How Israel’s Economic Prospects Relate to Its Diplomacy

April 13 2021

In conversation with the Israeli publisher Rotem Sella, Shlomi Fogel—an entrepreneur involved in developing commercial ties between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates—explains the vast opportunities for business and trade brought about by the Abraham Accords. Fogel argues that these flourishing economic relations will also lead to commercial ventures involving Saudi Arabia (which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel) and with Egypt (which does, but absent economic ties)—in turn breeding further diplomatic good will. Moreover, Fogel believes that these trends will bolster Israel society by strengthening its Arab citizens’ sense of investment in their country. Lastly, Fogel addresses the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and identifies reasons to be optimistic about the recovery. (Video, 36 minutes. Hebrew with English subtitles.)

Read more at Vimeo

More about: Abraham Accords, Coronavirus, Israel diplomacy, Israeli economy, United Arab Emirates


How the U.S. Is Financing Bashar al-Assad

Due to a long history of supporting terrorism and having waged a brutal and devastating war on its own people, the Syrian regime is subject to numerous U.S. sanctions. But that doesn’t stop American tax dollars from going to President Bashar al-Assad and his cronies, via the United Nations. David Adesnik explains:

UN agencies have spent $95.5 million over the past eight years to house their staff at the Four Seasons Damascus, including $14.2 million last year. New Yorkers know good hotel rooms don’t come cheap, but the real problem in Damascus is that the Four Seasons’ owners are the Assad regime itself and one of the war profiteers who manages the regime’s finances.

The hotel would likely go under if not for UN business; Damascus is not a tourist destination these days. The UN claims keeping its staff at the Four Seasons is about keeping them safe. Yet there has been little fighting in Damascus since 2017. A former UN diplomat with experience in the Syrian capital told me the regime tells UN agencies it can only guarantee the safety of their staff if they stay at the Four Seasons.

What makes the Four Seasons debacle especially galling is that it’s been public knowledge for seven years, and the UN has done nothing about it—or the many other ways the regime siphons off aid for its own benefit. One of the most lucrative is manipulating exchange rates. . . . One of Washington’s top experts on humanitarian aid crunched the numbers and concluded the UN lost $100 million over eighteen months to this kind of rate-fixing.

What the United States and its allies should do is make clear to the UN they will turn off the spigot if the body doesn’t get its act together.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Bashar al-Assad, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations