Thursday, July 5, 2018

FIFA World Cup: Honor of the game vs politics of the day

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Which team do you cheer for when your national team isn’t a contender in the FIFA World Cup? Each game is different, yet I find myself excited for Samba dancing on the pitch.
The Brazilian team has been able to capture the imagination of football/soccer fans over consecutive World Cups; a constellation of star players lead by a legendary playmaker.
Though this week in its match against Mexico, I was cheering for Mexico to pass through to the quarterfinals.
It was not about how the team played, although they did exceptionally well in the first half, it was because of geopolitical reasons.

Viva Mexico

The political climate between the US and Mexico has been increasingly precarious; NAFTA, tariffs/trade war, illegal immigration, human trafficking, and drug smuggling across the 2000 mile border taint the otherwise beneficial economic relation both countries enjoy.
According to the Wilson Center, the border economy amounts to $3.8 trillion annually. The disparity of the $20 trillion economy to that of Mexico’s $1 trillion translates to GDP per capita of $8,200 for Mexico compared to the $57,500.
While the numbers tell a story of potential dependency, the real story is of interdependency. Legal and illegal Mexican immigrants have been willing to do jobs fewer and fewer Americans are willing to do.
The American economy wouldn’t function as it does without their willingness to overcome all of the obstacles the US puts in their way. In a way, these workers are paying for the opportunity cost that Americans are not willing to bear, freeing them to pursue higher education, more technical jobs, and higher pay.
The US should be thankful to them by facilitating an easier way for them to be here instead of erecting more border walls. Those who are out of options will continue to risk their lives to cross where it is impassible. Since 2009, more than 580 miles out of the almost 2,000-mile border has had a barrier.
It is troubling when the politics of the day colors the sport, but it is the reality of the game
Walid Jawad

Cultural influences

In addition to the gratitude they are owed for picking up the slack for Americans, Mexicans are spicing up America with their cultural influences.
You notice the “Spanish” influence on TV and in movies, but that influence is much more prevalent in daily life in metropolitan areas and border states. Although the Spanish speaking population includes other nationalities, Mexicans are the archetypal representative for most people south of the border.
Personally, walking in Washington, DC metropolitan area I hear Spanish spoken more than any other language after English (and these days Russian and Arabic come third and fourth).
This influence is embraced by all social strata including a weekly reminder at the prestigious National Press Club as they hold a Friday Taco night to socialize over the quintessential Mexican food.

History of football

Football is a political game when and if governments choose to utilize it for their own ends. An opportunity to extend an olive branch in a grand gesture on the global stage, like the 1998 Iran-US game where flowers were extended. Or it can ignite war as it did in 1969 between El-Salvador and Honduras.
The Football War, as it was called, is an extreme example of a rivalry turned into an actual war between neighboring countries. This 100-hour war saw the El-Salvadoran army invading Honduras after the last of the three matches resulting in El-Salvador qualifying to the 1970 World Cup and bloodshed in the stands.
The game itself didn’t cause the war, but it was the catalyst for military action as the rising tensions between the two neighbors over land resources, and immigration disputes reached a crescendo. Other times, the World Cup stage was used to assert ideological posturing. Benito Mussolini showcased Fascism as Italy hosted the 1934 World Cup.
Mussolini dubbed the tournament as Coppa Del Duce (Cup of the leader) after himself and fashioned a special cup to replace the official Jules Rimet World Cup at that time. The Italian national team won the championship that year amidst swirling accusation of game fixing.
It also offered players an opportunity to take a political stance. During their county’s war for independence, in 1958, a group of Algerian football players were called to play for the French national team in the World Cup held in Sweden that year.
Forgoing the opportunity, they ran away escaping the French authority. They refused to end up on the wrong side of their nation’s history.

Cheering the Home Team

I don’t know about you, but I sympathize with host nations, mostly because of the proud fans. That tendency is still there, but I am unable to embrace the Russian team fully.
You might dismiss my feeling because my Saudi squad lost in a humiliating fashion to the host team in the opener, but you would only be half-right.
The other half of my discontent is Russia’s continued global bullying; from Karamea, Syria’s Assad, Hezbollah, and Iran to Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US presidential elections.
It is troubling when the politics of the day colors the sport, but it is the reality of the game. Although the next World Cup to be held in Qatar 2022 is four years away, I am worried that the politics of the day will spoil the honor of the competition.
One thing to remember, the politics will change and the priority of decision-makers will morph depending on fluid variables. As the NAFTA neighbors are able to weather today’s politics by coming together to co-host the 2026 World Cup, so should the Gulf states for the sake of the sport.
The 2022 World Cup will offer an opportunity for brothers to exchange flowers on the field scoring a win for their blood bonds and shared history.
Families do squabble, and although the current situation is challenging the limits of what is forgivable, leaders should be guided by the wisdom of respect for the next generation, sparing them from any decisions that might create historical regret or shame.
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Walid Jawad is a former Senior Policy Analyst at U.S. Department of State and a former Washington, DC correspondent. He covered American politics for a number of TV outlets since 1997. Walid holds an undergraduate degree (B.A) in Decision Science and Management Information Systems and a Masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. You can follow him @walidaj.
Last Update: Thursday, 5 July 2018 KSA 13:30 - GMT 10:30

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Human rights and the ‘flawed’ UN council

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

If you park your car in Washington DC and exceed your parking meter limit, you will get a ticket.
Ten or 15 years ago, you could have decided to leave your car parked in that expired spot for another few hours if you wished. Once you get back to your car, you will probably find a parking ticket on your windshield. The amount on that ticket is comparable to the cost of parking in a public garage.
Nowadays, parking enforcers will give you multiple tickets the longer you violate the parking time limit. How many tickets you will get is arbitrary depending on how fast the parking enforcement officer makes the rounds and how many rounds they make.
Every time an officer passes by your car observing the expired meter they can, and probably will, issue a parking ticket. You have the freedom to challenge additional tickets based on the officer’s biased against you or your car.
You have the right to argue that your car was issued more tickets than other violator. You may want to summon the officer’s ticket issuing history to show a disproportionate focus on your car, but in the end your bias claims doesn’t address you violating the parking time-limit. The fact remains that your car continued to violate the law allowing the officer to issue any number of tickets.
In a way, this is similar to the UN Human Rights Council continued focus on Israel. The Council has issued disproportionate condemnations against Israel criticizing it for its continued violations of human rights.
There is no annual upper limit for how many countries or situations the UNHRC is able to examine. Highlighting Israel’s human rights violations does not preclude the council from examining other violations by other countries.
In order for global community to advance human rights it is incumbent on governments to make human rights a priority each within its borders
Walid Jawad

Structural problems

It is necessary to understand that the UN Human Rights council has structural problems and so does the UN itself. Such problems do not by any means nullify the positive work it performs. The UN was not conceived with equity or fairness in mind, yet it is the most effective global structure to mediate between nations.
And while the UNHRC, as a subset of this flawed body of nations, can appear biased, it has been able to do some good work applying pressure on governments and perpetrators; the inquiry on Syria including war crimes and crimes against humanity, fact-finding mission on Myanmar, collecting evidence on South Sudanese accountability for war crimes, inquiry o Burundi and others.
The relevant criteria to assess human rights is to make observable incremental progress. On the day the US announced its withdrawal from the UNHRC, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said with a frustrated voice: “While we have seen improvement in certain human rights situations, for far too long that progress comes too slowly and in some cases never comes.”
Long as there is improvement toward enhancing the human condition, even a slow one, makes the effort of working through the UNHRC a worthy endeavor. But Pompeo goes on to say that “the Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights, worse than that, the Human Rights Council became an exercise in shameless hypocrisy with the world’s most human rights abuses going ignored and some of the world’s worst human rights abusers sitting on the council itself.”
Because the UNHRC continues to fulfil its mission, the US shouldn’t be distracted by the dysfunction of the flawed system. If the administration is that discontent with the council it should work on reforming it.
Sure, the US is capable of working on human rights issues outside of the council and it does, but working through the UNHRC offers the US an extra powerful option to apply the collective pressure of council when the situation warrants it. On the whole, many of the criticism of this UN chartered body are valid yet they do not justify the US decision to withdraw.
The president of the council, Vojislav Šuc, in accepting the withdrawal of the US, said “in the past 12 years [the council] has tackled numerous human rights situations and issues keeping them in sharp focus.” It is revealing to hear how the council views itself; i.e. as a body that is charged with bringing attention to human rights issues.

