Name: Fadi

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Web Site: http://fadielhusseini.blogactiv.eu/

Bio: Fadi Elhusseini دis a Political and Media Advisor and he is an advisory board member of the New Arab Foundation. He is a senior fellow at the Centre on Governance, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa. He is an associate fellow researcher (ESRC) at the Institute for Middle East Studies Canada.and he holds a PhD in International Relations (Turkey and the Arab World) from the University of Sunderland in Britain and He contributed with one chapter in a book entitled Turkish Foreign Policy in the New millennium. His articles, researches and papers have appeared in scores of newspapers, magazines and websites. http://felhusseini.wordpress.com

Posts by FadiHusseini:

    The Price: The end of Iraqi and Syrian Woes and the Vanishing of ISIS

    May 11th, 2017

    By Fadi El Husseini.

     

    Daesh flag [SpuntnikInt/Twitter]When entangled elements make it hard to reach sound analyses, conspiracy theories appear to be a good tool to explain the unexplained. This applies perfectly to the situation in the Middle East. Many observers are not yet ready to cede their de facto approach, albeit every single regional development shows the clear marks of a crucial role for foreign powers (either super or regional), not only in what has been taking place, but for a debacle that has been erupting in the region for decades, perhaps centuries. Such indicators lead to a strong understanding that dramatic changes might be within striking distance.

    For a start, the unity of the Arabs can’t be benign for foreign powers who have interests in the region. If they were united, they would be a power that won’t let others use them or have imperialist dreams in such a geostrategically-important region. Iran’s growing role in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon is the starkest example of how division, failed-state scenarios and weak governments are nothing but a steppingstone for other powers to sneak in, penetrate and then dominate.

    This hypothesis is not limited to the old definition of powers in the form of states; it also includes those novel trans-border actors such as terrorist groups. That said, it should not be surprising to see Al-Qaeda — and then Daesh — appear and flourish in Iraq, following the chaos resulting from the US invasion and occupation. The same concept of chaos and failed-state-scenario applies to Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Yemen.

    History is a good starting point to prove how major powers intervened in this region in order to secure their own strategic interests. The examples are numerous, but perhaps the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement was the most evident case of major powers agreeing to divide the Arab world into competing states. Although the Arabs have never lived in one single state, they have lived in particularly large, interconnected regions such as the Levant (covering what is now occupied Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan) and the kingdom of Egypt and Sudan (now divided into two states).

    Foreign intervention and the fragmentation of the Arabs took a sharper line with the US occupation of Iraq. This occupation not only meant the fall of a state, a president and a dictatorship, or even an end to the Arab nationalism that Saddam Hussein was one of the last Arab leaders to embrace; it also meant a geopolitical earthquake in the whole regional order, with a far-reaching change in the balance of power that prevailed in the Middle East at large. Intriguingly, the collapse of Saddam’s regime meant that Iraq would become prey to Iran. It also meant the stirring up of sectarian strife between the majority of Iraqis who are Shia living for decades under a Sunni ruler, and the minority of Sunnis who were privileged under the Ba’ath regime of Saddam. This ignited the separatist tendencies of the Kurds in the north. The possible repercussions were worthy of much more consideration before the US occupied and then withdrew from Iraq.

    History aside, these developments take us to the emergence (or creation by certain powers, if we want to be honest) of a new regional actor known as Daesh. This so-called “Islamic State” presents a bizarre manifestation of an extremely radical interpretation of “Sunni Islam”. Noteworthy in this context is that Daesh did not exist before the US occupation of Iraq and its roots can be traced to Al-Qaeda affiliated Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi in 2004. In response to the chasm of mistrust between the various sects and the immense danger that this group posed, the other sects became more anxious to protect themselves, and at times retaliate. As a result, the role of sectarian militias increased and, to add insult to injury, the separatist tendencies have been justified more than at any time in the past. The calls by Iraqi Kurds for independence have resonated in other countries and encouraged the Kurds in Syria and Turkey to follow suit; we are likely to see another call from Kurds in Iran sooner or later.

    Apparently, like their predecessors in the Sykes-Picot era, the superpowers have found that re-fragmenting and re-dividing the region further would better serve their strategic interests. The Kurdish element is critical in the Middle East regional equation, particularly because the separatist tendencies by Kurds in one country have led to others in neighbouring states. In a surprising move, Washington has put its strategic relationship with Turkey at stake with the Trump Administration striking a novel partnership deal with a number of Kurdish groups in Syria.

    Walid Faris, who served as Middle East affairs adviser during the Trump election campaign, told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that Damascus fully acknowledges that the US administration would not allow the regime to move its forces to the east of Syria, neither toward Al-Hasaka nor toward the anti-Daesh combat zones. This, according to Faris, explains why the US dispatched additional US Marines to north-east Syria. In other words, Washington is yearning to become the backbone of the forces that will advance and liberate the swathes of territory controlled by Daesh, the areas over which Washington would not allow the regime to regain control.

    Movements in the field lead to a similar conclusion. In fact, with the mounting presence of major powers in the Syrian conflict, these developments show that the role of other actors (militias like Hezbollah, Daesh and Al-Nusra, or states like Iran and Turkey) will come to an end. In other words, such transformations (especially the growing role of the Russian forces) may usher in the end of the Iranian presence in Syria. The departure of the other militias appears to be just around the corner, at least in areas controlled by the Syrian regime. The deployment of the Russian forces near the Lebanese border is a case in point, where Hezbollah’s role has ended, mainly after achieving a demographic change and consolidating a sectarian structure for the various regions inside Syria.

    Similarly, the remarkable presence of the US and growing numbers of its troops on the ground has led to parallel scenarios within Sunni areas (currently occupied by Daesh) or Kurdish zones. It looks as if an agreement was reached between the two major powers to divide Syria into spheres of influence based on sectarian or ethnic parameters.

    Although Syria was previously an exclusively Russian domain, the significant role and interests of Iran were not always well-received in Moscow. Dividing Syria between Moscow and Washington and eliminating the role of other actors appears to be a win-win situation for the Americans and the Russians. Lest there be any misunderstanding about this outcome, since the outbreak of Arab revolts in 2011, Syria and Bashar Al-Assad himself were not the sole cards held by Russia in the Middle East. Moscow has been developing strategic relations and forging broader interests in several other Middle East states, including Israel, Egypt and even Turkey. On the other hand, it is obvious that the new US administration has a clearer vision on what can be done in Syria, when compared to Obama.

    In this context, Dr Faris says that despite the political quarrels, a meeting between President Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin could happen soon. Their publicly agreed upon solution in Syria passes through one gate: the withdrawal of all foreign armed forces and militias, namely Hezbollah, the Iraqi militias, Al-Basdaran, Al-Qaeda, Daesh, Al-Nusra and all of those who reached Syria with the assistance of the Iranian regime. Faris adds that Washington and its NATO allies on the one hand and Russia and its international allies such as China on the other can agree on this solution.

    Furthermore, all of those parties also agree that the first stage that can lead to a solution in Syria begins with the “disappearance” of Daesh. Following this, a moderate Arab Sunni authority must assume power in the areas currently controlled by the militants.

    The logic behind such a step is that if Daesh is replaced by the Syrian regime – like what is happening in Iraq – this may create a sectarian problem in those areas. Hence, according to Faris, the role of a number of moderate Sunni Arab countries would be important because there is a need for an alliance on the ground, as the US is not ready for a major troop deployment.

    We might argue that Syria is thus heading toward a tripartite division: a Russian sphere of influence, wherein the Syrian regime and its Alawi (Shia) Arab sect lives; a US sphere of influence, with the Sunni Arab opposition and its groups; and another US sphere of influence, for the Kurds. Needless to say, we can easily see a mirror image in Iraq, which is mired with sectarian and ethnic traps and a horde of uncertainties, and its divisions are clearer than ever before.

    As such, it won’t be outlandish to see the end of the Syrian war soon and in a similar way the disappearance of Daesh, especially after it has almost fulfilled its sinister mandate and purpose for which it was established; that is, the cementing of regional sectarian strife. Daesh can’t have any future in the agreed upon scenario and thus its disappearance becomes inevitable.

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    Trump and the Palestinian State

    December 9th, 2016

    By Fadi Elhusseini.

     

    REUTERS/Mike Segar

     

    Trump’s victory was a real shock, not only for decision-makers in every single capital on this planet, but also to experts and observers who saw nothing but a landslide triumph for the democrats and Hilary Clinton. Shortly after his victory, statements splashed media and political corridors, and Donald Trump himself announced readiness to meet with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu. Many Israeli officials didn’t shy out from saying that the Trump era will be the golden age for the Israeli- American relations and the odds for establishing a Palestinian state become nil.

    In Israel, many politicians said they expected Trump to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett said with Trump’s presidency, there is a chance for Israel to “retract the notion of a Palestinian state.” In fact, with Trump’s victory, the negative repercussions of the so-called Arab Spring and the ongoing chaos in the Middle East served to broaden the clouds of doubt hanging over and led many Palestinian observers to have bleak outlook on the prospects of the peace process and the Palestinian cause in general.

    Those observers had reasons for pessimism. During the election campaign, Trump not only committed to moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, but also praised the Republican platform that omits past support for a two-state solution and calls Jerusalem Israel’s “indivisible” capital. Trump and his aides said that Israeli illegal settlements are not an obstacle to peace.

    The main pillars of the President-elect’s campaign are staunch advocates and flagrant supporters of Israel and Netanyahu’s policies, such as John Bolton, and Rudy Giuliani, candidates for department of state, not to mention Newt Gingrich, and Michael Pence. Needless to say, Trump has been elected as a representative of a Party that enjoys the majority in the Congress and the Senate. In other words, the administration’s policies will receive support from both legislative institutions.

    In spite of those indicators that led to Palestinian’s pessimism, I think it is indeed too early to judge the consequences of the election of Trump and whether this election will lead to a disaster on the Palestinian cause or else for a number of reasons.

    First, the Israeli official statements carry a lot of exaggeration especially with regards to the possibilities of establishing a Palestinian state. Those statements are nothing but a psychological attempt that aims to put further pressure on the President-elect in order to fulfill his pre-election promises. This psychological campaign targets as well the Palestinian president at the aim of weakening his moderate front which embarrassed Israel internationally. That being said, I would not have expected different Israeli statements if Hillary Clinton was elected.

    Second, regarding the chances of establishing a Palestinian state, it does not depend solely and exclusively on the name of the US president, but rather it is based on more in-depth givens; including the Palestinian dimension itself; internal conditions such as unity and steadfastness in face of the systematic Israeli practices directed to end the Palestinian presence on their land. It also depends on the Palestinian’s resilience and ability to cope with the international turnabouts and regional polarization. It likewise hinges on the international will and desire to end this conflict, and I don’t see that this moment has come yet. It contingent as well on Israel’s readiness to compromise and to accept exchanging peace now with unforeseen future threats in such turbulent region.

    Third, it is true that the United States has the most influential role in the peace process, yet old habits die hard. In effect, US foreign policy neither counts on the name of the president nor is subject to drastic changes. US presidents have usually a small margin that allows them to shift slightly away from the broad, well-known and agreed upon lines of foreign policy that are drawn in advance. Perhaps the proximity (of course by a short distance) differs when the president is a Republican or a Democrat.

    Although Trump enjoys Congress and Senate Republican majority, two facts should not be overlooked: first is that Trump himself has neither been part of the Republican elite nor its political structure. Until recently, his statements and positions aroused dissatisfaction and dismay by many traditional Republicans. Second is the importance of the role of the deep-state which has been setting up aforementioned broad lines of US policy.

    At this juncture, one can say that the most critical challenge would be Trump’s ability to maneuver and distance himself from traditional US foreign policy broad lines. If he succeeds, this would constitute an unprecedented case in US decision-making history.

    Any change in US traditional foreign policy broad lines will be evident not only on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict but also on the entire Middle East. If this to happen, it will usher a period of uncertainty in international affairs. In other words, a change that would reach other regions and will eventually have an impact on the whole US international relations network. By then, US relations with traditional allies and friends will be affected and the entire web of international relations may witness a revolution.

    Perhaps the conjuring question would be: Can Trump match words with deeds? In other words, can Donald Trump move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? Many US presidents said they would do during their campaigns, but when they took office they realized that such a decision contradicts with US traditional foreign policy broad lines. If Trump does so, then this would a fundamental turning point and a significant sign for unprecedented deviation from traditional US foreign policy.

    Preliminary indications show that realpolitik comes to the fore and Trump will not stray far from known axioms of American foreign policy. His recent statement that he will work to reach a peace agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis confirm that he has already begun reading the White House brochure for new presidents.

    In a word, pragmatism asserts its rights. While it may be early to make judgments, it is crucial to admit that a Palestinian state is part and parcel of the internationally recognized two-state solution: the state of Israel and the state of Palestine. Any US president who is eager to see a more stable Middle East must work on making this solution achievable. Disregarding the realistic demands of either party would lead to more degradation of this solution and would eventually put the last nail in the coffin of the already-waning Middle East Peace Process.

    A previous version appeared on: http://www.eastonline.eu/en/opinioni/open-doors/trump-palestinian-state

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    Oman: a Peaceful Oasis in a Flaming region

    May 22nd, 2016

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    In a fractious, unstable region rife with conflicts, one country appears to be unscathed. It is telling that Oman emerged not only intact from the ramifications of the Arab Spring, but also shied away from the tense polarisation that has hijacked the rest of the Middle East. Oman’s position on the various regional issues is self-evidently peaceful and different from the other Gulf monarchies. In fact, behind this peaceful and unique position lies a hive of activity of which many are unaware. Read the rest of this entry “

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    Putin’s “Completely Fulfilled” Task in Syria

    March 24th, 2016

    By Fadi Husseini.

     

     

    Since Russia has been declared officially in the Middle East, and following the extended presence of its military in all forms in Syria, speculations splashed media platforms across the globe. Observers saw in Russia’s decision to enter Syria a long-term strategy, albeit the abrupt announcement of Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw most of the Russian forces from Syria put friends and foes alike in bewilderment.

    Putin ordered a pull out of “the main part” of his troops in Syria and the exact words he uttered to his defense minister Sergey Shoigu were “The task presented to the defense ministry and the armed forces has been completely fulfilled.” Examining the avowed goal for Russia’s operation in Syria six months ago is a stepping stone in analyzing what “task” Putin is talking about. Fighting and destroying ISIS after the US-led campaign proved to be an “abject failure” was the primary goal and taking a pre-emptive move to abort any efforts to export those radicals back to Russia was the secondary goal. Nonetheless, neither ISIS nor al-Nusra were defeated and Moscow has no solid evidence that those terrorist groups lost ability to send their radicals back to Russia.

    Accordingly, Putin’s recent remarks refute the declared goal in the first place. This conclusion takes us to the other expected birds Russia was aiming to kill with one stone- which is the intervention in Syria. Among the various goals Russia was aspiring from this intervention were bolstering Russia’s military- and hence strategic presence- in the region, preventing the fall of Assad and balancing the military operations on ground, dictating its political will on any future regime, neutralizing the mounting Iranian leverage on Syria and weakening Assad’s rivals. Apparently, throughout the past six months Moscow was able to relatively realize most of the aforementioned goals.

    Strategic presence in the region

    Russia proved to be a key player and a significant element in the Middle East equation and the Syrian issue in particular. Militarily, while much of the equipment and manpower were being loaded out, Moscow emphasized that the Russian airbase in Hemeimeem and a naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartus will continue to operate. ARussia indicated that the advanced S-400 air-defense system, three Sukhoi Su-34 combat aircraft and a Tu-154 transport plane, would stay in Syria, and experts expect that air force and naval assets also will be left behind. After all, Moscow was able to reinforce the strategically important military base in Tartus and founded a new one. Thus, Russia was able to not only secure a solid footprint in the Middle East and overcome the international isolation brought about as a result to its intervention in Ukraine, but also to extend its political sway.

    The Political Solution in Syria

    Russia’s intervention turned the tide of war and tipped the balance of the combat operation back towards Assad. The Western-backed “moderate” opposition was weakened and Assad forces began to regain lands that they lost before the Russian intervention. Consequently, Russia asserted itself as the pioneer of this new political process. Brokered by Russia and the US, a ceasefire with Assad still in power was forced and diplomatic efforts stepped up to secure peace deal negotiations. One must concede thus that Russia was able to maneuver itself into a position of real leverage and to include Assad and his regime in any peace talks. Meanwhile, Iran’s role in these peace talks appears marginal when compared to Russia and this fulfils another unspoken goal by Moscow.

    The timing of Moscow’s announcement

    Some Arabic media channels contended that differences of opinion between Putin and Assad led Putin to shortly announce the pullout plans. Differences, according to these channels, arouse from Assad’s talks to re-control the entire country that may ruin any potentials for a political solution. Some other Arabic sources suggested that Putin’s decision comes in light of the mounting ‘Sunni’ dismay from Russia’s plans in backing Assad, who is Alwai-Shiite. Both arguments can be true, yet they neither answer the crucial question “why now” nor assume that Putin had these calculations before the outset of his operation.

    Perhaps the answer is a confluence of all various considerations, yet the key word is the peace talks. Russia had limited objectives in remaining long in Syria. According to Reuters, the Russian campaign has cost Russia nearly $800 Millions. With Russia’s economy under sanctions, Moscow is fully aware that it cannot afford to sustain a long-term combat operation in Syria. Thus, the goal was to realize the strategic objectives (defeating the capacity and capability of Assad’s rivals and providing him with a better position in the negotiations) in due time and then begin redeployment.

    From day one, Russia was looking for an exit strategy. With Assad’s improved position on the ground, a NATO intervention option no longer possible and the launching of a serious political process, Moscow seized its moment. Russia’s ally has negotiates from a position of power and in case the peace process produces tangible results, Russia alleviates itself from any future commitments. Hence, Russia’s goal was operational and not to delve into a nation-building operation.

    Moreover, Moscow aims to evade any conflagration with Turkey (in case the latter plans to intervene in Syria) and focus more on the Ukrainian issue. The timing of Moscow’s announcement was hugely significant especially when it is in need for more allies that can back its position in Ukraine. Russia’s decision sent positive signal and was warmly welcomed by many countries, mainly Arab State. This would ultimately help Russia to repair relations with the Sunni states who criticized the Russian intervention in Syria.

    Conclusion

    So far, imaging that Russia will abandon Syria is unrealistic and thus Moscow’s decision is purely tactical and timely. After securing a foothold and loyal ally, Putin used the first opportunity to begin withdrawing his troops whose mission was deemed to be limited in scope and time. Nevertheless, the only element that has been missing and playing no role in the Russian and others’ considerations is ISIS and the fight against terrorism.

     

     

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    The Middle East: Was the Turkish Model replaced by an Iranian Role?

    March 9th, 2016

    By Fadi El Husseini.

     

     

    turkey and iran

    Since 2003, Turkey has appeared as a valuable asset for global powers to invest in and as a leading actor in a region long described as sluggish towards democratic transformations. However, with the advent of the Arab Spring, things changed and the role portrayed for Turkey by the United States has been declining, especially in light of the rise of another regional power: Iran.

    The United States sought to endorse the Middle East Partnership Initiative, which became the Greater Middle East Initiative (GMEI) in 2003. America’s efforts did not stop at the GMEI, and it offered yet another project coined the “new Middle East”. The avowed goal of these initiatives was to encourage political, economic and social reforms in the region, based on a vision to improve America’s image in the Middle East, which had been greatly smeared and distorted as a result of the US invasion of Afghanistan and occupation of Iraq.

    Seeking a new model that could be acceptable to Arabs and was far from the images  and stereotypes of the old, traditional regimes thus became a must. This idea gained more momentum after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power with Turkey’s parliamentary elections of 2002, and a new project for the democratization of the Middle East became a viable option.

    The rise of the AKP was the answer. It shifted the compass in the direction of moderate Islam at a time when this concept in general and the Turkish model in particular, struck a deep chord with dissatisfied public averse to corrupt regimes. And it became a priority.

    Turkey thus became a crucial element in these projects and was deemed a model for moderate Islam. The United States recognized its qualities and designated a leading role for the country for its geostrategic location, long-time record as a Western ally, extensive democratic experience and its emergence as a nation that successfully combined Islamic and Western values.

    These principles comprised the core of what came to be known as the Turkish model. This model underlined the background of the ruling AKP, which originated in Islamist tradition but claimed to merge that tradition with modernism and liberal democracy.

    The Turkish model then splashed across media and academic platforms. It became part of Arabs’ lively daily debates, and Arab thinkers and intellectuals encouraged their rulers to emulate it. Many aspects helped the model’s prominence rise and flourish within Arab societies.

    In addition to US efforts to propagate Turkey’s status as a representative of moderate and democratic Islam, the Islamic background of its ruling elite, its economic success, balanced relations with the East and West, military might and NATO membership have all put the Turkish model on track.

    However, revolts do not come knocking on the door. They sneak in, changing chartered paths and dealing blows to strategic plans. With the outbreak of Arab revolts, the stable environment (the Arab world) upon which Turkish decision-makers built their strategies changed and became uneven. At first, most observers thought the Arab Spring would be a historic opportunity for Turkey to further endorse its status in the region. Yet things changed and Turkey’s popularity has been declining with each passing year.

    In subsequent polls since 2011, Middle Easterners have proved lukewarm towards Turkey’s role in the region. Year by year, this tepid reaction has increasingly transformed into aversion and suspicion. Even in official circles, Turkey’s relations with several Middle Eastern countries have been tainted with tension and, at times, hostility.

    Meanwhile, whether one likes it or not, Iran has been moving slowly but steadily towards an extraordinary status and role in the Middle East. The country began emerging from decades of isolation after the nuclear deal helped its economy and propelled it back into the world.

    It started formulating this role a long time ago, and the deal was just a stepping stone. Iran has been employing an ever-widening array of instruments to build strategic partnerships and alliances throughout the Muslim world and beyond. One of its most successful tools is soft power, which includes media, assistance and aid, and cultural ties. The country also used trade and investment to further penetrate the region. Iran Chord is a salient example: the state-owned company has emerged as the largest carmaker in the Middle East, exporting over one million vehicles in 2007.

    Recently, Iran signed agreements with Afghanistan and Tajikistan to build railroad and power lines linking Iran and the Central Asian republics, as well as China and Russia. Furthermore, Iran is politically and militarily cooperating with Russia in Syria with the aim of securing Moscow’s support in numerous spheres. One of which is Iran’s attempt to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a full member. Iran was accepted as an observer state, yet full membership would secure further strategic support from Russia and China.

    More so, Iran’s extended leverage in the region has always been demonstrated in a network of allies that has been expanding to include more members. The main logic behind this network lies in Iran’s soft power and its ability to export both revolutionary values and Shiite fraternal connections.

    Iran was adept enough to promote itself as revolutionary hub and an address for all those who aim to fight foreign imperialism. The eventual result was the formation of the “resistance axis” to encounter the “moderation axis” which encompasses US allies in the region.

    Iran was adept enough to promote itself as a revolutionary hub and a home for all those aiming to fight foreign imperialism. The eventual result was the formation of the ‘axis of resistance’ to counter the Arab ‘moderation axis’ that encompasses US allies in the region.

    In addition, Iran’s connections with Shiite communities in Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, Eastern Saudi Arabia and Lebanon demonstrate the success of its soft power. The number of Shiite visitors to Iran is proof of this success. According to 2013 figures, roughly four million tourists visited Iran: the majority was religious Shiite or medical tourists while some one million were regular tourists.

    Iran further expanded its network beyond traditional state actors such as Syria and Iraq to include non-state actors and groups such as Hamas and Jihad in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. Iran was pragmatic enough to also establish relationships with seemingly unlikely partners such as China, Russia, Turkey, India, Nicaragua, and Algeria; and to sign scores of agreements in the fields of hydrocarbons and energy, and trade and transport.

    Inter alia, of the various elements that weakened the Turkish model was Iran’s mounting leverage in the Middle East and the Arab Spring, which delivered a blow to Turkey’s achievements as Iran was moving slowly but steadily towards a status it carefully charted. Then came the nuclear deal, which boosts Iran’s potential in the region and has intriguingly raised a third perspective: have Arabs surrendered their aspirations to play a role in their region? Although the Islamic coalition declared by Saudi Arabia seems promising, this idea has not been translated into practical steps, nor does a united Arab position seem in the offing. The diverse Arab positions on how to respond to Iran’s recent attacks on the embassy and consulate in Saudi Arabia are a case in point.

    This article was first published by: Eastwest magazine: http://www.eastonline.eu/en/eastwest-64/if-tehran-now-competes-with-ankara

    Available in: Arabic, French and Italian

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    Russia is Officially in the region: A new Order has just begun

    January 4th, 2016

     

     

    By Fadi Elhusseini.

