Sunday, June 24, 2018

World worries over US unilateralism

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The vanishing multilateralism in international relations is paving the way for an uncertain future - and riskier environments around the world.

US President Donald Trump's decision to scrap the Iran nuclear agreement, a document that was negotiated for 12 years and signed by the United Nations Security Council members plus Germany, is not the only irrational behavior from a US president who is keen on dismantling his predecessor's achievements.

It is a sad reflection of what is also taking place on the economic side: the abandonment of any multilateral protection for the weak to the sole benefit of the stronger who can impose his views.

If anyone honestly believed that reneging on a formal commitment would bring peace, they are wrong. Who can trust a person who has not respected his word? "My word is my bond" has become "my tweet is my impulse of the day".

The Iranian nuclear issue leads to a situation that has never been seen before with the US threatening to punish European firms doing business with Tehran.

At a time when Washington has crippled non-US firms by banning trade with Iran, Trump has ramped up the advantage of American firms by raising taxes on steel or car imports and threatening to boycott firms working on the Nord Stream II Pipe Project to boost the sale of US gas.

There is some confusion surrounding the actions of the US and Israel over what was initially a purely 'nuclear' issue. Building ballistic missiles and other conventional arms is part of a country's standard activity.

Developing nuclear arms is under the scrutiny of the international community (The rule does not seem to apply to Israel, which doesn't abide by international norms seeking cover from the US veto at the UN Security Council). International relations are no longer managed by states.

It has become a tool in the hands of governments and in some cases families and cronies. World bodies are vacillating, undermining stability that is a prerequisite to a lasting peace.

If the Iran nuclear deal was a setback for international diplomacy, Washington unilaterally put a halt to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by relocating the US embassy to occupied Jerusalem. The move comes amid war crimes perpetrated by Israel in Gaza which may lead to the outbreak of fresh violence.

Deeply shocking images of Palestinians massacred in Gaza flooded the television channels on the day of the embassy event in occupied Jerusalem. Ivanka Trump called it the "greatest day for Israel" - a day when Israeli bullets scythed down Palestinians, killing dozens of them and wounding more than 2,000.

But then who cares for Palestinians? The Gaza tragedy evoked only muted reaction from the world bodies: The motion at the UN was stifled by the US veto. The silence in the Arab world was deafening. The Istanbul meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation was more rhetoric than any real action on the ground.

Poet Adonis was right when he drew parallels between the native Indians of America and the Palestinians in their homeland. At this point, one wonders whether Palestinians have disappeared as the Indians finally did - behind fences.

So, are the Palestinians still alive? Yes, is the answer on a blog by French journalist Jacques-Marie Bourget, who was shot in the left lung by an Israeli soldier while covering events in Ramallah in October 2000.

"Yes, Palestinians are still alive. Want a proof? They bleed…," Bourget wrote. The non-violent protests on the Gaza border are adequate proof.

The writer is a French essayist and a lecturer at IRIS (Institut de Relations Internationales et Strategiques) and the "FACO" Law University of Paris

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