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Imposing Mandated Solutions Marks Trump’s Fresh Thinking for Middle East
A hopeful world begins to embrace the United States “Peace to Prosperity” plan architected by Jared Kushner to rekindle efforts to bring peace and stability to the Israeli-Palestinian question. Beyond the Middle East, Paraguay, Denmark, Chile, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Austria, Australia, India, France, Italy, Brazil, Colombia, Morocco and Poland have expressed positivity to the US proposal. Kushner has reportedly briefed the plan to at least 190 ambassadors as the US continues to seek global support.
More significantly, within the Middle East, key nations among the US regional coalition including Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates have embraced the initiative.
Buried between the lines of the 181-page document is a strategy of imposing a solution upon everyone in the region. It’s a mandate about who gets to be in charge, a solution with much more in common with the Roman Empire’s practices of appointing provincial kings and governors to manage unruly hinterlands.
Kushner’s vision seeks to impose stability by tapping into the conflict weary desires of neighboring nations in the region at the cost of throwing the aspirations of Palestinian militants under the bus. This is a stark reversal of fortune for militant Palestinians, who have hoped to drive the Israelis from the area since 1949. They have predictably ejected the US plan.
The US hopes to replace the endless war scenario with a tri-party regional caretaker design involving the governments of Israel, Jordan and Egypt who would accept responsibility for maintaining peace and security while the Palestinians are forced to denounce all rights to sovereign independence and defense for an undetermined and possibly indefinite future. In exchange, the US offers a hope filled carrot to the Palestinians in the form of a plan to develop their territory into a self-sustaining economic island.
It’s a lot to ask for all involved.
The plan hinges on a security burden that will be imposed on Israel, Jordan and Egypt to co-govern the Palestinians. It won’t exactly be a walk in the park to get Hamas to lay down arms, certainly not peacefully. Nor will it be that easy to lay down decades of cultural animus. This is asking these three governments to engage in a multi-decade social engineering proxy mission for the United States. I admit that I am bothered a little by the fact that the document implies this will happen but is silent about how it will happen.
It’s kind of the elephant in the room as you read the pages of the proposal. I realized this is fresh thinking and it’s a long way from something that approaches implementation. But this aspect of how to make the US sponsored security by proxy work must be addressed in a more concrete fashion before the forces there are going to seek to undermine and torpedo this initiative can organize themselves.
I raise the caution that this is yet another slap in the face to the regional ambitions of Iran, who also oppose the initiative. There’s a race against the clock here and my advice to the Trump administration is you better make sure to stay ahead of the curve.
The plan also hinges on economic growth in this new Palestine to be viable. My impression of Kushner’s design is that it is a bit weak in this area. There is certainly a lot of attention to detail in terms of building new infrastructure for Palestine in the form of ports and transportation corridors. But the thing I did not see was a commitment by the United States to guarantee favored nation trading status for this Palestinian economic zone. Nor did I see any plans addressing how the US, and I do believe this is our burden in this arrangement for this to work, to attract investor to this Palestinian Zone by the international economy.
This only works if this zone becomes more than a local economic center struggling to survive in the face of other economic centers in the other emerging nations in its neighborhood. It’ll take making The Palestinian Zone a vital element of the global supply chain to create the kind of codependency necessary to make it important for the world to want this to succeed; otherwise, it’s just lip service.
My gut says it behooves the Trump Administration to be more proactive about explaining to everyone in the region who must be part of making this work how investing in a Palestinian Economic Zone will benefit them and their aspiration’s to ascend from emerging economy status to first world economy status. If the US can come up with a believable roadmap for that, then I think we’re talking.
Overall, there’s some fresh thinking going on here and I believe that the concept of a protectorate zone managed by regional proxies has promise, certainly better promise than perpetual Antifada. But historically, this is still a quagmire that goes back to Biblical times.
Image: President Donald Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discuss the Middle East peace plan proposal | Reuters
Dennis Santiago is an author and commentator on national policy and global stability issues. His subject matter expertise was developed during the Cold War as a strategic warfare systems analyst, missile defense architect, and arms control analyst. He is the author of the US Imperfect Defense Theory of Strategic Missile Defense. Dennis has worked on conventional warfare, nuclear warfare, and asymmetric warfare. His expertise includes combat aircraft, ordnance, electronic warfare, command and control, campaign design, and game theory.