The Arab-Israeli Conflict And United States Geo-Strategic And Economic Interests In The Middle-East

Project and Seminar Material for International Relations

The Arab-Israeli Conflict And United States Geo-Strategic And Economic Interests In The Middle-East

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the study

Conflict is an inescapable phenomenon of human life both at the interpersonal or international level.1 The prevalence of conflict, its management and prevention are therefore critical areas of international relations. Conflict comes in varied forms. They could be interstate, arising from perennial disagreements between States; intra-state civil conflicts which may come in varying degrees such as inter-ethnic conflicts; religious conflicts induced by ecclesiastical rivalries; conflict due to ideological incompatibilities amongst others. Some notable crises in human history includes those between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, the Croats and Serbs in former Yugoslavia, the African National Congress and the Apartheid regime in South Africa, Rwandan crisis between the Hutus and Tutsis; the Biafran Separatist Movement in Nigeria, Israeli – Palestinian Conflict which is the focus of this research, to mention a few.

The allusion of the English Philosopher – Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679) in his work “Leviathan” to an anarchic state of nature where the dominant individual interest is self-preservation, is an apt description of the international system. Extrapolating to the international domain, Hobbessian theorizing is accentuated by the very absence of a hierarchical structure of government in the international arena to check the eccentricity of States whose actions in the guise of national interest replicates a state of nature. This is in contrast with what obtains in the domestic arena where Municipal law is invoked in case of an infraction. Hobbessian prescriptions that, “power be centrally and absolutely controlled, that is, a “unitary state” is however inconceivable in the international system. Scholars of international relations are of the opinion that the Concept of State Sovereignty which is an outcrop of the idealism orchestrated by the Westphalian Settlement, promotes the culture of anarchism in the international system. This is against the backdrop of the “free-wheeling irresponsibility” of Sovereign States. Many writers are of the view that Sovereignty in contemporary international relations is an anachronism, as it is akin to absolutism. However, the broadening focus of international law which re-conceptualizes the notion of sovereignty, now exerts a restraining influence on Sovereign States by making them answerable in relation to acts bordering on crimes against humanity and international humanitarian law. This has advanced the frontiers of international relations.

Perhaps, before an examination is made into the Arab – Israeli Conflict, it is pertinent to peruse some of the probable causes of conflict and at the same time provide an analytical assessment of the dispute. Conflicts are manifestations of an underlying and sustained disagreement between groups that have not shown enough commitment to lasting peace.

Fundamentally, the perenniality of an un-resolved societal gap or problem could be an incentive for conflict. The roots of the Israeli – Palestinian Conflict which has assumed a broader dimension, that is, the Arab – Israeli Conflict, could be traced primarily to the rivalry between the Jewish Israelis and the Muslim Palestinians over primordial claims to the same territory. It could be encapsulated as “One Land, Two Peoples”.

Some probable causes of conflict among other things are:

  1. Incompatibilities of objectives and actions among interacting groups or policy in the case of states, could be an inducement for conflicts.
  2. Conflicts could arise as a result of a demand for a piece of territory for example, the Iraqi annexation of Kuwait and Saddam Hussein’s intention to subvert the Sovereign prerogatives of the Kuwaiti government which attracted international condemnation and allied response led by the United States to defeat Iraq’s aggression.
  3. Economic hegemony of a particular group over the resources of another could ignite conflicts. For example, the Northern control of the resources of the Niger Delta in Nigeria which led to increased militarization of the region before the Amnesty Programme introduced by the Federal Authorities, which has now doused tensions.
  4. Religious and ideological diversities or incompatibilities which may translate into ecclesiastical claims of superiority of one religion over another, often times have given rise to national rivalries between groups.
  5. Domestic rebellion which attracts international sympathy, for example the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria in recent times, could be a source of international conflict.
  6. Liberation struggles, such as those between the African National Congress (ANC) and the White Supremacist regime of Apartheid South Africa; the Angolan Crisis in 1975 after the exit of the Portuguese Administrators, which signaled an end to Portuguese imperialism in Angola. The forces of liberation cut across three ethnic based nationalistic and belligerent movements enmeshed in a deep-seated fratricidal struggle for political authority. They are, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), and the National Union for Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). There was also the fourth – FLEC – Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave. This was a Separatist Movement for economic hegemony.

Conflict by its very nature is inevitable. Although not all conflicts result in armed force, this paper discusses armed or violent conflict which has for long dominated relations between the Arabs and Israelis.

David Francis of the Department of Basic Studies of the University of Bradford in his work, “Peace and Conflict Studies: An African Overview of Basic Concept” defines conflict “as an intrinsic and inevitable part of human existence. However, violent conflict is inevitable and as such, is an anomaly. Conflict is defined as the pursuit of incompatible interests and goals by different individuals and groups. Armed conflict is the resort to the use of force and armed violence in the pursuit of incompatible and particular interest and goal”.

The International Criminal Tribunal in Yugoslavia states that “armed conflict exists whenever there is a resort to armed force between States or protracted armed violence between governmental authorities and organized armed groups or between such groups within a State”.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The Middle East has been one of the most volatile and violent subsystems of the international political systems since the end of the Second World War. Postwar history in the Middle East has been punctuated by an unusually high number of full-scale, inter-state wars. The aim of this study is to explore the underlying causes of the largest category of Middle Eastern wars, namely, the Arab-Israeli wars. It is in view of this that the researcher intends to investigate the United State geo strategic and economic interest in the Arab-Israel conflict.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The main objective of this study is to ascertain the US interest in the Arab-Israel conflict. But for the successful completion of the study, the researcher intends to achieve the following sub-objectives:

  1. To ascertain the economic interest of the United State of America in the Arab-Israel conflict
  2. To evaluate the US geographical strategy in the Arab-Israel conflict
  3. To ascertain the root cause of the Arab-Israel conflict in the middle East
  4. To proffer possible solution to the problems identified.

1.4 Research Hypotheses

For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated;

  1. H0: the US does not have any significant economic interest in the Arab-Israel conflict.
    H1: the US does have a significant economic interest in the Arab-Israel conflict.
  2. H0: there is no root cause of the Arab-Israel conflict in the Middle East.
    H2: there is a root cause of the Arab-Israel conflict in the Middle East.

1.5 Significance of the Study

It is believed that at the completion of the study will be useful to the United nation secretary and the management as the study seek to reveal the root cause of the Arab-Israel conflict. The study will also be beneficial to the government of both countries as the study seek to proffer solution to the long standing conflict between both nations. The study will also be of great benefit to the researchers who intends to embark on research on similar topics as it will serve as a guide. Finally, the study will be of great importance to academia’s, lecturers, teachers, students and the general public.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of the study covers the Arab-Israeli conflict and United State geo strategic and economic interest. But in the cause of the study, there were some factors which limited the scope of the study;

a) Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study

b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researchers have to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Organizational privacy:

Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities.

1.7 Definition of Terms


Conflict refers to some form of friction, disagreement, or discord arising within a group when the beliefs or actions of one or more members of the group are either resisted by or unacceptable to one or more members of another group. Conflict can arise between members of the same group, known as intragroup conflict, or it can occur between members of two or more groups, and involve violence, interpersonal discord, and psychological tension, known as intergroup conflict

Economic Interest

Economic interest refers to a substantial financial interest in investments, employment, awarding of contracts, purchases, leases, sales, or similar matters.

Middle East

The Middle East is a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia and Egypt. The corresponding adjective is Middle-Eastern and the derived noun is Middle-Easterner. The term has come into wider usage as a replacement of the term Near East (as opposed to the Far East) beginning in the early 20th century. Arabs, Turks, Persians, Kurds, and Azeris (excluding Republic of Azerbaijan) constitute the largest ethnic groups in the region by population.

