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|The International Situation - The Middle-Eastern issue||| Print ||
Bismillahi Al-Rahman Al-Raheem
The international situation - The Middle-Eastern issue
1-The international situation:The international situation represents the status quo of the leading superpower and the state or states who compete or share with her the influencing of international politics. Therefore, the basis of understanding the international situation is the knowledge of the leading superpower in the world. This requires the acquaintance with the aspects of her force and the extent of her influence. It also requires the perception of the strategies and the styles the leading superpower pursues in order to secure her interests and achieve her aims with regard to her international policies, notwithstanding the fact that the status quo of any country does not remain indefinitely static; it rather changes according to what may occur to the state’s domestic situation and to the weakening or strengthening of her relations with other states. The power of any state depends in the first instance upon her cohesiveness and the extent of the influence that the ideology she embraces has on her. It also depends upon her economic and military capabilities, the natural resources she possesses and upon her international influence, i.e. her ability of making another state proceed with her in her international policy and in securing her interests and achieving her aims.
The technological progress of any state has indisputably a decisive role in providing her with the required military and economic powers and in making her a state with a prestigious position world-wide.
However, at the end of the fifties the role of the intercontinental ballistic missiles came to the fore, not only in carrying nuclear warheads to their intended targets, but also in breaking through the atmosphere and in penetrating into the outer space, carrying satellites or spaceships with animals or humans onboard, or carrying space stations or space shuttles; this led to a fundamental change in the specifics of the leading superpower. Since then, not only the leading superpower had to have economic capabilities and a conventional, or even a nuclear military power, but she had to also be learned and capable of sending space shuttles, satellites or spaceships into the outer space and capable of returning them to Earth. This is so because the military advantages for the state that controls and masters such means and such technology are tremendous.
With such specifics, no other superpowers were left save for the United States and the USSR. Due to the tremendous amount of resources required for the acquisition of these means, the Strategic Defence Initiative, i.e. Star Wars, has drained a huge amount of their resources. While the United States managed to sustain the cost of this race, the Soviet Union however could not resist and this played a major part in its collapse.
The leading superpower in the world manifests herself through the role she plays in dealing with the international matters and issues. Hence, if she manages to deal with them exclusively, be it through her own initiative or through the endeavour of the parties concerned to seek the leading superpower’s assistance in solving them, in this case the leading state would have exclusive control of the international situation. However, if she were unable to settle international issues exclusively, and if she were obliged to take as partners other influential powers, she in this case would not have exclusive control of the international situation, though she may have the upper hand in settling the issue.
America has been the leading superpower since the end of the Second World War. However, the shape of the international situation has changed more than once.
Up until the early sixties, international issues used to be settled through conferences held among the four major superpowers: America, the Soviet Union, Britain and France; and it was within this framework that several conferences took place, the most prominent of these were the Berlin Conference and the Paris Conference. This means that America was not at that time exclusively in charge of the international situation.
In 1961, the president of the U.S.A. John Kennedy and the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev held a summit in Vienna in which the two superpowers agreed to confine the settlement of international issues to them and to exclude Britain and France from their calculations. They also agreed about several other issues, some of which were declared, while others were later revealed through actions undertaken by the two superpowers; other agreements were leaked to some world political figures, such as George Papadopoulos, the former Greek Prime Minister and other agreements were from time to time hinted at.
Since that date, a new era in international relations began, this became known as the “Détente”. Since America was the leader of the Western camp and the Soviet Union the leader of the Eastern camp, the Détente was considered to be as one between the two camps and not just between the two superpowers. The whole world looked upon this Détente as being an agreement over peaceful coexistence between East and West i.e. the Communist camp and the Capitalist camp, stipulating that conflicts and disputes between the two camps should be settled through peaceful means, i.e. through dialogue and debate; also that the ideological struggle between communism and capitalism ought to be scaled down and should not be given top priority as was the case at the height of the cold war in the fifties.
Effectively, the thirty-year Détente witnessed a series of various agreements between the two superpowers; among these were agreements over nuclear research and nuclear disarmament, in addition to commercial and other agreements. The Détente played a considerable role in curtailing China and confining her Lebensraum to the strictest of scopes. This forced her to accept the principle of “Peaceful Coexistence” according to the capitalist concept. As for the conventional European colonialism in Asia and Africa, this was completely wiped out and both Britain and France lost most of their influence in both continents. The most significant indication of this was reflected in Britain’s decision in 1968 to withdraw from east Suez and to relinquish two strategic colonies, namely Singapore and Aden.
