Towards a new Middle East Cold War | Opinions

On Sunday, overseas ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Egypt joined their American and Israeli counterparts for a first-of-its-kind summit on the Sde Boker farm in southern Israel, the place Israel’s first Prime Minister Ben Gurion lived and is now buried.

Ben Gurion was chargeable for the 1948 Palestinian disaster (Nakba), the horrific ethnic cleaning of most Palestinians from lands that later grew to become Israel. However that didn’t have an effect on the Arab officers’ urge for food as they dined on “Ben Gurion rice” accompanied by meat from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

No abdomen or coronary heart ache was reported.

Meals for thought.

The assembly was held on the twentieth anniversary of the Arab League summit in Beirut when the Arabs launched their massive peace initiative, as Palestinian President Yasser Arafat was languishing beneath army siege within the occupied Palestinian territory.

The initiative promised peace and normalisation of relations however solely after Israel withdrew from Palestinian and Arab lands. Nonetheless, in recent times, defeated and divided, a lot of Arab autocrats, threatened by the Arab Spring, rushed to normalise relations with Israel beneath American stress, leaving the occupied Palestinians behind, with completely nothing, nada, zilch.

The Palestinians noticed that as a betrayal, a slap within the face. Nicely, make that many slaps.

Not one of the Arab ministers who visited Ben Gurion’s farm bothered to point out up within the occupied West Financial institution. Maybe too ashamed. Maybe anxious about Palestinians’ response.

And the summit’s substance was no much less tragic than its symbolism.

Just like the Ukrainians, the Palestinians are sacrificed on the altar of a brand new, albeit regional, Chilly Struggle, that includes Israel and the UAE camp on one aspect and the Iran camp on the opposite.

This anti-Iranian axis coalesced after the Trump presidency walked away from the Iran Nuclear Deal, and has continued regardless of the Biden administration’s makes an attempt at reviving it.

In latest days, Israel and the UAE have accelerated their efforts to “muster an efficient alliance in opposition to the widespread risk, Iran”, amid information of a possible diplomatic breakthrough in Vienna. Israel and its new regional allies imagine a nasty deal is worse than no deal in any respect, because it restricts its freedom to behave militarily in opposition to Iran.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ) hosted the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, a primary for the internationally sanctioned chief, in an try and additional normalise Syrian-Arab relations. Only a few days later, the UAE’s de facto ruler additionally had a gathering with the Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, hosted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, on the Pink Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

A 3rd assembly adopted in Jordan, the place MBZ was photographed strolling arm-in-arm with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi within the resort metropolis of Aqaba, alongside the Jordanian king, Abdullah II, and the Egyptian president.

Regardless of the attraction offensive, Syria and Iraq stay uncommitted and continued to sign that they’re nonetheless leaning in the direction of Iran, for political and strategic causes. That is unlikely to vary after sanctions are lifted and Tehran is emboldened.

Iran has already performed no less than three joint naval workout routines with the Russian and Chinese language militaries since 2019, and final yr, signed a 25-year complete cooperation settlement with Beijing.

In the meantime, Israeli Prime Minister Bennett has warned that the US-Iranian deal taking form to revive the nuclear accord is weaker than the unique association, and would result in “a extra violent, extra unstable Center East”.

However this isn’t a mere prediction, relatively a self-fulfilling prophecy, contemplating Israel insists that it’s going to do no matter it takes to impede Iran’s nuclear programme, and together with the UAE, do what it should to curtail Iran’s affect in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Israel and the UAE concern Iran will probably be richer, stronger and reinvigorated after signing a renewed nuclear deal that results in the lifting of all Western sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Each particularly concern the Biden administration will take away Iran’s Revolutionary Guards from the US’s “terrorist checklist” in return for safety assurances.

However they suppose Biden is so detached to their nuclear deal reservations, so dismissive of their fears of an emboldened Iran, and so preoccupied with a resurgent Russia and rising China, that he’s turning his again on the Center East.

Nicely, the Biden administration could also be absent-minded these days, contemplating the Russian invasion of Ukraine, however the US is hardly absent from the Center East, the place tens of 1000’s of American troops are deployed on quite a few army bases.

Nonetheless, Israel desires the Biden administration to grasp that it views Khamenei’s Iran just like the US views Putin’s Russia – a hazard not solely to itself and the area, however to the entire world.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has tried exhausting, maybe too exhausting, in latest days to emphasize that the US and Israel are nonetheless performing collectively not solely in opposition to Russia but additionally Iran. To no avail.

And if or when he asks his counterparts on the “Ben Gurion summit” to face behind the US on Russia, probably, they are going to ask him why the US isn’t standing behind them on Iran.

With the world powers preoccupied with their new scorching Chilly Struggle, the brand new Center East Chilly Struggle is heating up beneath the floor with doubtlessly disastrous penalties. And Ukrainians and Palestinians would be the first to pay the heavy value.

Because the US condemns Russia’s now 5-week-old invasion and its potential plans to divide Ukraine, and lectures the world about democracy, Palestinians and Arabs roll their eyes in dismay, contemplating Washington’s unconditional help for Israel after a long time of its occupation of Palestine, and its persistent help for Arab dictatorships.

Think about if the Russian overseas minister hosted his American and 4 of his European counterparts in Stalingrad, elevating their vodka glasses in celebration, as Russia bombs, occupies and divides Ukraine, urging the Ukrainians to not escalate tensions throughout Easter season. Now attempt to think about how the Palestinians really feel.

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