     

    russie

    Since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising, Russia has limited itself to its traditional role of providing arms as well as military and logistical experts to its Arab allies. As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime weakened, the Russians intensified their military support dramatically. Recently, the Russian ‘Caesar’ opted to expand his role in Syria to include direct intervention against enemies of the regime. The move towards direct intervention constitutes a revolution in Russia’s role in the Middle East and portends a deeper shift in the region.

    Russia has claimed that its intervention in Syria was intended to destroy IS after the US-led campaign proved to be an “abject failure”, according to an unnamed US military official speaking to CBS News. Well acquainted with terrorism, one might argue that Moscow is undertaking a pre-emptive war against Islamic extremist groups. But some have linked the intervention to the Ukrainian crisis as well as the desire for increased leverage in the Middle East and more power at the negotiating table.

    Thus Russia’s stated intentions have been met with skepticism about the real motive behind the decision to intervene directly. One widespread opinion is that Russia wants to secure a military presence on warm- waters – the Mediterranean Sea. While this sounds plausible, Russia has been enjoying this presence for some time already. Warm-water ports are of great geopolitical and economic interest and they are the ports where the water does not freeze in wintertime.

    Those ports have long played an important role in Russian foreign policy. The Russian Empire fought a series of wars with the Ottoman Empire in a quest to establish a warm-water port. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of World War I didn’t give Russia any further control. The Soviet Union enjoyed access to naval bases throughout the Mediterranean, yet its collapse brought an end to that access, except for the base in Tartus in Syria. Since 1971, Russian naval has had presence in Tartus and with Russia’s recent intervention, this port enjoyed unprecedented fame.

    So what really lies behind the dramatic shift in Russian foreign policy?

    In fact, Russia’s recent direct intervention in Syria gave a goodbye kiss to the conventional regional order that ruled the Middle East for ages. Traditionally and even at the peak of the Cold War, Russia’s (either the Soviet Union or the Russian Federation) role was limited to sending arms, military and logistical experts to its Arab allies. The current intervention constituted a revolution in Russia’s role and marked an extraordinary heavy military intervention.

    The recent Russian intervention coincided with a number of important events. First is the Iranian nuclear deal which gives Iran a more prominent regional role, especially when considering the economic potentials this deal left Iran with.

    Second is the US gradual withdrawal from the region, which was symbolized in the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq, handing over Iraq’s destiny to the Iranians, cooling off efforts in the Palestinian- Israeli conflict that led to the emergence of other initiatives (e.g. the French, the New Zealand), and finally its decision to withdraw the defensive shield from Turkey (for technical reasons according to the US announcement). Giving up its historical allies in Egypt (Mubarak) and Tunisia (Ben Ali), in addition to leaving the Saudis and the Gulf to fight Iran’s influence in Yemen alone are other signs of US declining role in the Middle East.

    A few years ago, the president of the US Council on Foreign Relations, Richard N. Haass, wrote that the era of the United States’ domination in the Middle East was coming to an end and that the region’s future would be characterized by reduced US influence. Many observers do not believe the US will voluntarily abandon its role in the region, but the actions of other nations, combined with the Russians’ plans in Syria, clearly point in this direction.

    Under the slogan «fight against terrorism», China sent aircraft carrier “Liaoning-CV-16” to Tartus and sources revealed that Beijing is heading to reinforce its forces with “J-15 Flying Shark” jets and “Z-18F & Z-18J” helicopters equipped with anti-submarine, in coordination with Tehran and Baghdad. France and Britain followed suit; the latter announced that it would mobilize reinforcements and military capabilities to the Mediterranean and Paris said it would send “Charles de Gaulle” aircraft carrier to participate in operations against ISIS in addition to six Rafale Jets in the United Arab Emirates and six Mirage aircraft in Jordan.

    For its part, the US, whose aircraft carriers have been absent from the region since 2007, ordered a mere 50 special operations troops to Syria in order to help coordinate ‘local’ ground forces in the north of the country. US President Barack Obama condemned Russia’s direct intervention strategy, saying it was “doomed to fail”. And yet in a press conference in August 2014, he acknowledged that the United States “does not have a strategy” in Syria.

    Media talks aside, Washington cannot have been taken by surprise when the Russians commenced their operations in Syria. Assuming that the Obama- Putin summit, which came hours before the Russian earliest move in Syria, did not tackle Russia’s intervention plans, there were many clues that prove US prior knowledge of Moscow’s decision.

    In July 2015 Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani visited Moscow to coordinate the Russian military intervention and thus forging the new Iranian-Russian alliance in Syria. According to a Reuters report, Soleimani’s visit was preceded by high-level Russian-Iranian contact and meetings to coordinate military strategies. Two months later, Iraq, Russia, Iran and Syria agreed to set up an intelligence-sharing committee in Baghdad in order to harmonize efforts in fighting ISIS.

    A senior US official confirmed on 18 September that more than 20 Condor transport plane flights had delivered tanks, weapons, other equipment, and marines to Russia’s new military hub near Latakia in western Syria, followed by 16 Russian Su-27 fighter aircraft, along with 12 close support aircraft, four large Hip troop-transport helicopters and four Hind helicopter gunships. Hence, it is clear that the US administration was at least aware of the Russian massive preparations and yet opted to keep its presence to the minimum. In this vein, it can be strategically said that this decision goes in line with the aforementioned US grand plan in the region and marks a calculated strategic gain when securing a small share in a Russian traditional sphere of influence: Syria.

    The stated Russian motivation behind this involvement does not match for the facts on the ground. In other words, fighting ISIS, who does not have fighter jets or missile defense systems, does commensurate neither with the sophisticated air defenses that the Russians installed at the “Humaimam” base (such as SA15 and SA22 surface-to-air missiles) nor the Russian announcements that 40 naval “combat exercises” were due to start in the eastern Mediterranean, including rocket and artillery fire at sea and airborne targets. For that reason, some other experts found in Russia’s intervention as part of its new maritime strategy, that was publish on 26 July 2015. The new maritime doctrine of the Russian Federation to 2020 is a comprehensive state policy for governing all of Russia’s maritime assets, military fleets, the civilian fleet, merchant marine, and naval infrastructure.

    Russia therefore might be looking to kill as many birds as possible with one stone. Moscow will first and foremost dictate its political will on any future solution in Syria and the inclusion of Iran and Russia in Vienna talks is just a case in point. Better, Secretary of State John Kerry now concedes that the longtime Russia’s ally Bashar Al-Assad might indeed be allowed to retain power for a period, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel said that the West will have to engage with Assad if it is to have any chance of resolving the Syrian civil war and the British indicated a similar shift in policy. Second, Russia has now guaranteed a bigger role in the formation of a new Syrian government, even if Assad is pushed out of power and any nascent regime would seriously consider Russia’s role and presence in the country; including military, investment and commercial interests (e.g. in 2011 Russia invested $19 billion in Syria).

    Third, Russia is underway to expand its military presence; not only in Syria, but also in the region and the announced intelligence sharing agreement demonstrates this goal. For example, Russia offered a large array of military hardware to Iraq (such as military helicopters in 2013 and Su25s fighter aircraft) that the US has refused to sell. Fourth, although it looks like Russia and Iran have a common goal in Syria, Russia’s blatant involvement ceased Iran’s monopoly over the Syrian file. Fifth, Russia is making pre-emptive war against Islamic extremist groups from which Russia has long suffered. Russia can’t tolerate the return of Chechens or other fighters who joined ISIS and is concerned that the West may use those radicals against Russia in a similar scenario to the Afghani case.

    Sixth, the Russian intervention came amidst confirmed military sources that the longtime Russian ally – the Syrian regime – is about to fall when it controlled only 18 percent of the country and its army exhausted 93 percent of the stock. Seventh, the mounting leverage of Russia in the region will give Russia a bigger seat at the Ukrainian negotiations table. Finally, Russia aims at the revival of its military industries market as it was able to promote itself as an international player that can be relied upon to contain Iran, to prevent the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, to contribute actively in the fight against terrorism, and to sell technologies for peaceful energy in the Middle East. For example, the Russian Defense Ministry is working currently on major deals with Gulf Arab states in order to develop the Marine Corps, and air defense systems, techniques of unmanned aircrafts, armored vehicles and signal systems. Russia is now building two nuclear facilities in southern Iran and in February Russia agreed to build nuclear reactors in Egypt. Moscow is negotiating as well with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Jordan for deals to develop nuclear power, the largest deal was on 19 June 2015 when Moscow agreed to establish 16 nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia.

    In short, Russia must now be taken seriously as a major player on the Middle East scene. The Russian recent intervention is Syria was not the first move in that direction and regional powers have reached the same conclusion even before. That said, it was not outlandish to see that Middle Eastern leaders visiting Moscow in no time.

     

    A previous version of this article appeared originally at: http://www.eastonline.eu/en/eastwest-63/world-outlook-a-new-regional-order-arises

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    ISIS: Ambitions and Constrains

    November 22nd, 2015

    By Fadi El-Husseini.

     

    ISIS-rebels-marching-in-syria

    Since its inception, news of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/Daesh) has splashed across the world’s media. The nascent entity emerged suddenly and expanded quickly. Its brutality has commanded widespread attention and generated mounting concern. A few months ago, Daesh entered its second year, demonstrating a unique ability to survive despite being targeted by joint international efforts and military campaigns. This article digs deep inside the life of Daesh, assesses important details such as its structure and formations and highlights facts that may be important to the general reader and decision-maker alike. These features reveal the complexity of the composition of Daesh which it has managed to build in record time. Read the rest of this entry “

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    The Middle East: Rising and Falling Start

    October 29th, 2015

    By Fadi El-Husseini.

     

    In 2011, Turkey was seen as an unstoppable regional power and a rising star led by its Development and Justice Party (AKP). But the arrival of the Arab Spring heralded a deep change in the region. Turkey’s prominence began to fade and Iran’s potential appeared to be rising with the progress it is making in nuclear negotiations. Further developments in the region have continued to surprise observers, especially the emergence of the ascendant force that is the Islamic State (IS).

    Until the Arab revolts began, many believed Turkey would enjoy a bright future as a leader in the region under the AKP. Most Arabs were eager to emulate the Turkish model of democracy and economic success. Many politicians established and named their parties after the ruling AKP, and Turkish products and soap operas were flooding Arab markets and homes.

    With his charisma and rhetoric, former Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was seen by most frustrated Arabs as a saviour, a leader who cared for his neighbors and had qualities their own dictators lacked – especially his open opposition to Israeli policies and practices against the Palestinians. Nonetheless, as the Arab Spring continued, a shift began to take place.

    Turkey lost territory in Syria, upset the Gulf nations, further strained its luke warm relations with Iraq, entered into conflict with Israel and finally saw its relations with Egypt deteriorate. And Turkey’s challenges did not end at its doorstep. With the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul and the 2013 corruption scandals involving a number of AKP ministers, the problems turned out to be domestic as well.

    The recent elections in June could be considered the biggest blow suffered by the Turkish AKP since its inception in 2001 – 13 years of single-party rule in Turkey have come to an end. And while the AKP had provided Turkey with political stability and economic recovery, the impact of the recent elections on Turkey’s domestic politics and foreign policy will have direct repercussions across the entire region.

    Meanwhile, as Turkey’s regional star is setting, other stars are rising. Iran, for example, is a regional power with considerable potential. Its closest allies in the region (the Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Huthi in Yemen) have been under tremendous pressure, and their power and leverage has been declining significantly. But although Iran has suffered a great deal since the advent of the Arab Spring, the nuclear deal reached with the 5+1 nations will bolster its position over time by lifting decades-long imposed sanctions. It will furthermore allow Iran to export its oil again (the re-emergence of such a huge exporter will undoubtedly hurt Russia’s economy) and will eventually lead to unfreezing many more of Iran’s assets – in 2014 the US unfroze $1 billion, or €913 million.

    If this happens, there is no question that Iran, which could build a network of regional allies and preserve its military capabilities with an immense arsenal of weapons, will become a rising economic power as well. As such, one can expect Iran’s allies, mainly Shiite groups, to receive a big boost as well.

    A remarkable third player has been emerging on the Arab stage: the nonstate actor, IS. The group arose from the remnants of dissolved regimes, failed dictatorships, and an austere interpretation of Islam, and has imposed and reinforced its presence and influence across the region. The emergence of IS has turned the whole region on its head. Puritanism has swept the Arab world and a new vocabulary – one of apostates, infidels and heretics – has become commonplace. In the blink of an eye, IS was able to eliminate borders and take control of large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

    The 60-plus members of the USled anti-Islamic State coalition have been unable to stop IS expansion and the consolidation of its rule. Interestingly, US President Barack Obama announced in July that he believes there is no end in sight to the battle with IS, meanwhile stressing that he opposes putting any more US boots on ground.

    IS can be understood as a unique representation of the entangled interests and relations in the region. Through IS, some powers aim to weaken Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and his closest ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah. Others are eager to use IS to keep the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) busy and distracted. A third group is interested in IS sparking a sectarian conflict that would drag both Sunni and Shiite extremists into an endless war so as to ‘let the bad guys kill each other’.

    US Vice President Joe Biden even accused America’s key allies in the Middle East of allowing the rise of IS and supporting it with money and weapons in order to oust the Assad regime. Biden summed up the crux of the issue in his speech at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum: “(US allies) were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni- Shia war”.

    Similarly, US General Wesley Clark stated that “ISIS got started with funding from our closest allies … to fight to the death against Hezbollah”.

    With the current state of affairs, and in light of the recent elections, one can conclude that Turkey’s foreign policy influence and regional leadership role will decline. The AKP, which in the eyes of many Western countries represents a moderate model of Islamic democracy, can no longer form a single- party government and will thus lose the leverage and freedom to execute the kinds of proactive policies it had previously championed in the Middle East. The decline of Turkey will result in the strengthening of other regional forces: Iran and IS. As outlined above, the promising potential of Iran in the region will mean a new role for the country and perhaps a fresh network of Shiite allies. Meanwhile, the clout and influence of the mighty IS – which adheres to a strict Sunni dogma – is steadily growing.

    Unfortunately, these developments can only lead to only one conclusion: an unavoidable, far-reaching, Sunni-Shiite conflict.

    (This article was first published by East Magazine www.eastonline.eu)

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    Palestine: Time to decide!

    September 28th, 2015

    By Fadi El-Husseini.

     

    time to decide

     

    On August 27th, headlines splashed global newspapers that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and nine other top officials resigned from the ruling Executive Committee (ExCo) of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Talks about an emergency or a regular session of the Palestine National Council (PNC) followed. Although PNC Chairman Salim al-Zanoun announced Sept. 14-15 PNC meeting in the West town of Ramallah, few days ago al-Zanoun announced postponing the meeting for three months. These developments raised many questions; the most important is what the actual reason behind convening this meeting in the first place.

    In fact, observes were wondering if Abbas is really quitting, or if it is a tactical move to shake stagnant water. It is worth clarifying that although the news suggested that the resignations were final, the mater of the fact is that they’re not official. PNC Chairman Salim al-Zanoun said he received a letter from Saeb Erekat, the new secretary general of the ExCo, stating that the ten members “vowed to resign”. Thus, it is a promise and elections will replace only the ten.

    Technicalities aside, realities brought attention to the upcoming parley. First and foremost, the PNC congress- a 776-seat parliament-like body representing Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the diaspora- convenes for the first time in nearly 20 years. Second, it comes amid fierce domestic quarrels in the PLO’s largest factions _ Fatah on the side and between Fatah and the militant Hamas, on the other. Furthermore, the meeting follows discharging the former ExCo secretary general, Yasser Abed Rabbo, who was widely accused as being anti-Abbas.

    One must concede, however, that convening the congress is on its own an accomplishment. Now, whether the meeting aims to serve certain political goals by one party or another, it will definitely usher a new beginning as it seeks to reorganize a languid body that many Palestinians see as helpless.

    Aside from any PLO domestic issues, the relationship with Israel, deadlocked peacemaking, the fallout of reelecting Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and the hardest-line right wing religious Cabinet ever, and the tepid US dealing with the Palestinian cause, shadow the agenda of the upcoming parley. These issues were reflected in a recent decision by the Palestine Central Council (PCC), a significant 124-member body that liaises between the PNC and the ExCo, to review political, economic and security relations with Israel.

    In the same context, the Saudi Watan Newspaper said on Sept. 10th that Abbas will declare before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Sept. 30th reviewing relations with Israel at all levels. Having said this, with Abbas’s ultimate frustration with the Israeli-slapped status-quo, the upcoming meeting may discuss the possibility of dissolving the Palestinian Authority (PA) and instead forming a new government-in-exile.

    The idea has been floated in Palestinian circles, considering that Israel stripped the PA literally of all authority it commands. The recent decision by the Israeli high court to demolish Palestinian houses in areas A (which are under the control of the PA) is just a case of point. This decision was interpreted by PA as an official Israeli declaration of the death of the Oslo peace accords between the PLO and Israel

    According to the Palestinian narrative which relies on Geneva conventions, if the PA is dissolved, Israel must shoulder the responsibility of the people and the lands it occupies, as it did before the PA emerged in 1993. Thus, Israel will pay a high cost and, in that case, it will feel the pinch of its prolonged 48-year occupation, the longest ever in modern history.

    Time is ticking; three months separate the date to the upcoming PNC meeting where the Palestinian leadership is expected to take fateful decisions. When the Israeli government fails to act in order to save peace, here exactly comes the real responsibility of the international community.

    Another version is also available in French

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    Hamas Diplomatic Activism: Modified Strategies and new alliances

    September 8th, 2015

    By Fadi El-Husseini.

     

    khaled-meshaal-5

    Many observers saw a potential breakthrough in Tony Blair’s recent meeting with the head of Hamas’ political bureau Khaled Meshaal that may take Hamas out of the bottleneck and lead to a long-term truce between the movement and Israel. Yet, it appears that the crux of the issue surpasses initial assessment as this meeting comes in the midst of entangled developments and may perhaps lead to various domestic, regional and global transformations. Read the rest of this entry “

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    The Arab Spring and the Rise of non-State Actors

    June 24th, 2015

     

     

    By Fadi El-Husseini.

     

      non-state

    In the past four years, Arabs have been living in an endless Sisyphean ordeal, an unexpected nightmare after rising for what they called “the Arab Spring”. The scenario was cloned in most Arab Spring countries. Alas, hopeful revolution turned into belligerence, then into strife followed by a war, as if a new regional order was endorsed to guarantee instability and chaos in the region.

    This new regional order has markedly new features and novel actors. The feature most starkly apparent is the rise of non-state actors, which have bolstered their presence and influence across the region, disregarding borders and ignoring the strategic equations that ruled the region for decades.Non-state actors, mainly Islamic movements like Hamas, Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda, played a limited role in the pre-Arab Spring era.

    However, before looking at the new non-state actors and their role in the region, it is worth highlighting a number of facts concerning Islamic movements. Firstly, any designations that labelled those movements, like political Islam or moderate Islam, are merely descriptive terms and have nothing to do with the core of Islam as a religion.

    Islam is a comprehensive and inclusive religion and attaching one characteristic, without a reference to others, may give the false impression that there are different forms of Islam, such as “non-moderate” Islam. One may argue, though, that such labels are simply “creative” terms to differentiate between the various Islamic groups.

    For instance, several Western powers found in “moderate Islam” an acceptable term that may justify “dealing” with specific groups and not others; the limits of the word “dealing” can range from basic and regular contacts to alliances and common interests and agendas.

    On the other hand, several Islamic groups did not shy away from being labelled as moderate Islam or political Islam as long as this distinguished them from other groups that took a violent path to achieve their goals. Being distinguished as “moderates” gives these groups some kind of legitimacy, and hence more freedom to work in their societies to achieve their goals.

    Perhaps designating these groups as “movements with Islamic orientation” would be a more accurate approach, as they tend to share one goal: the return of Islamic rule, either state or through Islamic law, the shariah; the only difference is the time factor which implies their behaviour and reveals their strategy.

    If a group seeks to achieve its goals gradually, its behavior and activities are characterised principally by peaceful means. Conversely, if the group seeks instant change, its policies and actions tend to be characterised by radical and violent means. Returning to the role of non-state actors in general, one should concede that with the advent of the Arab revolts, their role has become more evident to a degree that it has surpassed the role of many regimes and governments in the region.

    These actors began to impose certain policies and agendas on regional and global regimes and are at the helm of every regional summit and international conference. The emergence of these actors has turned the whole region on its head, broken many taboos and penetrated one country after another. Puritanism is now widespread across the Middle East and new vocabulary – such as apostates, infidels and heretics – has become common in daily conversations.

    In no time, these actors could abolish traditional political borders drawn in the early years of the last century (by the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement) when other ideas, concepts or phenomenon, like globalisation, took decades to find their way into the region. They and their offshoots spread throughout the region, taking various names: Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra Front, Daesh or ISIS or IS, the Houthis and so on.

    Their expansion does not appear to have any limits or borders. That being said, they have been seen to possess sophisticated organisation that does not reflect the limited number of their members and recruits. In other words, the number of their members can’t, by any means, reflect the unprecedented “achievements” they have attained in such a short time.

    The most important element in this novel equation is their network of known and unknown allies who provide them with finance, logistics and arms, mainly away from the spotlight. The situations in Iraq and Syria represent the starkest example of entangled interests and relations from one side, and regional and international hesitation from the other.

    Some regional powers opted to keep the card of “supporting or turning a blind eye to the activities and movements of those non-state actors” as a last gamble, lest things veer out of control on other fronts and so as to weaken groups like Hezbollah or the PKK, or even to harm the Assad regime. Similarly, many Western powers, who classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, ignored its outright intervention in Syria in order to weaken all those groups (the “bad guys”) in a destructive conflict that took on a sectarian hue.

    The US was able to pounce on this opportunity and use it to re-promote to its Arab allies the importance of its role as a supplier of weapons, as an adviser who provides them with information and expertise in fighting terrorism, and as a protector through US-led coalition strikes.

    The reports which showed the evolution in American weapons salesmainly to Arab countries, are just a case in point. Russia, which is fully aware that a nuclear deal with Iran would definitely harm its economy (any agreement with Tehran would lead to the return of Iran as a major oil supplier which will eventually lead to a drop in oil prices), had no choice but to bless this deal knowing the importance of Iran’s regional network of relations, mainly with non-state actors.

    Intriguingly, and despite regional dismay at the existence of non-state actors and their rejection of any talks about a new Sykes-Picot deal, one may realise that facts on the ground are going nowhere but to that end. Since America launched its campaign against ISIS, the latter has taken control of a large swathe of Iraq and Syria, whereas before the strikes it controlled relatively small areas.

    ISIS’s fighters began to appear more equipped and trained and their media performance has improved a great deal. The consecutive successes of ISIS have encouraged others either to follow suit or to attach themselves to this “successful” model; as a result, not one single Arab capital has become immune, especially in the aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring.

    Although many analyses questioned the conditions that brought forth most of those actors and their real goals, and despite the fact that many investigations have shown suspicious features in the activities of those groups, the region appears to be slipping inadvertently towards malignant ends.

    In an attempt to evaluate the aftermaths of the existence and acts of the rising non-state actors, one may say that distorting the image of Islam was unambiguous. Secondly, some of these actors, who used to enjoy popularity among the Arab masses for resisting Israel, appear to have lost ground in the Arab streets as they were tainted by either violence or sectarian agendas. Thirdly, Israel, which was isolated in the region for decades, was uniquely endowed and could enter the regional dynamics through the door of such actors.

    To elaborate, Israel remained unscathed on the fringes of the Arab Spring and its repercussions, and won triple-level strategic gains from the emergence of the non-state actors. For a start, the government in Tel Aviv started to sow a network of relations with many Arab regimes that share, in theory at least, common fears, especially a potential Shia menace as represented by Iran and Hezbollah. Israel has also gained by the weakening of traditional Arab states, such as Iraq and Syria, which were a threat to Israeli decision makers.

    Furthermore, it benefits Israel when world attention is distracted from what is still the core issue in the Middle East, its ongoing colonial occupation of Palestine. In sum, it appears that the region is in desperate need of a real leader, a new Saladin, who can put an end to the misery, the divisions and the schisms that afflict the Middle East; someone who is able to find a solution for the absence of a religious reference which has resulted in a chaotic and austere interpretation of Islam.

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    The Arab Spring and the Rise of non- State Actors

    June 13th, 2015 http://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com/engaging-non-state-armed-groups-4569/

     

    By Fadi El-Husseini.

    In the past four years, Arabs have been living in an endless Sisyphean ordeal, an unexpected nightmare after rising for what they called “the Arab Spring”. The scenario was cloned in most Arab Spring countries. Alas, hopeful revolution turned into belligerence, then into strife followed by a war, as if a new regional order was endorsed to guarantee instability and chaos in the region. This new regional order has markedly new features and novel actors. The feature most starkly apparent is the rise of non-state actors, which have bolstered their presence and influence across the region, disregarding borders and ignoring the strategic equations that ruled the region for decades.

