Pierre Chiartano, is a journalist, writer, senior analyst, TV producer and former ITA government advisor. He has written almost two thousand articles and authored two books on cultural and religious conflicts. Pierre Chiartano wrote reportages from crisis areas of Lebanon, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Iraq.
He has been guest in several TV programs, among them Rainews24, Turkish Radio Television, Rai1, SH TV and spoke in conferences focused on political/security issues. With his wide international connections, Pierre Chiartano is considered as one of the best strategists and analysts in the Western nations.
Recently he has accorded an exclusive interview to Blitz, where he discussed diversified issues. Here is the first part of the interview:
Q: We know you are a journalist, writer, political analyst, strategist, and working as the producer with a number of television channels and your articles are appearing in various newspapers around the world. Can you please give us your reaction on the recent terrorist attack at the Jewish synagogue Tree of Hope in Pittsburgh?
A: The heinous massacre of Pittsburg synagogue needs a better analysis than an answer in an interview. Last time I visited USA was in 2014. So I don’t have a firsthand assessment about the change of mood and attitude in American society. Answer isn’t an easy task because everything is put in the political “shaker” of media. But I will try. When Trump criticizes “globalists” far-right, it could be interpreted as Jews. When anti-establishment citizens say that a person like George Soros destroyed the good international image of their country, they simplify “Soros is Jew”. We know it isn’t exactly true. Even Israeli government took position against Soros’ wrongdoings. The guilt is personal, must not become an anthropological or religious category. Rabbi Jeffrey Myers blamed politicians for a rise in hateful rhetoric that is a first answer. The massacre on his synagogue in Pittsburgh – in which 11 Jews were murdered, is the worst anti-Semitic attack in the US history.
Q: With gravest concern, we have been witnessing the rise of antisemitism in a number of countries in the world. There is an argument saying anti-Zionism actually leads to antisemitism and Israel bashing. What is your opinion on it?
A: George Washington, in the 1790 letter to the Touro Synagogue in Newport, R.I., told the Jews they would be safe in the new nation. Has something changed in America? Sure but when I lived in Southern Missouri in 1982, local county sheriff seized almost every month “Nazi stuff like flags, swastika and insignia” and you could find local KKK gazette in news stand. So the answer could be more complex. It is a longstanding unresolved problem as well as in Europe, where post war propaganda replaced a solid critical analysis and where anti-Semitism is latent.
Sometimes could be a link between the two issues, other times no. Neturei Karta, a Haredi Jewish religious group, for instance, dissents about the need to have a Jewish State. They are against secular Zionism but they are just a cluster – a minority. They show another voice inside the community that is not endangering but strengthening the image of Israel, if we still care about democracy. The Soviet anti-Zionism was another issue. It characterized cold war age, especially after Six-Days-War (1967) when Israel became a credible actor of the Middle East balance of power – in the Washington side – and played a role to fight communism. Even if Moscow recognized almost immediately the State of Israel after establishment, the “nationalism” and its peculiarities were something not alike with communist ideology. Kibbutzim’s pioneering age had different nature from Soviet socialism. There is even a strange type of anti-Zionism that sometimes could seem as “anti-Semitism” and probably has an ideological origin. Italian Communist Party (PCI) during cold war was strongly engaged to fight any kind of anti-Semitism according to its mission, to contain and defeat any rise of new fascism. PCI was anti-Zionist as well. For the same reason Soviets were strongly pro-Palestinians. Israel was a key ally of West against USSR. Therefore Israel was an enemy to the Soviet Union. Time has passed, but something of that mindset was inherited by new-Left parties. In 2014, during the march in Rome, a leftist group of Pro-Palestinian sympathizers started taunting the section of the march arranged by the ‘Brigata Ebraica’ (‘Jewish Brigades’). I like to call this misbehaving as historical vertigo and ignorance. Left in Europe is still identity parties that needs passwords and are not able to find new ones. So fringe leftist behaving seems hysterical; like problems inside Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party shows. We are talking however about minorities so far. At the same time we have to defend the right to critic of Israeli government without be labeled as anti-Semitic, when the matter is political, geopolitical or about human rights. It is a part of democracy.
