President Donald Trump announced another historic normalization deal between an Arab country and Israel, with another victory for his Middle East peace strategy.
on Friday afternoon, Trump tweeted That Bahrain’s leader, a small state in the Persian Gulf, and Israel had “agreed to establish full diplomatic relations.” The announcement comes less than a month after the United Arab Emirates took the same step with Jerusalem.
The joint statement of all three parties does not specify what exactly the deal entails, but it would certainly imply the establishment of embassies in each other’s countries and more diplomatic, economic and security engagement.
Some details may still need to be worked out, and it is possible that the agreement may fall through. The statement said Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani will join Israel and the UAE for a signing ceremony at the White House on Monday, where the UAE and Bahrain will each sign their respective agreements with Israel.
Trump has already called the agreement a success.
“It’s a really historic day,” Like Told reporters at the Oval Office after the agreement was announced. “So interesting that it’s on 9/11,” he said. Friday, September 11, 2001 is the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
But not everyone is happy with the deal: The Palestinian Liberation Organization, the official national representative of the Palestinian people, reportedly Condemned The decision as a “betrayal of the Palestinian cause”.
This is not surprising, since Arab countries have long supported Palestinians in conflict with Israel, at least rhetoric is not always in practice. With more and more Arab countries doing well with Israel such as Bahrain, however, Palestinians may lose some of that support.
Israel had its last peace deal with Jordan in 1994 (it signed a deal with Egypt in 1979), before the UAE-Israeli agreement was announced in August. Now Israel can claim that it has more friends in the region, possibly alleviating the pressure on her about her relations with the Palestinians.
But based on the changing dynamics in the Middle East and America’s own relationship with Bahrain, it was always a top contender for generalization.
Why Bahrain normalized relations with Israel
Bahrain’s leadership certainly considered a number of reasons before joining the US-led effort to improve Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors, but the two leading leaders stick.
First, regional politics in the Middle East has changed dramatically in recent years.
While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once served as a major axis around which Middle East politics revolved, with almost every country in the region, from Iran to Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, an alliance with Palestinians against Israel Done, which has now changed. The foreign policies of Middle Eastern countries described these days are the Arab-Israeli deadlock with Iran – which some have dubbed the “Cold War”.
As Iran has increased its efforts to position itself as a regional Gulf, by developing a strong nuclear program (but, at least not yet, an actual nuclear weapon), rival Gulf countries have increased their security interests. Has been found more closely with Israel.
Bahrain is on the anti-Iran side, and there are good reasons for it. As Philip Smith, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy noted, Bahrain was at risk of an Iran-inspired coup in 1981 and an Iran-backed insurgency in the 1990s.
“The government of Bahrain fully understands what Irani can bring to the table,” Smyth told me. If given the chance, Bahrain will “discover unique and novel ways to respond to Iran’s actions.” And why not try to undercut [Iran] Diplomatically with the ideological belief that: Israel is a demonic entity that must be wiped off the face of the earth? “
Second, there is a close relationship between Bahrain and the US, especially during the Trump administration. The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in a small state, and so they have military and economic reasons to remain friendly.
But Trump’s prominent Middle East peace negotiator Jared Kushner has also replaced Bahrain as a central player in his efforts. In June 2019, Kushner hosted his “Peace to Prosperity” workshop – aimed at getting ideas before unveiling his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan in Bahrain. When a country was being sought to follow the UAE in normalizing relations with Israel, there was a possibility that he and his team would turn to Bahrain.
Now the question is whether more countries like Oman and Sudan will follow suit. If this is the case, it may prove that the Trump administration’s Middle East strategy has met with some success, and proves hopeful for the Palestinian to have any real power in negotiations with Jerusalem in the future.
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