by Khalil Marwan (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 26, No. 11, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1418)
Nearly four years after the Oslo agreement of September 13, 1993, and numerous kicks in the teeth later, Arab rulers have realised that it is virtually impossible to deal with the Zionist occupiers of Palestine. Even such pro-western rulers as Husni Mubarak of Egypt and the House of Saud now see the futility of the ‘peace process’. There are others, however, who still cling to the notion that there can be normal relations with the stubborn Zionists in Tel Aviv.
One of them is the putative king of Jordan who cannot do enough to please his Zionist masters. He publicly lamented, on the thirtieth anniversary of the June 1967 war, his country’s joining battle against Israel. His troops lost the West Bank, including the remainder of Jerusalem, without firing a shot. Perhaps, one can now expect king Husain to erect a monument to the holocaust victims in front of his palace in Amman. He can then pray facing this monument, his true Qibla, instead of the Ka’aba in Makkah.
The Jordanian monarch, however, is not alone. The amir of Qatar, shaikh Hamed al-Khalifa al-Thani insists on going ahead with the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) conference in November even though a number of Arab governments have stated they will boycott it. Syria, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Lebanon have already said they will not attend. Even such pro-Israeli regimes as Morocco and Egypt are hedging their bets and adopted a wait and see approach. But Washington, Israel’s patron saint, has started leaning on them to be there.
‘We encourage all Arab countries to participate in the Doha economic summit,’ the US State department spokesman Nicholas Burns said on July 2. ‘Those Arab governments who said they won’t attend, we hope they’ll reconsider their positions.’
Launched in Casablanca in 1994, two more conferences have since been held: in Amman (1995) and Cairo (1996). Ostensibly meant to promote peace in the Middle East through trade and economic
cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbours, their real purpose is to integrate the zionist State into the Middle East economic fabric.
Since the breakdown of talks between Yasir Arafat’s Palestinian Authority and Israel last March, relations with other Arabs have also been tense. Attempts by Egyptian mediators to patch up a compromise have got nowhere. And Washington refuses to lean on its zionist surrogate to relent.
Israeli bloodymindedness has left Arab regimes dangerously exposed with their own people who never accepted the so-called peace process in the first place. Even such conservative and subservient US client regimes as Saudi Arabia have now publicly distanced themselves from the whole farce.
Saudi crown prince Abdullah referring to the November economic conference in Doha which Israel was expected to attend, said on June 30, ‘We told them (the Qataris) this conference will harm them and we advised them that we and most Arabs will not attend.’ Three days later, Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal, reiterated the same position upon arriving in Cairo for talks with Egyptian president Husni Mubarak.
Since March, a realignment of sorts has taken place among the Arabs. Some of the most conservative regimes have not only moved closer to Syria, but some have also opened discussions with Iran.
It would be premature to draw any firm conclusions from such moves but it is significant that even the House of Saud made a public statement by sending a minister of State to Tehran with special message for the Iranian leadership. Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Khoweiter stated on July 1 that the Saudi leadership would be ‘present in strength’ at the December summit of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in Tehran.
And in Cairo, a battle is raging in the foreign ministry where the pro-zionist Osama El-Baz is pushing Mubarak towards surrender to Israel while his foreign minister Amr Moussa is resisting it. The July 8 cabinet reshuffle has not altered the equation in the foreign ministry.
There have been other developments as well. For instance, on June 15, eight Muslim countries formally established the economic bloc of D-8 in Istanbul, Turkey. For the first time, countries from all continents and regions were included.
Then on June 26, the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council linked up with Egypt and Syria in a new Arab economic bloc. Meeting in the Syrian port city of Latakia on the Mediterranean, the eight pledged to set up a common market. There is much room for improvement. Trade between Arab States accounts for less than eight percent of their total trade.
The move appeared to be a deliberate attempt to keep the Israelis out of the economic equation which the MENA conference is supposed to promote.
Muslimedia - August 1-15, 1997