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Interview with Nayef Hawatmeh, Secretary-General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
"Another Syckes-Picot will not pass: since 2011, revolutions uphold the project of liberation and national-democratic revolution"
By: Ernesto Gómez Abascal
September 25, 2013
 

EGA- ¿How do you appreciate the general situation in the Middle East region and Northern Africa? ¿Will the United States, Israel and Arab reaction succeed in pushing the Palestinian conflict –which has been up to now at the center of the struggle of Arab peoples— to the background, thus generalizing a tribal or national struggle of a sectarian nature?
 
NH- The situation in the Middle East is heading for a new war against Syria, and the whole region is sitting on a powder keg. The Obama Administration began the shift against “Geneva 1 and Geneva 2” in the last ten days of June. His position was unquestionably evident for the whole world during the G-8 Summit around two issues:
 
1- The use of chemical weapons, although he know that the Syrian government had requested the dispatch of a professional, neutral commission for an on-site inspection  at Khan Al-Asal, in Aleppo, and to verify what happened, and also in the case of Rural Damascus (Ghotta of Damascus), on 21 August 2013.

2- The decision of the US Administration to arm the Syrian opposition. The Summit became a scenario in which Russia, alone on the one side, and on the other, seven Western countries clashed, and a fact that Obama could not hide nor underestimate. That is why he was baffled, basically because of the inconsistency of the evidence that was, by the way “Israeli evidence”. The Russian position of considering that evidence as “fabricated” was clear, as was the fact of not taking into account any evidence if it is not the result of an “honest, neutral and professional” international investigation, and of not taking into account the evidence presented by France and the United States, because it is not binding in International Law, particularly when certain precedents are still very recent, such as the “possession of weapons of mass destruction” by Iraq in 2003 and then the destruction of Libya and of the Libyan army. The same plot is now repeated to justify the destruction of Syria, of the Syrian army and of Syrian institutions, and their replacement on the basis of the principle of “non-creative chaos”, building on confessional, religious and ethnic foundations; in short, the destruction of the State and its entity. This is proven by the fact that Moscow, while rejecting accusations that Damascus used chemical weapons, did not oppose an international investigation on the matter, a position that did not motivate any enthusiasm in the United States and its Western escorts.  
 
The same situation was repeated at the recent G-20 Summit. The division occurred: 12 States on Obama’s side and 8 States opposed US military aggression. In this Summit at Saint Petersburg, once again, Obama was baffled, because his position is totally at odds with the essence of Geneva 1 and of Geneva 2. All this Washington policy is pursued outside the UN and the Security Council frameworks and now he continues his plans for war, genocide, confrontation, destruction, to bomb a long list of objectives in Syria, something that, as we have said, would place the whole region on a powder keg.
 
Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and to this day, Arab and Middle Eastern countries have witnessed the outbreak of internal crises, interventions by the US, Israel, Arab reaction, from Afghanistan to the distant Maghreb. The area is thus enmeshed in social class struggles seeking social justice (Egypt, Tunisia as examples) and also in ethnic, religious, confessional, tribal struggles (Iraq, Libya, Yemen…) and all of this has pushed the Palestinian cause to the background…
 
However, if the question is to completely erase the Palestinian cause, this is impossible, for the same reason that has been mentioned. “The Palestinian cause is the crux of the struggle of Arab peoples” to achieve their full liberation and democracy in the area that is considered most important in the world because of its oil wealth and by-products. Therefore, as long as Palestine does not achieve its rights and lasting peace, the region will not experience stability.
 
EGA- Certain specialists in the region believe that the US and Israel prefer that, not being able to control resources and strategic positions in the area, the countries in the region should be submerged in extended wars and conflicts to weaken them and to impose on them, afterwards, a Syckes-Picot Nr. 2, or the formula that they also call “constructive chaos” in order to trace new borders. Could you offer us your comments on this?
 
NH- This is what we see on the field, where Washington is trying to turn Tel Aviv into the Opposite Pole, and this implies new maps to serve the purpose of “the Jewish character of the State”, surrounded by ethnic, religious and confessional States that used to coexist since ancient times. There we ask ourselves: what was the meaning of “the transaction between the movements of right-wing political Islam, in particular the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood and Washington?” The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, its original cradle for more than eighty years, demonstrated in less than a year that they convey a right-wing, retrogressive project seeking to take us back several decades, by weaving collaboration links with US policies and bilateral solutions with Israel, under the slogan of support for the agreement of Saadat’s Egypt with Israeli occupation. The most recent example was the ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Hamas government in Gaza in 2012, under the auspices of Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi and Washington.
 
