would bombard its positions, attack its staff headquarters, and the country's infrastructures. The day the Resistance becomes answerable to government orders, its effectiveness on the ground will become nil.” [author’s emphases]16

The Palestinian – Israeli conflict Hizballah sees its active involvement in the Palestinian intifada as part of the inevitable struggle against the imperialist threat represented by the United States. According to Nasrallah, Hizballah must therefore “assume [its] responsibilities…and never [allow] the Palestinians to fight alone.”17 This strategy is consistent with Hizballah’s strategic vision regarding the Islamization of Lebanon. The organization believes that this goal will be impossible to achieve as long as Syria has a clear interest in maintaining its grip on Lebanon, and as long as a balance of power exists between Lebanon’s various religious communities. As far back as the late 1980s, Hizballah leader Hussein Musawi stated that “Hizballah’s victory in Lebanon depends upon more struggles and confrontations with American imperialism and Zionism… [and] a prerequisite for establishing an Islamic government in Beirut is victory over the Zionist regime.”18 As mentioned above, four months after the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon, Hizballah was quick to lend its support to the violent Palestinian intifada. In October 2000, Hizballah leaders and various Palestinian factions opposed to the peace process held a series of meetings in Beirut, Damascus, and Tehran. Soon afterward, Hizballah announced the formation of a central committee composed of Lebanese and Palestinian nationalist and Islamic elements that rejected any settlement with Israel. One goal of this committee was to prevent other Palestinian factions from using the intifada as leverage to facilitate peace negotiations. Since that time, Hizballah has increased its level of cooperation with Palestinian rejectionists through direct training as well as logistical and operational support.

Abdelnour, Hezbollah: “Between Tehran and Damascus,” Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. 4 No. 2, February 2002, at http://www.meib.org/articles/0202_l1.htm. 16 Nasrallah interview to Le Monde, April 15, 2005. 17 Hassan Nasrallah interview, El Mundo Madrid, December 18, 2001. 18 Quoted in Martin Kramer, Hezbollah’s Vision of the West (Washington, D.C.: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1989), p. 30.

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Parallel to its open military activity, Hizballah has put forth significant effort toward establishing an independent terrorist and intelligence infrastructure inside both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel. In the territories, the organization has recruited Palestinian operatives for training at Hizballah camps in Lebanon. It has also worked with Lebanon-based operatives from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in recruiting a network of rogue Fatah Tanzim elements. Members of this network, called the “Shiva Brigades,” serve as Hizballah’s West Bank cadres, significantly expanding the organization’s targeting capabilities and political reach.19 Hizballah terrorists have also attempted to infiltrate Israel in recent years.20 Moreover, since November 2000, authorities have uncovered several cells of Israeli Arabs recruited by Hizballah for intelligence and terrorist missions.21 Hizballah’s attempts to destabilize the region and impede Israel’s massive operations against the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure peaked from March 30 through April 13, 2002, when it conducted a campaign of Katyusha and mortar attacks on IDF positions in the Shebaa Farms and, for the first time, the Golan Heights. The organization began this campaign the day after a meeting between Hizballah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah and Syrian president Bashar al-Asad. According to various diplomats and analysts, “This escalation was Syria’s way of demonstrating its continued influence over

19

For a detailed account of this expansion, see Matthew Levitt, “Hizballah’s West Bank Foothold,” PeaceWatch no. 429, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, August 20, 2003. 20 One of the earliest examples of such infiltration occurred in 1996, when Hussein Mikdad, a Lebanese Shi‘i terrorist, blew himself up while trying to make a bomb in his room at an east Jerusalem hotel. He had entered Israel a few days earlier with a forged British passport. A member of Hizballah, Mikdad had served as accountant to Shaykh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the organization’s spiritual leader, before being chosen for terrorist training. Since 1996, at least two other Hizballah operatives have attempted to infiltrate Israel and gather information on behalf of both the organization and Iran. In 1997, Hizballah member Stefan Smirks, a German citizen and convert to Islam, was arrested in Israel following a tip-off from German intelligence. Similarly, Lebanese-British citizen Jihad (or Gerard) Shuman was arrested in January 2001 while attempting to enter Israel in order to take photographs of potential targets. See Isabel Kershner, “The Changing Colors of Imad Mughniyah,” Jerusalem Report, March 25, 2002. 21 The first such cell was uncovered in November 2000, when seven residents of the Western Galilee village of Abu Snan were arrested “on charges of spying for Hezbollah and plotting to abduct Israeli soldiers on its behalf.” In June 2001, three Israeli Arabs from Yafi‘a and Kfar Kanna were indicted “for plotting to steal weapons from an [IDF] base and send information to Hezbollah.” In September 2001, four Israeli Druzes in Rama and Daliat al-Carmel were arrested “on charges of smuggling weapons into Israel from Lebanon.” In June 2002, Israeli citizen Nissim Nasser, a Lebanese Jew, was “indicted on charges of spying for Hezbollah”; specifically, he had attempted to provide the organization with photographs and maps of Israeli targets for large-scale terrorist attacks. In July 2002, “Israeli officials announced that they had uncovered a Hezbollah plot to kidnap Israelis abroad,” an operation devised by an Israeli Arab who had moved to Lebanon in 2000 and become a Hizballah operative. Also that month, Israeli authorities arrested “four Arab Israelis who smuggled weapons and transmitted intelligence to Hezbollah in return for drugs.” All quotes from Gary Gambill, “Hezbollah’s Israeli Operatives,” Middle East Intelligence Bulletin 4, no. 9 (September 2002) available at www.meib.org/articles/0209_l2.htm. See also Arieh O’Sullivan, “Hizballah Recruiting Israeli Arabs,” Jerusalem Post, February 19, 2002.

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Middle East stability.”22 The timing of the campaign “was also connected to the peace initiative proposed by Crown Prince Abdallah of Saudi Arabia and adopted at the Arab summit in Beirut at the end of March.”23 After the quick US military victory in Iraq in spring 2003, Hizballah, Iran, and Syria seemed to believe that, given the difficulties US forces would encounter in postwar Iraq, the Bush administration would be neither willing nor able to take forceful action against any of them in the short term. Therefore, they had a great deal of space in which to maneuver, provided they behaved cautiously. In a May 2003 interview, Hizballah’s spiritual leader Mohamed Hussein Fadlallah explained this view in response to a question regarding whether Hizballah would face “official demands for its dissolution “in the “next stage” of Washington’s plans for the region: “The issue of Hezbollah and the Islamic resistance is linked to the Palestinian issue; therefore, this issue is not expected to progress with the same urgency as the Iraqi situation… Launching a strike against the Islamic resistance in Lebanon would create an Arab Islamic shock, which the United States would not be able to absorb. Therefore, I imagine that these threats to the resistance are preemptive ones to prevent the resistance from launching military operations against Israel and create a fait accompli of insecurity in the region.” 24 Hizballah views the continuation of the violent conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as crucial to achieving its overall goals. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fadlallah’s posted his views under titles such as “The Palestinian Cause Is Where We Stand or Fall”25 and “Palestine Is the Battlefront on Which the Future of the Region Will

22

Nicholas Blanford, “Fears of a Second Front: The Lebanese-Israeli Border,” Middle East Report Online, April 23, 2002, at available at www.merip.org/mero/mero042302.html. 23 Ibid. The Saudi proposal, which first came to light in mid-February, “offered Israel full normalization with the Arab world in exchange for a full withdrawal from all territory occupied . . . since 1967.” Yet, Syria did not want to give up “its bargaining card in future negotiations” by promising normalization before Israel withdrew from the Golan Heights. Hence, although Syria joined twenty-one other Arab League states in endorsing the proposal, Hizballah “rockets began flying over the border two days later.” Moreover, Hizballah’s leadership was quick to denounce the very notion of a compromise solution soon after the Saudi proposal surfaced. In early March, Husayn al-Khalil, Nasrallah’s political assistant, warned the Palestinians against “falling in the trap of truces and entering the game of polarization,” calling on them to “stick to their rights and not to get involved in the games of international politics” (“Ra‘d: Resistance Has Right to Support the Palestinians,” al-Nahar [Beirut], March 12, 2002). Then, on March 24, three days before the Arab Summit opened, Nasrallah called for the continuation of the Palestinian armed struggle, declaring that the “conflict must end with the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea.” He also called for a national conference “to resist the settlement” of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. See Hasan Nasrallah, interview by Hiyam Shahud, London al-Majallah, March 24, 2002; and Jubran Tuwayni, “Lebanon’s Role,” Beirut al-Nahar, March 21, 2002. 24 BBC Worldwide Monitoring, “Shi‘i Cleric Fadlallah Comments on Iraq Situation,” May 4, 2003, translation of an interview originally published in al-Sharq al-Awsat (London), May 2, 2003. 25 From the “Our Stand This Week” section of Fadlallah’s website, April 8, 2003, at www.bayynat.org.lb/www/english/standthisweek/stand08042003.htm.

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Be Decided.”26 Aware of the enormous international pressure that the Palestinians were facing to halt the violence, Fadlallah advised them “to be cautious as they try to thwart this new scheme [i.e., the Quartet Roadmap for Israeli-Palestinian peace]. They have to play different and concerted roles that they will divide among them, and they have to uphold their national unity…to hold on to what they have so far achieved.”27 Similarly, Nasrallah declared that Hizballah would remain engaged in the Palestinian issue because “it is also an Arab cause and an Islamic cause. The holy shrines in Palestine are not the Palestinians’ alone. They concern all the Muslims… Consequently, every Muslim throughout the world is concerned with this issue one way or another…[Hizballah’s] concern is to be present and perform this duty.” 28 By mid-2002, an Israeli journalist and researcher evaluated that by aiding the Palestinian struggle, Hizballah operations against Israel have served the interests of the organization itself and “has been careful to limit its activity to the Shab'a Farms” only, thus proving “its ability and willingness to embark upon a policy of cautious brinkmanship, acting in a way that would not compel an Israeli response.” 29 Two years later the same analyst acknowledged that Hizballah had penetrated into the Palestinian arena and confirmed the existence of a special unit devoted to bolstering the Palestinian intifada. He cited the Israeli intelligence claims that up to 80% of Palestinian violence in 2004 had been either financed or directed by Hizballah, “although it is always difficult to corroborate such intelligence claims independently,” but recognized that the “opaque façade” maintained by Hizballah concealed a deep involvement in terror activity against Israel and that “[t]his association with the Palestinian theater could unravel the status quo at the northern border.” His conclusion was that the scope and nature of Hizballah’s continued activity against Israel since the withdrawal have been “more limited and less troubling than what had been forecast by Israeli intelligence.”30 In the same vein, the aforementioned mid-2003 ICG paper stated on the one hand, that “from the outset, Hizballah claimed that its principal agenda related to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Characterizing Lebanon as only one part of a far broader theatre of operations, it stated its goal as being to “liberate” Palestine. Following the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada, Hizballah increased its support for armed operations in Israel and the occupied territories, and observers were concerned about the risks to regional stability posed by this “Palestinianisation”. With the war in Iraq, Hizballah’s leadership further underscored the 26

From the “Our Stand This Week” section of Fadlallah’s website, April 22, 2003, at available at www.bayynat.org.lb/www/english/standthisweek/stand22042003.htm. 27 “The Enemy’s Conditional Acceptance of the Road Map,” from the “Our Stand This Week” section of Fadlallah’s website, May 27, 2003,Z, at www.bayynat.org.lb/www/english/standthisweek/stand 27052003.htm. 28 “Egyptian Magazine Interviews Hizballah Chief on Lebanese, Regional Issues,” translation of an article that originally appeared in al-Musawwar (Cairo), June 13, 2003. 29 Daniel Sobelman, “Hizbollah Two Years after the Withdrawal - A Compromise between Ideology, Interests, and Exigencies,” Strategic Assessment, Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies, Tel-Aviv University, , Volume 5, No. 2, August 2002, at http://www.tau.ac.il/jcss/sa/v5n2p4Sob.html. 30 Daniel Sobelman, “Still playing by the rules,” in Hizballah and the Lebanon-Israel border.

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importance of the Palestinian struggle, claiming that the primary U.S. objective was less Baghdad than Jerusalem.” 31 On the other hand it claimed that although Hizballah “may have been involved in an effort to ship weapons to Palestinian armed groups in May 2003” and “Nasrallah held a publicized meeting with a key Hamas leader the following month…neither step appears to herald a significant upgrading of the organization’s investment in the Palestinian struggle.” It concluded that in practice “this strategy proved to be more rhetoric than action. Direct military intervention by Hizballah on the Palestinian front would have exposed it, as well as Lebanon and Syria, to swift and severe Israeli retaliation.”32 According to data provided by the Israeli Security Service, there was a steep rise in Hizballah involvement in Palestinian terrorism: In 2002, seven Palestinian groups were operated by the Hizballah, in 2003, there were 14, and in 2004, there were 51 such groups. Most of last Hizballah-connected armed cells were affiliated with Fatah - 38, mostly in the West Bank. Six cells were associated with Islamic Jihad, three with Hamas and at least four with the Popular Front, a secular Marxist organization. In 2004 68 attacks were initiated by Hizballah, some 20 percent of the attacks over the Green Line. Twenty-four Israelis - soldiers and civilians - were killed in these attacks. Iran is funneling through Hizballah significant resources to the war against Israel: an estimated $9 million into the territories in 2004. Since a terrorist attack costs an average of NIS 5,000, clearly some of that $9 million ended up in the pockets of the cells in the territories. The current bonus paid for a dead or wounded Israeli is NIS 4,000. According to the same report, Hizballah leadership strives to forge unity between the various groups in the West Bank, unifying bomb makers, suicide bombers and those who dispatch attacks into one organization. It has apparently stopped trying to send a senior bomb expert into the territories by using couriers who carry instructions on computer disks.33 However, the growing involvement of Hizballah in the Palestinian violence has been acknowledge more and more not only by the Israeli intelligence, but by the Palestinians themselves, more so since the death of Arafat and the election of moderate Abu Mazen as the new leader of the PA. Members of the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades - the terrorist wing of Fatah, said that Fatah’s fighters had received payments of up to $9,000 from Hizballah for attacks against Israel during the past four years. However, most of the money had been sent to Palestinian Islamic Jihad quite easily “just using Western Union.” According to the leader of one group, he lately refused money offered by Hizballah in order to give Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, a chance to negotiate with the Israelis. But the agent of the Hizballah in the West Bank approached other groups offering money to get them to mount an attack.34 31

Hizballah: Rebel Without a Cause? Ibid. 33 See Amos Harel, “Hezbollah's Terror Factory in the PA”, Ha'aretz, 11 January 2005. 34 See the interview with Ala’a Sanakreh, the 27-year-old leader of the group, in Marie Colvin, “Iran offers cash for bombs to break Palestinian truce,” Times Online, April 3, 2005. 32

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After the PIJ took responsibility for the deadliest suicide bombing since Abu Mazen took office, at the Stage night-club in Tel Aviv, the PA owned daily Al-Hayah AlJadidah referred to the alleged involvement of Hizballah in this attack: “It is thus possible to ask Hizballah not to meddle in our arena as long as it does not allow the Palestinians to fire rockets from the central region - from Al-Nabatiyah for example - and not even to fire rockets from the Shab'a front. Palestinians in Lebanon were informed of this ban as soon as the withdrawal from Southern Lebanon was completed. We do not want to use the same words Hizballah used on the eve of the pullout from the south when it said to the Palestinians: Do not meddle with Lebanon's destiny; and its request was implemented to the letter before everyone's eyes.” 35 Leaflets distributed in Ramallah also warned Hizballah against "meddling" in Palestinian affairs and threatened to punish any Palestinian who collaborates with the Lebanese organization. The leaflets, signed by a hitherto unknown group called The Unit for Combating Foreign Intervention in Palestinian Affairs, accused Hizballah of channeling funds to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These events reflect growing tensions between Hizballah and the Palestinian Authority over the latter’s decision to suspend terrorist attacks against Israel. However, even after such admonitions, and in spite of the huge pressure on Hizballah and Lebanon to disarm the organization, it seems its leaders do not renounce to the card of Palestinian violence. Some, like the ICG, see a change in Hizballah’s behavior on the background of the pressure to disarm it after the Syrian withdrawal. For instance the organization’s attempts to deny any involvement in Palestinian anti-Israeli attacks, “in sharp contrast to past practice.” Whereas Nasrallah once made no secret of the movement's active support for militant Palestinian groups, the movement now strongly denies providing any such help. The ICG cites a Hizballah spokesperson who claimed that the movement provides “moral support to the Palestinians for their just cause on a media level only.” 36 Even Israeli military experts sometimes can be deluded by Hizballah’s clever maneuvering. On April 6, 2005, a member of the IDF general staff said there has been lately a noticeable drop in Hizballah pressure on Palestinian groups to conduct terror attacks. The IDF spokesman said it did not signify an overall change in the organization's policy, but rather a reduction in the number of directives and amount of funding that has flowed into the hands of activists in the territories. Days after this declaration we witnessed a flare up of Hizballah initiated incidents.37 Moreover, in a recent interview with The Daily Star, Nasrallah’s deputy, Sheikh Naim Qassem, clearly declared that Hizballah will offer whatever “material support” Palestinians need, an “unconditional support” for their struggle against Israel, regarded as 35

Column by Adli Sadiq: "Outside the Palestinian Sphere," Jeruaslem Al-Hayah Al-Jadidah, Feb. 28, ‘05. “Syria After Lebanon, Lebanon After Syria?” International Crisis Group, Middle East Report, N°39 – 12 April 2005, at http://www.crisisgroup.org/library/documents/middle_east_north_africa/ arab_israeli conflict/lebanon/39_syria_after_lebanon_lebanon_after_syria.pdf. 37 Haaretz, April 12, 2005.

36

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something that concerns the whole Arab world. He said that Hizballah believes “in cooperation in all possible and appropriate ways and forms, whether it is material, financial or moral support, and… consider it [its] obligation…” “Helping the Palestinians stand up to the Israeli offensives, he added, will disable Israel's ability to expand its aggression into neighboring countries, of which the first would be Lebanon.”38

Hizballah as Syria’s strategic arm The Golan Heights remains in Israeli hands, and for Damascus, Hizballah remains one of the few, if not the only, potent bargaining chips with which to pressure the Jewish state into returning the strategic plateau. The balance of power between Damascus and Hizballah has shifted most noticeably since the death of former Syrian president Hafiz al-Asad. This change is often attributed to the strange (some say hypnotic) relationship between Bashar al-Asad and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah. During Bashar’s reign, Nasrallah has assumed a greater amount of independence and demonstrated a certain charismatic ascendancy indeed, Bashar is said to look at him “like a starstruck teenager.”39 According to one expert, the nature of this relationship “testifies to Bashar’s weakness in the Lebanese arena.” 40 Syria - not Iran - has been the most important source of support for Hizballah’s terrorist and guerrilla activity against Israel from the north. To be sure, Iran has given Hizballah the ideological legitimacy and all the political, financial, propagandistic, and military support it needs. Yet, without Syria’s help - in the form of an overall strategic umbrella, specific military and political coordination and pressure on Beirut to give the organization free rein in southern Lebanon - Hizballah could not have achieved its current status as a guerrilla movement with control over a “liberated” territory, a continuous supply of military equipment via Damascus, and virtual immunity from all-out Israeli punitive measures.41 Syria provided the organization with logistics, instruction, technological aid, and weapons (including 220-millimeter rockets with an estimated range of eighteen to forty-five miles). Such aid has transformed Hizballah into a strategic partner and operational arm of the Syrian army in the confrontation with Israel.42

38

The Daily Star, April 15, 2005. Gary Gambill and Ziad Abdelnour, “Hezbollah: Between Tehran and Damascus,” Middle East Intelligence Bulletin 4, no. 2 (February 2002), at www.meib.org/articles/0202_l1.htm. 40 Eyal Zisser, “The Return of Hizbullah,” Middle East Quarterly 9, no. 4 (Fall 2002), at www.meforum.org/article/499. See also Yossi Baidatz, “Bashar’s First Year: From Ophthalmology to a National Vision” (Washington, D.C.: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2001). 41 See Ely Karmon, “A Solution to Syrian Terrorism,” Middle East Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 2 (June 1999), pp. 23–34. 42 See Gambill, “Hezbollah’s Strategic Rocket Arsenal,” and Lenny Ben-David, “Iran, Syria, and Hizballah—Threatening Israel’s North,” Jerusalem Issue Brief, vol. 2, no. 3 (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, July 17, 2002).

39

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For the most part, Hizballah has embraced this role. In a speech delivered at a ceremony marking the first anniversary of Hafiz al-Asad’s death, Nasrallah promised Bashar that, in addition to liberating the Shebaa Farms through blood and jihad, Hizballah would “receive the victory flag from Palestine and the Golan.”43 The latter promise was made as if it were Hizballah’s duty to liberate the Golan, not just Syria’s.44 Similarly, Hizballah’s leaders have reacted to Israeli “aggression” against Syria even more vociferously than has Damascus. On October 5, 2003, one day after a deadly suicide bombing in Haifa, Israel launched air strikes against a terrorist training camp near Damascus - its first attack on Syrian soil in nearly three decades.45 Soon thereafter, Hizballah described the Israeli strike as “a treacherous aggression and a very serious breach of all red lines and rules of the conflict for nearly three decades.” The organization also declared its “absolute commitment to the commonality of the battle and destiny with steadfast and proud Syria, its leadership and people,” promising “to confront the existing and coming challenge with all that is necessary” in order to avert “the disastrous consequences of the terrorist and aggressive policies of Sharon, US President George Bush, and all this state-terrorism camp.”46 Nonetheless, Hizballah has also acted independently not always responding to Syrian demands. As peace negotiations between Syria and Israel opened in early 1996, Syrian wishes to calm down the Israeli-Lebanese border were initially heeded by Hizballah, and the Syrian government even started to speak openly about dismantling Hizballah. Not long after, however, Hizballah reinitiated incursions across the blue line. Having reached a decision that a confrontation with Damascus was not in the interest of the party, Hizballah adopted the policy of engaging the Syrians on all fronts. Hizballah managed “to create a process of open and continuous dialogue with the various power centers in Damascus” and thus coordinate its activities in a fashion that takes into account both parties' interests and does not disrupt their strategies.” In the context of this process Hizballah managed to carve a space for itself where it can operate with a high degree of independence.”47 Some observers evaluate that for Lebanese Shiites and Lebanon in general, the party has become an active social and political player on the domestic scene, with or without Syrian support. As Hizballah’s resistance goes beyond the Shebaa Farms to support of the Palestinian cause, even if Syria broke rank with Hizballah, it would still have popular backing and a cause. At most, it might be forced to undo its military wing or 43

Hassan Nasrallah, remarks broadcast on Radio Damascus, June 10, 2001. This stance may help explain why Hizballah expanded its shelling of Israeli positions in March–April 2002 to include IDF bases in the northern part of the Golan. See Gal Luft, “Israel’s Response to Lebanese Border Skirmishes,” PeaceWatch no. 376 (The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 16, 2002). 45 The training camp had been used by various terrorist organizations, including Islamic Jihad, which had claimed responsibility for the Haifa bombing. 46 “Lebanon: Hizballah Says Israeli Attack on Syria Breaches ‘All Red Lines,’” October 7, 2003, translation of an untitled, unattributed report that originally appeared on the website of al-Nahar (Beirut). 47 Agha, A note on Hizballah. 44

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incorporate it into the larger Lebanese Army, possibly lending even more strength to Hizballah's legitimacy.48

Hizballah – proxy of Iran’s export of the Islamic revolution When the US sponsored the Madrid Conference of October 1991, beginning an Arab-Israeli negotiation process that Iran perceived as a threat not just to its ideological doctrine but also to its strategic interests, it responded by convening a parallel conference in Tehran to unite radical organizations hostile to negotiations with Israel.49 At the closing of the Tehran conference, the regime decided to support the “Palestinian resistance” and establish a high-level committee to unite radical organizations hostile to negotiations with Israel and prepared to continue the struggle in an Islamic front under Iranian leadership. Iran provided weapons to Hizballah and training for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Support of the rejectionist and radical Palestinians is one of the few issues where Iran's ideological-revolutionary and national-pragmatic interests coincide. Until late 1991, Iran supported Hizballah’s strikes against Israeli military objectives in southern Lebanon and northern Israel; it did not attack any Israeli or Jewish targets abroad. After the Madrid Peace Conference, Iran coordinated a spate of deadly attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets.50 Iran’s massive support to Hizballah has been critical in cultivating the organization’s terrorist capacity against Israel. This support is meant to help Hizballah maintain pressure on Israel’s northern border, prepare itself to launch a major attack at the appropriate moment, and facilitate the Shi‘i movement’s assistance to the intifada in general and to Palestinian Islamist organizations in particular. As mentioned above, most of the estimated $9 million that Hizballah poured into the territories in 2004 came from Iran. Hizballah has reached a modus vivendi with the various factions in the ruling elite of Iran although there are “elements in the Iranian political system that are not very fond of Hizballah, and even less so of Iran's relations with the organization.” In the past Hizballah suffered from Iranian “misreading” of the situation in its zone of operation and had to put up with misjudged Iranian “interference” in its policies. Most of these

48

Rhonda Roumani, “Syria's last trump card,” in Hizballah and the Lebanon-Israel border. Elie Rekhess, "The Terrorist Connection-Iran, the Islamic Jihad and Hamas," Justice (Tel Aviv), May 1995, p. 4. 50 These included: a failed bazooka attack against an employee of the Israeli consulate in Istanbul (Jan. 1992); the suicide car bomb attack against the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina (Mar. 1992); the assassination of the security officer of the Israeli embassy in Ankara (Mar. 1992); an attempt to bomb the main synagogue in Istanbul (Mar. 1992); the attempt to assassinate a leading member of the Jewish community in Istanbul by bazooka fire (Jan. 1993); an attempt to place a car bomb at the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand (Mar. 1994); and the suicide bombing of the Jewish community building in Buenos Aires, Argentina (July 1994).

49

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disturbances have been successfully dealt with and the relationship now is “quieter and somewhat smoother.”51 In this context, it is interesting to remember Nasrallah’s proposal at the beginning of February 2003 for an ‘Iraqi national accord’ between Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi opposition, to be sponsored by the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, or a group of Arab and Islamic countries in order ‘to obstruct the American war’ against Iraq and evade war, “especially since the price will be paid primarily by the Iraqi people.” The conference should “set principles for national reconciliation and a mechanism for holding free and fair elections that bring to power a government enjoying the support of the Iraqis.”52 Although Nasrallah stressed that what he proposed “is not opposed by Iran,” it could be understood that there are differences of opinion between Hizballah and some leading circles in Iran on this subject.53 Lebanese commentators presented Nasrallah’s initiative as an indication of Hizballah’s confusion and in total contradiction to the Iranian position.54 According to an interesting press report at the time, Hizballah took “austerity measures in the party's social, medical, and educational establishments and is working to activate and develop these establishments to generate enough revenues in case Iranian aid stops in the future, and so that the party can practice civilian activities through these establishments in case the Arab-Israeli conflict was resolved and the party turned into a political party.”55 However, Iranian marja'eyah (Shiite jurisprudence leadership) remains the source of authority for the leadership of Hizballah. Nasrallah is still presented on his personal website as “the representative of the Imam Khamenii in Lebanon, the paramount leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah,” and not the secretary-general of the organization.56 This puts Iran in a unique position of influence on the party but need not define every aspect of its policies. The future will show how Hizballah evolves after the restoration of the Iraqi Shiite marja'eyah that is not Iranian but Arab. 57 Meanwhile, Iranian hardliners and reformists alike, consider Hizballah’s political and military status in Lebanon as important to Iranian interests as ever. The leading Iranian conservative daily exulted after Hizballah’s huge pro-Syrian demonstration in Beirut on March 8, 2005: “The rare and awe inspiring brilliance of the secretary general of Lebanese Hizballah in capitalizing on the moment and taking the initiative in his hand in the political arena of Lebanon and Syria, and thus forcing the vicious and overambitious and interventionist forces of America, Europe, and the Zionist regime seeking a quick escape, has been one of the outstanding and unforgettable episodes in the 51

Agha, A note on Hizballah. Ibid. 53 Ibid. 54 See Zvi Bar’el, ‘Nothing like spending the war in Beirut,’ Haaretz, February 19, 2003. 55 See Al-Nahar, January 14, 2003. 56 See at http://www.nasrollah.org/english/index.htm, 57 Agha, A note on Hizballah. 52

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history of Arab nations and freedom loving Arab people. American press Thursday confirmed that US statesmen having seen the epic move and immense demonstrations of Beirut, have reached the conclusion that for the time being they had better avoid any entanglement and confrontation with Lebanese Hizballah…This is indeed a candid confession to the defeat of the joint conspiracy by America, Europe, and the Zionist regime through the show of power by Lebanese Hizballah…So…Bush by having witnessed the realities on the ground in Lebanon... [should] also appreciate and come to grips with this other and more important reality, namely that the power of the Islamic Revolution leadership in Iran too has remained unknown for many American statesmen and decision-makers. This is the crucial lesson that America should learn from the events in Lebanon”. [author’s emphases] 58 The reformist political activist Elyas Hazrati commented on the same events: “The United States is not merely pursuing Syrian departure from Lebanon, Security Council Resolution 1559 places emphasis on the disarming of Hizballah and other resistance groups and the full withdrawal of Syrian forces. This in fact complements the changes and developments that have also come about in Palestine…[T]he disarming of Palestinian groups and the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon can serve as a first step, which can lead to the next step, which is the closing of the offices of Palestinian resistance groups and Hizballah in the Syrian capital… In fact by targeting Hizballah, Iran is in some way being targeted… In my view, Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah undertook the most appropriate task. He applied a distinctly effective and at the same time impartial policy toward involved groups and in a way played a father figure-like role for all groups”. [author’s emphases] 59

Is Hizballah on its way to disarm and become a pure Lebanese political party? Most observers evaluate Hizballah’s political and military strength at its true value. A leading Israeli intelligence expert described it: “Domestically, Hizballah is the strongest political force in the Shiite community, which is the largest sectarian community in Lebanon (roughly estimated at 35 to 40 percent of the population), but both are underrepresented in the existing Lebanese political system. For example, Hizballah currently occupies only 10 percent of the seats in parliament, while the Shiites themselves are also limited by the system - as brokered and manipulated by Syria - to approximately 20 percent of parliamentary seats. In the present Lebanese embroilment, Hizballah holds the key to any national agreement with the opposition that would enable the formation of a national-unity government and the subsequent holding of parliamentary elections

58

See unattributed editorial: “Lesson America has To Learn from Lebanon,” Jomhuri-Ye Eslami [Tehran daily insisting on strict adherence to Khomeyni's ideals], March 13, 2005. 59 See Report by Javad Montazeri “In Interviews With Experts ‘E'temad’ Discusses Iran and the Developments in Lebanon,” E'temad [reformist daily published in Tehran], March 14, 2005.

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currently scheduled for May. Hizballah will want to use this key to enhance its political power.” 60 Hizballah’s disarmament will remain the crucial issue in the aftermath of the elections. As usual, its leaders release multiple contradictory statements, but they stress all the time the need to keep the weapons and deterrent force of the movement vis-à-vis ‘the American-Zionist conspiracy.’ Speaking on February 12, before Hariri's killing, Qassem told Reuters that disarmament was not up for discussion. In April, the same Qassem told the Financial Times that disarmament could pave the way for Hizballah’s fighters to become a kind of reservist army working with Lebanese authorities. But he said talks could not take place while Israel remained in the Shebaa Farms area. 61 Hizballah’s spiritual leader Fadlallah also justified the need to keep the arms: “There is still the issue of the Shab'a Farms, which the Lebanese, on the official and popular levels, believe are Lebanese land…We are still in a state of war with Israel. No one can provide a guarantee that Israel will not attack Lebanon in the future under any negative circumstances...So if we assume that the resistance laid down its weapons and some parties or organizations carried out some actions against Israel, then Israel might use that to launch an aggression against Lebanon. We know that Israel is still holding the Islamic resistance responsible for some operations inside Palestine. Therefore, we ask: Who will protect Lebanon if Israel launches an aggression against it? We respect the Lebanese army, but we know that this army cannot confront the Israeli army, just as one army faces another. That is why there is a need for Lebanese resistance on the battlefront to be like a popular and reserve army in Lebanon.” 62 As always, Nasrallah was the most clear and blunt speaker for Hizballah: “There is a group in Lebanon that together with the Lebanese army, people, and state, which provides some kind of security or protection – it is required to lay down its arms, or else be declared a terrorist organization. We are willing to remain a terrorist organization for all eternity in the eyes of George Bush, but we are not prepared to give up defending our country, our people, our people's blood, and our honor.” 63 Hizballah leaders not only try to convince their Lebanese partners or international players that their claim to remain armed is legitimate and absolutely necessary for the defense of Lebanon’s sovereignty and well-being, but when cornered by the growing pressure they threaten to react just as during the early 1980s, namely to use sheer force and terrorism. 60

Michael Herzog, “The Hizballah Conundrum,” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, PolicyWatch, No. 981, March 29, 2005, at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC05. php?CID=2286. 61 Haaretz, April 9, 2005. 62 “Fadlallah Tells Al-Nahar: The Shiites Are Not Sectarian and Not Inside a Shell, But They Have Priorities; Weapon of the Resistance Is Necessary and Will Be Removed Once Danger of Israeli Aggression Is Over”, Al-Nahar, March 25, 2005. 63 Interview with Hizballah’s Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah. Al-Manar TV aired on March 16, 2005. See MEMRI TV Monitor Project, clip 610, http://memritv.org/Transcript.asp?P1=610.

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Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyid, head of Hizballah's Political Council declared: “Hizballah cannot take a neutral stand and just watch things…[w]hen the issue of disarming the resistance is raised…Hizballah has a strong presence and influence in Lebanon. It proposed dialogue on these issues. Let us meet and reach agreement either within the framework of the constitutional establishments or outside it. We have only three options: Hold dialogue within the framework of the constitutional establishments, hold a roundtable dialogue, or go to war. There is no fourth option: Either war or dialogue outside or inside the establishments. If there is a fourth option it would be that of international interference and guardianship to decide the future of the Lebanese people if they do not take the initiative to solve their problems…If this is meant to be a threat of US military intervention in Lebanon, it will be enough to know what happened to the Zionists in Lebanon between 1982 and 2000 and what happened to them in the presence of their fleets here”. [author’s emphases]64 A blunt and significant commentary by a hard-line Iranian daily, one of the clearest acknowledgments yet that Hizballah was behind the suicide bombings against Western peace forces in Lebanon in 1983, threatens that this could happen again: “The entry of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Lebanon's Hizballah, onto the scene and his invitation to all people to gather for a rally this afternoon in Beirut is another astute move that can change the entire scene completely to the disadvantage of foreign conspirators…It is certain that this time, too, America and the Zionist regime will miss the mark in Lebanon, and the bitter experience of the 1360s [1980s] will be repeated… In the 1360s, the Zionist regime, taking advantage of the confused domestic situation in Lebanon and the severe civil war being waged in that country, invaded first southern Lebanon and then raided Beirut. America, accompanied by a number of other crony countries in the West, followed these footsteps and, in defense and support of the Zionists, dispatched their military forces to Lebanon and tried to consolidate the occupation of Lebanon by the army of the Zionist regime. Amid these circumstances and this environment, the Lebanese Hizballah was born and succeeded in forcing all three Western [US, French and Italian] armies to retreat...What was done in the 1980s and 1990s at the hand of the Lebanese Hizballah to cleanse that country of the filth of the aggressive armies of the West and the Zionists took place when Hizballah was still young and brand new. It lacked experience and not quite recognized by the world. Now this revolutionary movement has gained plenty of experience and has accumulated the valuable experience and precious lessons of the past two decades. It is stronger than at any other time... and has gained a lofty status and position among the Lebanese that is unprecedented. So there is no doubt they can challenge and confront foreign conspiracies better than before and stronger than anytime prior to the present.” [author’s emphases]65

64

“Lebanon, a New Stage” program, featuring an interview with Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyid, head of Hizballah's Political Council, by Ghassan Bin-Jiddu, in Beirut - Al-Jazirah, March 10, 2005. 65 Editorial: “Method Used in Ukraine Cannot Be Deployed in Lebanon.” Jomhuri-Ye Eslami, March 9, 2005.

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In a more direct threat to Israel, Nasrallah warned that “plans by Jewish extremists to attack the Al Aqsa Mosque” would trigger an Arab and Muslim response, without elaborating.66 On this background, the editor-in-chief of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassah Ahmed Al-Jarallah recently wrote an article critical of Hizballah and its leader Nasrallah, who vowed to inflict a disgracing defeat on the U.S. troops if they approach Lebanon: “This man has chosen to adopt an arrogant attitude, similar to that of Saddam Hussein, knowing fully well how Saddam's power and authority came to an end. Nasrallah is speaking the language of the Fifties and Sixties. Such speeches may jeopardize the lives of the people in Syria and Lebanon because neither Syria, nor Hizballah, can fill the huge gap in the balance of power with their adversaries.” 67 However, addressing thousands of supporters at a Lebanese Liberation Day rally in South Lebanon on May 25, Nasrallah insisted Hizballah would fight to keep its arms and threatened to ‘cut off any hand that reaches out to our weapons because it is an Israeli hand’; he considered ‘any thought of disarming the resistance’ as ‘madness.’ Nasrallah warned the resistance had ‘more than 12,000 rockets’ that can target northern Israel at any time.68 Moreover, during his campaigning in southern Lebanon, Nasrallah spoke about the necessity to liberate not only the Shab’a Farms, but also seven Lebanese villages in northern Palestine [meaning Israel] which he claims are part of Lebanon, implying that Hizballah’s fight will continue even if the Farms are “returned” to Lebanon.69 According to most Lebanese observers, Nasrallah's speech defied mounting international pressure on Hizballah to disarm and underlined the group's determination to maintain its independence from political influence. Nasrallah gave Hizballah's weapons a regional function when he linked disarming to the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and not to Israel’s withdrawal from the Shab'a Farms.70 According to another view, Hizballah is aware of the major danger represented by the confrontation with the United States and Israel under the flag of the UN and the international community for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559. Therefore, Nasrallah ‘did not wait for the battle to come according to the timing of the enemy and adversary, but decided to take the initiative in heading into battle’ in his speech in Bint Jibail.71 Interestingly, Walid Jumblatt, one of the most vocal critics of Syria's interference in Lebanese politics, attended the rally and claimed that international interference should not ‘undermine Lebanon's principles.’ Jumblatt recently forged an alliance with Hizballah in Mount Lebanon for the parliamentary elections. During his Liberation Day speech 66

Haaretz, April 9, 2005. MEMRI Special Dispatch Series, No. 887, 1 April 200, at http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page= countries&Area=syria&ID=SP88705. 68 See Mohammed Zaatari,, ’Hizballah throws down gauntlet on arms,’ Daily Star, May 26, 2005. 69 See al-Hayat, June 9, 2005 and al- Watan, June 10, 2005. Nasrallah used the formula “we want a Lebanon of 10,452 km, as asked by the [assassinated] president Bashir Gemayel” in 1983. 70 Walid Chucair, ‘Nasrallah Says Disarming Linked to Peace Deal,’ Daily Star, May 28, 2005. 71 Ra'uf Shahuri, ‘Plan B in the Battle of Disarming Hizballah,’ Beirut Al-Anwar, 27 May 27, 2005. 67

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Nasrallah insisted his party's electoral alliances would only become long term political alliances if they were committed to ‘protecting the resistance and safeguarding its arms.’ The message also addressed those who believe they could disarm Hizballah through talks and dialogue. Hizballah has said it is not convinced by every statement of support and feels much of the support is ‘void of any clear commitment.’ In fact, the four major political entities, Hariri's Future Movement, Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party, Nabih Berri's Amal Movement and Hizballah, form two major blocs that join with and break away from other parties in various electoral districts depending on how much they need the votes. Paradoxically, Hizballah’s ‘pragmatic’ stance represented an asset for maverick General Michel Aoun (who won a sweeping victory in the largely Christian Metn and KesrouanJbeil districts) who in turn believes Hizballah would oppose any attempt to disarm it.72 Hizballah’s victory in the May – June 2005 elections has raised its representation in Parliament from nine to 11 party members, and 25 members in its coalition bloc with the country's other main Shiite party, the Amal Movement, confirming their domination among Shi'ite Muslims. Hizballah’s big win in south Lebanon bolstered its determination to keep its weapons in the face of international pressure to disarm, senior pro-Syrian leaders claimed. ‘The win... is the decisive expression of our people's rejection of [U.N.] resolution 1559,’ Mohammad Raad, head of Hizballah’s parliamentary bloc, told a news conference. ‘It is an expression of our people's commitment to protect the path, choice and weapons of the resistance.’ ‘We will face any attempt to disarm the resistance, [which] is the natural result of Israel's aggression and its wars and massacres against Lebanon,’ declared Amal leader and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.73 According to Hizballah politburo member Nawaf Musawi, on March 5, the day Syrian President Bashar Assad announced his decision to pull his troops out of Lebanon, the party made the decision to be more involved on the political scene. He said: ‘Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon created a vacuum in the country's political scene, and international powers are trying to take advantage of this vacuum and impose their tutelage over Lebanon.’ Indeed, on the background of the excellent results obtained in the second and third rounds of the country's parliamentary elections, Hizballah announced its intention to participate fully in the formation of Lebanon's next government. Hizballah dismissed alleged contradictions in this step with its role as a resistance party.74 Musawi said the party's decision to take part in the next Cabinet did not mean less focus on its goals as a resistance group: ‘There is no conflict between taking on more political responsibility in the internal political arena and keeping up the resistance work…The group will maintain its resistance, and its readiness to face any Israeli aggression as long as the Zionist danger is there.’ Nizar Hamzeh, a Lebanese Hizballah expert, said the party cannot afford to be left out of the cabinet at the time being as it is 72

See Adnan El-Ghoul, Nasrallah reveals Hizbullah's strategy of political alliance, Daily Star, May 27, 2005. 73 See Nadim Ladki, ‘Hizbollah polls win bolsters defiance on arms,’ Reuters, June 6, 2005. 74 See Majdoline Hatoum, ‘Hizbullah: Politics, resistance don't conflict,’ Daily Star, June 18, 2005.

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‘under international pressure to disarm and it needs to be in the center of what is going on. It would be very dangerous for them not to participate.’

Hizballah – Quo Vadis? The main question in dispute is the evaluation of Hizballah leaders’ true intensions and strategy for the short and longer term, on the background of the dramatic events of the last months which culminated with the assassination of former prime minister Hariri and the complete withdrawal of the Syrian forces from Lebanon. Analysts present several possible scenarios for the future of Hizballah. According to the Israeli researcher Eyal Zisser, in recent years Nasrallah ‘has adopted the ambitious goal of taking power in Lebanon through democratic means’ through a system in which every vote is counted equally and therefore would benefit Hizballah, which enjoys massive support among the Shi'ites who constitute at least 40% of the population. Zisser considers that in the face of the international and even internal consensus concerning the need of the disarmament of all armed militias in Lebanon (even though Lebanese leaders advocate disarmament of Hizballah in the context of a Lebanese dialogue rather than as capitulation to foreign pressure), Hizballah has ‘failed to come up with a coherent response’ although its leaders ‘have not ruled out the possibility of eventually finding a formula that would include disarmament.’ The reason for this relatively accommodating stance, according to Zisser, is that ‘outright defiance might put all the movement's political, social and economic gains of recent years at risk and reduce it, again, simply to the status of a resistance movement, but this time with virtually nothing to resist.’ On the other hand, claims Zisser, ‘the organization remains determined to preserve whatever freedom of maneuver it still has in south Lebanon and to prevent Israel from changing the current equation according to which every Israeli action guarantees a Hizballah reaction.’75 The ICG, which has already tried in 2003 to predict it, does it again in a recent paper. It assesses that recent events have narrowed Hizballah’s options and pressed it to be more cautious: the decision by moderate clerics from Najaf to work with US coalition forces on the background of vicious insurgent attacks against Shiites in Iraq; Mahmoud Abbas's election as PA president and the efforts to forge a ceasefire with the potential of strong international response in case Hizballah attempts to sabotage the process.76 According to ICG analysts, seen from Hizballah’s perspective, the Syrian withdrawal is only stage one; what comes next on US and Israeli agendas is its disarmament which, in the short run at least, it is likely to resist, if necessary by force. A Lebanese official cited by the ICG report remarked that “disarmament is not on Hizballah's agenda, in spite of whatever moderate signals it may convey. If it feels threatened, if it feels the U.S. is coming after it, it will provoke instability, either directly or by voicing Shiite 75

Eyal Zisser, ‘Hizbullah's Strategy Following Syria's Withdrawal From Lebanon,’ Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv Notes, No. 134, May 23, 2005. 76 Syria After Lebanon, Lebanon After Syria? Crisis Group interview, March 2005.

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demands for a greater and fairer share of the political pie. The scenario is not hard to imagine - Shiites assert their power; Maronites feel threatened and react - and it leads straight to sectarian confrontation.”77 In the words of a Hizballah spokesman, "if anyone comes to disarm us we will eat them. We will go mad. But in any event, the Lebanese army will be the last to try to disarm us. 70% of the army is Muslim and 70% of these Muslims are Shiites".78 ICG considers even that as a result of Hizballah’s current predicament it is distancing itself from Damascus without breaking ties, “preserving its legitimacy and place on the domestic political scene while reminding all of its strength and special status - and therefore, of its continued need to bear arms.” In the words of a Lebanese observer, “Hizballah's position has always been unique. Until recently, it saw itself as part of the opposition but without being anti-Syrian. Now it is pro-Syrian but it doesn't fall into the loyalist camp. So it falls outside all camps and that is precisely how it derives its strength.”79 This explains the massive use of Lebanese flags, not Hizballah banners, and nationalist slogans during the mass demonstration organized by Hizballah on 8 March 2005. ICG’s conclusion is that should the gambit fail, Hizballah appears to be counting on “the resurgence of sectarian and political differences within the opposition once its principal goal - getting the Syrians out - has been achieved,” giving way to “political bickering, corruption and institutional gridlock” and leaving the issue of disarming the Hizballah “to yet another day.” According to an Israeli expert, Michael Herzog, Hizballah “sees both opportunities and dangers ahead”, feels more vulnerable with the Syrian departure, but may also become more dependent on Iran. “If the internal scene slopes into violent strife, the group will stand ready as the only armed Lebanese militia.” 80

Threats to Israel after the Syrian withdrawal Analysts also point to another possibility: that of a security vacuum in Southern Lebanon should Hizballah leave or assume a passive role in regard to radical and armed Palestinian groups who, out of conviction or serving the purposes of others (Syria? Iran?) may carry out attacks against Israel.81 Israeli analysts are indeed very worried by this possibility. Herzog considers the possibility that the Syrian withdrawal will allow Hizballah to arm itself through direct shipments from Iran to Lebanon and free of Syria’s restraining hand could further 77

Idem Syria After Lebanon, Lebanon After Syria? Crisis Group interview with Hussein Nabulsi, Hizballah spokesperson, Beirut, 1 April 2005. 79 Idem 80 Herzog, The Hizballah Conundrum. 81 Syria After Lebanon, Lebanon After Syria? Crisis Group interview with Lebanese journalist, Beirut, 4 March 2005. Such a scenario would not be without precedent. On several occasions, so-called rogue Palestinian factions carried out attacks on the Blue Line. See Crisis Group Report, Old Games, New Rules, op. cit., p. 9. "Hizballah appeared to be saying, if you don't like us to be around, we won't be able to control the situation here either", Crisis Group interview with diplomat, Beirut, February 2005. 78

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provoke Israel. In any case, Hizballah will certainly continue its efforts to destroy prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. 82 Another Israeli researcher, Israel Elad Altman, predicts the possibility that the attempts to dismantle the militias could lead to Lebanon rapidly becoming “a fertile ground for terrorist attacks against Israel, against American or French interests in retaliation for those countries' sponsorship of 1559, or as a warning against further intervention in Lebanese or Syrian affairs… Syria itself might be interested in, and even initiate, internal strife and other mischief.”83

The dilemmas of Hizballah’s challenge Hizballah’s pivotal role in the pro-Syrian camp and the potential damage it could cause if pressed too much, has led to a very cautious French and even American conduct during the critical days following Hariri’s assassination. According to US and French officials the priority was to get Syria out of Lebanon but keep Lebanon stable in the process, giving no opportunity to Hizballah “to stand in the way.” The US authorities considered that it would be counterproductive to push disarmament now, and it was unrealistic to expect the Lebanese army to take forceful action against the organization. The issue should be dealt therefore in due time, by the Lebanese. ICG comments that France is persuaded of the need “to integrate Hizballah more fully into the political equation…and offer reassurances about its future,” while “Washington has been balancing its Lebanon focus with its broader anti-terrorism campaign, leading to often conflicting messages.” 84 In this vein, President George W. Bush’s in his March 15, 2005 statement expressed the hope that Hizballah would prove not to be a terrorist organization, “laying down arms and not threatening peace.” Nawaf Musawi, member of Hizballah's political bureau in charge of international relations commented on these developments: “We have recently witnessed an increasing political debate in European circles and now on the level of the US President. This debate seeks to adopt a stand that is different from the traditional US stand toward Hizballah. I do not want to adopt a stand in this regard at this point. I said that we view the stand positively. But, we should also view this stand in light of the Israeli influence of the US policy.” 85 Some American and British experts, including retired former intelligence and other officials, are even eager to court Hizballah, in the framework of an effort to “open communications among groups and societies that are not in touch with one another, 82

Herzog, The Hizballah Conundrum. Israel E. Altman, “Syrian military pullout could backfire,” in The Future of Lebanon, Bitterlemons Int., Ed. 11 Vol. 3 - March 24, 2005, http://www.bitterlemons-international.org/previous.php?opt=1&id=77. 84 Syria After Lebanon, Lebanon After Syria? Crisis Group interview, Washington, March 2005. 85 Hizballah Official Says Party Views US Stand 'Positively' Announcer-read report over video, AlArabiyah Television, March 16, 2005.

83

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aiming to try and shift prevailing Western perceptions on the Islamist movements and what they represent,” as expressed by Alastair Crooke.86 Members of his Conflicts Forum recently met in Beirut with Hizballah, Hamas and other leading Middle Eastern Islamists “to probe each other's perceptions, positions and goals.” Nawaf Mousawi, represented Hizballah in these meetings. The director of political programs at Hizballah’s Al-Manar Television, Ibrahim Mousawi, said that the participating Islamists seemed to welcome the gathering as a breakthrough.87

The need for a strategy to disarm Hizballah The ICG team is firm in the conviction that in “the longer term, steps will have to be taken in accordance with the Taef agreement and Resolution 1559 to transform Hizballah gradually into a disarmed, strictly political organization.” To achieve this goal, ICG proposes: gradual integration of Hizballah’s military wing as an autonomous unit under Lebanese army control, agreement to abide by decisions of the elected Lebanese government and relocation of its rockets 20 to 30 kilometers from the border as a prelude to handing them over to government control; and full disarmament of Hizballah in the context of progress toward Israeli-Lebanese and Israeli-Syrian peace agreements. The European Union is advised to maintain its current stance regarding non-inclusion of Hizballah on its terrorism list, subject to reconsideration should the organization engage in such activity.88 Israeli analysts agree as to the dangers facing Lebanon, Israel and the international community as a result of the Syrian withdrawal and Hizballah’s central role in the Lebanese arena. Herzog however, emphasis the fact that Hizballah cannot be allowed to remain the exclusive armed, nongovernmental force in Lebanon and proposes to exploit “the current movement of political ‘tectonic plates’ under Lebanon and the Middle East,” this “unique moment of opportunity to begin undercutting the armed Hizballah-Iran axis.” He thinks that focusing on Hizballah, the international community should exploit its current domestic vulnerabilities and pressure it concerning terrorism and disarmament.89 Elad Altman rightly remarks that the May Lebanese elections “can be neither free nor fair if one party is a military organization that also enjoys effective autonomy in parts of the country,” thus pointing to the urgency in the disarmament of Hizballah. He is 86

Alastair Crooke is director of Conflicts Forum, a new London-based non-governmental organization “hosting professional people united by a common interest in overcoming current barriers between Islam and the West. These people have extensive grounded experience in zones of conflict across the globe. The principal aim of Conflicts Forum is to establish new understandings of Islam and of political Islam in the West and to challenge the prevailing western orthodoxy that perceives Islamism as an ideology that is hostile to the agenda for global democracy and good governance.” Crooke has been among other member of the British MI6 and Special Adviser to the European Union Special Envoy to the Middle East Peace Process. See its website at http://conflictsforum.hyperion.titaninternet.co.uk/ index.htm. 87 Rami G. Khouri, “Western-Islamist talks counter confrontation trend,” Daily Star, March 25, 2005. 88 Syria After Lebanon, Lebanon After Syria, Executive Summary and Recommendations. 89 Herzog, The Hizballah Conundrum.

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skeptical at the possibility that any Lebanese government or coalition of political forces is able to persuade Hizballah to surrender its military capabilities fully or in part. He, therefore, proposes the dismantling of Hizballah and the Palestinian armed groups, “which are an integral part of the Syrian structure of domination in Lebanon,” as “part of the Syrian withdrawal and not separated from it and delayed to a later stage… Syria should be required to use its influence over Hizballah in the context of efforts to dismantle the militias.” His main practical proposal though, is the deployment in Lebanon of a NATO and EU international civilian and military force whose role would be “to verify the full implementation of UNSC Resolution 1559, full Syrian military and intelligence withdrawal; to assist in disarming all the militias; to help provide internal security; and to assist the Lebanese in reconstructing their national institutions.” Elad Altman believes that NATO and the EU, both looking for new security missions in the broader Middle East region, are more suitable for the job than the UN forces, which failed in the past.90 Even a very levelheaded Israeli analyst as Yossi Alpher, is apprehensive of “the prospect of the enhanced political empowerment of radical Islamist movements that have been deeply involved in terrorism”, namely Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine. He rightly observes: “There are some indications that the US, and particularly the European Union, will acquiesce in this process if Hizballah and Hamas manage to distance themselves from their terrorist pasts. But these movements will not easily abandon their totally negative attitude toward Israel and its very right to exist. Thus their integration into politics, in turn, poses a potentially serious obstacle to the promotion of a peace process, whether with Palestine or Lebanon…For Israelis and Palestinians, Lebanon's proximity to Palestine makes it potentially the most influential front where radical and moderate forces confront one another.” 91

Conclusion and recommendations Martin Kramer, one of the first sharp analysts of Hizballah, commented that the organization is a political movement which sees politics as an inseparable part of religion and whose “collective choices regarding the extent and intensity of its violence had a clear political rationale. When it employed violence, it did so for political and not ritualistic purposes…to bring it closer to power. In making its choices, Hizballah weighed benefits against costs.” 92 Throughout its twenty-five-year history, Hizballah has demonstrated quite clearly that it is an ideologically driven movement with strong leaders, a clear vision of its strategic goals, and extensive experience in terrorism and guerrilla warfare. The current leadership, under the guidance of the charismatic Nasrallah, is convinced of the 90

Elad Altman, Syrian military pullout could backfire. Yossi Alpher, “On Hizballah and Hamas,” in Lebanon, Syria and the conflict, bitterlemons.org, Edition 11, March 21, 2005, at http://www.bitterlemons.org/previous/bl2103205ed11.html. 92 M.Kramer, "The Calculus of Jihad,” at http://www.geocities.com/ martinkramerorg/Calculus.htm. 91

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righteousness of the organization’s aspirations and methods, and, until recently, believed that its goals were within close reach. The perceived victories of the Islamist cause during these two-and-a-half decades -victories in which Hizballah was an active participant- only reinforced this conviction. In particular, the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 instilled the organization with an almost messianic assurance that it would achieve final victory over its enemies.93 Hizballah is also a pragmatic movement, however. It maintains awareness of the difficulties ahead, makes plans to overcome them, and waits for the right moment to act, while exhibiting great patience and a strong sense of history. Therefore, even when its ultimate objectives are postponed because of strategic or political constraints, Hizballah does not feel compelled to renounce its goals or the violent means it has learned to use so well. Given this modus operandi, if pressed to disarm, Hizballah’s current short-term strategy may be threefold: to try to sabotage the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating process and the withdrawal from Gaza by staging, under deep Palestinian cover, a major terrorist attack in Israel; to support a Syrian move, or even take the initiative, for internal destabilization of Lebanon through terrorism; to build on the American entanglement in Iraq and the possibility that Shi’a radicals there will make use of violence and terrorism against the US coalition if the new constitutional framework will not answer their expectations. As the crisis concerning the nuclearization of Iran is approaching a critical moment in case the negotiations between the US and Europe and Iran fail, Hizballah could be used to provoke a regional crisis at Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyid, head of Hizballah's Political Council reflected this state of mind when he declared: “If the current circumstances are not favorable, they might be more favorable in the future.” 94 We should therefore take seriously the threats proffered by the Hizballah leaders and analyze carefully what Daniel Sobelman metaphorically described as Hizballah’s “opaque façade.” In our view, Hizballah has achieved the present dangerous status as a Middle Eastern player due to the unwillingness or the fear of the international community to challenge its brutal murderous terrorism over the last 25 years. Hizballah has paid no price until today for the numerous attacks against US, French, other Western and Arab citizens, soldiers and interests. Hizballah has also continued for eight years to kidnap, unpunished, dozens of Western citizens in Lebanon, historic example for the Iraqi insurgents. Even Osama bin-Laden has praised Hizballah’s 1983 suicide bombing of the

93

Ely Karmon, ‘?Fight on All Fronts?: Hizballah, the War on Terror, and the War in Iraq,’ The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Policy Focus, No. 46, December 2003. 94 “Lebanon, a New Stage” program, featuring an interview with Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyid, head of Hizballah's Political Council, by Ghassan Bin-Jiddu, in Beirut - Al-Jazirah Televison, March 10, 2005.

