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Traditional Conflicts and the Role of State Actors in the MENA Region. By Christina Zygakis -International Relations Scholar -Youth Sector, Greek Association for Atlantic & European Cooperation. A Focus on the Palestine Question. Latest Developments. Violence.

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Traditional conflicts and the role of state actors in the mena region

Traditional Conflicts and the Role of State Actors in the MENA Region

By Christina Zygakis

-International Relations Scholar

-Youth Sector, Greek Association for Atlantic & European Cooperation

A Focus on the Palestine Question

Latest developments
Latest Developments MENA Region

Violence MENA Region

  • 1 June 2012: Gunfight on Gaza border Death of 1 Palestinian militant

  • 18 June 2012: Cross-border attack from Egypt to S. Israel by militants Deaths: 1 Israeli civilian + 3 militants Israeli airstrike against Gaza Rocket launch by Palestinian militant groups into Israel Injury of several Israelis Truce brokered by Egypt

Violence MENA Region

  • 28 June 2012: Assassination of Hamas operative in Damascus

  • 19 July 2012: Suicide bombing against Israeli tourist bus in Bulgaria 6 killed

Political developments
Political Developments MENA Region

  • 6 June 2012: Order for the construction of 851 new homes in West Bank

  • 8 June 2012: Abbas: Expression of willingness to accept UN non-member state status for Palestine

  • 13 June 2012: Criticism against Netanyahu by Israeli State Comptroller upon the 2010 flotilla incident

  • 21 June 2012: Report backed by UK government finds Israeli treatment towards Palestinian children in breach of Geneva Convention and the UN Convention on Child Rights

Political developments1
Political Developments MENA Region

  • 25 June 2012: Launch of Putin’s visit to Israel and the West Bank

  • Early July 2012: Al-Jazeera documentary evidencing poisoning of Arafat

  • 10 July 2012: Release of Palestinian footballer Al-Sarsak

  • mid-July 2012: Israeli order to demolish 8 W-B villages to create IDF zone

  • 19 July 2012: Release of PLC Speaker Dweik

Political developments2
Political Developments MENA Region

  • Egyptian Presidency’s moves towards Palestinians

  • 18 July 2012: Mursi – Abbas talks

  • 19 July 2012: Mursi- Meshaal talks

  • 25 July 2012: Mursi-Hamas PM talks

State actors in the palestinian question1
State Actors in the Palestinian Question MENA Region

  • Contemporary Palestine Question The epicenter of the general Arab-Israeli conflict

    Numerous states involved

Turkey MENA Region

  • Events that shaped Turkey’s contemporary Middle East approach:

  • The end of the Cold War

  • 1990-1991 Gulf War

  • Escalation of the Kurdish issue

  • Erbakan’ s 1996 election as the first Islamist Prime Minister in Turkey’s history Turkey-Arab world & Turkey-Israel relations flourished

Turkey MENA Region

  • November 2002: AKP in power

    Changes in Turkish grand strategy in the Middle East


    -No need for a strategy aligned with the US / EU

    -Soft Power

    -”Zero problems with neighbours”

Turkey MENA Region

  • AKP decision not to align with EU / US in the Middle East

    Constant deterioration of Turkish-Israeli relations since 2002

    Palestine Question at the centre

Turkey MENA Region

  • Good relations with Hamas

Turkey MENA Region

  • Events

    - 2006: Turkey’s invitation to Hamas & Fatah for talks in Ankara Further complication of the Palestine Question

    - 2006: War in Lebanon Turkish criticism upon Israel’s “brutal operations”, systematic use of aggressive rhetoric by Turkish politicians, wide coverage of civilian targets on the media. Absolute anti-Israeli position throughout the crisis.

    Anti-Semitism in Turkey against Israel

Turkey MENA Region

  • 2007: Turkey brokers Syria-Israel negotiations

    Failure to reach agreement upon the Golan Heights Question - Israel-Turkey relations too deteriorated already

    Israeli doubts upon Turkey’s impartiality

  • 2009: Davos World Economic Forum: warm episode between Erdogan-Peres

Turkey MENA Region

  • 2009: Turkish popular TV show shows Israeli soldiers shooting children

  • 2009: Exclusion of Israel from Turkish joint military aerial exercise

  • 2010: Danny Ayalon’s televised humiliation towards the Turkish Ambassador to Israel

Turkey MENA Region

  • 2010: Flotilla attack

  • Withdrawal of Turkish Ambassador

  • Demand for apology by Erdogan vs. Refusal by Israel

  • Denial of access to the Turkish airspace to Israeli military aircraft

  • AKP very popular at home

  • Elevation of Turkey’s image in the Arab World

Turkey MENA Region

Turkey MENA Region

  • Rise of Turkish nationalism against Israel

  • Voices of nationalist groups for embargo on all Israeli products

  • Decline of Israel-Turkey trade

Turkey MENA Region

Turkey MENA Region

Doubt upon Turkey’s suitability as mediator for the Middle East

Egypt MENA Region

  • Active participation in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and 1967 Six Day War

  • 1979: Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel. Agreements:

    -“Framework for Peace in the Middle East”

    -“Framework for the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel”

Egypt MENA Region

“Framework for Peace in the Middle East”

Egypt MENA Region

  • Part 1: “West Bank and Gaza”

  • Full autonomy for the Gaza strip and the West Bank within 5 years

  • Withdrawal of Israeli forces from the autonomous territories

Egypt MENA Region

  • Part 2: “Egypt-Israel”

  • Peaceful settlement of bilateral disputes & in accordance with Article 33 of the UN Charter

  • In-good-faith negotiation of a peace treaty within 3 months within the “Framework” terms – Invitation to other states to similar acts simultaneously for general regional peace

Egypt MENA Region

  • Part 3: “Associated Principles”

  • Full recognition

  • Abolishment of economic boycotts

  • Guarantee of protection by the law for each other’s citizens

    - UNSC supervision of the peace treaties

Egypt MENA Region

“Framework for the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel”

Egypt MENA Region

  • Mostly about the future of Sinai peninsula

  • Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from Sinai and evacuation of the Israeli 4,500 civilian inhabitants

  • Return of Sinai to Egyptian sovereignty for normal diplomatic relations

  • Return to Egypt of the Abu-Rudeis oil fields

  • Egyptian guarantee for free passage through Suez Canal and other waterways

Egypt MENA Region

  • Establishment of UN forces in Sinai and Sharm el-Sheikh

  • Restrictions on Israeli and Egyptian armed forces

  • Construction of Sinai-Jordan highway with free passage through Egypt

Egypt MENA Region

  • Successful mediator and trustful for both Israel and the Palestinians


  • Consideration of Israel as enemy by Egypt unofficially

Egypt MENA Region

  • Arab Spring

    -Islamists in power

    Signs of grand strategy swift towards Palestinian territories

    - Request for review of Peace Treaty - Israeli concern (due to the ideological proximity with Hamas)

Egypt MENA Region

Egypt MENA Region

  • Interesting developments and prospects in Egypt’s grand strategy in the Middle East

  • A catalytic role for Egypt maybe?

Lebanon MENA Region

  • 1970: PLO’s expulsion from Jordan & abolishment of Palestinian organizations’ autonomy


    Dramatic number of dead (mostly Palestinians)

Lebanon MENA Region

Lebanon MENA Region

  • Armed conflict

    Expulsion of PLO and Palestinian fighters to Lebanon

Lebanon MENA Region

  • 1981: Settlement of missiles in Lebanese territory by Syria & PLO Resettlement of PLO to Lebanon and PLO raids into Israel from S. Lebanon

  • 1982: Israeli invasion into Lebanon PLO withdrawal

Lebanon MENA Region

  • 1983: Israel-Lebanon ceasefire agreement


  • 1984: Syrian sabotage against it

Lebanon MENA Region

  • 1985: Withdrawal of Israeli forces to 15km inside S. Lebanon

    Continuance of clashes in a lower scale

    Fewer casualties

Lebanon MENA Region

  • 1996: Israeli attack against Hezbollah in Lebanon

    Israel-Lebanon-Syria agreement through US mediation

Lebanon MENA Region

The 2006 War in Lebanon

Lebanon MENA Region

  • 2006: Hezbollah cross-border ride against Israel

    Ceasefire agreement

  • Establishment of buffer zone in S. Lebanon

  • Deployment of Lebanese armed forces up to Litani river

  • Withdrawal of Hezbollah fighters from the borders

  • Return of the occupied Lebanese areas to the UN peacekeepers by Israel

Lebanon MENA Region

  • Nowadays

  • Almost no relations between Israel-Lebanon

  • Syria’s domination over Lebanon’s politics is blamed by Israel

Syria MENA Region

  • Also part of the general offensive against Israel – Participation in attacks

  • Dispute upon Golan Heights

  • Enemy relations until today

  • Characterized by Israel as “part of the axis of evil”

  • Accused of supporting terrorism

Syria MENA Region

Conciliation efforts

Syria MENA Region

  • Always mediated by the US

  • After Madrid Conference: Launch of negotiations in Washington on the basis of the Madrid formula. Focus on Security arrangements

  • December 1994 & June 1995: Meeting of Israeli & Syrian Chiefs-of-Staff in Washington

Syria MENA Region

  • 1995: Syrian willingness for negotiations resume without preconditions

  • December 1995 & January 1996: 2 rounds of negotiations

Syria MENA Region

  • 1999: Assad, Mubarak & Clinton express initiative for resumption of 1996 negotiations

  • 2000: Resumption of negotiations in the US

Iraq MENA Region

  • Enemies since 1948

  • Participation in 1948 war, 1967 Six Day War & 1973 Yom Kippur War along with Egypt and Syria

  • 1981: Israeli attack against the Iraqi nuclear reactor

  • 1991: Gulf War: Iraqi missile launch into Israel vs. no response by Israel

  • Today: Low presence on the scenes of the Arab-Israeli conflict/Palestinian Question, more focus on domestic reforms and civil strife

Jordan MENA Region

  • In the framework of the general Arab-Israeli conflict

  • 1993: “Israeli-Jordanian Common Agenda”

Jordan MENA Region

  • Washington, 1994: 1st Hussein-Rabin public meeting

  • “The Washington Declaration”

  • Termination of Israel-Jordan belligerency

  • Agreement to seek peace based on UN Resolutions 242 & 338

  • Israeli respect towards the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom over Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem

Jordan MENA Region

  • 26 October 1994: Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace

  • Boundary definition

  • Security

  • Water

  • Freedom of Passage

  • Places of Historical and Religious Significance

  • Refugees and Displaced Persons

Iran MENA Region

  • Enemies with Israel

  • Alleged to support Hamas and other groups

  • Expansion of financial support to Palestine since the rise of Hamas to power

  • Contribution to wages of civil servants and security forces

  • Construction of camps

  • Compensations for Palestine families

Iran MENA Region

  • Considered by Hamas leadership as “strategic depth for the Palestinians”

  • Association of Iranian nuclear programme with the Palestine Question

  • Israel does not want independence for Palestinians as long as Iran remains nuclear

  • Iranian programme might indeed increase suffering for the Palestinians

United states
United States MENA Region

  • Active involvement with mediation

  • Member of the “Quartet”

  • Involved as mediator in most major negotiations upon the Arab-Israeli conflict in overall

  • Massive financial/development/military support for the region

  • Bush administration Obvious discrimination in favour of Israel Israel unsure about next administration Attempt to resolve its dispute with Hamas while Bush was still in power

United states1
United States MENA Region

  • December 2008: Hamas’ refusal to renew ceasefire

    Air strike by Israel against Hamas targets – Provocative tolerance by US administration

    a) 1,200 civilian deaths

    b) Destruction of Gaza infrastructure

United states2
United States MENA Region

  • 2008: Obama’s candidacy period

  • Expression of unease with Israel’s approach towards the Palestinian issues

  • Disagreement with Ayalon: Perception that Obama was “not entirely forthright” regarding Israel during their 2 meetings

  • Warm meetings with Israeli lobbies


    Expression of his disapproval and willingness to speak with Hamas

United states3
United States MENA Region

  • January 2009: Obama inauguration

  • Shift in US policy

  • Palestine Question at the top of the agenda

  • Cairo, 2009: Speech accusing Israel upon settlements

    Sign of willingness for cooperation with Arabs for resolution

United states4
United States MENA Region

  • Tel Aviv, March 2010: Joe Biden visit to Israel

    Israeli announcement about 1,600 new homes in E. Jerusalem

United states5
United States MENA Region

United states6
United States MENA Region

  • Division in Obama’s team:

  • Officials believing that Israel is harmful and “a burden” in US Middle East grand strategy


  • Officials stressing the importance of US-Israel alignment, which they believe hinders Iran’s nuclear ambitions

Russia MENA Region

  • 1922: Support to Palestine Arabs by the Soviet administration

  • Soviet unwilling recognition of Israel

  • 1944-1948: Pro-Zionist policy


    Israeli alliance with the West

    USSR opposition to Zionism & consolidation with the Arabs

Russia MENA Region

  • 1967 Six Day War More favorable Soviet attitude towards PLO

  • 1970’s: Decline of Soviet influence in Egypt

    Soviet supplies of training, weapons and funding to Palestinian militants through KGB

  • 1978: Soviet recognition of PLO as the only legitimate authority in Palestine

Russia MENA Region

  • 1985: Mikhail Gorbachev in power

    Changes in the Soviet Grand Strategy

  • Support to reconciliation in the Third World and Middle East – Unsuccessful attempt to persuade Arafat to recognize Israel

  • 18 November 1988: Soviet recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine & establishment of diplomatic relations

Russia MENA Region


Russia MENA Region

  • 1990’s: USSR collapse

    Improvement in Russian-Israel relations

  • Support of PLO parts to Iraq during the Gulf War

    Eventual decrease in relations with PLO


    Relations remained

Russia MENA Region


Russia MENA Region

  • Favorable attitude towards Hamas

  • 2008-2009 War: Russian massive aid deployment and heavy condemnation of Israeli invasion

  • Support towards the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state

  • Member of the “Quartet”

  • Important actor in the Middle East Peace Process

General conclusions

General conclusions1
General Conclusions MENA Region

  • Palestine Question Involvement of many states

  • No matter the results, there have been conciliation efforts by all sides

  • States mostly pay the bill for the damage that armed groups cause

  • Signs of change in terms of resolution prospects because of the Arab Spring

  • Partiality hinders resolution

Bibliography MENA Region

  • Altunisik, M.B., 2008. The Possibilities and Limits of Turkey’s Soft Power in the Middle East. Insight Turkey, 10(2), pp.41–54.

  • Apostolidou, A., 2010. The Implications of a Nuclear Iran for the Palestinian Issue. , pp.6–8.

  • Bein-Meir, A., 2009. Israel and the Arab Peace Initiative. Journal of Peace, Conflict and Development, (14), pp.1–47. Available at: 14 Article 18 revised copy with reviewer’s comments 1.pdf.

  • Davutoglu, A., 2008. Turkey ’s Foreign Policy Vision: An Assessment of 2007. Insight Turkey, 10(1), pp.77–96.

  • Grigoriadis, I., 2010. Matching Ambitions with Realities : Turkish Foreign Policy in the Middle East. , (14).

  • Liakounakou, A., 2010. Egyptian Tales of Diplomacy. , pp.19–21.

  • Malley, R., 2010. Flotilla Attack the Deadly Symptom of a Failed Policy. Available at: the-deadly-symptom-of-a-failed-policy.aspx.

  • Merika, A., 2010. How Are Economic Relations Between Israel and Turkey Shaping Up? , pp.24–26.

  • Uknown, Guide to the Mideeast Peace Process. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel. Available at: [Accessed July 22, 2012a].

  • Uknown, Trilateral Statement on the Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David. Available at: Trilateral Statement on the Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David - 25-Jul-2000 [Accessed July 25, 2012b].

  • Unknown, 2012. Crisis Watch, no.107 (1 July 2012), Brussels. Available at: [Accessed July 25, 1012]

  • Unknown, 2012. Crisis Watch, no.107 (1 August 2012), Brussels: Available at [Accessed August 1, 2012]

  • Unknown, Guide to the Mideeast Peace Process. Available at: process/guide to the peace process/ [Accessed July 25, 2012a].

  • Unknown, Policies (translated from Arabic into English). Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Jordan. Available at: [Accessed July 21, 2012b].

  • Unknown, 2011. Russia Vows to Support UN Membership Bid. The Telegraph, 21 September 2011. Available at: [Accessed July 26, 2012].

  • Unknown, 2007. Thirteen Years of Peace Between Israel and Jordan. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel. Available at: [Accessed July 22, 2012].

  • Upsala University, Israel. Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) Encyclopedia. Available at: [Accessed July 21, 2012].

  • Zalzberg, O., 2012. Qui craint une révision du traité de paix entre Israël et l’Égypte ? Le Figaro. Availableat: