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Brazil seeks to mediate in Mideast peace process

December 3rd, 2009

UN logoBrazil, an established power in Latin America and an aspirer for a UN Security Council permanent seat, has decided to get involved in the Middle East peace process as a new mediator.

The country has voiced on several occasions its will to mediate peace negotiations in the Middle East, since its participation in Annapolis conference in 2008 in the United States, which brought together a group of countries and representatives of the parties in conflict.

In November, over a span of just two weeks, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva received his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Lula da Silva stressed during the meetings with the leaders that all participants in the conflict should be included in the negotiations, adding that Brazil maintained an “open dialogue” with all countries in the region.

He also defended Iran’s right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, and pleaded for a Middle East without nuclear weapons.

Analysts said the above speeches and actions were part of a proactive foreign policy based on the country’s economic strength under the context of the international financial crisis, its growing regional influence in Latin America and the aspiration for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Furthermore, Brazil’s efforts in the Mideast peace process meant a new agent’s presence amid the accumulated tension between the United States and the region, especially Iran, analysts added.

Nevertheless, the approach to Iran has been heavily criticized by a group of U.S. lawmakers, who were even delaying the appointment of a new ambassador to Brasilia.

Professor Amado Cervo, from the International Relations Department at University of Brasilia, said he believed that Brazil’s participation in peace negotiations would follow the failure of other countries.

“The perception is that Western powers do not produce results for a definitive peace in the region. Brazilian government arguments are its pacifist foreign policy and President Lula’s political standing,” he told Xinhua.

“In Middle East, Brazil seeks to act as mediator, conciliator, almost like a fireman, as it is done in Latin America,” Cervo said, adding that the country had to seek a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

This was not the first time that the South American country was involved in Middle East, although in the past Brazil had to “retire” from the region because of the U.S. pressure, the professor pointed out.

In the 1970s, Brazil had a very important penetration in the Persian Gulf, both in investment and export, he recalled, adding that even an armor factory had been installed in Saudi Arabia.

But the situation changed as the United States forced Brazil to withdraw from the region in the 1980s and 1990s, he said.

Cervo warned that Brazil might face problems in pushing the negotiations forward, because the region was “difficult to deal with.”

“If you analyze historically, Britain, France, the United States, all Western powers that joined them have had bad results. The risk for a country like Brazil is always present, diplomacy is very difficult in the region,” he said.


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