THE AL-QUDS EPISODE & THE CLARION CALL

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By:Shamsur Rab Khan

PRELUDE

A superpower country is another name of a nation state that has dominating political, economic, military and cultural power transcending its borders and spanning out to whole world especially crucial regions of the world giving it a dictating influence in crucial matters of the concerned countries and the collective affairs of the world. It’s a nation state branching out into international size and proportion. For the very simple reason of transcending its national boundaries for its activities and manipulations, a superpower country is always at a bargain with the whole world. Though most of the times it succeeds in extorting a disproportionately larger share of benefits from international system, it also has to accept in some cases a limiting influence on its seemingly national interests, which it would not have to do in case it would not have overstepped its boundaries to serve its national interests. In order that the world accepts its superpower status and does not revolt against its hegemonic influence over its affairs, it’s imperative for the superpower country to let that limiting influence of common international system be applied to it or at least appear to be applied to it. An open disregard for and blatant hostility to the very international system that entrenches a superpower’s privileges and lets it dictate world affairs despite resentment by the world community is bound to eat away the superpower status of the superpower country as it activates the latent reaction in the world community, which is deadlier than any superpower, howsoever strong it may be, can withhold!

Apart from hard power, a superpower country is bound to enjoy soft power to maintain an image of a benevolent ruler. Soft power is derived from soft diplomacy even though it’s poisonous from inside. This halo of soft power gives an immense clout to a superpower in the forms of mediating role in disputed matters, tilting the balance in its favour on diplomatic arenas and providing it a safe and harmless passage to pursue its national interests outside its national borders. A superpower bereft of its soft power and perceived as indulging in brazen display of militarism, coercion and hooliganism soon gives rise to a chain of revolting acts and behavior from the world community which leaves it a spent force eventually.

A superpower cannot rule over the world alone. It needs friends and allies to establish its presence in different parts of the world, strengthen its ranks, further its agenda, safeguard its interests and punish its enemies and detractors. Due to the presence of friends and allies, it has to strike a balance between its pursuit of interests and that of its friends and allies. For that matter, it has to further its national interests in a manner that leaves room for its friends and allies to pursue their own national interests and in a way that gives its friends and allies something to save their face in the eyes of their people. Such a management assures a semblance of fair play and prevents negative reaction from both the rulers and the people of the countries. Once a superpower starts neglecting the delicate balance, it culminates in a retaliatory hardened stance from the rulers and the people of the concerned countries challenging the hegemony of the superpower. As a result, a superpower is forced to retreat to its national borders and relinquish its role as a superpower.

These are a few essentials for a superpower to maintain its influence and hold over the developments in the world. Neglecting these factors in turn dents the influence of the superpower in varying proportions. The one crucial factor or the accumulating effect of more factors is bound to shatter the whole edifice of a self-conceited super-power sooner or later, howsoever strong it may look initially.

Judged upon these parameters, The USA under Trump is not only exceeding limits but also blatantly violating the minimum amount of decency under the influence of his whims and eccentricities. The decision to shift American embassy from Tel Aviv to Al-Quds and the following developments are a potential atom bomb that can destroy or cause the destruction of the superpowerism of the USA in the longer run. The following lines have ample proof for the prospect and effective suggestions to make it happen!

 

AL-QUDS DECLARED THE CAPITAL OF ISRAEL

It was on December 6, 2017 that the White House released an official declaration announcing Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. It also made it clear that the USA was going to shift its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The official declaration was preceded by a speech by Trump which detailed the rationale behind the decision. Trump put forward four main reasons behind the decision. Firstly, he said that it was “in 1995 [when ]Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act urging the federal government to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city — and so importantly — is Israel’s capital. Yet for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the US embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.” His decision was meant to fulfill that legal obligation. Secondly, he boasted that “while previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.” Thirdly, he said that the previous Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace.” Since delaying the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel had not advanced the peace process, he was justified in doing so, which, according to him, was necessary to promote peace and settle the Palestine-Israel conflict. Fourthly, he said that Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace. He tried to mitigate the gravity of the move by saying that this was only the recognition of reality and the USA was not taking a position on any final status issues.

