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Federalism Might Be What a Fractious Middle East Needs Most

Sept. 8 2017

In a recent conversation with Mordechai Kedar, an Iraqi Sunni activist living in Europe argued that the best way forward for his own country is what he terms “the emirate solution.” His proposal, modeled on American federalism and Switzerland’s division into cantons, would divide Iraq into small, relatively homogeneous emirates, each with some degree of internal autonomy. Kedar lays out the case for this plan, and suggest it could be applied successfully elsewhere in the Middle East:

Each emirate would lead its own life and refrain from interference in the policies of the other emirates. It would be ruled by a local sheikh who originally stood at the head of the families within the emirate’s borders, following the population’s social traditions. This . . . will create harmony, stability, and peaceful relations with neighboring emirates for the good of all the citizenry.

The “emirate solution” will also grant self-rule to the Kurds of northern Iraq, making the establishment of an independent Kurdish state unnecessary and preventing the certain violent antagonism of the Iranians, Turks, and Arabs to its existence and the ensuing hostilities.

For illustration’s sake, let us recall that the Kurdish region of northern Iraq is surrounded by countries that do not share the Kurdish dreams of independence, and has no corridor to the sea. If the neighboring countries allied against the Kurdish state, should one be established, preventing goods and people from reaching it, the Kurds would have no way of leading normal lives. How would they export oil and other products in that case? How would they manage to import necessities? . . .

Interestingly, that same emirate solution could most definitely be applied to the seven cities of Judea and Samaria in addition to the Gazan emirate established a decade ago. I am not a fan of Hamas, but Gaza is a state from every practical point of view, and Israel must find a way to deter effectively the jihadist gang that has taken it over. Establishing emirates in Judea and Samaria will grant the people there stability, prosperity, and quiet. It will give Israel peace.

That same solution could solve Jordan’s problem as well. It can be divided into a Palestinian emirate, perhaps more than one, and a Bedouin emirate. The king would be a symbolic figure as is the queen of England.

Read more at Israel National News

More about: Iraq, Kurds, Middle East, Palestinians, Politics & Current Affairs

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC