Syria & Saudis At War Over Use Of Taqiyah - An Oil Price War May Follow:.*** Under An Israel-US MoU Signed In Washington On Jan. 16, NATO Powers & The Jewish State Will Track And Bar All Iranian & Other Weapons Cargoes Bound For Hamas - A First Which May Be Followed By Similar Moves Against Iran's Lebanon Branch Hizbullah - If Syria Joins A New US-Led Peace Process Over The Golan
*** But Bashar Al- Assad May Not Be Able To Leave The Axis & Survive As The Ruler Of Syria *** Israel Insists Its Decision To Stop The War In Gaza Won't Have Anything To Do With Hamas
*** Qatar Under Hamad Bin Khalifa Has Fallen Into A Complex Geo- Political Trap By Angering A Saudi-Backed Alliance & USA
DUBAI: More than three years of verbal warfare between Syria and Saudi Arabia have led to what a highly-placed source in Riyadh calls a "deep conflict over the nature of Arab politics", with the Arabian kingdom now blaming the 'Alawite/Ba'thist regime of Damascus for having helped Iran split the Muslim world as well as the Arabs. Saudis are privately accusing the Syrian regime of "depending on taqiyah in hiding its true identity: a "family dictatorship protected by Israel" and, at the same time, being a partner of Iran's Shi'ite theocracy which leads an axis of anti-US/anti-Israel forces in the Greater Middle East (GME). For their part, Syria and fellow axis players are calling the Saudi-led Sunni Arab states "Zionist Arabs".
With Israel's military offensive on Hamas in the Gaza Strip having begun to change the political landscape in this part of the GME, a parallel crisis between Iran and Saudi Arabia over compliance with OPEC production quotas would be an equally serious issue. Such a crisis is seen as a likely prelude to an oil price war if Iran and other radical OPEC members are found to be taking advantage of oil production cuts made by the Saudi-led GCC moderate states (see omt2AbuDfieldsJan12-09). The Saudis have rebuffed repeated Iranian calls for the Muslim world to use the oil weapon against the US and other allies of Israel.
Iran's theocracy and its Lebanese offshoot Hizbullah, as well as their Palestinian allies such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are among the most extensive users of taqiyah in pursuing their ambitions (see the meaning of taqiyah in news1S.AsiaTerrorWarJan1-09).
The Saudi-led alliance, of which Egypt is a pillar, is opposed to attempts by the axis forces to exploit the Palestine cause by confronting the US and allied powers which have tacitly backed Israel's offensive on Hamas. In this, the conflict is being displayed to the public in the Muslim world as being between the axis forces and what the latter call "Zionist Arab states".
The conflict is assuming a vicious turn on the eve of the Jan. 20 inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th president of the US at a time when the Syrian regime is facing a trial in the murder of former PM Rafiq Hariri by a UN court which is to begin its work in March. APS sources say the period between now and mid-2009 will be particularly dangerous for the six-state Arab Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) region, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinians.
The first test will be Jan. 31, when local and provincial elections are to be held in Iraq while the US under Obama wants to leave this country as soon as possible in order to concentrate on Afghanistan and Pakistan (see fap1-IraqUS-Jan12-09). The Palestinians will try to hold parliamentary and presidential elections after the Gaza tragedy is over. Lebanese parliamentary polls are due on June 7. Iranian presidential elections are to be held on June 12.
The GCC rulers on Jan. 15 held a summit in Riyadh and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the move was to help an Arab summit in Kuwait on Jan. 19 to succeed in efforts to stop the war in Gaza. Saudi Arabia and Egypt, whose rulers met earlier in the week to undermine moves in favour of Hamas by the Iran-led axis, managed to reduce a planned Jan. 16 Arab summit in Doha, Qatar, to a consultative one, with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad among non-Arab leaders attending that event.
Taqiyah and its equivalent from Israel and the West, meanwhile, are the main elements of the power games between the two fronts. Even the Arab media have been fooled by these means of deception.
Israel's security cabinet on Jan. 17 responded to Egypt's truce bid by declaring a unilateral ceasefire. It had sent Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to Washington, where her top aide Aharon Abramovitz was negotiating, and on Jan. 16 she and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed an MoU for the US to help prevent weapons smuggling along the Gaza-Egypt border and crack down on all arms shipments to Hamas long before they reach the territory's borders.
The MoU puts Israel within the NATO security system, which changes the geo-political landscape in this part of the GME. It contains international guarantees to bolster efforts to prevent Hamas from re-arming - Israel's chief demand. This counters Iranian-Syrian efforts to save Hamas as an armed resistance group.
Egypt, however, on Jan. 17 made it clear it will have nothing to do with the US-Israeli MoU or related NATO arrangements. Its President, Husni Mubarak, said under no circumstances will Egypt allow foreign forces to be present on its side of the border with the Gaza Strip. His Foreign Minister Ahmad Abul-Ghait said Egypt was not concerned with the MoU in any way, while the main EU powers including Germany, France and the UK, pledged to play an active role in NATO efforts to prevent Hamas from re-arming.
In the same speech, however, Mubarak accused the axis forces (including Qatar) of having "exploited the Palestine cause while doing nothing to help the Palestinians" or confront Israel in its war with Hamas, which by Jan. 18 had caused the death of over 1,300 Palestinians and the wounding of more than 5,300 others - compared to an Israeli death toll of 13. He stressed Egypt's long-standing efforts to help the Palestinians. Mubarak described the axis forces as mere demagogues, "using empty slogans" and fooling the Arab masses.