To sum up, Trump justified his decision regarding Al-Quds in order to fulfill the legal obligation imposed by an Act of the USA, to keep its election campaign promise, to further allegedly the real peace and settle the Palestine-Israel conflict, and to respect the sovereignty of Israel.

Even a cursory perusal of the reasons is enough to expose the extreme weakness of the arguments propounded by him. One wonders whether the national Acts, election promises, alleged promotion of peace and sovereignty can be invoked to infringe the right of another state to a city, acknowledged by international law, customs and conventions. What if a state in future declares Tel Aviv as the capital of Palestine or Washington D.C. as the capital of Canada on the basis the same arguments and reasons expounded by Trump?! As far as the excuses of furthering peace and settlement of Palestine-Israel conflict, and not pronouncing on the final status of Al-Quds are concerned, they are merely an eye-wash, are intended to serve the opposite purposes as dictated by Zionist lobby and evangelical Christians, and aimed at disguising the heavy bias of Trump administration in favour of Israel and against Palestinians. The people are not so gullible and must not be taken for a ride, Mr. President!

THE WORLD REACTS FEROCIOUSLY

Following the announcement, the whole world in general and the people and the rulers of Arab and Muslim world erupted in anger and protest. The condemnation of this move cut across the regions and countries and both allies and opponents hit out at the USA for its unilateral decision. 

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, seen as a main ally of the USA in the Middle East said that Trump’s actions “exemplify a drastic regression in the efforts to move the peace process forward, and is a shift away from the United States’ historically impartial position with regard to the issue of Jerusalem.” Another ally in the region Egypt said that the move “undermines chances for peace.” King Abdullah of Jordan said that there was “no alternative to a two-state solution and Jerusalem is key to any peace agreement.” He further said that Trump’s decision would have “dangerous repercussions on the stability and security of the region.” Qatar called Trump’s Jerusalem move a ‘death sentence for peace’. Iran, another heavyweight of the region said that the US move was “because of their incompetence and failure.” The Syrian foreign ministry said that the move was “the culmination of the crime of usurping Palestine and displacing the Palestinian people.” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the U.S. was “plunging the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight.” Erdogan also called Jerusalem a “red line for Muslims.” Hamas’ political leader Ismail Haniya called for a new intifada, or uprising, in the face of Israel, labeling Trump’s move a “war declaration against Palestinians.” The announcement prompted riots in the streets of Gaza, where demonstrators burned tires and set fire to pictures of the U.S. president. “This decision has killed the peace process, has killed the Oslo (accord), has killed the settlement process,” Haniya said, describing it “an aggression, a declaration of war on us, on the best Muslim and Christian shrines in the heart of Palestine, Jerusalem.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hit on the nail by saying that this marked the end of America’s role as mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Apart from Arab and Muslims leaders, key western allies also condemned this move. The Prime Minister of UK Theresa May said in a statement, “We disagree with the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement. She further said that it was unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region and that she had no plans to move it. A spokesman of German Chancellor Angela Merkel quoted her as saying that the German government did not support this position, because the status of Jerusalem is to be resolved in the framework of a two-state solution,” French President Emmanuel Macron was the first EU leader to call out Trump’s action, saying that any decision on the ancient city’s status had to be settled through negotiation. He also called for calm and restraint.Pope Francis also spoke out, saying from the Vatican, “I make a heartfelt appeal so that all commit themselves to respecting the status quo of the city, in conformity with the pertinent resolutions of the United Nations.” The Vatican’s official stance supports a two-state solution to the religious and territorial conflict.

In addition to these individual states, important organisations and blocs also condemned this unfortunate and unilateral decision.  After an emergency meeting of foreign ministers from 22 Arab states in Egypt’s capital, Cairo, on Saturday December 9, 2017, the Arab League called US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “dangerous and unacceptable” and a “flagrant attack on a political solution” to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. In The extraordinary OIC summit held in Istanbul on December 13, The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) declared East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, rejected the US stance as “dangerous” and called on the international community to follow in its footsteps. Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top diplomat, said “any action that would undermine” peace efforts to create two separate states for the Israelis and the Palestinians “must absolutely be avoided.” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has “consistently warned against any unilateral action that would have the potential to undermine the two-state solution”, his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters in New York.