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US Marine barracks in Beirut as the first “American defeat” at the hands of Islamist radicals.95 Neither have the various Israeli governments, of the left and of the right alike, dared to seriously challenge the Hizballah-Syria-Iran strategic threat to Israel’s interests. In final analysis, these governments have permitted Hizballah to build a solid base in southern Lebanon, threatening permanently Israel’s territory and actively supporting Palestinian terrorism and at the same time deterring it from significant reprisal.96 The permanent Hizballah threat to the Israeli - Palestinian negotiating process could not only derail any hope for a future peace agreement and thus engulf again the two peoples in a long bloody fighting, but it could produce also a regional conflict if Syria will continue to coordinate its actions with Hizballah after the withdrawal from Lebanon and compel Israel to react forcefully to major terrorist attacks on its territory. A success on the Lebanese and Palestinian fronts could embolden Hizballah to be more active on the Iraqi front, in case the Shia radicals there decided to violently challenge the new government and the US-led coalition. In view of the historical experience and the serious potential threat Hizballah represents for the local and regional arena, there is need for a continuous and vigorous political and economic pressure by the US, the European Union, and actually by the UN representing the whole international community, on the Lebanese government, Syria and Iran to curtail Hizballah’s military presence in southern Lebanon and compel it to disarm. The designation of Hizballah as a terrorist organization by the EU and as many other countries as possible could only enhance this pressure and help deter the organization and its sponsors. US and France could also engage legal actions against Hizballah leaders for their organization’s involvement in past terrorist operations. It is doubtful that NATO or the EU would accept in this troubled period engaging military forces on the ground. However, it should be made clear to Hizballah leaders, by the international community and by Israel, that if they continue terrorist activities across the border or support other terrorist organizations abroad, direct military reprisal could come as a result.

95

See Reuven Paz, “Global Jihad and the Sense of Crisis: Al-Qa‘idah’s Other Front,” Occasional Papers vol. 1, no. 4 (Project for the Research of Islamist Movements [PRISM], March 2003), at www.eprism.org/pages/4/index.htm. 96 See Ely Karmon, “A Solution to Syrian Terrorism,” Middle East Quarterly, Vol. VI, No.2, June 1999, pp. 23-34, at http://www.meforum.org/article/464.

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THE PARTY OF GOD IS VICTIM OF ITS VICTORY

THE PARTY OF GOD IS VICTIM OF ITS VICTORY

by Guy BECHOR

Hizbullah managed to legitimate itself as a great Lebanese political force against the enemy, Israel. After the withdrawal of Tsahal from the South of the country, it lost its way. Today the Shiites themselves contest its leadership. The dilemmas of Nasr Allah.

1.

T

he farewell between the head of Syrian

intelligence in Lebanon, General Rustum Razala, and the secretary-general of the Lebanese Shiite movement, Hizbullah, Hasan Nasr Allah, was touching. Razala left Lebanon together with the Syrian military forces in April by order of the Americans. Saluting him, his ally Nasr Allah wanted to deliver him a personal farewell gift. According to the Lebanese press, it was a gold-plated Kalashnikov submachine gun. Not a functioning one, but a souvenir. In effect, Nasr Allah symbolically gave him the meaning of his movement: a machine gun imprisoned in a gold case meant for a museum. For, these are new times in Lebanon. In the same month, in a speech in Beirut, Nasr Allah confirmed that his organization will be disposed to discuss disarmament, but only “behind closed doors.” Nasr Allah declared himself ready to discuss questions regarding the fate of his organization with all Lebanese political representatives. “We have agreed that the resistance (a term which in the Lebanese political lexicon is equivalent to Hizbullah), its arms and its goal, will be discussed on a national level, but it is absolutely forbidden that the particulars be mentioned in the press”. That same month as well Nasr Allah’s second, Sheik Na’im Qasim, confessed in an interview with the Financial Times that his organization was ready to discuss disarmament and that the possibility existed that Hizbullah would become a “reservist military”, in coordination with the Lebanese government. Even if Qasim placed the disarmament in relation to the Israeli withdrawal from the zone of the Shebaa farms, which Hizbullah considers part of Lebanese territory (contrary to UN opinion), nonetheless, the question of disarmament is now considered discussable. Who would never have believed that the most militant organization in Lebanon and perhaps the entire Middle East, the organization whose terrorist propaganda fired the anti-Israeli imagination of an entire generation of young Arabs, which swore to fight Israel “for another thousand years”, would now express the intention of transforming itself into a political party? Where did the flame of the struggle go?

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THE PARTY OF GOD IS VICTIM OF ITS VICTORY

Hizbullah represents yet another example of the paradox that characterizes the Middle East, a region in which excessive strength can also transform itself into weakness. This strength is in reality a double-edged sword. Whoever holds it in his hands feels a sensation which even Israel, the sworn enemy of Hizbullah, knows very well. One may say that, in good measure, Hizbullah is a victim of its own strength. 2. In 1982, when this organization was founded by its first charismatic secretarygeneral, Sheik Subhi Tufayli, under the religious guide of the imam Muhammad Husayn Fadl Allah, the principal objective was to address the Shiite community in Lebanon. Until the mid-Seventies—when another imam, Musa al-Sadir, had founded the Shiite movement Amal (which means “hope” in Arabic)—it had never been organized. With alSadir’s defeat in Libya in 1978, the decline of the movement began, until the founding of the militant and revisionist Shiite organization with the pretentious name of Hizbullah, which means Party of God in Arabic. No less pretentious were its aims: it would not rest until the conquest of power in Lebanon. It was then tradition that the Lebanese state invested little in the poor and marginalized Shiite citizens, who in turn largely directed their political, religious and cultural attention East, towards the far holy cities of Iraq and Iran—Nagaf, Karbala and Qom. The Shiite population had always been controlled in the South of Lebanon by two families—As’ad and ‘Usayran. In the Seventies, the populations of the villages began to relocate en masse from the South and from the Bekaa Valley to Beirut in search of means of sustenance. Thus were born the poor and neglected quarters in the southern part of the city—Burg al-Baragna, Bir Hasan, and others. The families of the Shiite elite continued in every case to consider these masses as nothing more than electoral reserves, necessary to ensure term after term of success in the general elections. The Shiites thus found themselves in the lowest social strata of the Lebanese socioeconomic scale. They were deprived of united leadership, confused between the strong conservatism they left behind in their villages and the bright lights of great Beirut, which was not however their city. Great theories emerged in that period: Arab unity, Nasserism, Arab socialism, communism, revolution of the officials, Greater Syria. But they were not their theories. In a certain sense the Shiite were strangers in their own homeland. The Hizbullah movement, with the proud support derived from the victory of the revolution of Khomeini in Iran, erupted amidst the Shiite cultural confusion and its ardent desire for revenge. Its reborn strength rested on two pillars: religion and armed struggle against Israel. With time, the struggle against the Israeli military then stationed in South Lebanon would provide the base for Hizbullah’s assault on power in Beirut. A struggle that granted the movement legitimacy and immunity within the Lebanese political system. Still today the rule of the Arab world is that whoever fights against Israel is worthy of great esteem. It was this rule that brought such figures as Yasser Arafat, Gamal Abd alNasir and Saddam Hussein to the pinnacle of Arab politics in the twentieth century. Hizbullah fought against Israel with the aim of obtaining that social and political leadership which gave the Shiites of Lebanon recognition and strength within the country.

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When Hizbullah Israel at the center of their attention, it intended in reality to draw attention to itself and to the Shiites it represented. Thus Hizbullah completed its rise in Lebanese politics, paralyzed by the party of combatants in the “holy war” against the Israeli enemy. Gnashing their teeth, but lacking the power to do more, the other parties assisted Hizbullah’s progressive political rise, until it became the most numerous group in the Lebanese parliament. But Hizbullah also played the religion card. That religion which had managed to provoke a revolution in Iran in 1979 and that had become a political weapon for the Lebanese Shiites. A religion that hid clear social and political objectives. And so Hizbullah, combining militant Islam, hate, a sense of social marginalization and restoration of amour propre in the struggle against a common enemy, discovered the formula for victory in Lebanon. 3. Hizbullah did not have allies in the Arab world. Sunni Islam for hundreds of years expressed its superiority over the Shiite school, considered marginal and mystic. Nor was the organization a member of the organized network of the Muslim Brotherhood, extended throughout the Arab world, connected to a plethora of groups, from Hamas in Palestine to the various brotherhoods active in the Arab countries. This network hinges on the ideologue Hasan Turabi in Sudan and involves also the ISF (Islamic Salvation Front) in Algeria and affiliated movements in other North African countries. Hizbullah has had to do everything alone, operating in an environment rich with dangers, with respect to the best Shiite tradition of seeing a threat in any foreign entity. Paradoxically, the Party of God has since its birth been able to count on two opposed points of support that contributed with their polarity to the completion of the identity and legitimacy of the movement: Iran and Israel. In its struggle against Israel Hizbullah has defined itself and inflamed an entire generation of Arabs. Unlike the Sunni Islamic movements, a part of which found definition through “cultural” and political opposition to Israel, Hizbullah has can be proud of having truly fought against the Jewish state. Iran, at the opposite pole, preformed a function of support, financing and a proud model of auto emancipation. It is clear how important Israel was for Hizbullah: without Iran, with all its economic and military assistance, the movement would have still been able to form itself; with out Israel, on the other hand, Hizbullah would not have been able to exist. As an Israeli it is difficult to admit it, but Hizbullah managed in the Nineties to make a game of Israel, manipulating its public opinion. Its present secretary-general Hasan Nasr Allah understood the strength of the mass media in the West. Making use of a psychological war sustained by kidnappings and terrorist acts given prominence by the mass media, he turned Israeli public opinion against its own government. It was this public opinion that put pressure on the military, as happens in democracies, and in the end Israel completely evacuated the South of Lebanon in May 2000. Nasr Allah made psychological war an art. He became the grand high priest in the game of fear and illusions. His was a televised leadership supported by terrorism—never

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the opposite. And it worked. Israel bought the manipulation that aimed at instilling the belief that Hizbullah was a highly potent military organization, when in reality all the guerillas of the Party of God would easily fit in a soccer stadium. The weakness was camouflaged behind apparent strength. And this strength influenced a democratic society to the point of changing it internally. Nasr Allah has always derided Israeli democracy. He considered it the soft underbelly, as al-Qa’ida derides the democracies of Italy or Spain. But history often has its irony. So that the organization that has so well know how to (negatively) exploit public opinion (of Israel), has fallen victim to public opinion (the Lebanese one). It is as if democracy knew to find the way to strike its antagonists. The great priest of manipulation of public opinion finds himself these days being carried away by it. The armed struggle against Israel, thanks to which Hizbullah has defined itself, is concluded. When Israel withdrew from the South of Lebanon, Hizbullah was caught flatfooted. Its leaders were hasty to declare a continuation of the struggle against Israel, but Lebanese public opinion was not inclined to continue this Sisyphean task once Israel evacuated and released all the Shiite prisoners. Lebanon, where general political amnesties have been applied more than anywhere else in the Arab world, has asked that the struggle against Israel be ended. From Hizbullah’s point of view, this is a catastrophe. Without the struggle against Israel, the movement with its aura of glory and influence will no longer be able to exist. The major fear of the managers of the Party of God consists of the collapse of political influence reached through great toil. With the withdrawal of the Israeli military, Hizbullah’s first critics emerged. The Christian journalist Gubran Tuwayni, director of the Beirut newspaper al-Nahar, rose to the fore for criticizing the Party of God, “which could drag Lebanon, Syria and the entire region into a ruinous war”. Tuwayni and other journalists no longer hide their criticisms of Hizbullah. In one blow, the organization has lost its identity as pseudo-protector of Lebanon and has returned to being the group of poor Shiite fallah of the South. From national protagonist Hizbullah has returned to being a sectarian phenomenon; from granter of favors to needy recipient. Even the relations between Hizbullah and the Lebanese Shiite population have changed in recent years. When the organization was born in 1982, in the south of Lebanon, information technology was almost nonexistent. The Shiites who populated southern Lebanon were simple people, lacking electricity and easily moulded and inflamed. Today Lebanon is coming into contract with globalization. Dozens of satellite channels from other Arab countries carry information and analyses to every Lebanese home; the internet has spread and Hizbullah’s role as creator of norms becomes more difficult every day. Until recently, it defined the Shiite public, while today it is in large measure the public that determines Hizbullah. It has fallen victim to its own success. Having managed to elevate the Shiites to a strong position in society, now that they have arrived they are used to a high level of living, expecting representation and power. If in

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the past Hizbullah spoke of “the oppressed of the world”, when carrying out terrorist operations, today this only provokes amusement. Today the public is less discriminated against, has a much higher level of education and is more integrated in the state structure to the point that revolutionary rhetoric has little relevance. In sum, Hizbullah has reached its objectives—both with regards to Israel and within Lebanese society—and yesterday’s successes are today’s failures. 4. The organization’s troubles have continued and worsened since September 11th, when Hizbullah began to fear being identified with al-Qa’ida’s terrorism, and more of being the focus of America’s ire after the military victory over Saddam Hussein. The war in Iraq has introduced a new element in the equation of forces in the Middle East: fear. Revisionist organizations and states that use violence and terrorism and in the past did not have to account for their actions are today on the defensive. The fear of following in Saddam’s footsteps has brought Iran, Syria and Libya as well as Hizbullah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to consider the limits of force for the first time. Hizbullah, for example, fears being identified with the militant Shiite organizations in southern Iraq and attracting the fury of the United States. The surprising religious unity among the Shiites has disquieted Hizbullah, causing them to lower their profile. And so, those who had brought the “novelty” of unstoppable militancy to the Arab world have pursued a line of fast-track integration into Lebanese politics. Hizbullah, which has always been able to differentiate the points of strength and weakness in the region, understood immediately that the Americans have imposed a new level of force on the Middle East. The relations of force in the region have changed. If in the past Syria was not terribly inclined to take Washington’s will into consideration, at times outright opposing it, now the US has become a concrete menace for Damascus. If before Hizbullah launched threats against Israel, today the Jewish state and the democratic freedom it represents are a menace to the existence of the organization itself. And in Lebanon public opinion increasingly controls the Hizbullah movement. So, from 2000 to today, the Party of God, sole armed militia in Lebanon, has moved from public good to a shackle on freedom for the country’s leaders. The Lebanese governing class has begun to distance themselves from the organization. And how could it be otherwise if they want to attract a million tourists a year to the country? How can one expect them to come to Lebanon if the leaders of armed militias roam about in the streets, burning US and Israeli flags at the end of their demonstrations? How is it possible to better Lebanon’s dubious reputation if Hizbullah, with its mere existence, perpetuates the memory of days in which terror reigned in Beirut? How is it possible to attract international investment for Beirut’s development, when Hizbullah continues to project a sense of instability? The declared military power of the organization stands out too boldly on the Lebanese scene in a phase of change. The Hizbullah = war brand, so successful in the past, has become a sign of the past which one wishes to forget and make forgotten. It has

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come to create a separation between the Lebanese leadership and the Shiite group. After having been able to serve as a bridge between the Lebanese political world and the Shiites, Hizbullah has today become the element that could recreate the moat of the past. 5. The war in Iraq has brought similar consequences for Syria and Iran. Teheran and Damascus are ever more isolated and threatened by the international community. But their most insidious enemies are above the ideas of democracy, internet, free information and human rights. From strong and solid regimes, the two supporters of Hizbullah are now struggling for survival. For Hizbullah, the two state protectors have become millstones rather than advantages. If before, they were factors of legitimization, today they have the opposite effect. If before they were on the offensive, now they are on the defensive. So it happens that Hizbullah finds itself involved in Security Council resolution 1559 which calls not only for the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon—now completed—but also for the disarmament of all the militias. This obviously refers to Hizbullah, the only remaining militia. The Shiite organization found itself linked to the Syrian occupiers in Lebanon. The Security Council resolution came down upon both Syrian president Bashar al-Asad and Hasan Nasr Allah. Syria and Hizbullah were by then used to seeing a cover for their actions at the UN. Now for the first time, it has turned on them Even the highly calibrated internal structure of Hizbullah has become a burden since the war in Iraq. In a world with only one superpower, in which states and organization are defined on the basis of their democratic aspirations, elections and civil rights, the structure of the council of the Sura (consulting council) appears antiquated and irrelevant. The Sura is based on the classic Islamic model in which a consulting council, led by secretary-general Hasan Nasr Allah, unites around a single religious sage (faqih). At Nasr Allah’s side are figures like Muhammad Ra‘d, Hasim Safi a Din, Muhammad Yazbak, Husayn Halil, Muhsin Sa‘kar, etc. It is certainly not easy to reconcile a traditional structure with the demand for democracy and modernity which is advancing with ever greater insistence in Lebanon. Can the figures that guide Hizbullah, who had their relevance in the days of war and terrorism, adapt to guiding the organization in times of market economies, stock markets, casinos and a thriving nightlife in Beirut? Will they know to tone down their thunderous rhetoric? I strongly doubt it. The lack of mobility in Hizbullah’s structure does not allow for the entrance of new blood and new ways of thinking. Of course the spiritual leader, Sheik Fadl Allah, who holds the post of mugtahid, can bring changes, but his position in the sphere of Lebanese Shiites is much less central than it once was. Hizbullah finds itself confronted by strategic dilemmas. For example, does it need to enter into government or transform itself into one of many political parties, perhaps not even the greatest? Until today, it considered itself above trifling Lebanese political games. The movement behaves as if it were the government. Hizbullah has always been a movement of thundering monologues, a characteristic opposed to classical Lebanese

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politics. Besides, the entrance into government would mean renouncing the proud program of turning Lebanon into a country subject to Islamic law. The Lebanon of compromises would conquer the Hizbullah of intransigence and rebellion. The word would defeat the gun. Hizbullah finds itself almost obligated to enter into government to satisfy the desire for participation on behalf of the Shiites, who want what the organization has promised them: public offices, political responsibility and power. In the past, Hizbullah based its strength on the element of da‘wa, which is to say a form of state socialism: hot meals, schools and free medical treatment. Today, this backfires on the organization, which is not able to satisfy different demands. The Shiites do not want more hot meals. They want strength and money; they want to participate in Lebanon’s wealth. And for this they do not need Hizbullah’s old slogans. Nasr Allah, who well understands the growing strategic difficulties for his organization, returns to raising the specter of Israel. If it depended on him, his rockets would be launched at the north of Israel and Tsahal would be returned to southern Lebanon, thus resolving the existential dilemma of the Party of God. But the Lebanese street does not allow him to open a new front and Nasr Allah is seeking to bait Israel, hoping that Jerusalem will launch its military against him. In recent years Hizbullah’s leader has been testing the waters to determine how far Lebanese public opinion will allow him to go: this is fundamental because he must go far enough to drag Israel into a new war. For this he only attacks the zone of the Shebaa farms (controlled by Israel with the UN’s consent), firing artillery against Israel and piloting unmanned planes over its airspace. Unfortunately for Nasf Allah, Israel—which has matured in the meantime— does not respond to his provocations. So that even within Lebanon Hizbullah appears as a provocateur. Thus Nasr Allah does little else than worsen his situation. The more the calm lasts, the greater the divide between his ever more grotesque speeches and his actions. It is another hard blow for the organization that has always held that Arab leaders speak much but do little. The enfant terrible of Lebanese politics has become just another petty politician. Even if it is still early, the day will come when the government of Beirut will find itself at the negotiating table with Israel. The talks should not be terribly complicated, given that no real problems divide the two countries. How will Hizbullah react? Israel will work with any legitimate Lebanese government, but what will Nasr Allah’s movement, for which the struggle against the Jewish state is the sole geopolitical raison d’etre, do? Probably Hizbullah, which has in the past demonstrated its ability to read Lebanon’s moods, will understand that it cannot cause the failure of a similar process, and will at the most hold it hostage with whatever tools the mass media leaves at its disposal. It will be one more blow for the Shiite movement, after those received these past few months.

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6. With the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik al-Hariri, on February 14th, by Syria and the Lebanese government (as the UN commission report has determined), the situation has changed for the worse for Hizbullah. All the dilemmas and fears hidden by the discrete nature of Lebanese politics have come to the surface. It was no longer possible to hide the Lebanese who thundered through the streets demonstrating in crowds never before seen in the Arab world, firmly asking the Syrians to disappear from the Land of the Cedars. Nasr Allah, who had not yet truly understood the crisis of his organization, hastening to “adopt” the Syrians has only increased the illegitimacy of his movement in Lebanon. Instead of seizing the occasion and seeking a new place for Hizbullah, he remained nearly the only leader locked in the past. The Syrians’ exit from Lebanon has weakened his organization not only militarily but also socially. In fact the men of Hizbullah were among the few to support the Syrians to the end, against public opinion. But there was another reason that Nasr Allah brought hundreds of thousands of Shiites into the squares of Beirut and Nabatiyya to demonstrate support for the Syrians. He knew that the hundreds of thousands of Lebanese who asked the Syrians to leave Lebanon, were indirectly addressing Hizbullah, letting them know their place. The Lebanese protestors let the Shiites know that they had to return to their “natural dimension” in society, which is to say at the margins. It is this hidden message that made Nasr Allah explode. When he reunited the Shiite masses in his counterdemonstration, he did so against the Lebanese elite, telling them that the Shiites were here and would remain. In those days, two disputes played out. The first—in the light of day, clear to all in the West—regarded the presence of the Syrians in Lebanon; the second—hidden and comprehensible only to the Lebanese—concerned the place that Shiites must occupy in Lebanon. This is the dilemma that Hizbullah today faces: will it be able to find a way to integrate the Shiites into Lebanese politics or will it keep them at the margins from which it sought to redeem them? Will it be able to exploit the changes that are taking place in the region, transforming Hizbullah into a new organization and abandoning its military essence, or will it remain in the past, like Iran and Syria? Will Hizbullah remake itself? Will the Kalashnikov truly become a gold-plated model, to be conserved in a museum for future generations, or will it be used to sabotage the effort to get Lebanon back on its feet?

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WHAT IS CHANGING IN THE MIDDLE EAST (AND WHAAT IS NOT)


THE POWER OF ISRAEL

GAS AND OIL: GETTING ALONG WITHOUT THE ARABS IN THE EAST

GAS AND OIL : GETTING ALONG WITHOUT THE ARABS IN THE EAST

by Margherita PAOLINI

In the new geopolitical order, Israel, alongside the Turks, Russians and Iraqi Kurds, is the main player in a regional energy strategy. Turkey functions as a conduit for crude oil and methane flows from east to west. And American guarantees to the Jewish State have their limits.

1.

I

n the East, there is a new and unusual energy

contest in progress. There are four contestants who are all regional: Israel, Turkey, Ţalābānī’s Iraqi Kurds and Russia. The logic driving these four players is implicit in the game itself; it is no longer solely the logic of the companies that pieced together the great Caspian-Central Asian energy scene. Let’s look at what the motivations of each individual player are in turn (Map 1).

Israel. The Jewish State participated even in the first stage of this contest, in the second half of the 1990s, lobbying the United States for the possibility of a Baku-Ceyhan (oil and gas) energy corridor. It meant finding an outlet to Western markets for oil and gas from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia, carefully bypassing Russian and Iranian territories. The starting point of the Baku-Ceyhan operation hinged on an Azerbaijani and Kazak oil flow, providing a stimulus to Uzbek and Turkmen resource exploitation. At that stage, the final aim of the Israeli government was to directly assure its share of gas supplies from Turkmenistan (and this goal still applies even in the new scenario). It was an operation that was carefully-planned by Israeli companies such as Merhav (managed by ex-Mossad agents), a consultant to the Turkmen government. The secret services had thus anticipated the decision of Sharon’s government to forge ahead in restructuring the Israeli energy network, taking the share of gas from 2% to 25%. This plan was also facilitated by interesting offshore gas finds in the stretch extending from Gaza to Haifa (a continuation of the Sinai fields). Today, the Turkmen gas operation is taking shape thanks to several favourable events. Firstly, the energy crisis which has forced the acceleration of projects left to bainmarie for many years; secondly, the confirmation of Turkey as privileged energy corridor for the West; and thirdly, the recent interest of the European Union in promoting supplies via Turkey, of gas especially, to reduce dependence on oil. Altering the oil/gas energy mix, which is currently weighted in favour of the former, would substantially prolong the supply of hydrocarbons.

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Turkey. Erdoğan’s Turkey inherited the fiduciary role of energy corridor for the West due to its Atlantic leanings in the context of the Cold War and the understanding reached with Israel in the 1990s. It was according to this rationale that the Baku-Ceyhan option was founded, launched in 1997 also in collaboration with Israel, to sell the resources of the Caspian Sea to American and European buyers. From this starting point, Ankara raised the stakes, transforming what should have been two gas supply agreements for the domestic market – with Russia and Iran, precisely the intended targets in the case of the Baku-Ceyhan corridor - into a great strategy for marketing gas to Europe. Erdoğan forged ahead, agreeing with the ex-archenemy Greece over the construction of an undersea gas pipeline across the Dardanelles Strait. In this way, the Turkish-Greek partnership created a fait accompli: from then on, Asian pipeline gas supplies to Europe would pass by this route. Furthermore, Ankara’s pan-Turkish ambitions for Central Asia (particularly in relation to Turkmenistan) found a practical application here. Among other paradoxes, even before passing through the trans-Caspian route, the first consignments of Turkmen gas were arriving in Turkey via Iran. Naturally, thanks to agreements for increasing supplies from Moscow, the new breed of Turkish trader looks to the East, in particular to Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, in both economic and geopolitical terms. By setting up such a network, Erdoğan foreshadowed regional profit-sharing, thereby reserving the lead position in the energy sector for Turkey.

