The axis of Arab autocrats who are standing behind Donald Trump

David Hearst writes: So Donald Trump revealed his hand on Jerusalem. In so doing, he tossed aside any lingering pretence of the US being able to broker a deal between Israel and Palestine. There can be no “neutrality” now. Without Jerusalem as its capital, no Palestinian state can exist. Without that it is only a matter of time before another uprising starts.

Only a symbol as powerful as Jerusalem can unite Palestinians as viscerally opposed to each other as Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. Only Jerusalem has the power to unite the inmates of all the prisons and places of exile Palestinians find themselves in – Israel’s physical prisons and its metaphorical ones, the Palestinians in 1948, Gaza, West Bank, the refugee camps and the diaspora. Only Jerusalem speaks to billions of Muslims around the world.

As Trump will soon learn, symbols are powerful. They have a habit of creating a reality all of their own.

Trump, however, does not act alone. Whatever domestic constituency he thinks he is appealing to, and the evangelical Christians appear high on the list, Trump could not and would not have made his announcement unless he had regional backers.

The support of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and religious nationalists from Jewish Home are a given, but they are wearily familiar. The exotic and temptingly alien support comes from a new generation of Gulf Arab superbrats – young, irreverent, dune-bashing, selfie-taking, in your face, and appearing in a coup near you.

Under Trump they have formed an axis of Arab autocrats, whose geopolitical ambition is as large as their wallets. They really do think they have the power to impose their will not just on the shards of a Palestinian state, but on the region as a whole.

Under construction, at least in their minds, is a network of modern police states, each wearing a lip gloss of Western liberalism. All see Likud as their natural partners, and Jared Kushner as their discreet interlocutor. [Continue reading…]

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