by Yoram Ettinger
“In the Arab Middle East, inter-Arab relations remain a labyrinth of intricate and often irreconcilable elements."
In 1948, the CIA opposed the reestablishment of the Jewish State, contending that it would be a feeble entity, unable to withstand an all-out Arab war – which would yield a second Holocaust in less than ten years – fully dependent on US soldiers for its survival, jeopardize US ties with the Arab World, imperil US access to Persian Gulf oil, and probably join the Soviet Bloc.
The State Department and the Pentagon, along with the New York Times and Washington Post, seconded the CIA assessment.
On the other hand, Clark Clifford, President Truman’s trusted advisor, who dedicated much time to studying the track record of Jewish sovereignty in Middle East history, impressed upon the President that an independent Jewish State would be a most effective military power, reliable, stable and inherently pro-US.
Clifford was absolutely right, while the State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA, the New York Times and the Washington Post were resoundingly wrong.
Following the impressive Israeli military performance in the 1948/49 War of Independence, General Omar Bradley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff, recommended that Israel be considered a favored strategic ally, since “the Israeli army would be the most effective force south of Turkey, which could be utilized to delaying action [in the case of a Soviet invasion]….”
The 1967 Six Day War
Since the 1967 Six Day War Israeli military victory over Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the US national security establishment has recognized the potency of Israel to advance regional and global US national security interests, which supersede the Palestinian issue.
Unlike NATO, South Korea and Japan, Israel has extended the strategic arm of the US with no need for US military personnel.
Thus, Israel has been transformed from a misperceived geo-strategic hinderance to a proven geo-strategic force-multiplier for the USA.
The June 1967 military victory dramatically transformed Israel from a strategic liability/burden to a strategic asset for the US. The Israeli victory devastated the Egyptian military, at a time when the pro-Soviet Egyptian President Nasser was on his way to become the pan-Arab leader. Nasser actively attempted to topple the highly-vulnerable regimes in Saudi Arabia and all other pro-US Arab oil-producing countries, at a time when the US was heavily dependent upon the importation of Persian Gulf oil. Moreover, 70,000 Egyptian soldiers were involved in a civil war in Yemen, attempting to employ Yemen as a springboard to topple the House of Saud in Riyadh. The resounding Israeli victory aborted Nasser’s anti-US plan and led the way to the demise of the anti-US Nasser era. It spared the US a huge economic and national security setback, and denied the USSR a climactic geo-strategic gold mine.
25 US military experts went to Israel for three months to study the lessons of the 1967 Six Day War, including the scrutiny of advantages and disadvantages of the captured Soviet military systems, returning to the US with top heavy information, which upgraded the performance of the US armed forces and defense industries.
As a result of the benefits derived by the US, a team of 50 experts arrived in Israel for six months following the 1973 War, collecting thicker volumes of information, which benefited the US militarily and industrially, and bolstered the US defense of Europe in the face of Soviet threats.
The December 1969 “Operation Rooster 53” – during the War of Attrition between Egypt and Israel – highlighted Israel’s unique intelligence and battle tactic capabilities, which have been shared with the US. An Israeli commando unit snatched from Egypt a game-changing Soviet P-12 radar system, which was superior to similar US systems, and was stationed throughout the world. The Soviet radar was studied by Israel and transferred to the US, as was the case with additional Soviet military systems, enhancing the capabilities of the US intelligence, armed forces and defense industries.
According to the late Senator Daniel Inouye (HI-D), who was a Chairman of the Appropriations and Intelligence Committees, the value of the Soviet radar to the US defense industries and armed forces was around $3bn.
In 1966 and 1989 Israel acquired Mig-21 and Mig-23 Soviet combat planes through Iraqi and Syrian pilots, who found refuge in Israel. The planes were shared with the US, impacting the global balance of power and the US Air Force performance.
In 1970, Israel manifested its posture of deterrence, when buttressing its military presence on the Syria-Israel-Jordan border (Golan Heights) in response to a pro-Soviet Syrian invasion of the pro-US Jordan. The Israeli deployment convinced Syria to pull back its invading troops from militarily-inferior Jordan. The Israeli show of force spared the US either a loss of an Arab ally (the late King Hussein), or the need to get involved militarily in an intra-Arab war. The potential toppling of the Hashemite regime in Jordan could have triggered ripple effects into the neighboring Arabian Peninsula, threatening the existence of the pro-US Arab oil-producing regimes, handing the USSR a geo-strategic bonanza.
