Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gulf States, the Peace Process and the Pax Americana

This interesting article by Yoel Guzansky, a researcher at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) examines the role gulf states could play in the Palestinian Israeli peace process.

The article points out a few interesting points, such as the reluctance of smaller gulf states to adopt foreign policy totally independent from Saudi Arabia's and the latter country's recent willingness to tolerate such Independence from its neighbours. This new independence may make it easy for these states to reopen the Israeli trade missions that once existed in Oman and Qatar and were closed in solidarity with Palestinians during times of violence.

The article explains that Israels interests in good relations with the gulf is to bolster moderates in the region and to entrench support from these countries against increasing Iranian influence.

These states, however have an interest in Israel for certain technological reasons but above all, because close ties with Israel are a way to improve relations with the US.

These states are also likely needed for a final peace solution, not only, as Guzansky, argues to host conferences and the like, but also because their financial clout could help to pay the compensation for Palestinian refugees which will likely be needed in a peace deal which will no doubt contain some payment to those refugees who will not be resettled in Israel, if any of them are settled there at all.

The article seems to be suggesting that the primary reason for Israel to engage with these states is to help counter Iran's growing influence in the region. To do re-establish, these ties however, in the words of the Prime Minister of Oman, Israel would have to end the reasons for closing down the mission or somehow "...mitigate the suffering of our brothers in Palestine." As mentioned previously, however, this may have been done in the current government's recent attitude towards settlements. On the other hand, however, it is in the interests of these states to contain Iranian influence in the Gulf region anyway, with or without Israeli support. Therefore, this begs the question, if Israel's primary gain from relations with these states is something that these states are going to do anyway, why bother making any concessions?

The answer to the above question should be obvious. Closer ties are desirable in all circumstances, and as the article points out, if relations with these states yield positive results, the breaking of the taboo of Gulf-state relations with Israel could lead to a domino effect, making it easier and more acceptable for other Arab states to have positive relations. It also makes these states more inclined to want to see a peaceful solution for the region and to not remain at arms length from the issue.

They key to all this, however, is the US. The Gulf State's main interest is to improve ties with the US just as the US is the only country Israel would really heed when push came to shove. The case of the Gulf states, in particular, seems to highlight the importance of the US's involvement in the peace process and the good it can do.

2 comments:

bath mateus said...

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Bathmate

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