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I just finished reading Eugene Rogan's book The Fall of the Ottomans.
The vast majority of the book covers the years 1914 - 1918 (i.e. WWI), before concluding with the redistribution of the Ottoman Empire by the victors from 1918 to 1920.
Rogan discusses how the redistribution of the land at this time is the ultimate cause of the major aspects of conflict that occupy much of the Middle East up to the present day. Some examples:
- France were given occupation of Syria, and established Lebanon as a separate Christian state, which has subsequently resulted in much violence between Syria and Lebanon, as well as civil wars within Lebanon as Muslims have come to outnumber Christians, up to the present day.
- The Kurdish people were divided amongst Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, who have been embroiled in conflict with their host governments up to the present day.
- Since WWI, Iraq has rarely seen an extended period of peace, with consistent revolutions, coups and wars.
- The contradictions of the Balfour agreement (vaguely outlining it as a Jewish state with full implementation of all other religions within in) have resulted in Arab-Israeli conflicts to the present day.
- Israel continue to occupy parts of Syria, and is yet to relinquish to Palestinian territories to Gaza and the West Bank.
- Palestinian refugees remain scattered across Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
How did the dynamic of peace actually change in these regions following WWI?
Was there much more peace prior to the Great War?
If someone were to argue that the European powers are responsible for the conflict in the Middle East up to the present day, would there be a good response through arguing that conflict was rife even prior to the War?
I suppose it depends on what you mean by "peace". If you mean armies engaging in stand-up fights, there hadn't been one of those since the end of the Egypt-Ottoman war in the early 1830's. There had been rather a lot before that though, and 80 years without a major war* in many places would not be all that impressive. But perhaps in the Levant it is.
If you mean that the common people had the ability to live their lives free from fear of random uprisings of violence, not really.
In this period, the Sublime Porte's firmans (decrees) of 1839 and, more decisively, of 1856 - equalizing the status of Muslim and non-Muslim subjects - produced a
"dramatic alienation of Muslims from Christians. The former resented the implied loss of superiority and recurrently assaulted and massacred Christian communities - in Aleppo in 1850, in Nablus in 1856, and in Damascus and Lebanon in 1860. Among the long-term consequences of these bitter internecine conflicts were the emergence of a Christian-dominated Lebanon in the 1920s - 40s and the deep fissure between Christian and Muslim Palestinian Arabs as they confronted the Zionist influx after World War I. "
I think its fair to say that Benny Morris (the author of that inner quote above), would argue that any history of the ethnic conflict in the region that doesn't go back before WWI is missing some important details.
The 1860 massacre Morris mentioned was by some accounts a full-blown Civil War, in which around 23,000 people died (many if not most civilians).
Afterward there was a rising tide of Arab Nationalism. The Ottoman approach from that point appears to have been to break the area up into smaller and smaller administrative units. That may have helped keep a bit of a lid on things for a few more decades, but when WWI broke out the Ottomans tried to suppress the nationalists, which touched off a full-blown rebellion.
This is not the picture of a contented, happy area.
* - If we count the Lebanese Civil War, it was only 50 years.
Peace in the Middle East
President Bush Outlines Where We Have Been, Where We Are Today, And Where The Region Can Go In The Years Ahead
On December 5, 2008, President Bush attended the Saban Forum to discuss American policy in the Middle East the past, the present, and his vision for the future. The President believes that no region is more fundamental to the security of America or the peace of the world than the Middle East: a free, peaceful Middle East will represent a source of promise, a home of opportunity, and a vital contributor to the prosperity of the world. Despite some frustrations and disappointments, the Middle East in 2008 is freer, more hopeful, and more promising than in 2001, with Israelis and Palestinians on the path to a two-state solution, 25 million Iraqis free from a brutal dictatorship, and many other examples of a brighter future to come.
In 2001, in the Holy Land, the collapse of the Camp David II peace talks had given way to the second Intifada, killing more than 500 Israelis and Palestinians, and neither side could envision a return to negotiations or the realistic possibility of a two-state solution. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein had begun his third decade as dictator. The Arab Human Development Report revealed high unemployment, poor education, high mortality rates for mothers, and almost no investment in technology.
- Following the 9/11 attacks, the United States realized that we were in a struggle with fanatics pledged to our destruction. We saw that repression and despair on the other side of the world could bring suffering and death to our own streets. With these new realities in mind, America reshaped our approach to the Middle East.
Supporting Allies, Isolating Adversaries, And Extending Freedom
In response to the 9/11 attacks, President Bush fundamentally reshaped our approach to the Middle East, based on three principles. We will defend our friends, our interests, and our people against any hostile attempt to dominate the Middle East whether by terror, blackmail, or the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
- President Bush took the offensive against the terrorists overseas, to break up extremist networks and deny them safe havens. President Bush strengthened partnerships with each nation that joined in the fight against terror. The United States deepened our security cooperation with allies like Jordan, Egypt, and our friends in the Gulf. Saudi Arabia became a determined partner in the fight against terror killing or capturing hundreds of al Qaeda operatives. We expanded counterterrorism cooperation with partners in North Africa. In addition, we have left no doubt that we would stand by our closest ally in the Middle East the state of Israel.
- While President Bush has made clear that Saddam Hussein was not connected to the 9/11 attacks, his decision to remove Saddam from power cannot be viewed in isolation from the attacks. It was clear to President Bush, members of both political parties, and many leaders around the world that after 9/11, we could not risk allowing a sworn enemy of America to have weapons of mass destruction, as intelligence agencies around the world believed Saddam did. The Administration went to the United Nations, which unanimously passed Resolution 1441 calling on Saddam Hussein to disclose and disarm, and offered Saddam Hussein a final chance to comply with the demands of the world. When he refused, the President acted with a coalition of nations to protect the American people and liberated 25 million Iraqis.
- The President is advancing a broader vision of liberty that includes economic prosperity, quality health care and education, and women's rights. This Administration has negotiated new free trade agreements in the region, supported Saudi Arabia's accession to the World Trade Organization, and proposed a new Middle East Free Trade Area. We are training Middle Eastern school teachers, translating children's books into Arabic, and helping young people get visas to study in the United States. Millennium Challenge agreements signed with Jordan and Morocco grant U.S. assistance in return for anti-corruption measures, free market policies that promote economic freedom, policies to govern justly and democratically, and investments in health and education. We are encouraging Middle Eastern women to get involved in politics, start their own businesses, and take charge of their health through wise practices like breast cancer screening.
- Last fall, President Bush hosted a historic summit at Annapolis to bring everyone together to start substantial negotiations. While they have not yet produced an agreement, important progress has been made, and there is now greater international consensus than at any point in recent memory. Israelis, Palestinians, and Arabs all recognize that the creation of a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state is in their interest. Through the Annapolis process, they have started down a path that will end with the two-state solution finally realized.
President Bush Is The First American President To Call For A Palestinian State
To advance these principles, President Bush has launched a sustained initiative to help bring peace to the Holy Land. The President has a vision of Palestine and Israel, living side-by-side in peace and security. Building support for the two-state solution has been one of the President's highest priorities. But the President made clear that no Palestinian state could be born of terror, and he backed Prime Minister Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza. The United States has included Arab leaders, because their support will be essential for a lasting peace.
Since The President Took Office, The Middle East Has Become More Free, Hopeful, And Promising
While challenges remain in the Middle East, the changes over the past eight years herald the beginning of something historic and new. Iraq has gone from an enemy of the United States to an ally. For the first time in three decades, the people of Lebanon are free from Syria's military occupation. Places like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are emerging as centers of commerce and models of modernity. The regime in Iran is facing greater pressure from the international community than ever before. Terrorist organizations like al Qaeda have failed in their attempts to take over nations and are increasingly facing rejection.
Historic Peace Treaty or Preparation for the Antichrist?
For evangelical Christians, it is difficult to look at major developments in the Middle East without wondering about biblical prophecy. Should we rejoice over the historic peace treaty between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain? Or is this leading to a dangerous, false peace that will only hasten the reign of the antichrist?
Let’s first recognize just how historic this peace treaty actually is.
For 30 years, from 1948 until 1978, not a single Middle Eastern nation made peace with Israel. It was not until 1979 that Egypt made that historic move, ultimately factoring into the assassination of the courageous Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat.
The next Middle Eastern (and Muslim) nation to make peace with Israel was Jordan in 1995, 16 years later. Since then, not a single Islamic, Middle Eastern nation has made peace with Israel. That is, until now, 25 years later.
Not only so, but this is the first time ever that two nations signed peace treaties on the same day. So, what previously took 47 years (from 1948 to 1995) took place in a matter of hours. This is completely beyond anything we have seen in the modern history of Israel.
Not only so, but this happened after President Trump moved our embassy to Jerusalem and after he officially recognized Israel’s possession of the Golan Heights. This makes the peace treaty all the more remarkable.
Let’s not forget that for years we were told that for America to make such moves would be disastrous, leading to an all-out war with the Muslim world. Instead, the aftermath has been a path of peace.
That’s why Boaz Bismuth’s article in Times of Israel was titled, “The Event That Will Change the History of the Middle East.” He wrote, “Even in a pandemic, we can allow ourselves to rejoice at the first open, warm peace between Israel and Arab countries, and ignore the cynics who are seeking to downplay the importance of today's events.”
Obviously, the Palestinians are anything but happy with the treaty. And the details of the agreement must be carefully analyzed.
But what cannot be denied is the magnitude of this treaty, which is being hailed as the Abraham Accords. As one of the official documents states, “this development will help lead to a future in which all peoples and all faiths can live together in the spirit of cooperation and enjoy peace and prosperity where states focus on shared interests and building a better future.”
Yet it is words like this that cause some prophecy-minded evangelicals to say, “Not so fast! After all, there will be no true peace in the Middle East until Jesus returns. Plus, there are prophetic scriptures that speak of a false peace orchestrated by the antichrist that will lull the world to sleep, leading to the slaughter of millions. Beware!”
