I shared some views on Saudi Arabia’s steely-eyed, unsentimental assessment of the deteriorating situation in Iraq and the consequences of America’s decline in the region with this Radio Free Europe journalist, Abubakar Siddique.
What I see evolving in the Middle East today is a regional Cold War manifested through regional contests between Iranian and Saudi proxies with hot moments.
Even though Israel is a regional nuclear and conventional superpower, it has little long term viability unless it either comes to terms with its moderate Sunni Arab neighbors or convinces the US or Europe or other major security patrons to fully and politically acquire Israel as one of their own domestic states.
I spent Monday in Los Angeles and met an insightful next generation Arab-American thinker, Sama Adnan, who told me he believed that there was something like a mathematical equation in the Middle East that few Americans — Democrat or Republican — understand. He said that democracies or more self-determining populations in Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East were impossible as long as the Palestinian-Israeli standoff over Palestine’s state status remained unresolved.
He said that if true democracies governed in any of these states, then those democratic movements would focus on their outrage that Israel was continuing to illegally occupy Palestinian territory. The more totalitarian governments in the region are bulwarks against a popular will that is focused on grievances involving Israel. The only way to create a more liberal and stable order in the Middle East, according to this young observer, is to deliver on Palestine — develop an effort towards regional confidence building between Israel and other states — and then try to encourage incremental change in the region.
But given the decline in American power, in American moral credibility and legitimacy as a fair broker in the region, regional order can’t be established unless Palestine, as a state, is launched. Until then, the region will convulse and American and European basic interests will whither.
— Steve Clemons