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Only American Leadership Can Solve the Middle East Crisis

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Ahmad Charai

America’s mind should not be clouded by self-doubt. On every continent, millions of citizens look to the United States as a savior

As the November elections approach, American voters see new threats on many foreign coasts – from the Mediterranean (Gaza), Black (Ukraine), and Red Seas (Yemen) to the Pacific islands (Taiwan).

The situation is ominous but far from hopeless. U.S. diplomats still have time to dissipate the gathering storms if they are creative and bold.

With its new ships and aircraft, China is assembling its military might to expel the United States from the western Pacific and, perhaps, become the world’s preeminent power. For now, the competition in U.S.-China relations is diplomatic, economic, and technological. But this new Cold War may turn hot without warning.

Russia’s trench lines in occupied Ukraine are holding firm. In a war of attrition, Russia’s vastly larger population and economy gives it a decisive advantage, while the declining U.S. military support imperils the future of Europe’s youngest democracy.

Meanwhile, as Russia and China tighten their embrace, they are uniting the vast Eurasian continent against the West. Russia relies on China for ammunition, artillery shells, and sophisticated sensor equipment.

In return, resource-hungry China receives Russia’s oil, coal, wheat, and high-tech weapons. Other Eurasian nations are joining the Russia-China axis, especially North Korea and Iran.

Iran and its proxies—Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and many others—are waging a bloody struggle for regional dominance against Israel, the Gulf monarchies, and the United States. The Houthis attack U.S. warships while Hamas continues to hold Israeli hostages.

Iran has several strategic objectives: driving U.S. forces from the region by making its positions in Iraq and Syria untenable, controlling maritime traffic in the Red Sea, and increasing the cost of any possible normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel after the Gaza war ends.

Israel’s legitimate but ill-fated war against Hamas imperils the global economy, risks widening regional war, and fuels global extremism.

The war will certainly succeed in eliminating Hamas’s military and political leadership, breaking its chain of command, and destroying its ability to operate as a terrorist organization. Vietnam’s 1968 Tet Offensive, which the North began with terror strikes against civilians, provoked a massive U.S. counterstrike. Within a year, the Vietcong, a communist guerilla, lost most of its leaders and fighting strength. It ceased to exist as a separate military unit. Yet, the North ultimately prevailed. If history repeats, Israel could win the battle but lose the war.

To make a lasting peace, Israel will have to replace the appeal and philosophy of Hamas, which has deep roots in the Palestinian population, with something else. Is that possible?

I answer, yes, it is possible! But if and only if the following conditions are met.

We first need political courage within the political class in Israel, a courage that considers the future of Jewish generations living in the region’s most democratic state. Netanyahu must agree to transfer control of the Gaza Strip after the war to a renewed but demilitarized Palestinian Authority. The current or next prime minister of Israel must agree to rebuild the ruined cities and to train its police and emergency services in coordination with the United States, EU, and Arab countries. This would also spare the Palestinian Authority the indignity of returning to Gaza in an Israeli convoy.

Israel’s leaders should propose a courageous peace plan with the Palestinians, already outlined in the Abraham Accords. Focusing on economic growth will help all Israelis and their Palestinian neighbors. New jobs and renewed hope would reinvigorate young Palestinians who want to learn, work, start families, and live with dignity. With new opportunities, the Palestinians will gradually shift from unemployment and anger to work and hope. This shift will be gradual, halting, fitful, and slow. It will last decades. But it is the only way.

The Arab League must stop its nihilistic, propagandist discourse and work alongside Americans and Europeans to rebuild Gaza while explicitly disowning these terrorist ideologies that only divide people and stall prosperity. Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis have taken entire nations hostage in the name of “resistance” while, in reality, serving their masters in Iran. The Arab League must say these simple truths.

Washington must summon itself to find a bipartisan consensus against Iran. Americans must remember that Iran’s Islamic regime was born in 1979 by holding hostage fifty-two U.S. diplomats for 444 days, and its influence grew by sponsoring terror groups to kill American civilians in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, and elsewhere—alongside thousands of Arabs and Jews over the past forty years.

Iran is not just an ongoing threat to Middle Eastern peace, but its proxies have killed two U.S. Navy SEALs and three soldiers in the past sixty days. Iran can no longer be treated with patient benevolence, which the mullahs interpret as decadent weakness. American leadership must be resolute and resourceful.

Finally, the United States must be the protector of the spirit of the Abraham Accords since shared prosperity is the only way to guarantee lasting peace.

America’s mind should not be clouded by self-doubt. On every continent, millions of citizens look to the United States as a savior.

It is not an accident of history that America is the leader of the free world. It is because American leadership is essential to resolving these crises.