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US peace initiative – a reality test

A successful pursuit of peace is preconditioned upon the predominance of reality over well-intentioned eagerness to produce peace. The latter is frequently tainted by oversimplification, short-term considerations and wishful-thinking.

The enhancement of US national security interests behooves the architects of US peace initiatives to recognize the inherent constraints set by the 14 century old Middle East reality since the 7th century emergence of Islam.  Middle East reality has been shaped by systematic inter-Muslim and inter-Arab relations, conflicts, back-stabbing, subversion, terrorism and wars.  These endemic features have been totally unrelated to the Arab-Israel and the Palestinian-Israel conflicts.

Architects of peace initiatives should be cognizant of the predominance of inter-Arab and inter-Muslim threats and challenges, which have superseded the Palestinian issue. The latter has been showered with much Arab talk, but hardly any Arab walk, militarily and economically.  For example, on January 30-31, 2019, the Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, the UAE and Bahrain convened in Jordan, in order to discuss the clear and present dangers of Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and additional top Middle East priorities. The absence of a Palestinian representative and the lack of any discussion of the Palestinian issue – while counter terrorism and intelligence cooperation between these six Arab countries and Israel is surging – underlined the fact that the Palestinian issue has never been a top regional priority, nor the crown-jewel of Arab policy makers, nor the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The architects of peace initiatives should pay attention to a Texas colloquialism: “When smothered by sandstorms, while driving in West Texas, don’t get preoccupied with the tumbleweeds on the road.”

As demonstrated by the Arab Tsunami, which has engulfed the Middle East since 2010, and contrary to conventional Western “wisdom,” the Arab-Israel conflict has never been “the Middle East conflict.” It has been substantially superseded by inter-Arab and inter-Muslim conflicts.

Peace initiatives must be aware of the supremacy of the following 14 century old fundamentals of inter-Arab, inter-Muslim relations in shaping the Middle East arena, including  peace accords: volatility, unpredictability, violence, intolerance (religiously, ethnically, socially and ideologically), absence of peaceful coexistence (locally, nationally and regionally), minority rogue regimes, abuse of civil rights, domestic and regional fragmentation and the tenuous and provisional nature of regimes-policies-agreements.  Most importantly for Muslims has been the expected dominance of the abode of the “believers” (Islam) over the “infidel,” while allowing for temporary accords (Taqiyya) with the “infidel.”

A cardinal rule of Middle East politics stipulates that Middle Eastern leopards don’t change their spots, only their tactics.

The well-intentioned pursuit of Israel-Arab and Israel-Palestinian peace must not sacrifice the highly complex, perplexing and explosive Middle East reality on the altar of oversimplification and wishful-thinking.

Peace initiatives must be based on the worst-case-scenario, which is usually consistent with Middle East reality.  For instance, a potential toppling of Jordan’s Hashemite regime – which should be averted by immense US and Israeli efforts – would transform Jordan into an Iraq, Syria and Libya-like platform of Islamic terrorism, which would threaten the survival of the pro-US regimes in Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula, transforming the longest, most critical and most peaceful border of Israel into a lethal nightmare, potentially extending the Ayatollahs’ posture to the Jordan Valley and beyond.

US peace initiatives should be driven by US national security interests, which would be severely undermined by a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. A Palestinian state would doom the Hashemite regime east of the Jordan River (with its Palestinian majority, entrenched Muslim Brotherhood presence, intra-Bedouin fragmentation, neighboring Iraq, etc.), triggering a domino scenario, which would haunt all pro-US Arab regimes in the Persian Gulf area, according Iran, Russia and China a geo-strategic bonanza, including a land, air and/or sea presence in the newly-established Palestinian state. The nature of the proposed Palestinian state may be realistically assessed based on the track record of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership from their collaboration with Nazi Germany, through their embrace of the Soviet Bloc, Ayatollah Khomeini, international terrorism, Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, China and North Korea.

The attempt to minimize Middle East instability and advance the US interest, on the one hand, and establishing a Palestinian state, on the other hand, constitutes a classic oxymoron, adding fuel – not water – to the Middle East fire.

