The UAE and Israel: A dangerous liaison

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was so in love with Israel that even before formalizing their new bilateral agreement, they had begun to normalize their relations on many levels, including communications, transport and security, among others. .

What seemed like a “marriage of convenience” is in fact a true love story. Unlike traditional weddings, the two fell in love and secretly consummated their relationship long before officially announcing the wedding date.

Indeed, the announcement had been a long time coming, given the many clues and nods from both sides, but it was the Trump administration that was eager to deliver the news with great fanfare ahead of the US election.

The UAE’s attempt to use its appeasement as a strategic calculation to stop Israel’s illegal annexation of Palestinian land and promote peace in the Middle East has been mocked in Palestine and across the region.

Like I wrote the day after the announcement, the results show that the UAE harbored more hostility than sympathy towards the Palestinians. On the contrary, the agreement will further strengthen Israel and weaken the Palestinian struggle for freedom.

Moreover, the UAE has never been at war, let alone a war of religion, with Israel, over having to strike a “peace deal” dubiously dubbed “the Abraham Accord”.

On the contrary, it is more of an alliance than an agreement – an alliance directed against regional powers, Iran and Turkey; an alliance that threatens to further destabilize the region if US President Donald Trump is re-elected for another four years.

But what if Democratic candidate Joe Biden is elected president? The Emirati rulers surely read the American press and know only too well that the former vice president leads the polls and remains committed to the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Geopolitical partners

Since its birth from sin – colonial sin – Israel has been too eager to be recognized and accepted by its Arab and Muslim hinterland. To break out of its regional isolation, it is happy to normalize its relations with any nation, regardless of its size, rule or geography.

And when a wealthy country like the UAE volunteers to normalize its relationship with no real terms, it is only fitting that Israel would jump at the chance and try to speed up the process as much as possible.

Indeed, Israel sees Abu Dhabi and Dubai as the gateway to Saudi Arabia, just as Hong Kong was the gateway to China.

But why has Abu Dhabi been so eager and in a hurry to embark on the new relationship in these uncertain times?

Well, maybe because he finds the new relationship with Israel particularly instrumental in times of uncertainty, not least if Biden wins.

After all, he believes Israel’s political influence in Washington will protect him no matter what.

Indeed, the UAE and Israel has begun their secret contacts in Washington in the chaotic years following the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and elevated them to the rank of strategic coordination during the turbulent years of the Obama administration. (For full disclosure, I was a senior political analyst for Abu Dhabi TV for three years during and after the Gulf War, where I was graciously received and was able to comment freely.)

Their leaders, as well as those of Saudi Arabia, felt betrayed by then-President Barack Obama’s initial support for the Arab Spring and by his pressure on Arab autocrats to adopt democratic reforms, it said. that is to say withdraw or withdraw.

The three regimes entered a state of panic during the Arab upheavals, complaining against Obama for his recognition of the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 2012 Egyptian election.

These regimes regard democracy and freedom of Arab expression as their number one enemy.

Obama has completely turned around on Egypt, refusing to condemn or even recognize the 2013 military coup devised by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, but the Emirati, Israeli and Saudi leaders have decided that Washington will not ‘was more reliable and lean on each other to keep democracy out of the region.

This perception was reinforced two years later when, in 2015, the Obama administration struck a nuclear deal with Iran (the JCPOA), against the will of all three parties.

It didn’t help much that the Obama administration was committed to their military superiority and security and armed them, despite their war crimes in Palestine and Yemen.

Instead, the UAE took the relationship with Israel to a new strategic, security and intelligence level, later encouraged and supported by the Trump administration.

The first fruits of their covert intelligence cooperation have enabled Abu Dhabi to use Israeli software to spy on neighbors and political and human rights activists across the region.

Neo-liberal bedfellows

Israel and UAE may be two different countries, the former being a ethnocracy “and the latter a repressive autocracy, but their close alliance with the West in general, and the United States in particular, has allowed them to successfully liberalize, privatize and globalize their economies, albeit to varying degrees.

Both have successfully evolved into security states and market states, becoming models of neoliberal development in the developing world.

Both created efficient bureaucracies dictated by the needs of business and commerce and efficient security apparatuses dictated by unstable regional conditions.

Their ability to integrate newcomers into their economies – Israel primarily from Jewish immigration and the UAE primarily from expatriate labor – has enabled them to expand and diversify their economies like no other.

In addition, their cooperation on security and intelligence gathering has solidified their patronage as the basis of American influence in the region, regardless of who resides in the White House.

Their ability to launch wars and to project commercial and strategic power beyond their borders makes them important Western assets in a troubled region.

Reckless ambition

An attraction developed between the outgoing and rather articulate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the introverted and inarticulate Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ), the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates.

Bibi is envious of Emirati wealth and its projection of power throughout the region, from Tunisia to Syria to Libya and Sudan, and MBZ is envious of Israel’s advanced economy and technology and of his influence in Washington.

Netanyahu is also envious of the authoritarian MBZ regime; he would never have to be tried for corruption, as the Israeli prime minister is currently doing.

Both are exploiting their status as US strategic assets in order to advance their national interests, regardless of the consequences for their neighbors.

In this way, the United States’ sale of F-35 advanced fighter jets to the UAE will most certainly pass once Israel gets something back from Washington. And it will be the inhabitants of the region who will suffer from Emirati air superiority, as they do with that of Israel.

The new partners will try to expand their alliance with countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia in order to mount a united front against any new initiative from the United States, the European Union or the region that does not suit them. .

They may be able to defeat Palestinians and Yemenis militarily, and may politically weaken Lebanese and Libyans. But Iran and Turkey will prove to be difficult, even dangerous, to contain or to confront thanks to a strategic lever.

And so are their attempts to stifle democratization all over the region, which will lead to greater instability and violence.

In short, betting on the new “peace agreement” to advance the cause of peace and stability in the region will prove to be wishful thinking, if not downright cynical.

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