Author(s)Lorenz, Joseph P.
KeywordsEconomics and Cost Analysis
Government and Political Science
BALANCE OF POWER
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AbstractAS THE ECONOMIC and political balance among Arab states has shifted over the last twenty years, as alliances have come and gone and attitudes toward Israel have moved from confrontation toward negotiation, the Arabs have convened periodic summits to confirm the changes and turn them into common policy. These meetings are the mileposts of modern Arab diplomatic history. At conferences in Khartoum, Rabat, Baghdad, and Fez, new bearings were set in Arab-Palestinian relations and the conflict with Israel. This past year, in Amman and then in Algiers, two summits were held that illuminate the changes in attitudes and power relationships that have taken place in the Arab world since Camp David. The recent summits are important not only for the decisions they took-the solid front shown to Iran, Egypt's return to a position of Arab centrality, and the support pledged to the Palestinian uprising. Their longer term significance lies in the emergence of a new dynamic in inter-Arab relations: on all of the controversial issues, a new, centrist Arab coalition dominated the decisionmaking process. The appearance of this coalition raises a number of questions. Is the growing sense of common interest among Arabs a product of the Gulf war, or are deeper and more enduring factors at work? What issues does the moderate consensus embrace and what are its limits? How strong are the underlying bilateral relationships, especially those between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Iraq? Is the Arab-Israel peace process likely to be affected? And what impact will the Palestinian uprising have on the move toward the center?