Monday, July 30, 2007

Be Aware-op-ed from an Arab country

Note: The following is but one example of the mindset of the Arab thinkers-read "between the lines" to understand that the Arab nations see a window of opportunity to move toward appeasement-we must become aware of these messages and prepare to take proactive diplomatic actions-thus far, we are failing!

US vs Europe -- new equations

THE new generation of leaders in Europe is definitely showing signs that they could put up a serious challenge to the implicit global domination of the United States, and this bodes well for the Middle East, which has been for long seeking a balance in the international approach to the region's crises.

There is a consensus among foreign-policy experts that Britain, France and Germany being all now under new leadership compared with four years ago, when the United States plunged it relations with Europe into their worst crisis for decades with its invasion of Iraq.

The new leaders of the three major European countries are seen to have fresh and assertive mindsets that could take them away from the US orbit, particularly given the disarray in Washington's international relations as well a domestic politics. Indeed, the Bush administration is putting up a brave face and dismissing suggestions that the European countries are stepping into the diplomatic vacuum left by US difficulties in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

In the Middle East, the Europeans have already made their moves. French President Nicolas Sarkozy played a key role in securing the release of six foreign medical personnel from Libya and is now involved in an intense effort to solve the political crisis in Lebanon. Sarkozy's government is also seeking the release of Myanmar's jailed democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Sarkozy has teamed up with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in efforts to solve the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region. Brown, who was meeting President Bush in Washington on Sunday, has also announced that he would be naming his own envoy to the Middle East in what could trigger a dispute with his predecessor Tony Blair, who was always seen as too closely aligned with Bush and who was named the international Quartet's special envoy to the Middle East.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stepped in for international action on issues like global warming, where the US has suffered badly because of its insistence on having its own way regardless of how the rest of the world feels on issues that are of global concern. While some international experts see the European moves as making up for the major shortcomings in US foreign policy, others believe that it would only be a matter of time that the Europeans demanded their rightful role in the international scene that would supercede that of the US. For us in the Middle East, a strengthened Europe means better prospects for a fair and just settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict and other crises in the region.

Nudged by Israel, the US has always kept the Europeans on the fringes of political efforts for peace in the Middle East, and called them in only to bankroll agreements. For long the Europeans had tried to assume a higher political profile in efforts for peace in the Middle East if only because they stand to bear the impact of all negative developments in the region.

It would seem that a door of opportunity is slowly opening for the Europeans to assume a role that befits their political, economic and military clout as well as the goodwill they enjoy among countries of the Middle East. The Arab World could step in and accelerate the process by intensifying the ongoing Euro-Arab dialogue and setting up avenues for closer political co-operation with a view to building an international coalition that would not allow Israel to call all the shots in the Middle East through the US.

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