Brutus said in Shakespeare’s ”Julius Caesar” what would be appropriate on Obama’s relationship with Israel:
“Thou hast described/A hot friend cooling./ When love begins to sicken and decay,/It useth an enforcèd ceremony./There are no tricks in plain and simple faith. ” (“Julius Caesar,” Act 4, Scene 2.)
Meanwhile the Palestinians will also stall and constantly flourish the threat that they will seek unilateral independence, which might result in more U.S. concessions. But it is unlikely that the United States will pressure the Palestinians much or criticize them, no matter what they do. In the classical formulation of President Shimon Peres, “We will give and the Palestinians will take.”
The point is that probably not much progress—which is really moving backwards–will be made on the Israeli-Palestinian front. Also of course the so-called “peace process” won’t affect any other regional issue positively.
The Islamists, Sunni or Shia, don’t want progress toward peace and will try to wreck it. That goes for the Muslim Brotherhood government in Tunisia and Gaza; the Islamist governments in Lebanon, Turkey and Iran, or the government and the rebels in Syria. In fact the harder the United States works on peace the angrier they will be.
The third theme has to do with the Sunni Muslim Islamists. The theory is that this movement is the best protection against al-Qaida. But if that’s true why does the U.S. support the Syrian rebels when they form a united front at nost opportunity to support for al-Qaida, which the other groups are loyal to? Similarly, while Al-Qaida is much weaker in Egypt it has now backed the al-Qaida movement, by refusing to back the army coup, especially in the Sinai. The United States supports the Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood government.
More subtly, Turkey has an Islamist government and it is the favorite ally of the United States in the Middle East. To summarize, it is likely that the last three years of the Obama Administration are going to be spent pursuing these three failed themes.
–Iran will continue to pursue nuclear weapons or at least aggression and that it will fool naïve Americans. Iran will be strengthened; U.S allies will be weakened.
–On Israel-Palestinian policy likely no progress will be made toward a peaceful solution but the Palestinians will try to make gains toward destroying Israel, although they would benefit more by grabbing a Palestinian state and then using it to strengthen (the two-stage solution). Instead they will lose their chance to get a two-state solution.
–And finally it is likely that the Sunni Muslim Islamists will let down the United States because, after all, they will never be pro-American. And they will intensify Sunni-Shia bloodbaths. So while there will be much activity within the Obama Administration over the next three years media reports will cheer it. At the Bard of Avon said, “It is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.”
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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