As is evident from the above statements by leaders and organization harshly condemning the decision of the USA to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, it was an almost unanimous stand on the issue. Any individual and state with democratic credentials and especially a state which boasts of itself as the champion of democracy and democratic values in the whole world, and which has gone even to the extent of attacking, ransacking and destroying a sovereign country on the pretext of promoting democracy and saving the world from the dangers of destruction must have rethought its decision and reversed its stand. However, it was unfortunate that the USA stood adamant and acted like a goon in the street.

MATTER IN THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL

Seeing no reformation in the haughty stand of the USA, the matter was referred to the UN Security Council, a council of five permanent members enjoying veto power plus ten temporary members elected on rotation and having no veto power making it a council of fifteen members.

The draft resolution, tabled by Egypt, reiterated the United Nations’ position on Jerusalem and would have affirmed “that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.” The draft resolution also called on all States “to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

The draft resolution was vetoed by the USA. Therefore, the draft was rejected despite support from the other four permanent members and from the 10 non-permanent members.

Thus the USA exercised its veto power against a draft resolution supported by all other members of the Security Council, permanent or temporary. This speaks volumes not only about the power intoxication of the USA but also calls into question the undemocratic structure of the UN Security Council, whereby a state shows thumb to the whole world and goes scot free. The UN must think seriously about its reformation which is also a long-time demand of many of its members.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY CENSURES AMERICA

Blocked by the USA in the Security Council, the matter was referred to the UN General Assembly, where no state has veto power. In General Assembly, the world was almost unanimous in the condemnation of the move by the USA. Many of the member countries hit out at the USA again for its unilateral and arbitrary decision and made it accountable for any deterioration in the law and order situation and impetus to violence and terrorism in any part of the world. They also warned the USA that the decision might ignite a religious war across the Middle East and even beyond.

In the voting that followed the discussion, as many as 128 countries voted in favour of the resolution condemning the US decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and asking the member states not to locate their embassies in Jerusalem. Only nine states voted against the resolution, including the USA and Israel. The other seven states that voted against the resolution were tiny states like Guatemala, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo, which are very much vulnerable to American pressure. It had 35 abstentions.

The verdict was clear. The USA, despite its chest-thumping pronouncements stood cruelly isolated. It was a big jolt to the American diplomacy. Had the USA had any shame left in its veins, it must have retracted from its shameful, undemocratic and unethical decision.

THE AMERICAN ATTITUDE

I’ve before me the full text of the speech delivered by Donald Trump on the occasion of announcing his decision to move American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I’ve also before me the full texts of the two speeches addressed by Nikki Haley, the current United States ambassador to the United Nations to the Security Council. Before me on my table are also the full texts of one letter sent by Nikki Haley to the General Assembly members before its session and the speech given by her on the floor of the General Assembly, in addition to the many tweets tweeted by her on the matter. We also have a video of Donald Trump threatening to cut off aid to the countries that vote against the US in the General Assembly.

An analysis of the above-mentioned material provides an interesting insight into the current American administration’s mindset and attitude. It gives an unmistaken impression of a haughty, self-conceited, selfish, rash, bully, unsympathetic, unethical, irresponsible and inhuman government that is hell-bent on serving its own agenda and interests by hook or crook.

It all started with Trump who in his speech gave an impression to the world that for the USA its interests and laws are supreme even though they violate international laws and conventions. In this very speech, Trump tried to mislead the world about his intentions and declared his decision as the one in the best interests of peace in the Middle East and not in any way a judgment on the final status of the city of Jerusalem. However, the world was alert to discern his heavy bias in favour of Israel and the grave threats his decision posed to the peace of the world.

In the Security Council, Nikki Haley gave two speeches defending the United States’ decision to veto the draft resolution condemning its announcement about the city of Jerusalem. In both the speeches, she repeated what Donald Trump had already said about the decision. It was interesting to note the contradiction in her speech. While on the one hand she said that the USA was careful not prejudge final status negotiations in any way, in the same speech she said that “Jerusalem has been the political, cultural, and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people for thousands of years.” Citing sovereignty of the USA to defend the decision, she said that “The United States’ has a sovereign right to determine where and whether we establish an embassy… [And] the United States will not be told by any country where we can put our embassy.” One wonders whether she has grasped the idea of sovereignty even a bit. The concept of sovereignty is invoked justifiably to seek independence and justice not to deprive another country of its rights to independence and justice. We hope that you come into your senses, madam! Boasting about the generosity of the United States with great irrelevance, she said that “the United States has done more than any other country to assist the Palestinian people. By far, since 1994, we have given over $5 billion to the Palestinians in bilateral economic assistance, security assistance, and humanitarian assistance.” This is nothing but a misplaced advertisement of toxic generosity. Firstly, any amount of financial assistance cannot justify encroachment on the rights of a state by another state even though it’s by the donor country on the receiving country. Secondly, if the USA is so bombastic about the financial assistance given to Palestinians, it should also be vocal about the financial, military and political support extended to Israel, which has been used to slaughter hundreds of thousands of innocent Palestinians and deprive them of their right to an independent state.Nikki did not stop with that. She threatened the member states saying that thisWhat we witnessed here today in the Security Council is an insult. It won’t be forgotten.It was simply a threat that amplified with the passage of time.

When the matter reached the General Assembly, it appeared that the American government lost its senses. First came the letter from Nikki Haleyto U.N. member statesahead of a special General Assembly session called to condemn the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israelin which she threatened the General Assembly Members saying thatas you consider your vote, I want you to know the President and the U.S. take this vote personally.” She further said that “the president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those who voted against us.” Ladies and gentlemen, do not laugh! Nikki Haley is referring to some sort of god in the form of Donald Trump, who’ll punish you if you do not obey him! I’ve my little finger for you, madam!

As if the letter from Nikki was not enough, Donald Trump followed up with a roaring threat. He threatened to withhold “billions” of dollars of US aid from countrieswhich vote in favour of a United Nations resolution rejecting the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Trump was targeting those states in particular who received US financial aid from the organization USAID. Just out of curiosity, I checked the website of the USAID and found its mission written as: “We partner to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies while advancing our security and prosperity.” Ironically, the very website mentions “passion for mission, excellence, integrity, respect, empowerment, inclusion and commitment to learning” as the core values of USAID. Ladies and gentlemen, next time when a donor bullies you into submitting to his/her threats, do not interpret it as a threat, it’s, in fact, ‘respect’, American way of ‘respect’!!!

As the USA stands exposed through its own words, it’s a clarion call to all those who receive American money. The leaders as well as the citizens of those countries must realize that American money does not come for free or out of generosity, it comes to further the interests of the USA and is a brutal attack on their sovereignty and self-respect. The governments of all receiving countries must be wary about that and must find a respectful alternative. And if the governments do not budge, the citizens must pressurize their governments by all peaceful means not to accept assistance from such a mean country as the USA.

The USA had reached the abyss of indecency. However, Nikki Haley was not satisfied. She took to the floor of the UN General Assembly to vent her remaining anger and frustration. Her opening words in the speech on the floor of General Assembly were so openly in favour of Israel that a person not knowing her before must have mistaken her for a representative of Israel. She tried to shame the United Nations by saying that “the United Nations has long been a hostile place for the state of Israel.” She went on to question the credibility of the UN an institution. Exposing the selfish agenda of the USA behind being the single largest contributor to the UN, she said thatwe do this, in part, in order to advance our values and our interests.” In order to justify the occupation of other states and hide its imperialistic exploitative nature, she mentioned the money spent by the USA for philanthropic causes, while everyone knows actually how philanthropic it is! She said that “we nurture and sustain fragile peace in conflict areas throughout the world… and we hold outlaw regimes accountable.” While the fact of the matter remains that USA is the number one country fuelling conflicts throughout the world and is itself the biggest outlaw regime as the recent case of Jerusalem very aptly illustrates!

