Nucléaire iranien: Attention, un remueur de chien peut en cacher un autre ! (Four Arab capitals plus Washington: Warning, a dog-wagger can hide another)

22 mars, 2015
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Pourquoi le chien remue-t-il la queue ? Parce que le chien est plus malin que la queue. Si la queue était plus maline, c’est qui elle remuerait le chien. Conrad Brean (Des hommes d’influence)

To ‘wag the dog’ means to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance. By doing so, the lesser-significant event is catapulted into the limelight, drowning proper attention to what was originally the more important issue. Usingenglish.com
Why did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel feel the need to wag the dog in Washington? For that was, of course, what he was doing in his anti-Iran speech to Congress. If you’re seriously trying to affect American foreign policy, you don’t insult the president and so obviously align yourself with his political opposition. No, the real purpose of that speech was to distract the Israeli electorate with saber-rattling bombast, to shift its attention away from the economic discontent that, polls suggest, may well boot Mr. Netanyahu from office in Tuesday’s election. (…) So Mr. Netanyahu tried to change the subject from internal inequality to external threats, a tactic those who remember the Bush years should find completely familiar. We’ll find out on Tuesday whether he succeeded. Paul Krugman
In my eyes, [the US administration’s comments on the two-state solution] are less related to the Palestinian issue but are much more connected to the Iranian issue. We’re having a substantial disagreement with Washington over the agreement they’re about to sign in the coming days and weeks. Dore Gold (former ambassador to the United Nations and close Netanyahu adviser)
Ce qui se vit aujourd’hui est une forme de rivalité mimétique à l’échelle planétaire. Lorsque j’ai lu les premiers documents de Ben Laden, constaté ses allusions aux bombes américaines tombées sur le Japon, je me suis senti d’emblée à un niveau qui est au-delà de l’islam, celui de la planète entière. Sous l’étiquette de l’islam, on trouve une volonté de rallier et de mobiliser tout un tiers-monde de frustrés et de victimes dans leurs rapports de rivalité mimétique avec l’Occident. René Girard
Le problème n’est pas la sécurité d’Israël, la souveraineté du Liban ou les ingérences de la Syrie ou du Hezbollah : Le problème est centré sur l’effort de l’Iran à obtenir le Droit d’Abolir l’Exclusivité de la Dissuasion. La prolifération sauvage, le concept de «tous nucléaires» sera la fin de la Guerre Froide et le retour à la période précédant la Dissuasion. Les mollahs et leurs alliés, le Venezuela, l’Algérie, la Syrie, la Corée du Nord et la Russie…, se militarisent à une très grande échelle sachant qu’ils vont bientôt neutraliser le parapluie protecteur de la dissuasion et alors ils pourront faire parler la poudre. Chacun visera à dominer sa région et sans que les affrontements se déroulent en Europe, l’Europe sera dépouillée de ses intérêts en Afrique ou en Amérique du Sud et sans combattre, elle devra déposer les armes. Ce qui est incroyable c’est la myopie de la diplomatie française et de ses experts. (…) Aucun d’entre eux ne se doute que la république islamique a des alliés qui ont un objectif commun: mettre un terme à une discrimination qui dure depuis 50 ans, la dissuasion nucléaire ! Cette discrimination assure à la France une position que beaucoup d’états lui envient. Ils attendent avec impatience de pouvoir se mesurer avec cette ancienne puissance coloniale que beaucoup jugent arrogante, suffisante et gourmande. Iran-Resist
L’Iran aurait pu être la Corée du Sud; il est devenu la Corée du Nord. (…) Mais n’oubliez pas qu’Ahmadinejad n’est que le représentant d’un régime de nature totalitaire, qui ne peut se réformer et évoluer, quelle que soit la personne qui le représente. (…) Aujourd’hui, le problème ne vient pas de l’idée de se doter de l’énergie nucléaire ; il provient de la nature du régime islamique. (…) je ne crois pas que les mollahs soient assez fous pour penser un jour utiliser la bombe contre Israël: ils savent très bien qu’ils seraient aussitôt anéantis. Ce qu’ils veulent, c’est disposer de la bombe pour pouvoir s’institutionnaliser une fois pour toutes dans la région et étendre leurs zones d’influence. Ils rêvent de créer un califat chiite du XXIe siècle et entendent l’imposer par la bombe atomique (…) il est manifeste qu’un gouvernement paranoïaque crée des crises un peu partout pour tenter de regagner à l’extérieur la légitimité qu’il a perdue à l’intérieur. Les dérives du clan au pouvoir ne se limitent pas au soutien au Hamas, elles vont jusqu’à l’Amérique latine de Chavez. Il ne s’agit en rien d’une vision qui vise à défendre notre intérêt national. Si le régime veut survivre, il doit absolument mettre en échec le monde libre, combattre ses valeurs. La République islamique ne peut pas perdurer dans un monde où l’on parle des droits de l’homme ou de la démocratie. Tous ces principes sont du cyanure pour les islamistes. Comment voulez-vous que les successeurs de Khomeini, dont le but reste l’exportation de la révolution, puissent s’asseoir un jour à la même table que le président Sarkozy ou le président Obama? Dans les mois à venir, un jeu diplomatique peut s’engager, mais, au final, il ne faut pas se faire d’illusion. Même si Khatami revenait au pouvoir, le comportement du régime resterait identique, car le vrai décideur c’est Khamenei. Je ne vois aucune raison pour laquelle le régime islamiste accepterait un changement de comportement. Cela provoquerait, de manière certaine, sa chute. Il ne peut plus revenir en arrière. J’ai bien peur que la diplomatie ne tourne en rond une nouvelle fois et que la course à la bombe ne continue pendant ce temps. Reza Pahlavi
En tant que défenseur de la rue arabe, [l’Iran] ne peut pas avoir un dialogue apaisé avec les Etats-Unis, dialogue au cours duquel il accepterait les demandes de cet Etat qui est le protecteur par excellence d’Israël. Téhéran a le soutien de la rue arabe, talon d’Achille des Alliés Arabes des Etats-Unis, car justement il refuse tout compromis et laisse entendre qu’il pourra un jour lui offrir une bombe nucléaire qui neutralisera la dissuasion israélienne. Pour préserver cette promesse utile, Téhéran doit sans cesse exagérer ses capacités militaires ou nucléaires et des slogans anti-israéliens. Il faut cependant préciser que sur un plan concret, les actions médiatiques de Téhéran ne visent pas la sécurité d’Israël, mais celle des Alliés arabes des Etats-Unis, Etats dont les dirigeants ne peuvent satisfaire les attentes belliqueuses de la rue arabe. Ainsi Téhéran a un levier de pression extraordinaire sur Washington. Comme toute forme de dissuasion, ce système exige un entretien permanent. Téhéran doit sans cesse fouetter la colère et les frustrations de la rue arabe ! Il doit aussi garder ses milices actives, de chaînes de propagande en effervescence et son programme nucléaire le plus opaque possible, sinon il ne serait pas menaçant. C’est pourquoi, il ne peut pas accepter des compensations purement économiques offertes par les Six en échange d’un apaisement ou une suspension de ses activités nucléaires. Ce refus permanent de compromis est vital pour le régime. (…) Il n’y a rien qui fasse plus peur aux mollahs qu’un réchauffement avec les Etats-Unis : ils risquent d’y perdre la rue arabe, puis le pouvoir. C’est pourquoi, le 9 septembre, quand Téhéran a accepté une rencontre pour désactiver les sanctions promises en juillet, il s’est aussitôt mis en action pour faire capoter ce projet de dialogue apaisé qui est un véritable danger pour sa survie. Iran Resist
The Iranian government has responded more positively than the Bush Administration has to the Iraq Study Group’s proposal for talks between the two. And government sources in Tehran tell TIME that this reflects a sincere and calculated desire among the Iranian leadership for improved relations with Washington. Responding to the Baker-Hamilton report’s proposal that Washington move quickly to engage Iran on talks over stabilizing Iraq, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki dangled an offer of cooperation in a statement published by an Iranian news agency. « Iran will support any policies returning security, stability and territorial integrity to Iraq, » he said, « and considers withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and leaving security to the Iraqi government as the most suitable option. » In an interview on Al Jazeera, Mottaki added that if the U.S. needs an « honorable way out of Iraq, » and Iran « is in a position to help. » President Bush, by contrast, appeared to rebuff the suggestion, insisting that Iran would have to suspend its uranium-enrichment program before it could talk to the U.S. about Iraq. And the response from many U.S. lawmakers questioning Iran’s motives in Iraq underscored the continued taboo in Washington over dealing openly with the Islamic Republic. Three Iranian sources — a government official and two figures close to government policymakers — tell TIME that Mottaki’s statement is reflective of a solid consensus among the regime’s foreign-policy decision makers that restoring relations with the U.S. is in Iran’s best interests. « If tomorrow the U.S. seriously — and I emphasize the word seriously — tried to engage Iran, in a way that accepted the 1979 Iranian revolution and engaged Iran in a respectful atmosphere, then Iran would welcome the chance to address mutual concerns, » said one of the sources, a prominent expert on U.S.-Iranian relations. (…) Some Iranian leaders and officials, including President Ahmadinejad, also believe that Iran now has the opportunity to deal with Washington from a position of strength, for the first time since the 1979 revolution. The sources say that this assessment is based on a perception that the U.S. is stuck in quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, while Iran’s influence in the region and throughout the Muslim world is expanding. These officials see further evidence of Iran’s advantage in the difficulties the U.S. continues to encounter in winning support for U.N. tough sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program. The sources say that Iranian officials believe that to open a serious dialogue with the U.S. in these circumstances would significantly enhance Iran’s international prestige and regional influence. Time (2006)
Sur le long terme, Obama et son entourage ont toujours fantasmé sur une réconciliation globale entre les Etats-Unis et l’islamisme, qu’il s’agisse de l’islamisme sunnite des Frères musulmans ou de l’islamisme chiite iranien. C’était le sens, dès 2009, du discours-manifeste du Caire, prononcé, il ne faut pas l’oublier, au moment même où le pouvoir des mollahs écrasait dans le sang un « printemps iranien ». Cela a été également le sens, par la suite, de la temporisation d’Obama sur la question du nucléaire iranien : Washington s’est prononcé en faveur de sanctions économiques de plus en plus lourdes, mais n’a pas envisagé sérieusement une action militaire contre l’Iran ni accordé de feu vert à une éventuelle action militaire israélienne.(…) Des négociations discrètes ont été menées au début de l’été entre Washington et Téhéran, et elles avaient suffisamment abouti dès le mois d’août – quand Rouhani a pris officiellement ses fonctions – pour que plusieurs revues américaines influentes diffusent presque immédiatement des articles préparant l’opinion à cette « détente », sinon à ce renversement d’alliance. La New York Review of Books publie dans sa livraison datée du 15 août un long article en faveur d’un « nouvelle approche envers l’Iran » cosigné, de manière significative – l’union sacrée, pourrait-on dire -, par un universitaire pro-iranien, William Luers, un ancien ambassadeur aux Nations Unies, Thomas Pickering et un homme politique républicain, Jim Walsh. Quant à Foreign Affairs, elle consacre sa couverture de septembre-octobre au chef véritable du régime iranien, l’ayatollah et Guide spirituel Ali Khamenei. Akbar Ganji, un journaliste prestigieux, souvent présenté comme le « Soljénitsyne iranien », y affirme à la fois que Rouhani ne peut se rapprocher des Etats-Unis sans l’accord préalable et l’appui de Khamenei, ce qui est vrai ; et que les Etats-Unis doivent saisir cette « chance », ce qui est plus discutable. (…) A un autre niveau, à plus court terme, Obama a sans doute vu dans un rapprochement avec l’Iran le moyen d’effacer ou de faire oublier ses échecs répétés au Moyen-Orient : en Libye, en Egypte et finalement en Syrie. Une Grande Puissance, c’est un pays qui peut faire la guerre et qui, par voie de conséquence, est en mesure d’imposer sa volonté à d’autres pays. Et « pouvoir faire la guerre », en amont, cela suppose à la fois des moyens techniques (une armée, des armements, des technologies), et des moyens politiques ou moraux (une vision du monde, des objectifs, une détermination). L’Amérique d’Obama a toujours les moyens techniques d’une Très Grande Puissance, mais elle s’est comportée en Syrie, à travers ses tergiversations et finalement sa capitulation diplomatique devant la Russie de Poutine, comme si elle n’en avait plus les moyens politiques ou moraux. Ce que les alliés traditionnels des Etats-Unis ne sont pas près de pardonner au président sur le plan international (des Etats du Golfe à la France de Hollande), ni les Américains eux-mêmes en politique intérieure.(…) Les clés d’Obama se trouvent dans son livre autobiographique, Les Rêves de mon père. Deux faits, qu’il rapporte avec beaucoup de franchise : d’abord, un drame intime : il n’a pratiquement pas connu son père ; ensuite, un drame identitaire : l’Amérique traditionnelle – anglo-saxonne, judéo-chrétienne, blanche – est pour lui une sorte de pays étranger. Il est certes né aux Etats-Unis, mais il n’y a pas passé son enfance. Il n’a pas été élevé dans la foi chrétienne, mais dans un mélange d’humanisme athée et d’islam libéral. Et bien que sa mère soit blanche, il a toujours été considéré comme un Noir. Comment surmonte-t-il ces deux drames ? A travers l’action politique en vue d’une Amérique nouvelle, multiraciale, multireligieuse, multiculturelle. En fait, il veut enfanter cette nouvelle Amérique qui lui ressemblerait, être à la fois son propre père et celui d’une nation remodelée à son image. Ce qui passe, entre autre choses, par une réconciliation – fusionnelle – avec un islam qui est le contraire même de l’Amérique traditionnelle. Ce n’est là qu’un fantasme. La politique rationnelle d’Obama se réfère à d’autres considérations, d’autres raisonnements. Mais les fantasmes sont souvent aussi puissants ou plus puissants que la rationalité. Et qui plus est, les fantasmes personnels du président actuel recoupent ceux d’une bonne partie de la société américaine : les Noirs, les non-Blancs en général, mais aussi les milieux blancs d’extrême-gauche, une partie des élites intellectuelles… (…) Qui peut encore soutenir sérieusement qu’Israël est au cœur de tous les problèmes du Proche Orient et que tout passe, dans cette région, par la « résolution » du « problème palestinien » ? Depuis près de quatre ans, le monde arabe et islamique n’en finit pas de se décomposer et de se recomposer sous nos yeux, entraîné par ses pesanteurs propres. Une analyste géopolitique, Robin Wright, vient même de prédire dans le New York Times, le quotidien le plus pro-Obama des Etats-Unis, le remplacement de cinq Etats moyen-orientaux (la Syrie, l’Irak, l’Arabie Saoudite, la Libye, le Yemen) par quinze nouveaux Etats à caractère ethnoreligieux. Voilà qui merite au moins autant d’attention que les articles promouvant le « nouvel Iran » du président Rouhani. Et qui relativise le « processus de paix » Jérusalem-Ramallah. Michel Gurfinkiel
The military planners’ scorecard made one thing perfectly clear: by 2011, enough information was available to conclude that absent a significant U.S. military presence, within a few years, the situation in Iraq was likely to deteriorate — perhaps irreversibly. The Iraqi military, for example, was still three to five years away from being able to independently sustain the gains made during the past four years.(…) Had a residual U.S. force stayed in Iraq after 2011, the United States would have had far greater insight into the growing threat posed by ISIS and could have helped the Iraqis stop the group from taking so much territory. Instead, ISIS’ march across northern Iraq took Washington almost completely by surprise. (…)     In April (2011), Obama directed (U.S. forces in Iraq commander General Lloyd) Austin to develop a plan that would result in a residual force of just 8,000 to 10,000 troops and to identify the missions that a force of that size could realistically accomplish. In August, according to (then-U.S. ambassador to Iraq James) Jeffrey, Obama informed him that he was free to start negotiations with the Iraqis to keep 5,000 U.S. service members in Iraq: 3,500 combat troops who would be stationed on yearlong tours of duty and 1,500 special operations forces who would rotate in and out every four months. (…)     Washington had to drop its insistence that U.S. forces enjoy complete immunity from Iraqi law. Instead, in somewhat ambiguous terms, the agreement gave Iraqi authorities legal jurisdiction over cases in which U.S. service members were accused of committing serious, premeditated felonies while off duty and away from U.S. facilities. In his memoir, Duty, published earlier this year, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates revealed that Pentagon lawyers (during Bush’s negotiations with Iraq) strongly opposed the compromise. But Gates explains that he believed it was worth the risk if it meant that U.S. forces could stay in Iraq past 2008. Commanders in the field were also comfortable with the compromise; after all, since members of the U.S. armed forces are on duty 24 hours a day and are not permitted to leave their bases unless on a mission, there was little chance that an American marine or soldier would ever wind up in the hands of Iraqi authorities. (…)     In early September (2011), U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns visited Iraq to press Maliki on both those issues. According to a former administration official familiar with what happened during the meeting, Maliki told Burns that although he could likely persuade Iraq’s parliament to request a residual force, anyone who believed that the parliament would approve a status-of-forces agreement that included complete immunity did not understand Iraqi politics. Instead, Maliki proposed signing an executive memorandum granting immunity without the need to gain parliamentary approval. White House lawyers rejected that offer, arguing that for any such agreement to be legally binding, it would have to be formally ratified by the Iraqi parliament. In early October, as Maliki had predicted, the parliament approved the request for an extended U.S. military presence but declined to grant legal immunity to U.S. military personnel. Later that month, Obama told Maliki that all U.S. troops would leave Iraq by the end of 2011, in fulfillment of the terms of the agreement signed by the Bush administration in 2008. (…) In the nearly three years since Bush had agreed to a similar compromise, no U.S. service member or civilian official stationed in Iraq had been charged with violating an Iraqi law. (…) It is also worth pointing out that the U.S. military personnel stationed in Iraq today count on a promise of immunity backed only by a diplomatic note signed by the Iraqi foreign minister — an assurance even less solid than the one Maliki offered (and Obama rejected) in 2011.  Rick Brennan (senior civilian adviser to the U.S. military in Iraq, 2006-2011)
Ok, so we learn to live with Iran on the edge of a bomb, but shouldn’t we at least bomb the Islamic State to smithereens and help destroy this head-chopping menace? Now I despise ISIS as much as anyone, but let me just toss out a different question: Should we be arming ISIS? Or let me ask that differently: Why are we, for the third time since 9/11, fighting a war on behalf of Iran? In 2002, we destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in Afghanistan (the Taliban regime). In 2003, we destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in the Arab world (Saddam Hussein). But because we failed to erect a self-sustaining pluralistic order, which could have been a durable counterbalance to Iran, we created a vacuum in both Iraq and the wider Sunni Arab world. That is why Tehran’s proxies now indirectly dominate four Arab capitals: Beirut, Damascus, Sana and Baghdad. ISIS, with all its awfulness, emerged as the homegrown Sunni Arab response to this crushing defeat of Sunni Arabism — mixing old pro-Saddam Baathists with medieval Sunni religious fanatics with a collection of ideologues, misfits and adventure-seekers from around the Sunni Muslim world. Obviously, I abhor ISIS and don’t want to see it spread or take over Iraq. I simply raise this question rhetorically because no one else is: Why is it in our interest to destroy the last Sunni bulwark to a total Iranian takeover of Iraq? Because the Shiite militias now leading the fight against ISIS will rule better? Really? If it seems as though we have only bad choices in the Middle East today and nothing seems to work, there is a reason: Because past is prologue, and the past has carved so much scar tissue into that landscape that it’s hard to see anything healthy or beautiful growing out of it anytime soon. Sorry to be so grim. Thomas Friedman (NYT)
The foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran. (…) The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East. It is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution. The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State. (…) Our withdrawal from Iraq in late 2011 contributed to a perception that the U.S. was pulling back from the Middle East. This perception has complicated our ability to shape developments in the region and thus to further our interests. These perceptions have also shaken many of our allies and, for a period at least, made it harder to persuade them to support our approaches. (…) Neither the Iranians nor Daesh are ten feet tall, but the perception in the region for the past few years has been that of the U.S. on the wane, and our adversaries on the rise. I hope that we can begin to reverse that now. David Petraeus
French leaders think the U.S. president is dangerously naïve on Iran’s ambitions, and that his notion of making Iran an « objective ally » in the war against ISIS, or even a partner, together with Putin’s Russia, to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, is both far-fetched and « amateurish. » When Claude Angéli says that both France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, and its President, François Hollande, have told friends that they rely on « the support of the US Congress » to prevent Obama from giving in to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it is the kind of quote you can take to the bank. French diplomats worry that if Iran gets nuclear weapons, every other local Middle East power will want them. Among their worst nightmares is a situation in which Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia join the Dr. Strangelove club. French diplomats may not like Israel, but they do not believe that the Israelis would use a nuclear device except in a truly Armageddon situation for Israel. As for Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Turkey going nuclear, however, they see terrifying possibilities: irresponsible leaders, or some ISIS-type terrorist outfit, could actually use them. In other words, even if they would never express it as clearly as that, they see Israelis as « like us, » but others potentially as madmen. The Quai d’Orsay (the French Foreign Ministry) may loathe, on principle, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: any briefing by French diplomats will, as a matter of course, explain how very wrong Israel is to alienate its « American ally. » All the same, France’s political stance on the projected U.S.-Iran deal is astonishingly close to that of the Israeli PM, as he outlined to the U.S. Congress on March 3. Laurent Fabius — once François Mitterrand’s youngest Prime Minister; today’s François Hollande’s seasoned Foreign Minister — is « fed up with Barack Obama’s nuclear laxity » regarding Iran, a Quai senior diplomat told Le Canard Enchaîné’s usually well-informed Claude Angéli, who can be relied on to give the unvarnished French view on matters foreign. « Just as in 2013, France will oppose any agreement too favorable to Iran if this turns out to be necessary. Fabius made this very clear to John Kerry when they met on Saturday March 7th. » This, Angéli points out, is far from the « soothing communiqué » issued at the end of the Kerry-Fabius meeting in which both men supposedly « shared » the same view of the Iran negotiations. The communiqué itself may have come as a surprise to a number of French MPs and Senators from their respective Foreign Affairs Committees. Fabius himself, in a meeting last week, made extremely clear his deep distrust (« contempt, really, » one MP says) of both John Kerry and Barack Obama. Another of the group quotes Fabius as saying: « The United States was really ready to sign just about anything with the Iranians, » before explaining that he himself had sent out, mid-February, a number of French ‘counter-proposals’ to the State Department and White House, in order to prevent an agreement too imbalanced in favor of Iran. Anne-Elisabeth Moutet
Une intéressante alliance des «faucons» se dessine de facto entre Paris, Jérusalem, le Congrès et les monarchies du Golfe, ­anxieuses d’un accord avec la Perse qui se ferait sur leur dos. Le Figaro (11.11.13)
We are not exactly impotent little babies. They [Israelis] have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch? (…) Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse. [Israeli jet fighters and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty in international waters, off the Sinai Peninsula, during the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel later claimed the ship was the object of friendly fire.] (…)  Obama has been very impressive in refining our policy toward the world on a lot of issues, very impressive. But he has been relatively much less impressive in the follow-through. (…) Not as precise, clear-cut, and forthcoming as would be desirable. (…) By now we should have been able to formulate a clearer posture on what we are prepared to do to promote a Palestinian-Israeli peace. Simply giving a frequent-traveler ticket to George Mitchell is not the same thing as policy. It took a long time to get going on Iran, but there is an excuse there, the Iranian domestic mess. And we are now eight months into the administration, and I would have thought by now we could have formulated a strategy that we would have considered “our” strategy for dealing with Iran and Pakistan. For example, the Carter administration, which is sometimes mocked, by now had in motion a policy of disarmament with the Russians, which the Russians didn’t like, but eventually bought; it had started a policy of normalization with the Chinese; it rammed through the Panama Canal treaty; and it was moving very, very openly toward an Israeli-Arab political peace initiative. (…) There was a closer connection between desire and execution. Also the president was not as deeply embroiled, and buffeted, by a very broad, and commendable and ambitious domestic program as President Obama is. I think the Republican onslaught to the president, the wavering of some Democrats, has vastly complicated not only his choices in foreign affairs, but even limited the amount of attention he can give to them. (…) I don’t think it’s the number of issues; it’s how decisively a president acts. A president, in his first year, is at the peak of his popularity, and if he acts decisively, even if some oppose him, most will rally around him, out of patriotism, out of opportunism, out of loyalty, out of the crowd instinct, just a variety of human motives. (…)  The first year is decisive. How much you can set in motion the first year sets the tone for much of the rest of the term. In part, that’s because all these things take more than one year to complete. But the point is you want to have a dynamic start that carries momentum with it. Zbigniew Brzezinski (2009)
A l’époque, pendant que nous étions en train de discuter avec les Européens à Téhéran, nous installions des équipements dans certaines parties d’Ispahan, et le projet était sur le point d’être complété. En réalité, c’est en créant un climat de sérénité, que nous avons pu achever Ispahan. Hassan Rohani (03.11.03)
What has been released by the website of the White House as a fact sheet is a one-sided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action (the title of the Iran-powers deal), and this fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true. Marziyeh Afkham (Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman)
Iran is already in violation of a number of Security Council resolutions demanding it cease all uranium enrichment and heavy water activity – a process used to create weapons-grade plutonium. Furthermore, none of this activity is even remotely necessary if Iran, as it claims, only wants a peaceful nuclear program. There are many countries that have nuclear power that do not have the capability to enrich their own fuel. They buy it from abroad and that’s what Iran could do. And that’s what the media are neglecting to tell you. There are over thirty countries around the world that have nuclear power programs but according to the World Nuclear Association, only eleven have the capacity to enrich their own fuel. Here are some of the countries that have nuclear energy but don’t enrich their own nuclear fuel: Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, South Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine. The fact is that, of countries that have enrichment capabilities, the majority also possess nuclear weapons. Countries that enrich nuclear materials but do not have nuclear weapons include Germany, Japan and the Netherlands. Countries that enrich and do have nuclear weapons include Pakistan, Russia and China. When you think of Iran, do you think it fits in with Germany, Japan and the Netherlands? Or, does it fit better with Pakistan, Russia and China? If that isn’t enough to make you uncomfortable, in a speech to the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council in 2005, Rouhani himself said: A country that could enrich uranium to about 3.5 percent will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90 percent. Having fuel cycle capability virtually means that a country that possesses this capability is able to produce nuclear weapons. Since Argentina, Armenia, Sweden and Spain can buy nuclear fuel from abroad, why can’t Iran? Since our neighbors Canada and Mexico can pursue this policy, why can’t Iran? Camera
La Corée du Nord a appris au monde qu’au poker nucléaire la folie feinte vous vaut de l’aide étrangère ou l’attention planétaire — du fait que même la certitude qu’on a affaire à un bluff à 99% reste suffisante pour effrayer les opinions publiques occidentales. La Corée du nord est le proverbial envieux psychopathe du quartier qui agresse constamment ses voisins prospères d’à côté, en partant du principe que les voisins ne pourront manquer de prendre en compte ses menaces aussi sauvages qu’absurdes parce qu’il n’a rien et qu’ils ont tout à perdre. (…) L’Iran pourrait reprendre à l’infini le modèle de Kim — menaçant une semaine de rayer Israël de la carte, faisant machine arrière la semaine d’après sous prétexte de problèmes de traduction. L’objectif ne serait pas nécessairement de détruire Israël (ce qui vaudrait à l’Iran la destruction de la culture persane pour un siècle), mais d’imposer une telle atmosphère d’inquiétude et de pessimisme à l’Etat juif que son économie en serait affaiblie, son émigration en serait encouragée et sa réputation géostratégique en serait érodée. La Corée du nord est passée maître dans de telles tactiques de chantage nucléaire. A certains moments, Pyongyang a même réussi à réduire les deux géants asiatiques – Japon et Corée du Sud – à la quasi-paralysie.(…) Un Iran nucléaire n’aurait à s’inquiéter ni d’un ennemi existentiel avec une population d’un milliard d’habitants à côté tel que l’Inde ni d’un mécène tout aussi peuplé comme la Chine susceptible d’imposer des lignes rouges à ses crises de folie périodiques. Téhéran serait libre au contraire de faire et de dire ce qu’il veut. Et son statut de puissance nucléaire deviendrait un multiplicateur de force pour son énorme richesse pétrolière et son statut auto-proclamé de leader mondial des musulmans chiites. Si la Corée du Nord est un danger, alors un Iran nucléaire plus gros, plus riche et sans dissuasion serait un cauchemar. Victor Davis Hanson
If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us. Obama
 What we intended as caution, the Iranians saw as weakness. Obama’s aide
On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important . . . to give me space. This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility. Obama (to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev)
At our urging, over months, Russia and Iran repeatedly reinforced our warning to Assad. We all sent the same message again and again: don’t do it. Susan Rice
I threatened [sic] kinetic strikes on Syria unless they got rid of their chemical weapons. Obama (March 2014)
The “good news is that Assad’s allies, both Russia and Iran, recognize that this [use of sarin] was—this was a breach, that this was a problem. And for them to potentially put pressure on Assad to say, ‘Let’s figure out a way that the international community gets control of . . . these weapons in a verifiable and forcible way’—I think it’s something that we will run to ground. Obama
 “[I]f as a consequence of a deal on their nuclear program, those voices and trends inside of Iran are strengthened, and their economy becomes more integrated into the international community, and there’s more travel and greater openness, even if that takes a decade or 15 years or 20 years, then that’s very much an outcome we should desire. Obama
The White House version both underplays the [American] concessions and overplays Iranian commitments. The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program. That is the word they use time and again. Javad Zarif (Iranian foreign minister)
Nous avons rappelé que ce genre de discours était contraire aux traditions d’Israël. Bien que ce pays soit fondé sur une terre historiquement juive, et sur le besoin de créer une nation juive, la démocratie israélienne repose sur la notion que tous ses citoyens sont égaux en droits. C’est ce qui fait la grandeur de cette démocratie. Si cela venait à changer, je pense que cela donnerait des arguments à ceux qui ne veulent pas d’un Etat juif, et que cela affaiblirait la démocratie israélienne (…) Disons que nous lui faisons confiance quand il dit que cela n’arrivera pas tant qu’il sera Premier ministre. C’est pourquoi nous devons explorer d’autres options afin d’empêcher que la région ne sombre dans le chaos. J’ai eu l’occasion de parler hier à M. Netanyahu. Je l’ai félicité pour sa victoire, et je lui ai réaffirmé mon attachement  à une solution à deux États qui est, de notre point de vue, la seule garantie sur le long terme de la sécurité d’Israël, en tant qu’État juif et démocratique. Je lui ai également rappelé qu’après ses récentes déclarations, il serait difficile de croire qu’Israël est sérieusement attaché à la poursuite des négociations. Cependant, nous continuerons d’insister sur le fait que, du point de vue des États-Unis, le statu quo est intenable, a poursuivi le président américain. Nous sommes attachés à la sécurité d’Israël, mais il n’est pas possible de poursuivre cette voie éternellement, avec l’implantation de nouvelles colonies. C’est un facteur d’instabilité dans la région. (…) Il faut tout d’abord que les Iraniens démontrent clairement qu’ils ne fabriquent pas de bombes nucléaires, et qu’ils nous laissent toute latitude pour nous en assurer. (…) Il n’y aura pas d’accord tant que tout n’aura pas été résolu. (…) Je dois avouer que les Iraniens n’ont pas fait jusqu’ici les compromis que j’estime indispensables pour parvenir à cet accord. Mais ils se sont montrés ouverts, ce qui laisse la porte ouverte à la recherche d’une solution (…). Je vais devoir démontrer au peuple américain, mais aussi aux Israéliens et au reste du monde, que nous avons mis en place des mécanismes qui empêcheront l’Iran d’accéder à la bombe atomique (…) Il est évident que beaucoup d’Israéliens se méfient, à juste titre, de leur voisin iranien. L’Iran a tenu des propos ignobles et antisémites, et menacé Israël d’annihilation. C’est précisément pour cela que j’ai dit, avant même de devenir président, que l’Iran ne devait pas disposer de l’arme nucléaire. Barack Obama
There was a free and fair democratic election, the only nation in the region that will have such a thing.  The president should get over it.  Get over your temper tantrum, Mr. President.  It’s time that we work together with our Israeli friends and try to stem this tide of ISIS and Iranian movement throughout the region, which is threatening the very fabric of the region.  The least of your problems is what Bibi Netanyahu said during an election campaign.  If every politician were held to everything they say in a political campaign, obviously, that would be a topic of long discussion. But the point is, is the J.V., as the president described them, is just moving over into Yemen.  We see this horrible situation in Libya. We see ISIS everywhere in the world.  We see the Iranians now backing the Shia militias in Tikrit, where they’re going to – where they’re going to massacre a number of Sunnis. And it is – the guy in charge is a guy named Suleimani, who – who imported – excuse me – I will catch up here – Suleimani moved thousands of copper-tipped IEDs into Iraq and killed hundreds of American soldiers and Marines.  And the president of the United States is praising the mullahs and their behavior in the region. (…) I wish he had spoken to the people of Iran in 2009, when they rose up against a corrupt election and he refused to speak out on their behalf while they were chanting ‘Obama, Obama, are you with us or are you with them?’ Again, does anyone – does he believe that anyone in Iran is able to speak up?  Are they able to speak up for anything that the mullahs disagree with?  They’re either jailed or killed.  Again, this is a view, a world view the president has which is totally divorced from reality. John McCain
What was not well reported in the American media is that President Obama and his allies were playing in the election to defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu. There was money moving that included taxpayer U.S. dollars, through non-profit organizations. And there were various liberal groups in the United States that were raising millions to fund a campaign called V15 against Prime Minister Netanyahu. (…) an effort to oust Netanyahu was guided by former Obama political operative Jeremy Bird and that V15, or Victory 15, ads hurt Netanyahu in the polls. John McLaughlin (Republican strategist)
Un premier avion iranien est arrivé dimanche à Sanaa, au lendemain de la signature d’un accord entre Téhéran et des responsables de l’aviation de la capitale yéménite, contrôlée par la milice chiite des Houthis, a constaté un photographe de l’AFP. L’appareil de la compagnie Mahan Air est arrivé à Sanaa avec à son bord une équipe du Croissant rouge iranien et des caisses de médicaments, a précisé à l’AFP un responsable de l’aviation yéménite. Il a ajouté que des diplomates iraniens étaient présents pour accueillir ce vol, le premier entre les deux pays depuis des années. AFP (01.03.15)
Des photos et des vidéos amateur prouvent que Qassem Soleimani, le commandant des forces d’élites iraniennes, est en Irak et se bat au côté des forces irakiennes – soutenues et armées par les États-unis – contre les jihadistes de l’organisation de l’État islamique. (…) Les preuves de la présence de ce commandant iranien en Irak se multiplient donc alors même que l’Iran refuse d’admettre sa participation dans la guerre en Irak contre l’organisation de l’État islamique, ce qui reviendrait à officialiser sa collaboration militaire de fait avec les États-Unis. France 24 (04.09.14)
Hezbollah was formed in Lebanon as a popular force like Basij (Iran’s militia). Similarly popular forces were also formed in Syria and Iraq, and today we are watching the formation of Ansarollah in Yemen. Hojatoleslam Ali Shirazi (representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force)
Ansarollah is a similar copy of Hezbollah in a strategic area. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami
We witness today that our revolution is exported to Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Ali Akbar Nategh-Nuri (former speaker of Iran’s Majles and head of the Office of Inspection of the House of the Supreme Leader)
The Islamic Republic’s borders … are now transferred to the farthest points in the Middle East. Today, the strategic depth of Iran stretches to Mediterranean coasts and Bab al-Mandab Strait [southwest of Yemen]. Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Said (supreme leader’s representative in the IRGC)
Mort à l’Amérique, parce que l’Amérique est la source d’origine de cette pression. Ils insistent à mettre la pression sur l’économie de nos chères personnes. Quel est leur objectif ? Leur objectif est de monter les gens contre le système. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei  (20.03.15)
In the giddy aftermath of Obama’s electoral victory in 2008, anything seemed possible. The president saw himself as a transformational leader, not just in domestic politics but also in the international arena, where, as he believed, he had been elected to reverse the legacy of his predecessor, George W. Bush. To say that Obama regarded Bush’s foreign policy as anachronistic is an understatement. To him it was a caricature of yesteryear, the foreign-policy equivalent of Leave It to Beaver. Obama’s mission was to guide America out of Bushland, an arena in which the United States assembled global military coalitions to defeat enemies whom it depicted in terms like “Axis of Evil,” and into Obamaworld, a place more attuned to the nuances, complexities, and contradictions—and opportunities—of the 21st century. In today’s globalized environment, Obama told the United Nations General Assembly in September 2009, “our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. . . . No balance of power among nations will hold.” If, in Bushland, America had behaved like a sheriff, assembling a posse to go in search of monsters, in Obamaworld America would disarm its rivals by ensnaring them in a web of cooperation. For the new president, nothing revealed the conceptual inadequacies of Bushland more clearly than the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Before coming to Washington, Obama had opposed the toppling of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein; once in the U.S. Senate, he rejected Bush’s “surge” and introduced legislation to end the war. Shortly after his inauguration in January 2009, he pledged to bring the troops home quickly—a commitment that he would indeed honor. But if calling for withdrawal from Iraq had been a relatively easy position to take for a senator, for a president it raised a key practical question: beyond abstract nostrums like “no nation can . . . dominate another nation,” what new order should replace the American-led system that Bush had been building? This was, and remains, the fundamental strategic question that Obama has faced in the Middle East, though one would search his speeches in vain for an answer to it. But Obama does have a relatively concrete vision. When he arrived in Washington in 2006, he absorbed a set of ideas that had incubated on Capitol Hill during the previous three years—ideas that had received widespread attention thanks to the final report of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan congressional commission whose co-chairs, former secretary of state James Baker and former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, interpreted their mission broadly, offering advice on all key aspects of Middle East policy. (…) Expressing the ethos of an influential segment of the foreign-policy elite, the Baker-Hamilton report became the blueprint for the foreign policy of the Obama administration, and its spirit continues to pervade Obama’s inner circle. Denis McDonough, now the president’s chief of staff, once worked as an aide to Lee Hamilton; so did Benjamin Rhodes, who helped write the Iraq Study Group’s report. Obama not only adopted the blueprint but took it one step further, recruiting Vladimir Putin’s Russia as another candidate for membership in the new club. The administration’s early “reset” with Russia and its policy of reaching out to Iran and Syria formed two parts of a single vision. If, in Bushland, America had behaved like a sheriff, assembling a posse (“a coalition of the willing”) to go in search of monsters, in Obamaworld America would disarm its rivals by ensnaring them in a web of cooperation. To rid the world of rogues and tyrants, one must embrace and soften them. (…) The same desire to accommodate Iran has tailored Obama’s strategy toward the terrorist group Islamic State. (…) The administration has indeed subtly exploited the rise of terrorist enclaves to elevate Obama’s outreach to Iran. Behind the scenes, coordination and consultation have reached new heights. (…) With American acquiescence, Iran is steadily taking control of the security sector of the Iraqi state. Soon it will dominate the energy sector as well, giving it effective control over the fifth largest oil reserves in the world. When the announced goal of the United States is to build up a moderate Sunni bloc capable of driving a wedge between Islamic State and the Sunni communities, aligning with Iran is politically self-defeating. In both Iraq and Syria, Iran projects its power through sectarian militias that slaughter Sunni Muslims with abandon. Are there any Sunni powers in the region that see American outreach to Tehran as a good thing? Are there any military-aged Sunni men in Iraq and Syria who now see the United States as a friendly power? There are none. (…) Over the last three years, Obama has given Iran a free hand in Syria and Iraq, on the simplistic assumption that Tehran would combat al-Qaeda and like-minded groups in a manner serving American interests. The result, in both countries, has been the near-total alienation of all Sunnis and the development of an extremist safe haven that now stretches from the outskirts of Baghdad all the way to Damascus. America is now applying to the disease a larger dose of the snake oil that helped cause the malady in the first place. The approach is detrimental to American interests in other arenas as well. We received a portent of things to come on January 18 of this year, when the Israel Defense Forces struck a convoy of senior Hizballah and Iranian officers, including a general in the Revolutionary Guards, in the Golan Heights. Ten days later, Hizballah and Iran retaliated. In other words, by treating Syria as an Iranian sphere of interest, Obama is allowing the shock troops of Iran to dig in on the border of Israel—not to mention the border of Jordan. (…) In November 2013, when Obama purchased the participation of Iran in the Joint Plan of Action, he established a basic asymmetry that has remained a key feature of the negotiations ever since. He traded permanent American concessions for Iranian gestures of temporary restraint. (…)  The most significant such gestures by Iran were to dilute its stockpiles of uranium enriched to 20 percent; to refrain from installing new centrifuges; and to place a hold on further construction of the Arak plutonium reactor. All three, however, can be easily reversed. By contrast, the Americans recognized the Iranian right to enrich and agreed to the principle that all restrictions on Iran’s program would be of a limited character and for a defined period of time. These two concessions are major, and because they are not just the policy of the United States government but now the collective position of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, they will likely never be reversed. (…) We can say with certainty that Obama has had no illusions about this asymmetry—that he conducted the negotiations with his eyes wide open—because the White House took pains to hide the truth from the American public. In 2013, instead of publishing the text of the JPOA, it issued a highly misleading fact sheet. Peppered with terms like “halt,” “roll back,” and “dismantle,” the document left the impression that the Iranians had agreed to destroy their nuclear program. (…) Over the last year, Obama has reportedly allowed Iran to retain, in one form or another, its facilities at Natanz, Fordow, and Arak—sites that Iran built in flagrant violation of the NPT to which it is a signatory. This is the same Obama who declared at the outset of negotiations that the Iranians “don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. They certainly don’t need a heavy-water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. . . . And so the question ultimately is going to be, are they prepared to roll back some of the advancements that they’ve made.” The answer to his question, by now, is clear: the Iranians will not roll back anything. The president believes that globalization and economic integration will induce Tehran to forgo its nuclear ambitions. Meanwhile Iran’s rulers are growing stronger, bolder, and ever closer to nuclear breakout capacity. (…) In making his personal rift with Netanyahu the subject of intense public debate, the White House means to direct attention away from the strategic rift between them—and from the fact that the entire Israeli elite, regardless of political orientation, as well as much of the U.S. Congress, regards the president’s conciliatory approach to Iran as profoundly misguided. Meanwhile, the president is depicting his congressional critics as irresponsible warmongers. He would have us believe that there are only two options: his undeclared détente with Iran and yet another war in the Middle East. This is a false choice. It ignores the one policy that every president since Jimmy Carter has pursued till now: vigorous containment on all fronts, not just in the nuclear arena. Obama, however, is intent on obscuring this option, and for a simple reason: an honest debate about it would force him to come clean with the American people and admit the depth of his commitment to the strategy whose grim results are multiplying by the day. Michael Doran
Given all we know, I would argue that Obama’s mission is to guide America not only out of Bushland (as Doran puts it) but out of Rooseveltland, Kennedyland, and Clintonland—and indeed to reverse most of the foreign-policy legacy of his own party, with the exception of that of Wallace and its 1972 candidate for the presidency, George McGovern. The ideas espoused by Obama “incubated” decades ago, and were most likely adopted back at Columbia University or in the Chicago kitchen of his friends of Weathermen fame, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. (…) The enduring hold of that ideology is visible not only in his Iran policy but also, most recently, with respect to Cuba. There, too, he has reversed decades of American foreign policy, and has done so, as in the case of Iran, without seeking any deep concessions from the Castro regime. In concluding the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action with Iran, Doran notes, Obama accepted a “basic asymmetry,” trading permanent American concessions [in exchange] for Iranian gestures of temporary restraint.” Similarly, in Cuba, Obama’s recent deal—call it another “Joint Plan of Action”—abandons previous American demands for real political change on the island prior to any lifting of the embargo. And just as he has offered his regrets to Tehran for the (long exaggerated) American role in the 1953 overthrow of the Mossadegh government, so too has he expressed apologies—in this case, in a telephone call with Raul Castro—“for taking such a long time” to change U.S. policy. In both instances, Obama has acted not to advance American national interests but to make amends for U.S. policies and actions that he views as the immoral and retrograde detritus of the “cold-war mentality.” (…) One need only look at the success of the Reagan administration in dealing with the Soviet Union to know that military power, strong alliances, and ideological clarity—what Doran refers to as “vigorous containment on all fronts”—do not lead to war. They lead to success. Elliott Abrams
In Dueck’s judgment, Obama’s approach to the world is predicated first and foremost on his bedrock intention to be a “transformational” president. The transformation in question is largely domestic—hence his preoccupation with the Affordable Care Act, which remakes a rather large swath of the American economy. Abroad, and in aid of the main focus on his domestic agenda (“nation-building at home”), the president’s overwhelming objective has been to keep international affairs at bay. But when world events do inevitably impose themselves, Obama is no less confident of his unique ability to exert a transformational impact.  (…) As Dueck sees it, the strategy is twofold: retrenchment, and accommodation. Retrenchment means liquidating some of what Obama construes to be overinvestments the U.S. has made around the world, particularly in the Middle East, while also reducing the strength of the U.S. military—since, in his view, our temptation to resort to military force has itself been responsible for many of the world’s ills. Accommodation, in turn, means reaching out and “engaging” America’s adversaries, thereby turning them, in the common phrase, from part of the problem into part of the solution. Understanding this strategy of retrenchment and accommodation is a useful vehicle for explaining many apparently discrete episodes in Obama’s tenure, from the early “strategic reassurance” of China, to the “reset” of relations with Russia, and of course to the “open hand” approach to Tehran that Michael Doran dissects so well. It also clarifies the chronic neglect of allies, and it illuminates, as Abrams rightly underlines, the president’s chronic need—the political equivalent of Tourette syndrome—to express regret and apologize publicly for past exercises of American power in pursuit of our national interests. (…) What distinguishes Obama is the ideological aversion to American power and the formulation of a strategy whose overriding impetus is to constrain that power. The scandal is not that the administration has kept this a secret but that a supine press and intellectual class have failed—“declined” may be the better (if much too polite) word—to explain it to the American people. Eric Edelman
As former George W. Bush White House aide Michael Doran meticulously lays out in his recently published tour-de-force “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,” the U.S.-Iran partnership that is reshaping the Middle East has been in the making since Obama first came to office. The most salient point then about the current P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran isn’t the nuclear issue, but the fact that they create a channel to allow both sides to keep talking—which means that all sorts of subjects are going to come up, from Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon to Yemen and maybe even other thorny issues, like Argentina and the Nisman investigation into Iran’s alleged role in the bombing of the Israeli embassy in 1992 and Jewish Community Center in 1994. U.S. response to everything in the region is now tied to the fate of the Iranian nuclear program, which in turn is simply the linchpin of Obama’s larger vision of a partnership between Washington and Tehran. (…) From Iran’s perspective, then, it controls not only four Arab capitals, but it also holds Washington captive. (…)  First of all, it’s not clear how Iran can accept any permanent agreement with the White House about the nuclear program, or anything else, for that matter. From Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ perspective, a deal might empower President Hassan Rouhani at their expense. From Rouhani’s perspective, a deal might make him, a so-called moderate, superfluous as someone who’s already played his role. Most important, there is the point of view of Khamenei, which partakes of the historic rationale of the Islamic Republic. Its founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini promised one thing—not to raise the standard of living or educate women, nor even to hasten the return of the Mahdi, but rather that the life of a genuine Muslim rested on the pillar of resistance against the godless, the arrogant West, especially America. Signing an accord with the Great Satan would undermine the fundamental legitimacy of the regime. Obama wants a deal with Iran so much in large part because he doesn’t think the United States should be the world’s policeman—and he’s right. Our oil and natural gas industry won’t make us energy independent but it makes us less dependent and we simply don’t need that high a profile in a part of the world that has seldom returned our love. So, why keep shedding blood and spending money—as well as domestic political capital—in the Middle East? The answer is not that we need to look out for the world’s interests, but that we need to continue protecting our own. A nuclear weapon in the hands of an expansionist regime doesn’t get the United States out of the Middle East. It puts Iran on our doorstep, by turning the clerical regime into an aggressive global nuclear-armed power. There can’t be much question by now about what Iran has in mind for the Middle East, or for other countries that it enlists in its schemes, like Argentina. What Iran wants makes the world a more dangerous place for Americans. The question is not whether there’s a deal to be had with Iran, but if it’s too late to crash the comprehensive agreement the White House has already struck with our new regional partner—whose sickening consequences are plain to see. Lee Smith

Et si la queue se révélait plus maline que le chien ?

Refus de bombarder la Syrie, hostilité contre ses alliés israéliens et égyptiens ou à présent français, abandon de l’Irak, de la Libye et maintenant, sans armes ni bagages, du Yemen, fourniture de renseignement au Hezbollah …

A l’heure où le monde se gratte la tête devant une politique étrangère américaine de plus en plus déroutante

Qui, après Baghdad, Damas et Beirut, vient de livrer avec Sanaa pas moins de quatre capitales arabes à son prétendu pire ennemi

Et réussit l’exploit, comme l’expliquait le Figaro il y a deux ans, de réunir à nouveau contre elle « une intéressante alliance des «faucons» de facto entre Paris, Jérusalem, le Congrès et les monarchies du Golfe » …

Pendant que pour avoir tenté d’alerter le monde sur le danger nucléaire iranien, le Premier ministre sortant israélien se voyait accuser de « remuer le chien »

Comment ne pas repenser …

A la lecture de la brillante déconstruction de la doctrine Obama sur l’Iran par l’ancien conseiller de George Bush Michael Doran …

A cette excellente comédie de Barry Levinson de la fin des années 90 (Wag the dog – titre français: Des hommes d’influence) …

Où, selon l’expression anglaise du titre, un président américain n’était pas loin de lancer une guerre pour détourner l’attention médiatique d’une histoire de moeurs risquant de menacer sa réélection ?

Sauf que le chien dont il faudrait cette fois détourner l’attention (graal de la diplomatie américaine depuis plus de 40 ans) ne serait autre que l’entente avec un régime …

Qui ne peut tout simplement pas renoncer, sans signer son arrêt de mort immédiat, à sa vitale capacité de nuisance …

Et que la queue censée servir de diversion ne serait rien de moins que la discussion sur l’acquisition par ce dernier…

De l’arme nucléaire ?

Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy
The president has long been criticized for his lack of strategic vision. But what if a strategy, centered on Iran, has been in place from the start and consistently followed to this day?
Michael Doran
Mosc
Feb. 2 2015

About the author
Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the National Security Council. He is finishing a book on President Eisenhower and the Middle East. He tweets @doranimated.

President Barack Obama wishes the Islamic Republic of Iran every success. Its leaders, he explained in a recent interview, stand at a crossroads. They can choose to press ahead with their nuclear program, thereby continuing to flout the will of the international community and further isolate their country; or they can accept limitations on their nuclear ambitions and enter an era of harmonious relations with the rest of the world. “They have a path to break through that isolation and they should seize it,” the president urged—because “if they do, there’s incredible talent and resources and sophistication . . . inside of Iran, and it would be a very successful regional power.”

How eager is the president to see Iran break through its isolation and become a very successful regional power? Very eager. A year ago, Benjamin Rhodes, deputy national-security adviser for strategic communication and a key member of the president’s inner circle, shared some good news with a friendly group of Democratic-party activists. The November 2013 nuclear agreement between Tehran and the “P5+1”—the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany—represented, he said, not only “the best opportunity we’ve had to resolve the Iranian [nuclear] issue,” but “probably the biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy.” For the administration, Rhodes emphasized, “this is healthcare . . . , just to put it in context.” Unaware that he was being recorded, he then confided to his guests that Obama was planning to keep Congress in the dark and out of the picture: “We’re already kind of thinking through, how do we structure a deal so we don’t necessarily require legislative action right away.”

Why the need to bypass Congress? Rhodes had little need to elaborate. As the president himself once noted balefully, “[T]here is hostility and suspicion toward Iran, not just among members of Congress but the American people”—and besides, “members of Congress are very attentive to what Israel says on its security issues.” And that “hostility and suspicion” still persist, prompting the president in his latest State of the Union address to repeat his oft-stated warning that he will veto “any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo [the] progress” made so far toward a “comprehensive agreement” with the Islamic Republic.

As far as the president is concerned, the less we know about his Iran plans, the better. Yet those plans, as Rhodes stressed, are not a minor or incidental component of his foreign policy. To the contrary, they are central to his administration’s strategic thinking about the role of the United States in the world, and especially in the Middle East.

Moreover, that has been true from the beginning. In the first year of Obama’s first term, a senior administration official would later tell David Sanger of the New York Times, “There were more [White House] meetings on Iran than there were on Iraq, Afghanistan, and China. It was the thing we spent the most time on and talked about the least in public [emphasis added].” All along, Obama has regarded his hoped-for “comprehensive agreement” with Iran as an urgent priority, and, with rare exceptions, has consistently wrapped his approach to that priority in exceptional layers of secrecy.

From time to time, critics and even friends of the president have complained vocally about the seeming disarray or fecklessness of the administration’s handling of foreign policy. Words like amateurish, immature, and incompetent are bandied about; what’s needed, we’re told, is less ad-hoc fumbling, more of a guiding strategic vision. Most recently, Leslie Gelb, a former government official and past president of the Council on Foreign Relations, has charged that “the Obama team lacks the basic instincts and judgment necessary to conduct U.S. national-security policy,” and has urged the president to replace the entire inner core of his advisers with “strong and strategic people of proven . . . experience.”

One sympathizes with Gelb’s sense of alarm, but his premises are mistaken. Inexperience is a problem in this administration, but there is no lack of strategic vision. Quite the contrary: a strategy has been in place from the start, and however clumsily it may on occasion have been implemented, and whatever resistance it has generated abroad or at home, Obama has doggedly adhered to the policies that have flowed from it.

In what follows, we’ll trace the course of the most important of those policies and their contribution to the president’s announced determination to encourage and augment Iran’s potential as a successful regional power and as a friend and partner to the United States.

2009-2010: Round One, Part I

In the giddy aftermath of Obama’s electoral victory in 2008, anything seemed possible. The president saw himself as a transformational leader, not just in domestic politics but also in the international arena, where, as he believed, he had been elected to reverse the legacy of his predecessor, George W. Bush. To say that Obama regarded Bush’s foreign policy as anachronistic is an understatement. To him it was a caricature of yesteryear, the foreign-policy equivalent of Leave It to Beaver. Obama’s mission was to guide America out of Bushland, an arena in which the United States assembled global military coalitions to defeat enemies whom it depicted in terms like “Axis of Evil,” and into Obamaworld, a place more attuned to the nuances, complexities, and contradictions—and opportunities—of the 21st century. In today’s globalized environment, Obama told the United Nations General Assembly in September 2009, “our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. . . . No balance of power among nations will hold.”

If, in Bushland, America had behaved like a sheriff, assembling a posse to go in search of monsters, in Obamaworld America would disarm its rivals by ensnaring them in a web of cooperation.
For the new president, nothing revealed the conceptual inadequacies of Bushland more clearly than the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Before coming to Washington, Obama had opposed the toppling of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein; once in the U.S. Senate, he rejected Bush’s “surge” and introduced legislation to end the war. Shortly after his inauguration in January 2009, he pledged to bring the troops home quickly—a commitment that he would indeed honor. But if calling for withdrawal from Iraq had been a relatively easy position to take for a senator, for a president it raised a key practical question: beyond abstract nostrums like “no nation can . . . dominate another nation,” what new order should replace the American-led system that Bush had been building?

This was, and remains, the fundamental strategic question that Obama has faced in the Middle East, though one would search his speeches in vain for an answer to it. But Obama does have a relatively concrete vision. When he arrived in Washington in 2006, he absorbed a set of ideas that had incubated on Capitol Hill during the previous three years—ideas that had received widespread attention thanks to the final report of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan congressional commission whose co-chairs, former secretary of state James Baker and former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton, interpreted their mission broadly, offering advice on all key aspects of Middle East policy.

The report, published in December 2006, urged then-President Bush to take four major steps: withdraw American troops from Iraq; surge American troops in Afghanistan; reinvigorate the Arab-Israeli “peace process”; and, last but far from least, launch a diplomatic engagement of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its junior partner, the Assad regime in Syria. Baker and Hamilton believed that Bush stood in thrall to Israel and was therefore insufficiently alive to the benefits of cooperating with Iran and Syria. Those two regimes, supposedly, shared with Washington the twin goals of stabilizing Iraq and defeating al-Qaeda and other Sunni jihadi groups. In turn, this shared interest would provide a foundation for building a concert system of states—a club of stable powers that could work together to contain the worst pathologies of the Middle East and lead the way to a sunnier future.

Expressing the ethos of an influential segment of the foreign-policy elite, the Baker-Hamilton report became the blueprint for the foreign policy of the Obama administration, and its spirit continues to pervade Obama’s inner circle. Denis McDonough, now the president’s chief of staff, once worked as an aide to Lee Hamilton; so did Benjamin Rhodes, who helped write the Iraq Study Group’s report. Obama not only adopted the blueprint but took it one step further, recruiting Vladimir Putin’s Russia as another candidate for membership in the new club. The administration’s early “reset” with Russia and its policy of reaching out to Iran and Syria formed two parts of a single vision. If, in Bushland, America had behaved like a sheriff, assembling a posse (“a coalition of the willing”) to go in search of monsters, in Obamaworld America would disarm its rivals by ensnaring them in a web of cooperation. To rid the world of rogues and tyrants, one must embrace and soften them.

How would this work in the case of Iran? During the Bush years, an elaborate myth had developed according to which the mullahs in Tehran had themselves reached out in friendship to Washington, offering a “grand bargain”: a deal on everything from regional security to nuclear weapons. The swaggering Bush, however, had slapped away the outstretched Iranian hand, squandering the opportunity of a lifetime to normalize U.S.-Iranian relations and thereby bring order to the entire Middle East.

Obama based his policy of outreach to Tehran on two key assumptions of the grand-bargain myth: that Tehran and Washington were natural allies, and that Washington itself was the primary cause of the enmity between the two. If only the United States were to adopt a less belligerent posture, so the thinking went, Iran would reciprocate. In his very first television interview from the White House, Obama announced his desire to talk to the Iranians, to see “where there are potential avenues for progress.” Echoing his inaugural address, he said, “[I]f countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.”

Unfortunately, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, ignored the president’s invitation. Five months later, in June 2009, when the Green Movement was born, his autocratic fist was still clenched. As the streets of Tehran exploded in the largest anti-government demonstrations the country had seen since the revolution of 1979, he used that fist to beat down the protesters. For their part, the protesters, hungry for democratic reform and enraged by government rigging of the recent presidential election, appealed to Obama for help. He responded meekly, issuing tepid statements of support while maintaining a steady posture of neutrality. To alienate Khamenei, after all, might kill the dream of a new era in U.S.-Iranian relations.

If this show of deference was calculated to warm the dictator’s heart, it failed. “What we intended as caution,” one of Obama’s aides would later tell a reporter, “the Iranians saw as weakness.” Indeed, the president’s studied “caution” may even have emboldened Tehran to push forward, in yet another in the long series of blatant violations of its obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), with its construction of a secret uranium enrichment facility in an underground bunker at Fordow, near Qom.

When members of Iran’s Green Movement appealed to Obama for help in 2009, he responded meekly—after all, to alienate Khamenei might kill the dream of a new era in U.S.-Iranian relations.
This time, Obama reacted. Revealing the bunker’s existence, he placed Khamenei in a tough spot. The Russians, who had been habitually more lenient toward the Iranian nuclear program than the Americans, were irritated by the disclosure of this clandestine activity; the French were moved to demand a strong Western response.

But when Khamenei finessed the situation by adopting a seemingly more flexible attitude toward negotiations, Obama quickly obliged. Delighted to find a receptive Iranian across the table, he dismissed the French call for toughness, instead volunteering a plan that would meet Iran’s desire to keep most of its nuclear infrastructure intact while proving to the world that it was not stockpiling fissile material for a bomb. In keeping with his larger aspirations, the president also placed Moscow at the center of the action, proposing that the Iranians transfer their enriched uranium to Russia in exchange for fuel rods capable of powering a nuclear reactor but not of being used in a bomb. The Iranian negotiators, displaying their new spirit of compromise, accepted the terms. Even President Ahmadinejad, the notorious hardliner, pronounced himself on board.

Obama, it seemed to some, had pulled off a major coup. Less than a year after taking office, he was turning his vision of a new Middle East order into a reality. Or was he? Once the heat was off, Khamenei reneged on the deal, throwing the president back to square one and in the process weakening him politically at home, where congressional skeptics of his engagement policy now began lobbying for more stringent economic sanctions on Tehran. To protect his flank, Obama tacked rightward, appropriating, if with visible reluctance, some of his opponents’ rhetoric and bits of their playbook as well. In 2010, he signed into law the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA), which eventually would prove more painful to Iran than any previous measure of its kind.

In later years, whenever Obama would stand accused of being soft on Iran, he would invariably point to CISADA as evidence to the contrary. “[O]ver the course of several years,” he stated in March 2014, “we were able to enforce an unprecedented sanctions regime that so crippled the Iranian economy that they were willing to come to the table.” The “table” in question was the negotiation resulting in the November 2013 agreement, known as the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), which we shall come to in due course. But masked in the president’s boast was the fact that he had actually opposed CISADA, which was rammed down his throat by a Senate vote of 99 to zero.

Once the bill became law, a cadre of talented and dedicated professionals in the Treasury Department set to work implementing it. But the moment of presumed “convergence” between Obama and his congressional skeptics proved temporary and tactical; their fundamental difference in outlook would become much more apparent in the president’s second term. For the skeptics, the way to change Khamenei’s behavior was to place him before a stark choice: dismantle Iran’s nuclear program—period—or face catastrophic consequences. For Obama, to force a confrontation with Khamenei would destroy any chance of reaching an accommodation on the nuclear front and put paid to his grand vision of a new Middle East order.

2011-2012: Round One, Part II

“The hardest cross I have to bear is the Cross of Lorraine,” Winston Churchill supposedly cracked about managing his wartime relations with Charles de Gaulle. As Obama sees it, his hardest cross to bear has been the Star of David, represented by Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

To the Israelis, who have long regarded Iran’s nuclear program as an existential threat, Obama’s engagement policy was misguided from the start. Their assessment mattered, because influential Americans listened to them. What was more, American Jews constituted an important segment of the Democratic party’s popular base and an even more important segment of its donors. In the election year of 2012, for Obama to be perceived as indifferent to Israeli security would jeopardize his prospects of a second term—and hardly among Jews alone.

When the Israelis threatened to attack Iran, Obama responded by putting Israel in a bear hug. From one angle, it looked like an expression of friendship. From another, like an effort to break Netanyahu’s ribs.
The Israelis did more than just criticize Obama; they also threatened to take action against Iran that would place the president in an intolerable dilemma. In 2011, Ehud Barak, the defense minister at the time, announced that Iran was quickly approaching a “zone of immunity,” meaning that its nuclear program would henceforth be impervious to Israeli attack. As Iran approached that zone, Israel would have no choice but to strike. And what would America do then? The Israeli warnings grew ever starker as the presidential election season heated up. Netanyahu, it seemed, was using the threat of Israeli action as a way of prodding Washington itself to take a harder line.

To this challenge, Obama responded by putting Israel in a bear hug. From one angle, it looked like an expression of profound friendship: the president significantly increased military and intelligence cooperation, and he insisted, fervently and loudly, that his policy was to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon by all means possible. With the aid of influential American Jews and Israelis who testified to his sincerity, Obama successfully blunted the force of the charge that he was hostile to Israel.

From another angle, however, the bear hug looked like an effort to break Netanyahu’s ribs. Even while expressing affection for Israel, Obama found ways to signal his loathing for its prime minister. During one tense meeting at the White House, for example, the president abruptly broke off to join his family for dinner, leaving Netanyahu to wait for him alone. In mitigation, Obama supporters would adduce ongoing friction between the two countries over West Bank settlements and peace negotiations with the Palestinians. This was true enough, but the two men differed on quite a number of issues, among which Iran held by far the greatest strategic significance. In managing the anxieties of his liberal Jewish supporters, Obama found it useful to explain the bad atmosphere as a function of Netanyahu’s “extremism” rather than of his own outreach to Iran—to suggest, in effect, that if only the hothead in the room would sit down and shut up, the grownups could proceed to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem along reasonable lines.

The tactic proved effective. At least for the duration, Obama prevented Israel from attacking Iran; preserved American freedom of action with regard to Iran’s nuclear program; and kept his disagreements with the Israeli government within the comfort zone of American Jewish Democrats.

If, however, Netanyahu was Obama’s biggest regional headache, there was no lack of others. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was certainly the most consequential. Obama had assumed that the king would welcome his approach to the Middle East as a breath of fresh air. After all, the Baker-Hamilton crowd regarded the Arab-Israeli conflict as the major irritant in relations between the United States and the Arabs. Bush’s close alignment with Israel, so the thinking went, had damaged those relations; by contrast, Obama, the moment he took office, announced his goal of solving the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all, and followed up by picking a fight with Netanyahu over Jewish settlements in the West Bank. How could the Saudis react with anything but pleasure?

In fact, they distanced themselves—bluntly and publicly. While meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the end of July 2009, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal announced that Obama’s approach to solving the Arab-Israeli conflict “has not and, we believe, will not lead to peace.” Behind that statement lay a complex of attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself, but much more than that. At the end of the Bush administration, King Abdullah had made his top regional priority abundantly clear when, according to leaked State Department documents, he repeatedly urged the United States to destroy Iran’s nuclear program and thereby “cut off the head of the snake” in the Middle East.

When Obama strode into office and announced his desire to kiss the snake, the Saudis lost no time in making their displeasure felt. Three months later, the king responded gruffly to an extensive presentation on Obama’s outreach program by Dennis Ross, then a senior official in the State Department with responsibility for Iran. “I am a man of action,” Abdullah said according to a New York Times report. “Unlike you, I prefer not to talk a lot.” He then posed a series of pointed questions that Ross could not answer. “What is your goal? What will you do if this does not work? What will you do if the Chinese and the Russians are not with you? How will you deal with Iran’s nuclear program if there is not a united response?” The questions added up to a simple point: your Iran policy is based on wishful thinking.

As it happens, one traditional American ally in the region was—at least at first—untroubled by Obama’s policy of Iran engagement: the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Indeed, Erdoğan found much to extol in the new American initiative, which dovetailed perfectly with his own foreign policy of “zero problems with [Arab and Muslim] neighbors.” Among other things, Erdoğan meant to establish Ankara as the middleman between the United States and Iran and Syria, Turkey’s traditional adversaries. This vision nested so comfortably within Obama’s planned concert system that Erdoğan quickly became one of the few international personalities with whom Obama developed a close personal rapport.

Contrary to what observers have long assumed, Obama does connect his Iran policy and his Syria policy: just as he showed deference to Iran on the nuclear front, he has deferred to the Iranian interest in Syria.
Soon, however, serious tensions arose. By the summer of 2012, one problem overshadowed all others: Syria—and behind Syria, Iran. Erdoğan watched in horror as the Iranians together with their proxies, Hizballah and Iraqi Shiite militias, intervened in the Syrian civil war. Iranian-directed units were not only training and equipping Bashar Assad’s forces in his battle for survival, but also engaging in direct combat. At the same time, within the Syrian opposition to Assad, a radical Sunni jihadi element was growing at an alarming rate. In short order, the Turks were adding their voice to a powerful chorus—including Saudi Arabia, the Gulf sheikhdoms, and the Jordanians—urgently requesting that Washington take action to build up the moderate Sunni opposition to both Assad and Iran.

The director of the CIA, David Petraeus, responded to this request by America’s regional allies with a plan to train and equip Syrian rebels in Jordan and to assist them once back in Syria. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all supported the Petraeus plan. But Obama rejected it.

Why? Undoubtedly the president had a mix of reasons and possible motives, which were the objects of extensive speculation in the media. But one motive was never included in the list: namely, his fear of antagonizing Iran. For the longest time, it was simply assumed that Obama drew no connection between his Iran policy and his Syria policy. This, however, was not the case. In fact—as we shall see below—just as, from the beginning, he showed deference to Iran on the nuclear front, he showed the same deference to the Iranian interest in Syria.

2013-2014: Round Two, The Secret Backchannel

An ostensible thaw in American-Iranian relations occurred early in the president’s second term. To hear him tell it today, what precipitated the thaw was a strategic shift by Tehran on the nuclear front. In his version of the story—let’s call it the “official version”—two factors account for the Iranian change of heart. One of them was American coercive diplomacy; the other was a new spirit of reform in Tehran. And the two were interrelated. The first, as Obama himself explained in the March 2014 interview cited earlier, had taken the form of “an unprecedented sanctions regime that so crippled the Iranian economy that [the Iranians] were willing to come to the table.” The second was a corollary of the first. The same sanctions regime had also helped bring to power the new government of Hassan Rouhani, whose moderate approach would in turn culminate in the November 2013 signing of the interim nuclear deal, which “for the first time in a decade halts their nuclear program.”

Obama’s version is an after-the-fact cocktail of misdirection and half-truths, stirred by him and his aides and served up with a clear goal in mind: to conceal Round Two of his Iran outreach.

The turning point in the American-Iranian relationship was not, as the official version would have it, the election of Hassan Rouhani in June 2013. It was the reelection of Barack Obama in November 2012.
In early 2013, at the outset of his second term, Obama developed a secret bilateral channel to Ahmadinejad’s regime. When the full impact of this is taken into account, a surprising fact comes to light. The turning point in the American-Iranian relationship was not, as the official version would have it, the election of Hassan Rouhani in June 2013. It was the reelection of Barack Obama in November 2012.

Indeed, the first secret meeting with the Iranians (that is, the first we know of) took place even earlier, in early July 2012, eleven months before Rouhani came to power. Jake Sullivan, who at the time was the director of policy planning in Hillary Clinton’s State Department, traveled secretly to Oman to meet with Iranian officials. The Obama administration has told us next to nothing about Sullivan’s meeting, so we are forced to speculate about the message that he delivered.

Most pertinent is the timing. At that moment, pressure was mounting on the president to intervene in Syria. Sullivan probably briefed the Iranians on Obama’s strong desire to stay out of that conflict, and may have sought Tehran’s help in moderating Assad’s behavior. But summer 2012 was also the height of the American presidential campaign. Perhaps Sullivan told the Iranians that the president was keen to restart serious nuclear negotiations after the election. Recall that this meeting took place shortly after a hot microphone had caught Obama saying to Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important . . . to give me space. This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”

Did Sullivan give the Iranians a similar message? Did he tell Ahmadinejad’s officials that Obama’s need to secure the pro-Israel vote had forced him to take a deceptively belligerent line toward Iran? That Iran had nothing to fear from an Israeli attack? That after the election Obama would demonstrate even greater flexibility on the nuclear issue?

Whatever the answers to these questions, it is a matter of record that Obama opened his second term with a campaign of outreach to Tehran—a campaign that was as intensive as it was secret. By February 2013, a month after his inauguration, the backchannel was crowded with American officials. Not just Sullivan, but Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, National Security Council staffer Puneet Talwar, State Department non-proliferation adviser Robert Einhorn, and Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice were all engaging their Iranian counterparts.

According to the official version, this stampede toward Tehran had no impact on Iranian-American relations. Nothing notable occurred in that realm, we are told, until the arrival on the scene of Rouhani. In fact, however, it was during this earlier period that Obama laid the basis for the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action. And that agreement was the product of three American concessions—two of which, and possibly the third as well, were made long before Rouhani ever came to power.

In April 2013, the Americans and their P5+1 partners met with Iranian negotiators in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where they offered to relieve the sanctions regime in exchange for the elimination of Iran’s stockpiles of uranium that had already been enriched to 20 percent. This was concession number one, bowing to the longstanding Iranian demand for economic compensation immediately, before a final agreement could be reached. Even more important was concession number two, which permitted the Iranians to continue enriching uranium to levels of 5 percent—this, despite the fact that six United Nations Security Council resolutions had ordered Iran to cease all enrichment and reprocessing activities.

Iranian negotiators rejected these two gifts—or, rather, they pocketed them and demanded a third, the one they coveted the most. Hailing the proposals by their counterparts as a step in the right direction, they criticized them for failing to stipulate the Iranian “right to enrich.” There was a difference, they argued, between temporarily permitting Iran to enrich uranium to 5 percent and recognizing its inalienable right to do so. If Obama wanted a deal, he would have to agree to shred the Security Council resolutions by offering, up front, an arrangement that would end the economic sanctions on Iran entirely and that would allow the Iranians to enrich uranium in perpetuity.

By exaggerating the spirit of reform in Tehran, the White House was able to suggest that Iran, and not America, had compromised.
Obama’s acceptance of this condition, the third and most important American gift, is what made the Joint Plan of Action possible. The American negotiators transmitted the president’s acceptance to the Iranians in the backchannel, and then John Kerry sprang it on his hapless negotiating partners in November. We do not know when, precisely, Obama made this offer, but the Iranians set their three conditions before Rouhani took office.

In brief, the Iranian election was hardly the key factor that made the interim deal possible. But it did supply window dressing at home when it came to selling the deal to Congress and the American public. By exaggerating the spirit of reform in Tehran, the White House was able to suggest that Rouhani’s embrace of the deal represented an Iranian, not an American, compromise. In truth, Obama neither coerced nor manipulated; he capitulated, and he acquiesced.

Round Two: Iran, Syria, and Islamic State

The nuclear issue wasn’t the only tender spot in U.S.-Iran relations in this period. Before returning to it, let’s look briefly at two other regional fronts.

Obama’s second term has also included efforts to accommodate Iran over Syria. Susan Rice, by now the president’s national-security adviser, inadvertently admitted as much in an address she delivered on September 9, 2013, a few weeks after Bashar Assad had conducted a sarin-gas attack on Ghouta, a suburb outside Damascus, that killed approximately 1,500 civilians. Reviewing past American efforts to restrain the Syrian dictator, Rice blithely depicted Tehran as Washington’s partner. “At our urging, over months, Russia and Iran repeatedly reinforced our warning to Assad,” she explained. “We all sent the same message again and again: don’t do it.”

Why did Obama back off on strikes against Syria? Could it have been fear of scuttling the biggest—and still secret—foreign-policy initiative of his entire presidency?
Rice’s remarks were disingenuous. In reality, the Islamic Republic was then precisely what it remains today, namely, the prime enabler of Assad’s murder machine. But Rice’s intention was not to describe Iranian behavior accurately. In addition to accustoming the American press and foreign-policy elite to the idea that Iran was at least a potential partner, her speech was aimed at influencing Congress’s deliberation of air strikes against Syria—strikes that Obama had abruptly delayed a week and a half earlier in what will certainly be remembered as one of the oddest moments of his presidency.

The oddity began shortly after Obama sent Secretary of State John Kerry out to deliver a Churchillian exhortation on the theme of an impending American attack. While that speech was still reverberating, the president convened a meeting of his inner circle in the Oval Office, where he expressed misgivings about the policy that his Secretary of State had just announced. Curiously, the meeting did not include either Kerry or Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the principal members of his senior national-security staff. Obama then invited Denis McDonough to break away from the others and join him for a private walk around the White House grounds. On his return, Obama stunned the waiting group with the news that he had decided to delay the strikes on Assad in order to seek congressional approval.

What thoughts did Obama share with McDonough? We can dispense with the official explanation, which stresses the president’s principled belief in the need to consult the legislative branch on matters of war and peace. That belief had played no part in previous decisions, like the one to intervene in Libya. Clearly, Obama was hiding behind Congress in order either to delay action or to kill it altogether. The true reasons for the delay were evidently too sensitive even for the ears of his closest national-security aides. Could they have included fear of scuttling the biggest—and still secret—foreign-policy initiative of his second term, possibly of his entire presidency?

In the event, the punt to Congress bought Obama some time, but at a significant political cost. At home the decision made him appear dithering and weak; on Capitol Hill, Democrats quietly fumed over the way the White House was abruptly ordering them out on a limb. In Syria, Assad crowed with delight as his opponents crumpled in despair. Elsewhere, American allies felt exposed and vulnerable, wondering whether Obama would ever truly come to their aid in a pinch.

As we know, Obama’s quandary would become Moscow’s opportunity. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered the president a way to regain his balance. Russia and the United States, Lavrov proposed, would cooperate to strip Assad of his sarin gas. From the sidelines, the Iranians publicly applauded the proposal, and Obama jumped to accept it.

But the deal was a quid pro quo. In return for a minor (though highly visible) concession from Assad, Obama tacitly agreed not to enter the Syrian battlefield. In effect, the Russians, Assad, and the Iranians were offering him, and he was accepting, surrender with honor, enabling him to say later, with a straight face, that the episode was a successful example of his coercive diplomacy. “Let’s be very clear about what happened,” he bragged in his March 2014 interview. “I threatened [sic] kinetic strikes on Syria unless they got rid of their chemical weapons.” In reality, Assad only gained—and gained big. Obama immediately muted his calls for Assad to step down from power, and his behavior thoroughly demoralized the Syrian opposition. Nor did the deal stop Assad from launching further chemical attacks. Once deprived of his sarin stockpiles, he simply switched to chlorine.

During an interview on primetime television shortly after Lavrov offered his country’s help, Obama pointed to Russian and Iranian cooperation with Washington as one of the bargain’s greatest benefits. The “good news,” he said, “is that Assad’s allies, both Russia and Iran, recognize that this [use of sarin] was—this was a breach, that this was a problem. And for them to potentially put pressure on Assad to say, ‘Let’s figure out a way that the international community gets control of . . . these weapons in a verifiable and forcible way’—I think it’s something that we will run to ground.”

This was fictive. Obama made it sound as if Tehran was eager to punish Assad for his use of chemical weapons, but nothing could have been farther from the truth. Even as he was speaking, Iran was publicly blaming the Syrian rebels, not Assad, for the Ghouta attack. Nor was stopping the slaughter ever the president’s true goal. From his perspective, he did not have the power to prevent Assad’s atrocities. He did, however, have the sense to recognize a good thing when he saw it. The opportunity to join with Iran in an ostensibly cooperative venture was too good to let slip away—and so he seized it.

That Obama has treated Syria as an Iranian sphere of interest all along has been brought home in a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. In August 2014, according to the Journal, the president wrote a letter to Ali Khamenei, acknowledging the obstacle to their cooperation presented by the nuclear impasse but taking pains to reassure Khamenei regarding the fate of Assad, his closest ally. American military operations inside Syria, he wrote, would target neither the Syrian dictator nor his forces.

This element of the president’s thinking has received remarkably little attention, even though Obama himself pointed to it directly in a January 2014 interview with David Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker. The Arab states and Israel, Obama said then, wanted Washington to be their proxy in the contest with Iran; but he adamantly refused to play that role. Instead, he envisioned, in Remnick’s words, “a new geostrategic equilibrium, one less turbulent than the current landscape of civil war, terror, and sectarian battle.” Who would help him develop the strategy to achieve this equilibrium? “I don’t really even need George Kennan right now,” the president responded, alluding to the acknowledged godfather of the cold-war strategy of containment. What he truly needed instead were strategic partners, and a prime candidate for that role was—he explained—Iran.

Obama was here revealing his main rationale in 2012 for rejecting the Petraeus plan to arm the Syrian opposition that we examined earlier. Clearly, the president viewed the anti-Assad movement in Syria just as he had viewed the Green Movement in Iran three years earlier: as an impediment to realizing the strategic priority of guiding Iran to the path of success. Was the Middle East in fact polarized between the Iranian-led alliance and just about everyone else? Yes. Were all traditional allies of the United States calling for him to stand up to Iran? Yes. Did the principal members of his National Security Council recommend as one that the United States heed the call of the allies? Again, yes. But Obama’s eyes were still locked on the main prize: the grand bargain with Tehran.

The same desire to accommodate Iran has tailored Obama’s strategy toward the terrorist group Islamic State. That, too, has not received the attention it deserves.

Last June, when Islamic State warriors captured Mosul in northern Iraq, the foreign-policy approval ratings of the president plummeted, and Obama’s critics claimed, not for the first time, that he had no strategy at all. Ben Rhodes sprang to his defense, suggesting that despite appearances to the contrary, the administration actually had a plan, if a hitherto unannounced one. “We have longer-run plays that we’re running,” he said. “Part of this is keeping your eye on the long game even as you go through tumultuous periods.”

The administration has subtly exploited the rise of the Islamic State to elevate Obama’s outreach to Iran. Behind the scenes, coordination and consultation have reached new heights.
Rhodes offered no details, and subsequent events seemed to confirm the impression that Obama actually had no long game. In addition to being caught flat-footed by Islamic State, moreover, he was reversing himself on other major issues: sending troops back to Iraq after having celebrated their homecoming, ordering military operations in Syria that he had opposed for years. How could such reversals be consistent with a long game?

The answer is that the reversals, although real, involved much less than met the eye, and the long game remained in place. In August, it seemed as if the American military was preparing to mount a sustained intervention in both Iraq and Syria; today, however, it is increasingly apparent that Obama has at best a semi-coherent containment plan for Iraq and no plan at all for Syria—a deficiency that was obvious from the start. At a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Senator Marco Rubio pointed to the obvious weaknesses in the administration’s approach, and asked John Kerry how to fix them. Kerry stunningly suggested that the gaps would be filled by . . . Iran and Assad. “[Y]ou’re presuming that Iran and Syria don’t have any capacity to take on” Islamic State, Kerry said. “If we are failing and failing miserably, who knows what choice they might make.”

Here, giving the game away, Kerry provided a glimpse at the mental map of the president and his top advisers. The administration has indeed subtly exploited the rise of terrorist enclaves to elevate Obama’s outreach to Iran. Behind the scenes, coordination and consultation have reached new heights.

Meanwhile, so have expressions of dissatisfaction with traditional allies for taking positions hostile to Iran. Our “biggest problem” in Syria is our own regional allies, Vice President Joseph Biden complained to students at Harvard University in early October. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates were “so determined to take down Assad” that they were pouring “hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons” into the Syrian opposition. A few weeks later, a senior Obama administration official cuttingly described another ally, Israel’s prime minister, as “a chickenshit,” and a second official, similarly on the record, bragged about the success of the United States in shielding the Islamic Republic from Israel. “[U]ltimately [Netanyahu] couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

Of course, administration officials routinely insist that the United States is not working with Tehran. The coordination, however, is impossible to disguise. Thus, when Iranian jets recently appeared in Iraqi skies, they professed ignorance. Reporters, noting that the jets were flying sorties in the same air space as American jets and striking related targets, asked the Pentagon spokesman how the American and Iranian air forces could work in the same space without colliding. “We are flying missions over Iraq, [and] we coordinate with the Iraqi government as we conduct those,” said the spokesman. “It’s up to the Iraqi government to de-conflict that airspace.” When Kerry was asked about the news that the Iranian air force was operating in Iraq, he responded that this was a “net positive.”

A positive? With American acquiescence, Iran is steadily taking control of the security sector of the Iraqi state. Soon it will dominate the energy sector as well, giving it effective control over the fifth largest oil reserves in the world. When the announced goal of the United States is to build up a moderate Sunni bloc capable of driving a wedge between Islamic State and the Sunni communities, aligning with Iran is politically self-defeating. In both Iraq and Syria, Iran projects its power through sectarian militias that slaughter Sunni Muslims with abandon. Are there any Sunni powers in the region that see American outreach to Tehran as a good thing? Are there any military-aged Sunni men in Iraq and Syria who now see the United States as a friendly power? There are none.

In theory, one might argue that although an association with Iran is politically toxic and militarily dangerous, the capabilities it brings to the fight against the Islamic State more than compensate. But they don’t. Over the last three years, Obama has given Iran a free hand in Syria and Iraq, on the simplistic assumption that Tehran would combat al-Qaeda and like-minded groups in a manner serving American interests. The result, in both countries, has been the near-total alienation of all Sunnis and the development of an extremist safe haven that now stretches from the outskirts of Baghdad all the way to Damascus. America is now applying to the disease a larger dose of the snake oil that helped cause the malady in the first place.

The approach is detrimental to American interests in other arenas as well. We received a portent of things to come on January 18 of this year, when the Israel Defense Forces struck a convoy of senior Hizballah and Iranian officers, including a general in the Revolutionary Guards, in the Golan Heights. Ten days later, Hizballah and Iran retaliated. In other words, by treating Syria as an Iranian sphere of interest, Obama is allowing the shock troops of Iran to dig in on the border of Israel—not to mention the border of Jordan. The president’s policy assumes that Israel and America’s other allies will hang back quietly while Iran takes southern Syria firmly in its grip. They will not; to assume otherwise is folly.

Round Three: 2015-

In November 2013, when Obama purchased the participation of Iran in the Joint Plan of Action, he established a basic asymmetry that has remained a key feature of the negotiations ever since. He traded permanent American concessions for Iranian gestures of temporary restraint.

The most significant such gestures by Iran were to dilute its stockpiles of uranium enriched to 20 percent; to refrain from installing new centrifuges; and to place a hold on further construction of the Arak plutonium reactor. All three, however, can be easily reversed. By contrast, the Americans recognized the Iranian right to enrich and agreed to the principle that all restrictions on Iran’s program would be of a limited character and for a defined period of time. These two concessions are major, and because they are not just the policy of the United States government but now the collective position of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, they will likely never be reversed.

In his negotiations with Iran, the president has traded major American concessions for Iranian gestures of temporary restraint. These concessions will likely never be reversed.
Obama has repeatedly stated, most recently in his 2015 State of the Union address, that the interim agreement “halted” the Iranian nuclear program. Or, as he put it in his March 2014 interview, the “logic” of the JPOA was “to freeze the situation for a certain period of time to allow the negotiators to work.” But the agreement froze only American actions; it hardly stopped the Iranians from moving forward.

For one thing, the JPOA restricts the program only with respect to enrichment capacity and stockpiles; it is entirely silent about the military components: ballistic missiles, procurement, warhead production. For another, to call what the JPOA achieved even in these limited domains “a freeze” is a gross exaggeration. Iranian nuclear scientists have continued to perfect their craft. They are learning how to operate old centrifuges with greater efficiency. And thanks to a loophole in the JPOA permitting work on “research and development,” they are also mastering the use of new, more effective centrifuges.

Therefore, the Iranian nuclear program is poised to surge ahead. The moment the JPOA lapses—a date first scheduled for July 2014, then rescheduled to November 2014, then re-rescheduled to June 30 of this year, possibly to be re-re-rescheduled yet again—Iran will be in a stronger position than before the negotiations began. This fact gives Tehran considerable leverage over Washington during the next rounds.

We can say with certainty that Obama has had no illusions about this asymmetry—that he conducted the negotiations with his eyes wide open—because the White House took pains to hide the truth from the American public. In 2013, instead of publishing the text of the JPOA, it issued a highly misleading fact sheet. Peppered with terms like “halt,” “roll back,” and “dismantle,” the document left the impression that the Iranians had agreed to destroy their nuclear program.

The Iranian foreign minister, however, refused to play along. He protested—loudly and publicly. “The White House version both underplays the [American] concessions and overplays Iranian commitments,” Javad Zarif correctly told a television interviewer. “The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program. That is the word they use time and again.” He defied the interviewer to “find a . . . single word that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text.”

President Rouhani went even further. In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, he emphasized not just that Iran had refused to destroy centrifuges within the terms of the JPOA, but that it would never destroy them “under any circumstances.” Currently Iran has approximately 9,000 centrifuges installed and spinning, and roughly 10,000 more installed but inactive. Until Rouhani made his statement, the Obama administration had led journalists to believe that the final agreement would force the Iranians to dismantle some 15,000 centrifuges.Rouhani disabused the world of those expectations.

“This strikes me as a train wreck,” a distraught Zakaria exclaimed after the interview. “This strikes me as potentially a huge obstacle because the Iranian conception of what the deal is going to look like and the American conception now look like they are miles apart.” Not long thereafter, as if to confirm the point, Ali Khamenei called for an outcome that will permit the development of an industrial-sized nuclear program over the next decade.

Khamenei’s hard line no doubt came as a surprise to Obama. When the president first approved the JPOA, he failed to recognize a key fact: his twin goals of liberating Iran from its international isolation and stripping the Islamic Republic of its nuclear capabilities were completely at odds with each other. From Obama’s perspective, he was offering Khamenei an irresistible deal: a strategic accommodation with the United States. Iran analysts had led the president to believe that Khamenei was desperate for just such an accommodation, and to achieve that prize he was searching only for a “face-saving” nuclear program—one that would give him a symbolic enrichment capability, nothing more. What soon became clear, however, was that Khamenei was betting that Obama would accommodate Iran even if it insisted on, and aggressively pursued, an industrial-scale program.

In theory, Khamenei’s intransigence could have handed Obama an opportunity. He could admit the “train wreck”—namely, that Round Two of his Iran engagement had followed the disastrous pattern set by Round One—and begin working with Congress and our despairing allies to regain lost leverage. This he obviously declined to do. Instead, he has chosen to keep the negotiating process alive by retreating further. Rather than leaving the table, he has paid Iran to keep negotiating—paid literally, in the form of sanctions relief, which provides Iran with $700,000,000 per month in revenue; and figuratively, with further concessions on the nuclear front.

