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A new vision for the Middle East?

fares
Fares Braizat is chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions. (File photo: Jordan News)
On May 11, before meeting with Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and House leadership, speaking to the media, His Majesty King Abdullah said he was looking forward to discussing how to move the region toward the light, and finding a new vision for the Middle East whereby leaders work to achieve stability.اضافة اعلان

On May 13, US President Joe Biden tweeted about his meeting with His Majesty: “We underscored our commitment to furthering regional integration in infrastructure, energy, water, and climate projects in the Middle East.”

There are major strategic issues for reordering regional security order. Arab states need to address the behavior of Iran and Israel. Iran needs to address the behavior of Arab states and Israel. Israel needs to address Iran’s regional behavior and normalize relations with all Arab states. None of these countries can address their security needs without the active involvement and blessings of the US.

In a major development, in preparation for a new regional order, the US moved Israel from the Euro command to the central command in September 2021. This is a significant change since central command was created in 1983 to cover 20 countries from Egypt to Kazakhstan. The message seems to be that US will delegate power to regional actors to manage their security priorities as it is “fatigued” and has much more important priorities, like China and Russia.

The US, Arab states, and Israel converge on the strategic objective of “no nuclear and less destabilizing Iran”, with or without a JCPOA. There is fear that Iran’s destabilizing regional activities, in addition to the raging cyber war, and frictions in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan and in the Gulf, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and the Mediterranean might result into an all-out war, especially if Iran reaches an “intolerable” threshold of uranium enrichment.
… An India-UAE-Israel axis… will combine Israeli technology with Emirati finance and Indian manufacturing capabilities to build joint defense and infrastructure programs to solidify the basis for a new regional order.
There are two approaches to a new regional order. One entails an optimal regional umbrella that includes Iran, India, Israel, GCC, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. Realistically, this option is not going to work due to lack of mutual recognition by some concerned countries; for operational reasons, such as integration of air defense systems, which are sourced from competing powers and defense companies; and because of the weak trust among concerned countries. The other approach is bilateral arrangements. These are already in place and getting more traction (see, UAE-Israel, and India-Israel). These countries do not want to wait until all countries sign peace with Israel to work on common security order, but wish to build what they can now. This bilateral approach is giving way to a discourse in the hallways of power in Washington that envisages an India-UAE-Israel axis. This axis will combine Israeli technology with Emirati finance and Indian manufacturing capabilities to build joint defense and infrastructure programs to solidify the basis for a new regional order.

For this new order to emerge, there are very serious efforts to bridge American views with those of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Preparations for Biden’s visit to the Middle East are well under way; discussions are expected to tackle peace making, or energy security, or both, and if both, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt are essential. The US administration’s discourse vis-à-vis these three countries has not been received well.

Realistically, the administration will find itself changing its discourse and actions — for now at least -- in order to “enable” regional actors to pursue their own pathways to ensure a “regional security order” that addresses peace and stability, food security, water scarcity, maritime security, energy supply lines, climate change, counter-terrorism and cross-border crimes.


The writer is chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions [email protected] .


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