Center East Views by way of Rick Francona: United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalize family members


Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayid, President Trump, Top Minister Netanyahu

In a marvel announcement ultimate week, President Donald Trump printed the a hit conclusion of an settlement between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the State of Israel that can result in the status quo of complete diplomatic family members.

My first response: this can be a just right factor. The Gulf Arabs are coming to the conclusion that Israel does no longer pose a danger to them except they pose a danger to Israel. There is not any reason why for the Gulf states to threaten Israel aside from for the parable of Arab – and in some instances Muslim – team spirit in opposition to the self-described Jewish state “for the sake of the Palestinians.”

Having lived and served in a lot of those international locations for a few years, I assess that they’re uninterested in the Palestinian “reason” and self-victimization, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanese Hizballah, and Hamas, to call a couple of. They’re afraid of Sunni extremism (al-Qa’idah, ISIS, and so on.), sure, however a lot more cautious of Iranian improve for Shi’a terrorist teams – the aforementioned Hizballah, in addition to Iraqi Shi’a militias.

Those Gulf Arab international locations don’t reside in worry of Israel. For probably the most section, Israel tries to habits itself as a member of the world group when authorized to by way of an overwhelmingly anti-Israel United International locations and Eu Union. In non-public, many senior and influential leaders of those Arab international locations, the ones I’d name “the enlightened” ones, in fact wish to be extra like Israel.

The Arabs handiest have to have a look at Israel’s advances in science, generation, drugs, and sure, guns. Israel enjoys a qualitative edge in nearly each and every class when in comparison to the Arab international locations. Many ask why that is the case, and the drained rationalization that it is just the improve of the US for Israel that lets them be such a success is shedding its voice.

The United Arab Emirates has been blessed with a a long time of enlightened management. Even right through the presidency of Shaykh Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahayyan, he allowed the following technology the leeway to check out and alter the Emirates into a contemporary society. One handiest want take a look at Dubai once I served because the performing Protection Attache to the U.S. Embassy within the UAE in 1992, and once I visited two years in the past – night time and day.

As a part of my tasks, I dealt intently with the UAE Ministry of Protection and its military. I discovered them to be well-educated, well-motivated, and for probably the most section nonpolitical. That prolonged to their perspectives of Israel and the Palestinians. Maximum have been extra all in favour of the self-styled Shi’a hegemon only some miles around the Gulf – Iran. You are going to observe It’s not that i am calling it the Persian Gulf – that is probably the most issues about which the Gulf Arabs can get just a little testy.

On the embassy, situated within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, I used to be the performing leader of the Protection Attache Place of work, the USDAO. Some other segment within the embassy was once the safety help workplace (SAO), now known as the Place of work of Protection Partnership. Those are the U.S. army officials who’re there mainly to promote U.S. guns and coaching to the UAE. Wonderful officials and at time opponents – we jokingly referred to one another because the “spooks” (me) and “traders of demise (them).”

Whilst there definitely was once cooperation and coordination, now and then we have been performing at go functions. My function was once to look at and record on UAE army functions, and to behave as an intelligence liaison with the UAE Army Intelligence Directorate. Remember the fact that army attaches international are declared intelligence officials, paintings for his or her nation’s army intelligence carrier – in my case, the U.S. Protection Intelligence Company – and are authorised to the host nation’s leader of army intelligence.

Once I arrived in Abu Dhabi, I made an workplace name at the Director of Army Intelligence, who later offered me to Minister of Protection (since 1971 and nonetheless lately) Shaykh Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktum. If that identify sounds acquainted, it will have to – he’s now Vice President of the UAE, Top Minister of the UAE, Emir of Dubai, and as I mentioned, Minister of Protection of the rustic.

“Shaykh Mo,” as he requested us to name him, and I struck up a dialog in regards to the Gulf Warfare and my carrier as Central Command leader Basic H. Norman Schwarzkopf’s interpreter. I feel since we have been quite shut in age, he requested if I’d give him my research and opinion on the way forward for the UAE’s military. I knew he were in relatively heated discussions with representatives of the embassy’s SAO over guns purchases. At the moment, the U.S. protection trade was once pushing gross sales of the M-1 Abrams primary fight tank and the Patriot air protection missile gadget.

Possibly that is once I will have to have consulted with the safety help folks….

I advised the shaykh/minister that in my view, and stressed out that this was once simply my opinion, no longer the location of the U.S. Division of Protection, that he will have to development the UAE military at the Israel Protection Forces (IDF), with one exception – the Israeli Military. Did I simply observe that the U.S. protection trade was once pushing the M-1 tank?

I defined that as I noticed it, the UAE’s number one adversary was once, and more likely to be for the foreseeable long run, Iran, or a minimum of so long as it remained the Islamic Republic of Iran. Until Iran was once to expand a large amphibious attack capacity, there was once little likelihood of a land invasion – particular operations raids on oil and fuel amenities, possibly, however a big flooring attack? Not likely.

