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Extracts from "Grim Prospects for the Middle East in 2013" - by Patrick Seale PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Patrick Seale   
Thursday, 03 January 2013 12:14


What New Year resolutions would I dare to recommend to Arab leaders?

*First, do everything possible to heal the crippling Sunni-Shi‘i rift, which gravely weakens the Arab world. An early move would be to summon a grand conference in Mecca of ulema of all sects and tendencies – and keep them there until they hammer out their differences.

*Secondly, protect what is left of Syria – and its central role in containing Israel. Stop the killing by bringing the regime and its opponents to the negotiating table, whether they like it or not. There is no military solution to the crisis. The only way to end the orgy of destruction is to impose a ceasefire on both sides, halt the delivery of funds and weapons to the regime and the rebels, isolate murderous extremists in both camps, and mobilise the United States and Russia, as well as the European Union, Egypt, Turkey and Iran, in support of a political transition. The key issue is not whether President Bashar al-Asad stays or quits. At stake is the preservation of a unitary Syrian state. This must be done to protect Syria’s unique historical heritage, its state institutions, its ancient minorities, and its vital regional role in defence of Arab independence.

*Thirdly, demand justice for the Palestinians even if it means threatening a breach with the United States and the expulsion of American bases from the Gulf.

*Fourthly, start a strategic dialogue with Tehran. Enmity between Arabs and Iranians is a profound mistake. Only an Arab-Iranian partnership – a partnership between equals based on mutual trust and mutual interests -- can protect the vital Gulf region from the dangers of war and from the ambitions of external powers.

It is probable that only a radical rethink of current policies, attitudes and alliances will rescue the Arab world from the dark pit in which it finds itself. But which Arab leader will dare undertake such a task? 

Patrick Seale is a leading British writer on the Middle East. His latest book is The Struggle for Arab Independence: Riad el-Solh and the Makers of the Modern Middle East (Cambridge University Press).

Copyright © 2013 Patrick Seale – distributed by Agence Global

Released: 01 January 2013

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 January 2013 12:22

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