As most of the world focused on President Joe Biden's Afghanistan debacle, the Abraham Accords celebrated its first anniversary. On August 13, 2020, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel rewrote the political landscape of the Middle East, establishing full diplomatic relations in a U.S.-brokered deal.
The Accords, the historic Middle East peace agreements between Israel and several Arab neighbors, promote security, cultural, economic, technological and scientific collaboration, tourism, trade and more. Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan have joined.
The once formidable blanket Arab rejection of a Jewish state finally disintegrated. The Abraham Accords set the historic precedent that peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors can be achieved independent of dealing with the Palestinians.
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman called it "a geopolitical earthquake."
The Biden administration failed to recognize the milestone or participate in any organized festivities in the U.S. or Israel, in sharp contrast to the enthusiastic praise expressed by others. Bahrain's ambassador to the U.S. remarked that it was a privilege to mark the anniversary because of the significant progress already accomplished and "how the Abraham Accords are going to shape the future of the region."
The current administration calls the historic reconciliation, named for the biblical patriarch, "normalization agreements" and, because they are politically popular, claims that it supports the undertaking. Washington is not actively persuading other Arab nations to join and has not invited Sudan to D.C. for a formal signing.
Although Oman, Mauritania, Indonesia and Qatar have been mentioned as possibly interested, no new countries have joined since President Biden's election. Saudi Arabia, the strategic domino whose participation could lead to a cascade of others eager to recognize Israel, is sitting on the sidelines since Biden replaced Trump.
Shocked that America wishes to return to the Iran nuclear deal sellout and disturbed by the administration's treatment, Riyadh is now hedging its bets, making quiet overtures to the Iranians.
Unlike the close relationship the Saudis enjoyed with the Trump administration — the Kingdom hosted Trump's first foreign trip as president — the relationship with Biden has been strained, to put it mildly. The new American president immediately shelved a Trump arms deal with the Saudis, ended our support for the Saudi-led offensive against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, and removed the Houthis from our terrorist list.
Stirring the pot further, Biden released a formerly classified 2018 report on the Jamal Khashoggi murder allegedly approved by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
A strong partnership between Riyadh and Jerusalem to oppose Iran's malign activities clearly threatens Washington's efforts to empower Iran as America's new strategic partner. Sanctions relief and secret deals to lure Iran back into the failed 2015 nuclear deal are part of this effort to realign the power balance in the region at the expense of Israelis and Saudis.
The U.S. established a $3 billion fund to facilitate the Accord's regional trade and strategic infrastructure projects. The fund would extend loans to underwrite these activities. Of the 250 entities that applied for funding, fifteen projects were chosen for Washington's approval.
No action has been taken by the Biden administration and the future of the fund is unclear.
Despite the current Democratic administration's lack of support for the Abraham Accords, economic, security and cultural ties are deepening between Israel and her neighbors. Abu Dhabi's Mubadala sovereign wealth fund has agreed to buy a $1 billion stake in a Mediterranean gas rig partially owned by Israeli energy companies.
Fueled by direct flights between Arab nations and Israel and exchanges of diplomats, Dubai's tourism is soaring as hotels now offer kosher buffets and synagogues for the Jewish holidays. Israel's pavilion in Dubai's World Expo is a landmark achievement.
"I have to say that it exceeded my expectations," The Washington Institute's Ghaith al-Omari said of the success of the Accords. Omari commented that the deepening ties show how far the Palestinian issue has fallen from the agenda of Arab and Muslim countries.
One wonders why the Biden administration links the contentious Palestinian issue with the Accords: "We hope that normalization can be leveraged to advance progress on the Israeli-Palestinian tracks," said a State Department official.
The Accords withstood their first serious test — the May Hamas rocket attack against Israel. None of the Accord's Arab partners broke off relations with Israel as they might have done in the past.
In fact, on Arab social media, the most widespread sentiment was criticism of Hamas and mockery of its leadership. One cartoon read, "They (Hamas leaders) are living in comfort and abundance (in Qatar) and sending the Gazans to be killed for them."
Saudi political analyst Abdulrahman Altrairi declared that Hamas is working for Iran and one of Iran's goals was to destroy the peace treaties and "reposition Israel as an enemy of the Arabs." UAE's foreign affairs expert Ali al-Nuaimi summed it up: "The Middle East conflict isn't between the Israelis and Palestinians, but between Israel and Iran," adding that Gaza is "occupied by Hamas" and "the Palestinian people are suffering because of Hamas, not the Israelis."
UAE airlines — unlike those from the U.S. — did not stop flying to Israel during the attack, and Gulf States expressed interest regarding the Israeli weapons systems used to defend against the Hamas terror attacks. If the Palestinians were expecting this conflict to damage the Abraham Accords, their hopes were dashed.
Witnessing Biden's unenthusiastic response to Israel's new ties with former Arab adversaries, Washington Institute's al-Omari said, "It is a fact that the Biden administration has not been very robustly involved in building on these accords."
Obsessed with nullifying all Trump policies regardless of their wisdom, coupled with his obsequious adherence to Obama's vision of realigning the Middle East to empower Iran, Joe Biden is squandering rare bipartisan endorsement and support from our allies in the Middle East.
As so many observe, the Abraham Accords have the power to replace centuries-old hatreds with peace and cooperation. Instead, Biden seeks to sacrifice the Accords to the god of leftism.
An angel tries to stop him — but he doesn't listen.
Ziva Dahl is a senior fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center. Ziva writes and lectures about U.S.-Israel relations, U.S. foreign policy, Israel, Zionism, Antisemitism and BDS on college campuses. Her articles have appeared in such publications as The Hill, New York Daily News, New York Observer, The Washington Times, American Spectator, American Thinker and Jerusalem Post. Read Ziva Dahl's Reports — More Here.
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