However slim the chance may be for a political deal to materialize, new breakthroughs in the Middle East and Korea have been emerging one after one since early May.
The first breakthrough was President Donald Trump’s indication on May 1 that he is willing to have a direct talk with Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of the DPRK, even though he qualifies his proposal with ‘right circumstances”. It was totally impossible for a United States president to say something like this in the past 60 years. Yet, Trump has done it and even described it as some sort of honor.
Trump’s open praise of Kim as a “smart cookie” in the wake of his young age is also unprecedentedly unbelievable. Perhaps Trump has learnt a big lesson from Obama’s failure to produce a regime change in Syria, his goal and agenda “are quite strictly limited to the denuclearization of North Korea”, according to Yun Sun, a senior associate at the Stimson Center [Note 1].
As the White House is somehow interested in making a deal rather than a fight, the only absent ingredient for the renewal of the six-party talk is a friendly attitude of the next president of South Korea. If the next leader in Seoul could correct the mistakes of building hostility towards Pyongyang committed by Lee Myung-bak (2008-13) and Park Geun-hye (2013-17) by, say, reinstalling the Sunshine Policy (1998-2008), peace would return to the Korean Peninsula soon.
Another groundbreaking move is Hamas’ new charter that they now accept the 1967 borders for future Palestinian state, which is a “vast departure from the group’s previous stance”. The charter goes on to say that “Hamas does not wage a struggle against the Jews … but wages a struggle against the Zionists who occupy Palestine.” What is more jaw-dropping is that Hamas accepts “other forms of nonviolent resistance” against the occupation [Note 2].
Despite lots of remaining differences of stances between Hamas and Israel, this willingness to compromise is invaluable. It may not be a sufficient condition for a good deal but it is absolutely a necessary condition for initiating a meaningful and productive talk among all the parties concerned.
The third one is Iran’s release of a dove with olive branch. Further to the positive feedback to Riyadh’s invitation letter in January regarding the 2017 Hajj pilgrimage, Iran’s United Nations Ambassador stipulates in a recent letter to the U.N. Secretary-General that they “continue to stand ready for dialogue and accommodation to promote regional stability … hope Saudi Arabia will be persuaded to heed the call of reason” [Note 3].
Although the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman indicated no interest at all in a dialogue with Iran on May 2, their position may change when King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his ministers have a face-to-face exchange of views with President Trump who has chosen Saudi as his maiden overseas trip’s first destination in late May (to Israel and Vatican afterward).
We have to understand that the rift between Saudi and Iran is the source of most bloody conflicts in the region. Therefore, without healing the wounds inside the heart of the mother of all problems, dropping the mother of all bombs makes no sense to stop the hemorrhages.
Moscow and Beijing have been working hard to promote world peace for decades but, without an unconventional U.S. president like Donald Trump, it is almost impossible to have a series of breakthroughs like what we have now. Trump may appear to be bellicose, yet he has an extraordinary business sense on long lasting wars in terms of calculations of risks, debts, cost and benefits.
Trump’s US$1 billion invoice to Seoul for the THHAD installation and quarrel with his European allies on sharing the NATO cost have both revealed that, finally, there is a U.S. President who has no obsession or addiction of bombarding other countries in the name of promoting democracy at any cost.
Alongside displaying cannons and battleships here and there, it seems Trump’s top priority is actually fostering a new (and peaceful) world order which would deliver favorable terms of trade to America, facilitate the American corporations to make more profits abroad (with lower U.S. tax rates), surrender more jobs to America, and satisfy the ego of the Americans as a superior nation. All nations in sufferings should seize this rare opportunity to widen the horizons of conditions for a compromise.
Like playing the Contract Bridge game, President Trump has made an open bid of ‘2NT’, and Putin, Xi, Hamas and Tehran have reacted intelligently with their relay bids; the world peace could achieve two rubbers if Israel, Saudi and South Korea would answer the bids sensibly.
By Keith K C Hui
The 4th Media
Bloomberg, “Trump says he’d meet with Kim Jong Un under right circumstances”, May 2, 2017.
Business Insider, “Why it’s important that Trump would be ‘honored’ to talk to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un”, May 1, 2017.
Ma’an News Agency, “Hamas unveils new charter, accepts 1967 borders for future Palestinian state”, May 1, 2017.
Haaretz, “With eye on Trump’s peace efforts, Hamas to unveil new charter”, May 1, 2017.
Iran Daily, “Iran ready to hold talks with Saudi Arabia on 2017 Hajj”, Jan 10, 2017.
Voice of America, “Iran says it’s ready for Saudi talk despite unlawful, inflammatory remarks”, May 4, 2017.