The lessons of the 1976 Entebbe Operation – which underscored Israel as a role model of counter-terrorism – were shared with the US intelligence and special operations forces.
The 1978/79 toppling of the Shah of Iran (“the US policeman of the Gulf”) and the 2003 rise of Erdogan to the presidency of Turkey – two countries, which were transformed from key allies of the US to key enemies/adversaries – reflected the inherently transient allegiance of Middle East regimes, unlike the uniquely reliable, effective and democratic nature of Israel.
The 1981 Israeli destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor – in defiance of fierce US opposition – spared the US the potential devastation of a nuclear confrontation during the 1991 Gulf War. It saved the pro-US oil-producing Arab regimes from the jaws of Saddam Hussein.
The 2007 Israeli destruction of the Syria-North Korea-Iran nuclear reactor, spared the region and the globe the potential of a nuclearized civil war in Syria
The 1982 Israeli destruction of 29 Soviet surface-to-air missile batteries operated by Syria – stationed in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley and perceived to be impregnable – along with the downing of 82 Soviet Mig combat planes, reinforced Israel’s role as a unique force-multiplier for the US in the areas of critical intelligence, game-changing battle tactics and jamming technologies.
The 1990 disintegration of the USSR transformed the bi-polar world to a multi-polar world. While the Israeli military and technological capabilities well-served the US during the bi-polar Cold War, they have become much more significant in the emerging multi-polar world, with the proliferation of many rogue terror regimes and organizations, threatening the US and the Free World.
The 2010 eruption of tectonic violence on the Arab Street (“Arab Spring”), which is still raging, has exposed the intrinsic intra-Arab violence and the inherently unstable, unpredictable and tenuous nature of Arab regimes, contrary to the stable, reliable, effective and democratic Israel.
Israel’s 2021 posture of deterrence has constrained the military maneuverability of Iran and Russia in Syria, and has bolstered the stability of the pro-US Hashemite regime in Jordan in the face of existential threats by Palestinian, the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS terrorism. It has buttressed the national security of the pro-US Arab regimes in the Arabian Peninsula; has served as the first line of defense of Western democracies in the face of Islamic terrorism; and has spared the US the need to deploy to the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean additional aircraft carriers and ground divisions.
If there were an Israel-like entity in the Persian Gulf, the US could terminate its military presence in the region.
In 2021, US-Israel relations are a mutually-beneficial two-way-street. The US makes an annual investment in – rather than extending foreign aid to – Israel, which yields to the US taxpayer an annual rate-of-return of several hundred percent.
Iron Dome benefits the US
The remarkable performance the US-Israel jointly-produced Iron Dome mobile, all-weather, anti-missile defense system – during the May 2021 Gaza war against Hamas terrorists – was another milestone in the mutually-beneficial US-Israel alliance in the face of mutual terrorist threats and in the pursuit of cutting-edge technologies.
The Iron Dome was fully-developed by Israel, mostly funded by the US, and co-manufactured by Israel and (mostly) the US. Upon completion of the development by Israel’s RAFAEL, the game-changing Iron Dome technology was shared with the US’ Raytheon, which spared the US many years and mega-billions of dollars of research and development.
Moreover, the Iron Dome performance during the recent Gaza War has raised the interest of several countries (e.g., South Korea, Japan, Singapore, India, Poland, the Baltic states and Latin American countries) to acquire the system, which will increase US exports and expand the employment base of the US defense industry.
In addition, the US Army may expand its existing inventory of two Iron Dome batteries, leveraging Israel’s battle experience – which has systematically enhanced the performance of the Iron Dome – in order to advance the defense of its own soldiers.
Hamas – a mutual threat to Israel and the US
Israel’s recent war in Gaza was against Hamas Islamic terrorists, a proxy of Iran’s Ayatollahs, whose machete is at the throat of every pro-US Arab regime, and whose strategic goal is to dominate the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and beyond, by overwhelming the US.
Hamas is a branch of the global Muslim Brotherhood terrorist-political-social network, and a role model of repression and terrorism, which throws its political opponents off the roofs of Gaza towers.
Both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood – as enunciated by Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, its key strategist Sayyid Qutb and its top contemporary authority Yusuf al-Qaradawi – view Israel as an “infidel,” illegitimate entity in the “abode of Islam” and a strategic beachhead of the US. They are committed to a “holy war” against the Jewish State, in order to advance the Quran-based mega-goal of dominating the world under a universal Islamic society, which requires the (peaceful or violent) submission of the “infidel” West to Islam. Hence, the multitude of Muslim Brotherhood organizations from Pakistan in the east to South and North America in the west.
Thus, Yusuf al-Qaradawi declared that “Islam will return to Europe as a victorious conqueror after having been expelled twice. This time, it will not be a conquest by the sword, but by preaching and spreading [Islamic] ideology…. The spread of Islam until it conquers the entire world paves the road to the return of the Islamic Caliphate….”
The Muslim Brotherhood considers migration of Muslims to the West as a tactic to overwhelm the “infidel,” just like the 7th century migration (Hijrah) of Muhammed, from Mecca to Medina, which paved the road to the establishment of the Islamic Empire from the Arabian Peninsula to Spain.
Prof. Albert Hourani, who was a leading Middle East historian at Oxford University (A History of the Arab Peoples, pp. 445-446) wrote that the tenets of the Muslim Brotherhood include “a total rejection of all forms of society except the wholly Islamic one… which accepted the sovereign authority of [Allah]…. The leadership of Western man in the human world is coming to an end….”
Moreover, Article 8 of the Hamas charter stipulates that “Jihad [holy war] is the path of Hamas, and death for the sake of Allah is the most exalted wish….” Article 13 states that “There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except Jihad….” Article 31 notes that “The three monotheistic religions – Islam, Christianity and Judaism – can live side by side under the aegis of Islam….”
US benefits from its annual investment in Israel
Israel’s 1967 swift victory over Egypt, Syria and Jordan devastated the pro-USSR and anti-US Egyptian military, which had attempted to overtake the pro-US Arab oil-producing countries, at a time when the US was heavily dependent upon Persian Gulf oil. The Israeli victory denied the USSR a strategic bonanza, and spared the US a national security and economic calamity.
Thus, since 1967, the US-Israel saga has increasingly become a mutually-beneficial, two-way street in the following manner:
- Israel is the most productive, cost-effective, battle-tested laboratory for the US defense industries and armed forces, as demonstrated by the F-35, F-16 and F-15 combat aircraft – as well as by hundreds of additional US military systems employed by Israel – which were supplied to Israel and accumulated vast combat experience, operationally, maintenance-wise and repair-wise. This unique Israeli combat experience has promoted US military systems throughout the world, advancing US exports.
The Israeli experience/lessons have been constantly shared with the US manufacturers and the US Air Force. It has upgraded the quality of US combat aircraft, thus sparing the US defense industry many years and billions of dollars in research and development; enhancing US competitiveness in global competition; increasing US exports and expanding the US employment-base. The Israeli battle-tested laboratory has yielded a mega-billion-dollar bonanza to the US defense industries, and enhanced the performance of the US Air Force and other branches of the US military.
Israel’s battle experience has been shared with the US armed forces, such as Special Operation troops on their way to Iraq and Afghanistan, who spend 2-3 weeks in Israel, being trained by Israel’s top experts on neutralizing car-bombs, suicide bombers and the deadly Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Furthermore, the Israeli battle experience (wars and counter-terrorism) has been shared with the US, impacting much of the US Army battle-tactic-formulation in Ft. Leavenworth, KS.
- Israel is the most productive outside-source of military intelligence for the US, which has exceeded the intelligence supplied to the US by all NATO countries combined (e.g., the entire Iranian nuclear archive; battle tactics of potential and actual enemies; advantages and disadvantages of hostile military systems; counter-terrorism; and preempting Middle East flareups). Israel has assisted in foiling anti-US terrorism and attempts to topple pro-US Arab regimes.
According to General George Keegan, a former Chief of US Air Force Intelligence: “I could not have procured the intelligence [received from Israel] with five CIAs….” In order to realistically assess the magnitude of Israel’s contribution to the US intelligence, one should note that the annual budget of the CIA is about $15bn!
