The American cook and the poison dosage

The American cook and the poison dosage

Today, the US is involved in the region and is called upon to extinguish the current fire (File/AFP)
Today, the US is involved in the region and is called upon to extinguish the current fire (File/AFP)
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The new Middle East crisis went to the “Guterres clinic” and returned with international disappointment. Russia, which is involved in the Ukrainian war, is not an effective doctor despite its military presence in Syria. Chinese medicine is not the appropriate treatment for this type of disease. Europe, which is frightened on its borders, cannot reassure others. Only the American surgeon remained, despite the comments on his methods of diagnosis, anesthesia and stitches.

A decade ago, America hinted at resigning from the thorny Middle East. It exhausted it and got tired of it. Washington said that its momentousness had declined and that it was not the stage for the “great fight.” Priorities have changed. America’s first concern is preventing the birth of the Chinese era or at least delaying its birth. But the Middle East cannot be forgotten. It is a land of wealth, paths and conflicts that sometimes surpass its own borders. Today, the US is involved in the region and is called upon to extinguish the current fire, the sparks of which are hitting US bases in Iraq and Syria and tankers in the Red Sea.

The continuation of the massacre in Gaza is costly to the countries of the region and to the global economy. It is also costly to America’s interests and image at a time when it is drowning in the winds of elections. Once again, the American chef is a must, despite anxiety about his meals and doubts about the integrity of his handling of ingredients.

On Oct. 7, Hamas, under the leadership of Yahya Sinwar, dealt an unprecedented blow to Israel. This strike revealed the fragility of Israel’s security and the negligence of its institutions, shook the image of the army and security institutions, and spread terror among the settlements and settlers. The earthquake necessitated America’s involvement. It came with its president, fleets and ammunition. The participation of its envoys in the war Cabinet’s meetings became a common sight. The US threw in its weight and its resources, and Benjamin Netanyahu launched a devastating war that flooded Gaza with the rubble of homes and the bodies of children.

Blinken is dealing with a region that is completely different from the one that previous American mediators were navigating

Ghassan Charbel

America gave the political and military establishment in Israel an extended opportunity to achieve victory. But the time of the fatal Israeli strikes is over, as the Gaza war is different in its theater and nature. Now, in the fourth month of the conflict, the only question that arises is: Who can stop the war, the continuation of which exceeds the region’s ability to endure?

The scene could have been different if the war had expanded in its first hours, if Hezbollah had engaged with full force from the Lebanese front, the Golan front had caught fire and if Iranian missiles had been launched from Iranian territory itself and not from Yemen.

The scenario of the great collapse — that America sent its fleets to prevent — did not happen. As of the next day, Hezbollah waged a war of distraction, while the Houthi missiles replaced a complete and open confrontation on the Lebanese-Israeli border.

The past months have shown that the UN cannot be relied upon to stop the war. Recent days have revealed that the escalation of international condemnation of the ongoing massacre in Gaza, the step of the International Court of Justice and the tension occurring within Western decision-making halls are all important factors, but they cannot stop the war. Only America can lead an effort in this direction. Without Washington, Israel cannot continue its attack. Without the US, it is not possible to crystallize a political horizon that would justify Hamas’ return from the war or force it to return from it.

An integrated plan for a solution has not yet taken shape despite Antony Blinken’s tours and William Burns’ communications. Blinken is dealing with a region that is completely different from the one that previous American mediators were navigating. In the past, it was enough to convince country leaders to reach a settlement to implement their decision. There are new realities in the region today and, in some parts of it, governments are mingling with factions or residing under their authority. There is Iran and its role in launching the era of factions in four maps.

It is clear that the mission of the US mediator is no less than distributing poison to the parties

Ghassan Charbel

Those who have followed American diplomatic movements talk about ideas heard by the mediators. They talk about an Israeli decision not to stop the war except in the context of a settlement that guarantees the release of hostages and the complete exit of the Gaza Strip from the confrontation, so that it does not pose a threat to Israel. This means that Hamas shall no longer be the authority in Gaza and that the faces of Oct. 7 will not emerge again from the Strip.

On the other hand, the Palestinian side demands a specific mechanism to launch the two-state solution, as well as the “whitewashing” of Israeli prisons; that is, the release of Palestinian detainees. There are those who propose that Hamas becomes a political movement and part of the Palestinian scene. Observers talk about ideas for reforming the Palestinian Authority with the aim of moving to “another generation and another mentality,” with “some Arab role in the post-ceasefire phase, along with ensuring the Israeli withdrawal from the entire Gaza Strip.”

This role may be in the form of observers, experts or advisers who will verify the Israeli withdrawal and guarantee that the causes of the conflict are not repeated.

It is clear that the mission of the US mediator is no less than distributing poison to the parties. Netanyahu has spent his long rule assassinating the idea of a Palestinian state, so how can he facilitate it today? Hamas unleashed the October earthquake, so how could it agree to give up power when the war has not yet stripped it of its missiles and tunnels?

President Mahmoud Abbas kept the PA barely alive despite Netanyahu’s practices and the divorce with Hamas, so how can he accept ideas that smell of a farewell? Moreover, Netanyahu considers a Palestinian state much more dangerous than the Al-Aqsa Flood operation. Sinwar knows that the establishment of a Palestinian state is conditional on its recognition of Israel and international guarantees for Tel Aviv.

For Netanyahu, a state would mean drinking the poison. For Sinwar, recognizing Israel would also mean swallowing the venom. How will the American cook be able to distribute the doses of poison to the belligerents who have gone so far? This is without forgetting that the establishment of a Palestinian state would also mean removing the Palestinian card from Iran and the so-called Axis of Resistance — a removal that was among the reasons for the fall of the Oslo Accords.

  • Ghassan Charbel is editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. X: @GhasanCharbel
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