Iran’s main threats would come from the air, the ocean (both the Gulf or Gulf of Oman), or terrorism. On level, in 2019 there was once a terrorist assault on 4 ships in Emirati territorial waters within the Gulf of Oman off the coast of the Emirate of al-Fujayrah.

What the UAE wanted, at the moment and now, was once a world-class air drive, an efficient air protection/anti-missile gadget, and a locally aggressive army/coast guard. Floor forces like a countrywide guard will have to suffice to stand the minimum flooring danger, they usually had to expand a major counter-terrorism effort in opposition to Iran.

What the UAE didn’t (and does no longer) want is an armor-heavy military that are supposed to by no means deploy to struggle an expeditionary conflict, or must protect the territory of the UAE. They have got strayed just a little from the place they will have to be in Yemen, and I feel they’ve discovered that deploying their flooring forces isn’t sensible.

That mentioned, purchasing M-1 tanks? Now not an issue, however no longer a concern. Obtaining Patriot missiles? Sure, a prime precedence. F-16s? The absolute very best precedence – get the most efficient cash should buy, and the UAE can come up with the money for it. I’m glad to look that the UAE Air Power now flies one of the maximum complicated F-16s on this planet.

It was once a wide-ranging dialog – the shaykh was once well-informed and cognizant of the present state of affairs. I feel my feedback have been simply confirmatory to his personal pondering. Then again, stories of my dialog with the shaykh reached the ears of the SAO folks on the embassy. I used to be instantly known as to fulfill with the manager of the SAO, a soon-retiring U.S. Military colonel clearly on the lookout for a place at Raytheon (Patriot missiles) or Basic Dynamics (M-1 Abrams tanks). Each are nice weapon techniques, however have been they proper for the UAE?

The safety help serve as of the Division of Protection has at all times been suspect to us overseas space officials and intelligence experts. Senior officials recommending (“promoting”) sure guns techniques to international locations the place they’ve served after which retire and finally end up operating for firms named Raytheon, Boeing, Basic Dynamics, and so on. It simply sounds too handy.

I advised the shaykh what I assumed he had to know, no longer what the protection trade contractors (or the SAO officials) sought after to promote him. I used to be instantly challenged by way of the Military colonel who was once leader of the embassy safety help workplace. All in, he was once a high-quality Military officer simply doing his process, however peddling needless palms to an best friend didn’t appear to be kosher (pun supposed) to me. Since we worked for various masters, we parted on relatively icy phrases.

As I mentioned, I’m happy to look that the UAE has advanced an excessively succesful air drive – if no longer world-class air drive, it’s definitely top-of-the-line within the Center East. They have got additionally advanced a just right naval and coast guard capacity. I’m disenchanted that they have got tried to make use of their army as an expeditionary drive in Yemen and Libya. I in finding it arduous to imagine that the Shaykh Muhammad of 1992 is permitting his forces for use this manner in 2020. The drive construction we had mentioned in 1992 was once by no means supposed to perform on this approach.

Nonetheless, the UAE has been a key American best friend for many years. The usage of the al-Dhafra air base outdoor Abu Dhabi has been an integral a part of American air operations within the U.S.-led coalition in opposition to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

I regularly surprise why now we have located U.S. Central Command (Ahead) on the al-‘Udayd (Al Udeid) air base in Qatar. Qatar is an best friend, sure, however a lot more aligned with Turkey and its improve for Islamist teams in Syria. Let’s no longer disregard that the anti-American satellite tv for pc information community Al Jazeera is based totally in Doha, Qatar. For the ones of you who watch Al Jazeera English, the Arabic language community and the English language networks are completely other – the Arabic-language broadcast is exponentially a lot more anti-American and anti-western than the English language content material. I digress.

What’s riding the exchange within the UAE that they’re prepared to normalize family members with Israel? Simple – Iran. I suppose we owe a debit of gratitude to former President Barack Obama and his terminally ineffectual Secretary of State John Kerry.

If Obama and Kerry had no longer spent such a lot time and treasure at the ill-advised Iran nuclear deal, the so-called Joint Complete Plan of Motion (JCPOA), international locations just like the UAE and Saudi Arabia would no longer be so frightened a few doable nuclear-armed Iran. (See my article from previous this month, Saudi Arabia and China nuclear cooperation – is Riyadh in quest of nukes?) The possibility of a Joe Biden-Kamala Harris management and the likelihood of every other ill-advised American effort to befriend the arena’s main sponsor of terrorism is of significant fear to our Gulf Arab allies.

I am hoping the US is in a position to paintings with the leaders of Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait to observe within the UAE’s footsteps. Saudi Arabia, who additionally cooperates with Israel silently, might take just a little longer.

The Israelis are good to check out and paintings with the Sunni Arabs. They proportion a commonplace danger: the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Shi’a syndicate in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.



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