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Gaza War: Arabs see Israel ‘most hated’ in region, turn away from US, Iran-Saudi normalisation

Gaza War: Arabs see Israel ‘most hated’ in region, turn away from US, Iran-Saudi normalisation

The ongoing Israeli bombardment in Gaza, backed by moral and logistical support from the US, while disregarding global calls for a ceasefire to alleviate the escalating humanitarian crisis, has generated a sense of discontent among Arab nations toward the US.

This has created a situation where normalization with Israel in the region appears to be a mirage.

Experts are of the opinion that the recently concluded Doha Forum was a reflection of the evolved discontent, with the potential to drive Arab nations towards China and Russia to increase their foothold in the region.

The conflict, labelled a genocide by several Arab nations, has claimed over 18,000 lives in just over two months, triggering global calls for an immediate ceasefire and investigations into alleged war crimes committed by Israeli forces.

Galip Dalay, a senior fellow at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, emphasized that the war had emotionally, politically, and socially involved the region, creating a backdrop conducive to a multipolar world, away from U.S. hegemony.

One striking consequence of the conflict is the reshaping of diplomatic ties, particularly concerning Israel. Omar Rahman, a fellow at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, argued that Israel has solidified its status as the "most hated country in the region by far."

This sentiment, he believes, makes any normalization process with Israel "off the table" in the near future, challenging the Abraham Accords brokered by former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2020.

The Biden administration's efforts to normalize ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia have also hit a roadblock. The Gaza war has put Riyadh and other Arab nations that signed peace deals with Israel in an awkward position, leading experts to predict that regional rivals in the Middle East will now seek to "normalize" their relations.

Notably, the focus has shifted to potential normalization between Saudi Arabia and Iran, traditionally arch-rivals in the region.

Sanam Vakil, director of the MENA Programme at Chatham House, pointed to Iran as a key player in the region's normalization processes. She highlighted the China-brokered Saudi-Iran rapprochement earlier this year as a pivotal example of fostering multipolarity in the region.

Tehran's regional relationships through the Axis of Resistance, including Syria, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and various Palestinian factions, provide a strategic balance against perceived threats from Western sanctions.

However, analysts caution that the Gaza conflict's regional escalation could pose risks for Iran, especially with the anticipation of increased pressure in 2024. Vakil emphasized the importance of maintaining low-level pressure on Israel, the United States, and the broader region to prevent further escalation.

Amidst these geopolitical shifts, Alfredo Conte, a top Italian diplomat, highlighted the essential nature of the Palestinian issue for the region. Conte suggested that Middle Eastern countries' normalization with Israel could coexist with efforts to address the Israel-Palestine conflict and work towards a solution for Palestinian statehood.

He argued that addressing the Palestinian issue could pave the way for shared stability and prosperity in the entire region.

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TAGS:HamasFree PalestineIsrael Palestine Conflict
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