January 26, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2132

Saudi Columnist: Why Do We Object to Occupation Only in Palestine?

January 26, 2009
Saudi Arabia, Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 2132

In light of the tension between the Gulf states and Iran following Iran's takeover of the three UAE islands in the Persian Gulf (Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Moussa), columnist for the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Mish'al Al-Sudairy criticized the Arab world for its obsession with the Israeli occupation and its indifference to the occupation of other Arab territories - for example, the Turkish takeover of the Syrian Alexandretta district (currently Iskenderun), or the aforementioned occupation of the three islands.

Following are excerpts from Al-Sudairy's column: [1]

"There Is No Doubt That the Jewish Occupation of a Part of Palestine Constitutes Great Oppression..."

"Occupation is occupation is occupation, and oppression is oppression is oppression, regardless of the color, race or religion [of the occupier or oppressor]. During its modern history, the Arab nation has suffered both occupation and oppression...

"There is no doubt that the Jewish occupation of a part of Palestine constitutes great oppression, which we have not known how to deal with. When, in the early 1930s, we were offered 80 percent of Palestine, while the Jews were offered 20 percent, we rejected the offer. In the late 1940s, we were offered 49 percent of Palestine, and the Jews 51 percent, and we rejected that [offer], as well. Today, we are begging them to give us a mere 22 percent of what remains of Palestine after their complete occupation of it in 1967, and Israel is refusing to do so, offering us no more than 20 percent - as if they want to taunt and defeat us, and to remind us of the 1930s…

"I realize that political talk is annoying. However, what I am saying now has nothing to do with politics. I am [only] recounting the history of our self-inflicted blows, whose severity and harm we have not yet comprehended."

"Over Six Decades Ago... We [Began to] Talk of Nothing But Palestine... Which Exhausted All Our Resources, Abilities, Time, and Freedom"

"We started to dither over six decades ago - when we [began to] talk of nothing but Palestine and take an interest in nothing but the Palestinian cause, which exhausted all our resources, abilities, time and freedom. [At the same time], we were preoccupied with coups that occurred here and there, the murders, arrests, detentions and expulsions that took place here and there, and the civil wars, summits, arms deals, escapades, conferences, accusations, and treason allegations that were brought here and there.

"I am positive - [in fact, I am willing] to bet and even to swear by Allah - that if only 10 percent of the money that the Arab countries invested in arming their forces during the futile fighting [with Israel] had been invested in what was left of Palestine and its people, the West Bank and Gaza would now be enjoying a living standard higher than that of Singapore."

"Other Arab Countries Have Been Robbed of Parts of Their Territories... And We Never Uttered a Word of Protest"

"[Furthermore], with all the turmoil over the Palestinian issue, we have completely forgotten that other Arab countries have been robbed of parts of their territories, in broad daylight - and we never uttered a word of protest.

"Have we forgotten Alexandretta and how, after World War I, France formed an alliance with Turkey, and both mocked the United Nations [by] conducting a preposterous census among the residents of this district? Instead of dividing the district based on race, its population was divided on a sectarian basis. Since most of the Arabs of Alexandretta are Sunni, like the Turks, they were classified as Turks. [Moreover], not all of them are even Sunnis - some are Shi'ites, 'Alawis and Christian Syrians... In this way, Alexandretta, 95 percent of whose population was Arab, was taken away from [the Arabs and annexed to Turkey]. The same thing happened to the Al-Muhammara Emirate, the former 'Arabistan, which Britain gave to Iran on a 'tray of oil.' And now Iran has occupied the islands belonging to the UAE, exactly as it did in the Shah's era.

"What are you Arabs doing about these occupied territories?! Or perhaps it is permissible for a Muslim to occupy the land of his [Muslim] brother… Under these unhappy circumstances, I would like to ask 'the [achiever] of the divine victory,' [Hizbullah leader] Hassan Nasrallah: What do you call the Gulf - the 'Arab Gulf' or the 'Persian Gulf'? Who is the rightful sovereign of the three islands - do they belong to the Arab UAE or to the Islamic Republic of Iran?"


[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), September 15, 2008.

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