Scriptures that would come to mind include 1 Thessalonians 5:3, where Paul wrote, “While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”
Also relevant is Ezekiel 38:11-12, where the hostile nations will say about Israel, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.”
Who could imagine the nation of Israel described as “a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars”? Who could imagine Israel putting its guard down?
Yet, according to some prophecy teachers, this passage will be fulfilled at the end of this age. In that light, shouldn’t the Abraham Accords, which Trump described as “the dawn of a new Middle East,” be viewed with great suspicion, especially if five or six other nations follow suit and join the peace process?
As someone who has been studying the Bible intensively for the better part of the last 50 years, I can say with absolute confidence that I do not know.
I do not know if this will prepare the way for the antichrist.
I do not know if this will ultimately hurt Israel more than it helps Israel.
But what I do know is that Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
What I do know is that Paul wrote, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
I do know that it is better for Israel to have more friends than more enemies.
That being said, if sudden and dramatic peace came to the Middle East, I would be both hopeful and cautious.
Would this be the result of decades (if not centuries) of prayer and years of diplomacy? Or would it be the first step towards a dangerous, one-world government that will ultimately oppose God Himself?
Obviously, only God knows. But when it comes to making national decisions, they must be based on pragmatism more than prophecy. That’s because religious believers from all backgrounds have often misinterpreted prophecy before it unfolds, wrongly predicting the end of the world or the return (or coming) of the Messiah.
But speaking of prophecy, this same Bible I have been quoting speaks of the day when nations like Egypt and Assyria (today, Iraq) will join together and worship the God of Israel after a time of great upheaval and judgment. As stated by the prophet Isaiah, “In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.’” (Isaiah 19:24-25)
In fact, Isaiah prophesied about other Arabian nations turning to the God of Israel through the Messiah (see Isaiah 42:11 60:7)
And so, while only the Lord Himself knows the implications of this important peace treaty, at the least, let’s be glad that leaders are meeting together rather than killing each other. And let us see the Abraham Accords as a reminder of the day when all the nations of the earth will come to Jerusalem to worship the Lord (Isaiah 2:1-4).
Peace in the Post-Cold War World
Twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the world is a freer and more open place. From the former Soviet republics and the buffer countries of Central and Eastern Europe to Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Far East, the fall of the Soviet Union has led to a cascade of political and economic advances rarely before seen in human history.
According to Freedom House, there were 69 electoral democracies in 1990 today there are 115 -- an increase of more than 60 percent. In dozens of countries, centrally planned economies stifled innovation and entrepreneurship. Today, economic liberalization has, albeit imperfectly, created new opportunities and rising incomes that would have seemed unimaginable more than two decades ago. Yet beyond these advances, perhaps the most important development that came with the fall of the Soviet Union is frequently forgotten -- the world is today a demonstrably safer place.
To many observers, that might sound like heresy. The post-Soviet world, after all, has been marred by seemingly constant civil and global conflict -- the Gulf War in 1991, the ethnic cleansing and bloody civil war in the former Yugoslavia, the genocide in Rwanda, the unending fighting in the Congo, Sudan, and Somalia, the terrorist attacks on September 11 and the ongoing American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. American politicians repeatedly warn of the dangerous and unsafe world that we inhabit.
Moreover, didn't the Cold War prevent large-scale wars between great powers and keep ethnic and national tension suppressed? The threat of nuclear conflict certainly helped to prevent World War III, but it hardly stopped dozens of countries from waging horribly violent wars. On the Korean peninsula, in South-East Asia, across the Middle East, on the Indian subcontinent, and across sub-Saharan Africa, conflict was a relatively common state of affairs during the Cold War. Many of these conflicts were exacerbated by the machinations of the competing super powers. Would millions have died in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan if these three countries had not been considered the frontlines in the conflict between Cold War rivals?
In fact, the Soviet Union's demise sped up rather than slowed down the global movement toward a safer and more secure world. The reality is that today, wars are rarer than ever before. According to the 2009/2010 Human Security Report, state-based armed conflict declined by 40 percent from 1992 to 2003. And when wars occur, they are less deadly for both combatants and civilians. The average war so far in the 21st century kills 90 percent fewer people than the average conflict in the 1950s. The last ten years have seen fewer war deaths than any decade of the past century.
The world has not seen a major power conflict in more than six decades -- the longest period of sustained peace between great powers in centuries. Finally, insurgent groups, rather than governments, are the greatest cause of civilian deaths today -- a worrisome trend for sure, but one that stands in sharp contrast to much of the 20th century, in which nations devised new and ingenious methods for slaughtering millions of their own citizens.
But there is a larger reality of the post-Cold War world -- the threat of nuclear conflict has declined dramatically. From the late 1940s to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the potential for a devastating nuclear exchange that would destroy the globe and wipe out mankind was a distinct and real possibility.
As Micah Zenko, a Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told me, the period from roughly 1982 to 1984 was "the least safe time to live on earth. The number of deployed nuclear weapons was obscene overkill, and potential flashpoints for a U.S.-Soviet conflict were many." Nuclear weapons were far more widely-dispersed across the Soviet Union than they are today, and launch authority remained at shockingly low levels even into the 1980s. While the threat of nuclear war may have always been a low possibility, it was still real distorting and disrupting international affairs for much of the 20th century. While there remains the extremely slim risk of accidental launches or nuclear terrorism, ridding ourselves of this existential burden has been a boon rather than a detriment to the conduct of international affairs.
For all the challenges to global security we face today, they pale in comparison to the threat of superpower war and the proxy battles that defined the four decades of ideological and geopolitical conflict between East and West. The fall of Soviet Russia, for all of its many positive ramifications, helped to end the constant danger of a war that would truly and catastrophically "end all wars." A more complex but decidedly more secure and safer world has replaced it.
Rapture and End Times
Joint Statement of the United States, the State of Israel, and the United Arab Emirates / ABU DHABI, August 13, 2020 (WAM)
President Donald J Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates spoke today and agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region. All three countries face many common challenges and will mutually benefit from today’s historic achievement.
Delegations from Israel and the United Arab Emirates will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit. Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation, and forging closer people-to-people relations.
As a result of this diplomatic breakthrough, and at the request of President Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world. The United States, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates are confident that additional diplomatic breakthroughs with other nations are possible, and will work together to achieve this goal.
The United Arab Emirates and Israel will immediately expand and accelerate cooperation regarding the treatment of and the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus. Working together, these efforts will help save Muslim, Jewish, and Christian lives throughout the region.
The normalization of relations and peaceful diplomacy will bring together two of America’s most reliable and capable regional partners. Israel and the United Arab Emirates will join with the United States to launch a Strategic Agenda for the Middle East to expand diplomatic, trade, and security cooperation. Along with the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates share a similar outlook regarding the threats and opportunities in the region, as well as a shared commitment to promoting stability through diplomatic engagement, increased economic integration, and closer security coordination. Today’s agreement will lead to better lives for the people of the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and the region.
The United States and Israel recall with gratitude the appearance of the United Arab Emirates at the White House reception held on January 27, 2020, at which President Trump presented his Vision, and express their appreciation for United Arab Emirates’ related supportive statements. The parties will continue their efforts in this regard to achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As set forth in the Vision for Peace, all Muslims who come in peace may visit and pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque, and Jerusalem’s other holy sites should remain open for peaceful worshipers of all faiths.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan express their deep appreciation to President Trump for his dedication to peace in the region and for the pragmatic and unique approach he has taken to achieve it.
Trump announces ‘Historic Peace Agreement’ between Israel, UAE / Fox News, August 13, 2020
The president said the action would be known as the “Abraham Accord,” named for the “father of all three great faiths.”
“No person better symbolizes the potential for unity of these three great faiths,” U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said from the Oval Office Thursday.
The agreement makes the UAE the third Arab country to normalize ties with Israel, following Egypt’s peace deal in 1979 and one with Jordan in 1994.
As “watchmen on the wall” we want to alert you to an upcoming, still in the future event – a Arab-Israeli Peace Agreement. This upcoming comprehensive international peace treaty is the major End Times sign, and indicates the beginning of the 7 year Tribulation. It is the prophetic trip wire that is more critical than any other modern sign.
He will make a firm covenant
with many for one week,
but in the middle of the week
he will put a stop to sacrifice and offering.
And the abomination of desolation
will be on a wing of the temple
until the decreed destruction
is poured out on the desolator. (Daniel 9:27)
In prophetic analysis, we look at the key people and current events from a multidimensional perspective. This gives us an insight into when “the time is fulfilled.”
Biblical prophetic analysis requires a thorough understanding of the Old and New Testament, Jewish customs, history, economics, geopolitics, and semiotics. A correct understanding of the sequence and timing of key End Time events is necessary. We monitor current events world-wide, using multiple sources. We track patterns and upticks of End Times categories, comparing them to specific prophecies.
The Bible has a great deal to say about many current events:
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled. The Lord put it into the mind of King Cyrus of Persia to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and also to put it in writing:This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build Him a temple at Jerusalem in Judah. Whoever among you of His people may go up, and may the Lord his God be with him. (2 Chronicles 36:22-23)
Cyrus the Great (around 600 B.C.) figures in the Hebrew Bible as the patron and deliverer of the Jews. He is mentioned 20 times by name and alluded to several times more. According to the Bible, in the first year of his reign he was prompted by God to make a decree that the Temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt and that such Jews as cared to might return to their land for this purpose. Moreover, he showed his interest in the project by sending back with them the sacred vessels which had been taken from the First Temple and a considerable sum of money with which to buy building materials.
Donald Trump appears to be a modern day version of Cyrus the Great. As President of the United States, he is one of the most powerful leaders in human history. He wants to help Israel. This peace agreement would pave the way for the Temple to be rebuilt.
What is wrong with a “peace and security” agreement? Who would not want peace, especially Israel, who is surrounded by potential enemies? What does the Word say?
And the Lord responded: “Look, I am making a covenant. I will perform wonders in the presence of all your people that have never been done in all the earth or in any nation. All the people you live among will see the Lord’s work, for what I am doing with you is awe-inspiring. Observe what I command you today. I am going to drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Be careful not to make a treaty with the inhabitants of the land that you are going to enter otherwise, they will become a snare among you. Instead, you must tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, and chop down their Asherah poles. You are never to bow down to another god because Yahweh, being jealous by nature, is a jealous God.
“Do not make a treaty with the inhabitants of the land, or else when they prostitute themselves with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, they will invite you, and you will eat their sacrifices. (Exodus 34:10-15)
There is a plan to make a one-world religion that would harm us in ways that we do not perceive. God is warning us to not become a part of this fellowship of apostate Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other religions melded together to form a one world religion that all must follow. All this is supposed to be done in the name of PEACE.
Israel is being pushed into a regional peace agreement, in order to form an alliance against Iran. All the major players are picking sides right now, for the upcoming Shia vs. Sunni war, as outlined in the Book of Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39.
How the Gulf States Got in Bed With Israel and Forgot About the Palestinian Cause / FP, March 28, 2019
Benjamin Netanyahu is building ties with anti-Iran Arab leaders from Riyadh to Doha and betting that a peace deal is no longer a necessary prerequisite for normalizing diplomatic ties.
The new relationship between the Gulf and Israel is part of a larger shift that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is trying to spearhead, whereby regional Sunni Arab states openly align themselves with Israel in opposition to Iran. The White House sees a watered-down Israeli-Palestinian peace deal as part of this process.
Before leaving for Chad on Jan. 20, Netanyahu called his visit, which marked the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries after they were severed in 1972, “part of the revolution that we are doing in the Arab and Islamic worlds I promised you that this would happen. … There will be more countries,” he vowed. He has similarly been forthcoming in disclosing Israel’s not-so-secret ties with the “sons of Ishmael” all the while continuing to declare that not a single West Bank settler would be forced to leave on his watch.
Why Israel needs new regional alliances / Al-Monitor, April 24, 2018
Most important is to establish a new regional alliance, based on the Arab Peace Initiative first proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002 that is still valid until today. It would actually be a defense treaty between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Israel. Its strategic goal would be building a military and technological shield against Iran. It would develop and produce a Star Wars-like project much like President Ronald Reagan’s to forestall and pre-empt the Iranian ballistic nuclear arsenal this would be the result of scientific and financial cooperation among the member states. This new alliance will have additional defensive tasks in thwarting terrorism and subversion in the Middle East.
To be clear, this indispensable alliance will never be built if the two-state solution is not fully implemented. A clear conclusion from all my meetings across the region in recent years is that there is no Arab leader — no matter how fearful of Iran — who would agree to stand under a defense umbrella with Israel absent this solution, thereby abandoning the Palestinian cause. The solution is a Palestinian sovereign state, in the approximate 1967 borders, demilitarized, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The significance of Pope Francis’ UAE visit is impossible to exaggerate / Fox News, February 5, 2019
The crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, knew exactly what he was doing when he invited Pope Francis to visit the Arabian Peninsula to inaugurate the UAE’s “Year of Tolerance.” The visit, which is underway now, represents a historic first in 1,400 years of Islamic history, and it is impossible to exaggerate its significance.
Never before has a sitting pontiff been invited by a Muslim ruler to visit the Peninsula which also plays host to Islam’s holiest sites of Mecca and Medina.
The visit is not taking place in the shadows, either. Pope Francis will deliver a public mass for more than 120,000 residents of the United Arab Emirates in the national stadium. That gathering, which will represent one of the largest public gatherings in the history of the Arab Sheikhdom, will be broadcast on live television throughout the entire Islamic world, as will the pope’s visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and his meetings with various religious leaders from around the world who are gathered here to commemorate his visit.
We believe that the Beast (along with the Dragon), assisted by the False Prophet, will use Chrislam to finalize the Israeli-Palestinian “land for peace” treaty, which will allow the Third Temple to be built. This will begin the dark 7 year period called the Tribulation.
Zehut’s Feiglin says he wants to build Third Temple right away / The Times of Israel, April 3, 2019
The head of the far-right quasi-libertarian Zehut party said Wednesday that he wants to rebuild the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem immediately.
“I don’t want to build a (Third) Temple in one or two years, I want to build it now,” Moshe Feiglin said at a Maariv/Jerusalem Post conference in Tel Aviv, referring to the site that currently houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque and where both Jewish Temples stood in the past.
The Christian understanding of apostasy is a willful falling away from, or rebellion against, Christian truth. What is happening here is a rebellion against Christianity by society at large. The apostasy reaches the point where the “man of lawlessness” declares himself to be God.
We have witnessed a growing apostasy led by the Pope, who calls for a world religion. Essentially, the “Christlam” movement (a culturally designed combination religion of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in the interest of peace) is a rejection of salvation by Jesus Christ alone.
Chrislam is our 21st century act of syncretism, by trying to promote a culturally designed combination religion of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in the interest of peace.
The spirit of antichrist is the spirit that operates through every antichrist. Antichrist does not deny the existence of God. In fact, he claims to be God’s representative. What he does deny is the relationship of the Father and the Son within the Godhead. A main manifestation of the spirit of antichrist is Islam, the religion of Mohammed.
Islam emerged in the seventh century in what is today Saudi Arabia. The traditional account maintains that God revealed his will to Muhammad (AD 570?–632) in a series of revelations dictated by the angel Gabriel over roughly 20 years. These revelations, codified and put into writing after Muhammad’s death, compose the Quran, accepted by Muslims as the Word of God. The Quran is said to be God’s definitive revelation, the culmination of earlier revelations to numerous prophets, including Jews and Christians (called “People of the Book” in the Quran). Muhammad is said to be the last and greatest of the prophets.
Pope and Moroccan King Call for ‘Peaceful Coexistence’ in Jerusalem / The Associated Press, March 30, 2019
Pope Francis and Moroccan King Mohammed VI are calling for Jerusalem to be preserved as a symbol of peaceful coexistence and for Muslims, Jews and Christians to be allowed to worship there freely.
The appeal said it was important to preserve the Holy City “as the common patrimony of humanity and especially the followers of the three monotheistic religions, as a place of encounter and as a symbol of peaceful coexistence, where mutual respect and dialogue can be cultivated.”
What is the “Abraham Accord” really about?
About the times and the seasons: Brothers, you do not need anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
When they say, “Peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains come on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
But you, brothers, are not in the dark, for this day to overtake you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. So then, we must not sleep, like the rest, but we must stay awake and be serious. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, we must be serious and put the armor of faith and love on our chests, and put on a helmet of the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. ( 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)
What will happen next? The Bible gives us the answer:
You nations, come here and listen
you peoples, pay attention!
Let the earth hear, and all that fills it,
the world and all that comes from it.
The Lord is angry with all the nations—
furious with all their armies.
He will set them apart for destruction,
giving them over to slaughter.
Their slain will be thrown out,
and the stench of their corpses will rise
the mountains will flow with their blood. (Isaiah 34:1-3)
If you are not sure that you are saved, you can accept Christ into your life right now, by praying:
“Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you in to my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior.”
Israel and Palestine: What is the history of the conflict between them in the Middle East
Egypt reopens Gaza crossing for 3 days RAFAH, GAZA - AUGUST 13: Palestinians wait before crossing the border after Egypt opened the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip for three days, in Rafah, Gaza on August 13, 2020. The terminal will remain open in both directions to allow Palestinian travelers to leave and those stranded to return to Gaza, the embassy said in a statement. (Photo by Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
August 13, 2020 at 5:03 pm CDT By Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Editor
The dispute goes back thousands of years and encompasses a basic, but ancient point of contention.
On one side is Palestine which sits along the Mediterranean coast, a 140-mile stretch of land north of Egypt and west of the country it considers its most hated enemy.
On the other side is the state of Israel, created by an agreement between a collection of nations following the Second World War, and carved out of the ancestral lands of the Palestinian people.
From the time of the beginning of the Israeli state, Arabs in the Middle East have decried the actions of the United Nations in the formation of the Jewish homeland. While Israel held fast to its claim to the region around the holy city of Jerusalem, Arabs claimed the land was theirs and had always been, including Jerusalem, which is central to the tenets of Islam.
Here is a look at the past 100 years of turmoil in the Middle East between Palestinians and Israelis.
At the end of the First World War in 1918, Britain was put in charge of the area. The League of Nations, a precursor to the United Nations, issued a mandate which formalized British rule over parts of the Levant, which was the region that comprises countries to the east of the Mediterranean. Part of the mandate called on Britain to establish a Jewish national homeland there. The mandate went into effect in 1923 and established an area called Mandatory Palestine.
Britain was given this duty at the end of World War I when the winning European and regional powers divided up what was the former Ottoman Empire. Britain was given the area known as Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) and Palestine (modern-day Israel, Palestine and Jordan).
Following the mandate, Jewish migrants headed to Mandatory Palestine and began populating the area. Tensions arose in the area as Jewish institutions were established.
Over the next 20 years, British support for the mandate and the establishment of an independent Jewish state waned.
A year after World War II ended, Britain granted Jordan independence. The United Kingdom declared that it would terminate the mandate in Palestine on May 14, 1948.
The United Nations, which had been formed after the end of WWII, took up the “Question of Palestine.” The body drafted a Plan of Partition that was approved by its General Assembly on Nov. 29, 1947.
The United Nations plan called for a partition of Palestine into two sections: an independent Jewish state and an independent Arab state. Jerusalem was carved out of the partition and made an internationalized territory.
While the diplomats at the U.N. and Jewish immigrants to the region signed on to the plan, it was rejected by most of the Arab world.
One day after the partition, war broke out between Israel and five Arab countries: Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon. When the fighting, which became known as the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, ended, Israel had more territory than envisaged under the Partition Plan, Egypt was given control of the Gaza Strip and Jordan annexed the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.
That arrangement lasted for nearly 20 years and saw up to a million Jewish refugees come to the new state of Israel.
In 1967 the Six-Day War broke out. At the end of that war, Israel occupied East Jerusalem and has kept it since then.
Tension grew in the ensuing years and in 1972, Palestinian "Black September" gunmen took the Israeli Olympic athletes hostage at the Munich Olympics. Two of the athletes are murdered initially, and seven others died during a failed rescue attempt by German authorities.
A year later, in October 1973, Egypt and Syria launch a coordinated attack against Israeli forces in the occupied Sinai and Golan Heights. Israel was able to repel Egypt and Syria.
In May 1977, Menachem Begin was elected prime minister. By November of that year, he and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, along with American mediators and President Jimmy Carter, were working together to craft the Camp David Accords. The peace plan saw Israel's withdrawal from Sinai and Egypt's recognition of Israel. The accords also pledged Israel to expand Palestinian self-government in the West Bank and Gaza.
In June 1982, Israeli forces invaded Lebanon in order to expel the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO had tried to assassinate the Israeli ambassador to Britain.
Three years later, in 1985, Israel withdrew from Lebanon while remaining in a narrow “security zone” along the country’s border.
In December 1987, the Hamas movement was born. Hamas directed violent attacks against Isreal.
In 1990, the area became more crowded when Jews were allowed to emigrate from Russia to Israel. Some one million Russian Jews moved to the region.
In October 1991, the Madrid conference brought Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestinian representatives together for the first time since 1949 to talk about the region and its future.
In 1992, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin vowed to stop the settlement expansion program. Rabin opened secret talks with the PLO to work toward an agreement. The meetings with PLO leader Yasser Arafat led to the Oslo Declaration. The Declaration aimed to create a plan for Palestinian self-government.
In the spring and early summer of 1994, Israel withdrew from most of Gaza and the West Bank city of Jericho. The PLO administration moved in and set up the Palestinian National Authority.
In September 1995, Rabin and Arafat signed an agreement for transfer of further territory to the Palestinian National Authority.
By May 1996, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to halt further concessions to Palestinians. Netanyahu went on to sign the Hebron Protocol and Wye River Memorandum, which removed troops from the West Bank.
In May 2000, Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon.
In March 2002, Operation Defensive Shield was launched on the West Bank after an increase in Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel.
Three months later, Israel began building a wall in and around the West Bank.
Once again, world powers intervened to work for peace in the Middle East when the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations proposed a road map to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The proposal included an independent Palestinian state and a freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
In September 2005, all Jewish settlers and military personnel were withdrawn from Gaza.
In 2006, clashes with Hamas and Lebanon drew Israeli attacks and escalated into the Second Lebanon War.
In November 2007, the Annapolis Conference proposed a "two-state solution" for the first time. In December 2008, Israel launched a month-long invasion of Gaza to prevent rockets from being launched.
In May 2010, pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed as Israelis boarded a ship while trying to break a blockade of Gaza.
In November 2012, Israel launched a seven-day military campaign against Gaza-based groups that had for months launched rocket attacks against Israeli cities.
In July and August of 2014, Israel responded to attacks by armed groups in Gaza with a military campaign by air and land.
In September 2016, the U.S. provided Israel with a military aid package worth $38 billion.
In February 2017, the Israeli Parliament passed a law that retroactively legalized dozens of Jewish settlements that had been built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank, and four months later, work began on the first new Jewish settlement in the West Bank in more than 25 years.
President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017. Palestine and the rest of the Arab world signaled their disapproval. Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
In 2019, the US said it no longer considered Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal.
On August 13, 2020, Israel and the United Arab Emirates reached a peace deal that will lead to full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two nations and calls for Israel to suspend its plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank.
[a]. ^ Unification of Saudi Arabia (combined casualties 7,989–8,989+)
Battle of Riyadh (1902) – 37 killed. Battle of Dilam (1903) – 410 killed. Saudi–Rashidi War (1903–1907) – 2,300+ killed. Annexation of Al-Hasa and Qatif (1913) – unknown. Battle of Jarrab (1915) – unknown. Battle of Kanzaan (1915) – unknown. First Nejd–Hejaz War, 1918–1919 – 8,392+ killed  Kuwait–Najd War (1921) – 200  –800 killed. 1921 Ikhwan raid on Iraq – 700 killed. Conquest of Ha'il – unknown. Ikhwan raids on Transjordan 1922–1924 – 500  -1,500 killed. Second Nejd–Hejaz War (1924–1925) – 450 killed.  Ikhwan Revolt (1927–1930) – 2,000 killed. 
[p]. ^ Middle Eastern theatre of World War I (combined casualty figure 2,825,000–5,000,000) of:
[b]. ^ Turkish War of Independence (combined figure 170,500–873,000+):
Greco-Turkish War – 70,000 [ citation needed ] –400,000 casualties  [ verification needed ] Franco-Turkish War – 40,000 casualties. [ citation needed ] Turkish–Armenian War – 60,000–432,500 casualties.  Koçkiri Rebellion – 500 killed. [ citation needed ] Revolt of Ahmet Anzavur – unknown. Kuva-i Inzibatiye revolt – unknown.
[c]. ^ Iraqi–Kurdish conflict (combined casualty figure 138,800–320,100) of:
Mahmud Barzanji revolts – unknown. Ahmad Barzanji revolt (1931) – unknown. 1943 Iraqi Kurdish revolt (1943) – unknown. First Iraqi–Kurdish War (1961–1970) – 75,000–105,000 killed.   Second Iraqi–Kurdish War (1974–1975) – 9,000 killed. 
600,000 displaced   PUK insurgency (1976–1978) – 800 killed. Iraqi Kurdish uprising (1982–1988) – 50,000–198,000 killed. 1991 Uprising in As Sulaymaniyah – 700–2,000 killed. Iraqi Kurdish Civil War (1994–1997) – 3,000  –5,000 killed. 2003 invasion of Iraq – several hundred killed (
300) on the Kurdish front, at least 24 Peshmerga killed.
[d]. ^ Middle Eastern theatre of World War II (combined casualty figure 12,338–14,898+) of:
[e]. ^ Iran crisis of 1946 (combined casualty figure 1,921+):
1,000 killed. [ citation needed ] Civil interregnum – 500 killed. 
[f]. ^ Arab–Israeli conflict (combined casualty figure 76,338–87,338+):
Arab–Israeli War (1948–1949) – 14,400 casualties. Palestinian Fedayeen insurgency and Retribution operations (1950s) – 3,456 casualties Suez War (1956) – 3,203 killed. Israeli–Palestinian conflict (1965–present) – 24,000 killed Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon – 2,600–20,000 killed Operation Litani 1982 Lebanon War First Palestinian Intifada – 2,000 killed Al-Aqsa Intifada – 7,000 killed Gaza–Israel conflict – 3,500+ killed Six Day War (1967) – 13,976 killed. War of Attrition (1967–1970) – 6,403 killed. Yom Kippur War (1973) 10,000–21,000. 
[g]. ^ North Yemen Civil War (combined 100,000–200,000 casualties):
[h]. ^ Lebanese Civil War (combined 39,132–43,970+ mortal casualties):
Bus massacre – 27 killed. Hundred Days' War – 160 killed. Karantina massacre – 1,000–1,500 killed. Damour massacre – 684 killed. Battle of the Hotels – 700 killed. Black Saturday (Lebanon) – 200–600 killed. Tel al-Zaatar massacre – 1,778–3,278 killed. 1982 Lebanon War – 28,280 killed. Sabra and Shatila massacre – 762–3,500 killed. War of the Camps (1986–1987) – 3,781 killed. Mountain War – 1,600 killed. War of Liberation (1989–1990) – unknown. October 13 massacre – 500–700 killed, 260 civilians massacred.
1979 Kurdish rebellion in Iran – 10,171+ killed and executed.   1979 Khuzestan uprising – 112+ killed. 1979 Khorasan uprising – unknown. 1979 Azeri uprising – unknown. 1979 Baluchistan uprising – 50 killed. Iran hostage crisis – 9 killed. 1979–1980 Tehran clashes – unknown.
[j]. ^ Iran–Iraq War (combined death count 645,000–823,000+):
[k]. ^ Iraq War 2003–2011 (combined casualty figure of 192,361–226,056+):
1921 Jaffa riots – 95 killed 1929 Palestine riots – 251 killed.   1933 Palestine riots – 20 killed.  Arab Revolt in Palestine – 5,000 killed.  Jewish insurgency in Palestine (1944–47) – 338 British  and around 100 Palestinian Jews killed. 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine – 2,009 killed by 1 April 1948. 
O God of Mercy and Tender Compassion,
We cry out to you in this time of crisis.
Hear the cries of the people of Syria.
Bring healing to those suffering from violence
and comfort to those mourning the dead.
O God of Hope,
sustain those who labor for peaceful and just solutions.
Inspire leaders and decision makers to choose the way of peace over the way of violence.
Deliver all your children from the threat of war
and teach us to encounter one another with reverence and love.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ
Who came to bring to peace on earth
And who abides with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.
Shifts in the Middle East Balance of Power: An Historical Perspective
The international conference “Shaping a New Balance of Power in the Middle East: Regional Actors, Global Powers, and Middle East Strategy”, co-hosted by Aljazeera Centre for Studies (AJCS) and John Hopkins University (JHU) in Washington earlier this summer, has triggered wider debate about the nature and the promise of an emerging balance of power in the region. New questions are raised about how a new balance can be different from the traditional U.S.-Soviet politics of bipolarity and rival proxies, the impact of new players, the power of militant groups and other non-state actors, and whether any emerging balance of power can be sustainable in the future. For instance, the Gulf and the Middle East are suffering a paroxysm of conflict involving virtually all the regional states as well as the US and Russia and many different non-state actors. What dynamics are driving this chaos? What can be done to contain or reverse the damage? How might a new balance of power emerge?