Over the last year, Obama has reportedly allowed Iran to retain, in one form or another, its facilities at Natanz, Fordow, and Arak—sites that Iran built in flagrant violation of the NPT to which it is a signatory. This is the same Obama who declared at the outset of negotiations that the Iranians “don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. They certainly don’t need a heavy-water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. . . . And so the question ultimately is going to be, are they prepared to roll back some of the advancements that they’ve made.” The answer to his question, by now, is clear: the Iranians will not roll back anything.

The president believes that globalization and economic integration will induce Tehran to forgo its nuclear ambitions. Meanwhile Iran’s rulers are growing stronger, bolder, and ever closer to nuclear breakout capacity.
For a majority in Congress, and for all of America’s allies in the Middle East, this fact is obvious, and it leads to an equally obvious conclusion: the only way to salvage the West’s position in the nuclear negotiations is to regain the leverage that the president’s deferential approach has ceded to Iran. With this thought in mind, a large group of Senators is currently supporting legislation that will make the re-imposition of sanctions mandatory and immediate if the Iranians fail to make a deal by the time the current term of the JPOA lapses.

In an effort to bolster that initiative, Speaker of the House John Boehner invited Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington to address Congress on Iran. Netanyahu accepted the invitation without first consulting the White House, which reacted in a storm of indignation, describing the move as an egregious break in protocol and an insult to the president. Instead of trying to paper over the disagreement, Obama has done everything in his power to advertise it. In making his personal rift with Netanyahu the subject of intense public debate, the White House means to direct attention away from the strategic rift between them—and from the fact that the entire Israeli elite, regardless of political orientation, as well as much of the U.S. Congress, regards the president’s conciliatory approach to Iran as profoundly misguided.

Meanwhile, the president is depicting his congressional critics as irresponsible warmongers. He would have us believe that there are only two options: his undeclared détente with Iran and yet another war in the Middle East. This is a false choice. It ignores the one policy that every president since Jimmy Carter has pursued till now: vigorous containment on all fronts, not just in the nuclear arena. Obama, however, is intent on obscuring this option, and for a simple reason: an honest debate about it would force him to come clean with the American people and admit the depth of his commitment to the strategy whose grim results are multiplying by the day.

As a matter of ideology as much as strategy, Obama believes that integrating Iran into the international diplomatic and economic system is a much more effective method of moderating its aggressive behavior than applying more pressure. Contrary to logic, and to all the accumulated evidence before and since the November 2013 interim agreement, he appears also to believe that his method is working. In his March 2014 interview, he argued that his approach was actually strengthening reformers and reformist trends in Tehran: “[I]f as a consequence of a deal on their nuclear program,” he said, “those voices and trends inside of Iran are strengthened, and their economy becomes more integrated into the international community, and there’s more travel and greater openness, even if that takes a decade or 15 years or 20 years, then that’s very much an outcome we should desire.”

Perhaps the president is correct. Perhaps globalization will remove the roughness from the Islamic Republic just as ocean waves polish the jagged edges of shells. If so, however, it will happen on much the same, oceanic schedule. In the meantime, the seasoned thugs in Tehran whom the president has appointed as his strategic partners in a new world order grow stronger and bolder: ever closer to nuclear breakout capacity, ever more confident in their hegemonic objectives. On condition that they forgo their nuclear ambitions, the president has offered them “a path to break through [their] isolation” and become “a very successful regional power.” They, for their part, at minuscule and temporary inconvenience to themselves, have not only reaped the economic and diplomatic rewards pursuant to participation in the JPOA but also fully preserved those nuclear ambitions and the means of achieving them. Having bested the most powerful country on earth in their drive for success on their terms, they have good reason to be confident.

Voir aussi:

What the President Thinks He’s Doing
The ideological roots of his disastrous Iran strategy.
Response
Elliott Abrams
Feb. 9 2015

About the author
Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he maintains a blog, Pressure Points. He is the author of, most recently, Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

President Obama’s foreign policy cannot be understood or defended as an effort to advance American national interests as they are normally understood.  By any usual definition—strengthening of allies, defeat of enemies, military advances, nuclear nonproliferation—his administration’s policies have been disastrous. That leads logically to the question: “Well, what does the president think he’s doing?”

In “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,” Michael Doran has tried to answer this question, and has offered a superb analysis. No one has more persuasively explained the connections between that strategy’s various parts, such as the president’s inaction in Syria and his hostility toward Israel, and the primary Obama goal of a rapprochement with Iran. Doran is especially effective in analyzing policy toward the Assad regime: “Obama has treated Syria as an Iranian sphere of interest all along,” and in his August 2014 letter to Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei took “pains to reassure Khamenei regarding the fate of Assad, [the latter’s] closest ally. American military operations inside Syria . . . would target neither the Syrian dictator nor his forces.”

If I have one disagreement with Doran, it is over the origins of Obama’s approach to foreign policy. According to Doran, Obama “believed he had been elected to reverse the legacy of his predecessor, George W. Bush,” and “Obama’s mission was to guide America out of Bushland.” What was the origin of these beliefs and this mission? In arguing that “Obama does have a relatively concrete vision,” Doran points out that on joining the Senate in 2006, “he absorbed a set of ideas that had incubated on Capitol Hill during the previous three years—ideas that had received widespread attention thanks to the final report of the Iraq Study Group.”

In fact, Obama came to Washington with his beliefs about American foreign policy and our role in the world already well set in his mind, and needed no guidance from the Iraq Study Group. We were given some insight into those basic beliefs early in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. While in Iowa in 2007, as Politico reported at the time, he visited Adair County,

making a stop in the hometown of one of the saints of the American left, one-time vice president and Progressive-party presidential candidate Henry Wallace. “We’ve got some progressives here in Adair. I’m feeling really good now,” Obama said. . . . “That’s quite a lineage there. . . . It’s a blessing.”

This, about the man whom FDR dumped from the 1944 ticket for his espousal of leftist causes, the man who ran against Truman and the Democratic party in 1948, and who argued that peace with the Soviet Union only required more American understanding and outreach in place of militarism and cold-war hostility.

Given all we know, I would argue that Obama’s mission is to guide America not only out of Bushland (as Doran puts it) but out of Rooseveltland, Kennedyland, and Clintonland—and indeed to reverse most of the foreign-policy legacy of his own party, with the exception of that of Wallace and its 1972 candidate for the presidency, George McGovern. The ideas espoused by Obama “incubated” decades ago, and were most likely adopted back at Columbia University or in the Chicago kitchen of his friends of Weathermen fame, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.

Doran refers several times to Obama’s “strategic vision.” I would prefer the term “ideology.” The enduring hold of that ideology is visible not only in his Iran policy but also, most recently, with respect to Cuba. There, too, he has reversed decades of American foreign policy, and has done so, as in the case of Iran, without seeking any deep concessions from the Castro regime.

In concluding the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action with Iran, Doran notes, Obama accepted a “basic asymmetry,” trading permanent American concessions [in exchange] for Iranian gestures of temporary restraint.” Similarly, in Cuba, Obama’s recent deal—call it another “Joint Plan of Action”—abandons previous American demands for real political change on the island prior to any lifting of the embargo. And just as he has offered his regrets to Tehran for the (long exaggerated) American role in the 1953 overthrow of the Mossadegh government, so too has he expressed apologies—in this case, in a telephone call with Raul Castro—“for taking such a long time” to change U.S. policy. In both instances, Obama has acted not to advance American national interests but to make amends for U.S. policies and actions that he views as the immoral and retrograde detritus of the “cold-war mentality.”

Of course, Obama’s defenders acknowledge none of this. Instead, they invoke his putatively superior understanding of reality.  As Doran paraphrases it, the president believes that, over time, “integrating Iran [and, I would add, Cuba] into the international diplomatic and economic system is a much more effective method of moderating its aggressive behavior than applying more pressure.” Obama and his supporters also assert that, in any event, the only alternative to his approach is war. Doran rightly dismisses both arguments. One need only look at the success of the Reagan administration in dealing with the Soviet Union to know that military power, strong alliances, and ideological clarity—what Doran refers to as “vigorous containment on all fronts”—do not lead to war. They lead to success.

Doran concludes his essay on a very pessimistic note: “Having bested the most powerful country on earth in their drive for success on their terms, [the Iranians] have good reason to be confident.” Allow me to conclude on a more optimistic note: they have reason to be confident for now, but current policy may not outlast Obama. It remains to be seen whether, after January 20, 2017, the American people and their leaders in Washington will really permit a nation of 70 million, with a third-rate military and a damaged economy, to dominate the Middle East and threaten all of our allies and interests there.

Voir de même:

The Obama Doctrine
An ideological aversion to American power is at the core of the president’s foreign policy.
Response
Eric Edelman
Feb. 16 2015

About the author
Eric Edelman, a former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, is Hertog distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Michael Doran’s long essay in Mosaic, “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,” and Elliott Abrams’s response to it, “What the President Thinks He’s Doing,” command the attention of anyone seriously interested in the administration’s policies and plans for the Middle East. I agree with Abrams that Doran’s analysis is superb, and that “no one has more persuasively explained the connections” among the various parts of the Iran policy being pursued by the White House.

I’m also in broad agreement with Doran’s conclusion: namely, that “the only way to salvage the West’s position in the nuclear negotiations is to regain the leverage that the president’s deferential approach has ceded to Iran.” As I testified in late January before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, rather than actively seeking Iran’s partnership, the United States must be willing to compete with it:

On one level, this requires a change in tone. The administration must emphasize its readiness to exert more pressure on Iran instead of exerting pressure on Congress with talking points that come “straight out of Tehran,” according to a ranking member of the Senate. On another level, the United States must respond more robustly to Tehran’s ongoing efforts to shift the balance of power in the Middle East. Rather than asking its cooperation and blessing—especially in Iraq and Syria—the United States should undertake every possible effort to isolate Iran in its own backyard.

Concerning one point, the origins of Obama’s “secret” strategy, Abrams takes issue with Doran, suggesting that they can be found less in the work of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, whose report was issued in 2006, than in Obama’s overarching, “progressive” aversion to American power and its uses in the world, an ideological stance that connects many points of reference in the president’s life from Henry Wallace to George McGovern to Reverend Jeremiah Wright to Bill Ayres and Bernadine Dohrn. That both Doran and Abrams are correct, each in his own way, emerges from an examination of the White House’s larger global strategy. This, as it happens, is the subject of an excellent new study, The Obama Doctrine, by Colin Dueck, forthcoming from Oxford in May.

In Dueck’s judgment, Obama’s approach to the world is predicated first and foremost on his bedrock intention to be a “transformational” president. The transformation in question is largely domestic—hence his preoccupation with the Affordable Care Act, which remakes a rather large swath of the American economy. Abroad, and in aid of the main focus on his domestic agenda (“nation-building at home”), the president’s overwhelming objective has been to keep international affairs at bay. But when world events do inevitably impose themselves, Obama is no less confident of his unique ability to exert a transformational impact. “I don’t really even need George Kennan right now,” Doran quotes him as saying, an attitude fully in keeping with his expressed view that “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

How, then, does the president mean to execute his global transformation? As Dueck sees it, the strategy is twofold: retrenchment, and accommodation. Retrenchment means liquidating some of what Obama construes to be overinvestments the U.S. has made around the world, particularly in the Middle East, while also reducing the strength of the U.S. military—since, in his view, our temptation to resort to military force has itself been responsible for many of the world’s ills. Accommodation, in turn, means reaching out and “engaging” America’s adversaries, thereby turning them, in the common phrase, from part of the problem into part of the solution.

Understanding this strategy of retrenchment and accommodation is a useful vehicle for explaining many apparently discrete episodes in Obama’s tenure, from the early “strategic reassurance” of China, to the “reset” of relations with Russia, and of course to the “open hand” approach to Tehran that Michael Doran dissects so well. It also clarifies the chronic neglect of allies, and it illuminates, as Abrams rightly underlines, the president’s chronic need—the political equivalent of Tourette syndrome—to express regret and apologize publicly for past exercises of American power in pursuit of our national interests.

As for the tactical implementation of the strategy in individual cases, that has been delegated to individuals like Deputy National Security Adviser Benjamin Rhodes, who helped write the Iraq Study Group report. Doran, it seems to me, is correct to see that document as key to grasping the administration’s Iran policy, and to the coherent, step-by-step unfolding of that policy, though perhaps less so to understanding the larger strategy as a whole.

Is any of this a “secret,” as Doran suggests? When it comes to the ultimate sources of Obama’s views and his conduct in national-security affairs, the evidence has been hiding in plain sight since before he was elected. As Abrams points out in his response to Doran, and more extensively in a profound essay, “The Citizen of the World Presidency,” in Commentary (September 2013), those sources were implicit in the president’s personal history and in his various mentors and associates as he came to political maturity. Moreover, he and his acolytes have continued to articulate his ideas in public documents and, usually without attribution, in comments to the press. Doran’s essay itself is replete with such quotations from Obama and his staff.

In the case of Iran, the veil of secrecy has descended not over the conception or expression of Obama’s strategy but over his diplomacy, which Doran masterfully untangles. But that, in and of itself, does little to distinguish him from other presidents. Nor, in itself, is the outreach to Iran a new thing in our politics. As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates used to say, every administration since Jimmy Carter’s has come a cropper in the vain search for Iranian moderates.

What distinguishes Obama is the ideological aversion to American power and the formulation of a strategy whose overriding impetus is to constrain that power. The scandal is not that the administration has kept this a secret but that a supine press and intellectual class have failed—“declined” may be the better (if much too polite) word—to explain it to the American people.

Voir encore:

What They’re Saying about « Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy »
Michael Doran’s essay provoked a “firestorm in the policy world.” Here’s a roundup of arguments for and against his thesis.

Official White House photo, Pete Souza.
Response
The Editors
Feb. 19 2015

In the week-and-a-half since it’s been published, Michael Doran’s “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy” has provoked an extraordinary degree of public debate, from Washington, D.C. to Jerusalem to, perhaps, Tehran. In addition to the invited responses from, so far, Elliott Abrams and Eric Edelman, we’ve collected some of the more notable public comments for the benefit of readers who may have missed them. Clips from each and links are below.

Next week, Doran, per Mosaic custom, will have the last word. For those who can’t wait to hear more from him, he can be caught discussing his essay on radio. You can listen to him on the Hugh Hewitt Show here (along with an appearance by Lee Smith) or on Voice of Israel’s Yishai Fleisher Show here or in the player at the bottom of this post.

“Who to Believe on Iran: Obama or Netanyahu?” by David Horovitz, Times of Israel

“Either, as asserted in articles such as Michael Doran’s ‘Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,’ the Obama administration is in the grip of a blinding ideological fog. . . . Or, as asserted by the prime minister’s critics, Benjamin Netanyahu is misrepresenting the dangers and those around him are mischaracterizing the terms being negotiated.”
“Why the White House Is Getting Lonelier on Iran” by Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest

As my colleague Michael Doran has recently pointed out in an article that contributed to the rising disquiet about the administration’s Iran strategy, the approach to Iran has been the centerpiece of the administration’s Middle East strategy from 2009 to the present day.
“This Is the Best Explanation of What Conservatives Don’t like about Obama’s Foreign Policy” by Zack Beauchamp, Vox

Though Doran’s argument “relies on a real degree of unevidenced speculation about what happened within closed-door administration meetings to guide these policies,” it’s “an essential window into the politically salient mainline conservative criticism of the Obama administration’s Middle East policy.”
“Why Obama Won’t Talk About Islamic Terrorism” by David Frum, The Atlantic

Michael Doran “reminds us of a revealing line from a profile of the Obama administration’s foreign policy decision making: ‘The thing we spent the most time on’ was also the thing ‘we talked least about in public.’ In that case, the ‘thing’ was the project to achieve détente with Iran. But other projects also signal their importance by going undiscussed, and near the top of that list is the Obama administration’s distinctive counter-terrorism policy.”
“A Return to the Middle Eastern Great Game” by Martin Indyk, Brookings

“Without [a nuclear] agreement, it is impossible to imagine cooperation with Iran on regional issues; with an agreement, collaboration on issues of common interest becomes possible, much as Obama is reported to have suggested in his November 2014 letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader and much as some conservative commentators mistakenly believe is already taking place.”
“Lack of Clarity,” by the editorial staff of the Jerusalem Post

“Doran and others may or may not be right. There is very little to go on. What we do know is that during negotiations with Iran, the P5+1, led by America, has shown a worrying willingness to accommodate the Iranians.”
“Losing the Forest of Iran Policy for the Trees of a Nuclear Deal” by Michael Koplow, Ottomans and Zionists

“There has been tons of discussion over the past week about Mike Doran’s recent voluminous piece in Mosaic. . . . I have quibbles with some of his details and sub-arguments, but I find the overarching thesis convincing: that the White House’s ultimate goal is to turn Iran into an ally based on the view that the U.S. and Iran are natural partners with a set of common interests.”
“Obama’s Party Line: Radical Islam Denial” by Jamie Kirchick, The Daily Beast

“Downplaying global anti-Semitism fits in with the president’s broader Middle East strategy, which consists of distancing the United States from its traditional ally in the region, Israel, while opening its doors to historic enemy, Iran. The history and reasoning behind this policy is explained in a new, magisterial essay in the online magazine Mosaic by Hudson Institute scholar Michael Doran.”
“Worse than No Strategy” by Clifford D. May, Washington Times

“Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, has not just speculated about Mr. Obama’s ‘secret strategy.’ He has painstakingly combed through the record and produced a 9,000-word report persuasively establishing that Mr. Obama, since early in his presidency, has been in pursuit of a “comprehensive agreement” that would allow Iran to become what the president has called ‘a very successful regional power.’”
“Obama’s Quest for a Grand Bargain with Iran Seems Unwise” by Michael Barone, Washington Examiner

Doran makes “a powerful case” that “‘a grand bargain with Iran’ has been and remains the central goal of Obama’s foreign policy. . . . Just as George W. Bush thought Iraqis were yearning for American-style democracy and capitalism, so Obama seems to be assuming that Iran seeks to be an American-style power, prosperous and generous-minded.”
“Why Does Obama Crave a Grand Bargain with Iran?” by Paul Mirengoff, Powerline

“Important commentators have come around to the view that [I] have long expressed — that President Obama is in thrall to Iran and that the nuclear negotiations aren’t really about curbing Iran’s nuclear capacity, but rather about striking a grand bargain with the mullahs. Michael Doran’s excellent essay in Mosaic, which was one of our Power Line “picks,” is a good example of recent commentary to this effect.
“The ‘New York Times’ Violates My Protocol” by Liel Liebovitz, Tablet

As Doran shows “in his factually grounded analysis of Obama’s Iran policy, when it comes to negotiating with the Islamic Republic, the Obama Administration is committed to keeping everyone in the dark.”
“Nuclear Dreams: Iran Now Controls Four Arab Capitals, Plus Washington, D.C.” by Lee Smith, Tablet

As Michael Doran “meticulously lays out in his recently published tour-de-force ‘Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,’ the U.S.-Iran partnership that is reshaping the Middle East has been in the making since Obama first came to office.”
“Imad Mughniyeh and Obama’s Covert War” by Max Boot, Commentary

“As Michael Doran argues in Mosaic, President Obama is carrying out a secret strategy to court Iran.”
“Relax, Iran Is Not Taking Over the Middle East” by Alireza Nader, The National Interest

“The conflicts in the Middle East are much more complex than ‘Iran on the march’ theories would have us believe. A diplomatic resolution of the nuclear issue can allow Washington more room to deal with Iran’s regional influence.”

The Reform Delusion
Bright people in Washington have long dreamed about the possibility of a reformed Iran. Barack Obama is just the latest.

Response
Reuel Marc Gerecht
Feb. 23 2015
About the author
Reuel Marc Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former case officer in the CIA with responsibility for Iranian recruitments.

Barack Obama has been eager for an Iranian diplomatic breakthrough since the beginning of his presidency, and Michael Doran, in “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,” has trenchantly laid out a chronology of the president’s aspirations. It’s hard, however, to find anything particularly secret about them.

A perdurable myth among much of the American left and American “realists” alike is that the United States and the Islamic Republic ought to be able to find a strategic modus vivendi. Remember the attempt by Bill Clinton and his secretary of state Madeleine Albright to engage Mohammad Khatami, the mild-mannered, sincerely cheerful “dialogue-of-civilizations” mullah who unexpectedly won the Iranian presidency in 1997. Arming his diplomacy with contrition, Clinton not only apologized for the CIA-supported 1953 coup against prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, he apologized for the West’s untoward actions against Persia for the last 150 years.

Recurringly optimistic, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman often writes about the logic behind improving Iranian-American relations. For his part, the indefatigable, gimlet-eyed traveler Robert Kaplan is another dogged believer that behind the mullahs’ anti-American religious rants lies a geostrategic reality that must, sooner and not later, bind the Americans and Iranians again in common cause. The informal Track II diplomacy, so-called, which for years has revolved around former American ambassadors Thomas Pickering and William Luers and the New York-based Asia Society, is a fascinating experiment by American “pragmatists” socializing with pleasant, usually powerless, and sometimes mendacious Iranians. As Doran points out, such “realist” sentiments, amplified by an acute desire to run away from Mesopotamia, were also behind the Iraq Study Group’s 2006 recommendations for a renewed American outreach to the Islamic Republic.

There was obviously nothing secret in President Obama treading this well-worn path. It would have been shocking if he, who is allergic to machtpolitik, American hegemony, and the antagonisms that have defined American foreign policy since World War II, did not try to solve the primary strategic enmity in the region.

True, there may be something secret in the mechanics of how the president has consistently sought to extend an olive branch. We don’t know, for instance, what he wrote in his letters to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. We don’t know whether he promised to back away from any aggressive action against Bashar al-Assad, the Islamic Republic’s principal Arab client, as a means to entice the Supreme Leader into a direct, more friendly dialogue with the United States. But it’s not necessary to posit that his do-nothing policy in Syria flowed more from Iranian calculations than from his overall determination to disengage the United States militarily from the region. There may be an overlap in the president’s mind, but odds are good that when he ran away from his own red line on Assad’s use of chemical weapons, he did so without much Persian daydreaming.

Doran assumes and accentuates calculations and ulterior motives behind Obama’s actions. Concerning the nuclear negotiations, he writes: “[B]y exaggerating the spirit of reform in Tehran, the White House was able to suggest that Iran, not America, had compromised.” I am not so sure. In Washington people are usually well-intentioned, and, when it comes to the Islamic Republic, often just dumb. An impressive number of bright people in Washington have repeatedly gone gaga over the possibility of reform in Iran since 1979.

There are many reasons for this behavior: an inability of Westerners to deal with—treat seriously—religion and religious regimes; lingering guilt over American support for the shah; the left’s tendency to side with Third Worlders; and the undeniable warmth, hospitality, and wit that Iranians often show to visiting Americans. The Western media regularly conflate the anger at theocratic rule displayed by young, college-educated Iranians with the real, though hardly pro-Western, dissent among some clerics and lay revolutionaries from the camp around Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, the former major domo of political clerics and the formative force behind the nuclear-weapons program.

Moreover, this hopeful but errant analysis is often unintentionally reinforced by American right-wingers who draw caricatures of Iranian theocrats and Iran’s religious culture that strip the former of their Persian sensibilities and the latter of its rampant, oh-so-human hypocrisies. Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, isn’t a Persian-speaking Osama bin Laden, and when right-wingers suggest that he is, sensible people can get a little nervous.

It is entirely possible for President Obama and intelligent, dedicated, patriotic, senior Democratic officials to have sincerely believed that President Hassan Rouhani possibly signaled a new age in U.S.-Iran relations. If well-meaning and Persian-speaking academics can ignore the mountain of primary material about Ali Khamenei’s ferocious hatred of the United States and the West, or about Rouhani’s pivotal role in Iran’s nuclear-weapons quest and in the regime’s unrivaled use of terrorism and assassination abroad, then it’s easy for extremely busy government officials, who don’t have much time to read boring English translations of Iranian speeches, to ignore the historical record. Hope springs eternal in Washington, especially during Democratic administrations.

And let us be clear: Hassan Rouhani and his American-educated foreign minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, are talented, at least compared with former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s crowd. They know how to speak to Westerners without setting off civilizational alarm bells. Unlike Ahmadinejad, they don’t talk about their glowing visions of the Mahdi, or explicitly deny the Holocaust. In his interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Rouhani prevaricated about the Holocaust, but he did it in such a way (he said he would let “historians” decide the truth, as if they hadn’t done so already) that his naughtiness slid right by his host.

Above all else, the Washington foreign-policy establishment, both Democratic and Republican, fears military conflict with Tehran over its nuclear program. This omnipresent fear bends analysis. It encourages self-deception. President Obama’s fear of war is palpable and omnipresent—it’s not just a tactic that he regularly deploys to intimidate Democratic members of Congress who fear he is caving in the nuclear negotiations. Although parading one’s anxieties is a self-defeating approach to take with a revolutionary regime built on power politics, it is at least honest.

It’s a very good bet that in all the “secret” letters that Mr. Obama has sent the Supreme Leader, he’s been similarly open about his hopes and anxieties. Since 2009, Khamenei’s quotient for anti-American derision has grown. We don’t have to peer behind the curtain to see why.

Last Word
Michael Doran
Feb. 24 2015
About the author
Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the National Security Council. He is finishing a book on President Eisenhower and the Middle East. He tweets @doranimated.

I’ve been stunned by the reception of “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy.” In this, the era of the 140-character tweet, I’d assumed that a 9,500-word article would have scant appeal beyond a professional audience. Yet, to date, it has attracted 220,000 unique visitors; journalists from several different countries have called to interview me; I’ve done my share of talk radio; and senior political figures, including presidential hopefuls, have expressed their appreciation.

What accounts for the essay’s reach? Timing is certainly one factor. The Iranian nuclear question is coming to a head—dramatically so. But above all I believe that, for many readers, the essay proved useful in solving the enigma of Barack Obama. In his foreign policy, the president has displayed a mix of initiative and passivity that has confounded efforts at categorization. The framework constructed in “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy” may have helped make sense of a bundle of apparent contradictions; at least I hope so.

In his response to my essay, ” What the President Thinks He’s Doing,” Elliott Abrams graciously accepts most of my analysis but differs with my locating the president’s worldview within the “realist” tradition of American foreign policy. Instead, Abrams sees him as a Henry Wallace radical. In his own response, “The Obama Doctrine,” Eric Edelman observes that Abrams’s view and mine are not mutually exclusive. True enough; it is also entirely possible that Obama finds the realist perspective attractive precisely because it provides him with a politically acceptable cover for his radical commitments. There’s no way of deciding the issue definitively.

Still, I’m not so persuaded as is Abrams that the radical commitments and associations in the president’s past provide the key to understanding his policy in the present. His attitudes, however ingrained, are idiosyncratic, at least in Washington; but in moving the United States substantially closer to the Islamic Republic, he has had the support of an influential segment of the nation’s foreign-policy elite. The list of those sharing the assumptions behind his administration’s Iran agenda is both distinguished and bipartisan, including as it does former National Security Advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, former Secretary of State James Baker, and former Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering—to name just four prominent individuals. If the president’s approach is to be countered, we must first discredit the arguments of these foreign-policy realists, none of whom has a foot in the Henry Wallace tradition.

Indeed, as Edelman points out, all of Obama’s predecessors in the White House since Jimmy Carter have, in one way or another, succumbed to an Iran delusion. This same point was also made by Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings Institution in a February 19 debate with me over my Mosaic essay. Obama’s diplomacy, she argued, has followed a very well-worn path, and in pursuing it he has adopted the same carrot-and-stick approach, and the resort to back-channel diplomacy, typical of presidents before him.

These surface similarities are real enough, but to focus on them is to turn a blind eye to the ways in which Obama has broken with the past. He has entirely jettisoned the policy of containing Iranian expansionism; made massive and irreversible concessions on the nuclear issue; and, most important of all, placed reconciliation with Tehran at the top of his foreign-policy agenda. No other president has advanced such overtures to Tehran. If Obama’s break with the past is less than total, it has not been for want of effort on his part.

Suzanne Maloney also charged me with exaggerating the element of secrecy in Obama’s actions—and in “The Reform Delusion,” my respondent Reuel Marc Gerecht strongly agrees. Here, however, the facts speak for themselves. Obama was able to reach the November 2013 interim nuclear agreement with Iran only by working behind the back of both Congress and America’s major allies. When he finally made the deal public, he disingenuously claimed that it had “halted” the Iranian nuclear program. To that particular claim, the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” column awarded three (out of a possible four) “Pinocchios”: that is to say, it contained “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.”

Similarly deceptive has been Obama’s stated policy toward Iran’s client Syria. For years, the president has repeatedly insisted that he is working to remove Bashar Assad from power. Amid much fanfare, he has approved programs ostensibly designed to build up the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime. In practice, however, these programs have amounted to very little. Meanwhile, the president has privately assured the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, that the United States will do nothing to weaken Assad. What word if not “secret” better describes the deliberate pursuit of a private policy that nullifies publicly stated aims?

Gerecht also rejects my suggestion that Obama is operating on the basis of an actual strategic plan. In his view, the policy has been much more haphazard than that. On this point he is joined (somewhat incongruously, given their other differences) by Martin Indyk, the director of foreign policy at Brookings. In “A Return to the Middle Eastern Great Game,” Indyk contends that Obama has taken a holiday from any attempt at organizing a consistent American approach to the region. Citing my essay in order to dismiss it, Indyk paints a portrait of Obama as a law professor who treats the issues of Syria, Iraq, and Iran’s nuclear program as separate cases, devising policy toward each without reference to the others. The president, he writes, refuses “to connect the dots.”

As it happens, in “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy” I produced many examples of Obama doing nothing but connecting the dots, and additional evidence to that effect continues to accumulate. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal report quotes senior American officials fearful that any effort to build up the opposition to Assad in Syria would provoke retaliation by Iran to take American lives in Iraq. “You cross a red line in Syria, you start to infringe on what Iran sees as its long-term interest, and those [Tehran-controlled] Shiite militias [in Iraq] could turn in the other direction,” one official says. It is precisely such reasoning that, I argued in my essay, has led Obama to coordinate with Iran behind the scenes.

Indyk emphatically rejects the notion of any such linkage. Indeed, should we fail to reach an agreement with Tehran on its nuclear program, he writes, “it is impossible to imagine cooperation with Iran on regional issues.” Yet no sooner does he assert this than he contradicts it by providing a fresh example of Iranian-American coordination: “Iran’s tacit cooperation with the United States to remove Nouri al-Maliki from power in Baghdad,” Indyk informs us, “proved critical to the viability of America’s strategy against ISIS in Iraq.”

But let’s suppose for a moment that I did exaggerate the extent to which Obama has recognized an Iranian sphere of interest in Syria. What’s striking to me is that Indyk’s analysis still concedes the most important point of all—namely, that Obama’s policies have indeed facilitated the rise of Iran across the Middle East. In the chaos that now engulfs the region, he writes grimly, the United States stands at a crossroads. It must choose immediately between two distinct and opposite strategies: conceding Iran’s dominance and building a condominium with it, or supporting America’s traditional allies against it. In Indyk’s telling, Obama’s mistake lies in his refusal to choose. But why are we standing in front of such a choice if not because we have, willy-nilly, empowered the revolutionary regime in Tehran to its position of dominance?

It seems, then, that on the central issue, Martin Indyk and I are in complete agreement: whether or not on the basis of a strategic plan, the president has placed the United States on a disastrously wrong track. And Indyk and I are again in agreement on what must be done, for, as he convincingly shows, by far the sensible and necessary option is to support America’s traditional allies in a great effort to begin undoing the damage and restoring regional order.

I would like to believe that Indyk’s urgency is a symptom of a growing awareness of the challenge before us in other influential quarters as well. If “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy” has helped foster that awareness, it has performed its primary duty.

Voir encore:

Middle East
Nuclear Dreams: Iran Now Controls Four Arab Capitals, Plus Washington, D.C.
What the burning of a Jordanian pilot reveals about Obama’s flawed Middle East game

Lee Smith

Mosaic

February 5, 2015

The point of burning alive Jordanian pilot First Lt. Muath al-Kasasbeh was to outrage onlookers, including his family—but especially the members of his large tribe, the Bararsheh, in southern Jordan. The Jordanian tribes form the core of support for the Hashemite kingdom against the Palestinian West Bankers, who may constitute the country’s majority. The East Bankers are also the bulwarks of Jordan’s internal and external security, with both the armed forces and security services made up almost exclusively of tribal members.

To be sure, Kasasbeh’s clansmen are going to be very angry with the Islamic State for killing him in such a gruesome manner. What IS seems to betting on is that Kasasbeh’s death was so gruesome, and so evocative of the hellfire that awaits false believers, that the dead pilot’s tribe, a pillar of the Hashemite monarchy, is likely going to be shocked into wondering whether King Abdullah has pulled them into the wrong war, on behalf of a frivolous and potentially treacherous ally—the United States.

Right now, the Obama Administration sees the Islamic State as a major threat to U.S. national security—and to the political fortunes of President Barack Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party. An episode like the Charlie Hebdo/Hyper Cacher attack played out on the streets of Chicago, say, or New York, would be a catastrophe for the administration, which is why it has enlisted allies like Jordan in its campaign against the deranged jihadists of the fertile crescent.

However, it’s worth understanding how the Hashemites and their loyal tribal subjects understand the new threat. From their perspective, the Islamic State is only one part of a larger regional movement, a Sunni rebellion trying to beat back the Iranian security apparatus that now represses them mercilessly throughout the Levant while controlling four historic Arab capitals—Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sana’a. The wider Sunni rebellion against Persian domination comprises not only lunatic foreign fighters (Chechens, Saudis, Swedes, etc.) but also former elements of Saddam Hussein’s regime as well as—and this is the central fact of the Sunni rebellion—Sunni Arab tribes. In other words, Jordan’s Arab tribes have been enlisted to fight Arab tribes who are fighting against Iran and its allies—who are coordinating their anti-Sunni campaign with the United States.

Jordan’s tribes are hardly alone at this moment in their torment and confusion. The United States has alienated its former Sunni tribal allies in Anbar province and throughout Iraq by conducting air strikes on behalf of sectarian Shiite militias loyal to Iran, which murder Sunni tribesmen with seeming impunity whether they are associated with IS or not. Saudi Arabia is aghast at U.S. support for Iran’s role in Yemen, where the Shia Houtha tribesmen backed by Iran now control the country. Israel nearly got into a shooting war last week because of Hezbollah’s ongoing attempt to implant itself on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, where the Iranian-backed sectarian Lebanese Shia militia operates under cover of U.S. airstrikes and implicit political backing that support the regime of Bashar al-Assad, an Iranian client. While Egypt fights a war against IS and al-Qaida-backed tribes in Sinai, the White House shuns the country’s leader Gen. al-Sisi in favor of meeting in Washington with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, who have sworn to overthrow his regime.

That’s a lot of turmoil for America to be stirring up for its erstwhile allies, at a moment where our larger national goal is supposedly a clean exit from the region. So, why is the White House turning the Middle East upside down? Obama is willing to throw away a U.S. framework built by American statesmen, soldiers, businessmen, and educators over the last century because he sees a really big prize out there for the taking—an agreement with Iran over its nuclear weapons program that will be the linchpin of a new Middle Eastern order, in which Iran will play a major stabilizing role.

The Dream: An agreement with Iran over its nuclear weapons program will be the linchpin of a new Middle Eastern order, in which Iran will play a major stabilizing role.
The Iran deal that Obama has in mind is going to be so awesomely epic and world-changing that it will easily be worth all the chaos the region is now undergoing—from broken alliances and promises, to the high and rising death toll, massive population transfers, the destruction of ancient cities, and the trauma of an entire generation for whom beheadings and human barbeques have become a normal part of life. The United States is on its way out of the Middle East, which is why we need a reliable regional partner like Iran, with the muscle to make its dictates stick. Yes, the dominant partner in that arrangement will obviously be Iran—especially once the Iranians are free of the sanctions that have crippled their oil industry, and can control the oil resources of their client state in Iraq, as well as provide security in the once-and-future Persian Gulf. But Obama would always have the photographs of his triumphant visit to Tehran to remember his role in crafting a new world order from the tribal mayhem of a region in which Americans once fought and died.

***

But, wait a minute. It seems like it was just yesterday that the government of the United States, its armed forces and clandestine service, had an entirely different set of goals in mind—namely, defending American troops and our allies in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf, and Israel from the Islamic Republic of Iran. Indeed, of late the American intelligence community has been reminding us of our recent past through leaks to the Washington Post and Newsweek saying that not all that long ago, in 2008, the agency teamed with the Mossad to kill Hezbollah’s head of operations, Imad Mughniyeh, in Damascus. The point seems to be that, if the U.S. intelligence community now shares intelligence with Hezbollah and leaks the details of Israeli strikes on Hezbollah convoys, we were once proud to collaborate with our Israeli allies to kill Hezbollah terrorists.

Why does the U.S. intelligence community care about this ancient history? Mughniyeh didn’t just plot the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, among other spectacular terrorist attacks targeting Americans, he also directed the campaign against U.S.-led coalition troops in Iraq waged by Iranian-backed Shiite militias.

Today, however, Shiite militias like Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Kataib Hezbollah, and Badr Corps get indirect air support from U.S. warplanes. Before the White House launched its campaign against ISIS in Syria, it told Iran it wasn’t going to attack its ally Bashar al-Assad there—even though Obama called for the Syrian dictator to step down in August 2011. By going after ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other Syrian rebel units, the White House freed up Assad to use his forces elsewhere.

As former George W. Bush White House aide Michael Doran meticulously lays out in his recently published tour-de-force “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,” the U.S.-Iran partnership that is reshaping the Middle East has been in the making since Obama first came to office. The most salient point then about the current P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran isn’t the nuclear issue, but the fact that they create a channel to allow both sides to keep talking—which means that all sorts of subjects are going to come up, from Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon to Yemen and maybe even other thorny issues, like Argentina and the Nisman investigation into Iran’s alleged role in the bombing of the Israeli embassy in 1992 and Jewish Community Center in 1994. U.S. response to everything in the region is now tied to the fate of the Iranian nuclear program, which in turn is simply the linchpin of Obama’s larger vision of a partnership between Washington and Tehran.

Obama may dream of a U.S.-Iran partnership and going skiing in the mountains above Tehran. But what does Obama’s grand vision look like these days from the Iranian side? From Iran’s perspective, then, it controls not only four Arab capitals, but it also holds Washington captive. If Obama pushes back, the Iranians walk away from the table, confounding the U.S. president’s dreams of achieving a historic reconciliation—and maybe worse, leaving him vulnerable to Republican majorities in the House and Senate ready to pounce on an epochal diplomatic failure.

But why does Obama’s vision have to fail? First of all, it’s not clear how Iran can accept any permanent agreement with the White House about the nuclear program, or anything else, for that matter. From Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ perspective, a deal might empower President Hassan Rouhani at their expense. From Rouhani’s perspective, a deal might make him, a so-called moderate, superfluous as someone who’s already played his role. Most important, there is the point of view of Khamenei, which partakes of the historic rationale of the Islamic Republic. Its founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini promised one thing—not to raise the standard of living or educate women, nor even to hasten the return of the Mahdi, but rather that the life of a genuine Muslim rested on the pillar of resistance against the godless, the arrogant West, especially America. Signing an accord with the Great Satan would undermine the fundamental legitimacy of the regime.

Obama wants a deal with Iran so much in large part because he doesn’t think the United States should be the world’s policeman—and he’s right. Our oil and natural gas industry won’t make us energy independent but it makes us less dependent and we simply don’t need that high a profile in a part of the world that has seldom returned our love. So, why keep shedding blood and spending money—as well as domestic political capital—in the Middle East?

The answer is not that we need to look out for the world’s interests, but that we need to continue protecting our own. A nuclear weapon in the hands of an expansionist regime doesn’t get the United States out of the Middle East. It puts Iran on our doorstep, by turning the clerical regime into an aggressive global nuclear-armed power. There can’t be much question by now about what Iran has in mind for the Middle East, or for other countries that it enlists in its schemes, like Argentina. What Iran wants makes the world a more dangerous place for Americans. The question is not whether there’s a deal to be had with Iran, but if it’s too late to crash the comprehensive agreement the White House has already struck with our new regional partner—whose sickening consequences are plain to see.

***

Lee Smith is a senior editor at the Weekly Standard and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. He is also the author of the recently published The Consequences of Syria.

Voir aussi:

VIDÉO. Barack Obama répond au Huffington Post: Israël, Palestine, Netanyahu, nucléaire iranien
Le HuffPost
21/03/2015

INTERNATIONAL – « Il faut tout d’abord que les Iraniens démontrent clairement qu’ils ne fabriquent pas de bombes nucléaires, et qu’ils nous laissent toute latitude pour nous en assurer ». Dans un entretien vendredi 20 mars avec Sam Stein pour The Huffington Post, Barack Obama réitère son objectif d’obtenir un accord sur le dossier du nucléaire iranien « dans les semaines à venir ».

« Il n’y aura pas d’accord tant que tout n’aura pas été résolu », a aussi indiqué le président américain, réfutant les rumeurs selon lesquelles une première ébauche de l’accord circule parmi les cercles autorisés. Les grandes puissances et Téhéran reprendront mercredi 25 mars leurs négociations, après une semaine de tractations marathon qui n’ont pas permis de sceller d’accord avant l’échéance du 31 mars.

« Je dois avouer que les Iraniens n’ont pas fait jusqu’ici les compromis que j’estime indispensables pour parvenir à cet accord. Mais ils se sont montrés ouverts, ce qui laisse la porte ouverte à la recherche d’une solution (…). Je vais devoir démontrer au peuple américain, mais aussi aux Israéliens et au reste du monde, que nous avons mis en place des mécanismes qui empêcheront l’Iran d’accéder à la bombe atomique », a aussi dit Barack Obama au Huffington Post.

Le président Obama a promis qu’il ferait tout, y compris militairement, pour empêcher Téhéran d’obtenir la bombe. Mais depuis 2013, il mise sur la diplomatie et a fait d’un rapprochement avec la puissance chiite une priorité. Ce qui met en rage Israël et le Congrès américain.

« Il est évident que beaucoup d’Israéliens se méfient, à juste titre, de leur voisin iranien, a aussi commenté le président américain. L’Iran a tenu des propos ignobles et antisémites, et menacé Israël d’annihilation. C’est précisément pour cela que j’ai dit, avant même de devenir président, que l’Iran ne devait pas disposer de l’arme nucléaire ».

Autres sujets de politique étrangère évoqués durant l’entretien, la victoire de Benjamin Netanyahu aux élections législatives anticipées du mardi 17 mars et la création d’un Etat palestinien. « Disons que nous lui faisons confiance quand il dit que cela n’arrivera pas tant qu’il sera Premier ministre. C’est pourquoi nous devons explorer d’autres options afin d’empêcher que la région ne sombre dans le chaos », a dit Barack Obama au Huffington Post.

« J’ai eu l’occasion de parler hier (jeudi 19 mars, ndlr) à M. Netanyahu. Je l’ai félicité pour sa victoire, et je lui ai réaffirmé mon attachement  à une solution à deux États qui est, de notre point de vue, la seule garantie sur le long terme de la sécurité d’Israël, en tant qu’État juif et démocratique, a indiqué Barack Obama. Je lui ai également rappelé qu’après ses récentes déclarations, il serait difficile de croire qu’Israël est sérieusement attaché à la poursuite des négociations ». Benjamin Netanyahu a à nouveau rejeté durant les derniers jours de sa campagne la solution à deux États.

« Cependant, nous continuerons d’insister sur le fait que, du point de vue des États-Unis, le statu quo est intenable, a poursuivi le président américain. Nous sommes attachés à la sécurité d’Israël, mais il n’est pas possible de poursuivre cette voie éternellement, avec l’implantation de nouvelles colonies. C’est un facteur d’instabilité dans la région ».

Le président américain a aussi critiqué les propos de Benjamin Netanyahu qui avait dénoncé le « danger » d’un vote massif des Arabes israéliens aux élections législatives. « Nous avons rappelé que ce genre de discours était contraire aux traditions d’Israël. Bien que ce pays soit fondé sur une terre historiquement juive, et sur le besoin de créer une nation juive, la démocratie israélienne repose sur la notion que tous ses citoyens sont égaux en droits. C’est ce qui fait la grandeur de cette démocratie. Si cela venait à changer, je pense que cela donnerait des arguments à ceux qui ne veulent pas d’un Etat juif, et que cela affaiblirait la démocratie israélienne », a commenté Barack Obama.

Interview traduite par Bamiyan Shiff pour Fast for Word

Voir par ailleurs:

Withdrawal Symptoms
The Bungling of the Iraq Exit

Rick Brennan
Foreign affairs

November/December 2014 Issue

In a speech at Fort Bragg on December 14, 2011, President Barack Obama declared that the U.S. military would soon depart Iraq, ending one of the longest wars in American history. The United States, Obama said, would leave behind “a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.” Four days later, the last U.S. military unit crossed from Iraq into Kuwait, and American armed forces transferred all their responsibilities to either the central government of Iraq, U.S. Central Command, or the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, completing the most complex handoff from military to civilian authorities in U.S. history.

The next day, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — who since 2006 had sought to enhance his personal interests and those of Shiite religious parties at the expense of Iraq’s Kurds and Sunni Arabs — secured an arrest warrant for Iraq’s Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, accusing him of supporting terrorism. A crisis erupted when Hashimi’s Sunni-dominated political bloc boycotted the national unity government that Obama had so recently touted as inclusive and responsive to the Iraqi people.

That same week, 17 explosions rocked Baghdad, killing at least 65 people and wounding more than 200; al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) later claimed responsibility. With Iranian encouragement, Maliki’s government began to systematically target Sunni elites on the basis of trumped-up charges of terrorism or alleged affiliation with the outlawed Baath Party. Sectarian violence soon erupted, and by May 2013, it had reached levels not seen since the waning days of the civil war that engulfed Iraq in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Meanwhile, Maliki firmed up his grip on the Iraqi intelligence and security forces, replacing competent Sunni and Kurdish officers whom he mistrusted with Shiites personally loyal to him. He refused to appoint permanent ministers for defense, the interior, and Iraq’s National Security Council, instead controlling those ministries himself through an extraconstitutional organization called the Office of the Commander in Chief. In April 2012, the Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani warned that Iraq was moving back toward dictatorship — the one thing, he said, that might lead him to seek Kurdish independence.

Obama had declared an end to the war in Iraq, but the Iraqis hadn’t gotten the memo. By mid-2013, the country appeared to be coming apart at the seams — and the worst was yet to come. By the summer of 2014, Maliki’s misrule had hollowed out the country’s security forces and deeply alienated Iraq’s Sunnis, which made it much easier for the Sunni jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS, or the Islamic State), the successor to AQI, to cross the border from its strongholds in war-torn Syria and capture a number of major Iraqi cities. ISIS has wantonly slaughtered religious minorities, Shiites, and any Sunnis who have stood in its way; imposed its brutal version of Islamic law on those unlucky enough to live in the swath of territory the group now holds; and released gruesome videos of militants murdering American and other Western hostages.

By any measure, the course of post-American Iraq has been tragic. But the tragedy is deepened by the fact that almost everything that has happened since 2011 was foreseeable — and, in fact, was foreseen by U.S. military planners and commanders, who years earlier cautioned against the complete withdrawal of the nearly 50,000 U.S. troops that still remained in Iraq in 2011. As a senior civilian adviser to the U.S. military in Iraq from 2006 through the end of 2011, I witnessed Obama and senior members of his national security team fail to reach an agreement with the government of Iraq that would have allowed a residual U.S. force to remain there temporarily, and also fail to establish a strategy for how to leave Iraq in a manner that would secure the gains made there during those years. Iraq, its neighbors, the United States, and the rest of the world are now paying the price of those failures.

Whatever lessons can be learned from that mistake won’t be of much help in Obama’s current effort to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS. But those lessons might be applied directly to the question of how to wind down the United States’ even longer-running post-9/11 war, that in Afghanistan. There, Obama still has the chance to avoid making some of the same mistakes and miscalculations that have come back to haunt him in Iraq and that, if current policies remain unchanged, the United States is poised to commit all over again. To do so, Obama will have to summon the political courage to recognize his earlier errors and try not to repeat them. His administration must undertake a complete reassessment of the NATO mission in Afghanistan and the plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from the country by the end of 2016, long before most experts believe the Afghan government has any chance of maintaining security and stability on its own. At the moment, the final acts of the U.S. war in Afghanistan are following a script remarkably similar to the one that played out in Iraq; Obama must do all he can to arrive at a different ending this time around.

TELL ME HOW THIS ENDS

Making the decision to go to war requires a profound sense of caution and a tremendous amount of planning. Wars often change countries’ internal political and social dynamics and affect both regional and international security. The way a war is fought shapes the postwar security environment. And long before the fighting begins, leaders must consider how it might conclude. As then Major General David Petraeus famously put it in March 2003, as U.S. forces battled their way to Baghdad: “Tell me how this ends.”

It soon became clear that the Bush administration and the U.S. military had failed to properly consider that question. Within 42 days of the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq, American forces had achieved all their combat objectives. But the Pentagon had done very little planning for postconflict stability and support operations, and U.S. forces were unprepared for the lawlessness that followed the collapse of the Iraqi government. Washington’s decisions to pursue a policy of de-Baathification, disband the Iraqi army, and back Shiite politicians with little interest in national reconciliation soon fed a ferocious Sunni insurgency.

Meanwhile, the determination of extremist Shiite militias to exact vengeance for decades of repression at the hands of Sunnis — along with the emergence of a brutal new Sunni jihadist group, AQI — led to extraordinary levels of bloodshed. By 2006, Iraq had descended into a full-blown sectarian civil war. Bush was left with two bad options: withdraw U.S. forces and allow the civil war to rage, or adopt a new strategy to restore basic security in Iraq, committing whatever resources it would take to get the job done.

Bush opted to double down, embracing a counterinsurgency strategy and a temporary “surge” of 30,000 additional U.S. forces. The additional U.S. troops, diplomats, and funding, along with a number of other factors — including the so-called Sunni Awakening, which saw Sunni tribes turn on AQI — pulled Iraq back from the brink of disintegration. By December 2008, the new U.S. strategy had yielded enough security to make political stability seem like a real possibility. Iraq was still a dangerous and dysfunctional place, but by the time Bush left office, he could credibly claim that the new approach had reversed Iraq’s slide into chaos and created the conditions necessary for the country’s survival and potential political, social, and economic development.

Still, two major obstacles stood in the way of a more definitive success. First was the sectarian divide. Maliki had failed to take any serious actions leading toward genuine Shiite-Sunni reconciliation. Instead, he used the success of the surge to solidify his power in Baghdad, all the while enjoying Washington’s firm support. But he mostly ignored American pleas to govern in a less divisive manner and find ways to bring the Sunni minority into the political process. Maliki had also failed to bridge the Arab-Kurdish divide and instead sought to weaken the Kurdistan Regional Government and its security forces. Finally, Maliki allowed Iran to use Iraqi territory to arm, train, and equip hard-line Iraqi Shiite militias. All of this set the stage for the rapid advance of ISIS this past summer and the potential disintegration of the country.

Second, the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement and an associated security agreement between Iraq and the United States — which allowed U.S. forces to stay in Iraq beyond the end of that year, when the un resolution that sanctioned their presence would expire — set a timetable for the eventual withdrawal of all U.S. troops, but it failed to conclude with a permanent status-of-forces agreement to govern U.S. military activities. The temporary security agreement stipulated that the United States would withdraw its forces from all population centers by the end of 2009 and from the entire country by the end of 2011. To secure those terms, Washington had to drop its insistence that U.S. forces enjoy complete immunity from Iraqi law. Instead, in somewhat ambiguous terms, the agreement gave Iraqi authorities legal jurisdiction over cases in which U.S. service members were accused of committing serious, premeditated felonies while off duty and away from U.S. facilities.

In his memoir, Duty, published earlier this year, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates revealed that Pentagon lawyers strongly opposed the compromise. But Gates explains that he believed it was worth the risk if it meant that U.S. forces could stay in Iraq past 2008. Commanders in the field were also comfortable with the compromise; after all, since members of the U.S. armed forces are on duty 24 hours a day and are not permitted to leave their bases unless on a mission, there was little chance that an American marine or soldier would ever wind up in the hands of Iraqi authorities.

According to Gates, both Washington and Baghdad believed the 2008 agreement represented an interim step that would be modified before the 2011 withdrawal deadline in ways that would allow some U.S. troops to remain in Iraq to advise and assist their Iraqi counterparts. But in the years that followed, uncertainty about the Obama administration’s willingness to leave a residual force in Iraq, the turbulent Iraqi political system, and the sensitive issue of legal immunity for U.S. service members created serious stumbling blocks to developing a longer-term arrangement.

WE CAN’T GO ON, WE’LL GO ON

Just over a month after taking office in 2009, Obama delivered a major speech at Camp Lejeune reaffirming his campaign pledge to end the U.S. war in Iraq and laying out a timetable for withdrawal consistent with Bush’s agreement to pull all U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011. At the same time, however, Pentagon officials were telling U.S. military leaders in Iraq that the president remained open to the idea of keeping troops there beyond 2011 for noncombat missions if doing so were necessary to secure the gains made in recent years. As a result, the military had to plan to strictly abide by Bush’s 2008 agreement (and thus also fulfill Obama’s campaign promise to end the U.S. war) while quietly developing other options just in case the president chose to modify his policy and renegotiate the agreement.

By late 2009, General Raymond Odierno, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, concluded that the goals of U.S. policy in Iraq could not be achieved by the end of 2011. He shared this assessment with officials at U.S. Central Command and the Pentagon and with the staff of the National Security Council. He and his staff also provided candid reports and briefings, classified and unclassified, to members of Congress. Despite the efforts of Odierno and others, however, a large gap had opened up between the strategic goals articulated by the Obama administration and the resources and time the White House was willing to commit to achieving them.

Domestic politics in Iraq also complicated the picture: parliamentary elections were set to take place in March 2010, and the Obama administration decided to postpone discussions with Iraqi officials about keeping any U.S. forces in the country until after a new government had taken shape. But the elections did not prove to be the clarifying moment the administration had hoped for: instead, they devolved into a divisive legal and political battle that took nine months to resolve. Finally, in November 2010, Iraq’s parliament appointed Maliki to a second term as prime minister. But the political fight had fostered animosity and a lack of trust throughout the Iraqi political system, aggravating deep sectarian divisions within the parliament. Soon after forming a government, Maliki broke many of the promises he had made to secure his election. The result was political paralysis, a condition that would later undermine the prospects of resolving the question of a post-2011 U.S. presence in Iraq.

IF YOU LEAVE ME NOW

In September 2010, as the squabbling continued in Baghdad, I helped a group of U.S. military planners conduct an internal assessment of the political, economic, and security situation in the country. Their report painted a fairly grim picture of a country that had emerged from chaos in 2008 only to find itself extremely vulnerable to many enduring threats and pressures. The assessment noted that most Iraqi leaders continued to pursue their agendas through politics and had resisted a return to violence. But the divisive 2010 elections and Maliki’s marginalization of his political opponents and abuse of power raised serious concerns about whether Maliki would place sectarian interests aside and lead an inclusive government. The report warned that in the absence of sectarian reconciliation, Sunni-controlled portions of Iraq and Syria could emerge as a safe haven for terrorists and serve as a breeding ground for a revived Sunni insurgency.

Iraq had made substantial economic progress, but public expectations continued to outpace the central government’s ability to deliver essential services and foster economic stability and growth. The Iraqi economy remained overly dependent on oil revenue, the report said, and Baghdad was planning future spending based on unrealistic projections of future growth. Although the oil industry was a major source of funding for the government, and thus financed public-sector employment, it directly employed only two percent of the Iraqi work force, leaving somewhere between 45 and 60 percent of the work force either underemployed or unemployed. The lack of employment created a major source of social discontent and unrest, especially among young men of military age.

The analysis deemed Iraq’s security environment to be stable but fragile, a judgment that was broadly shared by both military and civilian leaders in the Pentagon. Although AQI had been all but defeated in Iraq, by the end of 2009, it had established a safe haven in Syria and was beginning to rebuild and rebrand itself. (It is important to note that the military planners, although deeply concerned about AQI, did not anticipate the group’s transformation into the jihadist army known today as ISIS — a change that took place between 2012 and 2014 as a result, in part, of the Syrian civil war.)

Meanwhile, Shiite militias — armed, trained, and equipped by Iran — enjoyed strong ties to Iraqi Shiite political parties and constituted a shadow government of sorts that “could one day pose an existential threat to the government of Iraq,” the assessment stated. U.S. military planners also worried about the potential for violence between Arabs and Kurds in the disputed territory that the Kurds consider their historic homeland and where they enjoy a great deal of autonomy; a struggle for control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk would be the most likely trigger for a conflict.

Even after years of assistance and training from U.S. advisers, the Iraqi government and security forces were hardly prepared to face such threats. Between 2005 and 2011, the U.S. military provided quarterly reports to Congress warning that the Iraqi military suffered from significant shortfalls that would hinder its ability to defend the country against external threats. The Iraqi security forces were plagued by weak intelligence collection, analysis, and sharing; an inability to sustain combat operations; poor maintenance of equipment and weapons; the lack of a well-developed training program, or even a culture of training; poor command and control of its forces; a lack of sufficient intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets; and a very limited ability to conduct counterterrorism operations without direct support from U.S. Special Forces. The Iraqi air force was even worse off. It had no ability to provide lethal support to Iraqi ground forces in combat; it couldn’t do much besides transport forces from one air base to another.

All this evidence led U.S. military planners in Iraq to one clear conclusion: if U.S. forces completely withdrew by the end of 2011, it would be very difficult for the Iraqis to maintain the fragile gains made since 2007. Strategic failure had been delayed but was “still possible,” the 2010 internal assessment concluded. In the absence of U.S. forces and concerted political pressure from Washington, the central government in Baghdad would become ever more corrupt, sectarian, and acquiescent to Tehran, setting the stage for a revival of the Sunni insurgency, a resurgence of AQI, and the end of the relative stability that the United States had worked so hard to foster.

If that sounds familiar, that is because it is an accurate description of the current situation in Iraq. Put bluntly, U.S. military planners anticipated with eerie accuracy the dreadful state of affairs that exists there today.

A MODERATE RISK

According to numerous reports, including accounts published by former Obama administration officials, U.S. military planners believed that to prevent the disaster they feared would engulf Iraq if the central government had to stand on its own after 2011, a significant number of American forces — around 24,000 — would have to remain in Iraq past 2011. The proposed plan called for the military to reassess the situation sometime between 2014 and 2016 to determine whether a continuing presence was necessary to achieve the goals approved by both Bush and Obama. The planners judged that this course presented a “moderate risk” of harm to U.S. forces and of mission failure — a level of uncertainty they deemed acceptable given the importance of the objectives.

The planners were requesting a continued investment in a place that most Americans, including political elites across the ideological spectrum, hoped would never again consume much of Washington’s time, energy, or money. But the planners believed that the wide range of challenges facing Iraq — and the terrible nature of the worst-case scenario — justified the expense.

For Iraq to sustain the progress made in the security sector, they argued, U.S. forces would need to continue to advise, train, and assist all elements of Iraq’s security forces. The planners also argued that the United States needed to keep its forces in Iraq to demonstrate Washington’s commitment to Baghdad; to help counter what the 2010 assessment described as “Iran’s malign influence”; and to have a moderating effect on Maliki’s sectarian inclinations.

The U.S. military would also need to help Iraq maintain control of its airspace until it was capable of doing so on its own. Since 2003, the United States had protected Iraqi airspace, and the planners believed that U.S. forces should continue to do so with an F-16 squadron stationed at Al Asad Air Base, in Anbar Province. Although U.S. planners considered the Iraqi Special Operations Forces to be high performing by regional standards, they concluded that their counterterrorism missions still required U.S. assistance in intelligence and aviation support, especially for night operations.

U.S. military planners also believed that American forces would have to remain on the border of the Kurdish region to help prevent conflict between the Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish forces known as the Pesh Merga. The planners further noted that al Qaeda militants often traveled through the corridor that runs between the city of Mosul, in northern Iraq, and Diyala Province, in the country’s east. To secure the area, the military planners recommended that U.S. forces continue to work alongside Iraqi and Kurdish forces to jointly man 22 checkpoints along that route.

RUNNING THE NUMBERS

In January 2011, Gates met with James Jeffrey, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq; Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and General Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. As Gates recounts in his memoir, Austin argued that he would need at least 20,000 troops to remain in Iraq after 2011 for a transitional period that would last between three and five years. Anticipating resistance from the White House to the idea of such a large residual force, Gates directed Austin to prepare options below 20,000 troops. And indeed, in April, Obama directed Austin to develop a plan that would result in a residual force of just 8,000 to 10,000 troops and to identify the missions that a force of that size could realistically accomplish.

In early June, Obama participated in a secure videoconference with Maliki — his first conversation with the Iraqi prime minister in over a year. According to an administration official, Obama conveyed the U.S. desire to maintain a partnership with Iraq but did not discuss any specific force numbers. Meanwhile, Maliki was discussing with other Iraqi leaders the idea of allowing 8,000 to 20,000 U.S. troops to remain in Iraq, according to remarks made in August 2011 by Samir Sumaidaie, Iraq’s ambassador to the United States at the time, in an interview with Foreign Policy. Most of those leaders understood that Iraq was not yet ready for the U.S. military to totally disengage, but they were determined to avoid any infringement, real or perceived, on the country’s sovereignty. A recurring theme in the discussions between Maliki and U.S. negotiators was the Iraqis’ desire for their American “guests” to be subject to Iraqi law — the same issue that had dogged negotiations between Maliki and Bush in 2008.

In August, according to Jeffrey, Obama informed him that he was free to start negotiations with the Iraqis to keep 5,000 U.S. service members in Iraq: 3,500 combat troops who would be stationed on yearlong tours of duty and 1,500 special operations forces who would rotate in and out every four months. This residual force would include support personnel for half a squadron of F-16s that would be stationed at Al Asad Air Base. Obama rejected the military’s call for a large-scale presence to continue training the Iraqi army and to secure the Arab-Kurdish border area near Kirkuk. Obama believed that the number of troops he proposed would allow the United States to continue collecting intelligence, cooperating with the Iraqis on counterterrorism, training elements of the Iraqi army, and periodically monitoring the checkpoints established three years earlier in the Kurdish border region.

But Obama also made it clear that his plan would require the Iraqi parliament to formally request that the U.S. military stay in Iraq and to agree to a status-of-forces agreement that would grant legal immunity to all U.S. troops remaining in Iraq beyond 2011. In early September, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns visited Iraq to press Maliki on both those issues. According to a former administration official familiar with what happened during the meeting, Maliki told Burns that although he could likely persuade Iraq’s parliament to request a residual force, anyone who believed that the parliament would approve a status-of-forces agreement that included complete immunity did not understand Iraqi politics. Instead, Maliki proposed signing an executive memorandum granting immunity without the need to gain parliamentary approval. White House lawyers rejected that offer, arguing that for any such agreement to be legally binding, it would have to be formally ratified by the Iraqi parliament.

In early October, as Maliki had predicted, the parliament approved the request for an extended U.S. military presence but declined to grant legal immunity to U.S. military personnel. Later that month, Obama told Maliki that all U.S. troops would leave Iraq by the end of 2011, in fulfillment of the terms of the agreement signed by the Bush administration in 2008.

A number of commentators have concluded that the Obama administration was negotiating in bad faith, making an offer that it knew would be politically toxic in Iraq. Had Obama wanted to maintain a residual force in Iraq, he could have accepted Maliki’s compromise proposal. This compromise would have incurred some risk, since Iraqi law clearly required parliamentary approval. However, in the nearly three years since Bush had agreed to a similar compromise, no U.S. service member or civilian official stationed in Iraq had been charged with violating an Iraqi law. It is also worth pointing out that the U.S. military personnel stationed in Iraq today count on a promise of immunity backed only by a diplomatic note signed by the Iraqi foreign minister — an assurance even less solid than the one Maliki offered (and Obama rejected) in 2011.

DEGRADE AND DESTROY

After Obama announced his decision, U.S. commanders in Iraq conducted what they called a “war termination assessment,” to measure the degree to which the military had achieved its objectives. According to military planners who worked on the assessment, the large majority of those goals could best be described as incomplete, and some of them would take many years — even a generation — to achieve. The Iraqi military, for example, was still three to five years away from being able to independently sustain the gains made during the past four years.

Many of the goals remained unfulfilled thanks to Iraq’s internal divisions and the poor performance of Iraqi leaders; others were stymied by neighboring countries such as Iran. But the military planners’ scorecard made one thing perfectly clear: by 2011, enough information was available to conclude that absent a significant U.S. military presence, within a few years, the situation in Iraq was likely to deteriorate — perhaps irreversibly.

Of course, at that point, few foresaw the significant negative effect that the Syrian civil war would soon have on the security situation in Iraq. However, had a residual U.S. force stayed in Iraq after 2011, the United States would have had far greater insight into the growing threat posed by ISIS and could have helped the Iraqis stop the group from taking so much territory. Instead, ISIS’ march across northern Iraq took Washington almost completely by surprise.

Iraq now presents Obama with no good options — as it did Bush before him. Obama’s plan is for the United States to lead an international coalition to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS. The U.S. military will provide intelligence, a limited number of U.S. advisers, and air support to ground forces that will come from other countries. This plan is unlikely to succeed, not least because it creates few incentives for the other partners in the coalition to accept the costs and risks that the United States is unwilling to take on itself. Unless the United States decides to take more direct action, including the deployment of some U.S. combat troops and special operations forces, the rebooted “coalition of the willing” in Iraq will likely prove to be little more than a coalition of the uncommitted.

DÉJÀ VU

In Afghanistan, meanwhile, the administration still has a chance to avoid a repeat of its Iraq experience. Unfortunately, it is not clear whether the appropriate lessons have yet been learned.

For example, there is a growing mismatch between the United States’ objectives in Afghanistan and the resources and time that Washington has given its military forces and diplomats to achieve them. The stated goal of the NATO mission is “to create the conditions whereby the Government of Afghanistan is able to exercise its authority throughout the country, including the development of professional and capable Afghan National Security Forces.” But little evidence exists to suggest that NATO will be able to achieve that goal by the end of 2016, when all U.S. and NATO forces are scheduled to depart. In fact, a congressionally mandated independent assessment of the Afghan security forces completed in January 2014 by the Center for Naval Analyses identified the same types of capability gaps that existed in the Iraqi security forces in 2011. Most credible estimates suggest that those gaps cannot be filled until at least 2018.

After the planned departure of NATO and U.S. forces in 2016, the security situation in Afghanistan will likely deteriorate and could ultimately pose an existential threat to the government in Kabul. Unless something changes, the disaster that has unfolded in Iraq in recent months is on track to repeat itself — and in a few years, Washington might face yet another wrenching decision about whether to reengage militarily in a combat zone that Americans thought they had left behind for good.

Before heading down that route, the Obama administration should conduct a comprehensive strategic assessment that includes a detailed analysis of how the Afghan security environment will likely develop between 2014 and 2018. Meanwhile, the Pentagon should weigh which of Washington’s objectives in Afghanistan have been achieved and measure the risks of withdrawing U.S. forces before the remaining objectives have been met, developing a new strategy for Afghanistan and the region to mitigate the costs and risks. The United States should lead the same type of strategic review within NATO to determine the extent to which it is necessary and feasible to maintain a NATO training mission in the country beyond 2016.

If Obama decides to stick with his current plan to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, his administration must develop a clearer strategy for how to maintain the gains made there without U.S. and NATO forces on the ground. At the moment, it is unclear how the United States or its allies intend to help the Afghan government maintain security on its own. The plan to withdraw completely seems blind to the transformational — and almost certainly negative — impact that the exit of U.S. and NATO forces and capabilities will have on Afghanistan’s internal political and security dynamics.

Even without pursuing a major strategic overhaul, the administration should at the very least take the crucial step of creating a so-called transitional embassy in Kabul. After U.S. forces withdraw, the U.S. embassy should house a “dual-hatted” chief of security assistance: a military officer who would manage the State Department’s role in facilitating arms sales to Afghanistan and also advise, train, and assist Afghan security forces. (In 2011, U.S. military officials recommended creating such a position within the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in the wake of the American withdrawal, but that idea was rejected by the State Department and the White House.) Creating this position would allow some U.S. military infrastructure to remain in place, not only to aid Afghan security forces but also to allow for a more rapid redeployment of U.S. forces should the transition go badly.

In critical respects, Afghanistan today looks quite a lot like Iraq did in 2011. The United States prepares to withdraw its forces while a weak, divided, corrupt central government sputters and flails. Meanwhile, an extremist insurgent group grows stronger in safe havens across the border in a fractious, unstable state. Just substitute Kabul for Baghdad, the Taliban for ISIS, and Pakistan for Syria, and the pictures line up quite well. And without a dramatic shift in strategy and policy, a few years after U.S. and NATO forces leave Afghanistan, the country will look quite a lot like Iraq does today. The Obama administration must act swiftly, or else it risks losing a second war by once again departing before the job is done.

Voir également:

Alors qu’Obama le courtise, Khamenei répond par « mort à l’Amérique »
Juif.org
22.03.15

Deux jours seulement après que président américain Barack Obama ait exhorté le peuple iranien à profiter d’une « occasion unique » pour résoudre la question nucléaire, une foule iranienne a scandé samedi « mort à l’Amérique », avec le « guide suprême » tout à fait d’accord avec ce slogan.

Selon Reuters, l’ayatollah Ali Khamenei a fait un discours dans le nord de l’Iran, où il a accusé les Etats-Unis d’utiliser la pression économique et l’intimidation pour essayer de tourner ses compatriotes contre le régime islamique.

Khamenei, qui a le dernier mot sur toutes les questions de l’état iranien, a rappelé dans son discours que Téhéran ne pliera pas face aux pressions pour céder aux exigences des pays occidentaux sur son nucléaire.

Khamenei a dénoncé les sanctions et ce qu’il décrit comme les puissances occidentales « arrogantes », les blâmant ainsi que les acteurs régionaux pour la réduction de moitié du prix du pétrole depuis juin dernier, ce qui a encore plus mis sous pression l’économie iranienne.

A ce moment, selon Reuters, un homme dans le public a crié « mort à l’Amérique », ce à quoi le dictateur islamiste a répondu : « bien entendu, mort à l’Amérique, parce que l’Amérique est la source d’origine de cette pression. Ils insistent à mettre la pression sur l’économie de nos chères personnes. Quel est leur objectif ? Leur objectif est de monter les gens contre le système. »

Khamenei a contesté le message fait par Obama aux Iraniens, dans lequel le président a déclaré que les pourparlers nucléaires représentaient la meilleure occasion depuis des décennies de poursuivre une relation différente entre les deux pays.

Il a rejeté l’affirmation d’Obama qu’il y avait des gens en Iran qui se tenaient contre une solution diplomatique à la question nucléaire.

« C’est un mensonge. Il n’y a pas une personne en Iran qui ne veuille pas une solution à la question nucléaire, résolution par des négociations. Ce que le peuple iranien ne veut pas c’est l’imposition et l’intimidation de l’Amérique, » a-t-il dit, selon Reuters.

« L’autre partie dit ‘allons négocier et vous acceptez tous les détails de ce que nous disons’… Ni nos dirigeants, ni notre équipe de négociation, ni le peuple d’Iran qui est derrière eux ne vont accepter cela, » a ajouté Khamenei.

« Mort à l’Amérique » est souvent chanté par les foules lors des rassemblements en Iran. En fait, le slogan est scandé depuis plus de trois décennies à tous les événements publics, y compris la prière du vendredi.

Alors qu’il y a eu des appels à s’abstenir de ces chants, au vu des tentatives de l’Iran de convaincre le monde qu’il est devenu plus modéré, les chefs religieux de l’Iran ont rejeté ces appels, affirmant que le slogan « reflète la doctrine islamique de la résistance à l’impérialisme, et symbolise également la force de l’Iran. »

Les Gardiens de la Révolution ont récemment dit clairement que les Etats-Unis « sont toujours le grand Satan et l’ennemi numéro un de la révolution (islamique), et la république islamique et la nation iranienne… ne permettront jamais que la dignité et l’indépendance de la patrie islamique soient menacées et lésées par la volonté des ennemis. »

Voir aussi:

Israeli officials say US anger aims to distract from Iran deal
Jerusalem downplays Obama’s dismay with the apparent Netanyahu rejection of 2-state solution, says Washington knows the Palestinians, not Israel, sank peace talks
Raphael Ahren
The Times of Israel
March 22, 2015

The US administration’s comments calling into question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment to a two-state solution are intended to divert the public’s attention from the prospective nuclear deal with Iran, senior officials in Jerusalem said Sunday.

Ties between Jerusalem and Washington appeared to hit a new low over the last week, with US officials speaking of supporting Palestinian overtures at the UN after Netanyahu appealed for right-wing support ahead of election day by saying he would not allow a Palestinian state.

But sources in Jerusalem indicated that Sunday that they believed the US was using the issue to distract from a controversial deal being hammered out with Iran over its nuclear program, which Netanyahu has lobbied against.

“In my eyes, [the US administration’s comments on the two-state solution] are less related to the Palestinian issue but are much more connected to the Iranian issue,” Dore Gold, a former ambassador to the United Nations and close Netanyahu adviser, told Army Radio Sunday. “We’re having a substantial disagreement with Washington over the agreement they’re about to sign in the coming days and weeks.”

Over the weekend, US President Barack Obama issued thinly veiled threats of allowing the passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for the creation of a Palestinian side.

He said his government would have to “evaluate” again its stance on Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts in light of Netanyahu’s pre-election rejection of Palestinian statehood.

Although Netanyahu later backtracked in interviews with four American television networks, reiterating a commitment in principle to a “sustainable, peaceful two-state solution,” Obama said in an interview published Saturday that his administration is now operating under the assumption that Netanyahu does not envision the creation of a Palestinian state.

In Jerusalem, the president’s comments were interpreted as an American ploy to place the Palestinian issue on the agenda to draw interest away from a prospective agreement between six world powers — led by the US — and Iran over the latter’s rogue nuclear program. Netanyahu is openly critical of the deal, arguing that it would pave the way toward a nuclear-armed Iran.

The Americans know that the Palestinian Authority was the key obstacle to a peace agreement during last year’s negotiations, Gold argued. Therefore, he suggested, Obama’s comments on the peace process and on Netanyahu’s ostensible repudiation of the two-state solution could be seen as motivated by a desire to distract from the Iran deal, he suggested.

The US is a serious country that doesn’t play political games, Gold said. “But we need to understand that there are tensions [with Israel] on these two issues. Regarding the Palestinian issue — the prime minister himself clarified his positions. But the tensions persist, in my view, in light of our disagreement about key aspects of the Iranian nuclear issue.”

Another senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office told The Times of Israel on Sunday that Netanyahu gave interviews to four American television station in order to clarify his position on the Palestinian statehood. “The prime minister reiterated that there’s no change to his commitment to the principle of two states for two peoples,” the senior official said. “We thought that would be enough to put that issue aside.”

The fact that Obama nevertheless opted to focus on the Palestinian issue indicates that he wants to deflect Israeli criticism on the prospective Iran deal, the senior official added.

He did not comment on whether or how the prime minister intends to satisfy the president’s demand for clarification on Jerusalem’s stance toward Palestinian statehood.

In his interview with The Huffington Post, Obama promised to maintain cooperation with the Israeli government on military and intelligence operations, but would not say whether the US would continue to block Palestinian efforts to secure statehood via the United Nations. He said he had told the Likud leader when they spoke on Thursday that it would be difficult to find a way to restart peace talks when people are seriously doubting that negotiations are possible.

“We take him at his word when he said that [the creation of a Palestinian state] wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership,” Obama said, “and so that’s why we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Voir également:

Annals of the Presidency
Going the Distance
On and off the road with Barack Obama.
David Remnick

The New Yorker

January 27, 2014

Obama’s Presidency is on the clock. Hard as it has been to pass legislation, the coming year is a marker, the final interval before the fight for succession becomes politically all-consuming. Obama’s Presidency is on the clock. Hard as it has been to pass legislation, the coming year is a marker, the final interval before the fight for succession becomes politically all-consuming. Credit Photographs by Pari Dukovic

On the Sunday afternoon before Thanksgiving, Barack Obama sat in the office cabin of Air Force One wearing a look of heavy-lidded annoyance. The Affordable Care Act, his signature domestic achievement and, for all its limitations, the most ambitious social legislation since the Great Society, half a century ago, was in jeopardy. His approval rating was down to forty per cent—lower than George W. Bush’s in December of 2005, when Bush admitted that the decision to invade Iraq had been based on intelligence that “turned out to be wrong.” Also, Obama said thickly, “I’ve got a fat lip.”

That morning, while playing basketball at F.B.I. headquarters, Obama went up for a rebound and came down empty-handed; he got, instead, the sort of humbling reserved for middle-aged men who stubbornly refuse the transition to the elliptical machine and Gentle Healing Yoga. This had happened before. In 2010, after taking a self-described “shellacking” in the midterm elections, Obama caught an elbow in the mouth while playing ball at Fort McNair. He wound up with a dozen stitches. The culprit then was one Reynaldo Decerega, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. Decerega wasn’t invited to play again, though Obama sent him a photograph inscribed “For Rey, the only guy that ever hit the President and didn’t get arrested. Barack.”

This time, the injury was slighter and no assailant was named—“I think it was the ball,” Obama said—but the President needed little assistance in divining the metaphor in this latest insult to his person. The pundits were declaring 2013 the worst year of his Presidency. The Republicans had been sniping at Obamacare since its passage, nearly four years earlier, and HealthCare.gov, a Web site that was undertested and overmatched, was a gift to them. There were other beribboned boxes under the tree: Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency; the failure to get anything passed on gun control or immigration reform; the unseemly waffling over whether the Egyptian coup was a coup; the solidifying wisdom in Washington that the President was “disengaged,” allergic to the forensic and seductive arts of political persuasion. The congressional Republicans quashed nearly all legislation as a matter of principle and shut down the government for sixteen days, before relenting out of sheer tactical confusion and embarrassment—and yet it was the President’s miseries that dominated the year-end summations.

Obama worried his lip with his tongue and the tip of his index finger. He sighed, slumping in his chair. The night before, Iran had agreed to freeze its nuclear program for six months. A final pact, if one could be arrived at, would end the prospect of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities and the hell that could follow: terror attacks, proxy battles, regional war—take your pick. An agreement could even help normalize relations between the United States and Iran for the first time since the Islamic Revolution, in 1979. Obama put the odds of a final accord at less than even, but, still, how was this not good news?

The answer had arrived with breakfast. The Saudis, the Israelis, and the Republican leadership made their opposition known on the Sunday-morning shows and through diplomatic channels. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, called the agreement a “historic mistake.” Even a putative ally like New York Senator Chuck Schumer could go on “Meet the Press” and, fearing no retribution from the White House, hint that he might help bollix up the deal. Obama hadn’t tuned in. “I don’t watch Sunday-morning shows,” he said. “That’s been a well-established rule.” Instead, he went out to play ball.

Usually, Obama spends Sundays with his family. Now he was headed for a three-day fund-raising trip to Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, rattling the cup in one preposterous mansion after another. The prospect was dispiriting. Obama had already run his last race, and the chances that the Democratic Party will win back the House of Representatives in the 2014 midterm elections are slight. The Democrats could, in fact, lose the Senate.

For an important trip abroad, Air Force One is crowded with advisers, military aides, Secret Service people, support staff, the press pool. This trip was smaller, and I was along for the ride, sitting in a guest cabin with a couple of aides and a staffer who was tasked with keeping watch over a dark suit bag with a tag reading “The President.”

Obama spent his flight time in the private quarters in the nose of the plane, in his office compartment, or in a conference room. At one point on the trip from Andrews Air Force Base to Seattle, I was invited up front for a conversation. Obama was sitting at his desk watching the Miami Dolphins–Carolina Panthers game. Slender as a switch, he wore a white shirt and dark slacks; a flight jacket was slung over his high-backed leather chair. As we talked, mainly about the Middle East, his eyes wandered to the game. Reports of multiple concussions and retired players with early-onset dementia had been in the news all year, and so, before I left, I asked if he didn’t feel at all ambivalent about following the sport. He didn’t.

“I would not let my son play pro football,” he conceded. “But, I mean, you wrote a lot about boxing, right? We’re sort of in the same realm.”

The Miami defense was taking on a Keystone Kops quality, and Obama, who had lost hope on a Bears contest, was starting to lose interest in the Dolphins. “At this point, there’s a little bit of caveat emptor,” he went on. “These guys, they know what they’re doing. They know what they’re buying into. It is no longer a secret. It’s sort of the feeling I have about smokers, you know?”
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Obama chewed furtively on a piece of Nicorette. His carriage and the cadence of his conversation are usually so measured that I was thrown by the lingering habit, the trace of indiscipline. “I’m not a purist,” he said.
I—ON THE CLOCK

When Obama leaves the White House, on January 20, 2017, he will write a memoir. “Now, that’s a slam dunk,” the former Obama adviser David Axelrod told me. Andrew Wylie, a leading literary agent, said he thought that publishers would pay between seventeen and twenty million dollars for the book—the most ever for a work of nonfiction—and around twelve million for Michelle Obama’s memoirs. (The First Lady has already started work on hers.) Obama’s best friend, Marty Nesbitt, a Chicago businessman, told me that, important as the memoir might be to Obama’s legacy and to his finances, “I don’t see him locked up in a room writing all the time. His capacity to crank stuff out is amazing. When he was writing his second book, he would say, ‘I’m gonna get up at seven and write this chapter—and at nine we’ll play golf.’ I would think no, it’s going to be a lot later, but he would knock on my door at nine and say, ‘Let’s go.’ ” Nesbitt thinks that Obama will work on issues such as human rights, education, and “health and wellness.” “He was a local community organizer when he was young,” he said. “At the back end of his career, I see him as an international and national community organizer.”

Yet no post-Presidential project—even one as worthy as Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs or Jimmy Carter’s efforts to eradicate the Guinea worm in Africa—can overshadow what can be accomplished in the White House with the stroke of a pen or a phone call. And, after a miserable year, Obama’s Presidency is on the clock. Hard as it has been to pass legislation since the Republicans took the House, in 2010, the coming year is a marker, the final interval before the fight for succession becomes politically all-consuming.

“The conventional wisdom is that a President’s second term is a matter of minimizing the damage and playing defense rather than playing offense,” Obama said in one of our conversations on the trip and at the White House. “But, as I’ve reminded my team, the day after I was inaugurated for a second term, we’re in charge of the largest organization on earth, and our capacity to do some good, both domestically and around the world, is unsurpassed, even if nobody is paying attention.”

In 2007, at the start of Obama’s Presidential campaign, the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and her husband, Richard Goodwin, who worked in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, visited him in his Senate office. “I have no desire to be one of those Presidents who are just on the list—you see their pictures lined up on the wall,” Obama told them. “I really want to be a President who makes a difference.” As she put it to me then, “There was the sense that he wanted to be big. He didn’t want to be Millard Fillmore or Franklin Pierce.”

The question is whether Obama will satisfy the standard he set for himself. His biggest early disappointment as President was being forced to recognize that his romantic vision of a post-partisan era, in which there are no red states or blue states, only the United States, was, in practical terms, a fantasy. It was a difficult fantasy to relinquish. The spirit of national conciliation was more than the rhetorical pixie dust of Obama’s 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention, in Boston, which had brought him to delirious national attention. It was also an elemental component of his self-conception, his sense that he was uniquely suited to transcend ideology and the grubby battles of the day. Obama is defensive about this now. “My speech in Boston was an aspirational speech,” he said. “It was not a description of our politics. It was a description of what I saw in the American people.”

The structures of American division came into high relief once he was in office. The debate over the proper scale and scope of the federal government dates to the Founders, but it has intensified since the Reagan revolution. Both Bill Clinton and Obama have spent as much time defending progressive advances—from Social Security and Medicare to voting rights and abortion rights—as they have trying to extend them. The Republican Party is living through the late-mannerist phase of that revolution, fuelled less by ideas than by resentments. The moderate Republican tradition is all but gone, and the reactionaries who claim Reagan’s banner display none of his ideological finesse. Rejection is all. Obama can never be opposed vehemently enough.

The dream of bipartisan coöperation glimmered again after Obama won reëlection against Mitt Romney with fifty-one per cent of the popular vote. The President talked of the election breaking the “fever” in Washington. “We didn’t expect the floodgates would open and Boehner would be Tip O’Neill to our Reagan,” Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to the President, said. But reëlection, he thought, had “liberated” Obama. The second Inaugural Address was the most liberal since the nineteen-sixties. Obama pledged to take ambitious action on climate change, immigration, gun control, voting rights, infrastructure, tax reform. He warned of a nation at “perpetual war.” He celebrated the Seneca Falls Convention, the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, and the Stonewall riots as events in a narrative of righteous struggle. He pledged “collective action” on economic fairness, and declared that the legacy of Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid does “not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.” Pfeiffer said, “His point was that Congress won’t set the limits of what I will do. I won’t trim my vision. And, even if I can’t get it done, I will set the stage so it does get done” in the years ahead. Then came 2013, annus horribilis.
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Obama’s election was one of the great markers in the black freedom struggle. In the electoral realm, ironically, the country may be more racially divided than it has been in a generation. Obama lost among white voters in 2012 by a margin greater than any victor in American history. The popular opposition to the Administration comes largely from older whites who feel threatened, underemployed, overlooked, and disdained in a globalized economy and in an increasingly diverse country. Obama’s drop in the polls in 2013 was especially grave among white voters. “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President,” Obama said. “Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black President.” The latter group has been less in evidence of late.

“There is a historic connection between some of the arguments that we have politically and the history of race in our country, and sometimes it’s hard to disentangle those issues,” he went on. “You can be somebody who, for very legitimate reasons, worries about the power of the federal government—that it’s distant, that it’s bureaucratic, that it’s not accountable—and as a consequence you think that more power should reside in the hands of state governments. But what’s also true, obviously, is that philosophy is wrapped up in the history of states’ rights in the context of the civil-rights movement and the Civil War and Calhoun. There’s a pretty long history there. And so I think it’s important for progressives not to dismiss out of hand arguments against my Presidency or the Democratic Party or Bill Clinton or anybody just because there’s some overlap between those criticisms and the criticisms that traditionally were directed against those who were trying to bring about greater equality for African-Americans. The flip side is I think it’s important for conservatives to recognize and answer some of the problems that are posed by that history, so that they understand if I am concerned about leaving it up to states to expand Medicaid that it may not simply be because I am this power-hungry guy in Washington who wants to crush states’ rights but, rather, because we are one country and I think it is going to be important for the entire country to make sure that poor folks in Mississippi and not just Massachusetts are healthy.”

Obama’s advisers are convinced that if the Republicans don’t find a way to attract non-white voters, particularly Hispanics and Asians, they may lose the White House for two or three more election cycles. And yet Obama still makes every effort to maintain his careful, balancing tone, as if the unifying moment were still out there somewhere in the middle distance. “There were times in our history where Democrats didn’t seem to be paying enough attention to the concerns of middle-class folks or working-class folks, black or white,” he said. “And this was one of the great gifts of Bill Clinton to the Party—to say, you know what, it’s entirely legitimate for folks to be concerned about getting mugged, and you can’t just talk about police abuse. How about folks not feeling safe outside their homes? It’s all fine and good for you to want to do something about poverty, but if the only mechanism you have is raising taxes on folks who are already feeling strapped, then maybe you need to widen your lens a little bit. And I think that the Democratic Party is better for it. But that was a process. And I am confident that the Republicans will go through that same process.”

For the moment, though, the opposition party is content to define itself, precisely, by its opposition. As Obama, a fan of the “Godfather” movies, has put it, “It turns out Marlon Brando had it easy, because, when it comes to Congress, there is no such thing as an offer they can’t refuse.”
II—THE LONG VIEW

At dusk, Air Force One touched down at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Obama and his adviser Valerie Jarrett stood for a moment on the tarmac gazing at Mt. Rainier, the snow a candied pink. Then Obama nodded. Moment over. They got in the car and headed for town. Obama’s limousine, a Cadillac said to weigh as much as fifteen thousand pounds, is known as the Beast. It is armored with ceramic, titanium, aluminum, and steel to withstand bomb blasts, and it is sealed in case of biochemical attack. The doors are as heavy as those on a Boeing 757. The tires are gigantic “run-flats,” reinforced with Kevlar. A supply of blood matching the President’s type is kept in the trunk.

The Beast ascended the driveway of Jon Shirley, in the Seattle suburb of Medina, on Lake Washington. (Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates live in town, too.) Shirley earned his pile during the early days of high tech, first at Tandy and then, in the eighties, at Microsoft, where he served as president. Shirley’s lawn is littered with gargantuan modern sculptures. A Claes Oldenburg safety pin loomed in the dark. The Beast pulled up to Shirley’s front door.

