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A Strategic Consensus In The Middle East

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Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 20, 1981, U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig said the Reagan administration was trying to build a “strategic consensus” to counter the influence of the Soviet Union, its chief global adversary, in a region encompassing countries from Pakistan to Egypt.

Claiming that the Soviet Union was a serious threat to their national interests and that it would be to their advantage to cooperate with the United States, Haig urged regional rivals like Israel and Saudi Arabia to set aside their differences so that this objective could be achieved.

“We feel it is fundamentally important to begin to develop a consensus of strategic concerns throughout the region among Arab and Jew, ” he said.

Israel endorsed Haig’s call for unity in the face of Soviet encroachments in the Middle East, but the Arab world rejected it. Not a single Arab or Muslim state embraced his idea, notwithstanding the fact that Egypt had signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 and that Jordan would follow suit in 1994.

Nearly four decades on, Haig’s visionary concept is winning new recruits and gaining ground.

Last year, thanks to the intervention of the Trump administration, four Arab states — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco — agreed to normalize relations with Israel under the umbrella of the Abraham accords.

Today, the enemy is not the Soviet Union, which collapsed and gave way to Russia, but Iran, the preeminent Shi’a power in the Middle East.

Iran’s hegemonic ambitions and its quest for a nuclear arsenal have rattled Sunni Arab states from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean and driven them to accept Israel’s existence, if not its legitimacy.

Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, has promised to extend the Abraham accords, though he knows that some Arab states will not cooperate until the Palestinian question is resolved by means of a two-state solution.........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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