US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in the UAE on Wednesday, as part of a tour in the Middle East to support normalization with Israel, which began in Tel Aviv and included Khartoum and Manama.
During the visit, Pompeo met with a number of Emirati officials. This is the first visit by a senior US official to Abu Dhabi, in the wake of the Emirati-Israeli normalization agreement on the 13th of this month.
Prior to his arrival to the UAE, the US Secretary of State held talks on Tuesday with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is considered the architect of the agreement with Israel.
The official Emirates News Agency stated that the officials discussed the "peace treaty" with Israel and "prospects for strengthening it to serve the foundations of peace and stability in the region."
Despite the great closeness between the two sides, two points of contention emerged in their statements: the annexation of land in the West Bank, and the US sale of F-35 killers to the UAE.
The UAE, in its justification of the normalization agreement, confirmed that it stipulates an end to any additional annexation of lands in the West Bank occupied since 1967, and for his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the US President stressed that the agreement does not cancel the annexation process.
In addition, the potential sale of US F-35 fighters to the UAE appears to be a sensitive issue for Israel, which does not hide its categorical rejection of it.
Historically, Israel has always opposed selling these fighters to other countries in the Middle East, including Jordan and Egypt, because it wants to preserve its military advantage in the region.
Netanyahu emphasized that the agreement with the UAE does not include a clause stipulating the sale of these fighters to this Gulf state.
And last week, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told a meeting with the Institute of the "Atlantic Council" about the normalization agreement, "The F-35 has always been a target of the UAE defense requirements."
Bahrain talks, and
before his departure to the UAE, the US Secretary of State held talks in Manama as part of his regional tour, and said that he discussed with officials there the importance of establishing regional peace and stability, including the importance of Gulf unity, as he put it.
Pompeo also announced that he discussed with Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa the importance of confronting what he described as Iran's malign influence in the region.
The American minister met with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, on the third leg of his tour that led him to Israel and Sudan.
Bahrain - which received Israeli journalists last year as part of a meeting to announce the economic side of the US peace plan - was the first Gulf country to welcome the agreement between the UAE and Israel.
The path of normalization,
Pompeo said at the start of his tour Monday that he was optimistic that other Arab countries would follow the example of the Emirates, which on August 13 became the first Gulf country to announce an agreement to normalize its relations with Israel.
But this matter was rejected Tuesday by Sudan, as the government said it does not have a "mandate" to establish relations with Israel during the transitional period that followed the ouster of former President Omar Bashir, which is supposed to continue until 2022.
On August 13, Trump announced that the UAE and Israel had reached an agreement to normalize relations between them, describing it as historic.
The agreement was met with widespread Palestinian condemnation, as the factions and the leadership in Ramallah considered it a betrayal by the UAE and a stab in the back of the Palestinian people.
The announcement of the normalization agreement between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi comes as the culmination of a long series of cooperation, coordination, communication, and exchange of visits between the two parties.