As part of a special series “Shaping a New Balance of Power in the Middle East”, AJCS welcomes the insights of one of the panelists Professor Ross Harrison of Georgetown University. He traces the current power dynamics in the Middle East back to the onset of the Cold War and the simultaneous emergence of many of the Arab countries from the yoke of European colonialism into independence.As he illustrates in this paper, it was the collapse of the global Cold War system nearly four decades later that set the Middle East on its course for the future. The end of the Cold War set all states in the region, but particularly erstwhile Soviet allies, scrambling for new domestic legitimacy formulas and regional security frameworks. This and the period of American unipolarity that followed the end of the Cold War led to a regional power imbalance, which the Middle East is still contending with today.
While the end of the Cold War spawned a resistance front, consisting of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, against the United States and its regional allies, Harrison asserts it is also important to acknowledge that the conflict in the Middle East is more than just about revisionist and status quo powers. Another twist of the kaleidoscope reveals that because of the civil wars, the Middle East has morphed into a tripartite system, consisting of a struggle for power between Iranian, Arab and Turkish nationalisms.
The challenge for the future will be to reduce the incentives for revisionist versus status quo behavior. The opportunity is to instead reinforce the notion of joint stewardship of the regional system through regional cooperation and the creation of a regional security architecture. While this will prove a difficult road, it is the only viable path for leaders of the region to provide security and prosperity to their increasingly restive populations. This will also be the task for the international powers, which have an incentive to push in this direction, given the potential for disturbances in the Middle East to sow instability across the globe.
The Middle East has undergone several geopolitical transformations over the decades since World War II. While these in part were driven by political and economic realities indigenous to the region, the most profound changes have come about through the actions of outside actors, first by the Europeans and later by the United States and the Soviet Union.
Today the Middle East is enduring another transformation, perhaps the most consequential of this region’s already fraught political history. Even though Russia and the United States are engaged in the region’s hotspots, the metamorphous ongoing today is mostly driven by local and regional factors. The Arab Spring, the ensuing collapse of the Arab political order, and the ongoing civil wars, are the drivers of an emerging new Middle East political order. (1)
To get a sense of what is driving this metamorphous, and what trajectory this is likely to put the region on in the future, it is critical that we examine how the Middle East has evolved up to this point. The argument advanced here is that the most important historical factor to look at is how the end of the Cold War, and the ensuing era of American primacy, triggered a rebalancing of power in the region, giving birth to some of the problems we are contending with in the Middle East today.
It will also be argued that the most important current factor shaping the new Middle East are the ongoing civil wars, within which regional and international powers are contending. If we are going to think about policy scenarios and strategies for moving the region from chaos to at least a modicum of stability, we need to understand both the historical dynamics that got us to where we are today, as well as the current factors that are helping shape the future.
The Cold War in the Middle East
While the Cold War has been over for almost three decades, the legacy of this rivalrous period is still having an impact on the Middle East. The reason this period of superpower competition was so profound, and is now critical for understanding the region, is that its advent corresponded with the liberation of most Arab countries from the yoke of European colonialism. From the bookends of Syria and Lebanon gaining their sovereignty in 1946 to Algeria throwing off French rule in 1962, almost all former European colonial holdings became independent Arab states.
Each of these fledgling Arab countries had specific security, political and economic needs as they struggled to make the transition from colony to independent state. The omnipresent security threat for most Arab states was a fear of European colonial revanchism. There was also the perception that the creation of the state of Israel represented a form of neo-colonialism. Many of the states, particularly those without significant oil assets like Syria, faced economic challenges that they looked to outside powers to help alleviate.
Both the United States and the Soviet Union saw this emerging Arab landscape as fertile ground upon which to compete with the global ambitions of the other. Each of the superpowers competed for Arab allies in an effort gain the upper regional hand, thereby containing what they saw as the nefarious ambitions of their adversary.
It was the convergence of the needs of the newly independent Arab countries for outside support, and the available supply of that support from the United States and Soviet Union, that created the modern Middle East. Arab states, at their most vulnerable moment of transitioning from colonial vassals to independent states, sought and received support from the superpowers. Conservative monarchies, like Jordan and Saudi Arabia, fell squarely into the camp of the United States, risking their domestic legitimacy to ensure regime security. Syria, Libya, Iraq and Egypt (up until 1978), states whose legitimacy depended on the flouting of European and American norms, aligned themselves with the Soviet Union. (2) Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser, initially in the 1950s tried to resist superpower entreaties and pursued a policy of non-alignment. But even he ultimately succumbed to the reality that this wasn’t sustainable and aligned his country with the U.S.S.R. (3)
Non-Arab countries too figured into the Cold War equation, though they weren’t as contested by the superpowers as the Arab states. Turkey, Iran and Israel all tacked towards the west, putting them squarely in the U.S. camp. (4) The result of this intersection between the advent of the Cold War and the security and economic needs of independent Arab states is that the region started to mimic the bipolar structure of the international system. Evidence of this was an Arab Cold War that mirrored the global superpower conflict. This divided the Arab world into two camps, with the Soviet backed, leftist leaning, Arab nationalist camp led by Egypt’s Nasser pitted against the more conservative U.S. supported camp, consisting of Saudi Arabia and Jordan. (5)
What is most important about the Cold War period is that it engendered a Middle East political order that persisted from the 1940s until the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. (6) It was the collapse of this order, and the ensuing dislocations this caused, which best helps us understand how changes in global geopolitics have contributed to the current power struggles we see in the Middle East today.
The Collapse of the Cold War Regional Order
Political transitions from one era to another are always messy. The political order that was established during the Cold War started to fray even before the formal collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 1977 Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat stunned the Arab world and the West by going to Jerusalem, forging a peace treaty with Israel in 1978, and upending a decades-long alliance with the Soviet Union, realigning Egypt squarely in the U.S. camp. In 1979, U.S. ally Iran underwent an Islamic revolution, which at its core repudiated the Shah’s close alliance with the United States. And in 1990, as the Soviet Union was close to collapse, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, in effect testing the strength of the prevailing regional order. While these events put pressure on the Cold War regional order that had defined the Middle East since the end of World War II, it was the formal collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that delivered the biggest geopolitical shock to the Middle East.
There were several effects of this momentous event that rocked the region. First, all countries aligned with either superpower took a strategic haircut. For the United States and the Soviet Union, alliances in the region were seen largely as instruments for battling and containing each other. When the Soviet Union collapsed, this strategic imperative ended for the United States. While the Middle East remained important to Washington given its reliance on oil and gas from the Persian Gulf and ties with Israel, the Cold War glue that held the United States riveted to the region gave way. Two decades later, this provided the impetus to the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia”. (7)
Second, former Soviet allies were left holding the bag. While all states were affected by the end of the Cold War, erstwhile Soviet allies like Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen (South) had to reconfigure their economic and political social contracts, as well as their foreign policies. It is no mere coincidence that these are the countries that today are mired in civil war.
Syria, for example, tried to make the transition from a sprawling public sector to a private-sector oriented economy, partially because of the loss of Soviet economic aid. Because of the entrenched economic interests that had developed from the planned economy during the Cold War, Syria’s transition to a more market-oriented approach wasn’t as complete as those who saw Bashar Assad as a reformer would have liked. This along with the lack of liberalization of the political system contributed to the discontent that percolated through Syria in 2011, and ultimately plunged the country into civil war. (8)
In Yemen, the end of the Cold War coincided with the unity between North and South. While the Soviets began winding down their support for South Yemen (PDRY) before the Cold War ended, Salim al-Bidh from South Yemen and Ali Abdullah Saleh from the North began discussing unification, which was consummated in 1990. According to Charles Dunbar, who had been the U.S. ambassador to Saana at the time, Moscow’s changed attitudes towards Eastern Europe and elsewhere as the Cold War was winding down, translated into the leadership in the South feeling compelled to strike the best deal with the North as possible. (9)
Equally profound was the effect the end of the Cold War had on the foreign policies of former Soviet allies. American allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel, maintained their relationship with the only remaining superpower, retaining the security umbrella they derived from this relationship. Former Soviet allies lost their security umbrellas, and in the case of South Yemen, also its socialist identity.
Also, the end of the Cold War upended the regional power balance. Since Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel during the 1967 war, it has tried to build enough leverage to negotiate a repatriation of this strategic territory. With the termination of the Cold War, the leverage Syria derived from its Soviet patron vis-à-vis Israel evaporated almost overnight. Moreover, Syria, Iraq and Libya, states which had positioned themselves during the Cold War as challengers to the regional status quo, lost the Soviet superpower engine that enabled that kind of a stance.