THE MESSAGES OF TRUMP TO THE WORLD

The whole episode and the American attitude during it sum up American messages to the world as below:

  • We do not care about any international law, custom, convention, treaty, obligation and even decency.
  • We do not care about world public opinion.
  • The words of world leaders carry no weight to us.
  • We do not give a damn to the United Nations and its resolutions.
  • We’ll use Security Council veto to further our selfish agenda and we can hold the security ransom for it even if the whole Security Council is against us.
  • For us, our sovereignty and our narrow understanding of sovereignty are supreme. We can violate any international law, convention or obligation in order to give effect to our narrow understanding of sovereignty.
  • We spend money on aid, so we must be obeyed by hook or by crook. Our main aim behind spending for philanthropic causes is self-centric. We spend money to hold sway over the world.
  • We spend on the UN so that our stand is endorsed by the world body, whether right or wrong. If that does not happen, we’ll stop spending on the UN.

A CLARION CALL TO THE WORLD

The American attitude is a sign of its own declining status and may give rise to a chain of events that may culminate in damaging its superpower status. While it’s a welcome prospect for the world, it’s also a wake-up call for the world community as the process may accompany serious dangers for the world peace and security. Hence, this attitude and the possible consequent developments warrant not only a carefully calculated plan to prevent the dangers it poses to the world peace, but also call for a coordinated action by the world leaders to teach the demon a lesson and bring it into senses.

SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF MUSLIM COUNTRIES

While it’s an obligation of the whole world in general, the responsibilities of Muslim countries are greater as they are the main victims. First of all, it’s time that Muslims countries find alternative ways of financing for their infrastructural and developmental needs. Rich Muslim countries must come forward to establish efficient financial institutions that cater to the financial needs of poor Muslim countries. They must remember that without financial freedom, no freedom is viable. Secondly, they must make the dispute resolution mechanism of the existing Muslim international organisations speedy, effective and fruitful. It’s very important to strengthen these organisations to unify ranks and put up a united fight against imperialistic designs. Thirdly, Muslim countries must find out a superpower country among themselves. There are a couple of countries in Muslim world which can grow into a superpower status if a significant number of Muslim countries support them and throw their weight behind them. It’s time to seriously ponder over the matter. While every major bloc in the world has at least a world power in its ranks, Muslim world bloc is the only bloc that lacks one. Filling the void is necessary to recover respect and dignity. Fourthly, as the USA exposes its real face; Muslim countries must start a process of disengagement from the USA and should begin to align more with the newly emerging power blocs, like those of Russia, China, SCO, BRICS, ASEAN and European Union. A few farsighted Muslim countries have already started the process. However, this needs to be done as a bloc. Fifthly, it’s time to stop believing in and availing the diplomatic services of the USA in Muslim countries. Palestinian Authority is right in announcing that the USA is no longer a mediator in Palestine-Israel conflict. The USA has a historic record of creating, prolonging and compounding the conflicts in Muslim countries for its imperialistic designs. No good has come from its side so far. It has acted on a hidden agenda always. It’s indeed good for the Muslim countries that it has exposed itself on its own. Muslim countries must take the note of the same and stop cooperating with it altogether. Sixthly, Declaring Al-Quds as the capital of Israel is no less than the declaration of war against all Muslims of the world. While the people of Muslim countries are almost unanimous on the fact, it’s the turn of the rulers to take a tough call. They must realize that the USA has crossed the red line, act courageously to withstand its sinister designs and stop pandering to it for their petty gains. Seventhly, while it’s true that America is a very powerful country, it’s also true that it’s no god and has both strong and weak points. It also has some weak areas which, if hit properly, will hurt American interests in turn. Americans are more engaged in Muslim countries than Muslim countries are in America. If Muslim countries have a few painful spots, Americans have a plenty of them.

Through Al-Quds episode, The USA under Trump has given a glimpse of its sinister plans for future. What’s worrying is not only its utter disrespect for international system, but also a shameless attack on the democratic ethos and stooping to so low as to threaten and bully the whole world to yield to its dictates. It’s nothing short of an open war declaration against the whole world. In such a situation, a proportionately effective and collective response is a must. A little courage and a coordinated plan are the need of the hour to tell Americans categorically both by words and actions that if we have ass to save, they too have ass to protect!!!

 

The Author is an Assistant Professor, Maharashtra College Mumbai University, Mumbai

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