Israel-UAE Agreement

A good friend who is Iranian offers an on-line movie tip for this week Wednesday: “Thought you may be interested in this history film about Iran. It is eye opening.”  Details are here.  I am a member of the sponsoring organization MSP Film Society which has a long-standing reputation for excellence in this area.   Like everyone else, Covid-19 has caused the film society to change its method of delivery of film.


*”The West” has a long and rarely stellar history in the region called generically “The Middle East”.  Our news releases hardly match our performance, especially since WWI and the petroleum era.

A few days ago an agreement which the President described as “huge” was reached between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.  The agreement and the process is described by columnist David Ignatius in The Washington Post on August 13.  You can read the analysis here.  Ignatius is a respected commentator on such matters.

I will be watching how the current President will posture about this agreement which, as Ignatius says, “was the culmination of years of secret contacts“.  DT’s tendency is to begin history with his administration.  Everything done before was, or today is, a failure, to be discarded, especially if a Democrat had anything to do with it..

Diplomacy of any kind is very hard work and it takes years, and even generations, to achieve results which are, even then, tenuous.  Ask anyone who has ever had to negotiate any kind of change in relationship, from the simplest of marriage counseling, to labor-management relationships and on and on.  Nothing is easy.  The larger the scale, the more complicated.

This is especially true in the Middle East which has an extremely tortured history hardly helped by the U.S. and other parties with an interest in especially petroleum, and whose artificial boundaries were largely and simply the result of dividing the spoils of WWI.

Ignatius has a sentence summarizing the history of the negotiations which helped lead to this weeks agreement.  It is very simple: “The UAE joins Jordan, which reached a peace agreement with Israel in 1994 and Egypt, which signed a pact with its former enemy in 1979.

The 1979 and 1994 agreements were aided by the very active work of the Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton administrations, and it will be interesting (and unlikely) if the current President will suggest any past assistance from others, particularly Democrats, in providing building blocks towards the new pact.

Diplomacy is a team sport, not an endeavor which will succeed if one administration erases what a previous administration has accomplished.  That’s why I’ll be interested in what the current president has to say as he runs a victory lap.




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