The two superpowers co-operated in an unprecedented manner in international politics, to the point where the USSR played a major role in covering up for America’s agents, especially in the Middle-East and Africa. Hafiz Assad, America’s agent was regarded as a Soviet ally, and so was Haili Maryam of Ethiopia and Dos Santos of Angola.
Consequently, America managed to estrange all the other Western states that had an interest in the issue and in other issues, and prevent them from taking part in any settlement to the crisis. She therefore benefited a great deal from making the issue her own, though the Soviet Union was on the surface acting as a partner in settling the issue.
Furthermore, the Soviet Union covered up for America’s agents in the Western hemisphere as well when America adopted the policy of concocting struggles and disputes with her agents in Latin America. The Soviet Union covered up for Castro in Cuba, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and Alendi in Chile. Those agent acted as the socialists affiliated to Moscow, while in fact they were American agents.
America reaped the benefits of this fabricated animosity with the Soviet Union and the hyped military threat it seemingly posed, for this helped her maintain Europe under her wing due to Europe’s need for the American nuclear umbrella; it also helped her reduce the role of the European states in the international arena, and organise the situation in Europe in a manner that served her interests. It is known that Europe remains the only source of threat to America’s supremacy over world affairs, because she has the economic, military and technological capability to challenge America to a certain extent if one single force were to dominate the whole continent. America for her part has been since the 19th century working towards preventing one single European force from dominating the whole continent, because America’s security depends on a balanced Europe.
All of this was before the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the aftermath of the collapse, i.e. in 1991, the international situation changed once again. This change was not with regard to the change in America’s leadership over the international situation, but with regard to the handling of international issues.
It is true that America made Russia the legitimate heir of the former Soviet Union in the Security Council and in the international arena generally, and it is true that Russia remained a nuclear power and a leading nation in space technology, but her shift from the socialist system to the capitalist system and the rapid deterioration of her economic situation have prevented her from keeping up appearances with America, with regard to being an equal partner to America in the international situation. Hence, America had to declare that the world order had changed, and this is what she referred to as the New World Order.
Although the New World Order heralds from an intellectual context the victory of Capitalism over Socialism and its exclusive dominion over the whole world, it also means that in terms of world politics, America stands alone in the international situation. This dominion is evident, for it is true that America allows the permanent members of the Security Council to participate in solving international issues, but this participation is nominal and it is designed to lend an international legitimacy to their policies which in the first instance serve their aims and interests. It is America who decides which of the issues should be addressed at the United Nations and the Security Council, and which of the issues should not be addressed, according to the prerequisites of her interests and aims.
When the second Gulf crisis broke out in the wake of Iraq’s incursion into Kuwait, Washington resorted to the Security Council after she had made sure that everything was going to be concluded according to her will. The manoeuvre of leading the Alliance that went to war against Iraq was one of the shrewdest international manoeuvres which had showed the whole world that America was effectively leading the world, even the other major superpowers, in a major venture aimed at serving her interests. In reality, that manoeuvre was the incorporation of the New World Order according to America’s conception of this order.
However, America’s appropriation of the international situation does not mean that the other states have lost their influence altogether, it rather means that the states who still had some influence, such as Britain and France, were no longer physically involved in steering world policies. In order to make sure that the other permanent members of the Security Council do not undertake any initiative that may hinder her international policies, whenever she decides to refer to the Council in order to deal with an issue or settle a crisis, Washington has always keen to hold a host of trump cards which she would wave in the face of these countries whenever appropriate. America allows each member to maintain a host of vital interests, which could be jeopardised if a hostile stand were taken against America. For instance, America allowed Britain to keep a host of vital interests in the Gulf and she pretends to be helping Britain in settling the Northern Ireland crisis. As for Russia, America keeps her in line by offering her a sizeable economic aid, be it through the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, or through other European states where America enjoys a great deal of direct influence, such as Germany, or from her own funds. Furthermore, she allows Russia to maintain her prestige within her vital space, which is now confined to the former Soviet republics. As for France, America has always been eager to make her agents hold a number of commercial deals with France; these deals would not have been concluded had America not agreed to them. This is the case in the Arabic Peninsula, Iran and Syria. America has even allowed France to have a special relationship with Lebanon and to play a prominent role in the Committee that was formed in the wake of the Grapes of Wrath operation last year, and to supervise the agreement that was reached between the conflicting parties.
