GCC: out Qatar, in Israel
The alliances of the Middle East, since the end of the Ottoman Caliphate in the beginning of the last century have been constantly shifting in position like the sands of the countries of the region not to say, of course, quite unstable and even deadly like quicksand. Since the Syches-Picot Agreement of May 19, 1916 between France and Great Britain, by which most of the Arab lands under the rule of the Ottoman Empire are to be divided into British and French spheres of influence with the conclusion of World War I.
Since the early quarter of 2017, the Gulf Cooperation Council –GCC– considered hitherto as one of the most stable organization of the Mideast has been duly fissured with the arrival of Donald Trump to power in the US with an agenda of fighting Islamist terrorism. To politically “seduce” the new American president, chucked out Qatar on the grounds of support to Islamists such as the Egyptian Ikhwan and other Salafist organizations. Out goes Qatar and in comes Israel with its nuclear umbrella to protect the weak Gulf monarchies against the Middle East nemesis: Islamic Republic of Iran.
Simona Sikimic writing in the the Middle East Eye on the recent fratricide in-fighting inside GCC, argues:
“Once thought of as a stale but stable regional organisation, in recent months the GCC has become the main forum for a feud between the dominant member Saudi Arabia and its small but wealthy neighbour, Qatar.
In March, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain made the shock decision to withdraw their ambassadors from Qatar, accusing Doha of meddling in the internal affairs of other GCC countries, a reference widely interpreted as a reference to Qatar’s backing of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Saudi Arabia classifies as a terrorist organisation.
Oman chose to stay neutral while Kuwait has attempted to mediate, but the incident is the most open and likely the biggest ever GCC rift. Previously most disputes have been resolved behind closed doors.
In spite of the rise in tensions, Saudi Arabia is pushing ahead with its 2011 plan to form a GCC confederation, although this project is seeing resistance most recently from Kuwait.”
Cold or fickle alliance with Israel
In one of his press conferences in the 80s of the last century, the late visionary King Hassan II of Morocco said that the Semitic cousins of the Middle East i.e. Arabs and Jews will resolve their feuds and get together as one family. At the time, pan-Arab nationalists chuckled at the idea and called the Moroccan monarch a mad politician and a traitor of the Arab cause.
Today, Saudi Arabia has unofficially entered into an alliance with its hitherto arch-enemy Israel. For Michael J. Totten, it is a cold alliance:
“The Saudis are congenitally incapable of saying anything friendly about Israel in public—behind closed doors, the Saudis get along with Israel fine…”
However, one wonders, quite rightly, what on earth makes the leader of Sunni Islam accept to seek the friendship of the “Zionist entity” kiyan sahyuni and enter secretly with it into some sort of a league. In the Middle Eastern tribal language this practice can be explained by the sacrosanct maxim: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
The enemy in question is no other than Iran that is duly growing itself nuclear teeth, slowly but surely, and posing an existential threat to Israel and Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Sunni world.
Prior to the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Israel was a staunch ally of the Shah’s regime and may have even engaged indirectly in some of the sordid acts of torture of the infamous secret police Savak.
When Khomeini came to power he adopted the Palestinian cause for selfish purposes and called Israel in its official literature and propaganda terminology “little satan.” Initially, all Palestinians were ecstatic about this political change over, but when the Iranian started making plans to export their revolution to the Sunnis, the PLO pulled slowly out of their love affair with Islamic Iran and the latter threw their support behind Hamas and financed generously its military operations against Israel incurring the cold shoulder and the ire of the Gulf countries.
President Obama kept his electoral promise made to the American people during his first bid to get elected to the White house in 2008 by disengaging American troops from Iraq and allowing Iran through its militias to fill the vacuum. It was the beginning of a grand design of the Islamic Republic to convert Sunni lands to Shia religion and the last manifestation of that is the open rebellion of the Houthis in Yemen and their control of the country with the help of the militias of the dictator Ali Saleh who fell with the Saudis.
The last straw was the Obama Administration nuclear treaty with theocratic Iran that has, somehow, allowed it to become a major regional player. In the Middle East this realignment of American policy is synonymous of the weakening of the traditional alliance US-Gulf States. In the face of this new reality, the Gulf monarchies had no choice but to seek an alliance with their Semitic cousins of the Jewish state but discretely. Given that Israel has been playing this “game of discreetness” with the Arab neighbors since 1948, to the extent that it has become an inherent etiquette of its foreign policy, accepted wholeheartedly to stand on the side of the oil-rich sheikhs and defend them.
Potential Iranian nuclear bomb unites the Semitic people of the Mideast
So after all this Iranian potential nuclear bomb has some positive side effects that is not of the reactive quality but of proactive nature.
“After all, if Iran poses an “existential” threat to Israel and to the Arab-Sunnis, perhaps the time has come for them to reach a deal on the Palestinian issue? Or is that again something that the Americans are obligated to deliver to them?
Indeed, an Arab-Israeli peace ceased to be a core U.S. interest. It’s in the interest of the Arab and the Israeli leaders to make peace and work together to secure a stable regional balance of power in face of the challenges posed by an assertive Iran. If they can’t do that, they should pay the price and not expect Washington to get them out of the mess they helped create.
From that perspective, the Iran deal may be the first step in a process that would allow Middle Easterners to finally start writing their own histories instead of expecting Washington to continue running the show for them.”
However one wonders what does this cold alliance mean to Israel in the long run and would Israel be willing to pay the price to honor this Confederation of the Semites?
Clearly it will mean accept the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 for the resolution of the Palestinian predicament with its painful aggregates, mainly the “Right of Return,” the return to the pre-1967 borders and the two-state track. In return, the Sunni Arabs will recognize the existence of Israel and sign a peace treaty with it.
The territorial loss of Israel in this deal will be immediately compensated by an economic bonanza and the demonization of Hamas if they persist to stay a strip of land client of Iran.
Reactions to this new alliance
Realizing that this alliance is taking shape slowly and surely, Hamas is acting accordingly by siding with Israel as reported by the very serious Jerusalem Post on May 1, 2016 that sported a catchy title “An unlikely trio: Israel, Hamas and Egypt align against ISIS in Sinai”
“Israel, Egypt and Hamas have aligned their strategies and formed an unlikely alliance against the Islamic State in Sinai, who are planning increasingly sophisticated and daring attacks in the region, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.”
This new alliance is welcomed and championed by the Trump administration that wants to isolate Iran and weaken its resolve to get nuclear. In this policy approach an alliance between Arabs and Israelis could well serve the purpose of Washington in the Area. In this regard John R. Bradley argues in The Spectator:
“This new geopolitical reality was championed last month by Donald Trump during his visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel. There, he too singled out Iran as the main instigator of terrorism and instability in the region. He gave King Salman (whom he had damned as a promoter of global Wahhabi terror and hatred just months earlier) a huge bear hug. Then he was symbolically flown on Air Force One from Riyadh to Tel Aviv, the first direct flight between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Trump, of course, did not write the speech he had been prepped to read. Truth be told, he would probably not have understood it if he had been in the audience. During the election campaign, he brazenly admitted that he had absolutely no understanding whatsoever of the difference even between (the Shia, Lebanon-based) Hezbollah and the (Sunni, Gaza-based) Hamas. Not since George W. Bush has the White House been inhabited by such an inarticulate, manipulable President with zero foreign policy experience.”
In view of these interesting developments in the Mideast, the late King Hassan II is surely reveling in his grave at this given that he has often called on the Arab peers to marry Arab money with the Israeli genius to develop the area and ensure much-sought after security.
Will this happen?
Will the alliance last long?
Only time can show.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity.
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