Each former Soviet ally dealt with this geopolitical shock of the lost Soviet patron in a different way. Libya, which under Qaddafi had the reputation as the “bad boy” of the Arab world, voluntarily renounced its nuclear weapons program, and quickly improved its relations with the United States. (10) Yemen, as stated before, unified. Iraq under Saddam Hussein saw opportunity, recklessly invading Kuwait, seemingly on the assumption that the United States would be less vigilant over the regional political order as the Cold War wound down. He seemed to get that message from his interaction with U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie, who right before the invasion, said that the United States had no opinion about Iraq’s escalating conflict with Kuwait. (11)
|Glaspie – Saddam|
Syria’s response to what was perceived as a threat posed by the loss of its Soviet patron was to reinforce its alliance with Iran, which had been forged years earlier in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution, much to chagrin of its Arab brethren. This, in conjunction with Damascus’s ties to Hezbollah in Lebanon, created a resistance front against what was perceived to be American hegemonic designs on the region, particularly after the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, in 2001 and 2003 respectively. (12)
This created a new power structure for the region, consisting of states like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, U.A.E. and Egypt, which tilted towards the United States, on one side, and a revisionist front on the other side, consisting of Iran and Syria along with non-state actors Hezbollah and Hamas, that have arrayed themselves to resist what they see as American designs on the Middle East. (13)
[Video]: Professor Ross Harrison at the conference delivering his presentation on Panel 1: Dynamics of Political Geography in the Middle East
American Unipolarity and a New Regional Order
At the end of the Cold War there were two phases of American unipolarity. The first was a period of “quiet unipolarity” during the Clinton administration in the 1990s. This is when the plans for NATO and EU expansion were hatched, and when the United States pursued a policy of dual containment towards Iraq and Iran, in effect imposing a Pax Americana on the Middle East in the absence of a global rival. (14) The United States only a couple years before had defeated Saddam Hussein in his bid to annex Kuwait. And Washington, seeing few constraints to its behavior in the Middle East, imposed tougher sanctions on Iran, labeling it a “rogue” state. (15)
The second phase was a more “aggressive unipolarity”, starting in the immediate wake of 9/11, when the United States brooked no active resistance by Middle Eastern regimes. This translated into military invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq. (16) Iran initially saw its interests threatened by these incursions near its borders, but after the U.S. got bogged down militarily, it began to see an opportunity to build deterrence against possible U.S. and Israeli invasions. (17)
This provided the strategic impetus for Iran to strengthen the resistance front it led, with Syria and Hezbollah in tow. By developing asymmetric hybrid warfare means, augmented by Shi’i militias recruited from across the region, Iran developed the wherewithal to push back against what it saw as the arbitrary wielding of power by the United States. (18)
What unipolarity did was set up a new rivalrous power structure in the region. While during the Cold War, the Middle East reflected the bipolarity of the international system, what emerged following the Soviet collapse was much more an authentically regional system, defined by competing Iranian and Arab nationalisms and Sunni and Shi’i sectarian identities. Turkey up until the Syrian civil war was generally neutral in disputes between the Iranian led resistance front and U.S. Arab allies. But after it got mired in Syria, Ankara found its “zero problems with neighbors” neutral policy to be untenable. (19)
Civil War Vertical Contagion
This tripartite contest between Iranian, Arab and Turkish centers of power is today playing out in the civil wars of the Middle East. The civil wars in Yemen, Syria and Iraq turned what had been competition between coexisting regional powers into hotly contested proxy battles. These wars created security vacuums that Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey projected their power into.
Typically, involvement by Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the civil wars in the Middle East is thought of as a proxy phenomenon, where fighters on the government or rebel sides do the bidding of their respective external benefactors. But reducing regional power involvement in the civil wars to this proxy dynamic is misleading. In addition to the regional powers pushing themselves into the civil wars, they are pulled in by something this author has labeled “vertical contagion”. This means that conflicts do not just spread across borders horizontally to vulnerable neighboring states, but also vertically to stronger and larger regional powers. (20)
There are two aspects of this vertical contagion phenomenon to consider. The first is how the compression of time, the fog of war, and “bad neighborhood effects” of the civil wars have drawn regional actors like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and now Israel, into the region’s civil wars. This is not to suggest that the fighting itself spreads to these regional powers, but rather that the political and economic effects of the fighting are exported. Case in point would be the Syrian civil war, where Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran have felt the effects of the conflict in the form of refugees, strengthened hardliners, terrorist attacks, and other threats to their interests, making staying on the sidelines untenable.
But the second aspect of vertical contagion is in many ways the most profound in terms of shifts in the balance of power. That is that the civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya have morphed into a regional conflict among the major regional powers, where a vicious competition for short-term regional dominance completely overshadows longer-term shared interests of a stable and prosperous Middle East. (21) Whereas the country-level wars are about which elites govern the state, the regional civil war is about establishing a balance of power, or worse, which state asserts dominance over the broader Middle East. (22)
Another way of thinking about vertical contagion is that the country-level civil wars have turned this struggle for power within the regional order from a victimless rivalry into a destructive competition which has lethal implications for the Middle East and the global order.
Russia’s foray into Syria in 2015 spelled the end of the American unipolar era. The truth is that the United States had already become a tentative power in the Middle East prior to Moscow’s move, much to the dismay of Saudi Arabia and Israel. Spooked by the difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States started to retrench from the Middle East towards the end of the Bush Administration. In 2011, President Obama waded into Syria, but only tepidly, giving modest support to the rebels. When the U.S. did show resolve in Syria, it was mostly in the northeast part of the country, where with the help of the Kurds it battled ISIS. This left a vacuum in the main battle zones of the war in the western part of the country, which was filled by Russia in 2015 when it entered militarily to back Syria’s President Assad.
A resurgent Russia has added a layer of complexity to the distribution of power in the Middle East. It has turned the region into a three-layered power system. The first layer is the battle for the state being fought between the rebels and government in the Syrian, Yemeni, Iraqi and Libyan civil wars. The second layer is the battle for regional dominance being waged between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. And the third is the competition between Washington and Moscow, in Syria and the broader region.
Russia’s return to the Middle East was reminiscent of the Cold War era, in that there were again two great powers vying for influence in this tumultuous region. But by scratching beneath the surface, we see that this era in many ways is a clear departure from the past. First, unlike during the Cold War, the fulcrum of the Middle East today isn’t the rivalry between the United States and Russia, but rather the regional contest between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, playing out in the region’s civil wars. Second, the ideologies which serve as the sectarian fault-lines today aren’t imported from the great powers, as they were during the Cold War, but rather are indigenous to the Middle East. Third, in contrast to the past, Russia and the United States have some common interests in the Middle East, such as regional stability, the stemming of refugee flows, successful counterterrorism efforts, among others.
So, while this is a multi-layered system consisting of local, regional and international actors, it is far more complex than the Cold War system of the past. Now it is the regional piece which is the most important to solving the problems of the Middle East, something that international actors like the United States and Russia need to understand when devising policy. (23)
While the United States, due to it alliances and military footprint, remains an important actor in the Middle East, a discussion of what lies ahead in terms of power shifts should not be overly American centric. There are several reasons for this. First, with the entry of Russia into Syria in 2015, Moscow muscled its way into being perhaps the most consequential external actor in the region. (24) Second, the United States under President Donald Trump has withdrawn support from the Syrian rebels and abdicated leadership in May of 2017 by breaking the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA). These actions reinforced the view that the United States was an unreliable, arbitrary and impetuous actor in the region. For these reasons, any discussion of policy recommendations needs to also include Russia, China, and the European Union.
Policy discussions also need to incorporate an understanding that as shattered as the Middle East appears today, it is nevertheless an interconnected regional system, where changes that occur in one part can produce a disturbance elsewhere. While right now the system is dysfunctional and breeds instability, it is nonetheless a system of interdependence. Policymakers, who traditionally have viewed the region through country-specific lenses, need to broaden their view to think about policy from a regional vantage point, and how interdependence in the region can be shifted from conflict to cooperation.
When weighing policy options for creating more regional stability, a pressure point is the relationship between Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel. It is these countries that have the potential to help deescalate the civil wars, break the vertical contagion vortex, and end the mutual recriminations that add turmoil to an already tense region.
Russia has in fact been following a regional approach that focuses on these actors. This is enshrined in the Astana peace process, which Moscow co-sponsors with Turkey and Iran, in order to manage the conflict zones in Syria. While it is far from a perfect given the complexities on the ground, it has helped to de-escalate the conflict in some of the most fraught areas of Syria. Russia’s recent attempts to broker an understanding between Iran and Israel on redlines for Syria is another example. (25)
Ideally, this model of working to forge cooperation among the regional powers should extend beyond Russia and Syria to the broader region and international community, to break the spell of vertical contagion. One pathway would be for the global powers to work with the regional powers on a security architecture for the Middle East that would work towards bringing the civil wars to an end, prevent a return to hostilities once the fighting stops, and provide mechanisms for peaceful conflict resolution. (26)
Skeptics would argue that given the degree of animosity between Iran and Saudi Arabia, it is implausible that the current venomous relationship between these regional powers can be reversed. But there are two reasons why this isn’t completely unrealistic. First, the region is highly sensitive to cues from the international environment. While there is no guarantee that a concerted effort by international powers would bring the regional powers together, global forums in the past have brought warring parties together. The United States and Soviet Union co-sponsored the Madrid conference in 1991, which did set in motion negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). And while the negotiation of the JCPOA Iran nuclear deal didn’t have wide support in the region, it did show the capacity for the international powers to work in concert on behalf of an issue that affected the stability of the Middle East.
Second, the disputes between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and Israel and Iran, aren’t over territory. Instead they center on the regional behaviors of these countries and the motivations behind them. While in some ways this makes resolution more difficult, as disputes aren’t rooted in concrete grievances, it also makes them easier to resolve. Agreements wouldn’t require states to give up land, something leaders are normally politically loath to do.
Third, despite the current vitriol and acrimony, there are shared interests among the regional powers. Without regional stability, no state can maximize their long-term economic prosperity and political security. The fact that immediate threats overshadow longer-term common interests doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.
Those still not convinced about the prospects or advisability of pursuing regional cooperation might suggest that offshore balancing is the best way to ensure regional security. (27) The idea is that external actors weigh in on a lopsided regional competition on the side of the disadvantaged party, with the goal of restoring the region to a healthy balance of power. In a way, that is what the Trump administration is doing by siding with Saudi Arabia and Israel in their struggle against what they see as a rising Iran.
