Arab Leaders Want the U.S. to Support Israel

(Wall Street Journal) Walter Russell Mead - As the U.S. has reduced its regional footprint and ambitions, the Middle East has begun to change on its own. Saudi Arabia has opened its airspace to commercial flights from Tel Aviv to Dubai, while the UAE has shifted from not recognizing the Jewish state to building a warm peace and economic partnerships with Israel. In the new Middle East, the younger generation is turning its back on religious radicalism, and Arab public opinion is moving to accept the presence of a Jewish state. The Palestinians have lost their position at the center of Middle East politics, and it is Turkey and Iran, not Israel, that Arab rulers are most concerned to oppose. President Trump's peace plan, which many longtime Middle East experts dismissed as a ghastly blunder that would destroy the American role in Middle East peace negotiations, has turned out to be relatively popular on the Arab street. A Zogby survey found majorities in favor of the "Deal of the Century" in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 56% considered America "an ally" of their country, up from a low of 35% in 2018. U.S. national security adviser Robert O'Brien told me that key Arab leaders have embraced the idea that better relations with Israel are critical to their states' security and even survival. It is Turkey even more than Iran that keeps some Arab leaders awake at night. President Erdogan has aligned himself closely with the Muslim Brotherhood, a regional Islamist movement. Iran can only call on the minority Shiites for religious support, but Turkey can attract supporters from the Brotherhood's networks within the Sunni majority. Ironically, the current Arab nightmare is that the next U.S. administration won't support Israel enough. The writer is Professor of Foreign Affairs and the Humanities at Bard College.

2020-10-22 00:00:00

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