Bloodletting in the Middle East set to rage on



article_image

A huge tanker truck bomb ripped through a market area in front of a local Islamic courthouse in the Syrian border town of Azaz on January 7, 2017 - AFP


However, it is no mean achievement to have the backing of some 70 countries for the two state solution in the Middle East. The challenge before the world community is to get the conflicting sides to endorse it and work towards it. These sections that are supportive of a political solution may need to bring into being some notable creative thinking if they are to resolve the conflict quickly. The Israelis and Palestinians need to be made to see that there is no way out of the imbroglio other than through a shared future; more precisely, a political remedy in the form of two states that would co-exist peacefully.


The decision by the US to abstain from voting for the UN Security Council resolution of December 25 that condemned renewed Israeli settlement activity in the contested West Bank, qualifies to be seen as historic, when it is considered that unreserved support for Israel has been an unquestioned US policy plank down the decades. The practice has been for the US to veto UNSC resolutions on the Middle East that could be seen as undermining Israeli interests. Accordingly, the Obama administration veritably broke with tradition by choosing to abstain from voting on the settlements-related resolution in question.


For those sections that are supportive of a political solution to the Middle East question, the US abstention is a highly welcome development. Thus far, Israel has been operating on the belief that US support would be fully forthcoming for it, regardless of how it handles its issues. This situation encouraged Israel to continue with practices that its critics see as irregularities and excesses in the Middle Eastern theatre. The seemingly ready support for Israel by the US enabled it to enjoy a degree of immunity from accountability procedures in relation to actions by it that were seen as violating UN restrictions and international law. However, the US abstention at the UNSC vote ought to have had the effect of shattering the sense of complacency Israel was enjoying.


Unfortunately for pro-peace sections, the unprecedented US abstention comes with a change in the US presidency, from a Head of State inclined to social democracy to one that would veer to the political Right and very dangerously so. US President-in-waiting Donald Trump has already come down hard on the Obama administration’s abstention decision. This being the case, one cannot expect it to put in place in the foreseeable future a process that would lead to a measure of peace in the Middle East. Because it ought to be plain to see that Israel’s persistence in its settlement activities is getting in the way of the two sides to the conflict getting down to talking to each other in an atmosphere of amicability. However, If Israel is encouraged to persist in its settlement efforts, enduring peace would continue to evade the Middle East. This would likely happen under the Trump presidency.


Hopefully, such projections would not come true. The Palestinian and Israeli people have suffered gravely over the decades as a result of the armed conflict and reduced support for what are seen as Israeli irregularities by the US and West ought to diminish the magnitude of the armed confrontation.


That said, Israel should be relieved of terror attacks emanating from the Palestinian side. Inasmuch as uncurbed Israeli settlements in the contested territories and other Israeli violations of the law are energizing hard line Palestinian quarters, violence by the latter against the Israelis is preventing the two sides to the conflict from talking to each other on settlement measures, at some length.


So, a principal task for the international conference that is to meet in Paris on January 15, to drum-up worldwide support for the two state solution to the Middle East, is to bring about an end to the violence between the two sides; that is, a cessation of hostilities.


However, it is no mean achievement to have the backing of some 70 countries for the two state solution in the Middle East. The challenge before the world community is to get the conflicting sides to endorse it and work towards it. These sections that are supportive of a political solution may need to bring into being some notable creative thinking if they are to resolve the conflict quickly. The Israelis and Palestinians need to be made to see that there is no way out of the imbroglio other than through a shared future; more precisely, a political remedy in the form of two states that would co-exist peacefully.


The stiffest of the challenges would be the demarcation of land boundaries. Who gets how much or what portion of the territory is the question. But the existence of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is proof of the successes that could be achieved through a policy of give-and-take between the sides.


However, for the foreseeable future, violence could be expected to continue. Inasmuch as Hamas militants in the Gaza strip are supported by regional powers, and to that extent difficult to neutralize, Israel. with a hard line Right wing government at its helm, backed firmly by a Republican administration in the US, would prove a hard nut to crack.


Peace-making in the Middle East in the future, moreover, is likely to be rendered more difficult with the emergence of a greatly strengthened Syria. The indications are that the IS and its allies would be militarily defeated by the Syrian regime backed by Russia and Iran. When this happens, Israel would confront another formidable, hostile state in the region, enjoying a rejuvenation of sorts. Besides, Syria would not be a patient bystander until it gains possession of the Golan Heights, which it claims.


It is unfortunate that the Middle East conflict is being internationalized as never before. While 70 members of the world community are in an effort to find a two state solution to the problem, Russia Turkey and Iran are in a separate effort to find an answer to the Syrian imbroglio.. These issues in the Middle East could not be deliberated on in isolation. These problems under discussion are obviously intertwined and the solution worked out on Syria is likely to have implications for the Palestine-Israel question.


What the international community would do well to remember is that excessive internationalization of these conflicts only increasingly aggravates them. When one regional or extra-regional power is drawn into these issues, others follow suit, hoping to be in the running to carve out spheres of influence or to expand on those that have been already established.


The above situation establishes afresh that international peace is increasingly hard to come by in these post-Cold War times, when multipolarity is on the ascendant. In clear contrast to those Cold War times, the world is now up against the phenomenon of ‘world disorder’, which is growing in complexity.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...