Thursday, October 12, 2017

Israel and the Arab World

For some time now we on this blog have been following the thaw in relations between Israel and the Arab world, especially between Israel and Saudi Arabia. We have considered this shift in alliances to be momentous and have said so. At a time when brain dead American academics continue to support the so-called Palestinian cause, the main backers of the Palestinians are developing good relations with Israel. One day the academics will recognize that their favorite cause is a lost cause.

Two days ago the Wall Street Journal published an article asserting the same point, though with far more detail. Thus, I consider it well worth your attention. After all, more information is always good.

Israeli-Arab relations have been warming of late. Last month Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa reportedly urged fellow Arabs to end their boycott and normalize relations with Israel. In August, the Egyptian government released a letter from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman affirming Riyadh’s commitment to the existing arrangements between Egypt and Israel relating to the Straits of Tiran—the first public Saudi acknowledgment of Israel’s maritime rights in the straits.

Several Arab officials have reportedly met in private with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense officials. Israel reportedly enjoys close security and intelligence cooperation with Egypt, Jordan and several Gulf monarchies. Last month at the United Nations, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir adopted a soft tone toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and did not criticize Israel. Mr. Sisi departed from his written speech and called on the Palestinian people to accept Israel and live in peace alongside its citizens.

The authors explain that the rapprochement was produced by the foreign policy blunders of the Obama administration. Obviously, as they make clear, Obama does not deserve the credit for the shift, but Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu does. It was not Obama's manifest failure but Netanyahu's handling of the situation that was decisive.

They explain:

From the perspective of Arab leaders, that administration supported the wave of political Islamism that engulfed the region in the Arab Spring’s aftermath. It also threatened their regimes in unprecedented ways by abandoning Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and slowing military exports to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain under the pretext of democratization. Worse, the administration signed a nuclear deal with Iran that reintegrated the ayatollahs’ regime into the international community while unleashing a wave of destabilization throughout the region.

Mr. Netanyahu’s views aligned perfectly with those of Arab leaders on all these issues. All rejected the administration’s belief that Iran deserves a share of the Gulf’s spoils and that Arabs must accommodate Tehran. Arab leaders admired Mr. Netanyahu’s staunch public criticism of Mr. Obama during the nuclear deal negotiations. The editor in chief of the Saudi-backed website Al-Arabiya published an article in March 2015 with the title “President Obama, Listen to Netanyahu on Iran.” Arab leaders share Mr. Netanyahu’s view that Mr. Obama’s policies, which prioritized democratic reforms over the stability of their regimes, left social, political and security vacuums, which radical Islamists soon filled.

Arab leaders realized they could learn something from Mr. Netanyahu’s ability to withstand Mr. Obama’s pressure. He allied with the U.S. Congress to repulse Mr. Obama’s efforts to interject himself into internal Israeli politics. Arab leaders decided to ally with Israel in the hope of successfully navigating the American political system. This summer leaked emails from Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Washington, revealed a concerted effort to reach out to American Jewish figures in Washington to help his government establish contacts with Israel. Mr. Sisi has frequently met with American Jewish organizations in Cairo, Washington and New York where he assured them of his commitment to peace with Israel.

They conclude that Arab leaders see that they have much to gain from allying themselves with Israel. After all, if they want to modernize their countries they do better to do business with Israel than to sign on to the lost Palestinian cause.

As it happens, these leaders attended a summit meeting in Riyadh where they welcomed President Donald Trump with open arms. At the same time, the king of Saudi Arabia just signed an important arms deal with Russia… telling us that the Trump team needs to do a better job of sustaining relations with the Arab world:

Arab leaders have realized the urgency of engaging Israel directly instead of relying on the U.S. as a meditator. Their sense of urgency stems from a deep feeling of betrayal by Mr. Obama. Even with President Trump in office, the dangers of Iran and terrorism to the Arab states continue, so that the Arab states see better relations with Israel as necessary for long-term stability. The Arab openness to Israel is irreversible. It is hard to put the genie back into the bottle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All you need to know regarding Israeli's and Arabs.