Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :
Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt newspaper
TT

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Non-Secretive Negotiations

Negotiations are always shrouded in secrecy, with some parties keen on declaring victory for having succeeded in the negotiations and others doing everything in their power to avoid seeming like they had foiled them. However, when in the case of the ceasefire negotiations in Gaza, it is a different story.
After President Joe Biden proposed a three-phase ceasefire plan, the situation seems entirely different in the Gaza negotiations. The United States had been waiting for Netanyahu and his government's approval and then for the approval of Yahya Sinwar and the confused Palestinian factions.
As all of this was happening, the Iranian Supreme Leader publicly spoke of how the region needed the October 7th operation on the Gaza envelope and stressed that the operation had stopped the normalization process in the region. After that, the Supreme Leader publicly declared that there should be no ceasefire.
The Supreme Leader made this statement at a time when the United States had still been waiting for Yahya Sinwar's response. His remarks made the international community forget about Netanyahu’s intransigence. President Biden even walked about on his assertion in the Time magazine interview, in which he had said that Netanyahu was prolonging the war to achieve political ends.
On top of this and that, Netanyahu has achieved a "limited" victory that will give him more time with the liberation of four Israeli hostages held in Gaza. He is expected to deliver a speech about this operation later on, after the writing of this article.
There is no doubt that Netanyahu will announce a "limited" victory in that speech and remind the world of the hostage issue. Its success will buy him time, both domestically and internationally. His government will constantly try to remind the world about the hostages, and present Netanyahu as the leader who can bring them back home to the Israeli people.
All of this, particularly the narrative about the liberation of Israeli hostages, will undermine the position of ceasefire advocates, as well as reduce both international and domestic pressure on Netanyahu. The ultimate losers, here, are the innocent civilians in Gaza.
The Palestinian armed factions cannot present a convincing narrative around this issue. Indeed, the facts suggest that Yahya Sinwar has been complying, up until the time of writing, with the instructions of the Iranian Supreme Leader, who has now publicly opposed a ceasefire in Gaza and the negotiations.
Even if Sinwar decided, at this point, to change his mind and agree to a ceasefire, a truce and negotiation- even if he makes unprecedented concessions- Netanyahu’s stance will harden following the hostage release operation. He will not fear the Israelis or the opposition in Israel.
This is the current state of play, and these are the facts. Thus, the opportunities to end the bloodshed in our region, specifically around the Palestinian question and in Gaza, have been squandered. Iran's vision for the region is responsible, as regional security and stability are the least of Tehran's concerns.
That is why I say that we are looking at non-secret negotiations. It is easy to identify those who are genuinely seeking to stop the bloodshed and protect the Palestinian cause and its people. It is the Arabs, who are led by Saudi Arabia. It is also easy to identify the side that does not care, namely Iran.
All of this is happening before the world's eyes, particularly the US administration and its president. As I mentioned earlier, there are no secrets in these negotiations. Iran is reminding the world and before it the region, that it is disrupting the talks. Its calculations are always incorrect, and its actions only add to the loss of lives and resources.