Middle East: Growing Chaos and Conflict

Events in Iraq stubbornly refuse to follow any script produced in Washington. Relations between Israelis and Palestinians continue to deteriorate to the point where, following a suicide bombing, Israel launched its first attack on Syrian territory in more than twenty years. In both cases, as one failed plan follows another, peace and democracy seem less likely than further chaos and conflict.

The World Today Updated 21 October 2020 Published 1 November 2003 5 minute READ

Rosemary Hollis

Former Director, Olive Tree Israeli-Palestinian Scholarship Programme, City, University of London

Iraq became the centrepiece of the American ‘war’ on terror because the administration of President George Bush saw regime change in Baghdad as the first step in a grand plan to transform autocratic regimes across the Arab world into free market democracies. Inspired by the liberation of the long oppressed Iraqis, the peoples of the region would be emboldened to hold their governments to account and focus on domestic reform rather than support terrorist actions against either the US or Israel.

Indeed, the Americans would be welcomed as liberators and antipathy to Israel would cease to be a priority or a vehicle for venting popular frustrations on the Arab street. According to this logic, regime change in Baghdad would be the prelude to peace in Jerusalem. More substantively, statehood for the Palestinians was also part of the Bush vision.

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