They are the axis and the game of fragmentation, and precisely coming from Egypt. Ever since Morsi called on a “Jihad” (Islam’s sacred war) in Syria, and he convened the army and the people to take part in it, the backward count really began in days, and we saw how the tsunami of the squares deposed him. In all its history, Egypt had never witnessed confessional religious foundations as those that the Muslim Brothers imposed. Therefore, their coming to power was not by hazard, and from then on began the task of supporting “the Brothers in the countries of rebellions and of the new national democratic revolutions” by the US and throughout the whole region. That is what happened in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria...
 
Egyptians have a long history of political activity, even of violent practices, and that is what they unleashed at the Rabia Al-Adaweya square, in Cairo. The Muslim Brothers fear a repetition of what happened to them in 1954, when they entered into a direct collision course with the leader of the 23 July Revolution, Gamal Abdel-Nasser, when they tried to impose their will on the Egyptian Revolution, the national liberation revolution and the great class, social and political transformations in favour of progress and social justice.
 
The imperial West depends on right-wing class forces and on the rightwing political Islam, in particular “the Muslim Brothers” and their likes to reach their goals.
 
Today Egypt closes its ranks again on national class bases, as if it were producing a global national reconciliation among all those that make up the spectrum of the fatherland, after a year of a miserable misrule by the Muslim Brothers, that ended up burning down Coptic-Christian churches and fuelling extremism in the Sinai Peninsula, where there are “the jihadists of the Takfir” (a religious sects that considers all the other faithful, atheists and members of other religions, as atheists deserving death as punishment)liberated by the deposed President Morsi himself, besides other extremists that concentrated in that area, and who launched on several occasions attacks against the Egyptian army.
 
US projects, as well as those of religious and confessional right-wingers, smashed against the walls of millions of the Egyptian people, as they are now smashed in Tunisia, Yemen and other Arab countries. So I say: Another Syckes–Picot will not occur.Earthquakes and continuous revolutions since 2011 uphold another project… the Project of liberation and progress, to precede forward, and in a left-wing expression “the project of national democratic revolutions”.
 
EGA- Turkey has taken up a very active role in what is happening in Syria, Iraq, the Kurdistan and even Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Is the AKP (Party of Justice and Development) Islamic government trying to become a regional hegemonic power responding to the interests of the United States, or does it have its own national interests? Are there contradictory interests between Turkey and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council?
 
NH- The Party “Justice and Development” of Recep Tayib Erdogan has the same Egyptian “brotherhood” origins since it was led by Arbakan in the 1990s. However, he is more clever than Morsi, because he waited for many years before preparing the groundwork and making it suitable to his internal coups d’État and before enunciating his true objectives in different ways. Turkey is a middle-development industrial State seeking markets and a regional role in the Arab countries and in the neighboring countries of the Middle East, under the supervision of Washington. As is well known, Turkey is not admitted into the European Union, and aspires to a preponderant role in NATO. 
 
This explains why the Turkish government flew off the handle when Egypt got rid of Morsi and the Muslim Brothers and, as a reaction, withdrew its ambassador, which was sent back again just a few days ago after a month’s absence, when the ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt requested a downsizing of Turkish diplomatic personnel. Why were they so furious? Because Turkey knows too well that, if Egypt would rise, it would take the place that it (Turkey) is exactly entitled to, that of being the Arab political, cultural, progressive and liberation locomotive, and this would downgrade the Turkish position to a lower step, and this would not replace what Washington traced with respect to “Israel” in the context of being a satellite and a spear in the hands of NATO.
 
This is what they affirmed from Syria to Iraq and the Kurdistan, and as is happening now with Tunisia and Libya.
 
In relation to the contradiction between Turkey and the 
Gulf Cooperation Council, the Gulf Cooperation Council depends on Turkey as a counterpart vis-à-vis Iran, in the context of Washington’s plan for “the Great Middle East”, but going back to historical memory, “the new Ottomanism”, recovered on its confessional dimensions, cannot go back to the field of reality and practice. In the context of Central Asia there is talk of the “TurkishTorani” (Uncivilized or highland, Turk), Turkey was unsuccessful since the early 1990s, in spite of the Soviet vacuum, and that dream finished with the post-Yeltsin Russian awakening and the relative and gradual recovery of Russia’s international role towards a multi-polar world.
 
