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Trump’s Armageddon in Jerusalem

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COMMENT | All Muslims worldwide take the issue of Baitul Muqaddis, otherwise known as Jerusalem, in the international press very seriously.

With US President Donald Trump determined to recognise Jerusalem as the "eternal" capital of Israel, when the two-state solution between Palestine and Israel has yet to be fully resolved, a powder keg of powerful emotions is being opened up.

It may be Trump’s campaign promise, but he surely underestimates the response from the Muslims. What more, it will be fodder for the radicals and for more acts of terror to fester. The backlash could be fast and furious.

At state level, more than 57 countries that constitute the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation are adamantly against any unwarranted recognition of Jerusalem as a part of Israel, let alone its capital.

Warnings from Turkey, Egypt, Palestine, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and the whole of the Arab world have been coming in a frenzied manner.

But Trump, in a brazen attempt to strengthen Israel, especially the position of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has thrown caution to the winds. In this sense, Trump is re-opening an old wound that is bound to rupture the Muslim world.

Parts of Jerusalem are, and were, the city that was first conquered by Israel in 1948 in its ostensible War of Independence. In 1967, Israel expanded its grip yet again. In both attempts, Israel defied the Fourth Geneva Convention to this day - by incorporating an illegal occupation as a natural extension of its land. 

The final status of Jerusalem is still very much under the negotiation of the two-state solution. By recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Trump has blown apart the myth that the US is a fair adjudicator in the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.

However, decades have shown that the US has never been impartial in its adjudicatory role in the Middle East, particularly, in the Israel-Palestine conflict despite the many UN resolutions against Israel.

A Hobbesian war awaits

Such a unilateral attempt will cause Arabs and Muslims to rise up in the streets the world over, potentially overwhelming more governments in the Arab and Muslim world that are struggling with the youth bulge. 

More importantly, coming at the heels of defeating the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, if not Marawi in Mindanao too by the international community, Trump's action serves to trigger all the raw feelings of the Muslim world yet again - that the US and Israel can do as they please, even when they are first advised by the Muslim and Arab world not to cross any potential red lines.

Just today, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that for Turkey, Jerusalem is certainly a "red line" and that he would not hesitate to even cut diplomatic ties with Israel.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia is known to be close to Jared Kushner of the Trump administration. Both of them are determined to use the powers of Saudi Arabia and the US to put a check on the growing influence of Iran on the ground, especially Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has, over the years, begun to bankroll the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. The latter is now 30,000 members strong, and a fixture in Lebanon. In Yemen, the Houthis are aligned to Tehran too.

While Tehran will undoubtedly be against the US recognition of Jerusalem, Iran will also welcome the opportunity to sow more discord in the Sunni Muslim world and the West.

Such events presage the beginning of a Hobbesian war of all against all, and the unfortunate crystallisation of the "clash of civilisations" with the US and Israel pitched on one side, and the rest of the Muslim world on the other.

Indeed, there are no embassies in Jerusalem. By upgrading its consulate into an embassy in Jerusalem, the US is spoiling for a war, with the complicity of Israel's far-right government.

Just desserts

At a time like this, it is incumbent on Malaysia, especially Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who claims to be a good friend of Trump, to stop this madcap adventure. Having promised to "make America great again," the recognition of Jerusalem has been the just desserts served on Najib.

How then would Najib justify his closeness to Trump, especially after thumping his chest for the action seemingly taken against the Myanmar government for its atrocities against the Rohingya Muslims?

It was said and drummed up further by Najib’s propaganda machinery that Najib’s relationship to Trump is second to none. That he can do amazing deals almost effortlessly with Trump.

Can Najib show that in action now? Or he will wait until the rest have spoken to “play safe”, a culture that developed in Umno? 

Unlike the “play-safe” Najib, Erdogan has made a very strong and compelling statement against Trump’s move and has been installed as the de facto Muslim leader of the world.

While this has no doubt been done to divert attention from Trump's own trouble with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is now zooming in on his campaign's alleged collusion with Moscow to wrest victory from the jaws of defeat in the November 2016 general election, the US’ recognition of Jerusalem will also unleash a tidal wave of anger the likes of which the US and the West have not seen.

Such anger will be construed in the media as the growth of Islamic radicalisation again when the Muslims are merely defending their third holiest city after Mecca and Medina. 

For centuries, Jerusalem was under the domain of Muslim rule. All believers of the Abrahamic faiths, Jews, Christians and Muslims, have never been deterred from visiting the sacred sites of Jerusalem.

In fact, the Muslims, especially the Palestinians, have time and again proposed Jerusalem as an "international city" that is accessible to all. That shows immense Palestinian magnanimity, given the fact that their land was forcibly stolen by the Zionist Israelis.

Yet Israel has refused this proposal without fail, and has now enlisted a far-right US president to back its cause.

With the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the blood will flow like river, destroying any semblance of peace in the region.


RAIS HUSSIN is a Supreme Council Member of Parti Peribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM). He also heads the Policy and Strategy Bureau of PPBM.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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