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Jay Ambrose is an OpEd columnist for Tribune News Service.
It is major, major, the accord reached between Israel and Bahrain following the accord with the United Arab Emirates. These are the first such alliances between Israel and Middle East countries in 20 years. Bahrain and the Emirates join Egypt and Jordan, and more countries are likely to come aboard, maybe even Saudi Arabia. Iran is further squeezed. Israeli survival and Middle East peace are more nearly assured. Economies will definitely be lifted. Jared Kushner should take a bow.
Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Kushner, was said to be unqualified, just a politically manipulated nepotism exhibit. But he brought keen intellect and shrewdness to the negotiations. After several years of listening, pushing and beseeching, he began to get results. And, for weeks before the Emirates agreement, he bounced between its leader, Mohammed bin Zayed, and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, with a major result. Netanyahu agreed to suspend Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, and Zayed said let’s get on with it, let’s join ranks.
All three of these countries had already been friends of a kind, worried like crazy about Iran and its hegemonic ambitions, but did Netanyahu want to give up the protection afforded by control of the West Bank and did Zayed want to shake hands with him otherwise? No. He did not want it to look as if he was going to let Israel be in charge of things generally, and the years ahead became worrisome for both when President Barack Obama dropped sanctions against Iran in a deal making its nuclear armament more likely. Our friendship with our ally Israel seemed slippery and one of the things Zayed wanted was to feel closer to the United States, it’s said.
Trump had ended the Iran deal and did something other presidents promised to no avail. He made Jerusalem the capital of Israel. He also had the guts to kill an Iranian terrorist in Iraq who had killed Americans. Trump left no doubt that we had Netanyahu’s back, and he let up on the annexation. It helps to support your allies instead of endanger them. Bahrain has now joined up with Israel and the Emirates and others, no doubt thinking Israel and the good, old United States can help save them from Iranian domination.
The future’s not mine to know, but the possibility of the moment seems that there could be a path to a more settled Middle East, that Israel and friends will grow in strength while Iran and those bowing to its dictates shrivel. Iran, of course, is not through yet despite the ravages of reapplied sanctions and COVID-19.
Another aspect of all of this is Trump’s triumph. He bragged about what he would do and he has done it, even though foreign-policy minds that are allegedly among the best said no, no, no. They said Obama was right in the Iran nuclear deal, which unconstitutionally skipped the treaty process and allowed Iran, enriched by billions through unfrozen assets and the lifting of sanctions, to do pretty much anything.
It kept the means of making nuclear weapons. It disallowed investigations on military bases. It got away with 32 violations in which it tried to buy nuclear technology from Germany. It continued testing ballistic missiles while sponsoring murderous terrorism.
Looking back, in 2009 Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, apparently on the grounds of good intentions and great expectations. Looking at the present moment, Trump actually deserves one.