It must be noted that Turkey is itself subject to shocks. It is a vast society with it different ethnic groups and confessions, and everything that might happen in the region will impact on this country.
 
Its very name is a provocation for several peoples that fall within its political map, among which Armenians, Azeris and Arabs. A European part and others, as well as a wide array of religions, disciplines and confessions. They all live under one name, shadows, the flag and the language of Turkey. They are not, however, Turkish, and they represent millions. Why so much injustice? The Kurds at the stage of the rise of the Kurdish National Movement, proclaiming self-determination and, as a minimum demand, administrative, cultural and legal self-government for the Kurdistan of Anatolia, in the direction of creating a Kurdish national State encompassing all of Kurdistan, divided since 1919, between Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran.
 
Certain Turkish intellectuals ask themselves, for instance: Why don’t we call Turkey the Republic of Anatolia and thus evade this uncomfortable quagmire?
 
This whole state of things interacts between its parts, from one end to the other… But the earthquake that intercepted this whole course was the Intifada of June 30 2013, in order to rectify the course and the destiny of the 25 January 2011 Project, the National Democratic Project: “bread, freedom, dignity, social justice, democratic civilian State, citizens’ equality between woman and man”. It was the Egyptian Intifada that toppled Morsi and the Muslim Brother’s regime in three days.
 
EGA- The coup against Muslim Brothers in Egypt seems to weaken Hamas, an organization that had abandoned its preferential relations with Syria, Iran and Hezbollah, that had extended them support and collaboration. How do you see this?
 
NH- That is a very correct conclusion. Hamas is a copy, in Gaza, of Muslim Brothers in Egypt, because the Palestinian cause is a cause of national liberation and, therefore, the consequence of moving to new ranks was a decision of the “International Muslim Brotherhood”.
 
In spite of the differences that the case of Hamas might exhibit at a Palestinian level, there are similarities between the two organizations: religious intolerance. Palestinian resistance is a national liberation movement requiring its entire people. Hamas rose to power thanks to the elections, but ever since it tried to turn the Gaza Strip into its own fiefdom through bloody political and military coups in 2006–2007 –regardless of whether it achieved or not this goal (!), and attracted all that is retrogressive and pushes history back, and promoted hostile actions against Christians and leftwing and patriotic forces in Gaza, in an attitude that is not at all ethical nor dignifying for our Palestinian cause, our multi-cultural history and our national solidarity.
 
Afterwards, it clung to all that it had achieved and rejected every collegiate call for reconciliation, tolerance and a return to the electoral ballot. This was, of course, induced by the instructions of the Muslim Brothers and the expectation that Morsi would go back from jail to the Presidency.
 
The second popular revolutionary wave came on June 30 to overthrow Morsi and the Muslim Brothers, underlining a very clear image between diverse civil tendencies, on the one hand, and, on the other, the government of the Muslim Brothers, and together with them, extremist groups. The overwhelming popular tide, led by the National Salvation Front, the Tamarud (Rebelliousness) Movement, together with civil mobilization (the middle class, the working class, the poor popular classes, women and youth), demonstrated that Egypt is not with the Muslim Brothers and never will be, and that such a type of government regime cannot last.
 
It also demonstrated that the policies of the Muslim Brothers of rallying around themselves the most ignorant and poor, if these do not find the social justice they yearned for, they would abandon them and place themselves in the ranks of a fair, non-excluding system (Bread, social justice), and their motto is to “guarantee livelihood”. So they rejected the tyranny of the Morsi-Muslim Brothers, recovering their strength in new formats and moulds.
 
To exploit religious sympathy “is not enough for the stability of power if justice is not achieved”, and it is to be noted that one of the leaders of the Muslim Brothers commented, when they took power: “We will rule Egypt for five hundred years”, but these were merely vain illusions of disquieted minds..!
 
Of course this is going to affect Hamas dearly after having waited for so long for Morsi’s return that will not occur ever again...
 
EGA- Do you consider that it is possible to struggle for the fair and genuine rights of the Palestinian people without also adopting an anti-imperialist position?
 
NH- Absolutely not. The reason for the creation of Israel, in 1948, is in itself a Western imperialist project. Israel counted, since the 1960s, on the total protection and auspices of the US. Moreover, Washington takes the place of Israel in wars when the latter was in distress. Israel is a part of “national security of North American imperialism”, as is testified in the addresses and messages of the different Presidents that succeeded each other in their administrations.
 
The Palestinian national struggle has multiple national, liberation and democratic dimensions facing a racist enemy that applies religious passages about positive law (the civil laws made by man) and the natural rights of man, and this is totally inconsistent with the culture of the era and of the civilizations prior to their development. How would it be, then, in today’s world!  We have elaborated an answer and an alternative to the setback of June 1967 up to 2006. The historic block of all the currents and classes in Palestine and in banishment (right, left, center), the coalition of PLO on the basis of the National Program of stages (the transitional program): self-determination, an independent State within the borders of June 1967, the right of refugees to return; that is, the National Front at the stage of national liberation against Israeli occupation and colonization and against US imperialism, allied of Israel.
 
At the hands of the Palestinian rightwing and the center-rightwing (Al-Fatah) and the rightwing of political Islam (Hamas) a power struggle took place in Gaza and the West Bank.
 
Our Palestinian internal struggle is aimed at reconstructing national unity by the action and the initiative of leftwing forces, and there are liberal forces and popular sectors at our side. Through an encompassing national dialogue, we have achieved the signature of the May 4 2011 Program in Cairo in order to put an end to division and to rebuild the institutions of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the PLO, by going back to the people in comprehensive global elections in accordance with the principle of proportional representation. Sectarian rightwing interests within Al-Fatah and Hamas, the interests of the regional axes in the Middle East and US interventions prevent the implementation of those objectives.
 
We are certain of victory, together with our people and the forces of liberation and progress in the world, we will succeed in “defeating division and in reconstructing the coalition of national unity within the PLO”.
 
EGA- Under the auspices of the United States and its Secretary of State, John Kerry, Abu Mazen, on behalf of the Palestinian National Authority, has announced that he will be taking part in a new round of the so-called “peace negotiations”, in spite of the continuation, by the Zionist State, of its expansionist plans and the construction of new settlements in the occupied territories. Could you explain the DFLP position on this?
 
NH- The decision of the Palestinian negotiating team to participate in negotiations on the bases posed by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, is a gross mistake and a return to the old formulas… that is, to what is prior to the “UN Resolution to recognize the State of Palestine within the borders or 1967, and its capital, the occupied Eastern Jerusalem“, of November 29 2012. This decision openly contradicts the Palestinian national consensus, the unanimous decision of the OLP Executive Committee of rejecting the call by the US to continue negotiations because “Kerry’s understandings” are not made on the basis of the borders of 1967, the State of Palestine, the total cessation of the colonization of Jerusalem and the West Bank, and to guarantee the rights of refugees by virtue of International Resolution 194.
 
The Palestinian National Movement, with all its forces, its political detachments and patriotic personalities of all tendencies agreed by consensus, in the dialogues of Cairo (December 2012 and February 2013), on the need for certain bases to exist –in order to continue the negotiating process— and these bases are:
 
The total cessation by Israel of the colonization in the occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, because it is an illegal action that contradicts UN resolutions, the objective of which is to avoid the emergence of an independent Palestinian State in its full sovereignty and enjoying geographical continuity.
 
The recognition by Israel of the borders of June 4 1967 as a basis to trace the borders of the independent Palestinian State, and its capital, the occupied Arab part of Jerusalem.
 
The recognition of the resolutions about the international legality as a referent for the negotiating process, including UN General Assembly Resolution 491, adopted on November 29 2012, “the recognition of the State of Palestine, within the borders of June 4, 1967, and with its capital in East Jerusalem” as an observer member of the UN General Assembly, without affecting the representative status of the PLO, as well as to recognize the right of refugees to return.
To liberate the veteran prisoners, detained before the signature of the Oslo Agreements (Cairo, May 1994), and these are 104 prisoners.
 
These bases are not previous conditions imposed by the Palestinian side, but irreplaceable international bases to come out of the vicious circle of the vain and fruitless negotiations, without taking as referents the resolutions of international law. Those useless negotiations with the Israeli governments have continued through twenty years (1993-2013) without achieving any tangible progress and only served their colonizing practices that were duplicated six times during negotiations and wars of occupation against the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
 
The lessons of twenty years of negotiations prove the need of said bases in order to produce serious and equitable negotiations that would put an end to occupation and colonization and the sufferings of the Palestinian people and its prisoners and detainees, and would open the gates of an independent Palestinian State, with its capital in Jerusalem.
 
Under the protection of those bases the Palestinian national unity was fostered in the dialogues of Cairo, and it was decided to give the negotiating process a new opportunity, because it is one of the options that might allow to reach the goals of the Palestinian people, without any disdain for other options vis-a-vis the official Israeli rejection of the bases of international law, and firstly its rejection to recognize the borders of June 4 as the borders of the Palestinian State.
 