One of the enduring mysteries of the Obama years is that so many members of the hyper-deluxe economy—corporate C.E.O.s and Wall Street bankers—have abandoned him. The Dow is more than twice what it was when Obama took office, in 2009; corporate profits are higher than they have been since the end of the Second World War; the financial crisis of 2008-09 vaporized more than nine trillion dollars in real-estate value, and no major purveyor of bogus mortgages or dodgy derivatives went to jail. Obama bruised some feelings once or twice with remarks about “fat-cat bankers” and “reckless behavior and unchecked excess,” but, in general, he dares not offend. In 2011, at an annual dinner he holds at the White House with American historians, he asked the group to help him find a language in which he could address the problem of growing inequality without being accused of class warfare.

Inside Shirley’s house, blue-chip works of modern art—paintings, sculpture, installations—were on every wall, in every corner: Katz, Kline, Klein, Pollock, Zhang Huan, Richter, Arp, Rothko, Close, Calder. The house measures more than twenty-seven thousand square feet. There are only two bedrooms. In the library, the President went through a familiar fund-raiser routine: a pre-event private “clutch,” where he shakes hands, makes small talk, and poses for pictures with an inner group—the host, the governor, the chosen.
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Down the hall, in a room scaled like an airplane hangar, about seventy guests, having paid sixteen thousand dollars each to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee kitty, ate dinner and waited. Near some very artistic furniture, I stood with Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s most intimate consigliere. To admirers, Jarrett is known as “the third Obama”; to wary aides, who envy her long history with the Obamas and her easy access to the living quarters of the White House, she is the Night Stalker. Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs, David Plouffe, and many others in the Administration have clashed with her. They are gone. She remains—a constant presence, at meetings, at meals, in the Beast. While we were waiting for Obama to speak to the group, I asked Jarrett whether the health-care rollout had been the worst political fiasco Obama had confronted so far.

“I really don’t think so,” she said. Like all Obama advisers, she was convinced that the problems would get “fixed”—just as Social Security was fixed after a balky start, in 1937—and the memory of the botched rollout would recede. That was the hope and that was the spin. And then she said something that I’ve come to think of as the Administration’s mantra: “The President always takes the long view.”

That appeal to patience and historical reckoning, an appeal that risks a maddening high-mindedness, is something that everyone around Obama trots out to combat the hysterias of any given moment. “He has learned through those vicissitudes that every day is Election Day in Washington and everyone is writing history in ten-minute intervals,” Axelrod told me. “But the truth is that history is written over a long period of time—and he will be judged in the long term.”

Obama stepped up to a platform and went to work. First ingratiation, then gratitude, then answers. He expressed awe at the sight of Mt. Rainier. Being in Seattle, he said, made him “feel the spirit of my mom,” the late Ann Dunham, who went to high school nearby, on Mercer Island. He praised his host’s hospitality. (“The only problem when I come to Jon’s house is I want to just kind of roam around and check stuff out, and instead I’ve got to talk.”) Then came a version of the long-game riff: “One thing that I always try to emphasize is that, if you look at American history, there have been frequent occasions in which it looked like we had insoluble problems—either economic, political, security—and, as long as there were those who stayed steady and clear-eyed and persistent, eventually we came up with an answer.”

As Obama ticked off a list of first-term achievements—the economic rescue, the forty-four straight months of job growth, a reduction in carbon emissions, a spike in clean-energy technology—he seemed efficient but contained, running at three-quarters speed, like an athlete playing a midseason road game of modest consequence; he was performing just hard enough to leave a decent impression, get paid, and avoid injury. Even in front of West Coast liberals, he is always careful to disavow liberalism—the word, anyway. “I’m not a particularly ideological person,” Obama told Jon Shirley and his guests. “There’s things, some values I feel passionately about.” He said that these included making sure that everybody is “being treated with dignity or respect regardless of what they look like or what their last name is or who they love,” providing a strong defense, and “leaving a planet that is as spectacular as the one we inherited from our parents and our grandparents.” He continued, “So there are values I’m passionate about, but I’m pretty pragmatic when it comes to how we get there.”

Obama said he’d take some questions—in “boy, girl, boy, girl” order. He tried to rally the Democrats and expressed dismay with the opposition. (“There are reasonable conservatives and there are those who just want to burn down the house.”) He played both sides of the environment issues, rehearsing the arguments for and against the Keystone pipeline and sympathizing with the desire of China and India to lift millions out of poverty—but if they consume energy the way the United States has “we’ll be four feet under water.” This is the archetypal Obama habit of mind and politics, the calm, professorial immersion in complexity played out in front of ardent supporters who crave a rallying cry. It’s what compelled him to declare himself a non-pacifist as he was accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, in Oslo, and praise Ronald Reagan in a Democratic primary debate.

And that was the end of the performance. A few minutes later, the motorcade was snaking through the streets of suburban Seattle—kids in pajamas holding signs and sparklers, the occasional protester, Obama secured in the back seat of the Beast. He could hear nothing. The windows of his car are five inches thick.
III—PRESIDENTIAL M&M’S

The next morning, a Monday, I woke early and turned on CNN. Senator Lindsey Graham, who is facing a primary challenge from four Tea Party candidates in South Carolina, was saying with utter confidence that Iran had hoodwinked the Administration in Geneva. Next came a poll showing that the majority of the country now believed that the President was neither truthful nor honest. The announcer added with a smile that GQ had put Obama at No. 17 on its “least influential” list—right up there with Pope Benedict XVI in his retirement, the cicadas that never showed up last summer, and Manti Te’o’s fake dead girlfriend.

In the hotel lobby, I met Jeff Tiller, who works for the White House press operation. In college, he became interested in politics and later joined Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign. From there, he volunteered at the White House, which led to a string of staff jobs, and eventually he was doing advance work all over the world for the White House. The aides on the plane were like Tiller—committed members of a cheerful, overworked microculture who could barely conceal their pleasure in Presidential propinquity. I’m twenty-seven and this is my thirty-second time on Air Force One. “I pinch myself sometimes,” Tiller said. Dan Pfeiffer, who has been with Obama since 2007, was so overworked last year that he suffered a series of mini-strokes. “But no worries,” he told me. “I’m good!”
“The things you start may not come to full fruition on your timetable,” Obama says. “But you can move things forward. And sometimes the things that start small may turn out to be fairly significant.”“The things you start may not come to full fruition on your timetable,” Obama says. “But you can move things forward. And sometimes the things that start small may turn out to be fairly significant.”

We arrived in San Francisco, and the motorcade raced along, free of traffic and red lights, from the airport to a community center in Chinatown named after Betty Ong, a flight attendant who perished when American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center. Obama was to give a speech on immigration. Out the window, you could see people waving, people hoisting their babies as if to witness history, people holding signs protesting one issue or another—the Keystone pipeline, especially—and, everywhere, the iPhone clickers, the Samsung snappers.

The Beast pulled under a makeshift security tent. Obama gets to events like these through underground hallways, industrial kitchens, holding rooms—all of which have been checked for bombs. At the Ong Center, he met with his hosts and their children. (“I think I have some Presidential M&M’s for you!”) People get goggle-eyed when it’s their turn for a picture. Obama tries to put them at ease: “C’mon in here! Let’s do this!” Sometimes there is teasing of the mildest sort: “Chuck Taylor All-Stars! Old style, baby!” A woman told the President that she was six months pregnant. She didn’t look it. “Whoa! Don’t tell that to Michelle. She’ll be all . . .” The woman said she was having a girl. Obama was delighted: “Daughters! You can’t beat ’em!” He pulled her in for the photo. From long experience, Obama has learned what works for him in pictures: a broad, toothy smile. A millisecond after the flash, the sash releases, the smile drops, a curtain falling.

A little later, Betty Ong’s mother and siblings arrived. Obama drew them into a huddle. I heard him saying that Betty was a hero, though “obviously, the heartache never goes away.” Obama really is skilled at this kind of thing, the kibbitzing and the expressions of sympathy, the hugging and the eulogizing and the celebrating, the sheer animal activity of human politics—but he suffers an anxiety of comparison. Bill Clinton was, and is, the master, a hyper-extrovert whose freakish memory for names and faces, and whose indomitable will to enfold and charm everyone in his path, remains unmatched. Obama can be a dynamic speaker before large audiences and charming in very small groups, but, like a normal human being and unlike the near-pathological personalities who have so often held the office, he is depleted by the act of schmoozing a group of a hundred as if it were an intimate gathering. At fund-raisers, he would rather eat privately with a couple of aides before going out to perform. According to the Wall Street Journal, when Jeffrey Katzenberg threw a multi-million-dollar fund-raiser in Los Angeles two years ago, he told the President’s staff that he expected Obama to stop at each of the fourteen tables and talk for a while. No one would have had to ask Clinton. Obama’s staffers were alarmed. When you talk about this with people in Obamaland, they let on that Clinton borders on the obsessive—as if the appetite for connection were related to what got him in such deep trouble.

“Obama is a genuinely respectful person, but he doesn’t try to seduce everyone,” Axelrod said. “It’s never going to be who he’ll be.” Obama doesn’t love fund-raising, he went on, “and, if you don’t love it in the first place, you’re not likely to grow fonder of it over time.”

Obama has other talents that serve him well in public. Like a seasoned standup comedian, he has learned that a well-timed heckler can be his ally. It allows him to dramatize his open-mindedness, even his own philosophical ambivalences about a particularly difficult political or moral question. Last May, at the National Defense University, where he was giving a speech on counter-terrorism, a woman named Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of the group Code Pink, interrupted him, loudly and at length, to talk about drone strikes and about closing the American prison at Guantánamo Bay. While some in the audience tried to drown her out with applause, and security people proceeded to drag her away, Obama asserted Benjamin’s right to “free speech,” and declared, “The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to.”

At the Ong Center, an undocumented immigrant from South Korea named Ju Hong was in the crowd lined up behind the President. Toward the end of Obama’s speech, Ju Hong, a Berkeley graduate, broke in, demanding that the President use his executive powers to stop deportations.

Obama wheeled around. “If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so, but we’re also a nation of laws,” he said, making his case to a wash of applause.

At the next event, a fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee at a music venue, the SFJAZZ Center, Obama met the host’s family (“Hold on, we got some White House M&M’s”) and then made his way to the backstage holding area. You could hear the murmur of security communications: “Renegade with greeters”—Renegade being Obama’s Secret Service handle.

Obama worked with more enthusiasm than at the midday event. He did the polite handshake; the full pull-in; the hug and double backslap; the slap-shake; the solicitous arm-around-the-older woman. (“And you stand here. . . . Perfect!”)

The clutch over, the crowd cleared away, Obama turned to his aides and said, “How many we got out there?”

“Five hundred. Five-fifty.”

“Five-fifty?” Obama said, walking toward the wings of the stage. “What are we talking about? Politics? Can’t we talk about something else? Sports?”

The aides were, as ever, staring down at their iPhones, scrolling, tapping, mentally occupying a psychic space somewhere between where they were and the unspooling news cycle back in Washington.

“We’re off the cuff,” Pfeiffer said. No prepared speech.

“Off the cuff? Sounds good. Let’s go do it.”

Obama walked toward the stage and, as he was announced, he mouthed the words: “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.”
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Then it happened again: another heckler broke into Obama’s speech. A man in the balcony repeatedly shouted out, “Executive order!,” demanding that the President bypass Congress with more unilateral actions. Obama listened with odd indulgence. Finally, he said, “I’m going to actually pause on this issue, because a lot of people have been saying this lately on every problem, which is just, ‘Sign an executive order and we can pretty much do anything and basically nullify Congress.’ ”

Many in the crowd applauded their approval. Yes! Nullify it! Although Obama has infuriated the right with relatively modest executive orders on gun control and some stronger ones on climate change, he has issued the fewest of any modern President, except George H. W. Bush.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Obama said. “Before everybody starts clapping, that’s not how it works. We’ve got this Constitution, we’ve got this whole thing about separation of powers. So there is no shortcut to politics, and there’s no shortcut to democracy.” The applause was hardly ecstatic. Everyone knew what he meant. The promises in the second inaugural could be a long time coming.
IV—THE WELCOME TABLE

For every flight aboard Air Force One, there is a new name card at each seat; a catalogue of the Presidential Entertainment Library, with its hiply curated choices of movies and music; baskets of fruit and candy; a menu. Obama is generally a spare eater; the Air Force One menu seems designed for William Howard Taft. Breakfast one morning was “pumpkin spiced French toast drizzled with caramel syrup and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Served with scrambled eggs and maple sausage links.” Plus juice, coffee, and, on the side, a “creamy vanilla yogurt layered with blackberries and cinnamon graham crackers.”

The most curious character on the plane was Marvin Nicholson, a tall, rangy man in his early forties who works as the President’s trip director and ubiquitous factotum. He is six feet eight. Nicholson is the guy who is always around, who carries the bag and the jacket, who squeezes Purell onto the Presidential palms after a rope line or a clutch; he is the one who has the pens, the briefing books, the Nicorette, the Sharpies, the Advil, the throat lozenges, the iPad, the iPod, the protein bars, the bottle of Black Forest Berry Honest Tea. He and the President toss a football around, they shoot baskets, they shoot the shit. In his twenties, Nicholson was living in Boston and working as a bartender and as a clerk in a windsurfing-equipment shop, where he met John Kerry. He moved to Nantucket and worked as a caddie. He carried the Senator’s clubs and Kerry invited him to come to D.C. Since taking the job with Obama, in 2009, Nicholson has played golf with the President well over a hundred times. The Speaker of the House has played with him once.

A fact like this can seem to chime with the sort of complaints you hear all the time about Obama, particularly along the Acela Corridor. He is said to be a reluctant politician: aloof, insular, diffident, arrogant, inert, unwilling to jolly his allies along the fairway and take a 9-iron to his enemies. He doesn’t know anyone in Congress. No one in the House or in the Senate, no one in foreign capitals fears him. He gives a great speech, but he doesn’t understand power. He is a poor executive. Doesn’t it seem as if he hates the job? And so on. This is the knowing talk on Wall Street, on K Street, on Capitol Hill, in green rooms—the “Morning Joe” consensus.

There are other ways to assess the political skills of a President who won two terms, as only seventeen of forty-four Presidents have, and did so as a black man, with an African father and a peculiar name, one consonant away from that of the world’s most notorious terrorist. From the start, however, the political operatives who opposed him did what they are paid to do—they drew a cartoon of him. “Even if you never met him, you know this guy,” Karl Rove said, in 2008. “He’s the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a Martini and a cigarette, that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.” The less malign version is of a President who is bafflingly serene, as committed to his duties as a husband and father—six-thirty family dinner upstairs in the private residence is considered “sacrosanct,” aides say—as he is to his duties as Cajoler-in-Chief.

Still, Obama’s reluctance to break bread on a regular basis with his congressional allies is real, and a source of tribal mystification in Washington. “Politics was a strange career choice for Obama,” David Frum, a conservative columnist, told me. “Most politicians are not the kind of people you would choose to have as friends. Or they are the kind who, like John Edwards, seem to be one thing but then turn out to have a monster in the attic; the friendship is contingent on something you can’t see. Obama is exactly like all my friends. He would rather read a book than spend time with people he doesn’t know or like.” Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia who was elected to the Senate three years ago, said recently that Obama’s distance from members of Congress has hurt his ability to pass legislation. “When you don’t build those personal relationships,” Manchin told CNN, “it’s pretty easy for a person to say, ‘Well, let me think about it.’ ”

Harry Truman once called the White House “the great white jail,” but few Presidents seem to have felt as oppressed by Washington as Obama does. At one stop on the West Coast trip, Marta Kauffman, a Democratic bundler who was one of the creators of “Friends,” said that she asked him what had surprised him most when he first became President. “The bubble,” Obama said. He said he hoped that one day he might be able to take a walk in the park, drop by a bookstore, chat with people in a coffee shop. “After all this is done,” he said, “how can I find that again?”

“Have you considered a wig?” she asked.

“Maybe fake dreads,” her son added.

The President smiled. “I never thought of that,” he said.
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Obama’s circle of intimates is limited; it has been since his days at Columbia and Harvard Law. In 2008, Obama called on John Podesta, who had worked extensively for Bill Clinton, to run his transition process. When Clinton took office, there was a huge list of people who needed to be taken care of with jobs; the “friends of Bill” is a wide network. After Podesta talked to Obama and realized how few favors had to be distributed, he told a colleague, “He travels light.”

Obama’s favorite company is a small ensemble of Chicago friends—Valerie Jarrett, Marty Nesbitt and his wife, Anita Blanchard, an obstetrician, and Eric and Cheryl Whitaker, prominent doctors on the South Side. During the first Presidential campaign, the Obamas took a vow of “no new friends.”

“There have been times where I’ve been constrained by the fact that I had two young daughters who I wanted to spend time with—and that I wasn’t in a position to work the social scene in Washington,” Obama told me. But, as Malia and Sasha have grown older, the Obamas have taken to hosting occasional off-the-record dinners in the residence upstairs at the White House. The guests ordinarily include a friendly political figure, a business leader, a journalist. Obama drinks a Martini or two (Rove was right about that), and he and the First Lady are welcoming, funny, and warm. The dinners start at six. At around ten-thirty at one dinner last spring, the guests assumed the evening was winding down. But when Obama was asked whether they should leave, he laughed and said, “Hey, don’t go! I’m a night owl! Have another drink.” The party went on past 1 A.M.

At the dinners with historians, Obama sometimes asks his guests to talk about their latest work. On one occasion, Doris Kearns Goodwin talked about what became “The Bully Pulpit,” which is a study, in part, of the way that Theodore Roosevelt deployed his relentlessly gregarious personality and his close relations with crusading journalists to political advantage. The portrait of T.R. muscling obstreperous foes on the issue of inequality—particularly the laissez-faire dinosaurs in his own party, the G.O.P.—couldn’t fail to summon a contrasting portrait.

The biographer Robert Caro has also been a guest. Caro’s ongoing volumes about Lyndon Johnson portray a President who used everything from the promise of appointment to bald-faced political threats to win passage of the legislative agenda that had languished under John Kennedy, including Medicare, a tax cut, and a civil-rights bill. Publicly, Johnson said of Kennedy, “I had to take the dead man’s program and turn it into a martyr’s cause.” Privately, he disdained Kennedy’s inability to get his program through Congress, cracking, according to Caro, that Kennedy’s men knew less about politics on the Hill “than an old maid does about fucking.” Senator Richard Russell, Jr., of Georgia, admitted that he and his Dixiecrat colleagues in the Senate could resist Kennedy “but not Lyndon”: “That man will twist your arm off at the shoulder and beat your head in with it.”

Obama delivers no such beatings. Last April, when, in the wake of the mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, eighty-three per cent of Americans declared themselves in favor of background checks for gun purchases, the Times ran a prominent article making the case that the Senate failed to follow the President’s lead at least partly because of his passivity as a tactical politician. It described how Mark Begich, a Democratic senator from Alaska, had asked for, and received, a crucial favor from the White House, but then, four weeks later, when Begich voted against the bill on background checks, he paid no price. No one shut down any highway lanes in Anchorage; no Presidential fury was felt in Juneau or the Brooks Range. The historian Robert Dallek, another guest at the President’s table, told the Times that Obama was “inclined to believe that sweet reason is what you need to use with people in high office.”

Yet Obama and his aides regard all such talk of breaking bread and breaking legs as wishful fantasy. They maintain that they could invite every Republican in Congress to play golf until the end of time, could deliver punishments with ruthless regularity—and never cut the Gordian knot of contemporary Washington. They have a point. An Alaska Democrat like Begich would never last in office had he voted with Obama. L.B.J., elected in a landslide victory in 1964, drew on whopping majorities in both houses of Congress. He could exploit ideological diversity within the parties and the lax regulations on earmarks and pork-barrel spending. “When he lost that historic majority, and the glow of that landslide victory faded, he had the same problems with Congress that most Presidents at one point or another have,” Obama told me. “I say that not to suggest that I’m a master wheeler-dealer but, rather, to suggest that there are some structural institutional realities to our political system that don’t have much to do with schmoozing.”

Dallek said, “Johnson could sit with Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader, kneecap to kneecap, drinking bourbon and branch water, and Dirksen would mention that there was a fine young man in his state who would be a fine judge, and the deal would be cut. Nowadays, the media would know in an instant and rightly yell ‘Corruption!’ ”

Caro finds the L.B.J.-B.H.O. comparison ludicrous. “Johnson was unique,” he said. “We have never had anyone like him, as a legislative genius. I’m working on his Presidency now. Wait till you see what he does to get Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act through. But is Obama a poor practitioner of power? I have a different opinion. No matter what the problems with the rollout of Obamacare, it’s a major advance in the history of social justice to provide access to health care for thirty-one million people.”
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At the most recent dinner he attended at the White House, Caro had the distinct impression that Obama was cool to him, annoyed, perhaps, at the notion appearing in the press that his latest Johnson volume was an implicit rebuke to him. “As we were leaving, I said to Obama, ‘You know, my book wasn’t an unspoken attack on you, it’s a book about Lyndon Johnson,’ ” Caro recalled. L.B.J. was, after all, also the President who made the catastrophic decision to deepen America’s involvement in the quagmire of Vietnam. “Obama seems interested in winding down our foreign wars,” Caro said approvingly.

When Obama does ask Republicans to a social occasion, he is sometimes rebuffed. In the fall of 2012, he organized a screening at the White House of Steven Spielberg’s film “Lincoln.” Spielberg, the cast, and the Democratic leadership found the time to come. Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and three other Republicans declined their invitations, pleading the press of congressional business. In the current climate, a Republican, especially one facing challenges at home from the right, risks more than he gains by socializing or doing business with Obama. Boehner may be prepared to compromise on certain issues, but it looks better for him if he is seen to be making a deal with Harry Reid, in the Senate, than with Barack Obama. Obama’s people say that the President’s attitude is, Fine, so long as we get there. Help me to help you.

When I asked Obama if he had read or seen anything that fully captured the experience of being in his office, he laughed, as if to say, You just have no idea. “The truth is, in popular culture the President is usually a side character and a lot of times is pretty dull,” he said. “If it’s a paranoid conspiracy-theory movie, then there’s an evil aide who is carrying something out. If it’s a good President, then he is all-wise and all-knowing”—like the characters played by Martin Sheen in “The West Wing,” and Michael Douglas in “The American President.” Obama says that he is neither. “I’ll tell you that watching ‘Lincoln’ was interesting, in part because you watched what obviously was a fictionalized account of the President I most admire, and there was such a gap between him and me that it made you want to be better.” He spoke about envying Lincoln’s “capacity to speak to and move the country without simplifying, and at the most fundamental of levels.” But what struck him most, he said, was precisely what his critics think he most avoids—“the messiness of getting something done.”

He went on, “The real politics resonated with me, because I have yet to see something that we’ve done, or any President has done, that was really important and good, that did not involve some mess and some strong-arming and some shading of how it was initially talked about to a particular member of the legislature who you needed a vote from. Because, if you’re doing big, hard things, then there is going to be some hair on it—there’s going to be some aspects of it that aren’t clean and neat and immediately elicit applause from everybody. And so the nature of not only politics but, I think, social change of any sort is that it doesn’t move in a straight line, and that those who are most successful typically are tacking like a sailor toward a particular direction but have to take into account winds and currents and occasionally the lack of any wind, so that you’re just sitting there for a while, and sometimes you’re being blown all over the place.”

The politician sensitive to winds and currents was visible in Obama’s coy talk of his “evolving” position on gay marriage. Obama conceded in one of our later conversations only that it’s “fair to say that I may have come to that realization slightly before I actually made the announcement” favoring gay marriage, in May of 2012. “But this was not a situation where I kind of did a wink and a nod and a hundred-and-eighty-degree turn.” The turn may not have been a sudden one-eighty; to say that your views are “evolving,” though, is to say there is a position that you consider to be more advanced than the one you officially hold. And he held the “evolved” position in 1996, when, as a candidate for the Illinois state senate, he filled out a questionnaire from Outlines, a local gay and lesbian newspaper, saying, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages.”

When I asked Obama about another area of shifting public opinion—the legalization of marijuana—he seemed even less eager to evolve with any dispatch and get in front of the issue. “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

Is it less dangerous? I asked.

Obama leaned back and let a moment go by. That’s one of his moves. When he is interviewed, particularly for print, he has the habit of slowing himself down, and the result is a spool of cautious lucidity. He speaks in paragraphs and with moments of revision. Sometimes he will stop in the middle of a sentence and say, “Scratch that,” or, “I think the grammar was all screwed up in that sentence, so let me start again.”
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Less dangerous, he said, “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.” What clearly does trouble him is the radically disproportionate arrests and incarcerations for marijuana among minorities. “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.” But, he said, “we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.” Accordingly, he said of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington that “it’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

As is his habit, he nimbly argued the other side. “Having said all that, those who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case. There is a lot of hair on that policy. And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.” He noted the slippery-slope arguments that might arise. “I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues. If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka, are we open to that? If somebody says, We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth, are we O.K. with that?”
V—MAGIC KINGDOMS

By Monday night, Obama was in Los Angeles, headed for Beverly Park, a gated community of private-equity barons, Saudi princes, and movie people. It was a night of fund-raisers—the first hosted by Magic Johnson, who led the Lakers to five N.B.A. championships, in the eighties. In the Beast, on the way to Johnson’s house, Obama told me, “Magic has become a good friend. I always tease him—I think he supported Hillary the first time around, in ’08.”

“He campaigned for her in Iowa!” Josh Earnest, a press spokesman, said, still sounding chagrined.

“Yeah, but we have developed a great relationship,” Obama said. “I wasn’t a Lakers fan. I was a Philadelphia 76ers fan, because I loved Doctor J.”—Julius Erving—“and then became a Jordan fan, because I moved to Chicago. But, in my mind, at least, what has made Magic heroic was not simply the joy of his playing.” Obama said that the way Johnson handled his H.I.V. diagnosis changed “how the culture thought about that—which, actually, I think, ultimately had an impact about how the culture thought about the gay community.” He also talked about Johnson’s business success as something that was “deeply admired” among African-Americans—“the notion that here’s somebody who would leverage fame and fortune in sports into a pretty remarkable business career.”

“Do you not see that often enough, by your lights?” I asked.

“I don’t,” Obama said.

The Obamas are able to speak to people of color in a way that none of their predecessors could. And the President is quick to bring into the public realm the fact that, for all his personal cool, he is a foursquare family man. He has plenty of hip-hop on his iPod, but he also worries about the moments of misogyny. Once, I mentioned to him that I knew that while Malia Obama, an aspiring filmmaker, was a fan of “Girls,” he and Michelle Obama were, at first, wary of the show.

“I’m at the very young end of the Baby Boom generation, which meant that I did not come of age in the sixties—took for granted certain freedoms, certain attitudes about gender, sexuality, equality for women, but didn’t feel as if I was having to rebel against something,” Obama said. “Precisely because I didn’t have a father in the home and moved around a lot as a kid and had a wonderfully loving mom and grandparents, but not a lot of structure growing up, I emerged on the other side of that with an appreciation for family and marriage and structure for the kids. I’m sure that’s part of why Michelle and her family held such appeal to me in the first place, because she did grow up with that kind of structure. And now, as parents, I don’t think we’re being particularly conservative—we’re actually not prudes. . . . But, as parents, what we have seen, both in our own family and among our friends, is that kids with structure have an easier time of it.”

He talked about a visit that he made last year to Hyde Park Academy, a public high school on Chicago’s South Side, where he met with a group of about twenty boys in a program called Becoming a Man. “They’re in this program because they’re fundamentally good kids who could tip in the wrong direction if they didn’t get some guidance and some structure,” Obama recalled. “We went around the room and started telling each other stories. And one of the young men asked me about me growing up, and I explained, You know what? I’m just like you guys. I didn’t have a dad. There were times where I was angry and wasn’t sure why I was angry. I engaged in a bunch of anti-social behavior. I did drugs. I got drunk. Didn’t take school seriously. The only difference between me and you is that I was in a more forgiving environment, and if I made a mistake I wasn’t going to get shot. And, even if I didn’t apply myself in school, I was at a good enough school that just through osmosis I’d have the opportunity to go to college.
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“And, as I’m speaking, the kid next to me looks over and he says, ‘Are you talking about you?’ And there was a benefit for them hearing that, because when I then said, You guys have to take yourselves more seriously, or you need to have a backup plan in case you don’t end up being LeBron or Jay Z . . . they might listen. Now, that’s not a liberal or a conservative thing. There have been times where some thoughtful and sometimes not so thoughtful African-American commentators have gotten on both Michelle and me, suggesting that we are not addressing enough sort of institutional barriers and racism, and we’re engaging in sort of up-by-the-bootstraps, Booker T. Washington messages that let the larger society off the hook.” Obama thought that this reaction was sometimes knee-jerk. “I always tell people to go read some of Dr. King’s writings about the African-American community. For that matter, read Malcolm X. . . . There’s no contradiction to say that there are issues of personal responsibility that have to be addressed, while still acknowledging that some of the specific pathologies in the African-American community are a direct result of our history.”

The higher we went up into Beverly Hills, the grander the houses were. This was where the big donors lived. But Obama’s thoughts have been down in the city. The drama of racial inequality, in his mind, has come to presage a larger, transracial form of economic disparity, a deepening of the class divide. Indeed, if there is a theme for the remaining days of his term, it is inequality. In 2011, he went to Osawatomie, Kansas, the site of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 New Nationalism speech—a signal moment in the history of Progressivism—and declared inequality the “defining issue of our time.” He repeated the message at length, late last year, in Anacostia, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., this time noting that the gap between the rich and the poor in America now resembled that in Argentina and Jamaica, rather than that in France, Germany, or Canada. American C.E.O.s once made, on average, thirty times as much as workers; now they make about two hundred and seventy times as much. The wealthy hire lobbyists; they try to secure their interests with campaign donations. Even as Obama travels for campaign alms and is as entangled in the funding system at least as much as any other politician, he insists that his commitment is to the middle class and the disadvantaged. Last summer, he received a letter from a single mother struggling to support herself and her daughter on a minimal income. She was drowning: “I need help. I can’t imagine being out in the streets with my daughter and if I don’t get some type of relief soon, I’m afraid that’s what may happen.” “Copy to Senior Advisers,” Obama wrote at the bottom of the letter. “This is the person we are working for.”

In one of our conversations, I asked him what he felt he must get done before leaving office. He was silent for a while and then broke into a pained grin. “You mean, now that the Web site is working?” Yes, after that. “It’s hard to anticipate events over the next three years,” he said. “If you had asked F.D.R. what he had to accomplish in 1937, he would have told you, ‘I’ve got to stabilize the economy and reduce the deficit.’ Turned out there were a few more things on his plate.” He went on, “I think we are fortunate at the moment that we do not face a crisis of the scale and scope that Lincoln or F.D.R. faced. So I think it’s unrealistic to suggest that I can narrow my focus the way those two Presidents did. But I can tell you that I will measure myself at the end of my Presidency in large part by whether I began the process of rebuilding the middle class and the ladders into the middle class, and reversing the trend toward economic bifurcation in this society.”

Obama met last summer with Robert Putnam, a Harvard political scientist who became famous for a book he wrote on social atomization, “Bowling Alone.” For the past several years, Putnam and some colleagues have been working on a book about the growing opportunity gap between rich and poor kids. Putnam, who led a Kennedy School seminar on civic engagement that Obama was in, sent the President a memo about his findings. More and more, Putnam found, the crucial issue is class, and he believes that a black President might have an easier time explaining this trend to the American people and setting an agenda to combat it. Other prominent politicians—including Hillary Clinton, Paul Ryan, and Jeb Bush—have also consulted Putnam. Putnam told me that, even if legislation combatting the widening class divide eludes Obama, “I am hoping he can be John the Baptist on this.” And Obama, for his part, seems eager to take on that evangelizing role.

“You have an economy,” Obama told me, “that is ruthlessly squeezing workers and imposing efficiencies that make our flat-screen TVs really cheap but also puts enormous downward pressure on wages and salaries. That’s making it more and more difficult not only for African-Americans or Latinos to get a foothold into the middle class but for everybody—large majorities of people—to get a foothold in the middle class or to feel secure there. You’ve got folks like Bob Putnam, who’s doing some really interesting studies indicating the degree to which some of those ‘pathologies’ that used to be attributed to the African-American community in particular—single-parent households, and drug abuse, and men dropping out of the labor force, and an underground economy—you’re now starting to see in larger numbers in white working-class communities as well, which would tend to vindicate what I think a lot of us always felt.”
VI—A NEW EQUILIBRIUM

After the event at Magic Johnson’s place—the highlight was a tour of an immense basement trophy room, where Johnson had installed a gleaming hardwood basketball floor and piped in the sound of crowds cheering and announcers declaring the glories of the Lakers—the Beast made its way to the compound that the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers built. Haim Saban, who made his billions as a self-described “cartoon schlepper,” was born in Egypt, came of age in Israel, and started his show-business career as the bass player in the Lions of Judah. His politics are not ambiguous. “I am a one-issue guy,” he once said, “and my issue is Israel.” His closest political relationship is with Bill and Hillary Clinton, and he was crushed when she lost to Obama, in 2008. Saban publicly expressed doubts about whether Obama was sufficiently ardent about Israel, but he has come around.
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The main house on Saban’s property is less of an art museum than Jon Shirley’s, though it features a Warhol diptych of Golda Meir and Albert Einstein over the fireplace. The fund-raiser was held in back of the main house, under a tent. Addressing a hundred and twenty guests, and being peppered with questions about the Middle East, Obama trotted around all the usual bases—the hope for peace, the still strong alliance with Israel, the danger of “lone wolf” terror threats. But, while a man who funds the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution may have warmed to Obama, there is no question that, in certain professional foreign-policy circles, Obama is often regarded with mistrust. His Syria policy—with its dubious “red line” and threats to get rid of Bashar al-Assad; with John Kerry’s improvised press-conference gambit on chemical weapons—has inspired little confidence. Neither did the decision to accelerate troop levels in Afghanistan and, at the same time, schedule a withdrawal.

Obama came to power without foreign-policy experience; but he won the election, in part, by advocating a foreign-policy sensibility that was wary of American overreach. If George W. Bush’s foreign policy was largely a reaction to 9/11, Obama’s has been a reaction to the reaction. He withdrew American forces from Iraq. He went to Cairo in 2009, in an attempt to forge “a new beginning” between the United States and the Muslim world. American troops will come home from Afghanistan this year. As he promised in his first Presidential campaign—to the outraged protests of Hillary Clinton and John McCain alike—he has extended a hand to traditional enemies, from Iran to Cuba. And he has not hesitated in his public rhetoric to acknowledge, however subtly, the abuses, as well as the triumphs, of American power. He remembers going with his mother to live in Indonesia, in 1967—shortly after a military coup, engineered with American help, led to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people. This event, and the fact that so few Americans know much about it, made a lasting impression on Obama. He is convinced that an essential component of diplomacy is the public recognition of historical facts—not only the taking of American hostages in Iran, in 1979, but also the American role in the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, in 1953.

The right’s response has been to accuse Obama of conducting a foreign policy of apology. Last year, Republican senators on the Foreign Affairs Committee, including Marco Rubio, of Florida, demanded to know if Samantha Power, Obama’s nominee for U.N. Ambassador and the author of “A Problem from Hell,” a historical indictment of American passivity in the face of various genocides around the world, would ever “apologize” for the United States. (In a depressing Kabuki drama, Power seemed forced to prove her patriotic bona fides by insisting repeatedly that the U.S. was “the greatest country on earth” and that, no, she would “never apologize” for it.) Obama’s conservative critics, both at home and abroad, paint him as a President out to diminish American power. Josef Joffe, the hawkish editor of Die Zeit, the highbrow German weekly, told me, “There is certainly consistency and coherence in his attempt to retract from the troubles of the world, to get the U.S. out of harm’s way, in order to do ‘a little nation-building at home,’ as he has so often put it. If you want to be harsh about it, he wants to turn the U.S. into a very large medium power, into an XXL France or Germany.”

Obama’s “long game” on foreign policy calls for traditional categories of American power and ideology to be reordered. Ben Rhodes, the deputy national-security adviser for strategic communications, told me that Washington was “trapped in very stale narratives.”

“In the foreign-policy establishment, to be an idealist you have to be for military intervention,” Rhodes went on. “In the Democratic Party, these debates were defined in the nineties, and the idealists lined up for military intervention. For the President, Iraq was the defining issue, and now Syria is viewed through that lens, as was Libya—to be an idealist, you have to be a military interventionist. We spent a trillion dollars in Iraq and had troops there for a decade, and you can’t say it wielded positive influence. Just the opposite. We can’t seem to get out of these boxes.”

Obama may resist the idealism of a previous generation of interventionists, but his realism, if that’s what it is, diverges from the realism of Henry Kissinger or Brent Scowcroft. “It comes from the idea that change is organic and change comes to countries in its own way, modernization comes in its own way, rather than through liberation narratives coming from the West,” Fareed Zakaria, a writer on foreign policy whom Obama reads and consults, says. Anne-Marie Slaughter, who worked at the State Department as Hillary Clinton’s director of policy planning, says, “Obama has a real understanding of the limits of our power. It’s not that the United States is in decline; it’s that sometimes the world has problems without the tools to fix them.” Members of Obama’s foreign-policy circle say that when he is criticized for his reaction to situations like Iran’s Green Revolution, in 2009, or the last days of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, in 2011, he complains that people imagine him to have a “joystick” that allows him to manipulate precise outcomes.

Obama told me that what he needs isn’t any new grand strategy—“I don’t really even need George Kennan right now”—but, rather, the right strategic partners. “There are currents in history and you have to figure out how to move them in one direction or another,” Rhodes said. “You can’t necessarily determine the final destination. . . . The President subscribes less to a great-man theory of history and more to a great-movement theory of history—that change happens when people force it or circumstances do.” (Later, Obama told me, “I’m not sure Ben is right about that. I believe in both.”)

The President may scorn the joystick fantasy, but he does believe that his words—at microphones from Cairo to Yangon—can encourage positive change abroad, even if only in the long run. In Israel last March, he told university students that “political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks.” Obama, who has pressed Netanyahu to muster the political will to take risks on his own, thinks he can help “create a space”—that is the term around the White House—for forward movement on the Palestinian issue, whether he is around to see the result or not.
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Administration officials are convinced that their efforts to toughen the sanctions on Iran caused tremendous economic pain and helped Hassan Rouhani win popular support in the Iranian Presidential elections last year. Although Rouhani is no liberal—he has revolutionary and religious credentials, which is why he was able to run—he was not Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s favored candidate. Khamenei is an opaque, cautious figure, Administration officials say, but he clearly acceded to Rouhani as he saw the political demands of the population shift.

The nuclear negotiations in Geneva, which were preceded by secret contacts with the Iranians in Oman and New York, were, from Obama’s side, based on a series of strategic calculations that, he acknowledges, may not work out. As the Administration sees it, an Iranian nuclear weapon would be a violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and a threat to the entire region; it could spark a nuclear arms race reaching Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey. (Israel has had nukes since 1967.) But the White House is prepared to accept a civilian nuclear capacity in Iran, with strict oversight, while the Israelis and the Gulf states regard any Iranian nuclear technology at all as unacceptable. Obama has told Netanyahu and Republican senators that the absolutist benchmark is not achievable. Members of Obama’s team believe that the leaders of Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf states, who are now allied as never before, want the U.S. to be their proxy in a struggle not merely for de-nuclearization in Iran but for regime change—and that is not on the Administration’s agenda, except, perhaps, as a hope.

Republican and Democratic senators have expressed doubts about even the interim agreement with Iran, and have threatened to tighten sanctions still further. “Historically, there is hostility and suspicion toward Iran, not just among members of Congress but the American people,” Obama said, adding that “members of Congress are very attentive to what Israel says on its security issues.” He went on, “I don’t think a new sanctions bill will reach my desk during this period, but, if it did, I would veto it and expect it to be sustained.”

Ultimately, he envisages a new geopolitical equilibrium, one less turbulent than the current landscape of civil war, terror, and sectarian battle. “It would be profoundly in the interest of citizens throughout the region if Sunnis and Shias weren’t intent on killing each other,” he told me. “And although it would not solve the entire problem, if we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion—not funding terrorist organizations, not trying to stir up sectarian discontent in other countries, and not developing a nuclear weapon—you could see an equilibrium developing between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran in which there’s competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare.

“With respect to Israel, the interests of Israel in stability and security are actually very closely aligned with the interests of the Sunni states.” As Saudi and Israeli diplomats berate Obama in unison, his reaction is, essentially, Use that. “What’s preventing them from entering into even an informal alliance with at least normalized diplomatic relations is not that their interests are profoundly in conflict but the Palestinian issue, as well as a long history of anti-Semitism that’s developed over the course of decades there, and anti-Arab sentiment that’s increased inside of Israel based on seeing buses being blown up,” Obama said. “If you can start unwinding some of that, that creates a new equilibrium. And so I think each individual piece of the puzzle is meant to paint a picture in which conflicts and competition still exist in the region but that it is contained, it is expressed in ways that don’t exact such an enormous toll on the countries involved, and that allow us to work with functioning states to prevent extremists from emerging there.”

During Obama’s performance under Saban’s tent, there was no talk of a Sunni-Israeli alignment, or of any failures of vision on Netanyahu’s part. Obama did allow himself to be testy about the criticism he has received over his handling of the carnage in Syria. “You’ll recall that that was the previous end of my Presidency, until it turned out that we are actually getting all the chemical weapons. And no one reports on that anymore.”
VII—HAMMERS AND PLIERS

Obama’s lowest moments in the Middle East have involved his handling of Syria. Last summer, when I visited Za’atari, the biggest Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, one displaced person after another expressed anger and dismay at American inaction. In a later conversation, I asked Obama if he was haunted by Syria, and, though the mask of his equipoise rarely slips, an indignant expression crossed his face. “I am haunted by what’s happened,” he said. “I am not haunted by my decision not to engage in another Middle Eastern war. It is very difficult to imagine a scenario in which our involvement in Syria would have led to a better outcome, short of us being willing to undertake an effort in size and scope similar to what we did in Iraq. And when I hear people suggesting that somehow if we had just financed and armed the opposition earlier, that somehow Assad would be gone by now and we’d have a peaceful transition, it’s magical thinking.
CartoonNovember 1, 2010Buy the print »

“It’s not as if we didn’t discuss this extensively down in the Situation Room. It’s not as if we did not solicit—and continue to solicit—opinions from a wide range of folks. Very early in this process, I actually asked the C.I.A. to analyze examples of America financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn’t come up with much. We have looked at this from every angle. And the truth is that the challenge there has been, and continues to be, that you have an authoritarian, brutal government who is willing to do anything to hang on to power, and you have an opposition that is disorganized, ill-equipped, ill-trained, and is self-divided. All of that is on top of some of the sectarian divisions. . . . And, in that environment, our best chance of seeing a decent outcome at this point is to work the state actors who have invested so much in keeping Assad in power—mainly the Iranians and the Russians—as well as working with those who have been financing the opposition to make sure that they’re not creating the kind of extremist force that we saw emerge out of Afghanistan when we were financing the mujahideen.”

At the core of Obama’s thinking is that American military involvement cannot be the primary instrument to achieve the new equilibrium that the region so desperately needs. And yet thoughts of a pacific equilibrium are far from anyone’s mind in the real, existing Middle East. In the 2012 campaign, Obama spoke not only of killing Osama bin Laden; he also said that Al Qaeda had been “decimated.” I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Falluja, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.

“Let’s just keep in mind, Falluja is a profoundly conservative Sunni city in a country that, independent of anything we do, is deeply divided along sectarian lines. And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology are a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into.”

He went on, “You have a schism between Sunni and Shia throughout the region that is profound. Some of it is directed or abetted by states who are in contests for power there. You have failed states that are just dysfunctional, and various warlords and thugs and criminals are trying to gain leverage or a foothold so that they can control resources, populations, territory. . . . And failed states, conflict, refugees, displacement—all that stuff has an impact on our long-term security. But how we approach those problems and the resources that we direct toward those problems is not going to be exactly the same as how we think about a transnational network of operatives who want to blow up the World Trade Center. We have to be able to distinguish between these problems analytically, so that we’re not using a pliers where we need a hammer, or we’re not using a battalion when what we should be doing is partnering with the local government to train their police force more effectively, improve their intelligence capacities.”

This wasn’t realism or idealism; it was something closer to policy particularism (this thing is different from that thing; Syria is not Libya; Iran is not North Korea). Yet Obama’s regular deployment of drones has been criticized as a one-size-fits-all recourse, in which the prospect of destroying an individual enemy too easily trumps broader strategic and diplomatic considerations, to say nothing of moral ones. A few weeks before Obama left Washington to scour the West Coast for money, he invited to the White House Malala Yousafzai, the remarkable Pakistani teen-ager who campaigned for women’s education and was shot in the head by the Taliban. Yousafzai thanked Obama for the material support that the U.S. government provided for education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and among Syrian refugees, but she also told him that drone strikes were “fuelling terrorism” and resentment in her country.

“I think any President should be troubled by any war or any kinetic action that leads to death,” Obama told me when I brought up Yousafzai’s remarks. “The way I’ve thought about this issue is, I have a solemn duty and responsibility to keep the American people safe. That’s my most important obligation as President and Commander-in-Chief. And there are individuals and groups out there that are intent on killing Americans—killing American civilians, killing American children, blowing up American planes. That’s not speculation. It’s their explicit agenda.”

Obama said that, if terrorists can be captured and prosecuted, “that’s always my preference. If we can’t, I cannot stand by and do nothing. They operate in places where oftentimes we cannot reach them, or the countries are either unwilling or unable to capture them in partnership with us. And that then narrows my options: we can simply be on defense and try to harden our defense. But in this day and age that’s of limited—well, that’s insufficient. We can say to those countries, as my predecessor did, if you are harboring terrorists, we will hold you accountable—in which case, we could be fighting a lot of wars around the world. And, statistically, it is indisputable that the costs in terms of not only our men and women in uniform but also innocent civilians would be much higher. Or, where possible, we can take targeted strikes, understanding that anytime you take a military strike there are risks involved. What I’ve tried to do is to tighten the process so much and limit the risks of civilian casualties so much that we have the least fallout from those actions. But it’s not perfect.”
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It is far from that. In December, an American drone flying above Al Bayda province, in Yemen, fired on what U.S. intelligence believed was a column of Al Qaeda fighters. The “column” was in fact a wedding party; twelve people were killed, and fifteen were seriously injured. Some of the victims, if not all, were civilians. This was no aberration. In Yemen and Pakistan, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, American drones have killed between some four hundred and a thousand civilians—a civilian-to-combatant ratio that could be as high as one to three. Obama has never made it clear how the vast populations outraged and perhaps radicalized by such remote-control mayhem might figure into his calculations about American security.

“Look, you wrestle with it,” Obama said. “And those who have questioned our drone policy are doing exactly what should be done in a democracy—asking some tough questions. The only time I get frustrated is when folks act like it’s not complicated and there aren’t some real tough decisions, and are sanctimonious, as if somehow these aren’t complicated questions. Listen, as I have often said to my national-security team, I didn’t run for office so that I could go around blowing things up.”

Obama told me that in all three of his main initiatives in the region—with Iran, with Israel and the Palestinians, with Syria—the odds of completing final treaties are less than fifty-fifty. “On the other hand,” he said, “in all three circumstances we may be able to push the boulder partway up the hill and maybe stabilize it so it doesn’t roll back on us. And all three are connected. I do believe that the region is going through rapid change and inexorable change. Some of it is demographics; some of it is technology; some of it is economics. And the old order, the old equilibrium, is no longer tenable. The question then becomes, What’s next?”
VIII—AMONG THE ALIENS

On his last day in Los Angeles, Obama romanced Hollywood, taking a helicopter to visit the DreamWorks studio, in Glendale. Jeffrey Katzenberg, Obama’s host and the head of DreamWorks Animation, is one of the Democrats’ most successful fund-raisers. But it is never a good idea for the White House to admit to any quid pro quo. When one of the pool reporters asked why the President was going to Katzenberg’s studio and not, say, Universal, a travelling spokesman replied, “DreamWorks obviously is a thriving business and is creating lots of jobs in Southern California. And the fact of the matter is Mr. Katzenberg’s support for the President’s policies has no bearing on our decision to visit there.”

That’s pretty rich. Katzenberg has been a supporter from the start of Obama’s national career, raising millions of dollars for him and for the Party’s Super PACs. Nor has he been hurt by his political associations. Joe Biden helped pave the way with Xi Jinping and other officials so that DreamWorks and other Hollywood companies could build studios in China. (In an awkward postscript, the S.E.C. reportedly began investigating, in 2012, whether DreamWorks, Twentieth Century Fox, and the Walt Disney Company paid bribes to Chinese officials, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.)

A flock of military helicopters brought the Obama party to Glendale, and, after a short ride to DreamWorks Animation, Katzenberg greeted the President and gave him a tour. They stopped in a basement recording studio to watch a voice-over session for a new animated picture called “Home,” starring the voice of Steve Martin. Greeting Martin, Obama recalled that the last time they saw each other must have been when Martin played banjo with his band at the White House.

Martin nodded. “I always say the fact that I played banjo at the White House was the biggest thrill of his life.”

Katzenberg explained that “Home” was the story of the Boov, an alien race that has taken over the planet. Martin is the voice of Captain Smek, the leader of the Boov.

“Where did we go?” Obama asked Tim Johnson, the director. “Do they feed us?”

“Mostly ice cream.”

Katzenberg said that, unlike dramatic films with live actors, nineteen out of twenty of DreamWorks’ animated pictures succeed.

“My kids have aged out,” Obama said. “They used to be my excuse to watch them all.”

Katzenberg led Obama to a conference room, where the heads of most of the major movie and television studios were waiting. There would be touchy questions about business—particularly about the “North versus South” civil war in progress between the high-tech libertarians in Silicon Valley and the “content producers” in Los Angeles. The war was over intellectual-property rights, and Obama showed little desire to get in the middle of these two constituencies. If anything, he knows that Silicon Valley is ascendant, younger, more able to mobilize active voters, and he was not about to offer the studio heads his unqualified muscle.

Finally, the subject switched to global matters. Alan Horn, the chairman of Walt Disney Studios, raised his hand. “First,” he said, “I do recommend that you and your family see ‘Frozen,’ which is coming to a theatre near you. ”

Then he asked about climate change.
IX—LISTENING IN

On the flight back to Washington, Obama read and played spades with some aides to pass the time. (He and his former body man Reggie Love took a break to play spades at one point during the mission to kill Osama bin Laden.) After a while, one of the aides led me to the front cabin to talk with the President some more. The week before, Obama had given out the annual Presidential Medals of Freedom. One went to Benjamin C. Bradlee, the editor who built the Washington Post by joining the Times in publishing the Pentagon Papers, in 1971, and who stood behind Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they began publishing the Watergate exposés that led to the fall of the Nixon Presidency. I asked Obama how he could reconcile such an award with his Administration’s aggressive leak investigations, which have ensnared journalists and sources, and its hostility to Edward Snowden’s exposure of the N.S.A.’s blanket surveillance of American and foreign communications.
Cartoon“Use your inside voice.”April 18, 2011Buy the print »

After a long pause, Obama began to speak of how his first awareness of politics came when, as an eleven-year-old, he went on a cross-country bus trip with his mother and grandmother and, at the end of each day, watched the Watergate hearings on television. “I remember being fascinated by these figures and what was at stake, and the notion that even the President of the United States isn’t above the law,” he said. “And Sam Ervin with his eyebrows, and Inouye, this guy from Hawaii—it left a powerful impression on me. And so, as I got older, when I saw ‘All the President’s Men,’ that was the iconic vision of journalism telling truth to power, and making sure our democracy worked. And I still believe that. And so a lot of the tensions that have existed between my White House and the press are inherent in the institution. The press always wants more, and every White House, including ours, is trying to make sure that the things that we care most about are what’s being reported on, and that we’re not on any given day chasing after fifteen story lines.”

Then Obama insisted that what Snowden did was “not akin to Watergate or some scandal in which there were coverups involved.” The leaks, he said, had “put people at risk” but revealed nothing illegal. And though the leaks raised “legitimate policy questions” about N.S.A. operations, “the issue then is: Is the only way to do that by giving some twenty-nine-year-old free rein to basically dump a mountain of information, much of which is definitely legal, definitely necessary for national security, and should properly be classified?” In Obama’s view, “the benefit of the debate he generated was not worth the damage done, because there was another way of doing it.” Once again, it was the President as Professor-in-Chief, assessing all sides, and observing the tilt of the scales. (The day before his speech last week on reforming the N.S.A., he told me, “I do not have a yes/no answer on clemency for Edward Snowden. This is an active case, where charges have been brought.”)

The coverage of the leaks, Obama complained, paints “a picture of a rogue agency out there running around and breaking a whole bunch of laws and engaging in a ‘domestic spying program’ that isn’t accurate. But what that does is it synchs up with a public imagination that sees Big Brother looming everywhere.” The greater damage, in his view, was the way the leaks heightened suspicions among foreign leaders. Obama enjoyed a good relationship with Angela Merkel, but he admitted that it was undermined by reports alleging that the U.S. tapped her cell phone. This, he said, felt “like a breach of trust and I can’t argue with her being aggravated about that.”

But, he said, “there are European governments that we know spy on us, and there is a little bit of Claude Rains in ‘Casablanca’—shocked that gambling is going on.” He added, “Now, I will say that I automatically assume that there are a whole bunch of folks out there trying to spy on me, which is why I don’t have a phone. I do not send out anything on my BlackBerry that I don’t assume at some point will be on the front page of a newspaper, so it’s pretty boring reading for the most part.”

Obama admitted that the N.S.A. has had “too much leeway to do whatever it wanted or could.” But he didn’t feel “any ambivalence” about the decisions he has made. “I actually feel confident that the way the N.S.A. operates does not threaten the privacy and constitutional rights of Americans and that the laws that are in place are sound, and, because we’ve got three branches of government involved and a culture that has internalized that domestic spying is against the law, it actually works pretty well,” he said. “Over all, five years from now, when I’m a private citizen, I’m going to feel pretty confident that my government is not spying on me.”

Obama has three years left, but it’s not difficult to sense a politician with an acute sense of time, a politician devising ways to widen his legacy without the benefit of any support from Congress. The State of the Union speech next week will be a catalogue of things hoped for, a resumption of the second inaugural, with an added emphasis on the theme of inequality. But Obama knows that major legislation—with the possible exception of immigration—is unlikely. And so there is in him a certain degree of reduced ambition, a sense that even well before the commentariat starts calling him a lame duck he will spend much of his time setting an agenda that can be resolved only after he has retired to the life of a writer and post-President.

“One of the things that I’ve learned to appreciate more as President is you are essentially a relay swimmer in a river full of rapids, and that river is history,” he later told me. “You don’t start with a clean slate, and the things you start may not come to full fruition on your timetable. But you can move things forward. And sometimes the things that start small may turn out to be fairly significant. I suspect that Ronald Reagan, if you’d asked him, would not have considered the earned-income-tax-credit provision in tax reform to be at the top of his list of accomplishments. On the other hand, what the E.I.T.C. has done, starting with him, being added to by Clinton, being used by me during the Recovery Act, has probably kept more people out of poverty than a whole lot of other government programs that are currently in place.”

Johnson’s Great Society will be fifty years old in 2014, but no Republican wants a repeat of that scale of government ambition. Obama acknowledges this, saying, “The appetite for tax-and-transfer strategies, even among Democrats, much less among independents or Republicans, is probably somewhat limited, because people are seeing their incomes haven’t gone up, their wages haven’t gone up. It’s natural for them to think any new taxes may be going to somebody else, I’m not confident in terms of how it’s going to be spent, I’d much rather hang on to what I’ve got.” He will try to do things like set up partnerships with selected cities and citizens’ groups, sign some executive orders, but a “Marshall Plan for the inner city is not going to get through Congress anytime soon.”
Cartoon“The striptease I like! The clothes on the floor I’m not wild about.”September 13, 2010Buy the print »

Indeed, Obama is quick to show a measure of sympathy with the Reagan-era conservative analysis of government. “This is where sometimes progressives get frustrated with me,” he said, “because I actually think there was a legitimate critique of the welfare state getting bloated, and relying too much on command and control, top-down government programs to address it back in the seventies. It’s also why it’s ironic when I’m accused of being this raging socialist who wants to amass more and more power for their own government. . . . But I do think that some of the anti-government rhetoric, anti-tax rhetoric, anti-spending rhetoric that began before Reagan but fully flowered with the Reagan Presidency accelerated trends that were already existing, or at least robbed us of some tools to deal with the downsides of globalization and technology, and that with just some modest modification we could grow this economy faster and benefit more people and provide more opportunity.

“After we did all that, there would still be poverty and there would still be some inequality and there would still be a lot of work to do for the forty-fifth through fiftieth Presidents,” he went on, “but I’d like to give voice to an impression I think a lot of Americans have, which is it’s harder to make it now if you are just the average citizen who’s willing to work hard and has good values, and wasn’t born with huge advantages or having enjoyed extraordinary luck—that the ground is less secure under your feet.”

In the White House, advisers are resigned by now to the idea that some liberal voters, dismayed by a range of issues—drones, the N.S.A., the half measures of health care and financial reform—have turned away from Obama and to newer figures like Elizabeth Warren or Bill de Blasio. “Well, look, we live in a very fast-moving culture,” Obama said. “And, by definition, the President of the United States is overexposed, and it is natural, after six, seven years of me being on the national stage, that people start wanting to see . . .”

“Other flavors?”

“Yes,” he said. “ ‘Is there somebody else out there who can give me that spark of inspiration or excitement?’ I don’t spend too much time worrying about that. I think the things that are exciting people are the same things that excite me and excited me back then. I might have given fresh voice to them, but the values are essentially the same.”
X—WHAT TIME ALLOWS

Obama came home from Los Angeles in a dark, freezing downpour. The weather was too rotten even for Marine One. He hustled down the steps of Air Force One and ducked into his car.

A few weeks later, I was able to see him for a last conversation in the Oval Office. The Obamas had just had a long vacation in Hawaii—sun, golf, family, and not much else. The President was sitting behind his desk—the Resolute desk, a gift from Queen Victoria to Rutherford B. Hayes—and he was reading from a folder marked “Secret.” He closed it, walked across the room, and settled into an armchair near the fireplace. “I got some rest,” he said. “But time to get to work.”

Obama has every right to claim a long list of victories since he took office: ending two wars; an economic rescue, no matter how imperfect; strong Supreme Court nominations; a lack of major scandal; essential support for an epochal advance in the civil rights of gays and lesbians; more progressive executive orders on climate change, gun control, and the end of torture; and, yes, health-care reform. But, no matter what one’s politics, and however one weighs the arguments of his critics, both partisan and principled, one has to wonder about any President’s capacity to make these decisions amid a thousand uncertainties, so many of which are matters of life and death, survival and extinction.

“I have strengths and I have weaknesses, like every President, like every person,” Obama said. “I do think one of my strengths is temperament. I am comfortable with complexity, and I think I’m pretty good at keeping my moral compass while recognizing that I am a product of original sin. And every morning and every night I’m taking measure of my actions against the options and possibilities available to me, understanding that there are going to be mistakes that I make and my team makes and that America makes; understanding that there are going to be limits to the good we can do and the bad that we can prevent, and that there’s going to be tragedy out there and, by occupying this office, I am part of that tragedy occasionally, but that if I am doing my very best and basing my decisions on the core values and ideals that I was brought up with and that I think are pretty consistent with those of most Americans, that at the end of the day things will be better rather than worse.”

The cheering crowds and hecklers from the West Coast trip seemed far away now. In the preternaturally quiet office, you could hear, between every long pause that Obama took, the ticking of a grandfather clock just to his left.

“I think we are born into this world and inherit all the grudges and rivalries and hatreds and sins of the past,” he said. “But we also inherit the beauty and the joy and goodness of our forebears. And we’re on this planet a pretty short time, so that we cannot remake the world entirely during this little stretch that we have.” The long view again. “But I think our decisions matter,” he went on. “And I think America was very lucky that Abraham Lincoln was President when he was President. If he hadn’t been, the course of history would be very different. But I also think that, despite being the greatest President, in my mind, in our history, it took another hundred and fifty years before African-Americans had anything approaching formal equality, much less real equality. I think that doesn’t diminish Lincoln’s achievements, but it acknowledges that at the end of the day we’re part of a long-running story. We just try to get our paragraph right.”

A little while later, as we were leaving the Oval Office and walking under the colonnade, Obama said, “I just wanted to add one thing to that business about the great-man theory of history. The President of the United States cannot remake our society, and that’s probably a good thing.” He paused yet again, always self-editing. “Not ‘probably,’ ” he said. “It’s definitely a good thing.” ♦

 Voir de plus:

Checkpoint
U.S. walks fine, awkward line when addressing Iranian airstrikes in Iraq
Dan Lamothe

The Washington Post

December 3, 2014

Iranian fighter jets are now said to be bombing the Islamic State militant group in Iraq. It’s an escalation in Tehran’s presence there — and a development that has forced U.S. officials to walk a fine line while addressing it.

The latest example came Wednesday, when Secretary of State John F. Kerry was asked if he was aware of any Iranian airstrikes in Iraq, and whether he thought they were helpful in the fight against the militants. He declined to confirm whether any occurred and said Tehran and Washington are not coordinating military actions, a standing talking point for U.S. officials in recent days. But the secretary went a step further, saying Iranian airstrikes wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

“I think it’s self-evident that if Iran is taking on ISIL in some particular place and it’s confined to taking on ISIL and it has an impact … the net effect is positive,” Kerry said, using one of the acronyms for the group. “But that’s not something that we’re coordinating. The Iraqis have the overall responsibility for their own ground and air operations, and what they choose to do is up to them.”

That’s a noteworthy reaction after decades in which Iran and the United States have been on the opposite of national security issues. From the Iranian hostage crisis that ended in 1981, to the support the U.S. gave Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in a war against Iran in the 1980s, to the ongoing tensions of Iran’s nuclear program, Washington and Tehran have long been at odds with one another.

During the Iraq war, U.S. officials accused Tehran of supplying weapons to Shiite militia groups that attacked American troops. And in Afghanistan, Iran has exerted influence by providing support to Taliban insurgents fighting U.S. and coalition troops, while at the same time cultivating relationships in the Afghan central government, according to a 2011 analysis prepared by the Rand National Defense Research Institute for Marine Corps intelligence officials.

Iran spurned an American request for cooperation against the Islamic State in September, with its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, calling the coalition formed “empty, shallow & biased” on Twitter. President Obama wrote a letter to Khamenei afterward to tell him Tehran and Washington had shared interests in Iraq, but Iran is believed to exert its military influence there on its own without any American involvement.

Several Iraqi military victories against the militants this fall have come with Iranian involvement, and the commander of Iran’s Quds force, Gen. Ghasem Soleimani, has paid a visit to Iraq, according to the Associated Press. Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia group — long backed by Iran — also may have been involved.

The Pentagon press secretary, Adm. John Kirby, said Tuesday that he had seen the media reports about Iran launching airstrikes on the Islamic State, and had no reason to doubt them. But he declined to take any position on them.

“Our message to Iran is the same today as it was when it started, and as it is to any neighbor in the region that is involved in the anti-ISIL activities,” Kirby said. “And that’s that we want nothing to be done that further inflames sectarian tensions in the country.”

Dan Lamothe covers national security for The Washington Post and anchors its military blog, Checkpoint.

Voir aussi:

Opposition United
Captain Obama and the Great White Whale

President Obama perseveres, convinced that everyone will thank him when the Great White Whale of Middle East policy—a lasting nuclear deal with Iran—is finally harpooned. But as the endgame draws nigh, a unified chorus of naysayers is rising in volume.

Walter Russell Mead

The American interest

20/03/15

With the House nearly united against him, can Obama still stand? Today, 360 Representatives (including more than half of the House’s Democrats) sent a letter to the President warning that permanent sanctions relief for Iran must entail new legislation from Congress. More from The Hill:

“In reviewing such an agreement, Congress must be convinced that its terms foreclose any pathway to a bomb, and only then will Congress be able to consider permanent sanctions relief,” [the letter] adds.

The letter stops short of supporting legislation pursued by the Senate that would allow Congress 60 days to weigh in on any final deal before its implementation.

However, it adds, “We are prepared to evaluate any agreement to determine its long-term impact on the United States and our allies.”
Taken on its face, this letter would apparently doom the Iran deal in the form it is being presented through leaks from the negotiators. Iran is insisting on a time limit for the deal; the House appears to be saying that no such time limit will be acceptable to the U.S. Congress. If House Democrats stick to this message, the President’s Iran policy looks doomed to veto-proof rebukes from both branches of Congress.

This is probably not what President Obama meant when he promised to fight the partisanship in American politics, but he seems to be creating a strong bipartisan consensus on the Middle East. (He’s also been something of a uniter in the Middle East as well; Israel and the Sunni Arab countries have never been closer than they are now.)

The Dem-supported House letter isn’t the only high-profile rebuke to emerge today from the President’s camp. President Obama’s old CIA director is saying that the Iran-backed Shia militias are worse news than ISIS. In an interview with the Washington Post, General Petraeus was blunt:

The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East. It is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution. The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State. While the U.S. and Iran may have convergent interests in the defeat of Daesh, our interests generally diverge.  The Iranian response to the open hand offered by the U.S. has not been encouraging.

Iranian power in the Middle East is thus a double problem. It is foremost problematic because it is deeply hostile to us and our friends. But it is also dangerous because, the more it is felt, the more it sets off reactions that are also harmful to our interests — Sunni radicalism and, if we aren’t careful, the prospect of nuclear proliferation as well.

The Petraeus interview and the mass defections of House Dems highlight the degree to which Obama is going out on a limb on Iran policy. But this isn’t just a matter of Beltway elites jumping ship. John Kraushaar analyzed the Iran poll numbers in the National Journal and made a convincing argument that the public, while it supports negotiating with Iran as a general proposition, doesn’t think President Obama has gotten it right. A recent NBC/WSJ poll finds that 71% of respondents think the deal won’t do what it’s supposed to and keep Tehran from getting the bomb. This is why so many members of the President’s own party are jumping ship. Nobody wants to be on this boat, but Ahab is still at the wheel, pursuing the Great White Whale at all costs.Ahab is still at the wheel, pursuing the Great White Whale at all costs.

One has to think back almost 100 years to Wilson chasing his Treaty of Versailles in the face of growing public skepticism and Congressional dissent to see this many omens of a car crash. The more the opposition mounts, the more grimly determined the President becomes to hold his course. The more determined the President looks, the more disquieting the doubts that circulate among Democrats—and the more Republicans smell the opportunity to land a crippling blow against a policy they despise.

There seem to be four leading scenarios on the horizon. One is that the President gets his deal, somehow steers it past (or around) Congress, and the deal works: Iran becomes our friend and the Middle East gets better. At that point he looks like a genius and the doubts are forgotten. The critics look bad as the United States sails into a bright new day, and President Obama goes down in history as a courageous and visionary peacemaker who stuck to his guns when the going got tough. This seems unlikely, but it can’t be ruled out.

The second is uglier, but more probable. In this scenario, Iran signs a deal, and after an ugly fight, Congress gives it a grudging and perhaps partial OK. Then pundits and policymakers argue for years about whether it was a success or not, the public mostly dislikes it, and the Iran deal, like Obamacare, becomes a pyrrhic victory. The President notches up a win but his party stumbles under the weight of the baggage.

The third possibility is uglier and, based on today’s news from Congress, more probable still. In this scenario, Iran and the President strike a deal, but Congress succeeds in crippling it. Perhaps it passes a bill and then overrides his veto; perhaps it refuses to pass enabling legislation that the Iranians say is necessary. At that point, the deal breaks down, some of the P-5 begin to circumvent the sanctions, and the President will have a big mess on his hands as Iran, perhaps, accelerates its march toward a bomb.

The final possibility is that the Iranians walk away from the deal. That is not a worst case scenario for the President; if there isn’t any deal he doesn’t have to consume the next several months of his presidency in an all-out effort to protect it from Congress. The biggest downside: He will then have to start from close to zero on Middle East policy, and presumably head back to some angry, jilted allies for help even as relations with Iran grow worse.

The President himself gives 50-50 odds for a deal at this point; if he’s right, and if we assume that the other scenarios are equally probable, he has about a 17 percent chance of emerging from this process with a clear win, a 17 percent chance of a pyrrhic victory, and a 67 percent chance of an outcome that will be considered a defeat.

The President’s biggest remaining advantage is that a significant part of the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic press and pundit establishment are still looking at the Middle East in a compartmentalized way. They don’t get the causal connection between the quest for an Iran deal and regional disorder. So caught up are they in the “Negotiations always good, confrontation always bad” worldview that they haven’t come to grips with the reality that in the Middle East, Obama’s regional strategy of withdrawal and accommodation to Iran undermines rather than supports the goal of a nuclear deal.

Thus, instead of criticizing Obama’s policy incoherence and the way in which his chosen strategies undercut his stated goals, such observers frame the whole issue as whether it’s better to try to reach a nuclear deal with Iran than to just let hostility fester while the Islamic Republic comes closer to its nuclear goals. Stated this way, it’s easy to make a case for the White House approach even as the shadows deepen and the region burns — and this is the line that the remaining loyalists take.

But more and more people in the center are beginning to see beyond the pretty packaging and to ask questions the White House doesn’t seem to be able to answer about its overall plan. Thomas Friedman looked askance at the President this week, asking “Why are we, for the third time since 9/11, fighting a war on behalf of Iran?” Henry Kissinger’s most recent book contains a long warning against the course we are on. Jeffrey Goldberg, anything but a knee-jerk opponent of the President, has been voicing his growing worries over the cost of the deal—most recently declaring that there’s “no solution” when it comes to Iran, very much including a nuclear deal. Former Administration officials are aghast; like Martin Indyk before him, what David Petraeus is really saying is that President’s strategy doesn’t cohere.

Yet Ahab sails on, convinced that the crew will thank him when the Great White Whale is finally harpooned. The crew hopes he is right, but faith is ebbing as the endgame draws nigh.

Voir de plus:

Israel’s Gilded Age
Paul Krugman

The New York times

March 16, 2015

Why did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel feel the need to wag the dog in Washington? For that was, of course, what he was doing in his anti-Iran speech to Congress. If you’re seriously trying to affect American foreign policy, you don’t insult the president and so obviously align yourself with his political opposition. No, the real purpose of that speech was to distract the Israeli electorate with saber-rattling bombast, to shift its attention away from the economic discontent that, polls suggest, may well boot Mr. Netanyahu from office in Tuesday’s election.

But wait: Why are Israelis discontented? After all, Israel’s economy has performed well by the usual measures. It weathered the financial crisis with minimal damage. Over the longer term, it has grown more rapidly than most other advanced economies, and has developed into a high-technology powerhouse. What is there to complain about?

The answer, which I don’t think is widely appreciated here, is that while Israel’s economy has grown, this growth has been accompanied by a disturbing transformation in the country’s income distribution and society. Once upon a time, Israel was a country of egalitarian ideals — the kibbutz population was always a small minority, but it had a large impact on the nation’s self-perception. And it was a fairly equal society in reality, too, right up to the early 1990s.

Since then, however, Israel has experienced a dramatic widening of income disparities. Key measures of inequality have soared; Israel is now right up there with America as one of the most unequal societies in the advanced world. And Israel’s experience shows that this matters, that extreme inequality has a corrosive effect on social and political life.

Consider what has happened at either end of the spectrum — the growth in poverty, on one side, and extreme wealth, on the other.

According to Luxembourg Income Study data, the share of Israel’s population living on less than half the country’s median income — a widely accepted definition of relative poverty — more than doubled, to 20.5 percent from 10.2 percent, between 1992 and 2010. The share of children in poverty almost quadrupled, to 27.4 percent from 7.8 percent. Both numbers are the worst in the advanced world, by a large margin.

And when it comes to children, in particular, relative poverty is the right concept. Families that live on much lower incomes than those of their fellow citizens will, in important ways, be alienated from the society around them, unable to participate fully in the life of the nation. Children growing up in such families will surely be placed at a permanent disadvantage.

At the other end, while the available data — puzzlingly — don’t show an especially large share of income going to the top 1 percent, there is an extreme concentration of wealth and power among a tiny group of people at the top. And I mean tiny. According to the Bank of Israel, roughly 20 families control companies that account for half the total value of Israel’s stock market. The nature of that control is convoluted and obscure, working through “pyramids” in which a family controls a firm that in turn controls other firms and so on. Although the Bank of Israel is circumspect in its language, it is clearly worried about the potential this concentration of control creates for self-dealing.

Still, why is Israeli inequality a political issue? Because it didn’t have to be this extreme.

I think it’s more likely Netanyahu simply doesn’t give the economy as much thought as someone like Krugman may think. Netanyahu is like…

You might think that Israeli inequality is a natural outcome of a high-tech economy that generates strong demand for skilled labor — or, perhaps, reflects the importance of minority populations with low incomes, namely Arabs and ultrareligious Jews. It turns out, however, that those high poverty rates largely reflect policy choices: Israel does less to lift people out of poverty than any other advanced country — yes, even less than the United States.

Meanwhile, Israel’s oligarchs owe their position not to innovation and entrepreneurship but to their families’ success in gaining control of businesses that the government privatized in the 1980s — and they arguably retain that position partly by having undue influence over government policy, combined with control of major banks.

In short, the political economy of the promised land is now characterized by harshness at the bottom and at least soft corruption at the top. And many Israelis see Mr. Netanyahu as part of the problem. He’s an advocate of free-market policies; he has a Chris Christie-like penchant for living large at taxpayers’ expense, while clumsily pretending otherwise.

So Mr. Netanyahu tried to change the subject from internal inequality to external threats, a tactic those who remember the Bush years should find completely familiar. We’ll find out on Tuesday whether he succeeded.

Voir par ailleurs:

Yémen: un premier avion iranien atterrit à Sanaa, contrôlée par des miliciens chiites

Romandie.com

01.03.15

Sanaa – Un premier avion iranien est arrivé dimanche à Sanaa, au lendemain de la signature d’un accord entre Téhéran et des responsables de l’aviation de la capitale yéménite, contrôlée par la milice chiite des Houthis, a constaté un photographe de l’AFP.

L’appareil de la compagnie Mahan Air est arrivé à Sanaa avec à son bord une équipe du Croissant rouge iranien et des caisses de médicaments, a précisé à l’AFP un responsable de l’aviation yéménite.

Il a ajouté que des diplomates iraniens étaient présents pour accueillir ce vol, le premier entre les deux pays depuis des années.

L’agence officielle Saba, contrôlée par les Houthis qui sont entrés dans Sanaa en septembre et ont renforcé leur emprise sur la capitale en janvier, a indiqué que le Yémen et l’Iran ont signé samedi un accord de coopération aéronautique.

Signé à Téhéran entre l’Autorité de l’aviation civile yéménite et son homologue iranienne, cet accord autorise Mahan Air et la compagnie Yemenia à assurer 14 vols chacune par semaine.

Selon Saba, une délégation houthie menée par un membre de son conseil politique, Saleh al-Sammad, devait en outre se rendre dimanche à Téhéran pour une visite qualifiée d’officielle et destinée à renforcer la coopération, notamment économique et politique, entre les deux pays.

Le président yéménite Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi a qualifié l’accord avec l’Iran d’illégal et promis de demander des comptes à ceux qui l’avaient signé, a indiqué un membre de son entourage. Il a tenu ces propos en recevant des dizaines de dignitaires des différentes provinces.

Assigné à résidence par les Houthis pendant un mois, M. Hadi s’est enfui de Sanaa le 21 février et s’est réfugié à Aden, la grande ville du sud.

Nous avons choisi de venir à Aden après que les Houthis ont occupé la capitale Sanaa. Venir à Aden ne signifie pas revenir à la partition du pays comme le prétendent certains, mais préserver la sécurité et stabilité du Yémen, a ajouté le président, qui a accusé à plusieurs reprises l’Iran de soutenir les Houthis.

M. Hadi a également réaffirmé son rejet de tout ce qui s’est passé à Sanaa en disant qu’il s’agit d’un coup d’Etat dans tous les sens du terme. Il a annoncé son intention de faire face aux Houthis, a indiqué un participant Naji Hanichi, représentant du Parti socialiste de la province de Marib (centre).

Le secrétaire d’Etat américain John Kerry avait affirmé le 24 février que le soutien apporté par l’Iran aux miliciens chiites a contribué à leur avènement et à la chute du gouvernement à Sanaa. Des accusations catégoriquement rejetées par l’Iran.

Voir encore:

Does Iran really control Yemen?
On Jan. 22, the embattled Western- and Saudi-backed president of Yemen, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and his Cabinet resigned. Immediately afterward, the Houthi Shiite rebels, who have controlled the capital Sanaa since September and are officially organized under the banner of Ansarollah (God’s Partisans), announced that they seek “a peaceful transfer of power.”

Shahir ShahidSaless

Iran pulse

Al-Monitor

February 12, 2015

Despite some differences in their religious beliefs, when it comes to foreign policy, very little separates the Iranian Twelver Shiites from Houthis, who are Zaidi Shiites. The political narrative that Houthis have propagated is “Death to America, Death to Israel,” which is modeled on revolutionary Iran’s motto.

Houthis adhere to a branch of Shiite Islam known as Zaidism. Their name is derived from Badr al-Din al-Houthi, the group’s leader during the uprising in 2004 that sought autonomy for their heartland, Saada province, and protection for their tradition against Sunni domination. Saada province is in Yemen’s northwest and sits adjacent to the southwest border of Saudi Arabia. According to some estimates, Zaidis make up one-third of Yemen’s 25 million population.

A series of statements by Iranian officials shed light on Iran’s point of view: Yemen is now within Iran’s sphere of influence and is viewed as a new member of the “axis of resistance,” which encompasses Syria, Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite militants. This axis is an Iran-led alliance of state and non-state actors in the Middle East that seeks to primarily confront Western interests and Israel.

Aside from shared regional objectives, another pillar of the axis is Iran’s extensive material, financial, training and logistical assistance to the members of the grouping.

On Jan. 25, Hojatoleslam (a Shiite clerical rank just below that of ayatollah) Ali Shirazi, representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, said, “Hezbollah was formed in Lebanon as a popular force like Basij (Iran’s militia). Similarly popular forces were also formed in Syria and Iraq, and today we are watching the formation of Ansarollah in Yemen.”

A few days earlier, IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said, “Ansarollah is a similar copy of [Lebanese] Hezbollah in a strategic area.”

In both statements, the likening of Ansarollah to Hezbollah could be interpreted as Iran’s involvement in financing and weaponizing Ansarollah as it does for Hezbollah.

The former speaker of Iran’s Majles, Ali Akbar Nategh-Nuri, who heads the Office of Inspection of the House of the Supreme Leader, has also added Yemen to Iran’s new sphere of influence, maintaining on Jan. 31, “We witness today that our revolution is exported to Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.”

On Dec. 16, Ali Akbar Velayati, the foreign affairs adviser to Khamenei, asserted that Iran’s influence stretches now “from Yemen to Lebanon.”

In October, Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Said, the supreme leader’s representative in the IRGC, touted Iran’s growing influence by saying, “The Islamic Republic’s borders … are now transferred to the farthest points in the Middle East. Today, the strategic depth of Iran stretches to Mediterranean coasts and Bab al-Mandab Strait [southwest of Yemen].”

In addition, there are claims that Iran is directly involved in sponsoring the Ansarollah (Houthi) movement.

In September, according to Reuters, the Yemeni government freed “at least three suspected Iranian Revolutionary Guard members … who had been held for months over alleged ties to” Ansarollah.

Hussein Al-Bukhaiti, a Houthi activist who is familiar with the inner workings of the group, has denied the story as “false claims about the involvement of Iran” in Yemen’s developments.

Despite some reports about Iran’s material support and training to Ansarollah, Houthis have continually denied allegations that they are proxies for Iranian foreign policy objectives but have admitted Iranian backing due to a shared vision in confronting “the American project. »

Former Yemeni officials continually complained about Iran’s intervention. As a glaring example, they stressed the “Jihan 1” affair as evidence. Allegedly the ship Jihan 1 was seized by Yemen in 2013 and was smuggling weapons from Iran to Yemeni insurgents. Iran denied any connection to the incident.

Meanwhile, Ali Al-Bukhaiti, a prominent member of the group’s political arm, said, “Iran is not so stupid so as to send this big quantity of weapons to easily provide evidence about itself. Iran could have sent money to Houthis, who would then buy any weapons they want from local markets or from African smugglers.”

Given these circumstances, why do several Iranian officials depict Yemen as a new Islamic Republic stronghold and part of the “resistance”?

There could be two explanations.

The first is that Iran has not materially assisted and supported the Houthis, and that Iranian statements of the opposite are simply targeting several audiences domestically and regionally. Iranian officials who do insist on Yemen’s place in the “resistance” depict the rise of revolutionary Shiite Houthis in Yemen as yet another victory for Iran and against the West, and particularly their Sunni rival, Saudi Arabia.

Iran, then, is exaggerating its regional power and military reach to create a mystical stature aimed at solidifying the confidence of its grassroots supporters within and outside its borders — in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon — while muscle-flexing, and discouraging and pushing its domestic and international opponents onto the defensive.

Many observers maintain that the developments in Yemen are likely to set off alarms in the West and Israel, but most seriously in neighboring Sunni Saudi Arabia, which backed Hadi’s government with billions of dollars and is locked in a proxy cold war with Shiite Iran over regional hegemony.

The presence of an Iran ally at the borders of Saudi Arabia is not only a serious threat militarily but could also destabilize the country from within. The victory of Houthis may inspire the Shiites in Eastern Province, an estimated 10% to 15% of the Saudi population who are already in a tense relationship with the establishment, to rise.

The weakness of this explanation is that while Saudis have poured billions of dollars into supporting the Yemeni establishment, it is hard to believe that Houthis succeeded in organizing such a massive movement and fought a victorious war, as one analysts maintained, just by selling “pomegranates and grapes,” Saada’s major source of income.

The second explanation is that there is truth in the former Yemeni president’s claims and accusations that Iran meddles in Yemen’s affairs as well as Iranians’ statements implying that Ansarollah is a new member of the “axis of resistance.” But if so, why do Zaidi Houthis reject such a connection?

There is a near consensus among Yemen experts that no single tribe or political current can individually govern the country. Although pictures of ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah have been carried by Houthi supporters during demonstrations, in the last year or so, no member of the Houthi political bureau has made any statement praising Iran.

The Houthis’ position might be explained by pointing to their lack of desire to stir up unnecessary resistance from inside and outside of the country against them, and that they do not seek to become the sole holder of power in Yemen. Hussein Al-Bukhaiti explains Houthis’ realistic view of Yemen as follows:

“We cannot apply this [Iranian system] in Yemen because the followers of the Shafi [Sunni] doctrine are bigger in number than [us], the Zaidis [Shiite].”

Voir de même:

Iran Reacts Favorably to the Baker-Hamilton Plan
Scott Macleod/Tehran

Time

Dec. 09, 2006

The Iranian government has responded more positively than the Bush Administration has to the Iraq Study Group’s proposal for talks between the two. And government sources in Tehran tell TIME that this reflects a sincere and calculated desire among the Iranian leadership for improved relations with Washington.Responding to the Baker-Hamilton report’s proposal that Washington move quickly to engage Iran on talks over stabilizing Iraq, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki dangled an offer of cooperation in a statement published by an Iranian news agency. « Iran will support any policies returning security, stability and territorial integrity to Iraq, » he said, « and considers withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and leaving security to the Iraqi government as the most suitable option. » In an interview on Al Jazeera, Mottaki added that if the U.S. needs an « honorable way out of Iraq, » and Iran « is in a position to help. »

President Bush, by contrast, appeared to rebuff the suggestion, insisting that Iran would have to suspend its uranium-enrichment program before it could talk to the U.S. about Iraq. And the response from many U.S. lawmakers questioning Iran’s motives in Iraq underscored the continued taboo in Washington over dealing openly with the Islamic Republic.

Three Iranian sources — a government official and two figures close to government policymakers — tell TIME that Mottaki’s statement is reflective of a solid consensus among the regime’s foreign-policy decision makers that restoring relations with the U.S. is in Iran’s best interests. « If tomorrow the U.S. seriously — and I emphasize the word seriously — tried to engage Iran, in a way that accepted the 1979 Iranian revolution and engaged Iran in a respectful atmosphere, then Iran would welcome the chance to address mutual concerns, » said one of the sources, a prominent expert on U.S.-Iranian relations.

TIME’s sources offered a glimpse into the internal Iranian debate on the issue, which involves Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Supreme National Security Council headed by Ali Larijani, as well as other senior Iranian officials. While radical elements inside the regime remain adamantly opposed to dealing with the « Great Satan, » the sources said, a strong consensus has nonetheless developed among Iran’s ruling conservatives in favor of talks with the U.S. The basis of this consensus is a belief that improved relations with the U.S. would serve Iranian interests on a variety of fronts, including Iraq, Afghanistan, oil production, foreign investment and Iran’s nuclear energy program. Iran’s definition of talks, the sources emphasize, is not simply an American harangue about Iran’s policies, but discussions that include Iranian concerns about the U.S., including sanctions, frozen Iranian assets, future American military plans for the region and Washington’s support for anti-government groups.

Some Iranian leaders and officials, including President Ahmadinejad, also believe that Iran now has the opportunity to deal with Washington from a position of strength, for the first time since the 1979 revolution. The sources say that this assessment is based on a perception that the U.S. is stuck in quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, while Iran’s influence in the region and throughout the Muslim world is expanding. These officials see further evidence of Iran’s advantage in the difficulties the U.S. continues to encounter in winning support for U.N. tough sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program. The sources say that Iranian officials believe that to open a serious dialogue with the U.S. in these circumstances would significantly enhance Iran’s international prestige and regional influence.

Iran is also increasingly concerned about the need to stabilize Iraq, say TIME’s sources, in contrast to U.S. charges that Tehran is fueling instability there. The sources indicate that Iranian officials essentially agree with the Baker-Hamilton conclusion that while Iran gains an advantage from having the U.S. mired in Iraq, its long-term interests are not served by Iraqi chaos and territorial disintegration. « Iran would love to see the situation stabilized in Iraq, » says a source. « That is a very important concern for Iran. But Iran doesn’t want to see the U.S. declare victory, in case the Americans would like to attack Iran next. » The sources say that among the ways Iran could be helpful is to try to persuade groups representing the Shi’ite majority and Kurds in Iraq to be more conciliatory to the Sunni minority whose grievances fuel the insurgency.

As evidence of Iran’s readiness, the sources say, Larijani earlier this year publicly accepted an offer made by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to hold talks with Iranian officials in Baghdad. But in Iran’s view, the U.S. withdrew the offer and that undercut Larijani’s standing inside the regime, strengthening the position of more hard-line elements, including Ahmadinejad. « It was a missed opportunity, » contends the expert on U.S.-Iranian relations.

And, in light of the debates that continue to swirl both in Tehran and Washington over whether to talk to each other, it may not have been the last one.

Voir encore:

How Obama Flubbed His Missile Message
Scrapping missile defense was the right thing to do, says former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski—but how the U.S. conveyed the decision to its Eastern European allies couldn’t have been worse.

Gerald Posner

The Daily beast

09.17.09

President Obama’s decision Thursday to scrap the Bush administration’s missile-defense umbrella for Europe is being bemoaned by Republicans at home and top diplomats from Poland, which was slated to be the main staging ground for the missile system.

But Zbigniew Brzezinski—who as Jimmy Carter’s Polish-born national security adviser confronted problems in Iran, Afghanistan, and the Middle East—says that dropping the missile-shield program gives the U.S. more defense options in Europe. At 81, Brzezinski, an early and enthusiastic Obama supporter, is as opinionated as ever about what America is doing right and wrong when it comes to the key foreign-policy issues.

“The Bush missile-shield proposal was based on a nonexistent defense technology, designed against a nonexistent threat, and designed to protect West Europeans, who weren’t asking for the protection.”

Brzezinski, who was considered a hawk in the Carter administration and was often touted by Democratic politicians as the party’s response to Henry Kissinger, spoke to The Daily Beast about how Obama flubbed the delivery of his decision to the Czechs and the Poles, why dropping the program won’t convince Russia to help us on Iran, and the effect of a possible Israeli preemptive strike on Tehran.

Is the Obama administration decision to end the missile-defense program the right one?
Well, let me first of all say that my view on this subject for the last two years has been that the Bush missile-shield proposal was based on a nonexistent defense technology, designed against a nonexistent threat, and designed to protect West Europeans, who weren’t asking for the protection.

Does scrapping the missile program weaken our defense options in Europe vis-à-vis the Russians?
Not at all. What is left is militarily sounder. It gives the U.S. more options while still enhancing America’s ability to develop more effective defense systems, which is what the Russians really dislike. But now they have less of an excuse to bitch about it.

