By Ayoob Kara
On March 27, 2022, for the first time in six decades, six foreign ministers with four from Arab states arrived in the State of Israel for a summit in the Negev. At the top of the agenda was the pending nuclear deal with Iran, which many claimed could be signed that week. The deal currently being negotiated would provide the Islamic Republic of Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief. Furthermore, the deal would give the Iranians the ability to obtain nuclear weapons when the deal expires in just two and a half years. For this reason, both the State of Israel and many Arab countries view the Iran deal to be an existential threat.
The problem now in the Middle East is that different states, that were for many years loyal to the US, are now turning against the US because of the Iran deal. This is very dangerous, not only Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, but for all the countries in the region. The majority of the Muslim world views the Iran deal to be against them. That is why Israeli officials met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to find a solution for this. The US left all of these countries with this mess including Israel.
The Iran deal is also changing how Israelis view the United States of America. In Israel, when Trump was President, there were no voices against the United States of America. Even under Clinton, Israelis respected America. Although there were Israelis who were very critical of Obama, when he was President, Israelis continued to feel that the average American was still on their side, even though Obama did not seem interested in supporting Israel.
But now, for the first time, we don’t feel that the US supports us anymore. Maybe they will give Israel some extra money for defense, but they are choosing to be Chamberlains rather than Churchills. After the US refused to take any solid action to defend Ukraine, a democratic country under attack, except for offering their leader a plane ticket out of the country, the world does not believe the US can help with any war anymore.
However, this makes the states of the Abraham Accord stronger, as both the Arab states and Israel understand that they need each other in order to confront a nuclear Iran. In fact, both sides need something akin to a NATO alliance in order to make up for the lack of US support in fighting the Shia Crescent and the Iranian threat more generally.
In the wake of America’s withdrawal from the international arena, Russia and China have been becoming popular in these states. This is because unlike the US, they stand beside their allies. In fact, Putin leveled entire cities in Syria just to keep Assad in power. So the other countries in the region want a reliable partner like Putin, whom they could count on. Leaders cannot be passive. They will take different actions to control their countries’ interests, including cooperating with Russia and China.
The Iranian deal is also making the relationship between Egypt, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates stronger. They see Iran as the enemy of all of them. That means that the alliance between all of them will be stronger. It makes the Abraham Accords stronger.
Thus, more states are likely to become part of the Abraham Accords due to their common fear of a nuclear Iran. This is not happening yet, for there is no strong state to organize a new conference. We cannot rely on the US and Europe to help bring more countries into the Abraham Accords, as Europe and America prefers for Israel to ask them for help, and then refuse to give Israel the help it needs. But when the Arab states and Israel work together, they do not need unreliable major allies and they can learn how to stop Iran together.
Ayoob Kara was born in the Israeli Druze town of Daliat el-Carmel in 1955. He completed his army service in the Israeli Defense Forces with the rank of major and studied business administration and public policy. He served in the Knesset from 1999 until 2006, and as Deputy Minister of Development of the Negev and the Galilee, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office for Special Functions, and as Israel’s Minister of Satellite Communications and Cyber.
In 2015, Kara recognized an opportunity for bridging diplomatic relations between Israel, the Middle East, the Gulf countries and other Islamic states in the region, and he promoted a regional economic conference between the countries. After the election of President Donald Trump, Kara met with him, which led to the economic conference in Bahrain, which concluded that there is a need for a non political body to initiate and promote the economic initiatives for the region.