First the United Arab Emirates, then Bahrain. According to experts in the Middle East, other Gulf countries could still follow the path traced by Abu Dhabi and Manama, which announced, one in mid-August, the other on Friday, an agreement to normalize their relations with Israel. Decryption with KarimSader, political scientist and consultant who specializes in the bay.
The standardization agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, announced on August 13 by US President Donald Trump, opened a new page in the Middle East in relations with the Hebrew state.
When the first signs of this approach begin to emerge, with the repeal of the Emirate Law on Boycott of Israel and the first “commercial flight” connecting the two countries in late August, Bahrain in turn announced a “historic” agreement to normalize its relations with Israel.
Observers had indeed expected other monarchies, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), to follow in the footsteps of the Duchy of Mohammed ben Zayed (MBZ), Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
The head of American diplomacy, Mike Pompeo, had even said he was “optimistic” about the idea of seeing “other Arab countries” follow the Emirates’ example.
Counteracts Iran and Turkey
“The Gulf states, under the leadership of Saudi Arabia, have been trying to normalize their relations with Israel for some time,” said KarimSader, a political scientist and consultant who specializes in the Gulf. This agreement was an open secret where they are all involved at different levels. Since there can be no single rider in such a sensitive issue, Riyadh is cooperating with Abu Dhabis on this issue. “
A coordinated strategic turnaround, at the expense of the Palestinians, and intended to meet a new regional geostrategic situation. According to KarimSader, the common goal of the Gulf monarchies, which still fear American disconnection, is to counter Iran and Turkey, the two powers are not. Arabs who threaten their interests in the region. And “it passes, and it is almost logical” through an approach to the Hebrew state, the dominant military power in the Middle East.
“The Palestinian cause has become secondary in the eyes of the petromonarchies that are being undermined by the rival Iranian Shiites. In fact, this method is mainly based on their common hostility to Israel against Iran,” he said. In addition, “like Israel, which is cautious about Turkey’s ambitions in the Mediterranean, the Gulf’s petromonarchies are concerned about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regional neo – Ottoman claims.”
However, Saudi Arabia, which cleared an El Al Boeing 737 through its airspace en route to the Emirates at the end of August, seems to be delaying. King Salman recently expressed “the kingdom’s desire to achieve a lasting and just solution to the Palestinian cause in order to achieve peace”.
For KarimSader is thus the Saudi king in his role, because if Saudi Arabia, which protects the holy sites of Islam and has a larger population than the Emirates, was the first to embark on the adventure, Influence would have caused an electric shock in the kingdom and in the Arab world in general.
“One of these monarchies had to start the process of rapprochement, but the country that was most capable of doing so was the United Arab Emirates,” he explains. Modern and open to globalization, while at the same time led by an iron fist, it was the country that took the least risk by initiating normalization, with the local public locked up, and the emirates standing behind positions of power. “
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabia was the first to dare to take the step to let his Saudi ally follow him afterwards, “by gradually accepting this new reality, aware that the Palestinian question no longer generates a feeling as emotional as before after populations in region, he continues.
Experts agree that it is a matter of time and that Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS), who is closely linked to the Trump administration and in particular to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law in charge of the Middle East, will eventually follow. “It will depend on developments in the region and the outcome of the US election,” KarimSader stressed. “If Donald Trump is re-elected, it will be easier for MBZ, which is under the influence of MBZ, to follow the coordinated steps. Abu Dhabi and in turn to formalize a rapprochement with the Hebrew state. “
The political scientist indicates that the Saudi Crown Prince is part of this new generation of Gulf leaders who are tired of the Palestinian question and who no longer believe in the two-state solution, believe that the political scientist who specializes in the Gulf. a balance of power that is undoubtedly in favor of Israel and for a future in which the Palestinians would be spread over the countries of the Middle East. In short, it is a total break with the 2002 Arab peace initiative defended by the defendant Abdullah, which had been rejected by the Israelis. “
The 2002 initiative, which at the time involved all states in the Arab League, proposed, at the end of a summit in Beirut, a peace that goes so far as to plan to normalize relations with Israel within the framework of a comprehensive peace. . And this, especially in exchange for the formation of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and for a “just solution” to the issue of Palestinian refugees.
“The current process is much more political and geostrategic, it is the fruit of an agreement between a few regional actors, who have been playing their own scores for a while, in agreement with Israel and the US government,” KarimSader states.
After Bahrain, Oman ?
If all eyes are on the Wahhabi monarchy and the MBS, Bahrain’s experts, the Sultanate of Oman, saw the two future states as likely to normalize relations with the Hebrew state in the near future.
It is now being done with Bahrain. The agreement, which must be officially signed next Tuesday in the White House, also suggests that Riyadh can follow, because, Karim Sader reminds, that this small monarchy “is in a way a Saudi province, so much power is aligned with Riyadh in matters of foreign policy.
And for this specialist in the region, “Oman, which has always sought a diplomatic balance in the region in line with its position as a mediator, is likely to follow emirate examples”.
“Once these two states have followed, it will seem logical to see the Saudis follow, because this is what has been planned from the beginning,” the expert said.
The case of Qatar, which has been isolated by the Gulf neighbors and placed under the CCG band since June 2017, remains unanswered. Although “the emirate was one of the first states in the region to maintain relations with Israel and continue to exchange with Israeli officials,” KarimSader recalls.
The first Israeli representative office in the Gulf opened in Doha in 1996, before closing four years later at the request of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In 2009, the Israeli Trade Office was closed by Qatar to protest an Israeli military offensive in Gaza.
“Through its capacity for dialogue with both Western countries and Islamist movements such as Hamas, Qatar is a valuable asset to the Israelis. At present, it is not on the same line as its neighbors due to its isolation. CCG, it is likely that he will follow this trend, concludes the specialist in the Gulf states.