By Abdifatah Ahmed Hurre
Following the normalization of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with Israel on Aug 13, 2020 under the auspices of the US president, there has been a growing backlash from the Arab world as well as the Muslim countries. Palestinian Authority (PA) described the decision as a high treason and stab Palestinian’s cause in the back. The two most influential actors in the Middle East, Turkey, which is now repositioning as the leader of the Sunni Islam and Iran, the leader of the Shia Muslim criticized the Abu Dhabi’s disgraceful move.
The UAE became the third Arab country to officially open diplomatic relations with the Zionist State but unlike the UAE, there was inevitability for Egypt and Jordan who signed peace and diplomatic agreements with Tel Aviv in 1979 and 1994 respectively, both countries share boundaries with Israel, Egypt regained Sinai peninsula and the second largest US aid after Israel, in exchange for peace and normalization of relations with Tel Aviv, and likewise Israel gave several concessions to Jordan including the management of the Holy mosque Al-Aqsa.
The UAE’s diplomatic maneuver was not surprise for many including me because the UAE just made a pubic for its long time undercover cooperation with the Jewish state but what political and security analysts and commentators and the public at large in the region and beyond surprised is that the Emirates recognized Israel in exchange for nothing but just verbal promises from Washington; Israel to delay annexation of one third of the occupied West Bank and America’s purchase of the advanced F-35 fighter jets to Abu Dhabi.
In addition, the UAE was portraying as an influential peace minded actor in the Middle East which could make the longstanding Arab-Israeli feuds to an end without swapping any concessions from Israel, that could pave the way for Israel to solve Palestinian cause as it wants. As Emirati officials stated in public, the UAE did not consult this issue (normalization) with any of its friends in the Gulf or other Arab states due to its fear of derailing the process. However, it was hopeful that many other Arab states will follow suit.
Furthermore, this petrodollar state has intended to contain the growing influence of Turkey and Iran on the region. Particularly, the UAE has a deep rooted hostility towards Turkey due to the Ankara’s foiling the UAE’s ambition and strategy in the region such as blockading of Qatar, the issue of the Northern Syria and supporting the putschist General Khalifa Hafta in the Eastern Libya
Reaction from the other Arab countries concerning the UAE’s normalization with Israel
Over the past weeks, there were speculations and guesses of which will be the next country to follow the footsteps of the UAE, some political observers in the region were speculating that Bahrain, Sudan, Oman, Morocco and Saudi Arabia will follow suit. But some of the above mentioned countries retreated when Israel totally contradicted the UAE’s claim that Israel will abandon the further annexation of Palestinian lands.
Morocco vividly stated that it will not open any diplomatic ties with Israel as long as Israel continues to defy Palestinian rights. In Sudan, the Transitional Civilian Government plainly rebuffed the UAE’s lobbying for normalizing relations with Israel, while arguing that the Transitional government led by the PM Hamdok does not have such mandate.
Most importantly, as reported by the Middle East Eye, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS) pulled out of a planned visit to the US to meet with Israeli prime minister Netanyahu in Washington DC on 31 Aug, 2020 due to fears meeting details already leaked and his presence in the US could become a nightmare because his critics and dissidents will make demonstrations or file a case in the US courts against him.
The UAE’s hope for F-35 jets
The United States of America has been protecting the Israel’s military superiority in the Middle East since the declaration of the Jewish state in 1948. Nevertheless, the UAE has been desperately seeking the acquisition of the highly advanced US made fighter jets, Lockheed Martin F-35. Most political observers in the region believe that Abu Dhabi was awarded a promise of selling F-35 by the US and Israel did not oppose accordingly before the normalization.
Samuel Ramani, a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford’s Department of Politics and International Relations says the UAE hopes to be awarded with the F-35 jets after its normalization with Israel just as the Egypt did in 1979 Camp David Agreement that paved the way Egypt’s acquisition of F-16s, the then most sophisticated fighter jets.
“In 1982, Egypt received its first batch of F-16 fighter jets just 3 years after the normalization with Israel. The UAE will be hoping for a similar outcome with the F-35s” Ramani tweeted
But everything changed after the US Secretary of State paid a visit to Tel Aviv last week where he met the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Having a press conference with Pompeo, Benjamin Netanyahu openly reiterated that Israel clearly opposes the US’s proposal of selling the F-35 fighter jets to the UAE.
“The peace agreement with the UAE does not include any clauses on the matter (F-35 purchase to the UAE), and the United States clarified to Israel that it will always safeguard Israel’s qualitative edge,” Netanyahu said.
In the same manner, Mike Pompeo emphasized his country’s keeping of Israel’s military edge in the region.
“The United States has a legal requirement with respect to [Israel’s] qualitative military edge. We will continue to honour that,” he said.
On the other side, Dr. Ali Bakeer, a political analyst and researcher based in Ankara argues that the reason Israel fears purchase of such high tech jets to the UAE is that the Arab states like the UAE “do not represent their people which means the moment they go down, the weapons will be in the wrong hands”
In conclusion, the Gulf Sheikhdom abandoned the “Land for Peace” principle instead favoring “Peace for Peace” and at the same time contradicted the Arab Peace initiative which dictates all Arabs normalize with Israel, if Israel agrees on an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.
In addition, the UAE positioned the Arab world and itself in a cheaper position. It further damaged the Arab integrity and scattered their relative unity which paves the way normalization of all Arab states with the Jewish state in return for nothing.
Most importantly, the UAE lost to Israel in terms of without precondition recognition and Israel’s vetoing to the UAE’s hope of the fragile US promise to sell its F-35 to the UAE after normalization while the Zionist state had the largest benefits.
About the author
Abdifatah Ahmed Hurre is a political and economic analyst mostly in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, based in Burao, Somaliland. He is a double master (c), MSc in Financial Economics at Mekelle University, Ethiopia and Master in Project Management (MPM) at Admas University, Ethiopia. You can reach me at: Afatah.firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Somaliland Monitor Editorial Board