- Israel is a most innovative hub of US commercial high-tech, second only to the US, hosting research and development centers of some 250 US high-tech giants, such as Intel, Microsoft, Amazon, Cisco, Apple, HP, Kodak, Google, Facebook, IBM, AOL, Applied Materials, Johnson & Johnson, etc. These US giants leverage the brain power of Israel – the Startup Nation – in order to expand US production, exports and employment.
- Israel is a uniquely reliable, effective and democratic outpost of the US in the extremely critical area between Europe, Asia and Africa, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, which extends the strategic reach of the US, with no need for additional US military personnel.
Also, Israel’s posture of deterrence, defense technologies, battle experience, intelligence network and training capabilities play a major role in securing the highly vulnerable pro-US Arab regimes (e.g., Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Morocco), which face existential threats by Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS.
As stated by the late General Alexander Haig, a former Supreme Commander of NATO and US Secretary of State: Israel is the largest US aircraft carrier, which does not require a single boot on board, is located in a most strategic area for US military and economic interests, and cannot be sunk. If there were not an Israel in the eastern flank of the Mediterranean, the US would have to dispatch a few more aircraft carriers to the region, in addition to a few more ground divisions, at an annual (manufacturing, deployment, maintenance) cost of $15bn-$20bn.
In conclusion, Israel is a unique military and commercial force-multiplier for the US.
Accordingly, the US makes an annual investment in – rather than extending foreign aid to – Israel, which yields a few hundred percent annual rate-of-return to the American taxpayer.
Hamas and war on terrorism
- All pro-US Arab regimes – such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Morocco and Sudan – have refrained from tangible support of Hamas, which is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The latter constitutes an existential threat to each pro-US Arab regime, aiming to topple every Muslim/Arab regime, in order to establish a universal Islamic society through political, social and terroristic means. Eventually, it aspires to bring non-Muslims, and especially Western democracies, to submission.
- The pro-US Arab regimes are aware that Hamas is a proxy of Iran’s Shiite terrorism, even though it is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood Sunni terrorism, heavily assisted by Turkey’s Erdogan, who aspires to reestablish the Ottoman Empire throughout the Middle East and beyond.
- Hamas’ patrons – Iran’s Ayatollahs and the Muslim Brotherhood – are epicenters of regional and global Islamic terrorism, drug trafficking and proliferation of ballistic and nuclear technologies. They pose a major threat to the production and supply of oil and orderly global trade (e.g., Asia-Europe naval trade), and fuel instability in the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and Europe. They threaten the national security, homeland security and economy of the US and other Western democracies.
- Israel’s systematic war against Hamas terrorism – as well as against Hezbollah – constrains the maneuverability of Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey’s Erdogan. Pressuring Israel to limit/stop its offensive against Hamas terrorists energizes Hamas and other anti-Western terrorists, undermining the Free World’s war on Islamic terrorism.
Arabs stance on Palestinian terrorism
- Notwithstanding the pro-Palestinian Arab talk, no Arab regime has flexed military or financial muscle on behalf of Hamas, consistent with the Arab conduct during the 2008/9, 2012 and 2014 Israel-Hamas wars, the 1987-1992 and 2000-2003 Palestinian Intifadas and the 1982-83 Israel-PLO war in Lebanon.
Since 1948, the Arabs have emanated pro-Palestinian talk – which has captured the attention of Western media and policy makers – while avoiding the pro-Palestinian walk. Thus, no Arab war against Israel was ever launched on behalf of the Palestinians.
- The absence of tangible Arab support of the current Hamas war on Israel reflects the consistent Arab view of the Palestinian Authority (PLO) and Hamas as role models of intra-Arab terrorism, subversion and ingratitude. This Arab view has been in response to Palestinian terrorism in Egypt (1950s), Syria (1960s), Jordan (1968-70 and 1980s), Lebanon (1970s and 1980s) and Kuwait (assisting Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion).
In the history-driven Middle East, memory is long: Palestinian intra-Arab treachery is not forgotten, nor forgiven.
Root cause of Palestinian terrorism
- While Westerners observe the Gaza War through political and diplomatic lenses, and attribute terrorism to political and economic despair and deprivation, Hamas is driven by a fanatical, deeply-rooted religious vision. Thus, the current wave of Palestinian terrorism has been accompanied by calls to resurrect the 7th century Muhammed’s massacre of the Jewish tribes in the Arabian Peninsula, and to free Jaffa, Lydda, Ramleh and Acre (in pre-1967 Israel!). On May 15, Palestinians commemorated the “Nakba” – the catastrophe of Israel’s establishment.