    Non-state actors, mainly Islamic movements like Hamas, Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda, played a limited role in the pre-Arab Spring era. However, before looking at the new non-state actors and their role in the region, it is worth highlighting a number of facts concerning Islamic movements.

    Firstly, any designations that labelled those movements, like political Islam or moderate Islam, are merely descriptive terms and have nothing to do with the core of Islam as a religion. Islam is a comprehensive and inclusive religion and attaching one characteristic, without a reference to others, may give the false impression that there are different forms of Islam, such as “non-moderate” Islam. One may argue, though, that such labels are simply “creative” terms to differentiate between the various Islamic groups.

    For instance, several Western powers found in “moderate Islam” an acceptable term that may justify “dealing” with specific groups and not others; the limits of the word “dealing” can range from basic and regular contacts to alliances and common interests and agendas. On the other hand, several Islamic groups did not shy away from being labelled as moderate Islam or political Islam as long as this distinguished them from other groups that took a violent path to achieve their goals. Being distinguished as “moderates” gives these groups some kind of legitimacy, and hence more freedom to work in their societies to achieve their goals.

    Perhaps designating these groups as “movements with Islamic orientation” would be a more accurate approach, as they tend to share one goal: the return of Islamic rule, either state or through Islamic law, the shari’ah; the only difference is the time factor which implies their behaviour and reveals their strategy. If a group seeks to achieve its goals gradually, its behaviour and activities are characterised principally by peaceful means. Conversely, if the group seeks instant change, its policies and actions tend to be characterised by radical and violent means.

    Returning to the role of non-state actors in general, one should concede that with the advent of the Arab revolts, their role has become more evident to a degree that it has surpassed the role of many regimes and governments in the region. These actors began to impose certain policies and agendas on regional and global regimes and are at the helm of every regional summit and international conference.

    The emergence of these actors has turned the whole region on its head, broken many taboos and penetrated one country after another. Puritanism is now widespread across the Middle East and new vocabulary – such as apostates, infidels and heretics – has become common in daily conversations. In no time, these actors could abolish traditional political borders drawn in the early years of the last century (by the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement) when other ideas, concepts or phenomenon, like globalisation, took decades to find their way into the region.

    They and their offshoots spread throughout the region, taking various names: Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra Front, Daesh or ISIS or IS, the Houthis and so on. Their expansion does not appear to have any limits or borders. That being said, they have been seen to possess sophisticated organisation that does not reflect the limited number of their members and recruits. In other words, the number of their members can’t, by any means, reflect the unprecedented “achievements” they have attained in such a short time. The most important element in this novel equation is their network of known and unknown allies who provide them with finance, logistics and arms, mainly away from the spotlight.

    The situations in Iraq and Syria represent the starkest example of entangled interests and relations from one side, and regional and international hesitation from the other. Some regional powers opted to keep the card of “supporting or turning a blind eye to the activities and movements of those non-state actors” as a last gamble, lest things veer out of control on other fronts and so as to weaken groups like Hezbollah or the PKK, or even to harm the Assad regime. Similarly, many Western powers, who classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, ignored its outright intervention in Syria in order to weaken all those groups (the “bad guys”) in a destructive conflict that took on a sectarian hue.

    The US was able to pounce on this opportunity and use it to re-promote to its Arab allies the importance of its role as a supplier of weapons, as an adviser who provides them with information and expertise in fighting terrorism, and as a protector through US-led coalition strikes. The reports which showed the evolution in American weapons salesmainly to Arab countries, are just a case in point.

    Russia, which is fully aware that a nuclear deal with Iran would definitely harm its economy (any agreement with Tehran would lead to the return of Iran as a major oil supplier which will eventually lead to a drop in oil prices), had no choice but to bless this deal knowing the importance of Iran’s regional network of relations, mainly with non-state actors.

    Intriguingly, and despite regional dismay at the existence of non-state actors and their rejection of any talks about a new Sykes-Picot deal, one may realise that facts on the ground are going nowhere but to that end. Since America launched its campaign against ISIS, the latter has taken control of a large swathe of Iraq and Syria, whereas before the strikes it controlled relatively small areas. ISIS’s fighters began to appear more equipped and trained and their media performance has improved a great deal. The consecutive successes of ISIS have encouraged others either to follow suit or to attach themselves to this “successful” model; as a result, not one single Arab capital has become immune, especially in the aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring.

    Although many analyses questioned the conditions that brought forth most of those actors and their real goals, and despite the fact that many investigations have shown suspicious features in the activities of those groups, the region appears to be slipping inadvertently towards malignant ends.

    In an attempt to evaluate the aftermaths of the existence and acts of the rising non-state actors, one may say that distorting the image of Islam was unambiguous. Secondly, some of these actors, who used to enjoy popularity among the Arab masses for resisting Israel, appear to have lost ground in the Arab streets as they were tainted by either violence or sectarian agendas. Thirdly, Israel, which was isolated in the region for decades, was uniquely endowed and could enter the regional dynamics through the door of such actors. To elaborate, Israel remained unscathed on the fringes of the Arab Spring and its repercussions, and won triple-level strategic gains from the emergence of the non-state actors.

    For a start, the government in Tel Aviv started to sow a network of relations with many Arab regimes that share, in theory at least, common fears, especially a potential Shia menace as represented by Iran and Hezbollah. Israel has also gained by the weakening of traditional Arab states, such as Iraq and Syria, which were a threat to Israeli decision makers. Furthermore, it benefits Israel when world attention is distracted from what is still the core issue in the Middle East, its ongoing colonial occupation of Palestine.

    In sum, it appears that the region is in desperate need of a real leader, a new Saladin, who can put an end to the misery, the divisions and the schisms that afflict the Middle East; someone who is able to find a solution for the absence of a religious reference which has resulted in a chaotic and austere interpretation of Islam.

     

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    The Charlie effect: What’s next?

    March 4th, 2015

     

    By Fadi El Husseini.

     

      Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/0 1

     

    Are we witnessing a harbinger of a religious war? Is it the beginning of a new violent era that may not spare any nation? What is that radicalism wants to achieve by committing such acts? Why is this happening? And is there a solution? These are few questions that appear in the daily debates and articles in the aftermath of the Paris events. It is crucial to investigate the backgrounds of this state of affairs, particularly from a Middle Eastern and Muslim perspective, in order to provide sound analysis and practical prognosis. Read the rest of this entry “

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    Is there peace partners in Israel?

    December 19th, 2014

     

     

    By Fadi Husseini.

     

    images

    Again, the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis has been grinded into halt and each party blames the other for this unfortunate failure. Israeli officials repeat continuously that there is no Palestinian peace partner and accuse Abbas and his authority of flexing their diplomatic muscles in an attempt to isolate Israel internationally and making unilateral steps; i.e. avoiding negotiations and seeking individual and/or collective recognition of the state of Palestine. However, it would be outlandish to imagine that the Palestinians would succeed in this approach (if it is true) without a minimum international understanding of the Palestinian narrative. In order to fully comprehend this state of affairs, it is crucial to make an assessment of the positions and announcements of each party.

    Since he began his tenure as president of the Palestinian Authority in 2005, Mahmoud Abbas renounced violence and announced repeatedly his vision: a peaceful resolution of the conflict that would eventually lead to a Palestinian independent state. His vision complies perfectly with widely accepted and supported two-state solution based on relevant international and UN resolutions.

    The path Abbas opted to take was not an easy one especially that it came in the aftermath of the second Intifada with massive amount of causalities and damage in the Palestinian infrastructure, society and lives. Notwithstanding the Palestinian domestic conditions were not ready for such approach, Abbas stated it clearly and irked many of his companions and political rivals as well.

    Abbas said “We don’t want to use force. We don’t want to use weapons. We want to use diplomacy. We want to use politics. We want to use negotiations. We want to use peaceful resistance. That’s it.”[1] Better still, Abbas dared to criticize home-made rockets launched from the Gaza Strip. His criticism was neither to please Israel nor to satisfy Americans, but rather came out of his deep conscious and belief in a peaceful resolution of this conflict.

    As part of the Palestinian commitments toward peace, and despite criticism, Abbas dismantled all Palestinian armed groups in the West Bank and united the Palestinian Security Forces (mainly policing service and not a regular army) under his direct command.  Hitherto, not even one single violation was recorded from those forces. Rather and whilst many Israeli settlers carried out attacks on Palestinian private proprieties and lives, the Palestinian forces handed over many settlers to the Israeli authorities unharmed, when they lost their way in the Palestinian territories, putting Abbas and his forces under criticism from his political rivals.

    Arafat, Abbas and the Palestinian leadership announced their acceptance of the two-state solution and the recognition of the State of Israel. Abbas last announcement came on November 24 calling on the international community to compel Israel to comply with its legal obligations regarding international resolutions, saying he is ready to set up a Palestinian state on only 22 per cent of historical Palestine. That said, half of the population who live on historical Palestine would live in the state of Israel on 78 per cent of the land and the other half of the population would live in the state of Palestine in only 22 per cent.

    Peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis have been on since 1991, during which period Israeli settlement activities quadrupled on the Palestinian occupied land. Considering this fact, the Palestinians have requested to set up a time frame for negotiations which can’t last forever while watching Israel running afoot in changing facts on the ground and witnessing their land being chewed up day after day. Hence, as a result of Israeli refusal neither to accept the time frame nor to halt its settlement activities, weary Palestinians started to seek justice through international forums and agencies; mainly the UN.

    On the other hand, although Israel accepted two-state solution and signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, none of the consecutive Israeli governments has, thus far, recognized the state of Palestine. Israel recognized the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as a representative of the Palestinian people and still refuses to recognize the state of Palestine.

    Many Israeli officials have openly expressed their rejection of the establishment of the Palestinian state and the current campaign for the general elections in Israel manifested this approach when the various parties running for elections (e.g. Likud, Jewish Home “HaBayit HaYehudi”…etc)announced their opposition of any future Palestinian state. Netanyahu have never missed any opportunity to state Israel’s inherent right to the whole biblical land of Israel, undermining any prospects of the establishment of a Palestinian state at least in the minds of his audience.

    It may be sound that an activist or a politician can have an opinion and express his views openly, but once he is part of a government that is supposedly accepting and involved in peace talks, any opinion would eventually reflect the position of the government in general. On December 14th, 2014 when Naftali Bennett, the economic minister in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet was asked in an interview with CNN if he “does not want a Palestinian State ever” his answer was very clear: “that’s correct; the notion of injecting a state, dividing Jerusalem, dividing up the country and splitting and slicing it, is not sustainable.”[2]

    Another example is reflected in the position of Israel’s UN ambassador Ron Prosor who attacked on November 25, 2014 the European parliaments who are voting on the recognition of Palestine. He rejected the mere idea of handing the Palestinians their independence saying: “imagine the type of state [Palestinian] society would produce. Does the Middle East really need another terror-ocracy? Some members of the international community are aiding and abetting its creation.”[3]

    There are plenty of similar and even flagrant examples yet the position and statements of the incumbent Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Liberman constitute the starkest ones. For instance, Liberman blows up the real essence of the peace process when he sees that the peace process is based on the false basic assumptions that the conflict is territorial and not ideological, and that the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders will end the conflict.”[4] To add insult to injury, Liberman did not shy out from expressing his intentions and plans to legalize transferring Arab-Israeli citizens (both Christians and Muslims) out of Israel at the aim of keeping Israel a pure Jewish state. [5]

    At the time when Abbas stood firm in face of domestic criticisms, Israeli leadership failed to give peace a glimmer of hope. Israeli government continues with plans to build new settlement units and expand existing ones despite US and international criticism. When Israel complied with international pressure and halted settlement activities for nine months, the Israeli side added a precondition to any peace settlement: the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

    Intriguingly, the inclusion of this condition as a prerequisite to peace (was first brought up in 2010 in Washington) put many observers in bewilderment. many of them find that with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insistence that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state in a future accord knowing in advance that no Palestinian leader could accept, Netanyahu ensures the failure of negotiations.[6]

    On the whole, in both theory and political experience, the credibility of Netanyahu’s government has been utterly depleting. The international community, by and large, has begun to realize this conclusion and the overdue “moral” recognition of the “occupied” state of Palestine by governments and parliaments in Europe represents a clear gap in positions between Europe and the US. With the latter’s “hands-off” approach, Netanyahu has been arguably able to crack the whip over the US administration who limited its role in the peace process on calls, ideas and proposals, failing up until now to pressure Israel to freeze worldwide criticized illegal settlement activities and maintaining a “pro-Israel” tilt concerning the recognition of the state of Palestine and peace talks in general.

    In fact, it is neither illogical nor bizarre to see any country that accepts the two-state solution recognizing the state of Palestine, because this equation clearly suggests two states: the state of Israel and the state of Palestine- which is still under occupation. On the rocks of this conflict, any recognition by the US or Israel of the state of Palestine would eventually mean a sincere adherence to this vision and to peace at large.

    In nutshell, one may argue that the actions of the current Israeli government are serving nothing but broadening the clouds of doubt hanging over. In fact, a serious political will is lacking in Israel and hitherto the Israeli government failed in the basic tests of commitment toward peace and ending its occupation of the land of Palestine. A corollary of Netanyahu’s government attitude- seemingly with no change in sight- posits that it would be hard to stanch the flow of international interaction. This may even develop to more advanced positions by governments who may not only recognize the state of Palestine, but could also boycott the Israeli government, similar to the case of Pretoria when the world boycotted South Africa in total rejection of apartheid.


    [1] Source : http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/01/palestinians-israel-abbas-refugees-idUSL5E8M1GO120121101

    [2] Source: http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2014/12/14/israeli-econ-minister-i-will-not-give-up-land-to-arabs-anymore/

    [3] Source: http://972mag.com/israels-ambassador-to-the-un-puts-another-nail-in-the-two-state-coffin/99201/

    [4] Source: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3338320,00.html

    [5] Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/25/transfer-arab-israeli-citizens-palestinian-state

    [6] Source: http://tabletmag.com/scroll/160131/did-netanyahu-invent-the-demand-that-israel-be-recognized-as-a-jewish-state

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    The Syrian tunnel and the Spring

    October 14th, 2014

     

     

    By Fadi Elhusseini.

     

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    Israel’s ‘Protective Edge’: Why Now?

    July 21st, 2014

     

    By Fadi El-Husseini.

    An air strike in Rafah in the southern of Gaza strip

    A new Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, not the first and won’t be the last if the political equation in that region does not change. Throughout the previous aggression’s Israel launched on the Gaza strip, several military goals were declared. This time, “Protective Edge” operation comes in a different context, with new domestic, regional and international circumstances. These conditions, by and large, are more prosaic and complex that have been key elements in determining Israel’s goals from this operation, as part of a larger strategy that goes beyond the war itself.

    A clear change in the map of World Politics underlined a rising Russian role. With Russia’s fundamental stance in the Syrian crisis and the evident US and EU bewilderment toward the issue of Ukraine and Crimea, the political weight of Russia can be barely overlooked anymore and the fading US influence has become a fact. China has revised its position and role in the Middle East and opted to stay away from the limelight, maintaining at the same time its interests but with lower voice. This was seen the best way to stop its depleted popularity in the region in the aftermath of its obvious position supporting the Syrian regime. Regionally, this war comes when the events of the Arab Spring continue to surprise all observers.

    The fall of the Muslim Brotherhood, coercively in Egypt and voluntarily in Tunisia, the escalated crisis in Syria, the unprecedented chaos in Iraq, Yemen and Libya are a case in point. On the other hand, Iran managed to defuse some of the international pressure and has been successful in reviving and preserving the diplomatic track of its nuclear file. In Israel, a volatile coalition has been facing mounting domestic criticism. Several domestic travails and economic difficulties made many Israeli intellectuals and politicians to call repeatedly for dissolving the current government.

    In Palestine, the aggression on the Gaza Strip comes shortly after the long awaited national reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, a new deadlock in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations (Israel has been widely blamed for this stalemate), and a wave of violence in the West Bank, started with the incident of killing three Israeli settlers and followed by the murder of a Palestinian teen in cold blood. Israel had constantly asked the Palestinian authority to choose between reconciliation with Hamas and peace with Israel. For this reason, Israel could not hide its irksome from the Palestinian reconciliation and the unity government, threatening the moderate Palestinian authority of serious circumstances. With Israel’s exaggerated stance against the Palestinian authority, its closest allies called upon Israel to put the Palestinian new government to the test and to give it a chance.

    In light of the noticeable decay in Israel’s popularity, living day after day in an international solitude, its frustration folded with the international position, especially the American, who welcomed the Palestinian unity government. Hence, it would not be bizarre to see Israel’s leaders accusing the Palestinian authority of isolating Israel internationally.
    In this vein, one should concede that the Palestinian leadership has succeeded recently in building bridges of trust with both the people and the governments around the world. The international community has become closer to the Palestinian narrative on peace from that one of Israel and international campaigns to boycott Israeli institutions and products expanded to include civil societies, universities and official positions.

    Considering the above, a decision by the Israeli government to seek a way out of its domestic crisis and international dilemma becomes unimpeachable. Intriguingly, any internal cohesion (home front) depends mainly on a sense of fear from an external threat and, hence, making up an external crisis is not a novel strategy by decision makers; but what would be the destination in this chaotic region and critical time?

    Iran; although there is a wide anti-Iran sentiments in Israel and a considerable popular support for a military strike on

    Iran, polls showed Israeli’s lukewarm to the Sisyphean task of attacking Iran unilaterally. What about the Northern Front?

    Hezbollah; in spite of the sizable insomnia caused by Hezbollah to Israel’s leaders, they are fully aware of the strategic, logistic and military capabilities Hezbollah enjoys. More so, Israeli leaders are also aware the Hezbollah’s venture in Syria and the losses they received there have not exhausted Hezbollah enough to evade any surprises; But, what about the Southern Front?

    Palestine; Whether the story claiming that Israel ‘fabricated’ the killing of the three settlers (according to this story, the three settlers died in a car accident in Israel and the government hided their death in order to use it later to corner the Palestinian Authority and Hamas) is accurate or not, Israel was interested in picking a fight with the Palestinians. Since the Palestinian side is the weakest link, the Israeli decision maker is circumspect that any escalation and bloodletting would neither bring huge damage and losses nor wide attention, considering the bloody regional conditions and international chaos.

    Israel has blamed Hamas for concocting the killing the Israeli settlers (Hamas did not claim responsibility, when it usually does). However, Israeli settlers did not give the Israeli government the time to benefit from this incident when a number of settlers burned a Palestinian teen alive.

    Hence, Israel decided to transfer the battle to the Gaza Strip, aiming at involving Hamas (at the helm of resistance in Gaza) officially in a confrontation that does not intend, of course, to end Hamas. One may notice the sequence of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip; targeting unpopulated open areas at first and gradually developed to strike almost every spot in the Gaza Strip. The required confrontation- which goals were not outright said- aims to drag Hamas and the other groups to react and fire more rockets at Israeli towns.

    Fully aware of the limited losses from the Palestinian rockets, the Israeli government succeeded, despite some criticism, to huddled together its people against the threat coming from the Gaza Strip and to distract the attention away from any domestic problems or diplomatic or international crises.

    Gains have not stopped at the domestic level. With every rocket fired from Gaza, the Israeli government gets closer to other goals. The US, French and other international positions were just a case in point. Tellingly, whereas most of the actors in the international community started to accept the Palestinian position and reprimand the adamant stands of Israel- who became a quasi-loner state, the rockets fired from Gaza brought them back to the Israeli barn, announcing that Israel has the right to defend itself, regardless of the excessive use of force and the horrifying death toll among the Palestinians.

    Not limited to these gains, “Protective Edge” operation gave the Palestinian new unity government that bothered Israel, a heavy blow. Any plans of this new government to implement the reconciliation and to prepare for national elections have gone unheeded as the priorities have changed by the provisions of a fait accompli. Also, Israel bet- as it has always done- on the contradictory positions among the Palestinians on how to deal with such aggression, which would increase the chances for setback in the reconciliation.
    The only military goal Protective edge would achieve is debilitating and draining the capabilities of the Palestinian resistance groups in light of the limited stock of weapons and the continuity of the siege and closed tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

    Thus, Israel would accept/ accepted the cease-fire, without any further conditions. Unexpectedly, Hamas refused the Egyptian cease-fire initiative, taking the Israeli government to unplanned scenarios- a ground operation. The longer the operation lasts and the more losses Israel receives, the more likely that Israel would seek new terms and amendments on the 2012 truce so that it can be adduced in Israeli street.

    As per Hamas and the Palestinian resistance, they will not accept languishing in the besieged Gaza strip anymore and thus will not consent to the terms of the 2012 truce. Finding a port to the outside world has become sine qua non- either through the Rafah border, or a sea port or even an airport. It is obvious that neither Hamas nor the disgruntled and weary people in Gaza would accept to return to the bygone detestable era.

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    The Palestinian National Reconciliation: Regional and International Implications

    June 13th, 2014

     

     

    By Fadi Elhusseini.

    (Photo: Reuters)

    Palestinian success in burying a seven-year division has surpassed its domestic effects and has, without a doubt, regional and international implications. With the Palestinian unity government, the relationships between the Palestinians and Israelis on one side and the Palestinians, their Arab neighbors and the international community on the other side will experience a dramatic change that may chart a new course of events and developments.

    In general, the Palestinian streets have welcomed the reconciliation, but voices have varied between optimistic and pessimistic; confident and skeptical; and between beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries. The Palestinians realized that the division was a painful chapter in the history of their cause and was considered a very harmful element that distorted the credibility of their historical struggle in the eyes of many supporters.

    Israel wanted, facilitated and supported the division, and has pushed throughout the past seven years to bolster the separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, either politically or geographically. The acceptance of Hamas rule in Gaza is just a case in point.
    Israel’s response was not surprising, and the announcement of the construction of 3,000 settlement units did not exceed expectations. More so, talk of an annexation of some parts of the

    West Bank (“Area C”) to Israel is really outdated and outlandish, as everyone on this planet is well aware that the time of annexation policies has passed and will never happen again.
    Some politicians in Israel bet on the continuation of the Palestinian division, and found in it a convincing way out when approaching an “unacceptable” settlement of the conflict with the moderate Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, claiming that Gaza Strip was under the control of Hamas at times and saying that Abbas would be unable to implement any potential agreement on all the Palestinian territories at other times.

    Many political leaders in Israel thought the results of recent efforts towards reconciliation would not exceed the results of previous ones. That is the reason why Israel allowed Fatah officials to visit the Gaza Strip, in order to meet with Hamas. But when the reconciliation was finalized, Israel not only prevented ministers from the Gaza Strip from attending the new government’s inauguration in Ramallah, but also tightened its sanctions and restricted the movement of all the Palestinian officials in the West Bank and abolished their VIP permits.

    Looking at the implications of the Palestinian reconciliation

    The significant implications of the Palestinian reconciliation were sensed by many Israeli writers. For example, in an Al-Monitor article titled “Israel should put Fatah-Hamas government to the test,” Shlomi Eldar calls on Netanyahu to give the Palestinian new government a chance.

    Alon Ben-Meir wrote in a June 10 article in the Jerusalem Post, “Netanyahu’s rejection of the Palestinian unity government and his refusal to negotiate with it will only further isolate Netanyahu both domestically and internationally, as it stands in total contrast to the position of all major powers that are willing to give it a chance to demonstrate its readiness to seriously negotiate with Israel.”

    Ben-Meir was right. For decades, Israel has enjoyed international support for its position or decisions, but recently things have changed. In this vein, one may argue that Netanyahu has brilliantly served Palestinian diplomacy and credibility though his stanch positions and challenging decisions and by not listening to close allies.

    Unlike the previous unity government, the new Palestinian government was recognized by the majority of the international community. The position of the European Union was represented in a statement issued by Vice President of the European Commission (EC) Catherine Ashton, who welcomed the unity government. The widening gap between the European and Israeli positions was reflected in the EU statement’s commenting on Israel’s “punitive” decision to build 3,000 settlement units, emphasizing on European boycott of the products of the Israeli settlements.

    The US’ position gave the effects of Palestinian reconciliation a global hue. Their response narrowed the gap in positions between the EU and the US. Their announcement in the aftermath of the inauguration of the Palestinian unity government was very similar. With sinking ties between the US and Israel — and very different from previous stances on governments supported by Hamas — the US accepted, welcomed and urged the Israelis to follow suit.

