United Mid-Eastern States?
A New Approach to Bring Peace and Prosperity to the Middle East
To most observers in the United States, the idea of a United Middle-Eastern States must seem dangerous, undesirable and unworkable. Upon reflection however, it could be seen as timely and useful, not only for those in living in the Middle East, but also for those in America and the rest of the world as well. Among other things, it could help solve the intractable Israeli-Palestinian problem, discourage extremist Jihadism, eliminate terrorism and, in general, reduce world tension. Although this idea could be desirable in theory it is practically impossible, to achieve in practice. But, it is certainly worth a try.
With the rise of borderless communications and the effects of the Arab Spring, uniting the Arabs under a single banner is now more feasible. Israel should welcome a peaceful association with the surrounding Arab world in a new and united union and become a more acceptable member of the Middle East Society of Nations.
Throughout modern times, the Arabs always constituted a one nation. It was divided only recently into a number of states by the Western powers following the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire to ensure their hegemony over the Middle East and its oil resources. There is more to unite the Arabs than separates them. In addition to shared hopes and dreams, the Arabs share a common language, a common culture and a common religion. Present-day Arab states and Israel have more in common than those states that presently comprise the European Union for example. The borders separating them are nothing but lines drawn in the sand with no real significance. At several times in the past, both Turkey and Iran together with the present Arab states and what is now Israel constituted a single nation. So, a union will not be something totally new. It should not be the re-incarnation of the Ottoman or the Persian Empires, it would be a new Democratic union where the constituent states share equally in the control and administration of the entire body.
On a practical level, for this to happen, several changes need to occur:
A more unified Political System: The Arab Spring has opened the door. Most observers believe that it is only a matter of time before the existing Arab monarchies and undemocratic regimes are replaced by more democratic and truly representative administrations. With that in mind, the existing monarchies and autocratic leaders may find it feasible to accommodate more democracy now rather than risk their violent overthrow in the near future. Within the framework of a United Mid-Eastern States, the kings and dictators of today could institute, voluntarily, reforms that would allow their populations to elect representatives to the new order and commit to comply with the new structure. This should not be difficult; examples of enlightened monarchies already exist in some parts of the Arab world.
Centralized Administration: This new Union would function through a centralized administration. Representatives to the central governing body need be selected based on population numbers. Other factors, to be determined in time, should also be included to allow for proper and fair representation of all the people that comprise the new United Mid-Eastern States.
Unified Political and Economic Interests: A representative body of the participating states would be responsible for maintaining and redistributing common wealth and determining foreign policy in ways that favor the common interests of the constituent States. A completely unified system with relative freedoms for the individual states, similar to that in the United States of America, would be ideal.
This will result in many benefits such as:
Benefits for the Arabs: For the Arabs, a political, economic and cultural reunion would help them establish a stronger voice on the international scene and jointly develop their common economic as well as cultural resources. At present, in spite of great oil revenues, the Arabs, in general, are underdeveloped and poor.
Benefits for Israel and the world: For Israel, as a member of the new structure, would be able to achieve both of its Jewish and democratic objectives as well as be accepted in the body of the surrounding Arab nation. For America and the world, this union would relieve the strain of the unrelenting diplomatic and military involvement in the Middle East and decrease world conflict with less terrorism and Islamic militancy. Such a union would also discourage extremism since those who feel disfranchised by the present repressive governments would find democratic channels to more freely express themselves. With decreased conflict and war in the Middle East, the rest of the world would breath easier and be freer to address other problems.
Benefits for other Minorities: In addition to Israel, as a Jewish member of the new union, other nationalities and ethnicities, such as the Kurds, could find an avenue to a more satisfactory and acceptable representation in the new Union.
Middle Eastern Autonomy: A United Mid-Eastern States would be able to address its internal issues within its borders, such as the revolt in Syria for example, using its own means. There would be no need for outside interference, military or otherwise.Although this proposal may seem unrealistic and difficult to achieve, its benefits clearly outweigh its risks. As what happened during the evolution of the United States America, the road to a union of desperate States will be long and rocky. Especially for the Arabs, it is the natural result of the confluent events already happening today. They may even decide to pursue a union among the Arab States in preparation for a union among the wider Mid-Eastern States. Progress will be slow and challenging, but the outcome will be well worth it. It certainly is worth a try.