Historien bag Det arabiske Fredsinitiativ:

Fra saudisk ide til arabisk plan

Saudiarabiens de facto leder, kronprins Abdullah
Saudiarabiens de facto leder, kronprins Abdullah

Hvordan Den saudiarabiske Fredsplan kom til verden, eller i hvert fald hvordan den kom til en bredere offentlighed kendskab, er ret enestående. Delikat diplomati plejer oftest at trives bedst borte fra mediernes søgelys, og samtidig ville det være synd at sige, at Saudiarabien på nogen måde hører til blandt verdens – endsige den arabiske verdens – mest åbne og pressevenlige samfund. Derfor er denne fredsplans tilblivelse alt andet en ordinær, og af samme årsag er der måske god grund til at tage begivenhedsforløbet, som vi i dag kender det, med et gran salt. Der er nok i vid udstrækning tale om en snedig saudiarabisk brug af de vestlige medier som et redskab i en intern arabisk politisk manipulation.

Efter Oslo-fredsprocessens definitive sammenbrud i sommeren og efteråret 2000, som blev afløst af endnu en voldelig palæstinensisk intifada, var det klart, at parterne selv var ude af stand til at udnytte mulighederne for fred, selv når de næsten lå klar til underskrift på forhandlingsbordet. Og hver eneste gang en mulighed for fred ikke bliver udnyttet, viser erfaringerne os, at næste gang forhandlinger kommer i gang igen, er chancerne for succes endnu dårligere, fordi virkeligheden i mellemtiden har bevæget sig, og tidligere muligheder derfor ikke længere eksisterer.

Efter Oslo-processens sammenbrud står Clinton-planen tilbage som det nærmeste man er kommet et realistisk bud på en brugbar fredsplan. Alligevel virker den ikke. I sit udgangspunkt forsøger den saudiarabiske kronprins’ ide at øge indsatsen. I Clinton-planen får palæstinenserne får ikke i den alt, hvad de har krævet. Grænsen bliver ikke 67-linjen og visse bosættelser får lov til at blive. Israel på sin side får kun fred med palæstinenserne. Med det saudiske initiativ vil palæstinenserne få mere, og samtidig tilbydes Israel fred med hele den arabiske verden. Senere bliver planen dog ændret, bliver mere ordinær politisk, og ender til slut i det store bibliotek over fredsplaner, der heller nikke løste konflikten.

Men det der senere ender som Det Arabiske Fredsinitiativ på det arabiske topmøde i Beirut i marts 2002, begynder her som en underlig samtale mellem den fremtrædende amerikanske columnist Thomas Friedman fra The New York Times og Saudiarabiens reelle regent, kronprins Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, som på den måde får sit initiativ kendt, uden at skulle hænge på det, fordi det endnu er officielt.

Oprindelig handler planen som sagt i al sin enkelthed blot om at Israel skal rømme alle de besatte områder fra 1967-krigen til gengæld for fred og den arabiske verdens anerkendelse. Planen udvikles herefter indtil den ender som Det arabiske Fredsinitiativ den 28. marts 2002.


 
 
Thomas Friedman of The New York Times.

An Intriguing Signal
from the Saudi Crown Prince

By Thomas Friedman
The New York Times
February 17, 2002

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Earlier this month, I wrote a column suggesting that the 22 members of the Arab League, at their summit in Beirut on March 27 and 28, make a simple, clear-cut proposal to Israel to break the Israeli-Palestinian impasse: In return for a total withdrawal by Israel to the June 4, 1967, lines, and the establishment of a Palestinian state, the 22 members of the Arab League would offer Israel full diplomatic relations, normalized trade and security guarantees. Full withdrawal, in accord with U.N. Resolution 242, for full peace between Israel and the entire Arab world. Why not?

I am currently in Saudi Arabia on a visit — part of the Saudi opening to try to explain themselves better to the world in light of the fact that 15 Saudis were involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. So I took the opportunity of a dinner with Saudi Arabia's crown prince, and de facto ruler, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, to try out the idea of this Arab League proposal.

