Breaking the Idols of Oslo Made the Abraham Accords Possible

Dec. 20 2022

On the American side, the three key players in one of the greatest diplomatic breakthroughs in the history of the modern Middle East seemed to have singularly insufficient qualifications: Jared Kushner was then-President Trump’s son-in-law; David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt had served as Trump’s lawyers before he entered politics. Jonathan Tobin reviews the three men’s memoirs, along with that of one of Friedman’s aides, and compares their achievements to those of their supposedly better-equipped predecessors:

The American foreign-policy establishment called the shots on Middle East issues in every White House and State Department up until January 2017. And its members believed that the conflict between Jews and Arabs over possession of the tiny strip of land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River was the key to getting Arabs and Muslims to drop their hostility to the United States.

The Middle East experts who served in each of [the previous] administrations, as well as those who filled Washington’s think tanks and mainstream and elite media, shared the belief that there was only one way to achieve that goal. They pushed a policy that would exert the right amount of pressure on Israel to cede the land it had won in a defensive war in 1967. This, they said, would result in a Palestinian state that would make everyone in the region happy.

And they all failed. In their memoirs, none of these leading lights—former secretaries of state Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry, as well as numerous lesser officials tasked with fixing the Middle East, such as Aaron David Miller, Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, and Daniel Kurtzer—display any doubt about their investment in the basic Oslo formula. Like almost all of the experts who produced literature about Middle East diplomacy in the past three decades, these notable figures worshipped at the altar of land-for-peace, and they never took a moment to wonder whether they might have been idolators kneeling before a false god.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Abraham Accords, Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, Oslo Accords

Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy