ANALYSIS | Bridging the gulf in the Gulf The Informant247

Rebuilding of cordial relations, friendly ties and cultural exchanges all summed up in the machinery of diplomacy is becoming the new norm in the world’s most sensitive region: the Middle East. Differences set aside, few among the formerly discordant neighbours are back to merry on the table of resolution. Despite recent peace-building developments, a line of difference is apparent between states.

Long-standing conflicts run deep at the heart of inter-state relations in the region. Resource-control – oil at the epicentre is a magnetic force that has long fueled inter-communal strife and open up the region to foreign power-play and intrusion.

The rise and ignominious fall of dictators, corruption, religious cum political divide along ideological lines, repressive policies, poverty, politicisation of religion, internationalisation of home-grown conflicts are sprawled across the Middle-East landscape.

All peace treaties signed in time past blazed at inception but, a little spark of violence degenerates into large-scale conflict creating an unending vicious circle. The 1978 Camp David Accords, the groundwork for the Oslo Accords and the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, did less to foster absolute peace.

ANALYSIS | Bridging the gulf in the Gulf The Informant247

However, the Middle East road map to peace is not all doom and gloom. Narratives are changing face!

Back-peddling to September 2020, the Abraham Accords initiated by former American state leader Donald Trump and his Senior Advisor on Middle East politics, Jared Kushner is turning pivotal.

The new era of cooperation and friendship ushered in by the Abraham Accords is now taking giant strides. Normalisation agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, including Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and Morocco are in full swing as benefits continue to grow. No doubt the circle of peaceful diplomacy in the Middle East has been widened.

ANALYSIS | Bridging the gulf in the Gulf The Informant247
Trump brokered the Abraham Accord deal

Last week’s glamorous reception of Naftali Bennett, Israeli Prime Minister by the Bahraini crown prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa at the Gudaibiya Palace was earth-shattering. What a golden moment! A forge ahead in building the bridge of friendship.

Israeli PM in his symbolic visit to Bahrain expressed the feeling of optimism. He said: “The Middle East is changing and I’m convinced that Israel’s growing friendship with Bahrain and other countries in the region – are a leading force in the profound change”. Expression of such magnitude further charts the region on a better course to peace.

As the Jewish nation consolidates on the Abraham Accords to bolster relations with state actors in the region, non-Arab Turkey, a key player in the geopolitics of the Middle East is pulling the strings from a remarkable angle. Ankara’s utilisation of soft power diplomacy is a well-thought-out strategy in the pursuit of its foreign policy objectives.ANALYSIS | Bridging the gulf in the Gulf The Informant247

The pomp and grandeur that greeted Recep Tayip Erdoğan, the Turkish president’s two-day state visit to the UAE is a springboard for regional integration. No doubt, an auspicious beginning to sustainable peace and stability.

In his diplomatic contact with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Erdoğan reiterated the need for rapprochement in the Gulf. He expressed: “The dialogue in cooperation between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates is important for the peace and stability of the entire region. We do not see the security and stability of all brotherly countries in the Gulf region as separate from our own”. What a punchy submission from President Erdoğan which will of course, travel miles across the Middle East and sound the bell of peace.

ANALYSIS | Bridging the gulf in the Gulf The Informant247

Obviously, diplomatic relations between Ankara and Abu Dhabi long strained by regional disputes are now back in good light. With several strategic agreements signed by both countries on defence, trade, technology and economy, it is best hoped that relations will deepen and soar higher.

Erdoğan planned visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, his first since the 2018 assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post Columnist in the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul, will resolve a whole lot of discrepancies. If a détente is struck between Riyadh and Ankara major tensions across the region will at least go on a recess or fold up completely. A deal between both powers might just do the magic serving as a curtain-raiser to other diplomatic networks, possibly Tehran.

Riyadh was indispensable in the Qatari diplomatic resolutions of 2021. A back-in-good-terms alliance that went a long way in bridging the gulf in the Gulf.

The resolution of the Qatar diplomatic crisis in January 2021 sent positive peace signals across the Middle East. A glittering move on the part of the Saudi-led Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), the resolution underscores the fact that dialogue is the most effective tool for resolving diplomatic brawls. Network of trust rose among member states and a bedrock of renewed friendship was established.

The tiny oil-rich state of Qatar is a prized asset in the Gulf, winning hosting rights for the 2022 FIFA world cup tournament is an astonishing feat. If restrictions were not lifted, the interconnected economy of the GCC will nosedive.

An underlining fact is encapsulated in the correlation between peace, security and stability with regional economic growth and development.

The Qatari resolution sounds great for the GCC as part of the broad-based Middle East road map to peace.

ANALYSIS | Bridging the gulf in the Gulf The Informant247
GCC Leaders

The Middle East is today titling to a peace-building haven with Qatar as a meeting point between the Taliban of Afghanistan and the West on one hand forms a geostrategic aspect towards the revival of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal on the other.

