Alwaght- The Israeli regime that these days is grappling with anti-government protests is at the same time struggling with a security blockade that hardly allows it room to breathe. On the other hand, though the Arab countries lined up in support of the Palestinians against the Israeli occupation up to a decade ago, the eruption of the Syrian crisis in 2011 brought some important Arab countries and Tel Aviv together on the same front for the first time. This emboldened the Israelis to carry out missile attacks on Syrian territories for the so-called national security guarantees from time to time. Despite Damascus warnings, these attacks have continued and even intensified in recent days, with some Syrian areas being bombed by Israeli fighter jets and some of allied resistance forces being killed and injured.
Over the past 12 years, the Israeli regime and Arab countries have united their stances, with both calling for ouster of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They even dreamed of partitioning the war-ravaged country to weaken the Iran-led Axis of Resistance, a powerful regional bloc opposed to Israeli and American projects in the region.
Therefore, the Syrian crisis had created an American-crafted unholy Israeli-Arab alliance, and the Israeli leaders saw the Syrian arena as a launching pad to break their decades-long regional isolation. So, they tried to bring the Arabs to normalization in order to realize their ‘Nile to Euphrates’ project.
Although Tel Aviv relatively succeeded in normalization and brought the UAE and Bahrain to the process, not long after, the process began to unravel, and Arab countries have headed back to Syria. Although the magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Syria in February caused heavy casualties and damages to this country, it produced a political progress in the form of Arab leaning to Damascus. This is highly worrisome to the Israelis.
Rupture of Israeli-Arab alliance
With the Arab states showing interest in a détente with Syria, it can be said that the Israeli regime can no longer count on Arab supports to its anti-Damascus agenda. The motion to bring Syria back to the Arab League is the most heated debate of the Arab world these days, with all Arab leaders sharing a will to see Syria back to the bloc.
Saudi Arabia was the biggest opponent of Syria’s return to the Arab League, but after the recent agreement between Iran and the kingdom, Riyadh contributed to the case and announced plan to reopen its embassy in Damascus. Additionally, Saudi Arabia will host the Arab League summit on May 19, and reports talk about Riyadh plans to invite President al-Assad to the meeting, an action that has stolen calm from the Israeli eyes and Israeli media describing the Saudi moves a true symbol of the formation of the new Middle East at the Israeli expense.
Egypt, another powerful Arab League member, has begun rapprochement process with Syria. Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad made first visit to Cairo since 2011 on Sunday. Also, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and al-Assad are to meet in the coming weeks, setting a prelude to the end of the differences between the two countries after 12 years. Actually, Egyptian officials are counting the minutes for the détente and return of Damascus to the Arab League. As part of these efforts, el-Sisi traveled to Saudi Arabia on Monday and met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The two discussed Syrian crisis, Damascus return to the Arab League, and efforts to put an end to crisis in the Arab country, according to informed sources. It seems that a consensus has been formed among the Arabs regarding the resumption of relations with Damascus, and probably in the near future they will reopen their embassies one after the other and end more than a decade of hostility.
Syrian crisis has always been one of the topics of discussion of the Arab League summits, and if the Syrian leader attends the meeting for the first time in more than a decade, a statement in defense of Syrian territorial integrity is likely to emerge from the summit. Defending the territorial integrity of Syria by the Arab countries sets an ultimatum to Israel to stop adventuring in this country’s territory. Because any attempt to destabilize Syria will be met with reaction from the Arab world, and this makes the Israelis act more warily. Inter-Arab unity will mean the complete isolation of Israel in the region, and since the occupied territories are experiencing unrest due to political and social crises, any conflict with the Arab countries can have serious consequences for Tel Aviv. On the other hand, with the normalization of Arab countries’ relations with Syria, Syrian army will grow more self-confident and capable of responding decisively to the Israeli hostilities.
Aside from the Arab states, Turkey is also on its way to rapprochement to Syria and the four-party meeting of the deputy foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, Turkey, and Syria in Moscow yesterday was a prelude to resuming diplomatic relations. Turkey, like the Arab countries, was aligned with the Israeli policies in the Syrian crisis, but the normalization with Damascus will push the Tel Aviv against the wall from Turkish side. Turkey and the Arabs have returned to Syria with the aim of restoring stability and security in this country, and the Israeli waging of tensions will mean backing to the square one in the crisis, which is incompatible with agenda of Syria friends.
Syria, land of economic opportunities
In addition to political matters in relations of regional states with Syria, economy is an important matter. Saudi Arabia and the UAE try for security restoration to Syria to pave the way for reconstruction of the country and resumption of economic ties with Damascus. Syria has high investment opportunities in construction, and experts maintain that one of the significant factors driving Syrian growth in the future will be the construction industry. Given the enormity of devastation caused by conflict, the country desperately needs construction materials and investments, an area where Arab countries can invest.
Having in mind that Syria’s oil industry is embattled, one of the most tempting sectors for foreign investors is construction of power plants. Syrian government issued attractive incentives for investors willing to invest in the nation’s electricity industry. Therefore, now Syria is the land of opportunities and has abundant attractions for wealthy Persian Gulf Arab rulers to invest in the country’s vital infrastructure to press ahead the Syria construction and at the same time make profits from bilateral trade.
Egypt, which unlike Persian Gulf monarchies has no wealth to invest in Syria, has projected its own interests that can be pursued in case of normalization. In the past decades, Egypt and Syria led Arab nationalist and the anti-Israeli fronts, and there were extensive interactions between the two sides in economic areas. Two decades ago, the governments of Egypt and Syria announced their agreement to establish a ‘common Arab market’ and the officials of both sides hoped that by taking the necessary measures, the conditions of starting joint commercial and economic activities would be provided for Egyptian and Syrian investors. But these agreements were sidelined due to negligence of the two countries and then start of Syrian crisis. Now, they will possibly revive their deal in the future.
Needless to say, economic activities and foreign investment in Syria are only possible when calm and security return to the country. But currently, the Israeli regime makes the biggest obstacle to the Syrian interests as it keeps the tensions with the country high with intermittent airstrikes. Nevertheless, if the Arab countries enter the Syrian economy, they will not allow Tel Aviv to wage war on Syria and undoubtedly take stances against it.