The Afghan crisis and the withdrawal of American troops strengthen the alliance between Israel and the Arab countries – 08/20/2021 – Jaime Spitzcovsky

The most relevant diplomatic initiative of the Middle East in decades, the Abrahamic accords, the normalization of relations between Israel and four Arab countries, completed one year and received, at the same time, an impetus as a reflection of the Afghan crisis. The Kabul tragedy highlighted a fundamental element that brought former enemies of the Middle East closer together: the diminishing American presence in the region.

The one-year record of the Abrahamic accords shows a closeness between its signatories, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. For example, the historic landing of Israeli Chancellor Yair Lapid on August 11 on Moroccan soil is an example.

On August 13, 2020, Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced diplomatic ties. The Abrahamic Agreements began with the conservative Persian Gulf monarchies, with which the Israelis had, for years, maintained a shadowy dialogue. And while not participating in the treaty, Saudi Arabia has visibly given the green light to the diplomatic advance implemented by its Emirati and Bahraini allies.

A set of factors led to the historic turning point, turning enemies into allies. First, the perception of Arab leaders of the need, with the post-oil landing, to diversify their economies. Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, with investments in tourism and finance, illustrate this trend.

Israel, the epicenter of technological production, has come to be seen as part of the solution for several regimes in the Arab world, in an alliance to fuel the modernization of economies frozen by oil wealth.

The geopolitical factor also holds gigantic weight in the equation. Israel and the conservative Persian Gulf monarchies share a rivalry with Iran, which has wanted to expand its influence in the Middle East since the 1979 revolution.

For Tehran, the confrontation with the Israeli enemy corresponds to the anti-American and undemocratic DNA of the Ayatollah regime, while the rivalry with the Arab powers stems from differences in the Muslim world: the Saudis are predominantly Sunni, while Shiism prevails on Iranian soil.

Iran’s expansionist ambitions are reflected in its actions in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Thus, Israel and the Arab countries with a Sunni majority are approaching the challenge launched by Tehran, in a scenario marked by the “pivot for Asia”, a concept which has guided American diplomacy since the Barack Obama era.

The Middle East, at the end of the Cold War, obtained the status of the main axis of Washington’s foreign policy, due to its oil relevance and the fight against terrorism. However, China, with its meteoric economic rise, has become the White House’s diplomatic priority, as Beijing has become the first country, since the disintegration of the USSR, to be able to challenge US global hegemony.

The “pivot to Asia” is the American movement to reduce the presence in the Middle East, without abandoning it, and to move political and military resources to the periphery of China, with the aim of containing Beijing.

Such a strategy also entered into the logic of the Abrahamic accords. Opponents of Iran have realized the need to come together, given the weakening US ally presence in the Middle East.

And the clumsy exit of the United States from Afghanistan, a country in the Middle Eastern neighborhood, reinforces the idea of ​​Israel and the Arab countries, of the need to expand cooperation, even in the field of security, to face up to an opponent. called Iran.

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