When the UAE and Israel reached a peace deal in 2020, many in the American government were quick to spin it as a victory for Middle East peace.
The agreement is rather basic. Israel receives diplomatic relations with a Middle East neighbor in exchange for postponing, not ceasing, its plans for annexing West Bank settlements.
UAE is only the third Arab country to normalize a relationship with Israel since its establishment after World War II. Although it is a step in the right direction, it only formalizes the shared security interests and economic ties the two already had.
What is the actual outcome? Iran expects to see an escalation of the cold war happening with Israel and the United States.
Iran Already Threatened UAE with Consequences
Iran called the deal with Israel a “betrayal of the Palestinian people.” With the Kushner family behind the financing of the West Bank settlements, it’s easy to see Trump’s influence within this dynamic. After backing out of the peace deal and reimposing sanctions, Iran’s government is in a challenging predicament.
UAE can route through Israel to the United States to improve its military armament. Israel already has American weapons it can use to prevent an attack. That leaves a depleted Iran desperately seeking nuclear power to have a potential counter.
Saudi Arabia no longer sees Israel as a potential threat. If anything, Middle East governments are more concerned about domestic protests about discrimination and corruption.
It is a return to the politics of Henry Kissinger. The Obama Administration wanted to hold allies in the region accountable for their faults. It was part of a non-interventionalist strategy. Trump is more accepting of the idea of being at peace with potential human rights monsters if the decision benefits the U.S. in some way.
The moves the American government is making are thrilling Israel. The choices are also pushing Europe away while Iran blusters. How long this tinderbox can keep simmering is anyone’s guess.