Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
The recent peace pact between Israel and the United Arab Emirates is undoubtedly a major boost to the formation of a strategic Middle Eastern alliance between the Jewish State and those moderate Sunni nations. According to analysts, this peace agreement leaves a serious blow to the Iranian rogue mullah regime and its Shiite terror axis as well as the Muslim Brotherhood. The UAE-Israel agreement also leaves a strong message for Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been dreaming of establishing a caliphate throughout the Middle East.
There is reason to believe, many more Arab nations now will come forwards in normalizing relations with Israel. Once it is done, the Middle Eastern alliance between the Jewish State and those moderate Sunni nations will be able playing a key role in eliminating threats posed by Iran and its Shiite terror axis, while it also can save the Middle Eastern nations from the continuous threats posed by several jihadist and terror outfits such as Islamic State, AL Qaeda and Hamas.
Iran and its armed proxies—militant, well-armed Shiite militias deployed across Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen—have reacted vehemently against the Israel-UAE pact, reflecting Tehran’s deep concern over its implications. The Muslim Brotherhood camp, which is led by Turkey and includes Hamas, Qatar, and hard-line Sunni political Islamists across the region, is similarly alarmed.
According to Doron Itzchakov, an Iran specialist from the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, “The [Iranian] regime fears the emergence of a new international alliance that will have greater power to contain its hegemonic regional aspirations, and there is a new urgency to the need to prove to the Iranian people that the government’s imperialist foreign policy works to their benefit”.
Itzchakov explained that the Iranian regime’s leadership is “covering its embarrassment and apprehension with a stream of defamation and threats,” including a statement by Iranian Parliament Speaker Muhammad Bakr Qalibaf, who called the agreement “despicable and a betrayal of human and Islamic values,” and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who warned the UAE’s leaders “not to open their gates” to Israel.
It may be mentioned here that, Israel and several Sunni Arab states share a vision of the threat that the Iranian axis poses, a fact that has helped push the Gulf states closer to Israel.
According to reports, cities and strategic sites in Saudi Arabia have come under missile fire from the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, who, like Hezbollah, are armed by the Iranian Quds Force. The Houthis claimed to have fired a cruise missile at the UAE’s nuclear power plant in 2017 (though the UAE said no missile targeted its plant). Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been engaged in a bloody war with the Houthis, though the UAE withdrew its forces from southern Yemen last year.
Several ships docked at UAE ports were sabotaged last year in attacks widely attributed to Iranian forces, and the Islamic Republic has repeatedly threatened the Gulf states’ ability to export oil in retaliation for sanctions on Iran’s own oil exports.
The Gulf states clearly recognize that the threat posed by Iran’s quest for hegemony is the same threat that is seeking to turn Syria into a network of missile bases that target Israeli cities. They see that the Iranian axis has already turned Lebanon into a frontline Iranian military attack post that threatens Israel with 130,000 projectiles, and is active throughout the region to subvert and threaten countries in its way. Iran has repeatedly sought to destabilize and set up terror networks in Bahrain.
This recognition of common interests led the foreign minister of the UAE, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to state in 2019 that Israel was justified in attacking Iranian targets in Syria. “Every nation has the right to defend itself when it’s challenged by another nation, yes,” he said, when asked about Israeli strikes.
The formation of a Middle East coalition of states that views radical Islamist actors as severe threats could mean enhanced coordination and the sharing of intelligence, as well as defense technology.
It is well known that Israel is a world leader in the development and deployment of drones and cyber defense systems, while its intelligence-gathering capabilities on Iranian activities in particular as well as any of the terrorist entities are well-known throughout the region. Such assets and capabilities could be shared with the UAE – a serious concern to nearby Iran.
The possibility that a succession of other Gulf states, such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, might eventually follow in the UAE’s footsteps also worries the Iranian regime and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The regime appears to be fighting a losing domestic battle to convince the Iranian population that allocating resources to attacking Israel and supporting Hezbollah and Hamas are vital national priorities. Iranian protesters have openly questioned this rationale.
Sunni Islamists have long accused Arab governments of seeking normalization with Israel. Rather than denying the claim, the UAE has emerged to own it in a bold maneuver that pushes back against the radical rhetoric.
Mega-terror outfit Hamas’ political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh condemned not only the pact but also Egypt’s support for it, describing the agreement as “a violation of Arab and Islamic consensus as well as a stab in the backs of the Palestinian people.”
It may be mentioned here that, UAE and Turkey are rival states, and Turkey, which has grown increasingly hostile to Israel and hosts Hamas operatives on its soil, has threatened to suspend ties with the Gulf states. The UAE and other Gulf countries view Turkey as part of the Muslim Brotherhood club that rejects their moderate interpretation of Islam and their drive to create prosperity and stability in the Middle East.
On the other hand, Qatar, which is sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas has been involved in a two-year diplomatic crisis with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, both of which accused Doha of supporting and funding terrorism.
According to the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news agency, Qatar has in recent days launched a massive campaign to influence Arab public opinion via media channels it funds, primarily Al Jazeera, against the landmark UAE-Israel agreement. Immediately after the UAE-Israel peace agreement, Iran and Turkey also have joined Qatar in a massive propaganda war with the agenda of convincing Arab and non-Arab Muslim nations in refraining from normalizing relations with the Jewish State.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-jihadist journalist, counter-terrorism specialist and editor of Blitz