The well-intentioned architects of peace should be aware that all prior US peace initiatives failed to advance the cause of peace and to enhance the US strategic stature, due to the impossibility of subordinating the complex, uncontrollable, tectonic and violent Middle East reality to peaceful intentions, which wish to bypass that reality.

The eagerness to advance the cause of peace must not produce an immoral “moral equivalence” between the intended victim (Israel) and the 100 year old Arab aggression against the existence (not the size) of a Jewish State in “the abode of Islam,” nor between an unconditional ally of the US (Israel) and a close ally of enemies and rivals of the US (the Palestinian leadership).

Peace initiatives should not ignore Middle East reality where the submission of a US initiative forces Arabs to outflank it from the maximalist side, and where concessions to rogue and terrorist elements whet their appetite and intensify violence.

US peace initiatives which downplay Middle East reality are doomed to be dashed against the rocks of reality, severely undermining the national and homeland security of the USA.





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The Abraham Accords – the US, Arab interests and Israel

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan believe that the expansion of the Abraham Accords, the enhancement of Israel-Saudi defense and commercial cooperation and the conclusion of an Israel-Saudi Arabia peace accord are preconditioned upon major Israeli concessions to the Palestinian Authority.

Is such a belief consistent with Middle East reality?

Arab interests

*The signing of the Abraham Accords, and the role played by Saudi Arabia as a critical engine of the accords, were driven by the national security, economic and diplomatic interests of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and the Sudan.

*The Arab interest in peace accords with Israel was not triggered by the realization that the Jewish State was genuinely seeking peaceful-coexistence, nor by a departure from the fundamental tenets of Islam. It was motivated by the assessment that critical concerns of the respective Arab countries would be effectively-served by Israel’s advanced military (Qualitative Military Edge), technological and diplomatic capabilities in the face of mutual and lethal enemies, such as Iran’s Ayatollahs and Muslim Brotherhood terrorism.

*Saudi Arabia and the six Arab peace partners of Israel (including Egypt and Jordan) are aware that the Middle East resembles a volcano, which occasionally releases explosive lava – domestically and/or regionally – in an unpredictable manner, as evidenced by the 1,400-year-old stormy intra-Arab/Muslim relations, and recently demonstrated by the Arab Tsunami, which erupted in 2011 and still rages.

They wish to minimize the impact of rogue regimes, and therefore are apprehensive about the nature of the proposed Palestinian state, in view of the rogue Palestinian inter-Arab track record, which has transformed Palestinians into an intra-Arab role model of subversion, terrorism, treachery and ingratitude.

*They are anxious about the erosion of the US posture of deterrence, which is their most critical component of national security, and alarmed about the 43-year-old US diplomatic option toward Iran’s Ayatollahs, which has bolstered the Ayatollahs’ terroristic, drug trafficking and ballistic capabilities. They are also concerned about the US’ embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the largest Sunni terrorist entity with religious, educational, welfare and political branches. And, they are aware of the ineffectiveness of NATO (No Action Talk Only?), the European vacillation, and the vulnerability of all other Arab countries.

Israel’s role

*Saudi Arabia and the Arab partners to peace accords with Israel feel the machetes of the Ayatollahs and the Moslem Brotherhood at their throats. They consider Israel as the most reliable “life insurance agent” in the region.  They view Israel as the most effective US force-multiplier in the Middle East, and appreciate Israel’s proven posture of deterrence; flexing its military muscles against Iran’s Ayatollahs in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran itself and against Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorism. They respect Israel’s unique counter-terrorism intelligence and training capabilities, and its game-changing military and counter-terrorism battle tactics and technologies.

*The Arab view of Israel as a reliable partner on “a rainy day” has been bolstered by Israel’s willingness to defy US pressure, when it comes to Israel’s most critical national security and historic credos (e.g., Iran, Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria).  In addition, Saudi Arabia and Israel’s peace-partners aim to leverage Israel’s good-standing among most Americans – and therefore among most Senators and House Representatives – as a venue to enhance their military, commercial and diplomatic ties with the US.

*Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are preoccupied with the challenge of economic diversification, realizing that they are overly-reliant on oil and natural gas, which are exposed to price-volatility, depletion and could be replaced by emerging cleaner and more cost-effective energy.

Thus, they consider Israel’s ground-breaking technologies as a most effective vehicle to diversify their economy, create more jobs in non-energy sectors, and establish a base for alternative sources of national income, while bolstering homeland and national security.

*The Abraham Accords – as well as Israel’s peace accords with Egypt and Jordan – and the unprecedented expansion of defense and commercial cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel, demonstrate that critical Arab national security interests may supersede fundamental tenets of Islam, such as the 1,400-year-old rejection of any “infidel” sovereignty in “the abode of Islam.”  Moreover, critical national security interests may lead to a dramatic moderation of the (Arab) education system, which is the most authentic reflection of one’s vision and policies.

Thus, contrary to the Palestinian Authority, the United Arab Emirates has uprooted hate-education curriculum, replacing it with pro-Israel/Jewish curriculum.

Abraham Accords’ durability

*The success of the Abraham Accords was a result of avoiding the systematic mistakes committed by the US State Department. The latter has produced a litany of failed peace proposals, centered on the Palestinian issue, while the Abraham accords bypassed the Palestinian issue, avoiding a Palestinian veto, and focusing on Arab interests. Therefore, the durability of the Abraham Accords depends on the interests of the respective Arab countries, and not on the Palestinian issue, which is not a top priority for any Arab country.

*The durability of the Abraham Accords depends on the stability of the individual Arab countries and the Middle East at-large.

*The Abraham Accord have yielded initial and unprecedented signs of moderation, modernity and peaceful coexistence, which requires the US to support the respective pro-US Arab regimes, rather than pressuring them (e.g., Saudi Arabia and the UAE).

*However, one should not ignore the grave threats to the durability of the accords, posed by the volcanic nature of the unstable, highly-fragmented, unpredictable, violently intolerant, non-democratic and tenuous Middle East (as related to intra-Arab relations!).  These inherent threats would be dramatically alleviated by a resolute US support.

*A major threat to the Abraham Accord is the tenuous nature of most Arab regimes in the Middle East, which yields tenuous policies and tenuous accords. For example, in addition to the Arab Tsunami of 2010 (which is still raging on the Arab Street), non-ballot regime-change occurred (with a dramatic change of policy) in Egypt (2013, 2012, 1952), Iran (1979, 1953), Iraq (2003, 1968, 1963-twice, 1958), Libya (2011, 1969), Yemen (a civil war since the ’90s, 1990, 1962), etc.

*Regional stability, the Abraham Accords and US interests would be undermined by the proposed Palestinian state west of the Jordan River (bearing in mind the intra-Arab Palestinian track record). It would topple the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the River; transforming Jordan into another platform of regional and global Islamic terrorism, similar to Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen; triggering a domino scenario, which would threaten every pro-US Arab oil-producing country in the Arabian Peninsula; yielding a robust tailwind to Iran’s Ayatollahs, Russia and China and a major headwind to the US.

*While Middle East reality defines policies and accords as variable components of national security, the topography and geography of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Golan Heights are fixed components of Israel’s minimal security requirements in the reality of the non-Western Middle East. Israel’s fixed components of national security have secured its survival, and have dramatically enhanced its posture of deterrence. They transformed the Jewish State into a unique force and dollar multiplier for the US.

*The more durable the Abraham Accords and the more robust Israel’s posture of deterrence, the more stable the pro-US Arab regimes and the Middle East at-large; the more deterred are anti-US rogue regimes; the less potent are Middle Eastern epicenters of anti-US terrorism and drug trafficking; the more bolstered is the US global posture and the weaker is the posture of the US’ enemies and adversaries.

*Would the Arab regimes of the Abraham Accords precondition their critical ties with Israel upon Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, which they view as a rogue element? Would they sacrifice their national security and economic interests on the altar of the Palestinian issue? Would they cut off their nose to spite their face?

The fact that these Arab regimes concluded the Abraham Accords without preconditioning it upon Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, and that they limit their support of the Palestinians to talk, rather than walk, provides an answer to these three questions.

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