Middle East Progress

 

Biden’s coming promotion of the Palestinian issue and rehashing old State Department idiocy from the 20th century is actually going to be good for Israel.

Israel used to be a United States client state, but Obama made it abundantly clear that the US is not truly a dependable friend. Then Trump and Iran worked together beautifully to create peace between Israel and quite a few Arab states (Morocco, Bahrain, UAE, and even effectively Saudi Arabia). The result is that Israel and those states are going to largely ignore the US going forward. Instead, Israel will form its own regional power bloc, offering a security umbrella against Iran and possible even some counterbalance to Turkey.

It is good for Israel to grow up. And given its capable military, it is not crazy to realign the power blocs in the Middle East, with the US and Russia become less relevant than ever before.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    The Tikvah podcast has Michael Oren on; he’s the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. He does an excellent job of explaining all the many ways that Israel has become a powerhouse in its own right. Israel has pretty much developed its own network of allies, so it would probably like to have the U.S. on its side, but it no longer needs us.

    • #1
  2. American Abroad Thatcher
    American Abroad
    @AmericanAbroad

    Due to Trump’s hugely successful Middle East policy, the Biden Administration is inheriting a very different status quo in the region than existed when he was Vice Preisdent. I expect that he will make some public noise about the Palestinians to appease domestic constituencies, but I think most professionals in the State Department are quietly relieved that Trump made bold moves to build a successful anti-Iranian alliance. I don’t expect Biden to reverse four years of progress by trying to resuscitate the JCPOA with Iran, but I do expect him to snub Israel in some petty ways which won’t materially change US policy in the region.

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    Due to Trump’s hugely successful Middle East policy, the Biden Administration is inheriting a very different status quo in the region than existed when he was Vice Preisdent. I expect that he will make some public noise about the Palestinians to appease domestic constituencies, but I think most professionals in the State Department are quietly relieved that Trump made bold moves to build a successful anti-Iranian alliance. I don’t expect Biden to reverse four years of progress by trying to resuscitate the JCPOA with Iran, but I do expect him to snub Israel in some petty ways which won’t materially change US policy in the region.

    I hope you’re right, @americanabroad. Most of the Executive Orders that Biden has signed are foolish and destructive. He has plenty of anti-Israel people in his administration and I think they may drive policy; he may just be along for the ride.

    • #3
  4. American Abroad Thatcher
    American Abroad
    @AmericanAbroad

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I hope you’re right, @americanabroad. Most of the Executive Orders that Biden has signed are foolish and destructive. He has plenty of anti-Israel people in his administration and I think they may drive policy; he may just be along for the ride.

    I certainly agree that Biden is along for the ride, but I am cautiously optimistic about the incoming Secretary of State. He has already granted that the Trump Administration was right to take a tougher stance on China, so I cannot imagine that he would want to reverse course substantially in the Middle East. Iran is weaker than ever; there is no real benefit of trying to cut another deal with Iran. Much of the talk of the new administration is about re-engaging with Allies. Well, it is hard to find a better ally than Israel.

    • #4
  5. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I hope you’re right, @americanabroad. Most of the Executive Orders that Biden has signed are foolish and destructive. He has plenty of anti-Israel people in his administration and I think they may drive policy; he may just be along for the ride.

    I certainly agree that Biden is along for the ride, but I am cautiously optimistic about the incoming Secretary of State. He has already granted that the Trump Administration was right to take a tougher stance on China, so I cannot imagine that he would want to reverse course substantially in the Middle East. Iran is weaker than ever; there is no real benefit of trying to cut another deal with Iran. Much of the talk of the new administration is about re-engaging with Allies. Well, it is hard to find a better ally than Israel.

    from your lips…

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I hope you’re right, @americanabroad. Most of the Executive Orders that Biden has signed are foolish and destructive. He has plenty of anti-Israel people in his administration and I think they may drive policy; he may just be along for the ride.

    I certainly agree that Biden is along for the ride, but I am cautiously optimistic about the incoming Secretary of State. He has already granted that the Trump Administration was right to take a tougher stance on China, so I cannot imagine that he would want to reverse course substantially in the Middle East. Iran is weaker than ever; there is no real benefit of trying to cut another deal with Iran. Much of the talk of the new administration is about re-engaging with Allies. Well, it is hard to find a better ally than Israel.

    from your lips…

    You took the words out of my mouth–no pun intended! For those few who may not know the whole phrase that Raxxalan references, it’s “from your lips to G-d’s ears.” Hope no one is insulted.

    • #6
  7. American Abroad Thatcher
    American Abroad
    @AmericanAbroad

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I hope you’re right, @americanabroad. Most of the Executive Orders that Biden has signed are foolish and destructive. He has plenty of anti-Israel people in his administration and I think they may drive policy; he may just be along for the ride.

    I certainly agree that Biden is along for the ride, but I am cautiously optimistic about the incoming Secretary of State. He has already granted that the Trump Administration was right to take a tougher stance on China, so I cannot imagine that he would want to reverse course substantially in the Middle East. Iran is weaker than ever; there is no real benefit of trying to cut another deal with Iran. Much of the talk of the new administration is about re-engaging with Allies. Well, it is hard to find a better ally than Israel.

    from your lips…

    No offense to the believers, but I have just as much faith in laziness and bureaucratic inertia.

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I hope you’re right, @americanabroad. Most of the Executive Orders that Biden has signed are foolish and destructive. He has plenty of anti-Israel people in his administration and I think they may drive policy; he may just be along for the ride.

    I certainly agree that Biden is along for the ride, but I am cautiously optimistic about the incoming Secretary of State. He has already granted that the Trump Administration was right to take a tougher stance on China, so I cannot imagine that he would want to reverse course substantially in the Middle East. Iran is weaker than ever; there is no real benefit of trying to cut another deal with Iran. Much of the talk of the new administration is about re-engaging with Allies. Well, it is hard to find a better ally than Israel.

    from your lips…

    No offense to the believers, but I have just as much faith in laziness and bureaucratic inertia.

    I’d have more faith in it if the bureaucracy was significantly smaller, and the survivors suitably scared.

    • #8
  9. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    The State Department is shot through with Arabists and anti-Semites who would be fine with Israel being pushed into the sea. If anything, Israel’s military and economic success are to them, as to the Europeans (and perfidious Albion, it must be said) and Arabs, an embarrassment and an affront. Bernard Lewis has compared the Arab response to that of Southern poor whites’ post Emancipation response to the success of entrepreneurial former slaves. Shakes their world view of the “other” as a lesser species, as was the case in both situations. Same goes for the Europeans who were complicit to larger and smaller degrees in the Holocaust. Closed immigration and unfilled quotas in the USA contributed to the death total and to Hitler’s belief that the Jews were unwanted everywhere else and that he had tacit approval to move to his “final solution.” Our State Department was complicit and that mindset remains.

    I’ve said before that the one benefit of a Biden win would be Israel getting its internal politics in order, as generally happens when under existential threat. This incoming administration certainly qualifies as that. I look with interest to the March elections. These are dangerous times for Israel, despite the recent successes.

    • #9
  10. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    The decision, the policy of bypassing the Palestinians, whose was that? I very much doubt it was Rex Tillerson’s, I’m guessing Mike Pompeo’s but am not sure. Trump’s? Some of our Arab or Israeli partners?

    It was an out of the box/paradigm shift that was hugely successful. 

    I really commend the folks that designed that whole thing. The Jerusalem Embassy really started it. Simply denying the Palestinians veto power over any negotiations was key. 

    • #10
  11. Chris Oler Coolidge
    Chris Oler
    @ChrisO

    WI Con (View Comment):
    Simply denying the Palestinians veto power over any negotiations was key. 

    And I think a relief on both sides of the table. 

    Don’t forget to add Sudan to the list. They signed the Abraham Accords shortly after the new year.

     

    • #11
  12. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    WI Con (View Comment):

    The decision, the policy of bypassing the Palestinians, whose was that? I very much doubt it was Rex Tillerson’s, I’m guessing Mike Pompeo’s but am not sure. Trump’s? Some of our Arab or Israeli partners?

    It was an out of the box/paradigm shift that was hugely successful.

    I really commend the folks that designed that whole thing. The Jerusalem Embassy really started it. Simply denying the Palestinians veto power over any negotiations was key.

    As I understand it is was Jared’s believe it or not and it was more just serendipity, or maybe good old business sense of saying these guys don’t want to be involved but is there a deal that can be had without them. Apparently the Palestinians, so use to getting their way by being obstructionist, took themselves out of the negotiation. Also I think from a broader political stand point the Palestinians are falling into the Iranian/ Syrian orbit. This puts them at odds meaning the Sunni States don’t gain a lot by letting the Palestinians play both sides anymore. At least that is what I got from a couple of interviews with Jared Kushner. I would not be surprised if Pompeo had a role; however, I think this predates his tenure as Secretary of State.

    • #12
  13. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    The Democrats are coming for Israel. In concert with the Left/GOPe purge of anyone associated with Trump, the Democrat Party wants to control Israel’s politics and bring them into compliance.

    Unfortunately for Israelis, this isn’t just America’s problem. Thanks to New Hope Party Chairman Gideon Sa’ar, Israel is now importing some of the instigators of the purge. Sa’ar has reportedly hired four founders of the Lincoln Project to run his campaign against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud ahead of the March elections.

    • #13
  14. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Israel should also purchase the last vestiges of Socialism from its economy, and act like a true Free Market. They have a vital startup culture, that needs to be unleashed.

    • #14
  15. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Israel should also purchase the last vestiges of Socialism from its economy, and act like a true Free Market. They have a vital startup culture, that needs to be unleashed.

    Purge?

    • #15
  16. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    iWe: It is good for Israel to grow up. And given its capable military, it is not crazy to realign the power blocs in the Middle East, with the US and Russia become less relevant than ever before

    Yes, but just be wary of over extending. Israel first and foremost hast to defend herself. Getting into the middle of a Sunni/Shia war is not in her interests. On the plus side, forming relationships with several of the nations around her de facto provides support and reduces potential adversaries. 

    • #16
  17. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    iWe: The result is that Israel and those states are going to largely ignore the US going forward.

    Because nothing says ‘moving out and doing my own laundry’ like $4 billion in military aid a year. Amirite?

    I am surely not the only person here who remembers a time when Israel had excellent ties with Iran – which turned out to be just excellent ties with the Shah. And where are we now with Iran-Israel ties?

    The Abraham Accords are a Good Thing, but they are signed off on by autocrats, not by elected representatives of those Arab countries’ people. It is foolish self indulgent to think believe that these accords mean that Israel can ignore the Palestinians, or that the Palestinians ‘don’t matter’ when it comes to a permanent, durable peace between Israel and its neighbours. Just like Israel, the Palestinians are an inconvenient fact. (And facts don’t care about….)

    • #17
  18. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Zafar (View Comment):

    iWe: The result is that Israel and those states are going to largely ignore the US going forward.

    Because nothing says ‘moving out and doing my own laundry’ like $4 billion in military aid a year. Amirite?

    I am surely not the only person here who remembers a time when Israel had excellent ties with Iran – which turned out to be just excellent ties with the Shah. And where are we now with Iran-Israel ties?

    The Abraham Accords are a Good Thing, but they are signed off on by autocrats, not by elected representatives of those Arab countries’ people. It is foolish self indulgent to think believe that these accords mean that Israel can ignore the Palestinians, or that the Palestinians ‘don’t matter’ when it comes to a permanent, durable peace between Israel and its neighbours. Just like Israel, the Palestinians are an inconvenient fact. (And facts don’t care about….)

    The Palestinians don’t matter. [redacted] them.

    They have been rejectionists all along, have never once negotiated in good faith. [redacted them]. Send them to Jordan where they belong.

    And don’t tell me it’s about “occupied territories”. The PLO was founded in 1962, five years before the 1967 war that resulted in the territories being occupied.

     

    • #18
  19. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    The Palestinians don’t matter. [redacted] them.

    They have been rejectionists all along, have never once negotiated in good faith. [redacted them]. Send them to Jordan where they belong.

    And don’t tell me it’s about “occupied territories”. The PLO was founded in 1962, five years before the 1967 war that resulted in the territories being occupied.

    You can afford this long distance dummy spit. Israel cannot.

    • #19
  20. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    Zafar (View Comment):

    iWe: The result is that Israel and those states are going to largely ignore the US going forward.

    Because nothing says ‘moving out and doing my own laundry’ like $4 billion in military aid a year. Amirite?

    I am surely not the only person here who remembers a time when Israel had excellent ties with Iran – which turned out to be just excellent ties with the Shah. And where are we now with Iran-Israel ties?

    The Abraham Accords are a Good Thing, but they are signed off on by autocrats, not by elected representatives of those Arab countries’ people. It is foolish self indulgent to think believe that these accords mean that Israel can ignore the Palestinians, or that the Palestinians ‘don’t matter’ when it comes to a permanent, durable peace between Israel and its neighbours. Just like Israel, the Palestinians are an inconvenient fact. (And facts don’t care about….)

    I’m sure the Israelis very well know they don’t have sudden friendships with the Arab states has much as they have mutually shared interests with them, primarily centered on the Iranian leadership and what Iran would do if they develop nuclear weapons. Where it affects the Palestinians is simply in the financial leeway they have to make trouble — Iran still funds Hezbollah, but the Mullahs don’t have infinite amounts of cash to throw their way, and Hamas saw their sugar daddies down in the Gulf area turn off the spigot several years ago (remember how much trouble were were told by Democrats and the media the Palestinians were going to create for both Israel and the U.S. when Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem? Their Nostradamus-like abilities were not firing on all cylinders on that one).

    There still is a Palestinian problem. But they have fewer benefactors with cash to stir up problems than they had between 1967 and really the Obama deal with Iran in 2015. If Biden doesn’t change the status quo, it means the Palestinians have limited ability to try and force the issue.

    • #20
  21. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    I’m sure the Israelis very well know they don’t have sudden friendships with the Arab states has much as they have mutually shared interests with them, primarily centered on the Iranian leadership and what Iran would do if they develop nuclear weapons.

    The Arab states involved responded to how the wind blows in Washington, and they’ll continue to do so. The quid pro quos are profoundly cynical. (For eg Sudan either is a state sponsor of terror or it is not – and if it is, it should stay on that list, and if it is not, it shouldn’t be on that list in the first place – whatever its relations with Israel are.)

    I am still happy about the accords.

    I think they have the potential to really build up the peace camp in Israel and these Arab countries – by which I mean create (eventually) a critical mass of people who are more interested in the proven benefits of doing business with each other than with holding a hard line position on Israel and Palestine. Imnsho that will prove sturdier than peace in exchange for something from the US – because no country’s wish list is ever totally fulfilled.

    [Edited to add + typos]

    There still is a Palestinian problem.

    There is still a Palestinian people. An unresolved conflict with them leaves the foundations of the accords unsteady – for Israel, but also for the Arab countries which have signed them.

    • #21
  22. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    iWe: Israel used to be a United States client state, but Obama made it abundantly clear that the US is not truly a dependable friend.

    I would dispute the first part of this. Israel has never been anybody’s client state. It has used other countries to its great advantage. Initially, it used weapons bought from the Soviet bloc to win its independence. Then it used French weapons manufactured in Switzerland to maintain its independence in the first twenty years of its independence. Then it was able to use American weapons. Whether that will continue, time will tell.

    iWe: The result is that Israel and those states are going to largely ignore the US going forward.

    Neither can afford to ignore the US going forward. It will be interesting to see who steps into the vacuum Biden will create. Russia, anyone? China?

    Zafar (View Comment):
    I think they have the potential to really build up the peace camp in Israel and these Arab countries – by which I mean create (eventually) a critical mass of people who are more interested in the proven benefits of doing business with each other than with holding a hard line position on Israel and Palestine. Imnsho that will prove sturdier than peace in exchange for something from the US – because no country’s wish list is ever totally fulfilled.

    I couldn’t agree more. But it is potential at this point. The other thing is that the Gulf states in particular have civil services staffed by Palestinians. 

    • #22
  23. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Israel has never been anybody’s client state. It has used other countries to its great advantage.

    The patron-client relationship has to be benefitial to both states’ rulers – otherwise it would not come into being. If it’s only benefitial to one side, then it would be called something else.

    Neither can afford to ignore the US going forward. It will be interesting to see who steps into the vacuum Biden will create. Russia, anyone? China?

    There will be no vacuum. Or rather, it is vanishingly unlikely that the US will willingly retreat from supporting Israel, or that it will lack the capacity to meaningfully do so. 

    The Overton Window for US support of Israel lies between 95% (Obama) and 100% (Trump) – though of course the difference is exaggerated for political reasons. This irks me, but I think it’s true. 

    This places Israel in a completely different category from other client states like Egypt or Saudi.

     

     

    • #23