On March 13, 2018 a meeting of twenty countries—allegedly to discuss how to achieve peace in the Gaza Strip—portended larger intentions, Phyllis Bennis reported for Common Dreams. Devising a plan for stability in the war-torn Gaza Strip is crucial in order to address one of the world’s most dire humanitarian crises. However, as Bennis reported, the meeting’s attendees—including representatives from many European Union nations, Israel, Egypt, and most of the Gulf Arab monarchies, but not Palestine—all share an interest in efforts to weaken Iran. “Once again,” Bennis wrote, the people of Gaza are “being held hostage to the regional and global aspirations of more powerful countries. Instead of actually addressing the suffering in Gaza, the United States and its allies may have turned a conference on humanitarian assistance into a war room aimed at Iran.”
Saudi Arabia and Israel have considerable motivation to work together, as both are top arms buyers from the United States and both rely on US protection from the United Nations for the many humanitarian crimes they have committed. Most importantly, both have framed Iran as a common enemy and they actively work to thwart Iran’s influence in the region.
Not only does the meeting of Iran’s primary opponents portend conflict, but the Trump administration has vocalized intentions to escalate the conflict. President Trump has openly considered pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, as Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has urged. These ideas have been encouraged by many in and out of Trump’s administration, including in particular Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.
While the quiet meeting took place, the corporate media was in a frenzy over the flurry of White House firings and rehirings. Within the 24-hour news cycle of the meeting taking place, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired to be replaced by the standing CIA chief Mike Pompeo, and Gina Haspel was tapped to replace Pompeo at the CIA. (Both have been previously implicated in CIA torture programs, which also went unmentioned in the corporate press). Among corporate media, only the New York Times and the Washington Times reported on the March 13 meeting; however, this coverage omitted any mention or analysis of the larger, strategic themes highlighted in Common Dream’s report. The only news sources to bring attention to the implications of the meeting for the participants’ relations with Iran were Common Dreams and Al Jazeera.
Sources: Phyllis Bennis, “Trump’s Quiet Meeting with Saudi Arabia and Israel Portends a Dangerous Collision course with Iran.” Common Dreams, March 23, 2018. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/03/23/trumps-quiet-meeting-saudi-arabia-and-israel-portends-dangerous-collision-course
“White House Summit on Gaza Aims to ‘End Palestinian Cause,” Al Jazeera, March 14, 2018, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/white-house-summit-gaza-aims-palestinian-180313203016877.html.
Student Researcher: L. Joseph Smith (Diablo Valley College)
Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)