Alarm over US nod to Israel's West Bank plan

ABU DHABI - By giving nod to Israeli claims to some settlements in the West Bank, the US administration has already added fuel to violence, and encouraged the eruption of extremism in the region, said an Arab academic.

By Nada S. Mussallam

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Published: Sun 18 Apr 2004, 12:35 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:04 PM

Dr Fouad Shehab, Head of Social Science Department, Bahrain University who is participating in the two-day "EuroGolfe Conference 2004", being held in the capital, told Khaleej Times in an interview yesterday that President George Bush has also shown how fragile his plans for the spread of democracy in the Middle East are.

"What is happening in Iraq and his apparent alliance with Israel on the west bank policies, has caused President Bush to lose credibility in the Arab world," he said.

After 9/11 events, the US had adopted a new approach for its foreign policy and strategies, holding a view that in order to combat the so-called 'terrorism in the Middle East', a direct intervention in the region must be secured, to contain and destroy what it dubbed as terrorist organisations in Muslim countries, said Dr Shehab.

He said although the new American approach has complemented Israel's strategic thinking vis-à-vis some Palestinian organisations, the new American strategy does not necessarily serve Israel's policy in the long term.

"The more the US utilises its military power to challenge (what it perceived to be totalitarian regimes in the Middle East and to advance the process of the democratisation in the region), the less valuable the Israeli military power tends to be to the US in the region," said Dr Shehab.

He criticised Bush administration's involvement in Iraq, saying that the ramification of the policy of regime change is proving costly for the US and the West in general.

"The aftermath of the US victory in Iraq, has confirmed the inability of the American administration to understand the concept of nation building in a highly diversified country like Iraq," he said.

He added: "The inability of the US to establish a viable political system in post-Saddam Iraq, which has become a major impediment to America's new vision in the Middle East (the rise of non-conservative politics in the region that condones mass radicalism), would expose the US to critical and difficult conditions.

He said the region couldn’t accept a campaign introducing abrupt changes in their political systems.

On the stance of Europe towards the region, Dr Shehab said that contrary to the American perspectives, the European strategists are often wise enough in their belief that gradual change in the Middle East is the best course to replace the political culture of the region,

"Europe conceives that the region is capable of adopting political reforms from within and that imposing political systems by foreign forces, would neither be acceptable nor practical," he said.

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