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This week, US President Donald Trump spoke out against the persecution of Jews and the slaughter of Christians in Saudi Arabia but did not mention the genocide against the Yezidis: “For the Yezidis, not being mentioned by President Trump very harmfully affected the Yezidi people because Trump tried to hide the Saudi collaboration with the ISIS genocide against the Yezidis.”

This week, US President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia, where he was welcomed lavishly and made a US-Saudi weapons deal that is worth nearly $110 billion. While speaking in Riyadh, he called upon humanity to stand together against “the persecution of Jews and the slaughter of Christians. For many centuries, the Middle East has been home to Christians, Muslims, and Jews living side by side. We must practice tolerance and respect for each other once again, and make this region a place where every man and woman, no matter their faith or ethnicity, can enjoy a life of dignity and hope.” However, Yezidi leader Mirza Ismail and Israeli scholar Mordechai Kedar were greatly disturbed that the Yezidis were not included in the equation.

“For the Yezidis, not being mentioned by President Trump very harmfully affected the Yezidi people because Trump tried to hide the Saudi collaboration with the ISIS genocide against the Yezidis,” Ismail proclaimed. “Saudi Arabia is the number one supporter of ISIS in weapons, ammunition and monetary aid against the Yezidi people in Iraq and Syria. In October 2016, I heard from some Yezidi colleagues in IDP camps in Northern Iraq that 150 blond Yezidi girls were transferred from Mosul to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE for the royal families’ pleasure. When I was in Iraq in 2015, the family of an abducted Yezidi girl said they received a phone call from their daughter in Saudi Arabia. She explained to her family that she along with many other Yezidi girls was sold to the Saudi people. Of course, the Saudis that met with President Trump have Yezidi slave girls!”

According to Ismail, the sale of 150 light complexioned Yezidi girls to the Saudi royal family as well as other Yezidi girls being sold to Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE was confirmed by a Kurdish doctor in Australia. Ismail emphasized that all of these Yezidi girls live under horrendous conditions, where they are condemned into sexual slavery and are beaten as well as tortured if they refuse to have sex with their captors. These girls are also forced into making pro-Islamic proclamations.

Israeli scholar Mordechai Kedar believes that it is highly likely that Trump did not mention the Yezidi issue in Riyadh in order not to offend his Saudi hosts: “Saudi Arabia is not only an Islamic country but a Wahhabi country. If Trump wants the goodwill of the Saudis, he could not talk about the plight of the Yazidis in Riyadh. I don’t have clear evidence that the Saudis had a clear role in what happened to the Yezidis. They supported ISIS at certain stages of this organization. There is a gap between supporting ISIS and the mass killing of the Yazidis. I am not sure the Saudis knew about it or encouraged them to mass murder the Yazidis. They helped them against their enemies such as the Shias in Iraq and Assad. This was the big problem for the Saudis. They are opposed to Iran. The Yazidi issue is small for them.”

Kedar confirmed that in the early stages of ISIS, Saudi Arabia gave them money, weapons, training, shelter and logistical support: “With the time, the Saudi support for ISIS was reduced mainly because of the American objection because America sees ISIS as a problem and terror state especially when they started to behead people in public and things like that. Then, they started to monitor what happened and then they started to take part in the airstrikes against ISIS. However, they could be against them in day and support them at night. This could possibly be.”

During the Riyadh visit, relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States vastly improved: “They are getting tighter and tighter. Money makes the world go round. His relations become closer and closer. Trump needs them and wants to shape a new coalition with our friends and allies. The connection with the Saudis gives him jobs and the coalition. It is not surprising that he tries to accommodate them rather than some other entity. The issue is interests, not moral issues. I don’t think the Yazidis were in the air. Nobody really cares about them today. People are more concerned about ISIS and whether they start to send their jihadists to them.”

Kedar explained why all of the individuals Trump met with in Saudi Arabia don’t really care about the Yezidi issue: “Why should they be concerned about something that is remote and that they can’t really help and no one wants to send troops to save Yazidi girls? People suffering has not much of an impact on people. This is one of the cultural characteristics of the Arab and Islamic world. People became indifferent to misery of even their own brethren, let alone some minority. When violence is the name of the game in society, having victims is normal. There is nothing special.”

However, Ismail has a more sinister view of why Trump ignored the Yezidi issue in Saudi Arabia. Like many other Yezidis, he was highly disappointed that the US under Trump is not offering the Yezidis the hope of safety far away from the carnage his people have witnessed since August 2014. But on the other end of the coin, he is not surprised that Trump is signing business deals with a country that supports terrorism worldwide: “What can a tiny minority on the brink of total annihilation expect? Nothing! The government does not care what has been happening to the Yazidis. The government has no human conscious. The compassionate US citizens must rise up and protest that the government not do business deals and support countries that support terrorist activities and the genocide against Yezidis as well as other minority groups.”

​R​achel Avraham,
Media Research Analyst, Center for Near East Policy Research

BACKGROUND TO THE PRESENCE OF BRITAIN IN ERETZ YISRAEL

After ruling vast areas of Eastern Europe, South-western Asia, and North Africa for centuries, the Ottoman Empire lost all its Middle East territories in World War One. The Treaty of Sèvres of August 10, 1920 abolished the Ottoman Empire and obliged Turkey to renounce all rights over Arab Asia and North Africa. It was replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. The status of the former possessions was determined at a conference of the Allied Supreme Council (comprising of Britain, France, Italy and Japan) in San Remo, Italy on April 24-25, 1920 with the United States having observer status. Syria and Lebanon were mandated to France while Mesopotamia (Iraq) and the southern portion of the territory (Palestine) were mandated to Britain, with the charge to implement the Balfour Declaration.

These conference’s resolutions were confirmed unanimously by all fifty-one member countries of the League of Nations on July 24, 1922 and they were further endorsed by a joint resolution of the United States Congress in the same year. Subsequently in the Anglo-American Treaty on Palestine, signed by the US and Britain on December 3, 1924, the text of the Mandate for Palestine was incorporated. The treaty protected the rights of Americans living in Palestine under the Mandate and more significantly it also made those rights and provisions part of United States treaty law which are protected  under the US constitution. The League of Nations was the first international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. Its primary goals, as stated in its Covenant, included preventing wars through collective security and disarmament and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration. On 19 April 1946, the League Assembly decided to dissolve the League and to transfer its services, mandates, and property to the United Nations (UN)

BACKGROUND TO GOVERNMENT HOUSE BUILDING COMPLEX

When High Commissioner Herbert Samuel was appointed in 1920 he made his headquarters in the 1910 constructed German Augusta Victoria building on Mount Scopus. His successor, Lord Herbert Plummer, detested the German building and requested a substitute be found. British architect, Austen St. Barbe Harrison, a relative of Jane Austen, was given the commission and commenced the design in 1927 for a new Government House. Construction was undertaken by the Italian construction company, Ernesto D. A. Da Faro, employing 400 workers including highly skilled craftsmen from the whole of the Middle East. The complex’s location was selected due to its symbolic and strategic basis on the high ground, south of the Old City, overlooking the valley of Hinnom, the Old City, David’s City and beyond that to the Mount of Olives and the distant mountains of Moab. The complex was completed in 1933 and was at that time the most magnificent building in Jerusalem. The interior was designed in Arabic style, clearly reneging on the Mandate to establish a Jewish State (1).

 HISTORICAL DETAILS OF THE ILLEGAL OCCUPATION OF GOVERNMENT HOUSE

The British High Commissioner, Sir John Cunningham, departed from Government House at 8.00 a.m. on the morning of May 14, 1948. Dr. Dov Joseph, who was the Israeli Military Governor of Jerusalem in 1948, provides concise details of events that took place subsequent to the departure of the British High Commissioner (2).

In January 1948, British Mandatory Officials invited the International Red Cross to help minimize suffering in the conflict on a humanitarian level.  The delegation arrived in March 1948 headed by a Swiss Red Cross Official, Mr. J. de Reynier.  On April 22, 1948 the IRC announced it was setting up security zones known as “Geneva Houses” for women and children under the Red Cross flag.  These “Geneva Houses” were to serve as refuges for non-combats when fighting took place in their vicinity.  The houses were located in the King David Hotel, Terra Sancta and Government House.  These locations were remote from highly populated Jewish areas and as such no Jewish women or children found shelter in these zones.  The Jewish authorities had requested that these “Geneva Homes” be set up in exposed places in highly populated Jewish areas. At the time, the impression was gained that the British had an interest in ensuring the three designated buildings did not fall into Jewish hands and that de Reynier was prepared to collude to this.  Irrespective, the Arab forces under the leadership of the Arab Legion commanded by John Glub, disregarded the presence of the said zones when they bombed the city.  On July 18, 1948, de Reynier demanded that Israeli forces move out of the King David Hotel, which they had moved into as the United Nations had moved out.  De Reynier, on the refusal of the Israeli authorities to hand over the King David Hotel, advised he was intending to discontinue the Red Cross working in Jerusalem.  Dov Joseph advised him that it appeared that the Red Cross wished to give up the Security Zone as well as the YMCA building opposite and as there were no residents in the immediate vicinity so there was no need to maintain the hotel as a refuge for non-existent refugees.  On July 22, 1948 the flag of the IRC was lowered from its office in the YMCA building and Josef’s view was that the IRC had neglected their duty to help the women and children, non-combats, in Jerusalem.  It appeared to him that the IRC were making efforts to place Jerusalem under their control which were the exclusive prerogative of the UN.  The IRC then directed its efforts into setting up security zones but whilst maintaining control of the zones they did not provide help to the refugees there.

Upon refusal to return the King David Hotel the IRC withdrew into Government House.

At the end of September 1948 the IRC suddenly departed from their zone around Government House and from the whole of the City of Jerusalem.  Josef relates that the IRC gave no prior notice of their intention despite the assurances given by de Reynier that the area would not be evacuated without prior notice to both sides.  When de Reynier was challenged regarding rumors of the intention, his response was, he had not been instructed to lower the IRC flag.  When pressed for clarification, this was not provided. Josef, as Israeli Military Governor of Jerusalem, wrote to him with regard to previous correspondence from the IRC which indicated the IRC did not intend to leave the building.  No response was forthcoming.

On September 30, 1948 the IRC left Government House without prior notification, as had been promised by them.  Without any consultation with the Israeli Authorities, they handed over Government House to the United Nations Observers who put up the UN flag as the IRC flag was lowered.  Josef met the head of the UN Observers, Colonel Millett at 6:00 p.m. to discuss the Red Cross Zone but Millett didn’t mention the IRC would be leaving.  In Josef’s mind it appeared that the IRC had a secret agreement with the UN and Josef advised Shertok (Moshe Sharett) to issue a formal protest to IRC in Geneva regarding this conduct which was deliberate deception. 

Bernard Wasserstein (3) advises that De Reynier had at an early stage called for Jerusalem to be turned into a Red Cross City.  However, the British High Commissioner simply responded, “He would, until May 15, have authority and the power to take the decision that seemed best to him.”  The IRC plan was reported to the Security Council three days later and the Russian delegate, Gromyko, dismissed it with scorn stating, “Who has ever entrusted the administration of any city or country?  No one could ever have conceived such an idea. And yet we have before us a proposal to make the Red Cross master of Jerusalem.  Needlessly to say this would obviously be tantamount to making two or three countries the masters who would use the IRC as their instrument to establish in Jerusalem the regime they considered necessary.”

Wasserstein states that the area around Government House had been partly occupied by Egyptian troops who repulsed the unsuccessful attack by Israeli forces.  Subsequently, both Arab and Israeli forces on September 4, 1948 agreed to withdraw from the area and on  September 30 the UN took over the Red Cross zone around the High Commissioner’s residence that subsequently became a UN zone outside the jurisdiction of any state.  Initially, it was guarded by two detachments of the Arab Legion and Israeli soldiers prior to the arrival of UN guards.

Thus the UN area became part of no man’s land in the 1949 Armistice Agreement between Jordan and Israel. A demographic analysis of the location of Jewish populated areas in Jerusalem in 1947/48 (4) clearly shows that “Geneva Houses” were NOT in the vicinity of these areas and hence there is evidence that the IRC had ulterior motives not commensurate with its humanitarian goals.

Documentary evidence relating to ownership and status of Government House complex under the UN between 1948-67 is unclear but it is clear that according to the Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan signed at Rhodes in 1949 the area was designated as a demilitarized NO-MANS LAND. Following the Six Day War in 1967 subsequent developments clarify it is not UN property. At some stage prior to ‘67 the UN also erected a structure on the opposite hill, south of the complex on which was located a huge radio transmission mast –Antenna Hill. This being outside the boundaries of Government House complex.

EVENTS FROM 5 JUNE 1967

At 11:25 on the June 5, 1967, without provocation and despite messages from Israel to keep out of the war, the Jordanians attacked and occupied the Government House Complex.

According to UN yearbook 1967(5) “ Despite assurances received from Israel and Jordan by the Chief of Staff of UNTSO that they would respect the inviolability of the UNTSO headquarters in Jerusalem, Jordanian soldiers had occupied the garden of Government House and an exchange of fire had begun between them and Israeli soldiers. The Secretary-General said that he had sent an urgent appeal to the King of Jordan for the immediate removal of Jordanian troops from the Government House compound. The Chief of Staff of UNTSO had reported that the Jordanian soldiers in the Government House compound had been attacked and later driven out by Israeli troops, who had subsequently forcibly occupied Government House and that he and his staff had been escorted into Israel.” That day the UN Secretary General sent the following cable to Israeli Prime Minister Eshkol.

“His Excellency Mr. Levi Eshkol Prime Minister of Israel Jerusalem (Israel) “I understand that Israeli forces have now displaced the forces of Jordan in the Government House Compound in Jerusalem. Whatever the circumstances leading to the Israeli occupation of Government House and its grounds, its continued occupation by Israeli troops is a most serious breach of the undertaking to respect its inviolability. “I therefore request the Government of Israel to restore the grounds and buildings of the Government House Compound urgently to exclusive United Nations control. When this has been done I propose to seek a formal undertaking from both sides to respect UNTSO’s occupation of Government House in the future”

In the battle to displace the Arab Legion from Government House 21 IDF soldiers made the supreme sacrifice.

On July 10, 1967 Israel set up a committee what to do with the Government House Complex (5). In the summer when Israel decided to annex Jerusalem, Government House posed a problem. Moshe Dayan told his fellow ministers, we can’t say we’re the sovereign in Jerusalem without behaving as a sovereign, and that includes agreeing with the UN on the status of their building in our sovereign territory. Justice Minister Shapira recognized the UN was hardly about to sign an agreement with Israel accepting the building for its use, since this would entail UN recognition. Eventually they wrote to UN Secretary General that Israel was putting the building and gardens (not the surrounding area) at the UN’s disposal and would not insist on a contract or even official communication. Begin insisted the letter should state specifically that Israel was putting “its building” at the disposal of the UN but lost the vote the next morning. A week later on 14 July 1967, Government House Complex was registered at the Israel Land Registry (Tabu) Reference 445/67 with the status of State Land belonging to the State of Israel.

In April 1971 The UN Secretary General (7) reported there had been an exchange with Israel concerning the status of Jerusalem and the UN premises at Government House. A reply from Israel on March 8, 1971 to UN Secretary General of January 26, 1971 in which it stated “the Government of Israel wishes to place on record its reservations to the various legal and considerations advanced in these two notes, and more particularly to the references in them to claims of the UN “to the occupancy and possession of the whole of the premises ‘of Government House. On the April 12, 1971 the UN Secretary General responded with respect to the January 26, 1971 requesting the return of the whole of the UN premises at Government House as constituted on June 5, 1967, the Secretary General notes that the reply contains no direct response to this request. The Secretary General then reiterated his request for the unreserved return to the UN of the remainder of its Government House premises.

However, the people in Israel did not agree with the decision and this has been a thorn in the side of the state since in essence it gives de facto recognition that the UN rules Jerusalem by staying on the commanding southern heights overlooking the ancient city without any title deed to the property. The buildings were de jure British Mandate property that should have been handed over in 1948 to Israel and not the IRC which illegally passed them over to the UN. This was the duplicity of the UK government which hoped for a ‘Corpus separatum’ according to the UN Partition plan of 1947.

On 31 July 1988, King Hussein announced the severance of all legal and administrative ties with the West Bank that Jordan had illegally occupied from 1948-1967. As such the UN presence in Government House Complex no longer had any legal validity or geopolitical reason save to act to overrule the Jewish right of Jerusalem.

ILLEGAL EXTENSION OF COMPLEX AND ILLEGAL CONSTRUCTION BY THE UN

In 1973 the UN constructed a dirt track outside the original Government House Complex (44.5 dunams) extending the area by an additional 33 dunams. Two years later they began using this “annexed” area, for container storage and vehicle parking. By 1990 the first permanent building was constructed in this area. In 1994 the existing and extended area was surrounded by a new fence. Twenty years later a large hanger type building was erected in the extended area. Subsequently, in 2015 a new building was erected in the original area of the Government House Complex to be followed last year by yet another building not far from the western entrance gate to the Complex. In the last year the UN has undertaken work to modify the original Government House structure, externally and internally.

There are no Jerusalem Municipality records regarding applications by the UN for any building permits and no records of the issuance of building permits. In addition, the Jerusalem Urban Planning Scheme delineated a delimitation line for public buildings on the site, and five buildings have been identified as being built outside this demarcation line. Furthermore, as these are historic buildings no modification can take place without the authorization of the appropriate institution of the State of Israel. The organization, Regavim, has in the last two weeks applied to the Israel Supreme Court challenging the inaction of the appropriate government and municipal institutions to take appropriate actions for the UN to comply with the law. Below is an aerial view of the complex, the inner line is the original area and the outer is the extended as current.

In April 2017 UNESCO passed a resolution “any action taken by Israel, the Occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration on the City of Jerusalem, are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever”. This was endorsed by the Executive on Yom Ha’atmut. In response PM Netanyahu declared Israel will withhold $1 million from its annual contribution to the United Nations  Education, Science, Culture and Communication Organization- a completely unacceptable response which should have been to completely remove all UN organizations and agencies from Government House in Jerusalem, thus providing a definitive message to the world instead of a meek mild response given that Israel is in arrears to the tune of $8.59 million with the last payment being made in September 2011!

  1. https://topoint.blogspot.co.il/2008/
  2. Dov Joseph “The Faithful City” (Siege of Jerusalem 1948) Simon & Schuster NY 1960
  3. Bernard Wasserstein “Divided Jerusalem” (The struggle for the Holy City) Profile Books London 2001
  4. Martin Gilbert “Jerusalem” (illustrated Historical Atlas) Board of Deputies London 1977
  5. UN Yearbook 1967

6, The English Language Blog of the Israel State Archives (extracted from files 7910/30-א and 12796/12-ג)

  1. UN Security Council Document S/10124/Add.1 20 April 1971

Dr Colin L Leci, Middle East and Energy Analyst – Jerusalem

Last year, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) to allow the family members of those killed in the 9/11 attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia for any part it played in those acts of terrorism.

President Obama vetoed JASTA, but Congress voted to override the veto.

Now, less than a year after Congress voted to let the victims and the families of victims of 9/11 sue Saudi Arabia, the current administration is proposing the largest-ever arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

The arms sale allows the Saudis to immediately get nearly $110 billion in American weapons and an unimaginable $350 billion in arms over 10 years.

After the veto override, former U.S. Senator Bob Graham stated, “[F]rom what I know today, there is ample evidence that 9/11 would not have happened but for the assistance provided by Saudi Arabia.” He went on to say, “The results of that assistance was (nearly) 3,000 persons murdered, 90 percent of them Americans. And a new wave of terrorism with Saudi financial and operational support has beset the world.”

The sale includes laser-guided bombs in the form of Paveway II and III weapons systems, as well as Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), guidance that converts unguided bombs into smart munitions.

Selling military weapons to questionable allies is not in our national security interest. At some point, the United States must stop and realize that we are fueling an arms race in the Middle East.

Even Hillary Clinton questioned the loyalty of Saudi Arabia in an email released by WikiLeaks, saying, “We need … to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

When we choose to intervene and provide or sell weapons to one nation, we only invite other nations to match or grow their own armaments – Iran and Israel will likely devote more of their funds to keeping up.

Furthermore, U.S. military assistance to Saudi Arabia, which has come in the form of intelligence, refueling missions, and the sale of major U.S. defense equipment, has not abated the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.  If anything, it has exacerbated it.

In January, the United Nations estimated that the war in Yemen had so far cost at least 10,000 lives, and horror stories of civilian casualties continue to emerge from the conflict, including a Saudi-led bombing of a funeral in October that wounded hundreds and killed over 100.

A coalition airstrike on a hospital in August killed 19 and injured 24, according to Doctors Without Borders.  And these are only a couple of the examples one could cite.

After the April airstrikes in Syria, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared, “We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world.”

Do we have to amend this statement to say, “… unless they have billions of dollars to invest in the United States”?

So what does the U.S. gain from cutting this deal with Saudi Arabia?

During my fight last year against a $1.15 billion sale of Abrams tanks and associated major defense articles to Saudi Arabia, CNN host Wolf Blitzer attempted to answer that question by discussing maintaining full employment at U.S. defense contractors.

He expressed concern that arms industry-related jobs were at risk of being lost if Congress did not allow the sale to proceed.  President Eisenhower warned our nation during his farewell address to be very wary of the military industrial complex and its encroachment on civil society. The moment when the best interests of defense contractors start determining what is in the national security interest of our country, the tail has begun to wag the dog.

