Speaking at the Arab Strategy Forum, Gates and former French President Francoise Hollande say the move was ill-advised, but will cause no major political shift
The US government’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was “ill-advised” and damaging to America’s Middle Eastern allies, according to former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
Speaking at the Arab Strategy Forum in Dubai, Gates said that the announcement “makes it difficult for Palestinians and has also created problems for our Arab friends and allies.”
“One of the Trump administration’s big achievements has been improved relations with our Arab friends,” Gates added. “While this announcement will not reverse that, it makes things much more difficult for our friends here.”
Gates’ remarks came during a session in which he was alongside former French President Francoise Hollande, who said that the US move “was not only a bad decision, but a brutal one” but would ultimately not cause a major change in the region’s political situation.
“Together, we must set out on the road to negotiations and solutions,” he noted. “Europe has the capacity to act with or without US involvement.”
In his remarks, Hollande also warned that ISIL-inspired militants will continue to be a threat despite losing large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.
Also speaking at the event was Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, the former general manager of the Al Arabiya news channel and former editor and chief of the London-based Asharq al-Awsat.
In his remarks, Al-Rashed said that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will play a “crucial” role in 2018, partly due to improved relations with the US government.
“After eight not-so-happy years with the Obama regime, we have a stronger political consensus with the Trump administration, where America’s Middle East policies have dramatically shifted the needle…helping the GCC countries forge a clearer political mandate and tackle the issues threatening the stability of the region.”
Al-Rashed added that the GCC as an institution will survive, despite tensions and political disagreement between its member states.
“There are three distinct divisions. Saudi Arabia, the [UAE] and Bahrain in one camp, Qatar in another, Oman and Kuwait in the third camp,” he said. “In 2018, these divisions will continue, but the GCC as an institution in itself will endure.”
Following the forum, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, tweeted that “major Arab nations will witness huge economic reforms in the coming year.”
“From an economic perspective, I am optimistic about 2018,” he added. “We hope that 2018 will be a breakthrough year for some critical Arab crises.”