Robert Danein, a former US official in the National Security Council at the White House and currently lecturer at Harvard University, posed three questions following the announcement that the UAE and Israel had reached an agreement establishing diplomatic relations between them under American auspices.
Danin indicated, in his tweets, that in light of the changing and unstable situation in the Middle East currently and during the next few months, strategic questions are raised related to the future.
Middle East very fluid right now and for next few months at least. Today's UAE-Israel agmt raises 3 big strategic questions looking ahead:
1. Will Bahrain and then Saudi follow?
2. Will there be a succession play in Saudi with Trump endorsement as part of the package?
- Robert Danin (@robertdanin) August 13, 2020
The first of these questions focused on the identity of the next country on the train of normalization with Israel, and Danin asked: Will there be Bahrain, and then Saudi Arabia later?
The second question is related to the future of the succession of government in Saudi Arabia, and whether US President Donald Trump's blessing of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is part of the deal?
Finally, would the strengthening of Gulf relations with Israel contribute to increasing tension with Iran, or would it push towards calm with it?
Danin - who headed the Jerusalem file within the Quartet for Middle East Peace during the presidency of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to it - said that the current situation in the region is unprecedented, and there are decisions that cannot be ignored, their relationship to the agenda of domestic political events in the United States, especially the presidential elections.
Next Country Identity
During his press conference at the White House yesterday, Trump said, "You will see that there are other countries that will join this agreement and we will bring peace to the Middle East."
American experts believe that the goal of establishing strong relations that unites Israel with the Gulf states has been a top priority for the American policy maker for decades.
After news of the agreement between the UAE and Israel, many American experts worked hard to find the next country in the ladder of Israeli normalization, and opinions were unanimous on the State of Bahrain, and they did not exclude Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Oman, which may join in the near future.
The researcher for the Middle East Democracy Project, Amy Hawthorne, indicated in a tweet that Bahrain will follow the UAE in establishing relations with Israel.
Predictions for which Arab country will normalize ties with Israel next? My guess is Bahrain
- Amy W. Hawthorne (@awhawth) August 13, 2020
It is noteworthy that Bahrain hosted last year the work of the economic side of the deal of the century in a conference and workshops in which Israeli officials and their Gulf counterparts participated.
On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal expected Saudi Arabia to adopt a more incremental approach to full diplomatic recognition of Israel.
Saudi Arabia and the Deal of the Century
The Wall Street Journal indicated that Mohammed bin Salman's ascension to the throne would lead to an acceleration of relations with Israel.
During his long visit to the United States two years ago, the Saudi crown prince told prominent figures of American Jews that the Palestinians have two options, the first of which is to accept the peace process within Trump's proposal known as the Deal of the Century, or to remain silent and stop complaining.
Some attribute Trump's continued defense of bin Salman to the Saudi role in promoting the Deal of the Century aimed at settling the Palestinian issue, as Riyadh played a pressure role on the Palestinian Authority to accept the proposal of Trump's team, which is supervised by his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner.
Trump has explicitly indicated that Saudi Arabia has a role in protecting Israel in justifying the export of advanced weapons to the kingdom.
For her part, former White House official and Atlantic Council expert Christine Fontenrose told the Wall Street Journal that no agreement will be reached between Saudi Arabia and Israel as long as Salman bin Abdulaziz is the king.
Many experts, including Thomas Friedman, columnist for the New York Times, say that the biggest losers from the Emirati-Israeli agreement are Iran and its allies.
The resigned US policy coordinator, Brian Hook, said, "Iran's foreign policy has helped bring the Israelis and the Emiratis closer, and this peace agreement is the biggest defeat for the Iranian regime."
Israel and the UAE were among the most opposed to the nuclear agreement signed by former President Barack Obama with Iran, and the two sides supported the US withdrawal from the agreement during the Trump era and the subsequent adoption of a policy of maximum pressure against the Iranian regime and overriding US sanctions on it.
Hours after the announcement of normalization between the UAE and Israel at the White House, Washington announced the confiscation of Iranian oil shipments estimated at more than one million barrels of oil that were on their way to Venezuela, and this development leaves all possibilities open with Iran, despite Trump's pledge to reach a deal with the Iranians within 30 days of Re-elected.