What about the way we informed our allies of our decision?
The way it was conveyed to the Czechs and Poles could not have been worse. It involved [laughs] waking up the Czech prime minster after midnight with a sudden phone call from President Obama. The Polish prime minister was at least allowed to sleep late. But as far as Poland was concerned, unfortunately, poor staff work did not alert the United States that today, September 17, is a particularly painful anniversary for Poland. In 1939, the Poles were still fighting the Germans when on September 17 the Russians stabbed them in the back. To the Poles, that is something very painful. And since they misconstrued—and I emphasize the word “misconstrue”—that the missile shield somehow strengthened their relationship with the U.S. when it comes to Russia, it was immediately suggestive of the notion of a sellout. It’s the wrong conclusion, but in politics, even wrong conclusions have to be anticipated.

How is it possible that the State Department did not bring up the sensitivity of this day to the Poles?
Lousy staff work. Period. I don’t know who precisely to point the finger at. It was obviously not anticipated in this case.

There are some pundits who believe that by abandoning the missile-defense program, we will gain the help of Russia when it comes to arm-twisting Iran over its nuclear weapons program. Anything to that?
I doubt it. The Russians have their own interests in Iran, which are far more complex than the simplistic notion that the Russians want to help us with Iran. The Russians have a complicated agenda with Iran. They also know in the back of their heads that if worse came to worse—and I am not saying they are deliberately promoting the worst—but if worse came to worse, which is an American-Iranian military collision, who would pay the highest price for that? First, America, whose success in ending the Cold War the Russians still bitterly resent. And we would also pay a high price in Iraq, Afghanistan, and massively so with regards to the price of oil. Second, who would suffer the most? The Chinese, who the Russians view as a long-range threat and of whom they are very envious, because the Chinese get much more of their oil from the Middle East than we do, and the skyrocketing price would hurt them even more than us. Third, who would then be totally dependent on the Russians? The West Europeans. And fourth, who would cash in like crazy? The Kremlin.

Is the fallout as bad if Israel preemptively strikes Iran?
Absolutely. That is the way, more importantly, how the Iranians would view it. They really can’t do much to the Israelis, despite all their bluster. The only thing they can do is unify themselves, especially nationalistically, to rally against us, and the mullahs might even think of it as a blessing.

How aggressive can Obama be in insisting to the Israelis that a military strike might be in America’s worst interest?
We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?

What if they fly over anyway?
Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse. [Israeli jet fighters and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty in international waters, off the Sinai Peninsula, during the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel later claimed the ship was the object of friendly fire.]

Did it surprise you that it took the Obama administration so long to do away with the missile-defense program? Is he setting firm lines that can’t be crossed, such as with Iran and Israel?
Well, Obama has been very impressive in refining our policy toward the world on a lot of issues, very impressive. But he has been relatively much less impressive in the follow-through.

You mean his policy sounds ideal but the follow-up isn’t good?
Not as precise, clear-cut, and forthcoming as would be desirable.

What would you like have seen already from this administration?
By now we should have been able to formulate a clearer posture on what we are prepared to do to promote a Palestinian-Israeli peace. Simply giving a frequent-traveler ticket to George Mitchell is not the same thing as policy. It took a long time to get going on Iran, but there is an excuse there, the Iranian domestic mess. And we are now eight months into the administration, and I would have thought by now we could have formulated a strategy that we would have considered “our” strategy for dealing with Iran and Pakistan. For example, the Carter administration, which is sometimes mocked, by now had in motion a policy of disarmament with the Russians, which the Russians didn’t like, but eventually bought; it had started a policy of normalization with the Chinese; it rammed through the Panama Canal treaty; and it was moving very, very openly toward an Israeli-Arab political peace initiative.

Where did the impetus come from in the Carter administration, and why aren’t we seeing it with Obama?
There was a closer connection between desire and execution. Also the president was not as deeply embroiled, and buffeted, by a very broad, and commendable and ambitious domestic program as President Obama is. I think the Republican onslaught to the president, the wavering of some Democrats, has vastly complicated not only his choices in foreign affairs, but even limited the amount of attention he can give to them.

Is there truth that the more issues he is embroiled in, the less he can act?
I don’t think it’s the number of issues; it’s how decisively a president acts. A president, in his first year, is at the peak of his popularity, and if he acts decisively, even if some oppose him, most will rally around him, out of patriotism, out of opportunism, out of loyalty, out of the crowd instinct, just a variety of human motives.

Some in the Obama administration have told me that it’s only just over half a year, and we are jumping to too early conclusions about anything. Are the early months more critical than other times in an administration?
The first year is decisive. How much you can set in motion the first year sets the tone for much of the rest of the term. In part, that’s because all these things take more than one year to complete. But the point is you want to have a dynamic start that carries momentum with it.

President Carter early on ran into strong opposition from American-based pro-Israeli lobbying groups that opposed the administration’s ideas for a peace initiative in the Middle East. What lesson should the Obama administration learn in formulating its own approach to an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue?
The lesson is if you are forthright in what you are seeking, you tend to mobilize support within the Jewish community. Because a majority of American Jews are liberal, and in the long run they know that peace in the Middle East is absolutely essential to Israel’s long-term survival.

Are you concerned about Afghanistan?
Quite unintentionally, but potentially and tragically, we are sliding into a posture which is beginning—and I emphasize the word “beginning”—to be reminiscent of what happened to the Soviets.

We have plenty of time to reverse course?
There is some time to reverse course. But time flies.

Gerald Posner is The Daily Beast’s chief investigative reporter. He’s the award-winning author of 10 investigative nonfiction bestsellers, ranging from political assassinations, to Nazi war criminals, to 9/11, to terrorism. His latest book, Miami Babylon: Crime, Wealth and Power—A Dispatch from the Beach , will be published in October. He lives in Miami Beach with his wife, the author Trisha Posner.

Voir de plus:

Go Ahead, Ruin My Day
Thomas L. Friedman

The NYT

March 18, 2015

As the saying goes, “to err is human, to forgive is divine,” to which I’d add: “to ignore” is even more human, and the results rarely divine. None of us would be human if we didn’t occasionally get so wedded to our wishes that we failed to notice — or outright ignored — the facts on the ground that make a laughingstock of our hopes. Only when the gap gets too wide to ignore does policy change. This is where a lot of U.S. policy is heading these days in the Middle East. Mind the gaps — on Iran, Israel and Iraq. We’re talking about our choices in these countries with words that strike me as about 10 years out of date. Alas, we are not dealing anymore with your grandfather’s Israel, your father’s Iran or the Iraq your son or daughter went off to liberate.

Let’s start with Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party pretty well trounced the Labor Party leader, Isaac Herzog, in the race to form Israel’s next government. Netanyahu clearly made an impressive 11th-hour surge since the pre-election polls of last week. It is hard to know what is more depressing: that Netanyahu went for the gutter in the last few days in order to salvage his campaign — renouncing his own commitment to a two-state solution with the Palestinians and race-baiting Israeli Jews to get out and vote because, he said, too many Israeli Arabs were going to the polls —  or the fact that this seemed to work.

To be sure, Netanyahu could reverse himself tomorrow. As the Yediot Ahronot columnist Nahum Barnea wrote: Netanyahu’s promises are like something “written on ice on a very hot day.” But the fact is a good half of Israel identifies with the paranoid, everyone-is-against-us, and religious-nationalist tropes Netanyahu deployed in this campaign. That, along with the fact that some 350,000 settlers are now living in the West Bank, makes it hard to see how a viable two-state solution is possible anymore no matter who would have won.

It would be wrong, though, to put all of this on Netanyahu. The insane, worthless Gaza war that Hamas initiated last summer that brought rockets to the edge of Israel’s main international airport and the Palestinians’ spurning of two-state offers of previous Israeli prime ministers (Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert) built Netanyahu’s base as much as he did.

On Iran, there’s an assumption among critics of President Obama’s approach to negotiating limits on Iran’s nuclear program that if Obama were ready to impose more sanctions then the Iranians would fold. It’s not only the history of the last 20 years that mocks that notion. It is a more simple fact: In the brutal Middle East, the only thing that gets anyone’s attention is the threat of regime-toppling force. Obama has no such leverage on Iran.

It was used up in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars that have left our military and country so exhausted that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big U.S. land army into the Middle East “should have his head examined.” Had those wars succeeded, the public today might feel differently. But they didn’t. Geopolitics is all about leverage, and we are negotiating with Iran without the leverage of a credible threat of force. The ayatollahs know it. Under those circumstances, I am sure the Obama team will try to get the best deal it can. But a really good deal isn’t on the menu.

Have I ruined your morning yet? No? Give me a couple more paragraphs.

O.K., so we learn to live with Iran on the edge of a bomb, but shouldn’t we at least bomb the Islamic State to smithereens and help destroy this head-chopping menace? Now I despise ISIS as much as anyone, but let me just toss out a different question: Should we be arming ISIS? Or let me ask that differently: Why are we, for the third time since 9/11, fighting a war on behalf of Iran?

In 2002, we destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in Afghanistan (the Taliban regime). In 2003, we destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in the Arab world (Saddam Hussein). But because we failed to erect a self-sustaining pluralistic order, which could have been a durable counterbalance to Iran, we created a vacuum in both Iraq and the wider Sunni Arab world. That is why Tehran’s proxies now indirectly dominate four Arab capitals: Beirut, Damascus, Sana and Baghdad.

ISIS, with all its awfulness, emerged as the homegrown Sunni Arab response to this crushing defeat of Sunni Arabism — mixing old pro-Saddam Baathists with medieval Sunni religious fanatics with a collection of ideologues, misfits and adventure-seekers from around the Sunni Muslim world. Obviously, I abhor ISIS and don’t want to see it spread or take over Iraq. I simply raise this question rhetorically because no one else is: Why is it in our interest to destroy the last Sunni bulwark to a total Iranian takeover of Iraq? Because the Shiite militias now leading the fight against ISIS will rule better? Really?

If it seems as though we have only bad choices in the Middle East today and nothing seems to work, there is a reason: Because past is prologue, and the past has carved so much scar tissue into that landscape that it’s hard to see anything healthy or beautiful growing out of it anytime soon. Sorry to be so grim.

Voir également:

IRAK Un commandant iranien en première ligne contre l’EI en Irak

France 24

04/09/2014

Des photos et des vidéos amateur prouvent que Qassem Soleimani, le commandant des forces d’élites iraniennes, est en Irak et se bat au côté des forces irakiennes – soutenues et armées par les États-unis – contre les jihadistes de l’organisation de l’État islamique.

La ville d’Amerli, tenue depuis le 18 juin par les jihadistes de l’organisation de l’EI, a été libérée le 31 août après une contre-attaque de l’armée irakienne appuyée par des miliciens chiites et des raids aériens américains. Mais d’autres acteurs étaient de la partie : une vidéo publiée jeudi par des activistes chiites sur Facebook et récupérée par France 24 montre le commandant Soleimani, au milieu de soldats, en train de célébrer la prise d’Amerli par les combattants et l’armée irakienne.  A la troisième seconde, un homme portant une écharpe noire et blanche est visible en train de se congratuler.

Mercredi, une autre photo circulait sur les réseaux sociaux sur laquelle le commandant Soleimani, portant les mêmes vêtements et la même écharpe que sur la vidéo, apparaît cette fois à côté d’un soldat irakien vêtu d’un uniforme fourni par les États-unis et tenant une arme de fabrication américaine.

Le commandant Qassem Soleimani est en charge du commandement militaire de la Force Qods, une unité d’élite de l’armée qui intervient en dehors du territoire iranien. Plusieurs rumeurs faisaient état de sa présence sur le territoire irakien mais sans avoir pu être confirmées. Il y a trois mois déjà, le militaire était déjà apparu sur une photo au côté du député irakien Qasem Alarji, ce dernier commentant « maintenant que le commandant Soleimani est là, je n’ai plus peur ».

La photo était selon des médias iraniens accompagnée d’une légende : « Maintenant que le commandant Soleimani est là, je n’ai plus peur ».

Les preuves de la présence de ce commandant iranien en Irak se multiplient donc alors même que l’Iran refuse d’admettre sa participation dans la guerre en Irak contre l’organisation de l’État islamique, ce qui reviendrait à officialiser sa collaboration militaire de fait avec les États-Unis.

Le commandant Soleimani a entrainé pendant une décennie des milices irakiennes qui se sont opposées et ont tué des centaines de soldats américains lors de la guerre d’Irak en 2003. Ses unités seraient également intervenues en Syrie en 2013 en appui au régime de Bachar el-Assad. Il a pour cela été sanctionné par le département du Trésor américain.

Ce n’est pas la première fois que la participation de l’Iran à l’intervention militaire en Irak est dévoilée : en juillet, des avions iraniens camouflés avaient été aperçus sur le sol irakien.

Voir enfin:

Face à l’Iran, les républicains saluent la fermeté de la France
Laure Mandeville
Le Figaro

11/11/2013

L’alliance de fait entre la France, le Congrès américain et Israël met Obama et les colombes de la Maison-Blanche sous pression.

«Vive la France!» a tweeté le sénateur républicain John McCain ce week-end après la fermeté de Paris sur le dossier du nucléaire iranien. Les Français ont eu «le courage d’empêcher un mauvais accord avec l’Iran», a-t-il ajouté. Son vieux complice Lindsay Graham est tout aussi positif sur la volonté de Laurent Fabius de ne pas accepter «un accord de dupes» avec Téhéran. «Dieu merci pour la France…», a lancé l’élu de Caroline du Sud sur CNN, qui ne veut pas «d’une Corée du Nord au Proche-Orient!».

Cette francophilie en dit long sur les profondes réticences que suscite au Congrès la négociation engagée par l’Administration Obama avec Téhéran. Beaucoup d’élus, démocrates comme républicains, ont peur que les colombes de la Maison-Blanche, soucieuses d’éviter une confrontation armée, ne soient prêtes à accepter un accord mal ficelé, qui ne ferait que donner du temps à Téhéran pour construire la bombe, comme il y a dix ans. En ce sens, «ils sont en phase avec les préoccupations de la France, qui ne veut pas d’un accord au rabais», note une source diplomatique française. Une intéressante alliance des «faucons» se dessine de facto entre Paris, Jérusalem, le Congrès et les monarchies du Golfe, ­anxieuses d’un accord avec la Perse qui se ferait sur leur dos.

C’est donc sur ces multiples fronts extérieurs et intérieurs que la diplomatie américaine va devoir se mobiliser d’ici au 20 novembre, après un week-end qui a vu capoter l’accord espéré à Genève. L’Iran et le groupe 5 + 1 (qui comprend les États-Unis, la France, la Grande-Bretagne, la Russie, la Chine + l’Allemagne) continuent de parier sur un succès – Paris y compris. Mais le secrétaire d’État John Kerry, qui rentrait ce lundi à Washington avant d’être entendu sur la colline du ­Capitole, va devoir convaincre le Congrès de laisser du temps à la négociation, alors que les élus veulent voter dès cette semaine un nouveau train de sanctions.

Arrivée tardive
Aux États-Unis, divisés sur le dossier, certains sont tentés de taper sur la France et de lui faire porter la responsabilité de l’échec du week-end. Le blog de Josh Rogin, The Cable, s’est fait l’écho de propos de diplomates qui dénoncent l’immixtion supposément tardive de Paris dans la négociation et affirment que la fermeté française a pris Kerry par surprise. Mais cette description ne semble pas tenir la route, vu le dialogue étroit que Paris entretient avec Washington et les parte­naires du groupe 5 + 1 depuis des mois. «Sous-entendre que la France s’est pointée au dernier moment, alors que nous sommes depuis dix ans en première ligne, c’est très étonnant», note une source française. Les diplomates de l’Hexagone balaient aussi les arguments des mau­vaises langues washingtoniennes qui affirment que Paris a voulu se placer auprès des Saoudiens dans l’espoir de leur vendre armes et centrales. «Il faut être sérieux, le nucléaire iranien est un sujet trop important pour qu’on raisonne à ce niveau: notre position est de principe, note la même source. La France ne voulait pas d’un accord précipité sans mécanismes clairs de vérification et a posé des conditions de bon sens, notamment sur l’arrêt de la construction de la centrale d’Arak et sur les limites du droit à l’enrichissement de l’Iran.» Nombre d’experts à Washington, comme Mark Dubowitz, de la Fondation de la défense des démocraties, font d’ailleurs l’éloge des «compétences techniques» uniques des négociateurs français sur le nucléaire iranien, jugeant qu’ils sont les seuls à faire le poids face aux roués négociateurs persans.

Les Français sont d’ailleurs persuadés que la Maison-Blanche est finalement plutôt contente du partage des rôles (entre bons flics américains et méchants flics français). Même si la fermeté française embarrasse l’Administration Obama, la faisant implicitement passer pour une équipe de mollassons imprévoyants. John Kerry a d’ailleurs évité tout coup de griffe à Paris, remerciant au contraire les Français et soulignant que les négociateurs du 5 + 1 avaient présenté une position unifiée aux Iraniens, qui avaient pris la responsabilité de la rejeter. «Nous ne sommes pas aveugles et je ne pense pas que nous soyons stupides», a-t-il dit sur NBC, précisant qu’il préférerait une absence d’accord à un mauvais accord.

Plus que les Français, ce sont les Israéliens et le Congrès qui réclament son attention. Prolongeant l’action déployée par le premier ministre Nétanyahou, son ministre de l’Économie, Naftali Bennett, arrive ce mardi aux États-Unis pour «mener campagne au Congrès» contre un «mauvais accord». Kerry va donc devoir convaincre le lobby pro-Israël omniprésent sur la Colline de geler tout vote sur les sanctions, le temps de la négociation.

Les inspecteurs de l’ONU vont avoir accès à l’usine iranienne d’Arak
L’Iran et l’Agence nucléaire de l’ONU se sont accordés lundi sur les vérifications que pourront conduire les inspecteurs de l’AIEA, lors de la visite à Téhéran du chef de l’Agence internationale de l’énergie atomique, Yukiya Amano. Cette feuille de route prévoit une inspection de l’usine de production d’eau lourde d’Arak, à laquelle l’agence onusienne tente d’accéder depuis 2011. Yukiya Amano a affirmé qu’une visite de la base militaire iranienne de Parchin, soupçonnée d’avoir abrité des essais nucléaires, serait discutée après la finalisation de cet accord préliminaire. Téhéran refuse depuis 2012 à l’AIEA l’accès à des bâtiments suspects de cette base, en raison de sa nature militaire et parce que l’agence y a déjà conduit des inspections en 2005, qui n’avaient rien donné.


Nucléaire iranien: Attention, une gifle peut en cacher une autre ! (Dangerously naive: After Israeli slap, Obama gets French tap on wrist)

21 mars, 2015
https://thebsreport.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/obambi.jpg?w=450&h=448
As for their accusations of terrorizing the innocent, the children, and the women, these are in the category of ‘accusing others with their own affliction in order to fool the masses.’ The evidence overwhelmingly shows America and Israel killing the weaker men, women and children in the Muslim world and elsewhere. A few examples of this are seen in the recent Qana massacre in Lebanon, and the death of more than 600,000 Iraqi children because of the shortage of food and medicine which resulted from the boycotts and sanctions against the Muslim Iraqi people, also their withholding of arms from the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina leaving them prey to the Christian Serbians who massacred and raped in a manner not seen in contemporary history. Not to forget the dropping of the H-bombs on cities with their entire populations of children, elderly, and women, on purpose, and in a premeditated manner as was the case with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Osama bin Laden (Nida’ul Islam magazine October-November 1996)
Allah has ordered us to glorify the truth and to defend Muslim land, especially the Arab peninsula … against the unbelievers. After World War II, the Americans grew more unfair and more oppressive towards people in general and Muslims in particular. … The Americans started it and retaliation and punishment should be carried out following the principle of reciprocity, especially when women and children are involved. Through history, American has not been known to differentiate between the military and the civilians or between men and women or adults and children. Those who threw atomic bombs and used the weapons of mass destruction against Nagasaki and Hiroshima were the Americans. Can the bombs differentiate between military and women and infants and children? America has no religion that can deter her from exterminating whole peoples. Your position against Muslims in Palestine is despicable and disgraceful. America has no shame. … We believe that the worst thieves in the world today and the worst terrorists are the Americans. Nothing could stop you except perhaps retaliation in kind. We do not have to differentiate between military or civilian. As far as we are concerned, they are all targets, and this is what the fatwah says … . The fatwah is general (comprehensive) and it includes all those who participate in, or help the Jewish occupiers in killing Muslims. Osama bin Laden (May 1998)
La CIA a intercepté l’année dernière un message sibyllin mais qui fait froid dans le dos d’un membre d’al-Qaeda se vantant qu’Oussama Ben Laden préparait un ‘Hiroshima’ contre l’Amérique, selon des sources officielles. Le NYT (le 14 octobre 2001)
Ce qui se vit aujourd’hui est une forme de rivalité mimétique à l’échelle planétaire. Lorsque j’ai lu les premiers documents de Ben Laden, constaté ses allusions aux bombes américaines tombées sur le Japon, je me suis senti d’emblée à un niveau qui est au-delà de l’islam, celui de la planète entière. Sous l’étiquette de l’islam, on trouve une volonté de rallier et de mobiliser tout un tiers-monde de frustrés et de victimes dans leurs rapports de rivalité mimétique avec l’Occident. René Girard
Le problème n’est pas la sécurité d’Israël, la souveraineté du Liban ou les ingérences de la Syrie ou du Hezbollah : Le problème est centré sur l’effort de l’Iran à obtenir le Droit d’Abolir l’Exclusivité de la Dissuasion. La prolifération sauvage, le concept de «tous nucléaires» sera la fin de la Guerre Froide et le retour à la période précédant la Dissuasion. Les mollahs et leurs alliés, le Venezuela, l’Algérie, la Syrie, la Corée du Nord et la Russie…, se militarisent à une très grande échelle sachant qu’ils vont bientôt neutraliser le parapluie protecteur de la dissuasion et alors ils pourront faire parler la poudre. Chacun visera à dominer sa région et sans que les affrontements se déroulent en Europe, l’Europe sera dépouillée de ses intérêts en Afrique ou en Amérique du Sud et sans combattre, elle devra déposer les armes. Ce qui est incroyable c’est la myopie de la diplomatie française et de ses experts. (…) Aucun d’entre eux ne se doute que la république islamique a des alliés qui ont un objectif commun: mettre un terme à une discrimination qui dure depuis 50 ans, la dissuasion nucléaire ! Cette discrimination assure à la France une position que beaucoup d’états lui envient. Ils attendent avec impatience de pouvoir se mesurer avec cette ancienne puissance coloniale que beaucoup jugent arrogante, suffisante et gourmande. Iran-Resist
L’Iran aurait pu être la Corée du Sud; il est devenu la Corée du Nord. (…) Mais n’oubliez pas qu’Ahmadinejad n’est que le représentant d’un régime de nature totalitaire, qui ne peut se réformer et évoluer, quelle que soit la personne qui le représente. (…) Aujourd’hui, le problème ne vient pas de l’idée de se doter de l’énergie nucléaire ; il provient de la nature du régime islamique. (…) je ne crois pas que les mollahs soient assez fous pour penser un jour utiliser la bombe contre Israël: ils savent très bien qu’ils seraient aussitôt anéantis. Ce qu’ils veulent, c’est disposer de la bombe pour pouvoir s’institutionnaliser une fois pour toutes dans la région et étendre leurs zones d’influence. Ils rêvent de créer un califat chiite du XXIe siècle et entendent l’imposer par la bombe atomique (…) il est manifeste qu’un gouvernement paranoïaque crée des crises un peu partout pour tenter de regagner à l’extérieur la légitimité qu’il a perdue à l’intérieur. Les dérives du clan au pouvoir ne se limitent pas au soutien au Hamas, elles vont jusqu’à l’Amérique latine de Chavez. Il ne s’agit en rien d’une vision qui vise à défendre notre intérêt national. Si le régime veut survivre, il doit absolument mettre en échec le monde libre, combattre ses valeurs. La République islamique ne peut pas perdurer dans un monde où l’on parle des droits de l’homme ou de la démocratie. Tous ces principes sont du cyanure pour les islamistes. Comment voulez-vous que les successeurs de Khomeini, dont le but reste l’exportation de la révolution, puissent s’asseoir un jour à la même table que le président Sarkozy ou le président Obama? Dans les mois à venir, un jeu diplomatique peut s’engager, mais, au final, il ne faut pas se faire d’illusion. Même si Khatami revenait au pouvoir, le comportement du régime resterait identique, car le vrai décideur c’est Khamenei. Je ne vois aucune raison pour laquelle le régime islamiste accepterait un changement de comportement. Cela provoquerait, de manière certaine, sa chute. Il ne peut plus revenir en arrière. J’ai bien peur que la diplomatie ne tourne en rond une nouvelle fois et que la course à la bombe ne continue pendant ce temps. Reza Pahlavi
En tant que défenseur de la rue arabe, [l’Iran] ne peut pas avoir un dialogue apaisé avec les Etats-Unis, dialogue au cours duquel il accepterait les demandes de cet Etat qui est le protecteur par excellence d’Israël. Téhéran a le soutien de la rue arabe, talon d’Achille des Alliés Arabes des Etats-Unis, car justement il refuse tout compromis et laisse entendre qu’il pourra un jour lui offrir une bombe nucléaire qui neutralisera la dissuasion israélienne. Pour préserver cette promesse utile, Téhéran doit sans cesse exagérer ses capacités militaires ou nucléaires et des slogans anti-israéliens. Il faut cependant préciser que sur un plan concret, les actions médiatiques de Téhéran ne visent pas la sécurité d’Israël, mais celle des Alliés arabes des Etats-Unis, Etats dont les dirigeants ne peuvent satisfaire les attentes belliqueuses de la rue arabe. Ainsi Téhéran a un levier de pression extraordinaire sur Washington. Comme toute forme de dissuasion, ce système exige un entretien permanent. Téhéran doit sans cesse fouetter la colère et les frustrations de la rue arabe ! Il doit aussi garder ses milices actives, de chaînes de propagande en effervescence et son programme nucléaire le plus opaque possible, sinon il ne serait pas menaçant. C’est pourquoi, il ne peut pas accepter des compensations purement économiques offertes par les Six en échange d’un apaisement ou une suspension de ses activités nucléaires. Ce refus permanent de compromis est vital pour le régime. (…) Il n’y a rien qui fasse plus peur aux mollahs qu’un réchauffement avec les Etats-Unis : ils risquent d’y perdre la rue arabe, puis le pouvoir. C’est pourquoi, le 9 septembre, quand Téhéran a accepté une rencontre pour désactiver les sanctions promises en juillet, il s’est aussitôt mis en action pour faire capoter ce projet de dialogue apaisé qui est un véritable danger pour sa survie. Iran Resist
Des photos et des vidéos amateur prouvent que Qassem Soleimani, le commandant des forces d’élites iraniennes, est en Irak et se bat au côté des forces irakiennes – soutenues et armées par les États-unis – contre les jihadistes de l’organisation de l’État islamique. (…) Les preuves de la présence de ce commandant iranien en Irak se multiplient donc alors même que l’Iran refuse d’admettre sa participation dans la guerre en Irak contre l’organisation de l’État islamique, ce qui reviendrait à officialiser sa collaboration militaire de fait avec les États-Unis. France 24 (04.09.14)
The foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran. (…) The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East. It is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution. The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State. (…) Our withdrawal from Iraq in late 2011 contributed to a perception that the U.S. was pulling back from the Middle East. This perception has complicated our ability to shape developments in the region and thus to further our interests. These perceptions have also shaken many of our allies and, for a period at least, made it harder to persuade them to support our approaches. (…) Neither the Iranians nor Daesh are ten feet tall, but the perception in the region for the past few years has been that of the U.S. on the wane, and our adversaries on the rise. I hope that we can begin to reverse that now. David Petraeus
Depuis la révolution de 1979, qui a amené au pouvoir en Iran une théocratie chiite, les mollahs ont constamment utilisé l’arme du terrorisme à l’étranger afin de parvenir à leurs fins. Toutefois, Téhéran a toujours pris garde de systématiquement utiliser des intermédiaires, de manière à ne pas apparaître directement, ce qui aurait nuit à l’image de marque du régime, particulièrement dans les pays musulmans. (…) Les mollahs jouent à merveille de cette ambiguïté : ne pas reconnaître être derrière des opérations « Homo » (assassinats ciblés organisés par des services d’Etat), mais laisser entendre que toute personne qui s’oppose à leur politique peut constituer une cible potentielle. Rien de tel pour créer une indicible crainte, particulièrement au sein des pouvoirs politiques des pays démocratiques qui ne souhaitent pas que des vagues d’attentat terroristes aient lieu sur leur sol ou contre leurs intérêts à l’étranger. La réélection des gouvernements en place est souvent à ce prix. (…) L’objectif (…) est double pour Téhéran : créer des abcès de fixation qui empêchent les Américains d’envisager toute action militaire contre les installations nucléaires iraniennes et contrôler, autant que faire se peut, les différents mouvements autochtones dont les anciens gouvernants ont été considérés comme des ennemis importants de l’Iran. En conséquence, l’idée d’un Irak et d’un Afghanistan instables semble rencontrer la faveur des mollahs iraniens. (…) Le terrorisme est un moyen de combat au même titre que la guérilla. Téhéran a montré dans le passé qu’à défaut d’armes de destruction massive, il ne répugnait pas à recourir au terrorisme d’Etat car c’est en quelque sorte « l’arme du faible au fort ». L’Iran en a les moyens humains, techniques et pratiques grâce à ses réseaux qui couvrent une grande partie de la planète. Si un bras de fer sévère s’engage vraiment entre les Occidentaux et la république théocratique, il est très probable que des opérations terroristes seront déclenchées comme moyen de rétorsion. L’identification formelle du commanditaire sera difficile à faire car les services iraniens sont passés maîtres dans le domaine du brouillage de pistes en utilisant des mouvements qui servent d’écrans de dissimulation. Alain Rodier
L’ouvrage signé sous un pseudonyme – on parle d’un collectif d’opposants iraniens – revient d’abord sur l’organisation de l’appareil d’Etat iranien, avant d’analyser l’action de celui-ci à l’étranger, à travers le mouvement politique chi’ite mondial (POCHM) et la nébuleuse nationale-islamique iranienne (NINI), entre autres. Une approche très exhaustive s’attache à passer en revue les actions les plus déstabilisatrices et les réseaux d’amitiés / complicités de la république islamique sur l’ensemble de la planète, y compris dans des zones où une menace iranienne n’apparaissait pas évidente aux observateurs (de la Nouvelle Zélande à l’Uruguay, en passant par la Bolivie ou la Roumanie). (…) Malgré l’absence d’une hypothèse forte, sans doute due à l’effet-catalogue de ce travail, on voit bien la centralité des solidarités chi’ites à l’œuvre dans les réseaux présentés ici. (…) Il ne faut pas se fier au titre de cet ouvrage : il n’est pas question – ou si peu – du Hezbollah ici, ni en tant que tel, ni en tant que symptôme d’une méthode iranienne, consistant par exemple à transformer un pays arabe donné en « multivocal state », par l’établissement d’un pouvoir parallèle fondé sur la mise en œuvre d’un mouvement armé d’identité chi’ite mais capitalisant sur l’opposition à Israël. (…) On pourra, à partir des exemples nombreux qui sont passés en revue dans ce document, réfléchir à quelques problématiques qui en émergent : La question de l’animation, par l’Iran et d’autres, d’un réseaux de « politiques étrangères protestataires », solidaires entre elles, refusant les initiatives occidentales et leur « diplomatie de club » (pour reprendre l’expression de Bertrand Badie), politiques qui comptent des relais de téhéran à Caracas en passant par Pyongyang, Minsk, voire Pékin ou Moscou. La question de la nuisance en politique étrangère, qui consiste à contrer efficacement les initiatives dominantes au cas par cas, plutôt que de proposer une politique de puissance alternative avec une stratégie globale (ainsi l’Iran a-t-il davantage profité des erreurs américaines au Moyen-Orient, plutôt qu’il n’aurait bâti de stratégie a priori). Enfin, bien évidemment, la question de la mobilisation de ressources et de réseaux religieux à l’appui d’une action extérieure … Frédéric Charillon
Les opérations-suicide sont le sommet de la bravoure du peuple iranien … Le chef suprême Khamenei appelle les citoyens de toutes les régions d’Iran à se joindre volontairement aux forces qui luttent contre les ennemis de l’Islam. Les membres des saintes brigades suicidaires de la République islamique suivront une formation spéciale et partiront combattre Israël et les Américains… Ayatollah Messbah-Yazdi (annonce dans un journal iranien)
Si les Etats-Unis devaient attaquer l’Iran, le seul pays dirigé par Dieu, nous contre-attaquerions en Amérique latine et même à l’intérieur des Etats-Unis eux-mêmes. Nous avons les moyens et le savoir-faire. Nous saboterons le transport du pétrole de l’Amérique latine aux USA. Vous êtes prévenus. Commandante Teodoro (Chef de la filiale vénézuélienne du Hezbollah)
Nous pensions que nous ne verrions jamais le jour où un président français montrerait plus de résolution que le commandant en chef de l’Amérique pour affronter un des plus graves défis posés à la sécurité mondiale. Eh bien, nous y sommes. Le WSJ
Nous avons raison de parler de l’avenir (…) mais nous vivons dans un monde réel, pas dans un monde virtuel. (…) le Président Obama a même dit : « je rêve d’un monde où il n’y en aurait plus ». Et sous nos yeux, deux pays font exactement le contraire, en ce moment. L’Iran a violé, depuis 2005, cinq résolutions du Conseil de Sécurité. (…) Monsieur le Président Obama, je soutiens la main tendue des Américains. Qu’ont amené à la communauté internationale ces propositions de dialogue ? Rien. Plus d’uranium enrichi, plus de centrifugeuses et de surcroît, une déclaration des dirigeants iraniens proposant de rayer de la carte un membre de l’Organisation des Nations Unies. Nicolas Sarkozy (Conseil de sécurité, 24.09.09)
I think anyone who is going to build a Palestinian state today will be freeing up space to give an attack area to radical Islam against Israel. This is the reality created here in recent years. Anyone who ignores this sticks his head in the sand. The left does this, burying its head in the sand again and again. We are realistic and understand… [If you are elected head of state, no Palestinian state will come to fruition?] Indeed. [Construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank will renew?] We are continuing all the time, but that’s not a question about additional building. There is a real threat that the government of the left will join the international community and do their bidding…. Benjamin Netanyahu
I haven’t changed my policy. I never changed my speech in Bar-Ilan University six years ago calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. What has changed is the reality. Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas], the Palestinian leader, refuses to recognize the Jewish state and has made a pact with Hamas that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. And every territory that is vacated in the Middle East is taken up by Islamist forces… We want that to change, so we can realize a vision of real, sustained peace. And I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution. But for that, circumstances have to change. Benjamin Netanyahu
Il y a deux semaines, Benyamin Nétanyahou défiait Barack Obama depuis le Congrès, le présentant comme un naïf et un opportuniste, prêt à négocier avec l’Iran un «mauvais et dangereux accord» pour la sécurité d’Israël et du monde. Mais si le président américain, furieux de ce défi, espérait se débarrasser de lui à la faveur des élections israéliennes, le voilà bien déçu. La claire victoire de «Bibi» est un violent camouflet politique et stratégique pour Barack Obama, vu l’état catastrophique des relations bilatérales entre les deux hommes. D’anciens conseillers électoraux du président avaient même fait le voyage de Jérusalem pour tenter d’éviter sa réélection… «Ils détestent Bibi, et ils prient pour qu’il quitte le pouvoir», avait confié à Politico un ancien responsable de l’Administration Obama, mardi, juste avant les résultats. Les nouvelles n’en sont que plus «amères», note le Wall Street Journal. Signe des temps, les républicains ont été les premiers à se réjouir du succès de Nétanyahou, pavoisant bruyamment. «Félicitations au premier ministre Nétanyahou pour sa réélection. Il est un vrai leader qui continuera à assurer la sécurité et la force d’Israël», a écrit Jeb Bush, candidat quasi officiel à la Maison-Blanche sur Twitter. «Son succès électoral est d’autant plus impressionnant que des forces puissantes ont tenté de l’affaiblir, notamment, tristement, tout le poids de l’équipe politique d’Obama», a réagi le sénateur Ted Cruz, soutenu par les Tea Party. «Il aurait été ironique qu’Obama ait réussi à sortir Bibi mais pas Assad», a carrément plaisanté le représentant républicain, Steve King. Le maintien de Nétanyahou aux affaires va sérieusement compliquer la politique iranienne d’Obama, prévoit Martin Indyk, l’un des anciens conseillers du président pour la région. Avec la volte-face de dernière minute de Nétanyahou sur le fait qu’il n’accepterait jamais d’État palestinien – alors qu’il avait toujours affirmé soutenir ce projet défendu par Washington – «assainir ses relations empoisonnées avec le président sera encore plus difficile», écrit le New York Times dans un éditorial, dénonçant aussi la «vilaine campagne» menée par Bibi contre les électeurs arabes d’Israël. «C’est une claque à la face des États-Unis», confiait mardi au Figaro un ancien ambassadeur à Washington, évoquant les décennies passées par les présidents américains successifs à tenter d’arracher un État palestinien. (…)  L’opinion israélienne n’a pas été suffisamment choquée par la détérioration des relations avec Washington pour en faire une raison de renvoyer son premier ministre, semblant indiquer qu’elle compte plus sur lui pour défendre sa sécurité que sur l’alliance avec le grand ami américain. En filigrane, ce vote révèle les doutes que suscite aujourd’hui la politique étrangère américaine au Moyen-Orient. La question est maintenant de savoir comment les deux alliés américain et israélien vont pouvoir fonctionner dans ce contexte de «guerre» politique ouverte. Le Figaro
France is again adopting the toughest line against Iran in negotiations aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program, potentially placing Paris at odds with the Obama administration as a diplomatic deadline to forge an agreement approaches at month-end. (…) French diplomats have been publicly pressing the U.S. and other world powers not to give ground on key elements—particularly the speed of lifting United Nations sanctions and the pledge to constrain Iran’s nuclear research work—ahead of the March 31 target. Paris also appears to be operating on a different diplomatic clock than Washington, arguing that the date is an “artificial” deadline and that global powers should be willing to wait Tehran out for a better deal if necessary. (…) In a sign of France’s determination, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called his negotiating team in Lausanne on Thursday to insist no deal could be forged that allowed for the rapid easing of U.N. Security Council measures, according to European officials. France worries the quick repeal of the U.N. penalties could lead to a broader collapse of the West’s financial leverage over Tehran, according to these officials. Paris is demanding Tehran address evidence that it has conducted research into the development of nuclear weapons to get those U.N. penalties relaxed. Iran has for years denied the allegations and some officials fear that forcing Tehran to publicly reverse itself could break the diplomacy. Mr. Fabius has served as diplomatic foil in the Iranian diplomacy in the past. In November 2013, the former French prime minister said a deal that the U.S. had been negotiating with Tehran in Geneva was a “fool’s game” and didn’t go far enough in limiting Iran’s nuclear capabilities. His comments briefly delayed the signing of an interim agreement that modestly rolled back Tehran’s program. (…)  Obama administration officials have voiced frustration with France’s public posturing, arguing it isn’t constructive. Some U.S. officials privately believe France is seeking in part to maintain strong ties to Israel and to Arab countries deeply skeptical of Washington’s outreach to Tehran. French defense companies have signed lucrative arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in recent years. French diplomats, however, say their strong stance against nuclear proliferation has been a central foreign policy tenet for years. WSJ
French leaders think the U.S. president is dangerously naïve on Iran’s ambitions, and that his notion of making Iran an « objective ally » in the war against ISIS, or even a partner, together with Putin’s Russia, to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, is both far-fetched and « amateurish. » When Claude Angéli says that both France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, and its President, François Hollande, have told friends that they rely on « the support of the US Congress » to prevent Obama from giving in to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it is the kind of quote you can take to the bank. French diplomats worry that if Iran gets nuclear weapons, every other local Middle East power will want them. Among their worst nightmares is a situation in which Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia join the Dr. Strangelove club. French diplomats may not like Israel, but they do not believe that the Israelis would use a nuclear device except in a truly Armageddon situation for Israel. As for Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Turkey going nuclear, however, they see terrifying possibilities: irresponsible leaders, or some ISIS-type terrorist outfit, could actually use them. In other words, even if they would never express it as clearly as that, they see Israelis as « like us, » but others potentially as madmen. The Quai d’Orsay (the French Foreign Ministry) may loathe, on principle, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: any briefing by French diplomats will, as a matter of course, explain how very wrong Israel is to alienate its « American ally. » All the same, France’s political stance on the projected U.S.-Iran deal is astonishingly close to that of the Israeli PM, as he outlined to the U.S. Congress on March 3. Laurent Fabius — once François Mitterrand’s youngest Prime Minister; today’s François Hollande’s seasoned Foreign Minister — is « fed up with Barack Obama’s nuclear laxity » regarding Iran, a Quai senior diplomat told Le Canard Enchaîné’s usually well-informed Claude Angéli, who can be relied on to give the unvarnished French view on matters foreign. « Just as in 2013, France will oppose any agreement too favorable to Iran if this turns out to be necessary. Fabius made this very clear to John Kerry when they met on Saturday March 7th. » This, Angéli points out, is far from the « soothing communiqué » issued at the end of the Kerry-Fabius meeting in which both men supposedly « shared » the same view of the Iran negotiations. The communiqué itself may have come as a surprise to a number of French MPs and Senators from their respective Foreign Affairs Committees. Fabius himself, in a meeting last week, made extremely clear his deep distrust (« contempt, really, » one MP says) of both John Kerry and Barack Obama. Another of the group quotes Fabius as saying: « The United States was really ready to sign just about anything with the Iranians, » before explaining that he himself had sent out, mid-February, a number of French ‘counter-proposals’ to the State Department and White House, in order to prevent an agreement too imbalanced in favor of Iran. Anne-Elisabeth Moutet

Après la leçon d’hébreu, la leçon de français !

A l’heure où un monde atterré commence à deviner toute l’étendue du véritable accident industriel que de bien imprudents électeurs américains ont remis il y a deux ans à la tête du Monde libre …

Et où face à une administration américaine qui n’a toujours pas compris qu’emporté par sa volonté mimétique de revanche, un régime totalitaire ne peut tout simplement pas renoncer, sous peine d’effondrement immédiat, à sa vitale capacité de nuisance …

La machine infernale lâchée sur le monde il y a quarante ans par Khomeny peut aujourd’hui se vanter, du Golan au Yemen et sans parler de son réseau terroriste mondial comme l’a tout récemment rappelé l’assassinat d’un juge argentin, d’une quasi-continuité territoriale avec ses pires ennemis israéliens ou saoudiens …

Comment s’étonner encore …

Après le double camouflet du discours au Congrès et de la réélection contre toute attente du Premier ministre israélien …

De cette nouvelle gifle, française de surcroît, à la veille de la fin supposée des négociations sur le nucléaire iranien …

Qu’évoque, à nouveau et à la suite du Canard enchainé comme le rappelle Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, le Wall Street Journal  ?

What France Really Thinks of U.S. Iran Policy
Anne-Elisabeth Moutet
Gateson institute

March 17, 2015

The Quai d’Orsay (the French Foreign Ministry) may loathe, on principle, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: any briefing by French diplomats will, as a matter of course, explain how very wrong Israel is to alienate its « American ally. » All the same, France’s political stance on the projected U.S.-Iran deal is astonishingly close to that of the Israeli PM, as he outlined to the U.S. Congress on March 3.

Laurent Fabius — once François Mitterrand’s youngest Prime Minister; today’s François Hollande’s seasoned Foreign Minister — is « fed up with Barack Obama’s nuclear laxity » regarding Iran, a Quai senior diplomat told Le Canard Enchaîné’s usually well-informed Claude Angéli, who can be relied on to give the unvarnished French view on matters foreign. « Just as in 2013, France will oppose any agreement too favorable to Iran if this turns out to be necessary. Fabius made this very clear to John Kerry when they met on Saturday March 7th. »

This, Angéli points out, is far from the « soothing communiqué » issued at the end of the Kerry-Fabius meeting in which both men supposedly « shared » the same view of the Iran negotiations. The communiqué itself may have come as a surprise to a number of French MPs and Senators from their respective Foreign Affairs Committees. Fabius himself, in a meeting last week, made extremely clear his deep distrust (« contempt, really, » one MP says) of both John Kerry and Barack Obama. Another of the group quotes Fabius as saying: « The United States was really ready to sign just about anything with the Iranians, » before explaining that he himself had sent out, mid-February, a number of French ‘counter-proposals’ to the State Department and White House, in order to prevent an agreement too imbalanced in favor of Iran.

Le Canard Enchaîné (« The Manacled Mallard ») is France’s best-informed political gossip weekly. Long before the rest of the French press, away from General de Gaulle’s paralyzing shadow, started investigative reports of their own, Le Canard, using a contact network second to none, used to break scoops only rarely picked up by the rest of a servile media pack.

We owe it the story of conservative President Giscard d’Estaing’s ill-gotten gifts of diamonds (from Central Africa’s self-styled Emperor Bokassa). An equal-opportunity hitter, Le Canard also broke the story of the Socialist Mitterrand’s wiretaps of some 5,000 journalists and personalities, only stopping short of explaining why: Mitterrand wanted to hide from the public the existence of his mistress and their daughter Mazarine. Newer brash French tabloids have only very recently started to examine the private lives of politicians, and Le Canard still doesn’t care to do so. More recently, it revealed that the head of France’s Communist union CGT had his new luxury apartment entirely refurbished at the ailing union’s expense, complete with a home cinema: this cost him his job after an undignified couple of weeks of useless stonewalling.

So when Claude Angéli says that both Fabius and President François Hollande have told friends that they rely on « the support of the US Congress » to prevent Obama from giving in to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it’s the kind of quote you can take to the bank. French leaders think the U.S. president is dangerously « naïve » on Iran’s ambitions, and that his notion of making Iran an « objective ally » in the war against ISIS, or even a partner, together with Putin’s Russia, to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, is both far-fetched and amateurish.

The French are still smarting from the last-minute reprieve Obama granted Syria, as the French air force was about to bomb the Assad regime’s military positions back in 2013, because the U.S. President had been convinced by Russia that they had succeeded in making Syrian President Bashar al-Assad give up on the use of his chemical weapons. « Our Rafale fighters were about to scramble, » a French air force officer is quoted as saying; « Hollande was furious. »

When Laurent Fabius briefed members of the French parliament last week, he was, according to Angéli, quite precise, mentioning as conditions necessary in any agreement a « reconfiguration » of the Arak nuclear site, where Iran enriches the heavy water necessary to produce plutonium bombs, as well as a sharp limit to the number of Iranian centrifuges, and complete access to all nuclear sites for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections.

French diplomats are no angels, and they haven’t suddenly turned 180 degrees from their usual attitude of reflexive dislike toward Israel. They worry, however, that if Iran gets nuclear weapons, every other local Middle East power will want them. Among their worst nightmares is a situation in which Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia join the Dr. Strangelove club. French diplomats may not like Israel, but they do not believe Israelis would use a nuclear device except in a truly Armageddon situation for Israel. As for Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Turkey going nuclear, however, they see terrifying possibilities: irresponsible leaders, or some ISIS-type terrorist outfit, could actually use them. In other words, even if they would never express it as clearly as that, they see Israelis as « like us, » but others potentially as madmen.

Voir aussi:

Middle East News
France Takes Toughest Line at Iran Nuclear Talks
Negotiations move closer to March 31 cutoff without a breakthrough
Jay Solomon and Laurence Norman
The Wall Street Journal

March 20, 2015

LAUSANNE, Switzerland—France is again adopting the toughest line against Iran in negotiations aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program, potentially placing Paris at odds with the Obama administration as a diplomatic deadline to forge an agreement approaches at month-end.

President Barack Obama called French President François Hollande on Friday to discuss the Iran diplomacy and try to unify their positions. The presidents “reaffirmed their commitment” to a deal “while noting that Iran must take steps to resolve several remaining issues,” the White House said.

French diplomats have been publicly pressing the U.S. and other world powers not to give ground on key elements—particularly the speed of lifting United Nations sanctions and the pledge to constrain Iran’s nuclear research work—ahead of the March 31 target.

Paris also appears to be operating on a different diplomatic clock than Washington, arguing that the date is an “artificial” deadline and that global powers should be willing to wait Tehran out for a better deal if necessary.

Obama administration officials have said that expected moves by the U.S. Congress to put new sanctions on Iran as soon as next month limit their ability to extend the diplomacy. But French officials took exception.

“Making the end of March an absolute deadline is counterproductive and dangerous,” France’s ambassador to the U.S., Gérard Araud, said via Twitter after the latest round of negotiations in Switzerland concluded Friday.

“No agreement without concrete decisions on issues beyond the enrichment capability question,” he said a day earlier, specifically mentioning the need for extensive monitoring and clarity on Iran’s past research work. Western officials believe they included the pursuit of nuclear-weapon capabilities.

In a sign of France’s determination, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called his negotiating team in Lausanne on Thursday to insist no deal could be forged that allowed for the rapid easing of U.N. Security Council measures, according to European officials.

France worries the quick repeal of the U.N. penalties could lead to a broader collapse of the West’s financial leverage over Tehran, according to these officials.

Paris is demanding Tehran address evidence that it has conducted research into the development of nuclear weapons to get those U.N. penalties relaxed. Iran has for years denied the allegations and some officials fear that forcing Tehran to publicly reverse itself could break the diplomacy.

Mr. Fabius has served as diplomatic foil in the Iranian diplomacy in the past.

In November 2013, the former French prime minister said a deal that the U.S. had been negotiating with Tehran in Geneva was a “fool’s game” and didn’t go far enough in limiting Iran’s nuclear capabilities. His comments briefly delayed the signing of an interim agreement that modestly rolled back Tehran’s program.

Western officials in recent days have stressed that Washington and the other powers negotiating with Iran—France, the U.K., Germany, Russia and China—remain united. Still, Obama administration officials have voiced frustration with France’s public posturing, arguing it isn’t constructive.

‘Our nations have been separated by mistrust and fear. Now it is early spring. We have a chance—a chance—to make progress that will benefit our countries, and the world, for many years to come.’
—U.S. President Barack Obama.

Some U.S. officials privately believe France is seeking in part to maintain strong ties to Israel and to Arab countries deeply skeptical of Washington’s outreach to Tehran. French defense companies have signed lucrative arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in recent years.

French diplomats, however, say their strong stance against nuclear proliferation has been a central foreign policy tenet for years. By remaining one of the world’s few nuclear powers, France can maintain an independent role in global affairs.

Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up five days of direct talks with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, in Lausanne without a breakthrough. Mr. Kerry is traveling to London on Saturday to meet with Mr. Fabius and the foreign ministers of the U.K. and Germany.

These countries will return to Switzerland as soon as Wednesday to resume the negotiations.

“We’ve had a series of intensive discussions with Iran this week, and given where we are in the negotiations, it’s an important time for high-level consultations with our partners in these talks,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

While U.S., Russian, Chinese and Iranian diplomats have stressed the progress made in the talks, others have been more cautious. One European diplomat said on Thursday: “I don’t think we have made sufficient progress. A lot of issues remain on the table.”

Wang Qun, China’s senior diplomat at the talks, said Friday there had been “good progress” this past week. “I do see some novelties in this round of negotiations,” he said, adding that both sides had shown “very strong political will.”

Failure to reach a political understanding on time could firm up political opposition to the negotiations in Washington.

On Thursday, Senators Bob Corker (R.-Tenn.) and Robert Menendez (D.-N.J.) said the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote April 14 on a bill that would give U.S. lawmakers an up-and-down vote on the agreement.

U.S. officials initially believed the negotiations could stretch until Sunday. But Iran’s delegation abruptly left on Friday, citing the death of the mother of President Hasan Rouhani. Iranian officials also said they wanted to return to Tehran for the beginning of the Persian New Year, called Nowruz.

In a meeting with his Iranian counterpart on Friday, Mr. Kerry expressed his condolences for the death of the president’s mother and called for “progress and peace” at the start of Nowruz.

Mr. Zarif responded: “I hope this new day will be a new day for the entire world.”

Both sides had hoped to wrap up the talks before the start of the Iranian holiday.

Mr. Obama also sent a Nowruz message to Iranians on Thursday. He stressed the importance of a deal in potentially opening a new era of cooperation between Washington and Tehran, who have been staunch adversaries since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.

“Our nations have been separated by mistrust and fear. Now it is early spring. We have a chance—a chance—to make progress that will benefit our countries, and the world, for many years to come,” Mr. Obama said.

Voir également:

WorldViews
Five thoughts Petraeus has about the future of the Middle East
Liz Sly

The Washington Post

March 20

Gen. David H. Petraeus, who commanded U.S. troops during the 2007-2008 surge, was back in Iraq last week for the first time in more than three years. He was attending the annual Sulaimani Forum, a get-together of Iraqi leaders, thinkers and academics, at the American University of Iraq – Sulaimani in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

In his most expansive comments yet on the latest crisis in Iraq and Syria, he answered written questions from The Post’s Liz Sly, offering insights into the mistakes, the prosecution and the prospects of the war against the Islamic State, which he refers to by its Arabic acronym, Daesh.

Here are the five key takeaways from the interview.

1. Shiite militias and Iran now pose a bigger regional threat than the Islamic State

The Islamic State is already “on a path to defeat,” at least in Iraq, thanks to international, regional and Iraqi effort to rally against them. The biggest threat now is the Shiite militias taking over former Islamic State territories, with Iranian support.

“The foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran.”

“The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East. It is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution. The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State.”

2. You can’t find a solution to the Islamic State without empowering capable local Sunni forces

It will not be enough to have Shiite units of the Iraqi army or militias conquer territory. Capable Sunni forces that will be regarded “as liberators, not conquerors” will have to be identified before battles are launched. And that will require broad political reconciliation between Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government and the country’s Sunnis.

“The bottom line is that Daesh’s defeat requires not just hammering them on the battlefield, but simultaneously, revived political reconciliation with Sunnis. Iraq’s Sunnis need to be brought back into the fold. They need to feel as though they have a stake in the success of Iraq, rather than a stake in its failure.”

As it is, reports of atrocities committed by Shiite militias against Sunnis in areas they conquer “constitute Daesh’s best hope for survival, pushing Sunnis to feel once again the need to reject the Iraqi forces in their areas.”

3. Syria is a « geopolitical Chernobyl » and needs to be addressed immediately

Though the Obama administration is embarking on a program to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State, the effort falls short. If the new force is to function effectively, steps will also be required to halt airstrikes by the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad against areas under opposition control.

“Legitimate questions … can be raised about the sufficiency of the present scale, scope, speed and resourcing of this effort.”

It is also not enough to focus on Iraq and set aside the problem of Syria’s war to be solved later.

“I am profoundly worried about the continuing meltdown of Syria, which is a geopolitical Chernobyl. Until it is capped, it is going to continue to spew radioactive instability and extremist ideology over the entire region.”

4. America’s influence is waning in the Middle East

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, indications from the Obama administration that its priorities lay elsewhere and the lack of attention paid to Syria’s war have created the impression that American influence is waning.

“Our withdrawal from Iraq in late 2011 contributed to a perception that the U.S. was pulling back from the Middle East,” he says. “This perception has complicated our ability to shape developments in the region and thus to further our interests. These perceptions have also shaken many of our allies and, for a period at least, made it harder to persuade them to support our approaches.”

“Neither the Iranians nor Daesh are ten feet tall, but the perception in the region for the past few years has been that of the U.S. on the wane, and our adversaries on the rise. I hope that we can begin to reverse that now. »

5. Petraeus told Iranian general Qasem Soleimani to “pound sand”

In 2008, as fierce battles raged in Baghdad between U.S. troops and Shiite militias – including those fighting against the Islamic State today – an Iraqi intermediary conveyed a message to Petraeus from Iran’s top general in Iraq, Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

« General Petraeus, you should be aware that I, Qasem Soleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan, » the message said.

Petraeus says he responded by telling the interlocutor to tell Soleimani to « pound sand. »

These days, Maj. Gen. Soleimani regularly visits the front lines in Iraq, much as Petraeus used to when he commanded troops in the country. Photos of his former adversary’s battlefield tours, widely posted on social media, provoke thoughts that Petraeus said he could not share.

“I have several thoughts when I see the pictures of him, but most of those thoughts probably aren’t suitable for publication in a family newspaper.”

Liz Sly is the Post’s Beirut bureau chief. She has spent more than 15 years covering the Middle East, including the Iraq war. Other postings include Africa, China and Afghanistan.

Voir encore:

WorldViews
Petraeus: The Islamic State isn’t our biggest problem in Iraq
Liz Sly

The Washington Post

March 20 2015

Gen. David H. Petraeus, who commanded U.S. troops in Iraq during the 2007-2008 surge, was back in that country last week for the first time in more than three years. He was attending the annual Sulaimani Forum, a get-together of Iraqi leaders, thinkers and academics, at the American University of Iraq – Sulaimani in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

In his most expansive comments yet on the latest crisis in Iraq and Syria, he answered written questions from The Post’s Liz Sly, offering insights into the mistakes, the prosecution and the prospects of the war against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, which he refers to by its Arabic acronym, Daesh.

How does it feel to be back in Iraq after four years away?

Iraq is a country I came to know well and the place where I spent some of the most consequential years of my life. So it has been a bit of an emotional experience to return here after my last visit in December 2011 as director of the CIA. I was very grateful for the chance to be back to see old friends and comrades from the past.

That said, it is impossible to return to Iraq without a keen sense of opportunities lost. These include the mistakes we, the U.S., made here, and likewise the mistakes the Iraqis themselves have made. This includes the squandering of so much of what we and our coalition and Iraqi partners paid such a heavy cost to achieve, the continuing failure of Iraq’s political leaders to solve longstanding political disputes, and the exploitation of these failures by extremists on both sides of the sectarian and ethnic divides.

Having said that, my sense is that the situation in Iraq today is, to repeat a phrase I used on the eve of the surge, hard but not hopeless. I believe that a reasonable outcome here is still achievable, although it will be up to all of us — Iraqis, Americans, leaders in the region and leaders of the coalition countries — to work together to achieve it.

You oversaw the gains of the surge in 2007-08. How does it make you feel to see what is happening today, with ISIS having taken over more of Iraq than its predecessor, AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq], ever did?

What has happened in Iraq is a tragedy — for the Iraqi people, for the region and for the entire world. It is tragic foremost because it didn’t have to turn out this way. The hard-earned progress of the Surge was sustained for over three years. What transpired after that, starting in late 2011, came about as a result of mistakes and misjudgments whose consequences were predictable. And there is plenty of blame to go around for that.

Yet despite that history and the legacy it has left, I think Iraq and the coalition forces are making considerable progress against the Islamic State. In fact, I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran.

These militia returned to the streets of Iraq in response to a fatwa by Shia leader Grand Ayatollah Sistani at a moment of extreme danger. And they prevented the Islamic State from continuing its offensive into Baghdad. Nonetheless, they have, in some cases, cleared not only Sunni extremists but also Sunni civilians and committed atrocities against them. Thus, they have, to a degree, been both part of Iraq’s salvation but also the most serious threat to the all-important effort of once again getting the Sunni Arab population in Iraq to feel that it has a stake in the success of Iraq rather than a stake in its failure. Longer term, Iranian-backed Shia militia could emerge as the preeminent power in the country, one that is outside the control of the government and instead answerable to Tehran.

Beyond Iraq, I am also profoundly worried about the continuing meltdown of Syria, which is a geopolitical Chernobyl. Until it is capped, it is going to continue to spew radioactive instability and extremist ideology over the entire region.

Any strategy to stabilize the region thus needs to take into account the challenges in both Iraq and Syria. It is not sufficient to say that we’ll figure them out later.

[Related: ‘Daesh’: John Kerry starts calling the Islamic State a name they hate]

What went wrong?

The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011. The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. [They] alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment.

The tragedy is that political leaders failed so badly at delivering what Iraqis clearly wanted — and for that, a great deal of responsibility lies with Prime Minister Maliki.

As for the U.S. role, could all of this have been averted if we had kept 10,000 troops here? I honestly don’t know. I certainly wish we could have tested the proposition and kept a substantial force on the ground.

For that matter, should we have pushed harder for an alternative to PM Maliki during government formation in 2010? Again, it is impossible to know if such a gambit might have succeeded. But certainly, a different personality at the top might have made a big difference, depending, of course, on who that individual might have been.

Where I think a broader comment is perhaps warranted has to do with the way we came to think about Iraq and, to a certain extent, the broader region over the last few years. There was certainly a sense in Washington that Iraq should be put in our rearview mirror, that whatever happened here was somewhat peripheral to our national security and that we could afford to redirect our attention to more important challenges. Much of this sentiment was very understandable given the enormous cost of our efforts in Iraq and the endless frustrations that our endeavor here encountered.

In retrospect, a similar attitude existed with respect to the civil war in Syria — again, a sense that developments in Syria constituted a horrible tragedy to be sure, but a tragedy at the outset, at least, that did not seem to pose a threat to our national security.

But in hindsight, few, I suspect, would contend that our approach was what it might — or should — have been. In fact, if there is one lesson that I hope we’ve learned from the past few years, it is that there is a linkage between the internal conditions of countries in the Middle East and our own vital security interests.

Whether fair or not, those in the region will also offer that our withdrawal from Iraq in late 2011 contributed to a perception that the U.S. was pulling back from the Middle East. This perception has complicated our ability to shape developments in the region and thus to further our interests. These perceptions have also shaken many of our allies and, for a period at least, made it harder to persuade them to support our approaches. This has been all the more frustrating because, of course, in objective terms, we remain deeply engaged across the region and our power here is still very, very significant.

Neither the Iranians nor Daesh are 10 feet tall, but the perception in the region for the past few years has been that of the U.S. on the wane, and our adversaries on the rise. I hope that we can begin to reverse that now.

What are your thoughts when you see Qasem Soleimani, the IRGC’s Quds Force commander who funded and armed the militias who blew up U.S. troops and shelled the U.S. Embassy while you were in it, taking battlefield tours like you used to?

Yes, « Hajji Qasem, » our old friend. I have several thoughts when I see the pictures of him, but most of those thoughts probably aren’t suitable for publication in a family newspaper like yours. What I will say is that he is very capable and resourceful individual, a worthy adversary. He has played his hand well. But this is a long game, so let’s see how events transpire.

It is certainly interesting to see how visible Soleimani has chosen to become in recent months — quite a striking change for a man of the shadows.

Whatever the motivations, though, they underscore a very important reality: The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East. It is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution. The more the Iranians are seen to be dominating the region, the more it is going to inflame Sunni radicalism and fuel the rise of groups like the Islamic State. While the U.S. and Iran may have convergent interests in the defeat of Daesh, our interests generally diverge. The Iranian response to the open hand offered by the U.S. has not been encouraging.

Iranian power in the Middle East is thus a double problem. It is foremost problematic because it is deeply hostile to us and our friends. But it is also dangerous because, the more it is felt, the more it sets off reactions that are also harmful to our interests — Sunni radicalism and, if we aren’t careful, the prospect of nuclear proliferation as well.

You have had some interactions with Qasem Soleimani in the past. Could you tell us about those?

In the spring of 2008, Iraqi and coalition forces engaged in what emerged as a decisive battle between the Iraqi Security Forces and the Iranian-supported Shiite militias.

In the midst of the fight, I received word from a very senior Iraqi official that Qasem Soleimani had given him a message for me. When I met with the senior Iraqi, he conveyed the message: « General Petraeus, you should be aware that I, Qasem Soleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan. » The point was clear: He owned the policy and the region, and I should deal with him. When my Iraqi interlocutor asked what I wanted to convey in return, I told him to tell Soleimani that he could « pound sand. »

If you look back at what happened when the surge of U.S. troops under your command turned the tide of the war, is there anything you would have done differently? What are your regrets?

There are always actions that, with the benefit of hindsight, you realize you misjudged or would have done differently. There are certainly decisions, in the course of my three deployments to Iraq, that I got wrong. Very candidly, there are several people who are causing enormous harm in Iraq today whom I wish we had taken off the battlefield when we had the chance to do so. Beyond that, there certainly were actions taken in the first year in Iraq, in particular, that made our subsequent effort that vastly more difficult that it needed to be. But those are well known.

What would be (or is, assuming people must be asking) your main advice on how best to prosecute the war against ISIS now?

In general terms, what is needed in Iraq at this point is all of the elements of the comprehensive, civil-military counterinsurgency campaign that achieved such significant progress during the Surge, with one huge difference — that Iraqis must perform a number of the critical tasks that we had to perform. Iraqis must, for example, provide the « boots on the ground, » albeit enabled by advisers and U.S. air assets, with tactical air controllers if necessary.

If the Iraqis cannot provide such forces, we should increase efforts to develop them. Iraqis must also be the ones who pursue reconciliation with Sunni leaders and the Sunni Arab community. We may help in various ways, but again, sustainable results can only be achieved by Iraqis — who clearly have the ability to do so, even if the will is sometimes not fully evident.

In more specific terms, I would offer the following:

First, it is critical that Iraqi forces do not clear areas that they are not able or willing to hold. Indeed, the « hold » force should be identified before the clearance operation begins. This underscores the need for capable, anti-Daesh Sunni forces that can go into Sunni-majority areas and be viewed as liberators, not conquerors or oppressors.

Second, the Iraqi forces that conduct(s) operations have to demonstrate much greater care in their conduct. I am deeply concerned by reports of sectarian atrocities — in particular by the Shiite militias as they move into Sunni areas previously held by the Islamic State. Kidnappings and reprisal killings, mass evictions of civilians from their homes — these kinds of abuses are corrosive to what needs to be accomplished. Indeed, they constitute Daesh’s best hope for survival — pushing Sunnis to feel once again the need to reject the Iraqi forces in their areas. The bottom line is that Daesh’s defeat requires not just hammering them on the battlefield, but simultaneously, revived political reconciliation with Sunnis. Iraq’s Sunnis need to be brought back into the fold. They need to feel as though they have a stake in the success of Iraq, rather than a stake in its failure.

Third, as I explained earlier, we need to recognize that the #1 long term threat to Iraq’s equilibrium — and the broader regional balance — is not the Islamic State, which I think is on the path to being defeated in Iraq and pushed out of its Iraqi sanctuary. The most significant long term threat is that posed by the Iranian-backed Shiite militias. If Daesh is driven from Iraq and the consequence is that Iranian-backed militias emerge as the most powerful force in the country — eclipsing the Iraqi Security Forces, much as Hezbollah does in Lebanon — that would be a very harmful outcome for Iraqi stability and sovereignty, not to mention our own national interests in the region.

Fourth, as long as we are talking about difficult problems, there is Syria. Any acceptable outcome [in Syria] requires the build-up of capable, anti-Daesh opposition forces whom we support on the battlefield. Although it is encouraging to see the administration’s support for this initiative, I think there are legitimate questions that can be raised about the sufficiency of the present scale, scope, speed, and resourcing of this effort. It will, for example, be impossible to establish a headquarters inside Syria to provide command and control of the forces we help train and equip as long as barrel bombs are dropped on it on a regular basis.

Voir de plus:

La présidente argentine Kirchner accusée d’avoir couvert les suspects iraniens d’un attentat
Libération/AFP

14 février 2015

Un procureur l’accuse d’avoir couvert de hauts dirigeants iraniens, soupçonnés d’être les commanditaires de l’attentat antisémite de 1994 à Buenos Aires.

La présidente argentine Cristina Kirchner a été formellement accusée par un procureur d’avoir couvert de hauts dirigeants iraniens, soupçonnés d’être les commanditaires de l’attentat antisémite de 1994 à Buenos Aires, accusation formulée avant sa mort par le procureur Alberto Nisman.

Vingt ans après, l’attentat contre la mutuelle juive AMIA qui a fait 85 morts et 300 blessés, n’a toujours pas été élucidé.

Avant Cristina  Kirchner, au pouvoir depuis 2007, un autre président, Carlos Menem (1989-1999), a été mis en cause et doit être jugé pour entrave, dans les années 1990, à l’enquête sur l’attentat contre l’AMIA.

Le procureur Nisman, en charge du dossier AMIA depuis 2004, a été retrouvé mort le 18 janvier dernier. Les premiers éléments de l’enquête indiquent un suicide, thèse à laquelle ne croient pas les Argentins. Le magistrat assurait que le pouvoir avait mis en place un plan pour protéger l’Iran de poursuites judiciaires en Argentine.

Pour Alberto Nisman, l’Iran avait commandité l’attentat et des hommes du groupe armé chiite libanais Hezbollah ont fait sauter le bâtiment abritant les principales institutions juives d’Argentine.

Le procureur Gerardo Pollicita a requis vendredi l’inculpation de Cristina Kirchner et de son ministre des Affaires étrangères, Hector Timerman, pour «les délits d’entrave à la justice et manquement au devoir d’un fonctionnaire».

Gerardo Pollicita a donné un nouvel élan au retentissant dossier d’accusation contre Cristina Kirchner, rendu public le 14 janvier par Alberto Nisman.

Le juge Daniel Rafecas devra désormais examiner le dossier de 300 pages, complété d’écoutes téléphoniques, et devra décider s’il ouvre ou non une procédure judiciaire contre Cristina Kirchner.

«Coup d’Etat judiciaire»
Cet ultime rebondissement dans le dossier Nisman/Kirchner intervient près d’un mois après la disparition non élucidée du procureur, dont la mort alors qu’il était sous le feu des projecteurs a consterné les Argentins.

Alberto Nisman, en charge de l’enquête sur l’attentat contre la mutuelle juive AMIA, a été retrouvé mort dans son appartement à la veille de son allocution devant le Congrès où il comptait étayer son accusation.

Avant l’attentat contre l’AMIA en 1994, une autre attaque menée avec un véhicule piégé avait visé l’ambassade d’Israël à Buenos Aires, tuant 29 personnes en mars 1992.

En 2013, Cristina Kirchner avait scellé avec Téhéran un mémorandum prévoyant l’audition en Iran des suspects iraniens dont l’Argentine demandait en vain l’extradition depuis 2007, pour les juger à Buenos Aires.

La communauté juive, l’opposition à Kirchner, les Etats-Unis et Israël estiment que cette initiative est une entrave à l’élucidation car elle écarte l’éventualité d’un procès en Argentine.

La procédure judiciaire contre Cristina Kirchner a peu de chances d’aboutir. Sa coalition de centre-gauche, le Front pour la victoire (FPV), détient la majorité dans les deux chambres du parlement, qui seraient éventuellement sollicitées pour lever son immunité.

Réagissant à un article du journal Clarin anticipant la mise en cause de Cristina Kirchner, le chef du gouvernement argentin Jorge Capitanitch a dénoncé «un coup d’état judiciaire».

«C’était prévisible et grave d’un point de vue politique et institutionnel. Je ne sais pas quel sera l’impact sur l’opinion publique. Les anti-Kirchner seront confortés dans leur position alors que ses sympathisants vont dénoncer une «tentative de déstabilisation», estime Matias Carugati, de l’institut de sondage Management & Fit.

L’enquête sur l’attentat de 1994 a été émaillée d’irrégularités. Des suspects sont arrêtés puis remis en liberté, dont des policiers et le fournisseur présumé du fourgon piégé Carlos Telleldin.

Le juge chargé de l’instruction du dossier de 1994 à 2003, Juan José Galeano, inculpé pour avoir remis 400000 dollars à Carlos Telleldin pour qu’il incrimine un suspect, l’ancien patron des services secrets et l’ex-président Carlos Menem doivent être jugés pour avoir freiné ou dévié l’enquête, mais la date du procès n’a pas encore été fixée.

Vendredi, la procureure générale argentine Alejandra Gils Carbo a annoncé la nomination d’une équipe de trois magistrats, Roberto Salum, Patricio Sabadini, Sabrina Namer, et d’un un coordinateur, à la tête du parquet spécial AMIA que dirigeait Alberto Nisman depuis 2004.

Mercredi, une marche silencieuse en hommage à Alberto Nisman, a été convoquée par des magistrats. Divers secteurs de l’opposition et les dirigeants de la communauté juive ont d’ores et déjà annoncé leur participation à la manifestation.

Voir encore:

NOTE D’ACTUALITÉ N°203
LE SOUTIEN DE L’IRAN AU TERRORISME INTERNATIONAL

Alain Rodier

F2R

21-01-2010

Depuis la révolution de 1979, qui a amené au pouvoir en Iran une théocratie chiite, les mollahs ont constamment utilisé l’arme du terrorisme à l’étranger afin de parvenir à leurs fins. Toutefois, Téhéran a toujours pris garde de systématiquement utiliser des intermédiaires, de manière à ne pas apparaître directement, ce qui aurait nuit à l’image de marque du régime, particulièrement dans les pays musulmans.

Parfois cette manière d’opérer a considérablement nuit à l’efficacité opérationnelle des actions entreprises. Ainsi, des « premiers couteaux » ont été arrêtés, mais jamais aucun système judiciaire de pays démocratique n’a réussi à prouver formellement l’implication du régime dans des actions répréhensibles. Seuls de forts soupçons concordants ont permis de lancer des mandats d’arrêt internationaux contre les plus hauts responsables du régime, mais comme ces derniers ne se sont évidemment pas présentés devant les juridictions concernées, leur responsabilité n’a pu être établie légalement. Les mollahs jouent à merveille de cette ambiguïté : ne pas reconnaître être derrière des opérations « Homo » (assassinats ciblés organisés par des services d’Etat), mais laisser entendre que toute personne qui s’oppose à leur politique peut constituer une cible potentielle. Rien de tel pour créer une indicible crainte, particulièrement au sein des pouvoirs politiques des pays démocratiques qui ne souhaitent pas que des vagues d’attentat terroristes aient lieu sur leur sol ou contre leurs intérêts à l’étranger. La réélection des gouvernements en place est souvent à ce prix.

Les buts poursuivis par Téhéran ont été multiples. En tête d’entre eux se trouve la lutte contre toute opposition. Suit la guerre contre les « grand et le petit Satan » (Etats-Unis et Israël), puis le règlement de litiges, comme cela a été le cas au milieu des années 1980 avec la France.

La lutte contre les opposants
La lutte acharnée contre les opposants au régime a toujours été une préoccupation majeure des mollahs. La liste des victimes d’attentats terroristes ciblés organisés par la Savama puis par le Vevak – les services spéciaux iraniens – et la force Al-Qods des Pasdaran est longue [1]. Elle comporterait plus d’une centaine de victimes, dont certaines sont particulièrement connues.

- Le 13 juillet 1989, Abdul Raman Gassemlou, le secrétaire général du Parti démocratique du Kurdistan d’Iran (PDKI) est assassiné à Vienne en compagnie d’Abdullah Ghaderi Azar et d’Amir Mansur Bozorgian. Ils avaient été attirés dans un piège par de « pseudos négociations » initiées par le régime des mollahs qui avait exprimé son souhait de « régler une fois pour toutes » le problème kurde en Iran.

- Le professeur Kazem Radjavi, ancien ambassadeur de l’Iran auprès de l’ONU et surtout frère aîné de Massoud Radjavi, le leader du Conseil national de la résistance iranienne (CNRI), est assassiné par balles à Genève, le 24 avril 1990. Suite à cette affaire qui a mis en cause pas moins de treize agents iraniens couverts par l’immunité diplomatique, la justice suisse a lancé en 1996 un mandat d’arrêt contre Ali Fallahian qui était alors le chef du Vevak.

- Le 7 août 1991, Chapour Bakhtiar, le dernier Premier ministre du Shah, est assassiné à l’arme blanche avec son secrétaire à son domicile en banlieue parisienne. Le commando de trois hommes a fait preuve à l’occasion d’un professionnalisme et d’un sang froid extraordinaires. En effet, Chapour Bakhtiar était alors protégé par une section de CRS qui n’y a vu que du feu ! Il avait fait l’objet d’une première tentative de meurtre en juillet 1980 qui avait coûté la vie à un policier et à une voisine de son appartement de Suresnes.

- Le 4 juin 1992, le représentant en Turquie du CNRI, Ali Akbar Ghorbani, est enlevé à Istanbul. Son corps est retrouvé quelques mois plus tard dans un parc de la ville. Il porte de nombreuses marques de torture qui laissent entendre qu’il a été interrogé avant d’être exécuté. Le lendemain, un attentat à la voiture piégée échoue de peu devant le siège de l’OMPI à Istanbul.

- Le 16 mars 1993, Mohammad-Hussein Naghdi, le représentant du CNRI en Italie, est assassiné par balles à Rome.

- Le 17 septembre 1992, le secrétaire général du PDKI (et successeur d’Abdul Rahman Gassemlou), Mohammad Sadegh Sharafkandi, Fattah Abdoli, Homayoun Ardalan et Nouri Dehkordi sont assassinés dans le restaurant Mykonos à Berlin. Depuis 1997, Ali Fallahian fait l’objet d’un autre mandat d’arrêt international pour son rôle de commanditaire dans cette affaire.

- Le 20 février 1996, Zahra  Rajabi, une responsable du CNRI résidant en France, est assassinée alors qu’elle effectue un voyage à Istanbul.

Bien sûr, cette liste n’est pas exhaustive. De nombreux autres Iraniens ayant fui le pays ont été rattrapés par les tueurs du régime et froidement assassinés, souvent « pour l’exemple ».

La lutte contre les Etats-Unis et Israël

Les attentats contre les intérêts ou ressortissants américains et israéliens ont également été nombreux :

- Le 18 avril 1983, une voiture kamikaze bourrée d’explosifs s’encastre dans l’immeuble abritant l’ambassade des Etats-Unis au Liban. 17 morts sont décomptés.

- Le 23 octobre de la même année, un camion explose dans le cantonnement des Marines à Beyrouth. 241 militaires américains sont tués lors de cette opération. Non seulement les expertises américaines prouvent que le camion Mercedes Benz qui a servi de vecteur à l’explosion provenait bien d’Iran, mais Hachemi Rafsandjani, alors représentant de l’ayatollah Khomeiny au sein du Conseil de la guerre, a revendiqué quasi-ouvertement cette opération.

Le but de ces deux attentats était de saper l’influence des Etats-Unis au Proche-orient en général et au Liban en particulier. La mission a été remplie car Washington a alors ordonné le départ des Marines de Beyrouth et Téhéran a ainsi pu étendre son influence sur le pays en passant par l’intermédiaire de son allié syrien et du Hezbollah libanais.

- Le 17 mars 1992, l’ambassade d’Israël en Argentine est visée par une attaque terroriste. 29 personnes sont tuées et 235 autres blessées. Ni les exécutants ni les commanditaires ne seront identifiés.

- Le 25 juin 1993, une bombe détruit de complexe d’Al Khobar en Arabie saoudite qui abrite des militaires américains. 19 Américains sont tués ainsi que 147 Saoudiens. Il semble que cette opération a été menée en liaison avec l’organisation naissante Al-Qaida [2]. Oussama Ben Laden, alors réfugié au Soudan entretenait, à cette époque les meilleures relations avec le Hezbollah libanais. Un certain nombre d’activistes ont ainsi été formés par le mouvement chiite libanais, particulièrement aux attentats suicide. L’objectif poursuivi par cet attentat était de mettre à mal le régime saoudien considéré comme un adversaire par Téhéran et comme un ennemi personnel par Oussama Ben Laden, qui venait de se faire retirer en mai sa nationalité saoudienne.

- Le 18 juillet 1994, le centre juif d’Amia à Buenos Aires est détruit par une voiture piégée. 84 morts et 230 blessés sont relevés. L’enquête révèle que cette opération a été décidée par Rafsandjani lors d’une réunion du Conseil suprême de la sécurité nationale [3] qui s’est tenue le 14 août 1993 dans la ville de Mashad. Selon l’institution judiciaire argentine, le but poursuivi consistait à punir Buenos Aires d’avoir arrêté sa coopération avec l’Iran dans le domaine nucléaire. L’opération aurait été menée par la force Al-Qods des Pasdaran, alors commandée par le général Ahmad Vahidi. Cette unité d’élite composée de fanatiques est une sorte de « service action » qui se charge de toutes les opérations sales déclenchées à l’étranger. L’enquête amènera le lancement d’un mandat d’arrêt international contre Hashemi Rasfandjani, ancien président de la république islamique d’Iran et actuellement président du Conseil de discernement du bien de l’Etat ; Ali Akbar Velayati, à l’époque ministre des Affaires étrangères ; Mohsen Rezaï, alors commandant les Pasdaran et aujourd’hui secrétaire du Conseil de discernement des intérêts de l’Etat et soit disant « opposant » au président Ahmadinejad ; Ahmad Vahidi, actuel vice-ministre de la Défense ; Ahmad Reza Askari, ancien troisième secrétaire auprès de la représentation diplomatique iranienne en Argentine, en fait officier supérieur des Pasdaran ; Mohsen Rabbani, chef des écoles théologiques à l’étranger et proche conseiller de Khamenei ; et Ali Fallahian, actuel conseiller en sécurité du Guide suprême de la révolution.

En Irak et en Afghanistan, Téhéran est fortement soupçonné avoir soutenu certains mouvements rebelles. Même Al-Qaida aurait servi de paravent à certaines opérations. En effet, une « branche iranienne » de l’organisation semble être active. Elle est commandée par l’ancien colonel des forces spéciales égyptiennes, Saif al-Adel. De plus, des membres de la famille d’Oussama Ben Laden y sont « accueillis » et servent en quelque sorte de « monnaie d’échange ». Même le chef d’Al-Qaida en Irak, Abou Moussab Al-Zarqaoui, tué le 7 juin 2006, aurait été, du moins à l’origine, un agent recruté par les services iraniens. Il se serait ensuite affranchi des liens l’unissant à ses mentors et se serait lancé dans les attentats à grande échelle contre les populations chiites d’Irak. Cela expliquerait sa fin : il aurait tout simplement été « donné » aux Américains par les services iraniens.

L’objectif dans ces deux Etats est double pour Téhéran : créer des abcès de fixation qui empêchent les Américains d’envisager toute action militaire contre les installations nucléaires iraniennes et contrôler, autant que faire se peut, les différents mouvements autochtones dont les anciens gouvernants ont été considérés comme des ennemis importants de l’Iran. En conséquence, l’idée d’un Irak et d’un Afghanistan instables semble rencontrer la faveur des mollahs iraniens.

Cette liste d’opérations terroristes ne prend pas en compte les attentats ciblés dirigés contre des membres des services Américains ou des Israéliens. Ces derniers font partie de la guerre secrète que se livrent les services concernés [4], mais ne peuvent être qualifiés d’« actes terroristes » qui, par définition, visent pour leur part à un maximum de publicité.

Litiges avec la France
Bien que la France ait accueilli l’ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeiny en France, à Neauphle-le-Château, d’octobre à 1978 à janvier 1979, le régime des mollahs ne montrera aucune sympathie à l’égard de Paris. Il faut dire qu’aux yeux de Téhéran, la France sera rapidement considérée comme un pays hostile. En effet, les opposants au régime trouveront en France la terre d’exil qui leur convient. Ensuite, Paris soutiendra l’Irak dans la guerre qui l’oppose à l’Iran, particulièrement en fournissant des armes, dont des Mirages F1, des Super étendards, des missiles Exocet et de nombreuses munitions.

La réponse de Téhéran sera énergique. Elle se traduit par des prises d’otages au Liban et des attaques terroristes. La plus spectaculaire est l’attentat au camion piégé qui a lieu à Beyrouth contre l’immeuble Drakkar , le 23 octobre 1983, qui fait 61 victimes françaises.

De nombreux attentats à la bombe ont également lieu sur le sol français, particulièrement en région parisienne, au cours de la période 1985-86 : 23 février 1985, magasin Marks & Spencer : un mort, 14 blessés ; 9mars 1985 cinéma Rivoli Beaubourg, 18 blessés ; 7 décembre 1985, double attentat contre les Galeries Lafayette et le Printemps Haussmann, 43 blessés ; 3 février 1986, hôtel Claridge, 8 blessés ; 4 février, magasin Gibert Jeune, 5 blessés ; FNAC Sport du Forum des Halles, 22 blessés ; 17 mars 1986, une bombe dans le TGV Paris-Lyon à hauteur de Brunoy, 29 blessés ; 8 septembre, bureau de poste de l’hôtel de ville à Paris, un mort et 21 blessés ; 12 septembre, cafétéria du super marché Casino à la Défense, 54 blessés ; 14 septembre, Pub Renault sur les Champs-Elysées, deux policiers et un maître d’hôtel sont tués alors qu’ils ont détecté l’engin explosif ; 15 septembre, locaux des services du permis de conduire de la Préfecture de police, un mort et 56 blessés ; 17 septembre, magasin Tati rue de Rennes, sept morts et 55 blessés.

La DST découvrira que le réseau Ali Fouad Saleh responsable de ces vagues de terreur était placé sous les ordres du Hezbollah libanais. L’officier traitant d’Ali Fouad Saleh aurait été Hussein Mazbou, un haut responsable du Hezbollah proche collaborateur d’Imad Fayez Mughniah, le responsable opérationnel pour l’étranger du mouvement [5].

Un autre litige provient du problème d’Eurodif, projet de production d’uranium enrichi dans lequel Téhéran était partie prenante depuis le Shah. Sous la pression, la France finira par rembourser Téhéran à hauteur de 1,6 milliard de dollars. A noter qu’à ce propos, un mystère entoure encore l’assassinat de Georges Besse, PDG de Renault mais également ancien président du directoire d’Eurodif. Il est abattu le 17 novembre 1986, jour du premier remboursement de la France à l’Iran. Certains experts avancent l’idée que le groupe Action Directe, qui a commis puis revendiqué cette opération, était en fait manipulé par les services secrets iraniens. Cela est du domaine du possible puisque les services iraniens ont toujours privilégié l’utilisation d’intermédiaires qui servaient de « fusibles ».

Aujourd’hui, les relations politiques bilatérales entre les deux Etats sont exécrables car Paris insiste sur le respect des Droits de l’Homme en Iran et occupe une place de premier rang au sein des pays qui s’opposent au développement du programme nucléaire iranien. Nul doute que si le besoin s’en fait sentir, Téhéran pourra utiliser de nouveau l’arme du terrorisme contre les intérêts français.

Les liens de Téhéran avec les mouvements terroristes étrangers

Téhéran a toujours maintenu secrètement des relations avec les mouvements terroristes étrangers de manière à pouvoir les utiliser à son profit. Cependant, les preuves formelles sont rares.

En 1995, une conférence secrète aurait eu lieu en Iran sous l’égide des Gardiens de la Révolution (Pasdaran). Elle a rassemblé des représentants des mouvements terroristes suivants : l’Armée rouge japonaise, l’Armée secrète arménienne, le PKK, le parti irakien Dawah, le Font islamique de libération du Bahrain et le Hezbollah libanais. Le but poursuivi à l’époque était la déstabilisation des Etats du Golfe persique. Téhéran aurait alors proposé son aide à ces différents mouvements, notamment en matière d’entraînement.

Aujourd’hui, Téhéran utilise surtout le Hezbollah libanais (voir ci-dessous) mais aurait également des contacts au sein de différents mouvements révolutionnaires sud-américains. Ces derniers auraient lieu au Venezuela – le président Hugo Chavez ne cache pas sa profonde sympathie pour le régime iranien – et dans la région des trois frontières (Foz de Iguaçu) située entre le Paraguay, l’Argentine et le Brésil.

Le Hezbollah libanais

Le Hezbollah libanais, fondé en juin 1982, est un mouvement chiite libanais qui possède une branche armée appelée la Résistance islamique. En fait, depuis l’origine, ce mouvement est infiltré, rémunéré et dirigé en sous-main par Téhéran. Il est utilisé non seulement au Liban, mais aussi à l’étranger pour servir les intérêts du régime des mollahs.

Son chef, le Cheikh Hassan Nasrallah, qui est sorti vainqueur, du moins sur le plan psychologique du conflit qui a opposé son mouvement à l’Etat d’Israël en juillet-août 2006, réorganise son mouvement et se prépare à de nouvelles opérations destinées à reprendre le combat si l’ordre lui en est donné.

Parallèlement, sur instructions de Téhéran, le Hezbollah fournirait armements et formations au Hamas et au Djihad islamique palestiniens (qui sont pourtant des mouvements sunnites) en vue d’un prochain conflit. En effet, la tactique envisagée par Téhéran en cas de frappes israéliennes sur ses installations nucléaires consiste à ouvrir d’autres fronts qui obligeraient l’adversaire à disperser ses forces. De l’aveu même de Galeb Abou Zeinab, un membre dirigeant du Hezbollah, «  la coopération avec le Hamas est la meilleure possible. Nous discutons en permanence ensembles et échangeons nos expériences. Le Hezbollah tente d’aider le Hamas du mieux qu’il le peut  ». La Cisjordanie n’est pas oubliée et le Hezbollah serait en train d’y déployer des activistes afin d’y constituer un front supplémentaire. Même les services de sécurité israéliens reconnaissent que la menace représentée par le Hezbollah dans cette zone y est supérieure à celle du Hamas et du Fatah ! Un autre front pourrait s’ouvrir dans le Golan, un nouveau mouvement ayant fait son apparition : le « Front de libération du Golan » qui serait en fait une émanation du Hezbollah libanais appuyé par des conseillers iraniens et syriens.

Le Hezbollah profite de l’importante communauté libanaise expatriée pour tisser ses réseaux à l’étranger. Très présent sur le continent africain, sud-américain, ce mouvement est capable d’apporter une aide logistique, voire opérationnelle, à des actions terroristes qui pourraient viser les intérêts occidentaux sur ces continents.

