America's handling of the Middle East situation is fraught with risks for it, Israel, the Middle East and the rest of the world, observes DR M MANZOOR ALAM

The developments of last few days are ominous for the peace and security of the world. President George W. Bush's visit to West Bank on January 10 and his "belief" that Israel will have "a signed peace agreement with Palestinians" within a year, before the end of his term, paving the way for a Palestinian state to eventually come into being, should fool no one.

This "belief" of Mr Bush does not coincide with Israeli thinking on the issue. Israeli thinking is far more significant and weighty than the belief of any US president, much less a president who is busy preparing his exit. A lame duck presidency in any case is notorious for its ineffectiveness. We can very well guess how prepared Israel would be to stop building new settlements on Palestinian lands and dismantling old ones.

Taking cover of the wishy-washy peace move in Palestine America has stepped up pressure on Iran and is trying to grab any pretext available for starting a military conflict with it. They have tried to bring false charges of confronting US naval ships in the Persian Gulf. Iran has refuted the charges with a more accurate video clip of the incident that occurred in the Gulf. Not daunted by the Iranian video setting the record straight the US has issued a veiled threat to Iran saying "all options" (read, military option) are on the table.

The second worrisome development is a massive US air attack conducted on Arab Jabour area of Iraq on January 10 on the pretext of fighting al-Qaeda. US aircraft dropped 40,000 pounds of explosives on the area, flattening it completely before ground troops moved in. It is quite clear that not only al-Qaeda (if at all) lived in the area and the heavy loss of life and property was not only of al-Qaeda's.

Attacking other countries on false, concocted charges is an old US practice. While seen to be making peace in Palestine the US is actually conducting a genocidal war on Iraq and is itching to start a war against Iran on one pretext or the other. However, the war is not going well with the American public. Seeing that there is not much left in Mr Bush to be used the Israel lobby in the US has started criticising him more vociferously. They seem to think that the American public wants a Democrat in the White House they have started gradually shifting towards the Democrats.

Whether the Democrats occupy the White House or not pro-Israel neoconservatives will keep pressuring American to attack Iran and other Muslim countries. This is going to have destabilising consequences for America, Iraq and the Middle East, besides the Muslim world as a whole. One of the leading political and military thinkers of our time Zbigniew Brzezinski has warned that if America continues to follow neocon prescriptions it is sure to be expelled from the Middle East. The will also be the beginning of the end of Israel.

The patently dishonest, cynical and bad-faith American policies have inflamed the younger generation in several countries of the Muslim world. The resentment against US-supported Israeli hamhandedness in Palestine, US-led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq is so intense and deep-rooted that it is getting increasingly difficult for the elder generation to calm them. The incensed youth are being constantly told by their elders that Islam comes from salaam (peace) and thus they have to keep cool under the greatest provocation.

In the face of such a brazen anti-Muslim agenda of Britain, America and Israel it is difficult for the youth to accept their elders' advice to be quiet. The latest example of a society violently turning against itself is Pakistan where half of it is prepared to embrace democracy, even if it is sponsored by the same America which is destroying much of the Muslim world. The other half is fighting tooth and nail to stop people whom they consider to be American stooges from coming to power. This is a deadly confrontation within Islam.

Behind much of the violent responses of Muslim world is the primary stimulus of British-American-Israeli mischief. This must stop if we want to see the return of sanity to the Muslim world in particular and the rest of world in general. g

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