© 2005 Maher Osseiran

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The Mass Killing of the Good Options – That is what Annapolis is about!

By Maher Osseiran, December 22, 2007

I have read so many editorials, before, during, and after Annapolis, granted I have not read them all, but the one that made the most sense to me is the one by Karim Makdisi, an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the American University of Beirut.

In his piece on Counterpunch, an American Internet based political newsletter, “Midnight in Beirut – Annapolis and the unholy alliance”, Mr. Makdisi dissects the current situation in Lebanon and the driving forces behind it and cautions the Lebanese that Annapolis might not provide the hoped for thaw between the U.S. and Syria that would ease the Lebanese crisis but that

Annapolis will represent another signpost in the US drive to solidify the de facto unholy alliance that has bound Israel and the so-called "moderate" Arab states under US patronage. In this case, it is difficult to be optimistic about prospects for Lebanon or the region.

A statement that is bold, ominous, and courageous, but Mr. Makdisi does not give us the details; I know, the writing is on the wall but why not read it out loud?

After seven years of ignoring the plight of the Palestinians and often actively undermining the “Road Map” and other such peace agreements, the Bush administration decided to convene Annapolis at a time when the American, Israeli, and Palestinian leaderships were in their weakest political positions; hardly a recipe for success, unless, we look at things from a different angle.

The Palestinian leadership, considered illegitimate by a large portion of Palestinians, when looked at from this new angle, barely makes it into the picture as the disposable policy conduit of the heavy weights, the U.S. and Israel.

The only way we can understand and explain Annapolis is through the consistent behavior of both the U.S. and Israel over the last years; through their methods of operation - that would hardly change overnight - and not through their words or photo ops. We need to look for similarities in their policies and approaches and to consider where they would be implemented next and how Annapolis would facilitate that.

Fighting terrorism and outside threats is at the core of both American and Israeli domestic and foreign policies and their sustainability depends on such threats. Recently, even though such threats have not diminished, the populations all over the world have adjusted to their levels as in the case of Al-Qaeda, or outright rejected them as insignificant regional threats as in the case of the violence between Israelis and Palestinians, even worse for Israel, more and more the violence is perceived as disproportionately one sided and a direct result of the occupation of Palestinian lands and Israeli intransigence.

For the U.S. and Israel to preserve their policies and strategic objectives, the threat level has to evolve and increase beyond what it is today.

The grounds are being prepped for such an increase and Annapolis is but a “signpost” as Mr. Makdisi so correctly cautioned. The U.S. and Israel are actively engaged, through the use of military force, economic pressure, financial incentives, political arm-twisting, etc…, in creating and widening rifts between countries and within populations in the Middle East in order to transform an entire region stretching from Pakistan to Algeria.

By the day, the rifts are expanding in Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine, and it is no secret that the U.S. is going to implement the so-called successes of the Anbar province of Iraq, paying a segment of the population for forcibly policing another, in the volatile Tribal Regions of Pakistan. We also know of clandestine operations in Iran to undermine the Iranian government through discontented minorities. Such clandestine operation could also be taking place elsewhere.

The large and enduring threat that the U.S. and Israel are looking for can be described as a contiguous swath of land where the so-called radical Muslims roam unchecked. The relationships between populations and countries that compose it is of no consequence as long as, to the average western observer, the region resembles an incomprehensible and menacing brew, a sort of an active volcano, impossible to control or predict, that could spew its terrorism lava at any moment and only the vigilant eye of the U.S. and its allies could protect the world.

“with us or against us” will be redefined and re-imposed. Even though the question is the same as after 9/11, the scope is different. After 9/11, it was imposed on countries, now, it will be imposed on individuals in the greater Middle East region; it will be the question that defines the fault line of a rift.

Annapolis is the forum where the new “with us or against us” was formally proposed and the Palestinian issue will be split in half along the fault line it creates. There will be moderate Palestinians who are “with us”, and radicals “against us”; the Palestinian issue would be solved by simply having it vanish.

Annapolis is where Israel is given the cover to pursue two diametrically opposed policies. One that would reward a so-called moderate (compliant) West Bank with some form of peace while the other would punish Gaza with the harshest of treatments to make certain that Gaza is forced into the “against us” camp.

The so-called moderate Arab states would use the treatment of the West Bank as the fig leaf they so desperately need to relieve them from the burdensome Palestinian issue. They might even help rehabilitate Israel, normalize relationships, or even form an alliance if Israel is made to be perceived as the only regional power that could counter-balance a menacing nuclear Iran.

