What Are The Strategic Goals Behind Emirati-Israeli Normalization Deal?
Story Code : 880693
In the upcoming weeks, representatives from the UAE and the Israeli regime will meet to finalize the normalization deal by signing documents. The agreement will see Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi enter into cooperation in a set of fields including trade, investment, tourism, direct flights, security, communications, technology, energy, health, culture, and investment. They will also open embassies.
With this deal, the UAE is the third Arab-- after Egypt and Jordan-- and the first Persian Gulf state to normalize diplomatically with the Israeli regime, though the two sides started their unofficial ties years ago.
A variety of Emirati goals, thus, can be identified behind the thaw. But how realistic are all these goals that the Emirati rulers have made such a risky move for them?
Implementing the normalization project using geopolitical drives
There is no doubt that one of the leading and strategic objectives behind the agreement between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv is the consummation of the Arab-Israeli normalization project and burying the Palestinian cause as the key Arab-Israeli dispute point. In a broader view, entombing the Palestinian cause is one of the pillars of the American strategy in West Asia and North Africa pushed for since decades ago.
This project got new life under Trump's presidency as the Zionist circles in the US received a bigger lobbying chance boost inside the American administration. The US government unprecedentedly increased the pressures on the Arab countries for company with Trump’s “deal of the century” project which recognizes settlements and scraps the Palestinian refugees’ right to return home.
But a failure of the deal of the century, which came by thorough Palestinian opposition and strong reactions from some Islamic countries like Iran, did not dissuade the US from pursuing the normalization. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain over the past two years launched a campaign to prepare their public for overt relationship with Israel.
Meanwhile, it should not be forgotten that geopolitical developments have not been irrelevant in the acceleration of the normalization process by the Emirati rulers. The Israeli-Emirati common views on some regional cases like Yemen war, the need to confront Muslim Brotherhood, the increasing Turkish ambitions in Libya and the Mediterranean, intelligence cooperation to face Iran and its regional allies known as Axis of Resistance, and cooperation to crack down on pro-democracy and revisionist movements at home and abroad sped up the thaw.
Pushing to get Tel Aviv out of political and geopolitical isolation
Another fundamental drive behind the Emirati-Israeli peace deal is the effort by the Israeli and also Western leaders to pull Tel Aviv out of the diplomatic and geopolitical isolation it has been living for decades.
Until Wednesday, only Egypt and Jordan as Arab states recognized the Israeli regime. Since the beginning of the year that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his plan to annex West Bank to other occupied territories, Jordan responded furiously, threatening to cut off diplomatic ties with the Israeli regime and even resort to military confrontation. Tel Aviv mainly through sea trade keeps link with the outside world and diplomatic and geopolitical isolation for decades has been a top challenge to the Israeli leaders. The Israelis and their Western allies want to de-isolate Tel Aviv using such agreements with the Arab rulers.
UAE ambitions to lead the Arab world
The Emirati rulers want to grab the Arab world leadership role from the Saudis via a noisy and ostensibly landmark move like normalization. This seems to be another reason for Abu Dhabi to normalize with the occupying Israeli regime.
Since assumption of power and decision-making circles in the country by Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the UAE, which made considerable economic growth and huge arms purchases, strove to get a toehold in important regional and transregional cases and conflicts all to upgrade its status and position regionally and even globally.
Although working in alliance with Saudi Arabia, it has always felt itself heavily overshadowed by Riyadh which wants to save its “big brother” role in the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council and leadership in the Arab world. So, bin Zayed felt a desperate need for a big and transformational step by Abu Dhabi. Accelerating this step was the knowledge that sooner or later Mohammed bin Salman-led Saudi Arabia will normalize ties with the Israeli regime. So, besides its ambitions, the agreement with Tel Aviv was an arrangement to avoid falling behind Riyadh.
But there is an important point that questions the veracity of UAE rulers’ calculations and it is the fact that the past overt and covert ties with Tel Aviv are clear to Emirati and regional people and so this move will never make any difference in the regional policies and developments. It even bears more achievements for the Cooperation Council members than the UAE itself because Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman have already publicized their unofficial relations with the Israeli regime but it is Abu Dhabi that will go under fire of critics.
Arab-Israeli alliance making
Behind this deal, the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council members and Tel Aviv want to establish a coalition against Tehran. That is what Washington has been dictating for the Saudis and Emiratis for years. According to a statement, the two Arab countries along with Israel will join the US-designed “Strategic Plan for the Middle East”.
Part of the plan is painting Iranian regional power and role as the source of threat to the Arab states, with aim of selling billions in petrodollars of arms to the Persian Gulf Arab monarchies and also to cover the Israeli and American destructive role in the region.
But it needs to be marked that this agreement is only a propagandistic achievement against Iran. After all, the UAE is not a heavyweight state in the regional equations. It emerged as a loser in Syria, Yemen, and Libya cases in encounter with main actors and had to review its policies. The country is easily pressured. It sent representatives to Iran for talks when Fujairah port was targeted. It also showed flexibility in its Yemen policy when Yemen’s Ansarullah threatened its economic lifelines with missile and drone strikes.
At the same time, the US wants to cover up the differences inside the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council by calling Iran a threat to those states. But this trick has lost its potency for years and so there is no Council in practice. Thus, projecting for an alliance of countries whose relations are marred by border, political, ideological, and economic disputes is nothing more than a dream for the Americans.
A plan to attract the huge investment money of the Jews around the world is another element bringing the UAE leaders to normalization with the Israeli regime. It is not improbable that the Israelis lured the Emiratis into this swamp using business temptation. As much as the Israelis can carry profit to the UAE, the threats posed by this agreement along with a negative approach to the deal among the Muslim and Arab people can slash the security and disposition for investment. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last year made an effort to attract the Jewish and Western capital when he invited Jewish businessmen and company owners from the US and other Western countries to a business conference in Riyadh referred to by media as “Davos in the desert” but failed to make gains.