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Europe must extract itself from its Middle East mess - Daily News Egypt

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Europe must extract itself from its Middle East mess

On my trip through Europe that has included discussions with a wide range of officials and specialists in Norway, Germany, France and Italy, almost every conversation turns to the question of what role Europe should play in the Middle East today. More and more Europeans seem to feel uneasy that their increased participation in Middle …


On my trip through Europe that has included discussions with a wide range of officials and specialists in Norway, Germany, France and Italy, almost every conversation turns to the question of what role Europe should play in the Middle East today. More and more Europeans seem to feel uneasy that their increased participation in Middle Eastern issues is not leading to improved security conditions or mutual relations. Unlike most Americans or officials in Washington, who instinctively blame the Arabs and Muslims of the Middle East for the problems of the day, Europeans generally tend to be more analytical in their approach to fixing what is clearly a bad moment in European-Middle Eastern relations. The attack against the Spanish United Nations peacekeepers in South Lebanon last week, and this week’s terror attacks or attempts in the United Kingdom and Yemen are only three examples of how Europe remains both linked and vulnerable to complex political dynamics in the Middle East. The question of what Europe should do in the region is easy to answer. It should do the opposite of what it has done in the past two years: stop moving toward becoming an Israeli-American errand boy and return to vigorously playing the role that it had played in a low-key manner in recent decades, as promoter of the rule of law, international legitimacy, UN resolutions and the global will to see Arabs and Israelis living in peace and security in two adjacent states. A generation ago, in 1980, a smaller but more respected and self-assured European Union issued the Venice Declaration, calling for Palestinian self-determination and effectively demanding a Palestinian state alongside Israel, with security guarantees for both. A generation ago, Europe staked out a firm, fair position, affirming justice and compliance with UN resolutions as the means to achieve comprehensive peace and long-term security. Today, Europe has turned into a pile of diplomatic cotton candy – appealing and aesthetic from a distance, but a real mess when you come in contact with it. Europe’s most foolhardy policy these days is to meekly follow the United States and Israel in boycotting the democratically-elected Hamas leadership in Palestine, and instead to pursue the charade of propping up President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah Party, both of which suffer badly frayed credibility. It is sad to see a noble political venture such as a united Europe emasculate and embarrass itself so badly by blindly adopting as its own policy the proven failed approach of the US and Israel. I know it is difficult for a much larger EU to change policy quickly or forcefully, given its problems closer to home. Continuing on its current course in the Middle East, however, would be folly and an enormous waste of money. Europeans are spending billions in aid and sending troops on peacekeeping or border surveillance missions in Palestine and Lebanon, yet the results remain erratic. The EU’s new Neighborhood Policy, to follow the Barcelona process, seems destined to suffer the same ignominious fate of a noble mission that goes nowhere, because the desire to be magnanimous and fair has led only to wishy-washiness. Europe is increasingly involved in military operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East that appear more and more futile and dangerous. This is partly because their genesis is Europe’s having to help clean up or stabilize a mess that often created by the imbalanced and aggressive policies of the US and Israel. This is happening at a time when Europe is suffering from three other negative trends related to its relations with the Middle East: terrorism from within Europe, often inspired by events in the Middle East; the fact that Europeans pay more and more for development and reconstruction aid, while development and reconstruction in the Middle East remain chronically elusive; and that European credibility in the region continues to slip. This is, indeed, Europe’s worst moment, as its ineffective foreign policies leave it largely lacking in respect or impact in the Middle East and much of the rest of the world. Nor is Europe promoting security or stability at home, or even effectively dealing with its illegal immigrant problem. Europe urgently needs to acknowledge what a dire mess it has gotten itself into in the Middle East, and work its way out of this predicament by reverting to its former role as promoter of the rule of law and international legitimacy, and a firm bastion of fairness. Rami G. Khouriis published twice-weekly by THE DAILY STAR

Topics: Wael Ghonim

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https://dailyfeed.dailynewsegypt.com/2007/07/05/europe-must-extract-itself-from-its-middle-east-mess/
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