    A number of regional conditions facilitated this reconciliation. The waning of Islamic forces in the region can be considered a primary reason, either voluntarily as in Tunisia or forcibly as in Egypt. Developments in Syria and its repercussions in Lebanon have also prompted the Palestinian factions to reconsider their domestic policies.
    These circumstances have been the only positive side of the so-called Arab Spring, as the latter caused a significant setback of the Palestinian issue, considering the amount of calamity in the region. Traditional Arab supporters of the Palestinian cause became busy with their own issues and with the continuity of the events of the Arab Spring, more attention has been distracted away from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

    Some may wonder what makes the Palestinian cause so special to Arabs. The simplest answer takes us back to Sharif Hussein, the Sharif and Emir of Mecca from 1908–1924, who pinned his hopes on British promises to grant him an independent Arab state, in return for the Arabs’ rebellion against the Ottomans. While Hussein was negotiating Arab independence with McMahon, Britain and France were cementing their colonial presence in the region through the Sykes-Picot agreement and carved up Arab territories among them.

    Not surprisingly, many Arabs put this in the pattern of betrayal and manipulation by Western powers, and the increased presence of Jews in Palestine and the establishment of the State of Israel became a symbol to Arabs of that betrayal and a cause for the wider Arab world.

    While Palestinian national reconciliation is meant to unify Palestinian efforts to establish their independent state, uncertainty of the future lingers, as it remains vulnerable to the perils of security and financial challenges.

    After seven years of division, various security measures and concerns have been created in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Merging these forces under one command is considered the biggest challenge. Another challenge is securing sufficient funds to pay the salaries of Palestinian public servants, bearing in mind that Hamas has recruited around 40,000 employees throughout the course of the past seven years.

    Yet, the actions of this government will be the most critical challenge, as the international community, mainly the US and the EU, are expecting a peaceful approach towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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    The Gateway to the Middle East and the Exchange of Roles

    April 26th, 2014

     

    By Fadi Husseini.

    The Gateway

    After less than a year of exceptional Egyptian-Turkish rapprochement, the events of June 30, 2013 ruptured this relationship. Similarly, when Egyptian and Iranian statesmen began to decrease tensions and a thaw in relations resulted, events evolved to return things to square one.

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    The Arab World: History of Revolts and Global Nexus

    January 31st, 2014

     

     

    The Arab World: History of Revolts and Global Nexus

    By Fadi Husseini.

    arab-revolts-795x396

    In fractious, rife-with-conflicts Arab World, described for long time as immune towards democratic transformations, revolts sneaked in, toppling some regimes and shaking the thrones of others. Almost three years have passed since the advent of the Arab Spring and statesmen and decision-makers have been trying to analyze such historic transformation in order find a foothold in a region that has been looking different, with new dynamics, elites and political landscape. In our attempt to read the portents, uncover the wellsprings of the Arab Spring and link it to other incidents and circumstances, I contend, this pursuit is often a vain one especially given that the available literature is not yet adequate to explain the various aspects of what has gone before. Fully aware of this gap, I aim to reveal first of all a number of the missing contours and dynamics in order to further articulate the term “Arab Spring”. In the same vein, I will also try to analyze the current political and geopolitical conditions in the Middle East in an effort to draw some relevant conclusions and provide a working prognosis of the future course of events in the region.

    It can be said that the events of the current Arab Spring are molded within two composite layers, each with its own features, characteristics and hypotheses. The first layer operates within a regional setting. Within this framework, the current “Arab Spring” has proved to have its own characteristics and features which require further analysis.

    Arabs have never had one state that congregates all Arab peoples. However, as they had common history, language, religion and traditions, they have always felt closer to other Arabs rather than any other nation. Tribal links remain evident and one family can exist in two or three or more Arab states. The identity of Arab states (as of today) had never emerged before the Sykes–Picot of 1916, which divided the Arab World into separate states, regimes and nationals.

    In fact, the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire (30 October 1918 – 1 November 1922) was a political event that carried the strategic vision of neutralizing any future threat from the Ottoman Empire and aborting any potential rerise through partitioning and dividing the huge conglomeration of territories and peoples that formerly comprised the Ottoman Empire into several new nations.[i]

    In this context, Raymond Hinnebusch points out that imperialism fragmented the region into a multitude of relatively weak and, to an extent, artificial states, at odds with each other[ii]. The weakening of the state effectiveness and unpopular ruling elites amongst Arab general public was referred to by Toby Dodge who terms Arab regimes as ‘externally imposed, weak and illegitimate post-colonial states’.[iii] Similarly, Bernard Lewis criticizes ‘faked’ democracy in Arab political discourse pointing out the ‘sham parliamentary regimes that were installed and bequeathed by British and French empires.’[iv] For that, many see in the elimination of some Arab leaders, like Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein or Gamal Abdel Nassir, part of a conspiracy aimed to get rid of any regional power (leader) who can be serious caveat trying to re-organize the system for more independent policies.[v]

    Hinnebusch says that such relatively weak states, emerged as Western protectorates against opposition, seeking external patrons and resources for the regional power struggle and survival, have remained dependent for their security on the Western global powers long after formal independence.[vi] Dreading the prospect of coups or revolutions, the preeminence of security issues over social issues in the Arab area is evidenced by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) 2010 figures, which shows that Arab states have spent a total of $117.6 billion in military expenditures, while about 34.6 million Arabs were living under the two-dollars-a-day international poverty line in 2005, and double-digit unemployment rates[vii].

    It can be argued that the current round of revolts, now termed “the Arab Spring” or “Arab Awakening”, does not constitute the first manifestation of Arab mass protests that have led to a change in the social and political structure of Arab societies. In fact it comes as the third wave of Arab mass revolts each possessing its own grounds, circumstances, ideologies, slogans and outcomes.

    The first wave of Arab revolts took place in 1914, and was called, “the Great Arab Revolution”. What characterizes this wave is that it had a leader, Sharif Hussein, who led the revolution and the main target was ending Ottoman rule in Arabia. This wave coincided with two major events, one global and another regional. World War I was the major global event, while the waning and finally the collapse of the Ottoman Empire (Pax-Ottoman) was the major regional event.

    This wave was externally driven, as the revolutions were supported by the British, who were aiming to end and replace the Ottomans presence in the region. For all that, the effect of the revolts was ephemeral as they were bereft of their main goal of independence when colonial powers charted their way in that region. During this period, a number of slogans and ideologies were endorsed through this wave and the main slogan was nationalism. This slogan was deemed important in order to encourage Arabs to get rid of any other subordination, mainly Islamism, which inevitably meant yanking out any connection to the Ottoman Sultan and the warding off of any yearnings for the Ottoman heritage.[viii]

    The second wave of Arab revolts took place in the 50’s and 60’s, and the term “the Arab Spring” was used for the first time by a French writer. In his book “Un printemps arabe” published in 1959, Jacques Benoist-Méchin describes the Arab revolts that took place in the “Arab” Middle East, and tries to link them to the European Revolutions of 1848, known as the ‘Spring of Nations’ or ‘Springtime of the Peoples’[ix]. Similar to the first wave, the second wave of Arab revolts came after two major events, one regional and another global. The latter was World War II, which had a great impact on the revolts and caused them to be driven by external factors. In other words, foreign powers and forces encouraged and even stimulated these revolts as Communist powers wanted to fight the Western presence and colonization in the Middle East. For that reason, ‘Fighting Imperialism’ and ‘Progressivism’ were among other key slogans and themes of this period.

    Yet, the major regional event that occurred during that period was the establishment of the State of Israel in the center of the Arab World. This led to the endorsement of “Arabism” slogan to counter “Zionism”, which attended the establishment of the State of Israel. Arabism was adeptly promoted by late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, as his name was largely aligned with the second wave of Arab revolts. In their analyses of this state of affairs, some scholars see that when the great powers were divided (as in the Cold War) and hegemonic intervention was thus deterred, the conditions for regional autonomy could have been better and the region was more likely get united against the outside.[x]

    Arabism (Pan-Arabism or Arab Nationalism) widespread struck a chord with and inspired other leaders who steered revolts in other countries in the Middle East. In effect, Arabism gained popularity in Arab streets, termed at times as “Nassersim”, and had an evident influence on many Arab parties like Ba’ath parties in Syria and Iraq, Gadhafi in Libya and others. This wave of revolts did not targeted Israel, but ‘other colonial’ presence in the Middle East- deemed to be the real instigator and creator of Zionism and hence the State of Israel. In this regard, a number of crowns, condemned by their alliance or reliance on Western “imperialistic” powers, paid the price and were toppled in Libya, Iraq, and primarily in Egypt.[xi]

    Arab Nationalism, which mainly meant adhering to Arab interests and unity, declined gradually over the course of the past 40 years. For instance, the position of Arab states was united and remarkably solid facing the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and opposing UN partition plan. Similar position was upheld in 1973 or of what known as the ‘oil crisis’. However, the signed peace agreement between Israel and Egypt (during the reign of late President Sadat) solemnly announced the decline of Arab Nationalism. A number of Arab states boycotted Egypt and the Arab League headquarter was removed from Cairo, Egypt’s capital. A number of incidents followed and bolstered this fragmentation, including Arabs restrained reaction on Israeli invasion to an Arab capital, Beirut, the Iraqi- Iranian war which put Syria in the opposite camp with Iraq and US strike on another Arab capital, Tripoli in 1986, with a moderate reaction of Arab regimes, were just a case in point[xii].

    Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 had serious repercussions and a direct role in the waning of Arab Nationalism, especially that it (Iraqi invasion) divided Arabs into two camps, one of which was willing to invite non-Arab armies to attack their Arab brothers in Iraq[xiii]. Perhaps US occupation of Iraq in 2003 and the death of Saddam Hussein, the staunch advocate of Arab Nationalism, declared the moribund of Arabism.

    The second layer comes within a global nexus. Arguably, the current spate of revolts in the Middle East might be considered as the fourth wave of democratization, with reference to the concept developed by Samuel M. Huntington in his book The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century published in 1991. According to Huntington, each wave was followed by a reverse one. Huntington argues that the first wave occurred between 1828-1926, with its roots in the recent French and American revolutions. This wave swept Europe and Latin America, and was marked by military coups. It lost momentum in the interwar period between World War I and World War II when a number of dictators rose to power, which led to a shift away from democracy toward traditional authoritarian or new ideologically-driven, mass-based totalitarian regimes.[xiv]

    The second wave took place from 1943-1962, and featured coups and the establishment of authoritarianism across Latin America, South and East Asia and allied occupation post- World War II. Huntington proposes that the beginning of the end of Western colonial rule produced a number of new states with democratic tendencies. Yet, he argues that political development, especially in Latin America, took on an authoritarian cast, and the decolonization of Africa led to the largest multiplication of authoritarian governments in history. Accordingly, one third of the working democracies in 1958 had become authoritarian by the 1970s.

    The third wave between 1970s and 1980s manifested in the collapse of the former Soviet Union and swept Southern Europe, South America and Africa. In effect, a number of scholars (among them Dr. Ali Sarihan of Qatar’s Georgetown University) have opted to insert the current Arab revolts within this framework. They opine that with the onset of the current Arab Spring, the fourth wave of transformation or “Democratization of Communist and Islamic Regimes” began as per the fact that it has an impact on other regions and inspired revolts and demonstrations in Europe, Asia, Latin and North America, it gained its global contours.

    Scholars, like Ali Sarihan and Klaus von Beyme opted to include the events after the collapse of the Soviet Union leading to democratic transitions of varying success in Eastern Europe in the fourth wave of democracy. However, Sarihan inserts the current Arab revolts within this framework. He opines that with the onset of the current Arab Spring, the fourth wave of transformation or “Democratization of Communist and Islamic Regimes” began[xv]. As per the fact that it has an impact on other regions and inspired revolts and demonstrations in Europe, Asia, Latin and North America, it gained its global contours. On the other hand, Kenan Engin calls the Arab Spring the fifth wave of democracy, begun in 2011 and still ongoing[xvi].

    Inter alia, the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the fading of Arabism, toppling a number of Arab regimes and the waning of historical Arab leader states led to a power vacuum in the region and the intervention of foreign powers (either regional or global) became inevitable. Traditional super and global powers are still seeking a bigger, newer, role in the Arab World, in response to the changes. The US, Russia, China and Europe compete among each other in order to guarantee the larger scale of leverage and wider foothold in the region, at times using their soft power instruments, at others their historical cooperation, not forgetting economic incentives. In his article in the Russian Odanko magazine entitled ‘Obama et Poutine vont-ils se partager le Proche-Orient?’, the French writer Thierry Meyssan underscores this hypothesis and suggests a new scenario for the division of the Middle East between the U.S. and Russia.[xvii]

    Turkey, Iran and Israel, on the other hand, are the most favored regional powers with this end in view. However, Israel’s chances hinge greatly on a peace agreement with the Palestinians, not to mention the obvious fact that Israel is culturally different from the rest of the countries in the region. History, culture and religion outweigh Iran’s odds over Israel, as it has also succeeded in building a network of allies within the region. However, Iran does not seem to be an appealing model for many Arabs, especially when it comes to freedom, human rights, economy and relations with the rest of the world, especially the West. Turkey, who is part of the culture, history and religion of the region, appears to have the best odds in her favor. It presents an appealing model for its democracy, freedom and modernity, human rights, booming economy and relations with the West, along with the presence of Islamic elites in power. Yet, the term “the Turkish Model” has been overplayed and has put Turkey’s popularity on the line. In other words, and among other challenges, Turkey’s potential in the Middle East is marred by its explicit zeal and overt use of its soft power, which may lead to untoward effects.

    Yet, treading the path into the Middle East should be charted carefully. It is well known for being one of the most volatile regions, and for its complexity is often described as “a Quick Sand”. At this juncture, it isn’t be difficult to fathom the feeling of frustration that permeates nearly every Arab, who believes that their destiny should not hinge on others, but remain in their own hands. Lamentably, this desired outcome will not materialize until historical Arab leader states rise and shake the dust of weakness and reluctance from their shoulders.

    January, 2014

    Twitter@ FElhusseini


    [i] Paul C. Helmreich, From Paris to Sèvres: The Partition of the Ottoman Empire at the Peace Conference of 1919-1920 (United States of America: Ohio State University Press, 1974), p. 339.

    [ii] Raymond Hinnebusch and Anoush Ehteshami (eds.), The Foreign Policies of Middle East States, USA: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002, p. 3.

    [iii] T. Dodge, ‘From the ‘Arab Awakening to the Arab Spring; the Post-colonial State in the Middle East’, Ideas, May 2012, London School of Economics, p. 5.

    [iv] Lewis, Rethinking the Middle… , p. 25.

    [v] Dodge, From the Arab Awakening…, p. 4.

    [vi] Hinnebusch & Ehteshami, The Foreign Policies …, p. 3.

    [vii] El Hassane Aissa, ‘The Arab Spring: Causes, Consequences, and Implications’, USAWC Strategy Research Project, March 2012, pp. 5-6.

    [viii] Mehmet Sahin, “1950-1960 Arab Revolutions and 2011 Arab Spring: Similarities and Differences”, in New World Order, Arab Spring and Turkey, B. Senem Cevik- Ersaydi and Bora Baskak (eds.), Ankara University: Center for the Study and Research for Political Psychology, 2012, pp. 3-5.

    [ix] Jacques Benoist-Méchin, Un printemps Arabe (An Arab Spring), Paris, Albin Michel, 1959.

    [x] Hinnebusch and Ehteshami (eds.), The Foreign Policies …, p. 6.

    [xi] F. Elhusseini, ‘Another Spring: The Middle East between History of Revolts and Future Geopolitics’, Foundation for European Progressive Studies: http://www.feps-europe.eu/assets/70bd3afb-a759-4a2b-8b93-0c72019e42a4/another-spring-by-fadi-elhusseinipdf.pdf (accessed 20.10.2013).

    [xii] Lewis, Rethinking the Middle…, p. 9

    [xiii] Ibid., p. 10.

    [xiv] Samuel Huntington, the Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century, United States: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.

    [xv] Ali Sarihan, ‘Fourth Wave Democratization: Democratization of Communist and Islamic Regimes’, Turkish Weekly: http://www.turkishweekly.net/op-ed/2918/ (accessed 12.05 2013).

    [xvi] Kenan Engin, ‘The Arab Spring: The 5.0 Democracy Wave,’ Hurriyet Daily News: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/default.aspx?pageid=438&n=the-arab-spring-the-5.0-democracy-wave-2011-08-19 (accessed 22.06. 2013).

    [xvii] Thierry Meyssan, ‘Obama et Poutine vont-ils se partager le Proche-Orient?’, Odanko magazine: http://www.voltairenet.org/article177546.html (accessed 28.03.2013).

    Comments Off on The Arab World: History of Revolts and Global Nexus

    Europe, the Arab World and the Spring

    January 8th, 2014

     

    By Fadi Elhusseini.

    When revolts sneaked in the Arab World, a number of regimes were toppled while other thrones were shaken. Among others, Europe was quick in its response and adopted a new approach to relations with its Southern neighbors. Nonetheless, despite the great efforts and numerous investments and projects in the region, the perception of Arab masses has not changed in a way that reflects the deep and serious commitments made by both the EU and European states.

    By 8 March, 2011, Catherine Ashton and the European Commission proposed “a partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean.”[1] At a time when the EU is in deep economic and financial crisis, billions of euros have been budgeted for grant support to the Neighborhood. For instance, the European Commission has allocated €80.5 million to the refugee crisis in North Africa, while EU Member States have provided €73 million, as an immediate financial response to provide humanitarian aid.[2]

    The European Investment Bank (EIB) increased its budget for the Southern Neighborhood from €4 billion to €5 billion for humanitarian aid. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) extended its geographical coverage to include the Southern Neighborhood and provided up to €2.5 billion per year to support public and private investments.[3] The EU has also endorsed programs like the SPRING (Support for Partnership Reform and Inclusive Growth) program, the creation of a Civil Society Facility for the neighborhood and an Erasmus Mundus program, and makes the total budget, to strengthen the capacity of civil society to promote reform and increase public accountability in their countries, more than €350 million for 2011 and 2012. Furthermore, in its budget for the period 2014-2020, the European Neighborhood Instrument (ENI) has allocated €15.433 billion to support the 16 partner countries of the Neighborhood.[4]

    Distressingly, these significant efforts were not interpreted into tangible results. The perception of Arab masses favored other players and not the EU. This conclusion was put forward by several polls showing the rise of the popularity of others, compared to the EU, in the Arab World.

    In a survey conducted by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESAV) in 2011, 78% of Arabs saw Turkey “the most favorable” country.[5] Despite a slight decline, Turkey remained the most favorable country with 69% one year after the start of the Arab Spring, according to TESAV 2012 polls.[6] Although the way people perceived EU’s role differed from one country to another, the third Euromed investigation, presented to the European Parliament, showed that between December 2011 and February 2012 most of the opinions also favored Turkey, which could beat the EU as a “supporter” of the Arab Spring countries, while the European Union ranked second, and the United States third.[7]

    A 2013 survey by TESAV has shown that the positive perception about Turkey in the Arab World has decreased, with 59% supporting a greater regional role for Turkey, but was not replaced by the EU. Turkey ranked third in 2013 in terms of positive perception, after the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.[8] The TESAV poll has also shown an increase in the positive perceptions about Russia and China in the Arab World.[9]

    In fact, many European officials have not seen these challenges facing the EU and its role in the region, calling it at times “weak”, as uttered bluntly by Dick Toornstra, director at the Office for Promotion of Parliamentary Democracy (OPPD) in the European Parliament in an interview with Euractiv on 6 May 2013, when he considered the Arab Spring ‘a wake-up call’ that revealed the lack of a coherent and consistently applied foreign policy.[10] In an attempt to identify the reason behind Arabs’ avertion to the EU or seeking a bigger role for the EU in the region, a number of explanations can explain this state of affairs.

    First and foremost, the EU has been seen by Arabs as one of the key supporters of their former autocratic regimes, intensifying collaboration with Ben Ali in Tunisia, frequently visiting and receiving Mubarak of Egypt, heavily cooperating with Gaddafi in Libya, ostensibly turning a blind eye to Assad’s wrongdoings in Syria and plainly providing assistance for Saleh in Yemen. Such a perception cannot just vanish overnight.

    Second, the EU continued its collaboration with NGO’s and organizations labeled for their loyalty to toppled regimes. All the projects and assistance the EU provides to the Arab World have been channeled through the same organizations during the reign of dictatorships. Choosing new channels and may be replacing some of these NGO’s by others at this critical transitional period, is deemed essential for not being caught complying with the old regimes.

    Third, the European model is an appealing tool that demonstrates the strength of Europe’s potential soft power. Yet, this power has been, so far, neutralized by the lack of coherent policies and an ineffective role in the region. The crux of this state of affairs was summarized by the director of the Center for European Studies at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Avi Primor, who described in 2004 European role in the Middle East Peace Process as “un coup d’epee dans l’eau” (a sword strike in the water) – not carrying any weight. [11]

    In other words, as long as the European Union does not formulate a common, coherent foreign and defense policy, it will remain on the doorstep of the Arab World, unable to play a major role. This fact has been realized by Arab masses, which currently cannot envision a bigger role for the EU, given the enormous clouts the United States and others have in the region.

    Fourth is the consecutive failure of EU’s efforts to embrace regional countries under one umbrella (think Barcelona Process in 1995, European Neighborhood Policy framework in 2004, the European Neighborhood Policy Instrument (ENPI) in 2007 and Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in 2008). None of these efforts has borne fruit, making it more likely for any future efforts to get the cold shoulder from Arabs.

    Finally, old memories of the era of colonization still persist in such a way that makes it difficult for many Arabs to digest a deeper European involvement in the region. However, the Arab Spring has unleashed a set of new dynamics. Given the depleting popularity of the United States and as Arabs’ compassion toward others has chilled somewhat (due to their controversial regional policies), a power vacuum is remaining and expanding. Europe’s odds for building influence and re-setting relations are on the rise, considering geographic proximity, its soft power and common history.

    Nonetheless, as grim as the picture may appear, there are glimmers of light. Chief adviser to the prime minister of Turkey Ibrahim Kalin says: “the future of the nation-state depends on its ability to adjust itself to the new realities of a very complex and sophisticated process of globalization and regionalization.”[12] In this vein, one would argue that the EU may need to have its policies reviewed, adjusted and replaced by sound and realistic ones. For example, Europe has a lot to offer in the realms of education and democracy, noting that the current developments in the Arab World have highlighted the solid connection between education and sound democracy.

    Moreover, solving the perennial problems of migration and radicalization can be realized through encouraging economic cooperation, which will not only help fight poverty, radicalization and migration, but would certainly embed democracy. Encouraging intra-regional interaction, job creation, investment, lending experience and know-how and promoting tourism are other key policies that would help solve desperate socioeconomic conditions that triggered Arab uprisings.

    About the author

    Fadi Elhusseini is a Political and Media Counselor in Turkey. He is an associate research fellow (ESRC) at the Institute for Middle East Studies-Canada and a doctoral candidate at the University of Sunderland in Britain. His articles have appeared in scores of newspapers, magazines and websites, including the Washington Institute, Foreign Policy Association, Middle East Monitor, International Security Observer, Geopolitical Monitor and others. Elhusseini is Arabic native speaker and he is fluent in English, and proficient in French and Italian, with basic knowledge of Turkish.

    ENDNOTES

     


    [1] The European Parliament: Joint Communication to the European Council (The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, COM 2011), Brussels, March 8, 2011 “http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/pdf/com_11_303_en.pdf”

    [2] European Commission: The EU’s response to the ‘Arab Spring’, Press release – MEMO/11/918, Brussels, December 16, 2011, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-11-918_en.htm ”

    [3] Ibid.

    [4] The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), accessed on 04/01/2014, http://www.enpi-info.eu/main.php?id=402&id_type=2;

    [5] Mensur Akgün and Sabiha Senyücel Gündoğar, The Perception of Turkey in the Middle East 2011 (Istanbul: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, 2012), p. 5.

    [6] Mensur Akgün and Sabiha Senyücel Gündoğar, The Perception of Turkey in the Middle East 2012 (Istanbul: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, 2012), p. 6.

    [7] Helle Malmvig, Fabrizio Tassinari, “The Arab Spring and the External Actor’s Role within the Euro-Mediterranean Region,” European Institute of the Mediterranean, Euromed Survey 2011 (July, 2012), pp. 94- 95.

    [8]Mensur Akgün and Sabiha Senyücel Gündoğar, Ortadoğu’da Türkiye Algısı 2013 (Istanbul: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, 2013), p. 6.

    [9]Ibid., p. 9.

    [10] EurActiv, EU official: The Arab Spring revealed our weaknesses, May 7, 2013, http://www.euractiv.com/global-europe/director-oppd-arab-spring-europe-interview-519151.

    [11] Avi Primor, “The European Union and the Middle East – Mutual Indispensability,” Palestine- Israel Journal, (Vol.11 No.2 2004 ), retrieved October 21, 2013, from http://www.pij.org/details.php?id=186.

    [12] İbrahim Kalın, “Turkey and the Middle East: Ideology or Geo-Politics?,” Private View, no. 13 (Autumn, 2008), p.26

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