The Guardian 9 March, 2005

Editorial

Blood and tears in the Middle East

No sooner had the intention of the Syrian government to withdraw some of its troops from Lebanon become known than the media floated the idea that they might be replaced by US troops.

Bush's demand that Syrian troops had to be withdrawn completely if Lebanon was to have independence is breath-taking hypocrisy when just across Syria's border in Iraq, 150,000 US, British and Australian troops are occupying Iraq and obviously intend to stay for years. Iraq also cannot have any real independence until all foreign troops are withdrawn.

The tangled web of conflict in the Middle East is set to further escalate as the US and Israel step up their threats against both Syria and Iran and any Lebanese government that fails to bow to their demands.

Initially, Syrian troops intervened by decision of the Arab League to bring an end to the fratricidal Lebanese civil war and to stand in the way of yet another invasion of Lebanon by Israeli military forces. This they have succeeded in doing.

Without giving a skerrick of proof, the western media immediately blamed Syria for the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and then, for a suicide bombing in a Tel Aviv night-club. As a Syrian spokesman said, "This operation [the suicide bombing] harms the efforts of the Palestinians [for peace] and gives Israel a pretext to bash the peace process ... it contradicts Syrian policy".

The Israeli government used the bombing to freeze further negotiations with the Palestinian Authority which it never intended should go anywhere anyway. Every single step forward in the past has been smashed by Israeli intransigence and by timely "events".

When one asks the question, WHO BENEFITS? The answer is loud and clear. It is the objectives of Israel which continues to seize more and more Palestinian land and continues to build settlements, despite repeated UN decisions that the Israelis return to their pre-1967 borders. Asking the same question of who benefits, it is clear that the destabilisation of Lebanon and a combined offensive against Syria has been achieved by the assassination of Hariri.

As well as the pressure on the Syria, the Israeli government is also demanding that the alleged terrorist Palestinian organisations be disbanded. What is actually meant is that the Palestinians give up their resistance to Israeli occupation and abandon their objective of a Palestinian state. The Israeli government demands nothing less than surrender!

The recently elected Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas has shown so far all the intentions of dancing to the US and Israeli tune in pursuit of the mirage of a negotiated settlement with Israel. Israeli "negotiators" have made no commitments, not even in principle, for the establishment of a Palestinian state, let alone for the release of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, the return to Palestine of the millions of refugees, the cessation of settlement construction or for its complete withdrawal from the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Middle East is in for a long period of war, occupation, bombing, blood and tears for millions of the region's people.

Yes, a path must be found towards the democratisation of all the countries but the American and Israeli path does not lead to genuine people's democracy. It will lead to more countries being occupied by US and perhaps Australian and British troops. Furthermore, US "democracy" is a system in which the corporations ride high and which has ushered in an era of heightened warmongering and savagery with the aim of world domination.

And, yes, no country should be occupied by foreign troops and bases but that means ALL countries Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and the more than 100 other countries around the globe in which American military bases and installations are to be found.

In looking at the different struggles and forces involved, it is important to differentiate between the genuine struggles of the people for national independence and democracy and the other struggles which usurp these objectives and ultimately lead to colonisation and enslavement.

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