Israel – Emirates Peace Deal: To Me, To You, To UAE, to You

by George Wright

Earlier this month, Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed a historic peace agreement: Israel will put aside plans to annex disputed territory in the West Bank in return for Emirati recognition of the Jewish state. Other prominent Arab countries will probably follow suit, with Bahrain and Oman also reportedly keen to normalise their relations with Israel. However, this deal is not only the result of a sudden recognition of the similarities between the two nations but also a realisation of the mutual threat of Iran. 

Iran has pursued an aggressive foreign policy, which has posed a continued threat to Sunni and Jewish populations within the Levant and Arabian Peninsula, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution: Whether it’s financing and controlling Hezbollah, which has used the Lebanese government as its puppet for decades, or mobilising the Al Quds force, headed by General Soleimani, which has carried out untold massacres across Iraq. The long-standing feud between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has evolved into proxy struggles in Yemen and Iraq, is threatening to go nuclear despite American-led sanctions to prevent this. More and more countries in the Middle East are beginning to realise and recognise the age-old maxim: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. 

Opponents of the deal have taken the predictable line: that this deal has betrayed the Palestinians, who have been ‘sold out’ by the Emirates and other Arab leaders. This criticism is levelled by Qatari broadcaster, Al Jazeera, which has evolved in the last 20 years to be little more than a propaganda platform for ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Iran. As Turkey and Qatar begin to bend to the will of political Islam, with moves such as the recent decision to revert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, they have started to align themselves more and more with Iran, against the rest of the region. Following the announcement of the peace deal, Turkey is now threatening to sever its ties with UAE.

The UAE has long been a melting pot for the peoples and faiths of the world. Respect for religious freedom is one of the Arab state’s most important principles. As political Islam continues to threaten the leadership of the Gulf States, the UAE has come to realise that they suddenly have mutual allies in Israel, which has long been resisting political Islam, since the Iranian-backed Hamas gained control of Gaza in 2007.

Recent political turmoil in Lebanon, culminating in the Beirut explosion, has left its people desperate for new governance. The Hezbollah-controlled government has lost its grip on power after the entire government resigned this month. As a country of strategic importance in the feud between Israel and Iran, given its proximity to Israel, there will be intense competition to influence its new government. Iran will be keen to keep Lebanon onside to continue attacks against Israel and maintain support for Hamas. Israel will be eager to gain influence so that it can improve its national security. 

What this deal reveals is that despite the heated history between Israel and the Arab States, a more critical threat has emerged in the form of Iran. 

The threat of Iranian expansionism and destruction continues to grow as Hezbollah and Al Quds exert pressure on governments in Beirut and Baghdad and operate militias in the countryside of the Levant. Iran is just a short trip across the Gulf from the Emirates. It has already seized its islands of Abu Masa and The Tunbs, a dispute not easily forgotten by Emirati leadership. Finding allies in the region to counter Iranian expansionism is vital to Emirati and Israeli interests.

The Israeli-Emirati peace deal marks a new chapter in the politics of the Middle East. One with both high risk, but also high reward. How easily will other Arab states recognise Israel and work to contain Iran? 

Why Trump isn’t talking Turkey: His Largest Foreign Policy Blunder

While the world has quite justifiably been in a manic panic about the rapid spread and global shutdown which has been caused by the Covid-19 (aka coronavirus) epidemic, and Trump’s seemingly lack-luster response to the situation, many have overlooked one of the larger blunders in his presidency. The blank cheque he has essentially given Turkish President Erdogan when it comes to the Middle East.

Last year, as part of Trump’s plan to pull-out American service members and military officials, and reduce the American presence in the Middle East, he decided to withdraw troops that were stationed in key chokepoints in Northern Syria. This came with a massive upset, particularly from the Kurdish population who have been crucial allies in the fight against the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations who have been operating in that region for the last half decade. The vacuum that was created by this preemptive withdrawal meant that Turkish Forces had the opportunity to invade Northern Syria, which they ended up doing in the latter part of 2019, resulting in massive casualties on the Syrian and Kurdish fronts.