Iraqi Kurdistan. The network created by the Turks is also extremely interesting in terms of better exploitation of energy resources in Northern Iraq, which until now has been somewhat held back by the various stages of the Mesopotamian conflict. In recent months - even more so with the election of the Kurdish leader Ğalāl Ţalābānī to the Iraqi presidency - a spectacular rapprochement has taken place between Iraqi Kurds and Turks with two precise aims: first, to re-secure the Kirkūk-Dortyol oil pipeline (terminating on the Mediterranean coast near Ceyhan), the Turkish leg of which was threatened by PKK attacks; and secondly, to guarantee Turkey’s participation in research and development of oilfields in the Mosul area (controlled by the local Kurdish leader Mas‘ūd Barzānī) and of gas south-east of Kirkūk (an area within Ţalābānī’s control). This latter proposal envisages the construction of a new gas pipeline parallel to the Kirkūk-Dortyol oil pipeline. In this way, Turkey would become a partner of the Iraqi Kurds, also enabling resources to converge for benefit of the Turkmen minorities in Kurdistan. The Ţalābānī-Erdoğan agreement also includes Syria, even if only in a backseat position, for further protection from the south of the Kirkūk-Dortyol energy corridor which will be defended on the Turkish stretch by private Israeli companies that are already working on the security of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. In this way, it is also possible to guarantee Kurdish oil and gas supplies to Israel through the strategic junction situated on the Turkish Mediterranean coast. It is an effective operation as it is camouflaged. Indeed, if you wanted to revive the old route of the Kirkūk-Haifa colonial pipeline, you would have to endure its vulnerability due to the pipeline crossing through

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Arab territories that are all but secure, from Western Iraq to Jordan to the Palestinian territories.

Russia. The Russian strategy is less linear, due to certain inescapable difficulties. First of all, Moscow intends to get back into the Caspian arena. After having opposed the Baku-Ceyhan corridor, it now accepts the fait accompli and is seeking to modify the corridor’s originally anti-Russian rationale. The Russian energy company Lukoil (whose shares, by the way, are 11% owned by the American Conoco) is a 10% operator in the main Azerbaijani Caspian oilfield. The same Lukoil is also part of an important joint venture with KazMunaiGaz, with whom it will exploit the significant Tyub Karagan oilfield in the Northern Caspian Sea. With these resources and other Russian and Kazak oil, Russia can contribute to giving greater substance to the oil flow of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline - which up to now seems rather feeble - while remaining outside the consortium that manages it. This operation is to be carried out through the Russian-British company TNK-BP - third most important in the Russian market - which would have to reverse the flow of the already existing Russian-Azerbaijani Novorossijsk-Baku oil pipeline. In this way, the Ceyhan energy outlet would be characterised as more European and less American. On the gas front, having already resolved the European supply issue with the underwater Baltic gas pipeline project, Russia is trying to get into the Eastern venture via Turkey. Putin is contemplating a specific economic agreement with Israel. The primary vehicle is Gazprom, which for a year has been negotiating for a wide-ranging agreement with the Israeli government to develop a future gas network with the Jewish State, to be supplied via Turkey through the doubling of the capacity of the Blue Stream underwater gas pipeline (which crosses the Black Sea from Tuapse to Samsun). Moscow has also relaunched the idea of selling Russian oil to Asia via Israel and the Red Sea, avoiding the Suez Canal (which is now too small for the super tankers) and reversing the AshkelonEilat flow. Old and new oligarchies of the Russian Jewish lobby and of the Russian Diaspora to Israel are involved in these games. Such is Putin’s interest in getting in on the Israeli venture that he has put an agreement in place with Sharon for the supply, without intermediaries, of Russian diamonds. In this way, Putin perhaps seeks to placate the oligarchies, which are now looking beyond the current Russian leadership and preparing to install a new one. 2. Piecing together the puzzle of manifest and hidden intentions of the four players, a totally original scenario emerges which was unthinkable only a few years ago. Now, it is the game itself that has somehow become autonomous from its promoters and it proceeds according to regional rationales. This is a no-win game. There are no winners or losers. In the end, it could end up being more stabilising and productive than that devised by the Americans, which had an essentially anti-Russian role. The Iranian factor remains an unknown in this scenario. If the Israelis or Americans attempt to destabilise Iran, the whole set-up described above could fall apart.

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From the Israeli point of view, this scenario envisages a geopolitical novelty: it foreshadows Israel as integrated into the East, but with a clear preference for interacting with the non-Arab Sunni elements of the Middle East, from the Turks to the Kurds. The Jewish State has ushered in a new regional energy approach which seems more congenial to the interests of the increasingly more diverse Israeli society - particularly its Russian element. If, in fact, its closest and most economical supplier is Egypt, with its growing ambitions as gas exporter, Israel is looking to diversify its suppliers as much as possible to ensure greater security of supplies. The Jewish State is gradually freeing itself of American protection, even in the energy field. Indeed, up till now, Washington has guaranteed Israel all necessary supplies, even during emergency conditions for the United States itself. This is a protection that today Bush admits he can no longer guarantee. Israel knows that the crisis is not transitory. But contrary to the past, Jerusalem has various alternative solutions at its disposal. In order to understand the originality of this strategy, it’s worth very briefly tracing back the genesis of the firstly Jewish, and later Israeli, energy angst. The story begins in the 1930s, at the time of the British mandate over Palestine and the first conflicts and meetings between British and American companies to secure the resources of Mesopotamia and the Gulf for themselves (see Map 2). Haifa was by then already the outlet towards which a significant part of the oil controlled by the British, and later that in the hands of the Americans, was channelled. It was first chosen by the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) to sell Kirkūk crude oil (Kirkūk-Haifa pipeline of 1938), and subsequently by Aramco as an outlet of the so-called Tapline (at the time the largest pipeline in the world and which carried Saudi oil) as an alternative to routes which crossed Arab areas (‘Aqaba, Suez or al-‘Arīš). But Tapline would never reach Haifa, because after the birth of the Jewish State, in light of the Arab-Israeli conflict, it was diverted towards Sidon, crossing the Golan Heights. For the same reasons, again in 1948, the Iraqi oil pipeline was also stopped. Thus, the Jewish State lost any possibility of proposing itself as outlet for crude oil of Arab origin. In Israeli geopolitical memory, it is since then that a strategic position in the Mediterranean - useful for channelling Gulf crude oil to the West - has remained a failed dream, while the possession of the Golan Heights and Galilee as territories crossed by phantom oil pipelines has been prominent. The brief Suez war that followed by the closure of the Canal by Nasser in 1956 seemed to confirm Israel’s ambition to become the sole secure Mediterranean outlet for the West. The Jewish State would then directly see to consolidating this position with the occupation of the Arab territories in 1967. The Golan-Galilee territorial junction was conquered not only with a view to acquiring more ample water supplies, but also to achieve a much hoped-for recovery of strategic areas which stretched out towards the sections of old truncated pipelines that by then carried oil fitfully to Syrian and Lebanese ports. In reality, the 1967 occupation spelt the end of the IPC and Tapline venture even on the threshold of the new Israeli borders. In compensation, the 6-Day War led to a precious haul: the Abū Rudays oilfields on the coast and in the directly adjacent south-

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east Sinai hinterland, just recently put into production by Agip in joint venture with the Egyptian State company. For Israel, this represented the long dreamt-of energy independence. This dream was to last for eight years during which the Suez Canal would remain closed (thus favouring the development of North African Mediterranean producers, Libya especially) while the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline - built in 1968 in record time - permitted Abū Rudays oil to be transported to the Haifa refinery. Officially, the Tipline (TransIsrael pipeline) was set up to accommodate the flow of oil tankers sent by Israel’s ally, Shah Reza Pahlavi; in reality, the pipeline was conveniently oversized to make Ashkelon a proper export terminal of the substantial Sinai and Suez Gulf resources. In 1975, the second Israeli-Egyptian agreement on the Sinai led instead to the handing back of the oilfields. In exchange for this «huge sacrifice», the Israeli government negotiated two key conditions with the United States: the inalienability of a large part of the Golan Heights and the West Bank territories and a long-term strategic agreement on energy security. The guarantor of the memorandum, who would have to guarantee strategic supplies and reserves to the Jewish State even when the United States might find itself in difficulty, was Henry Kissinger. Since then, the pact has been tacitly renewed every three years, making Israel a trusted companion and often the driving force behind various American ventures motivated by «energy security», carried out to guarantee supplies to large companies that supply the US market. It was within this context of consistent coverage of its needs that the Jewish State was able to overcome the oil crisis of 1979-81 that followed the Khomeini revolution (which saw Israel losing the Shah’s supplies) and the consequent Iran-Iraq conflict (1980-88). Ironically, it was actually Saddam, in the middle of the 1980s when the ra’īs was still the principal ally of Washington against the ayatollahs’ regime, that the USA prepared an agreement between Israel and Iraq for the reopening of the Kirkūk-Haifa oil corridor, reactivating Jordanian sections under IPC control. The promoter of the project (brainchild of Kissinger himself in his time) was Donald Rumsfeld, who urged on the construction company Bechtel. The project envisaged a geopolitically correct route, Kirkūk-Zarqā-‘Aqaba, which only in the last section would have to make its way towards Israeli territory, turning into the heaven-sent Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline. Once again, the dream was cut short due to the turnaround in relations between the US and Iraq which led to the second Gulf War in 1991. To make up for this, the oil companies that supplied the US market saw to Israel’s needs - including with supplies from Kuwait, which was able to raise its production using the abandoned fields of South Rumayla. 3. In the years that followed, the field of Israel’s suppliers diversified, for the most part leaning towards Anglo-Saxon companies which operated in Mexico, Angola, the North Sea and South Africa. But it was particularly Russia that increased the volume of its oil imports in the context of a much larger trading circle that saw reinvented Russian

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oligarchs and ex-Soviet politicians as the main actors together with leading personalities of the Jewish Diaspora to Israel (see Map 3). At the end of the 1990s, the Russian oil industry in fact launched itself into what appeared to be an exciting venture, based on huge investments of the Western energy majors. In reality, the latter preferred to acquire majority company holdings and to sit on the reserves of the most aggressive Russian oil companies that emerged from profitable privatisations. Washington was behind the main companies, as it saw an opportunity of penetrating more deeply into the Central Asian ex-Soviet periphery and of organising a real anti-OPEC front there. The advent of Putin changed the cards in the deck of the Russian energy scene, but didn’t substantially change trade relations between Moscow and Tel Aviv. Indeed, Putin considered the strategic position of Israel particularly interesting by looking at things the other way round so that Haifa was not the outlet to the Mediterranean but the entry point, via the Red Sea, to the Asian markets. In fierce competition with the Gulf producers, who were increasingly more engaged in covering American requirements, Moscow was in search of oil corridors to the south-east as a lone operator or with Iran and later even with India and China, but always seeking to involve its unreliable Central-Asian partners. Despite the fact that in Central Asia, Israel clearly operates on the opposite side, namely against Iran, supplies and negotiations with Russia nonchalantly disregarded the numerous geopolitical incompatibilities. Waiting to see which would be the winning oil pipelines in the great Central-Asian contest, since 2003 Jerusalem and Moscow have started discussing significant Russian and Kazak oil supplies from the Novorossiysk terminal, which in addition to covering part of Israeli needs should be sold to Asian markets. An increase in the capacity of Tapline from 400 thousand to over 1 million barrels a day has been suggested. The 40% savings on costs incurred for transport via the Suez Canal have also been emphasised. The Moscow-Jerusalem energy relationship has tended to become more structured in proportion to Israel’s growing interest in diversified natural gas supplies. In relation to the development of the gas market in the East, Moscow is in fact forging a privileged alliance with Turkey. In this way, it is placing itself in direct competition with the Arab producers, starting with Egypt. With this thought at the back of its mind, Israel could afford to let inconclusive negotiations drag on for years, despite the active brokerage of the Israeli company Merhav within the ad hoc-created East Mediterranean Gas (EMG) joint venture. The consortium has pursued an ambitious project for a pipeline (completely underwater) from al-‘Arīš in the Sinai up to the Israeli coast. In a later double face version, the project – going under the name of the gas «peace pipeline» - envisages the pipeline, after having crossed the Sinai, branching off from Eilat to the Israeli coast via Ashkelon and from ‘Aqaba to the Jordanian hinterland (with an offshoot to the West Bank), continuing to Syria and Lebanon and arriving finally at the Turkish border (see Map 4). At the same time, a group of Israeli and foreign companies (including British Gas) discovered some significant natural gas fields off the northern Israeli coast and

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particularly off Gaza. While the Israeli offshore fields were immediately put into production to supply the coastal electricity plants, those off the Gaza coast remained inactive due to the impossibility of directly exploiting them. Indeed, Sharon blocked any attempts at collaboration with the British Gas-ANP consortium, claiming there was a risk that the proceeds from exploitation of the Gaza gas might go to propping up the terrorist machine. This political hitch, confirmed by the proposed route for the undersea al-‘ArīšAshkelon gas pipeline which saw Gaza being deliberately bypassed, was the main reason for the delay in the signing of agreements between Egypt and Israel. Even recently, the Egyptian Parliament was in uproar, accusing the Mubārak government (among whose entourage are private partners of the EMG joint venture) of having taken a decision on a politically sensitive issue without the approval of the two houses of Parliament. In conclusion, since the hopes for Israeli energy independence are only met with a short term solution in Israel’s offshore gas reserves, Israel is pursuing the objective of generating at least 40% of its electricity with natural gas by looking to other non-Arab suppliers. Russian gas via Turkey is one of the options that has been considered and is being negotiated in detail with the management of Gazprom. 4. In terms of desirable non-Arab supplies, in the short term the post-Saddam prospects seemed to turn the tap on again for Northern Iraq oil and gas resources under Kurdish control: initially, together with the strong Turkish option along the KirkūkDortyol route on the Mediterranean coast, the phantom Kirkūk-Haifa oil pipeline resurfaced as an option - raised again since the eve of the war. This time, the Iraqi Shiite illusionist Ahmad Ğalabī, who convinced Israelis and the Pentagon of the full feasibility of the operation, was behind the aspiration. The engineers of the Israeli Ministry for Transport rolled out the plans for the project (with the same route envisaged by Bechtel but with piping of a greater diameter) even before the marines disembarked on Iraqi soil. Already Haifa was being talked about in Israel as the «Rotterdam of the Middle East». But when the Ğalabī balloon burst, the dream of the oil pipeline died with it; in the end, according to the Ha’aretz daily, it was nothing more than an «American attempt to put pressure on Turkey» (the latter being against the intervention in Iraq) by threatening an alternative to the oil pipeline which passed through its territory and from whose reinstatement Ankara would have expected handsome royalties. In the overall scheme of things, the Northern Iraq-Mediterranean coastal energy corridor geared to the European market (now essentially for oil, but in the future also hopefully for considerable quantities of gas yet to be exploited), constitutes an important supply diversification option for Israel. In any case, a share of oil supplies to Israel via Dortyol has already been taken into account in the list of Kurdish-Turkish supply options – and even at a good price given that Israeli private businesses such as Athena, a subsidiary of Merhav, would have to contribute to surveillance of the oil pipeline. In the end, the long term supplies which Jerusalem is keenly interested in for its security would still need to come via the Anatolian corridor. They will come from Azerbaijan and especially from Turkmenistan, countries where Israel can count on

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dependable lobby groups forged thanks to the long presence of the Merhav Group of Israel, which acts as a consultant to local governments on energy issues and also acts as an intermediary on behalf of US companies. The gamble that Israel seems to have won is that of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, at least in its initial oil phase but whose capacity should go on to be doubled by a parallel gas pipeline. Jerusalem is definitely more interested in the latter for its long-term supplies (see Map 5). In itself, the BTC oil pipeline, inaugurated on 25 May last year after eight years of ongoing project difficulties and a search for increasingly greater finance (almost 4 billion dollars compared to the initially estimated 2.6 billion) still lacks an acceptable long-term cost-benefit ratio. If it were to rely solely on Azerbaijani oil, without attracting considerable quantities of Kazak crude oil, the whole operation would collapse within a few years. This was the premise at the beginning of the venture when there were only three convinced players: the Azerbaijanis, the Turks and the Israelis. The oil companies hovered hesitantly around them. Then Washington, thanks also to Israeli pressure, ended up flexing the muscle of its strategic interests and the international banks backed the feasibility of the initiative. The increase in oil prices over the last year did the rest. The operation gained credibility chiefly due to the geopolitical context created in the Eastern Mediterranean in which Turkey rose to become a real regional hub of EastWest energy supplies. It’s the scene of significant operations such as the Russian underwater Blue Stream gas pipeline and the flow of Iranian (and Turkmen) gas to European markets. These projects have been helped by the growing difficulty of trading crude oil via the Bosphorous, which has rendered the costs of transport via the Black Sea prohibitive. Today, Moscow not only proposes the doubling of the Blue Stream pipeline to transport Russian and Turkmen gas from the Turkish market to the Great Levant, but also the construction in joint venture of plants for conversion into Liquid Natural Gas, for methane transport or for the construction of sections of underwater gas pipelines. An underwater oil pipeline beneath the Black Sea is also in the works to transport Russian and Kazak oil to the Turkish Eastern Mediterranean terminals, thereby avoiding the Bosphorous passage. Amid the fervour of this activity, the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, with its capacity to transport 1 million barrels a day, will take crude oil to the Mediterranean by the end of the year linking the Azerbaijani flow originating from the Azerbaijani-Guneshli-Chirag offshore fields – for now, 10 million tonnes a year, but up to 50 million in 2008 – to the output of the new Kazak-Russian fields of the Northern Caspian Sea and parts of the immense Kazak field of Kashagan in the Eastern Caspian. The Kazak State company Socar intends to transport 25 million tonnes of oil via Azerbaijan starting from 2010, partly by oil tanker, but mostly via connections which will link the new port of Kuryk, south of Aktau, with the various fields. Parallel to the BTC, the South Caucasus (gas) Pipeline (SCP) project is taking shape, fed by the substantial Azerbaijani offshore fields of Shah Deniz and which should, from 2006, shift 70 Bcf, rising to 177 Bcf in 2007 and reaching 223 Bcf a year by 2020.

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The time may now be ripe for launching the trans-Caspian Turkmen gas link (TGCP) fervently backed within the Clinton administration by Israel - the 1999 feasibility study was by Enron - given the European Commission’s request to the Turkmen government that it be linked to the Baku-Ceyhan gas pipeline. The invitation is supported by a commitment to assist the development of new ways of exporting to Europe. A proportion of Turkmen gas will probably remain tied to Gazprom European market operations, while a minor share will continue to follow the Iranian venture aimed at the Greco-Balkan market. A significant share will be divided between two options: the first is the possibility of a North-South Russian gas corridor towards Pakistan and the Indian Ocean; the second, known as the «Southern Caspian gas pipeline», will take the Turkish road to Europe entering via Baku. It is from this flow in particular that the Jewish State will be supplied. 5. To round off this overview of the available and diversified options on offer to Israel, we can conclude that its energy security should be sufficiently assured. The field of reference evinces reliable, rigorously Sunni and - if possible - non-Arab partners. While in the background, the decisive protection of the Americans persists. The risk, if anything, is that Israel might be tempted to venture into the vast and turbulent Central Asian zone, in search for new geopolitical-energy partnerships. The Jewish State doesn’t have the means to act on this scale. It would do much better to selectively focus on guaranteed deals in its own backyard, the Great Levant, which after the fall of Saddam is taking on a more promising profile for Israel’s strategic and energy security. Translation by John Mifsud

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THE PRETEND PEACE WITH ISRAEL

by Abdel Ra’uf Mustafa AL-SIDDIQI

The Egyptians detest the Israelis. This sentiment influences government decisions. But economic crisis and strategic necessities have driven Cairo to rapprochement with the Jewish State: for instance, the QIZ agreement and on the issues of Gaza, nuclear facilities and gas. But in the end, there will be war again.

1.

I

f I had to sum up in one sentence how

Egyptians view the Israelis, I would say that the former detest the latter enough to oppose any form of interaction and any attempt at normalisation of relations between the two countries, because in the course of their ancient history, Egyptians have already had an age-old experience of the Israelites - virtual and very tenuous ancestors of the current Israelis. On the other hand, at the governmental level, Egypt is very pragmatic. It bases itself more on field data than on popular opinion regarding the Israelis. This is why after months of preparation, the government in Cairo signed a strategically fundamental economic agreement with Israel and the United States called QIZ (Qualified Industrial Zone). This agreement opens up a new phase in bilateral relations. In the 1980s, “Cold Peace” between Husni Mubarak’s Egypt and Israel was already being talked about. In 2000, amid highs and lows and with the outbreak of the second Intifada, Egypt halted relations. At that time, Cairo suspended its diplomatic relations by withdrawing its Ambassador from Tel Aviv, ceased cooperation in the areas of trade and agriculture and gave carte blanche to its national press to oppose Israel. Last year, things apparently changed. To reach this vital agreement, the most important since the signing (thanks to the efforts of Egyptian ex-president Anwar Sadat) of the separate peace deal of 1979, Egypt and Israel actively collaborated over the future of the Gaza Strip - in theory destined to return to Egyptian security control - and some prisoners were exchanged. There are certainly political motives, linked to the deterioration of relations between Cairo and Washington, at the heart of Egypt’s new attitude towards Israel. But this is not the sole motivating factor. The main reason is the economic crisis which Egypt has been experiencing for some years. The QIZ is aimed at giving the Egyptian economy a breath of fresh air. Although Egyptians were somewhat taken by surprise at the announcement of this new deal, in reality the whole thing had already been announced by the Israeli press, which on several occasions had mentioned various Israeli-Egyptian projects for the

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creation of special industrial areas. Even the release of the Israeli Druse spy Azzam Azzam, who had worked in Egypt masquerading as an Israeli industrialist and had been condemned to 15 years imprisonment for espionage in 1997, in exchange for 6 Egyptian students arrested by Israelis on the Egyptian border and 150 Palestinian prisoners, was part of the price paid for the attainment of the QIZ. That’s how valuable one Israeli is! And so, on 14 December last year, Egypt, the United States and Israel signed the famous accord. Thanks to the QIZ, Egypt can export to the US without paying tariffs on the condition that the relevant products are 11.7% Israeli. In other words, the defined industrial areas will have to be located both in Egypt and in Israel and Egypt will have to produce goods which contain a substantial quantity of semi-finished components or raw materials that are Israeli. Jordan has already shown that this pact works well, having significantly increased its clothing sales to the United States in just a few years. Egypt was forced to review its policy on Israel, especially from a trade point of view, as soon as China and India had ousted it from the textile market. Egypt could not remain competitive in the US market unless it was exempted from the tariff regime. After the refusal of the USA to sign an agreement to this effect with Egypt, the latter looked for an alternative in the improvement of relations with Israel, without which the Land of the Pharaohs would have lost 500 million dollars a year in exports - a fact which would have led to the destruction of an important national industry. However, the QIZ is also an indicator of a new Egyptian political direction. The Israeli Minister for Trade, Ehud Olmert, stated «It is much more than a trade agreement. It is the announcement by two regional powers of their intention to move in the direction of increasingly greater cooperation with the support of the United States.» But the QIZ has also, and above all, helped Egypt re-establish its standing with Washington. In recent years, Americans had become extremely critical of Cairo, especially under pressure from the American Jewish lobby. With the improvement of relations with Israel, which have culminated in the recent resumption of normal diplomatic relations thanks to the return of the Israeli ambassador to Cairo, Egypt has suddenly regained the confidence of the pressure groups who had plotted against it. Thus, the second Bush administration will now direct its condemnations towards other countries first. In short, the QIZ has shaken the dust off many old issues that had been waiting to be revisited for a long time: namely, Israeli-Egyptian bilateral relations, with the resumption of normal diplomatic relations; US-Egyptian bilateral relations, with the cooling down of US hostility; US-Israeli-Egyptian trilateral relations; the Egyptian and Palestinian prisoners issue; and the project to export Egyptian natural gas to Israel. The latter is enshrined in an agreement worth 2.5 billion dollars, to be signed shortly by the Israel Electricity Company and the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Company (Egyptian), for the supply of Egyptian gas to Israel for 15 years via an Egyptian gas pipeline. 2. While Egypt attempts to smooth bilateral relations according to its strategic needs, Israel shows its treachery. On the one hand, it signs an agreement and makes conciliatory declarations, while on the other, it publicly accuses Egypt of hostility towards it. A report by Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence service, has recently accused Egypt of

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behaving “in a hostile manner”, preparing its army for another war against Israel. The report alleges that, in particular, Egypt is illegally selling anti-aircraft missiles to the Palestinians, thus aiding “Palestinian terrorist organisations”. According to information from a Palestinian spy, the Egyptian authorities have signed one of the most dangerous military agreements to be concluded between Egypt and the Palestinians in the last 10 years, smuggling anti-aircraft missiles through Rafah at a time which coincides with the deployment of more than three thousand Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai. According to Shin Bet, Israel «cannot just stand by and watch these hostile military actions which represent a clear breach of the Israeli-Egyptian peace accords.» It would seem from the report that the Israelis fear Palestinian military organisation attacks in the very heart of their territory. But in reality, what is really feared are those three thousand Egyptian soldiers deployed in the Sinai. For this reason, the Israeli services have alerted the government in Tel Aviv, asking it to present a formal protest to the government in Cairo which provides for a freeze on all the commitments undertaken by Israel regarding border controls. Included in these commitments – the author might add – was Egypt’s ability to deploy those three thousand troops. Even the Gaza Strip is a burning issue. Certainly, the case of the Egyptian military manoeuvres in the Sinai comes under this umbrella. Up till now, the absence of Israeli will to effect a total withdrawal from the Gaza Strip has been evident. After more than a year since the withdrawal announcement, many steps backward have been taken, especially under pressure from the settlers who are very powerful in Israel. It is in this light that the Israeli army decision to entrust Israeli-Egyptian border controls to an important military unit should be considered. With this move, Israel wanted to say to Egypt, rather directly, that: we don’t trust you Egyptians and we have no intention of withdrawing. The settlers won the day by using the classic Israeli technique of making trouble with Egypt out of nothing, in order to disengage themselves from agreements made. An example of this are the false accusations regarding anti-aircraft missiles which I have already mentioned. Then there’s the nuclear issue. Today, Israel is a jungle of nuclear reactors which represent a serious threat to Egypt. Indeed, many of them are within a few kilometres of the Sinai border. And in the Negev desert, very close to our borders, there is that nightmare known as Dimona, which threatens us and will continue to threaten us, especially with the end of its so-called “shelf life”. According to information at our disposal, the reactor, which consumes great quantities of heavy water and uranium and which in the 1960s had a power level equal to 26 megawatts, has now reached a power level of a good 150 megawatts, enabling it to produce a greater number of nuclear arms. The shelf life, with a theoretical duration of 45 years, should have ended in 2002; but as a number of Israeli scientists reduced this period to only 40 years, the reactor should have been dismantled and destroyed in 1997. In addition to the threat represented by this type of older generation (and therefore even more dangerous) reactor, there is that of radioactive waste. Indeed, for more than thirty years, Israel has not permitted anyone, not even Israeli scientists, to arrange for the safe disposal of radioactive material. A study published in the Israeli press demonstrated

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the presence of tons of atomic waste buried in gigantic containers – the same ones for over thirty years – close to the Egyptian border, in an area in the Negev rich with water tables. Much of this waste has begun to seep into the soil, initiating contamination of the water cycle. In addition to Dimona, there are seven other reactors, including B’ir Tel Aviv, built underground close to the Israeli capital. This situation signifies an imminent danger for the whole region, especially for the Sinai and for all of Egypt in general. For this reason, every time that Cairo tries to pressure the US to compel Israel to sign the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Israel mounts a hate campaign against Egypt, accusing it of being in possession of the atom bomb. The truth is that the presence of nuclear arms in Israel will only lead to new winds of war in the region. Finally, a very thorny issue relates to prisoners. The case of Azzam Azzam is only one of many examples of how exchanges of prisoners between the two countries function. There are many Egyptian prisoners detained in Israeli prisons who are waiting to be freed. Israeli military leaders have admitted that many of the Egyptian desaparecidos who ended up in Israeli prisons during the Triple Aggression of 1956 (translator’s note: the Suez War) and the Naksa (translator’s note: the Six-Day War) of 1967, were summarily executed by the Israeli army. For this reason, Egypt has for some time been calling for an international trial of these criminals. It’s ironic that Israel is able to prosecute ex-Nazis while prosecution of similar Israeli figures is blocked. Why shouldn’t those who killed the prisoners, our co-nationals, be put on trial and compensate the victims’ families? Why does Israel continue to extort staggering amounts around the world for Nazi crimes while no one manages to prosecute Israeli military leaders? 3. Looking beyond the political façade of bilateral relations between Egypt and Israel, momentarily calm but destined to become stormy with the same intensity and frequency that high and low tides wrack some seas, anti-Israeli popular opinion contributes to ensuring that relations between these two countries will always remain provisional. A large percentage of Egyptians, whether they be Muslims or Copts, comprising especially the young and very young (an extraordinary fact, when one considers that the veterans of 1973 are at least 50 years old) absolutely opposes the normalisation of relations with Israel. In the eyes of Egyptians, who see a good part of the traditional views passed down to them through the centuries confirmed by current reality, Israel does not believe in peace. It doesn’t believe in peace because it would mean the end of the raison d’etre of the Jewish State. Egyptian politics continues to move increasingly in the opposite direction to that of popular opinion. Egyptians will always remain surprised by whatever steps their government takes towards Israel, especially where those steps are met, over the border in the Palestinian territories, with acts of violence against Palestinians that continue to contribute to unexpectedly raising the temperature of bilateral relations. It is therefore Egyptian public opinion which acts on political relations and not vice versa.

