The “Abraham Agreements”: A Turning Point for the Middle East?

Audio 02:54

Bahraini and UAE Foreign Ministers with Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, September 15, 2020. REUTERS / Tom Brenner

By: Bruno Daroux Follow

7 min

As every Friday, we find the chronicle The world in questions, which returns this week on the signing, in Washington, of the peace agreements between Israel and two Arab monarchies of the Gulf: the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

And the question that arises is the following: with the signing of these “Abraham's agreements”, can we speak of a turning point in the Middle East or is it a means for the Emirates, Bahrain and Israel to join forces against Iran?


So of course, on the side of the three signatories and the White House, we underline how this is a historic moment for the region, since, for the first time in 26 years, Israel is normalizing its relations with two countries. of the Arab world.

But this rapprochement is in fact dictated by a common fear, that of seeing Iran increase its regional power, threaten the existence of Israel and perhaps contribute to the overthrow of authoritarian Sunni regimes in the Emirates and Bahrain.

See also: Normalization agreements with Israel: the end of the Arab consensus around Palestine

This rapprochement, in fact, is also the culmination of links forged in the 1990s, with very discreet meetings between Emiratis and Israelis, links which were strengthened under the mandate of Barak Obama, considered too conciliatory according to them with Tehran.

And from this point of view, the election of Donald Trump to the White House was seen as a godsend.

She allowed this normalization to come out, in a way under the auspices of a US president obsessed with Iran and his hoped-for re-election in a month and a half.

Because this normalization of Israel with part of the Arab world can only please its evangelical electorate.

And Donald Trump does not intend to stop there and would especially like to announce another good news before the vote of November 3, 2020. This is why he affirmed that other Arab countries, including "the big ones", could them too normalize their relations with Israel.

The following are mentioned: the Sultanate of Oman, Morocco, but especially Saudi Arabia.

See also: Israel-Bahrain-Emirates agreements: Trump welcomes "the birth of a new Middle East"

So could this country take the plunge?

Some signals seem to point in this direction: much more tolerant sermons towards Israel in mosques across the country.

Or the acceptance by Riyadh that its airspace can be overflown by Israeli civilian planes.

So, yes, we think about it in Riyadh, to recognize Israel.

But the internal configuration remains complicated: the old King Salman hesitates to undo what had been done by his predecessor Abdallah in 2002, the famous peace initiative, conditioning the recognition of Israel on the creation of a Palestinian state.

His young and bubbling heir MBS, would be more inclined to cross the Rubicon.

To be continued then.

In the end, the big winner of these agreements is Benyamin Netanyahu: he can claim a diplomatic success that had not been seen for 26 years.

A diplomatic success with no real quid pro quo - a simple postponement of its desire to annex 30% more of the West Bank.

Read also: The Palestinians voice their anger after the Israel-Emirates-Bahrain agreements

And, he can therefore claim that these agreements mark a new stage in Israel's reconciliation with the Arab world in general - by excluding the Palestinians in particular, relegated to the rank of subordinate issue.

And this is the problem: for Netanyahu, it is an immediate success, but for the Israeli people, in the long run, nothing is settled with their closest neighbors, the Palestinians.


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  • Israel

  • United Arab Emirates

  • Bahrain

On the same subject

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