Indigenous minorities of the Middle East include Jews, Assyrians and other Arameans, Baloch, Berbers, Copts, Druze, Lurs, Mandaeans, Samaritns, Shabaks, Tats, and Zazas. In the Middle East, there is also a Romani community. European ethnic groups that form a diaspora in the region include Albanians, Bosniaks, Circassians, Crimean Tatars, Franco-Levantines, and Italo-Levantines. Among other migrant populations are Bengalis as well as other Indians, Chinese, Filipinos, Indonesians, Pakistanis, and Sub-Saharan Africans

1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  • Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study its based, thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

1.9 Methodology

Understanding the theoretical perspectives of international relations provides an analytical framework with which we mirror events in the international political system. To serve the purpose of this research, therefore, our methodological approach shall first and foremost, entail a comprehensive examination of the contending theoretical groundwork that are seminal to international relations. These are the theories of liberalism, realism and Marxism.

Theories of liberalism emphasize man as a rational being able to weigh the Strengths and Weaknesses of available options and their outcomes. The unique preference of liberal theorists for democratic liberalism which is the very essence of America’s democracy, and Laissez faire which connotes economic liberalism equips individuals with the freedom to discover their potentials in order to improve on their well-being. This is the conceptual basis for capitalism. Neo-liberal institutionalism – a modern variant of liberalism posits that in an anarchic international environment, there is the tendency for States to cooperate with each other because it is in their best interest to do so. The game theory highlighting the Prisoners’ dilemma in evaluating the possible options open to them and their probable outcomes explains the imperatives for international cooperation.

The realist theoretical view point which sees realism as one of the dominant Schools of thought in international relations posits that States behave in a particular manner out of considerations for national interest. Realism emerged as a profound reaction to the idealism that heralded the formation of the League of Nations, espousing a more normatively driven approach; the structural outlines of which were transmitted to the United Nations. The father of realism – Thucydides reputed to be an exemplar of the realist tradition, in his work, “The Peloponnesian War”, examined the display of power by strong states over the weak.

Thurcydides’ analysis of the Melian Dialogue involved Athens and Sparta – both Greek City States that exercised hegemonic authority at about the 5th century B.C. Each of these States feared the other. This struggle for hegemony by Athens and Sparta became worrisome for the smaller State of Melos that was desirous of maintaining her neutrality. Athens desired to bring Melos under subjugation, opting to attack Melos if she declined to submit to Athens’ authority. Melos indeed called the bluff of Athens. Consequently Melos was un-provokingly attacked and defeated by Athens. Against this background, Thucydides concluded that justice is as defined by the victor which is a common feature of international relations.

Morgenthau in his work, “Politics among Nations” also elaborated on the realist perspectives of international relations. For Morgenthau, international politics is a struggle for power whether at the individual, state, or international level.

The exercise of power involves an attempt by one party to get an individual or state to act in a manner contrary to pre-conceived wishes or interests.

Karl Marx’s (1818 – 1883) radical concept – Marxism is a historical analysis which centred on class struggle. He stratified society in two basic social groups, that is the ruling class and a subject class. He theorized that the ruling class owns and controls the means of production and therefore derived its power through this process, which it perpetually exercises over the subject class. Marx alluded to the evolution of Western Society through four stages.

These are the phase of:

  • Primitive communism,
  • Ancient society,
  • Feudal society, and
  • Capitalist society.

Pre-historic society epitomizes primitive communism which basically was a classless society. From here society evolved into the master and slaves in ancient society, lords and serfs in feudal society, and capitalist society which involves the bourgeoisie and the wage earners – the labourers.

In the Communist Manifesto jointly co-authored with his bosom friend and confidant – Friedrich Engels in 1848, Marx stated that his taxonomy of society is not a functional class in terms of income, but an economic class in terms of its economic interests. He maintained that such economic classes are not fixed in society but that, they are the result of the production relations that society has adopted. He was of the view that capitalism as an economic system is exploitative and that an enduring capitalist formation will perpetually keep the working class subjugated to the whims and caprices of the bourgeoisie. His theoretical advocacy was to have a revolutionary reconstruction of society through the incentivization of the proletariat to seize the ownership and means of production from the State in order to enhance their well-being by replacing capitalism with socialism. In the Marxist normative and activist thinking, this would help to ameliorate inequalities and reduce dependency relationship that exists in class rule. In the course of this work we shall highlight the Leninist variant of Marxism, and how the various theories enumerated above played out in the Middle-East crisis.Secondly, our methodology shall also examine the events of Post World War II which heralded the emergence of two Super-powers – the United States of America and the Soviet Union as “primary actors in the international system”. The Cold-War imperatives occasioned by Soviet Marxist political expansionism (Sovietization) orchestrated to bring countries of Eastern Europe – Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and parts of Eastern Germany into Soviet Orbit (as they were farcically referred to as “Peoples Democracies”) and also the Subterranean designs to extend same to parts of Western Europe, accounted for United States inexorable commitment to the Truman Doctrine of 1947 which came up with the policy framework of containment to check Soviet Communist aggression in any part of the world.

