By Arab News
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed*
Those who are annoyed by the dwindling interest and interaction with Washington’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem should understand why and how.
The actions in our region seem to move faster than the Japanese bullet train, 230 km per hour. While former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced his defection from his Houthi ally on Yemeni TV, Ahmed Shafik, the former prime minister of Egypt, announced on Al-Jazeera TV his intention to return to Egypt and stand for election.
Then the Houthi militias killed Ali Abdullah Saleh, and Shafik was sent to Egypt to announce the reversal of his decision. At this moment, the US president shocked the world by declaring his decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and signed the document in a ceremony that infuriated millions of Arabs.
All this coincided with Israel’s bombardment of Iranian and Syrian military posts near Damascus; and the American threat against Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian military leader in Iraq. At the same time, Russia announced very calmly that it had defeated Daesh in Syria. Meanwhile, the Gulf region was living through a most dangerous internal crisis, and a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit was held at the lowest level in the history of the council.
We have been overwhelmed by all these events. It is not surprising that our ability to comprehend suffered a setback and our memory became quite short. It has not been easy for many of us to differentiate between propaganda and truth, and some governments were forced to adopt conflicting positions that perplexed the general public.
The problem becomes even worse if we understand that chaos prevails in the virtual world, which is the link between people and the events around them. The media and propaganda landscape has changed due to two factors: The multiple platforms of the media and the fragmentation of the political axes which have become severely divided.
In the past, there were leaders who spoke loudly in support of the Palestinian cause, such as Abu Nidal (Sabri Khalil Al-Banna), Abu Abbas (Mohammed Zaidan), Saddam Hussein and Hafez Assad. Today they are Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon, the ayatollah in Tehran, Hamad in Qatar, and the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The former and latter exploited Palestine and Jerusalem as bargaining chips for their own interests. The Iranians created Hezbollah to pressure Israel and the West to strengthen their position; Saddam tried to bargain for Kuwait and failed, and Assad overused the Palestinian question as an excuse to take control of Lebanon. But there is no single thing which proves that any of these leaders was serious in his claims.
In the context of the intensity of events and diversity of dangers, there may be no Arab country which does not fear for its security and existence. So how could the Palestinian cause preserve its old weapon, based on the strategic assumption that it is everybody’s question, which used to give it weight that balanced Israeli threats?
If we review the causes of the downfall of this strategy, we realize that the biggest enemy of the Palestinian cause after Israel is Iran.
I do not say this because of our dispute with the Iranian regime but because we can see how it transformed the region into countries either under Iranian influence, or countries which are busy defending themselves against Iranian threats and Iranian proxies. And at the same time, Tehran pursues a policy of misinformation through adopting strong anti-Israel propaganda.
The only positive development is that the Arabs who still believe Iranian propaganda have become a minority; although they formed the majority before the war in Syria. Iran is now trying to restore its image using Qatari propaganda and some allied Sunni groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
The losers in all these conflicts are the Palestinians who have nothing to do with any of these conflicts. They are the losers because extremist forces such as Iran continue to lead the way in defending their cause, because they are actually trading with it. Every time a new front is opened, it is at the expense of the Palestinian cause because no other party could participate, even in using political pressure, without endangering its own existence in its own conflict.
The Iranian project is bigger than Jerusalem and Palestine. It wants Israel to accept its right to expand and control. And it is ready to make a deal with Israel and the West regarding its role, and this is what it did with the former US president when it sold its nuclear program in exchange for giving it a free hand in the region.
• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, where this article is also published. Twitter: @aalrashed