After the Trump-administration forged a peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), President Donald Trump signaled that other Arab nations might follow. The first out of the gate is Sudan. A Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman told Sky News Arabia that “we are looking forward to a reciprocal peace agreement with Israel based on the interests of Sudan without sacrificing our values.”
Prospects for Peace
When Trump first announced the peace treaty, he received cautious praise from most allies and media outlets. The lukewarm response can partially be explained by the antagonism toward Trump but also by the bitter experience that peace in the Middle East has been elusive for nearly a century.
Although Sudan is one of the poorest Arab nations, its signaled willingness to enter a “peace for peace” treaty with Israel lends credibility to Trump’s claim that the Abraham Accord would open the door for other Arab nations to follow.
The biggest catch would undoubtedly be Saudi Arabia. Only a few years ago, the prospect of normalized relations with Israel would be unthinkable, but times have changed. The desert nation has experienced a significant economic downturn in the last few years.
After the China Coronavirus, the economic outlook has gone from worrisome to gloomy. The state oil company Saudi Aramco’s net income fell off a cliff in the first six months of 2020, down more than 50%. Thus, if economic incentives should ever influence diplomacy, now is the right time.
Joe Biden claimed in a statement that “the coming together of Israel and Arab states builds on the efforts of multiple administrations to foster a broader Arab-Israeli opening, including the efforts of the Obama-Biden administration to build on the Arab Peace Initiative.”
Pundits immediately called out Biden for absurdly taking credit for the work done by the Trump-administration. However, paradoxically, Biden is correct. President Barack Obama fueled Iran’s imperialistic ambitions with appeasement and cash infusion to such an extent that it plunged the entire region into a frenzy of war and terrorism.
Obama’s irresponsible actions created a situation where the Gulf states and Israel were facing a common enemy and security issue. Without this chaos, Trump would likely not have had fertile ground for an Israeli-Saudi peace treaty.
It is probably no coincidence that the two first countries Trump visited after his inauguration were Saudi Arabia and Israel. We now know that shortly after this visit, Jared Kushner and his team started the peace talks. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise if Saudi Arabia recognizes Israel soon.
However, they are unlikely to be the next country. Watch for smaller states like Bahrain or Kuwait to go first.
Read more from Onar Åm.