(Reassessment of Middle East Policy)
By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
Straight from the Jerusalem Cloakroom #233
“Second Thought,” Jerusalem
1. An assessment of the politically-correct Western policy-making, media commentaries and conventional wisdom raises the following questions:
*Is the Palestinian issue the crux of Middle East turbulence?
*Is the Arab-Israeli conflict the core cause of anti-Western Islamic terrorism?*
*Are Arab leaders preoccupied with the Palestinian issue and with the Arab-Israeli conflict?
*Is the Arab-Israeli conflict “The Middle East Conflict”?
*How valid is the contention that, in the Middle East, on words one does not pay custom, hence the awesome gap between rhetoric and reality?!
2. An analysis of Middle East politics during the last 1,400 years documents the following:
Since the 7th century, inter-Arab and inter-Muslim conflicts in the Muslim Middle East – between North Africa and the Persian Gulf – have been the role model of state-sponsored terrorism, hate-education, inherent domestic and regional violence, endemic unpredictability, instability, volatility, fragmentation, religious and political intolerance, suppression of human rights, nepotism and treachery.
3. Aijaz Zaka Syed, the opinion editor of Dubai’s “Khaleej Times,” asserts (Al Aharam weekly, Jan. 20, 2010) that “more Muslims than non-Muslims have been killed in macabre attacks carried out in the name of Islam.” Nearly 50 people were killed and 500 injured during the December 29, 2009 terrorist attack on a Karachi religious procession. But more than the loss of lives – “that has long become a daily mayhem” – it is the devastation wreaked on the country’s biggest city that will haunt Pakistan for a long time to come. “Thousands of businesses, shops and commercial establishments were destroyed in no time, incurring losses worth billions of dollars, the attack on the heavily attended volleyball match in the troubled Northwest Pakistan, which killed 75 villagers and left scores maimed…”
“None of those watching the match, or attending the Karachi procession had anything to do with the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iraq. They had no sympathy or affiliation whatsoever with the US and the West. Then why have they been targeted?
“How does it help the cause of these so-called defenders of Islam, when they target innocent Muslims and non Muslims? This death cult is the ultimate injustice…
4. Jordanian economist, Yusuf Mansur writes (“Creative Jordan” website, July 25, 2009) that “Arabs are ruled by a cartel of authoritarian regimes, practiced in the arts of oppression. Arab unity is as elusive as ever. Inter-Arab divisions are bitter…Hardly any of the 21 Arab states can plausibly claim to be a genuine democracy. Therefore, Arab regimes rely on repression in order to stay in power…
“The political instability of the Arab world is in turn connected to another problem: the missing glue of nationhood…Egyptian diplomat, Tahsin Bashir, called the new Arab states of Middle East ‘Tribes with Flags.’ In countries as different as Lebanon and Iraq, ethnic, confessional or sectarian differences have thwarted programs of nation-building. That is why Iraq fell apart into Sunni, Shia and Kurdish fragments after the removal of Saddam despite decades of patriotic indoctrination. Syria could follow suit if the minority Alawi sect of the ruling Assad family were somehow to lose control of this largely Sunni country. Sudan has seen not one, but two, civil wars between its Arab-dominated centre and the non-Arab minorities in its south and west…
“Up to a million citizens of the Arab world may have perished violently since 1990… The disturbing point for the future is that none of the underlying causes of conflict enumerated above has disappeared. On the contrary, each appears to be taking on the characteristics of a chronic condition…Political and social discontent is in danger of tipping into violence – even into revolution.”
5. The aforementioned facts, along with current Middle East events, produce the following observations:
*The Arab/Muslim Middle East is the abode of anti-Western values, irrespective of the Arab-Israeli conflict, independent of the Palestinian issue and regardless of Israel’s policies and existence.
*Western values such as freedom of expression, religion, press, market and the Internet constitute a lethal threat to Arab/Muslim regimes.
*The Arab/Muslim Middle East constitutes a potent threat to vital Western interests.
*Anti-Western terrorism is a natural derivative of inter-Arab/Muslim terrorism and values. Why would terrorism against the infidel be less savage than terrorism against fellow-Muslims?!
*A strong Jewish State enhances deterrence in face of inherent Middle East violence, extending the strategic hand of the West, bolstering relatively-moderate regimes and restraining rogue regimes.
*Agreements concluded in the Arab/Muslim Middle East cannot be more credible and durable than the policies of Arab/Muslim regimes. Why would Arab/Muslim regimes comply with agreements signed with the infidel, while they do not comply with most agreements signed with fellow-Muslims?!
*The inherent instability, and the violent unpredictability, of Arab/Muslim Middle East regimes and policies feed the fragility of Middle East agreements.
*Is it reasonable to assume that Arabs would accord the Jewish State a durable-peace, which they have not been able to accord one another?!
*The proposed Palestinian state – against the backdrop of the 50 year track record of Fatah, PLO and Hamas – would merge naturally into the violent nature of the Middle East. A Palestinian state would constitute fuel – and not water – to Middle East turbulence.
*Inter-Arab/Muslim reality – of no comprehensive inter-Arab peace since the 7th century – dictates steep security requirements for the Jewish State.
*Inter-Arab/Muslim reality dictates a thorough reassessment of Western policy toward the Middle East in general and the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue in particular.