Le rôle des ambassades iraniennes
Bien qu’il s’en défende, l’Iran peut également fournir un appui logistique à des activistes à l’étranger, grâce à ses nombreuses représentations diplomatiques, culturelles ou même des ONG. Il est à remarquer que partout où des changements politiques ont amené au pouvoir des responsables hostiles aux Etats-Unis – tout particulièrement en Amérique latine – les représentations diplomatiques iraniennes ont été considérablement renforcées sans que les échanges politiques, économiques ou culturels avec ces Etats ne le justifie. Washington soupçonne Téhéran de mettre en fait en place un réseau logistique destiné à nuire aux Etats-Unis, peut-être en utilisant l’arme du terrorisme. C’est ainsi que des filières d’infiltration d’agents clandestins à destination de l’Amérique du Nord auraient été mises en place à partir du Nicaragua et du Venezuela.

Le terrorisme est un moyen de combat au même titre que la guérilla. Téhéran a montré dans le passé qu’à défaut d’armes de destruction massive, il ne répugnait pas à recourir au terrorisme d’Etat car c’est en quelque sorte « l’arme du faible au fort ». L’Iran en a les moyens humains, techniques et pratiques grâce à ses réseaux qui couvrent une grande partie de la planète. Si un bras de fer sévère s’engage vraiment entre les Occidentaux et la république théocratique, il est très probable que des opérations terroristes seront déclenchées comme moyen de rétorsion. L’identification formelle du commanditaire sera difficile à faire car les services iraniens sont passés maîtres dans le domaine du brouillage de pistes en utilisant des mouvements qui servent d’écrans de dissimulation.

[1] Voir les Notes d’actualité n°194 de novembre 2009 et n°200 de janvier 2010.
[2] Al-Qaida a été officiellement créée en 1991.
[3] CSSN, la plus haute juridiction en matière de défense en Iran.
[4] Voir les Notes d’actualité n°107 de novembre 2007 et n°117 de février 2008.
[5] Il a été assassiné à Damas le 12 février 2008, vraisemblablement par le Mossad.

http://www.iran-resist.org/mot102.html
« Kaveh Le Forgeron », Le Hezbollah Global. Les réseaux secrets de l’Iran

Frédéric Charillon

Carnets internationaux

29 novembre 2012

« Kaveh Le Forgeron », Le Hezbollah Global. Les réseaux secrets de l’Iran, Choiseul, Paris, 2012

L’ouvrage signé sous un pseudonyme – on parle d’un collectif d’opposants iraniens – revient d’abord sur l’organisation de l’appareil d’Etat iranien, avant d’analyser l’action de celui-ci à l’étranger, à travers le mouvement politique chi’ite mondial (POCHM) et la nébuleuse nationale-islamique iranienne (NINI), entre autres. Une approche très exhaustive s’attache à passer en revue les actions les plus déstabilisatrices et les réseaux d’amitiés / complicités de la république islamique sur l’ensemble de la planète, y compris dans des zones où une menace iranienne n’apparaissait pas évidente aux observateurs (de la Nouvelle Zélande à l’Uruguay, en passant par la Bolivie ou la Roumanie).

Le caractère systématique de l’ouvrage permet de passer en revue, pour différents pays, la liste des actions connues et répertoriées par la presse sur des points donnés. Exemple : la liste des opposants iraniens liquidés en Turquie, p.167-170.

Des dimensions mal connues du grand public sont analysées avec précision, ainsi la force des liens avec le Pakistan (p.107 et sqq.), le rôle des militaires pakistanais (p.123 et sqq.). D’autres dimensions pourtant mieux repérées sont tout de même éclairées avec pertinence également, par exemple sur le dossier nucléaire (p.86 et sqq.) ou sur l’Armée des Gardiens de la Révolution Islamique (p.70 et sqq.).

Malgré l’absence d’une hypothèse forte, sans doute due à l’effet-catalogue de ce travail, on voit bien la centralité des solidarités chi’ites à l’œuvre dans les réseaux présentés ici. Même si pour un lecteur français, le fait de traiter l’activité iranienne au Canada ou en Scandinavie, presque sur même pied que les passages consacrés au Liban, à la Syrie (p.261-262) ou à l’Irak (p.175-80), étonne.

Il ne faut pas se fier au titre de cet ouvrage : il n’est pas question – ou si peu – du Hezbollah ici, ni en tant que tel, ni en tant que symptôme d’une méthode iranienne, consistant par exemple à transformer un pays arabe donné en « multivocal state », par l’établissement d’un pouvoir parallèle fondé sur la mise en œuvre d’un mouvement armé d’identité chi’ite mais capitalisant sur l’opposition à Israël. Sur ces points, on se tournera plutôt, pour des sources françaises, vers les travaux de Sabrina MERVIN, Mona HARB, ou surtout, sur le dossier libanais, ceux de Bernard ROUGIER. Ou, pour des sources anglaises, vers Hala JABER ou Eitan AZANI.

Ce livre constitue néanmoins un document à consulter comme aide mémoire, pays par pays, sur la question de l’action extérieure iranienne. On pourra, à partir des exemples nombreux qui sont passés en revue dans ce document, réfléchir à quelques problématiques qui en émergent :
– – La question de l’animation, par l’Iran et d’autres, d’un réseaux de « politiques étrangères protestataires », solidaires entre elles, refusant les initiatives occidentales et leur « diplomatie de club » (pour reprendre l’expression de Bertrand BADIE), politiques qui comptent des relais de téhéran à Caracas en passant par Pyongyang, Minsk, voire Pékin ou Moscou.
– – La question de la nuisance en politique étrangère, qui consiste à contrer efficacement les initiatives dominantes au cas par cas, plutôt que de proposer une politique de puissance alternative avec une stratégie globale (ainsi l’Iran a-t-il davantage profité des erreurs américaines au Moyen-Orient, plutôt qu’il n’aurait bâti de stratégie a priori).
– – Enfin, bien évidemment, la question de la mobilisation de ressources et de réseaux religieux à l’appui d’une action extérieure (pour des exemples de travaux récents sur des cas comparés en monde musulman, on regardera Amélie BLOM sur le Pakistan ou Delphine ALLES sur l’Indonésie).

Voir également:

Un rapport US exclut le Hezbollah et l’Iran du chapitre sur les menaces terroristes

Dans la presse

Remis en février au Sénat, le document annuel du Renseignement national vient d’être rendu public.

L’Orient le jour
17/03/2015

L’Iran et le Hezbollah ont été exclus cette année du chapitre consacré aux menaces terroristes dans le rapport annuel remis en février au Sénat américain par le directeur du Renseignement national, James Clapper, et qui vient d’être rendu public.

Dans le rapport, intitulé « Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community » (évaluation des  menaces mondiales par l’ensemble des services de renseignements) de 2015, la section terrorisme est largement consacrée aux mouvements sunnites extrémistes, notamment le groupe Etat islamique et le Front al-Nosra (en Irak et en Syrie), et la menace que représente leur montée en puissance pour les alliés des Etats-Unis, leurs partenaires et leurs intérêts.

En 2014, il était écrit dans le rapport que le Hezbollah et l’Iran continuaient de menacer directement les intérêts des alliés de Washington et que le parti chiite avait augmenté son « activité terroriste globale ». L’Iran et le Hezbollah figuraient également dans les éditions des années précédentes, dans la section terrorisme.

A noter que de manière générale, le rapport n’est pas l’équivalent de la liste officielle américaine des organisations considérées comme terroristes. La plupart des organisations inscrites sur la liste officielle ne sont, en effet, pas citées dans le rapport du Renseignement national.

Dans le document du Renseignement national, le Hezbollah, impliqué dans le conflit syrien au côté du régime de Bachar el-Assad, est cité dans la section intitulée « menaces régionales », en rapport avec l’activité des groupes jihadistes sunnites. « Le Liban subit la menace grandissante des groupes terroristes, dont l’EI et al-Nosra. Les extrémistes sunnites essaient d’établir des réseaux au Liban où ils ont multiplié les attaques contre des positions de l’armée libanaise et du Hezbollah à la frontière libano-syrienne »,  peut-on lire.

Quant à l’Iran, il est mentionné dans la section « menaces régionales » pour les Etats-Unis en raison de son soutien au président Bachar el-Assad, du développement de capacités militaires avancées et de la poursuite de son programme nucléaire. Le rapport note cependant l’aide de Téhéran dans la lutte contre l’expansion de l’EI en Irak. Téhéran est également cité dans les sections consacrées à la cybermenace et aux armes de destruction massive.

En 2013, l’Union européenne avait inscrit la branche armée du Hezbollah sur sa liste des organisations terroristes. Dans leur décision, les Européens n’étaient pas allés aussi loin que les Etats-Unis qui ont placé sur leur liste noire le Hezbollah dans toutes ses déclinaisons, estimant qu’il était impossible de distinguer entre ses branches politique et militaire.

A noter par ailleurs que la Russie et la Corée du nord sont mentionnées dans plusieurs parties du rapport.
Le rapport de James Clapper intervient alors que l’Iran et les grandes puissances sont dans la dernière ligne droite de leurs négociations en vue de résoudre la crise du programme nucléaire controversé de Téhéran et discuter de la levée des sanctions internationales qui frappent l’économie iranienne.

Après 12 ans de tensions entre l’Iran et les Occidentaux et 18 mois de pourparlers intenses, la République islamique et les grandes puissances du groupe 5+1 (Etats-Unis, Chine, Russie, Royaume-Uni, France, et Allemagne) se sont donné jusqu’au 31 mars pour sceller un règlement politique qui garantirait que l’Iran n’aura jamais la bombe atomique, en échange d’une levée des sanctions.


Gaza: Pas de deuxième Syrie à Gaza ! (We see what Qatar’s and Turkey’s meddling in Syria has led to: Palestinian human rights activist denounces Hamas and Qatari-Turkish interference in Gaza)

15 août, 2014
Ce que le kamikaze humanitaire guette, ce n’est pas les dégâts qu’il va faire, mais les dégâts qu’on va lui faire. Et ce sont ces dégâts inversés qui sont censés faire des dégâts. Le kamikaze humanitaire est un kamikaze d’un genre mutant, tout à fait neuf, parfaitement inédit : c’est un kamikaze oxymore. C’est l’idée que les dégâts seront extrêmement collatéraux, diffus, les explications très confuses, les analyses rendues très compliquées puisque le mot humanitaire, lâché comme une bombe, est brandi comme l’arme à laquelle on ne peut rien rétorquer : on ne fait pas la guerre à la paix. Le mot humanitaire est un mot qui a tout dit. Son drapeau est intouchable, son pavillon est insouillable. C’est l’idée que, déguisé en pacifiste, le terroriste aura de son côté, tout blotti contre la coque de son navire naïf rempli de gentillesse gentille et d’idéaux grands, d’ambitions fraternelles, la communauté internationale. Car c’est le monde entier qui, tout à coup, forme une communauté. Le mot humanitaire, forcément inoffensif, ne saurait être offensé, attaqué : c’est une paix qui avance sur les flots, on ne bombarde pas une paix, on ne crible pas de flèches, de balles, une colombe qui passe, même si cette colombe est pilotée par Mohammed Atta, je veux dire ses avatars paisibles, ses avatars innocents, ses avatars gentils, ses avatars qui avancent avec des sentiments plein les poches et la rage entre les dents, et la haine dans les yeux au moment même du sourire. Il y avait les kamikazes volants, voici les kamikazes flottants. Les kamikazes de la vitesse du son ? Démodées. Voici les kamikazes, déguisés en bonnes fées, de la langueur des flots, voici les kamikazes de la vitesse de croisière. Les kamikazes comme des poissons sur les flots, dont l’aide qu’ils apportent est un costume, une panoplie, un déguisement. Ils attendent qu’Israël riposte, autrement se donne tort. Kamikazes qui voudraient non seulement nous faire accroire qu’ils sont pacifistes, mais qu’ils sont passifs. Kamikazes déclencheurs de bavures officielles, au fil de l’eau. Non plus descendant des nuages, s’abattant comme autant de foudres, mais des kamikazes bien lents, bien tranquilles, bien plaisanciers. Des kamikazes bercés par la vague, et qui savent ce qu’ils viennent récolter : des coups, et par conséquent de la publicité. Des kamikazes au long cours qui viennent, innocemment, fabriquer de la culpabilité israélienne. Yann Moix
In a post-imperial, post-colonial world, Israel’s behaviour troubled and jarred. The spread of television and then the internet, beamed endless pictures of Israeli infantrymen beating stone-throwers and, later, Israeli tanks and aircraft taking on Kalashnikov-wielding guerrillas. It looked like a brutal and unequal struggle. Liberal hearts went out to the underdog – and anti-Semites and opportunists of various sorts joined in the anti-Israeli chorus. Israelis might argue that the (relatively) lightly armed Hamasniks in Gaza want to drive the Jews into the sea; that the struggle isn’t really between Israel and the Palestinians but between little Israel and the vast Arab and Muslim worlds, which long for Israel’s demise ; even that Israel isn’t the issue, that Islamists seek the demise of the West itself, and that Israel is merely an outpost of the far larger civilisation that they find abhorrent and seek to topple. But television doesn’t show this bigger picture; images can’t elucidate ideas. It shows mighty Israel crushing bedraggled Gaza. Western TV screens never show Hamas – not a gunman, or a rocket launched at Tel Aviv, not a fighter shelling a nearby kibbutz. In these past few weeks, it has seemed as if Israel’s F-16s and Merkava tanks and 155mm artillery have been fighting only wailing mothers, mangled children, run-down concrete slums. Not Hamasniks. Not the 3,000 rockets reaching out for Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beersheba. Not mortar bombs crashing into kibbutz dining halls. Not rockets fired at Israel from Gaza hospitals and schools, designed to provoke Israeli counterfire that could then be screened as an atrocity. In the shambles of this war, a few basic facts about the contenders have been lost: Israel is a Western liberal democracy, where Arabs have the vote and, like Jews, are not detained in the middle of the night for what they think or say. While there is a violent, Right-wing fringe, Israelis remains basically tolerant, even in wartime, even under terrorist provocation. Their country is a scientific, technological and artistic powerhouse, in large measure because it is an open society. On the other side are a range of fanatical Muslim organisations that are totalitarian. Hamas holds Gaza’s population as a hostage in an iron grip and is intolerant of all “others” – Jews, homosexuals, socialists. How many Christians have remained in Gaza since the violent 2007 Hamas takeover? The Palestinians have been treated badly, there is no doubt about that. Britain, America, fellow Arabs, Zionists – all are to blame. But so are they, having rejected two-state compromises offered in 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008. They should have a state of their own, in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. This is fair, this would constitute a modicum of justice. But this is not what Hamas wants. Like Isis in Iraq and Syria, like al Qaeda, the Shabab in Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria, it seeks to destroy Western neighbours. And the Nick Cleggs of this world, who call on Britain to suspend arms sales to Israel, are their accomplices. It’s as if they really don’t understand the world they live in, like those liberals in Britain and France who called for disarmament and pro-German treaty revision in the Thirties. But the message is clear. The barbarians truly are at the gates.  Benny Morris
It is by now no secret that Qatar has emerged as Hamas’ home away from home and ATM. Shaikh Tamim’s father, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, visited Gaza in 2012 when he was still the ruler of Qatar, pledging $400 million in economic aid. Most recently, Doha tried to transfer millions of dollars via Jordan’s Arab Bank to help pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants in Gaza, but the transfer was apparently blocked at Washington’s request. Since 2011, Qatar has been the home of the aforementioned Khaled Meshal, who runs Hamas’s leadership. During a recent appearance on Qatar’s media network Al Jazeera Arabic, Meshal blessed the individuals who kidnapped and ultimately murdered three Israeli teenagers. He boasted that Hamas was a unified movement and that its military wing reports to him and his associates in the political bureau. American officials have revealed that Qatar also hosts several other Hamas leaders. Israeli authorities reportedly intercepted an individual in April on his way back from meeting a member of Hamas’s military wing in Qatar who gave him money and directives intended for Hamas cells in the West Bank. Israeli and Egyptian officials report that Qatar is so eager for a political win at Cairo’s expense that it actually urged Hamas to reject the Egyptian cease-fire initiative last week. Doha is also using its vast petroleum wealth to striking diplomatic effect: one UN official source suggests that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon would not have made it to Doha for cease-fire talks on Sunday if the Qataris hadn’t chartered him a plane out of their own pocket.  Turkey, for its part, has emerged as one of the most strident supporters of Hamas on the world stage. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vociferously advocated for Hamas while his government has found ways to donate hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Hamas, mostly through infrastructure projects, but also through materials and reportedly even direct financial support. Turkey is also home to Salah Al-Arouri, founder of the West Bank branch of the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing. He reportedly has been given “sole control” of Hamas’s military operations in the West Bank, and two Palestinians arrested last year for smuggling money for Hamas into the West Bank admitted they were doing so on Al-Arouri’s orders. He is also suspected of being behind a recent surge in kidnapping plots from the West Bank. An Israeli security official recently noted, “I have no doubt that Al-Arouri was connected to the act” of kidnapping that helped set off the latest round of violence between the parties, which has seen hundreds killed and thousands wounded, nearly all of them Palestinians. Al-Arouri, it should be noted, was among the high-level Hamas officials who met with the amir of Kuwait on Monday to discuss cease-fire terms (…). So as Washington considers cutting a deal brokered by Qatar and Turkey for an end to the latest round of hostilities, it bears pointing out why these two countries are so influential with Hamas in the first place: because they empower the terrorist movement and provide it with a free hand for operations. A cease-fire is obviously desirable, but not if the cost is honoring terror sponsors. There must be others who can mediate. Interestingly, both Ankara and Doha count themselves among America’s friends. But their support for terrorist entities—not just Hamas—has become so obvious that U.S. legislators began to send concerned letters to officials from both countries last year. This alone is a sign that America must set the bar higher for the behavior of its allies and not reward them for bad behaviorDavid Andrew Weinberg and Jonathan Schanzer
Lorsque Ban Ki Moon s’est rendu à Jérusalem, le 22 juillet, pour faire pression en vue d’un cessez-le-feu à Gaza et d’en revenir à des discussions sur les causes fondamentales du conflit palestino-israélien, Netanyahu a littéralement « explosé » de colère : « Vous ne pouvez pas parler au Hamas. Ce sont des extrémistes islamistes au même titre qu’Al Qaïda, l’Etat Islamique, les Taliban ou Boko Haram ! Passant inaperçues pour lui, ses paroles ne sont pas tombées dans l’oreille d’un sourd, dans le monde islamiste. Là  les observateurs suivaient à la trace chaque stade du conflit à Gaza, dès qu’on a compris qu’il s’élevait à un niveau comparable à la guerre contre Al Qaïda. Aussi, après avoir freiné l’opération contre le Hamas, Israël pourrait bien se rendre compte qu’il a mis la main dans un nouveau nid de frelons. En ce moment-même, l’Etat Islamique et le Front Al Nosra combattent pour étendre leurs avant-postes syriens et irakiens par une poussée au Liban même. Et ils ne s’arrêtront sans doute pas en si bon chemin. Si les Jihadistes en mouvement ont eu la possibilité d’évaluer que Tsahal est incapable de vaincre le Hamas, ils pourraient bien se retourner contre Israël et lui poser une nouvelle menace extrêmement dangereuse. 4. L’Iran aura bien pris note, de son côté, du fait que, deux fois de suite en deux ans, les dirigeants israéliens ont préféré s’abstenir d’apporter une conclusion victorieuse à une guerre débutée par des forces paramilitaires que Téhéran a préalablement renforcées, entraînées et financées – d’abord le Hezbollah, dans la Guerre du Liban en 2006, qui s’est terminée par un tracé de zone gérée par la FINUL, et actuellement , un conflit avec les Islamistes palestiniens qui semble se terminer de la même façon. Debka
Faisant état de sources fiables, Rafik Chelly a ajouté que « Des avions sont arrivés en Libye à partir du Qatar, et elles étaient pleines de djihadistes, ce qui explique les succès d’Ansar al-charia, notamment leur occupation d’une base militaire à Benghazi… Le nombre de ces éléments terroristes qui viennent de l’EIIL, dont beaucoup de tunisiens, oscille entre 4000 et 5000. Leur objectif, imposer leur domination sur la capitale, ensuite occuper Zentan , auquel cas, le danger sur la Tunisie n’en sera que plus grand avec le franchissement des frontières….. ». Contacté par le correspondant de Tunisie-Secret à Tunis, Rafik Chelly a indiqué que parmi ces 5000 djihadistes, il y a près de 200 éléments de nationalité française. Autrement dit, des binationaux. On rappellera ici que, déjà en janvier 2014, Rafik Chelly a déclaré que au quotidien Attounisia (17 janvier), que « 4500 djihadistes tunisiens appartenant au mouvement d’Ansar al-charia, sont actuellement dans des camps d’entrainement en Libye ». Les 5000 djihadistes en question reviennent donc à leur point de départ, la Libye, où ils ont été entrainés et d’où les services qataris les ont transportés vers la Syrie, dès la fin de l’année 2011. On précisera enfin que, sur la base de rapports de renseignement parvenus au journal algérien « Al-Bilad al-Jazairiya », celui-ci a révélé, dans son édition du 4 juillet dernier que des djihadistes libyens appartenant à Ansar al-charia, ainsi que des éléments de l’EIIL, se sont rencontrés dans une ville en Turquie pour conclure un accord consistant à transférer les djihadistes d’origine maghrébine présents en Irak, à les transférer vers la Libye pour renforcer les rangs d’Ansar al-charia dans ce pays ainsi qu’en Tunisie. Le même rapport de renseignement indique que l’EIIL a décidé d’élargir son djihad au Maghreb arabe et dans le Sahel, loin d’un Moyen-Orient déjà partiellement conquisNebil Ben Yahmed
From Hamas’s point of view, it must be a source of immense delight to witness the strains, and practical fallout, in the relationship between Washington and Jerusalem. It wins an election in which the US insisted it be allowed to take part, even though it has never renounced terrorism. It murders its way to control of Gaza. It diverts Gaza’s resources to turn the Strip into one great big terrorist bunker. It hits Israel, over and over and over again. It intimidates international journalists to not report on and film its attack methods. And the international community condemns Israel, the UN sets up inquiries into Israeli war crimes, and Israel’s allies limit its arms supplies. Times of Israel
Les missiles qui sont aujourd’hui lancés contre Israël sont, pour chacun d’entre eux, un crime contre l’humanité, qu’il frappe ou manque [sa cible], car il vise une cible civile. Les agissements d’Israël contre des civils palestiniens constituent aussi des crimes contre l’humanité. S’agissant des crimes de guerre sous la Quatrième Convention de Genève – colonies, judaïsation, points de contrôle, arrestations et ainsi de suite, ils nous confèrent une assise très solide. Toutefois, les Palestiniens sont en mauvaise posture en ce qui concerne l’autre problème. Car viser des civils, que ce soit un ou mille, est considéré comme un crime contre l’humanité. (…) Faire appel à la CPI [Cour pénale internationale] nécessite un consensus écrit, de toutes les factions palestiniennes. Ainsi, quand un Palestinien est arrêté pour son implication dans le meurtre d’un citoyen israélien, on ne nous reprochera pas de l’extrader. Veuillez noter que parmi les nôtres, plusieurs à Gaza sont apparus à la télévision pour dire que l’armée israélienne les avait avertis d’évacuer leurs maisons avant les explosions. Dans un tel cas de figure, s’il y a des victimes, la loi considère que c’est le fait d’une erreur plutôt qu’un meurtre intentionnel, [les Israéliens] ayant suivi la procédure légale. En ce qui concerne les missiles lancés de notre côté… Nous n’avertissons jamais personne de l’endroit où ces missiles vont tomber, ou des opérations que nous effectuons. Ainsi, il faudrait s’informer avant de parler de faire appel à la CPI, sous le coup de l’émotion. Ibrahim Khreisheh (émissaire palestinien au CDHNU, télévision de l’Autorité palestinienne, 9 juillet 2014)
La Palestine n’est pas un État partie au Statut de Rome. La Cour n’a reçu de la Palestine aucun document officiel faisant état de son acceptation de sa compétence ou demandant au Procureur d’ouvrir une enquête au sujet des crimes allégués, suite à l’adoption de la résolution (67/19) de l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies en date du 29 novembre 2012, qui accorde à la Palestine le statut d’État non membre observateur. Par conséquent, la CPI n’est pas compétente pour connaître des crimes qui auraient été commis sur le territoire palestinien. CPI
When the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established 1994, I noticed that most Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations continued monitoring the Israeli occupation, but that nobody wanted to pay any attention to the PA’s violations. In a meeting held in March 1996, the board members of B’Tselem decided that they would not concern themselves with PA abuses. That’s why I left. I wanted to fill a role that I thought was very important, but that was empty. (…) I think that if the Palestinians want to form a successful civil society, live in a democracy, and respect human rights, we will have to build institutions with our own hands. We should not lay our fate in other people’s hands. We have done so quite enough over the past sixty years. We are still demanding a state from the international community instead of building it ourselves. I think that it is the time for the Palestinians to start building their own democracy right now. I believe that democracy has never been offered by leaders or governments. Democracy is determined by the people themselves. (…) Creating a human rights organization under an Arab regime is like committing suicide. Yasser Arafat was used to doing whatever he wanted without being criticized or monitored. When I started watching, investigating, criticizing, he started to look at me in a very bad light. The Palestinian Authority defamed us and slandered us. Among other accusations, they said that we serve the enemy’s interests. When we started to publish reports on PA human rights violations, the reports became sexy news material for the international community. They were particularly well-reported by the Israeli media. The issue was especially sexy because, as you know, I had spent the past seven and a half years criticizing only Israel. Arafat saw me as a traitor. (…) In my opinion, the establishment of a Palestinian state is not only related to the Israelis. It concerns the Palestinians. We have had a very bad experience with building a state, developing it, and keeping it alive. That brings me to the September 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza. Everybody thought that the Israeli disengagement would be a kind of test for the Palestinians. It would test whether we are really able to build our own state and manage our daily lives ourselves. In my opinion, we totally failed to manage Gaza, develop it, and build infrastructure. Today, fewer and fewer Palestinian voices speak up in favor of es-tablishing a state. Everybody has his own horrible troubles. The only people calling for a state right now are the politicians. Politicians around the world are buying and selling blood. This is the only income that they have. And that’s exactly what Arafat practiced with the Palestinians. I remember with great sadness what happened when he started creating an Intifada and threatening the Israelis. Palestinian security workers went to the schools, ordered the schoolmasters to close the schools, and then sent the schoolchildren to throw stones at the Israelis. That was a very horrible thing to do. Politicians sacrifice their people to achieve their political interests. This is unfortunately the Palestinian attitude. (…) Gaza is a big problem for the Palestinians, Israelis, and Egyptians. The international community becomes more and more afraid of the Palestinians because Hamas reflects such a negative side of Palestinian politics. I don’t think that Hamas will ever offer Gaza back to Abbas. The question is: Who is going to control Hamas? Hamas right now oppresses the Gazan people. But who will contain Hamas? I don’t think that dialogue will solve the problem. We will all be watching whether Hamas can manage Gaza and keep it functioning. The Arab countries should put more effort into solving the conflict between Hamas and Fatah. The problem is that the Arab countries are so divided, some supporting Hamas against Fatah and some supporting Fatah against Hamas. This won’t help the situation. (…) I think there is a lack of good will and leadership on both sides. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict also tends to become a commercial conflict. Everybody is making something off this conflict. There are countries that have an interest in perpetuating the fighting. The Iranians, for example, are trying to provoke a regional war using Hezbollah and Hamas. I don’t think the Palestinians will have the same opportunities for peace that we were offered between 1947 and July 2000. Palestinian violence has probably caused some countries to want not to get involved anymore. ‘…) Don’t forget that we are living under a Taliban regime in the Gaza Strip. Our fieldworker hesitates before investigating cases there. The situation for human rights organizations sometimes reminds me of the Saddam Hussein regime. We can’t monitor the Gaza Strip the way we used to monitor it when it was PA territory. We are trying to collect data from newspapers and other organizations that operate in the area. We are in touch with some journalists there. But we face serious opposition and danger. (…) The best opportunity for us to make peace with Israel was probably in 1978 or 1979 when Egyptian president Anwar Sadat visited Israel. He suggested that Yasser Arafat join him, but Arafat refused. The most important thing for us to do now is learn from the mis-takes we made between 1947 and today so that we don’t repeat them. We should put these mistakes on the table and study them well. After studying our mistakes, I think the solution will be very easy to createBassem Eid
There is no doubt there’s an atmosphere of fear and terror in Gaza. Others were executed in various gatherings under the pretext of their being collaborators with Israel. Hamas has a physical presence in almost every house in Gaza and can listen to what’s being said. It’s a Stasi regime par excellence. The population is much more scared of Hamas than it is of the Israeli soldiers,” Eid said. Hamas, for its part, is more worried about the possible return of control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority than it is of an Israeli military incursion. In my opinion, Hamas is willing to pay its last drop of blood to prevent Abbas and his PA from setting foot in Gaza. These people (Hamas) are fighting for their existence. Bassem Eid
En tant que Palestinien, je dois avouer : je suis responsable d’une partie de ce qui s’est passé. En tant que Palestinien, je ne peux pas nier ma responsabilité dans la mort de mon propre peuple. La majorité des Palestiniens s’est opposée aux tirs de roquettes contre Israël. Les Palestiniens ont compris que ces missiles ne servaient à rien. Les Palestiniens ont appelé le Hamas à cesser les tirs et à essayer de négocier avec l’occupation israélienne. Mais le Hamas n’a jamais considéré les besoins des Palestiniens. Seulement ses propres intérêts politiques. Et ils ont continué à tirer des roquettes sur Israël, en sachant très bien quel serait le résultat: le Hamas a ouvert la route de la mort sur notre peuple. Nous savions que le Hamas creusait des tunnels qui mèneraient à notre destruction. Nous savons tous que trois personnes vivent sur ​​chaque mètre carré de la bande de Gaza et le Hamas sait que toute attaque par Israël conduirait à une mort massive. Mais les dirigeants du Hamas sont plus intéressés par leurs victoires que par la vie de leurs victimes. En effet, le Hamas a besoin de ces décès afin de prétendre à la victoire. La mort de son propre peuple donne au Hamas ce pouvoir qui lui permet d’accumuler plus d’argent et plus de bras. Le Hamas n’a jamais été intéressé par la libération du peuple palestinien de l’occupation. Et Israël ne pourrait jamais détruire l’infrastructure mise en place par le Hamas. Seulement, nous, le peuple palestinien, pourrions le démanteler. Qu’aurions-nous pu faire? Les habitants de la bande de Gaza avaient la responsabilité de se rebeller contre le pouvoir du Hamas. Oui, le contrôle du Hamas est mortel et les gens ont eu peur d’exprimer leur mécontentement face à son règne et sa mauvaise gestion. Et pourtant, nous avons abdiqué, nous en portons la responsabilité. Nous le savions, et nous avons laissé faire. Ces décès (plus de 1.800 à ce jour, près de 0,1% de la population de la bande de Gaza) pourront-ils nous enseigner une leçon que nous n’oublierons jamais? L’idée que nous devons nous débarrasser du Hamas et complètement démilitariser Gaza. Ensuite, nous allons ouvrir les points de passage frontaliers. Je dis cela en tant que Palestinien fidèle et parce que je m’inquiète pour mon propre peuple. Je n’ai aucune confiance dans les initiatives européennes et américaines. Il n’y a qu’une seule initiative à laquelle je peux croire et en laquelle j’ai confiance: une initiative trilatérale qui comprend l’Egypte, les Palestiniens et Israël. Sinon, il n’y aura pas de calme ou d’apaisement dans la bande de Gaza ou en Israël. Nous ne devons pas permettre à la bande de Gaza de devenir la victime des complots et des intrigues arabes. L’Egypte a toujours été le médiateur légitime, et si on avait écouté un peu plus l’Egypte de nombreuses vies auraient été sauvées. Le Qatar et la Turquie n’ont aucun rapport avec le peuple palestinien, et nous n’avons rien en commun. Ces deux Etats ont tenté de saboter chaque tentative de cessez-le-feu. À mon avis, au moins deux tiers des morts palestiniens sont victimes du complot turco-qatari. Nous voyons ce à quoi a conduit l’ingérence du Qatar et de la Turquie en Syrie. Je ne veux pas les voir établir une « deuxième Syrie » dans la bande de Gaza. Bassem Eid
Personnellement je ne vois pas l’origine des problèmes actuels dans  »l’occupation ». Non pas parce que ce terme est impropre pour caractériser le rapport entre Israël et les Palestiniens, car alors les Palestiniens devraient aussi utiliser ce terme  »occupation » lorsque la Jordanie et l’Egypte occupaient la  »Cisjordanie » (appellation de la Jordanie) et Gaza… Mais surtout parce que la belligérance entre les Juifs et les Arabes n’a pas commencé en 1967. Si l’on veut une vraie paix, une paix définitive, c’est à cet état de belligérance qu’il faut mettre fin. Je n’ai personnellement pas de recette magique, mais il me semble qu’il faut désamorcer la cause de cette belligérance. Depuis 1921, toutes les guerres déclenchées par les Arabes contre les Juifs, puis contre Israël, sont fondées sur le refus arabe de considérer : – que les Juifs ont un droit historique d’appartenance à cette région, au nom d’une histoire de 3000 ans d’attachement à cette région. – que les Juifs tout comme les Arabes ont le droit de se constituer en Etat-Nation et de disposer d’eux mêmes, au moins sur une partie de ce que fut leur patrie. Je suis peut-être naïf, mais il me semble que si le monde arabo-musulman dont font partie les Palestiniens, reconnaissait ce droit, (et non pas seulement Israël comme  »fait accompli »), alors disparaîtrait la cause de la belligérance, et alors toutes les questions soi-disant  »litigieuses », liées au territoire et aux frontières, seraient résolues en un tour de main. Jean-Pierre Lledo
Remember that when President Sadat made peace with Israel in 1979 he got back all of his country’s land from the Israelis, without shedding any blood. This is a real peace. Arafat rejected Sadat’s offer to join him in Israel but imagine if he had accepted. Think how many settlements would never have been created in the occupied territories and think that Palestine could have been established all that time ago. I want to move forward and to look to our children’s future. In my opinion, history should be dismissed and people like us should look ahead. Palestinian leaders continue to demand that Israel remove more than 160 checkpoints in the occupied territories, evacuate so-called « the illegal settlements », allow Palestinian workers to enter Israel to work, and demolish the wall that separates Palestinians from Israelis (and other Palestinians). But to what end? After the last six years of Intifada, we Palestinians have lost so much – not least more than 4,000 of our people killed by the Israelis. Consider also that since Israel left Gaza in September of 2005, the Palestinians have created chaos. So who will make this right of return applicable? In January 2007 there were 17 Palestinians killed by Israelis, but there were 35 Palestinians killed by Palestinians, so, right or return of right to live? (…) Three years ago, I went to visit the Palestinian village of Qariut, located between Ramalla and Nablus. The Israeli occupation confiscated their land and established a settlement called Eli. When I left the people in Qariut I asked them once specific question: if the Israelis were to evacuate Eli settlements tomorrow, would you agree to give the land and the houses for your brothers, the refugees? And nobody agreed… So, if even the Palestinians are not willing to accept this right of return, how can we expect Israelis will do it? All of the peace accords and initiatives since 1993 talk about the return of the Palestinian refugees to the Palestinian state, and all of these peace accords and initiatives got the blessing of the Palestinian leaders, but all of these initiatives have been rejected by the Palestinians refugees themselves. There is no common ground or status between the Palestinian refugees and their leaders. And for the lack of the common ground, we are loosing, land, property and lives.  Bassem Eid

Attention: une Syrie peut en cacher une autre !

Alors qu’après l’assaut terroristo-médiatique contre Israël  …

Et l’annonce turque d’une énième « flottille de la paix » contre le blocus de Gaza …

Le Hamas et ses idiots utiles médiatiques s’apprêtent, pour continuer à « fabriquer de la culpabilité israélienne » mais contre toute évidence, à nous refaire le coup du tribunal international …

Comment ne pas voir avec le bien improbable et solitaire fondateur d’une ONG qui s’intéresse aux violations palestiniennes des droits de l’homme Bassem Eid …

Et à l’instar de ces images recyclées du conflit syrien lui-même …

La véritable menace qui pointe derrière tout cela …

A savoir, avec les appuis des suspects habituels de Doha et d‘Istanbul, la syrianisation du conflit de Gaza en particulier et de la Palestine en général ?

Le Hamas a besoin des morts palestiniens pour crier victoire
Bassem Eid

I24news

10 août 2014

Depuis plus de 26 ans, je consacre ma vie à la défense des droits de l’Homme. J’ai assisté à des guerres, à la terreur et la violence. Pourtant, le mois dernier (de l’enlèvement suivi du meurtre de trois adolescents juifs, à l’assassinat du jeune Mohammed abu Khdeir, puis la guerre à Gaza) a été la période de ma vie la plus difficile politiquement et émotionnellement.

Je vis à Jérusalem-Est et j’ai été témoin de la dévastation de la vie dans ma ville. Une fois de plus, la Route 1 est devenue la ligne de démarcation entre l’Est et l’Ouest. Juifs et Arabes ont peur des ombres de l’un et de l’autre. Des résidents palestiniens de Jérusalem ont attaqué les infrastructures publiques de Beit Hanina et Shuhafat, causant d’énormes dégâts aux feux de circulation, au tramway, et aux sources de courant électrique. Je ne peux pas accepter cela comme signe de protestation civique: il s’agit de pure vengeance. Et la coexistence pour laquelle j’ai lutté toute ma vie a été pendue, exécutée sur la place publique.

J’ai mal.

Il ne fait aucun doute que la mort et la destruction dans la bande de Gaza est un tsunami. Les deux peuples sont en difficulté, mais chaque côté nient la douleur de l’autre… ce qui ne fait que l’empirer.

Et pourtant, en tant que Palestinien, je dois avouer : je suis responsable d’une partie de ce qui s’est passé. En tant que Palestinien, je ne peux pas nier ma responsabilité dans la mort de mon propre peuple.

La majorité des Palestiniens s’est opposée aux tirs de roquettes contre Israël. Les Palestiniens ont compris que ces missiles ne servaient à rien. Les Palestiniens ont appelé le Hamas à cesser les tirs et à essayer de négocier avec l’occupation israélienne. Mais le Hamas n’a jamais considéré les besoins des Palestiniens. Seulement ses propres intérêts politiques. Et ils ont continué à tirer des roquettes sur Israël, en sachant très bien quel serait le résultat: le Hamas a ouvert la route de la mort sur notre peuple.

Nous savions que le Hamas creusait des tunnels qui mèneraient à notre destruction.

Nous savons tous que trois personnes vivent sur ​​chaque mètre carré de la bande de Gaza et le Hamas sait que toute attaque par Israël conduirait à une mort massive. Mais les dirigeants du Hamas sont plus intéressés par leurs victoires que par la vie de leurs victimes.

En effet, le Hamas a besoin de ces décès afin de prétendre à la victoire. La mort de son propre peuple donne au Hamas ce pouvoir qui lui permet d’accumuler plus d’argent et plus de bras.

Le Hamas n’a jamais été intéressé par la libération du peuple palestinien de l’occupation. Et Israël ne pourrait jamais détruire l’infrastructure mise en place par le Hamas. Seulement, nous, le peuple palestinien, pourrions le démanteler.

Qu’aurions-nous pu faire? Les habitants de la bande de Gaza avaient la responsabilité de se rebeller contre le pouvoir du Hamas. Oui, le contrôle du Hamas est mortel et les gens ont eu peur d’exprimer leur mécontentement face à son règne et sa mauvaise gestion. Et pourtant, nous avons abdiqué, nous en portons la responsabilité.

Nous le savions, et nous avons laissé faire.

Ces décès (plus de 1.800 à ce jour, près de 0,1% de la population de la bande de Gaza) pourront-ils nous enseigner une leçon que nous n’oublierons jamais? L’idée que nous devons nous débarrasser du Hamas et complètement démilitariser Gaza. Ensuite, nous allons ouvrir les points de passage frontaliers. Je dis cela en tant que Palestinien fidèle et parce que je m’inquiète pour mon propre peuple.

Je n’ai aucune confiance dans les initiatives européennes et américaines. Il n’y a qu’une seule initiative à laquelle je peux croire et en laquelle j’ai confiance: une initiative trilatérale qui comprend l’Egypte, les Palestiniens et Israël. Sinon, il n’y aura pas de calme ou d’apaisement dans la bande de Gaza ou en Israël.

Nous ne devons pas permettre à la bande de Gaza de devenir la victime des complots et des intrigues arabes. L’Egypte a toujours été le médiateur légitime, et si on avait écouté un peu plus l’Egypte de nombreuses vies auraient été sauvées.

Le Qatar et la Turquie n’ont aucun rapport avec le peuple palestinien, et nous n’avons rien en commun. Ces deux Etats ont tenté de saboter chaque tentative de cessez-le-feu. À mon avis, au moins deux tiers des morts palestiniens sont victimes du complot turco-qatari.

Nous voyons ce à quoi a conduit l’ingérence du Qatar et de la Turquie en Syrie. Je ne veux pas les voir établir une « deuxième Syrie » dans la bande de Gaza.

L’Egypte sait que ces complots sont aussi dirigés contre son régime. Nous ne pouvons qu’espérer que le président égyptien, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, ne se perdra pas dans l’épaisse confusion entourant la région, et qu’il parviendra à sortir son propre peuple et nous les Palestiniens, de ce bourbier islamique et religieux.

Il est grand temps pour les Israéliens et les Palestiniens de trouver une alternative à la guerre. Et oui, c’est véritablement possible avec l’aide de l’Egypte.

Bassem Eid est un activiste des droits de l’homme et un commentateur politique

Voir également:

Réponse de Jean-Pierre Lledo, cinéaste et essayiste 

Bien cher Bassem,

Avec cette nouvelle guerre, je pensais beaucoup à vous, depuis que nous avions en Juin, de la même tribune à Jérusalem, parlé  »de la culture de la honte et de l’honneur » dans les sociétés arabes, et je dois dire que j’avais été impressionné par votre franchise, osant parler devant un public juif de ce fléau du crimes d’honneur plus fort dans la société palestinienne, que partout ailleurs, dont sont principalement victimes les femmes, .

En lisant cette tribune, je suis tout autant touché par la liberté de pensée qui est la vôtre. C’est pour ma part la première fois que je lis un texte d’un Palestinien qui n’accuse pas l’Autre, mais soi-même.

J’espère que nous aurons l’occasion très bientôt de nous revoir pour approfondir nos pensées.

En attendant, je voudrais quand même vous dire que personnellement je ne vois pas l’origine des problèmes actuels dans  »l’occupation ».

Non pas parce que ce terme est impropre pour caractériser le rapport entre Israël et les Palestiniens, car alors les Palestiniens devraient aussi utiliser ce terme  »occupation » lorsque la Jordanie et l’Egypte occupaient la  »Cisjordanie » (appellation de la Jordanie) et Gaza…

Mais surtout parce que la belligérance entre les Juifs et les Arabes n’a pas commencé en 1967.

Si l’on veut une vraie paix, une paix définitive, c’est à cet état de belligérance qu’il faut mettre fin.

Je n’ai personnellement pas de recette magique, mais il me semble qu’il faut désamorcer la cause de cette belligérance.

Depuis 1921, toutes les guerres déclenchées par les Arabes contre les Juifs, puis contre Israël, sont fondées sur le refus arabe de considérer :

- que les Juifs ont un droit historique d’appartenance à cette région, au nom d’une histoire de 3000 ans d’attachement à cette région.

- que les Juifs tout comme les Arabes ont le droit de se constituer en Etat-Nation et de disposer d’eux mêmes, au moins sur une partie de ce que fut leur patrie.

Je suis peut-être naïf, mais il me semble que si le monde arabo-musulman dont font partie les Palestiniens, reconnaissait ce droit, (et non pas seulement Israël comme  »fait accompli »), alors disparaîtrait la cause de la belligérance, et alors toutes les questions soi-disant  »litigieuses », liées au territoire et aux frontières, seraient résolues en un tour de main.

Voila ce que je tenais à vous dire, tout en vous remerciant pour la franchise de votre point de vue.

(petite remarque encore : 1800 victimes représentent 0,1% – et non  »1% » de la population gazaoui. comme vous l’avez écrit. Parmi lesquels les 3/4 sont sans doute des combattants Hamas déguisés en  »civils »).

Jean-Pierre Lledo

Voir aussi:

Explosif : le Qatar a transporté 5000 terroristes de l’EIIL en Libye

Nebil Ben Yahmed

Tunisie secret

9 Août 2014

C’est Rafik Chelly, ex directeur de la sécurité présidentielle (1984-1987), ancien haut responsable des services de renseignement tunisien et actuel secrétaire général du « Centre Tunisien des Etudes de Sécurité Globale », qui vient de l’affirmer dans une interview au quotidien arabophone Attounissia. Cela signifie qu’après avoir activement contribué à l’embrasement de la Syrie et de l’Irak, le Qatar veut déplacer le feu de la guerre civile et de la barbarie en Libye, c’est-à-dire, inévitablement, en Tunisie et en Algérie.

D’abord une précision : contrairement à ce qui a été dit dans certains médias tunisiens, l’interview de Rafik Chelly n’a pas été publiée dans le quotidien algérien « Al-Khabar », mais dans le journal tunisien Al-Tounissia, le 4 août 2014.

Par son mutisme, la troïka a boosté Abou Iyadh

A la question « Est-il vrai que l’occupation de la Tunisie –comme le pensent certains observateurs pessimistes- par des organisations terroristes n’est qu’une question de temps, et que nous allons vivre le scénario libyen, syrien et irakien ? », l’ancien haut responsable au ministère de l’Intérieur, Rafik Chelly, a répondu : « On doit d’abord revenir à l’historique des événements qui nous ont mené à la situation actuelle. Aussi, depuis l’annonce par Abou Iyadh de la création d’Ansar al-charia, en avril 2011, après avoir bénéficié de l’amnistie générale, il a fait une démonstration de force en mai 2012, en sortant à Kairouan avec 5000 de ses adeptes. Malgré la menace que ces derniers constituaient sur la sécurité nationale, la troïka a observé le mutisme, ce qui a encouragé Abou Iyadh et ses troupes de réapparaitre l’année suivante, en déclarant qu’il est capable de mobiliser 50 000 personnes. Son intention était de profiter de la situation pour déclarer la ville de Kairouan émirat islamiste, ce qui a inquiété Ennahda, qui a interdit cette manifestation pour préserver son image auprès de l’opinion publique tunisienne et internationale… ».

Selon Rafik Chelly, c’est après l’assassinat de Chokri Belaïd et Mohamed Brahmi qu’Ali Larayedh a été contraint de classer Ansar al-charia comme une organisation terroriste, en dépit de l’opposition radicale de certains hauts responsables d’Ennahda. Et c’est à la suite de cette décision tardive que les dirigeants d’Ansar al-charia ont fui la Tunisie vers la Libye, où ils ont rejoint Abou Iyadh pour constituer, des camps d’entrainement à Sebrata et à Derna.

C’est le Qatar qui a rapatrié les djihadistes de l’EIIL

A la seconde question, «Ne pensez vous pas que c’est l’échec des islamistes en Libye qui a mis toute la région en danger imminent ? », Rafik Chelly a répondu que « L’échec cuisant des islamistes après les dernières élections du Conseil National a constitué un tournant périlleux. Il y a eu l’opération de l’aéroport (Libye), ensuite les déplacements d’Abdelhakim Belhadj, de Belkaïd et d’Ali Sallabi en Turquie, au Qatar et en Irak pour rencontrer l’EIIL, et ce pour deux raisons : primo, rapatrier les djihadistes maghrébins en Libye, secundo, conclure des contrats de vente d’armes modernes, avec l’accord de certains pays. L’aéroport de Syrte a été aménagé pour accueillir les cargos d’armes, de même que l’aéroport de Miitika ».

Faisant état de sources fiables, Rafik Chelly a ajouté que « Des avions sont arrivés en Libye à partir du Qatar, et elles étaient pleines de djihadistes, ce qui explique les succès d’Ansar al-charia, notamment leur occupation d’une base militaire à Benghazi… Le nombre de ces éléments terroristes qui viennent de l’EIIL, dont beaucoup de tunisiens, oscille entre 4000 et 5000. Leur objectif, imposer leur domination sur la capitale, ensuite occuper Zentan , auquel cas, le danger sur la Tunisie n’en sera que plus grand avec le franchissement des frontières….. ». Contacté par le correspondant de Tunisie-Secret à Tunis, Rafik Chelly a indiqué que parmi ces 5000 djihadistes, il y a près de 200 éléments de nationalité française. Autrement dit, des binationaux.

Rencontre secrète dans une ville turque

On rappellera ici que, déjà en janvier 2014, Rafik Chelly a déclaré que au quotidien Attounisia (17 janvier), que « 4500 djihadistes tunisiens appartenant au mouvement d’Ansar al-charia, sont actuellement dans des camps d’entrainement en Libye ». Les 5000 djihadistes en question reviennent donc à leur point de départ, la Libye, où ils ont été entrainés et d’où les services qataris les ont transportés vers la Syrie, dès la fin de l’année 2011.

On précisera enfin que, sur la base de rapports de renseignement parvenus au journal algérien « Al-Bilad al-Jazairiya », celui-ci a révélé, dans son édition du 4 juillet dernier que des djihadistes libyens appartenant à Ansar al-charia, ainsi que des éléments de l’EIIL, se sont rencontrés dans une ville en Turquie pour conclure un accord consistant à transférer les djihadistes d’origine maghrébine présents en Irak, à les transférer vers la Libye pour renforcer les rangs d’Ansar al-charia dans ce pays ainsi qu’en Tunisie. Le même rapport de renseignement indique que l’EIIL a décidé d’élargir son djihad au Maghreb arabe et dans le Sahel, loin d’un Moyen-Orient déjà partiellement conquis.

 Voir également:

Tsahal Peut-Elle Se Contenter De Demi-Victoires ?
Debka files

Jerusalem plus

L’Iran et Al Qaïda prennent bonne note de la victoire limitée d’Israël sur le Hamas, noyau dur d’un embryon d’armée palestinienne.

Alors que la délégation israélienne est arrivée au Caire pour des pourparlers indirects avec le Hamas, à la fin des premières 24h d’un cessez-le-feu de 3 jours dans la guerre à Gaza, les porte-parole du gouvernement israélien ont produit d’énormes efforts, mardi soir 5 août, pour convaincre le public que la guerre à Gaza était en voie de se terminer et que l’ennemi avait subi d’énormes dégradations de ses capacités d’agression.

Le chef d’Etat-Major le Lieutenant-Général Benny Gantz a continué, jusqu’à présent, à déclarer : « Nous nous acheminons maintenant, vers une période de reconstruction ». Ce n’est pas exactement le message que les soldats voulaient entendre de la part de leur Commandant en chef, alors qu’ils se retiraient des champs de bataille de Gaza, après 28 jours d’âpres combats et de lourdes pertes (64 tués dans Tsahal). Mais les artistes en relations publiques du gouvernement étaient déjà en train d’exposer toute l’horreur d’un scénario de simulation décrivant une opération théorique devant aboutir à la conquête de la totalité de la Bande de Gaza.

Ce scenario, qu’on dit avoir été présenté au Cabinet de sécurité, la semaine dernière, au cours du débat sur les tactiques à employer lors de la prochaine phase d’opération, aurait coûté des centaines de vies humaines parmi les soldats israéliens et mené à une réoccupation d’une durée de cinq ans, afin de purger le territoire des 20.000 terroristes présents et de démanteler leur machine de guerre.

Ce scénario a été imaginé pour faire taire les mécontents, à commencer par les citoyens vivant à portée étroite de la Bande de Gaza, qui refusaient de retourner dans leurs maisons, à cause du danger qui n’est pas totalement éliminé.

Les alternatives que le Cabinet a examinées n’ont jamais contenu l’occupation totale de la Bande de Gaza. L’option la plus sérieuse envisagée par les Ministres et qui a été rejetée dès la première semaine de guerre, consistait à envoyer des troupes pour une frappe-éclair, afin de détruire les centres de commandement du Hamas et le noyau dur de sa structure militaire et de ressortir rapidement. Si cette option avait été appliquée à un stade précoce du conflit, plutôt que de prolonger dix jours de frappes ininterrompues et sans réels résultats probants, cela aurait permis de sauver des pertes lourdes du côté palestinien et la dévastation de leurs propriétés, d’une étendue qui trouble aussi pas mal d’ Israéliens.

Et cette semaine encore, les hommes politiques dirigeant la guerre, ont décidé de l’écourter, sans prêter le moindre égard aux avis concernant l faisabilité des opérations, pouvant conduire cette mission anti-terroriste vers une conclusion victorieuse, pour la population vivant sous la menace terroriste du Hamas depuis plus d’une décennie.

La décision d’en venir plutôt à un cessez-le-feu et à des discussions indirectes avec le Hamas a été coûteuse pour le Premier Ministre Binyamin Netanyahu, qui lui a valu le plus de critiques à l’intérieur. Au premier jour du cessez-le-feu, mardi, la côte de popularité de Binyamin Netanyahu a subi une perte sèche autour de 60%, ce qui équivaut au niveau des sondages juste avant la guerre, après avoir crever des plafonds frôlant les 80% au pic de l’opération.

La façon dont les dirigeants israéliens ont géré et conclu la guerre à Gaza a quatre conséquences qui dépassent sa sphère immédiate :

1. Le fait qu’après avoir subi un coup sévère, le Hamas tient encore le choc et conserve indemne l’essentiel de son infrastructure militaire, lui apportant le prestige du noyau dur d’une sorte d’armée régulière palestinienne, dont ne disposaient pas les Islamistes avant le lancement de l’Opération Bordure Défensive, le 7 juillet.

Ce noyau dur est déjà une force combattante active, dote d’un bon entraînement au combat et d’une certaine popularité nationale – non seulement à Gaza, mais aussi sur les domaines de l’Autorité Palestinienne dans les territoires cisjordaniens.

Aussi voit-on le Hamas arriver au Caire à la table des négociations, avec cette carte d’une réputation militaire fraîchement refaite.

2. Les perspectives d’un accommodement d’après-guerre qui puisse changer le paysage global du terrorisme dans la Bande de Gaza sont assez faibles. Les tacticiens du gouvernement israélien ont fait allusion au fait que Mahmoud Abbas pourrait convenir en tant que personnalité aux commandes d’un tel accommodement. C’est, proprement, une chimère. La branche armée du Hamas n’envisagerait pas cinq minutes de laisser les mains libres à un tel rival sur leur chasse gardée. Et, quoi qu’il en soit, Abbas ne montre pas d’inclination particulière à se conformer à aucun schéma directeur israélien de nouvelle gouvernance à Gaza.

3. Lorsque Ban Ki Moon s’est rendu à Jérusalem, le 22 juillet, pour faire pression en vue d’un cessez-le-feu à Gaza et d’en revenir à des discussions sur les causes fondamentales du conflit palestino-israélien, Netanyahu a littéralement « explosé » de colère : « Vous ne pouvez pas parler au Hamas. Ce sont des extrémistes islamistes au même titre qu’Al Qaïda, l’Etat Islamique, les Taliban ou Boko Haram !

Passant inaperçues pour lui, ses paroles ne sont pas tombées dans l’oreille d’un sourd, dans le monde islamiste. Là  les observateurs suivaient à la trace chaque stade du conflit à Gaza, dès qu’on a compris qu’il s’élevait à un niveau comparable à la guerre contre Al Qaïda. Aussi, après avoir freiné l’opération contre le Hamas, Israël pourrait bien se rendre compte qu’il a mis la main dans un nouveau nid de frelons. En ce moment-même, l’Etat Islamique et le Front Al Nosra combattent pour étendre leurs avant-postes syriens et irakiens par une poussée au Liban même. Et ils ne s’arrêtront sans doute pas en si bon chemin.

Si les Jihadistes en mouvement ont eu la possibilité d’évaluer que Tsahal est incapable de vaincre le Hamas, ils pourraient bien se retourner contre Israël et lui poser une nouvelle menace extrêmement dangereuse.

4. L’Iran aura bien pris note, de son côté, du fait que, deux fois de suite en deux ans, les dirigeants israéliens ont préféré s’abstenir d’apporter une conclusion victorieuse à une guerre débutée par des forces paramilitaires que Téhéran a préalablement renforcées, entraînées et financées – d’abord le Hezbollah, dans la Guerre du Liban en 2006, qui s’est terminée par un tracé de zone gérée par la FINUL, et actuellement , un conflit avec les Islamistes palestiniens qui semble se terminer de la même façon.

DEBKAfile Analyse Exclusive :debka.com

Adaptation : Marc Brzustowski.

Voir encore:

International media failed professionally and ethically in Gaza
Op-ed: According to civilian death toll measure, Nazi Germany – which had one million dead civilians in World War II – was a victim of the aggressive US, which lost ‘only’ 12,000 civilians.
Eytan Gilboa
Ynet news

08.13.14

The media coverage of wars affects the global public opinion, leaders and decision making. Its trends can determine the results just as much as what it achieved in the battlefield.

The main problem presented in the media during all of Israel’s wars and operations in the past decade is proportionality and the number of civilian casualties. The media is the main source of information on the extent, type and source of losses.

The coverage of Operation Protective Edge and the civilian casualties in the global media, mainly in the West, was characterized by an anti-Israel bias and serious professional and ethical failures. They appeared in all components of the journalistic coverage: Pictures, headlines, reports, editorials and cartoons.

The images from Gaza showed only what Hamas permitted the media to broadcast and describe. Hamas terrorized and censored journalists. It only allowed them to broadcast images of destruction and killing of civilians, particularly women and children, and staged situations on the ground.

There were no images of rockets launched from populated areas and from within UNRWA schools, mosques and hospitals. There were only images of civilians’ bodies and funerals and very few images of Hamas fighters, if any.

Media outlets around the world failed to mention the restricting conditions they had operated under in Gaza, which unavoidably led to false and misleading reports.

Only after they left Gaza, few journalists like the Italian Gabriele Barbati and the French Gallagher Fenwick dared to expose the way Hamas terrorized journalists, its use of civilians as human shields and its failed launches which resulted in the killing of children, like at the Shati refugee camp on July 28. This is an ethical failure.

The media have turned the civilian death toll into the only measure of the justness of the Israeli warfare. The New York Times and Haaretz, for instance, published the Gaza death toll on their front pages every day. The message is clear: The higher the number of civilian casualties, the more « war crimes » Israel is committing.

This measure is groundless. According to its distorted logic, Nazi Germany – which had one million dead civilians in World War II – was the victim of the aggressiveness of the United States, which lost « only » 12,000 civilians, and Britain, which lost « only » 67,000 civilians. This is a logic and ethical failure.

The media knew that the reports published by the Palestinians, the United Nations and the Red Cross about civilian victims in all the conflicts since the first Lebanon War until today were false. In Operation Protective Edge as well, the claims of 75-80% civilian casualties are false.

The New York Times and the BBC, which emphasized the « victim competition, » are now admitting that the reported number of civilian deaths contradicts statistical tests. This is a professional failure.

China and India’s broadcast networks exposed the missing context of Israel’s efforts to avoid harming civilians and Hamas’ counteractions. Who would have thought that communist China’s international broadcast network (CCTV) would cover the Gaza conflict in a much more accurate and balanced way than the British BBC?

This surprising fact points more than anything to the anti-Israel bias and perhaps anti-Semitism of Western media outlets. The biased and misleading coverage contributed to the hasty calls to prosecute Israel for war crimes, to mass protests against Israel and to anti-Semitic incidents in Europe.

The Western media must report to their consumers about their professional and ethical failures in Gaza. I seriously doubt they have the courage to probe their own failures as they often demand from governments and organizations.

Prof. Eytan Gilboa is the director of the School of Communication and a senior research associate at the BESA Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

Des journalistes d’Al-Jazeera utilisent leurs comptes Facebook et Twitter comme outils de propagande au service du Hamas

hamas

Par Y. Yehoshua, B. Chernitsky et Y. Graff *

La couverture du conflit de Gaza par la chaîne qatarie Al-Jazeera révèle le soutien absolu de l’émir qatari, Cheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, accordé au Hamas. Avec le conflit,  la chaîne est devenue un puissant organe de propagande du Hamas. Elle a transmis les messages du mouvement, sa couverture du conflit était partiale, au point que les intervenants des émissions en direct de la chaîne qui osaient émettre des critiques, même légères, du Hamas, rencontraient censure et opprobre. Le fait est que les partisans du Hamas ont lancé la campagne « Un million de mercis à Al-Jazeera » sur Twitter, pour exprimer leur gratitude envers la chaîne qui « penchait en faveur de la résistance ». [1]

« Un million de mercis à Al-Jazeera »

La position pro-Hamas de la chaîne est également perceptible dans l’activité en ligne de ses journalistes, animateurs et présentateurs sur les médias sociaux. Leurs pages Facebook et Twitter sont inondées d’éloges de la branche militaire du Hamas, des Brigades Izz al-Din al-Qassam, pour leur guerre contre Israël, y compris pour les tirs de roquettes, l’utilisation de tunnels et les prétendus enlèvements de soldats israéliens. Dans la lignée de la politique étrangère qatarie, ils fustigent l’Egypte et son président, Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sissi, pour la couverture médiatique égyptienne du conflit.

Un article paru dans le quotidien qatari Al-Quds Al-Arabi explique le phénomène : « La douleur et l’angoisse des journalistes d’Al-Jazeera devant la tragédie des Palestiniens dans la bande [de Gaza], en Cisjordanie et dans la Jérusalem occupée, a incité un grand nombre d’entre eux à renforcer leur activité sur les médias sociaux, dès la minute où ils quittaient la salle de rédaction… » La présentatrice d’Al-Jazeera Khadija Benguenna a confié au quotidien : « Cette fois, les médias sociaux ont joué un rôle plus important, plus actif et plus fervent que les médias traditionnels. Les images et les articles parvenaient aux internautes en temps réel, au moment du bombardement, [et] chacun pouvait voir les roquettes de la résistance voler dans le ciel des villes israéliennes… » [2]

Extraits de messages des journalistes et présentateurs d’Al-Jazeera sur les médias sociaux :

Soutien aux tirs de roquettes sur Israël

Les journalistes d’Al-Jazeera se sont montrés solidaires de l’action militaire du Hamas contre Israël et ont salué ses succès. Dans une série de tweets en date du 9 juillet, [3] le correspondant Amer Al-Kubaisi a exprimé son soutien aux tirs de roquettes du Hamas sur Israël : « Malgré le siège [du président égyptien] Al-Sissi de Gaza et l’élimination des tunnels, le Hamas améliore ses roquettes à la fois en qualité et en quantité, terrorise et surprend Israël à Tel-Aviv, Haïfa et Jérusalem ».

Plus tard le même jour, il tweete : « Le Hamas ne renoncera à aucun missile de longue portée. Il les a développés lui-même et les a envoyés sur Haïfa et Jérusalem. C’est ce qui terrifie le renseignement israélien. Etre armé signifie être en vie. »

Dans un autre tweet, il ajoute : « Les dispositifs d’armement chimique se trouvent à Haïfa. Un coup asséné sur l’un d’eux revient à rayer un quart des Israéliens de la Palestine historique. Israël lutte pour ne pas être évacué… »

Les tweets d’Al-Kubaisi

Le 17 juillet, Al-Kubaisi tweetait un poster montrant diverses roquettes du Hamas, avec des détails sur la portée de chacune, et demandait aux followers de retweeter. Il écrit : « Ici, en une image, vous pouvez apprendre à connaître les roquettes d’Al-Qassam, leur portée, et les villes qu’elles peuvent atteindre. Si vous aimez cette image, retweetez-la. »

Poster tweeté par Al-Kubaisi

Ahmed Mansour, présentateur de l’émission Without Borders d’Al-Jazeera, s’est également solidarisé des tirs de roquettes du Hamas. Le 9 juillet, Mansour écrit sur sa page Facebook : « Israël est stupéfait et déconcerté par les roquettes de la résistance palestinienne qui l’ont frappé en profondeur, atteignant Tel Aviv, Jérusalem et Haïfa, malgré le siège de Gaza par Al-Sissi et son gouvernement…  Si la résistance reçoit les armes qui lui permettront de s’occuper du lâche Israël, stupéfait et pétrifié, alors les Israéliens vivront dans des abris ou fuiront le pays. » [4]

Le post d’Ahmed Mansour

Le présentateur Jalal Chahda a tweeté, le 15 juillet : « Le système du Dôme de fer israélien est un tigre de papier, plus faible qu’une toile d’araignée, un échec, inutile contre les roquettes de la noble résistance, qui défend l’honneur de la oumma. » [5]

Tweet de Jalal Chahda

Un autre journaliste d’Al-Jazeera s’est montré solidaire des tirs de roquettes par le Hamas : le présentateur d’In Depth, Ali Al-Zafiri, a tweeté le 12 juillet : « Al-Ja’bari [6] vous bombarde depuis la tombe. » Il a ajouté le hashtag #Praise_Qassam à son tweet. [7]

Tweet d’Ali Al-Zafiri

Dans un tweet du 29 juillet, le correspondant d’Al-Jazeera au Pakistan, Ahmad Mowaffagh Zaidan, a fait l’éloge de la branche militaire du Hamas, les Brigades Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam, et de leur chef Mohammed Deif. Il a tweeté : « Ils ont relevé nos têtes » avec leurs tirs de roquettes sur Israël. Le lendemain, il demandait à Allah de les protéger. [8]

Les tweets d’Ahmad Zaidan

Soutien aux incursions en Israël et aux enlèvements de soldats

Les journalistes d’Al-Jazeera ont exprimé leur soutien aux autres actions du Hamas contre Israël et contre les soldats israéliens. Le 17 juillet, Ahmed Mansour postait un statut Facebook louant l’incursion du Hamas par un tunnel près du kibboutz de Sufa, disant qu’elle
« devrait être enseignée dans les plus grandes académies militaires comme l’une des opérations de résistance les plus remarquables contre de grandes armées. C’est une opération qui surpasse tous les films hollywoodiens, une réalité qui dépasse la fiction ». Il a ajouté : « Les Brigades Al-Qassam et la résistance palestinienne battent le record de la gloire et de l’héroïsme de la oumma. »

Le post d’Ahmed Mansour

Jalal Chahda a soutenu la construction de tunnels par le Hamas, tweetant : « Les tunnels de Gaza sont le cimetière des sionistes. » Il a également salué la résistance armée en général : « Dans le passé, je croyais que la résistance armée en Palestine occupée était l’une des méthodes de libération, et aujourd’hui, je suis convaincu que la résistance armée est la seule méthode. »

Les tweets de Jalal Chahda

Des reporters se sont réjouis lorsque le Hamas a affirmé avoir capturé le soldat israélien « Shaul Aaron » ; Israël a plus tard statué que le Sgt Oron Shaul avait été tué dans l’action, et que son lieu d’inhumation était inconnu. Juste avant l’annonce de la capture par le Hamas, Amer Al-Kubaisi a tweeté : « Dans 10 minutes, le Hamas fera une annonce importante. Personnellement, je hume un [Gilad] Shalit. » Al-Kubaisi s’est plus tard vanté d’être « le premier journaliste au monde à avoir parlé de la capture d’un ‘nouveau Shalit’, avant même l’annonce d’Al-Qassam. »

Les tweets d’Al-Kubaisi

La présentatrice Salma Al-Jamal s’est également réjouie de l’annonce de l’enlèvement du Hamas sur Facebook. [9] Le 20 juillet, elle a partagé l’annonce du Hamas et écrit : « Allah Akbar, un nouveau Gilad Shalit a été capturé. » La présentatrice Khadija Benguenna a également acclamé l’annonce, tweetant : « Allah Akbar et Allah soit loué pour la capture d’un soldat sioniste » [10]

Le post de Salma Al-Jamal

Tweet de Khadija Benguenna

Diffuser la propagande du Hamas

En plus de glorifier et de soutenir l’aile militaire du Hamas, les journalistes d’Al-Jazeera ont diffusé les messages du mouvement via leurs comptes de médias sociaux, partageant et retweetant des déclarations de responsables du Hamas, des vidéos du Hamas et des URL de sites web et de comptes du Hamas, de ses partisans et affiliés.

Par exemple, le 18 juillet, suite à la fermeture du compte Twitter d’Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam, [11] Ali Al-Zafiri a tweeté sur le nouveau compte d’Al-Qassam, appelant ses partisans à le suivre. Il écrit : « [C’est] le nouveau compte des Brigades Al-Qassam, l’aile de notre oumma – puisque Twitter a fermé leur compte d’origine. Vous êtes priés de le soutenir, le suivre et le partager. C’est le moins [qu’on puisse faire]. »

Tweet d’Ali Al-Zafiri

Khadija Benguenna a également partagé des informations d’un autre organe d’information au service du Hamas, Al-Risala Radio, sur sa page Facebook. Le 28 juillet, elle a posté un lien accompagné du commentaire suivant : « La couverture se poursuit sur la radio Al-Risala. »

Le post de Khadija Benguenna

Jalal Chahda a tweeté une citation de l’ancien dirigeant spirituel du Hamas, le cheikh Ahmed Yassine, éliminé par Israël en 2004 : « Je demeurerai un combattant du jihad jusqu’à ce que mon pays soit libéré, car je ne crains pas la mort. »

Tweet de Jalal Chahda

Critique de l’Egypte, de son président, de ses médias et de son armée

Dans le contexte de l’animosité égyptienne envers le Hamas et son principal bailleur de fonds, le Qatar, les journalistes, invités et présentateurs d’Al-Jazeera ont également utilisé leurs comptes de médias sociaux pour attaquer l’Egypte et le président Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sissi. Ils ont également fustigé la couverture médiatique égyptienne du conflit actuel, et critiqué l’armée égyptienne pour son inaction.

Dans ses tweets du 26 juillet, Amer Al-Kubaisi s’en est plus particulièrement pris à Al-Sissi : « Connaissez-vous Sisinyahu ? » a-t-il tweeté, avec une photo d’un Al-Sissi déguisé en juif. Le lendemain, il a tweeté : « Al-Sissi soutient [Khalifa] Haftar, Al-Sissi soutient Bachar [Al-Assad], Al-Sissi soutient [Nouri] Al-Maliki, Al-Sissi soutient [Benjamin] Netanyahu. Il soutient l’église avant la mosquée, les chiites avant les sunnites, et les juifs avant les musulmans. »

Les tweets d’Al-Kubaisi

Ahmed Mansour a critiqué l’armée égyptienne sur Facebook ; le 19 juillet, il écrit : « L’armée qui ferme le passage de Rafah et empêche les convois humanitaires et médicaux d’arriver jusqu’à la population de Gaza, en proie à une guerre d’extermination, n’est pas l’armée égyptienne ; c’est l’armée d’Al-Sissi, qui tue le peuple égyptien et assiège la population de Gaza – car la [vraie] armée égyptienne est l’armée de soutien à Gaza et de défense du peuple égyptien. Quand l’armée égyptienne reviendra-t-elle ? » Dans un autre post, il qualifie le président Al-Sissi, et l’émir des Émirats arabes unis, le cheikh Al-Nahyan, de « sionistes arabes ».

Le 21 juillet, Mansour écrit : « Chaque jour, les Brigades Al-Qassam soulignent que ce sont elles qui opèrent et mènent la bataille de Gaza, sur le plan militaire et en matière de renseignement, de politique et d’information, tandis que Netanyahou, les dirigeants israéliens et leurs alliés arabes sionistes, dirigés par Al-Sissi et [le président des Emirats arabes unis Khalifa] bin Zayed, s’enfoncent dans le mensonge, le brouillard et la défaite mentale, militaire et politique. »

Les posts d’Ahmed Mansour

Jamal Chahda a tweeté : « L’armée égyptienne a annoncé que 13 nouveaux tunnels dans la bande de Gaza ont été détruits. C’est ainsi qu’[ils] expriment leur solidarité avec Gaza et sa population assiégée. »

Tweet de Jamal Chahda

Le présentateur d’Al-Jazeera Jamal Rayyan a maudit les médias égyptiens, les qualifant d’« ordures ». [12] Il a également tweeté des vidéos de personnalités médiatiques égyptiennes attaquant Al-Jazeera et lui-même personnellement, pour ses déclarations anti-égyptiennes, ajoutant : « Un ami m’a suggéré d’organiser des ateliers avec des personnalités des médias égyptiens. Je lui ai dit : ‘Impossible. Ce sont des ordures. On ne peut les changer. Il serait plus facile de recréer les Egyptiens à partir de zéro’. »

Les tweets de Jamal Rayyan

Le 20 juillet, la présentatrice Ghada Owais a posté une image accompagnée d’une déclaration soulignant que l’Egypte avait empêché les délégations médicales d’entrer dans la bande de Gaza, sous la légende : « Libre à vous d’interpréter. » [13]

Le post de Ghada Owais

Critique de l’Autorité palestinienne et de ses dirigeants

Les journalistes ont également sévèrement critiqué l’Autorité palestinienne et ses dirigeants. Le 23 juillet, Amer Al-Kubaisi a publié un avis moqueur, « Porté disparu », du chef du gouvernement de réconciliation Rami Hamdallah, pour son inaction dans la crise de Gaza. L’avis appelle à le livrer au peuple palestinien pour qu’il puisse présenter sa démission.

Dans un autre tweet, le 21 juillet, Al-Kubaisi écrit : « L’Intifada est la mère des Palestiniens, et la résistance est leur père. Le père oeuvre à Gaza et la mère, en Cisjordanie, va bientôt se manifester. »

Les tweets d’Al-Kubaisi

Khadija Benguenna écrit, le 26 juillet : « Pourquoi Abu Mazen traîne-t-il des pieds face à l’éventualité d’une adhésion au Traité de Rome, qui permettrait à la Palestine de devenir membre de la Cour pénale internationale ? C’est le meilleur moyen d’assiéger Netanyahu et de le piéger en Israël. »

Tweet de Khadija Benguenna

Pour la disparition d’Israël et des régimes arabes

En plus de soutenir le Hamas, certains journalistes ont aussi évoqué en filigrane leur espoir de voir Israël disparaître. Le 20 juillet, Ahmed Mansour a tweeté une vidéo du cheikh Ahmad Yassin prédisant qu’Israël allait disparaître d’ici à 2027.

Le 20 juillet, Salma Al-Jamal a cité l’imam égyptien pro-Frères musulmans Mohammad Al-Ghazali (décédé en 1996), qui a annoncé qu’après la chute des régimes arabes viendrait celle d’Israël. Elle a ajouté : « Bientôt, avec l’aide d’Allah. »

Tweet d’Ahmed Mansour
 

Tweet de Salma Al-Jamal

Post de Khadija Benguenna du 28 juillet montrant un drapeau israélien brûlé dans une récente manifestation en Algérie

* Y. Yehoshua est vice-président des recherches et directrice de MEMRI Israël ; B. Chernitsky et Y. Graff sont chargés de recherche au MEMRI.

Notes :
[1] Palinfo.com, 23 juillet 2014.
[2] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (Londres), le 14 juillet 2014.
[3] Twitter.com/amer_alkubaisi.
[4] Facebook.com/ahmed.mansour.1276487.
[5] Twitter.com/ChahdaJalal.
[6] Le chef de l’aile militaire du Hamas tué par Israël en novembre 2012.
[7] Twitter.com/AliAldafiri.
[8] Twitter.com/Ahmadmuaffaq.
[9] Facebook.com/SalmaAljamal.NewsPresenter
[10] Twitter.com/khadijabenguen.
[11] Voir MEMRI Dépêche spéciale n ° 5813, « Following Twitter Shutdown Of Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades Account – One Week Later, A New Account Is Active, »  du 31 juillet 2014.
[12] Twitter.com/jamalrayyan.
[13] Facebook.com/1ghada.owais.

Le « siège israélien de Gaza » : un mythe savamment exploité

Dr Zvi Tenney
Ambassador of Israel (ret)
http://www.zvitenney.info

La bande de Gaza a une frontière commune non seulement avec Israël mais aussi avec l’Egypte. Les 13 kilomètres de cette frontière sont contrôlés par l’Egypte et non par Israël. Le point de passage de Rafah sur cette frontière permet le passage de personnes désirant voyager de par le monde après être passées par Egypte.

Mais plus important encore est le fait que toute marchandise peut passer d’Israël à la bande de Gaza à l’exception d’armes et d’une courte liste de matériaux pouvant être utilisés à des fin de terrorisme .N’oublions pas que Gaza est gouverné depuis 2007 par le Hamas, une organisation terroriste, condamnée par tous les pays occidentaux, qui affiche ouvertement son refus de l’existence d’Israël qu’il a comme objectif de détruire.

Les marchandises qui passent d’Israël à la bande de Gaza sont de toute sorte, produits de consommation courante, équipements et produits médicaux, fuel et courant électrique…..Les super marchés, les centres commerciaux, les hôtels, les restaurants y sont donc abondamment achalandés. Les témoignages sur ce fait ne manquent pas et les photos des lieux étonnent toujours car on croierait
voir les photos d’une ville ocidentale florissante.

Rappelons à ce propos que durant les premiers cinq mois de 2014 ,18 000 camions de marchandises ont passé d’Israël à la bande de Gaza transportant plus de 228 000 tonnes de marchandises, commandés par des commerçants et des hommes d’affaires locaux qui entrent constamment en Israël pour y faire leurs achats. Ceci sans parler de quantités importantes d’eau et de l’approvisionnement de plus de la moitié de la consommation d’électricité de toute la bande de Gaza.

Par ailleurs durant les cinq premiers mois de 2014 plus de 60 000 habitants de la bande de Gaza sont rentrés en Israël dont évidemment ceux qui avaient besoin de soins médicaux et d’hospitalisation.

Il est donc clair qu’il n’y a absolument pas de siège ou de blocus terrestre qu’Israël impose à la bande de Gaza .Le seul blocus qu’Israël surveille de près et qui est le prétexte pour les anti israéliens de parler « de blocus total de Gaza par Israël », est le blocus maritime. Un blocus qui dans les conditions d’hostilité extrême du Hamas contre Israël est tout à fait compréhensible pour éviter l’importation d’armes dangereuses comme par exemple des missiles de longue portée en provenance de l’Iran.

Ce genre de blocus est d’ailleurs permis par les législations internationales et a en effet été accepté comme étant légitime par une Commission spéciale convoquée en 2011 par le Secrétaire général de l’ONU pour examiner ce blocus maritime qu’Israël est obligé d’imposer compte tenu du constant comportement agressif du Hamas contre Israël qui subit depuis de nombreuses années déjà des tirs de roquettes du Hamas ayant pour cible les populations civiles en Israël….Et cela bien qu’Israël ait complètement évacué la bande de Gaza en 2005.
Cette commission avait conclu que l’approvisionnement de Gaza devait être assurée, comme c’est le cas depuis toujours, par les passages frontaliers terrestres.

Les vociférations du Hamas et de ses supporters affirmant que les tirs de roquettes sur Israël sont « un acte de résistance à l’occupation israélienne » de Gaza ou qu’ils ont comme objectif de mettre fin au « siège israélien », ne sont donc que prétexte bancal pour justifier la mise en action de l’idéologie du Hamas de mettre fin, pour raison religieuse, à l’existence d’Israël comme inscrit dans sa convention….Il est navrant que nombreux anti israéliens de par le monde tombent dan ce panneau tendu par le Hamas et ses supporters.

Voir de même:

The international media’s hypocrisy – the Hamas case
Op-ed: Most of the international media have decided for you in advance that Israel is the bad guy in the story. It focuses on every Gaza casualty while ignoring civilian deaths in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Libya and Kenya.
Yossi Levy
Ynet news

08.09.14

In the summer of 1999 more than 2,000 civilians were killed by NATO air forces which bombed cities and villages in what was the former Yugoslavia. As Ambassador to Belgrade, I still feel the pain and the agony of that horrible summer. It wasn’t only Serbian military bases that were bombed but also, albeit unintentionally, hospitals, schools, libraries, and even a train over a bridge. Serbia, as you all know, had not launched even a single missile towards any NATO capital city.

The media in the countries that were involved in the military operation did not, however, start their daily broadcasting with updates on the number of civilian dead; they didn’t mention the death toll every 30 minutes and, actually, did not even send camera crews to show their shocked viewers in London and Hamburg the horrors and bloodshed of demolished streets and hospitals.

Losing Hasbara
‘Smashing a peanut with a hammer': Foreign journalists on int’l coverage of Gaza fighting / Polina Garaev
Since Gaza op started, IDF released scores of videos of pilots calling off strikes and Israel urging Gazans to evacuate, but foreign reporters tell Ynet that in Europe a photo of dead Palestinians is worth more than a thousand Israeli words.

As far as Western media were concerned, the Serbian civilian victims had no names and no faces. It is the same today with regards to the women and children killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, who have been killed in massive numbers over the past decade or more, who were the tragic victims of Western air forces bombing terrorist targets in both countries.

Does anyone know how many innocents have been victims of Western pilots in the last decade? Nobody bothers to count them because the European media knows full well that war has its own cruel rules – that in war, yes, innocent people do unfortunately die.

With one exception. The war between Israel and Hamas with its Jihadi Islamic terror. When it comes to this war, European media has different standards. The tragic innocent victims who have been killed by the Israeli Defence Forces dominate practically every news outlet and their deaths have been reported in the most dramatic way time and time again. Meanwhile, as we speak, innocents are dying in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Libya, and Kenya, usually on a vaster scale than in Gaza, but the media is uninterested in people who die in those countries who have had an extra piece of bad luck – Israel didn’t kill them, so the world doesn’t care.

The death of innocent people is always a tragedy. But I do not know any other army in the world that is as careful as one can be in wartime as the IDF is. Very often IDF units even cancel operations because of fears for civilian safety. Only the IDF actually warns in advance where and when it is going to hit, giving civilians time to leave specific areas. Hamas is the party here that forces Palestinian civilians to stay in their homes and thus endanger their lives. In the midst of this, Israeli pilots face a cruel dilemma: if they fire at a rocket launcher near a hospital or a mosque they may kill civilians; if they do not, the rocket, once it is fired, may kill Israelis near a hospital or a synagogue.

It is very easy to judge young men on such desperate missions from the comfort of a couch in a safe city far away. Israel fights for its life against an organization which, all too often merely described in the media as “militants”, is the actual government in Gaza, an organisation that calls not only for the destruction of the State of Israel but for the murder of all Jews wherever they are. The Hamas charter is a barbaric, anti-semitic and medieval document which calls openly to murder Jews. After it accuses the Jews for all the calamities of the humanity, article 7 simply says: if a Jew hides behind a rock or a tree, the rock and the tree will shout to the Moslems, come and kill him. This is a clear anti-Semitic rhetoric you can find on daily basis among Hamas leaders (Osama Hamdan, Fauzi Barhum and many others) preaching to their crowds in Arabic. Did you read about it in the media? I believe you did not.

Has the media in Europe also forgotten that Hamas, which fires rockets at civilians all over Israel, are the same people that a decade ago during the Second Intifada murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians by blowing them up in restaurants, bars and night clubs? Surely not. The media knows the facts, but in too many cases does not report the truth. It knowingly betrays its duty to tell the world what is really happening in the Gaza Strip.

The media knows as well that Hamas opposes all and any political solutions between Israel and the Palestinian people. In fact, a two-state solution, which we still hope to achieve, would be the worst nightmare for Hamas because what it wants is a single Islamic Greater Palestine ruled by Sharia Law in which people will be beheaded, the hands of thieves chopped off, and city squares turned into fairgrounds of public torture and execution, including stoning women for adultery and homosexuals for, well, being homosexual.

Hamas is the dystopian nightmare that Israel is fighting. Europe has known for a long time that Hamas, which is essentially a localized version of Al Qaeda, is a mortal enemy of Israel, but first and foremost it is the enemy of the Palestinian people because of its blindness and fanaticism. Hamas prevents the Palestinian people from attaining the freedom, prosperity and independence they deserve.

Even Egypt, the most important Arab country, accuses Hamas of war crimes against its own people, and puts the responsibility on Hamas for the escalation of the current conflict. Egypt offered a ceasefire two weeks ago; Israel accepted, Hamas did not. Since then Israel has agreed to several truces while Hamas has violated all of them.

In spite of that, anyone who listens to some European media would think Israel somehow wants to conquer Gaza. This is probably the biggest lie of all. Israel left Gaza in 2005, evacuating all its bases and uprooting all Jewish communities. For the first time since the beginning of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Palestinians were given full control over a territory on which they could have built a good economy and thriving society. Instead, they chose an Islamist terrorist organization to control their lives. Gaza became an armed base for escalated, indiscriminate attacks on Israel. In the last nine years, 15,000 missiles have been fired into Israel from Gaza with no provocation or justification. What would you do if a terrorist organization dedicated to your annihilation bombarded you for nearly a decade?

Violence and killing is the raison d’etre of Hamas. Unfortunately, despite the plain facts, many in the media and the international community are not listening. The claim that Israel is always “guilty” is only the latest echo of the old cry that “the Jews” are guilty. This is truly a miserable hour for Europe’s media, which is attacking, often viciously, not the terrorist Islamic Hamas, but its victim – Israel, a fellow democracy which fights for its survival in a region that is becoming more and more chaotic by the day.

One could understand such perverse instincts from the media in the Arab world, perhaps, but one expects better from the European media towards a fellow democracy which is fighting Jihadi madness on its own doorstep.

Most of the international media have decided for you in advance that Israel is the bad guy in the story. This biased approach is not a beautiful chapter in the history of the world media, and perhaps in the loaded history between European nations and the Jewish people.

Yossi Levy is the Israeli ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro

Voir encore:

 

Why Qatar and Turkey Can’t Solve the Crisis in Gaza
A bad idea
David Andrew Weinberg and Jonathan Schanzer
National Interest
July 23, 2014

With Washington desperate for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, and with Egypt having flamed out as a broker of calm, two of Hamas’s top patrons are about to be rewarded with a high-profile diplomatic victory. U.S. and Israeli media are now reporting that the White House may be looking to Qatar and Turkey to help negotiate an end to the hostilities. Qatar, in fact, held a high-profile cease-fire summit in Doha on Sunday that included Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the Norwegian foreign minister, and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal.

No progress was reported on Sunday. But using the good offices of Qatar is a huge mistake. The same goes for Turkey. In exchange for fleeting calm, the United States will have effectively given approval to these allies-cum-frenemies to continue their respective roles as sponsors of Hamas, which is a designated terrorist group in the United States.
Since a visit to Turkey by Qatar’s ruler Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and amidst reports that Meshal has been shuttling between the two countries, Doha and Ankara have been floating terms of a joint cease-fire proposal that would reportedly grant Hamas significant benefits. Specifically, the deal would grant Hamas an open border in Gaza that would allow the group to continue to smuggle rockets and other advanced weaponry at an ever alarming pace.

The Israelis see this as a nonstarter. But the White House is nevertheless working the phones with Qatar and Turkey to see if a deal can be struck.

Since the war broke out in early July, Secretary of State John Kerry has reached out at least three times by phone to Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and six times to his Qatari counterpart, Khalid Al Attiyah (Kerry’s Mideast chief boasted last month that the secretary of state “is in very constant contact” with FM Al-Attiyah and even “keeps his number on his own cell phone”). Kerry was also expected to visit Qatar before Egypt’s aborted cease-fire proposal.

It is by now no secret that Qatar has emerged as Hamas’ home away from home and ATM. Shaikh Tamim’s father, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, visited Gaza in 2012 when he was still the ruler of Qatar, pledging $400 million in economic aid. Most recently, Doha tried to transfer millions of dollars via Jordan’s Arab Bank to help pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants in Gaza, but the transfer was apparently blocked at Washington’s request.

Since 2011, Qatar has been the home of the aforementioned Khaled Meshal, who runs Hamas’s leadership. During a recent appearance on Qatar’s media network Al Jazeera Arabic, Meshal blessed the individuals who kidnapped and ultimately murdered three Israeli teenagers. He boasted that Hamas was a unified movement and that its military wing reports to him and his associates in the political bureau. American officials have revealed that Qatar also hosts several other Hamas leaders. Israeli authorities reportedly intercepted an individual in April on his way back from meeting a member of Hamas’s military wing in Qatar who gave him money and directives intended for Hamas cells in the West Bank.

Israeli and Egyptian officials report that Qatar is so eager for a political win at Cairo’s expense that it actually urged Hamas to reject the Egyptian cease-fire initiative last week. Doha is also using its vast petroleum wealth to striking diplomatic effect: one UN official source suggests that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon would not have made it to Doha for cease-fire talks on Sunday if the Qataris hadn’t chartered him a plane out of their own pocket.

Turkey, for its part, has emerged as one of the most strident supporters of Hamas on the world stage. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vociferously advocated for Hamas while his government has found ways to donate hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Hamas, mostly through infrastructure projects, but also through materials and reportedly even direct financial support.

