Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - October 28, 2006 - Israel Courting Arab states against Iran
Posted on 10/28/2006 6:18:26 PM PDT by freedom44
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Stratfor via IranVaJahan
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni reportedly plans to attend a U.N. conference on democracy in Qatar next week. Wednesday's announcement of the travel plans, which have not yet been confirmed, is the latest event in a series of developments that underscore Qatar's attempts to emerge as a regional player in the Middle East. It also points toward a larger geopolitical trend: Israel's eagerness to court what Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has called an axis of moderate Arab states in hopes of countering Iran and its radical allies as they try to exploit the Arab-Israel conflict to their advantage.
The most significant _expression of this emerging dynamic is the back-channel contact between Saudi Arabia and Israel. But even the Israeli-Saudi attempt to cooperate against Iran is but one of many factors that have come into play in the months since Hamas' January election victory in the Palestinian territories and the brief Israeli-Hezbollah conflict this summer. In other words, the current geopolitical reality of the Middle East cannot be framed simply as an Arab-Israeli alignment against Iran.
The reality is far more complex. It involves Iranian exploitation of the Shiite-Sunni sectarian fault line, the Arab-Israeli conflict and intra-Arab rivalries in its drive to emerge as a regional hegemon. The Israelis are trying to manipulate most of these same factors to counter Tehran's strategy, but are unlikely to be quite as successful as the Iranians -- primarily because of intra-Arab conflicts.
Consider the broad networks of alliances running through the Middle East. Politically, the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia is allied with Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and the other Gulf states; the Shiite republic of Iran has allies and proxies in Syria, Iraq and (through Hezbollah) in Lebanon. The Sunni Arab states are far from aligned on all issues, however, and this weakens their unity against Iran.
Take Qatar's desire to play mediator in the Lebanese, Palestinian and Iranian crises as one example: Clearly, Doha is not keeping sharply in step with the consensus of Sunni-Arab states in matters related to Iran, and has an independent take on Israel. National self-interest, in this case, is taking precedence over ethnic, religious and regional concerns.
Similarly, the Egyptians -- partly because they are buffered by geography -- do not worry about the rise of Iran nearly as much as the Saudis do. Cairo, the principal force in the Arab League, has long been a rival to Riyadh, and it is recognized as the main mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict (particularly in matters concerning the Palestinians). Egypt, naturally, is not keen to share these honors with Saudi Arabia -- which likely explains some of the recent statements from Cairo that appear to support Tehran's position on certain issues. Cairo, which harbors nuclear ambitions of its own, has spoken out in favor if Iran's right to pursue nuclear technology, and has expressed support for Tehran as a potentially significant political actor in the region -- something that would assist Egypt in its own moves to counter Riyadh's influence in the Middle East.
Though Egypt is not overly concerned about the growing regional power of Iran, it is rather worried about Syria's attempts to exert more influence in Israeli-Palestinian affairs. Damascus seeks to use its support for Hamas and other rejectionist Palestinian factions to gain a seat at the table in that area. Ultimately, Syria's ambition is not merely to reclaim its influence in the Levant, but to deepen and further its influence in Lebanon (where it competes with Saudi Arabia) and the Palestinian territories (where it competes with Egypt). Thus, Egypt's overtures toward Iran play into two of Cairo's strategies: contain the influence of Riyadh and keep Damascus from inserting new complications in the Israeli-Palestinian matters mediated by the Egyptians.
As if all of this was not complex enough, there also is Turkey -- a unique state in the region, in the sense that it has good relations with all the serious players (Arab states, Israel, Iran and the United States). But Ankara, also, is attempting to carve out a role for itself as a mediator in regional crises such as Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. And it too has apprehensions about an emergent Iran -- though these fears are perhaps not as pronounced as those of the Arabs.
Given the alignments and divisions, Israel -- in a more perfect world -- potentially could develop quiet but workable partnerships with Arab or Muslim states to help check the rise of Iran. And indeed, pressing concerns might generate fleeting impressions that such alliances, as with Saudi Arabia, are being forged. But so long as the Palestinian problem remains unresolved, there will be no lasting or successful partnerships of this sort for Israel.
A Daily Briefing of Major News Stories on Iran:
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Qatar extends unprecedented invitation to Israeli FM
Al Bawaba ^ | 10/24/06
Posted on 10/24/2006 8:52:42 AM CDT by Valin
In what has been labeled by some a breakthrough in Middle East political relations, Qatar on Tuesday extended an invitation to Israels Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to visit the Arab nation for the first time.
Experts are calling the invitation a part of efforts by moderate legates of Arab countries to lead to a diplomatic breakthrough in the region. According to Ynet, the invitation and the possibility of Israel taking up Qatar on the unprecedented move will reportedly be discussed by Israeli leaders on Tuesday afternoon.
Last year, relations between the two countries began to show signs of warming when the foreign minister at the time, Silvan Shalom, met with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jasam al-Thani, in New York at the United Nations headquarters.
Qatar at the time revealed that it was contemplating establishing open diplomatic relations with Israel.
I'm sure the Olmert-bashing brigade will arrive any minute and blame him for not welding together an Arab-Israeli alliance against Iran. :')
Thanks for posting this topic. The old back channel (even before their 1994 treaty) was between King Hussein of Jordan and the Israeli PM's office. Hussein even tried to warn Golda Meir's gov't of the impending October 1973 war. I don't think that's the case with the late King's son and successor.
I'm sure the Olmert-bashing brigade will arrive any minute and blame him for not welding together an Arab-Israeli alliance against Iran
Well that because he really want Iran to win. All of us who are "really in the know" understand this.
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Wow!! A well written piece expressing the true state of affirs and hinting at the reason for the US involvement in Iraq.
It contained no bigoted Christian Arab or Muslim bashing.
There will be FReepers knashing of teeth and breaking keyboards when they read such an article that disagrees with the predigested party line.
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