The negotiations that took place in Washington, as a point of departure, on July 30 2013, cannot lead to the essential bases and requisites for a balanced political arrangement that would guarantee the rights and the interests of the Palestinian people, since they have been built on unbalanced bases that constitute a preamble for severe consequences that might take place in the period fixed for said negotiations:
 
Colonization did not cease; rather, it was greatly incentivated after a series of Israeli decisions of building over five thousand new homes, beyond those that were previously assigned, and the first steps for their construction were taken. The next stage will put on scene a competition and an unbridled frontal clash between a negotiating process that lacks horizons for balanced political arrangements, on the one hand, while, on the other, the colonization projects in Jerusalem and the West Bank intensify, and this will turn the talks into an absurd process, especially vis-à-vis the worsening of colonization that aims at preventing the creation of the Palestinian State.
 
The Palestinian negotiating team stopped demanding of Israel the recognition of the lines of June 4 1967 as a basis for the delimitation of borders between the two Status, thus giving in to the Israeli demand of linking “the subjects of security and of borders”, considering that the basis for tracing borders is to provide “first secure borders” for Israel, such as the Israeli State itself traces, and not the resolutions of international law, that recognized the State of Palestine within the borders of 1967; in other words, that the Palestinian territories are “occupied territories” and not “territories under dispute”.  
 
The Palestinian negotiating team renounced to taking as binding the resolutions of international law, and as a referent for the negotiating process, and admitted the principle of US arbitration to solve differences, and this turns negotiations into their own referent.
 
By making the commitment of not resorting to the acceptance of Palestine as an UN observer member trough out the period that the process lasts, the Palestinian negotiator put aside one of the most effective weapons in his hands: that of international arbitration, the international referent of the conflict and of dispossessing occupation of its legality, through resorting to the International Human Rights Court, the International Criminal Court, The Human Rights Council and other UN institutions (there are in total 63 organisms and institutions) and the application of the IV Geneva Convention.
 
We in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, reject Palestinian participation in the negotiations convened by Washington, because they do not count on the necessary and secure bases to reach results that would offer the Palestinian people the possibility of achieving their rights and national interests. US guarantees presented to the Palestinian party without committing Israel do not change in any way the essence of the process. The experience of the Palestinian people with the US promises and messages is rich in lessons, but only bitter ones, and among them there are the messages of Clinton, the promises of Bush, Jr, Barack Obama, in his message in Cairo on June 4 2009, as well as those of many highly-placed US officials. US promises are nothing but promises that fly into pieces thanks to the guarantees that the US give Israel in return and, ultimately, turn into mandatory commitments for the US in exchange of de-linking themselves from the promises made to Palestinians.
 
We in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, call on the various forces, detachments, trade unions, women’s and youth’s groups and personalities to the widest political, popular and informatic mobilization against the decision of participating in those negotiations  and to exert pressures on the Palestinian negotiating team through all the democratic channels, so that they go back on their decision; and instead, to address the UN General Assembly in its new session, as well as international institutions to again present the Palestinian cause of a liberation and national independence movement as the cause of a people under occupation and to join the membership of the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the Geneva Conventions, and to call on the international community and UN institutions to put in force the resolutions of international law, above all the resolution to recognize the State of Palestine as an observer member.
 
The DFLP rejects the strategy that considers negotiations the only option to solve the issues of the conflict with the Israeli enemy, and reaffirms that total popular resistance in which all classes, sectors and strata of the people take place, and all its political detachments continues to be the main option, because through that resistance and under its pressure a political process can be initiated between the occupied State of Palestine and the occupying State of Israel. Thanks to popular resistance and the pressures that it can exert, the political process will be rectified and will adopt its international dimensions, and will succeed in getting rid of unilateral US tutelage in order to again proceed towards international auspices based on the resolutions of international law.
 
The policy of wait-and-see followed by the PNA with the hope of seeing emerge US and international pressures that would force the Israeli party to admit the bases and the international referent for the negotiating process, has been going for over twenty years and has only led us to a blind alley, and the only thing that it achieved was the accumulation of popular pressures that demand for an end to be put to that policy and to pursue an alternative policy that links negotiations to the total cessation of colonization, and the recognition of the borders of June 4 1967 as a basis of the borders of the State of Palestine.
 

 

 
 

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