Limited authority

The UNHRC has a limited authority and narrow scope to examine human rights situations and issuing non-binding recommendations. Šuc continued by saying “in many cases the council serves as an early warning system sounding the bells of impending or worsening actions.”
In order for the global community to advance human rights it is incumbent on governments to make human rights a priority each within its own borders. Unfortunately some human rights aspects are harder to define than others. Gender equality can be assessed through direct comparison on a statistical basis.
The majority of countries, developed and developing, can do more to close the gap on gender inequality. The vast majority of women are disadvantaged globally regardless of the economic, cultural, and religious makeup of the society they live within.
Health, education, and the right to work are aspects of human rights, which are easier to assess statistically. While violating the human right issue of privacy, for instance, is harder to detect and rectify. Governments tend to justify their discriminatory violation of privacy under a cloak of national security concerns.
At times, the external pressures of condemnation by the world community will provide support for human rights activists. The international outcry against the US of the now reversed policy of separating minors from their parents as they illegally cross the US southern border is a case in point.
The US has legal and political mechanisms to rectify such violation, but external condemnations provided moral support to local efforts resulting in an executive order to stop the exceptionally cruel practice. This is a reminder that human rights need consistent defending and global vigilance.
The late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it eloquently when he wrote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” It is not an option to wait until all of the conditions are perfect to contribute to the collective effort of UNHRC. The US must reconsider its decision to withdraw from the council. 
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Walid Jawad is a former Senior Policy Analyst at U.S. Department of State and a former Washington, DC correspondent. He covered American politics for a number of TV outlets since 1997. Walid holds an undergraduate degree (B.A) in Decision Science and Management Information Systems and a Masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. You can follow him @walidaj.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Anthony Bourdain: A personal eulogy to the man I never met

Monday, 11 June 2018

“No Reservation,” the Anthony Bourdain travel show, was my first experience binge-watching any TV show. Since that time, a few years ago, I became a true fan of the show and the man.
Two weeks ago, I added his newer CNN show “Parts Unknown” to my “to-watch” list. Now that I have broken the generational gap, no longer do I watch shows when they come out, I wait until I can binge-watch them one season at a time.
As my cell phone blew up yesterday morning, Washington, DC local time, with breaking news of Tony’s death, I had the urge to watch the Saudi episode one more time. A personal eulogy to the man.
I felt the loss of this intrepid globetrotter in a way I haven’t felt about someone I never met. I felt the loss of a talented TV host who was able to show us the human factor in peoples we typically brush aside in simplistic, one dimensional, and almost always wrong stereotypical fashion.
That Saudi episode might have been an eye-opener for many, but it was a nostalgic home-video of sorts to someone like me. I left Saudi Arabia over 20 years ago without going back for any meaningful visits. As I re-watched the episode, I found myself identifying with Danya al-Hamrani, the warm and welcoming host who invited Mr. Bourdain to Saudi Arabia.
This fellow American-born Saudi, missed out on many Saudi specific experiences as I did. like Danya (up to the point of the filming of the episode), I never ate Dhub (desert lizard), camel meat, or lamb hearts. I am inspired now to make a culinary trip to Saudi Arabia suspending my vegetarianism to summon the courage to try such “delicacies.”
The episode reminded me of a time of simplicity and innocence. Even Tony’s demeanor in the episode is playful and cheerful. A markedly different Tony from the one who appears in other episodes.
I invite you to watch that episode if you haven’t yet, Episode#13 of Season 4, titled simply: Saudi Arabia. In contrast, you can pick up on Tony’s undercurrent of pompousness, standoffishness, or even contemptuousness show host personality at times in some other episodes.
The uniqueness of Anthony Bourdain’s shows is its ability to zoom out showing us what is beyond the margins of the news frame; i.e. beyond the myopic focus on violence
Walid Jawad

His unlikely mission

As I reflect on the man and his body of aired work I can’t help but admire Tony’s courage and skill in breaking down the prevailing dehumanizing facade we readily accept as we watch the alluring magical lightbox.
The same facade that serves intended or unintended agenda of fear, defensiveness, divisiveness, and hatred. His work was a serious attempt to counterbalance the destructive effects of daily news, even if it were not what he was set out to do.
An impossible situation as his weekly show stood firmly in the sea of relentless fear spewing collective. Yet he was able to move the needle farther along the scale of human connectedness than any other show I can think of.
They teach in journalism that common events are not newsworthy like when a dog bites a man. But when a man bites a dog it becomes an incident worthy of feeding the 24-hour news cycle.
Watching the news, we find the uncommon numerous and violence ubiquitous making what is supposed to be the exception common. Viewers can’t be blamed to point to TV sets concluding that the world is a dangerous place.
The sheer number of violent events locally and internationally prompts viewers to divide the world into two camps: evil perpetrators and innocent victims. More troubling is that evil seems to be winning by virtue of imposing its physical will on people.
I, for one, am guilty of adding fuel to the fire in more ways than I care to enumerate. Most of us in the media, if not all, believe that you, our fellow thinking humans, need to be informed and that it’s our mission to make you aware of such events.
Once you become knowledgeable, you are better equipped to make informed decisions about the world you live in. Unfortunately, the law of unintended consequences overshadows the intended benefits of gaining that knowledge.

Adopting a cause

The news viewing public fall into three major categories: some will decide to adopt a cause and fight, while others become overwhelmed and fearful of the environment and suspicious of humanity itself. And in between, those who will shutdown dismissing such reality, tuning out the anxiety-filled chatter of new channels. A social equivalent to fight, flight, or freeze responses.
Arts, entertainment, and hobbies are great options to attempt striking a personal balance, yet external fear mongering of the 24-hour news cycle remains unchecked. These channels have a purpose to serve and should continue their mission. It behooves us to understand the side effects.
The uniqueness of Anthony Bourdain’s shows is its ability to zoom out showing us what is beyond the margins of the news frame; i.e. beyond the myopic focus on violence. As much as the news wants to compels us to the contrary, violence is not an inevitability.
If we accept violence as the norm, we are surrendering intellectually under the weight of the emotional pressure of fear and sadness. The bigger picture Tony provided is a good reminder. Some of his episodes featured people from unfavorable countries or war-torn regions, yet we identify with them as human beings.
It is essential to understand that conflict is not "bad" in and of itself. In fact, conflict is a driving force to improve the human condition. Resolving conflicts between people leads to equality. Resolving conflict between us and our environment leads to innovation. Only when conflict turns violent that it becomes “bad.”
Tony’s showed us people from around the world consumed by what humans everywhere else are consumed by, living a peaceful and happy life. We got to know people of other cultures not as tourist, rather as locals. He was able to challenge his own stereotypical ideas of others and along the way broke our disinterested judgments of others.
I mourn the man because I mourn the mission. There is no one out there who can rise to the challenge. I will go back to my “to-watch” list and put Tony’s shows on top my binge-watching cue. I know this time I will watch his shows with the eyes of an anthropologist and the mind of a conflict resolver.
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Walid Jawad is a former Senior Policy Analyst at US Department of State and a former Washington, DC correspondent. He covered American politics for a number of TV outlets since 1997. Walid holds an undergraduate degree (B.A) in Decision Science and Management Information Systems and a Masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. You can follow him @walidaj.
Last Update: Monday, 11 June 2018 KSA 21:44 - GMT 18:44

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Trump and Congress: The policy ends don’t justify means

Thursday, 7 June 2018

In this bipolar political climate where objectivity is dismissed as pandering to the other side, I find myself needing a prologue before expressing any views on parties or players in the US political landscape.
At the risk of being dismissed as kowtowing to one side or the other, I will share my observations on the interesting dynamic between President Donald J. Trump and his Republican party.
Trump holds the loyalty of his base while Republican ideologues are pandering to him out of fear of political demise. Though, this doesn’t translate very well to votes in this coming midterm elections where Republicans are going to lose their majority as a foregone conclusion.
Historically, the president’s party loses in the first midterm election. What is noticeable here is the discontent within the Republican Party. By taking a step back to observe the political landscape without emotional investment, we will be able to better assess the dynamic between Trump and his Republican party.
As Trump renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal by pulling the US out of the JCPOA, as he negotiates bilateral trade relations with China, and as he finalize the North Korea summit some critical voices from within his own Republican party are becoming louder. The question becomes, what is prompting this dissension in the ranks?
The Trump presidency is unique in more ways than one. True, “Donald” approaches his presidency as a CEO of a company. Suffice it to say, running a business is markedly different from leading a country. One can draw parallels equating Congress to a board of directors, and the American people to shareholders.
But operating within the parameters of such assumptions leads to a frustrated CEO, Board-of-directors, and Shareholders. This is evident in Trump’s inability to deliver on many of the big election promises. Among others, the courts struck down his travel ban multiple times, which was deemed as tantamount to a “Muslim ban.” He was unable to repeal Obama Care.
By taking a step back to observe the political landscape without emotional investment, we will be able to better assess the dynamic between Trump and his Republican party
Walid Jawad

