Experts fear Israeli design to balkanise Arab states
23 June 2011 – helsinkitimes
Developments in Libya have raised fears among Egyptian analysts and political figures of the possible break-up of the North African nation into two warring halves.
FOR THREE months, Libya has suffered internationally sanctioned air-strikes by the western Nato alliance, launched with the stated aim of supporting the ongoing popular uprising against the Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. Revolutionary forces based in Ben Ghazi now hold most of the country’s eastern half, while forces loyal to Gaddafi continue to control the country’s western half from the capital Tripoli.
Yet the fact that Nato – despite its overwhelming air superiority – has so far failed to dislodge the Gaddafi regime has led many local observers to question the western alliance’s intentions.
“The western campaign against Libya wasn’t undertaken to protect human rights or foster democracy,” said Mohamed al-Sakhawi, leading member of Egypt’s as-yet-unlicensed Arabic Unity Party. “It was launched with the aim of breaking Libya up politically so as to prevent the unification of three revolutionary Arab states – Egypt, Libya and Tunisia – which together might pose a threat to Israeli regional dominance.”
Legacy of balkanisation
Al-Sakhawi pointed to the region’s century-old legacy of balkanisation at the hands of foreign powers. “The 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement between Britain and France drew artificial borders across the region and fragmented the Arab world into nation states,” he said. “And in recent years, the drive to further balkanise the Arab world – by Israel and the western powers – has only accelerated.”
Egyptian analysts point to several proposals written to this effect by Israeli strategists, the most well known of which is a 1982 treatise entitled “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s.” Written by Oded Yinon, then a senior advisor for Israel’s foreign ministry, the essay explicitly calls for breaking up the Arab states of the region along ethnic and sectarian lines.
While the Yinon document does not devote much space to Libya, it talks in detail about the need to divide Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon into small, ineffectual statelets. As for Egypt, Yinon calls for breaking the country up into “distinct geographical regions.”
Yinon goes on to mention Sudan in similar terms, describing it as “the most torn-apart state in the Arab-Muslim world today … built upon four groups hostile to each other: an Arab-Muslim Sunni minority which rules over a majority of non-Arab Africans, pagans and Christians.”
Chaos is believed to be intentional
According to Gamal Mazloum, retired Egyptian major-general and expert on defence issues, political manoeuvring in recent years by Israel and the western powers – both overt and covert – appears to conform to this strategy of balkanisation.
“Israel and the US have both helped break up Iraq by encouraging the emergence of an independent Kurdish state and fostering Sunni-Shiite division,” he said. “And in Sudan, Israel actively contributed to the war between north and south by providing the latter with weapons and military training.” Southern Sudan is set to declare independence from the northern Khartoum government next month in a move that will officially split Africa’s largest country in two.
“Israel has an interest in breaking up Sudan and instigating sectarian strife in Egypt so that the latter is faced with crises on both its internal and external fronts,” said Mazloum. “Israel and its western patrons are determined to keep Egypt – the most populous Arab nation by far – in a state of perpetual weakness so that it cannot aid the Arab cause in places like Palestine and Iraq.”
Earlier this month, Mohamed Abbas, a leading member of Egypt’s Revolutionary Coalition Council (RCC), likewise warned of an ongoing “conspiracy” aimed at breaking Egypt into three petty states.
ADAM MORROW – IPS
KHALED MOUSSA AL-OMRANI – IPS
LEHTIKUVA / AFP PHOTO / COLIN SUMMERS