Robert Fisk: A new truth dawns on the Arab world
Leaked Palestinian files have put a region in revolutionary mood
The Palestine Papers are as damning as the Balfour Declaration. The Palestinian “Authority” – one has to put this word in quotation marks – was prepared, and is prepared to give up the “right of return” of perhaps seven million refugees to what is now Israel for a “state” that may be only 10 per cent (at most) of British mandate Palestine.
And as these dreadful papers are revealed, the Egyptian people are calling for the downfall of President Mubarak, and the Lebanese are appointing a prime minister who will supply the Hezbollah. Rarely has the Arab world seen anything like this.
To start with the Palestine Papers, it is clear that the representatives of the Palestinian people were ready to destroy any hope of the refugees going home.
It will be – and is – an outrage for the Palestinians to learn how their representatives have turned their backs on them. There is no way in which, in the light of the Palestine Papers, these people can believe in their own rights.
They have seen on film and on paper that they will not go back. But across the Arab world – and this does not mean the Muslim world – there is now an understanding of truth that there has not been before.
It is not possible any more, for the people of the Arab world to lie to each other. The lies are finished. The words of their leaders – which are, unfortunately, our own words – have finished. It is we who have led them into this demise. It is we who have told them these lies. And we cannot recreate them any more.
In Egypt, we British loved democracy. We encouraged democracy in Egypt – until the Egyptians decided that they wanted an end to the monarchy. Then we put them in prison. Then we wanted more democracy. It was the same old story. Just as we wanted Palestinians to enjoy democracy, providing they voted for the right people, we wanted the Egyptians to love our democratic life. Now, in Lebanon, it appears that Lebanese “democracy” must take its place. And we don’t like it.
We want the Lebanese, of course, to support the people who we love, the Sunni Muslim supporters of Rafiq Hariri, whose assassination – we rightly believe – was orchestrated by the Syrians. And now we have, on the streets of Beirut, the burning of cars and the violence against government.
And so where are we going? Could it be, perhaps, that the Arab world is going to choose its own leaders? Could it be that we are going to see a new Arab world which is not controlled by the West? When Tunisia announced that it was free, Mrs Hillary Clinton was silent. It was the crackpot President of Iran who said that he was happy to see a free country. Why was this?
In Egypt, the future of Hosni Mubarak looks ever more distressing. His son, may well be his chosen successor. But there is only one Caliphate in the Muslim world, and that is Syria. Hosni’s son is not the man who Egyptians want. He is a lightweight businessman who may – or may not – be able to rescue Egypt from its own corruption.
Hosni Mubarak’s security commander, a certain Mr Suleiman who is very ill, may not be the man. And all the while, across the Middle East, we are waiting to see the downfall of America’s friends. In Egypt, Mr Mubarak must be wondering where he flies to. In Lebanon, America’s friends are collapsing. This is the end of the Democrats’ world in the Arab Middle East. We do not know what comes next. Perhaps only history can answer this question.