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The Arab Levant: Complete Collapse

The Arab Levant: Complete Collapse

Monday, 6 July, 2020 - 10:00

Some Arabs who read John Bolton's latest book could not but notice how irrelevant Syria has become to American decision-makers. This is, at the same time, a result of what Syria is undergoing and one of the reasons for it: havoc is being wreaked in the country by Russian, Iranian, Turkish and American occupations, and it has become a playground for Israeli fighter jets. Death continues to spread, accompanied by widespread internal displacement and external asylum. Economic sanctions are raining down on it, and with it, destitution, already extreme, multiplies. Its murderous regime is drowning, and it is working diligently to take the country down with it, with ongoing corruption dramas where the protagonists are its president, his wife and his cousin...

In the end, doubts that Syria would remain Syria are now almost certainties. The country could become a thing of the past.

Lebanon is not in much better condition. At the very least, the eradication of its old image is almost complete. Some warn of a famine that invokes memories of the famine of 1915 during the First World War. Political collapse and disintegration accompany the collapse of international credibility, economically and politically. The country that had been known for its many friendships in the region and the world and was described in a folkloric way as "bridge between civilizations" currently has almost zero bargaining power.

In Palestine and Jordan, the Israeli decision to annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements in the West Bank is now on the table. The coalition that brings together the Likud and Blue and White encourages this. Of course, the decision is still missing several agreements: with the American administration, with the Israeli military and security establishment, and with Benny Gantz personally. However, the absent consensus is over technicalities, more about form, and it is about timing more than the principle.

The mere fact that the question is being dealt with this way asserts the extremely weak position the Palestinians now find themselves in. Benjamin Netanyahu today continues to work on ensuring the requisites for annexation, while others comment merely on his actions. There are those who, in the event that the decision is issued, expect the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah to collapse completely. Some predict that, in parallel with "Greater Israel’s" construction, massive numbers of Palestinians will be displaced to Jordan, which would disrupt the Palestinian-East Jordanian Balance, which is very fragile. In the meantime, the last nails of the two-state solution’s coffin will be hammered.

In Iraq, the largest and wealthiest country in the Arab Levant, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is trying to seize the last opportunity to save a country that has had its sovereignty and wealth stolen from it, while heated conflict is shattering its communities. The success of Kadhimi’s project is essential to the survival of Iraq, but it is a very difficult and risky project because, to Iran today, Iraq is a chicken that lays economic and strategic golden eggs, and the Iranian regime is not known to compromise for the sake of the Iraqi people.

The region is hungry, its people are hitting the poverty line and descending below it. It is strategically dangerous: Imagine, for a moment, that the “obstacle” of the Levant is removed and direct engagements emerge that brings together Turkey and Iran, and behind them Russia, on the one hand, and Egypt and the Gulf on the other, in a region where the dominant culture perceives engagement as a source of skepticism and fear more than a mutually enriching exchange. Let us also imagine that the Oslo and Wadi Araba agreements are canceled or completely frozen, and absolute chaos on both banks of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict ensues accompanied by the more Israeli occupation and racism.

It may be said, fairly accurately, that the people of the Levant are paying heavy prices: the decline of universal and moral sensitivities in international politics, the American growing interest in the Asian - Pacific at the expense of the Middle East, the ramifications left by the decline of the economies that had assisted the Levant and absorbed a significant part of its unemployed workforce and the effects of Israeli aggression... But, even so, the crux of the issue is elsewhere, in the climate that exacerbates the influence of the aforementioned factors: it is a region that offers nothing to the world because it no longer has anything to offer.

The Syrian revolution tried to save Syria, and thus the Levant, and transform them into entities that beat with the life and vitality that they had lost. On a much smaller scale, the Iraqis and the Lebanese who rose in 2019-2020 tried to remake their nations. But sectarianism and its regimes prevailed, and these regimes - modes-of-being teeter between Iran and ISIS and between them are formations such as Assad's regime in Syria, the Hamas regime in Palestine, Hezbollah's mini state in Lebanon and the “Popular Mobilization Forces” in Iraq: they are the powers specialized in putting nations aside in favor of strategic functions: fighting, standing firm, confronting and frustrating enemy projects...

Thus, we ended up a region whose countries not only increasingly lack the most basic of material needs, but also the most basic foundations of stability, sovereignty and national dignity. It is not a process that emerged out of the blue. Each day, we are presented with new reasons to look through our modern history and culture to identify the sources of the disaster. It now stretches across a few countries and affects tens of millions of helpless tortured souls.

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