|Recently the United States has seen a decrease in its influence within the Middle East, says Bulent Aras [GALLO-GETTY]|
A crisis of hegemony in contemporary international politics is an astonishing development. This situation ironically presents us with serious risks in global terms, while offering opportunities at various levels simultaneously.
The diminishing power of the US in world politics has been subject to many interpretations in this period. One shared perspective is that the US overstretch in post-September 11 period tested the limits of the US power. The US is now back at home and dealing with its own problems with lesser interest to international issues. The Obama administration offered “hope” in this regards exclusively to its domestic constituency. The promise of Obama’s was a restoration of trust and confidence at home, while attempting to repair the US image abroad.
The gradual decline of the US hegemonic influence in the Middle East created a stronger impact in this geography in comparison to other regions. The region was stuck with the static order predicated on the three interrelated pillars of ensuring Israel’s security, serving oil interests and maintaining the so-called stability. The US administration was happy with the Mubarak regime, since it was satisfying these requirements. The weakening US role opened room for the regional actors to progressively forge a sense of self-confidence to act on their own. Arab Spring demonstrated that no international power, including the US and other major powers, is able to control the developments. Ironically, the so-called ‘spring’ came to the Arab world at a time of global turmoil.
“Israel operates in a new Middle East“
Recently, the US-Israeli relations have been transformed under the imperatives of the declining hegemony. In this relationship, Israel used to be viewed as a vital ally backed strongly by the US in an atmosphere of hegemonic stability in the Middle East. Israel is still a vital ally and continues to enjoy strong support. However, Israel operates in a new Middle East, with weakening US control. The US also has lost its direct control over Israel and it is also unable to shape political environment in the region in which Israel operates. Granted, the Israeli administration still benefits from the US support, while not being accountable to it.
The situation remains volatile in the Middle East, given the weakening of hegemonic control and weakening ability of regional actors to deal with the situation in the region. Though there is an increasing room to manoeuvre and the regional powers enjoy a sense of freedom of action, they are not sure about where the regional order is heading. Although none of the regional powers, i.e., Israel, Iran, and Turkey, is able to dominate others, each experiences emancipation from the limiting influence of the hegemonic order. Israel’s choice in this situation is to oppress Palestinians, block any hope for peace, de-legitimize the UN system and international law. Israel also consolidates the US double standard image, marginalises the regional countries and peoples, and turns a blind eye to radical change and transformation in the region.
The Israeli administration’s understanding of the global and regional environments are very problematic. From their perspective, there is a suitable environment for their policies and they will not be responsible for the consequences of their actions at all. The US is not in a position to influence them, and they may even meddle into the US politics. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s defiance against the Obama administration exemplifies this mentality. This false consciousness made foreign policy concerns in Israel disappear and only Israeli domestic issues matter. It may lead to an Israeli ego-centric illusion at the administrative level with far worse consequences.
Dealing with Israel is becoming more difficult under a crisis of hegemony. The strategic blindness prevents the Israeli governemnt from drawing lessons from the deteriorating relations, among others, with Turkey as well as post-revolution Egypt. Unfortunately, the Israeli illusion seems likely to continue at the detriment of the other regional actors, its allies and its own people.
Professor Bulent Aras is head of the Center for Strategic Research, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.