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Middle East boils, Bush fumbles and Sharon gets more dangerous

By JONATHAN ELENDU

Exclusive commentary to USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
USAfricaonline.com and NigeriaCentral.com


Suicide bombings that kill Israeli civilians will not hasten the realization of a Palestinian State. Occupying Palestinian cities, humiliating, killing their men, holding and making Yasser Arafat a prisoner in his home will neither lead to peace, nor bring security to the Israeli people. There are extremists on both sides of this conflict who would stop at nothing to scuttle any peaceful resolution. The only way to get a military resolution of this conflict would be for one side to completely annihilate the other side. This will not happen. Both parties should get back to the negotiating table.

I have never understood why Good Friday is celebrated by Christians all over the world. This is a day, according to the Bible, that Jesus Christ was crucified. Although Christians claim that the crucifixion of Jesus freed them from sins, I shudder when people rejoice on a day a man was hanged.

Living up to the reputation of nearly two thousand years ago, this year's Good Friday is another bloody day. This day, Israeli Army moved into Ramallah in their tanks and armored carriers. They effectively demolished Yasser Arafat's compound, fired shots through his bedroom and offices, killed some people, went from room to room shooting and arresting people and left two tanks pointing their barrels at him. He has become a hostage in his own home, without electricity, water, and a food supply. This is the Israeli response to days of suicide bombings by extremist groups in the Palestinian enclave. This new wave of bombings, from the Israeli perspective, started with a suicide bombing attack at a hotel during a Passover dinner in Israel. Gen. Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, emerged from a meeting with his Cabinet and declared Palestinian Authority chairman/president Yasser Arafat an "enemy" who would be "isolated." He ordered his troops into Ramallah and the next day they moved into other areas. He has added that Arafat should get "a one-way ticket" out of the Palestinian headquarters, where Arafat is currently restricted in a largely destroyed building, and be on exile!

Since these more violent turn, the glimpse of peace between Israelis and Arab nations, which hovered in the horizon a few weeks ago following the acceptance of a peace plan floated by the Saudi Crown Prince at the Arab Summit, is now dimmed. Suicide bombings by Palestinian youths, according to Israeli/Jewish views, have been the bane of the peace process. In years past Arafat used suicide bombers to achieve political goals. On the hand, Palestinians like Hanan Ashrawi insist that it's Israeli occupation of Palestine/the West Bank are at the core of the struggles undermining the peace process.

One would expect that having been accommodated, with the help of the United States, into a statesman of some sorts for his people, Arafat would have given up the tactics of terror to adopt diplomacy as a tool of negotiation. The specter of youths strapping explosives to their waists and blowing up cafes and pizza parlors in Israel is offensive to decency, morality, and the concept of good neighborliness.Before the current turn of events, I believe that Arafat could have done more to rein in the enemies of peace with Israel -- in his area of jurisdiction.

We must be clear about one thing: This recent problem which started eighteen months ago was ignited by Ariel Sharon. Arafat pleaded with the then Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, to stop Sharon from visiting a controversial religious holy site. The Prime Minister could not prevail on Sharon, to stop his visit. Obviously, Sharon knew what would result from his visit to the site. He used the chaos that ensued to further his political agenda. The saddest thing about the crisis in the Middle East is that there are no honest brokers. Everybody who is involved is there to further a domestic political agenda. Politicians in the Arab world are only interested in the plight of Palestinians because they fear their local constituency's anger with the Israeli suppression of Palestinian people may lead to riots on their streets. They also fear the rise of militancy in their countries.

The hypocrisy of American politicians continues to astound me. The Middle East, to them, is a distant place where its relevance is oil, Jewish votes, and campaign funds. They shamelessly lie and tell half-truths to appease their constituents.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's statement demanding that Arafat needing to do more - the usual White House demand for 100% - after the destruction of Arafat's compound by Israeli armed forces left much to be desired. The unwritten American policy seem to convey the impression that Israel must be supported for any and all actions. The Powell and Bush statements are performances that one would not have expected from the beloved General. President George Bush's statement from his ranch on Saturday was abysmal - especially his saying that he'll not call Arafat and if he wanted to know what he (Bush) thinks, Arafat should watch the tv news. What a way not to run a country's foreign policy. It was callous, shameless, and totally irrational.

