Regional Cooperation and Security in the Middle East The Role of the European Community
A recent article by Fred Halliday warns that European perceptions of Europe's role in the Middle East are encumbered by myths. Among these, Halliday states, is the myth that a special relationship exists between Europe and the Arab states--the belief that the Europeans "have a better understanding of the region than do the Americans, by dint of history, proximity, diplomatic sophistication, and so forth." 1 He contends that to retreat into the "transcendental world of the Euro-Arab dialogue" ignores the realities. The relationship between Europe and Arab states, he says, is not a function of anything "special"--historic, cultural, or geographical--but exists because of a "trade and diplomatic position." It is necessary to be mindful of this to avoid unrealistic notions and misleading concepts when conducting political analysis.
It must also be recognized that many policies pursued by European governments during the Gulf War provided little evidence of the latter's sagacity or insight. This paper will contend, however, that there is a distinctive European Community (EC) approach to the problems of the Middle East, that the community has begun to shape and implement policies reflective of that approach; and that the Gulf War has accelerated the development of these policies. The writer's view is that the community's contribution to (or impact on) the peace and security of the Middle East will be of increasing significance over the last decade of the twentieth century. Difficulties over the Maastricht Treaty will affect the scope and effectiveness of community policy in the region, but even without Maastricht this policy is likely to become more coordinated and coherent.