Now that the dynamics are changing the age-long conflicts in the region, a holistic approach is needed to forestall any further breakdown. The states of Yemen and Syria are still grappling with the downstream impacts of the 2011 Arab Spring. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is reaching a whole new level amidst pockets of violence across the region. Getting the Iranian nuclear deal back in motion is also crucial for all and sundry.

In the middle of the offensive between the Houthi rebels and Saudi-led coalition are millions of Yemenis still caught up in the fighting that erupted since 2015. The conflict catches the inevitable innocent in its toll in the face of a deplorable humanitarian crisis. The UN forecast of eight million more Yemenis going down the wire is alarming.

ANALYSIS | Bridging the gulf in the Gulf The Informant247ANALYSIS | Bridging the gulf in the Gulf The Informant247

Saudi Arabia as the de-facto leader of the GCC and arguably the leader of the Islamic world should place human interest at heart. People are more important than power politics. Aerial strikes on the Houthi rebels will continue to exacerbate the already battered situation. ‘Terrorists’ can be wiped out, but the idea of terrorism cannot be completely wiped off. Food for thought for the kingdom – more of an appeal.

An all-inclusive government is what befits Yemen. If political and economic powers are not controlled by a selected few, and all sections of the Yemeni state get adequate representation in government then, the much-anticipated peace will materialise and set the nation on a path of drastic change. The UN program to be co-hosted by Sweden and Switzerland, scheduled for March 16, hopefully, will change the face of the conflict for good.

ANALYSIS | Bridging the gulf in the Gulf The Informant247
Saudi led forces are in a coalition against Houthi rebels

Bashar al-Assad controlled Syria is a flashpoint in the Middle East. Climaxing into a high-political rift, the state of Syria plunges deeper into a political quagmire every now and then. Currently, in the 12th year of this unfathomable situation, the Syrian crisis looks endless.

A blend of internal discord and regional politicking coupled with international interference has made the crisis catastrophic and long-standing. With failed peace talks in recent times, the Syrian people are largely affected. It is not shocking that nearly 90% of Syrians live below the poverty line and millions are displaced. Well, all hope is not lost as to instituting peace.

ANALYSIS | Bridging the gulf in the Gulf The Informant247
Bashar Al-Assad

The global war on terror in the Syrian state should be fought with sincerity of purpose. All actors should pull out in good faith and stage a series of diplomatic resolutions at the United Nations.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an age-long regional rift, one that has dominated the politics of the Middle East since the 20th century. Regional and Western powers no doubt monitor the actions and inactions of both parties. For a fact, the nation of Israel is a western project well executed. “If Israel did not exist, we would have to invent” is an agenda so dear to the United States, its greatest ally. Some Arab states are beginning to deal with the reality of a Zion state in the Middle East and hopefully, others will follow suit. All credit to the Abraham Accords.

 

With high-stakes diplomatic efforts on course, a just and comprehensible resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is feasible. Palestinians and Israelis deserve an equal measure of freedom, security, opportunity and dignity.

Today, Israel is a stakeholder and no longer an outsider in the geopolitics of the Middle East. Then comes begging the question: Has the Arab League outlived its usefulness?

A categorical Yes is sure to accompany that. The Arab League founded in 1945 with one of its fundamental objectives “to stop the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine” among others has invariably punched below its weight. Crisis in Yemen, Syria and pockets of tensions in other parts of the region and the League’s inability to resolve them is not only appalling but reveal the deep cracks in the body.

The Arab League is an already declining regional unit with striking differences inherent within it. The Arab world is best handled in smaller unit, a grouping of states with similar political and religious ideologies. Or better still a new regional organisation in which Israel receives full membership will settle the dust once and for all. A new discourse for peace will definitely be created in the Middle East by that move.

ANALYSIS | Bridging the gulf in the Gulf The Informant247
Palestinian solidarity protest

With America’s return to international diplomacy under President Joe Biden and emergence of Ebrahim Raisi as Iranian president, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is back on the table of negotiation and now in the final stretch of talks.

ANALYSIS | Bridging the gulf in the Gulf The Informant247
Iranian Foreign Minister and foreign ministers of major world powers stand for a photo after reaching a historic nuclear accord in 2015.

States in the region cannot stand to see Iranian possession of nuclear weapons. No doubt, nuclear weapons are symbols of prestige and power in international politics and as well tools of coercive foreign policy. Hopefully, the successful re-institution of the JCPOA will bridge the differences between Iran and other state actors- maintaining the balance of power in the region. It is of the best believe that the nuclear deal will cool the storm and create relative peace between Iran and other powers in the Middle East.

ANALYSIS | Bridging the gulf in the Gulf The Informant247
Foreign Ministers pose for a group picture during the preparatory meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers ahead of the 28th Summit of the Arab League in Riyadh on April 12, 2018. (AFP)

Shared goals of a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Middle East is practical as the wall of hatred gradually crumbles and bridge of friendship strengthened.

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