In conclusion, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, America has been dominating the world in a conspicuous and evident manner. She is the initiator when it comes to settling international issues and it is she who determines the framework of that settlement, whether this settlement was within the United States, with the Security Council as the executive tool, or outside. All the other influential state would not dare challenge America seriously, they would rather give the impression that they are proceeding with America even if in fact they were not.
America adopted a new style in dealing with the international issues and crisis. She swapped the Soviet Union for her agents; thus she adopts the style of keeping the enmity and the negotiating directly between her and them. This is the slogan she currently carries in the Gulf, which is the double containment against Iran and Iraq; whereas in fact the containment is not aimed at Iran nor Iraq, but at the Gulf states. Similar to this is her pretension of siding with Israel and against the Palestinians and Syria, while the reality is quite the opposite.
The issue of the Middle-East acts as the most conspicuous of example about the exclusive dominance of America in settling the international issues. No sooner the second Gulf War ended, than the former U.S. president George Bush declared that he had decided to settle this issue. Soon after this he dispatched his Secretary of State James Baker to the region, where he met its leaders and prepared the ground for the Madrid Conference. although the conference was held under the joint sponsorship of the U.S. and the Soviet Union, it was however evident that the latter was in its last throes and that its participation was merely nominal rather than effective.
Despite the fact that the negotiations that followed the Madrid Conference took place at several venues, the process itself was still however referred to as the Madrid Conference. The reference point of the Arab-Israeli negotiations have been determined by the principles which Washington had adopted, namely the principles of “Land for Peace” and the Security Council resolutions 242, 338 and 425.
Baker mentioned afterwards that the U.S. administration had investigated the reasons that led to the failure of the previous attempts at settling the issue and it has concluded that these were down to one single reason, which is that America used to put forward a host of proposals and the Israelis would refuse some of them while the Arabs would refuse the others. Therefore, the Bush administration adopted a new method in order to find a solution, this amounted to America determining the basics of the negotiations and let the concerned parties negotiate over the various channels, but according to these basics.
Due to the fact that America had deferred her design of the region since the seventies, while waiting for this issue to be settled, -which in essence means the Israeli Arab conflict-, she divided the negotiations into two parts: a bilateral part comprising Israel on the one side and each concerned Arab party individually on the opposite side, and a multilateral part related to the general American design of the region, and this is not confined solely to the parties concerned, it does rather exceed it to other states who have a direct bearing on the issue, such as some of the Arab, European and Asian countries. These countries were given the role of looking into several matters such as the refugees, environment, armament, trade and the like. From these multilateral negotiations several conferences arose, such the Casablanca economic summit in 1994, held to explore the economic, trade and financial cooperation between the Middle- Eastern countries and North Africa. This revealed that America considers these countries to be one single sector administration that they all fall under the formula that she had designed in order to establish her influence, interests and aims. This conference was followed by the Amman conference in 1995 and the Cairo conference in 1996, then the Doha conference under the same slogan and the same aims, despite the fact that the current Israeli government opposes the peaceful solution. This indicates that America is still committed to the formula she had designed for the Middle-East and North Africa, in addition to the fact that she considers the Doha Conference as a carrot for Israel. At present, all the multilateral process committees are almost frozen due to Netanyahu’s negative stance.
As for the bilateral processes, America has achieved some progress and her efforts were almost crowned by a total success had it not been for the death of Rabin. In the Palestinian course, America succeeded through the Oslo negotiations which she had organised between Israel and the PLO, in making Israel recognise the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinians. This has been an America’s aim since the Rabat Summit of 1974, even since she inspired the establishment of the PLO in 1964. The negotiators reached an agreement known as the Oslo Accord (The agreement of principles), which the ceremony of its signing was held in the White House lawn on 12th September 1993. America has also succeeded on the following day of this signing to persuade Prince Hassan and Shimon Perez to the sign the Israeli-Jordanian timetable in Washington. In the spring of 1994 the Israelis and the Palestinians signed the Cairo Accord, which has translated the Agreements of Principles into practical steps that led to the return of Arafat to Gazza and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in Gazza and the West Bank, especially after the signing of the Taba Agreement. Matters were proceeding towards the establishment of a Palestinian state before everything was frozen in the wake of Rabin’s assassination in November 1995.
In the Jordanian course, America achieved was is known as the Treaty of Wadi Araba in 1994, a Treaty which was signed before negotiations over its articles could take place; this was aimed at helping Clinton and his democratic party in the Congress by-elections which were held few days after the signing of the Treaty.
As for the Israeli-Syrian course, America achieved a major success when Rabin accepted in February 1995 the principle of withdrawing from the Golan heights to the pre-1967 borders; this means that the Israelis not only agreed to withdraw from the Syrian Golan, but also from the Palestinian Golan as well.
Since Rabin’s agreement to relinquish the Golan heights in exchange of a total and lasting peace with Syria was against the Israeli public opinion, America, Syria and Israel (Rabin) agreed to prolong the talks until the Israeli public opinion was prepared to accept such a deal. The axis of the talks revolved around the security arrangements which America was hoping that they included the long-term deployment of American troops in the Golan, so that both sides could forget the bitterness of the past and become reassured that matters between them are normal just like the relations between any other two states on friendly terms.
Netanyahu’s victory in the general elections changed everything and from the first moment, America realised that she will not achieve anything during the Likud and its right-wing allies term of office, especially that this victory of the Likud indicated clearly that the Jews of Israel who had voted by 58% to Netanyahu do not believe in the principle of “Land for Peace”. This was due to the fact that the Arab openness towards Israel, which America was sponsoring during the Labour party’s term of office, in order to encourage it to make a host of concessions under the Land for Peace principle, reminding Israel of the new horizons that this would yield in the Middle-East and world-wide, has led the Israelis to think that they could achieve this without having to give up what they hold in terms of lands.
Hence, an Arab summit was in a record breaking time convened in Cairo. Such summits were almost impossible to convene in the past, which indicates America’s dominion over the Arabs. The resolutions of this summit were a clear indication about what America wanted, that is to link any Arab rapprochement towards Israel to a positive response from Israel in the peace talks, especially in the Palestinian course.
America has since the arrival of Netanyahu wanted to persuade the Jews of Israel that peace was better for them than the land. In order to achieve this, she needs more than just the regress of the normalisation process between the Arabs and the Israelis. Therefore, she set about inciting the whole world against Israel with a host of devious styles, while at the same time pretending that she is averse to any move that could vex Israel. The European countries did not need any encouragement from America to declare their unfavourable stance towards the Likudist Israeli policies; for they too were relying heavily on the success of the peace process so that they could reap the benefits of stability in the Middle-East. Therefore, it would be wrong to assume that some European countries such as Britain and France are averse to the American efforts towards making Israel pay for the price of peace. although the role of the European countries was marginalized in the Madrid Conference and it was only confined to a financial role, there is however no international struggle over this process. All what the Europeans could aspire to is to take part in a complementary political role that will be supportive to the American role, not to seek an alternative role.
As for the American efforts to curtail Israel, be it within the UN or outside it, the Conference of the Non-aligned Nations was held in New Delhi just after the arrival of Netanyahu to power, and one of the resolutions that emerged from the conference called upon the member states to freeze their relations with Israel if she continued to stall the “Peace Process”. Within the same framework, a conference of the Organisation of African Unity was held and a similar resolution was adopted.
Therefore, the real aim of America from the continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian talks, or the Israeli-Syrian talks, is not to achieve agreements, because she is aware of the fact that to Netanyahu, Land is more precious than Peace. Hence, he will not concede anything to the Palestinians nor to the Syrians to save face. America’s concern is focused on keeping the Peace Process alive until the opportune time comes to effectively put it in motion and achieve results. This why Albright did not visit the region until Washington felt that Netanyahu was about to declare the Madrid initiative dead and buried. Hence, Albright came and prevented this from happening. The current talks taking place in Washington are but part of the American efforts to keep the Peace Process ticking, not to achieve any significant results. That is why Arafat said that he was not expecting anything from the Palestinian delegation’s trip to Washington and that he merely dispatched the delegation at the request of America. Sa’ib Urayqat said that the talks taking place between the Palestinians and the Israelis are merely talks about the talks.
Provided no unexpected events take place, the issue of the Middle-East and the current talks as well as any talks to take place between the Palestinians and Israel or between Syria and Israel will not yield anything significant. The process will remain stalled, neither dead nor alive until the rule of the Israeli right comes to an end.
3rd Rajab 1418h