Normalization of ties with Zionists to increase regional conflicts: Pakistani expert

Islamabad, Sept 23, IRNA -- Renowned Pakistani foreign policy experts expressing concern over the Arab-Zionist nexus believe such hasty decisions have added a new layer of complexity to the ongoing conflicts in the Middle Eastern region.

They were speaking at a webinar titled “Evolving Situation in the Middle East: Implications for the Region” organized by a governmental think tank, Centre for Middle East & Africa (CMEA) in collaboration with the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS), University of Peshawar.

The distinguished panel of speakers included: Dr. Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi, Director IPCS; Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad; Ambassador Javed Hafeez, Former Pakistani diplomat; Dr. Farah Jan, Lecturer, University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Syed Qandil Abbas, Associate Professor, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.

In her introductory remarks, Amina Khan, Director CMEA said that there exist a plethora of issues in the Middle East, all of which are extremely significant and highly relevant to both the regional and global political milieu.

“There is the oil crisis, conflicts in Syria and Yemen, massive refugee exodus, the role and relevance of OIC in uniting the Muslim world, forging of new alliances as well as the most recent and unique challenge of the coronavirus pandemic; all of these issues contribute to the evolving situation in the Middle East,” she said.

She added Zionist-Palestinian conflict dating back seven decades has often been used as a litmus test of unity among the Arab and non-Arab Muslim states of the region and beyond.

The expert added thus, it came as a blow to most countries within the Muslim world when the UAE and Zionist regime signed a peace agreement last month formalizing their bilateral relationship.

“However at the same time, this development has also garnered a divided reaction from within the Arab world, with some states considering to follow the UAE in officially recognizing Zionist regime while others have rebuked the move as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause,” she said.

Khan noted in these trying times, this development has once again highlighted that the ME remains in a continuous state of political insecurity which is both internal and external in nature.

In his welcome remarks, Director General ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that in the first two decades of the present century no region has been affected more than the Middle East.

He named four dynamics which included: the aftermath of 9/11 when Iraq was invaded, the so-called Arab Spring which soon transformed into a regime change agenda and country after the country got destabilized particularly Syria and Libya, the tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia and now the Palestinian crisis has taken a new dimension as there is a rethink in some of the Arab countries about the Zionist regime.

The Middle East region has suffered from terrorism and extremism and while it has made modest successes, terrorism has not yet been fully conquered due to political instability.

“Terrorists like Al-Qaeda and others are still trying to find more space and economies suffer while the region is politically unstable even more so in the wake of Covid19 where the world economy as a whole has shrunk,” he said.

Fatima Raza, Research Associate, CMEA, ISSI, gave a presentation on the occasion where she talked about the recent UAE Zionist regime peace deal, the factors that contributed towards it, the world reaction, and Pakistan’s stance on the issue.

She said the UAE, is the first Persian Gulf state and the third Arab country to develop ‘normal’ diplomatic relations with the Zionist regime. “While the UAE officials propped up the ‘suspension’ of further annexation of Palestinian territories by the Zionist regime, however, Netanyahu said a few days after the agreement the annexation of territories is not completely off the table,” said the expert.

She said Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic at home and maximum pressure campaign to bend Iran have fallen flat which has put his re-election to the oval office in serious danger.

The deal also comes as a boon to Prime Minister Netanyahu who is dealing with corruption charges and a shaky coalition at home.

She noted the move has garnered severe backlash from several Muslim countries particularly Iran and Turkey.

Dr. Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi, Director IPCS said that even if out of 57 Muslim countries 56 join the club and they recognize the Zionist regime, the latter would still be looking towards Pakistan because Pakistan's position in Zionists’ policy parameters is very significant.

“Palestinian issue has more of an ideological factor and it is more of a human rights situation in which we need to support the Palestinians for their motherland,” he said,.

“We need to give an impression to the Israelis that all the Muslim world is behind Palestine. Currently, the Israelis have the opposite impression,” the scholar added.

Dr. Syed Qandil Abbas, Associate Professor, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad elaborated upon the geographical and historical significance of the Middle Eastern region, being the birthplace of three transcendent religions. He said that the evolving situation in the Middle East can be understood in different contexts and backgrounds.

He added the creation of the Zionist regime has made this region volatile and explosive. “Moreover, the 1979 Islamic Revolution made Iran the center of gravity for this region,” he noted.

He said based on these backgrounds and the recent agreement between the Zionist regime and UAE, a new layer of complexity has been added to the ongoing conflicts in the region especially if we consider conflict in Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon, and Palestine which have been made more critical in the context of the Zionist-UAE agreement.

“One of the major objectives of Israel is to bring out the Zionist regime from political isolation of more than seven decades. Moreover, Israel is in search of stronger regional allies that bolster its position against Iran,” he said.

Dr. Farah Jan, Lecturer, University of Pennsylvania focused on the Pakistan-Saudi relationship, where she talked about the economic factors of this alliance which she said had given birth and might also eventually be the cause of strain in the future as well.

She said that shifting alliances in the Middle East are taking place and these new alliance structures are concerning, particularly with what is going on in the case of Turkey and Greece in the Mediterranean today.

Former Ambassador Javed Hafeez outlined how the Middle East due to its strategic location and resources has been at the hub of interaction and rivalries.

Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman Board of Governors ISSI, concluded the webinar. He said that in the deal between UAE and the Zionist regime brokered by the US- the main actor the Palestinians are not present.

“Meanwhile, the bombing of Gaza continues. If you go by the past experience, similar deals by Egypt and Jordan also did not produce any positive results and have naturally been rightly rejected by the Palestinians. It is also an issue which involves the sanctity of the United Nations resolutions,” he said.

The former ambassador said Pakistan has rightly rejected this deal and upholding the sanctity of the UN Resolution both in the case of Palestine and Kashmir is a prerequisite for any settlement that could be called a genuine peace team instead of rhetoric and half-baked agreements.


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