The announcement of the historic peace treaty between the UAE and Israel came at a moment when the Middle East region has been facing a series of crises and challenges and the rise of the roles of non-Arab powers that threaten the region’s security and stability. It also comes at a time when the chances of US President Donald Trump are declining in winning a second presidential term in the elections that will be held in November 2020, due to the multiplicity of his internal failures, and his conflicting approaches to the most important international crises, especially those experienced by the region. The agreement would radically transform the calculations of the actors in the region, as well as inside the US.
Therefore, the positions of the US political elite on the treaty between the UAE and Israel have focused on examining the gains of the three sides (the UAE, the US and Israel) from it, its implications for security and stability in the Middle East region and the Palestinian-Israeli peace process which has been stagnant for decades, and finally the possibilities that other Arab countries would follow the example of the UAE in normalizing their relations with Israel.
US commendation for the UAE-Israel treaty
The US political elite, regardless of its party orientations (Republican and Democrat), and even those opposing President Trump's foreign policy, commended the importance of this treaty for several considerations, namely:
First, the peace treaty between the UAE and Israel is a historic step that would enhance efforts to achieve security and stability in the Middle East. Comments by the US elite confirmed that the current conditions in the region - including factors such as the rise of the Iranian destabilizing influence in the region, both through Tehran's direct intervention in the affairs of many of the countries in the region and through its proxies deployed in some of those countries, the growth of terrorist and extremist organisations, and the stagnation of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process - have contributed to the generation of such a historic treaty, which comes 40 years after the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty in 1979, and more than 25 years after the Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty in 1994.
Second, after three years of foreign policy failures in the region by President Trump’s administration, its different policy in the Middle East has succeeded in reaching a peace treaty between the UAE and Israel, which represents an advanced step on the road to achieving long-term peace in the region. The treaty was described as a "geopolitical earthquake" that would consolidate the peace-advocating moderate regional camp and end conflicts and instability factors in the region as opposed to the isolation of the pro-Iran and anti-US radical camp that supports the continuation of the conflict with Israel indefinitely.
Third, the treaty achieves the required regional balance in the Middle East region, as it would enable the UAE to obtain advanced US weapons, such as F-35 fighter jets and advanced US drones, years after submitting the request to obtain them. Before the agreement, there were US reservations about Arab countries such as the UAE obtaining advanced US weapons due to the US commitment to preserving Israel's qualitative military superiority.
Fourth, exercise by the UAE of smart diplomacy to calm the possibility of escalation between Israel and Iran, an escalation that would increase instability in the region. Some US observers believe that the agreement would enable the UAE side to mediate more effectively between the Israelis and the Iranians. That UAE mediation may contribute to the prevention of a large-scale war that may change the features and dynamics of the region forever.
Fifth, the treaty’s contribution to building peace between the Arabs and the Israelis, as it stopped the Israeli decision to annex Palestinian lands, which would have put an end to the hope of the two-state solution. Besides, the treaty spared Jordan, the strategic ally of the US, which has a peace treaty with Israel, taking a harsh response in the event that Tel Aviv annexed the Jordan Valley. Some US politicians did not rule out the possibility of the suspension by the Jordanian monarch King Abdullah of the peace treaty that his father signed with Israel 25 years ago in case the Israeli government annexed the Jordan Valley, in addition to the possibility of increasing pressure by many Jordanians to cancel the gas deal with Israel.
Enhancing the UAE and Arab interests inside Washington
The UAE-Israeli agreement achieves mutual interests for its two direct parties, and for the security and stability of the Middle East region and the Palestinian issue, as well as for the current US administration. At the same time, it provides an opportunity for the UAE and the Arab countries to advance their interests inside Washington, as follows:
First, accelerating the UAE's acquisition of advanced US weapons. The process of buying US weapons usually requires between six and eight years. In addition, it requires the approval of the US Congress, given that the next US administration could backtrack on it in the event that Trump loses the presidential elections that will be held on 3 November 2020. Despite the commitment of the US to the qualitative military superiority of Israel in the Middle East to preserve its security, that commitment is waived if the country that will acquire the US weapons has a peace agreement with Tel Aviv. After Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with Israel, they were able to obtain advanced US weapons in light of the non-opposition of US lawmakers from the Republican and Democratic parties in the House of Representatives and the Senate to the US arms deals with the two countries.
Second, increasing party support to the consolidation of US-UAE relations. The UAE-Israeli agreement would increase the strength of the alliance between the US and the UAE, which would limit the chances of introducing a change to it with the change of US administrations. US support from both the Democratic and Republican parties would increase to strengthening and consolidating relations between the two allies. In addition, the UAE would be distinguished from Washington’s other regional allies who have become the targets of criticism by US lawmakers.
Third, the UAE and the Arab powers would play an influential role in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. The UAE-Israel peace treaty enables the Arab countries to build on it and support the Palestinians by highlighting that those countries would follow the example of the UAE if Israel reduces its settlement activity and expands the territories on which the Palestinians could establish their state and exercise sovereignty. In addition, by strengthening communication with Israel on all fronts, the treaty would enable the Arab powers to increase their influence within the US to help reduce the practices of the Israeli occupation, and to directly engage in the peace process instead of settling for a marginal role in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Fourth, taking into account the interests and national security considerations in the event that the Democratic candidate Joe Biden succeeds in the upcoming presidential elections, especially in view of the expectations that former officials in the Barack Obama administration and those who negotiated with Iran on the previous nuclear deal would assume high positions in the new US administration, and mounting indications that the US would return to the previous nuclear agreement which is jointly considered by Israel and the Gulf and Arab states as weak and ineffective. The UAE-Israeli agreement would drive the new US administration to give more consideration to the interests of the US allies in the region.
The US political elite has overwhelmingly supported the UAE-Israeli peace treaty, due to its importance in bringing about a shift in the direction of the Middle East region, at a time when the region is witnessing several crises that threaten its security and stability, as well as the treaty’s revival of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process based on the principle of the two-state solution. The agreement may enable the UAE and the Arab powers to possess greater sources of influence within the US that would serve the national interests of the UAE and the other Arab countries and achieve a kind of regional balance that would enable the preservation of the region's security and stability.
Hanin Ghaddar | 10 Oct 2021
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