Part of having regional partnerships is caring what happens to your partners, and besides Israel, the US had longstanding ties with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, and Morocco, and newer but very productive relationships with Iraq, Qatar, UAE, and Oman. Until Morsi was elected this summer, there was no inevitability about a despotic Islamist tendency from the Arab Spring. If we date it to June 2009, however, with the Green Revolution in Iran, the Obama administration’s record of untimely passivity regarding both human rights and geopolitical outcomes goes back three and a half years. Morsi now has no reason to suppose that American objections to his power grab will matter.
Saudi Arabia has a lot to think about. The Middle East already sees that the Palestinian statehood bid is an outdated gambit. The players are out of position: Fatah, with its US and European money and long ties to Saudi Arabia, is not the right scion of Islamism to have in charge of the West Bank. Its whole enterprise is a relic of a different time. Fatah, like Hamas, will have to adapt to the new reality. But can the Saudis adapt? And Jordan?
I don’t think Mahmoud Abbas wants to be Morsi’s boy. But although Abbas’s patrons haven’t dropped him, their patronage suddenly matters a lot less. This was inevitable when Obama was reelected; that it has happened so soon is the point of interest. Benjamin Netanyahu may have been under pressure from the US when he accepted the ceasefire, and may have seen the need for a time-out to regroup. But what they’re regrouping for on the other side of the fence is a game-changer. Next time, it won’t be “Cast Lead Part II.” There’s a new Pharaoh in town, and he’s on the move.
Originally published at the Optimistic Conservative.