Trump, Netanyahu Pull UAE Rabbit Out of Hat
Today, Donald Trump announced at the White House that Israel and the UAE planned to sign what media reports are calling a “historic” peace deal which would normalize relations between the two countries. The deal, apparently largely brokered by Jared Kushner, seems at first glance quite a feather in the First Son-in-Law’s cap. It offers Trump a respite from month’s of horrible press regarding Covid19 and Black Lives Matter protests. It offers a desperately needed boost to a president whose poll numbers are in the tank and who trails his challenger, Joe Biden, by double digits in some national polls.
The media has characteristically transformed this news into a football match: winners and losers. But this is at best inapt. Those who see themselves as winners (Trump, Netanyahu) have won very little if anything. Those pegged on the media scorecard as losers (Iran, Palestinians) haven’t lost much at all. And overall, the deal ratifies the worst excesses of the parties: corruption, militarism, weapons proliferation, instability, and religious hatred. It derogates the very processes necessary to resolve regional conflict: diplomacy, compromise, transparency, democracy, human rights, pragmatism, etc.
Is this deal all it’s cracked up to be? From its first unveiling, the key parties have offered contradictory assessments of its provisions. Trump trumpeted a major compromise offered by Israel describing it as a “suspension” of Israel’s attempt to “assert sovereignty” over the West Bank (a euphemism for “annexation”). In a subsequent comment, he confused the situation even further in characteristic fashion:
“Israel has agreed not to do it. More than off the table, they have agreed not to do it,” Trump said. “I think that very important. I think it was a great concession by Israel, I think it was a smart concession.”
He added, however, that he could not clarify what would happen in the future, “right now it is off the table.”
While UAE’s leader hailed the deal for “stopping” Israeli annexation. Clearly there is a marked difference in those two terms. And Israel has a checkered history of revising ex post facto agreements it has signed, in ways that contradict the original deal. Undoubtedly, whenever it suits Netanyahu or whichever leader follows him, Israel will renew its intent to annex these occupied territories. And the protestations of Palestinians and the UAE will amount to nothing.
The NY Times reports that contrary to the country’s leader’s claim that the agreement will stop annexation, it won’t:
Emirati representatives said that they expected Israel to characterize the halt to annexation as only a “pause,” but that in practical terms, the deal would most likely postpone the prospect of such a move until after the American presidential election. That might bring in an administration in Washington more opposed to the idea and could amount to an indefinite cancellation, the Emiratis argued.
It’s typical for Israel, the UAE and their partners to look to the U.S. to get them out of jams they make for themselves. But in this case, Joe Biden has already refused to roll back some of the worst policies enacted by Trump (moving the embassy to Jerusalem). So why would he stand in the way of annexation if Israel was hellbent on implementing it? And even if he did, Netanyahu has no respect for Democratic Presidents and could likely ignore Biden’s protestations if he was inclined to do so.
UAE has claimed that the deal will further the goal of a two-state solution:
The UAE said it would remain a strong supporter of the Palestinian people, who hope to create an independent state in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, and that the agreement maintained the viability of a two-state solution…
That is ludicrous given that the Palestinians had no part in this deal and didn’t even know it was being contemplated. Another question worth considering is: if UAE’s goal was a two-state solution why didn’t it hold out for that very outcome? Why didn’t it demand a Palestinian state in return for normalization? The reason is that UAE didn’t give a fig for a Palestinian state. It has essentially abandoned that issue in favor of its own interests.
And what are they? Normalization offers UAE access to the Israeli market, where it can buy the most sophisticated Israeli weapons systems and surveillance technologies:
…The area where Israel stands to most to gain economically from ties with the UAE is defense and cybersecurity.
The UAE’s annual defense budget is estimated to be about $23 billion and growing, with about $20 billion of that going to arms procurement in the United States.
Just hours after normalization, sources in the Israel defense industry were talking about how the UAE has the potential to offset the loss of sales locally due to the terms of the current U.S. aid agreement. They said the emirates are an ideal partner, with deep pockets and an authoritarian regime that can make quick decisions on arms purchases.
