Will Trump Succeed where Others Failed?

Will Trump Succeed where Others Failed?

Tuesday, 6 March, 2018 - 09:15
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.
All US presidents have tried their luck and proposed – or tried to propose – a peace plan between Arabs and Israel, except for Barack Obama who was preoccupied with other affairs in the region. Meanwhile, Donald Trump seems to be working to accomplish “mission impossible” to reach a peace plan. He assigned this task to one of the people closest to him, his senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and to special envoy Jason Greenblatt.

Details on this peace plan are not enough so we will not rush and judge whether it will fail or not. We all know that no one has succeeded so far, to the point that it seems achieving comprehensive peace is as impossible as the rise of the phoenix! Despite this we will remain optimistic, because who knows, maybe someone will hit the jackpot! It’s like winning the lottery – the chances are slim, but they are still there.

The conditions for success are currently available. The regional situation specifically is more better prepared than the days of Camp David in the 1970s, the Madrid Peace Conference in the 1990s and the days of the famous Oslo Accords. It is certainly better than the circumstances of later peace talks in Taba, Wye River, Arabah and others.

The current political atmosphere is suitable for a peace plan thanks to the major changes witnessed in the Arab region. The most hostile figures who sabotaged previous peace plans are no longer part of the game. They include Saddam Hussein, Moammar Gaddafi, Bashar al-Assad and leftist Palestinian factions. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted from power in Egypt and weakened in Sudan. The rule of the Iranian Ayatollah is facing internal tumult and involved in Syria and Iraq. It is also bound to the nuclear agreement and the conditional lifting of sanctions. I will not note the defeat of terror groups, like al-Qaeda and ISIS, because they were never part of the equation and they never sought to sabotage previous projects.

This major absence of parties which oppose peace does not mean that the new Arab atmosphere is currently enthusiastic to reach a reconciliation. Arabs are simply not thinking and talking about it because they are preoccupied with the three dangerous wars in Syria, Libya and Yemen. This is in addition to large-scale tensions and confrontations in countries neighboring war-torn states.

This non-hostile or indifferent atmosphere regarding peace in Palestine is not enough without a fair peace plan. So is there anyone preparing a real peace plan similar to the one presented by Bill Clinton which many, including skeptics and parties that oppose peace, approved of? That real chance towards peace was not seized due to the then-Palestinian president’s reluctance and the Israelis’ rejection to readdress it.

This is a difficult task for Kushner, a young ambitious man with special relations with Jewish parties in Israel and a number of Arab leaders. The Palestinian cause is no longer an urgent matter, despite the continuous suffering of the Palestinian people, mainly because the world is busy with Syria, Iran, Libya and ISIS. However, Kushner put it on top of the president’s list of concerns. Everyone is waiting to know more about the details of Trump’s plan for peace. I am among the skeptics of the possibility of reaching the “impossible deal” because world leaders have failed to achieve one for over 50 years. It will not be easy especially after Trump decided to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem for nothing in return from Israel. Despite this, we will wait until we hear more about the plan’s details and judge it then.

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