Sunday 10 October 2021
In recent times, the events taking place in the Middle East have led to an acceleration of political movements within the region. The world has watched on as the American withdrawal from Afghanistan continues to contribute to changing the political, military and security game. The American government’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan after some twenty years have sparked unrest in several of the surrounding nations. The area has become a major conflict map, represented by many countries, including Iran, Turkey, Russia, China and Pakistan. The willingness of these countries to begin establishing diplomatic relations with the Taliban is evidence of the importance of the Taliban's assumption of power and the extent of its impact on the said neighboring countries of Afghanistan. But the important question after the American withdrawal remains: Will the map of alliances in the world, specifically in the Middle East, change? And who then will occupy the seat of the American role in the region?
The Arab alliance consisting of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, coordinated with some Arab countries, constitutes an important strategic alliance in the Middle East and the Arab region. The existence of this alliance is imperative and a strategic necessity for several reasons, the most important of which are:
• Confronting Iranian expansionism and its interference in the affairs of some Arab countries such as Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Since the US withdrawal from the region, Iran has been preparing to extend its influence through Shiite militias and emerge as a regional superpower.
• Preventing Turkish intervention and expansion in the Arab region, especially in Syria and Libya, where Turkey employs political Islam to extend its influence in the Arab world.
• Facing the challenges of terrorism and combating it in all its forms and manifestations.
• Bringing security and stability to the region through the conclusion of peace agreements, such as the Abrahamic Peace Accord.
The Arab alliance is a fundamental pillar in achieving Arab unity. Sharing a common vision based on correct political foundations and rules has strengthened its position by standing as an impenetrable dam in the face of challenges and threats. It also focuses on achieving a comprehensive strategic vision against political Islam, for it represents a real danger to Arab interests and unity. The move of the Arab coalition is important and required in Afghanistan by opening strategic relations with the Taliban and securing the strategic extent and depth in the Gulf. This is done by several means, including the use of soft power in Afghanistan and the strengthening of diplomatic partnership in order to achieve security and stability in the region. The Turkish-Qatari-Egyptian rapprochement has calmed political differences and paved the way for rapprochement with the rest of the Arab coalition members. The UAE has sought to communicate and reopen relations with Turkey and Qatar, doing so by the visit of its National Security Adviser to discuss regional issues of common interest. In addition, the UAE has used its soft power to send humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and the Taliban government, as well as receiving Afghan refugees in the UAE. To heal the Arab rift in the face of regional challenges, Saudi Arabia took the initiative to restore Iraq to the Arab fold, with their security, economic and political support as a major element in the regional balances.
The Turkish-Qatari alliance is considered one of the most important and prominent strategic alliances in the region. It was achieved through the equation of the Qatari role and the Turkish project, which are rooted in common interests and goals. The general strategy on which Doha is based - in terms of political affairs - depends on far-reaching assumptions and influence on the international arena. The Qatari mediation role was an important and effective strategy as many talks between the Taliban and the US government were held in Doha. Qatar has also hosted several negotiation sessions between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The importance of the Afghan issue is further illustrated by the fact that Qatar established a special office for Taliban use in Doha for several years. Qatar used all diplomatic means to be accepted as a mediator by the two parties, and focused, through negotiations, on supporting the process of settling disputes and managing conflict by peaceful means, in order to achieve security and stability in Afghanistan and achieve a peaceful settlement in line with international laws. An important era of the Afghan government has culminated in the Taliban taking control of the country. The biggest winner in this scene is the active regional role of the State of Qatar (the security contractor), through its use of mediation strategies. This role has succeeded through its employment of political Islam and access to solutions through which the Taliban eventually regained control over the country.
As for Turkey, it focuses on political Islam through the Turkish Justice and Development Party project, which is trying by various means to make Turkey a major regional power that plays the role of mediator and links it between the West and the Islamic world. Turkey wants to become the leader of the Islamic world through its use of soft power and attempts to communicate with many Islamic groups. The Qatari-Turkish alliance draws strength from its full support for political Islam movements. Qatar and Turkey are also strong allies of the United States of America, as the latter uses many military bases in these two countries. The bilateral alliance played a major role in Afghanistan through the presence of Turkish forces there and their supervision in securing Kabul Airport. The Turkish presence in Afghanistan came with American support to prevent Iranian-Russian-Chinese interference. Turkey took this opportunity to achieve its influence as a regional power, by being a strong mediator between the European Union and the Taliban on one side, and between the Taliban and America on the other. From here, Turkey began many political moves within the framework of it’s strategy, which is aimed at restoring and improving its relationship with Egypt and the Arab Gulf states, as well as the common interests with these countries and the improvement of its oscillating economic situation regardless of political differences.
The Israeli position
In diligently monitoring the regional alliances within the Middle East, Israel seeks to further its interests. Due to several factors, Israel holds the view that it will occupy the seat of the United States of America in the region. These include: their economic strength, the strength and modernity of its military arsenal, its possession of nuclear weapons and its geographical proximity. In addition to this they have also concluded peace and normalization agreements with a number of Arab countries. In doing so, they have increased their political influence and bought to an end isolation in order to become an important strategic ally in the region, with the support of the US administration. The Israeli point of view comes from these alliances to direct the world’s attention to the danger of the activities of extremist Islamic governments such as the Taliban government, which may lead to the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Afghan province of Khorasan. Israel is aware of the security concerns of neighboring countries, such as Tehran’s exploitation of the US withdrawal through its militias and its influence in the region. There is also its rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons production, which threatens both their security and the security of its Gulf neighbors. This represents the real strategic threat to the security of the Middle East and the world.
Therefore, Israel seeks to create an alliance with the regional blocs through the return of diplomatic relations with Ankara. Following the change of government in Tel Aviv, this is sure to improve the tense relations with Turkey and gain them as a strong strategic ally given Turkey’s regional weight. In addition, the visit of the Prime Minister to Egypt - the first of its kind since 2011 – displayed clear support of the Egyptian position towards protecting the region from foreign ambitions and in confronting the Iranian threat and extremist groups. Hence, this alliance comes to achieve the mutual regional security interests of Israel and the Arab countries, standing against Iranian interests and interference in many Arab nations, and taking new steps to curb Iran's regional role and influence.
In conclusion, it seems that there are new and important alliances appearing on the horizon within the political map of the Arab region and the Middle East. Will these alliances witness a rapprochement between the Arab and Turkish-Qatari alliance - as a super Sunni bloc? Will Israel ally with the Arab coalition hand in hand to curb regional and international ambitions?