…Much more is going on behind the scenes, not just by old-line defense companies like IAI, Rafael and Elbit Systems, but also pure tech players such as Aeronautics Defense Systems (drones), AnyVision (face recognition) and NSO Group Technologies (cyber surveillance).Israeli businessmen such as Mati Kochavi, David Meidan, Avi Leumi and Avihai Stolero have been active in the Gulf for years. They sell intelligence-gathering gear, drones, reconnaissance planes, F-16 upgrade services and cybersecurity-hacking technologies.
…Around five years ago, some Gulf governments expressed an interest in Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system but in the end pulled back from a deal. Now, as the threat of an Iranian attack on oil installations has become very real, they will reconsider Iron Dome or other Israeli anti-missile technology.
Arab strongmen like Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayad are always looking over their shoulders fearing rivals who threaten their reign. They fear their own citizens and seek ever more sophisticated ways to assert control. Most of all, these dictators need external enemies in order to maintain the level of fear necessary to preserve domestic order. Israel offers answers to all those needs. Israel, already the seventh leading arms exporter in the world, stands ready to open its armory to the regime’s military. They can buy warplanes, missiles, anti-aircraft systems, tanks; not to mention sophisticated monitoring systems to surveil every aspect of UAE society.
The Gulf State is a Sunni kleptocratic regime which, like its big brother Saudi Arabia, has showered its billions on arming and recruiting for ISIS in its fight against the Alawite Assad regime in Syria. In that sense, normalization with UAE shows that, rather than offering progress in solving any external conflict, Israel’s only allies in the Arab world are as corrupt and murderous in confronting its Arab neighbors as it is.
What does Israel get from the deal? UAE offers it nothing it needs. The Gulf state’s main export is oil, for which Israel has plenty of sources. The only thing UAE offers Israel is legitimacy. But what sort of legitimacy? From a Gulf kleptocracy run by feeble old men who offer the region nothing but bloodshed and violence (cf. the UAE-Saudi assault on Yemen which has taken well over 100,000 lives).
Turkey has just responded by saying it is considering either suspending diplomatic ties entirely with UAE or recalling its ambassador. Which means that rather than promoting solidarity among Muslim states, it has sown division.
Trump, beset by self-delusion, sees the Palestinians as eventually embracing the inevitable:
Trump told reporters he believed that the Palestinians would also come to the negotiating table to make a deal with Israel, because they rely heavily on financial support of countries that are coming to the table. The Palestinians are “supported by countries we are already talking to. Palestinians will, without saying it necessarily yet, they want to be part of what we are doing. I see peace between Israel and the Palestinians happening, as these big powerful wealthy countries come in, I think the Palestinians will follow quite naturally,” Trump said.
To Trump, Palestinians don’t even merit the title of ‘shithole country’ since they don’t have one and never will. They are mere extensions of other bigger strong Arab countries. On their own, they are worth nothing.
Netanyahu has celebrated the expected deal as the culmination of his grand strategy of co-opting Arab regimes and turning them from enemies to allies. He describes this as his crowning achievement.
He does all this with an eye to the internal upheaval facing him inside Israel. Protests of tens of thousands virtually nightly in every major city. Angry citizens decrying his mismanagement of the Covid19 epidemic, the rising numbers of dead, and the blatant corruption that has been endemic. He faces three separate criminal counts in a trial to begin later this year.
Like Trump, Netanyahu is at the nadir of his rule. No wants him. His own coalition partners mistrust him. The people have largely abandoned him. The only thing holding his government together is the prospect of voters turning against Likud and Blue and White in disgust and turning to someone else to rule. Israel today is the most dysfunctional it has been in perhaps its entire existence.
Despite the crowing in Washington and Jerusalem about this deal, it cannot save either leader. In truth, American voters could care less about UAE. Even though they may support Israel in principle, the fact that an Arab country has declared peace with it means little. And it will bring Trump no votes come November. Similarly, Israelis may like the idea of turning Arabs from enemies to friends. They may see benefits in normalizing relations with former rivals. They may agree that this makes their neighborhood a bit safer for them. But the UAE isn’t going to solve the country’s problems. And in the eyes of most Israelis, those problems begin and end with the man in charge.