Mexico’s wall

Mexico is not paying for the wall, and full funding has not been forthcoming. The big investment in infrastructure is yet to take shape, nor did he defund Planned Parenthood. All of these and others need two things to succeed: Congressional support, and secondly, for the courts not to rule against them in the event the government is sued.
The track record has been frustrating for a CEO approach, but not as much for an American president. And Trumps has been effective in touting his successes keeping his base energized and engaged.
In this dual approach to successfully bring presidential promises to fruition, the legal dynamic is the concern of government lawyers as they make the case in support of White House decisions, focusing their energy on finding loopholes and supporting precedence to avoid unfavorable court rulings.
Making this side of the equation similar to that of the corporate world; i.e. operating within a legal framework and regulatory guidelines. As for the legislative approach, both House and Senate should be able to deliver favorable legislation as they are controlled by the Republican Party. still, Congress has been failing Trump.
Statements made by Republican legislators who are serving their last term in office; i.e. those who are free to speak their mind without the threat of political retribution, are particularly revealing. While invested Republicans are calculating the pros and cons of their declared positions, they are losing sight of their ideological principles. Toeing the Republican party line is paramount in this midterm elections. Trump’s base is committed and Trumpism provides the only hope for winning.

Case in point

Both Republican senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake are not on the November ballots and are free to say what they think without reservations. Corker criticized on Thursday Trump’s move to slap steep tariffs on America’s neighbors and allies; Mexico, Canada, and the European Union, describing the White House decision as “an abuse of authority intended only for national security purposes.”
Indeed the US lost over $500 billion last year in revenue due to trade imbalances. As for Flake, he opposed Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. His concern was not the bilateral relation with Iran, rather the US standing with its European allies.
The senator said in May “The JCPOA had many flaws but withdrawing now does not serve our national interest. Iran has already realized the benefits of sanctions relief and the release of frozen assets,” Flake continued saying on CNN “If we’re not seen as a reliable partner then we’re going to have a hard time moving ahead.”
In both of these cases, the Senators voiced opposition to Trump, yet they are in agreement with him on the end result. Republicans agree (as well as Democrats) that they would like to fix US trade imbalances to prevent unfair losses.
There is no argument by anyone to the contrary. Similarly, Republicans would like for Iran to end its nuclear enrichment, stop its ballistic missile program, and cease its malign activities in the Middle East.
So if they are in agreement with White House on the “ends,” their opposition can only be understood as a rejection of Trump’s tactics. The conclusion is that as far as Congress is concerned, the end doesn’t justify Trump’s means.
But can the president’s style and behavior have such a negative impact within his own party? Indeed it has. Trump will gradually shift from the “CEO of the US” to the mentality of the President of the United States of American for which he was elected.
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Walid Jawad is a former Senior Policy Analyst at U.S. Department of State and a former Washington, DC correspondent. He covered American politics for a number of TV outlets since 1997. Walid holds an undergraduate degree (B.A) in Decision Science and Management Information Systems and a Masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. You can follow him @walidaj.
Last Update: Thursday, 7 June 2018 KSA 13:33 - GMT 10:33

How to forge a favorable, long-term American policy towards the Middle East

Thursday, 31 May 2018

The Republican leadership in Congress killed, last week, a proposed measure spearheaded by Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Republican, to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights of Syria. A media report suggests the Trump administration signaled a lack of enthusiasm for the measure to House Republican leadership. In turn, the measure was allowed to die an unceremonious death. The White House, according to reports, referenced the soon to be revealed comprehensive Middle East peace plan, which it claimed will include a provision for dealing with disputed territories.
The report did not garner much media interest allowing the administration a reprieve from a public scrutiny. If the bill were to have advanced, it would have compromised the US standing within a global community averse to fanning the flames of anger in an already unstable Mideast. The global community would be outraged, not to mention the potentially destructive reaction of the Arab and Muslim worlds. Such an outrage would be built on top of the latest global consternation following US embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a tacit recognition of the holy city as Israel’s capital. 