I knew that Jordan, Morocco and some key Arab League officials had been talking about this idea in private but had not dared to broach it publicly until one of the "big boys" — Saudi Arabia or Egypt — took the lead.

After I laid out this idea, the crown prince looked at me with mock astonishment and said, "Have you broken into my desk?"

"No," I said, wondering what he was talking about.

"The reason I ask is that this is exactly the idea I had in mind — full withdrawal from all the occupied territories, in accord with U.N. resolutions, including in Jerusalem, for full normalization of relations," he said. "I have drafted a speech along those lines. My thinking was to deliver it before the Arab summit and try to mobilize the entire Arab world behind it. The speech is written, and it is in my desk. But I changed my mind about delivering it when Sharon took the violence, and the oppression, to an unprecedented level.

"But I tell you," the crown prince added, "if I were to pick up the phone now and ask someone to read you the speech, you will find it virtually identical to what you are talking about. I wanted to find a way to make clear to the Israeli people that the Arabs don't reject or despise them. But the Arab people do reject what their leadership is now doing to the Palestinians, which is inhumane and oppressive. And I thought of this as a possible signal to the Israeli people."

Well, I said, I'm glad to know that Saudi Arabia was thinking along these lines, but so many times in the past we've heard from Arab leaders that they had just been about to do this or that but that Ariel Sharon or some other Israeli leader had gotten in the way. After a while, it's hard to take seriously. So I asked, What if Mr. Sharon and the Palestinians agreed to a cease-fire before the Arab summit?

 
 
Israeli pesce demonstration in favour od the Arab Peace Initiative.

"Let me say to you that the speech is written, and it is still in my drawer," the crown prince said.

I pass all of this on as straightforwardly as I can, without hype or unrealistic hopes. What was intriguing to me about the crown prince's remarks was not just his ideas — which, if delivered, would be quite an advance on anything the Arab League has proposed before — but the fact that they came up in the middle of a long, off-the-record conversation. I suggested to the crown Prince that if he felt so strongly about this idea, even in draft form, why not put it on the record — only then would anyone take it seriously. He said he would think about it. The next day his office called, reviewed the crown prince's quotations and said, Go ahead, put them on the record. So here they are.

Crown Prince Abdullah is known as the staunchest Arab nationalist among Saudi leaders, and the one most untainted by corruption. He has a strong Arab following inside and outside the kingdom, and if he ever gave such a speech, it would have a real impact on Arab public opinion, as well as Israeli. Prince Abdullah seemed to be signaling that if President Bush took a new initiative for Middle East peace, he and other Arab leaders would be prepared to do so as well.

I also used the interview with the Saudi leader to ask why his country had never really apologized to America for the fact that 15 Saudis were involved in 9/11?

"We have been close friends for so long, and we never expected Americans to doubt us," he said. "We saw this attack by bin Laden and his men as an attack on us, too, and an attempt to damage the U.S.-Saudi relationship," the crown prince said. "We were deeply saddened by it and we never expected it to lead to tensions between us. But we've now learned that we respond to events differently. . . . It is never too late to express our regrets."

As for the "axis of evil" and reports of a possible U.S. military strike against Iraq, the Saudi leader said: "Any attack on Iraq or Iran should not be contemplated at all because it would not serve the interests of America, the region or the world, as there is no clear evidence of a present danger. Iraq is contemplating the return of the inspectors, and the U.S. should pursue this because inspectors can determine if Iraq is complying with the U.N. resolutions."


Se også:

Document: The Saudi Peace Plan:
http://www.steffen-jensen.dk/dan/andre-artikler/184-document-the-saudi-peace-plan/

Document: The Arab Peace Initiative:
http://www.steffen-jensen.dk/dan/andre-artikler/185-document-the-arab-peace-initiative/