Daily Archives: January 13, 2009

The Second Squabble of the Second Cold War

We haven’t heard much from Saudi Arabia about the Israel / Hamas fight.  Not surprising.  If Saudi Arabia were forced to declare their true position, they would have to favor Israel and that would cause a geopolitical earthquake.  Besides, they generally prefer to leave dirty work to others so they can maintain “plausible deniability”.

The great shame for the Palestinian people is that they seem doomed to be pawns and puppets to outside influences that never have their interest at heart.

Arafat was, to some degree, a pawn of Soviet Russia; his PLO a counter-balance to the United States’ power in the region due to its alliance with Israel.  Would the PLO have been able to survive without assistance from the USSR?  I don’t know.  Certainly the interest of the Palestinians was not foremost in the minds of Russian leaders from Khrushchev to Yeltsin and their own needs went begging.  The Cold War ended, but Arafat, entrenched and not unlike Fidel Castro, was unable to make the leap from the paradigm of the mid 20th century to the new one of the 21st.  The Palestinian people had no choice but to wait the old man out, which they did.

A new day dawned, with new leadership and new possibilities, a two-state solution moved from unacceptable to foregone, and they held victory in their hands.  It would not have been an all-out victory with Israel gone, Israelis all massacred, and Palestinians back in their olive groves, but it would have been a decent foundation on which to build a new future, prosperity, and full membership in the world of nations.  But no, that was not to be.

For no sooner was the prospect of peace upon them than the United States elevated Iran’s power in the region exponentially by ridding it of its hot war neighbor, Iraq.   A stronger and bolder Iran now challenges Saudi Arabia for dominance throughout the Middle East not in a hot war but in a new cold one.  Iran has nurtured Hamas and Hezbollah for years, but with their new freedom to look further afield than Iraq, they have poured in resources to establish them as bulwarks to counter the Saudi’s.  Once again, the Palestinians have become pawns to someone else’s fight.  Their hopes of statehood have been set back.  The prospect of wealth and economy pushed out.  It now seems that until Iran and Saudi Arabia resolve their cold war, there may never be a Palestine.  And this is not even close to happening.  The cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, between Sunni and Shiite, remains a boyle in its first days; it is red and irritated, but nowhere near coming to the surface where it can be lanced.

It is so easy to see where the interests are at this point.  The Palestinian people desperately, critically, need for this war to stop.  Even the battered and bloodied Hamas fighters in Gaza realize that they are beaten and are ready to call a cease fire.  Iran… not so much.  Iran’s regional influence increased significantly when it’s Hezbollah repelled Israel in the First Battle of the Second Cold War.  Iran certainly has no interest at all in seeing hostilities end and losing the Second Battle of the Second Cold War.  Besides, it isn’t their blood being spilled.  Just like the PLO counter-balanced the US and Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah counter-balance Saudi Arabia.  A Hamas defeat, or even a truce; in fact any situation that allows the Palestinians to co-exist with Israel and climb their way out of poverty weakens Iran’s stance against the Saudis.  And it is too easy to see where the Hamas leadership in Syria aligns.  It aligns squarely with Iran, and against the interests of the people they claim to represent and even the body of the organization they purport to lead.  Their warm and cozy relationship with their benefactors in Iran is way more important to this cabal than the lives of their fighters, their members, or their constituents.

Saudi Arabia will not any time soon announce their support for Israel.  But I do wonder what is going on in the back rooms of the palaces in Riyadh and the towering hotels of Dubai.  It seems to me that Saudi Arabia’s silence in this battle speaks volumes.  They don’t know it and perhaps they will never see it, but the Palestinians future lies way more comfortably with Saudi Arabia than Iran.  For the Saudis will be happy to let them form their state and live out their lives in relative peace.  The Iranians, and their puppet Hamas, get stronger the further statehood slips from Palestine.

It’s sad that they never seem to be able to put themselves on the winning side of history.

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