Rabi Uzi Interview
Q1. You mention the hegemonic desire of Turkey and Iran in your conferences, do you see the future of the Middle East as an arena for regional power?
The Middle East is experiencing a major change in the 21st century. Arabs and the Arab world are getting weaker. This is due to the multiple interventions carried out by the US and the EU in the region which has emboldened countries such as Turkey and Iran, who see themselves as regional powers in the region, to seek further dominance. They are by-products of Arab states which are declining.
It is hard to find an Arab nationalism, a common Arab identity, as the one Nasser tried to build in Egypt and the rest of the region. Today, the different Arab identities are clashing. The spirit of the Middle East is exposed to what we now call “fake news”, which makes the whole region and its cohesion hard to control.
Q2. What do you think about the US and the EU regarding their interventions in the Middle East? What are the pros and cons of each?
There was no coherent start in any foreign policy regarding the Middle East under the Obama administration and what I call his “wishful thinking” which he expressed during his speech in Cairo.
Many eyes shifted from the US to the EU when it came to envisioning the new guardians of the Middle East. Sadly, it has not been the case. France and Germany who lead the EU are unable to form a united EU. EU member states have too many divergences on many issues. From the Iran deal to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the EU is not unified, it is pretty fragmented. Indeed, the EU has internal socio-economic issues which prevents them from being unified and efficient. Each one of the EU states has an Islamic portion amongst their population, which should be taken into account, also at a state level for political decisions in the Middle East.
The colonial past and demographic situation of the EU hold it back. We can see that a new liberal camp is being formed. EU leaders have to recalculate their strategies, from domestic affairs to foreign policy. We face an extreme situation where the Middle East epidemically exports some poisonous ingredients to the EU. It must keep things in balance.
Q3. Could you define the Israeli vision for the Middle East? How do they include themselves into the region then into the world- their global role as well as regional role?
Globally-thinking, Israel is a big power that is and will always be considered out of the Middle East. Regionally-thinking, Israel has an expertise on the world but not on the Middle East. There should be an expected common educational standard for Israel and the rest of the Middle East to learn at school the true History. Israel should be more educated and learn more at a very basic school level. Israel should understand it will always be “the other country” in the Middle East and it will never be accepted by its peers.
There should be a peace based on converging interests, such as the Muslim Brotherhood being a common enemy with Egypt and UAE. About the rapport between Saudi Arabia and Iran, many Arab states think Iran is a threat. Israel does not consider it a threat. This issue gives Israel more leeway in the Middle East as it is not the number 1 enemy anymore. This situation is an option for Israel and everyone else in terms of diplomacy. Israel can play a diplomatic bridge role with others.
The Oslo agreement was thought to put an end to the battlefield. In 2000, there was the second intifada which used religious symbols to deal with a territorial issue. People thought those two people will end the conflict. It went from a secular territorial conflict to a religious conflict. A civilizational religious conflict can only have inefficient results because it cannot be solved with a give and take, it is an all or nothing case.
As for Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, we need more moderate people to lead, those people have been marginalized throughout time, especially after the Iranian revolution in 1979. Israeli Jews are stuck in a ghetto psyche mindset. Whatever they do, they will feel threatened and act as such, so they need to set their mind free, in this Middle Eastern context.
We need an economic and educational hope for a better future in the region. Israel should work with more countries so they can help in dealing with the Palestinian issue. In order to achieve that, better economic integration in the region will create more interdependence. Israel should seek to be included in wider regional scheme.
Another example, Israel and Egypt have been at peace for 40 years, which is substantial. Both Egypt and Israel benefitted from peace. Egypt acknowledged that Israel is not its cup of tea but at the same time that it is not their enemy. Realistically, the maximum Israel should expect from its natural neighbours is a cold consideration, a cold acknowledgment.