In the last two weeks, a couple things have happened that one might think would really destabilize an already destabilized region: First Israel launched a series of attacks on Syria, targeting the suburbs of Damascus. The actual targets remain somewhat hazy but it appears the Israelis took out possibly a couple military bases and chemical munitions sites and then possibly, a base operated by the Iranian Republican Guards. This was followed very shortly by President Donald Trump following through on a promise that several other recent presidents have made: to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Each of the last few US Presidents have promised to do this but ultimately failed to follow through on this.
The obvious concern with these two anomalous events is that any attempt at peace between the Israelis and Palestinians would be shattered. However, it is appearing that the Iranian threat might be more of a threat to regional stability than the Israeli-Palestinian issue. This is obviously not what the Palestinians want to hear. The immediate reaction from most every country in the world condemned Trump’s action–especially in the Arab world. Even American allies in Europe were quick to denounce the move.
However, at the UN today, US Ambassador Nikki Haley, took on the regional instability issue and turned the tables on the Palestinian issue by introducing some dramatic evidence of Iranian malfeasance in the Arabian peninsula: She produced missile fragments and debris from remnants of a missile the Houti rebels fired into Saudi Arabia–remnants of missiles manufactured in Iran. Haley went on to indicate that US strategy towards Iran would be changing and focusing on the overall Iranian threat to the region, rather than simply focusing on the Iranian nuclear issue.
As for the Arab response to the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the US moving it’s embassy there, word is coming out that both the Saudis and the Egyptians gave the Trump administration their prior approval. While spokesmen for both countries vociferously opposed Trump’s move, in private, it would appear that both countries recognize that it might be time to move on and focus on a more potent threat to the region.