Tunisia, Hezbollah and NATO

Three Things that the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister Could Do for Israel today

He should know that Article 2.27 of Tunisia’s constitutional draft explicitly includes a rule stating that it is a criminal act to establish the “normalization” of relations with Israel since it is a Zionist entity.

2012-10-25 by Rafael Bardaji

Spanish diplomacy has always pursued good, tolerant, and peaceful relations with North African and Middle Eastern countries, and among these ones and those on the northern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, where we are located. Now that great designs have seemingly given way to a more pragmatic and more ambition-restrained view, counting on some concrete objectives is a sine qua non.


There are three things that Spain’s Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, could take into consideration to help Israel in order to improve relations in and with the region and, at the same time, as a way to pursue our own national interests. Here they are:

One: Tunisia. The minister, who went precisely to this country in one of his first official v

isits, should know that Article 2.27 of Tunisia’s constitutional draft explicitly includes a rule stating that it is a criminal act to establish the “normalization” of relations with Israel since it is a Zionist entity. That is, Jewish in their slang.


The constitutional criminalization of normal relations with Israel may not have evident consequences, as expert jurists from Foreign Ministry readily declare, but there is no doubt that, as a political principle, it is despicable. It discriminates against the Jewish people, the Jewish religion, and the State of Israel. Even worse, it is tangible evidence of the influence exerted by the most radical Islamist groups, and just because of that, the Spanish government should be concerned. As a believer of the promising Arab Spring, Spain must do its best so that the movement does not end up buried under the bearded men’s intolerance.


Making Tunisian authorities realize, as cautiously as possible, that such an article in their new constitution is unacceptable is a task that minister Margallo should assume personally. Good co-existence in the region is not achieved simply by subsiding the Arab and Sepharad houses.

Two, Hezbollah. The Party of God, an Iranian creation in Lebanon to expand the Shiite revolution across the Levant, relies on a global component that should not escape us. Its attacks against Jewish centers in Argentina in 1994 are well known, just remember the AMIA attack in Buenos Aires (1994) and against Israel’s embassy in the Argentinean capital (1992). All European intelligence agencies, supposedly including Spain’s CNI, know of Hezbollah’s involvement in the recent attack against an Israeli tourist bus in the Bulgarian city of Burgas this summer.


It is no wonder that, in recent weeks, several European governments, following the American example, have favored the idea of including Hezbollah in the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations. This would allow freezing and accessing Hezbollah’s funds in European banks and would also restrict its main leaders’ freedom of movement. United Kingdom and the Netherlands have said so, and this week, Germany has joined in to consider the proposal.


The Spanish government, so eager to regain clout in Europe, has kept silent so far. It would be pretty easy for the foreign minister to adhere to this effort. Particularly, since Spain’s public opinion is horrified with the massacre being committed in Siria by Bashar al-Assad – a dictator closely related to Hezbollah. Adding Hezbollah to the European Union’s terrorist list now also means growing isolation for the Damascus regime and sends a clear message to Iran – bent on getting a nuclear bomb. Three birds with one shot.


Some say that something like this would constitute a provocation to Hezbollah, which could decide to attack our troops deployed in South Lebanon. But that is false logic: Our deployment there had the goal of influencing and shaping an environment in the area that was not dominated by the militia men of the Shiite group – not to become trapped as mere hostages. If that is the case, we would better get out of there. Really, nothing stops the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister from saying that Hezbollah is a terrorist group. And he should do so.


Three, NATO. It is undeniable that what happens in the Middle East and the Gulf affects the security of NATO’s allies. It is official policy. What remains unclear is how the Alliance plans to be a positive force in the region. Among its ranks, it has a neighboring founding member, which is increasingly active in the Arab world – Turkey. NATO has implemented a Mediterranean Dialogue for the southern shore and it has even developed a bilateral agreement of technical and military cooperation with Israel. Showing that NATO is close to Israel is a good move to demonstrate Iran’s ayatollahs that Israel is not alone. It is a way to contribute to deterrence.


Sadly, the Islamization of Erdogan’s Turkey and its backing of a kind of “neo-Ottomanism,” seeking to directly influence Egypt and other neighboring countries, have lead to an increasingly anti-Israeli rhetoric. The result is that the two countries, once close allies, are now warring parties.


The fact that Turkey systematically vetoes any collaboration between Israel and NATO –such as its veto to Israel’s participation with naval units for the Alliance’s maneuvers in the Mediterranean Sea, forcing to cancel them, is not a behavior that should be blithely accepted from a supposedly loyal NATO ally. And it is convenient to make Turkey know it via the appropriate channels. An instruction from the minister to our ambassador to NATO is enough. Pursuing this kind of support from some of our allies would not be difficult either, as it seems. The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister could do it, if he wanted to. It is convenient to do it as soon as possible. It is for the sake of NATO, mortally wounded due to so many internal divisions and much backstabbing.


In the end, a Tunisia free from the malicious influences of Islamism, a global terrorist organization treated as such, and a better-functioning NATO are all Spanish interests worth pursuing. They are not just three actions to exclusively favor Israel. They also serve our own direct interests.


Afterwards, minister Margallo could officially visit Jerusalem.



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