CWA Commentary

Photo Source: TImes of Israel
   NIAS Course on Global Politics
National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS)
Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore
For any further information or to subscribe to GP alerts send an email to subachandran@nias.res.in
Print Bookmark

CWA # 18, 5 June 2018

West Asia
Israel, the Game Changer?

  Lakshmi V Menon

The possibility of a conventional war among the Middle Eastern countries cannot be overruled. It is clear that political and strategic partnership play a larger role than religious brotherhood in the policy making of these countries.

Research Scholar
Stella Maris College, Chennai
Email id: lakshmimenon0410@gmail.com
 
In light of the recent events of Trump’s exit from the Iran n-deal and the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, Israel-Iran relations have become highly volatile. For some in Tel-Aviv, the end of the Iran nuclear deal ensures Israel’s security. But the world thinks otherwise. Today three big questions impend – How will Israel confront US-free Iran? How will this affect the Russian-Israeli relations? And more crucially, will the regional stability of the Middle East be in jeopardy?
 
Confronting Iran

Iran’s military nuclear program (called Project Amad) being a threat to the security and stability of Israel and middle east as a whole has been a constant rhetoric of Tel-Aviv. The conviction of JCPOA being a naïve and ill-conceived idea providing oxygen to the Tehran regime and paving the path for an Iranian bomb is real. They believe the American withdrawal will naturally require the burden of new sanctions on Iran or the re-imposition of previously lifted sanctions. Thus, guaranteeing Israel’s security and sovereignty.

Contrary to this understanding, two questions surface. Has Trump’s exit from Iran n-deal caused immediate security threat for Israel? Will there be an Iran-Israeli war in Syria or other small states?
 
Tel-Aviv seems to ignore the way in which the Iran deal has prevented a full-blown Iran-Israel war in Syria. Their calculus ignores one dimension to which the Iran’s nuclear program is only secondary. Iranian activity in Syria is a more impending threat to Israel’s security right now than a nuclear Iran. With the absence of US’s influence on Tehran, Israel and Iran are inching closer to war. With them they are dragging other West Asian states to war. The battleground need not be Syria. Lebanon may soon adorn that title.
 
The Russian Quotient
Comprehending the Russian quotient and Moscow’s peculiar attitude in the Iran-Israel scenario seems difficult. Why does Putin stop neither Israel nor Iran in Syria? Can there be a Russia–Israel conflict in Syria?
 
A Russia-Israel conflict is unlikely as Putin appears to take a backseat, letting Iran and Israel remain on tenterhooks. Although, economically Moscow profits from arms supply to Iran, Russia’s attitude towards Tel-Aviv seemed undeterred by the shameful destruction of Russian made S300 (advanced air defense system deployed by Iran in Syria) by Israel. The wavering nature of Russia’s dialogue to Benjamin Netanyahu has created confusion. Nevertheless, Russia’s interests in Syria are safeguarded by Iran. Simply put, Putin is not stopping Israel or Iran in Syria because that is against Moscow’s interests in the region. Thus, the question whether the tougher Israeli posture in Syria would test Russian-Iran alliance has no relevance.
 
Regional Stability in Jeopardy?
The largest concern of the international community is the regional stability and security of the middle east. Will Israeli isolation re-emerge? Can the rising tensions lead to another Arab-Israeli war? More importantly, who is an Arab today? 
 
Firstly, the Arab identity has been diluted due to the forces of globalization that has modernized and westernized the region. Today Middle Eastern cities like Doha (Qatar) and Dubai (UAE) are cosmopolitans more than Muslim Arab countries.
 
Secondly, geo-politics, economics and race towards being the regional power have overrun the Arab solidarity. Riyadh has elevated the age-old Saudi-Iran cold war by openly taking sides with Israel. In 2014, Jordan’s relation with Tel-Aviv hit rock bottom but the relation has ever since had a positive trajectory for various reasons. Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries that recognize the State of Israel.
 
Qatar’s statement was the most fiercely-worded in addressing the human rights violations carried out by Israel on the Nakba protestors. Doha called it a “brutal massacre and systematic killing committed by the Israeli occupation forces against unarmed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including children and women, during their peaceful and legitimate protest.”
Doha maintains warm relations with Iran. In the past, Qatar has hosted Hamas leaders and pro-Israel figures. Furthermore, Doha has been spending millions of dollars in the rebuilding of the Gaza strip in coordination with Israel. Qatar’s efforts to maneuver politically can be attributed to a year-long blockade by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.
 
Israel’s military drills, in the name of Islamic militants (Hezbollah), have been ruining Lebanon’s peace for a considerable period. The close strategic relationship with Turkey has significantly disintegrated. Turkey has not cared to practice restrain in expressing displeasure and opposition towards Israel.
 
Thirdly, it is important to note that, even the killing of Palestinians in the eve of the holy month of Ramadan could not mobilize the Muslim nations against Israel. Saudi Arabia, which brands itself the protector and preserver of Islam around the world, only released a brief and carefully worded statement condemning Israel’s actions and reiterating its support for the “legitimate rights” of “the Palestinian brotherly people.” In the context of the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman openly expressing support to Israel, this statement holds no value.

The possibility of a conventional war among the Middle Eastern countries cannot be overruled. It is clear that political and strategic partnership play a larger role than religious brotherhood in the policy making of these countries. Thus, the fractures in the Arab identity and solidarity would prevent another Arab-Israeli war but, the probability of another gulf war looms.

Print Bookmark

Other CWA Publications

The World This Week
April 2021 | CWA # 456

GP Team

Iran's 60 per cent nuclear enrichment, US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan, India's second COVID wave, US-China Climate dialogue,  Sanctions on Russia, and US-Japan Dialogue

read more
Conflict Weekly 66
April 2021 | CWA # 455

IPRI Team

Riots in Northern Ireland, Sabotage on an Iranian nuclear facility, and a massacre in Ethiopia

read more
The World This Week
April 2021 | CWA # 454

GP Team

Return of the Iran nuclear talks, Pak-Russia rapprochement, Greenland elections, and Russia-Ukraine tensions

read more
Conflict Weekly 65
April 2021 | CWA # 453

IPRI Team

Global gender gap report, Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam talks failure, Maoist attack in India, Border tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and the Security forces take control of Palma in Mozambique

read more
The World This Week
April 2021 | CWA # 452

GP Team

The WHO Report on COVID-19, and Brazil's political crisis

read more
Afghanistan
March 2021 | CWA # 451

Abigail Miriam Fernandez

The US-Taliban Deal: One Year Later

read more
NIAS GP Debate on Quad
March 2021 | CWA # 450

Akriti Sharma

The Quad Plus and the search beyond the four countries

read more
NIAS GP Debate on Quad
March 2021 | CWA # 449

Avishka Ashok

Despite the economic challenges, there are opportunities for Quad

read more
NIAS GP Debate on Quad
March 2021 | CWA # 448

Apoorva Sudhakar

India's Endgames, Roles and Limitations in Quad

read more
NIAS GP Debate on Quad
March 2021 | CWA # 447

Sukanya Bali

Tracing the Quad's evolution in the last two decades

read more
Conflict Weekly 64
March 2021 | CWA # 446

IPRI Team

Bloody Week in Myanmar, a Suicide attack in Indonesia and an Insurgency in Mozambique

read more
The World This Week
March 2021 | CWA # 445

GP Team

Fifty years of India-Bangladesh relations, Israel's elections and North Korea's new missile tests

read more
Conflict Weekly 63
March 2021 | CWA # 444

IPRI Team

Sanctions on China, Saudi Arabia ceasefire in Yemen, the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka, and a massacre in Niger

read more
The World This Week
March 2021 | CWA # 443

GP Team

The Moscow Summit on Afghanistan, US-China Dialogue in Alaska, Return of the US to East Asia, UK Defence Policy Review and the Protests in Lebanon

read more
Conflict Weekly 62
March 2021 | CWA # 442

IPRI Team

Gender Protests in Australia, Expanding Violence in Myanmar and Anti-protests bill in the UK

read more
The World This Week
March 2021 | CWA # 441

GP Team

Quad Summit, Ten Years of Fukushima and China's Two Sessions

read more

Click below links for year wise archive
2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018