Moreover, Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah were established in 1964 and 1959, in order to “liberate” pre-1967 Israel, not “the West Bank” and East Jerusalem, as documented by Mahmoud Abbas’ hate-education curriculum.
Islam divides the world into the “abode of Islam” and those who have yet to accept – or be subordinated to – Islam as the sole legitimate religion, or be eliminated. Thus, Hamas defines Israel as an illegitimate “infidel” sovereignty in the “abode of Islam,” which must be uprooted or brought to submission.
- As documented by anti-Jewish Palestinian terrorism since the 19th century, anti-Israel Palestinian terrorism preceded the establishment of Israel and the Six Days War.
The root cause of Palestinian terrorism is not the size – but the existence – of the Jewish State. Palestinian terrorism is driven by Israel’s existence, irrespective of Israel’s policies. For example, in 1993 (Oslo) and 2005 (disengagement from Gaza), in a self-destruct attempt to create a “new Middle East,” Israel provided the Palestinians with unprecedented self-rule and a venue to independence. However, as expected in the real Middle East, and based on the Arab experience with Palestinians, these critical Israeli policies yielded unprecedented waves of Palestinian hate education, incitement and terrorism.
- Palestinian terrorism is part and parcel of Arab/Islamic terrorism, which has dominated Middle East reality since the 7th century, when three of the first four caliphs, who succeeded Muhammed, were murdered. Palestinian terrorism and Arab/Islamic terrorism have mostly targeted Arabs/Muslims. Is it logical to assume that the “infidel” Jew or Christian will be treated more moderately?!
- There is no moral equivalence between Western-style democracies, which combat terrorism, and inadvertently hit civilians, on the one hand, and terrorists who systematically and deliberately target civilians, while abusing their own civilians as human shield, in order to increase civilian casualties, on the other hand.
- The prerequisites for a successful battle against Arab/Islamic terrorism are the bolstering of one’s power-of-deterrence – in one of the most violently unpredictable and terror-driven regions of the world – accompanied by a realism-based policy, while avoiding appeasement and the delusion that Middle East rogue entities welcome Western norms, such as peaceful-coexistence, compliance with agreements, human rights and democracy.
According to the annual February 2021 Gallup’s country favorability rating, Israel is the 7th most favorable country among Americans, enjoying a 75% very/mostly favorability rating.
Israel’s favorability of 75% – compared to 66% in 2013, 69% in 2019 and 74% in 2020 – is above its 65% average since 2001, and just shy of its exceptional 79% favorability recorded during the 1991 Gulf War, when the US public was exposed to Iraqi missiles hitting Israel.
According to Gallup, “In the latest poll, 85% of Republicans view it favorably, compared with 77% of independents and 64% of Democrats.”
Iran (13%) and the Palestinian Authority (30%) trail Cuba (45%), and are among the least favorable countries, along with North Korea (11%), China (20%), Iraq (21%), Afghanistan (21%) and Russia (22%).
Israel trails Canada (92% favorability), Great Britain (91%), France (87%), Japan (84%), Germany (84%) and India (77%).
However, unlike these countries, Israel’s 75% favorability is in defiance of systematic criticism (of Israel) by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other key members of the US media establishment, as well as by State Department spokespersons and the United Nations.
Israel’s high favorability rating occurs despite the spike in anti-Israel activities on US campuses, as well as the recent erosion of Israel’s stature on Capitol Hill (especially on the House side), which has been Israel’s consistent ally since 1948.
For example, the incoming chairwomen of the two most critical House Appropriations Subcommittees on Defense (funding US-Israel defense cooperation projects) and Foreign Operations (funding foreign aid and multinational cooperation projects) are two of the most anti-Israel legislators, Congresswoman Betty McCullum (D-MN) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) respectively. Both have repeatedly ignored Palestinian hate-education, the 70-year-old Palestinian inter-Arab terrorism (e.g., the murder of Jordan’s King Abdullah in 1951) and the 100-year-old anti-Jewish terrorism (e.g., the 1920 and 1929 pogroms), and the systematic association of the Palestinians with rivals and enemies of the US (e.g., Nazi Germany, the USSR, North Korea and Iran’s Ayatollahs). They have urged the Administration to precondition foreign aid to Israel upon Israeli concessions to the Palestinians.