Saudi Arabia’s relationship with radical elements is an open secret. Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations, wrote an article about Saudi Arabia’s admitted relationship with Islamic extremists. Regardless of its origins, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been using their ties with Islamic fundamentalists to further their influence throughout the Middle East and abroad through charities, schools, and social organizations.

In a New York Times op-ed, Ed Husain stated, “Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and others are all violent Sunni Salafi groupings. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism across the globe.” Does this administration expect Congress to look the other way as it attempts to sell U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia?

Since Saudi Arabia’s incursion into Yemen, Iran has started shipping weapons to Houthi rebels, Al Qaeda has increased its territorial presence, and ISIS has several satellite offices in the country. The U.S. and coalition naval blockade of incoming vessels is just one of many examples of heightened tensions and military escalation on the Arabian Peninsula.

Our prolonged military campaigns in the Middle East quagmire have not produced any net gains.

When President Trump spoke in Saudi Arabia, he proclaimed the United States would not tell other people “how to live” or “what to do.” That is a welcome change of tone from previous interventionist-happy leaders from both sides of the aisle.

Realism, however, doesn’t mean we should sell arms to a country that doesn’t share our values or enhance any strategic vital interest of America.

In the next few weeks, I, along with a bipartisan group of senators, will force a vote disapproving of this arms sale to Saudi Arabia.  Let’s hope the Senate will have the sense to stop this travesty.

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/05/24/exclusive-rand-paul-saudi-arabias-role-in-backing-terrorism-raises-concerns-with-100-billion-arms-deal/

NOTE: This Perspective was originally published in the Summer 2017 issue of the Middle East Quarterly. It is part of a forthcoming BESA Center study on the Six-Day War that will be published to coincide with the war’s fiftieth anniversary. 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: It has long been conventional wisdom to view the June 1967 war as an accidental conflagration that neither Arabs nor Israelis desired, yet none were able to prevent. This could not be further from the truth. Its specific timing resulted of course from the convergence of a number of particular causes at a particular juncture. But its general cause—the total Arab rejection of Jewish statehood—made another all-out Arab-Israeli war a foregone conclusion.

The standard narrative regarding the Six-Day War runs as follows: Had Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser not fallen for a false Soviet warning of Israeli troop concentrations along the Syrian border and deployed his forces in the Sinai Peninsula, the slippery slope to war would have been averted altogether. Had Israel not misconstrued Egyptian grandstanding for a mortal threat to its national security, if not its very survival, it would have foregone the preemptive strike that started the war. In short, it was a largely accidental and unnecessary war born of mutual miscalculations and misunderstandings.

This view could not be further from the truth. If wars are much like road accidents, as the British historian A.J.P. Taylor famously quipped, having a general cause and particular causes at the same time, then the June 1967 war was anything but accidental. Its specific timing resulted of course from the convergence of a number of particular causes at a particular juncture. But its general cause—the total Arab rejection of Jewish statehood, starkly demonstrated by the concerted attempt to destroy the state of Israel at birth and the unwavering determination to rectify this “unfinished business”—made another all-out Arab-Israeli war a foregone conclusion.

Pan-Arabism’s Politics of Violence

No sooner had the doctrine of pan-Arabism, postulating the existence of “a single nation bound by the common ties of language, religion and history…. behind the facade of a multiplicity of sovereign states” come to dominate inter-Arab politics at the end of World War I than anti-Zionism became its most effective rallying cry: not from concern for the wellbeing of the Palestinian Arabs but from the desire to fend off a supposed foreign encroachment on the perceived pan-Arab patrimony. As Abdel Rahman Azzam, secretary-general of the Arab League, told Zionist officials in September 1947:

For me, you may be a fact, but for [the Arab masses], you are not a fact at all—you are a temporary phenomenon. Centuries ago, the Crusaders established themselves in our midst against our will, and in 200 years, we ejected them. This was because we never made the mistake of accepting them as a fact.

On rare occasions, this outright rejectionism was manifested in quiet attempts to persuade the Zionist leaders to forego their quest for statehood and acquiesce in subject status within a regional pan-Arab empire. Nuri Said, a long-time Iraqi prime minister, made this suggestion at a 1936 meeting with Chaim Weizmann while Transjordan’s King Abdullah of the Hashemite family secretly extended an offer to Golda Meir (in November 1947 and May 1948) to incorporate Palestine’s Jewish community into the “Greater Syrian” empire he was striving to create at the time. For most of the time, however, the Arabs’ primary instrument for opposing Jewish national aspirations was violence, and what determined their politics and diplomacy was the relative success or failure of that instrument in any given period. As early as April 1920, pan-Arab nationalists sought to rally support for incorporating Palestine into the short-lived Syrian kingdom headed by Abdullah’s brother, Faisal, by carrying out a pogrom in Jerusalem in which five Jews were murdered and 211 wounded. The following year, Arab riots claimed a far higher toll: some 90 dead and hundreds wounded. In the summer of 1929, another wave of violence resulted in the death of 133 Jews and the wounding of hundreds more.

For quite some time, this violent approach seemed to work. It was especially effective in influencing the British, who had been appointed the mandatory power in Palestine by the League of Nations. Though their explicit purpose was to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, the British authorities repeatedly gave in to Arab violence aimed at averting that purpose and to the demands that followed upon it. In two White Papers, issued in 1922 and 1930 respectively, London severely compromised the prospective Jewish national home by imposing harsh restrictions on immigration and land sales to Jews.

In July 1937, Arab violence reaped its greatest reward when a British commission of inquiry, headed by Lord Peel, recommended repudiating the terms of the mandate altogether in favor of partitioning Palestine into two states: a large Arab state, united with Transjordan, that would occupy some 90 percent of the mandate territory, and a Jewish state in what was left. This was followed in May 1939 by another White Paper that imposed even more draconian restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchases, closing the door to Palestine for Jews desperate to flee Nazi Europe and threatening the survival of the Jewish national project. Agitating for more, the Arabs dismissed both plans as insufficient.

They did the same in November 1947 when, in the face of the imminent expiration of the British mandate, the U.N. General Assembly voted to partition Palestine. Rejecting this solution, the Arab nations resolved instead to destroy the state of Israel at birth and gain the whole for themselves. This time, however, Arab violence backfired spectacularly. In the 1948-49 war, not only did Israel confirm its sovereign independence and assert control over somewhat wider territories than those assigned to it by the U.N. partition resolution, but the Palestinian Arab community was profoundly shattered with about half of its population fleeing to other parts of Palestine and to neighboring Arab states.

Preparing for the “Second Round”

For the next two decades, inter-Arab politics would be driven by the determination to undo the consequences of the 1948 defeat, duly dubbed “al-Nakba,” the catastrophe, and to bring about Israel’s demise. Only now, it was Cairo rather than the two Hashemite kings that spearheaded the pan-Arab campaign following Nasser’s rise to power in 1954 and his embarkation on an aggressive pan-Arab policy.