We know that he and Ariel Sharon are friends and are controlled by the right wings of their parties but to heap the blame on Yasser Arafat for the actions of every Palestinian is idiotic. Telling Arafat to do more to rein in terrorist when he has been virtually under house arrest for four months is silly, even for this President. George W. Bush has shown a great capacity to jettison truth and morality for political expediency.

As at the time the President was making his statement, Arafat had been holed up in two rooms for over thirty-six hours without electricity, running water, medical and food supplies. What does the President mean when he tells a man who has guns pointed at his head to do "a lot more?" The current United States Administration decided to ignore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They were determined not to touch anything that Bill Clinton touched. How sad. They paid lip service to peace in the Middle East. After September 11, and on the hills of victory at Afghanistan, the Bush Administration turned its attention to Iraq. They needed to put together a coalition to enable the Administration to topple Saddam Hussein. Vice President Dick Cheney made a ten day, eleven nation tour to the Middle East. Instead of garnering support for the toppling of Saddam, the Vice President was told by his hosts that they could not support America while the Palestinians were being killed in their homeland by Israelis. It was only then that the Administration turned its attention to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

G.W. Bush came into office touting his credentials as a humble and God-fearing man. He claimed to be a "uniter, not a divider." He has been anything but that. His Middle East policy has been arrogant and naive. The notion that the United States knows better than every other nation is arrogant. Whenever an American official calls himself or herself "an honest broker" in this conflict, they display the insincerity of this Administration. Even the American media has clearly taken sides in this conflict. From the reporters to anchors, analysts, they have all made up their minds that Israel can do no wrong. Isn't it surprising that television producers cannot find people who support Palestinian positions, except the Palestinian Representative to the United States. However, people are falling all over themselves to defend and support the Israeli position.

Only few principled journalists like CNN's Bob Novak and Wal Street Journal's Al Hunt have criticized the Israeli aggression and the President's flip-flop on this issue. The old cliche that "might is right," is playing out here. The Israeli government moves its tanks and warplanes into the Palestinian territory at will. To demolish the official residence of a Head of State of an ethnic nation while the world watches is nothing short of terrorism. In a world where the American President defines what terrorism is and determines who a terrorist is, makes one shudder. It is ironic that the President of the United States knew in advance that Israel was going to demolish Yasser Arafat's home and offices, take prisoners and generally cause mayhem and yet he did nothing to stop it. His defense of the actions of Ariel Sharon is unprincipled, cowardly and shameful. The United Nations passed a resolution on the early hours of Saturday asking Israel to pull out of Ramallah and the other occupied territories.

As far as I'm concerned, the United Nations is a toothless-bulldog that looks for direction from the United States. Kofi Annan and his colleagues, instead of passing new resolutions, should ensure that earlier resolutions passed by the world body should be implemented by Israel.

Ironically, while the United States voted for the resolution for Israel to withdraw, the President of the United States speaking later in the day refused to support the resolution. There is no agreement on the origin and the cause of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people. Some say it has been going on for over two thousand years, some others believe it started during the Arab-Israeli war. Many more say the conflict started eighteen months ago. However, there is agreement by all that something has to be done to check this escalation of violence in that part of the world.

Confrontation and violence will not achieve any meaningful results. It will only lead to more violence, death, and destruction. The United States should either step aside and allow the European Union and some African nations to play a larger role, or take its role as an honest broker more seriously. It is wrong for American politicians to claim that they want to broker peace while simultaneously proclaiming their undying support for one of the parties to the conflict. Arab politicians must stop sponsoring Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and other terrorist organizations. They should impress on Arafat the need to act like the Head of State he is.

He should desist from encouraging those who send out young Palestinians to become human bombs for destruction of Israeli lives and properties. Ariel Sharon should shed his gangster mentality. His lust for Palestinian blood has gotten out of hand. George Bush and Colin Powell should make Sharon realize that he cannot humiliate Arafat at will, destroy his security apparatus and simultaneously hold him responsible for the suicide bombings. Sharon must see Arafat as an equal, a fellow Head of State, and therefore, treat him with respect. The Palestinian people must be treated as equals to Israelis. Their lives are as important as those of the Israelis.

Finally, I think the United Nations should constitute a group of Eminent Persons to tackle the crisis in the Middle East. The group should comprise some eminent persons from around the world, including Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Representatives of the European Union, the Commonwealth of Nations, Organization of African Unity, Organization of American States, the Soviet Union and the Arab League. This group should be led by William Jefferson Clinton.

