Monday, December 6, 2010

Wikileaks and the Middle East, Part 2

As the WikiLeaks drama continues to unfold, it's starting to become yesterday's news. That is, much of the more recent material is similar to what has already been leaked. Once the shock value of the first documents wore off, these additional revelations are receiving less coverage. And perhaps that's a good thing.

However, I came across an analysis of WikiLeaks documents related to U.S. Middle East policy that I believe is worth reading. The article highlights the flawed assumptions behind the current U.S. policy of "engagement" in the Middle East--a policy that assumes it's in our long-term interest to engage former enemies like Iran and Syria and to pressure Israel to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian problem, which is supposedly the root cause for most turmoil in the Middle East.

The article, "Wikileaks reveal flaw in US Middle East policy," shows the fallacy behind our current policy. As the documents demonstrate, many of the countries in the Middle East believe the root problem is not the Israeli/Palestinian crisis, it's Iran and her commitment to export Islamic fundamentalism. I'll cite one example from the article to illustrate this point. The article quotes cable detailing a meeting between Saudi King Abdullah and White House adviser John Brennan. The cable quotes King Abdullah's response to a suggestion that a solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict would help diffuse problems in the Middle East. “A solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict would be a great achievement, but Iran would find other ways to cause trouble.”

King Abdullah sees Iran, not Israel, as the real source of trouble in the Middle East. The article also quotes other cables from leaders like Egyptian President Mubarak in which these leaders try to help the U.S. understand Middle East "facts of life." They believe the real "neighborhood bully" is Iran, not Israel. And they wish the local cop on the beat (the United States) would do something about the bully before it's too late.

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