On the other hand, Egypt on Jan. 18 hosted a special Gaza truce-related summit at Sharm el-Shaikh co-chaired by Mubarak and French President Nicolas Sarkozy and attended by the leaders of Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority (PA), as well as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other VIPs. At Mubarak's urging as he was closing the summit session, the participating rich powers pledged to help in financing Gaza's reconstruction - with the amount of damage caused by the massive Israeli offensive on the strip then estimated at about $1.6 bn. Sarkozy, who actively backed Mubarak's truce efforts, later visited Israel and PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas in Ramallah. 'Abbas was strongly backed at the Sharm el-Shaikh summit, where he reiterated his call for Palestinian unity.
In the meantime, the Damascus regime was sidelined by such events - with Saudi Arabia in the background lobbying against every Syrian more on the Arab front. Although President Assad stressed he will participate in the Arab summit in Kuwait on Jan. 19, his role was greatly diminished and seriously affected by the US-Israeli MoU.
It was disclosed on Jan. 18 that the US-Israeli MoU was to be the first step in a NATO campaign to prevent Iran and other axis members and/or their foreign allies from arming other "resistance" groups which they call "terrorist", such as Hizbullah of Lebanon and Syria-backed Palestinian rejectionist groups armed and active in Lebanon. It was also disclosed that Ms Rice, for whom Jan. 16 was the last day of her role as US secretary of state, had obtained the endorsement of the MoU by President-elect Obama. An APS source in Washington said that, by implication, this meant an endorsement of plans to extend the "weapons embargo" to Iran/Hizbullah and other parties.
Later on Jan. 18 the deputy head of Hamas' Damascus-based political leadership, Musa Abu Marzouq, announced an immediate ceasefire and gave Israel one week for its forces to withdraw completely from the Gaza Strip and re-open all the border crossings. Abu Marzouq reiterated declarations made early by Hamas political leader Khaled Mesh'al, Hamas PM Isma'il Haniya and other leaders of the Islamist group that Hamas had won the war by refusing to surrender to the far superior armed forces of Israel.
Abu Marzouq stressed that Hamas emerged from the war intact, a claim hotly disputed by Israel whose leaders said the Islamist group and the other Palestinian rejectionist forces in the Gaza Strip were severely battered by the war. In announcing a unilateral ceasefire on Jan. 17, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert said the Jewish state had achieved its war objectives, having destroyed these group's infrastructure. Indeed, the Gaza Strip was virtually totally devastated, with the homes of all the groups' leaders and military commanders completely destroyed.
Later, however, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the Jewish state would not negotiate with a terrorist group like Hamas and that the Israeli forces will remain in the Gaza Strip after a complete cessation of hostilities has proved to be sustainable. In the morning of Jan. 18 Hamas had fired five rockets at the nearby Israeli town of Sderot and, though there were no casualties, Israel retaliated with an air raid on the location of the missile launchers at Beit Lahia.
Arab and Western analysts expressed the worry that fighting between Israel and Hamas and other Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip might resume by or before Hamas' week's deadline. The Hamas position is that, whatever happens, it cannot afford to appear as if it has lost the war. It must keep declaring victory over Israel, despite the massive deaths and destruction caused by the fighting.
Hamas, an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (MB), is a deeply religious organisation which Cairo suspects of planning to establish a Sunni Islamist emirate in the Gaza Strip backed by the Iran-led axis. Its message to its people is simple: "It's either victory while alive, or martyrdom. Both ways are victory". Like Shi'ite Hizbullah, Hamas and other Islamist groups stress that those who die in battle automatically go straight to heaven. To such Muslims, martyrdom is the greatest honour.
On the other hand, in a meeting in Damascus on Jan. 2, Mesh'al admitted to a visiting Jewish activist from France that, had he anticipated an Israeli offensive on such massive scale as the one launched on Dec. 27, Hamas would not have not stopped a six-month truce - a unilateral move inspired by the Iran-led axis and made by the Islamist group on Dec. 19, a move against which Egypt and other moderate Arab states had advised. That was similar to an admission made on Aug. 27, 2006, by Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrullah to a Beirut TV interviewer.
Then Nasrullah said that, had he anticipated the scale of the Israeli retaliation, he would not have ordered the Shi'ite group to capture two Israeli soldiers from the Jewish state's side of the Israeli-Lebanese border. That move on July 12 triggered an immediate Israeli military offensive - involving air, sea and land forces in a 34-day war which ended on Aug. 14, 2006, under UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1701 which called a cessation of military hostilities.
Until now, however, R1701 is being violated both by Israel, whose air force continues to fly over Lebanon's air-space daily, and by Hizbullah's allies Syria and Iran which continue to supply the Shi'ite group with weapons through the Syrian-Lebanese borders. More recently, there have been reports that Hizbullah was receiving advanced Russian air defence systems provided by Iran through Syria and smuggled through the border.
On Jan. 18, it was said that an extension of the US-Israeli MoU concerning Hizbullah might involve US-led NATO monitoring of traffic along the Syrian-Lebanese border and of the air traffic between Iran and Syria - some of which occasionally passes through Turkey - in a way far more effective than the current UN monitoring effort.
Iran is being quarantined internationally through US and UNSC sanctions which, apart from its isolation from world money markets, are to be reinforced by having all its shipments of arms and other military-related cargoes by land, sea and air to its offshoots (like Lebanon's Hizbullah) and Sunni allies (like Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip or elsewhere) tracked and barred by NATO forces.