Suicide bombings that kill Israeli civilians will not hasten the realization of a Palestinian State. Occupying Palestinian cities, humiliating, killing their men, holding and making Yasser Arafat a prisoner in his home will neither lead to peace, nor bring security to the Israeli people. There are extremists on both sides of this conflict who would stop at nothing to scuttle any peaceful resolution. The only way to get a military resolution of this conflict would be for one side to completely annihilate the other side. This will not happen. Both parties should get back to the negotiating table. So far, the only winners have been enemies of peace on both sides, including Hamas,Sharon, fomer Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Hezbollah.
Elendu is a contributing editor of USAfricaonline.com and NigeriaCentral.com. He writes every Friday, exclusively for USAfricaonline.com Archiving of this essay on another web site is not authorized; only web links are allowed.


COUNTERPOINT:
Arafat's duplicity, terrorism at the heart of Israeli-Palestinian crises. By Barry Rubin: In other words, for Arafat the gun is permanent, while the olive branch is a secondary tool which he will use simultaneously only if others pay him off. This philosophy has not changed. By rejecting a compromise agreement two years ago, he reaffirmed that he does not seek peace, but victory. Only when victory seems out of reach - as it did in 1993 when he was in a disastrous situation - would he even begin to think, albeit perhaps temporarily and incompletely, about taking another route. Israel must show him that he cannot win victory, that he faces a choice between compromise and catastrophe. Even then, and not for the first time, he might choose catastrophe (which he can then claim as a heroic victory). We are getting closer to that moment. Details appear in USAfricaonline.com at Arafat's duplicity, terrorism....

What has Africa to do with September 11 terror? By Chido Nwangwu


Africans reported dead in terrorist attack at WTC
September 11 terror and the ghost of things to come....
Will religious conflicts be the time-bomb for Nigeria's latest transition to civilian rule?

CATHOLICISM on the BBC. Amidst the challenges and crises facing the Catholic Church, especially, in the U.S.,Chido Nwangwu, Founder and Publisher of USAfrica The Newspaper, NigeriaCentral.com, The Black Business Journal and USAfricaonline.com, was on a BBC World Service panel to discuss the issues facing the Catholic Church, including the topic of electing an African as Pope on April 25. He has written previously in April 1999 on Cardinal Arinze: "WILL ARINZE BE THE FIRST AFRICAN ELECTED POPE in recent history?"

Africa suffers the scourge of the virus. This life and pain of Kgomotso Mahlangu, a five-month-old AIDS patient (above) in a hospital in the Kalafong township near Pretoria, South Africa, on October 26, 1999, brings a certain, frightening reality to the sweeping and devastating destruction of human beings who form the core of any definition of a country's future, its national security, actual and potential economic development and internal markets.


EVENTS

In a certain move and break from his country's tradition, 36-year old King Mohammed VI of the north African country of Morocco has married Salma Bennani, the daughter of a university professor. She is a 24-year-old computer engineer. Only family members witnessed the event while some televised public celebrations will hold in April in Marrakesh. The kingdom referred to her as "the chaste pearl, Lalla (Lady) Salma."
TECHNOLOGY
Apple introduces 10GB iPod which holds 2,000 songs. With its FireWire connection, iPod can transfer a full 10GB of music from your Mac in under 20 minutes , less than 10 seconds per CD.
Killer Apps. By Tim Bajarin

Steve Jobs and Apple represent the future of digital living. By Chido Nwangwu
Nelson Mandela, Tribute to the world's political superstar and Lion of Africa  
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's burden mounts with murder charges, trials

Why Bush should focus on
dangers facing Nigeria's return to democracy and Obasanjo's slipperyslide
TRIBUTE
A KING FOR ALL TIMES: Why Martin Luther King's legacy and vision are relevant into 21st century.




DIPLOMACY Walter Carrington: African-American diplomat who put principles above self for Nigeria (USAfrica's founder Chido Nwangwu with Ambassador Carrington at the U.S. embassy, Nigeria)
DEMOCRACY'S WARRIOR
Out of Africa. The cock that crows in the morning belongs to one household but his voice is the property of the neighborhood. -- Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah. An editor carries on his crusade against public corruption and press censorship in his native Nigeria and other African countries. By John Suval.
ARINZE: Will he be the FIRST BLACK AFRICAN POPE? By Chido Nwangwu
HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY
How far, how deep will Nigeria's human rights commission go?

