President Biden’s State Department gave a rare recognition of the Abraham Accords by name as the signatories celebrated its one-year anniversary, and “encourage[d] more countries to follow the lead of the Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco.” Fanfare aside, the survival and growth of the Abraham Accords are a product of the initiatives of the signatories, certainly not the Biden administration. In fact, the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress continue to undermine these accords.
Arab-Israeli Ties Growing
Egypt. One side benefit of the Abraham Accords is a re-imagining of Israeli/Egyptian peace beyond the long “cold peace” held between the two countries for decades. In diplomacy, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett recently met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt, marking the first visit by an Israeli prime minister since Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu visited President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Bennett and Sisi reportedly discussed growing trade between the countries, as well as Iran, and the negotiation of the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. In tourism, EgyptAir will fly direct to Tel Aviv beginning next month.
Emirates. Normalization of ties between Israel and the U.A.E. has seen some significant milestones in recent weeks. In trade, U.A.E.’s Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri announced that his country is on track for a whopping $1 trillion in business with Israel in 2021 alone. In energy, earlier this month, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Petroleum purchased Israel’s Delek Drilling’s 22 percent stake in the Tamar gas field in the Mediterranean for approximately $1 billion. In August, news broke that Israeli drones are being used to secure Emirati oil fields and other infrastructure. In a joint humanitarian aid operation between the two countries, Israel has also helped dozens of Afghanis flee to Abu Dhabi, with the group including “former women’s cycling team, human rights activists and members of a robotics team.”
Morocco. Ties between Israel and Morocco are also growing. Ben-Gurion University in Israel and Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco will jointly research “agriculture, water, energy and ecological restoration.” Additionally, Ben-Gurion University will partner with the Université Internationale de Rabat for joint research in “land ownership, water sources, agriculture of arid and semi-arid lands, land restoration and issues related to sustainability from various technological, biological and health perspectives.” Also, Moroccan King Mohammad VI’s savvy political moves caused the Islamists to be devastated in recent parliamentary elections, shrinking their number of seats from 125 to 12. As political Islam is toxic to the idea of a sovereign Jewish state, the near-total defeat of the Islamists will prove to be a victory for the Abraham Accords.
Meanwhile, Biden and Democrats Obstruct Arab-Israeli Détente
But in the face of all this good news, the Biden administration and the Democrats are undermining further growth of the Abraham Accords by needlessly pressuring Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel.
With Egypt, the Biden administration is currently planning on withholding $130 million out of $300 million in military aid, citing human rights concerns. Several Democrats in Congress have issued statements calling for the Biden administration to condition aid to Egypt on human rights advances, including Senators Ben Cardin (MD) and Chris Murphy (CT), and Representatives Gregory W. Meeks (NY) (Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee) and Adam Schiff (CA).
With Saudi Arabia, in addition to the administration’s anti-Saudi policies, multiple Democrats have called for limiting arms sales to Saudi Arabia or to otherwise sanction Saudi Arabia for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. These Democrats include Representatives Colin Allred (D-TX), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), David Cicilline (D-RI), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Tom Malinowski (D-NY), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Dina Titus (D-NV).
Pressuring Our Allies Will Only Push Them Farther Away
The United States should not be pressuring countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE—they are integral in balancing against Islamist forces like Iran. If threatened by the U.S., these countries will increasingly look elsewhere to further their own self-interests. U.S. pressure on Saudi Arabia will undermine Saudi trust in the United States as an ally in the region, and Saudi Arabia will be more hesitant to sign onto the Abraham Accords. Similarly, blocking arms sales to the U.A.E., as Rep. Ilham Omar has called for, may chill the Israel-U.A.E. track of the Abraham Accords. Progressive calls to block a $735 million precision-guided missile sale to Israel, and also to nix $1 billion in funds for the joint U.S.-Israel Iron Dome missile defense platform, if realized, will hamstring the growing Israel/U.A.E./Bahrain/Morocco/Saudi alignment against Iran.
Recent developments indicate that yes, when pushed, our allies will look elsewhere. Saudi Arabia and Egypt recently became dialogue partners of China’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Egypt and Russia signed a military pact last month. Egypt and China signed a bilateral agreement to “establish an intergovernmental cooperation committee” in July, with China ready “to expand cooperation in production capacity, infrastructure, new energy, space and aviation, as well as new and high-tech industries, and open up new prospects for mutually beneficial cooperation,” according to China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The U.A.E. recently hosted energy representatives from the Islamist states of Turkey and Qatar. The U.A.E. and China have agreed to share intelligence on terrorism financing and money laundering. And with continued U.S. pressure, the growing ties between our Gulf allies and China stand to deepen.
Yes, the Biden administration should continue to heap praise on the Abraham Accords. But by pressuring its signatories and allies, the Biden administration undermines their success.