As The Next Honest Broker?
By Farzana Hassan-Shahid
28 July, 2006
With the Conservative Canadian
government's demonstrated pro-Israel leanings in the latest round of
violence in the Middle East, Canada must regrettably abandon its aspirations
of ever playing honest broker in any proposed peace process. Many have
rightly criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government
for its oblique bias in favor of Israel, calling its counterattacks
on Hezbollah and Lebanon "a measured response". In doing so,
Canada has joined the questionable Bush administration in allowing Israel
to conduct its massive air strikes with impunity, which has already
taken a heavy toll on human life and left Lebanon in a shambles.
Russia's conspicuous silence in the current crisis also raises questions
about its effectiveness as a geopolitical power capable of delivering
peace in the region. Thus far she has passively watched Israeli tanks
roll into Southern Lebanon and Katyusha's fly over Israel.
The question now is, who is best equipped to step into Russia's shoes
as a genuine honest broker? Would China assume a greater role in the
region, even though it is not part of the latter-day Alexandria quartet
made up of the United States, the United Nations, Russia and the European
Union that has traditionally exerted a concerted influence on Middle
East politics and that must ratify any proposal for a lasting peace
in the war-torn region?
China has consistently expressed a desire to facilitate peace in this
troubled region of the world—the "black hole" of global
geopolitics. In this regard it has made the following proposals to the
two parties. As a first stage in resolving the dispute, China sees the
building of mutual trust as a fundamental imperative.
This would be followed by the birth of a sovereign Palestinian state,
which will recognize Israel's right to exist and acknowledge Israel’s
sovereign right to peace and security. The UN Security Council must
meet as early as possible, suggests China, to discuss a comprehensive
Lastly, the world community must be actively engaged in seeing that
peace is maintained in the region after the proposed peace plan is implemented.
China's proposals also bear a striking resemblance to the Russian position
on the Middle East over the years. Both are opposed to Palestinian violence
but recognize the urgency of implementing the peace plan. They are also
both highly critical of Israel's construction of a defensive wall around
the Palestinian territories.
While the world balks at the escalating war in the Middle East, it cannot
help but notice the disparity in military strength between Israel and
its foes. The death toll on the Lebanese side is much heavier and the
destruction to its infrastructure immeasurable in terms of the hideous
Through all this, the United States has chosen to sit back, allowing
Israel to continue its insane barrage of air strikes, as well as attacks
by land and sea. Other than urging "restraint", the United
States has expressed unwavering support for the Jewish state despite
the fact that Israel's actions have been denounced by the world community
not only as disproportionate but utterly inhuman. But apart from issuing
a few muted statements of condemnation, the rest of the world appears
to cower under U.S. pressure by refraining from formulating a strategy
to resolve the current crisis. The failure of the Rome conference to
bring about a ceasefire has demonstrated just that. Even the United
Nations is utterly helpless against the conniving will of the Bush regime.
As a permanent member of the Security Council, China is not forceful
enough to present its vision for a lasting peace in the historically
holy lands of the Middle East. It must press the United Nations to enforce
an immediate ceasefire and to negotiate the immediate exchange of prisoners
in addition to urging all concerned to come to the negotiating table
once again to make a clean breast of things. For its part, the Middle
East must also heed China's calls for a comprehensive peace which will
have to include an acknowledgment of Israel's right to exist. Is the
Middle East ready for this undertaking? Will it listen to China?
As an emerging super power with growing strategic interests in the region,
China can do very much more—and indeed it must—for the sake
of peace, humanity and goodwill for all.