West Asia at a Crossroad in 2024 Greater peace or Greater war

Sonboli

In 2023 we have faced with two totally opposite trends in West Asia: the First began with Iran- Saudi agreement to normalize relations on April 6, after the meeting between the security officials in Beijing. The dynamism could (and still can) lead the region toward greater peace and prosperity. The second trend began from October 7th Israeli forces intensifies their atrocities against Palestinian people in Gaza war. A dynamism that my lead the region toward greater war. Now at the end of 2023 the two options are open: Greater peace or greater war. It means that forces of peace and prosperity and forces of war and conflict are both active in West Asia.

The Trend towards Greater Peace

War or peace does not happen by accident. The situation in 2024 depends on which forces we are going to support. What happened on April 6th 2023 was the second round of rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The first happened mostly from 1989 to 2005, which led to a security agreement in 1999; The new round started with dialogue and negotiations in different countries and finally led to a security agreement. It means that security issues are very important for both sides. However, bilateral security agreement is not enough. It needs to be expanded to regional level in the Persian Gulf and also to economic fields at regional level.

Rapprochement without mutual understanding is not sustainable. During 1990s and early 2000s, Iran and Arab countries especially in the Persian Gulf had many dialogues at bilateral and regional levels. It is necessary to revive them again. It was Sep.11 and the following developments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria … that led the first round of Rapprochement between Iran and Arab countries to failure.

Political will to look forward contributed to the first and second round of Rapprochement between Iran and neighboring countries in the Persian Gulf. If we remain in the past and fall in the blame-game trap, we will never be able to take any steps forward.

West Asia needs a regionally agreed roadmap to overcome new challenges and achieve greater peace and prosperity. To achieve that International support from Beijing to Brussels is necessary but foreign intervention is more destructive than the past.

West Asia needs a UN Rules based order. The US/UK Rules based order has been very destructive for the region. Even the US and UK suffered from the order that they tried to impose on others in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, ….

The most important development in West Asia is the ongoing generational change. New generation is bringing new threat perceptions. The threat perceptions of previous generations in the region were mainly shaped by the cold war, Iran-Iraq war, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian 1979 revolution. The threat perceptions of the new Generation in the region is mainly influenced by the US interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan and social, economic and environmental challenges facing the region and backwardness of the West Asia in comparison to other parts of the world.

Structures are the same but agents are changing in West Asia. The new generation is different in education, experience and aspirations. They look for a better life and a better place to live. It is in my opinion the most important point because it has social, political and strategic implications for the region and the world.

Inclusivity is the Key to Greater peace and Prosperity. The new generation will not tolerate discrimination at any field and level. The root cause of conflicts in the ME goes back to exclusivity and discrimination. Almost all states that faced challenges in recent decades were not inclusive enough. We live in a mosaic society in West Asia. Discrimination leads to region toward more sectarianism and tribalism and consequently more conflicts and war. That’s why the Apartheid regime in Palestine is not sustainable. For that reason, Iran supports inclusive systems in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. Exclusive approach is an invitation to intervention. Whenever and wherever people are excluded, they refer to “others” for support.

The Trend Toward Greater war

In 1947 when the UNSC Resolution 181 about dividing Palestine into two states passed by the UN, then Iran Representative to the UN says: I see Fire and Blood in the Middle East Sky. That’s what we have seen many times since then. Iran, India and Yugoslavia supported a federal state at that time.

It is very clear that the rights of Palestinians have been violated for a long time. Two state solution failed. The US tried to solve the problem by Normalization of Arab-Israeli relations, with excluding, ignoring and humiliating the Palestinians. It led to more desperation and reactions among them. If Europe and the US had tried to include and respect Hamas when they won the free and fair elections in Palestinian territories, we were not here today and we would not see the current war.

The two-state solution failed because of Israeli side not the Palestinian side. Sharon was killed by an Israeli extremist. How an Apartheid Jewish State can bring peace and prosperity? Resistance is natural.

The Western Narrative of current war emphasize mostly on self-defense. Self-defense does not apply to occupations. The War in Gaza put the West on its real place as an ideological cam that does not believe in human rights as a global value and only play Power politics. However, power politics has not been successful whenever the survival of a nation has been under threat.

Exclusive approaches have created a viscous cycle of war and instabilities. It is still leading the region toward more conflicts, more capital outflows, more extremism; more social and economic problems, more instabilities and more concentration of power in the region.

However, the negative consequences of the conflicts will not be limited to the region. It may lead to more insecurity in EU neighborhood, more migration to Europe; and expansion of the role of right-wing groups in EU and the US politics. It may drown the US in the ME conflicts again for decades. The only winner of ongoing war will be military industrial complexes.

Conclusion

Inclusivity is needed to stop the trend toward Greater war. The US and EU need to use their leverage on Israel to end the War and start real peace negotiations; International community, including regional countries, need to encourage the Palestinian people to find a solution by themselves, for themselves and finally create an inclusive state. Strategic competition among global powers in West Asia would be very destructive. Iran believes and supports inclusive peace and prosperity not greater war and rivalry.

Nabi Sonboli, Senior expert in IPIS

Source: https://www.ipis.ir/en/subjectview/737333/west-asia-at-a-crossroad-in-2024-greater-peace-or-greater-war

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