There have also been meaningful high-ranking talks between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his American counterpart, John Kerry, over the nuclear program; such talks were hard to envisage only three years ago. The two countries have common interests in the Middle East: combating drug trafficking, stability in Iraq and Afghanistan, containing and ultimately eradicating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ISIS , and putting an end to the Syrian civil war.
The peace plan supported by both would have at its core a two-state solution—one state for the Palestinians and one for the Israelis—has long lost its viability. The borders that have internationally been recognized as the basis for the fruition of a two-state solution are no longer accessible given the mass construction of Israeli settlements beyond the borders and on the territory of the future Palestinian state. The number of Israeli settlers in the occupied territories has risen from , in to roughly , today.
Furthermore, the American policy of not recognizing Palestinian statehood is itself humiliating to the Arabs and a source of contention between the Arab World and the United States.
Iraq proved to be another area of serious friction for U. Although several Arab states had joined the U. Prior to the American-led invasion of , Iraq still constituted a potential security threat to its Arab neighbors. However, unlike the case in , U.
Many Arab countries perceived and continue to perceive that the U. Now it seems that Iran is being handed over Iraq on a golden platter. Saudi Arabia was unable to convince Washington to launch a military strike on the Islamic Republic. The main concern of the Saudis and other monarchies may be the potential political upheaval that could follow such a strategic realignment in the Persian Gulf. It could embolden the disenfranchised segments of these societies to embark on violent actions against their governments. Therefore any successful political change in any of the Arab countries of the Middle East can potentially ignite major political challenges to the Gulf monarchies as well.
Bahrain is another area of contention. However, Bahraini officials seem to be grappling with the assumption that Washington is covertly colluding with the Shia opposition leaders who might share ideological and religious affinity with Iran. The Bahraini government has accused Iran of meddling in the domestic affairs of Bahrain by supporting the Shia-dominated opposition groups an accusation rejected by Iran.
Last year, a senior U. However, given the importance of Bahrain to the U. Syria is another area where the United States has not acted according to the desires of its Arab allies in the region, who seek the ouster of President Bashar Al-Assad. This will certainly be another blow to the already tense American-Arab relations. The menace that has engulfed Syria and Iraq is to a large extent due to logistical and financial support given to various extremist groups by a number of Arab countries as well as Turkey. They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad.
It should be recalled that the quagmire is partly due to shortsighted American foreign policy toward the region. The chaos and disorder that followed the U.
The threat now posed by ISIS has brought the United States and Iran closer together, which might well result in even more uneasiness for Arab countries. Obviously Iran as a country that possesses tremendous influence in Syria and Iraq can play a major role in the fight against ISIS—indeed it is a role that Iran has already been playing in collaboration with the governments in Baghdad and Damascus.
Toward a Master Plan The Middle East is in dire need of cooperation on issues of long-term interest to the stability and well-being of the whole region. The Arab Spring has resulted in political instability in many countries, while extremist and terrorist groups have wreaked havoc across the region.
It is imperative for Middle Eastern countries to work collaboratively in order to tackle these region-wide challenges. The United States faces lack of trust from Iran and suspicion from its Arab allies. As a result, the Arabs are losing their oil leverage with Washington and are resorting to suicidal strategies to destabilize the region, by funding various extremist groups, in hopes that it would compel America to stay involved.
This heightened involvement could result in positive outcomes if it is calculated carefully. The United States should come to the realization that its military might is not capable of bringing about peace in the Middle East. As Chas W. Freeman Jr. Iran, in return, as a regional power should engage with neighbors such as Saudi Arabia to tackle regional issues.
As it did in the s, Iran should once again embark on a policy of good relations with its Arab neighbors. Normalization of relations between Iran and Egypt would be of utmost importance.
But time is now running out, and if such problems cannot be resolved, a broader meeting would feel all but impossible in the near future. European parliamentary elections in May will likely see a strong showing by right-wing populist parties.
The decade of the s offers a chance to build a new and better international order. What policy choices will this decade pose for the United States?. John J. Weltman's previous books include Systems Theory in International Relations and Challenges to American National Security in the s. He has.
German politics will remain volatile ahead of the departure of Chancellor Angela Merkel, as will those in Italy — now widely regarded as the most vulnerable nation in the euro zone. The most likely venue for escalating conflict, however, remains Ukraine. Having now enclosed the seized Crimean peninsula with a fence and taken control of the entrance to the shared Azov Sea with a bridge, some now suspect Moscow may attempt another limited land grab, perhaps towards the Ukrainian coastal port of Mariupol.
Whether that comes or not, increased posturing by NATO and Russian forces alike in the nearby Black Sea also feels inevitable, particularly ahead of Ukrainian elections on March Despite a U. One particular flashpoint might be the Scarborough Shoal, claimed by both Beijing and the Philippines.
Unlike elsewhere in the region, China has yet to build a permanent outpost on the rocky outcrops — although its forces maintain a persistent presence there, while Filipino fishermen have complained of harassment. Shows of force are also likely around the Taiwan Strait, where Washington may yet choose to send one or more aircraft carriers, a step not taken since the s.
Note See Stuart A. This logic of financial assistant started by the Clinton administration was continued and developed under Bush. Immigration enforcement has been seen as the responsibility of the federal government since at least the late s. In South Africa, some measures have been taken to revise apartheid policy under the de Klerk Government established in September America has a better historical example to guide its path today: the period following World War II. Conflicts escalate often because interests and intentions of large countries and the power relationship between the East and West are entangled in a complicated manner. These are the essential characteristics of political democracy.
Unmanned surface and undersea vehicles will also likely play a mounting role in such confrontations — on Dec. In Syria, the U.
In Yemen, Saudi Arabia must decide whether to largely abide with a Western-backed peace process aimed at stopping a war that now threatens millions with starvation , or push on regardless and face yet more international condemnation. The outcome of both conflicts, however, will tell us much about a Middle East now dominated by a struggle between several medium-power countries — Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in particular.
After the unexpected diplomatic breakthroughs of , the coming year may be much more challenging when it comes to dealing with North Korea. There is still no solid date set for a further meeting between Trump and Kim, but Pyongyang seems unlikely to acquiesce to U. Much depends on how U.