By Fares Braizat, Apr 03,2022

The roles played by the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are worthy of some explanation and evaluation as examples of how small states can influence regional and international politics. These roles are adventurously innovative, boldly unconventional, ruthlessly interventionist, and changing the meanings and methods of security diplomacy in the region and beyond. These policies have come at a cost for both countries, but they have also provided political clout of sorts.   

But why have they departed from their old ways of doing security business and decided to take bold initiatives of their own?

Their roles have gotten them politically, diplomatically, and militarily involved in regional conflicts. Their actions are a statement about the deficit of effectiveness of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League, and the Arab Defense and Economic Cooperation Treaty. 

None of the Arab states, big and small, have managed to secure a sustainable region-based security arrangement thus far. This conclusion also applies to the neighboring countries such as Iran, Israel, Turkey, and Ethiopia in relation to Arab states. 

Infighting among Arab states and intrusive interventions by international and regional powers in the internal affairs of Arab states have made it very difficult for any arrangement to be feasible. It is this messy environment that made it possible for these two small countries to move away from an inapt reality and chart new, unconventional ways to move forward.

The ineptitude of regional orders historically led MENA countries to resort to bilateral arrangements with international and regional powers, to ensure partial, but never total, security. That came at a very high cost: inter and intra-state wars. This reality is not sustainable. 

The thorny issue of Israel-Palestine and the wider Arab-Israeli conflict has been central to regional and international security talks, and many Arab and regional countries were unwilling to talk security before this issue was “satisfactorily addressed”.

Over the past two decades, new problems were added to the mix: nuclear proliferation and the limitations of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Iran’s expansion, more failed and failing states, and endless civil wars. The more these issues accumulate, the more complex solutions become. 

Today, a new language is emerging in international circles, calling for decoupling of regional security talks from ongoing political processes, whether with Turkey, Iran, Ethiopia or Israel. Qatar-Iran, UAE-Israel, Egypt-Ethiopia, and Jordan-US relations are just a few examples of the increase in bilateral negotiations which could be expected to continue in the near future. 

The zero-sum mindset which has ruled regional antagonists’ relations does not seem to be desired by all actors, whether big or small. The international scene is changing, and the region will have to find its own ways of preserving its security. 

The feeling is that the world is tired of MENA problems and wars, and the US has more important priorities to turn to. Regional conflicts have pushed development in the region decades back, and more of such regression is not going to be tolerable globally. 

The writer is the Chairman of NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions, H.E. Dr. Fares Braizat. 

This article was originally published in Jordan News on April 03, 2022. For the original article source, click here