Monday, April 16, 2012

The New Middle East: A Delicate Dance To Arabic Farsi and Hebrew Tunes?

Arabs have an historic opportunity to examine themselves, reassess their goals and chart fresh plans for the future: A future where Iran and Israel figure prominently.

Israel understands too well, it cannot continue to exist as an efficient state without reaching peace with most -- if not all -- of its neighbors. Neither can it face the Iranian threat alone in the region.

Iran has established itself as a Middle East super power and continues to push forward with its nuclear program despite threats, sanctions and isolation. Its fingerprints are obvious in many significant nations from Morocco to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, all the way to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It also has enough allies in region and outside to keep it on the same defiant plan for a long time. That leaves Gulf countries, hosts of the largest U.S. air bases and military launch pads for America’s wars, at arm’s length of Iranian missiles shaking of rage, fear or both.

Arabs have no nuclear ambitions that we know of. They have no political or military muscle that is worth mentioning; some of them have oil, still a very important bargaining chip, but not for long. So it is high time for a new game plan, a creative vision, and a modern strategy. For significant players, mainly the Sunnis of the Gulf, the strategy seems to be opening up towards Israel, gingerly working their way towards normalization. Others continue the loud anti-Israel posturing while negotiating under the table. The smaller players are watching quietly and are likely to follow the crowd at the right time.

The Islamist threat looms more lethally today than ever before. While dictatorships might have quelled most of the fundamentalist activities for decades, they failed to uproot the movement. On the contrary, it spread and turned into a wild octopus with tentacles reaching far and wide, capable of creating havoc anywhere it touches from Southeast Asia to the Americas to Europe and of course all over the Middle East and Africa. The more power Islamist groups muster through democratic processes the more these terror groups will be keen on spreading their version of Islam across the world. As they continue to function without a central command, soon they will be completely out of control.

In the face of these threats, Arabs need to re-brand themselves, re-define their mission in life individually and collectively.

Despite its internal divisions, Israel stands as one against all when it comes to its security. Opposition aside, Iran stands as one against many. Arabs on the other hand stand united around nothing.

While individually, they might have a vision for success and inclusion, together they stand against nothing and in support of nothing. Until that “nothing” is changed into a life-changing goal, the trend we are seeing now of rapprochement after the other between Arab nations and Israel and other Arabs and Iran will continue in the same pattern until only two camps are left. If that happens, Arabs won’t be players anymore but fillers for either.


Keep the conversation going...

Anonymous Paul B said...

Israel will never cease to exist , Iran and its regime are evils , and they represent a threat for the Arab nation as well . The Farsi empire and the Wilayat al Fakih are a dream which will never come true .

April 17, 2012 at 9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's hope the women of the Middle East are a force for peace. Mothers have watched their children die due to conflict for too long. Peace is the only solution. Mothers in the Middle East are like mothers everywhere; their major concern is that their kids have a chance for education, success and a happy life.

The Israel haters just stir up trouble. It will never be solved with guns and bombs, only peace.

And Iran is not a "Middle East Super Power" It is a country in crisis, run by a lunatic who does not have the support of the people. The youth have spoken clearly with the green movement. They want freedom from a dictator who denies reality and who impedes their dream of a good future.

April 17, 2012 at 10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Octavia, I am in awe of your vision and plain open format of laying down a fact. In my view the Arabs have a great opportunity to upscale to real democracy and a new view of human value. Economy is key to any success. If they bring the economy of the whole region up, they will be the future, not Iran. Even when the drums of war bang, economy is the master of all. Addressing human issues can bring about a clearer vision. I like what a small country like Qatar is doing. What Al-Jazeera is doing. I just keep hoping their lifting of ideals does not get compromised because of Israel's and Iran's hunger for something else. And Ramzi it is taking better shape the Turkish kababs .. one only hopes that they as well stay true to ideals they have brought about and not hide behind a finger of theirs. Accountability is what counts now and answering the Islamists with that is absolute key for its success. Arabism when it first started, had human value on the line but they compromised that with dictator-ships in the 50's .. I hope they learnt a lesson now 70 years later. And Saudi Arabia has to find a way to emerge with a new system letting go of ruling with a book and rather by human values. Same for Bahrain if they are to have a chance. Please write more about human value across history in the Arab world. We have so many philosophers that can hand us peace rather than war. How would Ibn Toufail look at our region. I was at my proudest moments when I visited Andalusia few years ago. Our vision saved the world - once upon a time. We owe our ancestors to emerge with light on our side .. in these dark times.

April 21, 2012 at 1:58 PM  

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