I couldn’t help but laugh when I read the catchy name attached to the deal, the “Abraham Accords.” The branding that went into coming up with that has Jared Kushner written all over it. Of course, the only commonality an Orthodox Jew can find with a Muslim is ‘Father Abraham.’ But Kushner has forgotten the entire history of Abraham and his family. He had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. When his Jewish wife, Sarah, had her son, she gave Abe an ultimatum: it’s me of her (Ismael’s mother, Hagar). The Jewish patriarch chose Sarah and Issac, and abandoned Hagar and Ishmael to the desert wastes. They were expelled from the bosom of Abraham’s family in much the same way that Israelis expelled a million pre-state Palestinians from their homeland in 1948 and sent them into exile. That’s a part of Biblical history that Kushner has conveniently ignored.
While the media are calling this deal “historic,” is it really? Two other Arab states have already signed such deals with Israel. They did so because they had fought wars against it and sought to regain territory lost or to retain sovereignty over the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. The UAE has never fired a shot against Israel. It is an also-ran in the Arab world. It serves as a stalking horse for Saudi Arabia and barely has a foreign policy independent of it. Thus, the deal promises much more than it delivers.
What is significant is the prospect that the Saudis will be the next Arab domino to fall into place, as far as Israel is concerned. The latter sees the Saudis as the key player among the Arab states. Where the Saudis go, the other Gulf states will follow. It will only be a matter of time, as far as Netanyahu is concerned, before he’s wearing a Saudi feather in his cap.
Another aspect of this deal worth noting is it appears to be a riposte to Iran’s announcement of a 25-year development treaty with China which would pump $400-billion in much-needed investment into the Iranian economy. While it’s possible that normalization between Israel and the UAE might generate this level of commercial transactions over the same period of time–the Iran deal is much more important overall than the UAE deal. China is throwing Iran a vital lifeline. Israel is throwing UAE a half-eaten felafel.
The Saudis, UAE, and Israel are pounding their chests over their achievement. It is the equivalent of a Silverback hurling verbal insults at a rival. Iran, the rival, looks on at the antic display and shrugs its shoulders as if to say: is that all you’ve got?
UAE and Israel have been undeclared allies for years. Their intelligence chiefs have consulted each other regularly and extensively. They collaborate on their attempts to counter Iranian influence in the region. What can a formal alliance offer that they don’t have already?
Finally, Donald Trump’s “deals” have a habit of self-destructing once they’re put under scrutiny. Remember his “summits” with Kim Jong Un? When he was going to denuclearize North Korea? Remember the charm offensive with China’s Xi Jinping? The confab at Mar a Lago? What did either offer except bitterness and failed expectations? Relations with both countries are worse than they’ve ever been.
All this means that the media should be exceedingly cautious about attributing any value to this deal until it actually shows results. If past history is any guide, both Israel and UAE may find that they’ve agreed on a lot less than they thought.
29 thoughts on “Trump, Netanyahu Pull UAE Rabbit Out of Hat – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Up the UAE, who’ve given up on the irredentist claims of Fatah, and Hamas and IJ dead-enders!
@ Limey: That’s right: throwing in your lot with kleptocratic sycophantic regimes like UAE shows Israel in the best light possible. Next up: an alliance with a bloody headchopper!
As for dead-enders, that would be Israel: on the road to perdition.
You are done in this thread.
The Middle-East from Beirut to Oman … All Smoke and Mirrors
Just a decade ago, the Emirate of Dubai was engulfed in anger after the hand of the assassins ended the life of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. In the aftermath, Mossad agent Ben Zygier died in Israeli prison.
The Emirates has welcomed shady US corporations preferring to operate outside of US jurisdiction: Halliburton / Dick Cheney, Academi/Xe Services – Erik Prince, Knowledge International with former US military building UAE Armed Forces committing war crimes in Yemen and Libya, and recently as a refuge for former Spanish King Juan Carlos. The immigrant workers are treated as badly as in Qatar.
The Three Emirates as a nation lack human values and are on a war footing with Iran … forming a new alliance to withstand Democrats and Joe Biden. Bahrein, a subordinate of the KSA will follow soon.
