Arabs Say One Thing in Public and Another Behind Closed Doors

(JTA) Eric R. Mandel - According to Jonathan Spyer, director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, "It's very important for Western policymakers to be aware that leaderships and elites throughout the Arab world today find a great deal of common ground with Israel on the issues of the Iranian and Sunni Islamist threats." "To an increasing extent, they are also weary of Palestinian intransigence and see Israel as a model for successful development. Much of that, however, cannot be said openly by these leaders because this does not reflect the views of parts of the societies of the leaders in question, where Islamist and/or Arab nationalist sentiments continue to hold sway." Despite some public lip service to the Palestinian cause, the Sunni Arab world knows that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at most a "side issue." An Israeli military intelligence expert who had just returned from private meetings in Europe with Arab and EU officials told me that, behind closed doors, their analysis of the Middle East, including Iran, is often light years away from the public rhetoric offered by European and Arab Sunni government officials to their citizens. The conflicts of the Middle East are primarily tribal and religious in nature, and the primary allegiance is not to modern states artificially constructed by the West 100 years ago. Insiders know that if there were no Israel, the Shiites would still hate the Sunnis, Iran would still aspire to hegemony, Turkey would still be an unreliable NATO ally, and Libya and Yemen would still be chaotic. Some European officials, who vociferously defend the Iran nuclear agreement publicly, privately acknowledge the dangers of the Iranian revolutionary theocracy that acts against their values. The writer is director of MEPIN, the Middle East Political Information Network.

2019-08-06 00:00:00

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