Weeks after the most significant Hamas-led terrorist attacks against Israel since 2014, the broader geopolitical landscape in the region puts Israel in the driver’s seat to seize greater opportunities to pressure terror groups.
The Abraham Accords not only heralded a new era of economic prosperity between the Jewish state and Gulf nations, but also an openness to push back jointly and publicly against the regional ambitions of Tehran and its destabilizing proxies across the Middle East. CUFI leaders who recently visited the UAE for the first time and met with Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed heard as much.
Bahrain, and more pointedly the UAE, have long opposed Hamas and political Islam. Those fears were borne out of concerns for domestic stability rather than an affinity for Israel.
Nevertheless, the most recent conflict was a major test of the durability of these accords, which today show no sign of fraying. In fact, it appears that Hamas only succeeded in damaging the "Palestinian narrative" and strengthening the Accords, by underscoring the threat of unpredictable Iranian-backed terror.
When the conflict began, the Gulf states’ fear was reinforced - that what Israeli families experienced over 11 days in May could easily be what Bahraini or Emirati families face in the future, if Iran decides to aim their rockets at moderate Arab regimes.
The rulers who opened their doors to the Jewish state understand just exactly who Hamas is, whom Hamas truly fight for, and that any solution to the conflict will have to come through the complete marginalization of its primary sponsors in Tehran.
Late last year, in a first that few could predict just a few years earlier, Bahrain’s envoy to the United States addressed a 'Night to Honor Israel' in San Antonio, Texas, home to the headquarters of Christians United for Israel (CUFI).
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He spoke plainly and clearly about the common threats the U.S., Israel and Bahrain face: "Wherever you look in the Middle East and you find trouble you consistently find the Iranian regime behind it." He spoke of Iran’s efforts to "undermine the security and stability of nations in the region," and its endless support for Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis.
The Emirates, for their part, have seen right through Hamas’s efforts to seize the mantle of Palestinian leadership through attacking Israel. Abu Dhabi was clear that Hamas’s unwillingness to maintain calm will result in their pullback of large scale investment projects to better the lives of ordinary Gazans. And that statement came after the UAE had already drastically pulled back its funding from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which maintains close relations with Hamas leadership and helps to perpetuate its rule over Gaza.
No similar threats have been made with respect to ongoing joint UAE-Israeli projects.
The Islamic Republic would love nothing more than to see the Abraham Accords fall apart before their first anniversary. A fractured coalition is in the Iranian regime’s interests.
Absent any signs of that fantasy becoming a reality, pro-Iranian media such as Al Jazeera have gone into overdrive to absurdly assert a narrative that the Abraham Accords are a failure. Only by advancing such a fiction can Iran attempt to bolster their regionally hegemonic goals.
Israel, the UAE and Bahrain – better secured and strengthened by each other – now say out loud what was once said in quiet rooms between regional intelligence officials: until Iran’s tentacles are cut, no nation in the region can expect security and stability. Sadly, none of the signatories have the power to do so alone.
Plans are being devised in Geneva to appease the Iranian regime and unclog economic pipelines for unscrupulous European businesses. There are plenty of heirs to the legacy of the Sykes-Picot Agreement in the room, but no Arabs, and no Israelis. It is entirely likely that in the coming weeks and months, those Iranian tentacles will grow richer, longer and more lethal.
The Abraham Accords created peace, and the promise of prosperity and cooperation between Arab states and the Jewish state. The Accords might also be the backbone of a united regional approach to Iran – but only if its members are allowed a seat at the table.
Boris Zilberman is the Director of Public Policy and Strategy for the Christians United for Israel Action Fund. Twitter: @rolltidebmz