The Israel-UAE Peace Agreement Spells Trouble for Ankara and Tehran

By August 18, 2020


Hassan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, photo via Wikimedia Commons

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In an extraordinary breakthrough, the United Arab Emirates and Israel have agreed to establish open diplomatic relations after years of secret contacts. Other than the Palestinians, Turkey and Iran are the biggest losers from this development.

The historic normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that was revealed by President Donald Trump on August 13, 2020 is a revolutionary event in modern Middle Eastern history. While it could potentially save the increasingly endangered governments of PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump, the deal has two more significant elements. First, it heralds the end of the “Palestinian cause” and its stranglehold on the prospects for Middle East peace; and second, it is probably the beginning of the end for Turkey’s and Iran’s imperial projects in the region.

With the most powerful regional military on its side, the UAE will be increasingly able to put pressure on the Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen, and will be able to threaten Turkey’s designs for Libya. This is why Iran and Turkey were nearly alone in the Muslim world—indeed, in the whole international community—in their condemnation of the peace deal.

For years, the UN-EU “peace industry” ignored regional developments and continued to peddle the lie that only the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines could bring about stability in the Middle East and acceptance of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. That is no more. The UAE joins Egypt and Jordan among the Arab countries that recognize Israel, and it did so without reference to the Palestinians. Other countries, notably Bahrain, OmanMorocco, and Sudan, are said to be considering signing similar agreements in the coming weeks.

In light of the counterterror fight against groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic crisis, it makes sense that Arab states such as the UAE would wish to normalize relations with the Jewish state for their own benefit and for the good of the region. However, it is likely that the main reason Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem made amends was to bring an end to the threats posed to both countries and to the rest of the Arab world by Turkey and Iran.

Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon have either been destroyed or reduced to the status of colonies of their former Persian and Ottoman masters. Qatar has cozied up to both countries at the expense of its Arab neighbors. The Palestinians have made the mistake of repeatedly condemning secret ties between their Arab brethren and their Jewish enemies while cozying up to Tehran and Ankara. In reality, it was the Palestinians who abandoned their Arab brethren for foreign usurpers. The powerful Arab states have finally had enough, and are advancing their own national security interests no matter what the Palestinians may want.

In Yemen, the Islamic Republic has backed the Houthi rebellion, which regularly threatens Jews and Israel. Just as Hezbollah and Hamas shoot rockets at Israeli cities, the Houthis fire rockets at Emirati and Saudi targets. Houthis regularly threaten to fire missiles at Dubai and Abu Dhabi—important global cities for trade and economics—just as Hezbollah and Hamas threaten to raze Haifa and Tel Aviv in the next war.

It is only natural that Israel and moderate Arab regimes see the commonality in the threat they face. After all, Qatar and Iran both provide assistance to Hezbollah, and they—along with Turkey—prop up the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. In Libya, Turkey and its Syrian mercenaries have intervened militarily to destroy Khalifa Haftar’s secular rebellion, which allegedly has contacts with Jerusalem and has long sought the help of Gulf Arab states with the goal of stemming the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt has threatened to invade Libya to quell the Turkish-backed insurrection, but it is busy with a dispute with Ethiopia over the Nile and an insurgency in Sinai as it battles an economic crisis. UN backing for the Turkish side in Libya, as well as the fact that Egypt relies on Emirati and Israeli help in Sinai, makes it unlikely that Cairo can achieve a victory on its own in Libya without paying a heavy price. This is why the Emirati-Israeli agreement is so crucial to the future of Israeli-Arab relations in the region.

Iran and its Hezbollah proxy in Lebanon have experienced major setbacks over the past few years. Hezbollah has received less cash from Iran since 2018, when the US sent Tehran into an economic crisis by reimposing sanctions after leaving the nuclear deal. Lebanon’s own economic crisis—compounded by the pandemic and internal riots that are often anti-Iran and anti-Hezbollah—has only grown worse, particularly as Hezbollah is suspected of being partially responsible for the Beirut Port explosion earlier this month.

Iran’s mishandling of the pandemic and internal unrest, along with its and Hezbollah’s battlefield losses in Syria, have weakened its imperialist drive throughout the region. Israel has reached interim agreements with Gaza while engaging in limited military activity against the Strip that keeps the ruling groups weak. Iran’s loss of its chief military strategists in Iraq this past January further undermined its designs on the region, as have the growing global recognition of Hezbollah as a terror group and the sanctions that accompany that recognition. Iraqi protests against the Iranian regime and its proxies have also become more commonplace.

For now, Yemen remains the Islamic Republic’s strongest hope to continue its imperialist crusade. But the UAE-Israel peace deal means that Israeli military experience, technology, and intelligence will likely make their way to Abu Dhabi to help quell and ultimately crush the Houthi rebellion. This would lead to the isolation and humiliation of the regime in Tehran while bolstering the new nationalist and secular system emerging in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Manama.

Turkey, too, is worried about the rapprochement between the Israelis and the Arabs—particularly the UAE. Israel has been accused of sending intelligence and some military aid to Khalifa Haftar. With a more open relationship with Abu Dhabi, Jerusalem is likely to increase such aid to the anti-Muslim Brotherhood coalition in Libya, which can scupper Ankara’s designs there.

Turkey has been giving shelter to Hamas terrorists on its soil while trying to increase Islamist sentiment about Jerusalem. Its regular incitement against Israel and territorial encroachment on Cyprus and Greece has turned Jerusalem away from its traditional Turkish partner and closer to southeastern Europe and Arab countries. Israel will take any action necessary to preserve its economic interests in the Mediterranean, which Turkey’s maritime deal with the Government of National Accord in Libya seeks to destroy. France and Egypt have also entered the Mediterranean fray on the side of Israel, Cyprus, and Greece.

These developments had already isolated Turkey in the region. If more direct military assistance reaches Haftar from Jerusalem, Ankara will find it extremely difficult to impose its will on Libya. Qatar, too, will probably remain relatively isolated due to its close ties to Hezbollah, Iran, and Turkey. The UAE’s own investment in the Israel-Egypt-Cyprus-Greece pipeline further illustrates the strategic reorientation of the region and Ankara’s isolation.

Regardless of what the far left, the Palestinians, and the “peace industry” may say, the Israeli-Emirati peace deal has fundamentally reshaped the Middle East and increased the chances of long-term regional peace, as well as the acceptance and recognition of the Jewish state. Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi will work together to fight the pandemic while further sidelining Iran, Qatar, and Turkey.

The Israel-UAE rapprochement will likely spur other regional states to recognize Israel as well. Hopefully the Palestinians will grasp that their century-long rejectionism has failed and adopt a real desire for peace with their Jewish neighbor.

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Dmitri Shufutinsky is a graduate of Arcadia University’s Masters program in International Peace & Conflict Resolution. He currently lives as a Lone Soldier in Kibbutz Erez, Israel, serving in the Givati Brigade under the Garin Tzabar program.

August 19, 2020 | 4 Comments » | 455 views

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4 Comments / 4 Comments

  1. “Hopefully the Palestinians will grasp that their century-long rejectionism has failed and adopt a real desire for peace with their Jewish neighbor.” I hope they don’t and Israel waits the 4 years and declare sovereignty over all the land.

  2. @ greenrobot:

    What do you mean by “Hopefully they will:…and “I hope they don’t”.. The philologists said a few years ago, there is no such word as “hopefully” that it has no grammatical construction etc.

    But you seem a bit “bamboozled. …I don’t blame you. What’s going on is a mixture of Realpolitik, subtility and greed. Clarify your thoughts.

    If they decide to be “good little boys” that will be the worst ting for Israel in the long tun. We want them to clear off…across the Jordan or wherever else they want to go-as long as it isn’t in Israel.

  3. “…and second, it is probably the beginning of the end for Turkey’s and Iran’s imperial projects in the region.”

    I seriously doubt that. As I’ve said over and over again, the Bible foretells an alliance between Turkey and Iran:

    Ezek. 38:
    [4] And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:
    [5] Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:
    [6] Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.
    [7] Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.
    [8] After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.

    Despite the rantings of some donut heads here, Turkey has never led such a coalition against Israel. The Seljuks controlled what is now Turkey and Iran, but never wrested the Jewish homeland from the Fatimids. The Ottomans did conquer Israel, but not Iran; The Romans conquered Turkey and Israel, but not Iran. The closest historical event to fulfilling the prophecy was Media-Persia’s conquest first of Lydia, then of Babylonia and Israel. That last happened not too long after Ezekiel’s lifetime; but of course, the occupants of Turkey played second fiddle to those of Iran.

    In light of the prophecy and the historical record, then, an alliance between Turkey and Iran is most likely to happen in our day; and by the direction of events in the Middle East, it seems to be already in the making.

    Shufutinsky seems to think that once Israel is allied with most of the Arab states, nobody would dare attack them. Wrong. First of all, the Arabs have not proved to be useful allies to anyone, since their resurrection as states after WWI. Secondly, if both Turkey and Iran are continually breathing threats against Israel on their own, they will certainly conspire to carry out those threats once they are working together.

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