In President Truman’s declaration, he asserted “I believe it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work their own destinies in their own way”. This policy thrust based on United States geostrategic interest became the fundamental doctrine of American foreign policy during the bi-polar years which played out in a series of proxy confrontations as a Balance of Power mechanism between the superpowers in the Middle-East. The United States traditional support for Israel and Soviet’s backing for moderate Arab States such as Egypt, Syria and Iraq became visible in the numerous wars fought in that region. This will be expatiated upon in the course of this work. Thirdly, the divisiveness within the Arab community has also exacerbated hostilities in the Middle-East. Then, finally, Arab response or revisionist movements against the State of Israel and her imperial collaborators, as well as the preponderance of bilateral or multilateral diplomacy at resolving the conflict shall form the concluding portion of this work.

Chapter Five

Summary Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain the Arab-Israel conflict and United State geo strategic and economic interest.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the Arab-Israel conflict.

5.2 Summary

Deterioration of the US position as a result of attacks against the U.S. position in Central Asia, America has lost the base at Karshi Khanabad, faces constant pressure in Kyrgyzstan where its hold on Manas remains precarious and elsewhere, and it and its NATO allies are fighting a revived and strengthened Taliban under conditions that are in many ways less favorable than in 2001. Worse yet, a situation where only Russia and possibly China can engage Uzbekistan decisively during a crisis, while Washington is wholly excluded from doing so, is a strategic loss for America. Indeed, Professor Alexander Cooley of Barnard College wrote that “This eviction represented the worst of all possible outcomes for the United States. The United States did not receive credit for standing on political principle and voluntarily leaving K2, nor did it manage to secure operational use of the base.” Uzbekistan evidently listens only to Moscow and Beijing, and America certainly is not Kazakhstan’s priority partner even under the best of circumstances. Therefore, the State Department’s hope of relying upon Kazakhstan as potentially America’s strongest partner in Central Asia and as a potential leader for advancing the goals we wish to see there is fundamentally unsound and cannot serve as a basis for a successful U.S. policy in the future. Certainly one cannot truly call Kazakhstan “a corridor for reform” as Secretary Rice has done, while its domestic developments incline in the opposite direction.58 Although Kazakhstan has made numerous proposals for regional cooperation among the local governments and occasionally has stood up to Russia by selling gas to Georgia and joining the BTC pipeline, its calls for regional integration have 18 gone nowhere, and the limits upon it for independent action are quite clear because its primary orientation, as a series of recent deals reconfirms, remains Russia. Indeed, as one Russian news report observed, “not once in the years of independence has Astana’s policy gone counter to Moscow’s interests.” While Kazakhstan will continue to work with Washington on pipeline issues, to obtain equipment and training for its self-defense in and around the Caspian, take part in the PfP, and accept foreign investment, nobody should expect it to be a leader in Central Asia on Washington’s behalf against Moscow and Beijing and forego the balanced policy its government rigorously follows.61 Neither should the U.S. Government ignore opportunities for comprehensive engagement with all the other states. Indeed, doing so would be a serious mistake. As Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Daniel Fried has said, America “cannot and will not have a one-dimensional relationship with any country in the region based solely on security concerns or economic interests.”62 Similarly, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense James MacDougall has observed that, “You cannot allow your security interests to prevent the agenda of political development, and you cannot prevent your agenda of political development from stopping your interests in the security and energy fields. These have to go hand in hand.” Any U.S. Central Asian policy must take advantage of every opportunity to interact productively with all of the local governments.

