Israel-UAE Deal A ‘Huge Stab’ in Back of Palestinians: US Expert
- August, 22, 2020 - 17:28
- World news
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An American Middle East expert described a recent normalization agreement between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi as a “huge stab” in the back of Palestinians.
“My first thought is that the deal is a huge stab in the back to Palestinians. Palestinians both at home and living abroad in exile feel betrayed,” Randi Nord told Tasnim in an interview.
Randi Nord is the founder of Geopolitics Alert Independent World News where she covers US foreign policy in the Middle East with a special focus on Yemen. Randi's work has appeared in MintPress News, Yemen Press, Al-Akhbar al-Yemeni, and many others.
Following is the full text of the interview.
Tasnim: Israel and the UAE last week announced they have reached a deal that will lead to full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two sides. What are your thoughts on the agreement?
Nord: My first thought is that the deal is a huge stab in the back to Palestinians. Palestinians both at home and living abroad in exile feel betrayed.
However, the UAE's recognition of Israel is not at all surprising to me. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have maintained cooperation with Israel for decades behind closed doors. Now they've made it official. In every theatre, the UAE and Israel share similar goals and interests so cooperation seems natural.
I also believe the long-term goal of the Abraham Accords is to isolate Iran ideologically, economically, and diplomatically. UAE officials said this week that recognizing Israel was long overdue and common sense, so they've clearly wanted to do this for many years.
They want to make Iran's support of Palestinian liberation seem obsolete. Iran is the world's most genuine supporter of Palestine and Iranian-backed resistance movements are the dominant force fighting against US aggression and influence.
I think they (meaning the US, Israel, and UAE) hope to achieve this by pushing smaller Arab, African, and Asian countries to follow the UAE's lead.
Tasnim: The Emirates is now the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan, to normalize with Israel. Abu Dhabi was already believed to have clandestine relations with Tel Aviv. Some have called the deal a “victory” for the US foreign policy. Do you believe so taking into account that the UAE is not a powerful Arab state and in fact is a vassal state?
Nord: I believe the UAE's status as a vassal state is exactly what makes them powerful. I've researched and written extensively on the UAE's value to US imperialism.
Saudi Arabia is unstable and haphazard in every sense. We need to look no further than Yemen to see that the Saudis have no functioning military. Their entire strategy is to launch airstrikes and pay ragtag mercenaries or outright terrorists to carry out ground operations.
The UAE, however, has a much more powerful military than people realize. For example, the UAE's army and air force include former US and Australian top-ranking generals. It's technically illegal for US citizens to serve in a foreign military, so that tells you all you need to know about the UAE's status as a vassal state.
Plus, the UAE is extremely wealthy so it has the financial power to sway smaller countries.
This has all been true since British colonialism carved up the peninsula and the dominant power shifted to the US after WWII.
Tasnim: Touching on the UAE-Israel deal recently, the secretary general of Lebanon’s resistance movement said, “We weren’t surprised by the UAE’s decision. Trump has already milked the Persian Gulf states financially, religiously and morally just to serve his friend Netanyahu”. What is your take on this?
Nord: It's certainly not surprising and I think we've all expected the UAE to announce normalization for quite some time. Also, it's important to remember the UAE-Israel accords were a joint effort with the United States.
Netanyahu and Trump are very close. Right now, Israel's economy has plummeted and Netanyahu is still fending off political opposition. Right-wing Netanyahu recently formed a power-sharing government with his rival, a centrist. That government, which took years and three elections to form, is now on the verge of collapse again. Israelis might be headed for yet another national election soon, in fact.
The agreement with the UAE is a massive win for Netanyahu's party, as most Israelis would like to see similar agreements with Arab neighbors. Many centrist voters could switch to Netanyahu in an upcoming election after this deal. That's also likely why we saw Netanyahu claim he would "postpone" West Bank annexation without calling it off completely: It pleases both right-wing and centrist voters.
Tasnim: Israeli media reports say that Bahrain and Oman will be next. It seems that the United States is building a coalition of vassal states in the Middle East region to counter Iranian influence. What do you think?
Nord: Washington has always taken an aggressive approach towards Iran but this has certainly accelerated under Trump's leadership. Both US political parties prioritize infringing on Iran's right to self-determination, but each takes a different approach. Trump's hardline approach right now is to isolate Iran ideologically.
The US knows Iran leads the most successful resistance against Israeli and US influence around the region. That's why they view Iran as such a threat ideologically and politically.
Through the UAE-Israel deal, it seems Washington is trying to portray Iran as ideologically backward for supporting Palestinian liberation. The goal is to make anyone who supports a free Palestine a global outcast -- as if Palestinian liberation is an outdated concept. At this point, I don't even think the US seeks to replace the Iranian government. Yes, that's its fantasy. But I think Washington would be happy with any Iranian government that recognizes Israel.
The UAE's recognition of the Israeli entity is a big deal in this respect because the UAE is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It has the financial power to sway smaller governments throughout the (Persian) Gulf and -- more importantly right now -- Africa and East Asia.
Last year, we saw the Saudis and Emiratis join forces to replace Sudan's 30-year president, Omar al-Bashir. Israel's intelligence minister, Eli Cohen, himself stated he expects Sudan to follow the UAE's lead of normalization. Chad also recently established renewed bilateral trade and security cooperation agreements with Tel Aviv. Libya (where the UAE is very active), Oman, Bahrain, Djibouti, Morocco, Tunisia, Mali, and Indonesia I expect will be new targets for normalization.
I also think we'll see talk of normalization appear in UAE and Saudi media outlets as Lebanon pushes through its political and economic crisis, claiming Hezbollah's entire ideology is outdated and irrelevant.