By: Nahro Zagros, Senior Fellow
The Israel-UAE agreement to normalise relations is a historical peace accord in the region. It is a bold and courageous move by both sides, which could lead to further Arab countries in the region to follow suit and recognise the state of Israel. Whilst a number of Arab and Islamic countries already have secret relationships with Israel, the current accord is only the third Israel-Arab peace treaty in the Middle East after Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994). The international community has welcomed the move, except for Palestine, Iran and Turkey who have lashed out against it; the fact that other Arab states, in particular Saudi Arabia, have not denounced the agreement is generally positive.
It is worth paying attention to the timing of the agreement. Arab countries have been hostile to the Jewish State since its establishment. For many years, the idea of recognising Israel was unthinkable; and most Arab states, including the UAE, have financially and militarily supported various Palestinian groups against Israel. Now the political landscape and geopolitical dynamics of the Middle East are changing. A united front to fight economic problems and military threats from Iran is needed. Whilst we do not know the exact details of the agreement just yet, here are 12 positive points that we think are important for the understanding of the impact of this peace agreement and for the overview of its geopolitical, social and economic effects for the whole region:
- Iran is growing militarily in the region. A united anti-Iranian front is essential to combat the Iranian danger; the deal will signal the official formation of an anti-Iranian bloc.
- Israel is the region’s superior military force which the UAE and other Gulf states can rely on.
- This move will encourage other Arab and Gulf states to engage with Israel. (It is understood that Sudan, Oman and Bahrain are interested in finding ways to normalize their relationships with Israel).
- In the past, most people believed that the road to peace with the Arab world must go through Ramallah, but now the road to peace is going through Cairo, Amman and Abu Dhabi and might soon go through new locations in the Gulf and North Africa.
- The deal firmly highlights American leadership in the region and demonstrates how the role of the US can be paramount in controlling current political troubles.
- The agreement is no longer about the ’land for peace’ mechanism but, as Netanyahu said, ’peace for peace’ formula.
- Whilst the deal has the potential to change Arab-Israeli relations and begin a new path for the future; it moves the Arab and Gulf states away from the Palestinian question.
- Israel makes peace with the Arabs without returning to the 1967 borders.
- It appears that recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is not an issue for the UAE leadership.
- Israel is now less secluded and isolated, not just in terms of political connections but also in the commercial, social and geostrategic importance with its neighbors.
- Apart from the geopolitical repercussions from the deal, which antagonizes Iran, it is a warning sign to Hezbollah, Syria’s Al Assad, Turkey’s Erdogan and some of the Iraqi Shia militias.
- The deal has significance for those who fight terrorism in the region and is damaging for the Shia and Sunni terrorist groups, such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra and the Houthis in Yemen.
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