Moreover, the incoming chairman of the Senate Full Appropriations Committee is the very powerful Senator (“Cardinal”) Pat Leahy (D-VT), an habitual, moderate critic of Israel.
Furthermore, the Democratic Congressional Progressive Caucus is chaired by the radical anti-Israel Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and its whip is the vehemently anti-Israel Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN). The Caucus consists of 90 House Members – among them Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the chairwoman of the Full Appropriations Committee and Adam Smith (D-WA), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee – compared to 68 in 2012 and 96 Members in 2018.
Still, consistent with the worldview of most Americans, 331 House Members signed an April 22, 2021 letter to the chairwoman and lead Republican of the Full Appropriations Committee, urging a fully-funded foreign aid package to Israel. The letter was sponsored by Congressman Ted Deutsch (D-FL), the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Middle East Subcommittee, and Congressman Mike McCaul (R-FL), the lead Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
The letter reads: “We urge you to support foreign assistance funding, including full funding for Israel’s security needs…. Our aid to Israel is vital and cost-effective expenditure, which advances important US national security interests in a highly challenging region. For decades, presidents of both parties have understood the strategic importance of providing Israel with security assistance. As America’s closest Mideast ally, Israel regularly provides the US with unique intelligence information and advanced defensive weapons systems. Israel is also actively engaged in supporting security partners like Jordan and Egypt, and its recent normalization agreements with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco will help promote regional stability and deal with common challenges from Iran and its terrorist proxies…. Just as foreign assistance is an investment in advancing our values and furthering our global interests, security aid to Israel is a specific investment in the peace and prosperity of the entire Middle East.”
On February 4, 2021, the Senate reaffirmed the intrinsic identification, by most Americans, with Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, when voting 97:3 in favor of an amendment to the COVID-19 budget resolution, which underscored the intention to keep the US Embassy in Jerusalem.
The amendment was introduced by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and was opposed by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tom Carper (D-Del). In 1995 and 2017, the Senate voted 93:5 and 90:0 to place the US Embassy in Jerusalem.
Intel’s CEO, Pat Gelsinger, reflects the overall appreciation of Israel, by most constituents and legislators, as a most effective, reliable, democratic and innovative force-multiplier, benefiting the US, militarily and commercially: “I have been visiting Israel for 40 years and every time it excites me anew to see how Intel Israel has grown from 4 employees in 1974 to more than 14,000 today. I see in Intel Israel a microcosm of Intel worldwide, leading in innovation, research, development and production on an extensive scale, and we are investing accordingly. Our continued investment in expanding our existing research and development centers and enlarging production capacity in Israel, as well as the acquisitions we have conducted with (Israel’s) Mobileye, which leads the world in solutions to assist autonomous driving, (Israel’s) Moovit and (Israel’s) Habana Labs, which leads the world in Artificial Intelligence, promise an exciting future for Intel and Israel for decades to come.”
2021 Middle East
While US policy in the Middle East focuses on multilateralism, human rights, democracy and international law, the stormy Middle East displays deeply-rooted domestic and regional Shiite (mostly Iran) and Sunni (mostly Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS) repression, terrorism and warfare, as well as imperial aspirations by Iran’s Ayatollahs and Turkey’s Erdogan.
The explosive state of the Middle East has highlighted the vulnerability and the actual/potential disintegration of Arab entities, which have always revered local/tribal – much more than national – loyalty.
This state of affairs emphasizes Western misinterpretation of the unpredictable, violently intolerant, highly fragmented, despotic and dis-functional Middle East, which has systematically frustrated benevolent Western efforts to introduce democracy, tolerance, stability and peaceful-coexistence into the Middle East.
In 2021, the well-armed Middle East is raging with a litany of armed conflicts, domestic and anti-Western terrorism and other forms of violence, which have yielded over 500,000 fatalities and close to 10 million refugees since 2011.
