Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Foreign intervention in Middle East

PressTV's Middle East Today takes a look at the effects of foreign mediation in Middle East disputes. Is it time for the West to bow out, and let the region sort out its own problems?

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is on his third official visit to Tehran since taking office – and his second this year.

High on the agenda in his meetings with foreign ministry officials, the president and leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyid Ali Khamanei, are the plans by Washington to forge a long term strategic relationship with Iraq – a status of forces agreement – or SOFA.

Critics of the deal say it would reduce Iraq to the level of a vassal state of the US, and a base for US military adventures in the region.

Maliki has assured his neighbor that Iraq will not become a base for threats against Tehran. But even if a watered down version of the SOFA security pact goes through – and all indications are that it will - these are promises that Maliki is hardly in a position to make.

Meanwhile, French President Nicholas Sarkozy has been in Lebanon to offer his support for national unity.

Sarkozy also suggested a “new page” may be opening in relations with Damascus now that crisis in Lebanon appears to have passed.

In an interview published last week, Sarkozy said France would resume contacts with Syria only when positive, concrete developments occurred in Lebanon.

Interestingly, some of the most significant developments in Mid East peacemaking in recent weeks have been achieved without the obvious hands of Western power brokers.

The Doha Agreement that brought the Lebanese factions together, Egyptian brokered talks for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, and Turkish mediated efforts to bring Israel and Syria closer to a deal for peace are just the most recent examples.

Fair to say, none of these new initiatives are anything close to being described a done deal, in fact, there are still plenty of concerns over whether the Doha deal will hold together.

But it does raise the question of whether Western mediation or peace efforts are on the wane.

Is it fair to say that after decades of effort, it is time for the West to bow out, and consign what could be described as its kill or cure approach to diplomacy – often with the emphasis on the former rather than the latter – to the waste bin of history.

Is it time for the region to resolve its own problems – cut the apron strings to former colonial rulers – and with what some have described as aspiring colonial powers.

Answering these and several other pressing questions were, in Washington, Ambassador Edward Peck former US Ambassador to Iraq - (profile)

In Cairo we were Joined by Gamal Nkrumah, Foreign Editor of Al-Ahram Newspaper.

Discussing the Sarkozy visit, were Edmond Gharib, Professor of International Relations at the American University.

In Beirut, the program was joined by Havan Haidar, of the Third Force, and on the Phone from London, Jacque Reland, Head of European Research, Global Policy Institute.

Watch "Kill or Cure - Foreign Mideast Intervention" from the Middle East Today archive.

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