The United Arab Emirates’ move to proclaim the secret relations of the past two decades in the form of a cooperation agreement is seen as an escape forward driven by fear of Saudi Arabia, the extremist and moderate Islamic currents, the process of democratization, and a deal signed with the purpose of expanding influence in the sphere of strategic ports of the Red Sea and the Mediterranean under the aegis of the US and the Zionist regime. This process has been also affected by the US policy of maximum pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran in the shape of Iranophobia. Not to mention the fact that the Mecca Summit in May 2019 was basically held with the purpose of legitimizing the Zionist regime and fomenting fear of Iran in order to give an identity to the concept of a common threat to the basis of a strategic coalition with the Zionist regime.
On August 13, 2020, the White House announced a major achievement within the framework of a historic agreement. Thereafter, Donald Trump released the documents of the deal on his Twitter account, saying the deal on the normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel had begun after trilateral negotiations with Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and that the accord would be signed at the White House in his presence in around three weeks. Trump had also plans to name the deal after himself, but the fear of being mocked by the media made him call the agreement ‘Abraham Accord’. This study explores the agreement from three viewpoints, namely the history of bilateral relations, explication of properties of the accord, and the goals pursued by each party.
- History of Relations between the United Arab Emirates and the Zionist Regime
A brief review of relations between the UAE, and the Israeli regime reveals that the two sides have had overt and covert ties in various fields over the past two decades, particularly in the security and intelligence arena. Here are some examples:
A) The $816 million contract with AGT International, a Swiss company owned by an Israeli Jewish investor, to purchase security and surveillance equipment for infrastructures in the UAE; The company has also worked with the UAE in the field of fossil fuels (oil and gas) and the sale of spy drones, called small eyes system, to the UAE.
B) Cooperation and contract with Israeli company NSO Group for the purchase of spyware technology to break into the mobile phones with the purpose of eavesdropping the conversations of cultural figures, specifically journalists; In January 2020, the Israeli company was authorized by Amnesty International to sell and export the technology to a number of countries, including the UAE.
C) Military cooperation sphere; participation in joint exercises, including Exercise Red Flag, an aerial training exercise held by the US Air Force and participated by the Zionist regime.
- Participation in military exercise INIOHOS in Greece, also attended by the Zionist regime;
- Joint cooperation with the US, the Israeli regime and Britain in escorting and ensuring the security of ships in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman; The then foreign minister of the Zionist regime announced successful participation in the coalition of countries ensuring security in the Persian Gulf waterways, and unveiled a joint Israeli plan with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Australia, Britain, and Albania -under the command of the US- after a number of ships and oil tankers were hit near the port of Fujairah of the UAE.
D) The two sides have also worked in cooperation in cultural and sports diplomacy. In October 2018, the Zionist regime's minister of sport and culture traveled to Abu Dhabi, and the regime's communications minister also visited the United Arab Emirates for a conference of the International Telecommunication Union in Dubai. In 2019, the Israeli regime’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz took part in a meeting on the environment in Abu Dhabi. Also in December 2019, the Israeli regime’s minister of justice and its attorney general visited the UAE to participate in an anti-corruption conference.
Moreover, the two sides have strengthened cooperation by allowing the Israeli sports authorities and athletes to visit the United Arab Emirates.
There are also other developments that were highly significant for the Israeli regime, when the first Emirati flight landed in Ben Gurion Airport or when the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash participated in a virtual annual summit of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in June 2020, where he announced that relations with Israel were a significant issue that could even have better results than other efforts in the peace process. There is obviously a gentle transition from covert to an overt relationship, in such a way that the editor of Israel Hayom newspaper has likened it to transition from engagement to formal marriage after the announcement of the agreement with the United Arab Emirates.
- Assessing the Deal
The agreement between the United Arab Emirates and the Israeli regime was unveiled on August 13, 2020, and signed three weeks later. The deal covers various fields, including diplomatic relations, economy, and trade, particularly joint investment, tourism, the launch of direct flights, new technologies, energy, health, environment, culture and sports, and specifically intelligence and security. Immediately after the unveiling of the agreement, Head of the Mossad Yossi Cohen, who has played an active role in transforming the covert relationship into a deal, visited Abu Dhabi to draft the documents and make arrangements for the signing of the final agreement in Washington.
- Purposes of the Deal
- A) The United Arab Emirates has escaped forward by signing a joint deal with the Zionist regime with the purpose of overcoming the fear of regional democratization process, the influence of extremist and moderate Islamic currents, preventing Washington’s policies on the consequences of the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and achievement of the JCPOA agreement, countering the rise of Iran with a coalition fomenting Iranophobia, and the Turkish and Russian infiltration into the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council member states. In the initial announcement of the stances, the UAE said its purpose was the full suspension of the plan for annexation of the West Bank of Jordan River to the occupied territories, but Netanyahu reacted immediately, dismissed the Emirati stances, and stressed that the annexation would be delayed because of the US and Israel’s conditions. There is no doubt that basically the issue of Palestine has not been and won’t be on the UAE’s agenda. Since the UAE, just like the Zionist regime, calls the Palestinian nation’s resistance terrorism and believes that the Palestinian National Authority has no role other than in the international agreements, it cannot call itself an advocate of the legitimate rights of the oppressed Palestinian nation.
A conclusion is that the peace agreement would produce a series of initial results, such as suspension of the two-state Arab Peace Initiative that was proposed in a 2002 meeting of the Arab League in Beirut, giving legitimacy to the plan for designating al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of the Zionist regime, approving the annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights to the Zionist regime, and closing the file on borders and Palestinian refugees as the priorities in Arab-Israeli conflict.
B) The Zionist regime is also pursuing major objectives in the case of normalization of relations with the Arabs, such as shattering the glory, determination, and power of Palestinians, preventing Palestine from resorting to the alliance with Arabs, expanding and implementing the settlement projects, creating a united Jewish state, and closing the file on the land for a peace initiative.
The Zionist regime’s main achievements in the peace process are as follows:
- implementation of the deal of the century and giving legitimacy to the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem
- finalizing plans to turn al-Quds (Jerusalem) into an eternal capital, particularly after the US acknowledgment
- continuation of occupation and annexation of the West Bank of Jordan River and its eastern valley all the way into the Dead Sea
- continuation of the Jewish settlers’ acts of aggression against Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to divide the premises and the praying time in the mosque and consequently in the Temple Mount
- taking advantage of the great wealth of the Persian Gulf states for economic and industrial development and making them dependent on trade with the regime
- expansion of the sphere of influence, espionage, and counter-espionage in the region
The United Arab Emirates has undoubtedly made a strategic mistake in its escape forward and signing an agreement with the Zionist regime. Considering the Islamic Awakening movement in the region, the future prospect of the Islamic resistance is now much better and more powerful than the past, as the resistance would be more vigorous with greater force in confrontation with the Zionist enemy. In the meanwhile, the Lebanese Hezbollah has gained a more solid position and acceptance among the Islamic and Arab nations despite the Western plots, particularly the US’ move to brand Hezbollah terrorist organization. The all-out supports for Syria and Bashar al-Assad have strengthened the ruling Ba'ath Party, as Syria has managed to weather the threats with the help of its allies. The most important issue is the strategic mistake of following the policy of pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran, a case that has become part of the history given the experience of the US’ defeats. Moreover, the United Arab Emirates has so far failed to obtain advanced air defense systems or purchase F-35 fighter jets from the US due to the Israeli regime’s opposition.
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)