The equation has changed, alliances have shifted, and the map of conflict is redrawn, this time in Israel’s favor.
The UAE-Israeli peace agreement will contribute to security coordination between the two countries to combat terrorism and extremism, and work to establish stability in the region.
The UAE-Israel peace agreement will change the strategic alliances in the Middle East. Especially at the level of security coordination and combating terrorism in the region. The two sides are moving forward rapidly, at all levels. The latest example of Emirati-Israeli cooperation was a phone call by the UAE Minister of State for Defense Affairs, Mohammed bin Ahmed Al-Bawardi, with his Israeli counterpart, Benny Gantz, in which they discussed ways to enhance communication and establish solid bilateral relations between the two countries.
Security is one of the main common interests shared by the UAE and Israel, in particular as it relates to curbing Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in the region. The peace agreement will enable the two countries to expand the scope of security cooperation in a way that makes it not inconsistent with other national interests.
But it will be necessary for the two countries to invest in this relationship, and every indication is that they are ready to do so. This is especially true in the economic sphere, which will bear immediate fruit and encourage further cooperation that will likewise aid the peace-making process between Israel and the Palestinians. If done right, this has the potential to snowball into widespread peace and prosperity for the region.
For Israel, the primary concern has always been security. It needed to first feel a sense of true security before anything else in the peace process could really move forward. This agreement provides that to Israel by giving it a real regional partner with which to combat extremism. It broke a decades-long stalemate in the Israeli-Arab conflict. The Palestinian reaction is unfortunate, as they have failed to grasp the changing realities. They remain stuck in a past that is simply not relevant today.
The rest of the Arab world, the Gulf states in particular, will no longer allow themselves to be held up by the political deadlock created by the Palestinian Authority’s rejectionist attitude. The Arab Peace Initiative put forward by Saudi Arabia 18 years ago has likewise lost its luster and resulted in almost no progress whatsoever. The Arab countries needed to find a different way forward that enables them to consider and face threats and interests that are unrelated to the Palestinian issue. They needed to finally look to their own national security unshackled by Palestinian intransigence.
Security cooperation and coordination in various fields between Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem will contribute to advancing the peace process and removing the fear of Israelis over the long-held perception of an Arab threat to their existence. In short, normalization contributes far more to achieving real stability, security and peace than any steps taken until this point.
The fate of Al Udeid air base in Qatar
After the peace agreement was announced, German newspapers reported that the United States was planning to transfer its military assets from the Al Udeid air base in Qatar over to the UAE, a step that military experts warned would almost completely sever ties between Washington and Doha. But with Qatar aligning itself more these days with Iran and Turkey, and less with its fellow Gulf Arab states, that might just be the point.
The reports emphasized that this move is supported by Israel, and is being promoted to decision-makers in Washington by the likes of John Hannah, the national security advisor to former Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
But it’s not such a simple matter to just abandon the Al Udeid air base and Qatar. Given Washington’s awareness of the importance of having multiple military bases in countries around the world, and that relocating a military base is an extremely costly and difficult matter, it is a decision that cannot be taken without long thought and study.
There’s also the matter of suitable facilities. At present, the Al Udeid air base has the only runway in the Gulf that can handle America’s B-52 heavy bombers.
There’s also a concern of over-militarizing the Israel-UAE deal, which is first and foremost a diplomatic agreement. There are and will be military aspects, but focusing on them too heavily will weaken the prospects of genuine peace and coexistence.
Originally posted at israeltoday.co.il