Middle East Peace Core Issue Islamic World Rivalries Not Palestine
Peace will elude the Middle East until the global powers recognize that the core issue is not the Palestine problem but the Islamic world rivalries in the Middle East with countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt, all vying and jostling to emerge as the predominant power in the Middle East. Every time a new US Administration takes over power in Washington there is a clamor from the region that the United States should take the lead in resolving the Palestinian issue. In other words, the United States should pressurize Israel to give in to all Arab demands and endanger her security. The moot issue is as to what have these Islamic countries done on their respective parts to bring about a settlement between Palestine and Israel.
Before any settlement is reached by Israel and Palestinians, the Arab world has to give recognition to the Israel nation-state as a strategic reality that they cannot wish away by their meaningless inflammatory rhetoric or by assisting Islamist militias like the Hezbollah and the Hammas to wage a proxy war against Israel on their behalf.
In the last five decades the Arab nations singly or jointly or by their Islamist militia proxy wars have not been able to wipe out Israel from the map of the Middle East. What they could not achieve militarily on the battlefield, they are now attempting to achieve the same through asymmetrical warfare by their proxies.
But then it needs to be remembered that these conflicting approaches by the Arab nations of the Middle East towards Israel is not prompted by some greater united Arab crusade against Israel but prompted by their own intra-regional rivalries to emerge as the predominant regional power in the Middle East.
Foremost in the regional tussle in the Middle East is the Sunni- Shia power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran. In terms of the national attributes of power, it is Iran which is better equipped to play the premier role in the Middle East. However, Iran as the lone major Shia power in the Middle East has limitations, in the sense that it is unlike the Arab nations is ethnically different and not a Sunni nation like them.
Saudi Arabia in order to offset Iran's predominance has along with Pakistan played the United States against Iran in the last few decades. In this game the United States unwittingly played into the hands of Saudi Arabia by not co-opting Iran in the Middle East peace process and thereby pre-empting any meaningful progress towards the solution of the Palestinian conflict. Of course, there is a personal factor involved of the United States against Iran for the US diplomats hostage crisis following the Iranian Revolution.
In terms of terrorist threats against the United States, Europe, Israel and India, these flourish as a result of Saudi finance and Pakistani facilitation and manpower. One could also say that the same actors come into play in terms of terrorist attacks and suicide bombings which plague Israel. Where does the Hammas get the finances from for all the rockets that Hammas keeps firing daily against peaceful Israeli communities in Southern Israel? Who provides the finances to the families of Hammas manpower killed while fighting Israel in a proxy war on behalf of their external Arab patrons? Who provides and encourage the pan-Islamic content of the Arab militias battling Israel?
So as the new Obama Administration assumes power in Washington, it would be well advised to steer clear of the power struggle of Islamic countries in the Middle East and concentrate on issues of more economic importance and national security interests to USA.
Israel is quite capable of protecting her sovereignty and integrity against Arab onslaughts both in war and asymmetrical warfare on her own. Israel is also capable of dealing with any Iranian nuclear weaponization threats which are more blown out of proportion. An Iranian nuclear weapon is less of a threat to Iran and more of an instrument to reinforce Iranian predominance in the Middle East besides as a deterrent against possible US military intervention.
In terms of a nuclear weapon being passed on to Islamist terrorists hands for use against USA, the West, Israel or India the danger of it taking place arises from Pakistan which as a recent US report states is the 'Ground Zero' of global Islamist terrorism.
The United States should leave the Arab and Islamic world to its own devices and let them stew in the unholy mess that has been created as a result of intra-regional power tussle in the Middle East.
In the ultimate analysis Middle East peace is an Arab imperative and not an Israeli imperative. It is the Arab nations who should engage Israel directly and on behalf of Palestine to arrive at a peace settlement.
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Dr. Subhash Kapila
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