The US designated the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain as its “main security partners”

The US designated the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain as its “main security partners”

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The President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, participates in the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington. EFE / EPA / Yuri Flu

The United States designated the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain as its “main security partners” on Friday, in a decision announced by the White House five days before the end of the US president’s term, Donald Trump.

According to a statement released by the White House Press Secretary, this designation is “A unique status” that recognizes the “Exceptional association in security matters” with Washington, “exemplified by the hosting of thousands of US soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines” and the “Commitment of each country to counter violent extremism throughout the region”.

“Both countries have participated in numerous coalitions led by the United States during the last 30 years,” says the statement, according to which this decision “Demonstrates a new level of partnership” and “represents an enduring commitment to economic and security cooperation.”

“It also reflects your extraordinary courage, determination and leadership in signing the Abrahamic Accords“Says the statement.

Visit of the Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo, to Bahrain. Bahrain News Agency / Handout via REUTERS

Visit of the Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo, to Bahrain. Bahrain News Agency / Handout via REUTERS 

It is unclear what the designation means for Bahrain, an island kingdom off Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, and for the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhs that are home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The appointment of the White House occurs in the last days of the Trump administration. The outgoing president forged close ties with the Persian Gulf countries during his tenure, in part because of his position of hard line on Iran, prompting a series of escalating incidents between countries after the Republican unilaterally withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal with world powers.

On September 15, Israel signed agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to establish diplomatic relations with both Arab countries, in a historic ceremony at the White House with Trump.

Signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House. REUTERS / Tom Brenner

Signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House. REUTERS / Tom Brenner 

The Israeli Prime Minister participated in the signing of the so-called Abraham Accords, Benjamin Netanyahu, the UAE Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain, Abdulatif bin Rashid al Zayani.

Trump also signed the pacts as mediator, which mark the the first time in 26 years that Israel has signed a diplomatic agreement with an Arab country.

Emirates and Bahrain thus became the third and fourth Arab countries, respectively, to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, after Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994).

The Israeli government recently urged its citizens not to travel to the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain on the possibility that they become targets of a potential attack by Iran.

“Given the threats heard by the Iranian authorities and the involvement of Iranian officials in terrorist attacks carried out in the past in different countries, there is concern that Iran will try to act in this way against Israeli targets“Netanyahu’s National Security Council said in a statement.

Threats from Iranian Officials respond to recent assassination of Tehran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Although it has not been determined who is responsible for the incident, the Islamic theocracy has awarded it to Jerusalem, something that was crystallized when a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei assured that Iran will give “a calculated and determined response.”

(With information from EFE and AP)


Donald Trump announced the normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and Bahrain

September 15, 2020

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Israel signed this Tuesday at the White House the historic agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain that modify the board in the Middle East and with which President Donald Trump is counting to show himself as an architect of peace, seven weeks before the elections in the who will seek a second term.

Trump hosted a ceremony at all pomp during which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will formally establish diplomatic relations with those two Arab countries, the first such achievement since the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan in 1979 and 1994 respectively.

Trump and Netanyahu with the first ladies at the White House reception (Reuters)

Prior to the ceremony, the leaders and officials involved in the signing of the agreement addressed the public present in the gardens of the White House. Speaking from one of the balconies of the presidential palace, Trump said the agreements – dubbed “Abraham” – “change the course of history after decades of divisions and conflicts.”

“(Agreements) mark a new dawn for the Middle East and it is thanks to the courage of the leaders of these three countries, who took a great leap towards a future in which people of all religions can live in peace and prosperity, ”said the president.

Trump speaks at the White House as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the UAE and Bahrain Foreign Ministers Abdullah bin Zayed and Abdullatif Al Zayani listen to him. Photo: REUTERS / Tom Brenner

In another passage of his speech, Trump stressed that since its founding in 1948 Israel had signed agreements of this nature with two Arab countries – Egypt and Jordan – so the announcement doubles the figure. And he anticipated that other countries will follow in the footsteps of the UAE and Bahrain in the near future. He said it would be “five or six” although he did not provide further details..

After Trump took the podium Netanyahu, who assured that the agreements constitute a “turning point in history.” “This peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states. And it can ultimately end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all”.

For his part, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan thanked the Israeli head of state for “choosing peace and for stopping the annexation of Palestinian territories.”

Emirates and Bahrain have animosity towards Iran in common with Israel, which is also America’s number one enemy in the region.

For years, several Arab oil states have cultivated discreet ties with Israeli authorities but This normalization of relations offers many opportunities, especially economic ones, to countries seeking to overcome the damage caused by the pandemic.

Trump met with Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed (Reuters)

“This is a first-class achievement,” said David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank. He stressed that for the Israelis this “does not imply the same risk taking” as those faced by Menahen Begin “when he left the Sinai” to Egypt or Yitzhak Rabin when he agreed to negotiate with Yasser Arafat the creation of a Palestinian state.

The “vision for peace” presented earlier this year by Trump, which aimed to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is still far from being successful. The Palestinian Authority rejects it and denies Trump the role of mediator for having made decisions favorable to Israel.

The opening of flights between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi, a symbol of the normalization of relations between Israel and the Emirates (Reuters)

For his part, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that this Tuesday will be “a dark day” for the Arab world whose “fractures” and “divisions” he criticized. The Palestinians called to demonstrate against the agreements. They claim to have received “a stab in the back” by those Arab countries that agreed to agree with Israel without waiting for the birth of a Palestinian state.

But the Trump administration has always said it wants to shake up the region by drawing Israel and the Arabs closer to a kind of holy alliance against Iran. Those agreements outline a change of era and seem to relegate the Palestinian issue to the background, as the White House expected.

According to Makovsky, the Middle East becomes “a new region” in which, in an unusual event, the Arab League refused to condemn the decision of the two Gulf monarchies. “The Palestinians want to wait until they see what happens in the US elections, but when the dust settles they will have to rethink their position,” he said.

For Trump, who until now had few diplomatic results to offer voters, the deals are a success recognized even by his Democratic adversaries.

Since the Israeli-Emirati agreement reached on August 13, followed by the one reached with Bahrain last week, Trump’s Republican side has not spared superlatives to praise his action and even believe that they may be worth the Nobel Peace Prize.

Despite everything, divergences have already emerged over the conditions surrounding the Emirates deal. In the eyes of the Gulf countries, Israel agreed to “end the permanent annexation of Palestinian territories.” However, Netanyahu said that he did not “give up” annexing vast stretches of the West Bank but only “postponed” them. In return, Netanyahu said that in order to preserve his country’s military supremacy in the region, he is opposed to the United States selling F-35 fighter jets that the country wants to acquire to the Emirates.


Ben Oakley
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