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The Arab power game

George Mitchell's task of negotiating peace between Israel and the Palestinians will be complicated by the rivalry of key Arab players

George Mitchell’s first tour of the middle east as President Obama’s envoy in late January came amid stratospheric expectations of the new US administration, Muslim outrage at Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, and election fever in Israel.

But the diplomatic games being played on the Arab stage are of equal significance for Mitchell’s mission. Understanding the rivalries between key regional players will be crucial to achieving progress between Israel and the Palestinians.

For much of the 20th century, the struggle to be at the heart of regional diplomacy tended to be fought out between the revolutionary Arab nationalist regimes, headed…

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