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However, if Egypt continues to ignore this anti-Israeli public opinion for too long, and to consider Israel as a strategic partner, and if Israel, for its part, continues to dishonour agreements as it likes and as it has always done up till now, then nothing can avoid another war between these two countries, who are only temporary friends. In light of what has been said here so far and of the complexity of an issue that no one wishes to talk about, I will attempt to sum up relations between Egypt and Israel in a metaphor so that it may remain impressed on your memory. The relations are like mud: misshapen, heavy, viscous and dark; anyone who tries to enter into them comes out soiled both in body and spirit.

Translation by John Mifsud

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GREATER MIDDLE EAST OR DAYDREAM? DAYDREAM?

by David POLANSKY

American strategy against the Jihadist terror is an unlikely compromise, that attempts to reconcile diverging geopolitical, energy and military interests. Victory in a field can mean defeat in another.

W

hat is the Greater Middle East? According

to the Bush administration, it is a broad swathe of the world, comprising twenty-seven countries plus the Palestinian territories—predominantly though not entirely Muslim—from North Africa to the Levant to the Persian Gulf to Pakistan. Its fixation is the culmination of an evolving approach that was set in motion by the events of September 11th. This region, though neither geographically, nor politically, nor culturally homogeneous, is nonetheless linked by the common threat of exportable Islamic terrorism, supposedly incubated by its undeniable democratic deficit. The administration aims to defuse the jihadist menace and ward off future attacks through a variety of measures designed to induce democratic reform throughout the region. This is its stated policy—but is it a strategy? This is to say, does it provide a coherent framework for managing and integrating America’s various interests in the region? Can it create policies of linkage, which prevent the different economic, military and geopolitical issues from tripping over one another? To better understand where we are now, let us examine the Cold War strategy vis a vis the Middle East to see how it served US interests, before we turn to the present approach. For, prior to the Cold War, the United States had no experience in that part of the world. The Cold War strategy had two fundamental aims, which were linked: to secure the modicum of stability in the region needed to ensure a continued flow of oil towards America and to balance the Soviet Union in the Middle East. The US was not then chiefly concerned with the character of the ruling governments of the region, but in their pro-American or proSoviet leanings. Following the Suez Crisis and the articulation of the Eisenhower Doctrine of assistance and intervention in states which seemed to be in danger of falling underneath the Soviets’ sway (1956 and 1957, respectively), a balance of power was struck with proWestern Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, and Turkey set against anti-Western Iraq, Syria and Egypt (with the Gulf states attempting to maintain an economically beneficial neutrality). This balance was rendered precarious by the rise of Soviet-influenced socialism on a pan-Arab level. This movement, embodied in Gamal Abdul Nasser, had the political support of the Soviet Union, and the intellectual support of the Arab intellectuals. Its messianic goals, by

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appealing to fellow Arabs across border lines, gave it dangerous power to affect geopolitical change beyond the capacity of state militaries. Finally, it led directly to the escalation of the Arab-Israeli conflict and to the Six Day War in June of 1967, bringing the last major piece of the regional game into place. This war, in which the US did little to nothing, was the turning point in the history of the region. It was the moment at which the Soviets turned on Israel, ending its quasi-neutrality, and at which its stunning military victory led to the greatest geographical transformation in the Middle East since it became a state, nearly twenty years earlier, and marked its status as a regional great power. This was also a turning point in American conceptions of the region. With rising radicalism weakening the grip of Arab regimes, the US found itself viewing stable and militarily dominant Israel no longer as a needy but a potentially useful ally. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the US saw its opportunity to block the Soviets once and for all. By demonstrating the impotence of Soviet-backed Arab expansionism to fulfill its aims (as well as America’s willingness to check the USSR at the nuclear level), the US was able to use the Arab-Israeli conflict to break the deadlock and turn (albeit slowly) a recalcitrant Egypt towards the West, without putting American boots on the ground. To sum up, the strategy united US geopolitical and economic aims by supporting an Israeli dominated balance, which denied regional leverage to the Soviets, while containing the myriad regional rivalries and blood-feuds among the Arabs. As far as the Palestinian cause was concerned, Palestinian nationalism, in the form of Yasir Arafat’s Fatah movement, was a direct threat to the regimes in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Support for its cause during those years would have amounted to support for overturning the status quo throughout much of the Arab world and replacing it with directionless political radicalism, much of it subsidized by the Soviet Union. On the Arab side, the essentially autocratic governments were induced to cooperate through fear of Israel or of one another, while the oil-producing Gulf states were granted security and relative stability in exchange for the continued sale of their oil. This stability was essentially precarious but it held, even through the Lebanese civil war and Iranian revolution. Following the Cold War, it was capped by reversing Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, and by allowing Hafez al-Assad to consolidate his control over Lebanon, according to Henry Kissinger’s dictum: give Lebanon to Syria and there will be peace in the Middle East. This strategy overall was hardly a perfect one, but it was successful in maintaining an equilibrium between America’s various interests in the region. If it had the weakness of considering the region primarily in terms of the wider ongoing global conflict, it had the great strength of avoiding reductionism, refusing to see its many troubles and conflicts through the prism of a single issue such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (post-Cold War) or democracypromotion (post-9/11). Its greatest weakness was that, in treating the region primarily on the level of the nation-state, it failed to recognize various internal or supranational trends, above all the rise of religious radicalism. On many occasions, as in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, it involved capitulation in the face of terrorism, sowing winds to later be reaped as whirlwinds.

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Finally, American statesmen of the time, in dealing with the leaders of nations whose geopolitical borders were often illusory at best, deluded themselves into believing that their Arab interlocutors possessed the power and competence to manage their own affairs well. Above all, the Americans failed to recognize that as the authority of the Arab regimes weakened, preserving themselves and serving American interests would not always be one and the same, and being forced to choose, Arab leaders would always choose the former at the expense of the latter. That said, the period which followed, bridging the end of the Cold War and the 9/11 attacks, was essentially a murky one, during which no real strategic precepts were derived. It goes without saying that the attacks changed everything. Terrorism as a tactic has existed since time out of mind. But only since September 11th has it been identified as a global menace, and only since then has it been treated as a major factor—indeed the determining factor—in shaping US policy towards the Middle East. But how much has really changed and how much remains the same? If the projected Greater Middle East is the furthest evolution (thus far) of the new approach, then it may help to begin at the surface. As has been noted, it comprises the twenty-two Arab League nations along with Israel, the Palestinian territories, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. To begin with geography, this contiguous group includes the entire Gulf-centered area with which the Cold War strategy was primarily concerned, now greatly expanded. What accounts for the map? Curiously, it is not merely the presence of Islamic terrorist cells (that would include Europe and America in the calculus—a geographical absurdity). Many but not all possess oil. The US possesses or seeks forward basing in most of these. Some but by no means all face internal instability. None save Israel and Turkey are democracies. It might be said that this is the widest possible contiguous region which comprises all of the above factors. Yet its very vastness and diffuseness renders it a geopolitical chimera. The Gulf monarchies are much less concerned with Israel and its capabilities than with Iran. Both the Gulf monarchies and Iran are nervous about Iraq's future development, while Egypt is not worrying about possible future territorial threats from a revamped Iraqi state but quite concerned with Israel, its policies towards the Palestinians, its military capacities, and its potential position in the region once a settlement is achieved. Algeria and Morocco, on the other hand, watch each other with more concern than they watch Israel, Iraq or Iran. Part of the problem is the very nature of US power: with a global reach and global interests, it is often difficult to determine where to draw limits in more specific cases. But to measure the success or failure of Bush’s policies, now and in the future, we must try to narrow the field somewhat. While the United States surely has interests in North and East Africa, those countries, apart from Egypt, are largely distinct from the others. They are not affected by the politics of the Gulf or the Levant, and above all removed from America’s central position in Iraq. One only has to observe the US’ non-action over the crisis in Sudan, to consider its distance. Morocco is a significant base for terrorist cells operating in Europe, but not in America or Iraq. Ironically, Libya—a longtime exporter of terrorism—proved a real success, with Moammar Ghaddafi, admitting to his nuclear program in the wake of the invasion of Iraq.

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Yet the US did not attempt to exploit this opening as they are presently doing with Syria, following Bashar al-Assad’s withdrawal from Lebanon. Turkey, both democratic and non-Arab, is facing west more strongly than ever. Given Afghanistan’s culture and history, it requires a great deal of modernization before reform could even enter the picture. Pakistan is presently the epicenter of the hunt for what remains of al-Qa’eda, and its army and government cannot withstand strong pressure for reform while experiencing further pressure to capture bin Laden. We are left with a Middle East curiously similar to the playing field during the Cold War: from Egypt through the Levant and the Gulf states to Iran. It is here that the policies of the Greater Middle East will be most heavily concentrated, with the aim of having the greatest political effect. The expanded version serves to dilute the rhetoric and blur the focus, while leaving open the possibility of application on a broader scale. However, with limited resources and power, the US must prioritize —at least for the time being. Perhaps the best way to comprehend the lesser Greater Middle East plan is to consider how it breaks with past US policies across a roughly similar terrain. If the obvious geopolitical constants are oil and Israel, the changes are as follows: a greatly enhanced and revamped military, which combines light troop deployments with intelligence and mobility, requiring forward basing in areas of chronic instability; a volatile Palestinian quasi-state, which borders have yet to be determined; a major if temporary military presence in a Ba’athless Iraq, the geographical center of the lesser Greater Middle East; increased distrust of formerly friendly regimes following September 11th; and the fear of global Islamic terrorism with widespread support networks throughout the region. In sum, every aspect of the former Middle East has acquired a new dimension, becoming greatly complicated in the process. With the exception of Iran (to which we will return), the problem of a geopolitical equilibrium on the state level no longer exists. The region’s dominant power is friendly Israel. The problem is in rolling up terrorist networks, while containing supranational instability in an economically vital region. The administration has decided that the heart of the plan to combat those lies in regional democratic reform. As in every other area of the world, the US is attempting to deal with a Middle East in which the Soviet Union plays no role. In countries like Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (among others), the USSR created the balance of fear that helped push them towards the US. With the fall of the USSR, that balance was shattered. Those regimes who remained on good terms with the US now did so purely out of interest. While this was more than enough to ensure economic relations, the picture was inevitably more complicated. With the Soviet Union gone, the discontented (and there are many) of the region now had one less target at which to vent their ire. In the case of Islamic radicalism, the targets had now narrowed down to three: Israel (a perennial favorite), their corrupt home governments and the United States. The Saudi case illustrates this phenomenon as well as any: with growing jihadist networks on one side and the al-Saud in the middle, the US found itself on the wrong end of the balance of fear. Unable to destroy the networks themselves and fearing them more than the US, the Saudi royal family turned a blind eye when it was not paying them off.

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For years, Arab autocrats have fostered internal stability through misdirection; by encouraging the rise of radicalism, both secular and religious, and channeling its energies towards America and Israel, they have staved off revolution and prolonged their own rule. The implementation of the plan for the Greater Middle East, amounts to turning the tables, as it were, employing their own means against them. After many have for so long said in effect: “the blame for your problems of poverty, political repression, lack of education, not to mention outright violence and civil war lies not with us but with America and Israel”; the Bush administration has forcefully replied: “no, the problems lie with your rulers who must be replaced with the mechanisms of modern democracy”. This is potent stuff and it appeals both to the American tradition of exceptionalism and to speechwriters hoping to employ elevated language. It has the Machiavellian benefit of momentum, of seizing the field, while not actually being a Machiavellian plan. By taking the focus off itself, America has avoided (thus far) becoming a sitting duck for repeat attacks, while emphasizing the elements which divide the region itself. It has also in some measure reversed the propaganda of the preceding years, which placed the Israeli-Palestinian issue at the center of all Middle Eastern problems. It also has had a certain measure of success. The Iraqi and Palestinian elections and the Lebanese demonstrations which led to Syria’s withdrawal, are testaments to the desire for self-determination. Another great benefit of the plan is its subjective nature. Adam Garfinkle has remarked that, as it is not considered a dichotomous variable (i.e., that it either exists or doesn’t) but a cardinal one (i.e., that it can exist to a greater or lesser extent), democracy can be both difficult and easy simultaneously: easy to desire and pursue, difficult to achieve quickly or in full. In other words, to a certain extent, success is in the eye of the beholder. But there are less subjective factors that amount to fundamental flaws. To begin with, the US, having made the call for political representation, has offered no limits —dangerous in a region where tribal loyalties have always counted for more than the state. Take, for example, the call for the creation of an independent Arab state in Palestine. Does it follow that there should be a similar call for an independent Kurdish or Maronite state? Meanwhile, in attempting to uproot an authoritarian culture (whose influence on terrorism is inconclusive at best), the US is potentially undermining a significant tool with which to combat the more immediate threat of extant terrorist cells. If, in the wake of the Iraq invasion, the Saudi government has begun to step up its own war on terror, it may not do to pressure that same government to reform. The United States is in effect seeking partnerships with governments and then asking them to reform themselves right out of existence. When dealing with less-than-desirable regimes, every American administration hopes to find their Gorbachev; when dealing with American administration’s, such regimes recall Russia’s fate and pray that it not become their own. Regimes will be far less likely to cooperate with America if they see it as a mortal threat. It is true that the power structure of many of the regimes here is fundamentally shaky and unsound. Regimes not strong enough to exercise absolute power cannot forever deny political rights to the majority of their citizens. Bush’s push for region-wide reform may be

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the equivalent of destroying a condemned house before it collapses of its own accord, and causes great damage in the process. But having released a wrecking ball, America will have less and less control over its trajectory, even as its economic and security interests remain just as vital. Much will depend then on America’s ability to skillfully manage its hypocrisy, or accept the harm to certain interests that success in other areas may bring. There is furthermore one entity which still presents a strategic concern on the state level: Iran. Iran has the largest democratic movement of any country except Israel in the region. Yet it is actively pursuing a nuclear program. It is a strategic threat to US interests both inside and outside of the Gulf, and possibly an existential threat to Israel. Its regime has a long history of ties with global terrorism. While the regime enjoys little support among its beleaguered people, its nuclear program and security enjoy much support. Should the US choose to employ a military option to defend its interests and security, it will make a bitter enemy of any developing democracy in the country. Israeli-Palestinian negotiations remain largely outside the plan. This is partly due to one of its principals being a major US ally. Bush has, despite openly proclaiming US support for the creation of a Palestinian state been rather vague on the specifics. Sharon intends to leave Gaza and create the widest possible security belt in Israel’s wasp-like middle. The Palestinians are too embroiled in internal conflicts to begin to think strategically about their borders. The US has wisely avoided “owning” the process thus far as Clinton tried to do. Yet stateless Palestinians have been a source of perennial disturbance among their Arab neighbors, in Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere, not to mention Israel. A viable state will be necessary to contain them. If the US decides it has real interests in the outcome, it will at some point find itself imposing limits on not one but two democracies. As Sharon is discovering with the Gaza pullout, the desires and sovereignty of a free people sometimes gets in the way of one’s plans to impose ready-made solutions. But the geopolitical is only one dimension of US strategic interests in the region. The US military is presently undergoing revolutionary changes as it catches up to the end of the Cold War. Yet US forward bases are not Roman garrisons; their existence requires the consent of their host countries. The Bush administration may hope to replicate the nonimperial nature of US basing in Europe, relying on the recognition that an American presence helps deter threats in a dangerous region and ensure stability. However, nascent and immature democracies, even if they manage to survive, may not prove as reasonable as their European counterparts, or as dependent as their Iraqi brethren. If the US intends to pursue such interests at all costs, than it will seek to use more bluff and bluster to persuade allies —a partial return to 19th-century Latin American policies— or it will attempt to limit the spread of the democratic revolution. Economically, the same principle applies, and in spades. The United States shows no sign of weaning itself off its oil dependence. With China playing an increasingly stronger role in the Middle East, as it follows its thirst for oil wherever it may lead, who is to say that independent, democratic states with a history of anti-Americanism will not turn away from the US, both geopolitically and economically? Even if these countries choose to maintain their ties with the United States, America may face real economic shocks during interim

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periods of instability, particularly in the Gulf states. And it has not yet demonstrated the willingness to resort to imperial dominance to manage the transition. Finally, with a growing China, a disintegrating Russia and a myopic Europe, the Middle East is but one region in a world which poses numerous strategic difficulties for the US. Unlike during the Cold War, it does not possess anything like a single threat to unify global interests. Yet neither the Greater Middle East plan nor anything outside of it offers a vision for linking its interests in various regions, or determining their proportional weight. Thus, US interests in the Greater Middle East exist on three primary, but unconnected, levels: geopolitical, military/security and economic. These interests predate the Bush administration by decades, yet Bush has offered a unique interpretation. The Greater Middle East plan, in the end, amounts to splitting the difference between them. It must be admitted that a plausible alternative has not yet been offered. Given the variety of concerns raised and the unknowable but surely destabilizing effects of a longoverdue process of modernization, it may be that a real strategy is not possible. Bush, it would seem, seeks to hold down the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, control the geopolitical equilibrium, continue to buy oil, continue to expand its military presence, continue to hunt down terrorists and push for real democratic reform. The success of juggling these myriad policies is measured both in days: every day in which the edifice remains standing with no further attacks on the US; and in decades: the possibility of a much more stable and democratic Middle East, which produces oil but not terrorism. Its inconclusive nature is a politically useful at home, but geopolitically nebulous. With no way of joining the policies, the present approach cannot be called a strategy. Which leads us back to the question: what is the Greater Middle East?

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THE IRAQ THAT COUNTS AND THE ONE WE SEE

THE IRAQ THAT COUNTS AND THE ONE WE SEE

by Giovanni PARIGI

The difficulty of the reconstruction of an Iraqi state derives in good part from the divide between formal and actual powers. Tribes, armed forces, remnants of the Saddamite regime and Shiite clerics count more than the government or parliament. The ministries as fiefdoms.

l

egend tells that the Caliph Mu’awiyya,

founder of the Omayyade dynasty, on the verge of death, told his son Yazid that the sole rule for avoiding a rebellion of the Iraqi population, was to give them a new governor each time they asked, no matter how often. Saddam was not simply the rais, the “chief”. Like any other clever dictator, Saddam did not eschew the cult of personality. Rather, he was always attentive to his look. Immense billboards on public streets portrayed him on a white horse, dressed as Saladin, waving a sword, with a boundless desert in the background. Or else he appeared in newspapers as the new Sumerian conqueror Sargon of Akkad or a second Babylonian Hammurabi or revivified Chaldean Nebuchadnezzar. In the squares, there were statues that portrayed him in uniform as a military commander and murals with him bearing the rank of supreme commander. Television programs interviewed him, calling him sheikh al mashaykh (sheik of sheiks), while he wore disdasha and kuffiah, seated on the ground and kindly entertaining elderly tribal sheiks. On film, he was seen in a doublebreasted suit and one of his numerous hats , while firing in the air, with a frenzied crowd at his back. All these were the order of the day. A soldier among soldiers, but also a secular statesman among politicians; a Bedouin among sheiks and sword of Islam; champion of pan-Arabism and heir to the national Mesopotamic heroes: it would be easy to think this measureless megalomania. The reality is that this iconography was minutely studied for a precise reason: to incarnate all the diverse spirits of the country. The problem of Iraq is all here: what is its spirit, or better: which are its spirits?

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The market of the ministries “You all know the heavy inheritance left to this government. We are afflicted by corruption, lack of public services, unemployment and mass graves.”1 Were these Iraq’s only problems, the task of the new prime minister Jaafari would not be so arduous. The reality is that, alongside fearsome political and economic disorder, not to mention undiminished terrorism, one must place social disintegration without precedent in the country. Saddam has left a terrible inheritance, but it is not the origin of the country’s problems; it is the result of an erroneous cure. Tribalism, power rivalry and religious sectarianism have divided the country for centuries, and the rais, for almost 25 years, fought these centrifugal forces with purges, massacres and wars against neighbors. In his way, he held the country together. However, today, what Saddam obtained through evil, the new government must obtain through good, mediating with all the social components without recourse to gassing villagers and razing their homes. To better understand the problems of mediating among the animating spirits of the country, simply observe the difficulties which beset the birth of the new government. On April 7th of this year, after two months of trying, the Presidential Council was chosen, with the Kurdish Jalal Talabani as President and the Shiite al Mahdi as Vice President and the Sunni Ghazi al Yawar as exiting President. At the same time, a Shiite, Ibrahim Jaafari, was assigned the task of forming a government. The task of the Jaafari government is transitory but important: to stimulate the creation of a draft Constitution by August, submit it to a referendum in October and, if approved, guide the country through the December elections. It will not be easy to adhere to this timeframe. At the same time, the new government will have to confront the security emergency, preventing terrorism from degenerating into civil war. At the end of April, when, seeing the difficulties, many spoke of prolonging Allawi’s mandate, Jaafari presented the list of ministers to the Presidential Council and the National Assembly, thereby gaining their trust. The problem is that since they began to leak indiscretions on the composition of the government, it was clear that the problem was not only the “Sunni question”, but also the dissenters within the Shiite parliamentary bloc. First of all, the National Assembly approved the list of ministers with 180 votes out of 185 present. But the fact remained that among the 90 absent parliamentarians, nearly all were part of the Allawi bloc. When this first trio of ministers was sworn in, vice premier Yawar absented himself in protest. In sum, the resulting Jaafari government was initially composed of 16 Shiite ministers, 9 Kurds, 4 Sunnis and one Christian. Furthermore, five of the most important ministries— Oil, Defense, Electricity, Industry and Human Rights—were assigned ad interim, so two of 1

From Jaafari’s speech, May 3, 2005, for the swearing in of the new Iraqi government.

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the four vice premierships remained vacant. While the ministry of Defense was, ad interim, reserved for Jaafari himself, that of Oil went to the ubiquitous Chalabi. And Chalabi earned himself the post of vice premier, together with the Kurdish Shawis. Only subsequently, on the first of May, were the ad interim ministries definitively assigned, reserving Oil and Electricity to the Shiites and the rest to Sunnis, with Saadun al Dulaimi as Minister of Defense. The Sunni al Shible refused the offered post at the ministry of Human Rights, while the Sunni Abid Mutlaq al Juburi was nominated as third vice premier. Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, is the minister of Defense, and the minister of the Interior—a position coveted by the Sunnis—is the Turcoman Shiite Baqir Solagh, of the SCIRI. The ministry of Human Rights and the seat of fourth vice premier both remain open, the latter likely to be assigned to a woman or a Turcoman. In effect, Jaafari has had to confront two problems: the Sunni malcontent over the alleged lack of political weight and the extremist Shiite opposition. The initial idea was in fact that of a government of national unity, which would contain all the parties of the National Assembly; however, this meant giving significant to the Sunni community, even beyond the electoral result which saw them underrepresented. While the Kurds were ready to make concessions to the Sunnis, this idea did not sit well with the hawks on the Shiite list, given the prominent positions of Allawi and Yawar. In fact, the former premier and the former president have drawn closer to the Sunni movements, thanks to Yawar’s tribal ties and Allawi’s opposition to a radical de-Baathification process. The problem is that the Sunnis in parliament are very divided amongst themselves and do not constitute a single bloc with a coherent political address. Essentially, a Sunni leader with the charisma of Sistani or Talabani does not exist and many of the names circulated in parliament are accused of conniving with the deposed regime. Despite the internal Shiite opposition, Jaafari made known from the beginning that the Ministry of Defense would be Sunni, making a virtue out of necessity. Dulaimi is from the province of Anbar—one of the most troublesome. With his appointment, they hope to launch a scorched-earth policy against the Sunni insurgents. Even the nomination of a vice minister must be read in this light. Considering that the Sunnis have only 17 parliamentarians out of 275, Jaafari, who has assigned them a half dozen ministries and a vice presidency, has made a noble effort. In reality, the talks do not only focus on the number of seats. The Sunnis have in fact based participation in government on four conditions: allowing the return of former Baathist functionaries to the new public administration, the reinstatement of former Baathist officials in the ranks of the military, the reconstruction of the Sunni cities, beginning with Falluja and the freeing of those detained without valid reason for crimes of terrorism. The tensions do not only divide Shiite and Sunni. The struggle within the Shiite coalition, made up of over 15 diverse movements, for the ministry of Oil was very hard. Chalabi declared his interest right away but, nominated vice premier, had to cede the department to Bahr al ‘Ulum, of the religious party, SCIRI. The ministries of Sanitation and Transportation went to figures tied to al-Sadr, despite the opposition of many parliamentarians loyal to Sistani.

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In conclusion, Jaafari has managed to extricate himself from the crossfire, forming a largely balanced government. At this point, with a democratically elected government, ethnically and religiously balanced, and which above all comprises even the Sunnis, it would seem that the premises for the reinforcement of democratic institutions are guaranteed and the country prepared to confront the matters of security and the constitution.

Institutional powers and traditional powers The above analysis, conducted according to ideas of Western politics, risks being myopic and unrealistic. Seeking to understand the future of Iraq through what succeeds in parliament in Baghdad or through counting daily attacks is a grave error, for two fundamental reasons. First of all, the attempt with democracy which is unfolding in Iraq is surely a break with the country’s past. But the January elections have not made a tabula rasa of the relations of traditional forces and the parliament can not leave aside the dynamics and power balances which have until today characterized the country. In other words, it is necessary to take care because the newborn democracy is not certain to change the spirit of a country bled white from centuries of war, internal struggles, ethnic clashes, religious tensions and tribal rivalries. Besides, the dynamics which influence the country’s development exist not only on formal levels but also in centers of informal power, tied to Iraqi social and political tradition. The centers of traditional or informal power are currents which cross the country, without finding full expression in the National Assembly, the ministries or other institutions. The four principal informal social and political actors are the armed forces, tribalism, Saddam’s shadow state legacy and the Shiite clerisy. Alongside these indigenous elements, one can add foreign ones, from the United States to Syria, from Saudi Arabia to Iran. All these countries have created groups or systems of pressure which heavily influence the situation, but an analysis of that phenomenon lies outside the scope of this writing. Let’s concentrate then on the internal agents.