Israel has to choose between peace and conflict — FM | Jordan Times |
The minister said that if Israel considers the agreement as a means to end the occupation and meet the Palestinians’ rights to freedom and the creation of a viable independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the pre-1967 borders, the region will move ahead towards realising peace, or else Israel will deepen the conflict that will jeopardise the entire region’s security.
Peace treaties, in theory, are signed between two countries in a state of war. But the United Arab Emirates – unlike Egypt, Syria, Lebanon or Jordan – has never fought us. While the UAE is perhaps an enemy on paper, in reality, it has been an unofficial friend for a while now. The tidings of normalization with the UAE and maybe other Gulf states will make us feel good in the short term. Postponing and perhaps squandering sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, on the other hand, could be lamented by generations to come.
Abu Dhabi Sheikh already allied with Israel’s Netanyahu [Jared Kushner] to defeat Democrats in 2016 … just a next step for 2020.
Of course Cambridge Analytica was in a way linked to Cambridge and Alexander Nix … with new corporate change to Emerdata, do the Mercers give recognition to Abu Dhabi Sheikh of the Emirates? Should we ask Erik Prince?
THIS, seems to be Israel’s attitude as well. Please allow me to use broad strokes to describe it, from where I’m sitting.
QUOTE: “Normalization offers UAE access to the Israeli market, where it can buy the most sophisticated Israeli weapons systems and surveillance technologies.
Arab strongmen like Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayad are always looking over their shoulders fearing rivals who threaten their reign. They fear their own citizens and seek ever more sophisticated ways to assert control.
Most of all, these dictators need external enemies in order to maintain the level of fear necessary to preserve domestic order. Israel offers answers to all those needs.”
I cringed when I heard Friedman say : “not permanently suspend plans for annexation, suspend means temporary.”
You are factually incorrect. The UAE has the support of its citizens and so do the Saudis. The monarchies are the way of rule in the Gulf. Live with it. Not everyone wants a liberal US style democracy, and don’t arrogantly assume we all do.
Second irrelevent point: Turkey had normal and warm relations with Israel. It is nothing special if the UAE and Saudi do. Eventually they all will, Iran included.
You don’t understand the Arab and Iranian mentality or the culture. It is not atheistic as you fondly imagine from your shenanigans with secular palestinains.
FYI, the Iranian regimes hostility towards Israel has nothing to do with Israel itself. It is a smokescreen. The mullahs’ biggest threat isn’t Israel it is its own secular Iranians who don’t want a theocracy. Your types liberals who want a secular Iran. The SECULAR Shah of Iran (i’m not his fan incidentally) and his regime were very friendly with Israel. That is why the Mullahs are anti Israel. Historically, Iranians have been better towards Jews than Arabs have. It is more than likely, that when the Mullahs’ fall as they inevitably will, Iranians will move towards normalisation with Israel.
@ Trimi: What is a UAE troll doing in the UK? Are you a UAE diplomat in the UK? Or just handsomely paid to post swill for the kleptocrat sheikhs who run your country?
Turkey hasn’t had “warm relations” with Israel for nearly 2 decades. But no worries, no one in the UAE would have the chutzpah to sail a humanitarian aid ship to Gaza. So no worries that Israel will attack UAE supporters of Palestine. THere aren’t any anymore anyway.
You can’t possibly be Arab. If you are you’ve just spouted arrant Arabophobic nonsense. THere is no “Arab mentality.” It’s an invention of idiots like you (and Bernard Lewis).
So now you’re an expert on UAE, Saudi Arabia, the “Arab mentality,” AND Iran. Wow, where did you acquire this remarkable set of knowledge? From a book? A professor? A university course? A PhD degree? My hat’s off to you for this wealth of knowledge you share with us.
This is the only accurate thing you’ve written. Of course Iranians have treated Jews better than Arabs. They still do. And that includes the current regime against which you rail.
I think I’ve figured you out. You’re either an Iranian Arab, a follower of MeK or an Iranian monarchist. Whatever you are, you’re a fraud.
Interesting timing for this deal… Coincidence? >> “A day after a massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut, a major fire now broken out at Ajman market area at around 6.30 pm in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).” Not reported in the western media and the cause is still unknown… https://www.indiatvnews.com/news/world/dubai-fire-video-massive-fire-at-uae-ajman-market-videos-pictures-beirut-blast-639899
A “suspension” was good enough to get the much needed self congratulations and propaganda going all around. It does not change that the Palestinians are a people betrayed. Nor does it mean that Israel is turning around from it’s long pursued path. I dream on: Israel needs to end it’s warring with Iran and siding with the Saudi’s in their sectarian forever war. Israel should be neutral and tend to it’s problems at home.
Hopefully this will not mean a thing in Trump’s trumpeting of himself either.
Thank you for this report.
US bid to extend Iran arms embargo fails at UN Security Council
Eleven members abstained, including France, Germany and Britain, while Washington and the Dominican Republic were the only yes votes.
From Kosovo through Afghanistan and into Yemen: UAE’s success on the battleground. Its intolerance to the Muslim Brotherhood and the inherent danger of the Arab uprising in 2011 convinced MbZ to closer relationship to MbS and Saudi Arabia and the advantage of ties to Israel. As the policy under Obama/Clinton was skewed to the MB, the urgency became more apparent. Unifying against the Shia front in the region.
Mohammed bin Zayed’s preferences regarding UAE foreign policy
Israeli occupation police have arrested Mustafa Abu Ramouz for burning a photo of MbZ today at Al Aqsa. Palestine.
[Source: Times of Gaza]
Interview with Channel 12 on Saturday, Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, deputy head of Dubai Police and General Security … has a long history of making controversial remarks regarding Israel, Hamad and the Muslim Brotherhood with sponsor Qatar on social media.
UAE’s ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba op-ed Yedioth Ahronoth – June 12, 2020
Five reasons the UAE annexation warning matters | JPost |
[comment deleted: comments must contain a substantive argument. Snark is not an argument. Try this again and you’ll be moderated.]
Capitalism Trumps Israel’s security …
Gantz raps Netanyahu for sidelining him on F-35 policy as UAE deal brewed | TOI |
Pompeo falling flat on his face @UNSC … again?
US withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 and can no longer call on its mechanisms such as ‘snapback’ of sanctions, EU foreign policy chief said.
Dahlan is a security advisor for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed
The Turkish Interior has included the advisor of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the dismissed leader of the Palestinian “Fatah” movement, “Muhammad Dahlan”, in the red list of wanted terrorists.
Dahlan in crosshairs of Palestinian ire over UAE deal
A top former Saudi spy files suit, spills the beans at an awkward time for Trump
UAE anger the real deal for Pompeo’s visit to Jerusalem?
Report: UAE Cancels Public Meeting With Israel After Netanyahu Voices Opposition to F-35 Deal With US
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, discussed strategic relations between the countries in a phone call on Tuesday.
US blasts Turkey’s Erdogan for hosting Hamas leader
Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the country’s interim government was not mandated to normalise ties with Israel.
Secretary Pompeo eyes resolution in coming weeks on Sudan terror listing | Al Arabya |
US proposes removing Sudan from terrorism list for $330m compensation
Clearly a failed diplomatic effort by Mike Pompeo to get Sudan on board to extend relations with the Jewish State of Israel. Jared Kushner is headed towards the Middle East to claim more success with Arab authoritarian regimes. Human rights? Independent State of Palestine?
From Jerusalem: Mike Pompeo addresses the RNC Convention as a “private citizen.”
Nice! The Pompeo family will be billed for travel expenses?
“The UAE has the support of its citizens and so do the Saudis. The monarchies are the way of rule in the Gulf.”
Citizens? Emiratis comprise nearly 12% of population … same percentage of Pakistanis. Largest group are Indians 27.5% … number of males sits at 72%. Some countries are run by wealth of oligarchs, GCC States by wealthy monarchs. UAE Army is built on mercenaries run by the likes of Erik Prince and US Generals (Ret.)
Trump’s House of Cards Falling Apart … just as sudden as the UAE “peace deal” was built.
Likud Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said Israel opposes the sale of “even one screw” of the F-35 fighter jet to any country in the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates, amid apparent plans by the United States to sell the plane to Abu Dhabi … if we have peace with them or not.