Turkey is also home to Salah Al-Arouri, founder of the West Bank branch of the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing. He reportedly has been given “sole control” of Hamas’s military operations in the West Bank, and two Palestinians arrested last year for smuggling money for Hamas into the West Bank admitted they were doing so on Al-Arouri’s orders. He is also suspected of being behind a recent surge in kidnapping plots from the West Bank. An Israeli security official recently noted, “I have no doubt that Al-Arouri was connected to the act” of kidnapping that helped set off the latest round of violence between the parties, which has seen hundreds killed and thousands wounded, nearly all of them Palestinians.

Al-Arouri, it should be noted, was among the high-level Hamas officials who met with the amir of Kuwait on Monday to discuss cease-fire terms (he is pictured in the middle of the couch here).

So as Washington considers cutting a deal brokered by Qatar and Turkey for an end to the latest round of hostilities, it bears pointing out why these two countries are so influential with Hamas in the first place: because they empower the terrorist movement and provide it with a free hand for operations. A cease-fire is obviously desirable, but not if the cost is honoring terror sponsors. There must be others who can mediate.

Interestingly, both Ankara and Doha count themselves among America’s friends. But their support for terrorist entities—not just Hamas—has become so obvious that U.S. legislators began to send concerned letters to officials from both countries last year. This alone is a sign that America must set the bar higher for the behavior of its allies and not reward them for bad behavior.

David Andrew Weinberg, a former Democratic Professional Staff Member at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Jonathan Schanzer is Vice President for Research at the Foundation and a former intelligence analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Voir aussi:

Bientôt une nouvelle flottille contre le blocus de Gaza
Le Point

12/08/2014

Des navires devraient appareiller avant la fin de l’année. La précédente tentative, en 2010, s’était soldée par la mort de 10 activistes turcs.

Une coalition internationale d’activistes a annoncé mardi son intention de faire appareiller, avant la fin de l’année, une nouvelle flottille pour briser le blocus maritime imposé par Israël à la bande de Gaza. « Nous voulons envoyer cette flottille en 2014″, a déclaré à la presse cette coalition, dont fait partie l’ONG islamique turque IHH à l’origine d’une précédente tentative équivalente qui s’était soldée par la mort de dix activistes turcs en mai 2010. Les organisateurs n’ont pas précisé le calendrier de l’opération lors de leur conférence presse, organisée dans les locaux de la Fondation pour l’aide humanitaire (IHH), à Istanbul.

« C’est une réaction à la solidarité croissante avec le peuple palestinien qui se manifeste à travers le monde », a justifié le groupe un mois après le début de la nouvelle offensive lancée par l’armée israélienne sur la bande de Gaza. Les navires qui composeront cette nouvelle flottille partiront de plusieurs ports du monde entier pour transporter de l’aide humanitaire à destination des Palestiniens. « Nous allons former cette flottille avec l’objectif de montrer que la communauté internationale ne peut pas croiser les bras lorsqu’on attaque des civils et que sont commis des crimes contre l’humanité », a expliqué l’activiste canadien Ehab Lotayef.

Une ONG proche des autorités

Le blocus de Gaza a été imposé en 2007 afin, selon l’État hébreu, d’empêcher la livraison d’armes aux Palestiniens des islamistes duHamas qui contrôlent ce territoire. En mai 2010, l’assaut des commandos israéliens contre le navire amiral de la première flottille, le Mavi Marmara, avait provoqué la mort de 10 citoyens turcs et généré une grave crise diplomatique entre les gouvernements israélien et turc. La justice turque a ouvert en 2012 un procès par contumace contre quatre anciens responsables de l’armée israélienne. Des négociations ont débuté entre les deux pays pour l’indemnisation des victimes turques, mais elles n’ont pour l’heure pas abouti.

Élu dimanche président dès le premier tour de scrutin, le Premier ministre islamo-conservateur turc Recep Tayyip Erdogan a multiplié ces dernières semaines les violentes attaques contre la nouvelle intervention militaire de l’État hébreu à Gaza. L’ONG IHH est considérée comme proche des autorités d’Ankara. Le Mavi Marmarafera partie de la nouvelle expédition qui, a indiqué Durmus Aydin, un responsable d’IHH, « n’est d’aucune façon soutenue par le gouvernement turc ».

Voir encore:

Echec du blocus de Gaza ?

Les restrictions imposées à la bande de Gaza, en place depuis la prise de contrôle par le Hamas en 2007, sont au cœur des négociations pour un accord à long terme. Le Hamas déclare vouloir la liberté pour Gaza, mais utilisera très probablement un accès facilité pour faire entrer des armes

Mitch Ginsburg

The Times of Israel

15 août 2014

Mitch Ginsburg est le correspondant des questions militaires du Times of Israel

Les négociations au Caire, apparemment renouvelées pour cinq jours mercredi, avec des tirs de roquettes et les ripostes à minuit, ont été menées à huis clos.

Il y a de nombreux sujets à débattre, le rôle, désormais de l’Autorité palestinienne à Gaza, le retour des dépouilles des deux soldats israéliens, l’avenir des hommes armés palestiniens arrêtés lors de l’opération, la notion, peut-être, de démilitarisation de la bande de Gaza, la durée du cessez-le-feu.

Pourtant, au cœur de la discussion, se trouve très probablement le blocus, le mécanisme qui restreint, à un petit filet, les marchandises entrant dans Gaza, et dans une plus grande mesure, tout ce qui laisse l’enclave de 362 kilomètres carrés coincée entre Israël, l’Egypte et la mer.

Une rapide observation des différents points de passage, pour les personnes et les biens, peut aider à brosser un tableau de la situation actuelle, de son évolution au cours des années passées et où tout cela pourrait conduire à la fin de la campagne actuelle.

Kerem Shalom est ajourd’hui l’unique passage d’entrée et de sortie pour les marchandises à Gaza. En 2005, avant l’arrivée du Hamas au pouvoir, une moyenne mensuelle de 10 400 camions de vivres entrait à Gaza depuis Israël. Après que le Hamas, une organisation terroriste ouvertement engagée à la destruction d’Israël, ait gagné une élection populaire et, avec une efficacité brutale, ait renversé le pouvoir de l’Autorité palestinienne à Gaza en 2007, Israël a imposé un blocus sur la bande de Gaza.

Pour les trois premières années, de juin 2007 à juin 2010, au cours desquelles seules les « vivres vitales » étaient autorisées à entrer dans la bande, une moyenne mensuelle de 2 400 camions passait dans Gaza, selon les statistiques fournies par l’organisation Gisha qui milite pour une circulation plus libre des marchandises vers et depuis Gaza.

Le blocus, empêchant tout de l’essence au bœuf, a été fortement modifié après l’incident du Mavi Marmara en mai 2010 au cours duquel des commandos de marine israéliens, attaqués, ont tué 10 activistes turcs sur un navire cherchant à briser le blocus. En réponse, Israël a facilité le blocus en permettant à presque toutes les marchandises d’entrer dans Gaza.

La question épineuse était, pourtant, et continue à être, les restrictions sur les ravitaillements à double utilisation, ceux qui ont le potentiel d’être utilisés pour des objectifs néfastes.

Le premier d’entre eux est le ciment. La population civile de Gaza a besoin de matériels de construction. Gisha estime que Gaza manque de 75 000 maisons et de 259 écoles.

En outre, 10 000 maisons ont été détruites pendant l’opération Bordure protectrice, à la fois par les tirs israéliens et les bombes palestiniennes. L’industrie de construction à Gaza emploie 70 000 travailleurs, déclare la cofondatrice de Gisha,Sari Bashi, et représentait à une époque jusqu’à 28 % du PIB.

Pourtant, les priorités du Hamas à Gaza sont évidemment différentes et le ciment est utilisé à des fins militaires.

Khaled Meshaal, le chef du bureau politique du Hamas, a admis cela au cours d’une conférence tenue à Damas plusieurs mois après l’opération Plomb durci en 2008-2009, selon des éléments du Centre de Renseignement et d’Information Meir Amit. « En apparence, les images visibles sont des négociations au sujet de la réconciliation et de la construction. Pourtant, les images cachées sont qu’une grande partie de l’argent et de l’effort est investie dans la résistance et dans les préparations militaires », explique Meshaal.

Tout cela était nulle part plus évident que dans les arches uniformes faites en ciment qui ont été trouvées pour soutenir le réseau de tunnels d’attaque du Hamas creusé sous la frontière vers Israël.

Le général de Brigade Michael Edelstein, le commandant de la Division Gaza, a déclaré durant une réunion à proximité de la frontière de Gaza il y a deux semaines, que le Hamas avait créé un « métro de terreur » à Gaza, en utilisant des dizaines de millions de dollars et « des milliers de tonnes de ciment ».

Les sites de lancement de roquettes, les tunnels internes, les bunkers ont tous été fortifiés avec du ciment.

Selon le Centre Meir Amit, une organisation dirigée par d’anciens officiers israéliens des renseignements, le ciment passait vers Gaza par des souterrains très tranquillement avant l’arrivée au pouvoir en Egypte d’Abdel Fatah el-Sissi. Il a réduit le flot des marchandises depuis son territoire à travers les tunnels.

Aujourd’hui, un rapport récent suggère que le ciment est soit produit à Gaza à partir de matériel brut, comme des cendres et du sable de mer, ou pris à des organisations internationales, qui demandent l’importation de ciment ou soumettent des plans et des rapports d’information aux autorités israéliennes afin de recevoir une autorisation pour importer du ciment dans Gaza.

Bashi a également déclaré que le carburant était à une époque considéré comme une substance à double emploi, puisqu’il est utilisé pour les roquettes, et, qu’aujourd’hui, il est autorisé à entrer librement dans Gaza.

Le Coordinateur des activités du gouvernement dans les tTerritoires (COGAT) pour l’armée a envoyé environ 7,6 millions de litres de carburant et de benzène dans Gaza pendant le seul mois mois de guerre. (Un total de 3 324 camions de ravitaillement sont entrés dans Gaza via Israël depuis le début de l’opération Bordure protectrice le 8 juillet, selon les chiffres de COGAT).

Mentionnant un taux de chômage de 45 % dans Gaza, alors qu’il était de 18 % l’an passé, Bashi a déclaré que les restrictions ont échoué à empêcher la construction de tunnels et ont, au lieu de cela, puni les habitants, créant une situation économique qui est totalement néfaste à la stabilité. « C’est une erreur de voir cela comme un jeu sans effets », a-t-elle déclaré.

Pourtant, le prix en sang payé par les Israéliens pour (au moins temporairement) se débarasser de la menace des tunnels, couplé à l’insécurité perturbant la vie des résidents des régions à la frontière, rend très improbable qu’Israël autorisera le transport libre et ouvert du ciment vers Gaza à cette période. Et particulièrement maintenant que les tunnels sous Rafah ont été fermés.

Très probablement, cela sera confié à des acteurs responsables et supervisé au maximum (Israël a perdu 64 soldats pendant le premier mois de combat, onze ont été tués par des hommes armés du Hamas sortis des tunnels vers Israël, et beaucoup plus au cours des recherches et de la démolition des tunnels à l’intérieur de Gaza).

Les marchandises sortant peuvent, elles aussi, passer uniquement à travers Kerem Shalom. Le point de passage vers l’Egypte, à Rafah, est totalement fermé aux marchandises.

Et tandis que les Gazaouis peuvent exporter peu de produits, les entreprises israéliennes profitent des ventes d’import des commodités,comme les mangues ou le bœuf vers Gaza.

Udi Tamir, un des propriétaires de Egli Tal, une des plus importants importateurs de bétail, a déclaré que l’industrie envoie environ 35 000 têtes de bétail à Gaza chaque année par exemple. Il déclaré avec malice au cours d’une conversation, il y a quelques années, que certains éleveurs de bétail israéliens pourraient vouloir offrir au nouveau président élu Recep Tayyip Erdogan une récompense pour l’ensemble de sa carrière.

De janvier à juin 1014, une moyenne mensuelle de 17 camions de produits est sortie de Gaza, 2 % de la moyenne avant 2007, selon les chiffres de Gisha, et tandis qu’à une époque Gaza exportait 85 % de ses marchandises vers la Cisjordanie et Israël, aujourd’hui, sur la base d’une politique israélienne de séparation entre la Cisjordanie contrôlée par l’Autorité palestinienne et la bande de Gaza contrôlée par le Hamas, théoriquement aucune marchandise n’est autorisée à voyager de Gaza, à travers Israël, vers la Cisjordanie.

Selon Gisha, un total de 49 camions pour une organisation internationale, quatre camions de bureaux d’écoles pour l’Autorité palestinienne et deux camions de feuilles de palmiers pour Israël sont tout ce qui a passé vers Israël et la Cisjordanie depuis mars 2012.

Dans ce domaine, très probablement, un progrès pourrait être atteint en prenant relativement peu de risque pour la sécurité et avec un bénéfice palpable.

Les points de passages pour piétons

Le passage d’Erez est la voie pour les personnes entre Israël, Gaza et la Cisjordanie. Le point de passage de Rafah, ouvert et fermé par intermittence au cours des dernières années et très minutieusement surveillé par l’Egypte, est la voie principale depuis la bande de Gaza pour le voyage international.

Ainsi, de janvier à juin de cette année, une moyenne mensuelle de 6 445 personnes ont quitté Gaza par Rafah, un chiffre qui représente environ 16 % de la moyenne durant ces mêmes mois en 2013, lorsque l’Egypte était aux mains du prédécesseur de Sissi, Mohammed Morsi. Depuis le début de la guerre, le passage a été fermé presque complètement.

Sur la même période, les chiffres de Gisha montrent qu’une moyenne mensuelle de
5 920 Palestiniens ont quitté Gaza à travers Erez. La plupart étaient des patients médicaux et leurs compagnons et des hommes d’affaires.

Selon Gisha, des personnes en deuil d’un proche de premier degré sont autorisés à voyager en Cisjordanie, comme le sont les chrétiens qui souhaitent visiter les lieux saints, les proches au premier degré souhaitant participer à un mariage, les étudiants en voyage vers l’étranger, les orphelins sans liens de premier degré à Gaza. Ceux qui souhaitent se marier en Cisjordanie ou les étudiants souhaitant y étudier, par exemple, ne sont pas autorisés à quitter Gaza par Erez.

Bashi a noté que 31 % des personnes dans Gaza ont des proches en Cisjordanie. Elle appelle à une plus grande liberté de mouvement, comme c’est autorisé par les évaluations sécuritaires.

Le Shin Bet a pourtant, au cours des années passées, intercepté à de nombreuses reprises des messages entre Gaza et la Cisjordanie et a averti, même avant l’enlèvement du 12 juin de trois adolescents israéliens puis leur meurtre, apparemment organisé depuis Gaza, que le Hamas a constamment cherché à dynamiser les vieilles cellules terroristes en Cisjordanie.

Des armes

Sans aéroports et sans ports, les voies réelles et employées pour introduire en contrebande des armes professionnelles à Gaza, a déclaré un ancien officer des renseignement au cours de la campagne actuelle, étaient depuis « l’axe de résistance », l’Iran le Hezbollah et la Syrie, vers le Soudan et, de là, vers le nord, via la péninsule du Sinaï en direction des tunnels de Rafah et Gaza.

Peut-être parce que le flot d’idéologie terroriste et de matériel n’est pas seulement allé au nord-ouest vers Gaza, mais aussi au sud-est vers Rafah, la péninsule du Sinaï, et le reste de l’Egypte, en y alimentant la violence, le président egyptien Sissi a largement éradiqué les tunnels de Rafah qui étaient utilisés pour transporter tout, des voitures et du ciment aux roquettes M-302.

Comme le trafic de drogue, la circulation d’armes ne peut pourtant jamais être pleinement arrêtée.

En mars dernier, des commandos de marine israéliens sont montés à bord du navire Klos-C enregistré au Panama et ont trouvé 40 roquettes M-302 et 180 cartouches de mortiers de 120 mm sous des tonnes de ciment. Un rapport des Nations unies a trouvé que les armes étaient en réalité envoyées depuis l’Iran mais a contesté l’affirmation israélienne qu’elles étaient destinées à Gaza.

Ni les officiels israéliens ni ceux des Nations unies n’ont fourni de preuves tangibles quant à la destination finale des armes. Il serait pourtant difficile d’expliquer pourquoi les troupes israéliennes intercepteraient pas un navire à plus de 1 800 kilomètres nautiques de ses eaux territoriales, à moins que le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu et d’autres croient vraiment que les armes auraient pu être tirées sur les citoyens israéliens.

Le Hamas exige la levée du blocus et l’ouverture du port, une réussite tangible qui pourrait être présentée aux habitants de Gaza comme un signe d’autonomie et de liberté.

De telles exigences sont pourtant contrebalancées par ses efforts incessants d’importer le type d’armes qui a fait du Hezbollah une force de combat si terrifiante dans la région.

Mercredi soir, peu avant la fin du cessez-le-feu prolongé, le Hamas a montré des images de roquettes M-75 fabriquées sur place, nettoyées avec amour et exposées comme des planches de surf. Les métaux qui les composent, et les explosives dans l’ogive, doivent être attrapées dans les filets adaptés du blocus israéliens.

A la fin de cette campagne, comme après l’incident du Mavi Marmara, de nombreux éléments du blocus seront mis sur la table des négociations.

Israël, sur une base pragmatique, sera relativement flexible pour des concessions qui renforcent l’économie comme, par exemple, l’export de fraises ou d’autres produits. Mais il sera beaucoup plus strict sur l’importation de marchandises à double utilisation qui permettent notamment la construction de M-75.

La difficulté sera de trouver la formule qui élargit les trous du filet pour soutenir les Gazaouis ordinaires, accorder des réussites à l’Autorité palestinienne plutôt qu’au Hamas, et permette à Israël de s’assurer que le Hamas, avec son allégeance jurée au djihad, sera restreint dans son intention de suivre l’exemple du groupe terroriste libanais, le Hezbollah.

STOP QATAR’S TERROR FUNDING

Qatar is the largest supplier of finance to Hamas in Gaza. The weapons that Qatar financed were used to launch indiscriminate attacks on civilians in the last few weeks and led to Operation Protective Edge.

Qatar and its leader are pouring billions of dollars into an organisation defined as terrorist by the majority of the world and are hosting its leader Khaled Mashal, in prosperous safety in Doha as he plots to wage a religious war against the “infidels”. We citizens of London, Israelis and Jews alike, would like to show the world the significance of Qatar in this conflict. Qatar fuels religious wars all over the world and especially in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

We believe that directing the world’s attention to Qatar, especially when their hosting of the World Cup is questionable due to the possibility of bribery and slave labour, will pressure it and its leaders and may cause them to reconsider their stance towards funding terrorism. This is the start of a relentless and continuous campaign that we are intending to initiate against Qatar.

As part of this campaign we will demonstrate and protest in front of the Qatari embassies, Al Jazeera’s centres, Harrods (one of their most recent and prestigious purchases) and all associated parties. Your signature on this petition will give the emphasis and assurance for our struggle and efforts to sever the roots of global terrorism by cutting off its funding. The Israeli and Jewish organisations will be those who will deliver the message to the Emir of Qatar via his embassies and to the media.

This petition is written in English, Hebrew, Arabic and Spanish and we are hoping that it will be translated to as many languages as possible. Thank you for your assistance, please sign and share the petitions with all lovers of peace and stability.

To: Mr. Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar
We write this open letter in protest at the growing support that the Qatari government affords to Hamas. Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation by the European Union, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Japan and many countries in the Middle East. Qatar is the only country in the Arab World that supports and funds Hamas, the terrorist organisation that initiated the war in Gaza.

We are aware of Qatar’s claim that it contributes generously toward the people of Gaza but the results prove different. Your Highness’ and Qatar’s financial contribution was not used to set up hospitals, housing and schools, nor was it used to build bomb shelters and install warning systems for the Gazan people. It was used and is being used to acquire and produce missiles, build terror tunnels and to train children as fighters. Hamas also endlessly promotes Shahada meaning death for a religious cause while killing as many “infidels” as possible may it be men, women or children.

It is a shame that Your Highness and Qatar’s government did not use its influence over Hamas to persuade them to accept the Egyptian ceasefires. Hamas has consistently rejected them time after time while Israel has accepted them unconditionally. Your Highness’ real concern for the Gazans’ wellbeing could have saved hundreds if not thousands of lives and prevented the wounding and displacement of tens of thousands if the influence over Hamas has been exercised to force them to stop shooting and accept the truce.

Al Jazeera, the Television Network owned, funded and broadcast from Qatar has become a propaganda tool for a terrorist organisation promoting a deceptive and inaccurate picture of the conflict. Al Jazeera’s journalists failed to report on the launching pads, booby-trapped facilities and housing of rockets in UNRWA and other UN facilities. They also didn’t report on the schools, kindergartens, mosques and other public buildings used by Hamas for attacking the citizens of Israel through the firing of thousands of rockets indiscriminately. But worst of all they failed to report on the thousands used as human shields (men, women and children) as a despicable tool of media manipulation while putting those innocent lives at risk. Al Jazeera, especially the Arabic language channel, has become a news agency promoting Hamas. Its broadcasting incites the Arab world to follow the terrorist path and in the process damages its reputation as a respectable and impartial independent news network. In case Qatar wants to plead ignorance to the above, we will be able to enlighten them with facts.

Your Highness, the Qatari financial wealth is able to buy you assets around the world. Qatar’s opportunity to host the World Cup in 2022 will place it in the centre of world attention. However Qatar’s association with Hamas, other terrorist groups and the support that is offered to them casts doubts on Qatar’s position as a nation committed to peace and counter-terrorism despite being a member of the International Treaty for Counter-Terrorism of 1999. According to the treaty all member states are obligated to refrain from funding terror and to punish any known body or person who does so.

Qatar has clearly abused the Treaty by funding modern terrorism and especially the Hamas. To the dismay of the Arab World and its allies, the fighting in Gaza has exposed Doha as a centre for terrorism and a haven forterrorists. A clear example is the hospitality afforded by Qatar toKhaled Mashal, a notorious arch-terrorist and the leader of the Hamas. Mr Mashal terrorises Israel and ordering his people to die for “a religious cause” while he lives in luxury far from harm.
Note to forward to your friends:

Hi!

I just signed the petition « Emir of Qatar: Stop Qatar’s Terror Funding » on Change.org.

It’s important. Will you sign it too? Here’s the link:

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/emir-of-qatar-stop-qatar-s-terror-funding?recruiter=140784870&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

Thanks!

A Plea for Realism

Bassem Eid

Common grounds
The time has come for the Palestinian public to acknowledge the reality in which they live. A century of national struggle and 34 years spent resisting the occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem has not yet brought us peace, and the right of Palestinian self-determination has yet to be actualized. The largely ineffectual “peace process” has been characterized by the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied territories, numerous closures, and the constant humiliation of a frustrated Palestinian public. The al-Aqsa intifada grew from decades of injustice and discontent and did not erupt in a vacuum.

The reality in which we now live is that of an uneven struggle where Palestinian fighters, despite all their bravery, do not stand a chance against Israel’s military might. It is a reality of fruitless appeals to the international community and the Arab world, whom the Palestinians still rely upon to defend their cause. The international community does show some sympathy for the Palestinian struggle, but in the realm of international politics and diplomacy, sympathy holds little weight in the face of the economic, political and military power of Israel and its allies.

I believe that the violent path chosen by Palestinians in the al-Aqsa intifada has failed. This violence achieved little beyond an overwhelming Israeli military response, and the Palestinians, who have no means to win a military victory, pay a very high price in the confrontation. The use of firearms by Palestinians clouds the issue and provides the Israelis and their foreign sympathizers with a means of justifying the disproportionate “response” of the Israeli military. Moreover, violence diverts the attention of the world from the real issue – the injustice endured by the Palestinian people – and Palestinians are consequently portrayed as a fundamentally violent and irresponsible people, a people with whom it is not possible to make peace.

The violence characterizing the al-Aqsa Intifada prompted the demise of the Israeli liberal left, and a concurrent swing to the right of the Israeli political spectrum, empowering the current government under Ariel Sharon to reject any concessions or compromises.

It is time for the Palestinian people to accept this reality and to direct their struggle into a more pragmatic strategy. This does not mean that the struggle has to end. On the contrary, while a violent struggle seems unlikely to achieve the liberation of the Palestinian territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state, a sudden halt of the intifada would be perceived as a victory for Sharon’s government, thereby seemingly confirming that the brutal suppression of the intifada was well founded.

In my opinion, non-violent resistance is the best possible means of ending the current deadlock. Non-violence does not imply passivity in the face of the occupation. On the contrary, it can be a very powerful means of resistance, one that requires as much bravery and heroism as any armed operation.

Several non-violent actions have been successfully orchestrated recently, most notably those at Birzeit University, demonstrating that the Israeli army is helpless in confronting this kind of resistance. Non-violent resistance can include all segments of the Palestinian people, with a very important role to be played by women and children.

Non-violence will also enable the Palestinian people to communicate their message much more effectively in clearly articulated demands. Take the old city of Hebron, for example, where 40,000 Palestinians have lived under a strict curfew for a large part of the al-Aqsa intifada. What if every day at 4 pm, Palestinians sat outside their doorstep for an hour, drinking tea or smoking narguilah, without the use of stones or slogans. They would be in blatant disregard of the curfew imposed upon them, and there is no guarantee that the response of the Israeli army would be non-violent, but the message would be clear and powerful: it is unacceptable to lock 40,000 people indoors for the security of 400 Israeli settlers.

Non-violence would be a more pragmatic way of resisting the occupation. However, just as the Palestinians have to display pragmatism in how they resist the occupation, they have to be equally realistic in the goals they seek to achieve through resistance. Even though the PLO recognized the existence of Israel in 1988, many Palestinians still cannot bring it upon themselves to openly acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. I believe that a future with Israel is better than no future at all. Palestinians need to state very clearly and unequivocally that they do not question the existence of the State of Israel in its pre-1967 borders, and that the singular goal of the al-Aqsa intifada is the liberation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Future negotiations on questions such as the right to return will have to take Israel’s concerns into consideration. Embracing such an attitude is obviously painful for us Palestinians, who have already conceded so much, but the time has come to face reality.

# # #

Bassem Eid is Director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group in Jerusalem (www.phrmg.org).

Voir de plus:

An Interview with Bassem Eid of Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group
Abram Shanedling

Hasbara fellowships

Jun 24, 2011

The Executive Director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group explains why he sees little progress in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
The Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG) was established in 1996 in response to the deteriorating state of human rights under the newly established Palestinian Authority (PA). Today, PHRMG, based in Jerusalem, monitors human rights abuse against Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Founder and Executive Director of PHRMG Bassem Eid shared his opinion on the Arab Spring, Israeli-Palestinian relations, and the Obama administration.

What is your view of the current state of the « Arab Spring?”

Bassem Eid (BE): I don’t believe that in the days of Obama we are going to see any peace in the Middle East. It looks like everything is moving backward. Islamism is increasing and it’s not only putting Israel under pressure but also the Arab democrats under pressure. Egypt in my opinion is going to be completely occupied by an Islamist brotherhood, and Syria will likely go down the same path.

How do you see this impacting Israeli-Palestinian relations?

BE: To make peace, I don’t think the Palestinians and Israelis are ready. Palestinians don’t want to be considered Muslim and don’t want to establish an Islamist state. When [Palestinians] want to make peace with Israel, no Arab country will support us. So we have a difficulty on how to present our ideas.

How about Israel?

BE: Israel is in a very difficult situation. Everybody is worried and everybody completely has the feeling that danger surrounds us.

How do you see the issue of Palestinian refugees seriously factoring in on future negotiations?

BE: It’s a very strong card that the PA is holding, but nobody believes that the Palestinians will all be back, especially those descendents. I think it is an issue that is already agreed between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Everybody talks about right of return within the Palestinian state only. The majority of Palestinians in the Diaspora prefer to get financial compensation instead of coming back, especially to a Palestinian state under the PA.

How does Hamas and Gaza fit into everything, especially with the recent reconciliation deal struck between the PA and Hamas?

BE: Today Gaza is not just a problem for Israel, but for the Palestinians in the West Bank as well as the Arab World. In the past few years, [PA President] Mahmoud Abbas has failed to build any strategy for the peace process, so he went and made the reconciliation deal.

Do you think the reconciliation deal will amount to anything?

BE: Past agreements between the PA and Hamas have usually failed. Even though the PA and Hamas signed this deal, to this day, they have not figured out a new prime minister. I am a person who believes that if any election takes place among the Palestinians, Hamas will win. This would be a big disaster for the Palestinians, the Israelis, and the world.

You sound quite pessimistic, but is there anything the the U.S. can do?

BE: With Islamism spreading in the region, I think we have a window this year for peace, but after a year, the gates of peace will unfortunately close.

This article was adapted from an original published June 24, 2011 by Abram Shanedling on PolicyMic.com

Voir de même:

An Israeli and a Palestinian scathed by South Africa apartheid rhetoric
Despite their limited knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, South Africans have many prejudices that are being fueled by anti-Israel groups
Benjamin Pogrund and Bassem Eid

Haaretz

May 4, 2012

The two of us, an Israeli and a Palestinian, went to South Africa recently to speak about the Middle East. For understandable reasons, South Africa is a major source for the « Israel is apartheid » accusation; it stems from the fact that many South Africans, especially blacks, relate Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to their own history of racial discrimination.

And indeed, in the several dozen meetings we addressed, we repeatedly heard the apartheid accusation. No, we replied: Apartheid does not exist inside Israel; there’s discrimination against Arabs but it’s not South African apartheid. On the West Bank, there is military occupation and repression, but it is not apartheid. The apartheid comparison is false and confuses the real problems.

As we traveled around the country, it became clear to us that South Africans generally have limited knowledge about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But they hold many prejudices and these are fed and manipulated by organizations that are vehemently anti-Israel – to the extent of calling for destruction of the Jewish state, as the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, the Muslim Judicial Council and the Russell Tribunal have done. Black trade unions join in the attacks and so do some people of Jewish origin.

Our host was the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. During 10 days we spoke on five university campuses, at several public meetings and to journalists, and were on radio programs, including one aired by a Muslim station.

We were shown an e-mail calling for protests against our visit: It seemed that the anti-Israel hard-liners were upset by an Israeli and a Palestinian speaking on the same platform and promoting peace. But there were no protests: The worst we experienced was a knot of about six people standing quietly outside one meeting. We were also warned to expect « tough questions, » but we didn’t hear any. Instead, the large audiences – people of all colors, and mainly non-Jews – were attentive and wanted information about the current state of play in the conflict.

There were some hostile comments such as the silly sneer that Israel is « terrified of a few suicide bombers » and that it is « hogwash » to call Hamas a terrorist organization. In a more serious vein were repeated references to the Palestinian « right of return. » It cannot be said whether those who spoke were genuinely responding to the plight of the refugees, or were cynically using it as a reasonable-sounding slogan although it in effect calls for elimination of the Jewish state.

Nelson Mandela’s words in support of Palestinian freedom were flung at us (and also appear in propaganda leaflets issued by Palestinian-supporting organizations ). He was quoted as saying: « But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians. » Mandela did indeed say that, on December 9, 1997, on the occasion of Palestinian Solidarity Day, and it still resonates strongly among South Africans. But it’s actually half of what he said in the context of a call for freedom for all people. He also explained the greater context and the dishonesty of the propagandists in singling out Israel: « … without the resolution of conflicts in East Timor, the Sudan and other parts of the world. »

Other falsities we heard were that only Jews are allowed to own or rent 93 percent of the land in Israel, and that Israel’s restrictions on marriage (which in actuality derive from Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious authorities ) are the same as apartheid South Africa’s prohibition of marriage – or sex – across color lines.

There was also an earlier statement by the South African Council of Churches in support of Israel Apartheid Week in which it claimed that « Israel remained the single supporter of apartheid when the rest of the world implemented economic sanctions, boycotts and divestment to force change in South Africa. » That, of course, is nonsense: Israel did trade with apartheid South Africa – but so did the entire world, starting with oil sales by Arab states, and including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Soviet Union and many in Africa.

BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, is noisily vocal and gets publicity in South African media. While we were there it ran Israel Apartheid Week programs on several university campuses. But the movement did not garner wide support; some scheduled speakers did not even turn up. Its boast that more than 100 universities worldwide took part in the week doesn’t amount to much: Apartheid weeks have been going on for eight years and out of the 100 this year, 60 were held on American campuses (out of 4,000 universities and colleges in that country ). Not much progress there.

We did not pre-plan what we were going to say. But a consensus emerged: First, we both spoke in bleak terms about peace prospects in the near future; second, we each castigated our own leaderships for double-talk and pretense, and for their lack of boldness and vision, and we pointed to the growth of Jewish settlements on the West Bank as undermining the chances for an agreement.

We stressed that we welcomed interest in our part of the world – but warned that some members of Palestinian solidarity movements have never visited the occupied territories, and they damage the Palestinian cause abroad because they act out of ignorance, and foster division and hatred between Arabs and Jews. They do not help to bring peace.

Our strangest meeting was with scores of Congolese who asked us to explain why their conflict – ongoing since 1960 with a toll of perhaps more than 7 million people dead – receives less attention in South African and other media than does the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. It was painful listening to their recital of mass rapes and murders. But it was difficult to empathize with them when one speaker blamed the Jews, whom he said controlled the world and the media, and when a former army officer asked us for money to go and fight the Congolese government.

Bassem Eid is director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group and a former researcher for B’Tselem. Benjamin Pogrund, South African-born, was founder of Yakar’s Center for Social Concern in Jerusalem.

Voir aussi:

LIFE IS BETTER THAN DEATH: INTERVIEW WITH BASSEM EID
Interviewed by Joel B. Pollak

New Society (Harvard college Middle East Journal)

January 29, 2008

Joel B. Pollak ’99 is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Cape Town. He was a political speechwriter for the Leader of the Opposition in South Africa from 2002 to 2006 and is a second-year student at Harvard Law School.

***

Bassem Eid is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG), which tracks human rights violations against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, regardless of who commits them. He is a former fieldworker for B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization focusing on the occupied territories. Eid’s work at PHRMG has concentrated on documenting violations by the Palestin-ian Authority against its own citizens. In recent years he has also moni-tored abuses committed by the Fatah and Hamas factions in their internec-ine struggles. Eid has received numerous human rights awards and frequently addresses Israeli and foreign audiences about the human rights problems facing Palestinians. Earlier this year, he teamed up with left-wing Israeli politician Yossi Beilin at the Doha Debates, arguing that Palestinians should abandon the right of return for the sake of peace with Israel.
New Society: Tell me about your life—where you are from, and how you came to be where you are today.
Bassem Eid: I am Palestinian and I was born in the Old City in East Jerusalem. I lived there for eight years, but then in 1966, for no reason, the Jorda-nian government established a refugee camp called Shuefat Refugee Camp near the French Hill in Jerusalem. The Jordanian government removed 500 families from the Old City, mainly from the Jewish Quarter. It was exactly one year before the 1967 war. I lived in the refugee camp for 32 years from 1966 until 1999. For the past four years, I have been living in Jericho.

I finished secondary school in one of the municipality schools in East Jerusalem. Then I attended Hebrew University for two years and studied journalism, but I couldn’t continue for financial reasons. After leaving the university, I worked as a freelance journalist for Palestin-ian and Israeli newspapers until 1988 before joining B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization that investigates rights violations in the occupied territories. In mid-1996, I resigned from B’Tselem and founded the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG), which is where I still am today.

NS: Why did you leave B’Tselem?

Eid: When the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established 1994, I noticed that most Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations continued monitoring the Israeli occupation, but that nobody wanted to pay any attention to the PA’s violations. In a meeting held in March 1996, the board members of B’Tselem decided that they would not concern themselves with PA abuses. That’s why I left. I wanted to fill a role that I thought was very important, but that was empty.

NS: So you left that same year?

Eid: Yes. The decision came out in March, and I left at the end of July 1996 to set up the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. Our main aim is to observe the Palestinian Authority’s violations. Between 1996 and 2000, our publications did not cover Israeli violations at all. All of our reports and press releases responded to Palestinian Authority abuses. We only started collecting data on Israeli violations after the second Intifada broke out in September 2000. Then we started to investigate Israeli killings, assassinations, house demolitions, and the use of the excessive force. In the meantime, we continued to collect information about Palestinian Authority violations.
Today, we are probably the organization with the most extensive data on internal killings among the Palestinians. I believe we are the only organization, for example, that investigates the murder of collaborators by Palestinians. We also investigate long-term imprisonment without charge, torture, the conduct of the state security court, and deaths that occur in Palestinian detention centers. We collect information on these issues and update our reports everyday.

NS: Why do you think B’Tselem chose not to monitor the Palestinian Authority?

Eid: In my opinion, that was a wise decision. At that time, there were still large areas under Israeli occupation and B’Tselem still had a lot of work to do to expose rights violations by the Israeli army in the occupied territories.
On the other side, I think that if the Palestinians want to form a successful civil society, live in a democracy, and respect human rights, we will have to build institutions with our own hands. We should not lay our fate in other people’s hands. We have done so quite enough over the past sixty years. We are still demanding a state from the international community instead of building it ourselves. I think that it is the time for the Palestinians to start building their own democracy right now. I believe that democracy has never been offered by leaders or governments. Democracy is determined by the people themselves.

NS: How did the Palestinian Authority react to your new organization?

Eid: Creating a human rights organization under an Arab regime is like committing suicide. Yasser Arafat was used to doing whatever he wanted without being criticized or monitored. When I started watch-ing, investigating, criticizing, he started to look at me in a very bad light. The Palestinian Authority defamed us and slandered us. Among other accusations, they said that we serve the enemy’s interests.

When we started to publish reports on PA human rights viola-tions, the reports became sexy news material for the international community. They were particularly well-reported by the Israeli media. The issue was especially sexy because, as you know, I had spent the past seven and a half years criticizing only Israel. Arafat saw me as a traitor.
We had a very tough period and had to get through many tough moments. Sometimes, ironically, these fears and difficulties gave us more energy and made us become even more committed to the sub-ject. We decided to continue in spite of all the danger surrounding us. And here we are! We still exist.

NS: Has your work become easier or more difficult since Arafat’s death?

Eid: Well, I think the PA does not really exist anymore. It exists in the pages of newspapers rather than on the ground itself. The PA com-pletely destroyed itself during the past seven years. They got themselves into huge trouble.
As far as my work is concerned, I feel very secure right now. Eve-ryone knows me where I live in Jericho. I’m very satisfied with what I’m doing.

NS: What do you think of the prospects for Palestinians right now? Will there be a Palestinian state? Is the two-state solution still viable?

Eid: It must be possible to create a Palestinian state. The question is how. How will we deal with it? How will we build it? How will we unite to establish good institutions?

In my opinion, the establishment of a Palestinian state is not only related to the Israelis. It concerns the Palestinians. We have had a very bad experience with building a state, developing it, and keeping it alive.

That brings me to the September 2005 Israeli disengagement from Gaza. Everybody thought that the Israeli disengagement would be a kind of test for the Palestinians. It would test whether we are really able to build our own state and manage our daily lives ourselves. In my opinion, we totally failed to manage Gaza, develop it, and build infrastructure.

Today, fewer and fewer Palestinian voices speak up in favor of es-tablishing a state. Everybody has his own horrible troubles. The only people calling for a state right now are the politicians.

Politicians around the world are buying and selling blood. This is the only income that they have. And that’s exactly what Arafat prac-ticed with the Palestinians. I remember with great sadness what happened when he started creating an Intifada and threatening the Israelis. Palestinian security workers went to the schools, ordered the schoolmasters to close the schools, and then sent the schoolchildren to throw stones at the Israelis. That was a very horrible thing to do. Politicians sacrifice their people to achieve their political interests. This is unfortunately the Palestinian attitude.
Look at Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, who is saying, “No more resistance!” This is a huge change. One can resist, but one must also protect oneself and one’s survival. People were born to live, not to die. When you are alive, you can choose to resist, but you can also choose to build, to achieve things, to reach for what you want. When you die, you just die. This is a good lesson for the Palestinians right now: sacrificing ourselves will not help us achieve anything. We won’t achieve anything with violent resistance.

We are having to face the consequences of our actions over the past seven years. In my opinion, the Palestinians totally lost their way during the past seven years. Things will get worse if we continue in the same way. We will have to change our direction.

NS: What do you think should happen in Gaza?

Eid: Gaza is a big problem for the Palestinians, Israelis, and Egyptians. The international community becomes more and more afraid of the Palestinians because Hamas reflects such a negative side of Palestinian politics. I don’t think that Hamas will ever offer Gaza to back to Abbas.

The question is: Who is going to control Hamas? Hamas right now oppresses the Gazan people. But who will contain Hamas? I don’t think that dialogue will solve the problem.
We will all be watching whether Hamas can manage Gaza and keep it functioning. The Arab countries should put more effort into solving the conflict between Hamas and Fatah. The problem is that the Arab countries are so divided, some supporting Hamas against Fatah and some supporting Fatah against Hamas. This won’t help the situation.

I don’t think the international community can do very much on this issue, besides continuing to provide important humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. On the whole, though, it’s too early right now to tell what will happen to Gaza and Hamas.

NS: What about Hamas in the West Bank. Are they a factor?

Eid: They do exist in the West Bank, but what’s happening in Gaza could never happen in the West Bank.

This is not only because Fatah is stronger than Hamas, but also be-cause of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank. Israelis will never allow Hamas militants to take over Jenin, facing Afula.

Of course, Hamas will still threaten to occupy the West Bank, to jeopardize any peace agreement, and to harm the Palestinian Presi-dent and government in the West Bank. I don’t think we will see peace in the near future.
Daily life in the West Bank will become a little bit easier, though, according to the promises of Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas. But I think the peace process will take much longer than anybody expects.

NS: What do you think is the main reason that the conflict continues?

Eid: I think there is a lack of good will and leadership on both sides. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict also tends to become a commercial conflict. Everybody is making something off this conflict. There are countries that have an interest in perpetuating the fighting. The Iranians, for example, are trying to provoke a regional war using Hezbollah and Hamas.

I don’t think the Palestinians will have the same opportunities for peace that we were offered between 1947 and July 2000. Palestinian violence has probably caused some countries to want not to get involved anymore. The foreign policy of the international community is totally biased.

NS: When you say that foreign policy is biased, you mean in which direction?

Eid: Well, the problem is that the international community is not united. Countries are divided. Policies are divided. So many different biased policies are involved in this conflict. In this kind of situation, I don’t think that the Palestinians or the Israelis will be able to reach a kind of final peace or a final agreement between themselves.

NS: Do you think there’s a possibility that Israelis and Palestinians will be able to build something out of the cooperation that still exists between them in some areas? Are these areas of cooperation possible foundations for peace?

Eid: Small-scale cooperation is very important. But I don’t think a permanent solution is possible right now. Let us talk about a tempo-rary one, instead. This is what Abbas and Olmert are doing right now. Let us release few thousand Palestinian prisoners, let us evacuate a couple of checkpoints, let us open the gates of the wall between villages and clinics or schools, let us issue a couple of tens of thou-sands of work permits to Palestinians so that they can work in Israel—this is what we are negotiating with the Israelis now.

When you talk about the state, the settlements, the borders, and the water, the Israelis say, this is so complicated, let’s leave it to the end. In the meanwhile, let’s do things step-by-step. That is how we are today negotiating with the Israelis. Many of these small things will probably continue to be delivered in the future.

NS: How do you feel about the situation? What motivates you?

Eid: I’m very angry and frustrated. I’m hopeless. I know my ideas provoke people, but I’m not a politician. I care much more about people’s lives rather than their lands. Land you can get everywhere in the world, but you can never replace lives. I don’t want to hear about killings, I don’t want to hear about shootings. I hate violence.

I am 48 years old. I had never, ever in my life seen a tank shooting until the past six or seven years. Since then, when I’ve gone to Ramal-lah, Bethlehem, Jericho, I’ve been so afraid. I’ve seen the kinds of things I never want to see again. I don’t like the way we are militariz-ing the conflict. It’s horrible. And I don’t like the way we’re making it religious. That brings great danger.

Looking back through history, one finds several examples of con-flicts that were solved without any kind of bloodshed. So I do believe that we can solve our conflict. We will have to learn from the experi-ences of others.

NS: What did you learn when you went to South Africa this year?

Eid: South Africa is very interesting. But it couldn’t be a model for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are some very good things in the South African case that we can learn from. The Truth and Reconcilia-tion Committee, for example.
The most important lesson is that the people in South Africa built their democracy and institutions with their own hands. Nobody offered it to them. I hope Palestinians will learn from that.

But otherwise, the South African case is very different from our situation. It involved people fighting against one apartheid govern-ment. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, you are not talking about one government or one nation. It’s totally different. We are not fighting for a one-state solution. Of course we are not.

What I learnt in South Africa is that some Islamists in South Africa are totally disconnected from the realities and still believe that the solution will be one state—an Islamic state. I found that very horrible.

NS: Do people in the West Bank and East Jerusalem want one state or two states, or do they want something else entirely?

Eid: At the moment, I think the Palestinians want a three-state solu-tion for two nations—Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel. Of course, there are still some disconnected Palestinians and Israelis who believe in a one-state solution. But I think that the Palestinians dream of creating our own independent, democratic, anti-Islamist country. And I think the Israelis want their own Jewish, Zionist country. I think both people have a right to their own states.

NS: What do you think the role should be of the Palestinian Diaspora, people in other parts of the region and other parts of the world?

Eid: That’s a really a big problem right now. I don’t believe that all the Palestinian refugees would like to come back. Israel will never open its doors to those refugees. The Palestinians shouldn’t have to continue sacrificing themselves for the right of return, a dream that will never be applicable on the ground. There are refugees around the world. All nations have refugees. This is an international problem. Refugees should be able to move to the West Bank or other countries. They should be more realistic about the situation.

NS: How are your ideas received by other Palestinians?

Eid: I don’t think that most Palestinians agree with me. And politi-cians are completely ignorant of my ideas because they don’t serve their political interests. We are a totally unstable society. Our opinions change ever day. Sometimes we feel powerful and energetic; some-times we feel tired and hopeless. I prefer talking to people when they are tired. Then they are more likely to listen to new ideas.

NS: What are your perceptions of Israeli human rights groups? Are they succeeding in their work?

Eid: I think they are doing a good job. We, the Palestinians, have learnt a lot from the Israeli organizations. There are Palestinians who are critical of the Israeli organizations, but mostly they are people who have no real idea of what is going on. I know what happens inside the Israeli organizations. I think that they are doing the maximum they can do to improve the daily lives of the Palestinians. If you go to the High Court, you will realize that most of the appeals made on behalf of Palestinians have been presented by Israeli groups and Israeli lawyers, not Palestinian ones.

NS: Are you able to monitor what’s going on in Gaza right now?

Eid: That’s very, very difficult. Don’t forget that we are living under a Taliban regime in the Gaza Strip. Our fieldworker hesitates before investigating cases there. The situation for human rights organizations sometimes reminds me of the Saddam Hussein regime. We can’t monitor the Gaza Strip the way we used to monitor it when it was PA territory. We are trying to collect data from newspapers and other organizations that operate in the area. We are in touch with some journalists there. But we face serious opposition and danger.

NS: What advice would you like to give to the Palestinians?

Eid: The best opportunity for us to make peace with Israel was probably in 1978 or 1979 when Egyptian president Anwar Sadat visited Israel. He suggested that Yasser Arafat join him, but Arafat refused.

The most important thing for us to do now is learn from the mis-takes we made between 1947 and today so that we don’t repeat them. We should put these mistakes on the table and study them well. After studying our mistakes, I think the solution will be very easy to create.

Voir enfin:

Christian In Israel
Abandoned by the Israeli Left: The story of Bassem Eid
Palestinian activist reflects on what went wrong in peace process, and what can be done now.
David Parsons
The Jerusalem Post
06/25/2012

Back during the first Palestinian intifada (1987 to 1993), the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem latched on to a young Palestinian field worker named Bassem Eid and turned him into the darling of the Israeli Left. He reported on many of the incidents of alleged use of force against Palestinian civilians, and was sent on speaking tours to dozens of nations around the world.

But when the Olso peace process was launched, Bassem Eid saw his hopes for a free and democratic Palestinian state dashed by the new regime set up by PLO leader Yasser Arafat. So he set up his own organization to monitor violations of human rights being committed by the Palestinian Authority against his own people. By the time the second intifada broke out in the year 2000, Bassem was watching his dreams of peace and coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians go up in smoke.


Israël: Attention, une légitimité peut en cacher une autre (Forget 181 and the green line: Looking back at Israel and its neighbor’s real legitimacy)

31 juillet, 2014

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Aux peuples d’Autriche-Hongrie, dont nous désirons voir sauvegarder et assurer la place parmi les nations, devra être accordée au plus tôt la possibilité d’un développement autonome.  La Roumanie, la Serbie et le Monténégro devraient être évacués ; les territoires occupés devraient être restitués ; à la Serbie devrait être assuré un accès à la mer libre et sûr; les relations des états Balkans entre eux devraient être déterminés par une entente amicale le long de lignes historiquement établies d’allégeance et de nationalité; des garanties internationales quant à l’indépendance politique et économique, et l’intégrité territoriale des États des Balkans devrait également être introduites. Aux régions turques de l’Empire ottoman actuel devraient être assurées la souveraineté et la sécurité ; mais aux autres nations qui sont maintenant sous la domination turque on devrait garantir une sécurité absolue de vie et la pleine possibilité de se développer d’une façon autonome ; quant aux Dardanelles, elles devraient rester ouvertes en permanence, afin de permettre le libre passage aux vaisseaux et au commerce de toutes les nations, sous garantie internationale. Un État polonais indépendant devrait être créé, qui inclurait les territoires habités par des populations indiscutablement polonaises, auxquelles on devrait assurer un libre accès à la mer, et dont l’indépendance politique et économique ainsi que l’intégrité territoriale devraient être garanties par un accord international. Une association générale des nations doit être constituée sous des alliances spécifiques ayant pour objet d’offrir des garanties mutuelles d’indépendance politique et d’intégrité territoriale aux petits comme aux grands États. Woodrow Wilson (Quatorze points, 18 janvier 1918)
Le traité de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, parfois appelé traité de Saint-Germain, signé le 10 septembre 1919 au château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, établit la paix entre les alliés et l’Autriche, et consacre l’effondrement de la monarchie austro-hongroise : l’ancien Empire des Habsbourg est démantelé et remplacé par une demi-douzaine d’États successeurs selon le principe, posé dans le 9e des 14 points du président américain Woodrow Wilson, du « droit des peuples à disposer d’eux-mêmes ». (…) Il est fait droit à l’aspiration des Polonais d’intégrer la Galicie dans l’État polonais, restauré dans son existence et dans ses droits, et à l’aspiration des Roumains d’intégrer la Bucovine dans l’État roumain agrandi des provinces à majorité roumanophone de l’ancienne Autriche-Hongrie et de l’ancien Empire russe. La revendication des Tchèques et des Slovaques en vue de se doter d’un pays commun est reconnue et officialise l’existence de la Tchécoslovaquie. Les Allemands des Sudètes, population germanophone majoritaire à la frontière allemande, se retrouvent avec le statut de minorité linguistique au sein du nouveau pays. La revendication des Slovènes, des Croates et des Serbes d’Autriche-Hongrie de se doter d’un pays commun englobant également la Serbie et le Monténégro, est reconnue et officialise l’existence du (nouveau) Royaume des Serbes, Croates et Slovènes. Quelques zones germanophones de la Basse-Styrie ainsi que la vallée de Mieß en Carinthie font partie de ce nouvel État. Dans le Haut-Adige, outre 90 000 Italiens, 200 000 Allemands sont intégrés malgré eux à l’Italie, la délégation italienne ayant fait valoir que la ligne de partage des eaux sur le col du Brenner est une frontière naturelle de l’Italie1. L’Italie annexe également Trieste, l’Istrie et des parties de la Dalmatie (que revendiquaient également les Slovènes, les Croates et les Serbes). Wikipedia
Le rejet du plan de partition de 1947 était une erreur, l’erreur du monde arabe dans son ensemble, mais est-ce qu’ils [les Israéliens] nous punissent de cette erreur soixante-quatre ans plus tard ? Mahmoud Abbas (Président de l’Autorité palestinienne, 28 octobre 2011)
Je pense que le Hamas cessera ses tirs de roquettes, le silence amènera le silence. Propos attribués à Barack Hussein Obama
Les signataires de ce communiqué, qui appartiennent au monde de la culture, déclarent leur indignation contre le génocide qui est en train d’être perpétué contre la population palestinienne par les troupes d’occupation israélienne dans la bande de Gaza. » Collectif de célébrités espagnoles
Le gouvernement de Sa Majesté envisage favorablement l’établissement en Palestine d’un foyer national pour le peuple juif, et emploiera tous ses efforts pour faciliter la réalisation de cet objectif, étant clairement entendu que rien ne sera fait qui puisse porter atteinte ni aux droits civiques et religieux des collectivités non juives existant en Palestine, ni aux droits et au statut politique dont les juifs jouissent dans tout autre pays. Déclaration Balfour
Le Conseil de la Société des nations … Considérant que les Principales Puissances Alliées ont convenu que le Mandat est chargé d’appliquer la déclaration annoncée le 8 novembre 1917 par le Gouvernement Britannique et adoptée par les autres puissances alliées, en faveur de l’établissement en Palestine d’un foyer national pour le peuple juif ; étant clairement entendu qu’aucune démarche ne devrait être entreprise pouvant porter préjudice aux droits civils et religieux des communautés non juives en Palestine, ni aux droits et au statut politique dont bénéficiaient les Juifs dans d’autres pays. Résolution de San Remo (24  avril 1920, confirmée par le Conseil de la Société des nations le 24 juillet 1922, mise en application en septembre 1923)
3. Reconnaît que la dissolution de la Société des Nations mettra fin à ses fonctions en ce qui concerne les territoires sous mandat, mais note que des principes correspondant à ceux que déclare l’article 22 du Pacte sont incorporés dans les chapitres XI, XII et XIII de la Charte des Nations Unies; 4. Note que les Membres de la Société administrant actuellement des territoires sous mandat ont exprimé leur intention de continuer à les administrer, en vue du bien-être et du développement des peuples intéressés, conformément aux obligations contenues dans les divers mandats, jusqu’à ce que de nouveaux arrangements soient pris entre les Nations Unies et les diverses Puissances mandataires. Résolution de l’assemblée de la Société des nations (18 avril 1946)
À l’exception de ce qui peut être convenu dans les accords particuliers de tutelle conclus conformément aux Articles 77, 79 et 81 et plaçant chaque territoire sous le régime de tutelle, et jusqu’à ce que ces accords aient été conclus, aucune disposition du présent Chapitre ne sera interprétée comme modifiant directement ou indirectement en aucune manière les droits quelconques d’aucun État ou d’aucun peuple ou les dispositions d’actes internationaux en vigueur auxquels des Membres de l’Organisation peuvent être parties. Chapitre XII : Régime international de tutelle (article 80, San Francisco, 26 juin 1945)
Ayant en vue spécifiquement la mise en œuvre de la résolution du Conseil de sécurité du 16 Novembre 1948, les objectifs et principes suivants sont confirmés:
1. Est reconnu le principe selon lequel aucun avantage militaire ou politique ne devrait être acquis pendant la trêve ordonnée par le Conseil de sécurité;
2. Il est également reconnu, les dispositions du présent accord étant dictées exclusivement par des considérations militaires, qu’aucune disposition du présent Accord ne porte en rien atteinte aux droits, revendications et positions de l’une ni de l’autre Partie dans le règlement pacifique et final de la question palestinienne. Accord Jordano-israélien d’armistice général du 3 Avril 1949 (article II)
La ligne de démarcation de l’armistice ne doit être interprétée d’aucune façon comme une frontière politique ou territoriale. Accord Israélo-égyptien d’armistice général du 24 Février 1949 (Article V)
L’argument fondamental que les Arabes utilisent contre Israël est que la seule raison de sa création aurait été d’apaiser la mauvaise conscience des Européens après la Shoah. Selon leurs dires, les Juifs n’auraient aucun droit sur la Terre d’Israël du point de vue légal, historique et moral. Or, cet argument est complètement faux ». (…) « La communauté internationale a reconnu les droits légaux, historiques et moraux du peuple juif sur la Terre d’Israël bien avant que quiconque ait jamais entendu parler d’Adolf Hitler. En 1922, la Société des Nations avait mandaté la « reconstitution » – et non la création – du foyer national juif sur la Terre d’Israël dans ses frontières historiques sur les deux rives du Jourdain. Caroline Glick
The state of Israel came into being by the same legitimate process that created the other new states in the region, the consequence of the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Consistent with the traditional practice of victorious states, the Allied powers France and England created Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Jordan, and of course Israel, to consolidate and protect their national interests. This legitimate right to rewrite the map may have been badly done and shortsighted––regions containing many different sects and ethnic groups were bad candidates for becoming a nation-state, as the history of Iraq and Lebanon proves, while prime candidates for nationhood like the Kurds were left out. But the right to do so was bestowed by the Allied victory and the Central Powers’ loss, the time-honored wages of starting a war and losing it. Likewise in Europe, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dismantled, and the new states of Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia were created. And arch-aggressor Germany was punished with a substantial loss of territory, leaving some 10 million Germans stranded outside the fatherland. Israel’s title to its country is as legitimate as Jordan’s, Syria’s and Lebanon’s. Bruce Thornton
À la fin du XIXe siècle, se structure un nationalisme juif, le sionisme, qui soutient la création d’un État-nation juif en Palestine qu’il définit comme « Terre d’Israël »8. En 1917, les Britanniques, par l’intermédiaire de la Déclaration Balfour, se déclarent en faveur de l’établissement d’un foyer national pour le peuple juif. En 1919, est signé l’Accord Fayçal-Weizmann en tant qu’élément de la Conférence de paix de Paris. Cet accord prévoit l’établissement d’une coopération judéo-arabe pour le développement d’une patrie juive et d’une nation arabe en Palestine 9. La même année se tient à Jérusalem le Congrès de la Palestine arabe qui exige l’annulation de la déclaration de Balfour et l’inclusion de la Palestine comme partie intégrante du gouvernement arabe indépendant de la Syrie et rejette le sionisme tout en acceptant l’aide britannique sous condition de ne pas empiéter sur la souveraineté arabe en Palestine envisagée en tant qu’élément d’un État syrien indépendant10. La population arabe du pays s’oppose au projet. Des émeutes sont régulièrement organisées dans toute la Palestine dès 1919. En avril 1920, des émeutes à Jérusalem font une dizaine de morts et près de 250 blessés à la veille de la Conférence de San Remo qui doit étudier la question du futur de la Palestine. La Société des Nations s’y déclare favorable au projet d’établissement d’un foyer national juif et en 1922, elle officialise le mandat britannique sur la Palestine. Dès 1920, Mohammed Amin al-Husseini devient l’un des principaux leaders du nationalisme palestinien ayant pour but la création d’un État arabe palestinien indépendant; il s’oppose activement au sionisme et est considéré comme l’instigateur de 1921 à 1937 des émeutes violentes en réaction au projet de l’établissement d’un « Foyer juif » en Palestine. Il est réputé antisémite11,12. En 1937, alors qu’il est recherché par la police britannique pour son rôle dans ces émeutes il s’enfuit en Syrie13,14,15,16. En 1941, il se réfugie en Allemagne nazie et demande à Hitler de lui apporter son soutien contre la création d’un Foyer juif17,18,11. En 1925, Izz al-Din al-Qassam, né en Syrie, prône la lutte armée comme action politique19, en 1930 il fonde une organisation paramilitaire, La main noire qui se lance dans des attaques contre les juifs et les britanniques, prêchant la violence politique d’inspiration religieuse, le Jihad et l’anti-sionisme20,21. En 1935 est fondé le Parti arabe palestinien créé par la famille Al-Husseini. L’opposition arabe palestinienne culmine avec la Grande Révolte de 1936-1939. Menée par les nationalistes palestiniens, elle s’oppose à la fois à la présence juive et britannique en Palestine et aux hommes politiques palestiniens se revendiquant d’un nationalisme panarabe. Le 18 février 1947, les Britanniques annoncent l’abandon de leur mandat sur la région et transfèrent la responsabilité sur la Palestine mandataire à l’ONU. Wikipedia

 Attention: une légitimité peut en cacher une autre !

A l’heure où après une énième flagrante et continue agression du régime terroriste du Hamas soutenus par les islamistes du Qatar et de Turquie …

Et, l’idiot utile de la Maison Blanche et les maitres es ignorance du show biz espagnol en tête, l’habituelle et quasi-unanime condamnation du Monde dit libre …

Israël se voit à nouveau contraint de se défendre d’exister …

Retour, avec une excellente vidéo de Give peace a chance (merci Michel Gurfinkiel), sur la véritable légitimité de l’Etat d’Israël …

Qui, contrairement à une idée reçue ne tient ni la fameuse résolution 181 de l’ONU …

Ni à la fameuse « ligne verte »  qui n’est en fait qu’une ligne d’armistice …

Mais plutôt à la Résolution de San Remo de 1920 …

Comme d’ailleurs, suite au démembrement de l’Empire ottoman, … celle de la plupart des autres Etats de la région !

La légitimité d’Israël est liée à une décision internationale prise à San Remo

Document original créé par le site www.givepeaceachance.info

[Transcription par Menahem Macina, sur le site debriefing.org, 16 novembre 2011.]

La résolution de la Commission ad hoc sur la question de la Palestine a été adoptée par 33 voix pour, 13 voix contre, et 10 abstentions.

La résolution 181 de l’Assemblée générale des Nations unies en 1947 a ouvert la voie à la renaissance, en 1948, de l’Etat d’Israël. Toutefois, cela confère-t-il à Israël une légitimité ?

Docteur Jacques Gauthier

La réponse est non. De façon générale, selon le droit international, les résolutions de l’assemblée générale ne sont pas contraignantes.

Howard Grief

C’est une légende très répandue. Il n’y a aucune vérité dans l’affirmation que le fondement juridique d’Israël repose sur la résolution de partition de l’ONU du 29 novembre 1947. Si le peuple juif et les Arabes s’étaient entendus pour contracter un accord fondé sur les termes d’une résolution, alors des droits et des devoirs auraient pu être créés dans le droit international. Mais cela n’a pas eu lieu.

Dore Gold, ancien ambassadeur d’Israël auprès de l’ONU

Le véritable fondement juridique de l’Etat moderne d’Israël remonte à l’époque qui a suivi la Première Guerre mondiale. Quand les grandes puissances de l’époque et la Société des Nations – L’ONU de cette époque –  ont décidé de qu’il adviendrait des différents territoires ennemis.

Howard Grief (juriste en droit international) pratique le droit depuis 1966. Pendant de nombreuses années, et même avant cette date, il s’est intéressé aux questions du Moyen-Orient. Dans les années 80 il a entrepris d’analyser les minutes de la Conférence de San Remo de 1920, documents enfouis depuis longtemps dans les archives britanniques. Cela l’a amené à publier un livre ayant pour titre « Les fondements juridiques et les frontières d’Israël selon le Droit international ».

Howard Grief

Par rapport au droit international, la résolution de San Remo est le document constitutionnel principal de l’Etat d’Israël.

San Remo. La Villa Devachan. C’est le lieu où les droits juridiques furent accordés. C’est le lieu où les droits juridiques furent donnés aussi bien au peuple juif qu’au peuple arabe.

Le Docteur Jacques Gauthier est un juriste international spécialisé dans la défense des droits de l’homme. Pendant plus de 25 ans il a travaillé sur le statut juridique de Jérusalem par rapport au droit international, qui est le sujet de sa thèse de doctorat.

Docteur Jacques Gauthier

C’est ici que les dirigeants ayant un pouvoir de décision juridiquement irrévocable à l’égard des territoires ottomans ont délibéré et pris la décision, après avoir entendu les revendications de l’Organisation Sioniste à Paris, lors de la Conférence de Paix en 1919, après avoir entendu les demandes des délégations arabes au sujet de leurs desiderata concernant les territoires ottomans. Suite à ces demandes, un groupe parmi eux s’est réuni et a pris les décisions juridiquement contraignantes et définitives du point de vue du droit international sur qui obtiendrait quoi.

Dore Gold

la légitimité d’Israël est liée à une décision internationale prise à San Remo

A San Remo [25 avril 1920], ce qui était auparavant une approche exclusivement britannique a reçu le soutien sans réserves de la Communauté internationale. Ainsi, dans cette perspective,

et pas uniquement à un caprice de la politique britannique.

Le problème palestinien
En 1917, Lord Allenby conquit la Terre Sainte et les Juifs se virent promettre par le Comte Balfour un foyer national en Palestine. Une politique réalisée par Woodrow Wilson et la Société des Nations, qui fit de la Palestine un Mandat britannique.

Dore Gold :

Dans le Mandat pour la Palestine de 1922, la Société des Nations adopta une résolution très particulière. Ils décidèrent qu’ils reconnaissaient les droits historiques du peuple juif. Pour quoi faire ? Pour rétablir leur foyer national. Si vous prêtez attention aux mots utilisés, vous remarquez deux choses : vous remarquez qu’ils reconnaissent un droit préexistant et non pas la création d’un droit nouveau ; en d’autres termes, les droits historiques du peuple juif sur cette terre étaient reconnus par les grandes puissances, par l’équivalent de l’ONU à l’époque.

Docteur Jacques Gauthier

Le peuple juif fut choisi pour être bénéficiaire d’une « fiducie », d’un Mandat concernant la Palestine aux bons soins du gouvernement britannique. Les habitants arabes des territoires de Mésopotamie – L’Irak d’aujourd’hui –, la Syrie, le Liban, furent choisis pour être les bénéficiaires d’une « fiducie », d’un Mandat, une partie sous la tutelle, ou le Mandat, de la France – la Syrie et le Liban, une partie sous supervision britannique – la Mésopotamie. Je veux souligner que l’objectif premier du Mandat britannique pour la Palestine était d’accorder les droits politiques au peuple juif en ce qui concerne la Palestine

Howard Grief

Les droits civiques et religieux des Arabes en tant qu’individus étaient entièrement garantis dans le document du Mandat. En ce qui concerne les droits nationaux, ainsi que les droits collectifs politiques, ils étaient exclusivement réservés au peuple juif, parce que les Arabes avaient déjà reçu ces mêmes droits, non pas en Palestine, mais dans les pays environnants. Et c’est pour cela qu’aujourd’hui, il y a 21 pays arabes et 1 Etat juif.

La Seconde Guerre mondiale provoqua la dissolution de la Société des Nations elle fut remplacée en 1945 par les Nations Unies.

Harry S. Truman, ancien Président américain

La Charte des Nations Unies que vous signez en ce moment est une fondation solide sur laquelle nous pouvons construire un monde meilleur.

Selon le droit international, comment cela affecte-t-il les droits du peuple juif ?

Docteur Jacques Gauthier

Dans la seconde résolution adoptée par la Société des Nations, datée d’avril 1946, il est spécifié que l’intention était qu’après la dissolution de la SDN, il était primordial de « continuer à veiller au bien-être et au développement des peuples concernés par chacun des mandats, pour ce qui est de la Palestine, il s’agissait du peuple juif.

Howard Grief

Ainsi les droits reconnus comme étant inhérents au peuple juif étaient garantis par l’article 80.

Docteur Jacques Gauthier

Aucune disposition de la Charte ne peut être interprétée comme annulant ou modifiant, directement ou indirectement, les droits d’aucun peuple, même acquis avant l’établissement des Nations Unies. Je fais ainsi allusion à l’article 80 de la Charte.

Suite à l’établissement de l’Etat d’Israël en 1948, le pays fut envahi par cinq armées arabes, avec l’intention de détruire l’Etat juif. La partie est de Jérusalem fut annexée par la Jordanie. La ville fut divisée pendant 19 ans. La souveraineté jordanienne sur la Cisjordanie et Jérusalem n’a jamais été reconnue par les Nations Unies.

En 1967, Israël reprit Jérusalem-est lors d’une guerre défensive, et l’annexa par la suite.

Docteur Jacques Gauthier

La résolution 242 du Conseil de Sécurité, du 22 novembre 1967, est souvent désignée comme étant à l’origine des droits et devoirs de toutes les parties au Moyen-Orient. Concernant Jérusalem proprement dit, je soutiens l’idée qu’encore une fois, les droits ont été accordés sur la base de la reconnaissance des droits historiques, en se fondant sur le principe du rétablissement des possessions anciennes du peuple juif. L’Etat juif et le Peuple juif n’ont rien fait pour abandonner les droits qui leur ont été donnés concernant ce territoire, ni pour y renoncer.

Dore Gold

Quiconque consulte les données de recensement du XIXe siècle datant de la présence ici de l’empire ottoman, réalisera que le peuple juif avait réussi déjà au XIXe siècle à former de nouveau une majorité à Jérusalem et dans sa Vieille Ville. En 1864, le Consulat Britannique à Jérusalem a produit des données de recensement qui indiquent que sur 15 000 habitants de Jérusalem, en 1863, 8 000 étaient juifs. Nous parlons donc d’une ville qui a été juive depuis l’époque ottomane, depuis le milieu du XIXe siècle.

Docteur Jacques Gauthier

La Vieille Ville est sans doute la partie la plus controversée, la plus convoitée, au centre de la question la plus litigieuse. Lorsque l’on parle de la question de Jérusalem, il faut se souvenir qu’avant le milieu du XIXe siècle, Jérusalem était la Vieille Ville.

Dore Gold

Beaucoup de ceux qui disent à Israël de diviser à nouveau Jérusalem selon les frontières de 1967, et qui placent ainsi la totalité de la Vieille Ville du côté arabe palestinien, oublient les événements de 1948. En 1948, Jérusalem était envahie par 5 armées arabes. L’ONU avait alors assuré la création d’une ville internationale [il s’agissait, en fait de l’internationalisation de la ville de Jérusalem], mais les Nations Unies n’ont finalement rien fait. En définitive, il y eut un nettoyage ethnique des Juifs de la Vieille Ville de Jérusalem, et les Juifs furent obligés de partir. La Légion arabe, avec l’appui des habitants palestiniens détruisit 55 synagogues et écoles talmudiques : elles furent dynamitées.

Quiconque dit à Israël : Rendez Jérusalem, doit expliquer comment cela éviterait que l’histoire se répète. Souvenez-vous : de 1948 à 1967, avant qu’Israël ne réunifie Jérusalem, les Juifs n’avaient pas accès au Mur occidental. Israël est déterminé à ne pas voir cela se reproduire.

Après 18 ans d’un processus de paix qui a échoué sans qu’aucun accord ne soit en vue, l’Autorité Palestinienne a indiqué vouloir obtenir de l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies la reconnaissance unilatérale d’un Etat palestinien dans les frontières de la « Ligne verte » d’avant 1967 et avec Jérusalem-est comme capitale.

Docteur Jacques Gauthier

La « Ligne verte » est simplement une ligne d’armistice. C’est la ligne de démarcation choisie par Israël, le peuple juif et les Jordaniens, lorsqu’ils arrêtèrent les combats en 1949. Cette ligne, précisée dans l’accord d’armistice israélo-jordanien, n’a jamais été prévue comme pouvant produire des droits et des devoirs pour qui que ce soit.

Dore Gold

Les premiers accords d’Oslo, ceux de 1993, les grands accords d’Oslo de 1995, connus sous le nom d’Accord Intérimaire, avaient une clause appelée article 31. Cet article disait qu’aucune partie ne pourrait modifier le statut de la Cisjordanie et de la Bande de Gaza avant l’achèvement des négociations de statut permanent.

Si les Palestiniens tentaient de modifier le statut du territoire sans négocier avec Israël, ce serait un acte unilatéral en violation de cet engagement. Pourquoi cela est-il particulièrement important pour l’Europe ? Parce que lorsque l’Accord intérimaire concernant cette clause importante fut signé à la Maison Blanche, en présence du Président Bill Clinton, l’Union Européenne avait également signé l’accord en tant que témoin. Donc, si les pays de l’UE décident de soutenir le projet Palestinien à l’ONU, en contradiction avec l’engagement palestinien d’Oslo, ils prêteront en fait main forte à la violation d’un accord écrit dont ils sont également signataires. La question qui se poserait immédiatement en Israël serait alors : qui pourrait à nouveau faire confiance à l’union européenne en l’impliquant dans le processus de paix, si elle viole les accords qu’elle a elle-même signés ?

Le monde entier dit à Israël : Pourquoi ne reconnaissez-vous pas les droits des Palestiniens à un Etat ? Cela semble élémentaire. Les Israéliens entendent cela tout le temps. Mais inversons les rôles un instant, voyez-vous qui que ce soit dire aux Palestiniens : Vous devez reconnaître au peuple juif le droit d’avoir son propre Etat, dont le régime a acquis une légitimité internationale, et des accords internationaux remontant à San Remo et au Mandat britannique de la Société des Nations ?  Malheureusement les mêmes exigences ne sont pas adressées à l’autre partie, et cela révèle peut-être les véritables intentions.

Docteur Jacques Gauthier

Beaucoup de ceux qui sont réunis ici à Rome (au Sénat de Rome en 2011) – sénateurs [dont Marcello Pera, ancien Président du Sénat italien], et parlementaires, venus pour parler du processus de paix, oui beaucoup sont inquiets des décisions que les nations pourraient prendre dans les semaines et mois à venir au sujet des droits du peuple juif, des droits de l’Etat d’Israël, de Jérusalem, et des territoires disputés. Afin de donner une chance à la paix, il est nécessaire d’honorer les promesses solennelles inscrites dans le droit des nations, promesses faites au peuple juif et à l’Etat d’Israël.

© Give Peace a chance

The British Mandate For Palestine
San Remo Conference, April 24, 1920

Confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on July 24, 1922
Came into operation in September 1923.
« The Council of the League of Nations:

Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have agreed, for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, to entrust to a Mandatory selected by the said Powers the administration of the territory of Palestine, which formerly belonged to the Turkish Empire, within such boundaries as may be fixed by them; and

Whereas the Principal Allied powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country; and

Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connexion of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country; and

Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have selected His Britannic Majesty as the Mandatory for Palestine; and

Whereas the mandate in respect of Palestine has been formulated in the following terms and submitted to the Council of the League for approval; and

Whereas His Britannic Majesty has accepted the mandate in respect of Palestine and undertaken to exercise it on behalf of the League of Nations in conformity with the following provisions; and

Whereas by the aforementioned Article 22 (paragraph 8), it is provided that the degree of authority, control or administration to be exercised by the Mandatory, not having been previously agreed upon by the Members of the League, shall he explicitly defined by the Council of the League of Nations;

Confirming the said Mandate, defines its terms as follows:

ARTICLE 1.

The Mandatory shall have full powers of legislation and of administration, save as they may be limited by the terms of this mandate.

ARTICLE 2.

The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.

ARTICLE 3.

The Mandatory shall, so far as circumstances permit, encourage local autonomy.

ARTICLE 4.

An appropriate Jewish agency shall be recognized as a public body for the purpose of advising and cooperating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish national home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine, and, subject always to the control of the Administration, to assist and take part in the development of the country.

The Zionist Organization, so long as its organization and constitution are in the opinion of the Mandatory appropriate, shall he recognized as such agency. It shall take steps in consultation with His Britannic Majesty’s Government to secure the cooperation of all Jews who are willing to assist in the establishment of the Jewish national home.

ARTICLE 5.

The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of, the Government of any foreign Power.

ARTICLE 6.

The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.

ARTICLE 7.

The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine.

ARTICLE 8.

The privileges and immunities of foreigners, including the benefits of consular jurisdiction and protection as formerly enjoyed by Capitulation or usage in the Ottoman Empire, shall not be applicable in Palestine.

Unless the Powers whose nationals enjoyed the aforementioned privileges and immunities on August 1st, 1914, shall have previously renounced the right to their re-establishment, or shall have agreed to their non-application for a specified period, these privileges and immunities shall, at the expiration of the mandate, be immediately re-established in their entirety or with such modifications as may have been agreed upon between the Powers concerned.

ARTICLE 9.

The Mandatory shall be responsible for seeing that the judicial system established in Palestine shall assure to foreigners, as well as to natives, a complete guarantee of their rights.

Respect for the personal status of the various peoples and communities and for their religious interests shall be fully guaranteed. In particular, the control and administration of Waqfs shall be exercised in accordance with religious law and the dispositions of the founders.

ARTICLE 10.

Pending the making of special extradition agreements relating to Palestine, the extradition treaties in force between the Mandatory and other foreign Powers shall apply to Palestine.

ARTICLE 11.

The Administration of Palestine shall take all necessary measures to safeguard the interests of the community in connection with the development of the country, and, subject to any international obligations accepted by the Mandatory, shall have full power to provide for public ownership or control of any of the natural resources of the country or of the public works, services and utilities established or to be established therein. It shall introduce a land system appropriate to the needs of the country having regard, among other things, to the desirability of promoting the close settlement and intensive cultivation of the land.

The Administration may arrange with the Jewish agency mentioned in Article 4 to construct or operate, upon fair and equitable terms, any public works, services and utilities, and to develop any of the natural resources of the country, in so far as these matters are not directly undertaken by the Administration. Any such arrangements shall provide that no profits distributed by such agency, directly or indirectly, shall exceed a reasonable rate of interest on the capital, and any further profits shall be utilized by it for the benefit of the country in a manner approved by the Administration.

ARTICLE 12.

The Mandatory shall be entrusted with the control of the foreign relations of Palestine, and the right to issue exequaturs to consuls appointed by foreign Powers. He shall also be entitled to afford diplomatic and consular protection to citizens of Palestine when outside its territorial limits.

ARTICLE 13

All responsibility in connexion with the Holy Places and religious buildings or sites in Palestine, including that of preserving existing rights and of securing free access to the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites and the free exercise of worship, while ensuring the requirements of public order and decorum, is assumed by the Mandatory, who shall be responsible solely to the League of Nations in all matters connected herewith, provided that nothing in this article shall prevent the Mandatory from entering into such arrangements as he may deem reasonable with the Administration for the purpose of carrying the provisions of this article into effect; and provided also that nothing in this Mandate shall be construed as conferring upon the Mandatory authority to interfere with the fabric or the management of purely Moslem sacred shrines, the immunities of which are guaranteed.

ARTICLE 14.

A special Commission shall be appointed by the Mandatory to study, define and determine the rights and claims in connection with the Holy Places and the rights and claims relating to the different religious communities in Palestine. The method of nomination, the composition and the functions of this Commission shall be submitted to the Council of the League for its approval, and the Commission shall not be appointed or enter upon its functions without the approval of the Council.

ARTICLE 15.

The Mandatory shall see that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.

The right of each community to maintain its own schools for the education of its own members in its own language, while conforming to such educational requirements of a general nature as the Administration may impose, shall not be denied or impaired.

ARTICLE 16.

The Mandatory shall be responsible for exercising such supervision over religious or eleemosynary bodies of all faiths in Palestine as may be required for the maintenance of public order and good government. Subject to such supervision, no measures shall be taken in Palestine to obstruct or interfere with the enterprise of such bodies or to discriminate against any representative or member of them on the ground of his religion or nationality.

ARTICLE 17.

The Administration of Palestine may organize on a voluntary basis the forces necessary for the preservation of peace and order, and also for the defence of the country, subject, however, to the supervision of the Mandatory, but shall not use them for purposes other than those above specified save with the consent of the Mandatory. Except for such purposes, no military, naval or air forces shall be raised or maintained by the Administration of Palestine.

Nothing in this article shall preclude the Administration of Palestine from contributing to the cost of the maintenance of the forces of the Mandatory in Palestine.

The Mandatory shall be entitled at all times to use the roads, railways and ports of Palestine for the movement of armed forces and the carriage of fuel and supplies.

ARTICLE 18.

The Mandatory shall see that there is no discrimination in Palestine against the nationals of any State Member of the League of Nations (including companies incorporated under its laws) as compared with those of the Mandatory or of any foreign State in matters concerning taxation, commerce or navigation, the exercise of industries or professions, or in the treatment of merchant vessels or civil aircraft. Similarly, there shall be no discrimination in Palestine against goods originating in or destined for any of the said States, and there shall be freedom of transit under equitable conditions across the mandated area.

Subject as aforesaid and to the other provisions of this mandate, the Administration of Palestine may, on the advice of the Mandatory, impose such taxes and customs duties as it may consider necessary, and take such steps as it may think best to promote the development of the natural resources of the country and to safeguard the interests of the population. It may also, on the advice of the Mandatory, conclude a special customs agreement with any State the territory of which in 1914 was wholly included in Asiatic Turkey or Arabia.

ARTICLE 19.

The Mandatory shall adhere on behalf of the Administration of Palestine to any general international conventions already existing, or which may be concluded hereafter with the approval of the League of Nations, respecting the slave traffic, the traffic in arms and ammunition, or the traffic in drugs, or relating to commercial equality, freedom of transit and navigation, aerial navigation and postal, telegraphic and wireless communication or literary, artistic or industrial property.

ARTICLE 20.

The Mandatory shall co-operate on behalf of the Administration of Palestine, so far as religious, social and other conditions may permit, in the execution of any common policy adopted by the League of Nations for preventing and combating disease, including diseases of plants and animals.

ARTICLE 21.

The Mandatory shall secure the enactment within twelve months from this date, and shall ensure the execution of a Law of Antiquities based on the following rules. This law shall ensure equality of treatment in the matter of excavations and archaeological research to the nationals of all States Members of the League of Nations.

ARTICLE 22.

English, Arabic and Hebrew shall be the official languages of Palestine. Any statement or inscription in Arabic on stamps or money in Palestine shall be repeated in Hebrew and any statement or inscription in Hebrew shall be repeated in Arabic.

ARTICLE 23.

The Administration of Palestine shall recognize the holy days of the respective communities in Palestine as legal days of rest for the members of such communities.

ARTICLE 24.

The Mandatory shall make to the Council of the League of Nations an annual report to the satisfaction of the Council as to the measures taken during the year to carry out the provisions of the mandate. Copies of all laws and regulations promulgated or issued during the year shall be communicated with the report.

ARTICLE 25.

In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to those conditions, provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18.

ARTICLE 26.

The Mandatory agrees that if any dispute whatever should arise between the Mandatory and another Member of the League of Nations relating to the interpretation or the application of the provisions of the mandate, such dispute, if it cannot be settled by negotiation, shall be submitted to the Permanent Court of International Justice provided for by Article 14 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.

ARTICLE 27.

The consent of the Council of the League of Nations is required for any modification of the terms of this mandate.

In the event of the termination of the mandate hereby conferred upon the Mandatory, the Council of the League of Nations shall make such arrangements as may be deemed necessary for safeguarding in perpetuity, under guarantee of the League, the rights secured by Articles 13 and 14, and shall use its influence for securing, under the guarantee of the League, that the Government of Palestine will fully honour the financial obligations legitimately incurred by the Administration of Palestine during the period of the mandate, including the rights of public servants to pensions or gratuities.

The present instrument shall be deposited in original in the archives of the League of Nations and certified copies shall be forwarded by the Secretary General of the League of Nations to all Members of the League.

DONE AT LONDON the twenty-fourth day of July, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-two. »


Israël: Le seul pays dont les voisins font de l’anéantissement un objectif national explicite (And the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago – on a territory smaller than Vermont)

24 juillet, 2014
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Mesha stele
Tel Dan stele

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Israël est détruit, sa semence même n’est plus. Amenhotep III (Stèle de Mérenptah, 1209 or 1208 Av. JC)
Je me suis réjoui contre lui et contre sa maison. Israël a été ruiné à jamais. Mesha (roi de Moab, Stèle de Mesha, 850 av. J.-C.)
J’ai tué Jéhoram, fils d’Achab roi d’Israël et j’ai tué Ahziahu, fils de Jéoram roi de la Maison de David. Et j’ai changé leurs villes en ruine et leur terre en désert. Hazaël (stèle de Tel Dan, c. 835 av. JC)
Le roi de Moab, voyant qu’il avait le dessous dans le combat, prit avec lui sept cents hommes tirant l’épée pour se frayer un passage jusqu’au roi d’Édom; mais ils ne purent pas. Il prit alors son fils premier-né, qui devait régner à sa place, et il l’offrit en holocauste sur la muraille. Et une grande indignation s’empara d’Israël, qui s’éloigna du roi de Moab et retourna dans son pays. 2 Rois 3: 26-27
Je les planterai dans leur pays et ils ne seront plus arrachés du pays que je leur ai donné, dit L’Éternel, ton Dieu. Amos (9: 15)
Quel est ton pays, et de quel peuple es-tu? (…) Je suis Hébreu, et je crains l’Éternel, le Dieu des cieux, qui a fait la mer et la terre. Jonas 1-8-9
La petite nation est celle dont l’existence peut être à n’importe quel moment mise en question, qui peut disparaître, et qui le sait. Un Français, un Russe, un Anglais n’ont pas l’habitude de se poser des questions sur la survie de leur nation. Leurs hymnes ne parlent que de grandeur et d’éternité. Or, l’hymne polonais commence par le vers : La Pologne n’a pas encore péri. Milan Kundera
L’Etat d’Israël est né du même processus légitime qui a créé les autres nouveaux États de la région, la conséquence du démantèlement de l’Empire Ottoman après la Première guerre mondiale. En conformité avec la pratique traditionnelle des États victorieux, les puissances alliées de France et d’Angleterre ont créé le Liban, la Syrie, l’Irak et Jordan et bien sûr Israël, pour consolider et protéger leurs intérêts nationaux. Ce droit légitime de réécrire la carte peut avoir été mal fait et à courte vue – des régions contenant beaucoup de différentes sectes et groupes ethniques étaient de mauvais candidats pour devenir des Etats-nation, comme l’histoire de l’Irak et le Liban le montre, alors que des candidats de premier plan pour l’identité nationale, comme les Kurdes, ont été écartés. Mais le droit de le faire a été accordé par la victoire des alliés et la défaite des puissances centrales, le prix vieux comme le monde de que doivent payer ceux qui déclenchent une guerre et la perdent. De même, en Europe, l’Autriche-Hongrie a été démantelée, et les nouveaux États de l’Autriche, de la Hongrie, de la Yougoslavie et de la Tchécoslovaquie ont été créés. Et l’agresseur par excellence qu’est l’Allemagne se vit infliger une perte importante de territoire, laissant environ 10 millions d’Allemands bloqués à l’extérieur de la patrie. le droit d’Israël à son pays est aussi légitime que ceux de la Jordanie, de la Syrie et du Liban. Bruce Thornton
Israël est l’incarnation pure et simple de la continuité juive : c’est la seule nation au monde qui habite la même terre, porte le même nom, parle la même langue et vénère le même Dieu qu’il y a 3000 ans. En creusant le sol, on peut trouver des poteries du temps de David, des pièces de l’époque de Bar Kochba, et des parchemins vieux de 2000 ans, écrits de manière étonnamment semblable à celle qui, aujourd’hui, vante les crèmes glacées de la confiserie du coin. Charles Krauthammer

Mais qui aujourd’hui se souvient encore de Moab ?

Alors que sous la furie combinée des roquettes palestiniennes (gracieusement fournies, via l’Egypte et le Soudan et le financement du Qatar, par l’Iran qui brusquement semblent inquiéter l’Occident) et des critiques occidentales

En cette drôle de guerre où le plus fort doit s’excuser de trop bien protéger sa population pendant que le plus faible fait la une des médias pour l’avoir sacrifiée

Un peuple annoncé « détruit à jamais » à trois reprises par un pharaon, un roi moabite et un roi syrien au XIIIe puis au IXe siècles AVANT Jésus-Christ …

Voit à nouveau son droit à défendre son existence contesté …

Comment ne pas repenser à ce magnifique texte que le célèbre éditorialiste américain Charles Krauthammer avait écrit pour le cinquantenaire …

De la (re)création, à l’instar des autres Etats de la région suite au démembrement de l’Empire ottoman, de l’Etat d »un peuple annoncé, comme nous le rappelions ici même pour son « 60e anniversaire », « détruit à jamais » à trois reprises par un pharaon, un roi moabite et un roi syrien au XIIIe puis au IXe siècles AVANT Jésus-Christ …

Rappelant, à tous nos ignorants donneurs de leçons, que sur un territoire plus petit que l’infinitésimalissime état américain du Vermont (ou de la Lorraine ou la Sicile) …

« Le seul pays au monde dont les voisins font de l’anéantissement un objectif national explicite »  …

Est aussi « la seule nation au monde à habiter la même terre, porter le même nom, parler la même langue et vénérer le même Dieu qu’il y a 3000 ans » !

Extraits:

Israël n’est pas uniquement une petite nation. Israël est la seule petite nation – la seule, point ! – dont les voisins déclarent publiquement que son existence même est un affront au droit, à la morale et à la religion, et qui font de son anéantissement un objectif national explicite. Et cet objectif n’est pas une simple déclaration d’intention. L’Iran, la Libye, et l’Iraq mènent une politique étrangère qui vise au meurtre des Israéliens et à la destruction de leur État. Ils choisissent leurs alliés (Hamas, Hezbollah) et développent leurs armements (bombes-suicide, gaz toxiques, anthrax, missiles nucléaires) conformément à cette politique. Des pays aussi éloignés que la Malaisie n’autorisent pas la présence d’un représentant d’Israël sur leur sol, allant jusqu’à interdire la projection du film « La Liste de Schindler », de peur qu’il n’engendre de la « sympathie pour Sion ».

