Friday,20 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1373, (14 - 20 December 2017)
Friday,20 July, 2018
Issue 1373, (14 - 20 December 2017)

Ahram Weekly

In-Focus: Trump sets the tone

In assigning Jerusalem Israel’s capital, Trump has sided with the latter openly. Ironically, in doing so, he has isolated that entity as never before, writes Galal Nassar

اقرأ باللغة العربية

Two days after US President Donald Trump announced his decision to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a preacher stood at the podium in a mosque in Ramallah and prayed for the health and victory of terrorist cleric Youssef Al-Qaradawi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Qatar’s ruler Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. Demonstrations broke out brandishing banners and slogans condemning Arab rulers and blaming the situation entirely on Arabs. Facebook and Twitter blew up with comments, sarcasm, arguments, accusations and divisions in yet another tragic scene across the Arab world. Meanwhile, Sunni and Shia terrorist groups calling for jihad under the banner of religion continued their attacks against Arab citizens and institutions. In fact, some security agencies uncovered plots of sabotage attacks to accompany protests against Trump’s decision.

This was the direct result of Trump’s militant decision to fulfil one of his campaign promises to the Zionist camp that supported his election. The move fed into already existing radicalism in Arab countries, to the extent of praying for symbols of extremism atop podiums in mosques becoming public and common practice. One wouldn’t be surprised if they secretly wanted to pray for IS caliph Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi himself, who symbolises the opposite parallel to Trump and his advisers who purposely or ignorantly supported his decision.

The move is a clear violation of international laws and norms, something the US has often done in the past, including the invasions of Panama, Somalia and Iraq, and flagrant intervention to destroy regimes, societies and institutions under claims of upholding US values of human rights and democracy everywhere. These are all excuses to meddle and destroy, no different from claims by radical Sunni forces calling for a caliphate and accordingly demonising society and regimes and destroying them to raise the banner of the caliphate. They are also the same as the campaign to promote the principles of the Iranian revolution that has fuelled extremism in societies where Shias exist, and driven their ambitions to take over power, overthrow regimes, destabilise society and instigate conflict with Sunni Muslims and Christians.

The decision strips Jerusalem of its unique stature as a city for all religions, with a special place in UN resolutions and humanity’s conscience. Now, it is seized by a country that insists it is a Jewish state with clear plans to erase the symbols of all other religions in pursuit of fanatic Jewish beliefs and excavations aimed to reveal Solomon’s Temple as located under Al-Aqsa Mosque. In fact, it further devolves radical religious conflict into a zero-sum game that is intolerant of the other in any way, shape or form. It also allows the expansion of settlements that destroy the city’s historic features, monuments, buildings and streets.

These are all facets of fanaticism taking the world back to a time before international law and organisations and existing UN resolutions. The key figures on the scene today are zealots the like of Trump: Benjamin Netanyahu, Al-Baghdadi, Erdogan, Bin Hamad, Al-Qaradawi and Abdel-Malek Al-Houthi.

Trump’s decision was denounced the world over. Moscow responded that Jerusalem is the capital of two states, the West is Israel’s and the East is Palestine’s. This is a position of most countries that believe in a two-state solution, including France, Britain, Germany, Canada, Italy, Spain, China and all Arab and Muslim countries.

I believe this decision has once and for all destroyed any mediation role that Washington claimed to be undertaking because it has shown its bias and prejudice towards one side against the other. It illustrates the attitude of Israel’s steadfast ally and supporter, and removes any pretence of impartiality as the sponsor of the peace process.

I believe this decision is the most idiotic by Washington in support of Israel, because it has actually given momentum for the Jerusalem cause after it took a backseat to the Arab Spring and regional instability. Arabs and Palestinians could not have planned a better campaign of solidarity and propelling the cause to the forefront of the scene once again, especially since reviving the issue has been accompanied by calls for a two-state solution and the status of Jerusalem to be decided through talks and decisions to most likely divide the city between two states.

The decision also triggered a review and reassessment of US positions, and revealed early the true face of Trump’s administration and its false claims of combatting terrorism and extremism, and that it is the ally of several Arab countries and regimes. Trump’s good relations with several of them are now the centre of criticism; even a phone call from Trump now is an embarrassment for these regimes. This is the price Washington will pay in the short and long run.

I believe the US understands well that it has gambled all its interests in the region for the sake of Israel’s proclaimed security, yet the opposite is true. This move further isolates Israel regionally and destroys all regional cooperation projects that were discussed behind closed doors. What regime would risk cooperating with a country that appropriates Jerusalem, a city that holds such value in the hearts and minds of every Arab, Muslim and Christian, even if this is the unilateral desire and decision of the leader of the world’s greatest power?

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