But, there are two problems with this approach. The first is both Saudi Arabia and Israel already enjoy conventional military superiority over Iran, even without further “balancing” by the United States. Iran’s advantages in the region do not stem from its conventional capabilities, but rather are rooted in its unconventional hybrid warfare capabilities. (28) Iran’s unique capabilities are perfectly suited for projecting influence into fragile states like Syria, Iraq and Yemen, currently the soft underbelly of the Arab world. In other words, current regional conditions play to Iran’s strengths and to Saudi weaknesses. Offshore balancing, instead of hurting Iran would likely give it incentives to further hunker down in the civil war zones of the Middle East, further weakening the Saudi and Israeli positions, and potentially reinforcing a cycle of violence.
Second, offshore balancing assumes that there is no rival power willing to ratchet up support for the other side of the regional power equation. If Iran feels under siege from the United States, as it does today, it can turn to Russia, China and perhaps even the European Union for support. This ratcheting up effect can lead to an escalation of the conflict, rather than stabilization, undermining the purpose of off-shore balancing.
The current power dynamics in the Middle East can be linked back to the onset of the Cold War and the simultaneous emergence of many of the Arab countries from the yoke of European colonialism into independence. And it was the collapse of the global Cold War system nearly four decades later that set the Middle East on its course for the future. The end of the Cold War set all states in the region, but particularly erstwhile Soviet allies, scrambling for new domestic legitimacy formulas and regional security frameworks. This and the period of American unipolarity that followed the end of the Cold War led to a regional power imbalance, which the Middle East is still contending with today.
While the end of the Cold War spawned a resistance front, consisting of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, against the United States and its regional allies, it is also important to acknowledge that the conflict in the Middle East is more than just about revisionist and status quo powers. Another twist of the kaleidoscope reveals that because of the civil wars, the Middle East has morphed into a tripartite system, consisting of a struggle for power between Iranian, Arab and Turkish nationalisms.
The challenge for the future will be to reduce the incentives for revisionist versus status quo behavior. The opportunity is to instead reinforce the notion of joint stewardship of the regional system through regional cooperation and the creation of a regional security architecture. While this will prove a difficult road, it is the only viable path for leaders of the region to provide security and prosperity to their increasingly restive populations. This will also be the task for the international powers, which have an incentive to push in this direction, given the potential for disturbances in the Middle East to sow instability across the globe.
(1) See Marc Lynch, The New Arab Wars: Uprisings and Anarchy in the Middle East, (New York: Public Affairs), 2017, for a treatment of how the civil wars in the Middle East are shaping the region.
(2) Raymond Hinnebusch, “Syria: From Authoritarian Upgrading to Revolution?”, International Affairs 88:(1) 2012, pp. 95-113.
(3) Gamal Abdel Nasser, On Non-Alignment, (Cairo: Administration Information) 1966
(4) See Ross Harrison and Paul Salem, “Preface”, in Ross Harrison and Paul Salem, From Chaos to Cooperation: Toward Regional Order in the Middle East (Washington, D.C.: Middle East Institute) 2017, pp. ix, x.
(5) See Malcolm H. Kerr, The Arab Cold War: Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasir and his Rivals, 1958-1970, 3rd Edition, (Oxford University Press: Oxford), 1971
(6) See Yevgeny Primakov, Russia and the Arabs: Behind the Scenes in the Middle East from the Cold War to the Present (Basic Books) 2009, p.10. He argues that there was a significant deviation between Soviet style communism and Nasser’s Arab socialism, where the former was built on class, the latter was not. But is hard to deny the ideological ripple effect of the Russian revolution and the Soviet Union on the socialist movements, from Nasser’s Arab nationalism to the Syrian and Iraq Ba’ath movements.
(7) Stephen P. Cohen and Robert Ward, “Asia Pivot: Obama’s Ticket Out of the Middle East?”, Brookings, August 21st, 2013, https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/asia-pivot-obamas-ticket-out-of-middle-east/
(9) See Charles Dunbar, “The Unification of Yemen: Process, Politics and Prospects” in Middle East Journal (Volume 46, No. 3, Summer 1992) p. 463
(10) “Qadaffi Comes Clean”, The Economist, December 29th, 2003.
(11) “Gulf War Documents: Meeting Between Saddam Hussein and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie”, Transcript of meeting on July 25th 1990, eight days before Iraq invades Kuwait, Global Research, March 5th, 2012. https://www.globalresearch.ca/gulf-war-documents-meeting-between-saddam-hussein-and-ambassador-to-iraq-april-glaspie/31145
(12) Jubin M. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran: Diplomatic Alliance and Power Politics in the Middle East, (London: I.B. Tauris and Co. Ltd), 2009 page 292.
(13) Ben Hubbard, Isabel Kershner, and Anne Barnard, “Iran Deeply Embedded in Syria, expands ‘Axis of Resistance’, The New York Times, February 19th, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/19/world/middleeast/iran-syria-israel.html
(14) F. Gregory Gaus III, “The Illogic of Dual Containment”, Foreign Affairs, March/April 1994 Issue. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/iran/1994-03-01/illogic-dual-containment
(15) Robin Wright, “President Says he will Ban Trade with Iran”, Los Angeles Times, May 1st, 1995 http://articles.latimes.com/1995-05-01/news/mn-61015_1_trade-embargo
(16) For a discussion of how the Bush Administration made decisions in the wake of 9/11, see Douglas J. Feith, War and Decision, (New York: Harper Collins), 2009.
(17) Kayhan Barzegar, “Iran’s Foreign Policy in Post-Invasion Iraq”, Middle East Policy, Vol XV (4) 2008
(18) Goodarzi, Syria and Iran….” Chapter 4.
(19) Piotor Zalewski, “How Turkey went from Zero problems to Zero Friends”, Foreign Policy, August 22nd, 2013. https://foreignpolicy.com/2013/08/22/how-turkey-went-from-zero-problems-to-zero-friends/
(20) Erika Forsberg “Transnational Dimensions of Civil Wars: Clustering, Contagion, and Connectedness” in T. David Mason and Sara McLaughlin Mitchell (eds), What Do We Know About Civil Wars? (Rowman & Littlefield: New York: 2016), Kindle Version location 1805.
(21) See Ross Harrison, “Regionalism in the Middle East: An Impossible Dream”, Orient, I:2018
(22) For a portrayal of this “regional war”, see Marc Lynch, The New Arab Wars: Uprisings and Anarchy in the Middle East (Public Affairs: New York: 2017)
(23) See Ross Harrison, “Defying Gravity: Working Toward a Regional Strategy for a Stable Middle East”, Harrison and Salem, From Chaos to Cooperation….pp.15-28.
(24) Dennis Ross, “Why Middle Eastern Leaders are Talking to Putin, not Obama”, Politico Magazine, May 8th, 2016 https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/05/putin-obama-middle-east-leaders-213867
(26) Harrison “Toward a Regional Framework for the Middle East: Takeaways from other Regions” in Harrison and and Salem, From Chaos to Cooperation.
(27) John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, “The Case for Offshore Balancing: A Superior U.S. Grand Strategy”, Foreign Affairs, July/August 2016. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2016-06-13/case-offshore-balancing
(28) Kayhan Barzegar and Abdolrasool Divsallar, “Political Rationality in Iranian Foreign Policy”, The Washington Quarterly, Vol 40 (1), 2017 pp.39-53
Was there relative peace in the Middle East before the end of the Great War? - History
(JNS) The Trump administration was on the verge of securing a peace agreement between Israel and Indonesia in its final weeks in office, according to a former senior Trump administration official involved in the efforts. The official divulged that the negotiations between Israel and the world&rsquos most populous Muslim state were run by then-President Donald Trump&rsquos senior adviser Jared Kushner and Adam Boehler, then-head of the International Development Finance Corporation.
Israel was represented by then-Ambassador Ron Dermer and Indonesia by Minister Mohamed Lutfi. To secure peace, Boehler told Bloomberg News last December, the United States would be willing to provide Indonesia with an additional &ldquoone or two billion dollars&rdquo in aid. Indonesia was interested in Israeli technology and even wanted the Technion to open a campus in Jakarta. It wanted visa-free travel to the Jewish state and Arab and U.S. investment in its sovereign wealth fund. Israel wanted Indonesia to end its economic boycott of the Jewish state. Direct flights from Tel Aviv to Bali were on the table.
The advantages of peace between Israel and Indonesia for both sides are self-evident. But such a peace would also pay a huge dividend to the United States in its burgeoning cold war with China. An expanded strategic and economic partnership with the archipelago and ASEAN member would be a setback for China&rsquos efforts to dominate the South China Sea, particularly with Indonesia playing a role in an Islamic-Israeli alliance led by the United States.
&ldquoWe got the ball on Indonesia and Israel to the first-yard line,&rdquo the official explained. Unfortunately, the Biden administration has dropped the ball on the ground and walked off the field.
On the surface, the Biden administration is interested in promoting peace. President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have praised the Abraham Accords, as well they should.
For 26 years, the Arab conflict with Israel was ignored and left to fester. Then suddenly, in Trump&rsquos last year in office, the situation was reversed as four Arab states rapidly normalized their ties with Israel. Expanding the accords to Indonesia, with its massive population and strategic location outside the Middle East, would have transformed a strategic regional shift into a game-changer throughout Asia.
But despite the strategic logic of expanding the Abraham Accords and the praise Biden and Blinken have given them, starting in its first week in office, the new administration&rsquos actions have served to undermine the accords by removing their American foundations.
A week into the Biden administration, the State Department announced it was &ldquoplacing a hold&rdquo on the $23 billion sale of F-35s to the United Arab Emirates. The move was presented as &ldquoa routine administrative action typical to most any transition.&rdquo
But suspending the sale was a strategic move, not an &ldquoadministrative action.&rdquo The normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates was a three-sided agreement. The Americans were full participants. The F-35 sale was America&rsquos way to solidify the UAE&rsquos membership in an American-led regional alliance of which the Abraham Accords were an expression. Suspending the deal indicated that unlike its predecessor, the Biden administration will not work to strengthen its alliance with the Sunni Arabs and Israel, and will not fulfill the commitments that the Trump administration took on to develop and maintain that alliance through Arab-Israeli peace.
