Earlier this week, The Marshall Islands reportedly nominated veteran Lebanese spymaster Jamil Al Sayyed as the country’s representative to UNESCO, the United Nations culture and education agency. Local media reported that the move would have given Sayyed diplomatic immunity, allowing him to possibly escape any charges in the Rafik Hariri assassination trial, where he had formerly been a suspect.
But then three days later, when the news hit the fan, the Marshall Islands withdrew that same nomination. Both stories got very little media attention and no details have yet been reported on Al Sayyed’s relationship with the Islands.
So what happened? Why would the Marshall Islands, which is over 8,000 miles (14,000 KM) from Beirut, nominate Al Sayyed to represent them?
And why would an idyllic island need a notorious spymaster–who played a major role in a brutal civil war–to act as its representative in a cultural and educational organization?
It might be hard to believe, but the Marshall Islands actually has a strong connection to the Middle East. The Islands are one of the world’s greatest supporters of Israel, voting repeatedly with the United States and Israel against UN resolutions that are viewed as supportive of the Palestinians. The Marshall Islands has even been praised repeatedly by US congressmen as a “courageous” and “good friend” to Israel.
But once again, why? Why would this tropical island take a strong interest in the Middle East? The Islands have been voting in Israel’s favor since around 1987. And here are some of the things that have happened in the Marshal Islands since 1987:
So if the islands–and specifically their behavior at the UN–are up for sale, then might Al Sayyed have contributed something as well?
If so, what might this contribution have been and was it withdrawn with the withdrawal of Al Sayyed’s UNESCO nomination?
The major irony here is that Al Sayyed enjoys close ties to Hezbollah, one of Israel’s greatest enemies. But that raises another question: Is what happens in The Marshall Islands, intended to stay in The Marshall Islands? Unfortunately for those involved, that was not the case this time.