Trump Has Just Achieved What Very Few Presidents Had
A few minutes after the first reports started to come out, President Trump hurried and made an official declaration on Twitter (where else).
Trump’s excitement is, this time, understandable. A peace agreement in the Middle East is a rare thing. Actually, he has become only the 3rd President to broker such a deal.
In 1979 President Carter was the architect of the peace accord between Israel and Egypt. In 1994 President Clinton was the one who celebrated with PM Rabin and King Hussein when Israel and Jordan signed an agreement at the White House lawn.
Yesterday, President Trump managed to join the very small, exclusive club and brokered a peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
He did that by being Trump, and so changed the way things were done in the Middle East for the past decades.
Israel and the UAE have been quietly developing a relationship for some years. It has never reached a point in which it could become publicly known as the Middle Eastern convention was that in order for Israel to normalize relations with the Arab world, it must first reach an agreement with the Palestinians.
The agreement between Israel and the UAE forms a drastic change. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was left aside, it became a side note of the agreement. An issue that the participants were felt obligated to somehow address. Some Palestinians are therefore outraged.
So how did the deal come about?
Firstly, Trump needed a win ahead of the November elections. That is why he will, most definitely, push for a mutual signing ceremony at the White House soon.
The UAE and Israel need American backing against a mutual enemy, Iran. For that, they need to keep Trump happy. The Trump peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians wasn’t working. Israel’s annexation plan was doomed to fail. The UAE needed an achievement to show it’s a major player in the Middle East.
And so a deal was born.
Israel will give up annexation, justifying that the peace agreement is worth more. The UAE will make history and recognize its relationship with Israel, claiming that by doing so, it made the Israelis give up on annexation. Trump would celebrate a rare achievement in the Middle East, and get a victory ahead of the elections. Even Biden congratulated.
The whole thing makes sense, but logic is hardly enough in the Middle East. The process had to have an additional ‘X factor’ in order for it to work. That ‘X factor’ is uncertainty, or in other words, Trump being Trump.
President Trump is considered a leader with an “unstable” agenda when it comes to the Middle East. For example; For years the main question in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is whether the sides are heading towards a one or two-state solution. This is the core fundamental issue. Each administration had a clear view of this explosive issue. Then came President Trump and basically said: One or Two, I don’t care, find something that works.
For better or worse, Trump has been doing things differently. He warns Iran, He sanctions Iran, and he says he’s willing to meet Iran’s leaders and reach a deal. Middle Eastern leaders were left baffled, and not for the last time.
Where all previous US presidents acted according to the same general ‘game-plan’, Trump set out to break all the rules. It what brings many Americans to criticize his domestic policy, and what made many experts say he’ll fail in foreign affairs.
However, the uncertainty that resulted in a President with a very unclear, fluid agenda, made some countries prefer to act fast. It is not just that one doesn’t know whether Trump will stay in office come November. Moreover, one doesn’t know how Trump may act tomorrow. When this is the situation, you sometimes prefer to just get what’s on the table.
President Trump has joined the very small club of presidents brokering a peace deal in the Middle East. He didn’t do that by clever diplomacy, he didn’t do that by inspiring people, or by building trust.
The historic deal between Israel and the UAE was made possible by some very specific interests aligning and mainly by one super-power leader not playing by the rules. When the two leaders of the small, dependant, Middle Eastern countries, realized that things might change drastically and fast, they felt that before Trump breaks the rules again, they might be better off just playing safe.