The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

Posts Tagged ‘diplomacy

Abbas’ problems just don’t seem to end

leave a comment »

He still hasn't found what he's looking for <br> (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

He still hasn't found what he's looking for (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Really, you know Mahmoud Abbas’ smiles are just for photo-ops. Cos he can’t have much to be happy about. As Alex wrote this week – “with every day his irrelevance seems to be growing.” And it seems to have grown just a little bit more today as the much-debated unity deal between Fatah and Hamas has been rejected, yet again.

I’m going to add on to Alex’s statement: with every day, Abbas’ incompetence also seems to grow by leaps and bounds. After all the delaying and hemm-hawing over the Goldstone Report, one would think Abbas would try and do something to one-up Hamas, who do seem to have notched up a minor PR win in the midst of the drama.

Even if Hamas does agree to sign on to the deal (a move that seems somewhat unlikely right now), Abbas is in major trouble. Wonder how much patience the Egyptians have left now…


Written by Saba Imtiaz

October 16, 2009 at 4:42 am

Posted in Israel, Palestine

Tagged with , , , ,

“Staring at the abyss” in the Middle East

with one comment

The perpetual winter of our discontent (Photo by author - taken in Amman)

The perpetual winter of discontent (Photo of Amman by author)

Marc Lynch at Foreign Policy paints a fairly depressing view from his recent visit to Jordan:

My conversations with more than two dozen Jordanian officials, political activists, journalists and analysts suggest that on this, at least, the King reflects a widespread Jordanian consensus.  Jordanians are growing increasingly frustrated with the Obama team’s approach, alarmed at Netanyahu’s unpunished intransigence, and downright frantic about the trend in Jerusalem. If we don’t start seeing progress soon, with stronger American leadership, then the “tinderbox” could explode..

…Jordanian officials and the public alike are deeply, profoundly worried about the course of Israeli-Palestinian relations.  Worried whispering about (or eager anticipation of) the outbreak of a new Intifada was everywhere.  Confidence in Obama’s ability to deliver, especially with regard to Israel, has collapsed.  But most still hope that it’s not too late for Obama to reverse course.  His words at the UN General Assembly rallied their spirits briefly.  But it won’t last absent clear progress towards resuming the talks based on a clear, mutually acceptable framework for negotiations. If that doesn’t happen by the end of the year, then we could be staring at the abyss.

I’ve been thinking about this since Marc blogged last night. I was in Jordan during the height of Obamamania – yes, I will call it that – and I remember the huge interest people had in the man who would then go on to become President. But the future of Palestine plays heavily on the minds of people there. And I often think that Jordan doesn’t get enough credit for that. Its not just about the amount of refugees the country has absorbed since 1948 or that they have a vested interest in the peace process;  but to give it a more literal twist, it is  also because you can actually look across into the border of the country that has become a living hell for its inhabitants. The clock is ticking – it has been for over half a century now – and yet any semblance of peace remains as elusive as it ever was.

Meanwhile, we’ll let you know when applications to join the next intifada open up.

Written by Saba Imtiaz

October 14, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Peace = impossible for Israel and Palestine?

leave a comment »

Ponder over this quote for a while:

I will tell him [Mitchell] clearly: there are many conflicts in the world that haven’t reached a comprehensive solution and people have learned to live with this.

Delivered by none other than Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Foreign Minister, this really is a telling sign of how the Israeli government seems to be viewing the peace process: with a sense of been there done that, no way, Jose. Robert Fisk’s latest opinion peace got a lot of flak this afternoon on Twitter but I really do think he had one thing right, that Obama’s fairly naive to believe that the Israeli government will adhere to his demands.

Written by Saba Imtiaz

October 12, 2009 at 3:43 am

Posted in Israel, Palestine, US

Tagged with , , , ,

The Middle East Rejection Watch

with one comment

As a writer who spends an hour – or often more – staring despondently at the computer trying to come up with a decent headline or imploring others to do the mindnumbing task for her, I appreciate the value of a good headline as much as anyone else. But the recent AP report on the meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh shocked me out of my morning stupor:


‘Jordan rejects US call to improve ties with Israel.’  What?! Did the Middle East’s politicians receive a joint memo to switch sides, ala Walid Jumblatt and the March 14 coalition in Lebanon?

I then checked the Jordan Times – not known for its independent reporting but at least it would’ve had a report on this 180-degree turn – and this is what I was presented with


Clearly a comprehensive approach and a rejection for improving ties with Israel are two very, very different things. But what it appears to be is that the AP reporter tried to create too much of a link to the Saudi stance on Israel and the Jordanian FM’s statement. Of course, I don’t think he realized that Jordan can’t really reject a call to ‘improve relations’ anymore than it already has: you know, after being the second country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, closely interlinked to peace negotiations in the region and opening up borders and embassies.

But there’s something interesting in Judeh’s statement:

“In the Middle East, there has been in the past an overinvestment, perhaps, by the parties in pursuing confidence-building measures, conflict-management techniques, including transitional arrangements, and an overemphasis on gestures, perhaps at the expense of reaching the actual end game.”

Is that a well-versed way of saying ‘we’re tired of the fluffy statements and never-ending flurry of flights between Amman-Ramallah-Tel Aviv-Washington DC’? This may really be time for Jordan to take a harder line than it has in the past: though it may come at the expense of AP headlines and censure from the Americans.

Written by Saba Imtiaz

August 5, 2009 at 4:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,