Q: Do you see the conflict between Israel and Palestine as a political one or religious?
A: I guess the issue is political and complex, because Palestinian file was a “card” used in the Middle East’s dirty game which has little care of present and future of ordinary people. Several Arab regimes don not care much about their own people. Do you think they could consider the sufferings of the Palestinians? Cynicism is the code to read this file. Even in Western chancelleries there is a close to “mind zero” approach about Muslims. However we have to remember that Palestinians destiny is something which can switch the attitude of Muslims all over the world – they are “brothers”.
Q: Recently, United States has moved their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. There are indications from other nations as well of following this footstep. On the other hand, Palestinians are still claiming Jerusalem as their capital. In your opinion, how Israel will resolve this issue if there is a two-state solution?
A: Jerusalem capital issue is a strong point for both sides on the dealing table – Israel and Palestinian Authority. The legal framework was formed by the UN resolution 181 in 1947, which stressed the status of “separate entity” for the holy city. Then came the UN resolution 242 to stabilize peace and security after 1967 war. These are papers, according to an authority that pretend to be “super parties” but sometimes is not. Recently Washington’s choice to move its embassy to Jerusalem or al Quds – as Arab want to call the holy city – opened the problem again. Even Brazil expressed the intention to follow the same move. It is right to link this matter with the Two States formula. I have a point of view influenced by ground experience in the West Bank (2014). Two States initiative is an optical effect, doesn’t exist on ground, because there is no territorial continuity which is an essential requirement of every state. Israeli settlements made territories pitted like a Swiss cheese. Basically it is the fulfillment of Ariel Sharon’s promise. East Jerusalem and neighborhood is a battlefield of an administrative war to dislodge Arabs from Eastern district. Why? Maybe because for Israel the main danger comes from demography, as for Western and rich countries it has a negative birth rate. So they have to prevent any increase of Arabs presence in the Eastern district. From the Israeli point of view, territories and Jerusalem “occupation” is the outcome of a military aggression from Arab states coalition. Ultimately Israelis don’t trust Arabs. Palestinians are suffering a constant frustration for their treatment in the territories (Gaza is another complex issue). There is the “land grab” issue, among other. Settlements in the West Bank are gaining ground overnight. With the help of satellites photos, we can see the settlement’s increasing size year-after-year. On the other hand, the notorious wall, cutting Jerusalem along Green line worked. No more terrorist attacks and Palestinian people more focused on business than on terrorism. Even if Shin Bet has to keep up with hard work to avoid further problems. Ramallah is now a nice city to live. Not the same we can say for Nablus or Hebron. For anyone pretending to have answers and suggestions how to deal with Israel-Palestinian issues – myself too – Hebron is a warning. There is a line of blood starting from nowadays and backtracking till first decades of twentieth century that makes it hard to find “reason” or “guilt” for a foreign observatory. Only who lived and still lives there can deal with the net of hate, revenge, rage and sorrows hitting both sides. History tells us that there are a lot of good-hearted people – Arabs and Israelis – striving to find a way of peaceful coexistence. But external and or political interferences make the mission of peace hard or almost impossible so far.
Q: In most of the Arab nations, women do not enjoy liberty. Even there are allegations of physical and sexual assaults on the women. Under such realities, what exactly are the situations of Afghan, Tunisian and Palestinian women?
A: Status of women is a good litmus test about the democratic level of a society. You quoted in the question several countries with different situations. Afghanistan is a place where official narrative and reality are far from each other. Kabul is a world, the rest of the country is a Middle Aged land. When you got a military copter fliyng from capital to Western side of Afghanistan, for example, you get in a time machine. In the Gulistan Valley, elders of villages don’t know what is Afghanistan, where is Kabul or who is the president. Their “universe” is the beginning and the end of their valley and the opium cultivation is the source of their survival. When you fly over the Western Afghanistan, every green field you spot is a poppy crop. Of course, when we talk about social conditions, it mainly depends on the level of education (secular and religious), that makes difference for everything – even for women. It is not a matter of religion.
