“Be careful that victories do not carry the seeds of future defeats.”
An Iraqi friend of mine once told me a little anecdote. It says that after the liberation of Kuwait, an Iraqi who honestly believed the official media claims that the regime had crushed the enemy, sat in a corner in a Baghdad café crying and cursing wars. One of the people present at the café felt sorry for him, presuming he had lost a loved one in that war. He started comforting him only for the man to reply: “Do you think I am crying for our people who died? No, we have won the war. I am crying for the poor Americans we’ve just defeated. If we, the winners, are in such a bad state, can you imagine what must have happened to them?”
This black humor could apply to all the alleged victories we are scoring against our unnamed but well-known enemies. “Victories” we begin to brag about the moment we have reached a humiliating truce that we had pleaded and begged for.
Those who believe that these “victories” are real vehemently refuse to admit otherwise even though they can see the human cost they have entailed, and the damage they have inflicted, let alone the way they are being is used to deprive people of the ability to think, doubt, and question.
Claiming victory is in itself an evasion of accountability. Are winners ever questioned? Are they required or expected to provide answers? Doesn’t the winner lave the exclusive right to writing history, interpreting its events, and suppressing anyone who questions its “truths”?
A week ago, that is before the new “victory” in Gaza, I was wondering about the “timing” of Binyamin Netanyahu’s reaction to rocket attacks from Gaza. I was wondering when did he exactly lose patience with Gaza; bearing in mind that the Palestinian groups who were launching the attacks against Israeli targets are tactical allies of a regional power that both Israel and United States knew all too well.
Be it as it may, the attacks have now temporarily stopped on both sides, and we find ourselves in the middle of a new political reality comprised of the following facts:
First, Hamas, with its Pro-Iranian and Muslim Brotherhood faces, has become the principal player in the Palestinian scene. Even Mahmoud Abbas has been forced to salute its military “victory” against the background of his failed patient diplomacy. In fact, the Hamas gifted “victory” is the first installment of the heavy price Abbas is being forced to pay for his attempts to secure Palestinian Observer-status membership in the United Nations.
Second, the repercussions of this “victory” are not going to stop at that, especially in the light of the Muslim Brotherhood’s pragmatism. The other day, an Arab analyst wrote that Hamas’s next step will be “moving east,” which, if I am not mistaken, means gaining control of the territories of what is left of “Palestinian Authority”, this time, however, with Israel’s blessings.
Third, Khaled Meshaal, the foremost Hamas leader, did not mention the role of the Tehran-Damascus axis in this “victory” speech and preferring to give credit the Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, who in turn would use it against his adversaries inside Egypt. On the other hand, Dr. Mahmoud Zahar, another leading Hamas figure, chose to openly thank and credit the Tehran-Damascus axis regardless of the fact that both regimes have for almost two years been killing tens of thousands of Syrians in order to prevent the establishment in Syria an Islamist rule similar to Hamas’s in Gaza.
Fourth, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, who had scored a similar “victory” in Lebanon in 2006, has had another opportunity to make his voice heard. A few hours separated his meeting with Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani and his fiery “vicory” Ashoura speech, in which Nasrallah threatened to fire “thousands of rockets” at Israel if it ever attacked Lebanon, proclaimed the whole “Palestinian” frontiers from northern Galilee to the Red Sea as theatres of retaliation, and sure enough renewed his support for Iran. “Israel was shaken by a few Fajr-5 rockets. Imagine what would happen when thousands of rockets fired at Tel Aviv and other cities if Lebanon was attacked?” he asked before his fascinated audience. Well, I don’t think Nasrallah was expecting an answer to this question whether from Israel or the United States. But more important questions await convincing answers, such as: Why didn’t he interfere to save the children of Gaza instead of just slamming those who did not offer help to the Palestinians? And where does the Lebanese government stand vis-à-vis his war plans?
Fifth, it is noteworthy that Israel is the one who gifted Hezbollah its “divine victory” in 2006 War through the Winograd Commission, and that the U.N. Resolution 1701 which followed the ceasefire allowed Nasrallah to turn his weapons towards the Lebanese interior, thus, facilitating Israel’s bigger plan for the region: the Sunni-Shiite war.
Sixth, the “victories” Israel have gifted to Hamas and Hezbollah reflect the approach both the US and Israel have adopted for the Middle East since the 1967 war, and the political regional stalemate it initially caused. Envisioned by Henry Kissinger, this approach is based on awarding Arabs a hollow victory that can be sold to the people while allowing Israel to sustain a propaganda defeat that entails no losses at all. That was exactly achieved through the October 6th 1973 (Yom Kippur) war, from which the Camp David treaty came into being. It was the “booby-trapped gift” that deprived Egypt of its regional leadership and isolated it from its Arab sphere, and kept in power a Syrian regime in return of its undermining the Palestinian resistance movement leading to its liquidation in Lebanon, and its division in the Palestinian Territories.
Yesterday, Ali Larijani made statements that sounded very dangerous yet did not cause any noticeable concern in Israel. In fact, statements like Larijani’s are the best present Iran can offer to Netanyahu in his electoral campaign. The current political discourse in Iran and the sectarian tension Tehran is stirring across the Middle East have actually become a vital positive for Israel’s security and existence. That is why an attack on Iran is now even more far-fetched than it had been before.
Israel is aware of this fact and so is the West. But there are those who want our people to continue living a big lie, while wading in seas of blood.
(The writer is a columnist at Asharq al-Awsat, where this article was published on Nov. 26, 2012)