[A-List] Robert Fisk on Blair & Assad
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Tue Dec 17 02:34:01 MST 2002
Robert Fisk: Why Blair's magic 'fix' is destined to end in failure
The Independent, 17 December 2002
First, it was Secretary of State Colin Powell who announced a Middle East
peace conference. That was back in the spring - nothing happened.
There was no peace conference. Now it's Tony Blair announcing a conference,
along with that familiar rider about Palestinian "reform" - which means
getting rid of Y Arafat Esq. But the Palestinians - now that Mr Bush has
told them to ditch the corrupt Palestinian leader - will probably elect
Arafat as their leader next month. So is Mr Blair planning to invite the
bewhiskered old revolutionary to London? "Not expected to attend," said a
source. Or one of his henchmen? Or a new squeaky-clean, unelected leader of
"Palestine"? Funny how our Prime Minister is already referring to Palestine
as if it's a country, rather than a bit of an occupied, colonised land, the
22 per cent of the original British mandate Palestine that is left up for
Funny how our Prime Minister can waffle on about George Bush's "vision" of
two states - Israel and Palestine - as if the President means what he says.
Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has no intention of allowing a viable
state to exist to Israel's east. And he, apparently, isn't even invited to
London for the Blair conference. Nor is Arafat. So what chance Palestine?
"Reform" is a good line. The Americans will agree with it and the Israelis
will agree with it and a lot of Palestinians will agree with it - because
Arafat is indeed a failure, though not for the reasons America and Israel
believe. We want "democracy", accountability, human rights in Palestine -
all those things, in fact which Mr. Blair's current guest, President Bashar
Assad, has so far failed to create in Syria. And what is the last figure by
which President Assad was elected?
Or by which his father was elected? Wasn't it up there in the 90 per cents?
My goodness, how Mr Blair would like an election victory figure like that.
But let's be fair. America puts Syria on the "sponsor of terrorism" list and
Tony Blair invites Bashar Assad to London. He gets the red carpet treatment.
Then Mr Blair invites the Palestinians; and Arafat - desperate for continued
recognition, however humiliating - says he'll send a "delegation". The
European Union will be represented, along with the UN and the United States
and, of course, that well-known democrat whose army is currently crushing
and raping its way through Chechnya. In January - just next month - Mr Blair
is going to "fix"' the Middle East.
And the aim will be - so the Foreign Office tells us - to "focus on how
Palestinian reform can be accelerated." Accelerated? Amid the rubble of the
Palestinian Authority offices and police stations and administration
buildings - all destroyed courtesy of the Boeing Corporation and other
Israeli arms suppliers - "reform" is going to be "accelerated", is it? There
are times, indeed, when Downing Street seems as far away from Jerusalem as
And Mr Blair told us it was important to "engage" with Syria - presumably
because Mr Bush can't and won't - and pointed out that Syria "is going to be
an important part of building a peaceful and stable future in the Middle
Which is all well and good. But what about Israel? What about Mr Ariel
Sharon, the "man of peace"-- according to Mr. Bush - who goes on building
more and more and more Jewish settlements in the occupied territories?
Well, just like so much of Mr Blair's - and Mr Bush's - Middle East
"policy", what you really don't want to see, you can just wish away.
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