Sonntag, 25.11.2018 / 19:35 Uhr

In Jerusalem über Föderalismus reden

Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

Vergangene Woche trafen sich in Jersualem Araber, Kurden und Israelis, um über die Möglichkeiten eine föderalen Nahen Osten zu sprechen. Diese Idee ist alt und schien doch immer nur eine Art von Utopie angesichts der bitteren und blutigen Realitäten vor Ort. Und doch scheint sie einigen weiterhin sehr aktuell. Seth J. Frantzman hat an einer Konferenz teilgenommen, in der dieses Thema diskutiert wurde, von Irakis, Syrern und Israelis:

“The Middle East is at a crossroads and it is worth considering new approaches in the region.”

“A confederation involving Iraq, Syria, or even Jordan and Israel might harness the unique qualities of each while giving space for all the different groups and their agendas to be heard.”

These were some of the ideas that emerged from a unique event last week at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), where a group of Israeli, Arab and Kurdish speakers – some speaking via Skype from abroad – discussed the current state of the Middle East and its future. (...)

Any connection with Israel is still viewed as controversial but the Jewish state’s humanitarian aid for Syrians during the war has brought it a more positive image.

“My suggestion during the conversations was that Israel should not be afraid of a confederal unit of Iraq and Syria,” one participant said after. “Dream palaces can find traction,” the attendee said, arguing that despite the conflicts of recent years, it is worth thinking out of the box. “The conference was useful in taking stock of how much the region has changed and continues to change, opening up some space for creative ideas.”

Over a dinner, Diker, Inbari and Dr. Kamal Allabwani, discussed some of the issues facing the region. With Iran and Turkey working more closely together and both having negative views on Israel, there is an opportunity for Israel to work more closely with Sunni Arab neighbors.

This has been a difficult period for many Arab Sunnis in Iraq and Syria.

In Iraq they have lost out at the hands of a Shi’ite dominated government that is close to Iran. In Syria millions have fled their homes from the fighting.

“We need to fill the vacuum by a strong local coalition,” said Allabwani, a Syrian intellectual who has opposed the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. “We didn’t have unity [in 2011] because we just wanted to destroy the prison [of the dictatorship].” Opposition to Assad was a unifying moment, but since then the Syrian rebellion fractured and it is now completely altered. Part of it is under Turkish influence in the north, while part of it ended up with the US-led coalition in eastern Syria, and some joined ISIS, which still holds a bit of territory in the Euphrates valley. (....)

Any connection with Israel is still viewed as controversial but the Jewish state’s humanitarian aid for Syrians during the war has brought it a more positive image.

“I deem the meeting very important, regardless of the individual participants and their relative influence in their countries,” says Sagnic. “The federal and confederal issue is worth discussing but it doesn’t touch upon the deep rooted issues in Syria and Iraq.”

Iraq has a federal system with the Kurdistan Regional Government. But Iraq has faced challenges with this model because each group wants to advance its own agenda. “I think western experts are missing that every participant in these governments seeks to advance their own agenda and the solution should be adjusted in accordance with these agendas,” says Sagnic.