It features Iran (domestic repression and military and terroristic involvement in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, the Arabian Peninsula, the Horn of Africa, Central Asia, Latin America and Europe), Turkey (the key supporter of the transcontinental Muslim Brotherhood terrorism, and militarily involved in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Horn of Africa and the Persian Gulf); as well as Libya (internationalized civil war and global Islamic terrorism), Egypt (war on Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS terrorism) and Jordan (war on Muslim Brotherhood terrorism and explosive domestic conflicts). In addition, there are Lebanon (Islamic terrorism and low scale civil war), Syria (internationalized civil war and Islamic terrorism), Iraq (Islamic terrorism and internationalized civil war, while considering Kuwait its own Province 19), Yemen (internationalized civil war and Islamic terrorism), Qatar (financial supporter of Muslim Brotherhood terrorism and closely aligned with Iran and Turkey), Saudi Arabia (war on Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and Shiite terrorism, as well as war on Iran-supported Yemen-Houthi terrorism), the UAE and Bahrain (war on Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and Shiite terrorism), etc.
Fundamentals of inter-Arab relations
The geo-strategic background of the aforementioned domestic and regional wars and terrorism is analyzed by Prof. P.J. Vatikiotis, who was a leading Middle East historian at the School of Oriental and African studies, University of London (Arab and Regional Politics in the Middle East):
“Many Arab states are the fragmented successors of the Ottoman Empire, and subsequently of the British and French dominions in the Middle East. As such, they are riddled with obsessive and violent nationalism, and governed by unstable individuals or groups who invariably achieved power by force. Today, the survival of most of these rulers depends on… a tight and ruthless internal control of the armed forces, the security apparatus and the bureaucracy….
“Even without the Arab-Israel conflict, the Arab Middle East would have been a conflict-ridden and conflict-generating area. The aspirations and pretensions of Arab nationalism, with its visions of Pan-Arabism and Arab unity, would have clashed – as they did – with the interests of the several Arab states…. The lid on that cauldron was kept down by the presence of the new European hegemonies, Britain and France. Their withdrawal, or eviction, ushered in a new era of unstable, conflict-ridden inter-Arab relations…. Several of these Arab states contain within their territories large ethnic, tribal and sectarian minorities, which are, in most cases, economically deprived and politically underprivileged….
“That there can be instances of a convergence of interests among a number of Arab states over a particular issue, and therefore a common policy, cannot be denied…. [However] they must be seen in their proper perspective, not as the manifestation of an ideological or other phantasmagoric monolith…. Pan-Arabism and its variant of Arab unity are, for the time being, dead issues….
“[The Middle East Arab leaders and societies] are committed to a different scale of values, virtues and ethics, regardless of the imported [Western] secular rationalizations they may adumbrate for the commitment….
“The fundamental perception of a major confrontation between the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds aside, the Arab Middle East will continue to suffer the dissonance and conflict of local rivalries and differences between its several states, rulers, communities and factions as much in the Maghreb [Northwest Africa], as in the Fertile Crescent, the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and the Gulf….
“The present political map of the Middle East may not be a permanent one….
“Arrangements are still made with rulers and regimes open to sedition and coups. This condition in itself renders relations between Arab states, as well as between them and external powers, especially difficult. Arab power remains vulnerable, though difficult to assess, and its potential effectiveness unpredictable….
“In the Arab Middle East, inter-Arab relations remain a labyrinth of intricate and often irreconcilable elements. In the past, as a rule, divisions, difference, and local conflicts were contained within and under an imperial arrangement. Today, in the absence of such an arrangement, local states which can dispose of wealth can generate more deadly conflict, dangerous not only to the region’s stability, but also to that of the rest of the world….”
Advice to the US
Upon introducing the Biden Administration’s Middle East policy, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan may consider the following advise by Prof. Vatikiotis:
“For the foreseeable future, inter-Arab differences and conflicts will continue…. This is a feature of the area that will remain more or less a constant. The question of American options is one that must first of all be resolved on the basis of this fundamental reality: inter-Arab relations cannot be placed on a spectrum of linear development, moving from hell to paradise or vice versa. Rather, their course is partly cyclical, partly jerkily spiral, and always resting occasionally at some grey area. American choices must be made on the assumption that what the Arabs want or desire is not always – if ever – what Americans desire. In fact, the two desires may be diametrically opposed and radically different…. (ibid, pp. 77-115)”
The location of the Middle East – between Europe, Asia and Africa and between the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Arab Sea and Persian Gulf – its oil and natural gas resources, and its role as an epicenter in the proliferation of global anti-Western Islamic terrorism, have made the Middle East critical to the national security and economy of the US and the Free World.