Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘“Arab Spring Libyan Winter”

Elevation of bagman: Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman

Jeffrey Feltman, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and former ambassador to Lebanon, is set to be appointed UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs. Samir Sanbar, a former UN Assistant Secretary General for Public Information, notes in his blog on UN Forum that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is set to replace B. Lynn Pascoe with Feltman in the post. The world community will really miss Pascoe, and will hate Feltman from the start.

The UN Security Council’s Secretariat is handled by the Department of Political Affairs, which would be able to have some sway on its agenda. The post is central to the UN bureaucracy. The UN will announce the appointment on Monday, May 28.

The office was created in 1992 to help identify and resolve political conflicts around the world. Pascoe ran at least a dozen missions in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, notably in Burundi, Somalia, Iraq, Lebanon and Libya. The longest running mission is in Somalia (since 1995) and the most recent is in Libya (since September 2011).

With a budget of $250 million and funds for special political missions that amount to $1 billion this year, the post allows its leader to intervene in political crises around the world.

When Secretary General Ban began his second term in January, he promised to reshuffle some of his senior staff. Pascoe’s replacement is part of this process.

Of the proposed new appointment Sanbar writes, “Designating someone with varied field of experience, though controversial, and from a substantially senior post, may mean that more issues could be referred to the Security Council.” (To the detriment of the Middle-East region…)

Is Jeffrey Feltman the best person to run such an influential office in the UN? Why does Sanbar believe that this appointment is “controversial” (read one-sided to the liberal capitalists and US emperial interests, and total support to Zionism…)

VIJAY PRASHAD, author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter posted (with slight editing, and paragraphs in parenthisis ae mine):

Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, told me that Feltman is “an accomplished and respected American diplomat…He has been involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran, Lebanon and Syria, and other hot spots. These engagements bring up inevitably controversial issues. Feltman would have his share of detractors, including in the Middle East”.

But why would Feltman have these “detractors” and how did he come off on the “controversial issues”?

On one issue, Feltman is remarkably consistent. When it comes to the Middle East, Feltman has been outspoken about the threats posed by Iran in the region. Whether in Beirut or Manama, he has publically denounced Iranian “interference” outside its own boundaries.

Feltman has generously offered US assistance to the absolute monarchies and oligarchies. In other words, US interference is quite acceptable, but Iranian interference is utterly unacceptable. This might be adequate behavior for the diplomat of a country, but it is hardly the temperament for a senior UN official. It raises doubts about Feltman’s ability to be even-handed in his deliberations as a steward of the world’s political dilemmas.

Feltman’s intemperate logic was not of the distant past. It was on display in March 2012 at a Lebanese American Organization’s meeting at the Cannon Office Building in Washington, DC (as Franklin Lamb reported on this site this week). At this meeting, the former US Ambassador to Lebanon, instructed the Lebanese people as to what they must do in their next election:

“The Lebanese people must join together to tell Hezbollah and its allies that the Lebanese State will no longer be hijacked for an Iranian-Syrian agenda. The Lebanese people must use the 2013 parliamentary elections to defeat the remnants of the Syrian occupation, the pillar of which is Hezbollah…” (There is a pseudo-State in Lebanon, and every regional State hijacked it, and is still fomenting internal troubles…)

Indeed, interference by speeches is not the limit of Feltman’s ambitions. On May 3, 2012, he was back in Beirut, meeting former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, former Finance Minister Mohamad Chatah, Future Movement leader Nader Hariri and others at Hariri’s residence. In the transcript of their meeting (leaked through Al-Akhbar), an older side of US policy making emerges.

US Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly is heard saying that the government is “Hezbollah dominated,” to which Feltman says to the Lebanese politicians in the room, “You can bring down the government if Walid [Jumblatt] is with you in the parliament or if Najib [Mikati, the PM] resigns right?” To Siniora, Feltman says, “Would it help if this government is brought down before the elections,” and then he mentions that he is seeing the Prime Minister Najib Mikati later that evening. “This place is very, very weird,” he notes, “weirder than when I left.” This is not a trivial statement.

A glance at Feltman’s cables when he was ambassador to Lebanon reveals a fulsome appetite for the weird. The cables betray an obsession with the social lives of the Lebanese elite, their peccadilloes and their foibles.

Feltman’s “non-interference” to prevent Iranian “interference” in Lebanon brings to mind another episode in his recent career. When the people’s protest broke out in Bahrain, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent him there at least six times.

Feltman was in Bahrain on the eve of the Saudi-led invasion into Manama to smash the protests in March 2011. In a visit to Manama on March 3, 2011, just before the crackdown, Feltman praised the King for his “initiatives” and urged him to “include the full spectrum of Bahraini society, without exception.”

