A new trilateral alliance has formed to shape Middle East affairs – that’s the UAE-Israel-US partnership made possible by the 2020 normalization deal between Abu Dhabi and Israel. This alliance is now threatening to completely reshape the region, perhaps even starting multiple wars in order to achieve that end.
This past Wednesday, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, held talks with his Emirati and Israeli counterparts, in which they discussed a range of issues from energy working groups to the Iran Nuclear Deal. During the course of these discussions it became clear that the prospect of peaceful diplomacy with regional adversaries is slowly fading.
As Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, was sitting with the US Secretary of State, his Prime Minister, Naftali Bennet, was busy announcing new plans to raise the settler population in the illegally occupied Golan Height, four-fold. This has escalated tensions with the Syrian government, which has the rightful claim to the Golan Heights, according to the UN. Yet despite this escalatory move having been announced, the Biden administration has remained completely silent — not uttering a word of criticism.
The discussions which took place, surrounding Iran, were what one might expect between the three anti-Tehran nations. Yair Lapid was throwing around the usual threats when it comes to Iran and was working on behalf of an Israeli government which opposes the Nuclear Deal. Whilst Blinken (who doubled down on President Joe Biden’s similarly veiled threats only a month earlier) said the following on Iran’s refusal to engage in a 7th round of indirect negotiations on the deal:
“And so, as the foreign minister [Yair Lapid] said, we are discussing this among ourselves, and we will look at every option to deal with the challenge posed by Iran. We continue to believe that diplomacy is the most effective way to do that. But it takes two to engage in diplomacy, and we have not seen, from Iran, a willingness to do that at this point.”
Whilst the US, Israeli, and Emirati regimes continually seek to destroy the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the reality that he is not going anywhere soon has opened up the possibility for a fresh approach. The current situation in neighboring Lebanon is one of complete despair; with constant power outages, rampant poverty hikes, fuel shortages, and the depletion of basic food goods, the US has so far been apathetic. However, it does look as if the US is considering getting involved, especially after Tehran has begun to pledge fuel and food to Hezbollah, potentially looking to help the country get back on its feet with new infrastructure projects.
The last thing the US government wants is for Iran to become the savior of Lebanon, or for the Lebanese people to perceive it as such, whilst the US sits back and allows them to starve. So, in order to solve this crisis, the United States government is looking at creating a window to allow the temporary lifting of its “Caesar Act” sanctions on Syria. This window will allow for fuel to reach Lebanon through the territory; moving from Egypt, through Jordan first. The UAE also comes in handy for the US, when dealings are to take place with Syria, as Abu Dhabi has re-established a working diplomatic relationship with the Syrian government.
Then we have the UAE Energy and Religion working groups, which seek to tighten the ties established between Israel and the UAE, specifically working to eventually facilitate greater trade deals. Abu Dhabi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahyan, commented that,
“These working groups will seek to realise that promise to link up to important US partners in the region and find new ways to solve old problems together in Israel, in the UAE, but also across the region and beyond to the benefit of US, Israeli and Emirati interests.”
But whilst the UAE seeks to gain all it can from its normalization deal with Israel, in the case of Morocco, it isn’t exactly proving to be as effective economically as it was once thought. This is due to its escalated tensions with neighboring Algeria and its struggle with the Polisario Front seeking to conquer to Western Sahara, which the US recognized as belonging to Rabat as a gift for normalizing ties with Israel.
The direct threat that the UAE, Israel, and the United States also pose is a major challenge to stability inside of Iraq, which just completed its heavily disputed parliamentary elections. The harm that this alliance currently poses to eventual regional peace is far too exhaustive to cover in its entirety, so it is most important to stress the threat that they all currently pose to Iran. Whether they are seeking to stamp out Iran’s footprint in Yemen, or suppress Iran’s allies in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, the ambition has always been eventual regime change. As discussed previously, the way they may attempt to do this is through a proxy war, initiated through the guise of a dispute with Azerbaijan.
The US Biden administration claimed to have sought a return to the Iran Nuclear Deal and clearly lied about what they really wanted. Instead of re-establishing the old deal, they only ever sought to draw up a new deal which would more heavily favor Washington and its Middle-Eastern allies. They never intended to revive former President Barrack Obama’s deal.
If the US, Israel, and the UAE continue on their current trajectory, it is easy to foresee the beginning of a new era of wars in the region, which will again leave the ordinary people of the countries targeted in ruins.