In the wake of the barbaric terrorists attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, it is important for us to remind Washington that the causes of Middle East terrorism are mainly the result of the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict. In dealing with Middle East terrorism, Washington may want to consider the following points which, I believe, could be the key to an “acceptable,” everlasting peace and security in the area:
1) Arab-Israeli mutual recognition, respecting the Israelis’ right to exist in peace, freedom, security and sovereignty within the 1948 borders and the Palestinians’ rights to an independent, sovereign state.
2) Internationalisation of the Holy City of Jerusalem, or respect for any agreement reached between Arabs (Palestinians) and Israelis. Jerusalem is the seat for all religions. No political identity has sovereign rights over this city. It is the eternal capital of humanity and peace.
3) Israelis should withdraw from the Arab lands occupied in 1967, including the Golan Heights and southern Lebanon.
4) All Jewish settlements should be removed from the Arab lands occupied in 1967.
5) The unjustified UN-imposed sanctions on Iraq should be lifted. The innocent people and children of Iraq are suffering as a result of these sanctions. Iraqi-American face-to-face talks would be the only channel to avoid wars and to reach some kind of understanding. Late King Hussein’s wise idea of a direct US-Iraqi dialogue should be seriously considered
6) The arms race in the Middle East should come to an end. This requires eliminating all nuclear and chemical arsenal in the region, be it Israeli, Arab, Iranian, etc. A comprehensive ban on chemical and nuclear tests should be imposed and military activities in the Middle East controlled. In the meantime, the US should propose and enforce mutual weapons reductions, and a ceiling on the number and quality of conventional weapons. Constraints should also be imposed on the modernisation of some strategic weapons. This arms reduction must be fair to all sides, adequately verified, and leading to mutual security. It is important to remember that experts determined “that Israel had (still does) the world’s sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons.
7) American and British troops should withdraw from the Arab Gulf states. There are many other ways, besides military presence (occupation), to maintain and secure vital oil interest in the region without the provocation of Muslims and Arab nationalist regimes’ legitimate concerns regarding their sovereignty and independence.
8) Democracy and human rights in the area should be supported. This is the age of technology and massive communications. This is the age of democracy and human rights. This is the age of the beginning of peoples’ political power. This is the age of the end of dictatorships and the rule of the “elite” minority over the majority. This the age when governments follow the people, not the other way round.
9) It should always be remembered that Israel is not the United States. Israel might be enjoying a very special relationship with the US, due to the existence of a very powerful Zionist lobby in Washington. But the fact remains that Israel is still a foreign country for the Americans. No country can be trusted (including Israel) with sensitive classified information (Jonathan Pollard’s case). Israel’s “nonsense” wishes, expansionist aspirations and greedy ambitions, its “spoiled” behaviour, are threatening the US national security and interests in this vital region. Israel cannot survive without the US Congress’ generous economic and military foreign aid.
Based on these unshakeable facts, the US should be able to design a “fair road” for the Israelis to take, a road built on the human principles so dear to Americans.
Israel’s expansionist, reckless behaviour damages the US national interest in the region and the long-term perception of Israel’s national security. The Israelis have to understand that they need the Arabs, not otherwise.
An American evenhanded policy is needed as a solid base to counter these serious causes of terrorism. Americans do not want to see their president’s office become a rubber stamp in the hands of foreign lobbyists. President George W. Bush’s most recent public statement in support of the possibility of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state is laudable. This is a much needed move by President Bush, a step in the right direction. Peace should be judicious for both the Israelis and the Palestinians.
An escalation of any military confrontation to confront terrorism might lead to more terrorists or degenerate into a bloody conflict between the West and Islam. It is about time that to treat the disease and not just the symptoms. The despairing Middle East people need American’s help. America should give serious attention to both sides of the Arab-Israeli equation. There will be no peace and security where political freedom and human justice don’t exist.
The writer is a senior consultant on international affairs, national security, strategic studies and American Federal Government. He is the executive director of the Middle East Consultations and Research Analysis( MECRA ) as well as an adjunct professor of international affairs, Politics and International Law.