D’autres sont plus circonspects dans leurs déclarations. La destruction n’est plus l’objectif unanime de la Ligue Arabe, comme cela a été le cas pendant les trente années qui ont précédé Camp David. La Syrie, par exemple, ne le dit plus de façon explicite. Cependant, la Syrie détruirait Israël demain, si elle en avait les moyens. (Sa retenue actuelle sur le sujet est largement due à son besoin de liens avec les Etats-Unis d’après la guerre froide). Même l’Égypte, première à avoir fait la paix avec Israël et prétendu modèle de « faiseur de paix », s’est dotée d’une grande armée équipée de matériel américain, qui effectue des exercices militaires très clairement conçus pour combattre Israël. Son exercice « géant », Badr 96, par exemple, le plus grand mené depuis la guerre de 1973, simulait des traversées du canal de Suez.

Et même l’OLP, obligée de reconnaître ostensiblement l’existence d’Israël dans les accords d’Oslo de 1993, est toujours régie par une charte nationale qui, dans au moins quatorze passages, appelle à l’éradication d’Israël. Le fait qu’après cinq ans [rappelons que Krauthammer écrit ceci en 1998] et quatre promesses spécifiques d’amender cette charte, elle reste intacte, est un signe qui montre à quel point le rêve de faire disparaître Israël reste profondément ancré dans l’inconscient collectif arabe.

Le monde islamique, berceau de la grande tradition juive séfarade et patrie d’un tiers de la population juive mondiale, est aujourd’hui pratiquement Judenrein. Aucun pays du monde islamique ne compte aujourd’hui plus de 20 000 Juifs. Après la Turquie, qui en compte 19 000, et l’Iran, où l’on en dénombre 14 000, le pays ayant la plus grande communauté juive dans le monde islamique est le Maroc, avec 6 100 Juifs – il y en a davantage à Omaha, dans le Nebraska. Ces communautés ne figurent pas dans les projections. Il n’y a d’ailleurs rien à projeter. Il n’est même pas besoin de les comptabiliser, il faut juste s’en souvenir. Leur expression même a disparu. Le yiddish et le ladino, langues respectives et distinctives des diasporas européennes et sépharades, ainsi que les communautés qui les ont inventées, ont quasiment disparu.

Israël est l’incarnation pure et simple de la continuité juive : c’est la seule nation au monde qui habite la même terre, porte le même nom, parle la même langue et vénère le même Dieu qu’il y a 3000 ans. En creusant le sol, on peut trouver des poteries du temps de David, des pièces de l’époque de Bar Kochba, et des parchemins vieux de 2000 ans, écrits de manière étonnamment semblable à celle qui, aujourd’hui, vante les crèmes glacées de la confiserie du coin.

Soit, appelez ces gens comme vous le voulez. Après tout, « Juif » est une dénomination plutôt récente de ce peuple. Ils furent d’abord des « Hébreux », puis des « Israélites ». « Juif » (qui vient du royaume de Juda, un des deux États qui ont succédé au royaume de David et de Salomon) est l’appellation post-exilique pour « Israélite ». C’est un nouveau venu dans l’histoire.

Comment qualifier un Israélien qui ne respecte pas les règles alimentaires, ne va pas à la synagogue, et considère le Shabbat comme le jour où l’on va faire un tour en voiture à la plage – ce qui, soit dit en passant, est une assez bonne description de la plupart des Premiers ministres d’Israël ? Cela n’a aucune importance. Installez un peuple juif dans un pays qui se fige le jour de Kippour, parle le langage de la Bible, vit au rythme (lunaire) du calendrier hébraïque, construit ses villes avec les pierres de ses ancêtres, produit une littérature et une poésie hébraïques, une éducation et un enseignement juifs qui n’ont pas d’égal dans le monde – et vous aurez la continuité. Les Israéliens pourraient s’appeler autrement. Peut-être un jour réserverons-nous le terme de « Juifs » à l’expérience d’exil d’il y a 2000 ans, et les appellerons-nous « Hébreux » [c’est le terme qu’utilise la langue italienne : « ebrei » – Note de Menahem Macina]. Ce terme a une belle connotation historique, c’est le nom que Joseph et Jonas ont donné en réponse a la question : « Qui êtes-vous ? »

Certains ne sont pas d’accord avec l’idée qu’Israël est porteur de la continuité du peuple juif, à cause de la multitude de désaccords et de fractures entre Israéliens : Orthodoxes contre Laïcs, Ashkénazes contre Sépharades, Russes contre Sabras, etc. Israël est aujourd’hui engagé dans d’amers débats à propos de la légitimité du judaïsme conservateur et réformiste, ainsi que de l’empiétement de l’orthodoxie sur la vie sociale et civique du pays.

Et alors, qu’y a-t-il là de nouveau ? Israël est tout simplement en train de revenir à la norme juive. Il existe des divisions tout aussi sérieuses au sein de la Diaspora, tout comme il en existait au sein du dernier État juif : « Avant la suprématie des Pharisiens et l’émergence d’une orthodoxie rabbinique, après la chute du second Temple», écrit l’universitaire Frank Cross, «le judaïsme était plus complexe et varié que nous le supposions ». Les Manuscrits de la Mer Morte, explique Hershel Shanks, «attestent de la variété – mal perçue jusqu’à ce jour – du judaïsme de la fin de la période du Second Temple, à tel point que les universitaires évoquent souvent, non pas le judaïsme, mais les judaïsmes. »

Le second État juif était caractérisé par des rixes entre sectaires juifs : Pharisiens, Sadducéens, Esséniens, apocalypticiens de tous bords, sectes aujourd’hui oubliées par l’histoire, sans parler des premiers chrétiens. Ceux qui s’inquiètent des tensions entre laïcs et religieux en Israël devraient méditer sur la lutte, qui dura plusieurs siècles, entre les Hellénistes et les Traditionalistes, durant la période du deuxième État juif. La révolte des Macchabées, entre 167 et 164 avant J.-C., célébrée aujourd’hui à Hanoukka, était, entre autres, une guerre civile entre Juifs.

Certes, il est peu probable qu’Israël produise une identité juive unique. Mais ce n’est pas nécessaire. Le monolithisme relatif du judaïsme rabbinique au Moyen-Âge est l’exception. Fracture et division sont les réalités du quotidien, à l’ère moderne, tout comme elles l’étaient dans le premier et le second États juifs. Ainsi, durant la période du premier Temple, le peuple d’Israël était divisé en deux États [le royaume de Juda, au sud, et celui d’Israël, au nord – note du réviseur de la version française], qui étaient en conflit quasi permanent. Les divisions actuelles au sein d’Israël ne supportent pas la comparaison.

La position centrale d’Israël est plus qu’une question de démographie. Elle représente une nouvelle stratégie, hardie et dangereuse pour la survie du peuple juif. Pendant deux millénaires, le peuple juif a survécu grâce à la dispersion et à l’isolement. Après le premier exil, en 586 avant J.-C., et le second, en 70, puis en 132, les Juifs se sont d’abord installés en Mésopotamie et autour du bassin Méditerranéen, puis en Europe de l’Est et du Nord, et, finalement, au Nouveau Monde, à l’Ouest, avec des communautés situées presque aux quatre coins du monde, jusqu’en Inde et en Chine.

Tout au long de cette période, le peuple juif a survécu à l’énorme pression de la persécution, des massacres et des conversions forcées, non seulement par sa foi et son courage, mais aussi grâce à sa dispersion géographique. Décimés ici, ils survivaient ailleurs. Les milliers de villes et de villages juifs répartis dans toute l’Europe, le monde islamique et le Nouveau Monde, constituaient une sorte d’assurance démographique. Même si de nombreux Juifs ont été massacrés lors de la première Croisade, le long du Rhin, même si de nombreux villages ont été détruits au cours des pogroms de 1648-1649, en Ukraine, il y en avait encore des milliers d’autres répartis sur toute la planète pour continuer. Cette dispersion a contribué à la faiblesse et la vulnérabilité des communautés juives prises séparément. Paradoxalement, pourtant, elle a constitué un facteur d’endurance et de force pour le peuple juif dans son ensemble. Aucun tyran ne pouvait réunir une force suffisante pour menacer la survie du peuple juif partout dans le monde.

Jusqu’à Hitler. Les nazis sont parvenus à détruire presque tout ce qu’il y avait de juif, des Pyrénées aux portes de Stalingrad, une civilisation entière, vieille de mille ans. Il y avait neuf millions de Juifs en Europe lorsque Hitler accéda au pouvoir. Il a exterminé les deux tiers d’entre eux. Cinquante ans plus tard, les Juifs ne s’en sont pas encore remis. Il y avait seize millions de Juifs dans le monde, en 1939. Aujourd’hui, ils sont treize millions.

Toutefois, les conséquences de l’Holocauste n’ont pas été que démographiques. Elles ont été psychologiques, bien sûr, et aussi idéologiques. La preuve avait été faite, une fois pour toutes, du danger catastrophique de l’impuissance. La solution était l’autodéfense, ce qui supposait une re-centration démographique dans un lieu doté de souveraineté, d’armement, et constituant un véritable État.

Avant la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, il y avait un véritable débat, au sein du monde juif, à propos du sionisme. Les juifs réformistes, par exemple, avaient été antisionistes durant des décennies. L’Holocauste a permis de clore ce débat. A part certains extrêmes – la droite ultra-orthodoxe et l’extrême gauche – le sionisme est devenu la solution reconnue à l’impuissance et à la vulnérabilité juives. Au milieu des ruines, les Juifs ont pris la décision collective de dire que leur futur reposait sur l’autodéfense et la territorialité, le rassemblement des exilés en un endroit où ils pourraient enfin acquérir les moyens de se défendre eux-mêmes.

C’était la bonne décision, la seule décision possible. Mais ô combien périlleuse ! Quel curieux choix que celui de ce lieu pour l’ultime bataille : un point sur la carte, un petit morceau de quasi-désert, une fine bande d’habitat juif, à l’abri de barrières naturelles on ne peut plus fragiles (et auxquelles le monde exige qu’Israël renonce). Une attaque de tanks suffisamment déterminée peut la couper en deux. Un petit arsenal de Scuds à tête nucléaire peut la détruire intégralement.

Pour détruire le peuple juif, Hitler devait conquérir le monde. Tout ce qu’il faudrait aujourd’hui, c’est conquérir un territoire plus petit que le Vermont [aux Etats-Unis]. La terrible ironie est qu’en résolvant leur problème d’impuissance, les Juifs ont mis tous leurs oeufs dans le même panier, un petit panier au bord de la Méditerranée. Et, de son sort, dépend le sort de tous les Juifs.

Nous présumons que l’histoire juive est cyclique : exil babylonien en 586 av. J.-C., suivi par le retour, en 538 av. J.-C., exil romain en 135, suivi par le retour, légèrement différé en 1948. C’est oublier la part linéaire de l’histoire juive : il y a eu une autre destruction, un siècle et demi avant la chute du premier Temple. Elle restera irréparable. En 722 av. J.-C., les Assyriens firent la conquête de l’autre État juif, le plus grand, le royaume du nord d’Israël (la Judée, dont descendent les juifs modernes, constituait le royaume du Sud). Il s’agit de l’Israël des Dix Tribus, exilées et perdues pour toujours.

Leur mystère est si tenace que, lorsque les explorateurs Lewis et Clark partirent pour leur expédition [vers les vastes Plaines de l’Ouest américain], une des nombreuses questions préparées à leur intention par le Dr Benjamin Rush, à la demande du président Jefferson lui-même, fut la suivante : Quel lien existe-t-il entre leurs cérémonies [celles des Indiens] et celles des Juifs ? – « Jefferson et Lewis avaient longuement parlé de ces tribus », explique Stephen Ambrose. «Ils conjecturaient que les tribus perdues d’Israël pouvaient être quelque part dans les Plaines. »

Hélas, ce n’était pas le cas. Les Dix Tribus se sont dissoutes dans l’histoire. En cela, elles sont représentatives de la norme historique. Tout peuple conquis de cette façon et exilé disparaît avec le temps. Seuls les Juifs ont défié cette norme, à deux reprises.

Mais je crains que ce ne soit plus jamais le cas.

Charles Krauthammer

En fin de compte: Sion, Israël et le destin des Juifs

Charles  Krauthammer

The Weekly Standard

11 mai 1998

Traduction française de Nathalie Lerner, révisée par Menahem Macina.

1. Un petit État

Milan Kundera a défini un jour un petit État comme étant « un État dont l’existence même pourrait être remise en question à tout instant; un petit État peut disparaître, et il le sait » [1] Les États-Unis ne sont pas un ‘petit État’. Le Japon non plus. Ni même la France. Ces nations peuvent subir des défaites. Elles peuvent même être envahies. Mais elles ne peuvent pas disparaître. La Tchécoslovaquie de Kundera pouvait disparaître, et ce fut même le cas, en une occasion [2]. La Tchécoslovaquie d’avant-guerre est une petite nation paradigmatique: une démocratie libérale créée sur les cendres de la guerre par un monde déterminé à laisser les petites nations vivre librement; menacée par la convoitise et la taille importante d’un voisin en expansion; fatalement compromise par une lassitude grandissante de la part de l’Ouest à propos d’«une querelle dans un pays lointain – un pays dont nous ignorons tout»; laissée morcelée et sans défense, succombant finalement à la conquête. Quand Hitler est entré dans Prague, en mars 1939, il a déclaré : « La Tchécoslovaquie a cessé d’exister».

Israël est également une petite nation. Cela ne signifie pas que son destin soit de disparaître. Mais que ce pourrait l’être. Qui plus est, par sa vulnérabilité face à l’anéantissement, Israël n’est pas uniquement une petite nation. Israël est la seule petite nation – la seule, point ! – dont les voisins déclarent publiquement que son existence même est un affront au droit, à la morale et à la religion, et qui font de son anéantissement un objectif national explicite. Et cet objectif n’est pas une simple déclaration d’intention. L’Iran, la Libye, et l’Iraq mènent une politique étrangère qui vise au meurtre des Israéliens et à la destruction de leur État. Ils choisissent leurs alliés (Hamas, Hezbollah) et développent leurs armements (bombes-suicide, gaz toxiques, anthrax, missiles nucléaires) conformément à cette politique. Des pays aussi éloignés que la Malaisie n’autorisent pas la présence d’un représentant d’Israël sur leur sol, allant jusqu’à interdire la projection du film « La Liste de Schindler », de peur qu’il n’engendre de la « sympathie pour Sion ».

D’autres sont plus circonspects dans leurs déclarations. La destruction n’est plus l’objectif unanime de la Ligue arabe, comme cela a été le cas pendant les trente années qui ont précédé Camp David. La Syrie, par exemple, ne le dit plus de façon explicite. Cependant, la Syrie détruirait Israël demain, si elle en avait les moyens. (Sa retenue actuelle sur le sujet est largement due à son besoin de liens avec les Etats-Unis d’après la guerre froide). Même l’Égypte, première à avoir fait la paix avec Israël et prétendu modèle de « faiseur de paix », s’est dotée d’une grande armée équipée de matériel américain, qui effectue des exercices militaires très clairement conçus pour combattre Israël. Son exercice « géant », Badr 96, par exemple, le plus grand mené depuis la guerre de 1973, simulait des traversées du canal de Suez.

Et même l’OLP, obligée de reconnaître ostensiblement l’existence d’Israël dans les accords d’Oslo de 1993, est toujours régie par une charte nationale qui, dans au moins quatorze passages, appelle à l’éradication d’Israël. Le fait qu’après cinq ans [rappelons que Krauthammer écrit ceci en 1998] et quatre promesses spécifiques d’amender cette charte, elle reste intacte, est un signe qui montre à quel point le rêve de faire disparaître Israël reste profondément ancré dans l’inconscient collectif arabe [4].

« Comme l’a dit l’imam (Khomeiny), Israël doit être rayé de la carte… ».

« Les dirigeants de la nation musulmane qui reconnaîtront Israël brûleront dans les flammes de la colère de leur propre peuple ».

(Le Président iranien, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, lors d’un discours prononcé le 26 octobre 2005 devant un public de quatre mille étudiants radicaux, à l’occasion d’une conférence intitulée « Le monde sans le sionisme ».)

2. Les enjeux

La perspective de la disparition d’Israël pose problème à cette génération. Pendant 50 ans, Israël « a fait partie des meubles ». La plupart des gens ne se souviennent pas d’avoir vécu dans un monde où Israël n’existerait pas. Pourtant ce sentiment de « permanence » a plus d’une fois été mis à rude épreuve – pendant les premiers jours de la guerre du Kippour, lorsqu’il semblait qu’Israël allait être envahi, ou encore durant les quelques semaines de mai et début juin 1967, quand Nasser instaura un blocus du détroit de Tiran et fit déferler 100 000 soldats dans le Sinaï pour rejeter les Juifs à la mer.

Pourtant, la victoire étourdissante d’Israël, en 1967, sa supériorité en armes conventionnelles, son succès dans chaque guerre durant laquelle son existence était en jeu, ont engendré l’autosatisfaction. L’idée même de la non-permanence d’Israël paraissait ridicule. Israël, écrivait un intellectuel de la diaspora, « est fondamentalement indestructible. Yitzhak Rabin le savait. Les dirigeants arabes sur le Mont Herzl (lors de l’enterrement de Rabin) le savaient. Seuls les saints de la droite, voleurs de terres et dégainant à toute occasion, l’ignorent. Ils sont animés par l’espoir de la catastrophe, l’exaltation d’assister à la fin ».

L’exaltation n’était pas exactement la sensation éprouvée par les Israéliens lorsque, pendant la guerre du Golfe, ils durent s’enfermer dans des pièces hermétiquement isolées et porter des masques à gaz pour se protéger d’une destruction de masse – et ce pour une guerre dans laquelle Israël n’était même pas impliqué. Il y eut alors une vague de peur, de terreur, d’impuissance, ces sentiments juifs ancestraux que la mode post-sioniste d’aujourd’hui juge anachroniques, si ce n’est réactionnaires. Mais la volonté ne change pas la réalité. La guerre du Golfe a rappelé, même aux plus optimistes, qu’à l’époque des armes chimiques, des missiles, et des bombes nucléaires, époque dans laquelle aucun pays n’est à l’abri d’armes de destruction de masse, Israël, avec sa population compacte et son territoire réduit, est particulièrement exposé à l’anéantissement.Israël n’est pas au bord du gouffre. Il n’est pas au bord du précipice. Nous ne sommes ni en 1948, ni en 1967 ou 1973. Et il le sait.

Il peut sembler étrange de commencer une étude sur la signification d’Israël et de l’avenir des Juifs en envisageant sa fin. Mais cela contribue à concentrer l’esprit. Et cela permet de mettre les enjeux en évidence. Les enjeux ne pourraient pas être plus élevés. J’affirme que l’existence et la survie du peuple juif sont directement liées à l’existence et à la survie d’Israël. Ou encore, pour exprimer cette thèse sur un mode négatif, que la fin d’Israël signifierait la fin du peuple juif. Le peuple juif a survécu à la destruction et à l’exil des Babyloniens, en 586 avant l’ère chrétienne. Il a survécu à la destruction et à l’exil des Romains, en 70 de notre ère, et pour la dernière fois en 132. Mais il ne pourrait survivre à une autre destruction, ni à un autre exil. Ce troisième État – l’Israël moderne -, né il y a de cela [63] ans, est le dernier.

Le retour à Sion est maintenant le principal drame du peuple Juif. Ce qui a commencé comme une expérience constitue dorénavant le coeur même du peuple juif – son centre culturel, spirituel, et psychologique, et cet État est devenu également son centre démographique. Israël est la clé de voûte. C’est sur lui que reposent les espoirs – l’unique espoir même – de continuité et de survie des Juifs.

3. La Diaspora moribonde

En 1950, il y avait 5 millions de Juifs aux États-Unis. En 1990, leur nombre dépassait à peine les 5,5 millions. Durant ces décennies, la population globale des États-Unis a augmenté de 65%. Celle des Juifs stagne. En fait, durant le dernier demi-siècle, le pourcentage de Juifs au sein de la population américaine est passé de 3 à 2. Et aujourd’hui, se précise un déclin, non pas relatif mais absolu. Ce qui a maintenu la population juive et son niveau actuel a été tout d’abord le « Baby boom » d’après-guerre, puis l’arrivée de 400 000 Juifs, principalement de l’Union soviétique.

Mais le « baby boom » est terminé. Et l’immigration russe touche à sa fin. Le nombre de Juifs qui se trouvent aux États-Unis n’est pas illimité. Si nous laissons de côté ces anomalies historiques, la population juive américaine est moins importante aujourd’hui que ce qu’elle était en 1950. Elle sera certainement encore plus faible dans l’avenir. En fait, elle est aujourd’hui vouée à un déclin catastrophique. Steve Bayme, directeur du Jewish Communal Affairs, prévoit carrément que, d’ici 20 ans, la population juive aura baissé jusqu’à 4 millions, une perte d’environ 30%. Et qu’en sera-t-il dans 20 ans ? Une projection de quelques décennies de plus annonce un avenir encore plus effrayant.

Comment une communauté peut-elle se décimer dans des conditions aussi favorables que celles des États-Unis ? – La raison est simple : fertilité basse et phénomène endémique de mariages mixtes. Le taux de fertilité, chez les Juifs américains, est de 1,6 enfants par femme. Le taux de remplacement (c’est à dire le taux nécessaire pour que la population reste constante) est de 2,1. Le taux courant est donc inférieur de 20% à ce qui serait nécessaire pour une progression nulle. Ainsi le taux de fertilité, à lui seul, entraînerait une baisse de 20% à chaque génération. En trois générations, la population diminuerait de moitié.

 Le faible taux de natalité ne découle pas d’une aversion particulière des femmes juives à l’égard des enfants. C’est tout simplement un cas flagrant du phénomène bien connu du déclin du taux de naissance, proportionnel à l’augmentation du niveau d’éducation et du niveau socio-économique. Des femmes éduquées, à la carrière brillante, ont tendance à se marier tard et à avoir moins de bébés. Ajoutons maintenant un second facteur : les mariages mixtes. Aux États-Unis, aujourd’hui, les Juifs se marient plus avec des chrétiens qu’avec des Juifs. Le taux de mariages mixtes est de 52%. (un calcul plus conservateur donne 47%, mais l’effet démographique reste fondamentalement le même). En 1970 le taux était de 8%.

Plus important encore pour la continuité juive est l’identité finale des enfants nés de ces mariages. Or, seul un sur quatre est élevé dans la tradition juive. Ainsi, deux tiers des mariages juifs produisent des enfants dont les trois-quarts sont perdus pour le peuple juif. À lui seul, le taux de mariages mixtes causerait un déclin de 25% de la population juive à chaque génération […] A ce rythme, la moitié des Juifs disparaîtraient en deux générations.

Combinez maintenant les effets de la fertilité et des mariages mixtes et faites la supposition, très optimiste, que chaque enfant élevé dans la tradition juive grandira en conservant son identité juive (c’est-à-dire avec un coefficient zéro de perte). Vous commencez avec 100 Juifs américains ; il vous en reste 60. En une génération, plus d’un tiers aura disparu. En deux générations seulement, 2 sur 3 se seront volatilisés.

On peut parvenir à la même conclusion par un autre raisonnement (en ne prenant pas du tout en compte les mariages mixtes). Un sondage du Los Angeles Times, effectué auprès des Juifs américains, en mars 1998, posait une question simple : élevez-vous vos enfants dans la tradition juive ? Seuls 70% ont répondu par l’affirmative. Une population dont le taux de remplacement biologique est de 80% et le taux de remplacement culturel de 70% est vouée à l’extinction. Selon ce calcul, 100 Juifs élèvent 56 enfants juifs. En deux générations, 7 Juifs sur 10 disparaîtront.

Les tendances démographiques dans le reste de la Diaspora ne sont pas plus encourageantes. En Europe de l’Ouest, la fertilité et les mariages mixtes sont le reflet de ceux des Etats-Unis. Prenons le cas de l’Angleterre. Durant la dernière génération, la communauté juive anglaise s’est comportée comme une sorte de cobaye expérimental : une communauté de la diaspora vivant dans une société ouverte, mais, contrairement à celle des États-Unis, sans être artificiellement alimentée par l’immigration. Que s’est-il passé ? Durant le dernier quart de siècle, le nombre de Juifs anglais a diminué de plus de 25%.

Durant la même période, la population juive de France n’a que légèrement diminué. Cependant la raison de cette stabilité relative est un facteur « unique » : l’afflux de la communauté juive d’Afrique du Nord. Cet apport est terminé. En France, aujourd’hui, seule une minorité de Juifs âgés de 20 et 44 ans, vivent dans une famille conventionnelle avec deux parents juifs. La France, elle aussi, suivra le chemin des autres pays.

« La dissolution de la communauté juive d’Europe », observe Bernard Wasserstein [5], « ne se situe pas dans un lointain futur hypothétique. Le processus est en train de se dérouler sous nos yeux et est déjà largement avancé ». D’après les tendances actuelles, « le nombre de Juifs en Europe en l’an 2000 ne dépasserait pas le million – le chiffre le plus bas depuis la fin du Moyen-Age ». En 1900, ils étaient 8 millions.

Ailleurs, la situation est encore plus décourageante. Le reste de ce qui fut un jour la Diaspora est maintenant soit un musée, soit un cimetière. L’Europe de l’Est a été vidée de ses Juifs. En 1939, la Pologne comptait 3,2 millions de Juifs. Il en reste aujourd’hui 35 000. La situation est à peu près identique dans les autres capitales d’Europe de l’Est.

Le monde islamique, berceau de la grande tradition juive séfarade et patrie d’un tiers de la population juive mondiale, est aujourd’hui pratiquement Judenrein. Aucun pays du monde islamique ne compte aujourd’hui plus de 20 000 Juifs. Après la Turquie, qui en compte 19 000, et l’Iran, où l’on en dénombre 14 000, le pays ayant la plus grande communauté juive dans le monde islamique est le Maroc, avec 6 100 Juifs – il y en a davantage à Omaha, dans le Nebraska. Ces communautés ne figurent pas dans les projections. Il n’y a d’ailleurs rien à projeter. Il n’est même pas besoin de les comptabiliser, il faut juste s’en souvenir. Leur expression même a disparu. Le yiddish et le ladino, langues respectives et distinctives des diasporas européennes et sépharades, ainsi que les communautés qui les ont inventées, ont quasiment disparu.

4. La dynamique de l’assimilation

N’est-il pas risqué de supposer que les tendances actuelles vont perdurer ? Non. Rien ne fera renaître les communautés juives d’Europe de l’est et du monde islamique. Et rien ne stoppera le déclin rapide, par le biais de l’assimilation, de la communauté juive de l’Ouest. Au contraire. En effectuant une projection plutôt classique des tendances actuelles – à supposer, comme je l’ai fait, que les taux restent fixes – il est risqué de supposer que l’assimilation ne va pas s’accélérer. Il n’y a rien, à l’horizon, qui soit susceptible d’inverser le processus d’assimilation des Juifs dans la culture occidentale. L’attirance des Juifs pour une culture plus vaste et le niveau d’acceptation des Juifs par cette culture sont sans précédent dans l’histoire.

Tout ceci est clair. Chaque génération devenant de plus en plus intégrée, les liens avec la tradition s’affaiblissent (comme on peut le mesurer par le taux de présence à la synagogue et le nombre d’enfants qui reçoivent une quelconque éducation juive). Cette dilution de l’identité, à son tour, entraîne une tendance plus forte aux mariages mixtes et à l’assimilation. Et d’ailleurs, pourquoi pas ? Qu’abandonnent-ils en définitive ? La boucle est bouclée et se renforce.

Examinons deux éléments culturels. Avant la naissance de la télévision – il y a de cela un demi-siècle -, la vie des Juifs en Amérique était représentée par les Goldberg : des Juifs aux bonnes manières, résolument ethniques, à l’accent marqué, socialement différents. 40 ans plus tard, les Goldberg ont engendré Seinfeld, le divertissement le plus populaire en Amérique aujourd’hui. Le personnage de Seinfeld n’a de juif que le nom. Il peut lui arriver d’évoquer son identité juive sans s’excuser et sans aucune gêne, mais – ce qui est plus important – sans que cela porte à conséquence. La chose n’a pas le moindre impact sur sa vie.

Une assimilation de cette nature n’est pas absolument sans précédent. D’une certaine manière, elle présente un parallèle avec le modèle d’Europe de l’Ouest, après l’émancipation des Juifs, à la fin du XVIIIe siècle et au début du XIXe. C’est la Révolution française qui constitue le tournant radical en conférant aux Juifs les droits civiques. Quand ils ont commencé à quitter le ghetto, ils ont tout d’abord rencontré une résistance à leur intégration et à leur ascension sociale. Ils étaient encore exclus des professions libérales, de l’éducation supérieure, et de la majeure partie des secteurs de la société. Mais, alors que ces barrières avaient lentement commencé à s’éroder et que les Juifs s’élevaient socialement, ils adoptèrent, de manière remarquable, la culture européenne, et, la plupart (ou beaucoup) adhérèrent au christianisme. Dans son Histoire du sionisme, Walter Laqueur cite l’opinion de Gabriel Riesser, un avocat, éloquent et courageux, de l’émancipation, au milieu du XIXe siècle, qui disait qu’un Juif qui préfère à l’Allemagne la nation et l’État inexistants d’Israël doit être placé sous la protection de la police, non parce qu’il est dangereux mais parce que, à l’évidence, il est fou.

Moïse Mendelssohn (1729-1786) était un précurseur. Cultivé, cosmopolite, bien que fermement Juif, il constituait la quintessence de l’émancipation précoce. Ainsi, son histoire est devenue emblématique de la progression historique rapide de l’émancipation vers l’assimilation : quatre de ses six enfants, ainsi que huit de ses neuf petits-enfants furent baptisés.

A cette époque, plus religieuse et plus chrétienne, l’assimilation prit la forme du baptême, ce que Henrich Heine qualifiait de « ticket d’entrée » dans la société européenne. En cette fin de XXe siècle [rappelons que l’auteur écrit cette article en 1998], nettement plus laïque, l’assimilation signifie simplement renoncer à un nom « pittoresque », aux rites, ainsi qu’à la totalité de l’accoutrement et des autres signes distinctifs du passé juif. Aujourd’hui, l’assimilation est entièrement passive. Ainsi, à part une visite au palais de justice pour transformer, disons, les « shmates [fripes] Ralph Lifshitz » en « polos Ralph Lauren » [6], l’assimilation est caractérisée par une absence d’action plutôt que par l’adoption volontaire d’une autre croyance. Contrairement aux enfants de Mendelssohn, Seinfeld n’a pas besoin d’être baptisé.

Bien sûr, nous savons, aujourd’hui, qu’en Europe, l’émancipation par l’assimilation s’est révélée être un leurre. La montée de l’antisémitisme, en particulier l’antisémitisme racial de la fin du XIXe siècle, qui a atteint son apogée dans le nazisme, a détourné les Juifs de la conviction que l’assimilation leur fournissait un moyen d’échapper au handicap et aux dangers d’être Juif. La saga de la famille de Madeleine Albright est emblématique. De ses quatre grand-parents juifs, parfaitement intégrés, parents d’enfants dont certains s’étaient convertis et avaient effacé leur passé de Juif, trois sont morts dans les camps de concentration nazis, parce que Juifs.

 Cependant, le contexte américain est différent. Il n’existe pas, dans l’histoire américaine, d’antisémitisme qui ressemble, même de loin, à celui qui existe dans l’histoire de l’Europe. La tradition américaine de tolérance remonte à 200 ans, à l’époque même de la fondation du pays. La lettre de Washington à la synagogue de Newport s’engage non pas à la tolérance – la tolérance témoigne de l’absence de persécution, accordée au pécheur comme une faveur, par le dominant – mais à l’égalité [7]. Cette situation n’a aucun équivalent dans l’histoire de l’Europe. Dans un tel pays, l’assimilation semble donc une solution raisonnable au problème de l’identité juive. Le fait d’unir son destin à celui d’une grande nation, humaine et généreuse, qui s’attache à promouvoir la dignité humaine et l’égalité, peut difficilement être considéré comme le pire des choix.Et pourtant, alors que l’assimilation peut être une solution pour les Juifs en tant qu’individus, elle constitue clairement un désastre pour les Juifs en tant que collectivité détentrice d’une mémoire, d’une langue, d’une tradition, d’une liturgie, d’une histoire, d’une foi, d’un patrimoine qui, en conséquence, disparaîtront. Quelle que soit la valeur qu’on attribue à l’assimilation, on ne peut en nier la réalité. Les tendances, tant démographiques que culturelles, sont puissantes. Et l’avenir de la diaspora, non seulement dans les anciennes contrées perdues de la Diaspora, non seulement dans son ancien centre européen, mais également dans son nouveau centre vital américain, sera fait de diminution, de déclin, puis de disparition. Cela ne se fera pas du jour au lendemain. Mais il y faudra moins de deux ou trois générations, un laps de temps à peine plus éloigné de notre quotidien que celui de la création de l’État d’Israël, il y a 50 ans.

5. Israël: l’exception

Israël est différent. En Israël la grande tentation du modernisme – l’assimilation – n’existe tout simplement pas. Israël est l’incarnation pure et simple de la continuité juive : c’est la seule nation au monde qui habite la même terre, porte le même nom, parle la même langue et vénère le même Dieu qu’il y a 3000 ans. En creusant le sol, on peut trouver des poteries du temps de David, des pièces de l’époque de Bar Kochba, et des parchemins vieux de 2000 ans, écrits de manière étonnamment semblable à celle qui, aujourd’hui, vante les crèmes glacées de la confiserie du coin.

Pourtant, comme la plus grande partie des Israéliens sont laïques, certains Juifs orthodoxes (ultra-religieux) contestent la prétention d’Israël de perpétuer une authentique histoire du peuple juif. Il en est de même pour certains Juifs laïques. Un critique français (le sociologue Georges Friedmann) a jadis qualifié les Israéliens de « goys parlant hébreu ». En fait, il y eut même une époque où il était à la mode, au sein d’un groupe d’intellectuels laïques israéliens, de se qualifier de « Cananéens » [8], c’est-à-dire des gens enracinés dans le pays, mais reniant totalement les traditions religieuses dont ils sont issus.

Malgré les apparences, ce ne sont pas des Arabes, mais des gardes juifs en 1905.
Ils étaient nombreux, alors, à s’identifier aux autochtones et à croire dur comme fer qu’ils partageraient le même destin. Leur sincère désir d’osmose ethnique était tel qu’ils s’habillaient à l’arabe, et souvent parlaient l’arabe.

Soit, appelez ces gens comme vous le voulez. Après tout, « Juif » est une dénomination plutôt récente de ce peuple. Ils furent d’abord des « Hébreux », puis des « Israélites ». « Juif » (qui vient du royaume de Juda, un des deux États qui ont succédé au royaume de David et de Salomon) est l’appellation post-exilique pour « Israélite ». C’est un nouveau venu dans l’histoire.

Comment qualifier un Israélien qui ne respecte pas les règles alimentaires, ne va pas à la synagogue, et considère le Shabbat comme le jour où l’on va faire un tour en voiture à la plage – ce qui, soit dit en passant, est une assez bonne description de la plupart des Premiers ministres d’Israël ? Cela n’a aucune importance. Installez un peuple juif dans un pays qui se fige le jour de Kippour, parle le langage de la Bible, vit au rythme (lunaire) du calendrier hébraïque, construit ses villes avec les pierres de ses ancêtres, produit une littérature et une poésie hébraïques, une éducation et un enseignement juifs qui n’ont pas d’égal dans le monde – et vous aurez la continuité. Les Israéliens pourraient s’appeler autrement. Peut-être un jour réserverons-nous le terme de « Juifs » à l’expérience d’exil d’il y a 2000 ans, et les appellerons-nous « Hébreux » [c’est le terme qu’utilise la langue italienne : « ebrei » – Note de Menahem Macina]. Ce terme a une belle connotation historique, c’est le nom que Joseph et Jonas ont donné en réponse a la question : « Qui êtes-vous ? » [Cf. Gn 40, 15 ; Jon 1, 9, ce terme figure environ une quarantaine de fois dans l’Ancien Testament – Note de M. Macina].

 Au sein du milieu culturel de l’Israël moderne, l’assimilation n’est pas vraiment le problème. Bien sûr, les Israéliens mangent au McDo et regardent les rediffusions du feuilleton ‘Dallas’. Tout comme le font les Russes, les Chinois, ou les Danois. Dire qu’il existe une forte influence occidentale (lisez : américaine) sur la culture israélienne ne signifie rien de plus que de dire qu’Israël subit la pression de la globalisation, comme n’importe quel autre pays. Mais cela ne change en rien sa particularité culturelle, prouvée par les grandes difficultés qu’éprouvent les immigrants à s’adapter à Israël.Dans le contexte israélien, l’assimilation signifie le rattachement des Juifs russes et roumains, ouzbeks et irakiens, algériens et argentins, à une culture distinctement hébraïque. C’est donc exactement l’opposé de ce que cela signifie dans la Diaspora : cela signifie l’abandon des langues, coutumes et traditions étrangères. Cela signifie l’abandon de Noël et de Pâques pour les remplacer par Hanouka et Pessah. Cela signifie l’abandon de la mémoire ancestrale des steppes et des pampas du monde pour les collines de Galilée et la pierre de Jérusalem, et la désolation de la Mer Morte. Voilà ce que ces nouveaux Israéliens apprennent. C’est ce qui sera transmis à leurs enfants. C’est pour cela que leur survie en tant que Juifs est assurée. Quelqu’un mettrait-il en doute le fait que le million de Russes qui ont immigré en Israël auraient été perdus pour le peuple juif s’ils étaient restés en Russie, et que, maintenant, ils ne sont plus perdus ?

Certains ne sont pas d’accord avec l’idée qu’Israël est porteur de la continuité du peuple juif, à cause de la multitude de désaccords et de fractures entre Israéliens : Orthodoxes contre Laïcs, Ashkénazes contre Sépharades, Russes contre Sabras, etc. Israël est aujourd’hui engagé dans d’amers débats à propos de la légitimité du judaïsme conservateur et réformiste, ainsi que de l’empiétement de l’orthodoxie sur la vie sociale et civique du pays.

Et alors, qu’y a-t-il là de nouveau ? Israël est tout simplement en train de revenir à la norme juive. Il existe des divisions tout aussi sérieuses au sein de la Diaspora, tout comme il en existait au sein du dernier État juif : « Avant la suprématie des Pharisiens et l’émergence d’une orthodoxie rabbinique, après la chute du second Temple», écrit l’universitaire Frank Cross, «le judaïsme était plus complexe et varié que nous le supposions ». Les Manuscrits de la Mer Morte, explique Hershel Shanks, «attestent de la variété – mal perçue jusqu’à ce jour – du judaïsme de la fin de la période du Second Temple, à tel point que les universitaires évoquent souvent, non pas le judaïsme, mais les judaïsmes. »

Le second État juif était caractérisé par des rixes entre sectaires juifs : Pharisiens, Sadducéens, Esséniens, apocalypticiens de tous bords, sectes aujourd’hui oubliées par l’histoire, sans parler des premiers chrétiens. Ceux qui s’inquiètent des tensions entre laïcs et religieux en Israël devraient méditer sur la lutte, qui dura plusieurs siècles, entre les Hellénistes et les Traditionalistes, durant la période du deuxième État juif. La révolte des Macchabées, entre 167 et 164 avant J.-C., célébrée aujourd’hui à Hanoukka, était, entre autres, une guerre civile entre Juifs.

Certes, il est peu probable qu’Israël produise une identité juive unique. Mais ce n’est pas nécessaire. Le monolithisme relatif du judaïsme rabbinique au Moyen-Âge est l’exception. Fracture et division sont les réalités du quotidien, à l’ère moderne, tout comme elles l’étaient dans le premier et le second États juifs. Ainsi, durant la période du premier Temple, le peuple d’Israël était divisé en deux États [le royaume de Juda, au sud, et celui d’Israël, au nord – note du réviseur de la version française], qui étaient en conflit quasi permanent. Les divisions actuelles au sein d’Israël ne supportent pas la comparaison.

Quelles que soient l’identité, ou les identités finalement adoptées par les Israéliens, le fait est que, pour eux, le problème majeur de la communauté juive de la Diaspora – le suicide par assimilation – n’existe tout simplement pas. Béni par la sécurité de son identité, Israël se développe. Et le résultat en est qu’Israël n’est plus seulement le centre culturel du monde juif, il en devient rapidement aussi le centre démographique. Le taux de natalité relativement élevé entraîne une augmentation naturelle de la population. Ajoutez à cela un taux net stable d’immigration (près d’un million depuis la fin des années 80), et les chiffres, en Israël, progressent inexorablement, même si la diaspora diminue. D’ici une décennie, Israël dépassera les Etats-Unis en tant que communauté juive la plus importante du monde. D’ici la fin de notre vie, la majorité des Juifs du monde vivront en Israël. Cela ne s’était pas produit depuis bien avant l’ère chrétienne.

Il y a de cela un siècle, l’Europe était le centre de la vie juive. Plus de 80% de la population juive du monde y vivait. La Deuxième Guerre mondiale a détruit la communauté juive européenne et dispersé les survivants vers le Nouveau Monde (principalement les États-Unis), et vers Israël. Aujourd’hui, nous avons un univers juif bipolaire, avec deux centres de gravité de taille approximativement égale. C’est une étape transitoire, pourtant. Une étoile est en train de s’affaiblir, et l’autre de s’allumer.

Bientôt et inévitablement, la face du peuple juif aura été à nouveau transformée, pour devenir un système mono-planétaire avec une Diaspora faiblissante en orbite. Ce sera un retour à l’ancienne norme : le peuple juif sera concentré – non seulement spirituellement, mais aussi physiquement – dans sa patrie historique.

6. La Fin de la Dispersion

Les conséquences de cette transformation sont énormes. La position centrale d’Israël est plus qu’une question de démographie. Elle représente une nouvelle stratégie, hardie et dangereuse pour la survie du peuple juif. Pendant deux millénaires, le peuple juif a survécu grâce à la dispersion et à l’isolement. Après le premier exil, en 586 avant J.-C., et le second, en 70, puis en 132, les Juifs se sont d’abord installés en Mésopotamie et autour du bassin Méditerranéen, puis en Europe de l’Est et du Nord, et, finalement, au Nouveau Monde, à l’Ouest, avec des communautés situées presque aux quatre coins du monde, jusqu’en Inde et en Chine.

Tout au long de cette période, le peuple juif a survécu à l’énorme pression de la persécution, des massacres et des conversions forcées, non seulement par sa foi et son courage, mais aussi grâce à sa dispersion géographique. Décimés ici, ils survivaient ailleurs. Les milliers de villes et de villages juifs répartis dans toute l’Europe, le monde islamique et le Nouveau Monde, constituaient une sorte d’assurance démographique. Même si de nombreux Juifs ont été massacrés lors de la première Croisade, le long du Rhin, même si de nombreux villages ont été détruits au cours des pogroms de 1648-1649, en Ukraine, il y en avait encore des milliers d’autres répartis sur toute la planète pour continuer. Cette dispersion a contribué à la faiblesse et la vulnérabilité des communautés juives prises séparément. Paradoxalement, pourtant, elle a constitué un facteur d’endurance et de force pour le peuple juif dans son ensemble. Aucun tyran ne pouvait réunir une force suffisante pour menacer la survie du peuple juif partout dans le monde.

Jusqu’à Hitler. Les nazis sont parvenus à détruire presque tout ce qu’il y avait de juif, des Pyrénées aux portes de Stalingrad, une civilisation entière, vieille de mille ans. Il y avait neuf millions de Juifs en Europe lorsque Hitler accéda au pouvoir. Il a exterminé les deux tiers d’entre eux. Cinquante ans plus tard, les Juifs ne s’en sont pas encore remis. Il y avait seize millions de Juifs dans le monde, en 1939. Aujourd’hui, ils sont treize millions [Attention : chiffres de la fin des années 1990].

Toutefois, les conséquences de l’Holocauste n’ont pas été que démographiques. Elles ont été psychologiques, bien sûr, et aussi idéologiques. La preuve avait été faite, une fois pour toutes, du danger catastrophique de l’impuissance. La solution était l’autodéfense, ce qui supposait une re-centration démographique dans un lieu doté de souveraineté, d’armement, et constituant un véritable État.

Avant la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, il y avait un véritable débat, au sein du monde juif, à propos du sionisme. Les juifs réformistes, par exemple, avaient été antisionistes durant des décennies. L’Holocauste a permis de clore ce débat. A part certains extrêmes – la droite ultra-orthodoxe et l’extrême gauche – le sionisme est devenu la solution reconnue à l’impuissance et à la vulnérabilité juives. Au milieu des ruines, les Juifs ont pris la décision collective de dire que leur futur reposait sur l’autodéfense et la territorialité, le rassemblement des exilés en un endroit où ils pourraient enfin acquérir les moyens de se défendre eux-mêmes.

C’était la bonne décision, la seule décision possible. Mais ô combien périlleuse ! Quel curieux choix que celui de ce lieu pour l’ultime bataille : un point sur la carte, un petit morceau de quasi-désert, une fine bande d’habitat juif, à l’abri de barrières naturelles on ne peut plus fragiles (et auxquelles le monde exige qu’Israël renonce). Une attaque de tanks suffisamment déterminée peut la couper en deux. Un petit arsenal de Scuds à tête nucléaire peut la détruire intégralement.

Pour détruire le peuple juif, Hitler devait conquérir le monde. Tout ce qu’il faudrait aujourd’hui, c’est conquérir un territoire plus petit que le Vermont [aux Etats-Unis]. La terrible ironie est qu’en résolvant leur problème d’impuissance, les Juifs ont mis tous leurs oeufs dans le même panier, un petit panier au bord de la Méditerranée. Et, de son sort, dépend le sort de tous les Juifs.

7. Envisager l’impensable

Et si le troisième État Juif trouvait la mort, tout comme les deux premiers ? Ce scénario n’est pas si aberrant : un État Palestinien est né, s’arme, conclut des alliances avec, supposons, l’Iraq et la Syrie. La guerre éclate entre la Palestine et Israël (au sujet des frontières, ou de l’eau, ou du terrorisme). La Syrie et l’Iraq attaquent de l’extérieur. L’Égypte et l’Arabie Saoudite entrent dans la bataille. Le front subit des attaques de guérilla de la part de la Palestine. Les armes chimiques et biologiques pleuvent de Syrie, d’Iraq et d’Iran. Israël est envahi.
Pourquoi serait-ce la fin ? Le peuple juif ne peut-il pas survivre, ainsi qu’il l’a fait lorsque sa patrie a été détruite et son indépendance politique anéantie, comme ce fut le cas, à deux reprises, auparavant ? Pourquoi pas un nouvel exil, une nouvelle Diaspora, un nouveau cycle de l’histoire juive ?

Tout d’abord parce que les conditions culturelles de l’exil seraient largement différentes. Les premiers exils se sont produits à une époque où l’identité était quasiment synonyme de religion. Une expulsion, deux millénaires plus tard, dans un monde devenu laïc, n’est en rien comparable. Mais il y a plus important encore : pourquoi garder une telle identité ? Outre la dislocation, viendrait l’abattement pur et simple. Un tel événement anéantirait l’esprit. Aucun peuple ne pourrait y survivre. Pas même les Juifs. Il s’agit d’un peuple qui a miraculeusement survécu à deux précédentes destructions et à deux millénaires de persécution, dans l’espoir d’un retour définitif et d’une restauration. Israël EST cet espoir. Le voir détruit, avoir, une fois encore, des Isaïe et des Jérémie qui pleurent sur les veuves de Sion, au milieu des ruines de Jérusalem, excéderait ce qu’un peuple peut supporter.

Surtout après l’Holocauste, la pire calamité de l’histoire juive. Y avoir survécu est déjà suffisamment miraculeux en soi. Survivre ensuite à la destruction de ce qui est né pour le sauver – celle du nouvel État juif – reviendrait à attribuer à la nation juive et à la survie des Juifs un pouvoir surnaturel. Certes, des Juifs et des communautés dispersées survivraient. Les plus dévots, qui étaient déjà une minorité, perpétueraient – telle une tribu exotique – un anachronisme pittoresque, de style Amish, vestige, dispersé et à plaindre, d’un vestige. Mais les Juifs, en tant que peuple, auraient disparu de l’histoire.

Nous présumons que l’histoire juive est cyclique : exil babylonien en 586 av. J.-C., suivi par le retour, en 538 av. J.-C., exil romain en 135, suivi par le retour, légèrement différé en 1948. C’est oublier la part linéaire de l’histoire juive : il y a eu une autre destruction, un siècle et demi avant la chute du premier Temple. Elle restera irréparable. En 722 av. J.-C., les Assyriens firent la conquête de l’autre État juif, le plus grand, le royaume du nord d’Israël (la Judée, dont descendent les juifs modernes, constituait le royaume du Sud). Il s’agit de l’Israël des Dix Tribus, exilées et perdues pour toujours.

Leur mystère est si tenace que, lorsque les explorateurs Lewis et Clark partirent pour leur expédition [vers les vastes Plaines de l’Ouest américain], une des nombreuses questions préparées à leur intention par le Dr Benjamin Rush, à la demande du président Jefferson lui-même, fut la suivante : Quel lien existe-t-il entre leurs cérémonies [celles des Indiens] et celles des Juifs ? – « Jefferson et Lewis avaient longuement parlé de ces tribus », explique Stephen Ambrose. «Ils conjecturaient que les tribus perdues d’Israël pouvaient être quelque part dans les Plaines. »

Hélas, ce n’était pas le cas. Les Dix Tribus se sont dissoutes dans l’histoire. En cela, elles sont représentatives de la norme historique. Tout peuple conquis de cette façon et exilé disparaît avec le temps. Seuls les Juifs ont défié cette norme, à deux reprises.

Mais je crains que ce ne soit plus jamais le cas.

—————————–

Notes de Menahem Macina

[1] Phrase souvent citée hors contexte et sans référence. « La petite nation est celle dont l’existence peut être à n’importe quel moment mise en question, qui peut disparaître, et qui le sait. Un Français, un Russe, un Anglais n’ont pas l’habitude de se poser des questions sur la survie de leur nation. Leurs hymnes ne parlent que de grandeur et d’éternité. Or, l’hymne polonais commence par le vers : La Pologne n’a pas encore péri ». (Milan Kundera, « L’Occident kidnappé – ou la tragédie de l’Europe centrale », dans Le Débat 27, 1983, pp. 3-22).

[2] Le 15 mars 1939, les troupes allemandes envahissaient la Tchécolovaquie. L’occupation de ce pays était la conséquence directe des accords de Munich, signés le 30 septembre 1938, par Hitler, Chamberlain et Daladier. Par ces accords, un tiers du territoire du pays était cédé à l’Allemagne nazie. Voir l’Encyclopédie multimédia de la Shoah, Adolf Hitler passe ses troupes en revue dans le château de Prague le jour de l’occupation de la ville. Prague, Tchécoslovaquie, 15 mars 1939. Czechoslovak News Agency.

[3] D’après le propos de Neuville Chamberlain, en 1938. Sources : National Broadcast, London, September 27, 1938 ; Chamberlain, In Search of Peace, p. 174 (1939).

[4] Nous venons d’en avoir la preuve [remarque rédigée en 2006]. Si pessimiste qu’il soit, Krauthammer n’avait certainement pas imaginé, même dans ses pires cauchemars, qu’un président iranien irait jusqu’à proclamer publiquement, à la face des nations, son intention d’effacer Israël de la carte du monde, et qu’il en aurait les moyens, puisqu’il est en train de se doter de l’arme nucléaire. On peut lire cet appel au génocide dans la « Version française intégrale du discours antisioniste du Président iranien ».

[5] Une Diaspora en voie de disparition : Les Juifs en Europe depuis 1945, Calmann-Lévy, 2000.

[6] Voir le site NNDB, où Ralph Lipshitz explique, avec franchise, pourquoi il a changé son nom en Ralph Lauren, devenu depuis un célèbre créateur de vêtements de mode.

[7] Voir : « The letter from George Washington in response to Moses Seixas ».

[8] C’est le poète israélien, Yonatan Ratosh (1908-1981) qui fonda le groupe des « Cananéens », qui visait à un rapprochement judéo-arabe en Palestine. Selon Stephen Plaut, « il y a toujours eu une forte tendance « cananéenne » dans la société israélienne, particulièrement au sein de son élite intellectuelle, qui insistait sur le fait que les Israéliens représentaient une nouvelle nationalité « post-juive », et constituait ainsi essentiellement un groupe ethnique totalement non juif. (les « Cananéens » étaient un mouvement d’Israéliens, qui, dans les années 50 et par la suite, ont tenté de détacher l’israélité de la judéité et de créer une nouvelle « nationalité » non confessionnelle d' »Israéliens » de langue hébraïque, qui pourrait inclure également les Arabes.) En tant que tels, ces nouveaux « Israéliens » cananéisés » croyaient avoir peu de choses en commun avec les Juifs et encore moins avec l’histoire de la Diaspora. Maints Juifs israéliens « cananéisés » insistaient sur le fait qu’ils avaient bien plus de choses en commun avec les Druzes et les bédouins du pays, qu’avec tous les Juifs orthodoxes de Brooklyn. » (Voir son article « L’antisémitisme juif ».)

At Last, Zion
Charles Krauthammer
The Weekly Standard
May 11, 1998

I. A SMALL NATION

Milan Kundera once defined a small nation as « one whose very existence may be put in question at any moment; a small nation can disappear, and it knows it. »

The United States is not a small nation. Neither is Japan. Or France. These nations may suffer defeats. They may even be occupied. But they cannot disappear. Kundera’s Czechoslovakia could — and once did. Prewar Czechoslovakia is the paradigmatic small nation: a liberal democracy created in the ashes of war by a world determined to let little nations live free; threatened by the covetousness and sheer mass of a rising neighbor; compromised fatally by a West grown weary « of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing »; left truncated and defenseless, succumbing finally to conquest. When Hitler entered Prague in March 1939, he declared, « Czechoslovakia has ceased to exist. »

Israel too is a small country. This is not to say that extinction is its fate. Only that it can be.

Moreover, in its vulnerability to extinction, Israel is not just any small country. It is the only small country — the only period, period — whose neighbors publicly declare its very existence an affront to law, morality, and religion and make its extinction an explicit, paramount national goal. Nor is the goal merely declarative. Iran, Libya, and Iraq conduct foreign policies designed for the killing of Israelis and the destruction of their state. They choose their allies (Hamas, Hezbollah) and develop their weapons (suicide bombs, poison gas, anthrax, nuclear missiles) accordingly. Countries as far away as Malaysia will not allow a representative of Israel on their soil nor even permit the showing of Schindler’s List lest it engender sympathy for Zion.

Others are more circumspect in their declarations. No longer is the destruction of Israel the unanimous goal of the Arab League, as it was for the thirty years before Camp David. Syria, for example, no longer explicitly enunciates it. Yet Syria would destroy Israel tomorrow if it had the power. (Its current reticence on the subject is largely due to its post-Cold War need for the American connection.)

Even Egypt, first to make peace with Israel and the presumed model for peacemaking, has built a vast U.S.-equipped army that conducts military exercises obviously designed for fighting Israel. Its huge « Badr ’96 » exercises, for example, Egypt’s largest since the 1973 war, featured simulated crossings of the Suez Canal.

And even the PLO, which was forced into ostensible recognition of Israel in the Oslo Agreements of 1993, is still ruled by a national charter that calls in at least fourteen places for Israel’s eradication. The fact that after five years and four specific promises to amend the charter it remains unamended is a sign of how deeply engraved the dream of eradicating Israel remains in the Arab consciousness.

II. THE STAKES

The contemplation of Israel’s disappearance is very difficult for this generation. For fifty years, Israel has been a fixture. Most people cannot remember living in a world without Israel.

Nonetheless, this feeling of permanence has more than once been rudely interrupted — during the first few days of the Yom Kippur War when it seemed as if Israel might be overrun, or those few weeks in May and early June 1967 when Nasser blockaded the Straits of Tiran and marched 100,000 troops into Sinai to drive the Jews into the sea.

Yet Israel’s stunning victory in 1967, its superiority in conventional weaponry, its success in every war in which its existence was at stake, has bred complacency. Some ridicule the very idea of Israel’s impermanence. Israel, wrote one Diaspora intellectual, « is fundamentally indestructible. Yitzhak Rabin knew this. The Arab leaders on Mount Herzl [at Rabin’s funeral] knew this. Only the land-grabbing, trigger-happy saints of the right do not know this. They are animated by the imagination of catastrophe, by the thrill of attending the end. »

Thrill was not exactly the feeling Israelis had when during the Gulf War they entered sealed rooms and donned gas masks to protect themselves from mass death — in a war in which Israel was not even engaged. The feeling was fear, dread, helplessness — old existential Jewish feelings that post- Zionist fashion today deems anachronistic, if not reactionary. But wish does not overthrow reality. The Gulf War reminded even the most wishful that in an age of nerve gas, missiles, and nukes, an age in which no country is completely safe from weapons of mass destruction, Israel with its compact population and tiny area is particularly vulnerable to extinction.

Israel is not on the edge. It is not on the brink. This is not ’48 or ’67 or ’73. But Israel is a small country. It can disappear. And it knows it.

It may seem odd to begin an examination of the meaning of Israel and the future of the Jews by contemplating the end. But it does concentrate the mind. And it underscores the stakes. The stakes could not be higher. It is my contention that on Israel — on its existence and survival — hangs the very existence and survival of the Jewish people. Or, to put the thesis in the negative, that the end of Israel means the end of the Jewish people. They survived destruction and exile at the hands of Babylon in 586 B.C. They survived destruction and exile at the hands of Rome in 70 A.D., and finally in 132 A.D. They cannot survive another destruction and exile. The Third Commonwealth — modern Israel, born just 50 years ago — is the last.

The return to Zion is now the principal drama of Jewish history. What began as an experiment has become the very heart of the Jewish people — its cultural, spiritual, and psychological center, soon to become its demographic center as well. Israel is the hinge. Upon it rest the hopes — the only hope – – for Jewish continuity and survival.

III. THE DYING DIASPORA

In 1950, there were 5 million Jews in the United States. In 1990, the number was a slightly higher 5.5 million. In the intervening decades, overall U.S. population rose 65 percent. The Jews essentially tread water. In fact, in the last half-century Jews have shrunk from 3 percent to 2 percent of the American population. And now they are headed for not just relative but absolute decline. What sustained the Jewish population at its current level was, first, the postwar baby boom, then the influx of 400,000 Jews, mostly from the Soviet Union.

Well, the baby boom is over. And Russian immigration is drying up. There are only so many Jews where they came from. Take away these historical anomalies, and the American Jewish population would be smaller today than today. In fact, it is now headed for catastrophic decline. Steven Bayme, director of Jewish Communal Affairs at the American Jewish Committee, flatly predicts that in twenty years the Jewish population will be down to four million, a loss of nearly 30 percent. In twenty years! Projecting just a few decades further yields an even more chilling future.

How does a community decimate itself in the benign conditions of the United States? Easy: low fertility and endemic intermarriage.

The fertility rate among American Jews is 1.6 children per woman. The replacement rate (the rate required for the population to remain constant) is 2.1. The current rate is thus 20 percent below what is needed for zero growth. Thus fertility rates alone would cause a 20 percent decline in every generation. In three generations, the population would be cut in half.

The low birth rate does not stem from some peculiar aversion of Jewish women to children. It is merely a striking case of the well-known and universal phenomenon of birth rates declining with rising education and socio- economic class. Educated, successful working women tend to marry late and have fewer babies.

Add now a second factor, intermarriage. In the United States today more Jews marry Christians than marry Jews. The intermarriage rate is 52 percent. (A more conservative calculation yields 47 percent; the demographic effect is basically the same.) In 1970, the rate was 8 percent.

Most important for Jewish continuity, however, is the ultimate identity of the children born to these marriages. Only about one in four is raised Jewish. Thus two-thirds of Jewish marriages are producing children three-quarters of whom are lost to the Jewish people. Intermarriage rates alone would cause a 25 percent decline in population in every generation. (Math available upon request.) In two generations, half the Jews would disappear.

Now combine the effects of fertility and intermarriage and make the overly optimistic assumption that every child raised Jewish will grow up to retain his Jewish identity (i.e., a zero dropout rate). You can start with 100 American Jews; you end up with 60. In one generation, more than a third have disappeared. In just two generations, two out of every three will vanish.

One can reach this same conclusion by a different route (bypassing the intermarriage rates entirely). A Los Angeles Times poll of American Jews conducted in March 1998 asked a simple question: Are you raising your children as Jews? Only 70 percent said yes. A population in which the biological replacement rate is 80 percent and the cultural replacement rate is 70 percent is headed for extinction. By this calculation, every 100 Jews are raising 56 Jewish children. In just two generations, 7 out of every 10 Jews will vanish.

The demographic trends in the rest of the Diaspora are equally unencouraging. In Western Europe, fertility and intermarriage rates mirror those of the United States. Take Britain. Over the last generation, British Jewry has acted as a kind of controlled experiment: a Diaspora community living in an open society, but, unlike that in the United States, not artificially sustained by immigration. What happened? Over the last quarter- century, the number of British Jews declined by over 25 percent.

Over the same interval, France’s Jewish population declined only slightly. The reason for this relative stability, however, is a one-time factor: the influx of North African Jewry. That influx is over. In France today only a minority of Jews between the ages of twenty and forty-four live in a conventional family with two Jewish parents. France, too, will go the way of the rest.

« The dissolution of European Jewry, » observes Bernard Wasserstein in Vanishing Diaspora: The Jews in Europe since 1945, « is not situated at some point in the hypothetical future. The process is taking place before our eyes and is already far advanced. » Under present trends, « the number of Jews in Europe by the year 2000 would then be not much more than one million — the lowest figure since the last Middle Ages. »

In 1990, there were eight million.

The story elsewhere is even more dispiriting. The rest of what was once the Diaspora is now either a museum or a graveyard. Eastern Europe has been effectively emptied of its Jews. In 1939, Poland had 3.2 million Jews. Today it is home to 3,500. The story is much the same in the other capitals of Eastern Europe.

The Islamic world, cradle to the great Sephardic Jewish tradition and home to one-third of world Jewry three centuries ago, is now practically Judenrein. Not a single country in the Islamic world is home to more than 20,000 Jews. After Turkey with 19,000 and Iran with 14,000, the country with the largest Jewish community in the entire Islamic world is Morocco with 6, 100. There are more Jews in Omaha, Nebraska.

These communities do not figure in projections. There is nothing to project. They are fit subjects not for counting but for remembering. Their very sound has vanished. Yiddish and Ladino, the distinctive languages of the European and Sephardic Diasporas, like the communities that invented them, are nearly extinct.

IV. THE DYNAMICS OF ASSIMILATION

Is it not risky to assume that current trends will continue? No. Nothing will revive the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe and the Islamic world. And nothing will stop the rapid decline by assimilation of Western Jewry. On the contrary. Projecting current trends — assuming, as I have done, that rates remain constant — is rather conservative: It is risky to assume that assimilation will not accelerate. There is nothing on the horizon to reverse the integration of Jews into Western culture. The attraction of Jews to the larger culture and the level of acceptance of Jews by the larger culture are historically unprecedented. If anything, the trends augur an intensification of assimilation.

It stands to reason. As each generation becomes progressively more assimilated, the ties to tradition grow weaker (as measured, for example, by synagogue attendance and number of children receiving some kind of Jewish education). This dilution of identity, in turn, leads to a greater tendency to intermarriage and assimilation. Why not? What, after all, are they giving up? The circle is complete and self-reinforcing.

Consider two cultural artifacts. With the birth of television a half- century ago, Jewish life in America was represented by The Goldbergs: urban Jews, decidedly ethnic, heavily accented, socially distinct. Forty years later The Goldbergs begat Seinfeld, the most popular entertainment in America today. The Seinfeld character is nominally Jewish. He might cite his Jewish identity on occasion without apology or self- consciousness — but, even more important, without consequence. It has not the slightest influence on any aspect of his life.

Assimilation of this sort is not entirely unprecedented. In some ways, it parallels the pattern in Western Europe after the emancipation of the Jews in the late 18th and 19th centuries. The French Revolution marks the turning point in the granting of civil rights to Jews. As they began to emerge from the ghetto, at first they found resistance to their integration and advancement. They were still excluded from the professions, higher education, and much of society. But as these barriers began gradually to erode and Jews advanced socially, Jews began a remarkable embrace of European culture and, for many, Christianity. In A History of Zionism, Walter Laqueur notes the view of Gabriel Riesser, an eloquent and courageous mid-19th-century advocate of emancipation, that a Jew who preferred the non-existent state and nation of Israel to Germany should be put under police protection not because he was dangerous but because he was obviously insane.

Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) was a harbinger. Cultured, cosmopolitan, though firmly Jewish, he was the quintessence of early emancipation. Yet his story became emblematic of the rapid historical progression from emancipation to assimilation: Four of his six children and eight of his nine grandchildren were baptized.

In that more religious, more Christian age, assimilation took the form of baptism, what Henrich Heine called the admission ticket to European society. In the far more secular late-20th century, assimilation merely means giving up the quaint name, the rituals, and the other accouterments and identifiers of one’s Jewish past. Assimilation today is totally passive. Indeed, apart from the trip to the county courthouse to transform, say, (shmattes by) Ralph Lifshitz into (Polo by) Ralph Lauren, it is marked by an absence of actions rather than the active embrace of some other faith. Unlike Mendelssohn’s children, Seinfeld required no baptism.

We now know, of course, that in Europe, emancipation through assimilation proved a cruel hoax. The rise of anti-Semitism, particularly late-19th- century racial anti-Semitism culminating in Nazism, disabused Jews of the notion that assimilation provided escape from the liabilities and dangers of being Jewish. The saga of the family of Madeleine Albright is emblematic. Of her four Jewish grandparents — highly assimilated, with children some of whom actually converted and erased their Jewish past — three went to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps as Jews.

Nonetheless, the American context is different. There is no American history of anti-Semitism remotely resembling Europe’s. The American tradition of tolerance goes back 200 years to the very founding of the country. Washington’s letter to the synagogue in Newport pledges not tolerance — tolerance bespeaks non-persecution bestowed as a favor by the dominant upon the deviant — but equality. It finds no parallel in the history of Europe. In such a country, assimilation seems a reasonable solution to one’s Jewish problem. One could do worse than merge one’s destiny with that of a great and humane nation dedicated to the proposition of human dignity and equality.

Nonetheless, while assimilation may be a solution for individual Jews, it clearly is a disaster for Jews as a collective with a memory, a language, a tradition, a liturgy, a history, a faith, a patrimony that will all perish as a result.

Whatever value one might assign to assimilation, one cannot deny its reality. The trends, demographic and cultural, are stark. Not just in the long-lost outlands of the Diaspora, not just in its erstwhile European center, but even in its new American heartland, the future will be one of diminution, decline, and virtual disappearance. This will not occur overnight. But it will occur soon — in but two or three generations, a time not much further removed from ours today than the founding of Israel fifty years ago.

V. ISRAELI EXCEPTIONALISM

Israel is different. In Israel the great temptation of modernity — assimilation — simply does not exist. Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store.

Because most Israelis are secular, however, some ultra-religious Jews dispute Israel’s claim to carry on an authentically Jewish history. So do some secular Jews. A French critic (sociologist Georges Friedmann) once called Israelis « Hebrew-speaking gentiles. » In fact, there was once a fashion among a group of militantly secular Israeli intellectuals to call themselves  » Canaanites, » i.e., people rooted in the land but entirely denying the religious tradition from which they came.

Well then, call these people what you will. « Jews, » after all, is a relatively recent name for this people. They started out as Hebrews, then became Israelites. « Jew » (derived from the Kingdom of Judah, one of the two successor states to the Davidic and Solomonic Kingdom of Israel) is the post- exilic term for Israelite. It is a latecomer to history.

What to call the Israeli who does not observe the dietary laws, has no use for the synagogue, and regards the Sabbath as the day for a drive to the beach — a fair description, by the way, of most of the prime ministers of Israel? It does not matter. Plant a Jewish people in a country that comes to a standstill on Yom Kippur; speaks the language of the Bible; moves to the rhythms of the Hebrew (lunar) calendar; builds cities with the stones of its ancestors; produces Hebrew poetry and literature, Jewish scholarship and learning unmatched anywhere in the world — and you have continuity.

Israelis could use a new name. Perhaps we will one day relegate the word Jew to the 2,000-year exilic experience and once again call these people Hebrews. The term has a nice historical echo, being the name by which Joseph and Jonah answered the question: « Who are you? »

In the cultural milieu of modern Israel, assimilation is hardly the problem. Of course Israelis eat McDonald’s and watch Dallas reruns. But so do Russians and Chinese and Danes. To say that there are heavy Western (read: American) influences on Israeli culture is to say nothing more than that Israel is as subject to the pressures of globalization as any other country. But that hardly denies its cultural distinctiveness, a fact testified to by the great difficulty immigrants have in adapting to Israel.

In the Israeli context, assimilation means the reattachment of Russian and Romanian, Uzbeki and Iraqi, Algerian and Argentinian Jews to a distinctively Hebraic culture. It means the exact opposite of what it means in the Diaspora: It means giving up alien languages, customs, and traditions. It means giving up Christmas and Easter for Hanukkah and Passover. It means giving up ancestral memories of the steppes and the pampas and the savannas of the world for Galilean hills and Jerusalem stone and Dead Sea desolation. That is what these new Israelis learn. That is what is transmitted to their children. That is why their survival as Jews is secure. Does anyone doubt that the near- million Soviet immigrants to Israel would have been largely lost to the Jewish people had they remained in Russia — and that now they will not be lost?

Some object to the idea of Israel as carrier of Jewish continuity because of the myriad splits and fractures among Israelis: Orthodox versus secular, Ashkenazi versus Sephardi, Russian versus sabra, and so on. Israel is now engaged in bitter debates over the legitimacy of conservative and reform Judaism and the encroachment of Orthodoxy upon the civic and social life of the country.

So what’s new? Israel is simply recapitulating the Jewish norm. There are equally serious divisions in the Diaspora, as there were within the last Jewish Commonwealth: « Before the ascendancy of the Pharisees and the emergence of Rabbinic orthodoxy after the fall of the Second Temple, » writes Harvard Near East scholar Frank Cross, « Judaism was more complex and variegated than we had supposed. » The Dead Sea Scrolls, explains Hershel Shanks, « emphasize a hitherto unappreciated variety in Judaism of the late Second Temple period, so much so that scholars often speak not simply of Judaism but of Judaisms. »

The Second Commonwealth was a riot of Jewish sectarianism: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, apocalyptics of every stripe, sects now lost to history, to say nothing of the early Christians. Those concerned about the secular- religious tensions in Israel might contemplate the centuries-long struggle between Hellenizers and traditionalists during the Second Commonwealth. The Maccabean revolt of 167-4 B.C., now celebrated as Hanukkah, was, among other things, a religious civil war among Jews.

Yes, it is unlikely that Israel will produce a single Jewish identity. But that is unnecessary. The relative monolith of Rabbinic Judaism in the Middle Ages is the exception. Fracture and division is a fact of life during the modern era, as during the First and Second Commonwealths. Indeed, during the period of the First Temple, the people of Israel were actually split into two often warring states. The current divisions within Israel pale in comparison.

Whatever identity or identities are ultimately adopted by Israelis, the fact remains that for them the central problem of Diaspora Jewry — suicide by assimilation — simply does not exist. Blessed with this security of identity, Israel is growing. As a result, Israel is not just the cultural center of the Jewish world, it is rapidly becoming its demographic center as well. The relatively high birth rate yields a natural increase in population. Add a steady net rate of immigration (nearly a million since the late 1980s), and Israel’s numbers rise inexorably even as the Diaspora declines.

Within a decade Israel will pass the United States as the most populous Jewish community on the globe. Within our lifetime a majority of the world’s Jews will be living in Israel. That has not happened since well before Christ.

A century ago, Europe was the center of Jewish life. More than 80 percent of world Jewry lived there. The Second World War destroyed European Jewry and dispersed the survivors to the New World (mainly the United States) and to Israel. Today, 80 percent of world Jewry lives either in the United States or in Israel. Today we have a bipolar Jewish universe with two centers of gravity of approximately equal size. It is a transitional stage, however. One star is gradually dimming, the other brightening.

Soon an inevitably the cosmology of the Jewish people will have been transformed again, turned into a single-star system with a dwindling Diaspora orbiting around. It will be a return to the ancient norm: The Jewish people will be centered — not just spiritually but physically — in their ancient homeland.

VI. THE END OF DISPERSION

The consequences of this transformation are enormous. Israel’s centrality is more than just a question of demography. It represents a bold and dangerous new strategy for Jewish survival.

For two millennia, the Jewish people survived by means of dispersion and isolation. Following the first exile in 586 B.C. and the second exile in 70 A. D. and 132 A.D., Jews spread first throughout Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean Basin, then to northern and eastern Europe and eventually west to the New World, with communities in practically every corner of the earth, even unto India and China.

Throughout this time, the Jewish people survived the immense pressures of persecution, massacre, and forced conversion not just by faith and courage, but by geographic dispersion. Decimated here, they would survive there. The thousands of Jewish villages and towns spread across the face of Europe, the Islamic world, and the New World provided a kind of demographic insurance. However many Jews were massacred in the First Crusade along the Rhine, however many villages were destroyed in the 1648-1649 pogroms in Ukraine, there were always thousands of others spread around the globe to carry on.

This dispersion made for weakness and vulnerability for individual Jewish communities. Paradoxically, however, it made for endurance and strength for the Jewish people as a whole. No tyrant could amass enough power to threaten Jewish survival everywhere.

Until Hitler. The Nazis managed to destroy most everything Jewish from the Pyrenees to the gates of Stalingrad, an entire civilization a thousand years old. There were nine million Jews in Europe when Hitler came to power. He killed two-thirds of them. Fifty years later, the Jews have yet to recover. There were sixteen million Jews in the world in 1939. Today, there are thirteen million.

The effect of the Holocaust was not just demographic, however. It was psychological, indeed ideological, as well. It demonstrated once and for all the catastrophic danger of powerlessness. The solution was self-defense, and that meant a demographic reconcentration in a place endowed with sovereignty, statehood, and arms.

Before World War II there was great debate in the Jewish world over Zionism. Reform Judaism, for example, was for decades anti-Zionist. The Holocaust resolved that debate. Except for those at the extremes — the ultra-Orthodox right and far left — Zionism became the accepted solution to Jewish powerlessness and vulnerability. Amid the ruins, Jews made a collective decision that their future lay in self-defense and territoriality, in the ingathering of the exiles to a place where they could finally acquire the means to defend themselves.

It was the right decision, the only possible decision. But oh so perilous. What a choice of place to make one’s final stand: a dot on the map, a tiny patch of near-desert, a thin ribbon of Jewish habitation behind the flimsiest of natural barriers (which the world demands that Israel relinquish). One determined tank thrust can tear it in half. One small battery of nuclear- tipped Scuds can obliterate it entirely.

To destroy the Jewish people, Hitler needed to conquer the world. All that is needed today is to conquer a territory smaller than Vermont. The terrible irony is that in solving the problem of powerlessness, the Jews have necessarily put all their eggs in one basket, a small basket hard by the waters of the Mediterranean. And on its fate hinges everything Jewish.

VII. THINKING THE UNTHINKABLE

What if the Third Jewish Commonwealth meets the fate of the first two? The scenario is not that far-fetched: A Palestinian state is born, arms itself, concludes alliances with, say, Iraq and Syria. War breaks out between Palestine and Israel (over borders or water or terrorism). Syria and Iraq attack from without. Egypt and Saudi Arabia join the battle. The home front comes under guerilla attack from Palestine. Chemical and biological weapons rain down from Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Israel is overrun.

Why is this the end? Can the Jewish people not survive as they did when their homeland was destroyed and their political independence extinguished twice before? Why not a new exile, a new Diaspora, a new cycle of Jewish history?

First, because the cultural conditions of exile would be vastly different. The first exiles occurred at a time when identity was nearly coterminous with religion. An expulsion two millennia later into a secularized world affords no footing for a reestablished Jewish identity.

But more important: Why retain such an identity? Beyond the dislocation would be the sheer demoralization. Such an event would simply break the spirit. No people could survive it. Not even the Jews. This is a people that miraculously survived two previous destructions and two millennia of persecution in the hope of ultimate return and restoration. Israel is that hope. To see it destroyed, to have Isaiahs and Jeremiahs lamenting the widows of Zion once again amid the ruins of Jerusalem is more than one people could bear.

Particularly coming after the Holocaust, the worst calamity in Jewish history. To have survived it is miracle enough. Then to survive the destruction of that which arose to redeem it — the new Jewish state — is to attribute to Jewish nationhood and survival supernatural power.

Some Jews and some scattered communities would, of course, survive. The most devout, already a minority, would carry on — as an exotic tribe, a picturesque Amish-like anachronism, a dispersed and pitied remnant of a remnant. But the Jews as a people would have retired from history.

We assume that Jewish history is cyclical: Babylonian exile in 586 B.C., followed by return in 538 B.C. Roman exile in 135 A.D., followed by return, somewhat delayed, in 1948. We forget a linear part of Jewish history: There was one other destruction, a century and a half before the fall of the First Temple. It went unrepaired. In 722 B.C., the Assyrians conquered the other, larger Jewish state, the northern kingdom of Israel. (Judah, from which modern Jews are descended, was the southern kingdom.) This is the Israel of the Ten Tribes, exiled and lost forever.

So enduring is their mystery that when Lewis and Clark set off on their expedition, one of the many questions prepared for them by Dr. Benjamin Rush at Jefferson’s behest was this: « What Affinity between their [the Indians’] religious Ceremonies & those of the Jews? » « Jefferson and Lewis had talked at length about these tribes, » explains Stephen Ambrose. « They speculated that the lost tribes of Israel could be out there on the Plains. »

Alas, not. The Ten Tribes had melted away into history. As such, they represent the historical norm. Every other people so conquered and exiled has in time disappeared. Only the Jews defied the norm. Twice. But never, I fear, again.


