Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Western interests in the Middle East

US foreign aid sent to Israel currently stands at a total of $3.6 billion annually which is the largest foreign aid given to any country in the world. With regards to budget for military aid alone, the following figures have been proposed for the next few years:

Military Aid to Israel FY2009-FY2018
  • FY2009 $2.55 billion
  • FY2010 $2.77 billion
  • FY2011 $3.00 billion
  • FY2012-2018 $3.09 billion annually
Source: U.S. State Department

This strong US support has been maintained for many decades and goes well beyond any Presidential administration. It is too strong an alliance for anyone to challenge, and as the Obama administration found, it is extremely hard to put pressure on Israel with a lobby seemingly embedded at the core of Congress.

This "Israel First" lobby is a result of a deal that the two nations struck when the US and Israel acknowledged they had common interests vital for strategic power in the Middle East that stemmed primarily from the 1967 Israeli invasions. This event was quickly followed by the significant influx of funds to help the new state thrive in military and agriculture.

Allowing Israeli control of the region results in the following two strategic benefits:
  1. For the US: Instability in the region would lessen the threat of the Arab and Muslim world on the West. Arabs have two extremely important commodities that could potentially cause serious ramifications that would spread throughout the globe as had happened in the 1950's with the Suez Canal crisis and the embargo of the largest oil deposits in the world. Sanctions on either of these would give enormous power to any Arab demands.
  2. For Israel: The Jews can fulfill their ancient religious beliefs of a Greater Israel and ultimately their prophetic "Promised Land".
Despite these advantages, Obama realises that persistent strain on the region may cause the bubble of power to burst and the "Arab Spring" revolutions have shown a potential breach in the stability of their dominance. However as Obama has realised this, his attempts to draw it to Netanyahu's attention has been spat back in his face.

The tension between Netanyahu and Obama from their back and forth dialogue was a result of the fear that the Arab revolutions might actually spread to Israel's occupation of Palestinian Territories.

Obama's Middle East speech was more an urgent cry to Israel to show some flexibility to their violent occupation, in the fear that Israeli rule could potentially be ousted just like Egypt's powerful dictator Mubarak was ousted - who incidentally received the second largest US foreign aid in the world totaling $2 billion annually to help silence the masses regarding the genocide occurring on the other side of their border.

In the eyes of the Israelis, his speech was a minor hiccup in an otherwise unblemished friendship.

Ultimately, this deadly alliance with the US government has helped Israel stand uncontested with regards to the ongoing land confiscations, home demolitions, settlement expansion, systematic deportations, civilian displacements, violent checkpoint misconduct, water resource reallocation, residency revocation, border blockades, airspace "no-fly" zones, and maritime seaport isolation, regardless of any condemnation coming from the International Community requesting Israel to adhere to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Complete support for Israel provides a significant boost to America's dominance internationally, however it is seriously affecting national responsibilities. It basically comes down to what would be considered more important for the United States: being a super-power, or providing their own citizens with a better lifestyle.

Priority on the latter seems to be the lesser of the two.

Obama is looking at solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the wrong angle. If the US pulls out funding for this balance of power, then the two parties might actually approach each other on a level playing field, and negotiations could then be taken seriously on both sides. At the moment it is just a staged formality. Israel is getting exactly what they want so why would they need to negotiate?

One would seriously doubt that a few blind Al-Qassam rockets over the borders are a threat against Israel, who incidentally is one of the top 10 most powerful military forces on the planet possessing state of the art tanks, Apache choppers, F16 fighter jets, anti-missile "Iron Dome", remote-controlled drones, heat-seeking missiles, white-phosphorous chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, and $3 Billion to spend on a force that provides the state with unlimited ammunition. Israel could quite literally take over Gaza, the West Bank, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon in a matter of days if they decided to. Lets face it, they actually did invade those regions in just six days in 1967.

It is a pretty hard PR game to play to try and convince the world that Israel is trying to "defend" itself from being driven out to sea.

Unfortunately what has happened now is that this generous foreign aid has been taken for granted by the Israeli government, and they are not afraid to express their disapproval of US opinions if anything but their own unilateral policies are accepted. The US has no choice but to submit to the overwhelming pro-Israeli support in Congress.
"Since the peace process began with the Oslo accord of 1993, the number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank has risen from around 110,000 to more than 300,000. The government of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu refused to agree even to the extension of a temporary halt, despite an offer of jet fighters worth billions of dollars. American aid has been running at around $8.5 million a day for many years but obviously doesn’t buy much influence."
[Bernd Debusmann - Reuters]
"For far too long many American officials involved in Arab-Israeli peace-making have acted as Israel’s attorney, catering for and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations. If the United States wants to be an honest and effective broker ... then surely it can have only one client: the pursuit of a solution that meets the requirements of both sides."
[Aaron David Miller - Middle East negotiator and adviser, US State Department - Washington Post 2005]

No comments:

Post a Comment