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August 27, 2014

From the Director's Desk: Naivety on Gaza

DD-15: August 27, 2014

It's good to be optimistic but it certainly isn't good to be naive.

A plethora of social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter have started the usual praise-Hamas rhetoric for the supposed victory against Israel after the announcement of a ceasefire. Keeping history in perspective, we all know how effective and long-lasting these treaties have proven to be. I repeat, optimism is a good approach towards crises but the absence of pragmatic assessments can prove disadvantageous in the short and long terms both.

It should be understood by now that Hamas, a radical and militant organization which has the 'benevolent' support of the Qatar, has time and again proven to be a main cause of Palestinian woes. The Emir of Qatar's royal household, with its unique geopolitical approach towards the regional issues, has been trying hard to set a firm foothold in the policies of energy-rich MENA (Middle East & North Africa) states. It was noticed publicly during the all-out support to Western and opposition forces against Gaddafi in Libya and then the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Gaddafi was killed, Mubarak was removed but fortunately the state of Egypt was saved courtesy of the powerful armed forces and intelligence setup there.

In Syria, Qatar was one step ahead of Saudi Arabia, their GCC ally and geopolitical rival. This rivalry was not publicly noticed until differences started to emerge within the Arab states' fraternity. The most recent news in this regard is that the divide between Qatar and the rest of the GCC's powerful stakeholders is widening with each month. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Oman all have American military bases on their soil but Qatar takes the lead, housing the CENTCOM's regional headquarters. Also, Qatar has a hand in acting as an intermediary between the Afghan Taliban and the US. Don't fall for Qatar's tiny size, its the slyness and master-planning of its sheikhs that counts.

The people of Palestine have been facing mass persecution and genocide since the illegitimate Jewish occupation after passing of the nefarious Balfour Declaration. Since then, thousands and millions of innocent Palestinian Arabs have been subjected to ethnic cleansing, ironically by a community (Jews) who suffered similar suffering at the hands of Hitler.

When one's home is invaded, then resistance most certainly is legitimate. It becomes a duty to protect your people and your home from those who wrong you. The Palestinians have pleaded before the United Nations and other influential world fora but to little or no avail. Ceasefire upon ceasefire, pacifiers and more pacifiers. What is the end result? Short term peace, after which fresh waves of terrorism are again triggered by the Israel Defence Forces.

In all this, Muslim states have expressed 'support' and 'help' to their oppressed Palestinians. The question which pops up again is, to what effect? Have these empty words of assurances, 'moral backing' and covert weapon supplies brought any good for the common Palestinian man, woman or child? The answer is a definite No.

Taking advantage of this frequently-appearing void, various proxy groups sponsored by Muslim states, especially Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar use their 'Death-to-Israel' card. Their only objective is to revitalize their 'Muslimness' and 'courage' against Israel. Directly? Not at all. For this, their pawns are enough. Some of the popular ones include Hezbollah (Iran-backed) and Hamas (Qatar-backed). Let us also not forget Qatar has one of the Muslim world's most notorious, fascist cleric in their fold, whose name is Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

This Doha-based Egyptian cleric is known for his venomous speeches against fellow Muslims who do not support Qatar's geopolitical aims. Qaradawi also happens to exert massive influence over Hamas leaders Khaled Mashal and Ismael Haniyeh, both of whom are in turn lackeys of the Emir of Qatar. They have their financial and other interests secure in Qatar whilst their own people, who they claim fight for, are the ones who suffer death and destruction at the hands of Israel.

What good does provoking Israel do for Hamas and similar militant groups? Israel is undoubtedly a criminal and terrorist regime, so why provoke this beast time and again? Has Hamas or any similar group successfully shielded its ordinary citizens from the resultant terror?

The recent wave of Israeli terror attacks on innocent Gazans, shamelessly labeled as 'Protective Edge', resulted in the deaths of more than 1400 Palestinians, 80% or more of whom were civilians (according to non-governmental and UN figures). Official sources place the figures at a disturbing high.

What invited this recent wave of Israeli terror was the abduction of three Israeli teens. For days on end, Hamas dismissed reports that it was behind it, and also their subsequent killing. However, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal admitted that their militant group, the Al-Qassam Brigades, were behind the act. Their ludicrous argument was that some of their members had 'not notified them in advance' before abducting and killing those Israeli teens.

Summarizing it as follows: Hamas provoked a much powerful and Western-supported beast, lied to its people and the world that they had no hand in the setting the terror from Israel off, and later "admitted" the complicity in a luxurious abode in Qatar. As if this wasn't enough to shame them, they boast of so-called 'victory' against Israel.

Coming back to where I started from, sentimental Muslim community members are rejoicing at the Israeli pullout. But for how long? Will naive Muslims rejoice with hollow cheers over the bodies of thousands of slain Gazans and move on? Will things go back to square one? Won't Israel repeat its aggression in the future? And if so, will all these naive people rejoicing go back into 'gloom mode' and start "trending" on social media with their Israel-bashing hashtags?

Critics rightly say that Israel doesn't need Hamas as an excuse to carry out its aggression, agreed. But for the world at large, and especially for corporate Western media outlets hungry to pounce on Muslims, all they need is naive and hyper-emotional actions from "resistance groups" to project as propaganda; this itself is sufficient justification for subsequent Israeli actions.

Israel's success is not dependent on their weapons or the support they get from Western states. It is directly linked to the magnitude of Muslim hyper-emotionalism and non-pragmatist approaches towards resolution of disputes. How else could they cry wolf to the world and absolve themselves of the crimes they commit?

I would like to conclude with a simple note: The only real and effective means to counter Israel is with collective wisdom and massive diplomacy. The rulers of various Muslim states who talk of Palestine are devoid of advocacy skills. Frankly speaking, even that's the second step. The first and foremost requirement is for Muslim states to gather together, all for one and one for all, for Palestine. Collective agreement on protocols to engage Israel should be ensured. Will this ever take place or will Muslim states remain segmented in their own compartments and look Israel in the eyes separately?

Well then, a house divided in itself cannot stand. It's good to be optimistic but it certainly isn't good to be naive.

The writer is Director General at Terminal X and can be reached at dg@terminalx.org

China deploys armed drone to multinational drills

Russia, China and central Asian nations kicked off the largest joint military exercises in the history of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on Sunday.


BEIJING (AP) — China's air force said it deployed an armed drone to multinational anti-terrorism drills on Tuesday, underscoring the country's rapid progress in developing unmanned aerial vehicles.

The drone, which wasn't identified by type, carried out a successful mission in which it destroyed a mock enemy command vehicle with a missile, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted air force spokesman Shen Jinke as saying.

Shen said the drone's ability to monitor, identify and destroy objects below in real time makes it an important tool in fighting terrorists. China says radicals fighting Chinese rule in the vast northwestern region of Xinjiang have used illicit border crossings and desert encampments that could be monitored from above.

Chinese aerospace firms have developed dozens of drones, known also as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. Many have appeared at air shows and military parades, including some that bear an uncanny resemblance to the Predator, Global Hawk and Reaper models used with deadly effect by the U.S. Air Force and the CIA.

Analysts say that although China still trails the U.S. and Israel, the industry leaders, its technology is maturing rapidly and is on the cusp of widespread use for surveillance and combat strikes.

Tuesday's mock attack was part of this week's "Peace Mission-2014" drills involving more than 7,000 personnel from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. In all, 70 aircraft of 19 different types, both manned and unmanned, are taking part in the exercises, being held at Zhurihe, China's largest and most modern training base, located in the vast grasslands of Inner Mongolia.

While Beijing officially eschews military alliances, it has conducted a series of drills with Russian forces, sometimes under the auspices of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO, a Central Asian grouping that is dominated by China and Russia and aims to challenge U.S. influence in Asia.

Several SCO nations border on Afghanistan and Pakistan and face threats from radical Islamic insurgents, providing the impetus for joint anti-terrorism training.

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