The Middle East and North Africa – the end of the Cold War legacy?

As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu prepares for a visit to Washington to meet US President Obama, and US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell announces a dramatic resignation, Glyn Secker examines the possibilities for the adoption of a new US policy in the Middle East.

Saturday, 14 May, 2011 - 16:24
London, UK

US foreign policy in the Middle East dates from its post-WWII Cold War with the USSR over spheres of influence. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Israel was central to this policy.

Today, US policies are heavily influenced by economic interests. Despite now sourcing only 10% of its oil from the Gulf, the US continues to benefit from Saudi arms acquisitions and regional trade and industry, which run to many tens of billions of dollars. It is unclear how the US aims to secure these interests in the fast-developing chain of events in the Arab world.

The Israeli economy and military are heavily influenced by the US alliance. Coupled to this is Israel’s own agenda of territorial expansion, together with a pursuit of racist and exclusionist policies toward Palestinians under its control. Cast as an international pariah, Israeli society is permeated by a sense of moral victimhood, generating a national mindset of aggression and violence.

The Israeli government, lacking any peace agenda, is unsure how to respond to the current shifts in the balance of power, and is exhibiting a growing sense of panic. Israeli politicians have threatened various measures, from another Cast Lead to full annexation of the West Bank. Breakaway Jihadist groups could provide Israel with pretexts for such steps.

The US has recently announced yet again that the Israeli-Palestinian status quo is untenable and that it will now push for a settlement. Faced with the wave of revolutions for democracy, will the developing instability spur Obama to seize this moment in the tide of affairs?


Glyn Secker is a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and was Captain of the Jewish Boat To Gaza, September 2010.

Photo by Vish Vishvanath.

This article may be reproduced on condition that JNews is cited as its source.

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