With the inauguration of Joe Biden as US President approaching, some analysts in the Middle East fear that the change of power in Washington, DC can greatly undermine the Abraham Accords and the new momentum towards peace across the Middle East region.
However, Mendi Safadi, who heads the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights, has another idea.
“This will not be enough to undermine relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel,” he said, but it may undermine stability in the Middle East region because peace with the Persian Gulf states is not enough. One of the basic understandings that stands behind the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates is that the US will sell military equipment including F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates believes that this military equipment is pivotal to defend itself against Iranian aggression.
Although Biden is not a fan of this aspect of the peace agreement, Safadi believes that those who oppose the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the UAE are misguided: “The West should not worry about the UAE getting more military power. A country like the United Arab Emirates increases wealth and prosperity, opens up fresh business opportunities and does not seek to threaten Israel and other US allies in the region.”
Safadi mentioned that by having countries like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain make peace with Israel, the West has a powerful front against Iran in the Persian Gulf region: “I really hope that Biden does
However, while Trump and Biden may think like night and day when it comes to selling weapons to the United Arab Emirates, Sirwan Mansouri, a Kurdish journalist based in the Middle East, declared: “It is very hard to suppose that Biden will stop or decrease the speed of peace talks, as he too can gain from them.”
Nevertheless, Mansouri noted that "Trump likely was so successful with the Abraham Accords because he had warm and friendly relations with Netanyahu, thus causing problems to be solved sooner and faster, and this caused the Arab countries to trust him more." Mansouri noted that this is not the case with many of the Arab countries when it comes to Biden, who may be concerned about Biden’s Middle East policy, thus causing some like Morocco to make peace with Israel during the tail end of Trump’s presidency.
Karokh Koshnaw, the president of the American-Kurdish Research Institute, believes that Biden will continue with the Deal of the Century, will keep the US Embassy in Jerusalem and will recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory: “But there is a difference between Biden and Trump. Biden will try to normalize the US relationship with the Palestinian Arabs. Biden will review some of the agreements, such as selling F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates or some other deals with Saudi Arabia.” He proclaimed that Biden will pay more attention to human rights in the Arab countries, but he won’t be able to act alone, as he also must answer to the US Congress, the Pentagon, AIPAC, the CIA, etc.
Aliasghar Faridi, a Kurdish journalist in Germany, added that an Israeli-Arab peace deal will not be a priority for a Biden administration either, noting that "Palestine" is no longer as important for the Arab countries as it was in the past:
“The only issue concerning the Middle East will be the unconditional return of Biden to the JCPOA. If Biden does this, it will make it easier for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons and Iran will gain billions of dollars in sanctions relief, which will make it easier for Iran to attack Israel. This is the real threat to the Abraham Accords.”
Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights. She is the author of "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media."