Looks like the Israelis do not want to release Barghouti, or at least so says Avi Dichter, the Israeli “Security Minister”: “Barghouti is certainly a prominent figure in Fatah and in the West Bank, and maybe also in general Palestinian society. But this man built his status on our backs and with our blood“. Besides the usual bizarre “blood thing” which seems to affect so many Israelis, the man has got a good point: Barghouti certainly has a long track of fighting Israel. Moreover, Dichter added that Barghouti could not be released “as part of an experiment where we will say ‘maybe it will help and maybe it won’t“. Again – I can only agree with him: it is unclear whose bidding Barghouti would do if freed. At least Abbas is a puppet in the Karzai/Siniora mold, whereas Barghouti could prove a far more independent figure. And that is precisely why the Israelis should release him: because he has credibility, because he is popular, because he has the stature to negotiate with all the parties involved.
The fact that Dichter finds this as a reason not to release him simply shows that the Israelis are not interested in serious negotiations.
So what’s next?
As Tony Karon explained it so well on his blog, the “Abbastan plan” is based on a fundamental series of fallacies and has no chance of succeeding. The Israelis probably understand that. In fact, some are already preparing for phase two which is to blame its failure one somebody else: Iran and Syria (under this scenario, Syria is really an Iranian pawn in the hands of Iran). Here is how this logic works:
Everything in the Middle East is connected. (…) With the Hamas takeover of Gaza, we have growing evidence that fundamentalist Muslim groups in the territory are funded by Syria and Iran. We do the best we can to maintain legitimate authorities in the Middle East, but the radical Islamic movement, backed by Syrian compliance and Iranian funding, will stop at nothing to achieve its goals. It is important, when focusing specifically on one particular country or situation, to remember how increasingly connected the region is becoming and to keep in mind the powers supporting the destabilization agenda. (…) The US, Israel and Europe will continue to support the Lebanese government’s authority, because it has no other option. If they were to stop, Lebanon would easily become another Gaza. (…)
Typical Neocon kind of logic: since Hamas took over Gaza, Iran and Syria simply must be involved. Anyone the Empire supports is “maintain legitimate authorities”, what the other side does is “stopping at nothing to achieve its goals”. Should any country or region slip away from Imperial control, Syria and, even more so, Iran should be held responsible. If the Imperial High Commands lets go of Lebanon it will become another Gaza (which makes sense as in both cases the “wrong” party has been democratically elected, in the former Hezbollah, in the latter Hamas).
“Blame it all on Iran” is clearly at the core of this strategy. Hence Netanyahu’s trip to the USA to talk to US Presidential candidates to get US support on an even more hysterically anti-Iranian policy.
In the meantime, in the UK the government has finally held the first meeting of the cross-governmental working group established to implement the recommendations of the All-Party Inquiry into Anti-Semitism. Yes, anti-Semitism is considered as a major issue for the UK and I bet you that as soon as the aggression against is unleashed this goup who, according to one of its members, “will play a vital role in addressing the disturbing rise in anti-Semitism in the UK” will have its hands full. Besides, all UK politicians are “poodles” for the USA anyway, so the Empire can count on their political support for an agression in Iran as long as UK troops are not committed (which I do not believe they will be).
The new French President, Sarkozy, who is a typical Neocon, and his Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, also Neocon, can both be expected to be fully loyal to the Imperial High Command. They will make some pious statements about the poor civilians, Kouchner is particularly good at looking outraged, but that will be about it. No truly disloyal behavior to be expected from those two.
Russian and Chinese reactions are wholly irrelevant as nobody in the Empire really cares what they will have to say (as shown by Dubya’s plan to deploy missile defenses in Europe against Putin’s strenuous objections).
So will the oil lobby in the USA prevent the war with Iran?
A while ago a wrote a piece about the struggle between the “old Anglo” lobby and the “new Neocon-Israeli” lobby. I predicted that the Anglos would not regain power. Several months later, I am even more certain of that. Even though the US public opinion is largely opposed to Imperial policies (both inside and outside the USA), the Neocon/Israeli faction has a total control over three key institutions: the White House, Congress, the US corporate media. In another piece I wrote:
So why do I still bet on the Neocons winning? Because as long as they control the corporate media and the Imperial Senate they can “manufacture consent” in the general public. No matter how totally idiotic, a “Persian Gulf of Tonkin” deception will be unanimously greeted by the US corporate media and the Imperial Senate with a standing ovation (think Pelosi here). So I say that they will try to get the Anglos on board with some promises. If that don’t work – they will just trigger a crisis and bypass the old Anglo guard altogether.
It appears that the events in Gaza, far from making the Neocons think over their policies, will actually strengthen their resolve to strike at Iran which will be blamed for everything: the rout in Iraq, the defeat in Afghanistan, the mess in Lebanon, the Hamas liberation of Gaza and, of course, for being an “existential threat” to Israel.
Anyone in his right mind would realize that the defeat of the IDF in Lebanon last summer at the hands of a rather small group of Hezbollah fighters (less than 2000) and the political fiasco of Fatah clearly shows that all the assumptions made by the Imperial High Command have been fundamentally mistaken. Yet, the Neocons appear determined to press on for “more of the same, only worse”.
Unlike many other observers I have always felt that while the Neocons are cunning, they are not smart at all. They are, in fact, totally incapable of defining a viable long-term strategy, so they literally run from one fire to another making the situation worse with each “response” they come up with. The Neocons are phenomenally arrogant and their contempt for all others will eventually lead to their downfall as it has lead to the downfall of so many other arrogant and ideologically-driven politicians in history.
The responsibility for making the Neocons realize how deeply mistaken they are about pretty much everything will thus probably fall upon Iran. Just like Hezbollah turned Beit Jbeil into “Nasrallahgrad”, I am willing to bet that Iran will turn out to be the Imperial graveyard. The price to pay for it will be huge however: a bloodbath for sure, and possibly even a (one-sided) nuclear war.