'Winners and losers' of Gulf War

Wednesday, August 14, 1991

By Adam Hanieh

ADELAIDE — Israel, Syria, Turkey and Iran were the big winners in the Middle East as a result of the Gulf War, Dr Robert Springborg told a 200-strong public meeting here on August 5. The meeting was organised by the Gulf Peace Action Committee.

Syria was the main Arab winner, said Springborg. Its control of nearly 80% of Lebanon has been tacitly approved, and it has received US$2.5 billion from Saudi Arabia. If Israel decided to do a land-for-peace exchange to appease international opinion, the most likely territory would be Syria's Golan Heights, seized in the 1967 war.

Springborg listed non-Arab regional winners as Iran, Turkey and Israel. Iran's inclusion in the Gulf security conference indicates that it has finally come in from the cold after its 1979 revolution. Turkey will receive its largest foreign assistance ever from the US in 1993. It also hosted a recent high-profile visit from Bush despite continuing human rights abuses and its occupation of northern Cyprus.

Israel had its strongest Arab opponent crushed. The overwhelming military strength of Israel and the USA remains the main determinant of regional power.

US military equipment positioned in Israel during and after the war will be accessible to Israeli forces, and the US is relocating to Israel, free of charge, weapons withdrawn from Europe. The US is also seeking a regional arms control agreement that will include all states except Israel. US aid to Israel will increase to US$5.6 billion in 1993.

For the first time, Israel might now get access to Gulf areas thanks to the weakness of the Arab states. This would mean reduced economic reliance on the US.

The obvious loser was Iraq. One-third of Iraqi military personnel were killed, and UN sources estimate that more than 150,000 Iraqi children will die by the end of the year from to war-related malnutrition and disease.

Other Arab losers include the Gulf states. Kuwait has been devastated environmentally and economically. The only relatively constant feature there is the undemocratic political regime.

Saudi Arabia now has a US$60 billion debt, and has experienced social destabilisation. There has been a wave of Saudi nationalism against Yemeni guest workers. Springborg predicted conflict between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, with dangerous consequences for the Saudi

monarchy.

Egypt was also a loser. Its aid from the US was reduced to just over US$2 billion, breaking the previous nexus between US aid to Israel and Egypt. It seems Egypt is being discarded as a US ally. It has been replaced by Syria in Arab-Israeli dialogue, and for the first time it has not been invited to a Gulf security conference.

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