5.3 Conclusion

To regain its footing in Central Asia, the United States must first understand where it has gone astray. U.S. mistakes consist, first of all, in shortcomings in its own policy processes and equally, if not more importantly, in its policies as seen in and from Central Asia. The administration cannot recover the American position in Central Asia without addressing both sets of issues quickly and decisively. First of all, the policy process, including the interagency process, with regard to Central Asia and many other issues, e.g., Korea and Russia, and security cooperation in general, is broken. Indeed, some analysts and observers believe that there is no such thing as a regular policy process, and that this has happened because the administration prefers it that way. Often the Pentagon was sought to arrogate ever more control of foreign policy under its auspices and take a hard line in so doing or else administration officials are divided against each other with no clear line being able to emerge. Or alternatively, the State Department invokes democratization and democracy as absolutes and elevates values to interests, e.g., that the main agenda item in regard to Central Asia is democracy, not security interests, thus blocking consideration of other alternatives. Indeed democratization trumps the latter in its view.67 For example, in advance of an October 2005 trip to the region by Secretary Rice, Assistant Secretary Fried proclaimed that, “U.S. interests in advancing political and economic reform in the region will not be subordinated to security concerns.”68Thus the Pentagon emphasizes U.S. strategic interests in the region, while the State Department emphasizes democracy as its main priority and invokes President Bush’s statements on the subject dating back to his second inaugural.69 Under conditions of the war in Afghanistan and on terrorism beginning in late 2001, American security interests naturally prevailed in U.S. policy towards 20 the region and in its assistance packages. Central Asian leaders realized soon enough that this situation translated into a freer hand for them as long as they gave the right verbal assurances about ameliorating the internal conditions in their own countries that give rise to unrest. Once Western funders, including the U.S. Government, grasped this reality, their sources of funding for institutitonal and other reforms began to dry up under pressure of domestic declines in spending on democracy promotion and heightened regional repression. Thus the Bush administration’s rhetoric on democracy was belied by the fact that it steadily spent less and less money on democratization projects in 2003-05, and the funds involved were relatively small to begin with. And since there was no real penalty for Central Asian leaders who disregarded the imperatives of reform at home for their own security, by 2005 U.S. policy in the area had neither carrots nor sticks with which to secure its overall objectives. Consequently, that policy and its instruments, like the base at Karshi Khanabad, were vulnerable to any reversal of fortune that came our way. As part of this agreement, the Pakistani military will cease its unpopular military campaign in the semiautonomous North Waziristan region. In exchange, the local Taliban militants will halt their attacks on 26 Pakistani forces and stop crossing into nearby eastern Afghanistan to attack Western and Afghan forces hunting Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants. For Pakistan, this was an acceptance of the ground reality that its military would never be able to defeat tribal militants in a region where Pakistan’s writ has never extended. For the critics, however, the deal amounts to giving an effective amnesty to the insurgents, allowing them even more freedom to cross into Afghanistan and pursue their militant agenda. While Pakistani officials claim that foreign militants can stay in the region only if they obey Pakistan’s laws and stay away from militancy, it is unclear how this can be enforced in a region that has become even more out of bounds for the Pakistani government after this agreement

5.4 Recommendations

A successful policy must learn from these mistakes and surmount them. Therefore the administration must undertake the following steps. First, it must repair the broken policy process. The administration must decide what Central Asia’s real importance is to the United States and assign sufficient material and political resources to back up that investment. Toward this end, the President and his cabinet must impose policy discipline on the players after arriving at a consensus among themselves on these issues. They must establish clear and coordinated interdepartmental priorities for the U.S. emplacement in Central Asia and then proceed to implement them. Given the existing situation throughout the region, the security and independence of these states must come first for otherwise no democratization is remotely conceivable. But this does not mean neglecting democratization as an issue. Rather, America must engage both governments and civil society or opposition groups who are not terrorists. It must engage governments with the argument that they have signed international conventions upholding these practices and that the United States is not trying to supplant them, but rather ensure that their countries become both more secure and prosperous. Since their interest is at stake in a violent overturn, this argument may have some resonance. But it must be backed up by increased assistance and concrete economic and other policies that address their needs.

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