Friday, August 04, 2006

Internationalization of Israel’s problems

In a comment in today’s Financial Times Lawrence Freedman, professor of war studies and vice-principal (research) of King’s College London, argues that when the war in Lebanon ends, Hezbollah will certainly end up militarily weaker, but politically stronger. He is also convinced that despite the recent Israeli abandonment of territories to which it aspired in the past, “their old enemies will not leave them alone”. Moreover, Israelis will no longer be able to defend themselves, as they are doing now, using traditional military means, for this reason Israel “has accepted in principle that any durable solution to its border problems must have an international dimension”. Thus, Freedman suggests that setting up an international force in Lebanon must be followed by possibly an establishment of a UN trust territory in Palestine, “with the UN responsible not only for internal security and economic reconstruction but (with a strong local input) for final negotiations with Israel.” Possibly, a more efficient alternative, to the establishment of a UN trust territory in Palestine, could be, a solution along the lines of Kosovo, NATO led international military force (to assure US involvement) to provide internal security for the Palestinian territories and a EU mandated civilian administration, built on a mixture of a Bosnian (Office of the High Representative) and Kosovo (UNMIK) model. As part of its European Neighbourhood Policy, EU must also be ready to take on itself a large part of the financial burden to finance such international deployment in Palestine.

Concerning the US Foreign Policy, Freedman is critical of the outcome of Bush’s strategy to spread democracy in the Middle East through military deployment. He is hinting at the possibility of a realignment (for the moment indiscrete) between the US and Sunni Islam moderate (and corrupt – my words not of Freedman) political leaders against aggressive Iran and radical Islamic parties. Vali Nasr, in Foreign Affairs argues differently, "By toppling Saddam Hussein the Bush administration has liberated and empowered Iraq's Shiite majority and has helped launch a broad Shiite revival that will upset the sectarian balance in Iraq and the Middle East for years to come. This development is rattling some Sunni Arab governments, but for Washington, it could be a chance to build bridges with the region's Shiites, especially Iran." As far as EU policy is concerned Freedman states that EU is full of wise words but that it does nothing and that it should because it stake in the future of the Middle East is even greater than that of the US. Related to this, implicitly, the author criticizes the US and French refusal to negotiate with Syria and Iran.

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