September 20, 2016 Special Dispatch No. 6619

Senior Lebanese Journalist: The Arabs Are Outraged When An External Enemy Destroys One Or Two Homes, While They Destroy Whole Cities In Internal Wars

September 20, 2016
Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 6619

In an article titled "The Arab Nation is in the Hands of UN Mediators" in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, veteran Lebanese journalist Samir 'Atallah wrote that Arabs are only able to negotiate with each other via foreign mediators. However, he adds, even mediated talks are sterile, because the sides are uninterested in dialogue but only want to "demand, impose and threaten." Furthermore, they fail to see that the damage they cause each other is far greater than the damage caused to them by external enemies, for "the brutal [external] enemy destroys a house or two from time to time while the gracious [Arab] brother destroys cities, re-destroys them."

The following is the article, as it was published on the daily's English-language website.[1]

Samir 'Atallah (Image: )

"From the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf, 'the great Arab homeland' is in the hands of international mediators. Each team of 'brothers' and 'comrades' does not talk to the opposing team, except in a third country. For the first and last time, I found myself agreeing with the Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil when he caused the suspension of the '[Lebanese] national dialogue' because he knew that he was going to a vacuum to demand, impose and threaten rather than discuss.

"The Lebanese National Dialogue that was suspended after Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil's party walked out of it was not sponsored by the UN. All the other conflicts have an international mediator assigned to them, and this mediator works hard, becomes miserable, travels, comes back, gets tired and is then replaced by another mediator. This cycle continues and then the successor does not return.

"What do mediators want? They want to convince us that there are solutions to issues that do not involve the destruction of the homeland. They want to convince 'Ali Saleh[2] that one does not fight someone who was one's citizen yesterday and they want to convince the Houthis that Yemen is more permanent that Iran is. They also want to convince the Syrian regime that half a million dead people and 12 million homeless people cannot all be infidels.

"We hope that there remains what is possible to mediate or negotiate about. Hamas must be thanked for suspending 'recent rounds' of negotiations, reconciliations and mediations, and for undergoing the journey from Mecca to Senegal[3] to meet the brothers from Fatah so that they could stop the confrontation between themselves and not the confrontation with the brutal Zionist enemy.

"That is language that the Arabs have forgotten or are ashamed of repeating in front of their children; the brutal enemy destroys a house or two from time to time while the gracious brother destroys cities, re-destroys them and then sees a wall that is still standing and vies for it.

"You might think that these things only happen in the worst nightmares, but then you wake up and realize that the nightmare and the reality of the nation is one and that the role of intermediaries is an unconscious complicity in procrastination, hypocrisy, digging people's graves and burying hope. Arabs do not know the meaning of dialogue and this is what Gebran Bassil emphasized. 'Let us negotiate, but you're not allowed to speak,' [Iraqi vice president] Izzat Al-Douri told [Kuwaiti crown prince] Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah [following Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait]. The rest is well known."



[1], September 10, 2016. The text has been lightly edited for clarity.

[2] 'Ali 'Abdallah Saleh served as Yemen's president for 23 years until he agreed to cede power following demonstrations and an agreement brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council. It is claimed that he helped organize the Houthi takeover which triggered the current civil war in Yemen.

[3] In June, 2008, Senegal attempted to mediate a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas in Dakar, after the previous reconciliation agreement, signed in February 2007 in Mecca, failed.

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