President Donald Trump’s bile and rage to give bloody cuts to the Muslim world continues unabated at the behest of his blue eyed boy, Prime Minister Netanyahu and, quite unfortunately, some Arab monarchs who, in their narrowness of vision, undermined the only broader platform of the Organization of Islamic Conference at the altar of the expedient-ridden, timid and pliable Arab League aggravating their vulnerability to manipulation by the global powers. Today, the Muslim world stands voiceless; its protests are taken in stride and its rulers ridden roughshod as pawns in the world politics. Remorse, Jean Jacque Rousseau says, goes to sleep when our fortunes are prosperous, and makes itself felt more keenly in adversity. What more enormous adversity, the Muslims need to have to trigger introspection among their leaders.
The Palestinian issue engaged the rapt attention of the Muslim world and the comity of nations for long seven decades. Though the Muslim leaders could not bring enough pressure on the USA and the Western world to compensate the Palestinians for the injustice slapped on them by establishing the Israeli state in their land in 1948, they were successful to keep this issue simmering in the UN and the capitals of the major powers with an acute sense of obligation twitching the conscience of Western leaders. The Muslim world dominated by tall leaders who, though autocrats but hardcore Arab nationalists, wielded influence in the world politics. Besides the precious resource of oil which the world needed most after the World War, the Muslim leaders maintained their influence and relevance in the world politics by the sheer force of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy and continuous process of consultations among themselves.
Gradually, the Muslim world lost its sheen because of its own pettiness of vision. The events triggered by the so called Arab Spring proved the last straw on the camel’s back. The leaders got frightened and nervous running helter and skelter in the pursuit of major powers to save their thrones from the avalanche of the spontaneous public protests and bring down the citadels of those whom they perceived a threat to their kingdoms and emirates. No longer than the overthrow of Bin Ali in Tunisia, the Muslim world presented the scene of a chaotic war zone in which everybody was anxious to save his life forgetting all the feelings of kinship and fraternity and ethnic and linguistic affinity. In their pursuit of security, the Arab leaders lost the sense of direction trotting as pawns in the mayhem wrought on the most important Muslim countries starting from Iraq and expanding to Libya, Syria and Yemen. The frontiers collapsed and the armies disintegrated into armed groups; the sovereign territories were bombarded; the leaders hunted down by mercenary troops or executed by agents of death and destruction; the traditional equilibrium between sectarian populations was destroyed. Sectarian groups and private rebellious armies were trained and financed to go on killing spree.
All this devastation of the Arab world was not enough to pacify the audacious designs of Israel to become the mini superpower of the region with almost all the Arab monarchs and emirates looking forward to some sort of security arrangement with it. President Donald Trump had, up his sleeves, some more sinister plans to denigrate the Muslim world. Goaded by the pro-Israel trio of his advisors – Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman – he started to unfold his plans step by step recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017, moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to this sacred city in May 2018 and exiting from the UN Human Rights Council in June 2018 accusing it to be biased against Israel. In September 2018, he closed the representative office of PLO in Washington.
Followed in quick succession was his proclamation of recognizing the illegal annexation of Golan Heights by Israeli. This proclamation also owed a great deal to the persuasive intervention of the above extremist trio who, as reports suggest, was also against the Oslo peace process in the 1990s. It seems they have persuaded President Donald Trump that he has been anointed by God to help the Jews regain their epic land and glory. He looked the other way while Prime Minister Netanyahu was unabashedly expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank and provocatively declaring the Israeli sovereignty and control over the united Jerusalem and any piece of Palestinian territory west of Jordan River, or threatening to annex illegal Jewish settlements.
The Arab countries met in a summit of the 22-nation Arab League in Tunisia on Sunday, the 31stMarch to consider the moves of the US leader, and register their protest particularly over the proclamation of Donald Trump recognizing the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights. The Final Communiqué issued at the end of the session, filled with the usual clichés, repeated the well beaten stand of the Arab countries on Palestine and the occupied Arab lands. Before going into the Arab League summit all these leaders knew that their protest would not have as much impact on the US decisions given their current heightened mutual hostilities.
President Donald Trump’s hostility and anger against Iran owes much to the perceived security threat from Iran to Israel and some Arab allies. In the current turmoil of the Middle East, Iran has undoubtedly strengthened its sphere of political and strategic influence from Yemen to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Hamas-ruled Gaza. Some western analysts claim that Iran already controls five capitals – Sana, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Gaza. The Arab world knew that Israel had come to terms with Russia and was fighting the Iranian troops in Syria to keep them away from its frontiers. The Iranian entrenchment in the Middle East indisputably posed a security challenge to some Arab monarchies and emirates impelling them to embrace Israel in a joint endeavour to isolate this common adversary.
Their joint pressure on President Donald Trump resulted in the US exit from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May last year, and reintroduction of economic sanctions. We may recall Israel was alone in opposition to JCPOA along with Saudi Arabia and UAE. To ratchet pressure on Iran, the US leader declared Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorist organization and, to further squeeze Iran economically, refused to extend the sanctions waiver for buyers of Iranian oil that included Turkey, India and China. The latter is the biggest Iranian oil importer. Since May last year, the Iranian oil exports have dipped from 2.5 million barrels a day to less than 1.3 million, and could further dip this year. This economic squeeze has pushed the inflation to skyrocketing 40 percent in Iran.
Lately, the US moved an aircraft carrier – USS Abraham Lincoln – its strike group and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf with the explicit purpose of warning Iran against any possible threats to the American forces in the region. President Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton claimed that the US was not seeking war but would respond to any Iranian attack on US interests. He added there were intelligence reports that Iran was moving short and medium range ballistic missiles on boats in the Persian Gulf. However, the critics drew quick parallels to the Bush administration’s 2003 invasion of Iraq when intelligence reports of the presence of weapons of mass destruction were faked to justify the war.
Indeed, President Hassan Rouhani had earlier not ruled out the possibility of disrupting oil shipments from the Gulf countries with Foreign Minister Javad Zareef warning the guarantor states that Iran could walk away from the nuclear deal. Iran, to shock of guarantor states, disassociated from certain provisions of the JCPOA dealing with its uranium enrichment programme. The provisions allowed Iran 2.68 percent uranium enrichment.
The world is baffled what the Trump administration’s ultimate goal in Iran is beyond the hoax claim of protecting the US forces from any attacks or harm. The US leadership gives only ambiguous signals with John Bolton talking of regime change and Mike Pompeo emphasizing that the US wants to incentivize Iran to behave like a normal country whilst President Trump, for his part, has been showing his interest in renegotiating the nuclear deal on certain conditions. He had earlier disparaged it as “the worst deal ever”.
The US has presented Iran some 12 tough conditions for the renegotiation of the JCPOA which are tantamount to total surrender to the American dictat which the Iranians, as we know them, would never accept. These demands notably call on Iran to dismantle all nuclear programmes, withdraw forces from Syria, terminate support to armed groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Quds and Houthis, stop the destabilizing policies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gulf region and supporting Al-Bashar in Syria, Noori Al-Maliki in Iraq, and many more demands. Iran has to comply with all the US demands in exchange for the resumption of talks for restoration of the present nuclear deal or concluding entirely new one.
No analyst who knows the Iranians would waste a moment in believing that they will prefer to perish in a war than surrendering so ignominiously to the ‘Big Satan’ as they routinely disparage the USA. Hence, the situation in the Gulf region is fast escalating into war which would be the last nail in the coffin of the Muslim world. Given the Iran’s strategic location and military capability with all those medium and long range missiles, the war will set alight the entire Gulf region and push it into an abyss of political, economic and strategic turmoil.