Former ambassador to US: Turkey, Iran are strong, Arab states weak

“Being blatantly supportive of President Trump and the Republican Party was a grave mistake on the part of Israel.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the crowd of people in Yazd, Iran (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the crowd of people in Yazd, Iran
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel is facing a Middle East in which Turkey and Iran are growing stronger and the Arab states are weak, according to former Israeli ambassador to the US Itamar Rabinovich.
Speaking at the Crow Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies, Rabinovich gave an analysis of the Middle East today, according to The Daily Northwestern.
“The three most powerful countries in the Middle East are not Arab,” he said, pointing to Iran, Turkey and Israel as the strongest countries in the region. He characterized the Arab world as weak, pointing out the Syrian civil war and crises in Yemen, Libya and Sudan. Egypt, once one of the strongest countries in the region, faces challenges. Rabinovich was the former chief negotiator with Syria in the 1990s, and the president of the Israel Institute and emeritus professor at Tel Aviv University.
According to the report, Rabinovich was critical of Israel becoming a more partisan issue in US politics. “Being blatantly supportive of President [Donald] Trump and the Republican Party was a grave mistake on the part of Israel,” he said.
Rabinovich expressed concern to the Middle East Eye in October after the US decision to withdraw from part of Syria. He noted that Iran and its allies appeared to be getting stronger. In the Eurasia Review he was also quoted on Turkey’s invasion of eastern Syria. “Syria is in fact a failed state enjoying limited sovereignty,” said Rabinovich. “Turkey herself has already captured part of Syria in an earlier invasion. Russian and Iranian troops are in Syria at the government invitation.”
The current challenge for Israel, eight years after the Arab Spring and five years after the rise of ISIS, is how to confront the new Middle East that is emerging. The chaos and instability in the Arab states has been reduced, but many emerged weaker. Turkey and Iran benefited. It is unclear if Israel benefited.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a recent conference commemorating 25 years of peace with Jordan that it is Israel’s strength that has led to relations with the Arab world. “The stronger we are, and the more we demonstrate our strength, the more they are with us,” he said.
Netanyahu argued that deterrence brought Israel peace, not people-to-people relations. This is part of Netanyahu’s overall worldview that “the strong are respected,” and that alliances are made with the strong while the weak crumble, a tweet he wrote in August 2018.
Netanyahu said something similar in 1996 in a speech to Congress, arguing that until democracy sweeps the region, the “proper course for the democratic world led by the US is to strengthen the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel.”
The issue Israel appears to face is that although it is strong today, it is competing for influence in the Arab world with Iran and Turkey. Turkey’s current government is a harsh critic of Israel, and Iran’s regime is Israel’s foremost enemy in the region.
This is a reversal of the past, when Israel, Turkey and Iran enjoyed better relations between the 1950s and 1970s, and the stronger Arab countries opposed Israel’s existence.



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