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The Status Quo and Necessary Arab Action

When will Arab countries stop denouncing, condemning, criticizing and accusing, and instead deal with the fail accompli based on a comprehensive vision that boosts their strength on the domestic and foreign fronts? This is a question that frequently comes to mind and to which I can’t find a convincing answer.

As long as we, the Arabs, can’t create or control the path of reality, we should deal with it, be it good or bad, to achieve the maximum gains and the minimum losses. I don’t mean we should surrender to facts imposed by this reality, but rather deal with them in order not to become marginalised.

There is no doubt that the current reality is characterized by many negative determinants that we must comprehend well while assessing the Arab position to know on which basis we shall be making our move the most important of which are the following six determinants:

The first determinant is that until now the Arabs did not succeed to reach a unified concept of Arab national security in neighbouring countries that face threats that directly influence their national security.

The second determinant is that the Arab world has become laden with problems outside its borders. Influential powers’ conflicts have reflected on Arab countries, especially in Syria and Libya. In addition, foreign military interventions and presence in some Arab countries are a fact that takes the region back to the occupation era the Arab world got rid of decades ago.

The third determinant is that the central Arab cause, the Palestinian cause, is still far from a fair solution accepted by both Palestinians and Arabs; and there is no hope in the horizon to reach that solution soon.

The fourth determinant is that the Arab world is still prey to Turkish, Iranian, and Israeli expansionist projects that did not, and will not, come to a halt. 

The fifth determinant is that the United States is still controlling the capabilities of the Arab world and managing most of its crises despite Russian attempts to have an effective role at a time when Europe moves when only to protect its interests.

The sixth determinant is that Israel is still achieving gains on two main levels: the first is tightening its security and settlement control more in the West Bank and Judacizing Jerusalem; and the second is the expansion in signing peace agreements with some Arab countries (the UAE and Bahrain).

It is not fair to spill all the anger on the Arab League and hold it responsible for the failure of Arab action or failure to take decisive decisions. After all, the Arab League is a reflection of the nature of the Arab position, positively and negatively, and it will remain as such for a long time to come. In addition, reforming the Arab League and its playing an active role that we demand is closely linked to the reform of the Arab position itself. 

In light of the nature of the current Arab position, the coming phase may witness the following crucial developments: 

1- he persistence of the problems without reaching a final solution, and the continuation of regional and international efforts to decrease tensions that may lead to the explosion of these problems, especially in the East Mediterranean region.

2- Israel may achieve more gains on the Arab level by signing new peace agreements with some Arab and Islamic countries without offering any real concessions when it comes to the Palestinian cause. The resolution to annex parts of the West Bank would remain in place, and would be temporarily suspended during the stage of normalisation; however, it would not be cancelled, as it is a part of the American peace plan and a part of the Israeli policy towards a final solution.

3- US efforts to implement its peace plan based on Israel’s approval and the possibility of gaining support, even indirectly, from Arab countries may accelerate if President Donald Trump is re-elected in November. 

Consequently, the Arabs should adopt the following steps:

1- Peace deals with Israel shouldn’t preoccupy Arab states. The accords have become a reality, and we should be expecting more of these accords at least until the US presidential elections take place.

2- Regarding peace agreements with Israel, every state has the right to pursue its interests as long as it doesn’t affect the interests of other parties. Arab-Israeli peace deals will not halt even if the Democrats win the US presidential elections. 

3- It’s important to assess the role Arab countries play in the issues at hand, prime among which is the Palestinian cause. It has become futile to condemn and point accusations of treason.

4- Arab policies should be determined according to the regional and international fait accompli to come up with realistic policies that achieve national interests and that can deal with accelerating, changing factors.

5- It is vital not to waste time and effort in search of joint Arab work, collective or not. Arab countries, should focus on existing alliances. In this sense, we have to review the results of joint Arab work since the Treaty of Joint Defence and Economic Cooperation in 1950. 

6- The peace deals with Israel and a solution to the Palestinian should be treated as two separate issues in order not to lose hope of finding a solution. Although it is challenging to separate the two issues, but it is the only option.

As long as the Arab-Israeli normalisation relations are taking course, and no party can stop them, we have to learn how to deal with the issue away from denunciation and condemnation. Since the Palestinian cause is the focus of historical responsibility, regardless of the Arab world’s reality, I see the following:

1- The importance of not having any Arab country pressing on the Palestinian Authority to accept any deals, visions, or plans that are rejected by the Palestinians. It is important to support the Palestinians who have the right to a sovereign state based on the borders of 1967 with Eastern Jerusalem as its capital. 

2- It is necessary for the Arab League, and every Arab country, to reaffirm their adherence to the Arab peace initiative as a basis for a political settlement, to stand up to the US peace map, and to never relinquish this position regardless of pressures, for this is the least that can be done.

3- By all means, there has to be an Arab-Palestinian re-coordination to shape the action in the next stage. There should be urgent moves parallel to the American-Israeli moves towards the Palestinian cause to avoid restricting the Palestinian position to reactions and being criticized by Washington or other parties. The political arena should not remain free of the rightful Palestinian partner. 

4- The Palestinians have to prove that they are the critical factor for a political solution and that any settlement for the cause has to be approved by them. I hope Palestinians will focus on regaining their unity and implementing the agenda they reached at the meeting of Palestinian factions’ secretary-generals recently held within the framework of accepting just peace, acceptable negotiations, and combating terrorism to guarantee the support of the international community to the Palestinian right that has to be restored someday.

5- Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest supporter of the Palestinian position, is the state most qualified to lead the efforts to bring back the Palestinian cause to the limelight by ending the stalemate and incomplete deals to a stage where negotiations are resumed on the bases that bring back the Palestinians’ rights. The status quo may lead to uncalculated developments that can affect the stability of the entire region.

Gen. Mohamed Eldewery
Deputy Manager

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