Sharon and Arafat: No Angels!!
The Middle East is in a state of permanent terror and tension with no end in sight. In the last few days, the whole world has been witnessing a dimension of hate in a different way, where civilians are now the main and permanent object of radical Islamic groups, and Yasser Arafat has never been in such a domestically weak position in his entire political life as is the case today.
Prof. Dr. Hüseyin BAĞCI – 25 January 2002, Turkish Daily News
Israeli Prime Minister Sharon is still strong in Parliament and even Foreign Minister Peres cannot stop this policy since September 2000, which began with the visit to the Temple Mount. It was considered as a provocative act at that time, but still even Sept. 11 did not end the conflict as many genuinely hoped it would. On the contrary, Sept. 11 seems to have accelerated the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and this time even the main external actors like the United States and the European Union do not know what to do. For instance, nearly all Palestinian infrastructure, including the airport, was paid for by the EU, though with the permission of Israel. Since Israel is destroying the main infrastructure now, even the radio station last week, the political reactions towards Israel by the EUare on the way.
At least in the German edition of the Financial Times, was putting the main article from Jan. 23 with the title ‘’Verhaengnisvolle Schweigen’’ (Keeping quiet with consequences) saying that the EU should criticise the power politics of Israel. However, whether the Israeli government took it seriously is another question. It is a well-known fact that in the EU there is still an unwritten ‘embargo’’ on Israeli politics because of the history of some EU countries with Israel. Not to mention, of course, the impact on the Israeli lobby around the world.
But, it is not only the Israeli side that is responsible for the miserable conditions, but rather also some Arabic countries, too, are responsible for this. For example, it was one of the greatest political miscalculations of Yasser Arafat to take the side of Iraq when it invaded Kuwait.
Neither the Kuwaitis nor the Saudis, who had been until then the principal supporter of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), in international politics turned their backs, and since then Arafat is ‘’political persona non grata’’ in the eyes of many Arab countries, and he is paying for it. Sharon is well aware of this fact and this is why he tries to solve the issue with his own means, and Palestine is indeed left alone. But, Egypt is also another important actor that does not put all its energy into this issue. The reason: also the Gulf War and the weakness of Arafat to control the radical Islamic groups, which are also a danger for Egypt as well.
Although Egypt is having former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa as the secretary general of the Arab League, it seems that the Arab world is not viewing this issue as a ‘’matter of honor for the Arabic world,’ as it was propagated in all declarations in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
In his recent statement on the meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher commented that ‘Sharon talks only to himself and hears only himself.’ If it is true then it should be certainly seen as the strength of Sharon and the weakness of the Arabic world. Once again, it does not legitimate Israeli politics in Palestine, but there are serious problems with ‘Arab unity.’
Both Palestinian and Israeli politics don’t seem to be able to find a gateway out of this situation. More bloodshed, terror and repression is expected in the coming days and weeks. It is now not just hatred of some people and groups, but rather a case study for world instability on how ‘’small democracies’ can be aggressive in certain situations. The accusations of both the Israeli and Palestinian sides can be justified politically, but cannot be accepted from the point of human rights. Civilians are subject to it, and the world does not like to see on TV screens how innocent people on the street are terrorized.
What should be done? It is not an academic question but rather a political one, and politics is responsible for this, both the international and domestic politics of these two sides. Yasser Arafat is weak and Sharon is strong politically. But it does not justify the Israeli policy of repression, nor radical Islamic terror groups. This hate has to end.
According to followers of Islam, as well as Judaism, they believe there is a paradise or hell after death. All of the involved parties and politicians, in the final analysis, do not deserve to go to paradise with their contemporary politics. To where they will go then, they have to think again. If they are true believers that is!!!