05/08/2019 by socialistfight
Priti Patel is back on Boris Johnson’s cabinet. In this letter to the Weekly Worker of 16-11-17 Gerry Downing analyses the events that led to her sacking by Theresa May on 8 November 2017 for unauthorised meeting with Netanyahu and other ministers.
Priti Patel’s secret negotiations in Israel have a far more serious and dangerous significance than claimed. The Israelis may be correct that they were not unauthorised after all. Israel and Saudi Arabia are alarmed at Assad’s success in Syria and the emergence of Russian-Iranian power in the region and have hatched a plot to reverse this by war if necessary, beginning in Lebanon. It is clear that the intention is to relaunch the Lebanon civil war of 1975-90, which left 120,000 dead.
We saw the first indications of this with the Saudi attempts to isolate Qatar and force it to break economic and political relations with Iran. This involved Israel (covertly), Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, Bahrain and the Maldives, on the one side; and Iran, Turkey, Syria, Hezbollah and Russia, on the other. The real target here is Iran. But the question was whether Turkey and Russia could remain aloof, whilst the US asserted its total power in the region. That is still the question now, as the situation escalates.
On September 4, five days before Patel was sacked by Theresa May, Israel began a giant military drill on the Lebanon border, the biggest in 20 years. The drill ran for 10 days and involved thousands of ground, sea and air forces, to prepare soldiers for “preserving the current stability in the northern sector”. There is no doubt that the target is Hezbollah, which defeated the Israeli Defence Force twice, in 2000 and 2006, and remains so important to Assad’s success. It is clear now that this drill was executed as part of a war plan with Saudi Arabia, which the USA and Britain, possibly via Ms Patel, were directing.
On November 4, Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri issued a resignation statement from Riyadh; his life was in danger, he claimed: “Iran controls the region and the decision-making in both Syria and Iraq,” he said. “I want to tell Iran and its followers that it will lose in its interventions in the internal affairs of Arab countries.”
Iran credibly claimed: “The resignation was aimed at creating tension in Lebanon and the region. This resignation was also meant to compensate the US for its failures after the defeat of the Daesh.”
Hariri, who has dual Saudi-Lebanese citizenship, leads the liberal (relatively) Future Movement, which is part of the March 14 Alliance that includes Christians associated with the Lebanese forces and Kataeb party. He has supported the Syrian rebels in the past, which prompted Syria to issue an arrest warrant for him as a terrorist supporter. Most of its base is made up of Sunni Muslims. It has a parliamentary majority.
The main opponent of Future Movement is the March 8 Alliance – most important part being the Free Patriotic Movement, which is led by general Michel Aoun and contains the Shia Hezbollah and Amal movements. The March 14 Alliance also has eight ministers and so have the independents, making up a national government of 24 ministers. Aoun is the president and a Maronite Christian, whose alliance with Hezbollah and Hariri, despite their support for the Syrian rebels, has held the government and country together in recent times – initially with the support of the Saudis, now withdrawn. Obviously, the complicated constitution, unfinished business from the civil war, could now unravel at the instigation of the Saudis and the USA-Israeli bloc. Priti Patel was undoubtedly informed of all these details at the 14 meetings with the Israelis. Militarily Hezbollah is stronger and far more battle-hardened than the Lebanese national army. It cannot simply be dismissed from government; it is often referred to as a ‘state within a state’.
Saad Hariri was reportedly arrested as soon as his jet touched down at Riyadh on November 3, when Saudi policemen boarded it and confiscated all mobile phones. They took him off and obviously wrote his resignation statement. But he was shuttled to Abu Dhabi on November 7 to meet Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi. The apparent kidnapping of the Lebanese head of state – it is still not clear whether he is a willing or unwilling participant in this affair – is part of the war plans of the USA.
Central to this also is the situation in Yemen, the merciless bombarding and starving by blockade of the civilian population, funded and organised by Britain and the US to defeat the Houthi rebels, Iran allies and fellow Shia co-religionists.
The number of British-made bombs and missiles sold to Saudi Arabia since the start of its bloody campaign in Yemen has risen by almost 500%, according to The Independent. More than £4.6 billion of arms were sold in the first two years of bombings, with the government granting increasing numbers of export licences despite mounting evidence of war crimes and massacres at hospitals, schools and weddings. The United Nations says air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition are the main cause of almost 5,295 civilian deaths and 8,873 casualties confirmed so far, warning that the real figure is “likely to be far higher”.
President Macron of France is also involved, the BBC reported on November 9, making a surprise visit to Riyadh on November 10. They reported that Macron discussed the war in Yemen, but undoubtedly the main topic was Lebanon. France is the former colonial power and still has major interests there. Also, France is a strong supporter of the 2015 Obama nuclear deal with Iran, which Trump has repudiated with the backing of the Saudis. Macron said on November 9 that he had had informal contact with Hariri.
On November 9, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies told their citizens in Lebanon to leave the country immediately. This came after Riyadh accused Iran of “direct military aggression”, saying it supplied a missile which it claims was fired by Hezbollah at Riyadh from Yemen on Saturday. The conflict between the USA, its allies in this region and not only Syria, Russia and Iran but also the European Union, is deepening now.