Wednesday, 18 August 2010


Israel shakes down China

By Marwan Bishara
Al-Jazeera English

Has the US used Israel as an attack dog against those
unwilling to support more sanctions against Iran?

The New York Times revealed yesterday why the Chinese
changed their mind about yet another UN Security Council
resolution that imposes new sanctions against Iran.

The resolution passed with 12 votes in favour, two against
and one abstention is the fourth of its kind.

Like the Brazilians and the Turks, the Chinese leaned
towards diplomacy and doubted the efficacy of another round
of sanctions.

Along with Russia, China opposed tougher sanctions that
would hurt Iranians and push Tehran into a corner.

Analysts believe Beijing and Moscow came on board after
direct intervention by Barack Obama, the US president, and
a pledge to water down the resolution and possibly other
concessions some of which might be kept secret for long.

The end result is UNSC resolution 1929 that focuses
primarily on the nuclear domain, avoids targeting the
Iranian society, and dispels use of force as a means for

But in a rather humiliating revelation, the Israelis tried
on the day of the vote to set the record straight by
speaking to the US "paper of the record" about their
meeting with the Chinese.

Veiled threat

According to The New York Times, "In February, a high-level
Israeli delegation travelled to Beijing to present
classified evidence of Iran’s atomic ambitions.

Then they unveiled the ostensible purpose of their visit:
to explain in sobering detail the economic impact to China
from an Israeli strike on Iran — an attack Israel has
suggested is all but inevitable should the international
community fail to stop Iran from assembling a nuclear

“The Chinese didn’t seem too surprised by the evidence we
showed them, but they really sat up in their chairs when we
described what a pre-emptive attack would do to the region
and on oil supplies they have come to depend on ...”

To add insult to injury, the Israeli official who chose to
reveal this nugget asked the paper for anonymity so as not
to upset his Chinese counterparts!

In fact, the Israelis do not want to hide their chutzpah.

The official who was permitted to speak to the press seems
proud of Israel's audacity to shake down Beijing when the
rest of the world is trying to gain China's favour as one
of the of the world's two superpowers.

According to the US newspaper," ... the episode
demonstrates how Israel — a small country with limited
influence on China — has found ways to engage an emerging
superpower whose geopolitical heft is increasingly vital to
the Jewish state."

China depends on the Gulf region for half of its oil
imports and has being trying to defuse tensions that could
hamper its energy supplies.

Double game

When dealing with world superpowers, Israel has long played
a double game whenever its relationship with the US
permitted it.

In the 1990s it tried to help China out of its global
isolation following the Tiananmen massacre. It even tried
to lobby Washington for Chinese interests.

In fact, the Israelis have long boasted of lobbying the US,
its White House, Congress and media in favour of countries
of little importance to the US; have poor human rights
record; or merely need US support.

After the Cold War, East European countries and former
Soviet republics along with many other Asian countries were
offered access to Washington in favour of normalisation of

One wonders if boasting that its lobby has major influence
in Washington doesn't indirectly fuel anti-Semitic claims
of Jewish influence and control.

Eventually many tapped Israel and its US lobby for help in
return of better relations with a country long considered
an international pariah.

But when Israel tried to transfer US technology and
sophisticated weapons to China worth billions of dollars a
decade ago, Washington shot it down and Israel had no
choice but to comply.

Proxy game?

Recently Israel has found it more and more difficult to
lobby the Obama administration, whose new foreign policy
philosophy favors dialogue with allies and nemesis alike,
as underlined in its new National Security Strategy
released last month.

And with both the US and China charting new ways of dealing
with the Muslim world, based on more interaction, trade and
normalization of relations, Israel feels increasingly left
out in the cold.

The Netanyahu government's aggressive policies and
settlement expansion in occupied Palestinian lands,
following his predecessor's war on Lebanon and Gaza, is
driving Israel further to isolation.

Paradoxically, the only regional issue that has kept Israel
in the loop is the Iranian nuclear issue.

Its threat to use military force against Iran couldn't be
ignored by those in the region or voting in the UN Security
Council. The morning after UNSC passed Resolution 1929,
Israel expressed displeasure at its weakness and demanded
sanctions with more bite.

So I ask: Would Israel dare shake down China without a
green light from Washington? Or, has the US used Israel as
an attack dog against those unwilling to support more
sanctions against Iran?

Or has the US done everything to pass a UNSC resolution to
avoid a potential Israeli military strike against Iran...?

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