The History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict Shows the Futility of an “Arab NATO”

Over the past two years, the Trump administration has floated the idea of creating an alliance of pro-American Arab states, perhaps based on the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. Such an organization, if it had existed five years ago, could have fielded troops to fight Islamic State or to restore order in Yemen or Syria; it could have also provided an important bulwark against Iranian expansionism. But, argues Norvell DeAtkine, similar fantasies of Arab unity possessed T.E. Lawrence in his day and Arab nationalists a generation later—and have time and again failed to deliver:

Any attempt to build a unified Arab institution is based on a shaky foundation. The mistake is assuming there is an “Arab world.” Conventional wisdom holds that the “Arab world” is united by a “common language and heritage.” Neither is true. The people inhabiting the region stretching across Africa and Asia from Mauritania to the borders of Iran speak various versions of Arabic, but they are not uniformly mutually intelligible. . . . The history of Egypt or North Africa has very little in common with that of the Levant or Iraq. . . .

The history of the Arab Deterrence Force sent into Lebanon in 1976 to quell the bitter civil war between Christian militias and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is a case study illustrating the ineffectiveness and dangers of this type of Arab operation. Although it was supposed to be a joint Arab force, the vast majority of the troops were Syrian and, as the Christians had assumed all along, the Syrians turned the peacekeeping operation into a permanent occupation of Lebanon. Entering Lebanon in 1976, they remained until 2005. . . .

Having lived in the Middle East for over eight years, I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase “Israel is a foreign body lodged in the heart of the Arab world.” . . . . Given the supposed universal and visceral hatred of the Israeli state, one would be moved to believe that in efforts to erase the “Zionist” state Arab unity would be at its zenith. But that has not been the case. Nothing has illustrated the disunity of the “Arab world” more than its efforts to destroy the Israeli state. . . .

Arab lack of success . . . is a function of a culture that, as the peerless [14th-century] Tunisian historian ibn Khaldun wrote, promotes an individuality in which every man wants to be the leader. “[T]here is scarcely one among them who would cede their power to another.” It is still a largely tribal and clan-oriented society, in which [Western-style] civil society has never taken root. Concentric circles of loyalty, in which only family, tribal, or clan members are completely trusted, vitiate the trust in your fellow soldier.

As DeAtkine goes on to demonstrate, the repeated failures of the various Arab attacks on Israel have stemmed in part from the inability of various Arab states to coordinate their military operations; even during the Yom Kippur War—which showed a higher level of cooperation than any that preceded it—the Egyptian government misled the Syrians about its plans.

Read more at Lima Charlie News

More about: Arab nationalism, Arab World, Donald Trump, Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs, T. E. Lawrence, Yom Kippur War

 

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy