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Middle East Report – Dr. James M. Dorsey

Azra Hoosen | ah@radioislam.co.za
9 February 2024 | 17:00 CAT
2 min read

US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken encountered a challenging political environment during his fifth tour of the Middle East since the onset of the Gaza conflict.

During Blinken’s fourth visit to the region since the conflict began in October, he emphasized the importance of Israel supporting Palestinian leaders who advocate for peaceful coexistence with Israelis. He also expressed concern over the high daily toll of casualties in the ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Additionally, Blinken has been engaged in discussions about the future governance of Gaza once the war concludes, as reported by Reuters.

Talking to Radio Islam, Dr. James M. Dorsey said, “We have seen Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, essentially reject the Hamas proposals for a ceasefire and prisoner exchange, which were not really off from the proposals Israel itself has made. We have seen Hamas refuse to back down from its demand that the ceasefire be permanent and mean an end to the war. Negotiations could start in the second phase of what would be initially as a temporary ceasefire.”

Dorsey pointed out there is also an issue between the United States and Saudi, “With the formulation regarding the Palestinian state in the deal that would involve Saudi recognition of Israel. Blinken spoke about a time-bound credible pathway when he was in Doha, the Saudi responded saying they would establish diplomatic relations with Israel, when a Palestinian state is recognised. That could mean many things, many states have already recognised Palestine as a state. The Saudi did not specify if they meant recognition by the US, or by Israel or by both. So it is a tricky landscape,” he added.

This week, there are indications that the US might proceed with components of a comprehensive Middle East package deal. In a significant development, Lockheed Martin has subcontracted two Saudi companies to manufacture parts of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system locally. This move marks Saudi Arabia as the first international country to produce components domestically for the anti-ballistic missile system.

Dorsey highlighted currently, there are only two production lines for these products: the original line in the US and the newly established production line in Saudi Arabia.

Dorsey believes this development holds significant implications in and of itself, but creates a building block for the comprehensive package that the Americans are trying to negotiate which involves a defence agreement, US support for a civilian Saudi Nuclear programme, unfederated Saudi aces to US weaponry and indeed a Palestinian state.

Israel has announced a shift from broad military operations to more targeted strikes in northern Gaza, while maintaining intense combat in the southern regions.

LISTEN to the full interview with Dr. James M. Dorsey, award-winning journalist and scholar, a Senior Fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute, here.

 

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