Learning the Lessons of the Abraham Accords

Nov. 15 2021

After more than a year has passed since Israel signed its normalization treaties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Robert Nicholson considers how their success—as well as the subsequent agreements with Sudan, Morocco, and Kosovo—can guide future diplomatic efforts. Among his key takeaways:

Take interests seriously. Last year’s breakthrough came not because of interreligious dialogue or cross-cultural understanding. It came because of secret military and intelligence cooperation between Arabs and Israelis against the looming threat of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The goodwill came later, and that shouldn’t be surprising. Peace never starts with goodwill—it produces goodwill. It starts with mutual concerns about national security, because nations can’t think about peace when they feel threatened.

Don’t avoid religion. Even “secular” people in the Islamic world tend to be more religious than their Western counterparts, unapologetic in their particularism, and ready to defend faith and fatherland on pain of death. Yet the Ivy League-trained peacemaker presents himself to the region as a disinterested observer, a neutral friend of Muslims and Jews who brings no beliefs or agenda of his own. In a region where everyone belongs to some tradition, this posture looks suspicious. The expectation isn’t to hide one’s faith, but to profess it openly while affirming the role that religion plays in political life.

Take what you can get. Critics complain that the Abraham Accords fail to secure full peace with the Palestinians or address the human rights violations of the parties. But in a region devastated by war, every handshake brings the temperature down one more degree, rolling back the climate of hatred and making room for a deal with the Palestinians. Of course, we should be vigilant when dealing with flawed regimes to ensure that we’re never used to sanction evil, but . . . total moral satisfaction is impossible in relations between states, and yet it is states that make war and thus to states that we must look for peace.

Read more at World

More about: Abraham Accords, Diplomacy, Religion and politics

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy