Few days ago, a seminar was held in Israel to assess the strategic situation in the region from Israeli perspective. A group of senior experts in politics and strategies presented several papers.
The conference concluded with one statement: What is happening in the region is a conflict between Israel on the one hand and Iran and Turkey on the other, to fill the mammoth vacuum resulting from the weakness of Arab countries and their rupture and rift internally and the strategic penetration and influence of the American administration and Israel upon them as independent states.
What Israel is doing now is an orchestrated synchronization and effectively plotted attempt to create a strategic positioning in the Arab region by controlling Arab regimes with the full support of US President Donald Trump by crafting an excuse and pretext for further external intervention to protect some Arab regimes from Iranian and Turkish dangers.
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This Iranian-Turkish scarecrow greatly facilitates the process of Israeli control over Arab states which were in the past rejecting any normalization of ties with Israel. This was behind the call for a Middle Eastern Strategic Alliance (MESA), which will entail Israel as well as Gulf states, Jordan and Egypt.
In the past 70 years, Middle East has been the emphasis of international consideration and polemic. As Iraq looks for stability, for peace and security; Syria struggles for regaining pre-2011 civil war; Libya seeks a fair leader to bring about Libyan citizens’ dreams into reality; Yemen is torn apart and Palestine is divided between those who want peace and those who push for war with Israel, Arabs find themselves between the normalisation and a hard place. The only way out for them sounds at the moment is to listen to the American administration.
Israeli and American governments are driving the Middle East toward transformation through disseminating that a brighter future is in the offingShehab Al-Makahleh
Arabs are at crossroads
When Joschka Fishcer, Germany’s former foreign minister, said in November 2003: “Modernization in the Middle East is not only about politics. It is also about development and economics”, this sounded weird at the time but now it is much more realistic to achieve a comprehensive peace between Arabs and Israelis.
This justifies why the US administration is now pushing towards Arab-Israeli non-conditional normalization of ties. The visits of Israeli officials at present to some Arab countries supports this approach. Soon, Arabs will be visiting Israel and holding business talks as well which is a term set by the Americans and Israelis before any final talks on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The Israeli and American governments are driving the whole Middle East toward transformation through disseminating that a brighter future is in the offing. This idea right now has been uttered by Thomas Barnett, a US Naval War College professor in 2004.
“We need to demonstrate to the Middle East that there is such a thing as a future worth creating there, not just a past worth recreating. That is all the current Bin Ladens offer the population — an escape from today’s diminished expectations,” Barnett said.
19th century Europe
The Middle East is somehow similar to Europe in the 19th Century as both have been undergoing huge transformations through the years. The geopolitics of the Middle East has been affected in the past by the Cold War.
Since the end of the 20th century, a new geopolitical architecture has emerged, which is reminiscent of the European countries in the 19th century where mid-sized powers indulged in alliances, in covert and overt conflicts in a bid to increase their regional and international impact. Middle Eastern states have been struggling for their nation-wide, ethnic, bigoted and dogmatic identities.
Israel realized since the beginning of peace talks with Arabs that Tel Aviv has the upper hand militarily. Thus, Israeli officials knew that Arabs will sooner or later call for peace and normalization of ties which is a mutual interest for both parties.
When American President Donald Trump announced that he is pro-peace deals between Arabs and Israelis, calling for further economic, military and security cooperation between them to pave the way for normalisation of ties, he has met with some Arab leaders who voiced their readiness to facilitate this task.
The stiff mindsets of Middle Easterners to establish a dialogue to reach a compromise with Israel had been a hurdle to achieve a peaceful settlement for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict long time ago.
Intelligentsia believe that the Middle East region has been suffering from many issues among them the longstanding Arab-Israeli conflict, alternate terrorist rule, majority-minority inequities, Intra-Muslim differences, gender predisposition, pervasive proclivity for conspiracy and treachery theories that involve copious improbable political scenarios. Such rifts and conflicts turns the whole region into a continuous state of war.
Oman, a peace mediator
Oman described Israel as an accepted Middle East state on October 27th, 2018. “Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this. The world is also aware of this fact. Maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same and also bear the same obligations,” said Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Oman’s minister of foreign affairs.
Bin Alawi’s comments followed a rare visit to Oman by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which came days after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had paid a three-day visit to the Gulf country. Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders met Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Saeed.
When a top Omani official issues such a statement saying that Muscat is offering ideas to help Israel and the Palestinians to come together but is not acting as a mediator, rather a facilitator, this reveals that normalization between Arabs and Israelis is ongoing before peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis start any time soon.
What supports that the Americans are pushing Arabs to normalize ties with Israel is the following statement by Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt who welcomed the “warming ties and growing cooperation between our regional friends” in a tweet late on October 26th.
“This is a helpful step for our peace efforts and essential to create an atmosphere of stability, security and prosperity between Israelis, Palestinians and their neighbors. Looking forward to seeing more meetings like this!” Greenblatt said.
In the near future, other Gulf states will also start talks with Israel. This will include top officials visits at the level of ministers then top security officials. The 2002 Arab Peace Initiative will be valid only after full normalization of ties between Arabs and Israelis. All depends on how Americans regard the progress before approving the final status of a two-state solution that will determine the future of Eastern Jerusalem.
Shehab Al-Makahleh is Director of Geostrategic Media Center, senior media and political analyst in the Middle East, adviser to many international consultancies. He can be reached at: @shehabmakahleh and @Geostrat_ME.