By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich
Mr. Bush must be ecstatic these days. Although the loss of Tony Blair, his lapdog, must have eroded his comfort level, a more tantalizing pet ally has sprung on his lap. The recently elected French President, Mr. Sarkozy, seems to be far more aggressive and protective of this President’s ambitions, ready to pounce on any obstacle standing in the way of Mr. Bush’s crusade to sacrifice the Middle East to appease Israel’s expansionist ambitions.
While telling Iran to ‘back-down’ in the nuclear standoff, Mr. Sarkozy has also told the Arabs that he respects them although he is a friend of Israel’s, but, would not “allow” a “Hamastan”. In other words, France, along with the other arrogant terrorizing nations such as Israel and the United States would decide who rules in Palestine, and elsewhere.
Obviously, Mr. Sarkozy is oblivious to his country’s history. Perhaps he ought to be reminded of it, and once he reviews the history, he can teach a thing or two to the occupant of the White House. Here is a simple start.
Rent Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1965 production of “The Battle of Algiers”. It will undoubtedly remind him that Guns can crush a man’s frail body but not his resistant spirit; ideology will always prevail over bullets. He will also learn that like France’s history, today, it is not Iran or Palestine that are the aggressors. His country, France started the act of terrorism against the Algiers by placing a bomb in the Casbah killing innocent women and children (by definition, terrorism is an act of violence against civilians, the Algiers were not targeting civilians, only the representatives of the government, that is, the policemen; after the French killed women and children so brutally, a political reaction was put into play and the National Liberation Front (FLN) started their bombing campaign). In the same vein, the Israelis incited Hamas.
In the 2-3 year period before the second Intifida in 2000, Hamas was no longer calling for political or military action against the occupation, but was instead shifting its attention to social works and the propagation of Islamic values and religious practice (Roy, 2003, 3) . The start of the second Palestinian Intifada on September 28, 2000, coupled with the impact of September 11, dramatically changed the environment in the West Bank and Gaza (Rabbani & Roy, 2002, 1). Preexisting political arrangements had been severely disrupted, economic conditions had deteriorated, and key social structures and mediatory institutions had weakened. Within this context of desperation and hopelessness, the Islamist opposition, notably Hamas, had reasserted itself.
All the time, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon continued the Israeli land expansions through land expropriations and economic dispossession. The United States uneven handling of the conflict encouraged Sharon’s plans. With a weak Palestinian leadership in place, and the increasing significance of Hamas influence, the U.S. opened dialogue with a senior Hamas leader in early September of 2002. Israel clearly did not want to have any Palestinian engaged in dialogue with the U.S. for fear that there may be a political solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. United States-Hamas contacts, of which Israel was fully aware, ended when the Israeli army arrested a politically moderate Hamas official in Ramallah on September 9, which Hamas interpreted as a deliberate attempt by the Sharon government to undermine its exchange with the Americans. A few days later, Israel launched an attack in Rafah that killed nine Palestinians, including civilians. Predictably, a suicide bomber staged an attack on a bus in Tel Aviv on September 19, killing six people.
Hamas, has been the victim of Israeli terrorism, much like France terrorized the Algiers.
Mr. Sarkouzy’s loyalty as the new poodle in the White House is proving to be indispensable, so much so that George W. Bush has gotten rid of faithful liabilities such as Rove and Gonzales. It seems the new ally has sharper teeth and may even execute a coup for him. Given that Mr. Maliki has traveled to Iran and has insisted that Iran is an ally and not a meddling enemy, Mr. Sarkouzy has been quoted as saying: “he had told the US that there was strong support in Iraq for Mr Maliki to resign and he “has got to be replaced”.
Mr. Bush is intolerant of any news which may indicate Iran to be a force for progress and peace in the region. He, too, has had his orders to attack Iran. Mr. Sarkozy has proven to most instrumental in staging a coup to remove Maliki and once again, taking Iran to the Security Council for the marching orders. But Mr. Sarkozy ought to review another history – that of Iran’s. Their Zoroastrian cultural heritage is the belief in their spiritual and cultural superiority. Steadfastly clinging to the Zoroastrian pride and uncompromising stance, they refuse to capitulate to foreign dictates, Iranians do not take favorably to threats. In revolt to unreasonable demands by America and others that their right to nuclear technology be stopped, they are keener than ever to pursue it; not as a violation or as a threat to world order, but as their inherent right as a signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty. It is the Zoroastrian sense of superiority coupled with the Shiite sense of martyrdom that energizes the nation.
Mr. Zarkozy must not judge 70 million Iranians by a handful of terrorists his country is hosting – the Mojaheeden-Khalg (MEK). Of perhaps the past is haunting France which has made Mr. Zarkozy so obliging?
In 2006, the French government and the national railroad association lost a court case regarding their role in deporting Jews during World War II. The court of Toulouse ordered the state and the railroad to pay $81,000 in reparations to the Lipietz family, who filed the complaint because George Lipietz was deported to Drancy in 1944. The judges ruled that the railroad network “never objected or protested the execution of these transports.” Of note is that Alain Lipietz, George Lipietz’s son, is also a member of European Parliament. This is the first time a suit like this has been successful in France . This is one of 1800 suits expected. Is Mr. Bush paying for this lawsuit as a ‘treat’ for this brave show of loyalty?
Mr. Zarkozy, go back to the drawing board and take a page from history books. Serve France well, she is a magnificent. Do not betray her by allowing the lion head terminal of France’s coat of arms to take on the face of a poodle. Do not succumb to might, but to what is right.
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich has lived and studied in Iran, the UK, France, Australia and the US. She obtained her Bachelors Degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and she is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Middle East Studies concentrating in Political Science. She has done extensive research on US foreign policy towards Iran and Iran’s nuclear program.
 Roy, Sara. “Hamas and the transformation(s) of political Islam in Palestine”. Current History. Jan 2003
 Rabbani, M & Roy, S. “Palestinian Politics and September 11th: Critical Changes in Policy and Structure,” Middle East Policy, December 2002