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The 2002 Peace Initiative: 2007 Edition

ElkiElki get busyModerator, ClubPA mod
edited March 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
Saudi Arabia's moment
A certain refrain tends to echo round Middle Eastern chanceries at this time of year, when Arab leaders gather for their annual summit. If they can't get their act together to do something this time, the refrain goes, it will be the end of Arab influence in the world. In fact, Arab summits, like others, rarely do produce much; but this year's event, to be held in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, next week, is raising expectations.

Several factors explain the surge in interest. Most obviously, the region is in an even bigger mess than usual. Brewing, or raging, civil wars afflict five of the 22 Arab League member states: Iraq, Sudan, Palestine, Somalia and Lebanon. At the same time non-Arab Iran, a Shia theocracy, is bidding for supremacy in a challenge to the old Sunni- and Arab-dominated order. All this at a time when America has seen its prestige and influence diminished by the Iraq debacle and its perceived pandering to Israel.

So whereas the past few summits drew increasingly meagre participation, this one is expected to get a full house (with the exception of Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, whose antics will be missed by the press but certainly not by his fellow strongmen). That is also, in part, because Arab leaders do not wish to snub the host country. Saudi Arabia has the biggest economy in the Arab world, as well as Islam's holiest sites. And these days, it can also boast the region's most energetic diplomats. Whether by inclination or default, the Saudi Arabians have increasingly displaced the United States, as well as the historical Arab diplomatic heavyweight, Egypt, as the regional power broker.

Back in 2002, it was the Saudis who pushed Arab leaders to support an offer to grant Israel recognition and peace in exchange for its withdrawal to the 1967 borders. Last month, it was Saudi pressure that forced the rival Palestinian parties, Hamas and Fatah, to compromise on a national unity government. The Saudis are also trying to resolve the stand-off in Lebanon between the ruling Sunni-led majority and its restive Hizbullah-led opponents. Part of this involves coaxing Hizbullah's backers, Iran and Syria, back into the game, by posing as a nicer cop than the punchy Bush administration.

The summit could produce some movement on all these issues. It is expected that King Abdullah will relaunch his 2002 peace initiative, this time with more support from America and less resistance from Israel. And by soothing Syria's fear of isolation from the Arab fold, fellow leaders may hope to nudge its edgy president, Bashar Assad, into greater flexibility over Lebanon.

One of Bush's biggest mistakes WRT to the middle east was not taking the 2002 initiative seriously, and believing that the "road to peace goes through Baghdad." Is he too much of a lame duck now to pursue it now, if he wanted to?

And aside from being an oppressive dictatorship, Syria isn't all that bad. They're vulnerable now, and if given the right incentive, they could lean on Hamas' foreign leadership, and produce some favorable outcomes. What says you, PA?

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Elki on

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    Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator mod
    edited March 2007
    Elkamil wrote: »
    One of Bush's biggest mistakes WRT to the middle east was not taking the 2002 initiative seriously, and believing that the "road to peace goes through Baghdad." Is he too much of a lame duck now to pursue it now, if he wanted to?

    I think so. He's kind of locked in to bad policy at this point, and in any case, is a stubborn motherfucker and is unlikely to change his mind.
    And aside from being an oppressive dictatorship, Syria isn't all that bad. They're vulnerable now, and if given the right incentive, they could lean on Hamas' foreign leadership, and produce some favorable outcomes. What says you, PA?

    This administration has never been about pragmatic diplomacy. If Hamas is "bad guys" then there is no civil response to Hamas, nor any way to include them in constructive plans.

    Irond Will on
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