I can put the example of Southern Italy during the fifties of the last century to compare the problems. A Catholic family could kill a young girl (sometime getting her on fire) because she refused an arranged marriage. They were formally very religious people. Does the problem lie on religion or on ignorance? Of course the problem was ignorance and now in Italy that heinous misbehaving is just a bad memory.
Muslim world is the same, except for the Wahhabists and some literalistic branches of Islam. Afghan talibans were not an historical presence. They emerged from anti-Soviet jihad. Ronald Reagan was so engaged to defeat communism that he ignited some not intended spin off. The Islamic initiative of liberation in Afghanistan became an infrastucture of terror that later infected the Muslim world. Ultra-radical Islamism (even Deobandi tradition) was rescued from this historical cul-de-sac. Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) is a good example. TJ was neither set up nor fuctioned as a terrorist organization but CIA used it as a channel of recruitment for Afghan operations. United States poured huge amount of dollars in these Islamism clusters making them stronger and a dangerous heritage for the future. Any kind of improvement in women condition is hard in this “environment”. In 2011, I visited Herat Provincial Jail. There was a women section. Most of them has been convicted for murder. They killed their husbands because of the extreme family violence. Prison authorities provided them daily work and even provided them with heated cells for ensuring comfort on a regular basis. Although it was prison, such conditions were much “comfortable” than their standard in regular life. Jail was like a little “paradise” for those women who did not enjoy any rights in their societies.
Tunisia is another chapter. Arab Spring took its first move from the little Maghreb country. Mainstream media narrative in 2011 was about a spontaneous revolt of people against regime. Now the narrative turn to a “fake” revolution, forged by West to topple-down long-time dictator, not fitted anymore for the new balance of power in globalization. So the trivial consequence is that Arab people didn’t get any real democratic atmosphere rather needed strongman solution (as Abdel Fatah al Sisi in Egypt) or a tutored government strongly dependent on foreign support – like in the sixties or seventies. Of course “in medio stat virtus” the reality lies in the middle. Arab Spring built something never existed before in the Arab world – a public opinion that is almost similar to the developed countries. Furthermore, people protesting in Tahrir Square (in Egypt), for instance, started to love the democratic game, but were almost immediately betrayed by political elites supported by foreign interests and by bad ruling performance of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and not so brilliant in Tunisia (in both cases local establishment didn’t help). Tunisians are still fedup with cronysm, corruption and unemployment. These problems don’t have instant coffee solutions; but there are not strong signals of a solid political attitude changes. New people’s mindset and feelings cannot be satisfied by weak government, like in Tunisia – even if there is a brand new constitution and some social enhancements. Corruption and a low efficient state machine, with really bad economic performance, are the roots of tomorrow’s turmoil. The recent suicide bombing in the downtown Tunisia is a warning bell, and the terrorist attack was carried out by a woman. Since 2013, trough the change period, which brought the new constitution – the seeds of internal socio-economical problems were readable, great security fragilities too, almost ignored by Western and European media that mainly covered only Bardo and Sousse slain. Even mainstream local media hid the constant dripping of terrorist intimidation, because of a misplaced loyalty to the institutions. The role of media is to criticize for improving institutions, not to hide problems supposing to gain a better foreign economic support. The huge numbers of returning foreign fighters and strong supporters (not detected) of ISIS in some areas of Tunisia and in some districts of the capital city is still a dangerous factor. The anti-establishment wave, that is fueling “populism” and “sovereignism” rising around the world, has no actors in Tunisia and other Arab countries so far. Therefore the risk is that such kind of needs, pushed by frustration, can pour into Islamist dynamics. Tunisian people are strongly against Gulf style Islam like Wahhabism that characterizes ISIS, Boko Haram and other violent declination of Islamism. But Tunisians as well are sick of local establishment which are corrupt and linked to foreign interests. Women in Tunisia are the bravest in the Arab world. I witnessed their attitude against jihadist recruitment of their sons. Often were women to make a public complaint against so called Islamic State, pointing their fingers against Jihad recruiters of ISIS to press authorities in taking some measures. Tunisian women are a cornerstone to build a new Tunisia. The risk today is a lagging situation that could open the gate to an Islamist backlash. Libya’s instability could amplify the Tunisian downturn. The issue is broad and I have just opened few windows to outline the problem.