Last week, the Trump Administration announced a historically significant deal between Israel and the UAE to normalize relations between those two countries.
Joint Statement of the United States, the State of Israel, and the United Arab Emirates pic.twitter.com/oVyjLxf0jd
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2020
When viewed in the context of other moves made by the Trump Administration in the Middle East, this could quite possibly signal that a new paradigm is emerging from the seething, effervescing puddle of failure that has been the US Middle East policy for the past 50 years. In the words of Churchill, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Naturally, Joe Biden — or rather his campaign because we all know Joe Biden’s concerns are pudding, Dulcolax, and sniffing hair — naturally jumped out in front by claiming this was nothing more than a continuation of the highly successful policy of the Obama-Biden administration...they killed Osama bin Laden, donchaknow.
Today, Israel and the United Arab Emirates have taken a historic step to bridge the deep divides of the Middle East. The UAE’s offer to publicly recognize the State of Israel is a welcome, brave, and badly-needed act of statesmanship. And it is a critical recognition that Israel is a vibrant, integral part of the Middle East that is here to stay. Israel can and will be a valued strategic and economic partner to all who welcome it.
The coming together of Israel and Arab states builds on the efforts of multiple administrations to foster a broader Arab-Israeli opening, including the efforts of the Obama-Biden administration to build on the Arab Peace Initiative. I personally spent time with leaders of both Israel and the UAE during our administration building the case for cooperation and broader engagement and the benefits it could deliver to both nations, and I am gratified by today’s announcement.
There are two, maybe three, noticeable things about it. The most striking thing to me was that Biden’s puppeteer chose Medium.com as the medium and not the campaign website, but whatever. The second notable thing is that the Trump administration is not mentioned at all in the statement. The third thing is that the Obama-Biden administration can claim significant credit for this event, though just not in the profoundly dishonest way that Biden goes about it.
In a short period of four years, the entire conversation has changed. We’ve moved from every small gesture being met with the most dire warnings about the reactions of “the Arab Street” and from relentlessly sucking up to a brutal, dysfunctional fascist regime that operates under the guise of the “Palestinian Authority.” In short, the Trump Administration has stopped US funding to UN organizations that harbor terrorists and teach terrorism-as-a-life-style-choice to Palestinian kids, it moved the embassy to Jerusalem, it has actively fought the periodic “one-minute hates” that are sponsored by the UN, it has stopped bullying Israel over the subject of building housing in territory it controls, and it has negotiated a change of attitude on the part of Saudi Arabia that has allowed aircraft flying to and from Israel to transit Saudi airspace. All of this took place without anyone in the Arab world giving a flying f***, verifying what many of us have long believed, which is that most of the Arab world really doesn’t care about what happens to the Palestinians.
Why did all of this happen? Well, no small measure of credit is due to the actions of the Obama-Biden administration. As a carrot to get the Iranians to sign an agreement allowing them to do what they were going to do anyway, only without massive sanctions, Obama and Biden gave the mullahs free rein in the region. Withdrawal from Iraq relegated that country to the status of an Iranian satrapy. Syria became an open client state. The Obama-Biden administration showed an unremitting hostility to any Israeli government that was reluctant to sell out its own country to please Obama and his cronies. The Saudis went from being a valued ally to having the Obama-Biden administration tacitly support Iranian adventurism in Yemen.
In short, when President Trump took office, both Israel and the Arab world had had a look at a future in which the United States not only did not stand as a Kristol, I’m sorry, I mean a bulwark against Iranian aggressiveness but actively abetted it. No one liked what they saw.
Virtually all of the progress President Trump has made in the Middle East has come from precisely one thing: a realization that without unity, they will all end up like Iraq and Syria and Lebanon. That realization has made Israel more valuable as a security partner than as a whipping boy, and it has given Middle East rulers the incentive and the flexibility to make agreements with Israel that would have been unthinkable just five years ago.
So yes, the Obama-Biden administration has a direct claim to the agreement between UAE and Israel. That claim is that their foreign policy was so horrible and dysfunctional that they forced long time adversaries to become something that approaches friends.