Thoughts are my own - Abraham Accords for Peace and Prosperity: From the Start to the Future
Published on 18 May 2021
A series of unprecedented peace agreements across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region brokered by the United States over the past year, await their fate in the course of the new administration. The agreements signed in Trump administration’s last year were the results of series of negotiations towards normalisation of relations between the regional states and Israel. These efforts that were headed by Jared Kushner, the former Middle East negotiator, surfaced in international diplomacy through 2019 Warsaw summit. A summit that brought together age-long regional rivals and set the grounds for the upcoming signings of Abraham Accords. In recent conversation with a top-diplomat close to the matter, I was told, in spite of some disagreements, the gathering was a positive and historic event.
This wave of American diplomacy also witnessed the signing of economic normalisation agreements between Kosovo and Serbia in the Oval Office. In a recent outcome of these policy changes, Pristina stablished diplomatic relations with Israel and announced the opening of its embassy in Jerusalem. A change in diplomatic relations with Israel that follows US relocation of embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018. A decision that had been postponed since the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act and its requirement towards US administrations for embassy relocation to Jerusalem.
Across the Middle East region, a number of Arab nations also indicated their intent for normalisation of relations with the state of Israel. A foreign policy shift previously bound to a preceding resolve of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Abraham Accords of September 2020 between Israel, Bahrain and UAE were the first fruits of the peacemaking efforts by the United States. An new approach in the Middle East landscape in decades that was later welcomed in Berlin. This seismic shift was continued by normalisation of relations between Israel and Morocco in December 2020, and the signing of the Accords by Sudan in January 2021.
Although the geopolitical shifts were rejected by the Palestinian Authority, the change in regional politics was pursued with Israeli-Palestinian conflict in mind, an unresolved conflict that had bittered regional states’ relations with Israel for decades. The efforts were conducted with the intent that their productive regional socio-economic outcomes would assist and bring forward a lasting peace for both Israeli and Palestinian people and resolve a persistent conflict. A vision set forth in January 2020 through a new peace plan.
In the wider region’s reaction to the Abraham Accords, the Iran reject of the agreements was not unforeseen. The country has in over the past decades directed its financial and regional weights towards destabilisation of the region through sponsorship of terrorism and mobilisation of proxy forces. Although Iran’s malign activities have been curbed by international efforts, notably through the former administration’s maximum pressure policy. Nonetheless, to sustain the Abraham Accords, a potential revival of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the course of the Biden administration will need to account for Iran’s non-nuclear destabilising efforts in the MENA region.
Across the Atlantic and in Europe, the European Union played a major role in brokerage of the 201 agreement in prevention of Iran’s military nuclear programme. The Union has also expressed support for the new wave of normalisation of relations in the region. In the volatile waters of the Middle East geopolitics however, the EU is to face a challenge in misalignments of the JCPOA agreement with the new regional consensus for peace and stability. A way forward in the region will require the inclusion of Iran’s missiles programme in a future nuclear agreement. A military programme that has threatened global oil supplies in the Gulf and attached American assets in Iraq.
Regardless, the regional diplomatic moves in early 2021 have been towards implementation of the agreements. President Biden’s team has also praised the Abraham Accords and indicated their intention for continuation of the foreign policy and sustainment of US embassy in Jerusalem. With regional rivalries and conflicts far from over, the year ahead nonetheless heralds a challenging task for the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom in expansion and maintenance of peace and security in the MENA region.