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Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 08:06 (GMT+7)
Multidimensional movements in the Middle East security architecture

Under the impacts of regional and global incidents, there have been multidimensional movements in the security architecture in each region. Middle East is not an exception, yet its outcome is not easy to predict, particularly when it is under impact of various variables.

Multidimensional in the Middle East peace process

Mentioning peace process in the Middle East, firstly, we should talk about the relation between Palestine and Israel which has long been influenced by the US – the strategic ally of Israel. There have been multidimensional movements in this peace process resulting from the US global strategy and its relation in the Middle East with other member states in the UN. The most notable outcome is when the General Assembly adopted a resolution according Palestine the non-member observer state status and condemning Israeli illegal settlement construction for Jewish people in Palestinian territory.

After many years of enduring struggle, on 29 November 2012, the General Assembly of the UN approved a resolution upgrading Palestine from a non-member observer entity to a non-member observer state and recognizing its boundaries as they were prior to 1967 with capital city being Jerusalem while stressing the urgent need for both parties to resume negotiations since talks stalled in September 2010. The resolution represents a historic diplomatic achievement and a significant move in the search for Palestinian independence. However, in an opposite move, despite the unanimity of international community, the US and Israel voiced their criticism. The US Secretary of State (at that time) Hilary Clinton called the vote an “unfortunate and counterproductive” action which would place further obstacles in the path to peace. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also expressed his opposition and stated that efforts of Palestine in the UN would not facilitate the foundation of a Palestinian state in the future and a Palestinian state could not be established without recognition of Israel as a state of Jewish people.

Regardless of the oppositions, on 23 December 2016 for the first time in history, the UN Security Council voted on the  peace process in the Middle East and approved the Resolution 2334 opposing Israeli settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territory after the 6-day war in 1967. The resolution says Israel’s settlements on Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, have “no legal validity”. It reiterated that Israeli settlement was a “flagrant violation” of international law and demands a halt to “all Israeli settlement activities”. In the vote for the 2334 Resolution, the US abstained which is rather rare and surprising.

However, hope for peace in the Middle East is now fading when the newly elected US President Donald Trump shows his opposite position to his predecessor. The US 45th President opposes the Resolution 2334 and supports Israeli settlement constructions and said that the US would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and appoint David Friedman as the new ambassador to this country. Immediately, Israeli ambassador to the US, Mr. Ron Dermer voiced his support for Trump’s policy and said such a move “would be a great step forward to peace”. Meanwhile, Palestinian senior diplomat Mr. Saeb Erekat warned that Donald Trump’s plan to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem could “destroy the peace process” that the US had strived to be a mediator because almost all members of the UN do not recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital. The above movements show that disagreements between Israel and Palestine will not be settled soon.

Paris conference on peace negotiation between Palestine and Israel
(Photo: VNA) 

Libya’s battlefield under the impact of multidimensional movements

Since the NATO-led military intervention unseating Gaddafi, Libya has fallen into severe instability. Answering Fox News, the outgoing President B. Obama admitted that military intervention of the US and NATO in Libya in 2011 has resulted in a devastating outcome for the country. Before the crisis, Libya used to be wealthy country, now it plunged to uncontrollable chaos with a series of bloody violence among opposing groups in their struggle for power.

To overcome his mistake, in August 2016, US President B. Obama launched a new military campaign to restore peace in Libya. However an intervention can not stabilize the country quickly as it is strongly divided by various factions. In another move, Marshal Khalifa Haftar, commander of the armed forces loyal to the elected, internationally backed government in East Libya said that he had officially called for Russian assistance in weapon and human resource to conduct the war on terror like the way Moscow does in Syria. Russia is thinking  about returning to Libya when it signed a contract providing the central bank of Libya a credit line of about USD 2.8 billion. With such movements, Libya is unlikely to have enduring peace. What the “Arab Spring” brings to this country is just a bitter pill.

Multidimensional movements in Syrian war

The war on terror in Syria has witnessed a turning point when Syrian Army, under the support of Russia, launched a series of attacks terrorist groups and gained significant victories, liberating Aleppo, a strategic city. Meanwhile, US has failed in using “opposition groups” to conduct a proxy war to unseat Syrian President Bashar al Assad. After victory in Aleppo, Russia, Iran and Turkey formed a triangle of relations, affecting not only situation in Syria but also the whole Middle East region. On 20 December 2016, foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey attended the 3-party meeting in Moscow to discuss political solutions for Syrian crisis. The three parties have agreed on a Joint Statement with 8 points: (1). Reaffirm their commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, non-sectarian and democratic State, as confirmed by the UN Security Council; (2). Express their conviction that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that it can only be solved through a political process based on the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 2254 in its entirety; (3). Support joint effort in East Aleppo for the evacuation of civilians and armed rebel groups; (4). Affirm the importance of widening ceasefire mechanism, unhindered humanitarian relief and the free movements of Syrian civilians all across the country; (5). Ready to support and protect for  an agreement between Syrian government and the opposition and call for support of other countries for this agreement; (6) Step up efforts to jumpstart political process in Syria; (7). Express gratitude to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and to the Kazakh side in general, for hosting the International Meeting on Syria in Astana; (8). Reiterate their determination to fight jointly against terrorist groups. Along side, a defense ministers’ meeting of the three countries was also held in Moscow. After the meeting, a ceasefire agreement has been enacted since 30 December 2016 and still in effect.

In addition, the result of the US presidential election provides more chances for settling the war in Syria. Accordingly, Donald Trump used to say in his election campaign that IS is a product of the US error policy in the Middle East. Therefore, he pledged to joint the military alliance with Russia and Syria  to counter IS. With such movements, it is expected that in 2017, the Syrian crisis will enter a new stage and be settled with a political solution in line with the decided three-step roadmap: forming a joint government; adjusting the constitution; holding presidential and parliamentary elections in Syria.

Iran's nuclear issue

According to international analysts, 2016 is considered the hinge year of the implementation of the historic Agreement between P5+1 group and Iran on Tehran’s nuclear plan. Accordingly, the most significant achievement in the nuclear action plan is that Iran has persuaded international community about its nuclear development for civilian purposes. Meanwhile, P5+1 group believed that they had curbed Iranian ambition of producing nuclear weapons. In reality, Iran has gradually cut down it uranium stock, deactivated its Arak heavy water nuclear reactor and allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to access its nuclear plants.

However, under the impact of multidimensional movements, what happened in 2016 showed that Iran nuclear pact is facing challenges which are hard to overcome. Though the pact has been signed for two years, most of the US sanctions against Iran haven’t been lifted. Even, the prospect of huge financial investments from America and EU to Iran hasn’t come as expectation. Moreover, there still remain disagreements between US and Iran on human rights, ballistic missile and terrorist issues. Particularly the President elect Donald Trump declares to renegotiate the agreements between P5+1 group and Iran.

While the US still has controversial ideas about Iran, Russia and China are trying to put more effect on this country. This is shown when the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) signals their intention to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with Iran. As for China, for long this country has had plans to invest in Iran, firstly an agreement to build an oil refinery worth USD 1.2 billion has been reached in 2016. The nuclear pact seems to be the impetus for Chinese economic conglomerates to fulfill their plans.

Under the impacts of multidimensional movements, the Middle East situation will still be a picture mixed with dark and bright tones. The brightest part of the picture may be the end of the war on terror  in Syria which opens up a political process bringing about peace to the country and positively affects not only the Middle East region but also other ones in the world.

Senior Colonel Le The Mau

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