In the Shia quarters, and amongst the al-Wefaq party activists, this sounded like Feltman was urging the King to take them seriously. In language similar to what he used in Lebanon, Feltman noted that the US wants a “Bahraini process” and urges others “to refrain, as we are, from interference or trying to impose a non-Bahraini solution from outside Bahrain.” The crucial phrase here is as we are, which implies that the US is not intervening in Bahrain.

The fact of the 5th Fleet stationed in Manama and of the close cooperation between the Saudi monarch, the Bahraini King and Feltman’s bosses was to be ignored. “We are not naïve,” Feltman said, pointing across the waters at Iran. They cannot be permitted to intervene, but the US, a “critical partner” of the Kingdom, and the Gulf Arab monarchs, “will support Bahrain.”

When events heated up in Bahrain, Feltman and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen went on a tour of the emirates’ capitals, declaring their unconditional support. The US stands for “universal human rights,” Feltman told the emirs, but of course since “every country is unique” these rights would emerge in their own way. Mullen was at hand to “reassure, discuss and understand what’s going on.” The key word here is reassure.

A clear-eyed assessment comes from Karim Makdisi, who teaches at the American University of Beirut. Makdisi recalls Feltman’s role as Ambassador in the area, where he made himself an extremely divisive figure. Feltman pushed in 2004 for UN Resolution 1559 to disarm the Lebanese resistance (Hezbollah), he supported the Israeli invasion in 2006, and he provided assistance to the March 14 political party against Hezbollah.

In other words, Feltman actively took sides in a divided political landscape. Feltman’s appointment “would be a disaster and send exactly the wrong signal for the UN” to the region. Having recognized its weakness, the US knows that it will be the UN that takes the lead in Syria and elsewhere for the foreseeable future.

Makdisi believes that in “anticipating a larger role for the UN,” the US wishes Feltman to be well-placed to “ensure that US interests are maintained as much as possible.” Whatever credibility remains with the UN will whittle in the region with this appointment.

It is likely that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon picked Feltman for an unearned reputation. He is known around the Beltway for his work on the Arab Spring. But in the totality of the Arab world Feltman will not be seen as an open-minded professional. He has already thrown his hat into the camp of the Saudis and their satellites (the Gulf Arabs and the Hariri clan of Lebanon).

This will limit Feltman’s ability to move an agenda in the region, least of all on the Arab-Israeli conflict where sober diplomacy is necessary from the UN. When I asked several people who watch the UN’s work in the Arab world carefully about this appointment, most offered me three words, “very bad news”.

Not bad news for the Saudis or the US neoconservatives, but certainly bad for the people of the Arab world, whose Spring had them longing not so much for this kind of venal diplomacy but for honesty and good-will”.

Vijay Prashad’s new book, Arab Spring, Libyan Winter , is published by AK Press.

Note: Jeffrey Feltman was the former US ambassador to Lebanon when Israel tried to invade Lebanon in 2006 and pounded it for 33 days with 15,000 air raids and 175,000 cannon shells, and failed, but destroyed almost all Lebanon infrastructure, displaced 300,000 Lebanese civilians, and polluted our seashores (bombed our oil reservoirs).

Bagman Feltman visits frequently Lebanon, a few days before the US warns its citizens not to travel to Lebanon: He programs the destabilization of a country he was supposed to protect and insure its stability.  Feltman precede the visits of Zionist US Senators and Congressmen, like Joseph Lieberman who pay visits to North Lebanon in order to establish a Free Zone for the Syrian armed insurgents to start a civil war in Syria from a safe zone in Lebanon…

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Rebellious Spring, Murderous Winter

I didn’t yet read Arab Spring, Libyan Winter by Vijay Prashad, but Ron Jacobs did a short review.

” Arab Spring, Libyan Winter attacks the western interpretation of the transitions in Egypt and Libya and explores the actual events from a perspective that explains the players in terms of their allegiances, holdings and politics.

In Prashad’s work, the differences between the fighters on the ground and the suits on television are not only acknowledged, they are examined in terms of their meaning to the future.  In discussing Egypt, Prashad describes the conflagration of Washington’s imperial needs, Tel Aviv’s paranoiac perception of its security, and the Mubarak clique’s desire to maintain power.

Prashad gives lie to the West’s claim that it was interested in democracy (a relatively simple task to be sure), explaining that in the western mindset democracy doesn’t mean democracy, it means a guarantee that the interests and holdings of capital will not be upset.  The common term one hears is Stability.

Most of this book is about the battle for Libya.  Prashad’s text provides the most detailed description of the events both on the ground and in the office suites.  He exposes the humanitarian intervention by NATO for what it was.  That is, a means for the western powers to regain unfettered access to Libyan oil and rid themselves of an at best erratic client—Muammar Qadhafi.

Unlike many on the Left, Prashad does not take sides for or against the rebellion.  Instead, he explains the uprising as a popular and positive thing that was manipulated by the forces of the G7 and NATO.  Simultaneously, he discusses Qaddafi’s reign as one that began with many positive changes, yet ultimately was a victim of its own excess and greed.

If there are any good guys in his narrative, it would be the masses that risked their lives to overthrow the autocracy that had Qadhafi at its helm.  Their opposite would be the men on both sides of the battle whose only real interest was in keeping their bank accounts plush while serving their masters in the stock exchanges of the neoliberal world.

An interesting, and as yet not very closely examined, is the role of the  Jordan, Morocco, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.

Prashad makes note of the fact that the western capitals have said very little about the harsh repression visited on the Bahraini uprising or the Saudi intervention there.  He also explores the military role played by Qatar in Libya, its current role in Syria, and the inclusion of some GCC States in a NATO adjunct.  Perhaps this adjunct of NATO will be able to stand in for NATO in future operations in the Arab world, thereby creating another shadow in the workings of modern imperialism.

Despite the millions of words written about the Libyan uprising and the NATO intervention, nothing written in English has come near the truth. After reading Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, it seems that when all is said and done, Prashad’s work will come the closest”.

What I know is that France and England had prepared detailed military plans for Libya, before the uprising in Tunisia and later in Egypt. Qadhafi decided to buy his weapon systems exclusively from Russia, and France and England had little oil investment in Libya, and they wanted to have their big share of the cake…

You may read https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/federal-libya-as-i-predicted/

Ron Jacobs wrote on Libya and the Arab Spring:

“The last twenty or so months have certainly been months of insurrection.  This is perhaps no truer anywhere on earth than in the Middle East and northern Africa.  Exactly what the phrase “Arab Spring” means is still open for discussion.

After the protests, the sit-ins and encampments, the armed assaults and the killings, the only thing certain is that four dictatorial autocrats are no longer in power in the countries they formerly ruled.  Ben Ali, Mubarak, Qaddafi, Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen.  What will stand in their stead is still being debated.

When the Egyptian people began to gather in Tahrir Square in February 2011, the embers of the immolation that consumed Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi had already sparked the prairie fire that overthrew the dictatorial ruler Ben Ali.  The protest in Tahrir Square was the first manifestation of that fire in Egypt but certainly not the last. 

Th fires of protest in Egypt tossed out their dictator less than two months after Mr. Ben Ali was deposed.  The feat of that overthrow was not only momentous within the borders of Egypt itself: Its repercussions were felt in the halls of Arabia, Asia, Africa and the Americas.

In Washington, Tel Aviv, London, Berlin, Paris, and Rome and on Wall Street, there was plenty of catching up to do.

Neither the eavesdroppers at the National Security Agency or the black ops managers of the Central Intelligence Agency predicted the end of the Mubarak regime.  Indeed, it wasn’t until the bitter end that the political powers in the aforementioned capitals began to side with (and subvert) the popular uprising in the streets of Egypt.

After Mubarak’s fall, the revolutionary fire spread like flames whipped by warm Santa Ana winds.  Bahrain to Libya.  Yemen to Syria.  London and New York.  Athens and Oakland, Occupy Wall Street protests.  The insurrectionist wave was in motion and nowhere was it more powerful than in the Arab world.

Nowhere was it met with more determined (and murderous) resistance from the powers that be, internally and externally.  Underlying the insurrectionary tide were the economic facts of neoliberalism’s struggle to maintain its global dominance.  When it became apparent that this goal could not always be accomplished by continuing to support the old regimes, the capitols of capitalism inserted their agents into the opposition and did their best to manipulate the rebellion into serving the agencies of those capitols.

For example, the IMF, World Bank and the rest of the usual suspects saw their moments in each instance and made their moves.  As I write, the entire insurrectionary wave is at a stalemate between the forces of popular social justice and just another new face for western imperialism.

Naturally, very little has been written about this aspect of the revolutionary upsurge of 2011-2012 in the organs of neoliberalism.  Instead, the fact of IMF arrangements with the post-Mubarak Egypt and the new Tunisia are interspersed with superficial analyses of the rebellions that would have the reader believe that it was social media that provoked them.

Even more revealing of the mainstream media’s allegiance to the imperial regime in the insurrection is its lack of coverage of the continuing popular resistance in the Pentagon’s shipyard Bahrain.  Instead, we are presented with an ongoing litany of unconfirmed atrocities committed by the Syrian military and a portrayal of the resistance there as essentially untainted by its affiliation with outside governments and military.” End of quote

Note 1: Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

His collection of essays and other musings titled Tripping Through the American Night is now available and his new novel is The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. 

He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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