Allahu Aklbar.


Robert Fisk’s World: Arabs have to rely on Britain and Israel for their history

There is no Public Record Office in the Arab World, no National Archive

Saturday, 1 November 2008
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In Damascus, a massive statue of the late President Hafez al-Assad sits on a 
mighty iron chair outside the 22,000sq m Assad Library, a giant book open in 
his right hand.

Behind him lie the archives of his dictatorship. But not a single state paper 
is open to the people of Syria. There are no archives from the foreign ministry 
or the interior ministry or the defence ministry. There is no 30-year rule – 
for none is necessary. The rule is for ever. There is no Public Record Office 
in the Arab world, no scholars waiting outside the National Archives.

It is the same in Cairo, in Riyadh, in Beirut and in Tripoli. Dictatorships and 
caliphates do not give away their secrets. The only country in the Middle East 
where you can burrow through the files is called Israel – and good for the 
Israelis. But the result is obvious. While Israeli scholars have been able to 
deconstruct the traditional story of little Israel – proving that there were no 
Arab radio stations calling for the Palestinians to leave their land, that the 
Arabs were indeed ethnically cleansed from their towns and villages by Irgun 
and the Hagana – there is no Arab scholar who can balance the books by drawing 
on the archives of his own history. They must go to the National Archives in 
London to read General Cunningham's dispatches from 1948 Palestine, or quote 
from Israeli books. The record stops there. Aside from the self-serving 
biographies of Arab dictators and generals, that's it. Even Walid Khalidi's 
huge tome on the destroyed
 villages of Palestine relies heavily on the work of Israeli historian Benny 

Slowly, though, a little bag of history is being filled across the region. If 
we can't read the private papers of the leaders of the lamentable Arab 
Liberation Army of 1948, we can still hear the personal testimony of the 
Palestinian survivors. Rosemarie Esber, for example, has put her degrees from 
London and Johns Hopkins universities to good use by interviewing – in Jordan 
and Lebanon -- 126 Palestinian men and women who lost their homes and lands in 
1948 and 1949. Her soon to be published work (Under the Cover of War) helps to 
balance documentation and diaries by one side with verbal recollection on the 
other. The book does not spare the Arabs – least of all the Arab atrocities or 
the Iraqi volunteers who turned up to fight for Palestine but didn't even know 
their geography – yet the suffering of those who fled is all too evident.

Here, for example, is Abu Mohamed from the village of Saqiya, east of Tel Aviv, 
describing what happened on 25 April, 1948: "Jews entered the village and 
started shooting women, men, and old people. They arrested girls, and we still 
don't know what happened to them. They came from the settlement that was near 
the village... They used Bren guns. Then armoured vehicles entered the centre 
of the village. Fourteen were killed that day... Two women could not run so 
they were killed in the village... The villagers ran together in the direction 
of al-Lid (Lod, the site of Ben Gurion airport in modern-today Israel). After 
that families started to leave separately... We left everything in the 
village... We thought it would be a short trip and we would come back."

In Lebanon, too, there is a flourishing market in books based on diaries and 
personal archives. Among the most intriguing is A Face in the Crowd: The Secret 
Papers of Emir Farid Chehab, 1942-1972, the private documents of Lebanon's 
post-Second World War intelligence boss. Apart from proving that 
Lebanese-Syrian relations could be as awful in the 1940s as they could be in 
the 1990s, he was an assiduous spy, nurturing his agents in Jordan in 1956 to 
find out why the young King Hussein had fired the British commander of the Arab 
Legion, Glubb Pasha. "Glubb was a spendthrift, tightly controlled the army's 
finances and secret expenses, and refused to share relevant information with 
Arab commanders and officers," a still unknown informant writes to Chehab on 11 
March, 1956. "His interference (extended to) ... control over various 
ministries' telephone lines... A telephone employee in Amman admitted to me 
that even the Palace's and Prime Ministry's
 communication networks were under the army's surveillance. A secret communiqué 
addressed by Glubb to all British heads of army units was recently discovered; 
it said that in case of an Israeli attack they should retreat and not resist. 
The free officers took this communiqué up to the King."

So goodbye Glubb Pasha. But did this also, perhaps, have something to do with 
the equally secret Operation Cordage, first highlighted by Keith Kyle in his 
excellent book on Suez and even more rigorously investigated by Eric Grove of 
Salford University. "Cordage" was Britain's plan for defending its Jordanian 
ally from Israeli attack if Israel assaulted Egypt. The plan, according to 
Grove, included "an air campaign carried out by (RAF) Venoms based at Amman and 
Mafraq in Jordan to knock out the Israeli Air Force in 72 hours... A fighter 
wing of swept-wing aircraft (Sabres or Hunters) would be provided from Germany 
to operate from Cyprus..." A parachute brigade group would be flown to Jordan 
to defend British air bases and then – along with Glubb's Arab Legion – to 
defend Amman against the Israelis. It was at the end of February 1956 that 
Hussein dismissed Glubb; which, as Grove diplomatically puts it, "created 
problems". So how much did Glubb know
 about Operation Musketeer?

What really created "problems", of course, was Britain's own secret plan to 
attack Egypt, along with France and Israel after which Operation Musketeer – 
the Suez aggression – took over from Operation Cordage, and Britain's potential 
Israeli enemies suddenly became their secret allies. But of course, all this 
comes from British files. Alas, it will be many years before we know what is in 
the book that the iron Assad is reading outside his library in Damascus. 

Jusfiq Hadjar gelar Sutan Maradjo Lelo

Allah yang disembah orang Islam tipikal dan yang digambarkan oleh al-Mushaf itu 
dungu, buas, kejam, keji, ganas, zalim lagi biadab hanyalah Allah fiktif.


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