The Fall of Afghanistan Will Strengthen the Abraham Accords—for All the Wrong Reasons

August 17, 2021 | Elliott Abrams
About the author: Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and is the chairman of the Tikvah Fund.

Although the date went largely unnoticed in the U.S., last week marked the first anniversary of the Abraham Accords. Elliott Abrams examines what the U.S. retreat from Afghanistan signifies for their future:

What is happening in Afghanistan will deepen the impression among Arab governments that they cannot rely on the United States to protect their security as they used to. So those states have increasingly drawn the conclusion that they have one neighbor who unlike Iran or Turkey poses no threat to them, and who continually displays a firm willingness to use military power against its enemies. That’s Israel.

Israel in addition has a modern economy based on exceptional high-tech achievements, and maintains not only a close alliance with the United States but working relationships with Russia and China. For the Arabs, then, the Abraham Accords were at long last the victory of self-interest over ideology—and over outmoded versions of Arab nationalism and support for Palestinians.

This is a boon for Israel, and seeing Arab states draw closer to Israel is a benefit for the United States as well, because we maintain close relations with many of them. But the reason for this development is problematic. It does not primarily reflect U.S. pressures or urgings, especially under the Biden administration. Instead it reflects a Realpolitik judgment about the U.S. role in the region, and about our willingness to act to protect allies, friends, and even ourselves. The collapse in Afghanistan will only deepen the doubts and fears many countries—including Israel and the Arab states—have about America’s role in the world, and about the Biden administration’s understanding of the challenges we face.

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