The Future of the Middle East

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The ideas held by Western governments, experts, and pundits are very much out of date. We’re not talking about what borders Israel has. We’re not talking about the future of Jerusalem. We’re talking about strategic issues. We have to deal with 2011; we’re not in the 1990s or 1980s anymore.

But by returning to the 1970s I mean going back to a time when Arab governments were radical or intimidated by the radicals; when Arab governments seriously contemplated and did go to war with Israel. When Arab governments did not respect the United States as the world’s sole superpower and movements genuinely believed they would lead a revolution throughout the region to transform their societies in a radical and undemocratic manner.

And today, Iran and Turkey have joined in that destabilizing set of beliefs and policies.

SM: Is the administration of Barack Obama putting too much pressure on Israel?

BR: There is no real U.S. pressure on Israel. The Israel-Palestinian issue isn’t the core problem in the region. It’s a sideshow. It’s not important.

At any rate people focused on the wrong sentence in Obama’s speech. They focused on the sentence about the pre-1967 borders. The important sentence was the sequential plan, which was that, Israel turns over the entire West Bank to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for some unspecified security guarantees and you have a de facto Palestinian state.

What’s important is NOT this sentence:

“The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

But these two sentences:

“The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. The duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.”

Obama says, again it is important to repeat it: Israel should withdraw to the 1967 border, Palestine should become a non-militarized state. And then the two sides will negotiate about refugees, Jerusalem, and final borders. So Obama was calling for the 1967 borders, with Israel giving up all of its bargaining leverage, and then—in reality we should say maybe—the independent Palestinian state would agree to some border swaps. In effect that means that Israel will return to its 1967 borders without “mutually agreed swaps.”

In effect, what Obama told the PA is: No, don’t go through the UN. We’ll give you what you want in exchange for very small things. Of course, according to Obama’s plan the PA will have to agree to security guarantees and demilitarization, both of which they can disregard as an independent state.

And what’s Israel going to do when it’s back on its 1967 borders and the state of Palestine builds an army and lets cross-border terrorist attacks take place? Launch an invasion of a neighboring country? Oh, the world will love that! Depend on Obama to force the state of Palestine to keep its commitments?

He won’t even force the PA to keep its commitment not to partner with a group that rejects the entire peace process framework (Hamas) or to force Egypt to maintain its commitments under the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, guaranteed by the United States.

Obama has no credibility and no country—not just Israel, but nobody—can rely on him.

At the same time, though, there is no pressure on Israel at all from the U.S. government. Obama is telling the truth when he says that in fact the security relationship is quite good. So his talk about the peace process is just words. But his conduct of U.S. strategy is dangerously real.

SM: What should the administration do with regard to Syria?

BR: The U.S. should call for the downfall of the Syrian and Iranian government. Even a purely verbal policy is superior to what we have now. It would encourage the oppositions in those countries. These people are publicly saying, “Nobody is supporting us. Nobody is helping us.”

And it’s true. The first step is a purely declaratory policy. Whatever possibility there is of an Islamist takeover in Egypt and Libya, there is less such prospect of Syria. For one thing lets remember something here, the Sunni Muslim Arab population of Tunisia is 100 percent. The Sunni Muslim Arab population of Egypt is 90 percent. The Sunni population of Syria is 60 percent. And from all my research I believe there are proportionately more moderate democrats among Sunni Arab Muslims in Syria than in Egypt. Is the Muslim Brotherhood a threat in Syria? Yes, definitely. Is it less of a threat than in virtually every other country except for Lebanon? Also yes.

SM: Does the Syrian opposition have what it takes to overthrow Assad?

BR: Probably not. But maybe. And they should be supported and the people of Iran should be supported (and those in Lebanon and Turkey also should be supported). And at present none of them are being supported by the United States.

Why have a policy of being nice to your enemies and nasty to your friends. But again, when we talk about this, it is not just a matter of Israel. It is a matter of wide variety of political forces.

SM: What is the future of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty?

BR: For Egypt, the end of the peace treaty in practice is a certainty. Here’s the problem: if Egypt no longer adheres to the treaty but do not publicly say that, then it becomes a judgment call for the United States. In other words, the Obama administration will have to decide whether or not it believes that the treaty is being kept.

So we can get a situation where for all practical purposes the treaty has been torn up, and the United States refuses to acknowledge it.

We are facing a situation where on June 6 the PA is going to announce a new cabinet, and they will try to do it in a way that they can say, “Oh, no, Hamas is not part of the government.” The U.S. government then will have to interpret whether or not it deems Hamas to be part of the government. And therefore whether or not that triggers something having to do with U.S. aid to the PA.

The Obama administration can say no, Hamas is not part of the government, we should continue to give aid. Then Congress is going to have to decide whether or not it views the PA to be in violation of the congressional law on aid and relations with the PA. Will there be a massive battle between Congress and the administration? Again, this is something that is terribly predictable, and people are not dealing with it.

The Obama administration can say that, Hamas or no Hamas, supporting the PA is a vital U.S. interest. It can, indeed already is, saying the same thing about Hezbollah’s participation in Lebanon’s government. Soon it will have to decide on the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s government, though Obama has preemptively said that it is OK with him. So the U.S. government will have no problem with the participation in governments of three different groups calling for genocide against the Jews and jihad against America.

What truly amazes me is that all of these things are visible. And yet people in positions of power—political, media, and intellectual—are just pretending it’s not happening.

Seth Mandel is a writer specializing in Middle Eastern politics and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Horowitz Freedom Center.

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  • Kegs

    Well we've given aid to Pakistan in return for them hiding terrorists for years that want us dead so what's the problem? It's not like India is an ally or anything… their little beef with their neighbors is their problem.

    Yeah lets just keep pretending terrorism is no big deal.

    • dr.music

      KEGS my dear friend who i don't know…please don't say that about Beautiful India….
      Beautiful India has suffered the most because of dirty islam. It does not matter where you are or how far ..islam will definately try to get you and your women…including your daughters…..The Khyber Pass was India's curse …as bad as the west's open door policy to islam. India was and is the first country to take filthy islam to court and reclaim it's pre-islamic heritage…that is an act that all countries will have to follow….Indiai is the Pioneer in anti-islamic movements…please give credit where due for if we ignore India's contribution to ant-islamic movements and resistance we'll all have to start further back. We should actually salute BEAUTIFUL INDIA.

  • Femi Mafe

    Very realistic projection of expected events in the Middle East. I only wish the leaders are listening. Endless conflicts; endless wars… what have they gained; what have they to gain? The path of peaceful coexistence is a much better road to tread!

  • Dispozadaburka

    Very good article.

    • suprkufrB

      very good and very depressing!

  • The_Lord_Regent

    In short, it's on. The Israelis have to cowboy up now. They have to build up their counter-attack capabilities now. They need to recruit as many bodies (all the Christians driven out by the PA since the Olso Accord) as possible. They need to lay in all the beans, arms & ammo, medical, and reconstruction supplies as possible, now.

    Hm, wouldn't be a bad idea for Americans to lay in supplies as well. Things will probably get a bit sporty before too long.

  • Firoze

    Truely its going to happen…Israel/USA under destruction and Islam again to rule

  • Monty Lasovsky

    What is always missed in the overall analysis of the Jihadists is the numbers game.
    If one accepts that the Jihadists are generally of the Muslim faith, we have to understand that there are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world and the number is growing daily. How do we handle this "little" statistic?

    • Fred Dawes

      Do not deal with the muslims, do not let muslims into the european states or into any nation state AND REMOVE ALL Follower of islam from any nation state that is not muslim and go to war with Islam and mean it. and this will never happen.

    • mike

      Nukes

  • Fred Dawes

    The future of the middle east will be blood and evil as it has always been, ask any fool, the middle east will always be a place of the gods and of evil and of death. ask any Roman or long dead Englishman only one place can be called a enlighten place its called Israel and i any not into Jews but understand one fact muslim means death for any people not muslim.

  • Matt Pryor

    I thought state recognition was done through the General Assembly, which means that the US has no veto power?

    • Fred Dawes

      Part of the plan to take down the USA And any who get out of line and that also means ISRAEL.

  • http://www.boycottscotland.com Edward

    Right On Ken.

    In the 1950's/1960's M.A.D. stood for Mutual Assured Destruction.

    Now M.A.D. stands for MECCA ASSURED DESTRUCTION, in retaliation of course.

  • Jaladhi

    The problem is Muslims cannot differentiate on their own the difference between good and evil as they are rendered totally brain dead after following Quran all their life. In fact they consider everything that Quran tells them as "good" and holy – examples are murder, rape, looting invading, incest,… , everyhthing that a human being will consider evil and try not to do it . But not Muslims since their "ideal" man Mo/allah practiced all of to a T. There is no solution or compromise with this vile ideology – it has to be eliminated from this planet!!!

  • ObamaYoMoma

    They will never leave Islam unless we seize the oilfields and their oil wealth, render them into abject poverty, and then isolate them. Maybe after several generations of living in total abject poverty it may force enough of them to leave Islam.

  • welldoneson

    Egypt had to "reclose" the border crossing into Gaza, we can only guess why.
    Meanwhile, Gazans refer to a "blockade" and complain about lack of infrastructure,
    yet when Israel ceded Gaza to the "palestinians" the first think the palis did was destroy water desalting plants, greenhouses, even sewage treatment plants.
    That's the mentality Israel is dealing with. Lobotomized by generations of inbreeding,
    poor diet, Islamist propaganda, and hatred of Jews, they've lost the ability to behave rationally. No doubt that's why Egypt closed the crossing; the problem is obvious.

    • Fred Dawes

      the military was killing its own people on orders of the brotherhood of evil.

  • Jim

    what country will supply the neo Islamist if the spring revolution with arms like the Russians did many decades ago?.

  • Fred Dawes

    Did you use the word Principle? and to Lead the USA And its leadership is now in the hands of our enemies and Israel is the target for obama.

  • dr.music

    Slowly and surely the whole planet is waking up to the fact that muslim or Pure muslim is a term for a very very evil person.
    "Women should be exposed to the day light three times in their lives. When they are born, when they are married and when they die." – islamic saying.
    "Our mullah told us that when we carried out our suicide attacks, all the people around us would die, but we would stay alive"
    If muslims could leave islam without being extinguished by other muslims how many muslims would be left on the planet ? Answer : Zero or none. It is only the threat to one's life that keeps islam evil and populated. These scared muslim slaves of invented allah are doomed forever in the dead hands of the madman who invented allah and brought a curse on everything and everyone islam touches. Islam haram. Repeat after me …islam is not halal , islam is haram. Understand?

    • dr.music

      Evil people are a big drain to our planet’s resources like a raging fire. For our planet’s limited resources and our safety we should extinguish each and every fire once we have identified it as evil.
      So in the end what will happen to islam ?
      Will islam just vanish?
      "They said nothing's better than paradise and you can earn that by extinguishing non-believers."
      "They prayed all the time and read the koran so i thought they were good people."

      So When will muslims be allowed to realise that islam is haram ?

      And how will they realise that islam is haram?

      Only when the SUPREME COURTS start questioning the demented koran loudly and in full hearing of the planet will muslims see mohammad’s mad trip. The answer is in and by our SUPREME COURTS in the very end.