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The United States and a new Middle East order

24.09.2002 - Yeshayahu Ben-Aharon

The "free" world's media and its Israeli and Palestinian counterparts are doing their best – and their best is our misfortune – to hide carefully the extent of the US-Israeli-Palestinian complicity and cooperation in the current ongoing remolding and transforming process of Israel, the Occupied Territories, and the Middle East as a whole.

The extent of the commitment of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to the Bush establishment's next step in the realization of the conservatives' vision of "the new world order" in the Middle East, is a typical "open secret" , regarding which the Israeli media and public consciously and successfully remain profoundly ignorant.

Israelis of all political shadings keep their heads buried as deeply as possible in the summer's haze and sands of ignorance – as they did 20 years ago while Sharon and General Alexander Haig, secretary of state under the then US president, Ronald Reagan, orchestrated the disastrous march of the Israeli army to the outskirts of Beirut during the "Peace of Galilee operation" under Prime Minister Begin’s conservative Likud government.

This operation, let us be reminded, drove Arafat and his gang from Lebanon to Tunis and gave Hezbollah, the radical Islamic terrorist organization supported and armed by Iran and Syria, free hand in South Lebanon.

The present remolding of the Palestinian authority into an US-Israeli led protectorate is part of such visionary transformation process of the Middle East:

Ariel Sharon has quietly assembled a new, trusted team to assist in the charting of Israel’s Middle East role in the post-Saddam, post-Arafat era. Sharon’s planning is tightly woven into the design for the defeat of global terror which President Bush began plotting after America’s September 11 shock.

Highly credible sources confirm that the campaign was secretly marching forward in the summer months – precisely according to the game plan Bush conceived and promised the American people in the speeches he delivered in September, October and November of 2001. He said then that parts of the war on global terror would go forward in secret and never be known.

The reconstruction of Palestinian instruments of governance and security to fit in with these plans is a key factor in this project, going far beyond the Palestinian arena; it is America’s first experiment in building a modern democracy for a Middle Eastern Muslim society. If the experiment works, it may prove applicable for the autonomous Kurdish, Shi’ite and Turkoman regions America hopes to set up in Iraq – or even, in the best case, radiate farther afield to transform the lives of additional ethnic majorities in the region and affect even the most hidebound Arab regimes.

It is also interesting to note how the present war in Afghanistan and coming one in Iraq is presented as the chance of recovery for the faltering Israeli economy.

We must remember that America did not finance the 1991 Gulf War alone; it had help from an international coalition with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf emirates, Germany and Japan investing heavily in the war effort. But this campaign against Saddam Hussein is financed out of America’s pocket.

Assuming that the US military operation against Iraq goes forward according to plan, winding down at the end of 2002 or early 2003, the Middle East will be in the throes of a geo-strategic metamorphosis by spring 2003. During the hostilities, Jordan and Israel will provide the United States forces with rear bases, providing economic benefits to both.

After the conflict dies down, more than 70,000 troops, mostly American, are scheduled to remain in Iraq to pacify and reconstruct the war-torn country. The new entities will need to be built up from scratch at top speed – requiring such modern utilities as regular water and food supplies, health, medicine, communications and road networks.

American think tanks estimate that post-Saddam Iraq will eat up an annual investment of between15-20 billion for up to a decade. Israel is the only country in the region with the technological and manpower resources to undertake the rapid execution of these projects.

These are not pipedreams but real plans drafted for American planners in Washington by a task force headed by retired Col. Scott R. Feil, co-director of developing plans for post-conflict Iraq. These plans were submitted to the Senate defense and intelligence committees on 1 August. Their post-war activation would inject new life into the Israeli economy, generating growth after the present tough deprivations and stagnation induced by the 22-month confrontation with the Palestinians.