President Trump called it “historical” citing previous peace agreements in the region (the last one being between Jordan and Israel in 1994) while his son-in-law, awkwardly, heaped praise on him in a White House moment which made the president look like a belligerent tyrant of an African state and Jared Kushner his overpaid media consultant flown in for the event.
And yet, the only thing really which can be trumpeted as “historical” is the level of how far Trump, Nethanyahu and MbZ in the UAE are prepared to go in pulling off a great sham and deceiving us all about what this “peace deal” really is. The problem with the peace deal is that it is not really a peace deal at all.
If anything, it is a “war deal” masquerading as a peace accord.
“Our vision is one of peace, security, and prosperity—in this region, and in the world” gushed Trump reading from a sheet in front of him, his eyes affixed to the script surely not written by himself.
“Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God”.
Honor to God?
Levity aside, in reality, it boiled down to facts which are perhaps inconvenient to Trump, Kushner, Bibi and MbZ. The truth is that this deal is an incongruous admission of defeat to the real “Middle East peace deal” which is the elephant in the room – but which no one wants to admit is dead in the water. It is, shamefully, really nothing more than a PR stunt at best to make Trump look like he appeared to be a peace broker in the Middle East; and at worse, a consolidation of efforts between the UAE and Israel to join forces for a war against Iran at some point in the future. Indeed, some regional experts are even going as far as to say that if Trump wins a second term, that hardliners in Iran, will start a war with the U.S. and its allies as the regime in Tehran simply couldn’t take another four years of sanctions.
The odious deal itself is a farce for Palestine as it throws in the bin the cherished idea of their state being recognised and will surely bring war again between Israel and the Gaza strip.
Netanyahu won’t even offer a solid assurance that his own administration will not continue with its illegal land grab, but merely says that for the moment the annexation is “suspended”.
And the notion that the deal is a great breakthrough is also nonsense. Israel and the UAE have normalised relations for years and so Trump claiming that he played a role in it, is fatuous, if not a plain lie. Low hanging fruit.
So why now? Why just weeks before Trump faces the ballot?
Simply that it serves everyone’s purposes, dressed up as a “peace deal” which in reality gives a political boost to all three leaders when they needed it, with Palestinians picking up the tab. The free lunch which really is free.
Yet at some point, Americans will pay dearly for it, as Trump hints at what the fine print of the deal entails.
“Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation, and forging closer people-to-people relations”, he said.
UAE buying into Israel’s arms industry, basically.
Indeed, if there is any real deal there, it is in reality, based on arms procurement and sharing technology, which is all about taking on Iran. And yet it is strangely coming from the one country in the GCC which has a more sober and less sensational paranoia of Iran, which appears to be a partner to the campaign to prepare for war with the regime in Tehran. Could the UAE really be part of a military coalition against Iran? Unlikely.
Clearly, the UAE’s enigmatic leader is supporting Trump for a second term and will also benefit from having access to Israel’s superior arsenal. But it’s hard to believe that the UAE will be part of a war against Iran and so some might question whether Abu Dhabi is playing Trump – and wants Israeli technology for its armed forces but for bigger fish in the region which threaten its hegemony, like Turkey or Qatar.
For Trump and Netanyahu, their objectives are clearer. Both men badly need a distraction away from the realities which will plague their election campaigns (Trump’s failure on Covid and Bibi’s corruption scandals which still vex him). But no one can deny that even though the logic is flawed, it would still be a feather in the cap of Trump that he used the sullied pretext of the Palestinian “peace agreement” to forge a stronger alliance between Israel and other Gulf Arab partners (Kuwait and Oman to follow – perhaps Saudi Arabia later on). If Iran is preparing for a showdown in the region with Trump securing a second term, then Israel will need all the friends it can muster. But don’t hold your breath for Emirates rushing to the airport to visit the Al Aksa mosque in Jerusalem.