Trump responded to this development by sending the Turkish President a letter, promising economic sanctions and crashing the Turkish economy if he wasn’t willing to negotiate a ceasefire. This request, evidently, was ignored as Turkey has continued its operations in Northern Syria and has scaled up its military presence in the region. This has further added to the chaos and disorder which has long been a part of the region during the Syrian Civil War, and it has created a myriad of other issues for all parties involved. It forced the Kurdish forces in an uneasy alliance with the Syrian Arab Army and the Assad government to push back the Turkish invasion in October, devastating American relations with one of their most trusted allies in the region. It has bolstered Russia’s influence over the region, with Ankara effectively ignoring any deals proposed by Washington in favor of Moscow. And, most devastatingly of all, it has led to the deaths of thousands of people and displaced even more Syrians and Kurds. This has led to the continued strain of the refugee crisis in the Middle East and has forced tens of thousands of people to make their way to the Greek-Turkish border, further adding strain to relations with traditional NATO allies. Erdogan openly allowed a wave of refugees and migrants to move towards Greece, with the intent of putting pressure on NATO and the EU to get their support. Suffice to say, the situation is getting to be even more chaotic, with Turkey’s scaled-up involvement, and potentially causing conflicts on two-fronts.

And Trump has remained silent… why?

Well, being an election year, and being a year which has already been wrought with disasters for the current occupants of the White House (such as their original laissez-faire response to the Covid-19 outbreak), it would be a massive disadvantage to draw attention to one of the largest blunders that the Trump administration has made with their foreign policy.

 Trump has unfortunately boxed himself into a horrendous situation; he’s tried to reduce military presence overseas, at the cost of the stability and reassurance that American forces bring to unstable parts of the world. He has seemingly been far too trusting that other powers in the region, such as Erdogan’s Turkey, will not have any greater vested interest in getting involved with the conflict, and will somehow fall in line with the NATO mission, instead of acting within their own best political and economic interests. Not even the Democrats, apart from Tulsi Gabbard, have touched on the issue, creating the atmosphere that there is no sense of responsibility coming from Washington that they have contributed to this mess with a massive lack of foresight.

Unfortunately, the situation in Syria, like so many other things in 2020, is likely to get worse before it gets better. Trump’s lack of any words or action further cements that the conflict, and the resulting effect it has on ordinary people; both in the Middle East and across the globe, is not going to subside anytime soon.

Written by Ilija Dokmanovic

The US Exception: A Policy of Deny and Ignore-How the US has managed to turn a blind eye to blatant human rights abuses

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By Sophie Minter

For years the US-Saudi relationship has been an irritating itch, one that is not understandable and blatantly one sided, but what the recent assassination of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi shows is that this relationship will endure reflecting one of those cringey bromance scenes where it is obvious that one of the two clearly loves the other more, and the other knows and openly exploits this one-sided relationship.

 

Continue reading “The US Exception: A Policy of Deny and Ignore-How the US has managed to turn a blind eye to blatant human rights abuses”

What now for Syria?

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By Theo Larue

Nearly 7 years have elapsed since the Syrian Civil War began. 7 years during which half a million people found their untimely death, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. To this horrific number must be added the 7 million Syrians that are currently internally displaced, and the 5 million Syrians that became refugees, with demographic consequences seen as far as Germany. It would be unreasonable to attempt to make sense of this tragedy as of yet, however I will underline some of the lesser known contributing factors to the conflict, and try to shed some light on the confusing peace process that has occupied a preponderant spot in the media recently. Continue reading “What now for Syria?”

Yemen: Caught in the Crossfire?

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By Sophie Minter

After nearly 1,000 days of conflict, the crisis in Yemen has resulted in one of the largest hunger crises in human history, claiming an unprecedented number of lives, and made worse by a cholera outbreak. Now, 27 million people, equal to over 1/3 of the population of Britain are in urgent need of aid. The only accurate imaginable comparison is with fictional District 12 in the third Hunger Games film (unimaginable suffering and destruction, for those unfamiliar with the franchise). With all this turmoil in one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, it would be logical to have seen some form of international response; but what if anything is being done about this quickly escalating crisis? Continue reading “Yemen: Caught in the Crossfire?”

Russian Israelites, Are They Voting “Right”?

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By Yury Polyakov

 The voting patterns among the Russian-speaking people in Israel. Part 1.

The Russian Speaking Israeli people have voted differently in all Israeli General Elections. The primary reason for several switches from one side to another was that the Russian speakers were vulnerable to propaganda. Not all Russian Speakers are ethnic Jews because the non-Jewish family members could migrate to Israel alongside their Jewish spouse. Thus, this article will cover the issues in both Jewish and non-Jewish circles inside Israel. Continue reading “Russian Israelites, Are They Voting “Right”?”