The Egyptian president had nothing but contempt for most members of the “Arab Nation” he sought to unify: “Iraqis are savage, the Lebanese venal and morally degenerate, the Saudis dirty, the Yemenis hopelessly backward and stupid, and the Syrians irresponsible, unreliable and treacherous,” he told one of his confidants. Neither did he have a genuine interest in the Palestinian problem—pan-Arabism’s most celebrated cause: “The Palestinians are useful to the Arab states as they are,” he told a Western journalist in 1956. “We will always see that they do not become too powerful. Can you imagine yet another nation on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean!” Yet having recognized the immense value of this cause for his grandiose ambitions, he endorsed it with a vengeance, especially after the early 1960s when his pan-Arab dreams were in tatters as Syria acrimoniously seceded from its bilateral union with Egypt (1958-61) and the Egyptian army bogged down in an unwinnable civil war in Yemen. “Arab unity or the unity of the Arab action or the unity of the Arab goal is our way to the restoration of Palestine and the restoration of the rights of the people of Palestine,” Nasser argued. “Our path to Palestine will not be covered with a red carpet or with yellow sand. Our path to Palestine will be covered with blood.”

By way of transforming this militant rhetoric into concrete plans, in January 1964, the Egyptian president convened the first all-Arab summit in Cairo to discuss ways and means to confront the “Israeli threat.” A prominent item on the agenda was the adoption of a joint strategy to prevent Israel from using the Jordan River waters to irrigate the barren Negev desert in the south of the country. A no less important decision was to “lay the proper foundations for organizing the Palestinian people and enabling it to fulfill its role in the liberation of its homeland and its self-determination.” Four months later, a gathering of 422 Palestinian activists in East Jerusalem, then under Jordanian rule, established the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and approved its two founding documents: the organization’s basic constitution and the Palestinian National Covenant.

These events made Nasser yet again the undisputed leader of the Arab world, the only person capable of making the Arabs transcend, however temporarily, their self-serving interests for the sake of the collective good. He was nowhere near his cherished goal of promoting the actual unification of the Arab world under his leadership as he had seemingly been in 1958 when Syria agreed to merge with Egypt. Yet he had successfully hijacked pan-Arabism’s most celebrated cause and established a working relationship with his erstwhile enemies in Amman and Riyadh. In a second summit meeting in Alexandria in October 1964, the heads of the Arab states accepted Nasser’s long-term, anti-Israel strategy. This envisaged the laying of the groundwork for the decisive confrontation through the patient buildup of Arab might in all areas—military, economic, social, and political—and the simultaneous weakening of Israel through concrete actions such as the diversion of the Jordan River estuaries. The PLO was authorized to create an army of Palestinian volunteers, to which the Arab governments pledged to give support, and a special fund was established for the reorganization of the Lebanese, Syrian, and Jordanian armies under a united Arab command.

The Slide to War

Before long, this organized pan-Arab drive for Israel’s destruction was disrupted by an unexpected sequence of events that led, within a few weeks, to the third Arab-Israeli war since 1948; and the event that triggered this escalation was a Soviet warning (in early May 1967) of large-scale Israeli troop concentrations along the border with Syria aimed at launching an immediate attack. As pan-Arabism’s standard-bearer, Nasser had no choice but to come to the rescue of a (supposedly) threatened ally tied to Egypt in a bilateral defense treaty since November 1966, especially when the pro-Western regimes in Jordan and Saudi Arabia were openly ridiculing his failure to live up to his high pan-Arab rhetoric. On May 14, the Egyptian armed forces were placed on the highest alert, and two armored divisions began moving into the Sinai Peninsula, formally demilitarized since the 1956 Suez war. That same day, the Egyptian chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Muhammad Fawzi, arrived in Damascus to get a first-hand impression of the military situation and to coordinate a joint response in the event of an Israeli attack. To his surprise, Fawzi found no trace of Israeli concentrations along the Syrian border or troop movements in northern Israel. He reported these findings to his superiors, but this had no impact on the Egyptian move into Sinai, which continued apace. Fawzi was to recall in his memoirs,

From that point onward, I began to believe that the issue of Israeli concentrations along the Syrian border was not … the only or the main cause of the military deployments which Egypt was undertaking with such haste.

Within less than twenty-four hours, Nasser’s objective had been transformed from the deterrence of an Israeli attack against Syria into an outright challenge to the status quo established after the 1956 war. With Fawzi’s reassuring findings corroborated both by Egyptian military intelligence and by a special U.N. inspection, and the Israelis going out of their way to reassure the Soviets that they had not deployed militarily along their northern border, Nasser must have realized that there was no imminent threat to Syria. He could have halted his troops at that point and claimed a political victory, having deterred an (alleged) Israeli attack against Syria.

But it is precisely here that the Arab-Israeli conflict’s general cause—rejection of Israel’s very existence—combined with the particular causes to make war inevitable as Nasser’s resolute move catapulted him yet again to a position of regional preeminence that he was loath to relinquish. At a stroke, he had managed to undo one of Israel’s foremost gains in the 1956 war—the de facto demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula—without drawing a serious response from Jerusalem. Now that the Egyptian troops were massing in Sinai, Nasser decided to raise the ante and eliminate another humiliating remnant of that war for which he had repeatedly been castigated by his rivals in the Arab world: the presence of a U.N. Emergency Force (UNEF) on Egyptian (but not on Israeli) territory as a buffer between the two states.

As the U.N. observers were quickly withdrawn and replaced by Egyptian forces, Nasser escalated his activities still further. Addressing Egyptian pilots in Sinai on May 22, he announced the closure of the Strait of Tiran, at the southern mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, to Israeli and Israel-bound shipping. “The Gulf of Aqaba constitutes our Egyptian territorial waters,” he announced to the cheers of an ecstatic audience. “Under no circumstances will we allow the Israeli flag to pass through the Aqaba Gulf.” The following day the Egyptian mass media broke the news to the entire world.

Did Nasser consider the possibility that his actions might lead to war? All the available evidence suggests that he did. Initially, when he briefly believed in the imminence of an Israeli attack against Syria, he could not have taken for granted that the Egyptian deployment in Sinai would have deterred such an action, in which case he would have been forced to come to Syria’s defense. Moreover, the demilitarization of Sinai was seen by Israel as vital to its national security, which made its violation a legitimate casus belli. But then, Nasser was being rapidly entrapped by his imperialist ambitions. He began deploying his troops in Sinai out of fear that failure to do so would damage his pan-Arab position beyond repair. He continued to escalate his activities, knowing full well that there was no threat of an Israeli attack against Syria, because of his conviction that the continuation of the crisis boosted his pan-Arab standing.

It is true that the lack of a prompt and decisive Israeli response to the Egyptian challenge, together with the quick realization that there were no Israeli concentrations along the Syrian border, might have convinced Nasser that the risks were not so great and that war was not inevitable. Yet, when he decided to remove UNEF and to close the Strait of Tiran, Nasser undoubtedly knew that he was crossing the threshold from peace to war. “Now with our concentrations in Sinai, the chances of war are fifty-fifty,” he told his cabinet on May 21, during a discussion on the possible consequences of a naval blockade. “But if we close the Strait, war will be a 100 percent certainty.” “We all knew that our armaments were adequate—indeed, infinitely better than in the October 1973 War,” recalled Anwar Sadat, who participated in that crucial meeting:

When Nasser asked us our opinion, we were all agreed that the Strait should be closed—except for [Prime Minister] Sidqi Sulayman, who pleaded with Nasser to show more patience … [But] Nasser paid no attention to Sulayman’s objections. He was eager to close the Strait so as to put an end to the Arab maneuverings and maintain his great prestige within the Arab world.

