Saudi Arabia Invasion of Yemen Perpetuates Chaos and Lawlessness in Middle-East

Wednesday evening Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States announced that Saudi Arabia had commenced military operations against the Ansarullah fighters of the Houthi movement in Yemen. The Saudi intervention was not unexpected. Over the last few weeks there were signs that the U.S. and the Saudi’s were preparing the ground for direct military intervention in Yemen in response to the Houthi’s seizing state power in January.

The appearance of a previously unknown ISIS element that was supposedly responsible for the massive bomb attack that killed over 130 people on Friday and the withdraw of U.S. personnel on Saturday were the clear signals that direct intervention by the Saudi’s was imminent.

And this week with the fall of al-Anad military base, the base where the U.S. military and CIA conducted its drone warfare in Yemen, to Ansarullah fighters and the capture of the port city of Aden where disposed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi had fled, it was almost certain that the U.S. would the green light for its client states to intervene.

The Saudi Ambassador cloaked the role of Saudi Arabia within the fictitious context of another grand coalition, this time led by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – the corrupt collection of authoritarian monarchies allied with the U.S. and the other Western colonial powers.

Ambassador Al-Jubeir announced that before launching operations in Yemen all of its allies were consulted. The meaning of that statement is that the U.S. was fully involved in the operation. Even though the Ambassador stressed that the U.S. was not directly involved in the military component of the assault, CNN reported that an interagency U.S. coordination team was in Saudi Arabia and that a U.S. official confirmed that the U.S. would be providing logistical and intelligence support for the operation.

And what was the justification for launching a military operation not sanction by the United Nations Security Council? According to the Saudi’s they have legitimate regional security concerns in Yemen. Their argument was that since they share a border with Yemen, the chaos that erupted over the last few months that culminated in what they characterize as a coup by the Houthi insurgency, forced them to intervene to establish order and defend by “all efforts” the legitimate government of President Hadi.

But this is becoming an old and tired justification for criminality in support of hegemony.

The intervention by the Saudi’s and the GCC continues the international lawlessness that the U.S. precipitated with its War on Terror over the last decade and a half. Violations of the UN Charter and international law modeled by the powerful states of the West has now become normalized resulting in an overall diminution of international law and morality over the last 15 years.

The double standard and hypocrisy of U.S. support for the Saudi intervention in Yemen and Western and U.S. condemnations of Russia’s regional security concerns in response to the right-wing coup in Ukraine will not be missed by most people.

And so the conflagration in the Middle-East continues.

U.S. and Saudi geo-strategic interest in containing the influence of Iran has trumped international law and any concerns about the lives of the people of Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain. Militarism and war as first options has now become commonplace as instruments of statecraft in an international order in which power trumps morality and law is only applied to the powerless.

 

Netanyahu’s victory is a victory for Palestinian Solidarity Movement

The cover of respectability that obscured the brutal and immoral reality of the Israeli colonial project may have been permanently ripped away by Benjamin Netanyahu’s angry declaration that if re-elected, there would never be a Palestinian state and his racist rant on election day against his own citizens who happen to be Palestinians.

Many people in the U.S. and Western Europe were shocked by Netanyahu’s comments. However, for those of us who are aware of the platform of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, the only thing that was surprising was his candor. The rejection of a viable Palestinian state has always been Likud’s position, a position well known in Israel and the basis of Likud’s appeal, but rarely acknowledged and never discussed in the U.S. corporate media.

But it is not just the Likud Party – there has never been a serious commitment to a two-state solution from any of the mainstream Israeli parties, including the newly-constructed Zionist Union.

The two-state solution was always an illusion. From the beginning, it was a right-wing political diversion meant to confuse and fragment the international community and undermine the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle for one, democratic, secular state for all of the people who live in the territory. Even after the Palestinian leadership adopted the two-state position in 1988 that then served as a framework for the Oslo Accords in 1993, Israeli leaders never seriously moved to finalize the process.

According to Ali Abunimah, the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, what distinguishes the Netanyahu victory from the scenario that would have likely unfolded if the liberal Zionists from the ZU had won, is that Netanyahu’s win strips away the opportunities for the so-called ‘international community’ to “hide its complicity with Israel’s ugly crimes behind a charade of a “peace process.”

Abunimah’s analysis reflects the position that for most Palestinians the cultural and psychological assault, checkpoints, curfews, home demolitions, torture, targeted killings, assaults from armed settlers who kill with impunity – the daily reality of life under occupation – would have continued, no matter what party formation dominated the Israeli Knesset.

That is precisely why the two-state solution was such a valuable subterfuge and why liberal Zionists in Israel and the U.S. were so devastated with the results of the election.

They understood that even though the plight of Palestinians and a resolution of the conflict was not even a serious topic in the elections, Netanyahu’s last minute declaration and racist rant — and the “positive” response it generated among many Israelis — made the two-state issue and Israeli racism the embarrassing centerpieces of the election in the minds of the international community.

Even though Netanyahu’s comments only confirmed what everyone knew to be the real position of all the major parties in Israel, liberal Zionists, who have always attempted to have the best of both worlds — to enjoy the privileges of stolen land while simultaneously opposing the more crude elements of the colonial theft — understood that without the political cover provided by the endless “negotiations” toward a two-state solution, Israel could potentially face serious international isolation.

The Congressional Black Caucus and Black Participation in the BDS movement

Africans in South Africa make-up the most consistently militant section of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. This is not surprising, given that Israeli support for the racist South African regime was only eclipsed by the support that came from the U.S.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, one of the moral voices that opposed apartheid in South Africa, upset the leaders of the Israeli state when he characterized Israel as an apartheid state. He has also expressed how deeply impacted he was personally by witnessing the degradation of Palestinian men, women and children by Israeli military forces. According to Bishop Tutu, the scenes of Palestinian humiliation that he witnessed in Israel would be “familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”

The principled opposition to Israeli apartheid on the part of South Africans is in sharp contrast to the immoral support the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) gives to Israel.

Until now, members of the CBC were able to avoid criticism of their slavish support for Israel by arguing that they in fact supported Palestinian liberation by supporting the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the form of a Palestinian state.

However, with Netanyahu’s rejection of the two-state solution, coupled with what many African Americans see as Netanyahu’s “disrespect” for Obama with his speech to Congress, the CBC and other liberal black formations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Urban League, as well as some members of the black clergy, are now beginning to face serious questions about their support for Israel.

This development, along with the new generation of young African American activists leading the anti-police violence struggle who have established solidarity links with Palestinian activists, are creating the political conditions to challenge and reverse the influence of the pro-Israel forces in the black community that emerged over the last two decades and to also generate black support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, especially among black students.

Netanyahu and the Israeli voters that voted for him gave the Palestinian solidarity and BDS movement a strategic opening. The election may have finally stripped the veil of nationalist legitimacy from the racialized Ashkenazi Zionist project and exposed the genocidal violence, greed and generalized moral rot that is at the core of this project and at the center of all European invasions and colonialism since 1492.

For 67 years, Palestinian human beings have been displaced, degraded and dehumanized. Today the Palestinian solidarity movement has a new opportunity to intensify the efforts to expose and isolate the Israeli project as the most morally obscene capitulation to injustice on the part of the international community since 1945. Let’s thank Netanyahu for his honesty and take up the challenge we’ve been given.

The Israeli Election: The Obamafication of Israeli Oppression

Camouflaging the reality of elite domination with rhetorical sleight of hand techniques and symbol manipulation has catapulted Barack Obama over Ronald Reagan as the new “great communicator.” And while this privileging of style over substance is not new in bourgeois politics, Obama’s ability to demobilize opposition from the left sets him apart and is becoming a model for liberal accommodationist parties.

This version of Trojan horse politics is being deployed by the Zionist Union (ZU) in Israel in both its domestic campaigning and international public relations. Led by Isaac Herzog, the ZU, with its political and social base in the Israeli Labor Party, appears to have been successful in constructing a narrative that the ZU is a more moderate and reasonable change from the polarizing and pugnacious policies of Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party. With liberal Zionist money pouring into Israel from throughout the Jewish diaspora and a resuscitation of the public relations stunt called the two-state solution, the ZU became the party of “hope and change” for many Israelis fed-up with Netanyahu’s alienating style – sound familiar?

Of course Isaac Herzog is no Obama and the public relations challenge is even more daunting for the Israeli elite when the reality of Israel’s existence as a “Zionist state” depends on the political subordination of its Palestinian citizens, a rejection of the right to return for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled for their lives in 1948, and the colonization of more and more of the “officially recognized” occupied territories in Palestine.

Gideon Levy points out:

“While Netanyahu’s insistence on Israel’s continued ruling over millions of Palestinians is expressed in aggressive, often religious and nationalistic language, Herzog’s justifications for doing the same thing would sound much softer and easier to digest in the Western world.”

The shift that liberal Zionism is attempting to effect with its support for the ZU is merely at the level of perception. On the substantive and essentially colonialist issues, the historic positions of the Israeli Labor Party – and now of Herzog and the Zionist Union – do not depart significantly from the positions of Netanyahu’s Likud Party.

On the issue of settlements, one of the main issues that has continually undermined agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, Herzog and the ZU have not committed to building new settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank but have expressed support for expansion in existing settlement projects. For Palestinians expanding settlements or new settlements both translate into more territory lost to the Israeli state.

On the right of return for the more than 700,000 Palestinian refugees displaced in the war of 1948, Herzog is clear: “No right of return for the Palestinians to Israel in any way.” And on the issue of Jerusalem and the desire for a contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, Herzog and the ZU have not strayed away from the historic positions of the Labor Party or of Likud that “for Zionism to prevail and to succeed we must make sure that Gush Etzion and Maaleh Adumim (settlements that disconnect Jerusalem from the West Bank and make a contiguous Palestinian state almost impossible) will be part of Israel forever.

The consistency of the Zionist Union with the Zionist policies since 1948 should not be surprising. After all, they named it Zionist Union for a reason! However, there are many people in the U.S. and Western Europe who need to believe that the ZU represents some significant change in the Zionist project. This particular affliction emanates from an inability to accept that the Zionist project is a colonial project in which the appropriation of Palestinian land and the subordination and repression of Palestinian people and the denial of authentic self-determination is an inevitable by- product.

But for Palestinians there is no escape from the oppressive reality of Israeli occupation and the systematic denial of fundamental human rights. It is a lived reality. It is lived in Gaza where Palestinians live in the blasted ruins of what were once their homes, shivering through the winter without adequate food, water, and the basic material needs of life. It is lived by the 1.4 million Palestinians living as second-class citizens in Israel and discriminated against in every sector of life, and it is lived by the millions of stateless, de-humanized, and degraded Palestinians living the hell of military occupation.

And while some Palestinians in Israel are participating in the electoral process, others decry the elections as an unprincipled “normalization” of the occupation. For those Palestinians, the elections are seen as a macabre joke.

Like the bait and then switch policies of the Obama era in the U.S that promised liberal reforms but delivered neoliberal austerity and permanent war, liberalism in Israel does not offer Palestinians anything more than the continuation of the same, except the added and more nefarious consequence that with a “liberal” Zionist Union in power there will be less international mobilization against the policies of occupation.