Can Trump Crack the Middle-East Conundrum With an Arab-Israeli Alliance?

middle-east
President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House, Washington, Feb. 15, 2017 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

middle-east can be cracked by trump?

middle-east can be cracked by trump?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Ever since Donald Trump became president of the United States, the Middle East has been abuzz with speculation about what exactly he intends to do in the region. There has been much talk about his plans for attacking the self-declared Islamic State, getting tough on Iran and strengthening ties with Israel.

But there is another idea that is making the rounds. According to a number of reports, Trump is aiming to forge a new security alliance, with Arab countries at the core, along with the U.S. and, in what would constitute a groundbreaking development, Israel.

But there is another idea that is making the rounds. According to a number of reports, Trump is aiming to forge a new security alliance, with Arab countries at the core, along with the U.S. and, in what would constitute a groundbreaking development, Israel.

It is noteworthy that in the Arab world, the Trump presidency has been received with cautious optimism, in contrast with the sharply negative reception of Trump’s unorthodox pronouncements in other parts of the world.

That cautious optimism is also shared by Israel, whose government, along with Sunni Arab regimes, believes that the Obama administration badly mishandled the challenges posed by the many conflicts in the Middle East. More than anything, Israel and America’s major Arab allies were deeply skeptical of the wisdom of lifting sanctions against Iran, a country they view as a grave threat to regional stability and even to their survival.

Over the past couple of years, relations between Israel and Gulf Arab states have become somewhat more open. They remain a secret, but a poorly guarded one.

Details of what the Trump administration has in mind were revealed by the Wall Street Journal, which quoted multiple Middle Eastern officials, including five officials from Arab countries, in a report about Trump administration talks to create a NATO-like alliance of Sunni Arab states, backed by the United States and formally including Israeli participation.

The military coalition would reportedly include a mutual defense clause similar to NATO’s, in which an attack on one is viewed as an attack on all. Both Israel and the U.S. would remain outside that mutual defense component.

It is early yet to know how far the idea has moved. The timing for this type of alliance is as good as it has ever been, but that doesn’t mean that it is good enough.

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