Biden&rsquos abandonment of the Abraham Accords can be understood in the context of U.S. politics. In keeping with the expectations of Democrat voters, Biden and his team are making efforts in domestic and foreign policy to erase the entirety of Trump&rsquos record in office. Although remaining a party to the Abraham Accords and expanding them to Indonesia and beyond would probably win Biden the Nobel Peace Prize, it would put him in the partisan doghouse for the crime of failing to kill something Trump created.
But while political logic exists, not everything is political. For Biden and his administration, ideology trumps politics.
But while political logic exists, not everything is political. For Biden and his administration, ideology trumps politics.
The Biden administration is the most ideologically rigid and radical administration in U.S. history. Hyper-partisan politics are a function of the administration&rsquos ideological radicalism. As far as the Middle East is concerned, its ideological commitments drive it to empower the PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority and Iran.
From their first days in office, senior Biden administration officials have pledged to restore U.S. funding of the P.A. There are significant legal roadblocks to implementing that pledge because so long as the P.A. continues to pay the salaries of terrorists and advances war crimes allegations against Israel before the International Criminal Court, the United States is barred from funding it or reopening the PLO representative office in Washington. But all the same, the administration is intent on moving forward.
The administration&rsquos intense desire to empower the P.A. despite the legal roadblocks indicates one aspect of its opposition to the Abraham Accords. The accords weaken the P.A. by removing its power to block Arab and Islamic states from making peace with Israel.
For decades, as Israel&rsquos Palestinian &ldquopeace partner&rdquo spurned peace and waged terror and political war against Israel, the Arab states accepted that peace between themselves and Israel had to wait. By ignoring the U.S. obligations to Abraham Accords partners and pushing to restore U.S. support to the P.A. despite its illegality, the administration signals its desire to restore the Palestinian veto.
The Abraham Accords represent an even greater problem for the administration&rsquos efforts to empower Iran. In a speech on Monday, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo said, &ldquoThe Abraham Accords would not have happened &hellip without the United States changing its policy with respect to Iran 180 degrees from how the previous administration had addressed the issue.&rdquo
Now that the Biden administration wishes to move U.S. policy 180 degrees back to reinstate the Obama administration&rsquos policies, the Abraham Accords are a nuisance.
Hours before Biden and his advisers accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) of approving Jamal Khashoggi&rsquos murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, i24News reported that Israel, Saudi Arabia the UAE and Bahrain were forming a military alliance against Iran. While the events may or may not be related, both make clear why the Biden administration doesn&rsquot want Arab-Israeli or Muslim-Israeli peace deals. Such deals impede the administration&rsquos efforts to empower Iran.
Biden&rsquos declared goal vis-à-vis Iran is to restore Iranian compliance and U.S. participation in the 2015 nuclear deal forged by the Obama administration. The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action places temporary limitations on Iranian nuclear activities in exchange for a massive inflow of capital. To convince Iranian leader Ali Khamenei to get on board, the new administration has provided a near-continuous stream of concessions to Iran and its Yemeni proxy, the Houthis.
It removed the Houthis from the State Department&rsquos list of foreign terror organizations and suspended arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The administration&rsquos campaign against MBS is an obvious effort to unseat him and replace him with a less stridently anti-Iran leader. This week the administration&rsquos green-lighted South Korea&rsquos agreement to pay Iran some $7 billion in exchange for the release of a South Korean ship and its crew that Iran unlawfully seized and has held captive since early January.
Not only has Iran rejected America&rsquos gestures, but it is also expanding its regional aggression and sprinting to the nuclear finish line. In recent weeks the Iranians attacked the Israeli embassy in New Delhi. They damaged an Israeli-owned ship in the Persian Gulf. And there is growing suspicion that the massive oil spill off Israel&rsquos coast last month which caused massive ecological damage to marine life and to Israel&rsquos coastline was an act of environmental terrorism carried out by a Libyan ship smuggling crude oil from Iran to Syria.
Iran&rsquos Houthi proxies have expanded their missile strikes against Saudi Arabia since coming off the U.S. terror list. And while the U.S. uses MBS&rsquos alleged role in killing Khashoggi to justify downgrading its relations with Saudi Arabia, the Iranians are killing scores of democracy protesters in its Baluchistan province. Whereas Khashoggi was a former Saudi intelligence officer and ally of Osama bin Laden who was working with Qatar to undermine the Saudi regime at the time he was killed the Baluchis are innocent civilians whose sole crime is opposing the repressive regime.
As far as Iran&rsquos nuclear program is concerned, in recent days, the Iranians canceled snap inspections of their nuclear sites by U.N. nuclear inspectors. The International Atomic Energy Agency released a report accusing Iran of carrying out prohibited nuclear work at multiple undeclared nuclear sites. Khamenei has threatened to escalate Iran&rsquos uranium enrichment levels to 60 percent. And rather than respond by escalating sanctions against Iran, the European Union&mdashpresumably with U.S. approval&mdashscrapped plans to condemn Iran for its illegal behavior at the IAEA&rsquos Board of Governors&rsquo meeting last week.
In a press briefing Monday, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said, &ldquoWe seek to accomplish a great deal with the Saudis: To end the war in Yemen and ease Yemen&rsquos humanitarian crisis to use our leadership to forge ties across the region&rsquos most bitter divide, whether that&rsquos finding the way back from the brink of war with Iran into a meaningful regional dialogue or forging a historic peace with Israel.&rdquo
In other words, the administration holds the Saudis solely responsible for the war in Yemen. It also blames Saudi Arabia (and presumably, Israel, the UAE and Bahrain) for being at &ldquothe brink of war with Iran,&rdquo rather than blaming Iran for bringing the region to the &ldquobrink of war&rdquo through its terrorist aggression and illicit nuclear activities.
The order of Price&rsquos &ldquoto-do&rdquo list made clear that reaching &ldquoa historic peace&rdquo between Israel and Saudi Arabia is the administration&rsquos lowest priority.
Price served as National Security Council spokesman during the Obama administration. There he played a key role in marketing the JCPOA and developing what his colleague, then deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, referred to as the information &ldquoecho chamber&rdquo for selling the deal to ignorant reporters in Washington. Last year, in a speech before the National Iranian-American Council (a group widely viewed as the Iranian regime&rsquos unofficial lobby in Washington), Price said that a Biden administration would remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps from the State Department list of foreign terror groups.
Taken together, the administration&rsquos moves make clear that beyond paying occasional lip service to the Abraham Accords, ending the Arab and Islamic world&rsquos conflict with Israel and forging a wider peace between them is not a goal it wishes to pursue. Indeed, for Biden and his advisers, Arab-Israel peace is an impediment to their ideologically motivated efforts to empower the PLO and Iran.
Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of &ldquoThe Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.&rdquo
Israel and the 1948 War
In May 1948, Israel became an independent state after Israel was recognised by the United Nations as a country in its own right within the Middle East. If relations in pre-war Palestine had been fraught with difficulties, these difficulties paled into insignificance after Israel became a state in its own right. Immediately on being granted its independence, Israel was attacked by a number of Arab nations. If Israel had faltered at this first hurdle, she would have ceased to exist as a state regardless of what the United Nations had decreed.
Before World War Two, Haganah had been, from the British viewpoint, a terrorist organisation that used violence to defend the Jewish Agency. Haganah attacked Palestinian Arabs and aspects of British rule in Palestine. By the time Israel had gained its independence, Haganah was effectively the army for Israel. Many members of Haganah had gained military experience during World War Two – ironically fighting for the same British military that they had been attacking before the war.
Israel was attacked on the same day it gained its independence – May 14th. The armies of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq attacked Israel. With such a combined force attacking Israel, few would have given the new country any chance of survival.
In fact, Israel had internal problems regardless of what was happening on its borders. The regular army had to be used to disband Irgun and the Stern Gang. Both of these had been classed as terrorist organisations by the British in pre-war Palestine. David Ben-Gurion, Prime Minister and Defence Minister wanted the Israeli army to remain non-political and using a combination of diplomacy and force, he removed both groups as a threat. The leaders of both groups were arrested but members of them did join the army. At the height of the 1948 War, Israel’s army numbered 100,000.
Though the attack on Israel was a surprise one, Israel was surprisingly well equipped at a military level. The country had a navy and many in her army were experienced in combat as a result of World War Two. Israel had also bought three B-17 bombers in America on the black market. In July 1948, these were used to bomb the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
The Arab nations that attacked Israel faced one major problem. There was nothing to co-ordinate their attacks. Each essentially attacked as a separate unit rather than as a combined force. However, the Israeli Army was under one single command structure and this proved to be very important. Israeli victories came on all the war fronts.
The Arab nations involved negotiated their own peace talks – a further sign that they were only united by their desire to attack Israel. Egypt signed a peace settlement in February 1949, and over the next few months Lebanon, Jordan and Syria did the same culminating in peace in July 1949. Iraq simply withdrew her forces but did not sign any peace settlement.
As a result of their military victory, Israel was able to expand the territory given to the state by the UnitedNations. However, this could only be at the expense of the Arab population that lived in these areas.
In the summer of 1949 there was no obvious leader in the Arab world who could head a campaign by the Arabs. Egypt seemed the most likely leader if only because of her size. However, the Egyptian Royal Family was far from popular and it was in this setting that Nasser rose to power. The scene was set for almost perpetual conflict between the Arab nations and Israel that culminated in the 1956, 1967 and 1973 wars.
The 1948 war, which the Israelis referred to as the “War of Independence”, claimed 6,000 Israeli lives – but this was only 1% of the nation’s population. The boost the victory gave to the Israelis was huge and put into perspective the 6,000 lives lost. Ironically, those nations that had attacked Israel in May 1948, only lost slightly more men – 7,000. However, the damage to their morale was considerable.