THE EDITOR: During the recent Heads of Mission meeting held in POS Prime Minister Manning indicated that in the face of increasing purchases of security equipment from the State of Israel T&T will have to review its foreign policy in the Middle East. In my view, it is clear that PM Manning did not realise that there was a hidden quid pro quo for being granted access to Israeli spying technology. He is now being forced to forge a pro-Israeli foreign policy in the Middle East that will in fact constitute a radical departure from our traditional Middle East Pro-Arab-Palestinian, Group of 77 policy.
The question is what compelling aspects of the pursuit of our domestic national interest dictates that we must now change to a Pro-Israeli Middle East foreign policy? Is it conditional to the acquisition of additional spying equipment and the indispensable spares for the existing ones? Will T&T now become a pro- Israeli Caribbean beachhead that is out of sync with the rest of Caricom with whom we are committed to ensuring co-ordination and where possible the harmonization of foreign policies.
I appreciate that the foreign policy of T&T is by definition always dynamic, changing and not static. Accordingly why and where did Manning expect to see ” a full and complete articulation of the foreign policy of T&T” when that statement is by definition a snapshot in time. To my surprise he also proceeded to assign the completion of this impossible task to High Commissioners and Ambassadors after only one-week of meetings. Does PM Manning really understand the intricacies and complexities of foreign policy making having regard to his embarrassing struggles with simple mundane domestic matters?
Did the Israelis make as a condition for the acquisition/selling of their expensive spying technology to T&T that we must change our foreign policy stance that must now be favourable to them? Is this diplomatic black mail and interference in the foreign relations of a member of the UN? How will our traditional Arab allies view this turn around in our Middle East posturing? Will we have to vote at the United Nations on positions and resolutions that are beneficial to Israel and adopt an anti-Arab stance? That is following a cavalier approach to foreign policy determination that can leave citizens and our industrial infrastructure vulnerable to anti-Israeli pro-Arab terrorism. Mr. Manning is playing with fire at our collective expense.
We have to adopt a position of strict neutrality on the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East because the mainstay product of the economy of T&T is controlled by the Arab-dominated OPEC cartel. We have to co-operate with the Arabs on LNG, fertilisers and iron and steel. We are already plugged into the US market for our oil, LNG, methanol, fertilisers and this over-dependence stood in our way during our original failed application for OPEC membership. OPEC regarded T&T as too locked into the American oil market to be granted OPEC membership in the mid-70’s.
Have we factored into the equation the ethno-religious vagaries and militancy of the small articulate, vocal and politically influential local Moslem community in considering a Pro-Israeli Middle East policy? US terrorist enemy Al Qaeda operative No.1 called Adnan Shukrijumah comes from T&T.
Will this policy be seen as the diplomatic forerunner of the proposed Alcoa-driven aluminium industry that will manufacture metals to be used in arms manufacture in the US to maim and kill dissidents in Arab countries? Will T&T aluminium ingots end up as inputs in the Israeli war making industry? We can expose our vital hydrocarbon installations and chemical industries at Point Lisas to potential terrorist attacks from Al Qaeda operatives as reprisals for being pro-Israel and over-dependent on the revenues of our major exports to the US market.