Gaza: En droit de la guerre, la proportionnalité n’a rien à voir avec le nombre relatif des victimes (It is ironic that Israel is charged with disproportionality for successfully protecting its civilians by following international law)

21 juillet, 2014
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J’ai une prémonition qui ne me quittera pas: ce qui adviendra d’Israël sera notre sort à tous. Si Israël devait périr, l’holocauste fondrait sur nous. Eric Hoffer
Ce qui est arrivé au quartier Dahiya de Beyrouth en 2006 arrivera à tous les villages qui servent de base à des tirs contre Israël. […] Nous ferons un usage de la force disproportionné et y causerons de grands dommages et destructions. De notre point de vue, il ne s’agit pas de villages civils, mais de bases militaires. Gadi Eisenkot (commandant israélien de la division nord)
With an outbreak of hostilities, the IDF will need to act immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproportionate to the enemy’s actions and the threat it poses. Such a response aims at inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes. The strike must be carried out as quickly as possible, and must prioritize damaging assets over seeking out each and every launcher. Punishment must be aimed at decision makers and the power elite. In Syria, punishment should clearly be aimed at the Syrian military, the Syrian regime, and the Syrian state structure. In Lebanon, attacks should both aim at Hizbollah’s military capabilities and should target economic interests and the centers of civilian power that support the organization. Moreover, the closer the relationship between Hizbollah and the Lebanese government, the more the elements of the Lebanese state infrastructure should be targeted. Such a response will create a lasting memory among Syrian and Lebanese decision makers, thereby increasing Israeli deterrence and reducing the likelihood of hostilities against Israel for a an extended period. At the same time, it will force Syria, Hizbollah, and Lebanon to commit to lengthy and resource-intensive reconstruction programs. Recent discussion of “victory” and “defeat” in a future war against Hizbollah has presented an overly simplistic approach. The Israeli public must understand that overall success cannot be measured by the level of high trajectory fire against Israel at the end of the confrontation. The IDF will make an effort to decrease rocket and missile attacks as much as possible, but the main effort will be geared to shorten the period of fighting by striking a serious blow at the assets of the enemy. Israel does not have to be dragged into a war of attrition with Hizbollah. Israel’s test will be the intensity and quality of its response to incidents on the Lebanese border or terrorist attacks involving Hizbollah in the north or Hamas in the south. In such cases, Israel again will not be able to limit its response to actions whose severity is seemingly proportionate to an isolated incident. Rather, it will have to respond disproportionately in order to make it abundantly clear that the State of Israel will accept no attempt to disrupt the calm currently prevailing along its borders. Israel must be prepared for deterioration and escalation, as well as for a full scale confrontation. Such preparedness is obligatory in order to prevent long term attrition. The Israeli home front must be prepared to be fired upon, possibly with even heavy fire for an extended period, based on the understanding that the IDF is working to reduce the period of fighting to a minimum and to create an effective balance of deterrence. This approach is applicable to the Gaza Strip as well. There, the IDF will be required to strike hard at Hamas and to refrain from the cat and mouse games of searching for Qassam rocket launchers. The IDF should not be expected to stop the rocket and missile fire against the Israeli home front through attacks on the launchers themselves, but by means of imposing a ceasefire on the enemy. Gabi Siboni
A 100% effective Iron Dome wouldn’t serve Tel Aviv’s strategical interest slightest bit since the regime relies on the public’s fear of Palestinian attacks. Add to that the huge cost of the defence system’s missles as compared to that of the primitive projectiles fired by the Gazan resistance. From the Palestinian perspective, before Iron Dome the qassams hardly ever caused damage to the Israeli military, but did spread fear and incite the Israeli public opinion against them. Today, thanks to Iron Dome, every airborn sewer pipe is guaranteed to inflict substantial financial loss to the IDF, at least if the system would be programmed to react to every threat. So my take is the Israeli army intentionally limited the effectiveness of the defence system. Pasparal da Beira do Canal (11 March 2013)
Qui se cache dans les mosquées ? Le Hamas. Qui met ses arsenaux sous des hôpitaux ? Le Hamas. Qui met des centres de commandement dans des résidences ou à proximité de jardins d’enfants ? Le Hamas. Le Hamas utilise les habitants de Gaza comme boucliers humains et provoque un désastre pour les civils de Gaza ; donc, pour toute attaque contre des civils de Gaza, ce que nous regrettons, le Hamas et ses partenaires sont seuls responsables. Benjamin Nétanyahou
Les attaques aveugles à la roquette à partir de Gaza vers Israël constituent des actes terroristes que rien ne justifie. Il est évident que le Hamas utilise délibérément des boucliers humains pour intensifier la terreur dans la région. L’absence d’une condamnation de ces actes répréhensibles par la communauté internationale encouragerait ces terroristes à poursuivre ces actions consternantes. Le Canada demande à ses alliés et partenaires de reconnaître que ces actes terroristes sont inacceptables et que la solidarité avec Israël est le meilleur moyen de mettre fin au conflit. L’appui du Canada envers Israël est sans équivoque. Nous appuyons son droit de se défendre, par lui‑même, contre ces attaques terroristes, et nous exhortons le Hamas à cesser immédiatement ses attaques aveugles à l’endroit d’innocents civils israéliens. Le Canada réitère son appel au gouvernement palestinien à désarmer le Hamas et d’autres groupes terroristes palestiniens qui opèrent à partir de Gaza, dont le Jihad islamique palestinien, mandaté par l’Iran. Stephen Harper (premier ministre canadien, 13.07.14)
En ce 13 juillet 2014 on mesure à nouveau le déséquilibre moral vertigineux entre Israël qui suit à la lettre le droit de la guerre et le Hamas qui le bafoue sans vergogne. En effet, les Palestiniens vivant au nord de la Bande de Gaza dans des zones d’où sont tirées à l’aveuglette des dizaines de roquettes sur les populations civiles d’Israël, ont été avertis par Tsahal d’évacuer les lieux pour permettre une opération de nettoyage de cibles militaires sans faire de victimes civiles. Ce que nombreux Palestiniens font, se réfugiant dans des bâtiments de l’UNRWA. Le Hamas, qui utilise sa population comme boucliers humains, leur ordonne de retourner dans ces zones. Pour la seule journée du 12 juillet 2014 plus de 129 roquettes ont été tirées depuis Gaza vers Israël. 117 roquettes au moins ont frappé Israël 9 roquettes ont été interceptées par le Dôme de Fer Tsahal a frappé 120 cibles terroristes dans la Bande de Gaza On est bien loin d’un soi-disant combat de David contre Goliath, le Hamas possédant un arsenal considérable. Fabriqué localement pour partie – d’où les restrictions israéliennes sur la nature des transferts à Gaza, qui se poursuivent actuellement en dépit des attaques terroristes – mais importé pour une plus grande partie. Fourni par l’Iran ou ses alliés, importé dans la Bande de Gaza via des tunnels de contrebande dont la construction est devenue une spécialité locale ayant bénéficié jusque récemment de complicités égyptiennes. L’Égypte aujourd’hui saisit ce type de matériel à destination de Gaza-. (…) C’est dans ce contexte que Tsahal, se conformant au droit international et au droit de la guerre a averti le 12 juillet des Gazaouis du nord de la Bande de Gaza, qui vivent autour de rampes de lancement de roquettes et autres installations terroristes militaires de partir de chez eux avant midi le lendemain avant que soit lancée une opération pour les détruire. Ce que rapporte même l’agence de presse palestinienne Maan News.. Qui fait également état du départ de milliers de Palestiniens qui vont se réfugier dans des écoles ou des bâtiments de l’UNRWA. Ce qui montre d’ailleurs qu’ils savent que les tirs israéliens ne sont pas aveugles, à la différence des tirs lancés depuis Gaza. Et que fait le Hamas ? Son ministère de l’Intérieur ordonne à ces Palestiniens de regagner immédiatement leur domicile, affirmant que ces avertissements entreraient dans le cadre d’une guerre psychologique et ne sont pas à prendre au sérieux, alors qu’il sait pertinemment que tel n’est pas le cas…., Le mouvement terroriste qui utilise sa population comme boucliers humains démontre une fois encore son peu de respect pour leurs vies. Les Gazaouis n’étant pour lui que de la chair à canon. Hélène Keller-Lind
News media coverage of the Gaza war is increasingly focusing on the body count. It’s an easy way to make Israel look bad. And it tends to obscure who the real aggressor in this conflict is, and who is the real victim. Each day, journalists report an ever-higher number of Gazans who have been killed, comparing it to the number of Israeli fatalities, which is still, thank G-d, zero. This kind of simplistic reporting creates a sympathetic portrayal of the Palestinians, who are shown to be genuinely suffering, while the Israeli public just seems a little scared. But there are important reasons why there are so many more Palestinian casualties than Israeli casualties. The first is that the Israeli government has built bomb shelters for its citizens, so they have places to hide when the Palestinians fire missiles at them. By contrast, the Hamas regime in Gaza refuses to build shelters for the general population, and prefers to spend its money buying and making more missiles. It’s not merely that Hamas has no regard for the lives of its own citizens. But even worse: Hamas deliberately places its civilians in the line of fire, in the expectation that Palestinian civilian casualties will generate international sympathy. On July 10, the Hamas Ministry of the Interior issued an official instruction to the public to remain in their apartments, and “and not heed these message from Israel” that their apartment buildings are about to be bombed. A New York Times report on July 11 described in sympathetic detail how seven Gazans were killed, and many others wounded, in an Israeli strike despite multiple advance warnings by Israel to vacate the premises. In the 18th paragraph of the 21-paragraph feature, the Times noted, in passing: “A member of the family said earlier that neighbors had come to ‘form a human shield.’ ” Isn’t that outrageous? Israel voluntarily gives up the advantage of surprise in order to warn Palestinian civilians and save their lives. Hamas responds by trying to ensure that Palestinian civilians get killed. And the international community chastises Israel for the Palestinian fatalities! Another reason there are so many more Palestinian casualties is that Hamas deliberately places its missile-launchers and arms depots in and around civilian neighborhoods. Hamas hopes that Israel will be reluctant to strike such targets because of the possibility of hitting civilians. Hezbollah does the same thing in southern Lebanon. This is by now an old Arab terrorist tactic, going back more than three decades. (…) The final reason the Palestinian casualty toll is higher than that of Israel is that Israel has a superior army, and it’s winning this war. Those who win wars almost always have fewer casualties than those who are defeated. In Israel’s case, that’s a good thing. Israel need not feel guilty or defensive about winning. It’s a lot better than losing, as the Jewish people have learned from centuries of bitter experience as helpless victims. Anyone with knowledge of history can appreciate how misleading casualty statistics can be. In World War II, the United States suffered about 360,000 military deaths. The Germans lost 3.2-million soldiers and 3.6-million civilians. Does that mean America was the aggressor, and Germany the victim? Japan estimates that it suffered 1 million military deaths and 2 million civilian deaths. Does that mean America attacked Japan, and not vice versa? The fourth lesson from the Gaza war: The body count is a form of Arab propaganda, which actually conceals who is the aggressor and who is the victim. Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn
Un simple cessez-le-feu serait de facto une victoire pour le Hamas. Il donnerait au Hamas le temps et l’espace de respiration dont il a besoin pour faire passer plus d’armes, réparer ses tunnels terroristes, et lancer de nouvelles attaques terroristes contre Israël. Il ne durerait que pour mieux prolonger la guerre. (…) les sous-sols de la ville de Shuja’iya que les israéliens ont bombardés cette nuit [représentent] tout un arsenal et des postes de commandement terroristes sous les immeubles d’habitation, la mosquée et l’hôpital. (…) Certes, nettoyer Gaza de ses armes et de son infrastructure militaire ne serait pas une tâche facile, compte tenu du vaste arsenal que le Hamas a amassé depuis le dernier cessez-le-feu il y a deux ans. Au début de la guerre actuelle, le Hamas avait environ 10.000 roquettes à portée de main. Ces missiles sont plus sophistiqués que les années précédentes, ils transportent des charges lourdes d’explosifs et peuvent atteindre Israël partout, même jusqu’à Nahariya, le long de la frontière nord d’Israël avec le Liban. Le Hamas a également des drones armés. Il a d’énormes dépôts d’armes et des laboratoires de fabrication de bombes. Il a des tunnels en béton où les terroristes se cachent et où passent les armes qui sont introduites en contrebande. En mars de cette année, la marine israélienne a intercepté un navire d’armes iranien à destination de Gaza. Cachées sous des sacs de ciment de fabrication iranienne il y avait des dizaines de roquettes M-302 sol-sol d’une portée de 75 à 150 km. (Remarque: la distance entre la bande de Gaza à Tel-Aviv est de 60 km.) La cache d’armes comprenait également près de 200 obus de mortier, et 400 000 cartouches de munitions. En 2009 et à nouveau en 2011, Israël a bombardé les convois d’armes transportées du Soudan à Gaza. Qui sait combien d’autres de ces livraisons d’armes iraniennes ou soudanaises ont réussi à échapper aux Israéliens et à atteindre Gaza? Ce n’est pas seulement un problème pour Israël. C’est un problème pour l’ensemble du monde libre. Israël est en première ligne dans la guerre internationale contre le terrorisme. Gaza n’est qu’un champ de bataille. Comme nous le savons depuis longtemps, ce qui commence à Gaza ou Bagdad ou Kaboul se propage vite à Londres, Madrid et New York. La communauté internationale a démontré que quand elle rassemble sa volonté, elle peut désarmer les terroristes. Une pression internationale sévère et des sanctions ont contraint la Syrie à entamer le démantèlement de ses armes chimiques l’année dernière. (…) Au lieu de continuer à verser des milliards de dollars d’aide financière dans le trou noir connu sous le nom de «économie de Gaza», la communauté internationale doit porter son attention sur les armes de Gaza. Il est temps à l’instar de ce que l’Irlande a réussi et des progrès faits en Syrie, de démilitariser la bande de Gaza. Les habitants de Gaza ont besoin de beurre, et non pas de munitions, et les gens du monde libre ont besoin de paix, et non pas de terrorisme. Moshe Phillips et Benyamin Korn
Curieux reportages : on ne parle que de femmes d’enfants et de vieux retrouvés dans les décombres, pas un seul homme, bizarre non ? Comme si en effet les hommes étaient dans les tunnels faisant déboucher leur rampe de lancement dans les maisons mêmes, les toits coulissants ou des verrières, avec obligation pour les femmes et enfants de vivre et mourir avec, voilà les conditions de la guerre que ne connaissent évidemment pas les casseurs de « juifs » à Barbès et de Sarcelles. En 2008 sur les 1500 morts gazouis, plus de la moitié étaient des combattants… Les autres sont les otages d’amoureux de la mort. Iris Canderson
Dans toute la France, ce sont aujourd’hui des milliers de manifestant-e-s qui sont descendus dans la rue pour exiger l’arrêt de l’intervention militaire de l’État d’Israël dans la bande de Gaza, pour crier leur révolte face au plus de 300 morts palestiniens depuis le début de cette intervention. En interdisant dans plusieurs villes et notamment à Paris, les manifestations de solidarité avec la Palestine, Hollande et le gouvernement Valls ont enclenché une épreuve de force qu’ils ont finalement perdue. Depuis l’Afrique où il organise l’aventure militaire de l’impérialisme français, Hollande avait joué les gros bras « ceux qui veulent à tout prix manifester en prendront la responsabilité ». C’est ce qu’ont fait aujourd’hui des milliers de manifestant-e-s qui sont descendus dans la rue pour exiger l’arrêt de l’intervention militaire de l’État d’Israël dans la bande de Gaza, pour crier leur révolte face au plus de 300 morts palestiniens depuis le début de cette intervention. Et pour faire respecter le droit démocratique à exprimer collectivement la solidarité. En particulier à Paris, plusieurs milliers de manifestants, malgré l’impressionnant quadrillage policier, ont défié l’interdiction du gouvernement. C’est un succès au vu des multiples menaces de la préfecture et du gouvernement. En fin de manifestation, des échauffourées ont eu lieu entre des manifestants et les forces de l’ordre. Comment aurait-il pu en être autrement au vu de dispositif policier et de la volonté du gouvernement de museler toute opposition à son soutien à la guerre menée par l’Etat d’Israël. Le NPA condamne les violences policières qui se sont déroulées ce soir à Barbès et affirme que le succès de cette journée ne restera pas sans lendemain. Dès mercredi, une nouvelle manifestation aura lieu à l’appel du collectif national pour une paix juste et durable. La lutte pour les droits du peuple palestinien continue. Le NPA appelle l’ensemble des forces de gauche et démocratiques, syndicales, associatives et politiques, à exprimer leur refus de la répression et leur solidarité active avec la lutte du peuple palestinien. NPA
Il faut dire que le réseau souterrain du Hamas a de quoi inquiéter Israël. « Des dizaines de tunnels parcourent la bande de Gaza, affirme Tsahal. Il s’agit d’un réseau sophistiqué, très bien entretenu, qui relie des ateliers de construction de roquettes, des rampes de lancement et des postes de commandement. » A une vingtaine de mètres sous terre, ils sont parfois équipés du téléphone et de l’électricité. Les galeries, dont la construction peut prendre des années, sont devenues une fierté pour le Hamas, expliquait un ancien responsable de l’armée israélienne au journal Haaretz. Francetvinfo
Les tactiques de combat et l’idéologie du Hamas sont, « par excellence, un cas d’école » de violations systématiques du droit international humanitaire. Il n’y a « presqu’aucun exemple comparable » où que ce soit dans le monde d’aujourd’hui d’un groupe qui viole aussi systématiquement les accords internationaux liés aux conflits armés. Irwin Cotler (ancien Ministre de la Justice canadien, membre du parlement de ce pays et professeur de droit à l’Université McGill de Montreal)
En droit de la guerre, la proportionnalité n’a rien à voir avec le nombre relatif des victimes des deux côtés. Il fait plutôt référence à la valeur militaire d’une cible (combien d’impact la destruction de la cible aurait sur l’issue d’une bataille ou guerre) par rapport à la menace attendue pour la vie ou la propriété de civils. Si la cible a une haute valeur militaire, alors elle peut être attaquée même si cela risque d’entrainer des pertes civiles. Ce qui doit être « proportionnel » (le terme n’est en fait pas utilisé dans les conventions pertinentes), c’est la valeur militaire de la cible par rapport au risque pour les civils. En particulier, l’Article 51 du protocole additionnel aux Conventions de Genève de 1977 interdit aussi comme sans discrimination : 5 b ) les attaques dont on peut attendre qu’elles causent incidemment des pertes en vies humaines dans la population civile, des blessures aux personnes civiles, des dommages aux biens de caractère civil, ou une combinaison de ces pertes et dommages, qui seraient excessifs par rapport à l’avantage militaire concret et direct attendu. Par cette mesure, les efforts d’Israël pour détruire les missiles avant qu’ils puissent être tirés sur des civils israéliens, même si cela place des civils palestiniens en péril, semble se conformer parfaitement aux lois de la guerre. Rien n’oblige Israël à placer la vie de ses citoyens en danger pour protéger la vie des civils palestiniens. (…) Au-delà de cela, placer ses propres civils autour ou près d’une cible militaire pour servir de « boucliers humains » est interdit par la quatrième Convention de Genève : Art. 28. « Aucune personne protégée ne pourra être utilisée pour mettre, par sa présence, certains points ou certaines régions à l’abri des opérations militaires ». L’article 58 du protocole 1 additionnel aux Conventions de Genève de 1977 va même plus loin à cet égard, exigeant que Hamas éloigne les civils palestiniens de la proximité de ses installations militaires, ce qui comprendrait tout endroit où seraient produits, stockés ou actionnés les mortiers, bombes et armes et ce en tout lieu où s’entrainent, se rassemblent ou se cachent ses combattants. Voici le texte qui engage les parties au conflit à: … a) s’efforceront, sans préjudice de l’article 49de la IVe Convention, d’éloigner du voisinage des objectifs militaires la population civile, les personnes civiles et les biens de caractère civil soumis à leur autorité ; s’efforcer de supprimer la population civile, les civils et les biens de caractère civil sous leur contrôle du voisinage des objectifs militaires ; b éviter de placer des objectifs militaires dans ou près de zones densément peuplées ; (c) prendre les autres précautions nécessaires pour protéger la population civile, les personnes civiles et les biens de caractère civil sous leur contrôle contre les dangers résultant des opérations militaires. Le Hamas, en tant que gouvernement de facto dans la bande de Gaza, a clairement violé l’ensemble de ces trois dispositions : ils n’ont fait aucun effort pour éloigner les civils du voisinage des objectifs militaires. Au contraire, ils cachent systématiquement des combattants et des armes dans les écoles, les mosquées et les maisons privées, et ils tirent des missiles et mortiers sur des civils israéliens à partir de ces lieux. Contrairement à Israël, le Hamas n’a fait aucun effort pour fournir des abris pour l’usage des civils palestiniens. Alors que le Hamas a importé des quantités énormes de ciment, celles-ci ont été détournées de force du secteur civil et utilisées à la place pour construire des bunkers et des tunnels pour les dirigeants du Hamas, ainsi que des postes de tir de missiles cachés. En revanche, l’exigence d’Israël, depuis le début des années 1990, est que toutes les maisons neuves soient dotées d’une salle sûre et renforcée et sa construction d’abris anti-bombe (souvent rudimentaires) dans les communautés près de Gaza a contribué à protéger les civils israéliens contre les attaques du Hamas, bien qu’à un coût de plus d’un milliard de dollars. Il est ironique de constater qu’Israël est accusé de disproportion pour avoir réussi à protéger efficacement ses civils en accord avec le droit international. Camera
Article 51 – Protection de la population civile
1. La population civile et les personnes civiles jouissent d’une protection générale contre les dangers résultant d’opérations militaires. En vue de rendre cette protection effective, les règles suivantes, qui s’ajoutent aux autres règles du droit international applicable, doivent être observées en toutes circonstances.
2. Ni la population civile en tant que telle ni les personnes civiles ne doivent être l’objet d’attaques.
Sont interdits les actes ou menaces de violence dont le but principal est de répandre la terreur parmi la population civile.
3. Les personnes civiles jouissent de la protection accordée par la présente Section, sauf si elles participent directement aux hostilités et pendant la durée de cette participation.
4. Les attaques sans discrimination sont interdites. L’expression «attaques sans discrimination» s’entend :
a) des attaques qui ne sont pas dirigées contre un objectif militaire déterminé ;
b) des attaques dans lesquelles on utilise des méthodes ou moyens de combat qui ne peuvent pas être dirigés contre un objectif militaire déterminé ; ou
c) des attaques dans lesquelles on utilise des méthodes ou moyens de combat dont les effets ne peuvent pas être limités comme le prescrit le présent Protocole ;
et qui sont, en conséquence, dans chacun de ces cas, propres à frapper indistinctement des objectifs militaires et des personnes civiles ou des biens de caractère civil.
5. Seront, entre autres, considérés comme effectués sans discrimination les types d’attaques suivants :
a) les attaques par bombardement, quels que soient les méthodes ou moyens utilisés, qui traitent comme un objectif militaire unique un certain nombre d’objectifs militaires nettement espacés et distincts situés dans une ville, un village ou toute autre zone contenant une concentration analogue de personnes civiles ou de biens de caractère civil ;
b) les attaques dont on peut attendre qu’elles causent incidemment des pertes en vies humaines dans la population civile, des blessures aux personnes civiles, des dommages aux biens de caractère civil, ou une combinaison de ces pertes et dommages, qui seraient excessifs par rapport à l’avantage militaire concret et direct attendu.
6. Sont interdites les attaques dirigées à titre de représailles contre la population civile ou des personnes civiles.
7. La présence ou les mouvements de la population civile ou de personnes civiles ne doivent pas être utilisés pour mettre certains points ou certaines zones à l’abri d’opérations militaires, notamment pour tenter de mettre des objectifs militaires à l’abri d’attaques ou de couvrir, favoriser ou gêner des opérations militaires. Les Parties au conflit ne doivent pas diriger les mouvements de la population civile ou des personnes civiles pour tenter de mettre des objectifs militaires à l’abri des attaques ou de couvrir des opérations militaires.
8. Aucune violation de ces interdictions ne dispense les Parties au conflit de leurs obligations juridiques à l’égard de la population civile et des personnes civiles, y compris l’obligation de prendre les mesures de précaution prévues par l’article 57 .
Protocole additionnel aux Conventions de Genève (du 12 août 1949 relatif à la protection des victimes des conflits armés internationaux (Protocole I), 8 juin 1977, article 51)
Article 58  – Précautions contre les effets des attaques
Dans toute la mesure de ce qui est pratiquement possible, les Parties au conflit :
a) s’efforceront, sans préjudice de l’article 49de la IVe Convention, d’éloigner du voisinage des objectifs militaires la population civile, les personnes civiles et les biens de caractère civil soumis à leur autorité ;
b) éviteront de placer des objectifs militaires à l’intérieur ou à proximité des zones fortement peuplées ;
c) prendront les autres précautions nécessaires pour protéger contre les dangers résultant des opérations militaires la population civile, les personnes civiles et les biens de caractère civil soumis à leur autorité.
Protocole additionnel aux Conventions de Genève (du 12 août 1949 relatif à la protection des victimes des conflits armés internationaux (Protocole I), 8 juin 1977, article 58)
Aucune personne protégée ne pourra être utilisée pour mettre, par sa présence, certains points ou certaines régions à l’abri des opérations militaires. Convention (IV) de Genève (relative à la protection des personnes civiles en temps de guerre, 12 août 1949, Zones dangereuses, article 28)
Conformément à la pratique de l’ONU, les incidents impliquant des munitions non explosées qui pourraient mettre en danger les bénéficiaires et le personnel sont transmises aux autorités locales. Après la découverte des missiles, nous avons pris toutes les mesures nécessaires pour faire disparaître ces objets de nos écoles et préserver ainsi nos locaux.  Christopher Gunness (directeur de l’UNRWA à Gaza)
L’offensive terrestre décidée par le gouvernement israélien vise à « frapper les tunnels de la terreur allant de Gaza jusqu’en Israël » et protéger ses citoyens. A l’origine destinés à la contrebande des marchandises, les tunnels ont très vite été utilisés par les terroristes islamistes pour faire passer des armes de guerre via la frontière avec l’Egypte. En 2013, l’armée égyptienne sous l’égide de Mohamed Morsi, a décidé d’inonder les tunnels de contrebande pour « renforcer la sécurité à la frontière ». Une véritable foutaise de la part des autorités égyptiennes, alors issues comme le Hamas de la confrérie des Frères musulmans. Avec donc l’argent des contribuables européens, le Hamas a pu construire de nombreux tunnels reliant la bande de Gaza à Israël. L’objectif était de déjouer les systèmes de surveillance israéliens pour infiltrer des terroristes en vue de commettre des attentats dans des localités et prendre des otages israéliens. Plusieurs tunnels pénétraient « de plusieurs centaines de mètres en territoire israélien » construits pour mener des « attaques terroristes ». Les tunnels étaient construits avec des dalles de béton et à une profondeur de 5 à 10 mètres. Le réseau souterrain du Hamas est très sophistiqué, très bien entretenu, il relie des ateliers de construction de missiles et roquettes, des rampes de lancement et des postes de commandement. Plus de 600.000 tonnes de béton et de fer qui auraient pu vous servir a construire des écoles, des routes, des hôpitaux ont servi au Hamas à construire des tunnels en dessous des écoles, mosquées et hôpitaux et en territoire israélien. Pendant que des millions d’Européens vivent dans la misère, l’UE préfère financer les tunnels du terrorisme palestinien. Jean Vercors

Dôme de fer serait-il trop efficace ?

A l’heure où nos belles âmes n’ont à nouveau pas de mots assez durs pour fustiger le seul Israël de vouloir protéger sa population ….

Et, avec l’augmentation quotidienne du nombre des victimes, jamais assez de raisons pour excuser le Hamas d’exposer la population dont il est chargé de la protection …

Pendant qu’avec l’incroyable réseau souterrain creusé sous ses quartiers résidentiels et après les roquettes cachées dans une école de l’ONU, le monde découvre enfin toute l’étendue de sa perfidie …

Et que, poussées par les pyromanes de l’extrême-gauche, nos chères têtes blondes jouent à la guérilla urbaine dans nos propres rues

Comment ne pas voir, avec le site de réinformation américain Camera, l’incroyable ironie de la situation …

Quand Israël se voit accusé de disproportion …

Pour avoir réussi, doctrine de dissuasion par la disproportion calculée dite Dahiya comprise, à protéger efficacement ses civils en accord avec le droit international ?

Voir aussi:

Myths and Facts about the Fighting in Gaza
Alex Safian, PhD
Camera
January 8, 200

Myth: Israel’s attacks against Hamas are illegal since Israel is still occupying Gaza through its control of Gaza’s borders and airspace, and it is therefore bound to protect the civilian population under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Israel has control over Gaza’s air space and sea coast, and its forces enter the area at will. As the occupying power, Israel has the responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention to see to the welfare of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. (Rashid Khalidi, What You Don’t Know About Gaza , New York Times Op-Ed, Jan. 8, 2009)

Fact: Of the land borders with Gaza, Israel quite naturally controls those that are adjacent to Israel; the border with Egypt at Rafah is controlled by Egypt. Beyond this, it is clear under international law that Israel does not occupy Gaza. As Amb. Dore Gold put it in a detailed report on the question:

The foremost document in defining the existence of an occupation has been the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention « Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. » Article 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly states that « the Occupying Power shall be bound for the duration of the occupation to the extent that such Power exercises the functions of government in such territory…. » If no Israeli military government is exercising its authority or any of « the functions of government » in the Gaza Strip, then there is no occupation. (Legal Acrobatics: The Palestinian Claim that Gaza is Still « Occupied » Even After Israel Withdraws, Amb. Dore Gold, JCPA, 26 August 2005)

But what if despite this we take seriously Khalidi’s claim that Israel is the occupying power and is therefore legally the sovereign authority in Gaza? In that case the relevant body of law would not be the Geneva Conventions as Khalidi claims, but would rather be the Hague Regulations, which in the relevant article states:

The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country. (Article 43, Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague IV); October 18, 1907)

Under this article Israel’s incursion into Gaza would therefore be completely legal as a legitimate exercise of Israel’s responsibility for restoring and ensuring public order and safety in Gaza. This would include removing Hamas, which by Khalidi’s logic is an illegitimate authority in Gaza. Under international law Hamas certainly has no right to stockpile weapons or attack Israel, and Israel is therefore justified in taking measures to disarm Hamas and prevent it from terrorizing both the Israeli population and the Gaza population. That is the inescapable logic of Khalidi’s position.

Myth: Since more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed in the fighting this means Israel is acting “disproportionately” or has even committed “war crimes.”

• [Israel] is causing a huge and disproportionate civilian casualty level in Gaza. (Christiane Amanpour CNN, Jan. 4, 2009)

• WAR CRIMES The targeting of civilians, whether by Hamas or by Israel, is potentially a war crime. Every human life is precious. But the numbers speak for themselves: Nearly 700 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since the conflict broke out at the end of last year. In contrast, there have been around a dozen Israelis killed, many of them soldiers. (Rashid Khalidi, What You Don’t Know About Gaza , New York Times Op-Ed, Jan. 8, 2009)

Fact: First of all, contrary to Khalidi, three quarters of the Palestinians killed so far were combatants, not civilians, including 290 Hamas combatants who have been specifically identified.

Beyond this, real world examples obviate any charges about right or wrong based on the number of people killed. Consider that the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor killed about 3,000 Americans. Does it follow that the US should have ended its counterattacks against Japanese forces once a similar number of Japanese had been killed? Since it did not end its attacks, does that mean the US acted disproportionally and was in the wrong and that the Japanese were the aggrieved party? Clearly the answer is no.

Taking this further, counting the number of dead hardly determines right and wrong. For example, again looking at the Pacific Theatre in World War 2, over 2.7 million Japanese were killed, including 580,000 civilians, as against only 106,000 Americans, the vast majority combatants. Does it then follow that Japan was in the right and America was in the wrong? Again, clearly the answer is no. Just having more dead on your side does not make you right.

Proportionality in the sense used by Rashid Khalidi and Christiane Amanpour is meaningless.

Myth: Israel’s actions are illegal since International Law requires proportionality.

International law … calls for the element of proportionality. When you have conflict between nations or between countries, there is a sense of proportionality. You cannot go and kill and injure 3,000 Palestinians when you have four Israelis killed on the other side. That is immoral, that is illegal. And that is not right. And it should be stopped. (Dr. Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, CNN, Jan 3, 2009)

Actually, proportionality in the Law of War has nothing to do with the relative number of casualties on the two sides. Rather it refers to the military value of a target (how much of an impact would the target’s destruction have on the outcome of a battle or war) versus the expected threat to the lives or property of civilians. If the target has high military value, then it can be attacked even if it seems there will be some civilian casualties in doing so.

What has to be “proportional” (the term is not actually used in the relevant conventions) is the military value of the target versus the risk to civilians.

In particular, Article 51 of Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1977 prohibits as indiscriminate:

5(b) An attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.

By this measure, Israel’s efforts to destroy missiles before they can be fired at Israeli civilians, even if that places Palestinian civilians at risk, seems to conform perfectly to the Laws of War. There is no requirement that Israel place the lives of its own citizens in danger to protect the lives of Palestinian civilians.

Myth: Hamas has no choice but to place weapons and fighters in populated areas since the Gaza Strip is so crowded that is all there is.

[Hamas has] no other choice. Gaza is the size of Detroit. And 1.5 million live here where there are no places for them to fire from them but from among the population. (Taghreed El-Khodary, New York Times Gaza reporter, on CNN, Jan. 1, 2009)

In fact there is plenty of open space in Gaza, including the now empty sites where Israeli settlements once stood. The Hamas claim, parroted by the Times reporter, is nonsense.

Beyond this, placing your own civilians around or near a military target to act as “human shields” is prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention:

Art. 28. The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.

Article 58 of Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1977 goes even further in this regard, requiring that Hamas remove Palestinian civilians from the vicinity of its military facilities, which would include any place where weapons, mortars, bombs and the like are produced, stored, or fired from, and any place where its fighters train, congregate or hide. Here is the text, which calls on the parties to the conflict to:

(A) … endeavour to remove the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control from the vicinity of military objectives;

(b) Avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas;

(c) Take the other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations.

Hamas, as the defacto government in Gaza, has clearly violated all three of these provisions:

They have made no effort to remove civilians from the vicinity of military objectives.
On the contrary, they systematically hide fighters and weapons in schools, in mosques and private homes, and they fire missiles and mortars at Israeli civilians from these places.
Unlike Israel, Hamas has made no effort to provide bomb shelters for the use of Palestinian civilians. While Hamas has imported huge amounts of cement, it has been forcefully diverted from the civilian sector and instead used to build bunkers and tunnels for Hamas leaders, along with hidden missile firing positions.

On the other hand, Israel’s requirement since the early 1990’s that all new homes have a secure reinforced room, and its building of (often rudimentary) bomb shelters in communities near Gaza have helped to shield Israeli civilians from Hamas attacks, though at a cost of over $1 Billion dollars.

It is ironic that Israel is charged with disproportionality for successfully protecting its civilians by following international law.

Myth: Israel violated the ceasefire with Hamas in November, and is thus to blame for the conflict.

• Lifting the blockade, along with a cessation of rocket fire, was one of the key terms of the June cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. This accord led to a reduction in rockets fired from Gaza from hundreds in May and June to a total of less than 20 in the subsequent four months (according to Israeli government figures). The cease-fire broke down when Israeli forces launched major air and ground attacks in early November; six Hamas operatives were reported killed. (Rashid Khalidi, What You Don’t Know About Gaza , New York Times Op-Ed, Jan. 8, 2009)

• Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian Legislator (video clip): … The reality and the truth is that the side that broke this truce and this ceasefire was Israel. Two months before it ended, Israel started attacking Rafah, started attacking Khan Yunis …

Rick Sanchez: And you know what we did? I’ve checked with some of the folks here at our international desk, and I went to them and asked, What was he talking about, and do we have any information on that? Which they confirmed, two months ago — this is back in November — there was an attack. It was an Israeli raid that took out six people. (CNN, Dec. 31, 2008)

In fact, contrary to Khalidi, Barghouti and CNN’s Rick Sanchez, the Palestinians violated the ceasefire almost from day one. For example, the Associated Press published on June 25, just after the truce started, an article headlined Palestinian rockets threaten truce

The article in its lead paragraphs reported that:

Palestinian militants fired three homemade rockets into southern Israel yesterday, threatening to unravel a cease-fire days after it began, and Israel responded by closing vital border crossings into Gaza.

Despite what it called a « gross violation » of the truce, Israel refrained from military action and said it would send an envoy soon to Egypt to work on the next stage of a broader cease-fire agreement: a prisoner swap that would bring home an Israeli soldier held by Hamas for more than two years.

There were many further such Palestinian violations, including dozens of rockets and mortars fired into Israel during the so-called ceasefire. And there was also sniper fire against Israeli farmers, anti-tank rockets and rifle shots fired at soldiers in Israel, and not one but two attempts to abduct Israeli soldiers and bring them into Gaza. Here are some of the details:

(Most of this data is from The Six Months of the Lull Arrangement, a detailed report by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, an Israeli NGO.)

From the start of the ceasefire at 6 AM on June 19 till the incident on November 4th, the following attacks were launched against Israel from Gaza in direct violation of the agreement:

18 mortars were fired at Israel in this period, beginning on the night of June 23.
20 rockets were fired, beginning on June 24, when 3 rockets hit the Israeli town of Sderot.
On July 6 farmers working in the fields of Nahal Oz were attacked by light arms fire from Gaza.
On the night of August 15 Palestinians fired across the border at Israeli soldiers near the Karni crossing.
On October 31 an IDF patrol spotted Palestinians planting an explosive device near the security fence in the area of the Sufa crossing. As the patrol approached the fence the Palestinians fired two anti-tank missiles.

There were two Palestinian attempts to infiltrate from Gaza into Israel apparently to abduct Israelis. Both were major violations of the ceasefire.

The first came to light on Sept. 28, when Israeli personnel arrested Jamal Atallah Sabah Abu Duabe. The 21-year-old Rafah resident had used a tunnel to enter Egypt and from there planned to slip across the border into Israel. Investigation revealed that Abu Duabe was a member of Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and that he planned to lure Israeli soldiers near the border by pretending to be a drug smuggler, capture them, and then sedate them with sleeping pills in order to abduct them directly into Gaza through a preexisting tunnel. For more details click here and here.

The second abduction plan was aborted on the night of Nov 4, thanks to a warning from Israeli Intelligence. Hamas had dug another tunnel into Israel and was apparently about to execute an abduction plan when IDF soldiers penetrated about 250 meters into Gaza to the entrance of the tunnel, hidden under a house. Inside the house were a number of armed Hamas members, who opened fire. The Israelis fired back and the house exploded – in total 6 or 7 Hamas operatives were killed and several were wounded. Among those killed were Mazen Sa’adeh, a Hamas brigade commander, and Mazen Nazimi Abbas, a commander in the Hamas special forces unit. For more details click here.

It was when Israel aborted this imminent Hamas attack that the group and other Palestinian groups in Gaza escalated their violations of the ceasefire by beginning to once again barrage Israel with rockets and mortars.

Note also that, contrary to Khalidi, Israeli figures do not show that Palestinian violations of the ceasefire during the first four months amounted to “less than 20” rockets.

Considering this long list of Palestinian attacks, charging that Israel broke the ceasefire in November is simply surreal.

Myth: Israel violated the ceasefire by not lifting its blockade of Gaza.

• Negotiation is a much more effective way to deal with rockets and other forms of violence. This might have been able to happen had Israel fulfilled the terms of the June cease-fire and lifted its blockade of the Gaza Strip. (Rashid Khalidi, What You Don’t Know About Gaza , New York Times Op-Ed, Jan. 8, 2009)

• Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian Legislator: … [Israel] never lifted the blockade on Gaza. Gaza remains without fuel, without electricity, with bread, without medications, without any medical equipment for people who are dying in Gaza — 262 people died, 6 people because of no access to medical care. So Israel broke the ceasefire. (CNN, Dec. 31, 2008)

Contrary to Khalidi and Barghouti, Israel did open the crossings and allowed truckload after truckload of supplies to enter Gaza. Closures until November were short, and in direct response to Palestinian violations, some of which were detailed above.

To quote from the ITIC report on the « Lull Agreement »:

On June 22, after four days of calm, Israel reopened the Karni and Sufa crossings to enable regular deliveries of consumer goods and fuel to the Gaza Strip. They were closed shortly thereafter, following the first violation of the arrangement, when rockets were fired at Sderot on June 24. However, when calm was restored, the crossings remained open for long periods of time. On August 17 the Kerem Shalom crossing was also opened for the delivery of goods, to a certain degree replacing the Sufa crossing, after repairs had been completed (the Kerem Shalom crossing was closed on April 19 when the IDF prevented a combined mass casualty attack in the region, as a result of which the crossing was almost completely demolished).

Before November 4, large quantities of food, fuel, construction material and other necessities for renewing the Gaza Strip’s economic activity were delivered through the Karni and Sufa crossings. A daily average of 80-90 trucks passed through the crossings, similar to the situation before they were closed following the April 19 attack on the Kerem Shalom crossing. Changes were made in the types of good which could be delivered, permitting the entry of iron, cement and other vital raw materials into the Gaza Strip.

… Israel, before November 4, refrained from initiating action in the Gaza Strip but responded to rocket and mortar shell attacks by closing the crossings for short periods of time (hours to days). After November 4 the crossings were closed for long periods in response to the continued attacks against Israel. (Rearranged from p 11- 12)

Day to day details of the supplies delivered to Gaza and the numbers of trucks involved have been published by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and are available here. The figures confirm that the passages were indeed open and busy.

Myth: Israel is using excessively large bombs in populated neighborhoods and is therefore to blame for any Palestinian civilians killed in the present fighting.
Fact: On the contrary, Israel is using extremely small bombs precisely because Hamas has violated international law by intentionally placing military facilities in densely populated civilian areas (see Article 58 of Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1977 cited above). To attack these targets while minimizing civilian casualties, Israel is using the new GBU-39 SDB (Small Diameter Bomb), an extremely precise GPS-guided weapon designed to minimize collateral damage by employing a small warhead containing less than 50 lbs of high explosive. Despite its small size, thanks to its accuracy the GBU-39 is able to destroy targets behind even 3 feet of steel-reinforced concrete.

Many of the Palestinian civilian injuries have therefore likely been caused not by Israeli bombs but by Palestinian rockets and bombs which explode after Israel targets the places where they are stored or manufactured, such as mosques and other civilian structures. Numerous videos have been posted of Israeli bombing runs which clearly show the Israeli bomb causing a relatively small initial explosion followed by much larger secondary explosions. Some of the videos also show Palestinian missiles and other projectiles flying in all directions.

Here are two examples. On the left is video of an Israeli strike on December 27 against a hidden missile launcher. After the initial explosion a Palestinian missile flies out to the side and seems to impact in or near a populated area. The video on the right is of an Israeli strike on January 1st against a mosque in the Jabaliya refugee camp that was being used as a weapons storehouse. Right after the initial Israeli strike caused a small explosion, there were multiple huge secondary explosions as the stored Grad missiles and Qassam rockets detonated, and large amounts of ammunition cooked off:

Israeli strike on Dec. 27, 2008 against a hidden missile launcher; a Palestinian missile then seems to hit near a Palestinian neighborhood. Israeli strike on Jan. 1, 2009 against mosque in Jabaliya being used as a weapons depot, causing huge secondary explosions.
No doubt Palestinian civilians anywhere near the mosque were killed or injured by the multiple huge blasts and exploding ammunition and rockets. But it is difficult to see how Palestinians injured by Palestinian bombs and missiles can be blamed on Israel.

(updated 19 Jan 2009)

Voir également:

Chair à canon : Israël avertit les Palestiniens de quitter des zones qui vont être attaquées, le Hamas leur ordonne d’y retourner

Hélène Keller-Lind

Des Infos

13 juillet 2014

En ce 13 juillet 2014 on mesure à nouveau le déséquilibre moral vertigineux entre Israël qui suit à la lettre le droit de la guerre et le Hamas qui le bafoue sans vergogne. En effet, les Palestiniens vivant au nord de la Bande de Gaza dans des zones d’où sont tirées à l’aveuglette des dizaines de roquettes sur les populations civiles d’Israël, ont été avertis par Tsahal d’évacuer les lieux pour permettre une opération de nettoyage de cibles militaires sans faire de victimes civiles. Ce que nombreux Palestiniens font, se réfugiant dans des bâtiments de l’UNRWA. Le Hamas, qui utilise sa population comme boucliers humains, leur ordonne de retourner dans ces zones.

La terreur palestinienne et les répliques israéliennes

Pour la seule journée du 12 juillet 2014 plus de 129 roquettes ont été tirées depuis Gaza vers Israël.
117 roquettes au moins ont frappé Israël
9 roquettes ont été interceptées par le Dôme de Fer
Tsahal a frappé 120 cibles terroristes dans la Bande de Gaza

On est bien loin d’un soi-disant combat de David contre Goliath, le Hamas possédant un arsenal considérable. Fabriqué localement pour partie – d’où les restrictions israéliennes sur la nature des transferts à Gaza, qui se poursuivent actuellement en dépit des attaques terroristes – mais importé pour une plus grande partie. Fourni par l’Iran ou ses alliés, importé dans la Bande de Gaza via des tunnels de contrebande dont la construction est devenue une spécialité locale ayant bénéficié jusque récemment de complicités égyptiennes. L’Égypte aujourd’hui saisit ce type de matériel à destination de Gaza-.

L’Iran à Vienne et à Gaza

Le 13 juillet le Premier ministre Nétanyahou, lors de la réunion hebdomadaire du Cabinet ministériel, soulignait d’ailleurs,que alors que « les grandes puissances discutent aujourd’hui à Vienne de la question du programme nucléaire iranien » il convient de « leur rappeler que le Hamas et le Djihad Islamique sont financés, armés et entraînés par l’Iran, L’Iran est une puissance terroriste majeure..On ne peut permettre à cet Iran-là de pouvoir produire des matières fissiles pour des armes nucléaires. Si cela se produit ce que nous voyons se passer autour de nous et se passer dans le Moyen-Orient sera bien pire… ».

Israël avertit les populations civiles dans le respect du droit de la guerre

C’est dans ce contexte que Tsahal, se conformant au droit international et au droit de la guerre a averti le 12 juillet des Gazaouis du nord de la Bande de Gaza, qui vivent autour de rampes de lancement de roquettes et autres installations terroristes militaires de partir de chez eux avant midi le lendemain avant que soit lancée une opération pour les détruire. Ce que rapporte même l’agence de presse palestinienne Maan News.. Qui fait également état du départ de milliers de Palestiniens qui vont se réfugier dans des écoles ou des bâtiments de l’UNRWA. Ce qui montre d’ailleurs qu’ils savent que les tirs israéliens ne sont pas aveugles, à la différence des tirs lancés depuis Gaza.

Populations civiles palestiniennes qui sont de la chair à canon pour le Hamas

Et que fait le Hamas ? Son ministère de l’Intérieur ordonne à ces Palestiniens de regagner immédiatement leur domicile, affirmant que ces avertissements entreraient dans le cadre d’une guerre psychologique et ne sont pas à prendre au sérieux, alors qu’il sait pertinemment que tel n’est pas le cas…., Le mouvement terroriste qui utilise sa population comme boucliers humains démontre une fois encore son peu de respect pour leurs vies. Les Gazaouis n’étant pour lui que de la chair à canon. Ce que dénonçait à nouveau en ces termes Benjamin Netanyahou lors de la réunion de son Cabinet ministériel du 13 juillet 2014 « Qui se cache dans les mosquées ? Le Hamas. Qui met ses arsenaux sous des hôpitaux ? Le Hamas. Qui met des centres de commandement dans des résidences ou à proximité de jardins d’enfants ? Le Hamas. Le Hamas utilise les habitants de Gaza comme boucliers humains et provoque un désastre pour les civils de Gaza ; donc, pour toute attaque contre des civils de Gaza, ce que nous regrettons, le Hamas et ses partenaires sont seuls responsables ».

Pour faire bonne mesure le Hamas terrorise aussi sa population en faisant assassiner en pleine rue dans la ville de Gaza, par ’des combattants palestiniens’, sans autre forme de procès, un homme accusé d’être ’un collaborateur’,

Israël laisse sortir binationaux et malades graves et laisse entrer des biens de première nécessité

On notera que les binationaux qui le choisissent peuvent quitter la Bande de Gaza par le passage d’Erez et sont des centaines à le faire. Des patients palestiniens continuent à y transiter pour aller se faire soigner en Israël et des biens de première nécessité entrent dan la Bande de Gaza par le passage de Keren Shalom. On trouvera tous les détails de ces livraisons ici.

On rappellera également qu’une grande partie de l’eau potable et de l’électricité consommés dans la Bande de Gaza sont fournis par Israël.

Voir également:

Fourth Lesson From the Gaza War: Don’t Trust Body Counts and Hamas Propaganda
Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn
The Algemeiner
July 15, 2014

News media coverage of the Gaza war is increasingly focusing on the body count.

It’s an easy way to make Israel look bad. And it tends to obscure who the real aggressor in this conflict is, and who is the real victim.

Each day, journalists report an ever-higher number of Gazans who have been killed, comparing it to the number of Israeli fatalities, which is still, thank G-d, zero. This kind of simplistic reporting creates a sympathetic portrayal of the Palestinians, who are shown to be genuinely suffering, while the Israeli public just seems a little scared.

But there are important reasons why there are so many more Palestinian casualties than Israeli casualties.

The first is that the Israeli government has built bomb shelters for its citizens, so they have places to hide when the Palestinians fire missiles at them. By contrast, the Hamas regime in Gaza refuses to build shelters for the general population, and prefers to spend its money buying and making more missiles.

It’s not merely that Hamas has no regard for the lives of its own citizens. But even worse: Hamas deliberately places its civilians in the line of fire, in the expectation that Palestinian civilian casualties will generate international sympathy.

On July 10, the Hamas Ministry of the Interior issued an official instruction to the public to remain in their apartments, and “and not heed these message from Israel” that their apartment buildings are about to be bombed.

A New York Times report on July 11 described in sympathetic detail how seven Gazans were killed, and many others wounded, in an Israeli strike despite multiple advance warnings by Israel to vacate the premises. In the 18th paragraph of the 21-paragraph feature, the Times noted, in passing: “A member of the family said earlier that neighbors had come to ‘form a human shield.’ ”

Isn’t that outrageous? Israel voluntarily gives up the advantage of surprise in order to warn Palestinian civilians and save their lives. Hamas responds by trying to ensure that Palestinian civilians get killed. And the international community chastises Israel for the Palestinian fatalities!

Another reason there are so many more Palestinian casualties is that Hamas deliberately places its missile-launchers and arms depots in and around civilian neighborhoods. Hamas hopes that Israel will be reluctant to strike such targets because of the possibility of hitting civilians. Hezbollah does the same thing in southern Lebanon. This is by now an old Arab terrorist tactic, going back more than three decades.

“One must understand how our enemy operates,” Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out at the most recent cabinet meeting. “Who hides in mosques? Hamas. Who puts arsenals under hospitals? Hamas. Who puts command centers in residences or near kindergartens? Hamas. Hamas is using the residents of Gaza as human shields and it is bringing disaster to the civilians of Gaza; therefore, for any attack on Gaza civilians, which we regret, Hamas and its partners bear sole responsibility.”

The final reason the Palestinian casualty toll is higher than that of Israel is that Israel has a superior army, and it’s winning this war. Those who win wars almost always have fewer casualties than those who are defeated. In Israel’s case, that’s a good thing. Israel need not feel guilty or defensive about winning. It’s a lot better than losing, as the Jewish people have learned from centuries of bitter experience as helpless victims.

Anyone with knowledge of history can appreciate how misleading casualty statistics can be. In World War II, the United States suffered about 360,000 military deaths. The Germans lost 3.2-million soldiers and 3.6-million civilians. Does that mean America was the aggressor, and Germany the victim? Japan estimates that it suffered 1 million military deaths and 2 million civilian deaths. Does that mean America attacked Japan, and not vice versa?

The fourth lesson from the Gaza war: The body count is a form of Arab propaganda, which actually conceals who is the aggressor and who is the victim.

Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn are members of the board of the Religious Zionists of America.

Gaza : les « tunnels de la terreur », cibles de l’offensive israélienne
Les galeries souterraines creusées par le Hamas sont la priorité de l’opération terrestre lancée le 17 juillet par l’armée israélienne, mais aussi une source de ravitaillement pour les Gazaouis malgré le blocus.
Louis Boy

Le Point

19/07/2014

« La décision de réoccuper Gaza n’a pas été prise. » A en croire le ministre de la Sécurité publique israélien, l’offensive terrestre entamée par l’armée israélienne dans la nuit du jeudi 17 au vendredi 18 juillet n’est qu’une opération temporaire, même si Benyamin Nétanyahou s’est dit prêt à l' »élargir de manière significative ».

Depuis le début des frappes aériennes, le 8 juillet, l’objectif affiché est le même : mettre le Hamas hors d’état de nuire aux Israéliens. Mais Tsahal semble avoir estimé que les frappes aériennes ne suffiraient pas pour détruire un des atouts principaux du mouvement palestinien : son réseau de souterrains, que le Premier ministre a surnommé les « tunnels de la terreur ».
Une attaque souterraine déjouée le 17 juillet

C’est une attaque du Hamas qui semble avoir convaincu Israël de frapper ces tunnels, ou du moins lui avoir fourni le prétexte parfait. Dans la journée qui a précédé l’offensive terrestre, 13 combattants du Hamas pénètrent en Israël en empruntant un de leurs souterrains, à proximité d’un kibboutz. Repérés, ils sont repoussés par des soldats et l’armée de l’air avant de rebrousser chemin. Pour le porte-parole de l’armée, c’est « une attaque terroriste majeure » qui vient d’être déjouée.

Il faut dire que le réseau souterrain du Hamas a de quoi inquiéter Israël. « Des dizaines de tunnels parcourent la bande de Gaza, affirme Tsahal. Il s’agit d’un réseau sophistiqué, très bien entretenu, qui relie des ateliers de construction de roquettes, des rampes de lancement et des postes de commandement. » A une vingtaine de mètres sous terre, ils sont parfois équipés du téléphone et de l’électricité. Les galeries, dont la construction peut prendre des années, sont devenues une fierté pour le Hamas, expliquait un ancien responsable de l’armée israélienne au journal Haaretz. Une de ces galeries, découverte par l’armée israélienne en 2013, est visible dans cette vidéo (non sous-titrée) de la chaîne américaine CNN.

Contrebande avec l’Egypte

Certains tunnels aboutissent en plein territoire israélien. Des habitants du sud du pays affirment même entendre des bruits de forage la nuit sous le sol de leurs maisons. Les responsables de l’armée israélienne craignent donc que le Hamas utilise ce réseau pour lancer des attaques en contournant le dispositif de sécurité qui borde la bande de Gaza. En 2006, c’est par ces tunnels que s’étaient évaporés les ravisseurs du soldat israélien Gilad Shalit.

Pourtant, ces tunnels n’avaient, au départ, pas une vocation militaire. Ils apparaissent en 1979 quand la ville de Rafah est divisée en deux : une moitié dans le sud de la bande de Gaza, l’autre moitié sous contrôle égyptien. Les tunnels relient alors les deux côtés de la frontière, et servent à transporter des marchandises de contrebande, voire de la drogue. Un rôle de contrebande qui s’est renforcé depuis 2007 et la mise en place d’un blocus de Gaza par l’Egypte et Israël, en réaction à l’élection du Hamas à la tête de la région. Depuis, les tunnels se sont multipliés, essentiellement à la frontière avec l’Egypte, et sont devenus un lien vital avec l’extérieur. Une partie d’entre eux, les plus secrets, sert aussi à acheminer des combattants et des armes pour le Hamas.
1 400 tunnels détruits par les Egyptiens

Un réseau qui s’est grandement affaibli en 2013, quand le nouveau pouvoir égyptien, hostile au Hamas, décide de s’attaquer aux tunnels. Près de 1 400 d’entre eux sont bouchés entre 2013 et mars 2014, selon l’armée égyptienne. Un chiffre qui témoigne de l’étendue du réseau. Depuis, l’approvisionnement de Gaza en nourriture, en matériaux de construction ou encore en carburant s’est fortement compliqué, affaiblissant aussi le Hamas.

Pour le site américain Vox, l’objectif officiel de l’opération militaire israélienne ces dernières semaines – affaiblir les infrastructures du Hamas – pourrait signifier qu’elle souhaite ne pas s’attaquer uniquement aux tunnels qui mènent en Israël, comme annoncé, mais bien à la totalité du réseau, y compris les tunnels que l’Egypte « pourrait avoir manqués ». De quoi rendre encore plus pesant le blocus sur Gaza et, peut-être, porter un coup fatal au Hamas.

Voir encore:

Septième leçon de la guerre de Gaza: Nous devons démilitariser Gaza

Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn

The Algeimeiner

traduction Europe Israël

juil 20, 2014
Septième leçon de la guerre de Gaza: Nous devons démilitariser Gaza

Un exemple des tunnels terroristes et de contrebande du Hamas entre le poste frontière de Rafah avec l’Egypte et la bande de Gaza.

Un simple cessez-le-feu à Gaza laisserait au Hamas le temps de réarmer et de renouveler ses activités terroristes.

La démilitarisation de la bande de Gaza mettrait fin aux activités terroristes du Hamas.

Quel but est le plus logique?

Le président Barack Obama et le secrétaire d’Etat John Kerry travaillent dur pour parvenir à un cessez-le-feu entre Israël et le Hamas. Cet effort est à courte vue – et pire encore. Un simple cessez-le-feu serait de facto une victoire pour le Hamas. Il donnerait au Hamas le temps et l’espace de respiration dont il a besoin pour faire passer plus d’armes, réparer ses tunnels terroristes, et lancer de nouvelles attaques terroristes contre Israël. Il ne durerait que pour mieux prolonger la guerre.

Lorsque le Premier ministre israélien Benjamin Netanyahu a accepté le 15 Juillet la proposition de cessez-le-feu, il a expliqué sa décision en ces termes: « Nous avons accepté la proposition égyptienne afin de permettre la démilitarisation de la bande de Gaza – de ses missiles, roquettes et tunnels – par des moyens diplomatiques. »
Ainsi, Netanyahu a déclaré lors d’une conférence de presse télévisée le 16 Juillet:«La chose la plus importante vis-à-vis de Gaza est de s’assurer que l’enclave soit démilitarisée».

terror1Voici les sous-sols de la ville de Shuja’iya que les israéliens ont bombardés cette nuit : tout un arsenal et des postes de commandement terroristes sous les immeubles d’habitation, la mosquée et l’hôpital.

Dans un plan présenté au bureau du premier ministre et au Comité Knesset des Affaires étrangères et de la Défense la semaine dernière, l’ancien ministre de la Défense, Shaul Mofaz, a présenté un plan détaillé pour la démilitarisation de la bande de Gaza.

De même, Tony Blair, l’ancien Premier ministre britannique qui est maintenant l’envoyé du Quartet pour le Moyen-Orient, a déclaré sur la chaîne israélienne TV 10 le 15 Juillet qu’il doit y avoir un « plan à long terme pour Gaza … qui traite des exigences de la sécurité réelle d’Israël de façon permanente … le Hamas ne peut pas poursuivre l’infrastructure militaire dont il dispose. »

Certes, nettoyer Gaza de ses armes et de son infrastructure militaire ne serait pas une tâche facile, compte tenu du vaste arsenal que le Hamas a amassé depuis le dernier cessez-le-feu il y a deux ans. Au début de la guerre actuelle, le Hamas avait environ 10.000 roquettes à portée de main. Ces missiles sont plus sophistiqués que les années précédentes, ils transportent des charges lourdes d’explosifs et peuvent atteindre Israël partout, même jusqu’à Nahariya, le long de la frontière nord d’Israël avec le Liban.

Le Hamas a également des drones armés. Il a d’énormes dépôts d’armes et des laboratoires de fabrication de bombes. Il a des tunnels en béton où les terroristes se cachent et où passent les armes qui sont introduites en contrebande.

En mars de cette année, la marine israélienne a intercepté un navire d’armes iranien à destination de Gaza. Cachées sous des sacs de ciment de fabrication iranienne il y avait des dizaines de roquettes M-302 sol-sol d’une portée de 75 à 150 km. (Remarque: la distance entre la bande de Gaza à Tel-Aviv est de 60 km.) La cache d’armes comprenait également près de 200 obus de mortier, et 400 000 cartouches de munitions. En 2009 et à nouveau en 2011, Israël a bombardé les convois d’armes transportées du Soudan à Gaza.

Qui sait combien d’autres de ces livraisons d’armes iraniennes ou soudanaises ont réussi à échapper aux Israéliens et à atteindre Gaza?

Ce n’est pas seulement un problème pour Israël. C’est un problème pour l’ensemble du monde libre. Israël est en première ligne dans la guerre internationale contre le terrorisme. Gaza n’est qu’un champ de bataille. Comme nous le savons depuis longtemps, ce qui commence à Gaza ou Bagdad ou Kaboul se propage vite à Londres, Madrid et New York.

La communauté internationale a démontré que quand elle rassemble sa volonté, elle peut désarmer les terroristes. Une pression internationale sévère et des sanctions ont contraint la Syrie à entamer le démantèlement de ses armes chimiques l’année dernière. La pression et la fermeté britannique ont entraîné le désarmement des terroristes de l’IRA. Peut-être que cette expérience est à l’origine de l’appel de l’ancien Premier ministre Tony Blair pour le démantèlement de l’infrastructure terroriste du Hamas dans la bande de Gaza.

Au lieu de continuer à verser des milliards de dollars d’aide financière dans le trou noir connu sous le nom de «économie de Gaza», la communauté internationale doit porter son attention sur les armes de Gaza. Il est temps à l’instar de ce que l’Irlande a réussi et des progrès faits en Syrie, de démilitariser la bande de Gaza. Les habitants de Gaza ont besoin de beurre, et non pas de munitions, et les gens du monde libre ont besoin de paix, et non pas de terrorisme.

La septième leçon de la guerre de Gaza: la démilitarisation de la bande de Gaza, pas un cessez le feu, doit être l’objectif non seulement d’Israël, mais de l’ensemble du monde libre.

Moshe Phillips et Benyamin Korn sont membres du conseil des sionistes religieux d’Amérique.

Voir de même:

Gaza: les tunnels de la terreur financés par l’Union Européenne
Jean Vercors

JSSNews

20 juillet 2014

Depuis son arrivée au pouvoir en janvier 2006, le Hamas a lancé plus de 10,000 missiles et roquettes sur la population civile d’Israël. Le Hamas, est considéré par le Quartet (Etats-Unis, Russie, UN et Union européenne, Australie, Canada, Japon) comme un mouvement terroriste.

L’idéologie et les objectifs de ce mouvement sont contenus dans sa charte, adoptée le 18 août 1988. Les buts du Hamas sont la destruction de l’Etat d’Israël et la création d’un Etat islamique en Palestine, avec Jérusalem comme capitale. Le Hamas se base entièrement sur l’islam et considère que le territoire palestinien dans son ensemble, ce qui inclut donc l’Etat d’Israël, est une terre islamique.

La population de gaza a voté majoritairement pour le Hamas, ils ont choisi des leaders terroristes et irresponsables.

La population civile paie la note du Hamas qu’ils ont élu massivement.

99.9% des gazaouïs approuvent toutes les actions du Hamas, le 0.10% est au cimetière.

L’UE est le principal bailleur de fonds de l’Autorité palestinienne et fournit chaque année plus de 450 millions de dollars par an d’aide directe. Sans compter les aides « privées » des Etats et des collectivités et sans compter également les dons faits aux organisations islamiques et arabes qui pullulent en France en faveur des palestiniens.

De nombreuses associations dites caritatives comme : le Comité de Bienfaisance et de Solidarité avec la Palestine, la Fondation Al-Aksa, le Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, le Palestinians’ Relief and Development Fund (Interpal) et le Palestine and Lebanon Relief Fund, actifs respectivement en France, en Allemagne, aux Etats-Unis et en Grande-Bretagne, servent ainsi au Hamas à récolter des fonds, sous couvert de solidarité et de charité.

L’offensive terrestre décidée par le gouvernement israélien vise à « frapper les tunnels de la terreur allant de Gaza jusqu’en Israël » et protéger ses citoyens.

A l’origine destinés à la contrebande des marchandises, les tunnels ont très vite été utilisés par les terroristes islamistes pour faire passer des armes de guerre via la frontière avec l’Egypte. En 2013, l’armée égyptienne sous l’égide de Mohamed Morsi, a décidé d’inonder les tunnels de contrebande pour « renforcer la sécurité à la frontière ». Une véritable foutaise de la part des autorités égyptiennes, alors issues comme le Hamas de la confrérie des Frères musulmans.

Avec donc l’argent des contribuables Européens, le Hamas a pu construire de nombreux tunnels reliant la bande de Gaza à Israël. L’objectif était de déjouer les systèmes de surveillance israéliens pour infiltrer des terroristes en vue de commettre des attentats dans des localités et prendre des otages Israéliens.

Plusieurs tunnels pénétraient « de plusieurs centaines de mètres en territoire israélien » construits pour mener des « attaques terroristes ».

Les tunnels étaient construits avec des dalles de béton et à une profondeur de 5 à 10 mètres.
Le réseau souterrain du Hamas est très sophistiqué, très bien entretenu, il relie des ateliers de construction de missiles et roquettes, des rampes de lancement et des postes de commandement.

Plus de 600.000 tonnes de béton et de fer qui auraient pu vous servir a construire des écoles, des routes, des hôpitaux ont servi au Hamas a construire des tunnels en dessous des écoles, mosquées et Hôpitaux et en territoire Israélien.
Pendant que des millions d’Européens vivent dans la misère, l’UE préfère financer les tunnels du terrorisme palestinien

Et La France, toujours prête à jouer les bons samaritains par l’intermédiaire de ses différents intervenants, consacre 7M€ par an aux collectivités territoriales palestiniennes : 2 M€ sont mobilisés annuellement par les collectivités françaises pour financer des projets, et 5M€ par l’Etat, via l’Agence Française de Développement (AFD)
La France accordait en mars 2012, 10M€ aux palestiniens pour la construction d’une usine de dessalement dans la bande de Gaza.

Où est donc passée cette usine?

Les télévisions du monde montrent sans relâche des images de Gazaouis blessés et morts comme si la responsabilité incombait à Israël.

Le Hamas utilise des boucliers humains pour se protéger de la riposte Israélienne.

De nombreux journalistes et photographes cherchent désespérément la photo parfaite : Celle de la petite poupée d’enfant soigneusement posée sur les débris d’une maison du Hamas bombardée la veille par l’aviation Israélienne.

Les Palestiniens ont choisi la terreur et la guerre, je ne vais pas pleurer pour eux. Il fallait réfléchir avant.

Aux Palestiniens, « Si le Hamas est un vaillant combattant, un vrai résistant, qu’il sorte de ses bunkers planqués sous vos maisons et viennent nous affronter »

Voir aussi:

IDF shows photos of alleged Hamas rocket sites dug into hospital, mosques
By Yaakov Lappin/ Reuters
Jerusalem Post

07/21/2014 16:06
inShare2
The images were taken from the northeastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaia, which was the scene of heavy fighting in recent days.

The IDF on Monday released declassified photos showing how Hamas uses hospitals, mosques, and playgrounds as rocket launch sites.

The images were taken from the northeastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaia, which was the scene of heavy fighting in recent days.

Israel’s army said it had been targeting militants in the clashes, charging that they had fired rockets from Shejaia and built tunnels and command centers there. The army said it had warned civilians to leave two days earlier.

Sounds of explosions rocked Gaza City through the morning, with residents reporting heavy fighting in Shejaia and the adjacent Zeitoun neighborhood. Locals also said there was heavy shelling in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip.

« It seems we are heading towards a massacre in Beit Hanoun. They drove us out of our houses with their fire. We carried our kids and ran away, » said Abu Ahmed, he did not want to give his full name for fear of Israeli reprisals.

The Islamist group Hamas and its allies fired multiple missiles across southern and central Israel, and heavy fighting was reported in the north and east of Gaza.

Non-stop attacks lifted the Palestinian death toll to 496, including almost 100 children, since fighting started on July 8, Gaza health officials said. Israel says 18 of its soldiers have also died along with two civilians.

Despite worldwide calls for a cessation of the worst bout of Palestinian-Israeli violence for more than five years, Israeli ministers ruled out any swift truce.

« This is not the time to talk of a ceasefire, » said Gilad Erdan, communications minister and a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inner security cabinet.

Voir enfin:

Tunnels Matter More Than Rockets to Hamas
The terror group wants to infiltrate Israel to grab hostages and stage attacks as in Mumbai in 2008.
Michael B. Mukasey
The Wall Street Journal
July 20, 2014

Early in the current clash between Hamas and Israel, much of the drama was in the air. The Palestinian terrorist group launched hundreds of rockets at Israel, and Israel responded by knocking down rockets in the sky with its Iron Dome defense system and by bombing the rocket-launch sites in Gaza. But the real story has been underground. Hamas’s tunnels into Israel are potentially much more dangerous than its random rocket barrages.

Israel started a ground offensive against Hamas in Gaza on Thursday, intending to destroy Hamas’s tunnel network. The challenge became obvious on Saturday when eight Palestinian fighters wearing Israeli military uniforms emerged from a tunnel 300 yards inside Israel and killed two Israeli soldiers in a firefight. One of the Palestinian fighters was killed before the others fled through the tunnel back to Gaza.

According to Yigal Carmon, who heads the Middle East Media Research Institute, his organization’s monitoring of published material and discussions with Israeli officials indicate that Hamas’s tunnels—and not the well-publicized episode of kidnapping and murder involving young Israelis and a Palestinian teenager—were the spark for the conflict.

Consider: On July 5 Israeli planes damaged a tunnel dug by Hamas that ran for several kilometers from inside the Gaza Strip. The tunnel emerged near an Israeli kibbutz named Kerem Shalom —vineyard of peace.

That Israeli strike presented Hamas with a dilemma, because the tunnel was one of scores that the group had dug at great cost. Were the Israelis specifically aware of the tunnel or had their strike been a random guess? Several members of the Hamas military leadership came to inspect the damage the following day, July 6. A later official Israeli report said that the Hamas inspectors were killed in a « work accident. » But what if the Israelis had been waiting for the follow-up and struck again?

Hamas now saw its strategic plan unraveling. The tunnel network gave it the ability to launch a coordinated attack within Israel like the 2008 Islamist rampage in Mumbai that killed 164 people. Recall that in 2011 Israel released more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, more than 200 of whom were under a life sentence for planning and perpetrating terror attacks. They were exchanged for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who had been taken hostage in a cross-border raid by Hamas. Imagine the leverage that Hamas could have achieved by sneaking fighters through the tunnels and taking hostages throughout Israel; the terrorists intercepted Saturday night were carrying tranquilizers and handcuffs.

If the Israeli strike on the tunnel near the Kerem Shalom kibbutz presaged a drive to destroy the entire network—the jewel of Hamas’s war-planning—the terrorist group must have been thrown into a panic. Because by this summer Hamas was already in desperate political straits.

For years Hamas was receiving weapons and funding from Shiite Iran and Syria, under the banner of militant resistance to Israel. But when Mohammed Morsi became president of Egypt in June 2012, Hamas abandoned its relationship with Iran and Syria and took up instead with Mr. Morsi and the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas also took up with Turkey and Qatar, also Sunni states, describing them at one point as the saviors of Hamas. Former benefactors Syria and Iran then called Hamas traitorous for abandoning the resistance-to-Israel camp.

The Hamas romance with Mr. Morsi was especially galling to Shiite-led Iran and Syria. The Shiites are only 10% of the world’s Muslims, and neither Iran nor Syria welcomed the loss of a patron to Sunni Egypt. The coup that removed Mr. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood regime in June 2013 brought a chill in Egypt’s relationship with Hamas that has kept Egypt’s border with Gaza closed, denying Hamas that route of supply.

But Iran and Syria did not rush to embrace their former beneficiary. When Hamas tried to re-ingratiate itself with Iran this May, its political bureau head, Khaled Mash’al, was denied an audience in Tehran and could only meet a minor diplomat in Qatar. On June 26 the Iranian website Tabnak posted an article titled, « Mr. Mash’al, Answer the Following Questions Before Asking for Help. » The questions included: « How can Iran go back to trusting an organization that turned its back on the Syrian regime after it sat in Damascus for years and received all kinds of assistance? » and « How can we trust an organization that enjoyed Iranian support for years and then described Turkey and Qatar as its saviors? »

So on July 6, Hamas stood politically isolated and strategically vulnerable. It had lost the financial support of Egypt and could not get renewed support from Iran in the measure it needed. To some in the organization it appeared that Hamas had only one card to play—and on July 7 it played that card with rockets. As to the tunnels, last Thursday Israeli forces intercepted 13 armed terrorists as they emerged from a tunnel near Kibbutz Sufa in Israel.

There are other messages out there for the Palestinians instead of the violent one sent by Hamas. Writing in the London-based Arabic daily Al Hayat on July 12, Saudi intellectual Abdallah Hamid al-Din, no friend of Israel, urged Palestinians to abandon as unrealistic demands for a right of return, and to forgo as hypocritical calls to boycott Israel:

« The only way to stop Israel is peace. . . . Israel does not want peace, because it does not need it. But the Palestinians do. Therefore it is necessary to persist with efforts to impose peace. No other option exists. True resistance is resistance to illusions and false hopes, and no longer leaning on the past in building the future. Real resistance is to silently endure the handshake of your enemy so as to enable your people to learn and to live. »

Plenty of others are sending the same message today. Whether Palestinians will listen is another matter.

Mr. Mukasey served as U.S. attorney general (2007-09) and as a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York (1988-2006).


Algérie: Non à la judaïsation ! (What about the other nakbas? : while salafists protest proposed reopening of the few remaining Algerian synagogues)

17 juillet, 2014
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Une ancienne synagogue, à Tlemcen, en Algérie, aujourd’hui transformée en école d’arts martiaux

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Une ancienne synagogue, à Paris, en France, aujourd’hui transformée en ambassade

https://i0.wp.com/sonofeliyahu.com/Images/Jewish%20Population.jpg
https://i1.wp.com/static.dreuz.info/wp-content/uploads/BsnTYzPCAAAebRp-500x351.jpghttps://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bsq5OXZCEAAfS8J.jpg:largeVous aimerez l’étranger, car vous avez été étrangers dans le pays d’Égypte. Deutéronome 10: 19
On admet généralement que toutes les civilisations ou cultures devraient être traitées comme si elles étaient identiques. Dans le même sens, il s’agirait de nier des choses qui paraissent pourtant évidentes dans la supériorité du judaïque et du chrétien sur le plan de la victime. Mais c’est dans la loi juive qu’il est dit: tu accueilleras l’étranger car tu as été toi-même exilé, humilié, etc. Et ça, c’est unique. Je pense qu’on n’en trouvera jamais l’équivalent mythique. On a donc le droit de dire qu’il apparaît là une attitude nouvelle qui est une réflexion sur soi. On est alors quand même très loin des peuples pour qui les limites de l’humanité s’arrêtent aux limites de la tribu. (…)  Mais il faut distinguer deux choses. Il y a d’abord le texte chrétien qui pénètre lentement dans la conscience des hommes. Et puis il y a la façon dont les hommes l’interprètent. De ce point de vue, il est évident que le Moyen Age n’interprétait pas le christianisme comme nous. Mais nous ne pouvons pas leur en faire le reproche. Pas plus que nous pouvons faire le reproche aux Polynésiens d’avoir été cannibales. Parce que cela fait partie d’un développement historique. (…) Il faut commencer par se souvenir que le nazisme s’est lui-même présenté comme une lutte contre la violence: c’est en se posant en victime du traité de Versailles que Hitler a gagné son pouvoir. Et le communisme lui aussi s’est présenté comme une défense des victimes. Désormais, c’est donc seulement au nom de la lutte contre la violence qu’on peut commettre la violence. Autrement dit, la problématique judaïque et chrétienne est toujours incorporée à nos déviations. (…)  Et notre souci des victimes, pris dans son ensemble comme réalité, n’a pas d’équivalent dans l’histoire des sociétés humaines. (…) Le souci des victimes a (…) unifié le monde. René Girard
L’existence d’Israël pose le problème du droit de vivre en sujets libre et souverains des nations non musulmanes dans l’aire musulmane. L’extermination des Arméniens, d’abord par l’empire ottoman, puis par le nouvel Etat turc a représenté la première répression d’une population dhimmie en quête d’indépendance nationale. Il n’y a quasiment plus de Juifs aujourd’hui dans le monde arabo-islamique et les chrétiens y sont en voie de disparition. Shmuel Trigano
Quand les synagogues se comportent comme des ambassades il n’est pas étonnant qu’elles subissent les mêmes attaques qu’une ambassade. Pierre Minnaert
Je ne vois pas comment on peut lutter contre la dérive antisémite de jeunes de banlieue quand les synagogues soutiennent Israël. Pierre Minaert
Moi je ne pousse à rien, je constate, et je constate aussi la hausse d’un discours anti juifs chez jeunes maghrébins qui s’explique. Pierre Minnaert ‏
 Quand les rabbins mettent Dieu dans un camp comment s’étonner qu’ils soient attaqués par l’autre ? Ils renforcent l’antisémitisme. Pierre Minnaert
Ils sont environ 7 000 à défiler dans les rues de Paris, ce dimanche 13 juillet, entre Barbès et la Bastille, pour dire leur solidarité avec les Palestiniens. Le parcours a été négocié par les responsables du NPA (Nouveau parti anticapitaliste), l’organisation héritière de la Ligue communiste révolutionnaire. Pourquoi avoir exigé un parcours qui s’achève à proximité du quartier du Marais, connu pour abriter plusieurs lieux de culte juif ? Le fait est que les responsables de la Préfecture de police l’ont validé. Parmi les manifestants, de nombreuses femmes, souvent voilées, mais surtout des jeunes venus de la banlieue francilienne. Les premiers slogans ciblent Israël, mais aussi la « complicité française ». Très vite, les « Allah Akbar » (Dieu est grand) dominent, donnant une tonalité fortement religieuse au cortège. La préfecture de police ne s’attendait pas à une telle mobilisation, mais ses responsables ont vu large au niveau du maintien de l’ordre, puisque cinq « forces mobiles », gendarmes et CRS confondues, ont été mobilisées. C’est à priori suffisant pour sécuriser tous les lieux juifs le long du parcours. Aucune dégradation, aucun incident n’est signalé en marge du cortège, jusqu’à l’arrivée à proximité de la Bastille. Un premier mouvement de foule est observé à la hauteur de la rue des Tournelles, qui abrite une synagogue. Les gendarmes bloquent la voie et parviennent sans difficulté à refouler les assaillants vers le boulevard Beaumarchais. Place de la Bastille, la dispersion commence, accélérée par une ondée, lorsque des jeunes décident de s’en prendre aux forces de l’ordre. De petites grappes s’engouffrent vers les rues adjacentes. Se donnent-ils le mot ? Ils sont entre 200 et 300 à marcher en direction de la synagogue de la rue de la Roquette… où se tient un rassemblement pour la paix en Israël, en présence du grand rabbin. Les organisateurs affirment avoir alerté le commissariat de police, mais l’information n’est apparemment pas remontée jusqu’à la Préfecture de police. Détail important : s’ils avaient su, les responsables du maintien de l’ordre auraient forcément barré l’accès à la rue. Les choses se compliquent très vite, car les manifestants ne sont pas les seuls à vouloir en découdre. Une petite centaine de membres de la LDJ (ligue de défense juive) sont positionnés devant la synagogue de la rue de la Roquette, casques de moto sur la tête et outils (armes blanches) à portée de main. Loin de rester passive, la petite troupe monte au contact des manifestants, comme ils l’ont déjà fait lors d’une manifestation pro-palestinienne organisée Place Saint-Michel quelques jours auparavant. On frôle la bagarre générale, mais la police parvient à s’interposer. Les assaillants refluent vers le boulevard, tandis que les militants juifs reviennent vers la synagogue. Frédéric Ploquin
Une équipe qui a su non seulement séduire au-delà des frontières, mais donner à l’Allemagne une autre image d’elle-même : multiculturelle, ouverte et aimée à l’étranger. Sur les 23 joueurs de la sélection de Joachim Löw, onze sont d’origine étrangère. Outre le trio d’origine polonaise (Piotr Trochowski, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski), qui depuis longtemps n’est plus considéré comme exotique, évoluent sur le terrain Marko Marin, Jérôme Boateng, Dennis Aogo, Sami Khedira ou encore deux joueurs d’origine turque : Serdar Tasci et le jeune prodige Mesut Özil. Tous les observateurs, en Allemagne, s’accordent à reconnaître que cette arrivée de nouveaux talents « venus d’ailleurs » fait beaucoup de bien à l’équipe. « Cela lui donne une aptitude à l’engagement, une envie de reconnaissance, vis-à-vis d’eux-mêmes mais également vis-à-vis des autres », déclarait le ministre de l’intérieur Thomas de Maizière à la Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. Pour Bastian Schweinsteiger, talentueux milieu de terrain, « les diverses influences vivifient l’équipe, elles lui donnent un tout autre tempérament ». Une diversité qui fait également beaucoup de bien au pays. A Kreuzberg, le quartier de Berlin où vit la plus importante communauté turque du pays, on défend depuis le début du mondial les couleurs de la Mannschaft. « Les performances des jeunes donnent à notre travail un élan énorme », se réjouit Gül Keskinler, une Turque chargée de l’intégration à la Fédération allemande de football. « L’exemple de Mesut Özil est à cet égard particulièrement important, souligne-t-elle. Les footballeurs ont, à travers leur fonction d’exemple, un rôle très fort, ils sont des ambassadeurs pour la jeunesse. » Dans les rues de Berlin, pas de célébration pourtant d’un esprit de fraternité « black blanc beur » tel qu’avait pu le connaître la France après sa victoire au Mondial de 1998. Pour beaucoup d’Allemands, le maillot est rassembleur : peu importe l’origine des joueurs, à la première victoire ils ont été adoptés sans cérémonie. La diversité n’est qu’un élément parmi d’autres dans l’impression de renouveau que donne l’équipe d’Allemagne. « La diversité montre surtout que l’Allemagne va enfin chercher son inspiration ailleurs, estime Holger Cesnat, 35 ans. Le style de l’équipe a changé, il est plus léger, parce que Joachim Löw observe le football pratiqué au-delà des frontières et a rompu avec le style qui prédominait dans le football allemand jusqu’ici. » Le Monde
Cela a commencé en 2006, c’était la première fois qu’on osait être fier de son pays, fier de son équipe, cela a libéré beaucoup de choses. Rainer Stich
C’est la première fois que l’équipe est si appréciée à l’étranger. Même en Israël on trouve la Mannschaft sympathique. C’est un sentiment auquel nous ne sommes pas habitués. Emilie Parker
 Cette idée de la France ‘black blanc beur’, c’est quelque chose qui les a beaucoup marqués pour révolutionner leur football. Jean-Jacques Bourdin (RMC)
La danse des Gauchos était de mauvais goût (…) Subitement, la modestie allemande a disparu dans le triomphe. Tagesspiegel (quotidien berlinois)
Plusieurs médias allemands critiquaient mercredi la «Nationalmannschaft» championne du monde pour avoir interprété lors des célébrations du titre mardi à Berlin une danse moquant les adversaires argentins vaincus en finale (1-0 a.p.). Mimant des Argentins courbés, comme par le désespoir et le poids de la défaite, six joueurs de l’équipe ont chanté : «ainsi marchent les Gauchos, les Gauchos marchent ainsi». Puis se relevant bien droits et fiers, ils ont continué : «Ainsi marchent les Allemands, les Allemands marchent ainsi». Ils ont répété la séquence plusieurs fois sous les applaudissements, dans un pays où toute expression ostentatoire de fierté nationale reste sujet à controverse. Libération
Maybe to explain what they sing. They sing: « So gehen die Gauchos, die Gauchos die gehen so. So gehen die Deutschen, die Deutschen die gehen so. » (« That’s how the Gauchos walk, the Gauchos walk like this. That’s how the Germans walk, the Germans walk like this. ») And it’s important to note that this song is a very common song in Germany for teasing the team that has lost the match. So they didn’t make an entirely new song up by themselves. Reddit
Israël existe et continuera à exister jusqu’à ce que l’islam l’abroge comme il a abrogé ce qui l’a précédé. Hasan al-Bannâ (préambule de la charte du Hamas, 1988)
Le Mouvement de la Résistance Islamique est un mouvement palestinien spécifique qui fait allégeance à Allah et à sa voie, l’islam. Il lutte pour hisser la bannière de l’islam sur chaque pouce de la Palestine. Charte du Hamas (Article six)
Nous avons constaté que le sport était la religion moderne du monde occidental. Nous savions que les publics anglais et américain assis devant leur poste de télévision ne regarderaient pas un programme exposant le sort des Palestiniens s’il y avait une manifestation sportive sur une autre chaîne. Nous avons donc décidé de nous servir des Jeux olympiques, cérémonie la plus sacrée de cette religion, pour obliger le monde à faire attention à nous. Nous avons offert des sacrifices humains à vos dieux du sport et de la télévision et ils ont répondu à nos prières. Terroriste palestinien (Jeux olympiques de Munich, 1972)
Les Israéliens ne savent pas que le peuple palestinien a progressé dans ses recherches sur la mort. Il a développé une industrie de la mort qu’affectionnent toutes nos femmes, tous nos enfants, tous nos vieillards et tous nos combattants. Ainsi, nous avons formé un bouclier humain grâce aux femmes et aux enfants pour dire à l’ennemi sioniste que nous tenons à la mort autant qu’il tient à la vie. Fathi Hammad (responsable du Hamas, mars 2008)
Cela prouve le caractère de notre noble peuple, combattant du djihad, qui défend ses droits et ses demeures le torse nu, avec son sang. La politique d’un peuple qui affronte les avions israéliens la poitrine nue, pour protéger ses habitations, s’est révélée efficace contre l’occupation. Cette politique reflète la nature de notre peuple brave et courageux. Nous, au Hamas, appelons notre peuple à adopter cette politique, pour protéger les maisons palestiniennes. Sami Abu Zuhri (porte-parole du Hamas)
I didn’t actually know that the picture was recycled. I guess I just used it as an illustration – people don’t need to take it as a literal account. If you think of bombs going off that’s pretty much what it looks like.. Twitteuse britannique (16 ans)
Il est interdit de tuer, blesser ou capturer un adversaire en recourant à la perfidie. Constituent une perfidie les actes faisant appel, avec l’intention de la tromper, à la bonne foi d’un adversaire pour lui faire croire qu’il a le droit de recevoir ou l’obligation d’accorder la protection prévue par les règles du droit international applicable dans les conflits armés. Les actes suivants sont des exemples de perfidie : (…) c) feindre d’avoir le statut de civil ou de non-combattant; d) feindre d’avoir un statut protégé en utilisant des signes emblèmes ou uniformes des Nations Unies (…) Protocole additionnel aux Conventions de Genève de 1949 relatif à la protection des victimes des conflits armés internationaux, I, article 37, alinéa 1, 1977)
Sont interdits les actes ou menaces de violence dont le but principal est de répandre la terreur parmi la population civile. (…) Les personnes civiles jouissent de la protection accordée par la présente Section, sauf si elles participent directement aux hostilités et pendant la durée de cette participation. Protocole additionnel aux Conventions de Genève de 1949 (I, art. 51, al. 2 & 3)
See, the Hamas and the other terrorist groups like Islamic Jihad are firing from Gaza when their rocketeers and their command posts are embedded in homes, hospitals, next to kindergartens, mosques. And so we are trying to operate, to target them surgically, but the difference between us is that we’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles. So naturally they’re responsible for all the civilian deaths that occur accidentally. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Lors d’une inspection, l’agence pour l’aide aux réfugiés palestiniens (UNRWA) a trouvé « environ 20 roquettes cachées » dans une école vide située dans la bande de Gaza, un « premier » incident du genre. L’Express
If 80 rockets would be fired upon the citizens of Great Britain, No way I wouldn’t be taking action. If an Israeli prime minister would fail to take action, people would say that this is unacceptable. Tony Blair
Depuis le début de l’opération, au moins 35 bâtiments résidentiels auraient été visés et détruits, entraînant dans la majorité des pertes civiles enregistrées jusqu’à présent, y compris une attaque le 8 Juillet à Khan Younis qui a tué sept civils, dont trois enfants, et blessé 25 autres. Dans la plupart des cas, avant les attaques, les habitants ont été avertis de quitter, que ce soit via des appels téléphoniques de l’armée d’Israël ou par des tirs de missiles d’avertissement. Rapport ONU (09.07.14)
Selon bon nombre de ses détracteurs, Israël serait en train de massacrer des civils à Gaza. Pour un membre arabe du parlement israélien, son armée «élimine délibérément des familles entières». Pour Mahmoud Abbas, président de l’Autorité palestinienne, Israël est en train de commettre un «génocide –le meurtre de familles entières». Et selon l’Iran, il s’agit de «massacres contre des Palestiniens sans défense». De telles accusations sont fausses. Selon les standards de la guerre, les efforts que déploie Israël pour épargner les civils sont exemplaires. Ce combat n’a pas été décidé par Israël. Selon le Hamas et le Djihad Islamique, les deux organisations terroristes qui contrôlent Gaza, Israël aurait provoqué ces hostilités en arrêtant en Cisjordanie des membres du Hamas. Mais des arrestations sur un territoire ne justifient pas des bombardements aériens sur un autre. Israël ne s’en est pris à Gaza qu’après le tir de plus de 150 roquettes sur son territoire et le refus par les terroristes d’un cessez-le-feu. Plusieurs images publiées ces derniers jours et censées prouver le carnage des bombes israéliennes sont des faux, empruntés à d’autres guerres. Mercredi après-midi, le bilan humain oscillait entre 30 et 50 personnes, voire davantage, une fourchette dépendant du moment choisi pour marquer le début de ce conflit. La moindre mort est tragique, et plus les hostilités dureront, plus le bilan s’alourdira. Pour autant, en sachant qu’Israël a lancé plus de 500 raids aériens, vous pouvez en tirer deux conclusions. La première, c’est que l’armée israélienne est misérablement nulle pour tuer des gens. La seconde, et la plus plausible, c’est qu’elle fait au contraire tout son possible pour ne pas en tuer. Le ministre israélien de la Défense a admis que ses offensives avaient ciblé des «domiciles de terroristes», mais aussi des «armes, des infrastructures terroristes, des systèmes de commandements, des institutions du Hamas [et] des bâtiments officiels». Les logements étaient ceux de chefs militaires du Hamas. Selon les dires d’un officiel israélien, «au Hamas, le moindre petit commandant de brigade n’a désormais plus de maison où rentrer chez lui». En termes légaux, Israël justifie ces attaques en affirmant que ces maisons étaient des «centres de commandement terroristes», impliqués dans des tirs de roquette et autres «activités terroristes». Mais si Israël a parfois tenté (et réussi) de tuer des leaders du Hamas dans leurs voitures, son armée a toujours évité de se prendre sans sommation à leurs maisons. La dernière fois qu’Israël a tiré sur des bâtiments civils à Gaza, voici un an et demi, ses habitants ont été au préalable prévenus par téléphone ou par le parachutage de tracts pour qu’ils quittent les lieux. L’armée israélienne se sert aussi de fusées éclairantes ou de mortiers à faibles charges explosives (la consigne dite du «toquer au toit») pour signaler la survenue de bombardements. (…) Le bilan civil le plus grave –sept morts, selon les informations les plus récentes– est survenu dans le bombardement d’une maison située dans la ville de Khan Younès et appartenant à un leader terroriste. Pour le Hamas, il s’agit d’un «massacre contre des femmes et des enfants». Mais selon des voisins, la famille a été prévenue à la fois par téléphone et par un tir de mortier léger sur le toit. Selon un membre des services de sécurité israéliens, les forces israéliennes ont attendu que la famille quitte le bâtiment pour tirer leur missile. Il ne comprend pas pourquoi des membres de cette famille, avec visiblement certains de leurs voisins, sont retournés à l’intérieur. Pour des personnes vivant sur place, c’est parce qu’ils ont voulu «former un bouclier humain». (…) Difficile, très difficile à dire. Mais, dans ce conflit, quiconque se préoccupe des civils tués délibérément devrait d’abord se tourner vers le Hamas. Les tirs de roquettes de Gaza vers Israël ont commencé bien avant l’offensive israélienne sur Gaza. Au départ, les roquettes sont une idée du Djihad Islamique. Mais, ces derniers jours, le Hamas ne s’est pas fait prier pour la reprendre, et a revendiqué plusieurs tirs de missiles, tombés entre autres sur Tel Aviv, Jérusalem et Haïfa. William Saletan (Slate)
Trente pour cent des 172 Palestiniens qui ont perdu la vie ces sept derniers jours et nuits dans la bande de Gaza sont des femmes et des enfants, selon l’agence de presse allemande (DPA). Cette dernière s’est basée sur une liste des victimes fournie par le ministère de la Santé à Gaza. Au total des sept journées d’offensives contre Gaza, ce sont 29 femmes qui ont péri, dont sept étaient âgées de moins de 18 ans. On retrouve également parmi les victimes 24 hommes de moins de 18 ans. Environ la moitié sont de jeunes garçons âgés de dix ans ou moins, le plus jeune est un bébé âgé de 18 mois. Il n’est pas immédiatement possible de vérifier combien de civils se trouvent parmi les 119 hommes tués. Deux d’entre eux étaient âgés de 75 et 80 ans. Libre Belgique
Il est 15 h 20 à Gaza, mercredi 16 juillet, quand une terrible déflagration ébranle le front de mer. Quelques minutes plus tard, une seconde frappe retentit. Touchée par ce qui semble être un obus tiré d’un navire israélien, une bicoque de pêcheurs, construite sur la digue du port de pêche, est réduite en un tas de parpaings éclatés et de tôles noircies. A côté des décombres, les corps en partie calcinés de quatre garçons de la même famille, Mohammad, Ahed, Zakariya et Ismail. Ils avaient entre 9 et 11 ans. Les enfants Bakr jouaient sur la plage depuis quelques heures. Certains avaient apporté un ballon, d’autres pêchaient ou grattaient le sable à la recherche de morceaux de métal à revendre. Après la première frappe millimétrée sur la cabane, il semble que les enfants, blessés, aient été pris sciemment pour cible alors qu’ils remontaient la plage pour se mettre à l’abri. A quelques mètres de la cahute, Mohammad Abou Watfah a assisté au carnage : «Les enfants étaient paniqués, ils se sont mis à courir vers la plage. Un deuxième obus les a suivis. Il est tombé à quelques mètres et j’ai perdu connaissance», raconte péniblement le commerçant, touché à l’estomac par des éclats. Le corps ensanglanté, hors d’haleine, des enfants blessés parviennent à la terrasse d’un établissement du bord de mer, alors que résonne l’explosion d’un troisième obus. (…) Dans le service de chirurgie, Tagred, une autre mère du clan Bakr, veille sur son fils, Ahmad, 13 ans, touché à la poitrine par des éclats d’obus: «Ce ne sont que des enfants. Ils ne faisaient rien de mal contre les Israéliens, pleure d’incompréhension la mère palestinienne. Mon fils jouait simplement avec ses cousins et maintenant ils sont tous morts.» «Comment peut-on tirer sur des enfants qui courent ?» L’armée israélienne a annoncé, dans la soirée, qu’elle enquêtait «consciencieusement» pour déterminer les circonstances exactes de la mort des quatre enfants. Expliquant que les frappes visaient, en principe, des membres du Hamas, Tsahal n’a pas exclu la possibilité d’une «erreur» dans cette attaque, dont l’étendue sera de toute évidence difficile à justifier. Le Monde
Mercredi, sous les yeux des journalistes occidentaux, quatre enfants palestiniens ont été tués sur une plage de Gaza après un tir ou une explosion. Immédiatement, les médias occidentaux attribuent leur mort à deux navires de guerre de l’armée israélienne situés au large de la plage. Le 9 juin 2006, sur cette même plage, huit personnes (dont trois enfants) d’une même famille avaient été tuées, et plus de trente autres civils furent blessés par une explosion dont l’origine a été attribuée à l’armée israélienne par les médias occidentaux. Or, après enquête de l’armée israélienne il s’est avéré que l’explosion sur la plage n’a pas pu être provoquée par la marine israélienne car il s’est écoulé 10 minutes entre le dernier tir d’obus et le drame. Les éclats de projectiles qui ont été retirés des corps des personnes blessées ne correspondent à aucune des armes en circulation dans l’armée israélienne. D’autre part, les services de renseignement israéliens et égyptiens sont arrivés à la conclusion que la famille a été victime d’une mine installée par les artificiers du Hamas la semaine précédente, afin d’empêcher les commandos marines israéliens de débarquer sur la côte et d’intercepter ses lanceurs de roquettes. Dans les deux cas, et dans de nombreux autres cas, comme dans celui de l’affaire Al-Dura, il est intéressant de souligner la présence au même moment, d’équipes de télévisions filmant en direct ce qui semble être un non-événement, et qualifié après par les médias de « massacre ». Le Monde juif
So far, 194 Palestinians been killed during Operation Protective Edge; that’s already a higher death toll than that of the entire 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense. Or at least that’s what’s reported in the press, internationally but also in Israel. The truth is that the number of casualties, and the percentage of civilians among the dead, comes exclusively from Palestinian sources. Israel only publishes its version of the body count — which is always significantly lower than the Palestinian account — weeks after such operations end. Meanwhile, the damage to Israel’s reputation is done. During Pillar of Defense, 160 Palestinians were killed, 55 “militants” and 105 civilians, according to Palestinian sources. According to the IDF, 177 Palestinians were killed during the weeklong campaign — about 120 of whom were enemy combatants. A report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center says 101 of those killed were terrorists, while 68 were noncombatants. B’Tselem claims 62 combatants and 87 civilians died. And yet, the figures from the Gazan ministry are routinely adopted, unquestioned, by the United Nations. Times of Israel
Hamas and affiliate militant factions out of the Gaza Strip are so far rejecting an Egyptian-proposed cease-fire, having launched far more than 100 rockets since the cease-fire proposal. In exposing Israel’s inability to stem the rocket flow, Hamas is trying to claim a symbolic victory over Israel. Hamas’ spin aside, the military reality paints a very different picture.
Nonstate actors such as Hamas and many of its peer organizations, of course, need some ability to exert force if they are to influence the actions of a state whose imperatives run counter to their own. The Gaza Strip is small and its resource base is limited, reducing the options for force. This makes cheap asymmetric tactics and strategies ideal. For Gaza and its militants, terrorizing the Israeli population through limited force often has previously influenced, constrained or forced the hand of the Israeli government and its subsequent policies. It accomplished this with assassinations, ambushes or suicide bombings targeting security forces or Israeli citizens. A confluence of events later led to a gradual evolution in the conflict. By 2006, the security wall that surrounds and contains the Gaza Strip had eliminated militants’ ability to directly engage the Israeli populace and security personnel, and Israel Defense Forces had completely withdrawn from the territory. Meanwhile, Hezbollah had demonstrated the effectiveness of relatively cheap artillery rockets volleyed into Israel in a high enough volume to seriously disrupt the daily life of Israeli life. While artillery rockets were not new to Gaza, the conditions were ripe for this tactic’s adoption. The intent was to build up a substantial arsenal of the weapons and increase their range to threaten Israel’s entire population as much as possible. (Increased range was also needed to overcome Israel’s growing defensive capabilities.) This would be the asymmetric threat that could be used to project force, albeit limited force, from Gaza. (…) Much of this cyclical nature is because both sides are operating under serious limit