The Armed Forces In democratic countries, the government and parliament are the central institutions of the political system. The armed forces are tied to their will. In Iraq, things are rather different; the military has always represented a center of autonomous power and, to speak euphemistically, is very often antagonistic to political power. The Iraqi armed forces were born in 1921, together with the Hashemite monarchy. The British, in founding the Iraqi state, created a military and entrusted it to Faysal and the Hashemite officials who came with him from Syria. The King made it known right away that he wanted an army of the people, through which to culturally Arabize the country, thereby unifying it. The British wanted instead a small, professional military—more controllable and less costly. Consequently, the British and Hashemites clashed over the question of obligatory conscription. In particular, the Hashemites intended to recruit the military from the urban

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population, less subject to the influence of the British and the sheiks. The British sought to counterbalance the affirmation of the state monarchy, supporting the claims of the grand Shiite sheiks of the South. Thus, when obligatory conscription began in 1928, the Iraqi government found that they made little headway in the tribal areas of the South, and more and more relied on officials and troops from the faithful Sunni areas. The Sunni predominance within the armed forces is rooted in those years. In short time, the military transformed itself into a sort of state-within-a-state; an instrument of the Sunni minority, where political and military centralism coincided to the detriment of the other components of the country. In 1933, the military confronted the Assyrian revolt and shortly after numerous tribal revolts in the Shiite South and in Kurdistan. It became the catalyst for nationalistic ferment in the Thirties and Forties and pan-Arab sentiment in the Fifties and Sixties. Each coup d’etat (1936, 1941, 1958, 1961 and 1968) came from within the military. Historically, no Iraqi public institution has ever had the power and influence of the military, and the military has always been Sunni-controlled. Saddam was the first to radically modify the structure of the military. With the ascent of the rais, the armed forces were subject to two processes: tribalization and politicization. Initially, the armed forces were defined by the Baath party, but with the end of the war with Iran the rais replaced the generals with civilians loyal to him through familial ties. From an “ideological” military, it passed to a “tribalized” one. Saddam, despite having no military experience, made himself commander-in-chief of the armed forces. During the war with Iran, he elevated members of his own clan to the top ranks. Having “Tikritizzized” the apex, he reserved other positions in the hierarchy for Baath party members, always from other Sunni tribes, like Jubur, Sa’dun, or Dulaym. These tribes furnished the regime with officers, Republican Guard troops and security apparatuses. It was not long before civil political and economic posts followed suit. In other words, the Baath ideology absorbed tribalism, with an added anti-Shiite element during the war with Iran. Not by chance was the Baath party often called the “tribe of all tribes”. With the fall of the regime, the United States found themselves with the dilemma of what to do with the military. Bremer’s controversial decision to disband it was tied to the fact that the armed forces and security services had been the spirit of the past regime. It was then necessary to dispel any doubt over a possible continuity of power of the dictator’s politicomilitary bloc. In reality, a less drastic, more gradual, approach would have surely avoided the development of a grave security situation. Today, security is the central problem, being the precondition of any political and economic development. Faced with the necessity of limiting losses and reducing the military task, the solution for coalition forces is to employ Iraqi armed forces and security. With the aim of accelerating the creation of an effective military instrument, the National Guard was recently merged with the military. In fact, while the police forces remain more tied to the local powers and the past regime and therefore less dutiful, the military is gradually proving itself able to confront critical situations. All this while the terrorists attacks seek, without much success, to undermine the rebirth of these institutions.

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Recruiting, training and equipping the Iraqi forces have become the principal objective for the coalition, along with developing the political institutions. The problem is that, if the unity of the country has always been guaranteed by the military, the unity of the military has always been guaranteed by its “Sunni-ness”. Now, after fifty years of dominance, the relationship has been inverted. Above all is necessary to understand if and how this subordination will last. Iraq cannot allow its two pillars, parliament and military, to be weak and divided: it would not survive. Beyond this, it remains to be seen who will command the military. If the appointment of a Sunni Minister of Defense has above all a symbolic value, it is likely that the army ranks will see a renewed predominance of Sunni generals, for various reasons—the Sunni military tradition and the American urgency to structure and render operative the Iraqi forces. To these one may add a third: underrepresented in parliament and consequently displaced from political and economic centers of power, the Sunni community will easily colonize anew the armed forces. In sum, the military as safety valve for Sunni malcontent is surely a strong temptation for the American administration. Beyond this, the most probable outcome is a regionalized, or better, confessionalized military like the Lebanese one at the beginning of the civil war. Not of course an auspicious solution. In conclusion, even if at the moment the armed forces are still weak and in the course of reorganization, they will soon become one of the principal actors on the Iraqi scene.

Tribalism Ali is a building contractor and local councilman. His brother, Aber, lives in the country and is the sheik of his mudhif while their cousin, Hussein, parliamentarian of a secular party in Baghdad where he seeks to enter the sons of the major tribal leaders in the police academy. Here is an apparently heterogeneous social group with a hidden cohesion— the tribal tie—with far more weight than any political party. Tribalism is a very complex phenomenon, which characterizes all Arab societies. It has not only survived urbanization and modernity but adapted to them. Two elements have modified the tribal structure within Arab societies: the state and the market economy. Analyzing the Iraqi case, one can speak of state tribalism, social tribalism and military tribalism. As we have seen regarding the military, Saddam placed his inner circle in government power. In the tribalism of the state, the functional relations between government institutions are replaced with tribal ties. In this way, one perverts the tribal tie, forcing it into a businessclient model, away from the loyalty of common blood. Tribalism is, however, also the inverse process: those who are excluded from power recover their identity through tribal ties. Paradoxically, one can then speak of two social forces of tribalism, one imposed by the state hierarchy, while the other emerges as a centrifugal force which permeates the society and guarantees the survival of single social groups in the face of an absent or tyrannical state. This second phenomenon can be defined as social tribalism.

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Military tribalism (ideological in the case of Iraq) has seen armed forces rapidly spread the Baath ideology through a network of tribal ties. Initially, Saddam focused on the pan-Arabism of the Baath ideology, seeing in tribalism an obstacle, “an execrable tradition, shameful in the eyes of revolutionary progress”. The tribes became a taboo. In the early years of the regime, books on the topic were outlawed. The traditional use of the noble tribal title, laqab, was forbidden. But during the war with Iran, Saddam had to make an appeal to all the country’s resources. And so tribalism recovered in an anti-Shiite form, initially to be absorbed in the Baath ideology. The party was thus presented as “the tribe of all tribes” and Saddam immortalized as tribal sheiks placed their clans’ standards at his feet and put their strength at his disposal against the Iranians. The appropriation and manipulation of tribalism continued in the following years. By 1991 Saddam had fully recovered it, legitimizing it politically to shore up the regime. The objective was to employ it in contrast to the religious Shiite parties and movements. One of the reasons for the failure of the revolt in 1991 was the fact that the tribal, rural population felt itself neutral between the urban, religious movements and the regime. During the years of the sanctions, the tribal leaders on the local level acquired major economic and political power. The rais was fully conscious of this, employing a policy of discrimination and facilitating the rise of those favorable to the regime. In those times, the newspapers published lists of loyal tribal leaders while television portrayed scenes of tribal leaders swearing fealty to Saddam. In the elections for the National Assembly in March 1996, tribalism was openly readmitted. In reality, the rapport was not idyllic. The failed military coup of 1992, was born out of an attempt by one tribe, the Jubur, to take power after having reached the head of the armed forces. In 1995, the same occurred with the Dulaim, who succeeded the Jubur. Both were eliminated by Saddam. Both coups may be seen as simply tribal rivalries. It was the Iraqi state which recovered the tribal dynamics for politico-economic interests. At the same time, however, Saddam distrusted the local and intermediate social institutions. The beleaguered population congregated around the traditional institutions: the tribes and the clerisy. Today, the tribe maintains its economic, political and military functions, constituting an autonomous subject. If on the central political level, it lacks a true party, this is owed to the ingrained particularistic tendency of the tribe. If, however, we descend to the local level, we discover that the administration and the provincial bureaucracy are largely composed of functionaries actively tied to local clans, even in urban centers. At this point, it is legitimate to ask if, in exercising their institutional functions, the Iraqi administrators are more attentive to the interests of the government or their tribe.

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The Shadow State In Iraq today it is difficult to be a public functionary, whether civil or military. If someone wishes you harm, he only has to label you a Baathist. The problem is that Baathists included anyone, even imams. The Baath ideology took hold in 1968, proposing itself as a break with the past, in contrast to the traditional religious institutions or modern democracy. But when in the midEighties, it passed from a state controlled by a party to a party controlled by a man, Saddam restored the system of tribal ties, creating a network to manage his power. The state, or rather Saddam, extended his control to all the social and political organizations, while developing a network of control and coercion through the armed forces and secret services. Syndicates, professional associations, student movements, newspapers, universities and any other form of social congregation was nationalized. The entire civil society was permeated by the party and frozen by the control of the security services. Saddam even came to forbid Friday prayer and the traditional Shiite religious rites. The war with Tehran not only crippled the public and private economy, but devastated the social fabric. Deprived of autonomous social structures, economically strangled and without escape, the Iraqi middle class collapsed. Only the muqawilun, the contractors favored by the regime, prospered. The institutional and economic weakness of society corresponded with increased dependence on the regime. At the beginning of the Nineties, 21% of the population was employed in the civil institutions of the state, while still more were involved in the military and police forces, including Shiites. In 1991, in a desperate attempt to escape from the country’s economic and social crisis, Saddam invaded Kuwait. Despite the international reaction, the rais managed to remain in power. The embargo paradoxically accentuated state control. The atomization of Iraqi society reached its culmination in this period. The sanctions also produced a second effect: the state institutions were increasingly reduced and ever more dependent on the exclusive assistance of the rais. During the years of embargo, about a million Iraqis depended economically on either Saddam himself, or members of his entourage. Exploiting the traditional ties, Saddam managed to create and interdependent clientele system, an authentic shadow state which diminished every public institution. The clans loyal to Saddam, to guarantee the survival of the regime and themselves, rooted themselves in the centers of power, even at the local level, creating a network of control over the resources of the whole country. In the Shiite cities of the South, the notorious, Sunni Feddayn Saddam throw their weight around, controlling the local Baathist institutions, following the 1992 revolt. Now the problem is that many of those whom the coalition forces have chosen as local figures of influence are often compromised by the old regime. This inevitable phenomenon is extended above all to the intermediate and local levels of public administration. In particular, in the military it is difficult to find middle and upper management with experience who were not employed by the previous regime.

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Given the extension and pervasiveness of the regime, a “physiological” consequence emerges. It is not possible to reconstruct an Iraqi state without taking account of the past. On the other hand, it amounts to creating out of nothing a class of bureaucrats and functionaries. A second, more grave, consequence of the regime is the persistence of a clandestine network of opposition to the new political course. In light of the experience of Desert Storm, Saddam, prior to his fall, had time to structure a “resistance” network, with financing, arms supply and organization. These network enjoys the support of part of the Sunni tribes and an inexhaustible supply of unskilled recruits among the criminal element and the unemployed. It is here that Zarqawi inserted himself. Beyond this, thousands of Baathists after the fall of the regime found refuge in the Emirates, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The clandestine opposition is strongly fortified in the surrounding countries. In sum, even if Saddam is in prison, his legacy remains within a large part of civil society. Whoever aspired to a public post had to be enrolled in the party (passive Baathism), while the nerve center of power of the shadow state remain active. The persistence and desire to reinstate the regime is accentuated by the spirit of tribal solidarity which animates the ranks of the Sunni community. This is no mere abstract problem, but stands in the way of shaping the Iraqi state. The entire bureaucracy, the local management of public administration were born under the regime of the rais. Replacing it wholesale, as was attempted with the military, is impossible. It is natural that amnesty is one of the most discussed topics in the country. In this power vacuum, local administrations rely upon traditional powers to govern. The risk is of creating a new informal web of clientelism, personal or sectarian ties, which undermines the birth of a functional, modern state bureaucracy. In sum, the principal problem in the National Assembly and in the small communities is the reinstatement of those employed by the fallen regime. Only a process of national reconciliation can resolve the problem. Here may also lie the political solution to the Sunni insurrection: favoring the emergence of a Sunni leadership which represents even the most radical factions and leads to selective de-Baathification seems to be the best option. In conclusion, Saddam’s shadow state is still present and seeks to return to power. The phantasm of Saddam could, like the Arab phoenix, reemerge from the ashes, thanks to the same social dynamics and, in some cases, the same figures of the past regime.

The Shiite Clerisy “We don’t want too many turbans in parliament…” This phrase was uttered by a secular Shiite in the run-up to the elections. The influence of the Shiite clerisy in the history of the country is fundamental and it has always characterized the Shiite community. For historical and social reasons, the Shiite clerisy is, compared to the Sunni one, highly organized. Beginning with the capillary network of the imams of the countryside, the sayyed, the religious structure is articulated around the religious colleges, the hawza, guided

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by clerics with the title of mujtahid. At its apex is a restricted group of ayatollahs who stand out through religious charisma, theological competence and political ability and act as spiritual guides for the whole Iraqi Shiite community. One of the essential characteristics of Iraqi Shiism is given by the presence of the holy places, where the schism historically originated. The clerisy originally developed in urban spheres and only later, since the middle of the eighteenth century, extended its influence in rural and tribal areas. A second peculiar characteristic is that the proselytism conducted by the clerisy has always acted against the central authority. This is a major difference between Iraqi and Iranian Shiism. In particular, the holy cities of Kerbala and Najaf have always enjoyed economic benefits from being a pilgrimage destination and religious centers. The religious institutions, madrassas, sanctuaries, mosques, and brotherhoods made these cities political and economic centers. The revenues tied to burial rites and conduct of pilgrimage came from around the country, but also from Iran, India and the Gulf countries, enriching the religious elite for centuries. With the fall of the Safavide reign in Iran, supporter of the clerisy, midway through the eighteenth century many great religious Iranian families moved to Iraq. This favored the rise of great religious clans like the as Sadr or the Khoy, who garnered unimaginable wealth in the process. The decline of the holy cities began when, first the Turks then the British increasingly limited the flow of pilgrims from abroad. In reality, the weakness of the Shiite religious institutions resulted from the fact that the hierarchy was often divided by internal struggles. Secondarily, the Shiite clerisy was unable to root itself in the economic circuit. Beyond this, the Shiite mercantilist bourgeoisie was not tied to the clerisy. This class emerged only in the 1950s in Baghdad and Bassora. In fact, traditionally, commerce was monopolized by the great Jewish families. When the Jews left the country to emigrate to Israel, the Shiites took their place. This class moreover actively abstained from entering the political life of the country. The affirming of Baghdad as political and economic center of the new state reduced the importance of the two holy cities, shifting the center of gravity. Furthermore, the Shiite religious community was never able to make the tribes its political instrument. The power of the sheiks remained predominant. Deprived of an economic base, the mujtahid could not then oppose the Sunni rise. The Sunnis, entrenched in the state under the Hashemite monarchy, proved able to isolate the Shiite clerisy, fixing a barrier between church and state. Economically strangled, the Shiite institutions began to depend on the central government that had supplanted them. If Najaf at the beginning of the twentieth century was the center of Shiite religious culture, the emergence of a modern state in Iraq permitted Qom, in Iran, to steal the honor. With the affirmation of pan-Arabism, Shiism became a heresy tied to the expansionist Iranian aims. This stigmatization allowed helped the Sunni elite to cut the Shiites out from power. In the Seventies, rejected by the Sunni establishment under the accusation of not being true Arabs, the Shiites found an ideological glue in the struggle for Islamic radicalism

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(that the charge itself was false was demonstrated during the war against the revolutionary Iranian regime, when the Shiites sided with Iraqi Arab nationalism). The Baath regime was radically averse to recognizing autonomy or a social role for the marja’yyia. The regime’s repression not only struck the clerisy but any expression of faith. Traditional pilgrimages were forbidden, mosques were closed and, for the first time in Shiite history, members of the marja’yyia were killed, while many others fled in exile. The structural weakness of the Shiite clerisy emerged dramatically in the revolt of 1991, when the Shiite rebels found themselves without leadership. Only the ayatollah Khoy attempted to provide organization, but it was too late. The power vacuum following the fall of the regime has favored the reemergence of the religious element, both Shiite and Sunni. In particular, the change in Sunni religious sentiment should not be underestimated. In opposition to the Iranian moves, Saudi Arabia began to support the radical Sunni movements, inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood and wahhabism. Religion has returned to playing an essential role in the political life of the country. The most glaring example is Sistani, the real adhesive for the Shiite group. But the role of the Sunni ‘ulama as intermediaries between the armed opposition and coalition forces is also indicative.

Conclusions The greatest risk for Iraq is of a society split along fracture lines: Kurdish autonomy, the rivalries between Shiites and Sunnis and the Shiite theocracy. The are the nightmares which haunt the country. The lack of success for nation building in Iraq is tied to two related processes: the unraveling of Iraqi society and the crystallization of state powers. The process of unraveling is that in the absence of effective state structures, the social fabric collapses, reorganizing itself on the basis of sectarian values and interests. In other words, in a country which lacks security, jobs, schools and hospitals, the citizens cease being citizens and rediscover their ethnic or religious roots. At the same time, the power vacuum created by the fall of the regime becomes the ground for conflict and conquest for all the forces that the regime had repressed. The fruits of this process are many and not all negative: the emergence of politicoreligious leaders like as Sadr and, fortunately, Sistani; the reemergence of Sunni tribalism as a support network for the terrorism Baathist opposition; or the end of hostility and the alliance between the Kurdish parties, the PUK and KDP. This phenomenon can defined as a sort of “return to roots”. It has created a polarization of interests throughout the country. If exacerbated, it could degenerate, eliminating the space for mediation between different groups. It is then extremely necessary to restore the prerogative of state institutions as soon as possible.

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The problem at bottom is that as in many Middle Eastern countries, the role of institutions is limited by tribalism, the military, religion, ethnicity, all of which determine political dynamics. Consequently, among the many problems for the nascent country is one not immediately perceptible but insidious: the risk of crystallization of power. Having reached a political balance and divided up the public powers on the basis of that equilibrium, the risk is that the situation becomes sclerotic, and one the one hand, no change in power takes place, and on the other, each center of power becomes a fief conquered in the elections. The crystallization of the balance of power and sectarian feuding are two sides of the same coin. The risk is that the ministers will utilize their resources through a network of tribal, ethnic religious or political ties. The centers of power could thus become feuds in the hands of different factions, refusing to cede the keys to the ministries even when power officially changes. Without any pretense of scientism, one can use Max Weber’s political model to schematize Iraq. He delineated three types of power: traditional, charismatic and rational. Iraq has passed from the military and secular, charismatic power of Saddam to a coexistence between the rational power of the government and the traditional power of tribal and religious leaders. The Iraqi problem is to balance these different models. In following Iraqi development, patience and realism are therefore necessary. The institutions require time to reinforce their control of the country. But this control will always coexist with traditional powers, rooted in the society and which in part finds expression within the National Assembly. It is necessary to consider that Iraq has never been a tranquil country and that extreme social fragmentation has over the centuries created the tendency to juxtapose the interests of the group with those of the state. The brutality of Saddam’s regime and of all those which preceded him was also a response to the turbulence which has always pervaded the country. Violence and the use of ethno-religious divisions, corruption, control of economic resources and tension between state and society are evils endemic to the country which will not easily be eradicated. The only hope is that the Iraqi political forces will take to heart the counsel of the Caliph Mu’awiyya and give life to a real representative democracy. It will be an Iraqi democracy—perhaps not to our Western liking, but which surely will be able to better the conditions of life for the Iraqi people.

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HEARTLAAND PLUS


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INTERVIEW WITH V. YUSHCHENKO

INTERVIEW WITH Viktor Yushchenko PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF UKRAINE An overlook on the Ukrainian current geopolitical issues and priorities. The historical reasons that led to the independence. The internal political and religious divide and the governmental efforts to cope with the oligarchs. The goal of NATO and EU membership. GUUAM as an anti-Russian spur and a tool of Ukrainian regional ambitions. The Odessa-Brody pipeline project.

HEARTLAND You were born as a Soviet citizen. As a young boy, did you ever dream becoming first Ukrainian citizen and then President of the Ukraine? PRES. YUSHCHENKO The heroic history of my people, which dates back more than a thousand years, taught me to dream about Ukraine’s future as a truly free, independent and democratic country. Battling injustice committed throughout the centuries, which continued in Ukraine after our independence in 1991, became the rallying point that united millions of my countrymen last winter to withstand our constitutional right to chose our future without government or foreign interference. HEARTLAND What was, in your view, the main reason of the disintegration of USSR? PRES. YUSHCHENKO The USSR collapsed because the totalitarian communist system could no longer adapt to the political, economic, social and other centrifugal forces, which evolved on the territory that once was the Soviet Union. And, the threat of using military force to keep the system together was too weak to withstand the human desire for national self-determination and freedom. HEARTLAND When the Soviet Union was about to collapse, President George Bush sr. delivered strong message to the Ukrainians, asking them not to secede from Moscow. How did you react to that message? PRES. YUSHCHENKO Ukrainians took many steps toward realizing their national selfdetermination and one of the most decisive was a national referendum vote for the independence of Ukraine from Moscow. Ninety percent of Ukraine’s 50 million citizens voted for independence on December 1, 1991. This historic step led to the peaceful dissolution of the USSR in the closing days of 1991. The leadership of Ukraine did all it could to ensure that no blood was shed and that the divorce from the Soviet Union was peaceful and orderly.

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HEARTLAND Some people speak of two or more Ukraine. In fact, it seems that the electoral map marks a geopolitical divide between Eastern and Western Ukraine. What do you think of that? PRES. YUSHCHENKO Opinion polls show that two-thirds of my compatriots wanted radical changes in the way Ukraine is governed after ten-years of rule by my predecessor. They wanted an end to government corruption, which was evident in all aspects of their daily lives, from the tax and traffic police to high-level government stealing. All this was done as the population drift further and further into poverty. In fact, Ukrainians are in solidarity when it comes to wanting more economic opportunities and freedom of choice to improve their lives and become less dependent on the state and government bodies. A majority of them see their future and that of their country anchored firmly in Europe, not only geographically, historically and culturally, but more importantly, politically and economically. This is our long-term historic goal. Therefore, to understand Ukraine fully one should not confuse Ukraine’s electoral politics with our long-term geopolitical aspirations. HEARTLAND And what about the religious divide? Do you think that a Ukrainian Orthodox Church fully independent from Moscow Patriarchate is possible? PRES. YUSHCHENKO The path to God chosen by millions of Ukrainian faithful is an individual choice and cannot be a divisive issue. There are many religious denominations and confessions thriving in Ukraine – Christians, Jews, Muslims, among others – this is part of our nation’s rich cultural fabric. There is a movement for consolidating the Ukrainian Orthodox faith, which I support. The importance of interdenominational relations cannot be overestimated, but it is a matter of relations between faithful and the Church. HEARTLAND Do you think that the Ukraine will be first member of NATO or of the EU, and if so, when? PRES. YUSHCHENKO We expect to begin talks about joining the European Union as an associate member after having fulfilled our EU partnership agreement within the next three years. More importantly, we are currently focused on our internal policies and implementing the basic EU values into all spheres of public life. Our nation’s European choice and the adoption of democratic values and principles will also bring us closer to NATO. Membership in this alliance has yet to be discussed between the two sides. Let is make progress in our internal policies and then we can measure how long it will take before we begin discussions about entering other multilateral bodies. HEARTLAND What do you think of the Ukrainian oligarchs?

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PRES. YUSHCHENKO Large business in society plays an important role as an employer, taxpayer, a competitive economic force, as well as contributor to social welfare and local community development. Each society manages the triangle of economic relations between big business, trade unions and the state by the creation of laws that regulate markets, guarantee decent wages and protect against unfair competition, among other things. The courts are mandated with deciding disputes. However, in Ukraine, we have a situation where oligarch business monopolies control not only industry and trade unions, but also the state and the courts. Therefore, our first steps in office have the goal of creating a level playing field for all market participants, removing business representatives from government and the courts, and creating conditions for competitive economic growth for business and the people. HEARTLAND Most Russians think of Kiev as the capital of their first State. Do you share this view? PRES. YUSHCHENKO The history of Kyiv and its glorious past can be traced back more than 1,500 years. Kyiv was an important trading center for centuries and was also the medieval capital of the Kyivvan-Rus’ state – a political, economic and cultural force in Europe and Asia during the 10-12th centuries. The leaders of this dynasty had family ties to rulers in what are today France, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. The territory of the Kyivan-Rus’ Dynasty was extensive and today makes up many modern nation-states, including, but not limited to, Russia and Ukraine. HEARTLAND Will the Ukraine stay in the Community of Independent States, in the Common Economic Space with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and at the same time GUUAM? PRES. YUSHCHENKO Ukraine’s membership multilateral organizations and initiatives is dictated first and foremost by her national interests. The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was created in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. It served a useful purpose at the time as a transitional forum for states that were once part of the USSR. Time will tell whether or not this structure will respond to the changing needs of its member and observer states. As to the Common Economic Space, we view the potential of this body within the sphere of trading and economic relations between Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. We are in the process of working out a mechanism that will allow us to achieve trading relations between the partners that does not contradict our ambitions of joining the World Trade Organization. As to GUUAM, we envision this coalition of states serving as a beacon of economic opportunity and security in the region. The effectiveness of each of these structures depends on the ability of each member-state to realize its particular goals without standing in the way of opportunities offered in European and global political and economic bodies. HEARTLAND Will the Russian fleet stay in Sevastopol forever?

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PRES. YUSHCHENKO The status of the Black Sean Fleet is regulated by appropriate bilateral agreements between Russia and Ukraine and accordingly, the Russian fleet has leasing rights in Sevastopol until 2017. We have every intention of living up to these agreements and I have no intention of revising them. Issues that arise with the Black Sea Fleet will be discussed between both sides and resolutions will be found that are mutually beneficial to both sides. HEARTLAND Russia as full member of NATO and the EU would be in the Ukrainian interest? PRES. YUSHCHENKO Absolutely. HEARTLAND Will the Ukraine become a NATO member State? PRES. YUSHCHENKO Ukraine clearly announced its position of readiness to adhere to the plan of actions for membership in NATO. Membership will depend on both sides, moreover, in the first instance on Ukraine and the tempo with which we live up to NATO standards. HEARTLAND What do you think of the Chevron project of a pipeline from Brody to Poland? PRES. YUSHCHENKO Ukraine has expressed its interest in developing the Odessa-Brody oil transportation pipeline beyond Ukraine’s borders to destinations in Europe. This is part of European energy strategy. These expressions have also been communicated to our neighbors and we have held a number of talks on this particular issue. In the coming weeks we expect talks to turn into concrete actions with both neighboring states and partnering companies. HEARTLAND Do you think that the Orange Revolution could become a model for other former Soviet republics, starting with Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Uzbekistan? PRES. YUSHCHENKO The so-called Orange Revolution was Ukrainians’ liberation from authoritarianism and a confirmation of our support for democratic values and principles. It was based on Ukraine’s political and economic peculiarities, our internal practices, and took advantage of the unique opportunities before us as a people and a nation. Ukrainians stood-up against the past and chose to take their destiny and that of their country into their own hands. The human desire for freedom and the acts to defend that freedom cannot be exported or predicted. They are spontaneous acts tied to a yearning, which each nation and peoples must decide for themselves. As a democratic nation, we have an obligation to support those who also yearn to be free. I know in Ukraine’s experience, the moral obligation and support of neighbors, is often times enough to support those who are willing to act in defense of their liberty.

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HEARTLAND Why did you choose orange as the color of your campaign? Is it not too close to red? PRES. YUSHCHENKO In Ukrainian politics, orange is a new color, which represents a political movement committeed to democratic values, optimism and a European future. It symbolizes a solid break from the communist and post-communist era and against the backdrop of government tyranny and authoritarianism, it mobilized millions of citizens who were no longer willing to live according to the lawlessness that ruled our country during the past decade. Orange now represents a new wave of political thinking, civic responsibility and commitment to Ukraine.

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HOW TO BECOME THE # 1

HOW TO BECOME THE # 1

by Fabrizio MARONTA and David POLANSKY

Tracing out the course of American history, a constant strain between principles and action emerges. The founding criteria of the stars-and-stripes Republic make it qualitatively different from the other actors on the world’s stage. Reasons and phases of the territorial and geopolitical expansion.

We are firmly convinced, and we act on that conviction, that with nations as with individuals, our interests soundly calculated will ever be found inseparable from our moral duties. Thomas Jefferson: 2nd Inaugural, April 3, 1805.