Apple announces Titanium, "killer apps" and other ground-breaking products for 2001. iTunes makes a record 500,000 downloads.
Steve Jobs extends
digital magic

NEWS INSIGHT
The crises in Zimbabwe preceding and following its early March 2002 controversial presidential elections formed the theme of CNN International's livecast Q&A with Jim Clancy (hosted on March 19 by anchor Colleen McEdwards). USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu contributed to the analyses of the decision by the Commonwealth which suspended Zimababwe for one year.


On Q&A with Jim Clancy on March 14, 2002, Glenys Kinnock, senior member of the European parliament and Labour party spokesperson for development, Salih Booker, executive director of Washington DC-based Africa Action, Chido Nwangwu, founder and publisher of USAfricaonline.com and Mori Diane. executive vice president of AMEX International offered insight to the issues. A rush transcript appears on CNN's web site
DEMOCRACY DEBATE
CNN International debate on Nigeria's democracy livecast on February 19, 2002. It involved Nigeria's Information Minister Prof. Jerry Gana, Prof. Salih Booker and USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. Transcripts are available on the CNN International site.

APPRECIATION
A young father writes his One year old son: "If only my heart had a voice...."By Chido Nwangwu

LIFESTYLES

 

 

 



By CHIKA UNIGWE
Sex, Women and (Hu)Woman Rights



Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa's writer of the century. By Chido Nwangwu

22 million Africans HIV-infected, ill with AIDS while African leaders ignore disaster-in-waiting

DEMOCRACYWATCH
How Obasanjo's self-succession charade at his Ota Farm has turned Nigeria to an 'Animal Farm.' By Prof. Mobolaji Aluko

INSIGHT
When a Liar Tells the Truth. By Tarty Teh, USAfricaonline.com columnist in Washington D.C



Black Hawk Down and the Return to Mogadishu
By Ndubisi Obiorah
Africans need for a change in
attitude toward elections. By Abdullahi Usman
Osama bin-Laden's goons threaten Nigeria and Africa's stability. By Chido Nwangwu



110 minutes with Hakeem Olajuwon
Tragedy of Ige's murder is its déjà vu for the Yoruba southwest and rest of Nigeria. By Ken Okorie
What has Africa to do with September 11 terror? By Chido Nwangwu
Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post? No
NEWS INSIGHT
CNN, Obasanjo and Nigeria's struggles with democracy.
Why Obasanjo's government should respect
CNN and Freedom of the press in Nigeria.
Jonas Savimbi, UNITA are "terrorists" in Africans' eyes despite Washington's "freedom fighter" toga for him. By SHANA WILLS


Bola Ige's murder another danger signal for Nigeria's nascent democracy.

In a special report a few hours after the history-making nomination, USAfricaonline.com Founder and Publisher Chido Nwangwu places Powell within the trajectory of history and into his unfolding clout and relevance in an essay titled 'Why Colin Powell brings gravitas, credibility and star power to Bush presidency.'

AFRICA AND THE U.S. ELECTIONS
Beyond U.S. electoral shenanigans, rewards and dynamics of a democratic republic hold lessons for African politics.
CONTINENTAL AGENDA
Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents."

These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'
Nwangwu, adviser to the Mayor of Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S., and immigrant home to thousands of Africans) argued further that "the issues of the heritage interests of 35 million African-Americans in Africa, the volume and value of oil business between between the U.S and Nigeria and the horrendous AIDS crisis in Africa do not lend any basis for Governor Bush's ill-advised position which removes Africa from fair consideration" were he to be elected president.
By Al Johnson



Since 1958, Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" set a standard of artistic excellence, and more. By Douglas Killam

Private initiative, free market forces, and more democratization are Keys to prosperity in Africa

Johnnie Cochran will soon learn that defending Abacha's loot is not as simple as his O.J Simpson's case. By Chido Nwangwu

Cheryl Mills' first class defense of Clinton and her detractors' game 
It's wrong to stereotype Nigerians as Drug Dealers

USAfrica The Newspaper voted the "Best Community Newspaper" in the 4th largest city in the U.S., Houston. It is in the Best of Houston 2001 special as chosen by the editors and readers of the Houston Press, reflecting their poll and annual rankings.