Israel and the UAE: A marriage of convenience, or the real deal?
Lost in all the other big news of the past week, Bloomberg covers the "Abraham Accord" between Israel and the UAE, speculating that other Arab nations will sign up. Of note, the UAE (80% populated by expats and noted for Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest skyscraper) and Israel are the most cosmopolitan, dynamic economies in the Middle East, so this is a positive development in the short term, from economic and political perspectives. In its modern history, only Egypt ('78) and Jordan ('94) formed peace accords with Israel.
It's reasonable to ask, "Why now?" though. Has the UAE (and have sister nations) truly seen the light, economically speaking, notwithstanding that millennia-long hatred in the Middle East is virile as ever?
Or is the old proverb "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" in play? Specifically, do the UAE and soon-to-be other countries joining this peace accord view the existential threat posed by Iran as a more immediate concern? Is an alliance with Israel viewed as a pragmatic and essential salvo in parrying that threat, given the UAE's proximity to Iran (exacerbated by Iran's financial, political, and societal instability and desire to create nuclear weapons)?
Here is the big question. If or when the Iranian threat is neutralized — i.e., the Iranian mullahs are overthrown, and some form of a representative government is formed — what happens to this "Abraham Accord" when anti-Zionism inevitably rears its ugly head across the Arab states in the agreement? Have "Jacob and Esau" reconciled? Or is Israel initiating a Faustian pact by inviting longtime enemies into its house vis-à-vis collaborative research, space, security, land, and commerce agreements, under the auspices of long-term peace — only to be ransacked from within?
In a year of huge stories and events, I submit that this "Abraham Accord" will ultimately bear out as the biggest story of all from 2020 — a year that keeps getting weirder.