ANALYSIS: No new dawn in the Middle East after White House ceremony

Do the peace deals with UAE, Bahrain herald the beginning of a 'New Middle East' as predicted by Shimon Peres?

Yochanan Visser ,

Presenting the Abraham Accords
Presenting the Abraham Accords
Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

As thirteen rockets from Gaza rained down on the southern Israeli coastal cities Ashdod and Ashqelon leaders from two Arab Gulf States, Israel and the government of the United States sat down on the White House lawn in Washington to sign peace agreements.

The peace agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are truly historical although there have never been any hostilities between the countries.

On the contrary, secret ties between the two Gulf States and Israel have existed for decades as Hebrew University Professor Eli Podeh pointed out in two articles for the Hebrew language press last week.

Podeh is an expert on covert Arab Israeli relations and is working on a book in the Hebrew language about hidden peace processes and relations between Israel and the Arab countries in the Middle East.

“We mark the dawn of a new Middle East” US President Donald J. Trump said at the start of the ceremony at the lawn of the White House adding that this was “an incredible day for the world.”

Trump added that the “Abraham Accord” (the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates) would open the door for “Muslims, Jews and Christians to live together, pray together, and dream together.”

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also expressed hope that the signing of the peace agreements between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates would bring hope to “all the children of Abraham” and that it would end “the Arab Israeli conflict once and for all.”

Some pundits in Israel reminded the public of a book written by the late Prime Minister Shimon Peres who envisioned in the nineties of the last century a new Middle East based on the concept of the European Union. Peres wrote his book during the Oslo peace process of which he was one of the founding fathers.

We all know what happened after Peres published his book, which was also translated in English.

Instead of a new Middle East resembling the European Union the region went through an endless series of wars while a large part of the international community tried to isolate Israel based on lies which originated from Palestinian and Arab propaganda. Israel also saw the Oslo Accords torn apart when PLO leader Yassir Arafat started the so-called Second Intifada also referred to as the Oslo War by some in Israel.

The so-called Arab Spring that began in 2011 was again misinterpreted by most of the international community as an attempt to reform the Middle East and to bring peace and prosperity to the region instead of wars and oppression.

The Arab Spring turned into an Islamist winter, however, and killed millions across the region while causing a huge humanitarian disaster that made tens of millions of people homeless and jobless.

So, is there now after the signing of the deals between Israel, Bahrain, and the UEA, reason to be optimistic and to expect the “dawn of a new Middle East” as Trump put it?

It might be true that the agreements put an end to the conflict between Israel and the Arab world but if we take a look at the larger picture in the Middle East peace is still a far-away pipe dream.

There are other conflicts where Israel is involved and those ore conflicts that could trigger a new regional war easily.

First, there is the century-old Palestinian Israeli conflict that has been put on a back-burner by the peace agreements between Israel and the Arab Gulf States. In this respect, the thirteen rockets fired into the direction of Ashqelon and Ashdod on Tuesday evening were a reminder that the Palestinian Arabs will not be part of the new dawn Trump saw at the White House lawn just like Hamas tried to torpedo the Oslo Accords from the outset by staging suicide attacks against Israelis before and after the signing of the Oslo Accords.

Then there is the Muslim Brotherhood bloc led by Turkey’s hot-headed leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is feverishly trying to expand his influence over countries like Syria, Libya, and Iraq but also over the territories under Palestinian control in Israel.

Erdogan is one of the most destabilizing actors in the Middle East today and is vehemently opposed to the reconciliation between Arab countries and Israel.

Finally, there is the resistance bloc led by Iran that hasn’t given up on its goal to destroy the State of Israel. While the international and Israeli media focused on the indeed historic peace agreement between Israel and two Gulf States the covert war between Iran and the Jewish state continued unabated.

Iran controls large parts of Syria and uses its Shiite proxies in the country, among them the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, to build-up a large fighting force under the name Golan Liberation Brigade.

As we saw last month, a huge internal crisis in Lebanon doesn’t prevent Iran’s proxy Hezbollah from continuing its belligerent activities against Israel and had no effect on the organization’s willingness to attack the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) at a time of its choosing.

If one tours Israel’s northern border with Lebanon these days one can still see the continuing high state of preparedness of the IDF and also that of the Israeli air force (IAF) which is constantly making reconnaissance flights over Lebanon.

Often at night the IAF, furthermore, attacks Iran-related targets in Syria like last week when the al-Safirah missile production facility near the Syrian city of Aleppo was hit by missiles. The Israeli company ImageSat International (ISI) released on Sunday satellite images of the missile assembly facility and said in a statement that “crucial elements” at the site were hit by the Israeli missiles.

ISI also revealed that an earlier Israeli airstrike on a missile facility near Khojir in Syria in June had temporarily halted the Iranian missile production inside Syria.

On Monday, the IAF reportedly again struck Iran-related targets in Syria killing ten members of Shiite militias near the border town of al-Bukamal on the border with Iraq The Middle East Monitor reported citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

SOHR said the new strike near al-Bukamal in the eastern Syrian Province of Deir a-Zur was the third one in one month. The area has been under Iranian control for a long time and is part of Iran’s land bridge from Tehran to the Golan Heights.

All this is taking place while the Iranians made clear they still have to retaliate for the assassination of their legendary commander of the Quds Force of the IRGC, Qassem Soleimani who was liquidated by an American drone on January 3 this year moments after he landed at Baghdad International Airport.

According to a Politico report an Iranian plot to assassinate Lana Marks the US ambassador in South Africa had been discovered. Marks maintains very good relations with US President Donald J.Trump and this might explain why Trump’s reaction to the discovery of the plot to kill Marks was heavy-handed.

The President warned the Iranians on Twitter that “any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States, will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!”

All this shows that only a small segment of the Middle Eastern countries have chosen “to create a new future filled with endless possibilities” as Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law and one of the driving actors behind the peace process between Israel and the two Gulf States put it in comments after the ceremony on the White House lawn.

Iranian state-controlled media and Islamic Jihad see it somewhat differently.

“Peace with Israel is no more than an illusion,” the Islamist terror organization said in a statement