In contrast, the treatment of Gaza, which is mostly Muslim, would be a stronger rallying cry for the radicals and would surely increase their fervor and numbers.

Both sides of the rift, the “with us” and “against us”, would have their supporting arguments but they are no longer countries, they are now individuals. The net effect of this policy toward the Palestinian issue would be the polarization of Arab and Muslim societies down to the smallest of social units; the rift will be within families, even between couples.

Still, this is not sufficient for the U.S. and Israel since these individuals are too dispersed. If we were to think of this new policy toward Palestine as the driving force behind this rift, the critical mass where all the ingredients are present, the powder keg that would make it happen is Pakistan and no one other than bin Laden is holding the match.

In his recent audio, released through Al-Jazeera, bin Laden hinted at the illegality of the War in Afghanistan but supplied no credible evidence. His attempt at driving a wedge between Europe and the U.S. could only be described as amateurish and his allegations dismissed as bogus.

As someone who has researched and written extensively on the legality of the Afghanistan war, I can assure you that bin Laden’s allegations are no joke. The Afghanistan war was illegal beyond the Iraq war; the victims of the Afghanistan war are not only the innocent civilians, but also every soldier who has died, and even you and I.

It is reported that bin Laden’s recent release targeted Europe’s population. The truth is, it targeted U.S. and European leaderships since they are the only ones who knew what he was talking about.

The proper evidence will be supplied by bin Laden sooner or later since the West would never dare supply it. It will surface when it benefits him the most. The most likely time would be, since it also fits the often observed symbiotic relationship between him and Bush, shortly after Musharraf, the Pakistani president, launches the long awaited military campaign against the Tribal Regions with the help of U.S. military advisers.

Should we wait for bin Laden to light the fuse when it benefits him and those imposing the “with us or against us” option, or, should I inform you now in the hope that you could resurrect the good options?

Since I have written about this crime extensively, and fulfilled my duty by informing the Democratic Judiciary Committees in both U.S. House and Senate, I see no reason why you should not have known about it even sooner.

What bin Laden said is true; the evidence that Al-Qaeda bore the sole responsibility for 9/11 was obtained by the U.S., through human intelligence, on September 26, 2001, ten days before the invasion of Afghanistan.

The tape released by the Pentagon on December 13, 2001, showing bin Laden confessing to Khaled Al-Harbi of his involvement in the attacks was the result of a sting operation run by U.S. intelligence with the help of Saudi intelligence on September 26, 2001.

Intelligence operatives had four days advance notice of the date of the meeting and taping, twenty four hours advance notice of its location, and knew that bin Laden would be in that village for at least three hours if not overnight since his family also lived in that village.

Instead of killing him or capturing him as per Bush’s famous promise “dead or alive”, this perfectly scripted opportunity was used to tape him. If bin Laden was killed or captured on that date, the U.S. would not have had any international support or legal standing to invade Afghanistan ten days later.

Based on actions by NATO, and statements by high-ranking Pakistani officials in the beginning of October 2001, the evidence seems to have been shared with them because of their importance in the war effort, but, such evidence of bin Laden’s guilt was not shared with the Taliban even though they offered bin Laden in exchange.

The U.S. had the military clout and, so shortly after 9/11, the strong international support that would have forced the Taliban to hand over bin Laden and avert war if evidence of his guilt was provided. This is also the path dictated by the Geneva Convention and the UN Charter. The U.S. chose to conceal the evidence and go ahead with the invasion; that is what bin Laden means by “the U.S. insisted”.

The release of such information by bin Laden, coupled with verses from the Koran, Hadeeth, or Muslim history relating to acts of treason against Islam or the Prophet, augmented by announcement of the capture of a Saudi intelligence cell inside Al-Qaeda assigned to kill him, would surely inflame sentiments in Pakistan and elsewhere against Musharraf and his patrons, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

The rift could only get wider and would stretch from Pakistan to Gaza on the Mediterranean and maybe even Algeria and Morocco on the Atlantic; now that is big enough. Iran, caught in the middle would be further isolated and cut off from an important energy client, India. The U.S. would re-deploy to the safety of the Kurdish area in Iraq and meddle at its leisure while the rest of Iraq plunges into a civil war. The Iraqi Sunnis would rely on the U.S. for military support, and Saudi Arabia for financial support and volunteers. Iran would be sucked deeper into the conflict.

This last option, “with us or against us”, put on the table in Annapolis is a lose-lose proposition; it is an ugly choice between sides of a rift at the expense, and thereby demise, of all the good options that reflect peoples’ aspirations, interests, visions, and true potential.

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© 2005 Maher Osseiran