For some geopolitical factors, interrelated interests and ethnic factors, Egypt and eastern Arab states have long been split between the so-called “Arab moderation camp” and the Iran-led “axis of objection and resistance.”
Many of the Arab territorial matters, crises and even trans-border problems, including Palestine, Lebanon, waters, among others have, for a considerable time, been dealt with and viewed from two rivalling perspectives of the Arab moderation coalition and axis of resistance. This echoes the “adversarial” relationship that existed between the 1955 Baghdad Pact countries and the short-lived United Arab Republic.
Such a “binary” structure has in fact brought more harm than benefit to the joint Arab efforts to handle their problems, causing them more divisions and enlarging their already-large tensions.
But the whole situation has completely changed now and, therefore, there needs to be reconsideration or rebuilding of political coalitions in the Arab world to deal with the new developments and secure an influential position within the region.
As politics means dealing with and responding to actualities, my thesis here is that the Arab moderation camp, comprising Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, is now required to engage in a breakable coalition based this time on an action, not reaction, approach, with its traditional rival (axis of resistance) which is suffering from internal dilemmas and unprecedented external pressure threatening its existence.
Axis of resistance shaking
It is hard to say now that the ideologically-formed resistance camp, made up of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and the Gaza-based Hamas, is not in a big trouble – if not on the verge of collapse – when most of its constituents are actually pleading for survival.
The Arab moderation camp has long adopted the reaction approach, usually only moving if provoked by the objection campRaed Omari
The axis of resistance, which has long been viewed as an unbreakable chain, is now breaking with Syria’s Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad. This is due the unrestrained civil war and the popularity of the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah reaching single-digit level in the Arab world due to their participation in the ongoing Syrian struggle.
Seemingly aware of its “abhorred,” or at least badly received, ideological attitude towards the Arab region and the unreliability of relying on internationally-detested regime and militia, Iran is now looking for a replacement within the Arab world, resorting to diplomacy this time.
For some reason, I find it hard to see Iranian President Hassan Rowhani’s talk of diplomacy and outspoken Hezbollah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah toning down as inseparable from the new political scene in the region.
Of course, the U.S. giving a chance to diplomacy and its military threats have had their effect on Iran’s and Hezbollah’s tactics. But, if that is to reveal something, it reveals the two sides’ realization of the new facts on the ground with their “moderate rival” regaining the upper hand in the region.
Hamas is in trouble now as it is left unallied and at odds with Egypt’s new regime which is seemingly convinced of the involvement of members of the Islamist movement in the military attacks against the Egyptian army in Sinai.
The sectarian regime of Iran no longer cares about Hamas. Reading Rowhani’s Washington Post op-ed, one finds no mention of the purely Sunni Palestine. Only Syria and Bahrain are mentioned.
From camping to coalition
Due to the undeniable decaying power of the axis of resistance, the Arab moderation camp is required to step in to fill the political vacuum left by its conventional rival.
With Egypt back on board after Mohammad Mursi’s rule, during which the Arab world’s most populous country has suffered a state of “chaotic allegiances,” the Arab moderation camp can be said to be in a better condition now. But, more needs to be done.
This, coupled with the undeniable world influence of Saudi Arabia and the dynamic diplomacy of Jordan and the UAE, can help immensely in building up a firm front to handle Arab affairs.
The Arab moderation camp has long adopted the reaction approach, usually only moving if provoked by the objection camp.
After more than ten years since its launch, the moderation camp has not yet succeeded in building up an unbreakable and lasting coalition though it has all the necessary components to be so. This is partly because tactics, and not higher strategy, is in most cases what govern the joint actions of Egypt, KSA, Jordan and the UAE.
Cairo, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Amman need ivest in more political, economic, diplomatic and security cooperation to ultimately form a strong coalition for a more influential presence. They should benefit from their open diplomacy and excellent bonds with the U.S, Europe, China and even Russia.
I don’t see myself exaggerating when I say that more reinforcement of the moderation camp, manifested in increasing already-existing cooperation and including other states, is an urgent matter nowadays, not only to become influential but actually to remain influential.
In addition to Palestine, Arabs now have many causes to stand for, including Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia and the Nile. All of that requires systematic and relentless Arab action and the moderation camp seems to be the only cohesive force to jointly and collaboratively handle such matters.
To face internal and external threats to the Arab region’s national security and to respond to Iran’s “bold” intrusion in Arabs’ affairs, Turkey’s “shy” attempts to secure a presence in the Arab world and Israel’s “arrogant” attitude, the Arab moderation camp requires a more active approach.
Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via [email protected], or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2