Two years post 9/11 the Bush administration proposed a free-trade agreement between the U.S and a multitude of Middle Eastern and North African countries. MEFTA (the Middle East Free Trade Area) was made with the intent to fight terrorism by strengthening world trade, supporting the growth of the Middle Eastern economy and encouraging movement towards democracy. By making the Middle East more stable politically and economically, it would suit the U.S as a better long-term trading partner.
Aside from the U.S, the countries involved in MEFTA would include Algeria, Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, the Gaza Strip/West Bank, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The requirements of these countries would be that they would have to be, and remain ‘peaceful’ countries, that they would need to be ready and willing to endure economic reform, and they were not permitted to support the boycott of Israel.
Though the economic points of the MEFTA proposal were strong, there is an underlying political motive. In order for a country to become part of the union, they had to cease participating in the economic boycott of Israel. Since 1948, after the Arab-Israeli war, countries of the Arab League have participated in campaigns to support the Palestinian economy by isolating Israel’s in protest of the their illegal occupation in Palestine. Though the boycott weakened in the late 1970’s, it is estimated that once the boycott ends investment and exports will rise at least 10%.
The main economic focus of MEFTA was to create a long term free-trade agreement with Middle Eastern countries using a 10 year plan, with the establishment goal year being 2013. 10 year plan, as outlined by the Bush Administration, consisted of steps that each country in the agreement needed to complete in order to reach the mutual long-term goals. It would be up to each of the countries to become a member of World...