Dr. Hisham Bustani
The World Economic Forum`s "Extra-Ordinary" Meeting in the Dead Sea (June 21-23, 2003)
Davos in Jordan: "Israel" as an Axis for a US-Middle East Free-Trade Zone
On the 9th of May 2003, George W. Bush stood in front of the Faculty and students of the University of South Carolina (USC) in Colombia and declared the strong entry of US politics into the "Middle East" for the first time after his assignment as President of the United States, and after the "political choice" in the Arab East (misnamed "Middle East" to integrate "Israel") has been historically delegated in full to the Zionist entity. Bush said that day: "If the Palestinian people take concrete steps to crack down on terror, continue on the path of peace, reform and democracy, they and all the world will see the flag of Palestine raised over a free and independent nation". Of course he was referring to the once-and-for-all termination of resistance movements.
Within the same speech, George Bush portrayed his vision for the new "Middle East", the one which Collin Powell has already foretold us about its establishment when he declared months ago during the all-out aggression on Iraq that this aggression will be a prelude for reshaping the region in accordance with the interests of the US and its multi-national corporations.
But few know, that this "historic" speech for W. Bush at USC in Columbia, in which the declaration about a possibility of establishing a "Palestinian state" have over-shadowed all other important topics within its text, has transformed into the main agenda of the World Economic Forum (WEF) which will be held in an "extra-ordinary" session in Jordan in the period between June 21 to 23, 2003. This forum that declares itself to be "an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world" is not independent at all, but rather follows completely the political circles in the US.
On May 9, Bush said: "A time of historic opportunity has arrived", referring his listeners to the following: "A dictator in Iraq has been removed from power. The terrorists of the region are now seeing their fate....Reformers in the Middle East are gaining influence". This discussion seems to have fascinated Frederic Sicre, Managing Director at the WEF, who declared on June 5, less than one month after Bush`s speech, that "its time for the region to build a new vision of political, social and economic development for itself. It is up to those who come to Jordan to play their part in this historic opportunity."!
But this goes beyond the vocabulary similarities...
That day at USC, Bush unleashed his "visionary" proposal: "So I propose the establishment of a U.S.-Middle East free trade area within a decade", which is exactly what Secre is talking about to the Arab press.
On an interview published in the London-Based Al-Quds Al-Arabi and the Qatari Al-Watan newspapers on June 14, Secre replied to a question on the reasons that led to the meeting of the WEF in Jordan instead of Davos by saying that one of the main reasons is "the establishment of a free trade area in the Middle East by 2013". He repeats the same statement in another place in the interview, adding in a small detail: "One of the main issues [on the agenda of the WEF meeting in Jordan] is surely the free trade area in the middle east which will include all the countries of the region, including Israel". Secre doesn`t forget to mention some other reasons: "it is being held in the middle of the real crisis that threatens global security" (referring to the Iraqi and Palestinian questions), and "close to Iraq, the Arab country that is getting the attention of the world now for re-building and reaching its markets."!
So, the new Arab geography is under construction now, and the WEF will present the perfects venue in which the nature and shape of this geography will be specified both politically and economically. It is for this particular reason that the WEF will be the most suitable frame not any other, since the WEF represents the "meeting" of the major most powerful capitalists who own/run multinational corporations, with powerful and influential politicians in Imperialist and dependant states alike.
In the circles of the Anti-Globalization movement, the tone of the discussion about the "end of state authority and its replacement by a corporate Supra-National government" has calmed down towards re-stressing the role of the "Imperialist state", especially after the US direct occupation of Iraq and assault on Afghanistan, and its endorsement of the "Preventive Strike" and "Unlimited Warfare" doctrines against the rest of the world. The WEF represents a model for this "meeting" between Capital and the "Imperialist state", and the interchange of roles and assignments which specific mechanisms will be born from its first experiment in Iraq and Palestine.
Here is the model to be followed: A "dissident" regime/country rich of resources (here Iraq), a destructive offensive with no reasons (a "preventive war" by the Imperialist center, here the USA), central control of resources with no attention to people or anything else (control of the US over the oil wells and the Ministry of Oil in Baghdad, only!), the entrance of Capital to "re-build" (the "nice" name for exploitation. Halliburton and Bechtel getting multi-million dollar contracts in Iraq, to be continued...).
Thus, we`re not astonished at all that representing the USA in the WEF-Jordan meeting are: Secretary of State Collin Powell (The political arm of the United States), and the US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick (The economic arm of the state and its coordinator with the multi-national corporation).
And because "Progress will require increased trade" as W. Bush stated in the before-mentioned speech, "trade" should have a specific frame, especially that "the unfortunate developments that occurred following September 11, 2001 in the United States, and the continuous violence in the Palestinian territories have caused a disaster in the world`s economy" (quoted from Secre). Here comes the role of the Zionist entity in the "new" regional order.
The new "shape" of the region will be modeled on a "free trade area" which will include all the countries of the region ("Israel" included). Let`s re-analyze:
The Imperialist state, preparing for the establishment of a free trade area, must pave the way in front of "Capital" to do its magic via "regional economic integration". Capital, obviously preferring economic "hot-spots", will favor the Zionist entity`s geostrategic and economic value and its historic alliance with Imperialism, and will consider it the economic, political and military "Axis" around which the countries of the region will rotate. That`s why the persistence on its "integration" in the Arab region.
To do so, material obstacles must be removed: Iraq, who refuses the "peace process" and the existence of the Zionist entity, and has huge oil resources and a heavy or semi-heavy industrialization project, will not function as a "good" member in a free trade area whose axis is "Israel". To solve the problem, the regime has to go. Done.
Second obstacle: Fierce resistance in Palestine will topple the efforts for the establishment of a free trade area. The solution: terminate it. This is done now by the task Abu Mazen has promised in Aqaba: "ending the militarization of the Intifada", and by the massive attack Sharon is launching on the armed resistance.
After getting rid of the above-mentioned obstacles, the region will be modeled after the Jordanian "example", which both Bush and Secre praise. If we understood that establishing this US-Middle East free trade area is the number-one priority for US Imperialism, theoretically formulated in the WEF, then referring to the "Qualified Industrial Zones-QIZs" project is a must to show the Jordanian "pioneer" role in the region. QIZs connect all the three members: Capital, the USA, and the Zionist entity.
In the QIZs, the Multinational capital has the advantage of exporting customs-free and quota-free to the US market, on one condition: minimum 8-20% of industrial input should be imported from "Israel". The Capital has freedom of transferring its profits outside the country, does not pay any tax or tariffs to the Jordanian government, and exploits labor, land and infra-structures at the cheapest prices. These are the three members in their "vital space".
This model, where the Arab Region transforms into a "ground" for the movement of capital and the concentration of power, economy and resources in the Zionist entity (for resources, please refer to the recent plans of reviving the Kerkook-Haifa oil pipeline), where the Arab people transform into cheap labor for Zionist and Multi-national Capital, completely dependant, and where the Zionist entity plays a central role in this transformation; is the declared aim of the "Global Reconciliation" summit in Jordan (the WEF uses this name for its Jordan meeting), held under the theme "Visions for a Shared Future", on a new geography called "the US-Middle East Free Trade Area", ruled in the East by Bremer, in the West by Sharon, and between them lies a series of oil pipelines, qualified industrial zones, and poor and annexed "ghettos" of Arab labor.
Amman, June 20, 2003