08.06.2019 Author: Vladimir Mashin

US Direction in Middle East Subject to More and More Criticism


In recent time, U.S. actions in the Middle East have been subject to more and more criticism in European as well as Asian capitals.

Clearly, Washington’s pro-Israeli course has resulted in growing disapproval in Arab nations.

It is well-known that in December 2017, Donald Trump announced U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the American embassy there. In response, the Palestinian National Authority severed ties with Washington.

On 22 May, Jason Greenblatt, the U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations, called for the dismantling of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

In order to somehow stem the wave of discontent engulfing the Arab and Muslim world, Americans have continued to promise that they will unveil a new plan to resolve the Middle East conflict, called the “deal of the century”, in the nearest future. The United States intends to stage a conference in Manama (the capital of Bahrain) on 25 of June in order to discuss economic and financial aspects of the peace treaty between Palestinians and Israelis that Americans have been working on. But as stated by the Al-Ahram newspaper recently, numerous issues that plague the Middle East region cannot be resolved by catering only to Israeli interests.

Seemingly, there was a view in Washington that the victory of Benjamin Netanyahu’s right wing party (in the elections to the Knesset in April) would greatly support and facilitate the American plans for the region.

However, at the end of May, there was an unprecedented internal political crisis in Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition government, and the newly-elected members voted to disband the Knesset and hold new elections. The influence of religious and ultra-Orthodox parties has grown noticeably in Israel. And their combined political clout is gradually increasing. They oppose drafting religious Jews to serve in the military. During the most recent election, the two ultra-Orthodox parties jointly won 16 seats in the Knesset, thus, essentially, transforming into the third most sizable political force to be reckoned with.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fate is also on the line, since he is being investigated by the prosecution in connection with three criminal cases. He has been accused of fraud, abuse of power and bribery. He has categorically denied any wrong-doing. The preliminary hearing before any official indictment has been scheduled for July. However, Benjamin Netanyahu has managed to convince the prosecution to postpone it until autumn.

Besides, more and more doubts are being expressed in both Israel and the United States as to whether Benjamin Netanyahu would be able to survive all of these political upheavals. At any rate, the peace plan to resolve the Middle Eastern issue, which was supposed to be unveiled on President Donald Trump’s behalf by his son-in-law and senior advisor to the White House, Jared Kushner, will most likely not survive. The treaty’s main focus, according to some leaked reports about its contents, is not on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state but on large-scale investments into the Palestinian economy.

The Palestinian National Authority has already stated that they would not take part in the conference in Bahrain, and neither would leading Palestinian entrepreneurs (hence, a joke has been circulating in U.S. media outlets that Donald Trump “has organized a wedding in Bahrain but without the groom”).

In the current climate, more and more skepticism is being expressed in the United States about the viability of the plans, being prepared by Washington (which include, among other things, an aim to align Israeli positions with those of other Arab nations of the Persian Gulf more closely), especially given the fact that U.S. influence in the Middle East has been decreasing steadily.

Under the present circumstances (especially on account of tense relations between the United States and both Europe and China), the Trump administration decided to discuss the issues facing the Middle East with Russia. At the end of May, there were serious talks about Syria between Americans and their Russian counterparts. In June 2019, the National Security Advisor to the U.S. President, John R. Bolton, is scheduled to meet with Nikolai Patrushev, the Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, and Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel’s National Security Advisor, in Jerusalem in order to discuss issues of regional security.

Vladimir Mashin, Ph.D. in History and a political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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