The Pyramid and the funnel 

Years of disappointment with America’s decisions toward the Mideast can only be understood as a symptom of structural issues plaguing the US-Mideast relations. Arab governments deal with the US in a style that mirrors their own political structure, a hierarchical one. While this doesn’t preclude it from having a healthy and dynamic partnership, it makes adjusting the emphasis of the diplomatic effort a necessity. Governments dealing with the US need to devise more effective strategies as they account for internal balance of powers. The power is held at the top of the political pyramid in the Arab world, while the political structure in the US is a funnel-like structure (an upside-down pyramid).
On the top of this American funnel reside the people. As a result, the “people” affect the trajectory of US decisions, especially in the long run, more truthfully than that of the occupant of the White House. It must be understood that the power of the people is delegated to their Representatives in Congress to run the daily legislative affairs of the nation. This reality gives Congress, as the representatives of the people, elevated influence and authority to hold the Oval Office accountable for its decisions. They keep the President honest as they collectively, through their representatives on Capitol Hill, pose a balancing power to that of the President.
Iran’s “malign” activities in the Middle East are facilitating an additional aspect toward a stronger alliance of convenience between the US and friendly Arab governments. Those Arab governments are riding an American wave of opposition against the Iranian regime. Again, this is a government-to-government alliance, but more importantly, it offers an opening to establish a deeper partnership
Walid Jawad
Indeed, the US President is considered to be the most powerful man in the world (relative to other heads of state), but his powers are not absolute. Far from it, there is the balance between his office as the head of the Executive branch and that of the Legislative (Congress) and the Judicial (Courts) branches. This balance is only one aspect of the checks on the White House; the other is the election cycle where the people voice their opinion every four years. The stakes are higher in reelection bids for a presidential second term. People cast their ballots in what amounts to a referendum on the job performance of the President.
In reality, the American people don't have to wait that long to voice their dissatisfaction with the performance of the President; midterm elections are opportune. Case in point, the upcoming midterm elections to be held in November 2018 that will serve as a referendum on Trump and his Republican party.
Members of the House of Representatives are elected every two years. This short tenure forces them to be sensitive to the wishes of their constituency if they wish to win another two years in Washington. Senators, on the other hand, are more deliberative as they have to shift their focus to the elections every six years. Senators balance the emotions of the day against longer-term objectives within the margins of the prevailing will of voters. It is precisely here that Middle East governments can gain or lose the most. Israel understands the game. Presidents and legislators come and go, but the will of American people outlasts them all and Israel has won the American people over. Jewish Americans recognized the power of the role they can play, and they’ve played it well.
Of course, Jewish-American successes made the political environment less conducive to Arab causes. Members of the Arab-American community are not driven by the Israeli-Palestinian state of affairs, or by much of what is going on in the Arab world. The exception being those new immigrants who are still fighting for the people they left behind. In general, politically active Arab-Americans are as fragmented as the Arab world itself. Jewish-Americans in comparison, view the survival and well-being of the Israeli state as an existential issue. Arabs are operating from a deficit dealing with this specific conflict. But there are other conflicts that may unify the Arab cause better. 

The Iranian foe 

Iran’s “malign” activities in the Middle East are facilitating an additional aspect toward a stronger alliance of convenience between the US and friendly Arab governments. Those Arab governments are riding an American wave of opposition against the Iranian regime. Again, this is a government-to-government alliance, but more importantly, it offers an opening to establish a deeper partnership. If Arab governments are unable to find ways to seize on this opportunity to forge a political friendship with the American people, they will continue to be at the mercy of the morphing marriage of convenience; energy and security. Now is the time to work on a partnership with the America people and not only with their Republican Party representatives or just with a specific president.
The upcoming midterm elections should serve as a reality check realizing that the party of president historically loses in midterm elections; playing a political roulette whenever US elections come around is never a reassuring political strategy.
Saudi Arabia seems to understand this dynamic. The three-week-long visit by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and his TV interviews were a good start. Now that a door has been opened, it's time to cross that threshold and commit to the hard and long work that is required; connecting with the American people on a personal/human level and with congress on a functional level to advance shared values and mutually beneficial outcomes.
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Walid Jawad is a former Senior Policy Analyst at U.S. Department of State and a former Washington, DC correspondent. He covered American politics for a number of TV outlets since 1997. Walid holds an undergraduate degree (B.A) in Decision Science and Management Information Systems and a Masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. You can follow him @walidaj.
Last Update: Thursday, 31 May 2018 KSA 22:26 - GMT 19:26