Monday, October 09, 2006

Haven't We Been Here Before?

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

Until 9/11, I did not follow events in the Middle East. But since that day, when the daily paper arrives, I first read "World News," with focus upon recent developments in the Middle East. Many times, I have a feeling of deja vu, harkening back to the time when all I did was glance at similar headlines in the world section of the newspaper and of news magazines. Now, of course, I read entire articles instead of merely skimming over the headlines.

On the inside of the back page of the first section of the Sunday, October 8, 2006 edition of the Washington Post appeared the headline "Rice's Tour of Mideast Yields Little Progress on Key Issues." Excerpt from the article:
"LONDON, Oct. 7 -- It was a tough week for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the Middle East. On four issues pivotal to the future of the world's most volatile region, U.S. diplomatic efforts made no visible progress or came up against unexpected resistance during her five-day tour, according to Arab and Israeli officials and analysts.

"On Iraq, Arab-Israeli peace, democracy promotion and fostering a so-called moderate bloc of Arab states to stand together against militancy, Rice pressed at each of six stops for new energy or more decisive action. Many of the Arab leaders she met share U.S. fears about the region's future, but there is a growing divide even with Washington's closest allies over what needs to be done, at what pace, in what order and by whom, according to Arab officials interviewed at each stop....

"The United States and the Arab world are now engaged in a chicken-and-egg argument over what happens next. Arab governments -- including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and five oil-rich Persian Gulf sheikdoms -- all appealed to Rice to revive U.S. leadership to break deadlocks on several fronts because they have so far been unable to do it alone, Arab officials said. But Rice basically told governments at each stop that they must first take difficult steps to create conditions more conducive to greater U.S. involvement, U.S. officials said....

"The greatest pressure put on Rice at every stop was to do something to jump-start the moribund Arab-Israeli peace process, which Arab leaders almost unanimously described as the key to addressing other flash points as well. Yet Rice found herself negotiating some of the same issues she was engaged in last November...

"Senior Arab officials and analysts also said U.S. efforts to promote democracy and foster an anti-militant bloc were contradictory, because the moderates the United States is trying to rally against radical Islamic groups are some of region's most autocratic governments...."
Most of the above seems so familiar to me. Over and over again, hopes for peace have come to naught or have been dashed shortly after much lauded peace accords. Do we really believe that Muslim resistance to the path to peace is "unexpected," and are we actually shocked when diplomatic overtures result in "no visible progress"? And should that impasse continue to be laid at the feet of the United States or of Israel?

Character Ishmael, from Leon Uris's The Haj (page 14):
"So before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my father against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; and the tribe against the world. And all of us against the infidel."

No comments: