MARGINALIZING THE CAUSE
"Before anything else, we should admit without hesitation, that the war that has broken out in and over Yemen contributes to marginalizing the Palestinian cause," writes Hani al-Masri in the leading Palestinian daily al-Ayyam.
It all began with [the Arab Spring] changes and revolutions, and ended with conspiracies. The Palestinian cause turned from being the Arabs' central cause to one of the issues that has no special priority. What happened at the Arab summit [last week] confirms this, despite the [Palestinian leadership’s] obtuse refusal to recognize the facts by claiming that 'we got everything we asked for at the summit.' What we got were emotional phrases repeated at every conference and resolutions that are re-endorsed time after time, most of which are not implemented.
Our conflict is not a Palestinian/Israeli conflict but an Arab/Zionist conflict. In this conflict, Israel is in organic alliance with certain colonial states in order to implement a project that aims to maintain foreign hegemony and control over the Arab region so as to ensure it remains hostage to backwardness, poverty, submission, and fragmentation. But the existence of a colonial project to whose implementation Israel is contributing does not absolve the Arab rulers from their responsibility for what has happened and is still happening. For they have set up corrupt lackey states and conspire against all popular leaders and initiatives that seek to lift up the Arab nation. This has left the region and its peoples vulnerable to all sorts of interventions and conspiracies.
Moreover, the Palestinian situation calls for an Arab ‘Decisive Storm’ aimed at ending the Israeli occupation and enabling the Palestinian people to secure their rights of return and self-determination that includes the right to establish a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders as well as equality [for the Palestinian citizens of Israel] within the 1948 territories. This should constitute a step towards a radical historical resolution of the Palestinian issue via the establishment of a democratic state, after defeating and dismantling the colonial project and the regime of racial discrimination.
In light of the above, what is happening in Palestine is not in essence a struggle over power or legitimacy, even though it may sometimes appears to be so because of the manner in which the parties to the inter-Palestinian [Fateh/Hamas] split behave.
It is a struggle against a racist, settler-colonial project that aims to uproot one nation and replace it with another. Therefore, the inter-Palestinian conflict cannot be resolved by one side defeating the other, either militarily and by its own power, or by relying on other Arab, regional, or Israeli forces. Consequently, there is no sense at all in calling for the implementation of the 'Decisive Storm' model in Palestine [as done by PA President Abbas at Sharm al-Sheikh] on the grounds that Hamas has staged a coup against legitimacy and there can be no reconciliation with putschists who must be defeated by force, that must also be used in reestablishing legitimacy.
In this regard, we need to make it clear that, despite its vicious nature, what Hamas did in the Gaza Strip was not a coup. Or, rather, it was a special kind of coup, carried out by a force that is part of legitimacy; a force that won the  elections fair and square but that Israel and other regional and international parties prevented from ruling because it would not agree to the terms imposed by the International Quartet. Had what happened been a conventional coup, it would not have been dealt with via dialogue, reconciliation agreements, and the formation of a national accord government.
After the June 1967 defeat and the collapse of patriotic, nationalist, and leftist projects, the Arab region found itself with no project that is able to unite and lead it. It became an open land, violated by all regional and international parties. These parties dealt with the region on the assumption that it was a vacuum that needed to be filled, and a 'sick man' that recalled the last days of the Ottoman Empire whose legacy was divided up between the colonial states. The difference this time around is that this division is being not carried out or confined to the colonial states; regional states such as Iran, Turkey and Israel are trying to benefit from the colonial states' aversion to direct ground military intervention after their role – especially that of the U.S. – has ebbed in light of the enormous cost of intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Despite the sectarian dimensions of the conflict and the use of religious and confessional affiliations in the service of political aims, it is essentially over drawing a new map for the region. This conflict cannot end to the benefit of the region's nations unless they deal with it as confrontation with colonialism and the project to divide it up and impose hegemony on it. The conflict is not between Muslims, Christians, and Jews; nor is it a confessional conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. It is a struggle for liberation, independence, development, democracy, and social justice. This is evident from the fact that those who are fighting in Yemen are in alliance in Syria and Iraq.
But we should also distinguish between the regional states, and especially between Israel and the other states. Israel is a foreign entity implanted here to serve a settler/colonial project that targets the entire region. For those who do not believe this, we refer them to the recommendations issued by the March 2013[Israeli] Herzliya Conference that called for consolidating the Sunni/Shiite conflict and that between Turkey and Iran. These two latter states are neighbors of the Arab region, and good neighborly relations of cooperation should be established with them, steering clear of the intensifying [hostile] schemes because the Arab region and its peoples have become easy prey that can be swallowed up without much effort. And this is because of the absence of an Arab project and leadership able to defend Arab interests and security.
It is also right to distinguish between Turkey, which is a NATO member, and Iran, in which the anti-colonial tendency is mixed with an effort to expand, based on its own interests. Iran has been exhausted by the sanctions imposed on it, and it tends more towards preserving the Iranian state's interests than backing revolution and the anti-colonial causes. Thus we see that opposition to colonialism and support for the Palestinian cause have not prevented Tehran from being involved in endless agreements and understandings with the U.S. This emerged in Afghanistan and Iraq, and is beginning to be realized in Syria, and in the in-principle agreement over Iran's nuclear file.
If we move on to what is now happening in Yemen, we would have to admit that a revolution broke out against Ali 'Abdullah Saleh's rule that ended in forcing him to step down in return for preserving his regime. This led to renewed disturbances and conflicts, especially since the agreement that removed Saleh did not satisfy the interests of the Yemeni people's various constituents, specifically, the Houthis. This led to a turnaround and a shift in alliances; the corrupt and tyrannical Saleh forged an alliance with the Houthis against the legitimate President Mansour – even though his legitimacy should be scrutinized since he is a president elected by accord for a two-year period that was extended and that expired last February.
The Houthis have no right to take power with Iranian support, and the Arab coalition backed by Pakistan, Turkey, the U.S., and Europe has no right to exclude the Houthis who have suffered much from the past regimes that ruled Yemen. There is no alternative to a political democratic solution in which all constituents of the Yemeni nation take part, excluding none of them.
In light of the above, and while recognizing the difficulty of remaining neutral given the sharp polarization and the fact that the conflicting parties are acting on the principle that those who are not with them are against them, the Palestinian cause's interest requires that we do not lose the Arab coalition, Iran, or Turkey.
We must play the role of firemen and put out this war before it stretches out for too long, and before its flames spread and burn all that has not been consumed by fire so far.
"Finally, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah has no right to address the Palestinian president, who is recognized as such by the various factions inside and outside the PLO, in the manner that he did, telling him: 'Go sit in your home' – even though Nasrallah, naturally, has the right to oppose the president's positions and disagree with him." concludes Masri.