Oct 05 2020
**Audio is not available of this week’s column**
One of the most overlooked achievements of President Trump’s nearly four years in office came recently, when the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain announced that they will normalize relations with Israel in a deal known as the Abraham Accords.
On one level, it is understandable that this story got lost in the news. The world is still fighting the greatest pandemic of our lifetimes, the West Coast is battling wildfires, and hurricane season is affecting the Gulf Coast. Even so, this is a momentous agreement.
In the deal, the UAE and Bahrain agreed to formally establish diplomatic relations with Israel. This makes them just the third and fourth Arab countries to do so, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
While this deal doesn’t guarantee peace in the Middle East, it does represent the end of an era of politics in the region. Since Israel’s establishment after World War II, most other countries in the Middle East have viewed them as an adversary rather than as a potential friend. Israel is the world’s only Jewish state, and they are the only democracy in the Middle East.
The Abraham Accords provide many encouraging new opportunities for these countries to forge new bonds through commerce and communication. Aside from the establishment of normal diplomatic relations, the accords will allow for new exchanges in tourism, trade, finance, agriculture, and more. Formerly distant neighbors now have an exciting chance to grow closer and stronger through this agreement.
More broadly, this signals what could be the beginning of a regional shift toward diplomatic engagement. We should not expect close partnerships to form overnight, but establishing diplomatic channels to address differences is a positive step forward.
The agreement also shows that these three neighbors recognize that trade and commerce can lead to a more prosperous future for their people. This helps build a sense of optimism about the future of the Middle East that has been lacking for some time.
More than this, the diplomatic and commercial ties this agreement brings hold great potential for a region that’s constantly changing. This greater cooperation between U.S. partners is especially important given Iran’s continued negative influence.
This agreement is a significant achievement. It shows the world that the nations of the Middle East can coexist and work together peacefully.
The Abraham Accords are a win for everyone involved, and they mark a historic moment in the United States’ continued efforts to encourage peaceful relations in the region. The Accords leave room for other nations to follow Bahrain and the UAE’s lead. In one of the world’s most volatile regions, there is great potential for a more peaceful Middle East.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.