The Third ROK-EU International Conference on Middle Eastern And North African Affairs (MENA) FEB.14-15, 2017 .
Session I: A policy Outlook : A new US Strategy For the Middle East.
Intervention by Amb. Ezzat Saad, Director of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs.
I believe that there is no dispute over the truth that the New American Administration doesn’t own any strategic vision about the region, but it only has some impressions on it.
This offers the chance for the leaders of the region that will visit Washington- of that they actually visited like King Abdullah King of Jordan or Netanyahuprime minister of Israel – to meet the new President to explain its perception and ideas about the track of relations on the dual level and the vision of those leaders on the regional situations and what the United States expects in this regard.
And here we expect that there will be points of convergence, and other of dispute, between the new administration and each country of the region. Taking into account the personality of the new president and his background, each country of the region has to create common ground bigger with the relations with the United States and diminish the points of difference as much as possible. For example, concerning Egypt, and by virtue of its weight regionally and internationally, and next to its war on terrorism that there is a big Egyptian/ American agreement around it, the peace process and the situation in Jerusalem, and they are two disputable issues between the two sides, in need of a deep discussion between Cairo and the new administration.
Notwithstanding the above, the statements of the president during his presidential campaign and his inauguration speech on the past 20th January, and also the short period that past on his rule till now, to a couple of important indicators that help in understanding the general frame for his foreign policy towards the region:
The administration will continue, most probably, on the same approaches of the previous administration In terms of adopting cautious attitude about interference in the affairs of the region, where the focus will be on the agenda of the Interior, as confirmed by Trump in his inauguration speech, next to the issue of the combat of terrorism naturally. However, it is difficult to accept what some people say that the new administration has begun, in the tree previous weeks, in the adoption of the previous administration’s strategy in a number of issues for example the stand on Russia and the issue of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. So that the view of what passed for the administration in this regard confirms that it issued what amounts to a coherent strategy.For example, what was released on Russia is a joke as the American president in the United Nations mentioned “that the sanctions will continue until Ukraine comes back” and that “ the situation in East Ukraine. It requires a clear and powerful condemnation on the action of Russia.” All this at a time when the president issued positive signals about Russia and President Putin.
Similarly, Michael Flynn warnings to Iran closely related to its rocket experience early February, does not reflect anything. And even imposing some sanctions on Iran, no reason to believe that there is a real long-term strategy behind this warning, and it released before it starts Foreign Minister Rex Tillerson his work both as foreign minister or a key member of the National Security Council.
It is clear that the US reaction on the experience of the Iranian ballistic missile is no coordination or consultation with others in the Iranian nuclear deal partners,and who confirmed some of them, such as Russia and China that this experience does not violate Iran’s obligations under the deal, particularly and that the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iranian missiles can not carry nuclear warheads. Well, we can not say that the US administration’s strategy on the peace process in the Middle East, or how to deal with the Israeli government in this regard, despite the ambassador’s remarks Nikki R. Haley the ambassador of the United States in the United Nations in which she indicated that the “Israeli settlements may not be helpful to achieving the goal of peace”.
Or the White House statement is expected in which the Israeli government has appealed against the expansion of Jewish settlements outside the current borders of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, pointing out that this expansion “may not be useful in achieving the goal of peace.”
And briefly, the problem here is the contradiction between these statements and actual situations. Trump administration has resorted already to change the previous administration’s policy toward immigration and trade are severely affecting the relations with the countries concerned. In any case, we should wait to see if Foreign Minister Trix Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis to have the ability to influence Alrves Trump and his top aides in the White House and push them towards adopting more moderate policies.
– That regardless of the state of fragmentation and division that the Arab world experienced and generally the Middle East, and is in itself a challenge to any possible strategy of US foreign policy toward the region, but the dual challenge the most pressing, and that management needs to formulate a leisurely clear to face him:–
The Political discourse for the president, linkedto his campaign against immigration and terrorism, and his insistence on the use ofexasperating phrases such as “radical Islam” or “Islam is a terrorist,”and that the former president, Obama refused to use it.And it had begun with far-right leaders in Europe in the use of Trump’s speech such as Marine Le Pen in France and Khaldr in the Netherlands, among others. And the United States should be aware that this policy provides a new environment, an incubator for terrorism, and a justification for all the terrorist organizations to step up its strikes and spread violence and recruit more extremists and supporters.- The position of the new administration of the Arab / Israeli conflict. During his election campaign, Trump did not hide the complete bias of the State of Israel, which turned out in his appointment as ambassador knew binding to the movement of Israeli settlement activity and intense enthusiasm for it, and even the appointment of his brother-US special envoy to the peace process.And we all know Trump’s position which sought to prevent the issuance of UN Security Council Resolution 2234 condemning the private settlement, which allowed the previous administration by passing last December 2016.- And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took advantage of it all and began acting in the utmost freedom to impose the agenda of the far-right settler, assisted by the Knesset passed a law on 6 Feb (Adjustment Act)with the proceeded settlements,ignoring all the provisions of international law and the relevant international resolutions.
Here it must include the possible risks US strategy towards the region move clear and decisive and serious to push the peace process stalled for eight years, and to deliver a message to Palestenians that there are limits to Israeli practices that violate the rights of the Palestinian people in their future state.
And the new administration should be aware that talk about measures for the club trust between Arabs and Asiravel and start normalizing relations between the two sides, will not be achieved before taking the Washington and Tel Aviv serious steps towards peace, especially an immediate halt to settlement activity and the confiscation and demolition of homes of the Palestinians.
And can not justify any Arab leader normalization with Israel or confidence-building measures in front of his people, perhaps with the exception of Qatar, if they asked him to Washington so.
This is a big challenge, not to mention what could be caused by a US decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem from the reaction Felictinih and Arabic and Islamic.
3- That as long as we have recognized that Trump’s policy will not differ much from Obama’s vision concerning the degree of commitment and engagement in the region’s affairs, except for the issue of terrorism, and also that the president sees relations with friends and allies of the United States as a “deal”,in other words it is correlated to impose on friends and allies obligations and responsibilities towards the United States, the Arab country by itself have a major responsibility in the search for their interests and can expect – and be ready at the same time – that the US side will be demanding conversely in several files.For example they should not exclude these countries that can ask management to each on the ground contributing troopto fight Daesh, whether in Syria or Iraq or Libya or Yemen. Similarly, Washington may ask its allies in the region to cope with the imposition of economic sanctions on Iran or contribute military forces to secure the waters of the Gulf and the Red Sea, or participate in free of duties in region to deter Tehran. Trump’s administration has also managed to be pressing to take steps to normalize and build trust with Israel, which receivs unconditional US support, before they take steps to express its good intentions regarding the peace process.
4- Finally, and taking into account the depth of the region’s problems and the chaos that pass by it, all international actors must play a role in restoring stability in the strategic importance of this vital region and helping the region in solving its economic problems and the political and the security services and other .In this regard, China and the European Union, Russia, Japan, Korea, etc., are invited to contribute to solving these problems. It is no longer the United States alone that can do anything alone.