Last Thursday, the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates issued a joint statement proclaiming the Gulf nation’s intent to normalize relations with the Jewish state in all spheres. The UAE becomes the third Arab nation, following Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994) to do so. The historic agreement, aptly touted as the Abraham Accord, was heralded internationally. Notably, two other important Gulf nations, Oman and Bahrain, issued statements of strong endorsement. In fact, Israel and Bahrain are believed to be in the advanced stages of negotiations to ink a similar deal and an Israeli channel reported that Morocco, which already maintains trade and tourism ties with Jerusalem, is contemplating a parallel move.
Of course, the usual chorus of rejectionist entities cried like stuck pigs. The Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, characterized the agreement as a “despicable betrayal.” An Iranian spokesman said that the “UAE will be engulfed in Zionism fire.” Turkey’s authoritarian and mercurial Muslim Brotherhood leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stated that “History won’t forgive UAE for dealing with Israel,” and threatened to downgrade diplomatic relations. The terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah echoed similar rejectionist sentiments. This level of vitriol from the enemies of civilization represents clear and convincing proof that the deal has manifestly enhanced regional peace and security. It paves the way for further regional détente and spells isolation for Israel’s enemies.
President Donald Trump should be given due credit for the historic breakthrough, and even his shrillest critics in the so-called establishment media acknowledge this. Earlier this year, Trump unveiled a detailed peace plan that would have allowed Israel to annex some 30 percent of Judea and Samaria. The Palestinians in turn would have reaped the benefits of massive investment and been partly compensated with land swaps. The deal was predictably rejected by the PA, which condemned it in phraseology that bordered on hysteria. It would mark the seventh time since 1937 that the Palestinian leadership rejected a peace deal.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted the proposal and began to move swiftly toward implementing annexation of those territories in Judea and Samaria slated to be retained by Israel under the deal’s terms. In the meantime, Israel continued its rapprochement efforts with the Gulf nations – Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, and the UAE – that saw Iran and not Israel as the main threat to peace and regional stability.
But while the Gulf nations were content with mutually beneficial covert relations with Israel, they were unwilling to transition to normalization. Trump’s Mideast point man, Jared Kushner, and his assistant Avi Berkowitz then seized on an opportunity to bridge the gap. They asked Netanyahu to hold off on annexation in exchange for normalization of ties with the UAE. Netanyahu, appreciating the significance of such a political breakthrough, readily agreed. In terms of facts on the ground, the annexation plan would have changed little, and in any event, its suspension was temporary. Moreover, this was the first time that Israel was able to achieve peace with an Arab nation without ceding land, setting a favorable precedent.
The Abraham Accord caps a string of Mideast successes for the Trump administration. Trump ran on a promise to utterly destroy ISIS and kept his word. He crushed the caliphate with overwhelming force and killed its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in October 2019.
He promised to withdraw from Obama’s deleterious Iran deal – a deal which witnessed secret transfers of billions of dollars in cash to the mullahs to fuel their imperialistic wars – and kept his word. He ordered the successful liquidation of Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s notorious Quds Force and architect of Iran’s proxy wars. Soleimani’s departure from the scene saved American lives and represented just payback for it was Soleimani who provided sophisticated explosively formed penetrators to Islamic insurgents that claimed the lives of hundreds American service members.
Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, an area from which Syrian gunners would routinely shell Israeli communities in Galilee. Israel liberated the strategic plateau during the 1967 Six-Day War. Finally, Trump delivered on his promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a bold, irreversible diplomatic action that was long overdue.
By contrast, Obama began his first year in office with an apology tour where he heaped praise on Islamist Turkey, apologized for America’s purported misdeeds and criticized Israel while on a state visit to Egypt. And it continued downhill from there.
Obama consistently bet on the wrong Mideastern horse. He backed the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi which led to the rise of an ISIS presence in Libya. He backed Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi, a man who nearly torpedoed Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. After Morsi’s overthrow, he soured relations with Egypt by withholding delivery of Apache helicopter gunships, which Egypt needed to battle ISIS insurgents in northern Sinai. During Israel’s 2014 counterinsurgency campaign against Hamas, Obama withheld Hellfire missiles from Israel and then attempted to force Israel to agree to a ceasefire on terms dictated by Turkey and Qatar.
Under Obama’s tenure, ISIS morphed into a juggernaut, capturing large swathes of Syria and Iraq. Obama ignored intelligence assessments that the group posed a serious threat to regional stability and blithely referred to them as the “JV team.” When he finally took military action, it was a case of too little, too late, and took the form of pathetic pinprick strikes which had little tactical impact on the group’s ability to operate.
Obama ended his tenure by aligning with despots and backstabbing Israel at the UN, by allowing the passage of the one-sided UNSC resolution 2334. Finally he inked the Iran deal, which facilitated Iran’s imperialistic designs, and as the late Charles Krauthammer insightfully noted, represented the worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history.
In less than four years, Trump reversed the malignant policies pursued by his feckless predecessor and did it in a manner that maintained the confidence of allies and struck fear into the hearts of America’s enemies. The Abraham Accord demonstrates with utmost clarity that in the pursuit of peace, America need not abandon allies nor appease enemies. The Middle East is now a safer place and we have Trump to thank for it.