World News and Trends: Conflict sharpens over European Middle East role

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Conflict sharpens over European Middle East role

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In the first half of this century European involvement figured heavily in the Middle East during both world wars and their aftermath. Arab oil and the formation of the state of Israel in 1948 assured a continuation of that interest right up to the present.

Recent setbacks in the Middle East peace process have brought about a sharp renewal of interest on the part of France, Russia and the European Union. President Jacques Chirac in particular has evinced a growing enthusiasm for an increased French role in the diplomatic process with recent state visits to Syria and Israel.

Whatever their individual motives, at least two or three European powers apparently believe that a diplomatic vacuum has been created by the perceived peace failures ostensibly brought about by the intransigence of a new right- wing Israeli government. This has caught America's eye, and, in spite of Irish foreign minister Dick Spring's assurances that the United States "must not believe Europe is trying to muscle in," the Clinton administration plainly does not want European diplomatic help at this time.

Reports Robert Fisk from Damascus: "In a letter which has both angered and astonished the European Union, Warren Christopher, the United States secretary of state, has warned all 15 EU foreign ministers not to meddle in the U.S.-led Middle East peace process." Secretary Christopher referred to the present as a "delicate moment" in the process. This only adds to the foreign-policy differences America already has with the EU over Cuba.

However, the Middle East is destined to continue to play a major role in European and world affairs. The 11th chapter of Daniel foretells a great confrontation in the Middle East at the "time of the end" involving a major power in Europe, referred to as the "king of the North." Daniel 12 indicates that frightful world tensions will be followed by the second coming of Jesus Christ. One Bible translation refers to this panorama of events as "the crisis at the close" (Daniel 12:9, Moffatt Translation). (Source: The Independent; Reuter.)