Can the U.S. Mobilize Key Sunni Arab States?

(Washington Post) Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky - President Trump and his aides have been intensely planning to build an Arab coalition. He wants to deepen the relationship with the Gulf Arabs in three critical areas: countering Iranian influence; enlisting them in the fight against the Islamic State; and negotiating peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But the president is likely to find that his vision of U.S. interests doesn't mesh with that of the Arabs on whom he's relying. Arab states' support for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking is clearly worth testing, particularly in light of the positive trend in relations between Israel and the Gulf states driven by a common fear of Iran and Sunni militants. To be sure, nothing else in the peace process has worked. But the notion of broadening the circle of peacemaking can be productive if Israel and the Palestinians are prepared for tough decisions on some of the core issues, such as borders and Jerusalem. But there's no indication that's the case. Washington will sooner or later discover that the Sunni Arabs will be problematic security partners, and plans of transformative regional cooperation will go nowhere. These countries have a very poor track record of playing well together. The U.S. needs to keep its expectations low for working closely with the Sunni Gulf states. if Sunni Arab governments are true to form, the U.S. will do most of the heavy lifting while they cheer us from the sidelines and then heap blame on Washington when things go wrong. Aaron David Miller, a vice-president at the Wilson Center, served as a Middle East adviser in Republican and Democratic administrations. Richard Sokolsky, a non-resident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was a member of the Secretary of State's Office of Policy Planning from 2005-2015.

2017-03-10 00:00:00

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