The die was cast. Having maneuvered himself yet again into the driver’s seat of inter-Arab politics, Nasser could not climb down without risking a tremendous loss of face. He was approaching the brink with open eyes, and if there was no way out of the crisis other than war, so be it: Egypt was prepared. Daily consultations between the political and the military leaderships were held. The Egyptian forces in Sinai were assigned their operational tasks. In a widely publicized article in al-Ahram on May 26, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Nasser’s mouthpiece, Muhammad Hassanein Heikal, explained why war between Egypt and Israel was inevitable. A week later, at a meeting with the armed forces’ supreme command, Nasser predicted an Israeli strike against Egypt within forty-eight to seventy-two hours at the latest.

The coming of war is seldom a happy occasion. It is often fraught with misgivings and apprehensions. But if doubts assailed Nasser’s peace of mind, he gave them no public expression. The Egyptian war preparations were carried out in a confident and ever-extravagant fashion, in front of the watching eyes of the world media. The closer Nasser came to the brink, the more aggressive he became. “The Jews have threatened war,” he gloated in his May 22 speech, “We tell them: You are welcome; we are ready for war.” Four days later, he took a big step forward, announcing that if hostilities were to break out, “our main objective will be the destruction of Israel.” “Now that we have the situation as it was before 1956,” Nasser proclaimed on another occasion, “Allah will certainly help us to restore the status quo of before 1948.”

Once again imperialist pan-Arab winds were blowing. “This is the real rising of the Arab nation,” Nasser boasted while the few skeptics within the Egyptian leadership were being rapidly converted to belief in victory over Israel. In the representative words of Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt’s foremost writer and winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize:

When Nasser held his famous press conference, before the June 1967 war, and spoke with confident pomp, I took our victory over Israel for granted. I envisaged it as a simple journey to Tel Aviv, of hours or days at the most, since I was convinced we were the greatest military power in the Middle East.

By this time, the conflict was no longer about the presence of U.N. forces on Egyptian soil or freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Aqaba, let alone the alleged Israeli threat to Syria. It had been transformed into a jihad to eradicate the foremost “remnant of Western imperialism” in the Middle East. “During the crusaders’ occupation, the Arabs waited seventy years before a suitable opportunity arose, and they drove away the crusaders,” Nasser echoed Azzam’s 1947 rhetoric, styling himself as the new Saladin: “[R]ecently we felt that we are strong enough, that if we were to enter a battle with Israel, with God’s help, we could triumph.”

Nasser’s militancy was contagious. The irritating chorus of criticism had fallen silent. His former Arab rivals were standing in line to rally behind his banner. On the morning of May 30, Jordan’s King Hussein, who at the beginning of the crisis still mocked Nasser for “hiding behind UNEF’s apron,” arrived in Cairo where he immediately signed a defense pact with Egypt. He returned to Amman later that day accompanied by Ahmad Shuqeiri, head of the PLO and hitherto one of the king’s archenemies. The following day, an Egyptian general arrived in Amman to command the eastern front in the event of war. On June 4, Iraq followed suit by entering into a defense agreement with Egypt, and Nasser informed King Hussein that their pact now included Iraq as well. By this time, Arab expeditionary forces—including an Iraqi armored division, a Saudi and a Syrian brigade, and two Egyptian commando battalions—were making their way to Jordan. The balance of forces, so it seemed to the Arabs, had irreversibly shifted in their favor. The moment of reckoning with the “Zionist entity,” as they pejoratively called Israel, had come. “Have your authorities considered all the factors involved and the consequences of the withdrawal of UNEF?” the commander of the U.N. force, Gen. Indar Jit Rikhye, asked the Egyptian officers bearing the official demand. “Oh yes sir! We have arrived at this decision after much deliberation, and we are prepared for anything. If there is war, we shall next meet at Tel Aviv.” The Iraqi president Abdel Rahman Aref was no less forthright. “This is the day of the battle,” he told the Iraqi forces leaving for Jordan. “We are determined and united to achieve our clear aim—to remove Israel from the map. We shall, Allah willing, meet in Tel Aviv and Haifa.”

The Non-Accidental War

Yet for all his militant zeal, Nasser had weighty reasons to forgo a first strike at this particular time. His war preparations had not been completed: The Egyptian forces in Sinai were still digging in; the Arab expeditionary forces to Jordan had not yet been fully deployed, and coordination of the operational plans of the Arab military coalition required more time. Nasser also feared that an Egyptian attack would trigger a U.S. military response that might neutralize the new Arab political and military superiority over Israel, which had been gained by the most remarkable demonstration of pan-Arab unity since the 1948 war.

Nasser’s fears of U.S. intervention were compounded by the nature of the Egyptian operational plan, which envisaged deep thrusts into Israel’s territory. An armored division was to break out of the Gaza Strip and capture border villages inside Israel while another armored division was to cut off the southern Negev from the rest of Israel, thereby achieving the long-standing Egyptian objective of establishing a land bridge with Jordan. Given Nasser’s belief in the U.S. commitment to Israel’s territorial integrity, such plans could hardly be implemented if Egypt were to take the military initiative. Their execution as an act of self-defense in response to an Israeli attack was a completely different matter, however.

This explains Nasser’s readiness to play the political card, such as his decision to send Vice-President Zakaria Muhieddin to Washington on June 7. He had no intention whatever to give ground, and the move was aimed at cornering Israel and making it more vulnerable to Arab pressure and, eventually, war. Robert Anderson, a special U.S. envoy sent to Egypt to defuse the crisis, reported to President Lyndon Johnson that Nasser showed no sign of backing down and spoke confidently of the outcome of a conflict with Israel.

Anderson was not the only person to have heard this upbeat assessment. Nasser’s belief in Egypt’s ability to absorb an Israeli strike and still win the war was widely shared by the Egyptian military and was readily expressed to the other members of the Arab military coalition. In his May 30 visit to Cairo, King Hussein was assured by Nasser of Egypt’s full preparedness against an Israeli air strike: No more than 15-20 percent losses would be incurred before the Egyptian air force dealt a devastating blow to Israel. The other members of the Jordanian delegation heard equally confident words from Abdel Hakim Amer, Nasser’s deputy and commander of the Egyptian armed forces. When the Egyptian foreign minister Mahmoud Riad asked Amer about the armed forces’ state of readiness, he was told that “if Israel actually carried out any military action against us, I could, with only one third of our forces, reach Beersheba.”

The most eloquent public exposition of this euphoric state of mind was provided by Heikal’s May 26 al-Ahram article on the inevitability of war. “Egypt has exercised its power and achieved the objectives of this stage without resorting to arms so far,” he wrote:

Israel has no alternative but to use arms if it wants to exercise power. This means that the logic of the fearful confrontation now taking place between Egypt, fortified by the might of the masses of the Arab nation, and Israel, bolstered by the illusion of American might, dictates that Egypt, after all it has now succeeded in achieving, must wait, even though it has to wait for a blow. This is necessitated also by the sound conduct of the battle, particularly from an international point of view. Let Israel begin. Let our second blow then be ready. Let it be a knockout.

As it were, the war that broke out on June 5 was not quite the knockout that Heikal had in mind. Instead of dealing Israel a mortal blow, the Egyptians saw their air force destroyed on the ground within three hours of the outbreak of hostilities and their army crushed and expelled from Sinai over the next three days. As Syria, Jordan, and Iraq attacked Israel, their armies were similarly routed. By the time the war was over, after merely six days of fighting, Israel had extended its control over vast Arab territories about five times its own size, from the Suez Canal, to the Jordan River, to the Golan Heights.

Small wonder that Nasser would doggedly shrug off responsibility for the defeat by feigning victimhood and emphatically denying any intention to attack Israel. This claim was quickly endorsed by numerous Western apologists eager to absolve him of any culpability for the war, in what was to become the standard Arab and Western historiography of the conflict. Some went so far in the attempt to exculpate Nasser as to portray him as a mindless creature thriving on hollow rhetoric and malleable in the extreme:

… retired members of the old Revolutionary Command Council wander in and out of meetings and give their opinions; Nasser butts in and nobody pays much attention to him; he takes journalists seriously and revises his intelligence estimate on the basis of their remarks; he is influenced by the casual conversation of diplomats.

Aside from doing a great injustice to Nasser—the charismatic dictator who had heavy-handedly ruled Egypt for over a decade and mesmerized tens of millions throughout the Arabic-speaking world—this description has little basis in reality. As evidenced both by Nasser’s escalatory behavior during the crisis and by captured military documents revealing elaborate plans for an invasion of Israel, the Egyptian president did not stumble into war but orchestrated it with open eyes. He steadily raised his sights in accordance with the vicissitudes in the crisis until he set them on the ultimate pan-Arab objective: the decisive defeat of Israel and, if possible, its destruction.

Conclusion

The June 1967 war was a direct corollary of pan-Arabism’s delusions of grandeur, triggered by the foremost champion of this ideology and directed against its foremost nemesis. It was the second all-out attempt in a generation to abort the Jewish national revival, and it ended in an even greater ignominy than its 1948 precursor. Then, only half of Palestine had been lost. Now the land was lost in its entirety, together with Egyptian and Syrian territories. In 1948, the dividing line between victor and vanquished was often blurred as the war dragged on intermittently for over a year. In 1967, owing to the war’s swift and decisive nature, there was no doubt as to which side was the victor.

The magnitude of the defeat thus punctured the pan-Arab bubble of denial and suggested to the Arabs that military force had its limits. If the 1967 war was fought with a view to destroying Israel, the next war, in October 1973, launched by Nasser’s successor Anwar Sadat, had the far narrower objective of triggering a political process that would allow Egypt to regain the territories lost in 1967. Israel’s remarkable military recovery in October 1973 after having been caught off-guard further reinforced Sadat’s determination to abandon pan-Arabism’s most celebrated cause and culminated in the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of March 1979.

While one can only speculate about Sadat’s ultimate intentions (he was assassinated in October 1981 by an Islamist zealot), there is little doubt that his successor, Hosni Mubarak, viewed peace not as a value in and of itself but as the price Egypt had to pay for such substantial benefits as increased U.S. economic and military aid. So did the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which perceived its 1990s peace agreements with Israel as a pathway not to a two-state solution—Israel alongside a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza living side-by-side in peace—but to the subversion of the state of Israel.

In Arab eyes, then, with the partial exception perhaps of Jordan’s King Hussein, contractual peace with Israel has represented not a recognition of legitimacy but a tacit admission that, at least for the time being, the Jewish state cannot be defeated by force of arms. And while militant pan-Arabism is unlikely to regain its pre-1967 dominance in the foreseeable future due to the ravages of the recent Arab upheavals, the advent of a new generation of Palestinians and Arabs for whom the 1967 defeat is but a dim memory, one more historical injustice that has to be redressed by any means necessary, makes the prospects of Arab-Israeli reconciliation as remote as ever.

Prof. Efraim Karsh is Director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

The Six-Day War: An Inevitable Conflict

In an exclusive interview, Sherkoh Abbas, the head of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, warns the US government of the dangers posed by supporting Saudi Arabia and Turkey. He argued that the Kurds are better allies for the Americans.

In an exclusive interview, Sherkoh Abbas, the head of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, stressed following Trump’s lavish welcome in Saudi Arabia that the United States should be wary of the Saudi government: “They have to look in the mirror. Much of the extremism is caused by them. I hope that Trump will hold them accountable and not be fooled by nice words but judge them based on their actions. I think they will have a hard time. None of the leaders have been successful in pressuring them. Now is the time to weaken these regimes so that the extremism will stop. That is the only way to bring about peace and stability to the region.”

“Most of the leaders who met Trump in Saudi Arabia are tyrants, dictators,” he related. “None of these leaders were elected. Most of their people are unemployed yet they can cough up billions to make weapons to oppress people. They should spend money to make peoples’ lives better. Then you don’t have to buy weapons to oppress your people. Furthermore, the Saudis won’t allow a woman to drive to save her dad. When you have a foreigner working there, you have no rights. You can be enslaved. Yet we call them allies and friends. If that person is horrible to his sister and wife, how can he be good to me? How can I trust that person? These guys are not allies. Its mutual interests. In the long run, you will regret making alliances with these regimes.”

Abbas emphasized that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom Trump has praised as an ally in the War against Terrorism and congratulated on winning the referendum, runs a country that cares more about oppressing the Kurds than suppressing radical extremism. It has been reported that Turkey has sent weapons to ISIS and traded in ISIS oil. Furthermore, numerous media outlets have noted that Turkey has permitted thousands of ISIS terrorists to smuggle across their border into Syria and have given medical assistance to ISIS terrorists.

Not too long ago, the Turkish entourage was recorded beating Kurdish and Armenian protesters in Washington, DC. In response to this action, Senator John McCain called for the Turkish Ambassador to be booted out of the US but Trump took zero action against Turkey for this. Abbas responded to McCain’s response to this incident as follows: “We commend and salute Senator McCain for asking the administration to be strong towards the Turkish Ambassador. Unfortunately, that administration has not done so.”

Abbas stressed that Turkey always tries to portray the Kurds to be inhumane people but how the Turkish Security Forces treated those demonstrators exposed their true face: “We saw their actions in front of world civilization in the heart of the free world’s capital city and what they did to peaceful people. Can you imagine what they are doing with their soldiers behind the scenes to the Kurds of Turkey? Are they slaughtering people? Killing people? In the past, some of their soldiers would cut off the heads of PKK people and then take pictures and display them as trophies. That is very similar to ISIS. It is horrifying that the administration in Washington, DC did not put those people in prison. Now, if they travel to Europe, Canada, etc., they think they can kill and get away with it. Is this the law of the jungle?”

According to Abbas, for Trump, it is all about making business deals and he claimed that Trump views those interests to be the first priority. He claimed that Trump speaks out about the evils of extremism but then he gave $110 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and made so many deals: “It shows that business comes first. It should be that American values and Western values should not be compromised. Building up the Sunnis against the Shias will not appease them for eventually the Sunnis will turn on you. It is better to weaken the Sunnis and Shias and to support the Balochis, Kurds and others who are oppressed and have the same value as Americans. It is beneficial for your people and our people. Otherwise, you will only see tyranny and extremism.”

Rachel Avraham
Media Research Analyst, Center for Near East Policy Research​

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Rachel Avraham explains how the re-election of Rouhani was not really a victory for the Iranian moderates as it was portrayed in the Western media. At the same time, she examines, how will the Iranian election results affect the Palestinians, the Kurds and the greater Middle East?

Certain elements in the Western media have praised the re-election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, claiming that it is a victory for the moderates. For example, CNN described Rouhani as “a moderate” who was a “key architect of the 2015 nuclear deal with the United States, European Union and other partners.” The Washington Post and the New York Times also referred to Rouhani as a moderate and praised his re-election.

In fact, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland even proclaimed, “Following the re-election of Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran, Canada welcomes President Rouhani’s commitment to continue implementing Iran’s nuclear obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and to improve the lives of ordinary Iranians.” However, one must ponder, is the re-election of Rouhani really a victory for the moderates and should Western leaders be praising the re-election of Rouhani?

Iranian journalist Mohsen Bezhad Karimi does not agree with such assessments: “The Western media mainly those in line with George Soros, the Democrats and Carnegie etc. (which includes the Canadian government) portray him as a business partner. So they portray him as moderate. But what moderate do we see? What change in regional policy has there been over the past four years? Nothing! Where is the moderation of Mr. Rouhani? Domestic policies? There were 977 executions. Foreign policy? Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Hezbollah? Where is the moderation? It’s only a wrapping paper. Rouhani is only a nice shiny wrapping paper for selling the Iranian regime to the international community. If his opponent won, we would at least face the reality of the regime.”

Iranian journalist and human rights activist Kaveh Taheri concurred: “The Iranian regime decided to re-elect Rouhani for another four-year presidential term due to the international pressure on the Iranian regime to show off its glamorous face. Rouhani admitted in his TV debates with the other candidates that he has no control over the economy, security, military, foreign policy and the judiciary. The regime re-elected an akin to a wolf in sheep’s clothing, although Rouhani failed in his presidential promises to improve the economy and human rights in 2012.” Taheri claims that Rouhani is merely “a head fake” that the regime desperately needs to cover up its aggression in the Middle East region. According to Taheri, Rouhani has had blood on his hands: “He asked MPs to come out in support of commands to execute dissidents in public in the 1980’s.”

According to Karimi, none of the candidates were allowed to formulate original foreign policy ideas for the Iranian presidential elections. He emphasized that in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the president is a mere figurehead and only the Supreme Leader alongside the Iranian Revolutionary Guards has the right to formulate any kind of foreign policy. As Karimi emphasized, “If they were forbidden about talking about these issues in the campaign, how can they have any influence? How can they make any change?” Given this, he stressed that regardless who is elected, Iranian foreign policy will remain the same. They will still be chanting death to America and death to Israel. They will be still committing massive human rights abuses in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. They will still be propping up Hezbollah and other terror groups across the Middle East. He argued that the moment that any of these policies changes, then the Iranian regime will no longer exist and for this reason, there won’t be any changes.

Israeli scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar stressed that the Iranian regime decides who wins each election in advance. Due to the election of US President Donald Trump, he noted that the Iranian regime presently feels the need to appease the world, to try to make a nice face, to hide their true intentions and this is why Rouhani was re-elected: “The Iranian elite is very much afraid especially now with Trump enhancing relations with the Saudis and the Emirates with all kinds of agreements and conferences. They are very worried especially regarding the arms supplies to Saudi Arabia, which might be dangerous for Iran. Hezbollah doesn’t help them and can’t face America. Russia does not help them as much as they want. At the same time, they want to absorb local anger for the oppression and corruption, which is why they promoted Rouhani, who has a nicer face than the other guy. This recent election was to flatter and smile to the world as if it can work.”

However, while the level of Iranian aggression across the Middle East region is expected to remain the same, Dr. Reuven Ehrlich, the head of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Center, noted that with the re-election of Rouhani, Iran will be distancing themselves from the Palestinians especially in the wake of the recent Hamas policy document and possible peace negotiations: “They don’t like it. Their interpretation is that Hamas changed its policy. The reformists, say, I told you so. Iran should be first and don’t deal with the Palestinians. They are suspicious towards the new document. It will get worse. If Mahmoud Abbas adopts the American track towards peace negotiations, the Iranians won’t love it. They won’t improve their relations. The honeymoon that was in the past doesn’t exist anymore. But on the other hand, they need Hamas and they have interests to be influential in the Gaza Strip, so we will see what happens. I think that if there is a genuine real peace process, Iran will do its utmost to undermine it via its proxies Islamic Jihad and possibly Hamas because if they have a common interest to undermine America, they will forget all of their difficulties. But if it goes nowhere, the interests to launch terrorist activities will not be as critical as under the first scenario.”

The question remains, how will all of these developments in the wake of the re-election of Rouhani affect the Kurds? Kurdish rebel Mohammed Alizadeh proclaimed, “For the Kurds, it makes no difference for all of the Iranian Presidents are liars. None of them do anything for the Kurds for they want a radical Islamist state and a Shia crescent in the Middle East. An estimated 13 million Kurds live in Iranian Kurdistan, making up 18 percent of the population but they are a majority among political prisoners. Of the 93 people charged with enmity against God in Iran in 2015, 63 were Kurds.”

Former EU MP Paulo Casaca also feels that there will be no change on the Kurdish front in the wake of the recent Iranian elections for Rouhani is just as hardline as the conservative faction and Iran’s Kurdish policy anyways is in the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, not the Iranian President: “The Kurds as usual will be played by the local powers Iran and Turkey. They will gladly use the Kurds as cannon fodder in their disputes.” He noted that Turkey recently built a wall along the Iranian border in order to keep the PKK out for that Kurdish group has training camps in Iran: “All of the established states there oppose Kurdish independence but according to their conveniences, they use the Kurds for harassing their rivals.” He argued that if Israel seeks to counter Iranian aggression in the region, then they should encourage Kurdish unity so that Iran cannot use Kurdish divisions for their own benefit. He stressed that the best way to encourage Kurdish unity is by supporting the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, which is a pro-Israel Syrian Kurdish group.

In conclusion, Iranian Canadian human rights activist Shabnam Assadollahi proclaimed: “On May 19th, millions of duped Iranians including those from religious minority groups went to the polls to cast their ballots and voted for the Islamic terror’s sham and illegal elections and once again gave the ultimate power to Khamenei’s regime by assisting him to select a Muslim cleric whose government executed over three thousand Iranians and committed genocide in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen during his 4 years of presidency from 2013-2017. Now that the Iranians inside Iran and abroad happily and voluntarily have endorsed the Islamic Sharia law constitution, anyone especially the women who voted for sharia law deserve to be ruled by those tyrants they elected and should not badger or complain to us about anything that happens to them. If they are not happy with the regime they fully supported and brought to power, they should find the solution themselves. I am among those Iranian born patriots who has never voted for the Islamic terror regime in Iran but was never allowed by Canada’s mainstream media to share my opinion. I will always remain as a true voice for Iran and as an Iranian patriot, I continue my fight for Canada’s sovereignty, freedom and be a loud voice against the Islamic Republic of terror from Canada. As Kahlil Gibran said: ‘You may chain my hands, you may shackle my feet; you may even throw me into a dark prison but you shall not enslave my thinking because it is free.’”

Is the re-election of Rouhani really a victory for the moderates?