The Abraham Accords one year on - who's next?

Dr. Norman Bailey

Following the general success of the agreements signed with Israel by four Arab countries a year ago, there are one or two good candidates to follow suit.

It is a pleasure to be writing about something positive that is happening in the world for a change. And the Abraham Accords are certainly a very positive development. How have they worked out so far and what are the prospects in the near future?

So far, four Arab countries have signed agreements with Israel, collectively nicknamed the Abraham Accords. (This is in addition to the longstanding agreements with Egypt and Jordan.) Of the four, Sudan's accord is on hold due to the fact that shortly after signing, Sudan suffered a coup d'état, the implications of which have still not been sorted out. This doesn't matter much, because Sudan has little influence with the other Arab countries

The UAE and Bahrain have been enthusiastically and successfully following up on their agreements with Israel.

Perhaps the most encouraging is the agreement with Morocco, which is the only country that has not only made economic, commercial and technological agreements with Israel but a defense agreement as well, pledging to exchange defense-related information, technology and equipment.

What is the likelihood that the accords will be expanded to include other Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa? I have divided the countries involved into four categories: First, those Arab states that will under no circumstances enter into an Abraham Accord with Israel for the time being: namely Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. All of those countries are satellites of or under the overriding influence of Iran.

Secondly are the unlikely countries--Kuwait, Qatar and Algeria. Kuwait and Algeria are virulently anti-Israel and antisemitic in their foreign policies. Qatar for years has been amazingly successful in balancing off all the relevant actors while placating Iran, with which it shares the gas field which is the source of its wealth, through supporting terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

I classify the possible countries as Libya and Saudi Arabia. Two of the candidates in the pending presidential election in Libya have been making pro-Israel noises. One of them, Gen. Halfter, is likely to win if the elections are fair. Saudi Arabia is likely to join after the king passes away and the crown prince takes over, since he is entirely dedicated to turning Saudi Arabia into a world-class hi-tech center. He didn't establish his new tech city in the northwest corner of Saudi Arabia, a stone's throw from Israel, for nothing.

Finally, those almost certain to join, Oman and Tunisia. Oman was on the verge of acceding to the accords when the sultan passed away. There was confusion as to his successor, since he had no direct heir, and the person who eventually succeeded him is less pro-Israel than the deceased sultan was. Nevertheless, with the examples of the UAE and Bahrain, I think Oman will join before long. Once Tunisia sorts out its political crisis, and in view of the successes of its fellow North African country, Morocco, that nascent democracy is likely to sign on.

What are the implications of all this for the region and the entire Muslim world? In the first place, the example is vitally important. It can be done, the sky didn't fall, the members are reaping important benefits, and the heck with the Palestinians. Once the Saudis, the very center of the religion of Islam, sign on, this will have an enormous effect on the rest of the Muslim world, especially those countries which practice a moderate form of Islam.

In short, the Abraham Accords are, indeed, of great and greatly positive importance. Very good news in a world with a shortage of such news.

Dr. Norman Bailey is professor of Economic Statecraft at the Galilee International Management Institute, and adjunct professor at the Institute of World Politics, Washington DC. Dr. Bailey was a senior staff member of the National Security Council during the Reagan administration and of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during the George W. Bush administration.  

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on December 21, 2021.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2021.

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