Sunday, 13 April 2014

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks: It's About More Than Just Peace Between Two Nations

After another round of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians under U.S. mediation, talks seem to have reached a dead end....again.  Last year, Israel, the Palestinians and the U.S. all agreed on a deadline looming at the end of this month to lay the groundwork for a peace agreement that would give the Palestinians an independent state and give Israel peace, security and diplomatic recognition from its Arab neighbours.  I don't have to tell anyone who has at least some general knowledge of the Israeli-Arab conflict that a lot is at stake with these talks.  In fact, a lot more is at stake than many people would believe, because peace between Israel, the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world, or lack thereof will determine the balance of power for the world as a whole.

As I said in a previous blog post, a new cold war is on the horizon, one that is similar to the old cold war but is also different in respect to its major players (see The New-Old Cold War).  The success or failure of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will likely determine whether it is the new Western bloc, led by the U.S. and the European Union, or the new eastern bloc, led by Russian and China, who hold sway in the world's most significant oil-producing region.  Should the talks succeed and a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is eventually achieved, the result will be warming relations between Israel and most of the Arab world.  The bulk of the Arab states will eventually form a strategic alliance with Israel supported by the U.S. and E.U. as a collective security arrangement to protect the region from Iranian aggression supported by Russia and China.

But, if the talks fail, there will be grave consequences for the West and the rest of the free world.  The Americans will lose what little credibility they have left in the Middle East, most of it having already been lost by the Iraq War, the Obama Administration's misguided policy during the Arab Spring, and its perceived weakness against Iran.  The failure of the Americans to broker a deal between Israel and the Palestinians will most likely push Arabs in the direction of the Russians and the Chinese.  In fact, Russia is even now using the Americans' increased weakness in the Middle East to re-establish the foothold that the Soviet Union once had on the region (see, for example, this article in the Russian press, Egypt Seeks to Bring Friendship with Russia to "Soviet Level"). 

Russia currently has the power to blackmail much of Europe through its control of natural gas supplies.  As Russian power in the Middle East grows and American power in the region wanes, it is very feasible to imagine a situation in which Russia could use the same kind of blackmail against the West by managing to withhold vital oil and gas supplies, thus bringing western economies to a crashing halt.  Moreover, if this new, emerging cold war ever gets hot, we in the West would be at a significant and possibly fatal disadvantage should our military forces not have access to Middle Eastern oil and gas to fuel our planes, tanks and ships. 

In fact, I believe that control of the Middle East and its vast oil and gas resources will determine who wins this new cold war, or for that matter a real war.  Hence, for the sake of the entire free world, it is crucial that the Middle East, or at least the majority of it, remains firmly in the pro-Western camp.  For this to happen, Israel and the Palestinians must continue negotiations, for however long it takes, until they can reach a permanent peace agreement, ending their conflict and the Israeli-Arab conflict as a whole.  Yes, that's right, the fate of the free world may ultimately depend on two small nations whose people make up a tiny fraction of the world's population making peace.  So in a way, the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators and the Americans mediating the talks between them hold the free world in the palm of their hands.  As if they didn't already have enough to think about.

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