There are two things I believe about the growing crisis in the Middle East.
We are about to see how a new strategy of the Biden administration to confront this multi-front war involving the Gaza Strip, Iran, Israel and the region, which I hope will be a “Biden Doctrine“that responds to the seriousness and complexity of this dangerous moment.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 7, 2024. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Pool/File Photo
And if we do not see such a big and bold doctrine, the crisis in the region is going to metastasize in ways that will strengthen Iranthey will isolate Israel and leave America's ability to influence events for the better in ruins.
A Biden Doctrine – as I am calling the convergence of strategic thinking and planning that my reports have collected – would have three aspects.
One of them would be a firm and determined stance towards Iranwhich would include a strong military retaliation against Iranian proxies and agents in the region in response to the killing of three American soldiers at a Jordanian base by a drone apparently launched by a pro-Iran militia in Iraq.
The second path would be an unprecedented US diplomatic initiative to promote a Palestinian state – NOW.
It would involve some form of recognition by the United States of a demilitarized Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that would only see the light of day once the Palestinians had developed a set of defined and credible institutions and security capabilities to ensure that this state was viable and could never threaten Israel.
Biden administration officials have been consulting experts inside and outside the US government about the different forms this could take. recognition of Palestinian statehood.
In the third way there would be a security alliance of the United States with Saudi Arabia, which would also involve Saudi normalization of relations with Israel, if the Israeli government is willing to accept a diplomatic process leading to a demilitarized Palestinian state led by a Palestinian Authority transformed.
If the administration manages to pull this off – a huge “if” – the Biden Doctrine could become the largest strategic realignment in the region since the 1979 Camp David treaty.
However, for the Biden Doctrine to be successful, it is absolutely necessary that the three tracks are united.
I think American officials understand that.
Because of this I am certain: October 7 is forcing a fundamental rethink about the Middle East within the Biden administration, given Hamas' barbaric attack on Israel; the massive Israeli retaliation against Hamas that has killed thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza; the increasing attacks against Israeli and American personnel in the region; and the inability of Israel's right-wing government to articulate any plan to govern Gaza the morning after the end of the war with a Palestinian partner other than Hamas.
The ongoing rethink indicates that we are aware that we cannot continue to allow Iran to try to expel us from the region, drive Israel to extinction and our Arab allies to intimidation acting through proxies – Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and the militias. Shiites in Iraq – while Iran sits happily and you don't pay any price.
And, simultaneously, it signals the realization that the United States will never have the global legitimacy, NATO allies, and Arab and Muslim allies it needs to confront Iran more aggressively unless we stop allowing the Israeli prime minister , Benjamin Netanyahuhold our politics hostage and let's start building a credible and legitimate Palestinian Authority that can one day govern Gaza and the West Bank effectively and as a good neighbor to Israel along the final borders they would negotiate together.
Nader Mousavizadeh, founder and CEO of the geopolitical consultancy Macro Advisory Partners and senior advisor to then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, describes this emerging Biden Doctrine as “the strategy of the double reckoning.”
“Strategically, it draws the attention of Iran and, at the same time, undertakes an unprecedented initiative to lay the foundation for a demilitarized Palestinian state, the likes of which the United States has never done before,” Mousavizadeh said.
“Each path requires the other to be successful. Each of them reinforces and justifies the other. Counterattacking Iran and its allies in a more firm and sustained way reinforces the security of Israel and that of our Arab allies.
Couple this with a bold, authentic U.S. commitment to a Palestinian state, and we will gain legitimacy to act against Iran and the allies we need to be more effective. “It also isolates Iran militarily and politically.”
“It also isolates Iran militarily and politically.”
I think this is exactly right.
It is time for the United States to expose both Iran and Netanyahu.
Netanyahu is the reason I coined this rule for reporting on the Middle East:
“What people say to you in English in private is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what they say in public in their own language.”
Netanyahu has been whispering to Biden privately that he might be willing one day – perhaps – to consider some kind of demilitarized Palestinian state, while in Hebrew in public he has been saying just the opposite.
Fortunately, Biden has given the matter enough thought to know that Netanyahu is just trying to pull his leg.
Sometimes age is an advantage.
It's time to call the games of Netanyahu and the ayatollahs at the same time.
A Biden Doctrine is the right way to do it.
We have tolerated Iran destroying every constructive initiative we have tried to build in the Middle East, as long as Tehran stays below the threshold of attacking us directly.
And at the same time, we have tolerated a Netanyahu government bent on permanently preventing any form of Palestinian state, to the point of reinforcing Hamas against the Palestinian Authority for many years to ensure that there was no unified Palestinian partner.
“On October 7 it became clear that our policy towards Iran was bankrupt and that our policy towards Israel and Palestine was bankrupt,” Mousavizadeh declared.
“Those policies allowed and empowered Hamas to savagely attack Israel. They allowed and empowered the Houthis to paralyze global shipping, and they allowed pro-Iran Shia militias to try to expel US forces from the region, forces deployed there to prevent the return of ISIS and help keep the region reasonably stable.”
All of this happened, he added, without anyone holding the Iranian regime accountable for the way it “deploys its poisonous and destructive non-state actors throughout the region against the constructive objectives of our allies,” who are trying to build a more inclusive region. .
For all these reasons, I believe, hope and pray that a Biden Middle East Doctrine will arrive, and the Israelis should too.
Israel is now losing on three fronts.
He has lost the narrative war over Gaza.
Even though Hamas murdered and raped Israelis, it is Israel that has been brought before the International Court of Justice in The Hague for the civilian casualties it has caused in Gaza while trying to eliminate Hamas fighters who were embedding themselves among civilians. .
It is losing the ability to maintain Israel's security without becoming overburdened in the long term by invading Gaza without any plan to find a legitimate non-Hamas Palestinian partner to govern there effectively so Israel can withdraw.
And it is losing on the regional stability front.
Israel is now the target of an Iranian attack on four fronts – by Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and the Shia militias in Iraq – but cannot generate the Arab or NATO allies it needs to win that war, because it refuses to do anything to nurture a credible and legitimate Palestinian partner.
If a Biden Doctrine emerges, Mousavizadeh concluded, “it will be good geopolitics abroad and good politics at home.”
It could deter Iran both militarily and politically, taking away the Palestinian card from Tehran.
It could promote the creation of a Palestinian state on terms compatible with Israeli security and, simultaneously, create the conditions for the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia on terms that the Palestinians can accept.
And it is a strategy that could work with the Arab Americans of Lake Michigan and with the Arab allies of the Persian Gulf.
It is a strategy that could force a reckoning within Iranian politics, within Palestinian politics, and within Israeli politics.
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