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Posted on on November 13th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

Uri Avnery, the former Member of the Israeli Parliament, the former editor of a wide read Israeli Magazine – “HaOlam Haze,” the main presence at the greatest Friday-night diner table in Tel Aviv, the continuing “enfant terrible” of Israeli intellectuals, the most appreciated Israeli thinker in Europe – just wrote the following evaluation of the present condition in the American involvement in West Asia – that is the Arab-Iranianian-Pakistani part of the world.

We repost here an excerpt of his thoughts which look like the best evaluation of the situation we saw for a long time.
“What is happening in fact?

– In Iraq one tyrant has been overthrown, and dozens of small local tyrants have taken over. The country is bleeding and falling apart. The “democratic elections” have brought to power a government that hardly governs the Green Zone in Baghdad, which has to be secured by American soldiers.

– In Afghanistan an “elected” president hardly rules the capital, Kabul. In the rest of the country, local chieftains are in control. And the Taliban are slowly and steadily re-conquering the country.

– In Iran, democratic elections have brought to power an uninhibited politician with a big mouth and small achievements, whose favorite occupation is to curse the American Crusaders and the “Zionist entity”.

– In Syria there is a stable dictatorship, which can carry on mainly because the Syrians believe that any alternative would be worse.

– Turkey is ruled by a religious Islamic government, with the wife of the president wearing a headscarf. More than 10 million Kurdish citizens are oppressed and discriminated against. Not a few of them are fighting a guerilla war. In the course of the campaign against the Kurds, the Turkish army is about to invade neighboring Iraq, happy to have an opportunity to destroy the practically independent Kurdish regime there.

– Lebanon is as far from democracy as ever. Real democratic elections, in which every citizen can vote directly for parliament without sectarian divisions, are out of the question. A new president has to be elected, but that is well-nigh impossible, the gulf between the sects is so wide. This week, Hizbullah conducted large-scale maneuvers near the Israeli borders. Even the Israeli army was impressed.

– In Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the three “moderate” (read: dictatorial and pro-American) countries, there is a very original kind of democracy. Political opposition is languishing in prison.

– In Palestine, impeccable elections were held under strict international supervision, the only really democratic elections in the Arab world. George Bush would have been proud of them, if – alas – they had not been won by the “wrong” crowd – Hamas. Now, Israeli army intelligence prophesies that President Mahmoud Abbas, Bush’s favorite, may fall immediately after the Annapolis conference, if, as expected, it ends in failure.

– And now, Pakistan. It seemed that there, at least, Bush was harvesting successes. He had brought back Benazir Bhutto, another Bush favorite, and everything looked fine: a democratic regime was about to be re- installed, the president was about to hang up his uniform and form a coalition with Bhutto. But then a bomb exploded next to her armored car, dozens were killed. The president-general, who was just waiting for such an opportunity, carried out a coup d’etat against himself, and, instead of his moderate dictatorship, has set up a much more harsh regime, like a Pakistani version of the late Saddam Hussein.

As in a Hollywood comedy, George Bush is standing there with a custard pie splattered all over his face. He looks ridiculous.

NO PRESIDENT likes being ridiculous. Scary – OK. Evil – OK. Dumb – OK. But ridiculous – never!

That may have a direct bearing on a question that is worrying the whole world, myself included: Will he attack Iran?

The temptation is almost overwhelming. In another year, his term in office will come to an end. After eight years, he has nothing to show for it – except a continuous series of failures. But a man who (he says) holds daily talks with God cannot leave the stage of history like that.

He is longing for some sort of success in Annapolis. At the most, there will be an empty declaration signed by the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. There will be some good photo opportunities, but that will not satisfy the lions. Something much bigger is needed, something that will leave its mark in the annals of history.

What better than saving humanity from the Iranian nuclear bomb?

The German language has the expression “Flucht nach vorne” – an escape forwards. If you don’t know what to do any more, attack your nearest enemy. Thus Napoleon invaded Russia, followed years later by Hitler. Bush may attack Iran for similar reasons.

I suspect that the decision has already been made and that the preparations are already rolling. There is no proof of that, but Bush behaves as if he has decided on war.”

And now, after lookinginto the Israeli angle of this, Uri Avneri comes back to the oil and blood flows:

“What will actually happen is that Iran will close the strait of Hormuz. Through this strait, named after an ancient Persian deity, flows 20% of the world’s oil supplies. It is 270 km long and, at its narrowest, only 35 km wide. A few missiles and mines are enough to close it. That would be tolerable if the war lasted a few days. But if it goes on for weeks and months, it will cause a profound world-wide crisis.

And the war will indeed go on. (after having started with “surgical air strkes” ……) There will be no escape for the US from committing very large ground forces to conquer first the region bordering on the straits, and then the entire big country. The US has no available ground forces left – even before the American forces in Iraq are exposed to missile attacks from Iran and to guerilla actions from the Shiites, who make up the majority in Iraq.

This will not be a quick and easy war. Iran is different from Iraq. Unlike Iraq, with its various peoples and sects, Iran is comparatively homogenous. This war will be an Iraq war multiplied by 10, perhaps by 100.”


About the Annapolis meting to be held November 25-27, 2007, Steven Erlanger, New York Times, November 12, 2007 – had some comments that can be summarized   “U.S. and Israel Play Down Hope for Peace Talk.

The American-sponsored Middle East peace conference expected by the end of the month looks to be thin on content, mostly serving as a stage to begin formal negotiations on a peace treaty between Israel and Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli and American officials have been so busy dampening expectations that they are not even calling the event a conference anymore, instead referring to it merely as a “meeting,” tentatively scheduled for Nov. 25-27 in Annapolis.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are having trouble agreeing on even a short declaration about the shape of a final peace. “Because we can’t agree on the substance of a joint paper, we prefer to say we’re just beginning to negotiate,” said a senior Israeli official close to Prime Minister Olmert.

(The long buildup to Annapolis, together with Ms. Rice’s many trips to the region, have given birth to a new verb in Israeli government circles: “lecondel,” meaning, to come and go for meetings that produce few results. The word is based on Ms. Rice’s first name. (Le Condel – this is a gramatical form that means “to-do-a-Condalleeza.”)

Even if a deal is reached, and many are skeptical, it will not be carried out for a number of years. Israel wants to be sure that if it withdraws from the West Bank, there is a reliable Palestinian security force to stop aggression and terrorism – to ensure that a Hamas-run Gaza that fires rockets at Israel is not replicated in the West Bank.

As Tony Blair said: “The true Israeli anxiety is focused not only on the territory of the Palestinian state, but on the nature of that state. The true Israeli position is not to agree to a state for the Palestinians unless they are sure of how that state will function, how it will be governed, how viable it will be, and not simply in its territorial contiguity, but in its stability as a long-term partner for peace.”

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