[Marxism] Fwd: How Trump's Jerusalem Move Just Helped Iran Win the Mideast

mkaradjis . mkaradjis at gmail.com
Thu Dec 7 07:23:58 MST 2017


Well, not quite "win the Middle East", given how widely hated Iran is
now outside areas of sectarian identification in the region, but yes
Cole is right that Trump has just handed Iran and its allies - but
also anti-Saudi Sunni Islamist radicals - a huge card.

The sub-imperialist Saudi and Iranian theocracies are engaged in
geopolitical/sectarian rivalry throughout the Middle East. On the
other hand, there is no rivalry between Israel and Iran, because the
former has no influence whatsoever in the region to rival over, being
seen essentially as a massively armed colonial implant. However,
Israel and Iran are engaged in a super war of rhetoric, predicated
precisely on their geographical distance making the loud noise
non-dangerous.

There has been much talk in recent months of a "Saudi-Israeli
convergence" of interests on Iran - of course, a "convergence" is
obvious - leading to alleged behind the scenes talks and intelligence
cooperation etc. How far any of this went and what it could even mean
in practice, nobody knows. But it was never likely to be a reality
unless Israel made some kind of concession to the Palestinians, ie,
the complete opposite course to that of the Likud regime of Netanyahu
and his ultra-rightist allies. The Saudi "guardians" of the Holy
Places simply could not openly do a deal while Jerusalem remained
under occupation. There had been some talk lately of the Saudi leader
MBS telling PA leader Abbas to accept some new half-baked "peace" plan
involving only about half of the (Saudi- written) Arab Peace Plan of
2002 (which had involved total Israeli withdrawal of all lands
occupied by Israel in 1967, including Jerusalem, and allowing a
sovereign Palestinians state with Jerusalem as its capital), as a way
of opening formal relations with Israel. Whether such a teacherous
plan was mooted or not, one thing for sure now is that it is dead.

Cole therefore is right that Trump just handed Iran a rhetorical
victory and the Saudis a setback for their regional anti-Iran
strategy.

However, he doesn't entirely get it, because while he quotes various
regional leaders condemning Trump's move, he continues to talk of the
"Saudi-Israeli alliance" and suggests that in contrast to these
condemnations, "The Saudis are supine". Ah, not quite: "The decision
goes against the "historical and permanent rights of the Palestinian
people", the (Saudi) royal court said, calling on Trump to reconsider
his decision. "The kingdom has already warned of the serious
consequences of such an unjustified and irresponsible move," the
statement said. "The US move represents a significant decline in
efforts to push a peace process and is a violation of the historically
neutral American position on Jerusalem."

That doesn't sound supine to me. MBS knows something about what he
needs to say to keep his throne.

Israel, on the other hand, naturally loves Trump for it. So regardless
of whether or not the alleged convergence was going on behind the
scenes, Trump has just killed it.

And then following the Saudi condemnation, Trump issued an unusually
pointed directive to the Saudis to end their criminal blockade on
Yemen, just a few days after the Iranian-backed Houthis murdered their
3-year ally, former Yemeni tyrant Saleh, which thus leaves the Houthis
supreme in the region encompassing the former North Yemen where the
anti-Saudi Saleh-Houthi alliance was ruling.

Trump of course is right to demand the Saudis end the blockade which
is starving people, but he doesn't care about Yemenis any more than
MBS cares about Palestinians. But if he said this as a rebuke to the
Saudis at this point, then it also appears to favour Iran, even if
again by accident.

But then the killing of Saleh itself is not so straightforward a
victory of Iran as it may seem. Yes, it means that Saleh-Houthi
territory is now just Houthi, ie, pro-Iran, territory. However, the
Iranian regime couldn't care less about a bunch of ISIS-like sectarian
mass killers down in Yemen, except as a thorn in the side of the
Saudis. But without Saleh, they are a greatly weakened thorn. That's
why, as soon as the Saleh-Houthi mutual slaughter began in the capital
Sanaa (leaving hundreds dad across the city), Iran responded by
offering dialogue. First, by betting on the former leader deposed in
the Spring, against the Saudis' pick of his former deputy, Hadi, Iran
was backing a "national figure" with some credentials, rather than
just a sectarian force whose home base was in the far north of the
country. The capital in particular was more Saleh than Houthi
territory at base. Second, the only reason the Houthis, based in the
far north, were able to so easily conquer the capital and then conquer
the centre and south and even get to Aden was not because they had
support there - they have faced mass resistance ever since - and nor
because of the fabled Iranian arms that the Saudis claim are helping
the Houthis. No, most of the Houthis' arms were not Iranian but
courtesy of Saleh's continued control over large parts of the Yemeni
military and links with the officer caste. Saleh's people didn't fire
a shot as the Houthis rag tag militia walked into Sanaa in 2014, and
then his forces joined the Houthis in the invasion and occupation of
the south.

So, while Trump's recognition of Jerusalem was a blow against Saudi
Arabia and a rhetorical gift to Iran, Saleh's lynching (and the
lynching of his relatives, including a 13-year old nephew) was a blow
against Iran.

On Thu, Dec 7, 2017 at 11:55 PM, Louis Proyect via Marxism
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