Pompeo: The Emirati-Israeli agreement is the most important step towards peace in the Middle East in 25 years

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in the UAE, on his last stop in the Middle East.

In a tweet posted on his Twitter account, Pompeo congratulated the Emirati people on what he described as the “Abrahamic Agreement,” referring to the normalization agreement between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv.

Pmpeo said in the tweet: “I am excited that I have reached the United Arab Emirates and I congratulate the Emirati people for the historic Abrahamic Agreement, which is the most important step towards peace in the Middle East in more than 25 years”.

He continued, “We hope to build on this momentum towards regional peace”.

The US Secretary of State started his Middle East tour with a visit to Israel, followed by Sudan and Bahrain.

For his part, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa assured US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Manama on Wednesday that his country is committed to the Arab Peace Initiative, which provides for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in exchange for the normalization of relations.

The Bahraini position constitutes an implicit refusal to normalize relations with Israel soon. At the same time, however, the King praised the efforts of the United States to bring peace to the region and to confront “Iranian interference”.

Pompeo’s tour to a number of countries in the Middle East falls within the category of encouraging Arab countries to normalize their relations with Israel after the historic agreement in this context between the Hebrew state and the United Arab Emirates, which he visited for a short stop after the Bahrain meetings before returning to Manama.

The Bahraini News Agency quoted the king as stressing during the meeting “the importance of intensifying efforts to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in accordance with the two-state solution that achieves a just and comprehensive peace that leads to the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with international legitimacy decisions and the Arab Peace Initiative”.

Bahrain, which received Israeli journalists last year as part of a meeting to announce the economic aspect of the US peace plan to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, was the first Gulf country to welcome the agreement between the UAE and Israel. 

Experts have nominated it to be the next country to step in the direction of normalizing its relations with Israel, after the UAE, which Pompeo will visit on Wednesday as well.

However, it is unlikely that Bahrain, a close ally of Saudi Arabia and the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet, would offer relations with Israel without Riyadh’s blessing, which rejects normalization before reaching a solution with the Palestinians.

Pompeo visited Sudan before Bahrain.

The Sudanese government informed him that it “does not have a mandate” to make a decision regarding normalization with Israel, as it is a government running a transitional period that is supposed to end in 2022 with elections that will result in a government that can look into the matter.

Pompeo said in a tweet on his Twitter account that he had discussed with the King of Bahrain and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa “the importance of building regional peace and stability, including the importance of Gulf unity and countering Iran’s abusive influence in the region”.

The official Bahrain News Agency quoted the king as praising “the pivotal role the US administration plays and its tireless efforts to advance the peace process, establish security and stability in the Middle East, and confront Iranian interference in the region’s affairs,” stressing “Bahrain’s support and support for these efforts”.

Prior to his arrival in Bahrain on Tuesday evening, Pompeo said he should “use the momentum” to advance the issue of normalizing relations.

Pompeo said at the start of his tour on Monday that he was optimistic about the possibility that other Arab countries would follow the example of the UAE, which on August 13 became the first Gulf country to announce an agreement to normalize its relations with Israel.

“I am excited about my arrival to the United Arab Emirates and to congratulate the Emirati people on the agreements,” he said upon his arrival in Abu Dhabi from Bahrain.

“This is the most significant step towards peace in the Middle East in 25 years. 

We hope to build on this pattern to reach regional peace.

He met his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan and National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed al Nahyan and discussed with them “Gulf unity,” according to an American statement.

His visit to the UAE took less than two hours, and then he returned to Bahrain, knowing that his next destination is unknown.

The hostility to Iran unites Bahrain and Israel, along with other Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia, the big neighbor of Manama, which accuses the Islamic Republic of fomenting unrest on its lands through Shiite groups.

Despite the optimistic US statements that Arab countries would normalize relations with Israel in the coming months, the rapprochement with the Hebrew state has drawn criticism from some Arab countries.

Saudi Arabia did not criticize the agreement between its more powerful regional ally the Emirates and Israel, but it reiterated that it would not normalize its relations with Israel before reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

In announcing the deal, the White House did not provide praise to highlight the “amazing” foreign policy success that US President Donald Trump so desperately needs three months before the presidential election after his failure to resolve crises with Iran, North Korea and Venezuela.

The UAE confirmed that the agreement with Israel provides for “an end to any additional annexation” of territories in the West Bank occupied since 1967, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that the agreement includes “postponing” the annexation process.

Abu Dhabi considered that the agreement would stir the stalemate in the peace process in the region, but the Palestinian leadership saw it as a “betrayal” of the Palestinian cause.

Another file that appears sensitive to Israel is the possibility that the United Arab Emirates will sell F-35 fighters.

Historically, Israel has always opposed selling these fighters to other countries in the Middle East, including Jordan and Egypt, because it wants to maintain its military advantage in the region.