T

he United States currently stands preeminent

on the world stage. While its position and power is surely unique, it is the route that it took to achieve it that is perhaps of greater interest; for, the United States has always enjoyed a somewhat strained relationship with the traditional tenets of geopolitics that have informed the behavior of nations throughout history. At the time of its conception, the United States lacked an evolved tradition which comprises the essence of a nation. For most powers—Europeans in particular—nationhood is not a mere abstraction but the sum total of countless specific and concrete historical and cultural realities which form its character and provide the moral foundation for the notion of “reasons of state.” The young United States, which possessed a fully formed civil society but no comparable tradition, could not define itself or its interests in such terms. The essence of the American nation is the abstract principles of its founding, to deviate from which would be to deny the legitimacy of the nation itself. How could such a nation have managed to ascend to its present height? Indeed, how does such a nation conduct foreign policy in the first place?

Birth of a Nation The mentality of the earliest settlers was informed not by abstract philosophies of natural right but by prosaic concerns of security and obtaining material sustenance. Most of all they were influenced by the reality of their natural environment, with its largely uninhabited, vast tracts of land in which they might pursue their aspirations. The everyday lives of common citizens would inform the character of the nation as a whole in unprecedented ways. Unlike their counterparts in Europe, they were not members of

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an inherited feudal system. They could produce goods without economic obligation to a lord, they owned their land, the means of production and all of their output, and they were required by necessity to provide for their own defense. Self-interest dictated that the settlers assume a level of individual responsibility that became deeply ingrained in the American character. This experience would remain the standard against which Americans would judge their country, politically, socially, and morally thereafter. Policies, both foreign and domestic, which led the nation further away from this mode, would often be viewed with suspicion. The long-running isolationist strain of American thought grew out of this period. It was precisely this tradition that prevented broadly conceived considerations of foreign policy from taking precedent in the years prior to the nation’s conception. In 1754, an attempt was made, with the Albany Congress, to informally unite the colonies on issues that were of general concern, specifically the acquisition of new territory and negotiation with the Indians. The obvious need for enforced taxation, which was seen as the nefarious origin of governmental power, to sustain such measures doomed the attempt from the start. Likewise, the Seven Years War (1756-1763), when it spilled over onto the new continent in the form of competing territorial claims, had little effect on the colonists, who were far more concerned with ensuring against one another than with becoming involved with a great power dispute. The British were forced to fight off the French with little assistance from the colonists or their Indian allies. The War of Independence that resulted from the founding of the United States, lasting from 1776 to 1781, was a shining example of how America seems to conduct geopolitics as if by accident. An oft-heard quip regarding the British Empire is that it was founded in a fit of absent-mindedness—a statement which could well be applied to America’s geopolitical achievements. While the colonists went to war in order to codify what they saw as their tradition of self-governance, not to secure geostrategic or economic gains, this did not preclude the use of realist tactics in order to win it. Benjamin Franklin was dispatched to Paris to gain the support of the French, on the basis that both France and the new United States might find a common enemy—a neat reversal of positions from the war that had taken place only twenty years earlier. The ratifying of the Constitution (Rhode Island was the last state to ratify, on May 29, 1790) enshrined the principles and institutionalized the modes by which the colonists had been living. It also provided the impetus for many of the United States’ territorial gains throughout the next century. The laxity of central governance that federalism called for, allowed for an enormous degree of flexibility in how the young United States defined its interests. The ability of geographically peripheral elements within the nation to in effect define policy—particularly what was then foreign policy—allowed the United States to achieve gains that would have been unjustifiable either to its constituency or to itself had they been centrally conceived. Geopolitics could be conducted by a variety of individuals (usually settlers) who conceived their interests separately from those of the state, despite the fact that the state routinely benefited from their exploits.

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The Expansionist Nation American expansion was motivated primarily by internal rather than external considerations. While sheer geographical proximity forced European nations to develop a concrete awareness of their position in relation to one another, for much of its history, the United States had not been forced to deal with other nations in such a way as to make its pursuit of national greatness contingent upon its relative status. In a sense, the history of US expansion occurred in a vacuum, thus shaping the way in which the United States would interact with other nations in the future. When, in 1800, France took possession of the Louisiana territory—then encompassing much of the central continent—from Spain, an alarmed President Jefferson found himself forced to reconsider the connection between trade and foreign policy. For the political freedoms enjoyed by citizens under the American regime were necessarily linked to economic freedoms and the port city of New Orleans, now under French control, was a crucial economic lifeline to the outside world. To forestall the need for geopolitical entanglements—most likely with Great Britain, the United States’ erstwhile enemy—in order to gain leverage over France, Jefferson sent James Monroe as a special envoy to Paris to negotiate the sale of New Orleans and on April 30th, 1803 a treaty was signed ceding not only New Orleans but the entire Louisiana Territory to the United States for $15 million. Many Americans were outraged, pointing to the fact that the Constitution did not explicitly authorize territorial acquisition by the Federal government. After countless bloody wars fought over expansion, any European power would have leapt at the chance to peacefully acquire contiguous territory that would double the size of their nation. Yet the young United States, whose founding had explicitly rejected power politics in favor of rights, remained discomfited by what would have been simple logic for any European state. Constitutional legality which secured the rights of individuals took precedence over the interests of nations. On the other hand, little concern was professed over the settlers who, left to their own devices, routinely made land grabs. A case in point was future president Andrew Jackson who, in 1818, while leading a punitive force against the Seminole Indians with whom the settlers had been skirmishing in Spanish-owned Florida, seized the towns of St. Marks and Pensacola and claimed them for the United States. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams found himself ostensibly negotiating the terms defined by Jackson, arguing that if the Spanish could not maintain control of Florida then they possessed no legitimate claim to the land, thus following a classic precedent of American geopolitics according to which diplomatic goals are often decided by independent military action. Clausewitz’s famous dictum, that war is merely a continuation of politics by other means, is fundamentally alien to American thought both philosophically and practically. The historical refusal of the US to harmonize military and political endeavors is often belied by the willingness to allow political realities to be determined by military initiatives. For nearly a century, Washington found itself in the at times awkward position of granting legitimacy to the independent achievements of militant settlers and maverick generals. So in

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1821, the Adams-Onis Treaty ceded Florida to the United States and Jackson became its first American governor. America’s greatest continental military conquest began in precisely this way. After Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, it found itself the possessor of much of western North America, including Texas, California, and what is now the Southwestern United States. It also found itself directly in the path of independent settlers operating under the aegis of what would later be called manifest destiny. This creed, so-called by a New York editor in 1845, officially defined what had long been the unconscious American motivation to realize their freedoms in proliferating throughout the open continent: the notion that as individuals, they had the right to claim and occupy whatever land was within their ability to possess. The Mexican government allowed American settlers into the sparsely populated area of east Texas. They increasingly pushed for political representation, in effect demanding that their new state conform to the modes of their original regime. The mounting tension between the settlers and the Mexican government culminated when General Santa Anna seized power in Mexico and decisively ended the hope of separate Texan statehood. On March 2, 1836, Texas declared its independence prompting military reprisal by the Mexican government. The Texan settlers quickly won independence under General Sam Houston, under whose Presidency they formed a republic and began negotiations for annexation to the United States which acquiesced to Texas’ requests in 1845 thus precipitating the Mexican-American War. The Texans, who then controlled east Texas up to the Nueces River, wished to possess Texas proper up to the Rio Grande or Texas as it exists today. The United States sent General (later President) Zachary Taylor to take a small army into the disputed territory on behalf of the new state—an act which enraged Mexico. A brief skirmish between Mexican and American troops positioned along the Rio Grande provided the casus belli for the inevitable. In the end, Mexico’s legal sovereignty over the region did not effectively translate into territorial possession. If the core components of state control are sovereignty, population, and territory, then geopolitical estimation would state that one gains the first by controlling the latter two. Coincidentally, the principle of self-determination, upon which the United States was founded and the Revolutionary War waged, states much the same thing. While it would be unrealistic to ascribe geopolitical motivations to the American founding, the principles expounded therein were nonetheless found to be in accord with US interests here and elsewhere throughout its history. The United States easily defeated Mexico and imposed a new government with whom it signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) granting it California, New Mexico, and Texas proper—a half million square miles of territory. The United States was now a continental power bordered by two oceans and facing a new arena in which it would be obliged to conduct foreign policy. Before confronting external powers, however, the US would have to confront itself. Federalism and the great expansion that it had allowed for had unwittingly exacerbated the split over the most divisive of national questions: that of slavery. Loose central governance on this issue had put off its resolution and the debate over the status (free or slave) of the newly acquired states escalated into increasing violence and hatred.

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When Abraham Lincoln was elected President in November of 1860 on a platform of containment of slavery, the Southern states1 seceded from the Union and drafted the constitution for the Confederate States of America on February 7, 1861. Technically, America’s constitution allowed for the secession of individual states. The southerners had broken no law in their conduct, yet their constitutionally sanctioned behavior nonetheless resulted in the breaking of the nation. What was left of the United States would now have to determine a coherent national vision; the adherence to the principle of a weak centralized government which had allowed for unprecedented individual initiative had led to the worst crisis in the nation’s history. When it became clear that the southerners were fully prepared to use force in support of their new order, Lincoln took action and immediately called up reserves of 75,000 militiamen. When Maryland, a border state, became divided over conflicting loyalties, Lincoln instituted martial law, sent federal troops to occupy Baltimore, its largest city, and suspended the writ of habeas corpus, allowing Confederates to be imprisoned without trial. Meanwhile, the war was by no means entirely popular among those states that remained loyal to the Union. Forced conscription led to rioting throughout northern cities. The first principle of individual freedom had been replaced with a newly empowered executive, concerned first and foremost with the preservation of the living Union. For the first time since the founders, a national strategy was being orchestrated. Lincoln was the first of the modern presidents who were unabashedly prepared to shape the nation according to their vision. After the end of the Civil War on April 9, 1965, the exhausted and demoralized nation entered an unprecedented period of isolationism, in which it all but ignored foreign policy and attempted no new acquisitions for nearly twenty-five years. In this period, the United States experienced an extraordinary surge of growth in economy and population, which it would soon seek to translate into a military capacity. This combination of growth and complacency led to an enhanced ambition and desire to reenter the international arena. Ironically, when the dam finally burst, it was not in the new Pacific regions but in the east where the United States was first born. Spain was practicing especially cruel policies among its colonies, particularly Cuba, arousing great sympathy amongst influential Americans, many of whom called for war as a means of rectifying the undesirable state of affairs. On February 15, 1898, in the midst of diplomatic negotiations to defuse the situation, the U.S.S. Maine, which was docked in Havana harbor, exploded killing 260 American officers. Though the causes were unknown, negotiations quickly broke down, and the United States passed a resolution recognizing Cuba’s independence. Spain promptly declared war. Though Cuba was the proximate cause, the fighting involved Spain’s colonial possessions as a whole; it was America’s first two-hemisphere war. By the time it was over, in August of 1898, the United States found itself in possession of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, with effective control over Cuba. Humanitarian sympathy for Cuba and a 1

Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia.

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renewed fidelity to the Monroe doctrine (see below) swiftly led to hemispheric dominance and global stature. The expansionist nation had finally become “imperial”. This, along with the annexation of Hawaii, in July of that year, made the United States a relevant player in the Pacific. However, along with new gains came a necessary reassessment of national interest.

The Geopolitical Player In creating a new basis for government, the United States denied the legitimacy of much of the European political heritage, a crucial part of which was the classic concept of the primacy of national interests. Hence, it would take its bearings not from tradition or from geopolitical realities but from its own rational principles rooted in nature. Thus, the history of the United States not only concerns the evolution of the concept of national interest but its development in spite of the initial disavowal of the principles from which the concept itself is derived. This in turn produces a unique tension between the American ethos and geopolitics which manifests itself throughout its history. With the notable exception of Alexander Hamilton, the early American thinkers did not question what they saw as the conflict between the liberty of individuals and the pragmatic geopolitical interests of nations. Most tacitly accepted Locke’s proposition that regimes founded on the consent of the governed would be less bellicose, that raison d’etat would be a thing of the past and the United States’ actions would not be governed by the logic of the European approach. This did not actually preclude considerations of national interest, but implied that the American national interest would be qualitatively different than those of other nations; the accretion of power would be inextricably linked with the preservation of individual liberty. The earliest elaboration of American geostrategy arose from precisely this premise. Faced with possible regional encroachment by greater powers, the United States was forced to seek a method for preserving its freedom of action and hence, the necessary conditions for individual liberty to flourish. The resulting Monroe Doctrine was incorporated into President James Monroe’s annual address to Congress in 1823. He claimed in effect that any attempt by another state to extend its power into the US’ hemisphere would be considered a threat and would be dealt with accordingly. America had adopted the age-old realist notion of “spheres of influence” and the first great statement of US foreign policy was born in the Monroe Doctrine. As geostrategy, the Monroe Doctrine was relatively unsophisticated, concerned with securing the widest possible margin of protection without formulating specific long-term goals. It was not so much a long-term strategy in and of itself, but a method of forestalling the need for one. This is hardly to deny its effectiveness in providing for what would be the geopolitical requirements of the nation throughout the nineteenth century, during which it grew exponentially. However, by the end of the century, the Monroe Doctrine, which presumed

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insularity, was no longer strictly applicable to the now continental United States, preparing to emerge as a global power.2 A broader conception of US national interests was needed. Though Theodore Roosevelt is rightly viewed as having inaugurated a new era of American foreign policy, the ethos with which he proceeded was not itself revolutionary. The confident, expansionist Americanism embodied in Alexander Hamilton, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, and Andrew Jackson, among others, was now framed by a new vision to promote the nation’s global reach. For nearly a century of expansion, principled idealism and tactical realism had gone hand in hand on the basis that America’s principles were best served by promoting its interests—heretofore confined to the continent. In seeking to promote those interests abroad, Roosevelt explicitly stated what had long been practiced: that American greatness required policies that served its interests. He began by revising the Monroe Doctrine, adding what came to be known as the “Roosevelt Corollary”, which stated that the United States might be forced “however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrong-doing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power.”3 It was employed by a revolutionary (for the United States) form of intervention in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Panama. Roosevelt’s concept of international justice was understood not in the traditional American terms of legality but by a stable world order in which the Western nations—the United States in particular—had a stake. He believed firmly in such traditional geopolitical concepts as spheres of influence and balance of power. Thus in Europe he rejected Germany’s plea for assistance in curtailing French acquisitions in North Africa, despite France’s notorious brutality in the region, because he considered Germany and not France to be the greater long-term threat. Likewise in Asia, he ignored Japan’s occupation of Korea and supported its aggression against Russia because he deemed Russia the more troublesome power. This led to his offer, in 1904, to negotiate the Russo-Japanese treaty, which was designed to balance between the two in a manner conducive to the interests of the United States.4 This evolutionary leap in American geopolitics would require a reevaluation of its exceptionalism, traditionally rooted not in the excellence of its endeavors but in the justness of its principles and institutions; it was a qualitative not a quantitative difference with other nations. In Robert Kagan’s terms, “we were not just America the great, but America the good.”5

2

Though the Monroe Doctrine did not explicitly offer quid pro quo in exchange for demanding European non-intervention in US affairs, it rested upon the presumption that non-intervention was reciprocal. In a later address to Congress, Monroe stated that, “In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy so to do.” (Message of President Monroe to Congress, December 2, 1823) 3 President Roosevelt’s Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union, December 6, 1904, in Bartlett, ed., Record of American Diplomacy, p. 539. 4 Henry A. Kissinger, Diplomacy, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1994, pp. 39-42. 5 Robert Kagan, “How We Unlearned the Art of War”, The New Republic, December 3, 2001.

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Roosevelt’s realist policies perhaps inevitably provoked an idealistic reaction, designed to connect the founding principles with modern geopolitical practice. If American policies were primarily concerned with promoting its relevant interests, then what claim could America make to embody transhistorical principles?

The Return to Idealism Roosevelt’s sophisticated geopolitics, which introduced the once reviled European tactics to the United States, heightened the tension between the necessities of foreign policy and the principle of freedom that lay at the core of the American creed. Though his presidency itself was wildly popular, it is unlikely that his stern realism was sustainable in practice in the long term. A nation which professes to embody universal principles in its domestic institutions cannot legitimately implement a self-serving foreign policy. What had forestalled such an examination up until this point was the fact that previously, so many of the United States’ actions were not widely perceived as constituting a foreign policy. After Roosevelt’s presidency, such denial was no longer possible. It was Woodrow Wilson who demanded a reassessment of the nation, and in doing so he permanently undercut the Rooseveltian foundations of American confidence whose roots went back through nearly a century of expansion. Though Wilson did not deny America a role in world affairs, he insisted that American greatness rest not upon its accomplishments but upon the promotion of its ideals for the benefit of all mankind. “We do not confine our enthusiasm for individual liberty and free national development to the incidents and movements of affairs which affect only ourselves. We feel it wherever there is a people that tries to walk in these difficult paths of independence and right.” 6 From this moment on, the United States would subject its foreign policies to the same scrutiny as it had hitherto subjected its domestic policies. Understood in these terms, Wilson’s project amounted to nothing less than a refounding of the American regime, reshaping its moral and political horizons and casting its founding principles in a new light. When World War I broke out in Europe in 1914, Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge immediately counseled involvement to check the superior German power. Wilson, however, refused to become involved on the basis of pragmatic concessions to necessity. Indeed, the war itself was conceived by him as an unnecessary aberration caused by the whims of undemocratic leaders. Wilson’s view represented a return to the founders, according to whom war was a choice not a necessity; the United States could only voluntarily go to war to defend and promote democracy in the interest of the general peace. Thus the overthrow of the European dynasties was a crucial component of the demands of the victors. Heretofore, the orchestration of a peace settlement was designed to ensure stability above all else. The new Wilsonian model insisted instead upon the right of self-determination for all peoples involved, regardless of the geopolitical order that would result. This option was not viewed as being mutually exclusive to others but as the primary 6

Woodrow Wilson, Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union, December 7, 1915, in Link, ed., Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 35, p. 297.

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moral good from which all other benefits would flow. The tragic understanding of politics, that it demands a choice between high opposites, is not inherent in the American worldview. In response to this newest form of American idealism, the oldest form— isolationism—reemerged in force to define American policy between the wars. It would be the last time. Since the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, up until the time of this writing, the United States has played a proactive and decisive role in world affairs. This is not to say that the United States’ involvement has led to an adoption of geopolitical thinking. From the standpoint of the United States, now tutored in Wilsonian ideals, the Second World War was an unfortunate replay of the first; a revolutionary, undemocratic Germany and its allies was overturning what was otherwise the world’s natural harmony. Hence the US’ involvement, from December of 1941 to 1945, aimed at cleansing the scourge and allowing for the return of order. During the Second World War, the United States was increasingly obliged to define the nature of the post-war order. Yet to do so would have been to claim a specific interest in a desired outcome, thus defining America’s role in the world in terms of a long-term geostrategy—something they were loathe to do. Churchill in particular advocated using the military to take as much territory as possible in order to obtain a desirable settlement vis a vis the Soviets. However, the United States continued its long-standing aversion to harmonizing political and military goals. The military’s role was to defeat the enemy at hand; the statesman’s role was to define the terms of a just settlement based on American principles. So, the Cold War began not as a result of differing geostrategic visions between nations, but between a nation that had one and a nation that didn’t. Stalin had specific territorial goals for which he was prepared to bluff and negotiate; Franklin Delano Roosevelt and later Truman had no such goals beyond the preservation of peace, which they assumed could be achieved through good faith negotiations. During its period of extraordinary expansion America had never been viewed as a threat by another power and had no reason to view other powers as potential threats simply on the basis of their existence. For America, the Cold War was not a geopolitical inevitability, as the verities of Realpolitik would have it, but the direct result of Soviet aggression. Yet the prolonged nature of the conflict itself was at least partially caused by the abdication of America’s initial superiority, even once it no longer harbored any doubts regarding Soviet intentions. At the end of the Second World War, the United States possessed military, economic and technological superiority, stronger allies, a more stable domestic situation, and atomic monopoly over the Soviet Union. Yet the US refused to press its advantage in order to gain a settlement. The basically defensive position as postulated by the Containment strategy resulted from the desire to take the morally acceptable role as the resister of aggression rather than as the aggressor. It was the essential belief in moral and political freedom and the United States’ continued denial of traditional geopolitical thinking that resulted in a de facto situation of spheres of influence, a balance of power, and a geopolitical conflict spanning nearly half a century. In 1947, after the Second World War had been over for nearly two years and the Soviets under Stalin showed no sign of relaxing the adversarial position they had adopted

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over the still undecided post-war settlement, George Kennan published an article in Foreign Affairs which put to rest the doubt over Soviet intentions. The article, entitled “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” became the blueprint of the Containment strategy and compellingly argued that Communist ideology would goad the Soviets into ongoing conflict with the capitalist world and the United States in particular. “In these circumstances, it is clear that the main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies”.7 Kennan accepted the essentially ideological nature of the dispute and outlined a strategy that was designed not to achieve geopolitical primacy but ultimately to prove the superiority of capitalist and democratic institutions. “It is rather a question of the degree to which the United States can create among the peoples of the world generally the impression of a country which knows what it wants, which is coping successfully with the problem of its internal life and with the responsibilities of a World Power, and which has a spiritual vitality capable of holding its own among the major ideological currents of the time.”8 Containment was not merely an updating of traditional European balance of power, but a means of crippling the Communist domestic structures from which the new Russian expansionism was derived. In the American view, “the Soviet-American conflict was not caused by clashing national interests—which by definition might be negotiated—but by the moral shortcomings of the Soviet leadership. Therefore, the goal of American policy was not so much to restore the balance of power as to transform Soviet society.” 9 The Containment strategy so well predicted much of the course of the Cold War and the Soviet Union’s collapse that it its easy to forget how unprecedented it was. Winston Churchill in particular was concerned by the potential emergence of an unfavorable world order as a result of the refusal to negotiate. Speaking on October 9, 1948 at Llandudno, Wales: “The question is asked: What will happen when they get the atomic bomb themselves and have accumulated a large store… No one in his sense can believe that we have a limitless period of time before us. We ought to bring matters to a head and make a final settlement. We ought not to go jogging along improvident, incompetent, waiting for something to turn up, by which I mean waiting for something bad for us to turn up. The Western Nations will be far more likely to reach a lasting settlement, without bloodshed, if they formulate their just demands while they have the atomic power and before the Russian Communists have got it too.” 10 Furthermore, the Containment strategy did not clearly delineate areas of national interest around the world, in effect implying a global commitment to containing the spread of communism. The initial battleground had been Europe, but following the Maoist revolution in China and the Soviet engineered Suez crisis, it became clear that, with the Soviet willingness to spread communism globally, containment would have to follow suit.

7

“X” (George F. Kennan), “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 25, no. 4 (July 1947). ibid 9 Henry A. Kissinger, Diplomacy, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1994, p. 450 10 Winston S. Churchill, His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963, ed. by Robert Rhodes James, vol. VII, 19431949, New York/London: Chelsea House in association with R. R. Bowker, 1974, p. 7710 8

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Thus the strategy—to check the expansion of communism wherever it might occur— was put in the service of moral rather than geostrategic ends. To assess the struggle geostrategically by region would have amounted to ceding the fundamental moral element of the conflict. Hence the war in Vietnam was not an attempt to defend US geostrategic interests in Indochina, which were questionable, but to prevent the spread of communism on the basis of principle, which wasn’t. By the same token, when domestic resistance to the war grew, it did so not on the basis of a differing geopolitical assessment but over the disputing of the fundamental moral imperatives that led to Vietnam, and indeed the waging of the Cold War itself. “The [foreign policy] establishment…might have turned against the war in Vietnam simply on the grounds that it was unwinnable, or at least not winnable at an acceptable price. They might have declared the war a mistake, well intended perhaps but poorly executed. But that was not how the liberal establishment…explained their failure. Instead they disowned an entire worldview. Vietnam became not just a lost war in a good cause; it became a metaphor for everything that was wrong with America, the symbol of America's misplaced confidence in its own moral and physical superiority.” 11 The limits of American power were seen as intrinsically linked to the limits of American justice. It was at this moment of shattered idealism that Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger inaugurated a brief, controversial period of traditional realism within American foreign policy. This approach downplayed the fundamental moral element of Containment in favor of a region-by-region assessment of geopolitical interests and a pursuance of détente. Elected on a promise to end the war, they initiated a widely criticized policy of escalation to facilitate the extrication of US troops from the region by forcing the Vietnamese to negotiate. “In the course of conducting the first large-scale American troop withdrawal in our history, under openly humiliating circumstances… [Nixon and Kissinger] actually improved America's geopolitical position vis-à-vis China, the Soviet Union, and the Arab world.” 12 The new, uniquely geostrategic approach facilitated negotiations with the Soviet Union, which concluded a landmark arms-control pact; led to the first dialogue with China which exploited the Sino-Soviet split in order to gain leverage against the Soviets; and in the wake of the Yom Kippur war, wrested Egypt and Syria from the Soviet orbit. Kissinger’s thought reflected a pragmatism in many respects contrary to the idealistic spirit of the American tradition, according to which, “Every statesman must attempt to reconcile what is considered just with what is considered possible. What is considered just depends on the domestic structure of his state; what is possible depends on its resources, geographic position and determination, and on the resources, determination and domestic structure of other states.” 13 Despite its material successes, this approach proved deeply 11

Robert Kagan, “How We Unlearned the Art of War”, The New Republic, December 3, 2001. Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly; June 1999; Kissinger, Metternich, and Realism - 99.06; Volume 283, No. 6; page 73-82. 13 Henry A. Kissinger, A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace 1812-1822, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973 - Sentry Edition.

12

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contentious domestically and resulted directly in a return to idealism—first in Carter’s humanitarianism and then in the Reagan revolution. Reagan’s vision was a return to the moral underpinnings of the Containment strategy and an aggressive overturning of Kissinger’s détente and Carter’s pacific tendencies. Reagan’s confrontational policies stemmed from his belief that the underlying conflict from which the Cold War originated was unavoidable—that the problem lay directly with the nature of the Soviet regime itself, and hence would end with its destruction. His policies were uniquely definitive of the US approach to foreign policy; he employed brutally realist tactics (funding non-democratic groups in Nicaragua and Afghanistan among others, and initiating a massive arms buildup designed to cripple the Soviet infrastructure) in the service of a deeply idealistic vision—specifically the refusal to co-exist with evil, even at the expense of peace and stability.

Living without Geopolitics? The American geopolitics of the nineteenth century were informed by a moral imperative of securing American individual freedom, just as those of the twentieth were informed by one of spreading global freedom. Yet in neither instance did the United States attempt to formulate a coherent geostrategy derived from a concept of national interests. America’s non-geopolitical geopolitics have historically raised two perennial accusations. As a nation that expanded throughout a continent by eliminating all territorial rivals and transformed into a superpower by denying the validity of rival interests it is imperial; as a nation that proclaimed idealism while practicing foreign policies that led to global dominance it is hypocritical. What is one to make of these charges? Since the end of the Cold War the United States has indeed been preeminent. However, throughout the 1990s it made no attempt to derive geostrategic precepts from this position, thus downplaying much of its role. The attacks on September 11th have obliged the United States to reenter the arena, creating new grounds for old criticisms. The charges leveled may well be the inevitable byproduct of America’s unique character and ascendance on the world stage. There can be little doubt that the United States, like any nation, has practical interests and that the policies derived from its ideals have been conducive to them. Yet it is another thing entirely to suggest that America’s ideals were conceived in order to further those interests, or that those ideals have never been the primary mode through which America has approached geopolitics. The measure of the distance between Platonic ideals and geopolitical necessities creates a permanent tension resulting in America’s ambivalent approach to foreign policy. In some sense, the history of American foreign policy may be seen as the continual attempt to escape from geopolitics only to return to it time and time again.

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WHAT AMERICANS CAN LEARN FROM ITALIAN CARABINIERI

WHAT AMERICANS CAN LEARN FROM ITALIAN CARABINIERI

by David T. ARMITAGE

What are the right steps to take in the tricky phase that divides war from reconstruction? In this field, Europeans have much to teach to the Americans. The Italian and French examples. The prodomes of a European police force.

I

t may come as a surprise to some Americans,

but the Europeans have security expertise that might be useful to the United States. With so much critical attention devoted to the European Union’s (EU) nascent European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), the quasi-operational European Rapid Reaction Force (ERRF), and low European defense spending, it is easy for Americans to overlook a potentially critical European security contribution. Indeed, numerous European countries – in particular, Italy and France, but also Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, as well as a number of Partnership for Peace countries – have developed unique capacities essential to post-combat operations. Such capacities are generally known as constabulary. They are a vital part of filling the stability gap between the end of combat operations and before the start of traditional peacekeeping and general reconstruction. So far, the United States has tried to fill that gap – with a band aid approach and mixed success – either by stretching the National Guard and reserves or by tasking elite special forces and other combat units. European constabulary forces, such as the Italian Carabinieri and French Gendarmerie, have long and successful histories in this “intermediary” policy/nation building arena, and are well positioned to perform these functions. It would be in the best interest of US policy makers to reach out to our European Allies, capitalize on their expertise, and publicly promote their participation. This could well represent a very positive, constructive and concrete step in rebuilding the frayed post-Iraq transatlantic relationship. If recent history and military operations have taught us anything it is that to effectively respond to crises along the full spectrum of conflict, three types of forces are needed: high-end combat forces to neutralize hostile, organized adversaries; constabulary or paramilitary forces to handle crowd control and lower-levels of organized violence; and law enforcement organizations (police, judicial, penal authorities) to rebuild legal and judicial institutions.1 So far, the United States with its military forces is best suited only to address the first type of force. 1

See Rachel Bronson, “When Soldiers Become Cops,” Foreign Affairs 81, 6 (November/December 2002): 122-132.

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The Europeans, on the other hand, have extensive experience in the use of the other two force types. They have conducted numerous constabulary and law enforcement operations in virtually every hotspot in the world. For example, between August 1998 and January 1999, the Multinational Specialized Unit (MSU) in Bosnia, headed and dominated by Italian Carabinieri, were employed in 243 reconnaissance patrols, 87 information-gathering missions, and 33 public order interventions.2 These MSU’s dealt with refugee returns, organized crime, and terrorism. The French Gendarmerie have been involved in peace operations in Haiti, El Salvador, Cambodia, the Western Sahara, Somalia, Rwanda, the Balkans, and elsewhere.3 Likewise, the Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish have been deployed in various operations in Africa and the Balkans. Washington could learn from them. In the past, it has been too tempting for the US to think that elite Special Operations Forces (SOF) can do the job alone. The consequence of deploying SOF to conduct messy post-conflict operations and low-end security is to over-stretch and run them ragged to the detriment of other priority military missions which only they are trained and equipped to meet.

What are Constabulary Forces? What are constabulary forces, and how do they relate to post-combat operations? Europeans describe constabulary forces are as “police forces with a military status.”4 They are military trained, but their focus and equipment is on minimal use of force and tasks normally associated with police functions. Unlike traditional soldiers, the goal of constabulary units is to defuse potentially violent situations through negotiations and conflict management, rather than “neutralize” the enemy or destroy a target. Often, they wear national police uniforms, in order not to be confused with those who have just done the fighting, but they are armed and willing – if necessary – to use lethal force. Unlike traditional police, they are skilled in the tactics and doctrine of light infantry, including rapid deployment and an ability to self-sustain themselves logistically. The Dutch Marehaussee, for example, can deploy a fifty-person detachment as a rapidresponse unit within forty-eight hours.5 Constabulary forces are highly skilled. For example, the Italian Carabinieri serving as part of KFOR had on average ten years specialized training, about twice the time of their military counterparts.6 Other training includes: martial arts; use of firearms and light weapons; intelligence gathering and interrogation techniques; international law; negotiation; social skills; use of communication equipment; and foreign languages and cultures. Most European constabulary forces also have K-9 units and sniper teams. Their 2

R. Perito, Where is the Lone Ranger When We Need Him? (Washington, DC: USIP Press, 2004), 161-2. See “Coopération internationale,” http://www.defense.gouv.fr/gendarmerie/. 4 See “Declaration of Intent,” European Gendarmerie Force, September 17, 2004. EU Informal Defense Ministerial, Noordwijk, the Netherlands. http://www.eu2004.nl 5 Perito, 42. 6 Interview with Italian defense official, January 12, 2005. 3

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equipment reflects a hybrid of police and military as well: flak jackets, shields, batons, tear gas, and automatic weapons.7 They are able to protect traffic routes, facilitate the introduction of civilian rebuilding and assistance, set up and administer prisons, as well as establish and train local police and law enforcement institutions. Thus, they serve a vital role along the conflict spectrum between warfighting on the high end and local law enforcement on the low end. While combat forces are effective in neutralizing hostile forces and providing the initial stability to the environment, they are not well-trained or equipped for (or comfortable with) handling security problems, such as looting, rioting, crowd control, crime, dealing with civilian disturbances, restoring basic services, and local law enforcement, all of which require increasingly non-lethal counter methods. For example, in March 2004, KFOR troops stood by as local rioters ransacked an orthodox church because their Rules of Engagement (ROE) did not permit them to engage in crowd control for the protection of patrimonial sites.8 Activities such as crowd control, early warning of potential unrest based on engaging the local populace, and restoring basic services fall in the realm of what today US officials call “stability and reconstruction” (S&R) operations. Department of Defense officials acknowledge that the US military has only nascent S&R capabilities. Planning for these types of activities is often considered ad-hoc or at best secondary compared with combat force planning. Despite dawning recognition of the importance of S&R operations in the conflict spectrum and US weakness in S&R operations, Washington has paid surprisingly little attention to tapping European expertise and recognizing the important contribution they can make.

European Capabilities What kind of constabulary forces do the Europeans possess? Several nations have established constabulary forces for national use (e.g., Italian Carabinieri and French Gendarmerie). Europeans also have proven their ability to merge capabilities in multilateral units, notably in the MSUs in the Balkans. In fact, the EU’s first crisis management operation was in January 2003, when the Police Mission in BosniaHerzegovina (EUPM) took over from the UN’s International Police Task Force. Most recently, Europeans have sought to develop multinational constabulary capacities within an institutionalized European framework. On September 17, 2004, the Dutch EU presidency announced that five EU member states (France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain) had agreed to form a European Gendarmerie Force (EGF), with headquarters in Vicenza, Italy. Intended to be operational by late 2005, the 900-person force would be tasked with ensuring security and public order, fighting 7 8

Perito, 158. Also, interview with Italian defense official, January 12, 2005. Interview with KFOR commander, December 2, 2004.

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organized crime, advising and training local police forces, as well as filling the specialized security “gap” in support of military peacekeepers. Other EU member states would be able to participate, as they are willing and able. The EGF’s main purposes are substitution and strengthening missions. Substitution refers to missions where the local police either does not exist or is totally incapable of maintaining public order. In Haiti and Cote d’Ivoire, French Gendarmes deployed alongside military peacekeepers and helped reestablish the local police force.9 Strengthening missions involve advising and training local police to perform public order duties. In Bosnia and Kosovo, for example, Italian Carabinieri conducted joint patrols with local police. Their presence provided reassurance to fledgling local police and gave skittish refugees confidence that they could return to their homes unharmed. Italian Carabineri also used their investigative skills (including plains-clothes covert surveillance, crime mapping, and link analysis) to help SFOR counter organized crime.10 European officials envision the EGF to be deployed either along with or immediately after a military operation to maintain or establish public order and safety. The advantage of the EGF is that, although it is considered a police asset, it can be placed under military command. In other words, EGF forces have the training, equipment and background to work in a military command environment. On December 14, 2004, the EU announced that the first EGF Commander would be French Brigadier General Gérard Deanaz.11 He will report to a High Level Interdepartmental Committee (HILC) that will be responsible for strategic management and political control, although if the EGF is used for an EU mission, the political control will fall under the EU’s Political-Security Committee (PSC).12 Deanaz will head a staff of about 30 planners at the EGF permanent headquarters in Vicenza. EGF planners are expected to work closely with the EU Military Staff and Civilian-Crisis Management planning cell in Brussels. Among the EGF headquarters’ tasks are: monitoring at-risk areas; contingency and operational planning; planning and directing combined exercises; evaluating and implementing lessons learned; and, as necessary or if requested, provide guidance to strategic decision-making. Thus, the goal is to incorporate EGF capacities into ESDP so that the EU eventually will be able to respond

9

Interview with French Gendarmerie official, December 2, 2004. Perito, 170-171. 11 See “Un general français, chef de la gendarmerie européenne,” December 14, 2004. http://www.defense.gouv.fr/sites/gendarmerie/actualites_et_dossiers/ [accessed December 23, 2004]. 12 The HILC is composed of representatives from the countries’ various ministries. France, Italy, and the Netherlands have representatives from their respective defense and foreign ministries. Portugal has representatives from its interior and foreign ministries, and Spain has representatives from all three (defense, interior, foreign) ministries. In addition to managing the politics of the EGF, the HLIC will also set the operational standards of the units. The PSC is composed of ambassadors from all 25 EU members and charged with advising the Council of the European Union on EU foreign and security policies. 10

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to the full spectrum of crisis situations, from preventive diplomacy to post-combat nationbuilding.13 According to the EGF’s “declaration of intent,” the EGF’s flexibility is its ability to deploy at every phase of a conflict: a Initial phase: along with military forces to perform various police tasks; b Transitional phase: either alone or with a military force, coordinating and cooperating with local or international police units; c Military disengagement phase: facilitate the handover from military to civilian authorities, whether local or international. The EU concept of the Integrated Police Unit (IPU) is envisioned to allow for Europeans to perform “robust police missions” under less stable conditions, even if this involves temporarily being placed under military command. Since the expected area of operation is likely to reflect the absence of internal authority, the IPU concept is a critical part of the larger framework linking EGF to EU contributions in building the country’s law enforcement and judicial institutions. The rationale was (and supported by EU experiences in the Balkans and East Timor) that having police forces would be basically useless without having other means to process criminals and administer justice.14 The BBC described the EU effort as trying to create an intervention force that is “something between the neutrality of traditional UN peacekeeping and NATO’s cruise missiles.” 15 The Dutch stress that the EGF – through training and its pre-organized unit structure – would serve as a viable framework in which other nations with similar types of police forces may choose to participate. Any EU member state possessing “a police force with a military statute” may participate in the EGF. EU candidates (including Turkey) that have such constabulary forces may obtain “observer status” and detach a liaison officer to the EGF HQ. For instance, the contribution of the Turkish Jandarma (roughly 150,000) may help the EGF eventually solve manpower constraints, as well as facilitate EUTurkish relations in general. Because of its unique capabilities, the EGF may also open a door for providing a positive venue for repairing relations with the US.

13

For background on ESDP and the holistic EU approach to security, see Jolyon Howorth, European Integration and Defense: The Ultimate Challenge? Chaillot Paper No. 43 (Paris: WEU-ISS, 2000) and Michael J. Brenner, Europe’s New Security Vocation, McNair Paper No. 66 (Washington, DC: INSS/NDU, 2002). 14 Based on the Civilian Crisis Capabilities Conference in November 2004 that incorporated contributions from the ten newest member states, the EU’s civilian crisis capacity includes: policing (members have pledged 5,761 police officers); rule of law (members have pledged 631 judges, prosecutors, and other rule-of-law experts); civilian administration (562 administrative and infrastructure experts have been pledged); and civil protection (4,988 specialists in rapid response following natural disasters). See Ministerial Declaration at http://ue.eu.int/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/misc/82760.pdf. 15 See BBC News, “EU Launches Crisis Police Force,” http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk and FBIS, “EU States Set Up New European Military Police Force” (September 17, 2004).

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Relationship to the United States – a Few Recommendations for the EU The United States is currently wrestling with its own military transformation and force-restructuring efforts to be better positioned to respond to the threats and challenges of the 21st century. The question is: how can European constabulary capabilities help to resolve not only a US military shortfall with a “real” capability but also provide a concrete step toward rebuilding the transatlantic relationship? First, Europeans should – either through NATO, the EU, or bilaterally – establish combined training relationships and opportunities for American armed forces, civilian police, and law enforcement officials. There should be slots reserved for Americans to attend courses at European training facilities in Italy and France. In fact, this is an area where Italy in particular – with its rich Caribineri tradition and historic transformation of its armed forces – could take the lead. Washington should provide proper incentives for Americans – both civilian and military – to learn from the Europeans. Second, the EGF should establish liaison relationships with the State Department’s Office of Civilian Police (CIVPOL), the Justice Department’s International Criminal Investigative Training and Assistance Program (ICTAP), as well as the Department of Defense. Such interaction would permit adoption of best practices and facilitate coordination, cooperation, and planning. Third, as the United States begins the debate about developing its own Stabilization and Reconstruction force,16 the US should consider permitting and encouraging (with proper credit) European constabulary forces to participate in the postcombat phase of multinational military operations involving the US. Ideally, this would mean that EU constabulary functions are incorporated into US (and NATO) military planning as part of an integrated whole. The US would assist in providing European constabulary forces with necessary transport and intelligence support. If successful, this collaboration could become the prototype for a new multinational instrument and a firm counterbalance to perceptions of American unilateralism and European irrelevance. Such transparency at the planning stage would allow the US (and NATO) to focus on its comparative advantage, while spotlighting European strengths and skills in post-combat operations. Consequently, the political costs of persuading others to follow a US military course of action would be lowered, as the European leaders can sell the policy to their respective parliaments and publics. Europeans (and the EU) once again can feel (and rightfully so) that they are working side-by-side with the United States as equal partners capable of successfully meeting the demands of crisis operations in the 21st century.

16

For example, see Hans Binnedijk and Stuart E. Johnson (eds), Transforming for Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations (Washington, DC: NDU Press, 2004).

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CITIES OF GOD

by Doug BANDOW

What is the link between religious groups and political parties in the United States? References to faith are frequent, but in most cases their leverage on politicians’ behaviour and public choices is little or void. The political militancy of the Christians. The Evangelical as bulwark of conservatism.

A

t times, especially to outsiders, religion

seems to dominate America's national political debate. George W. Bush is the most overtly observant Christian to hold the U.S. presidency in a quarter century. He recently went before the National Association of Evangelicals to cite his opposition to abortion, homosexual marriage, and stem cell research. Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson cheerfully opined that God told him that Bush will be reelected: "It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad. God picks him up because he's a man of prayer, and God's blessing him." The Democratic primaries drew as candidates an Orthodox Jew (Sen. Joseph Lieberman) and an ordained Pentecostal minister (Al Sharpton). Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry is by all accounts a devout Catholic. Wesley Clark and Howard Dean quite publicly and less convincingly proclaimed their deep Christian faith. Important issues remain fraught with religious implications. Abortion has passed the 30-year mark as a divisive national issue. In 2003 homosexual marriage exploded as a bitter social controversy. Many evangelicals look at U.S. policy towards Israel, Iraq, the Palestinians, and Muslims in general through the prism of their faith. Some religious conservatives also have cited God as the reason to jail gays across the nation and, more unusually, raise taxes in Alabama. Former Alabama Chief Justice Ray Moore refused to comply with a federal court order to remove the monument to the Ten Commandments from his state's judicial building. More liberal denominations and groups used religious images and rhetoric to oppose the Iraq war and President Bush's tax cuts. In November 2003 left-wing Christians announced the formation of the Clergy Leadership Network to organize politically to counter such conservative organizations as the Christian Coalition and Family Research Council. Should religious people--and particularly Christians, who profess to make up the vast majority of the American population--think, act, and vote differently because of their faith? Although Americans of all faiths are active politically, in their actions many are little different than their more secular neighbors. Their religion is more a cultural than a theological factor in affecting their political positions. For instance, Hindus, Buddhists, and adherents to other Eastern religions engage in little organized activity.

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Most Jewish Americans advocate strong U.S. backing for Israel, but it has nothing to do with their interpretation of the Law and the Prophets or the Talmud. More broadly, American Jews have trended left in their politics, but for reasons unrelated to their religion. The Orthodox seem to focus their attention on protecting the integrity of their communities and speaking out on some social issues, but have had only a limited impact on U.S. politics. Similarly, most Muslim Americans, as well as Arab-Americans (who are mostly Christian), lobby for a more balanced approach towards Israel and the Palestinians, with whom they identify. Devout Muslims are likely to share many social attitudes with devout Jews, but they are relatively few in number and have had little organized impact on issues outside of Middle Eastern politics. Atheists recently have entered the political fray. But the Godless Americans Political Action Committee appears to do little to promote what is, in fact, a faith-based belief system. Rather, GAMPAC is primarily dedicated to counteracting religious involvement in politics. If Christian conservatives, in particular, were not pushing an agenda drenched in Biblical rhetoric, GAMPAC would have nothing to lobby against. Most religious political activism comes from Christians. Even here, many of their activities are indistinguishable from those of secularists. The leadership of the major "mainline" Protestant denominations —Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian— run liberal and Democratic. They borrow Christian imagery and rhetoric for support, but their positions are not derived from religious faith. Rather, their backing for statist solutions reflects the reigning political zeitgeist of elite culture. Most laymen in these churches are more moderate in their politics. The Catholic hierarchy has taken more seriously its professed desire to use scripture and church teaching to promote political ends. However, though the American bishops oppose abortion and sexually expressive cultural practices based on Christian moral concerns, they have offered economic and foreign policy prescriptions more befitting the Democratic Party than the Catholic Church. Although their efforts have been well-intentioned, they engaged in the dubious practice of using general spiritual principles to spawn specific policy proposals – while evidencing little understanding of the realities of politics or principles of economics. The results hardly looked spiritually inspired. Perhaps unsurprising is the fact that evangelicals, who are most likely to share their religious beliefs with others, also most actively attempt to use their faith to shape policy. Most are conservative, focusing their theological rhetoric on social matters – abortion, pornography, the family. On economic and foreign policy controversies they trend Republican with little apparent effort to express their positions in religious terms. There are a few evangelical leftists, who speak out for greater government efforts to alleviate poverty and against war, but they are relatively few in number. Thus, when one thinks of religion in American politics, one sees a complex mixture of theologies and policies. Americans are far more likely than Europeans to freight their political involvement in sacred terms, but they still find themselves on different sides of virtually every issue even as they cite the same God and the same faith.

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But this should come as no surprise. After all, the proper role of government, the central concern of political theory, has long been a controversial issue within Christendom. We seem no closer to agreement today. That people still attempt to apply their faiths to politics is laudable. However, the very pervasiveness of policy disputes should be cause for humility. There is, it seems, no simple Christian view of the state. And for good reason: what many Americans, in particular, seem to miss is that holy scripture and church tradition provide guidelines and principles, but no detailed blueprint for godly government. On most issues believers are left with the Apostle James' unsatisfying injunction to ask for wisdom, which God "gives generously to all without finding fault." (James 1:5) Christians do have specific responsibilities toward government, such as prayer for public officials and obedience to the law. Yet anyone who takes his religious faith seriously should have limited expectations for politics: the state is neither redemptive nor eternal. Beyond that, the Bible sets only general boundaries for political debate. The dominant message of the Gospel, as well as of the Hebrew writings, is man's relationship to God and one's neighbors. Although many of these principles have some application to politics, the Bible gives much more guidance on how we should treat people in our everyday lives than when we should coerce them through today's secular political order. The state's most fundamental role is to protect citizens from the sinful conduct of their neighbors. The Bible indicates that government is to help preserve order —people's ability to live "peaceful and quiet lives," in Paul's words— in a sinful world. (1 Timothy 2:2) One goal of the state is just retribution. Deterrence, encouraging even evil men to respect others' rights, is another objective of government. But even here, where government's role is clear, the exact means of achieving Godly objectives is left to man's discretion. Another recurring theme is reflected in Kind David's observation: "The Lord is righteous, he loves justice." (Psalm 11:11) Civil rulers, like individuals, are to be just and righteous. However, corporate duty differs from personal responsibility. Individuals must respond generously to the needs and rights of their neighbors; government must regulate, coercively yet fairly, relations between both righteous and unrighteous men. In short, the contrast is personal virtue versus public impartiality. Thus, government is to be a neutral arbiter and protector. Biblical justice protects all men in their enjoyment of God's blessings. It certainly is not to become a tool to rob and oppress, a constant risk in every political system, including American democracy. In its focus on process, Godly justice and righteousness are very different from the modern notion of "social justice," which demands equal economic and cultural outcomes. However appealing may be some proposals advanced under the rubric of "social justice," they are not matters of Biblical justice, which guarantees a fair civil government nestled within a larger culture in which the wealthy and powerful recognize their obligation to help those in need. Thus, seemingly problematic economic and social outcomes should be addressed directly, most obviously through charity, rather than by manipulating standards of justice.

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In the Old Testament, the government enforced many essentially "religious" rules, and some believers want those same regulations to be enforced today since they are "God's law." For example, leftist American Christians often point to ancient Israel's Jubilee laws, which limited property sales, to support income redistribution. Some conservatives look to Mosaic Law for support for their social preferences. The U.S. Supreme Court decision voiding state sodomy laws caused even more mainstream religious conservatives to not only dispute the constitutional legitimacy of the Court's ruling, but to defend jailing homosexuals as a requirement of God's law. A number advocated similarly punishing adulterers and fornicators, which would put most of America's population behind bars. The willingness of fervent activists to pick and choose provisions of Mosaic Law to enforce is disturbing enough. But the enforcement of Old Testament law was tied to the nature of the political community in which it was applied, and isn't properly within the province of civil government today. Public enforcement of many Old Testament norms required the active intervention of God, something no secular state today is likely to rely upon. Another reason to doubt that today's state is mandated to enforce moral/religious rules, as is so often advocated on the right, is that most ultimately deal with matters of the heart as much as conduct. Paul wrote: "A man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code." (Romans 2:29) Meaningful enforcement of the moral law, then, requires God's direct intervention. Christians should be particularly hesitant to advance civil enforcement of essentially religious strictures. For instance, in his first letter to the Corinthian church Paul instructed believers to disassociate themselves from "anyone who calls himself a brother" but is immoral. He did not apply the same rule to nonbelievers to the world, he explained, since "God will judge those outside." (1 Corinthians 5:9-13) And, like it or not, Christians live in a society dominated by nonreligious neighbors (compared to many Europeans, of course, Americans appear to be unnaturally devout. But many of the latter maintain only a formalistic adherence to their supposed faiths, atheists in practice). The very nature of the government, in contrast to the ancient Israelite monarchy, is to govern a disparate people of disparate beliefs. Today's state is an institution designed to promote civil order and public good, not religious faith and individual salvation. Just as scripture requires government to act in some circumstances —though not as often as many liberals and conservatives would like— it also restricts some government actions. The most important limitation flows from the first commandment given to Moses: "You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3) Although the "other gods" were usually such supposed deities as Baal, some secular rulers, notably the later Roman emperors, also claimed to be divine. Most secular rulers are more discreet in their formal pretensions, but many nevertheless act as quasi-gods, attempting to usurp God's role. That is most obvious with the totalitarian death states of the 20th century. Even the modern welfare state has

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increasingly turned into what author Herb Schlossberg calls "the idol state," using "the language of compassion because its intention is a messianic one." Christian teaching suggests that an expansive government is bad not only because it might demand to be treated like God, but also because it will reflect the sinfulness of its participants and mistreat its citizens. Man is a fallen creature, often eager to do wrong. This sinful nature is exacerbated by the accumulation of power which, warned Lord Acton, "tends to corrupt." History down through today certainly has shown that "power was on the side of their oppressors – and they have no comforter." (Ecclesiastes 4:1) While scripture is ultimately more concerned about spiritual freedom--particularly liberation from sin – than political liberty, the latter remains an important theme for at least three reasons. First, the lives and dignity of human beings created in the image of God require respect by other people, including governors. In the end, the least important person for whom Christ died is of greater value than the grandest empire. Second, people must be free to respond to or reject God's grace. Indeed, the exercise of virtue is impossible without the freedom to sin. Finally, Christ's injunction that believers be salt and light requires them to have at least some autonomy from the state, whether totalitarian or the slightly less imperialistic welfare states that dominate the West. To know what government must and must not do is critical, but only a start, since most issues fall in between. It is here that left and right most clash in the political arena in America as elsewhere. And it is here where religion in general, and Christianity more specifically, say little. Broad Biblical principles may help resolve some issues. Consider poverty. God's concern for the poor is clear. Notably, however, the Bible does not vest this responsibility in the state. Neither does scripture proscribe a public role, but it implies that believers should fulfill their individual and corporate responsibilities before turning to government, and any state programs should not violate other biblical norms, such as family formation. About many other current public controversies, from the World Trade Organization to corporate accounting rules, Christian theology offers little specific guidance. Rather, these usually are more matters of prudence than principle and fall within the permissive area of government activity. Where God is silent, what role should people assign to the state? In this area, broadly speaking, conservatives seem more right on economics and leftists do better on social controversies. Although there is no formal Christian political philosophy, believers have good reason to be skeptical about the use of government to solve economic and social problems. The temptation to seize power in an attempt to do good is strong, the prospect of making people moral and righteous is alluring. But can there be greater hubris than the belief that one should forcibly remake individuals and transform entire societies-to save God the trouble of having to separate the wheat and tares? Thousands of years of history suggest that such a project is fraught with peril and doomed to fail. Moreover, believers must never forget that the basis of the state is coercion. The ultimate sanction behind every law and rule is prison and, should a citizen resist, death. In general, throwing someone in jail cannot be viewed as an act of love. Thus, Christians should exhibit humility before resorting to force, and should do so only reluctantly.

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Finally, the lessons of practical experience are particularly powerful. Although private market outcomes are imperfect--the traditional justification for state action--that is not a sufficient basis for political intervention. There also needs to be solid reason, rather than just wishful thinking, to believe that the government response will not be more imperfect. Given the problems inherent to the political process, the case for state action should be overriding necessity, not personal whim. What is the proper Christian role of the state regarding most issues? God provides principles to be applied with wisdom, rather than specific answers. In general, government should provide the legal scaffolding that allows people to collectively but voluntarily solve their problems. Only in extraordinary circumstances, where there is no other choice, should the state supplant private decision-making. Ultimately, a political system based on liberty will enhance man's ability to provide for his family and others in his community, exercise dominion in transforming God's creation, enjoy the many gifts of God, and seek to fulfill God's will. Of course, freedom is not enough, even for Americans. As Pope John II explained, a market economy will work only "within a strong juridical framework which places [capitalism] at the service of human freedom in its totality and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious." Government can provide the juridical framework, but the church--the world body of Christian believers--must help provide the ethical and religious core. Without that core a free society still will be better than an unfree society, but it will be neither good nor godly. For Christians politics is an important, but never the most important, calling. Even as American Christians work on behalf of a multitude of candidates and causes, they must never forget that their highest allegiance runs beyond this world.

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AUTHORS ARNON SOFFER – Professor of Geostrategy at Haifa University. ALDO BAQUIS – Journalist. From 1986 is correspondent from Tel Aviv of the Italian news agency Ansa. He writes, among others, for the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

ELY KARMON – Senior Research Scholar at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism and at the Institute for Policy and Strategy, Interdisciplinary Center of Herzlya, Israel.

GUY BECHOR – Senior Analyst on Middle East issues at the Interdisciplinary Center of Herzlya, Israel.

MARGHERITA PAOLINI – Scientific Coordinator of Limes – Italian Review of Geopolitics.

ABD AL-RA’UF MUSTAFA AL-SIDDIQUI – Retired Egyptian General. DAVID POLANSKY – Research Fellow at Limes – Italian Review of Geopolitics and at Heartland.

GIOVANNI PARIGI – Lawyer, Islam connoisseur and army reservist. FABRIZIO MARONTA – Research Fellow at Limes – Italian Review of Geopolitics and at Heartland.

DAVID T. ARMITAGE – Research Fellow at the Institute for National strategic Studies, National Defence University, Washington, D.C..

DOUG BANDOW – Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.

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Heartland 2005/02  

Eurasian review of Geopolitics

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