Why Non-Arab States Dominate Today's Middle East

(Valdai Club-Russia) Amb. Zvi Magen - If in the past, the Middle East was dominated by Arab national states, today, the non-Arab states, mainly Iran, Turkey and Israel, became the prominent actors, dictating the regional agenda. Alongside them, Islamism became an additional, significant regional actor. The general reason for the decline of the Arab states is that they had not modernized successfully. Most of them suffer from a critical imbalance between population and resources, with consistently poor economic performance. In those circumstances, the Arab societies broke down into their components, highlighted by sectarian division between Sunnis and Shiites. Moreover, when Arab nationalism was defeated decades ago, failing to unite all Arabs into one nation, it left a huge ideological vacuum that was filled by Islamic politics. If the Arab-Israeli conflict was once the core of regional politics, when Israel was isolated, facing just about all of the Arab states as actively hostile enemies, this is no longer true. It has made peace with some key Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, and it has common interests with others. All Arab states share profound concerns about possible American withdrawal and Iranian hegemonic designs, while Israel is currently Iran's main challenger in the region. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to Russia and the Ukraine, is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

2020-02-14 00:00:00

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